Tag Archives: GracePace

Just Get Up, Already. You Can Do It!

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When Jesus saw her and knew she had been paralyzed for a while, he asked [her], “Would you like to get well?”

 “I can’t, sir,” [she] said, “for I have haven’t a clue how to rise up from this mess.”

Jesus told [her], “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” John 5:6-8

It seems almost absurd that anyone wouldn’t want to get well, doesn’t it?  But it honestly happens.  Sometimes we tend to just sit in the mud and mire that surrounds us because at least we “know” it.  We can “own” it.

We know how to work it, if you catch my drift.  It’s what everyone is used to seeing us do and has become a way of thinking and behaving (albeit faulty) for us. We trick ourselves into thinking we’re stuck in this scary place forever, so we just better just get used to it once and for all.

Fear paralyzes us from the inside out.  It begins as a jolt to our system when something so extraordinary happens that our mind can’t make immediate sense of it.  And so, in an effort to sort of “self-protect”, we begin to shut down.  And sometimes, we end up settling into that space for the long haul.

Maybe, after a while, we almost forget what it was like to live more freely; without that feeling of anxiety.  We begin to believe that it’s just easier to keep ourselves lying flat-out in fear than to fight it.

If we aren’t careful, fear has the power to keep us down.

But then, in the middle of our settling into a pattern of learned helplessness, there’s this thing that happens when Jesus just simply points out, “Um, you know, it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you just get up, you can start moving.”

And if you trust Him, you try to raise yourself up a little to see if He’s right.  And joy-of-all-joys…you realize He is!

Suddenly, your surroundings don’t look so scary anymore.  So, then, that little, ice-cold hand that grips your heart starts to melt ever so slightly and your blood starts pumping a little easier.  Then the fog starts to clear, your sea legs stabilize, and you stand up for the first time in a little while and see over the top of the hole you’ve managed to get stuck inside and hope shines just a smidgen brighter than it did a moment ago.

Are you stuck right now?  Are you starting to believe that your surroundings will always be your reality?  Gosh, if so, I want to encourage you today!  Be brave.  Listen to the voice of Jesus.  Get up.  Take that first step.  And BE well!  I’ll be the one jumping up and down, clapping like crazy for you!  You CAN do this; and I can too!

Let the healing begin.

 White Paint - Baby Blue Background. Painting

Speaking of The Best Yes, are you following along with us this session?!  If so, be sure to finished reading the last three chapters of the book and complete Session 5 in the study guide.  Can you even believe we just have TWO little sessions left?!  *Sigh*

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

See you next week with some thoughts on building your legacy!  😉

 

 

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How to Please God, Not People!

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After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect in your own human effort?  Galatians 3:3, NLT.

I thought today we could have a little talk about expectations.  The great ones.  The not-so-great ones.  And the really wacky ones, too.

expectations

Because we all do it.  Create some crazy expectations, I mean.  Not only do we place them on ourselves, but we place them on others, too, even without their knowledge!  Sometimes people put them on us, as well.  And the end result just never is a good one when we do that, is it?

Holley Gerth writes about expectations in her book, You’re Already Amazing.  She says,

Expectations are laws we place on ourselves and each other.  Yep.  Laws.  And expectation equals ‘You must do X or you will be punished in some way.’  Oh , the punishment might be subtle – rejection, guilt we lay on our shoulders, a look across the room that lets us know we didn’t measure up.  No one is going to throw us in jail.  But consequences of the heart can seem even more frightening.”  Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing, copyright 2012.

You know what she’s talking about, right?  It’s like expecting yourself to plan the perfect party and even though you just feel too burnt out to do it, you end up doing it anyway because you “always” have and you’re afraid of disappointing others if you don’t. And the sad result is that you miss a million little things at home and your family suffers because of it and you can see it in how they look at you…

Or you expect that your husband can read your mind and that this year, for your birthday, he’s going to get you that beautiful handbag you’ve been eyeing in a local boutique window.  Only you never told him about it.  So you get an umbrella and an iron instead because he thought that’s what you needed.  And your heart hurts because you think he just doesn’t know you like you know him so you give him a little bit of the cold shoulder treatment…

I could go on and on here, but you get my point.

Thankfully, there are scriptures that gives me great hope in times of failed expectations.  Check them out and see if they don’t just give you a little lift, too:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26, TNIV).

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

You see, here’s the difference:  YOU put those expectations on yourself and on others.  God didn’t.  We know from Matthew 11:28-30 that Jesus promises to never put anything “heavy” on us.

And we know from another scripture verse that God only expects three things from us:  to do what’s right through self-control from the Holy Spirit, to treat others like we want to be treated, and to be humble as we walk with Him without taking ourselves so seriously!  (Micah 6:8) That’s it!

Any expectation placed on us BY GOD always comes with the assurance that we are not expected to complete it alone, without His guidance and support.  Scripture is very clear on that!

And, if He wants it to get done, it’s gonna get done, honey:

The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” (Isaiah 14:24, TNIV).

This TRUTH frees us up from the “expectation-chain-gang” and grants us peace.  GOD’S peace, not just a little respite from the “chaos of daily life” kind of peace.  We’re talking “everlasting life, secure-in-Him-no-matter-what-is-happening-around-us kind of peace”!  Can you even imagine being so free to feel that?!  Isn’t that what we crave?!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

He wants nothing more than to displace worry at the center of our lives (Philippians 4:6-7)!  Because THEN, sisters, THEN we get down to the business of HIS expectations for our lives, not our own!  And that’s a lot more life-giving than trying to live up to the expectations (real or perceived) of this world!

Life events will come and go whether they “live up to” all the expectations others associate with them or not.  Why not spend the time enjoying the them as they happen instead of holding onto expectations out of the fear of not meeting up to your skewed sense of what ought to be?

Let. Them. Go.  You have His permission.

love all please one

Love all.  Please One.   

Let’s make that our new motto.  Who’s with me?

Now THAT is a Best Yes Decision!

And speaking of The Best Yes, next week is a “catch up” week!  So spend the next week making sure you’ve read through chapter 15 in the main book.  If you are also doing the study guide, you should be through session 5 by this time next week!

I hope and pray you all have enjoyed a spring break of some kind or another, and that you had a most blessed Easter with those you love!  See you here next week, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and joy!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  Word to the Wise (or NOT so wise) About Boundaries

Have I Got a DEAL for You!!! (…decisions, decisions…)

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“What will it be?  Door #1, Door #2, Door #3?”

Those infamous words of Monty Hall on the gameshow “Let’s Make A Deal” were part of my afternoon routine when I was little.  At the age of 4, I was too young to be in school full-time and too old (at least in my mind) to take an afternoon nap (it really is true that naps are wasted on the young…)!

My mom would be doing her ironing while watching the show, and I would curl up on the couch and stay as quiet as a mouse, so I didn’t get shooed off to my room for the dreaded “quiet time”!  The show totally fascinated me.

What Door Will You Choose

If you’ve seen the show (which has been resurrected and now hosted by Wayne Brady), you’ll know that it culminates with one big ole decision for the winning contestants –  choose the UNKNOWN prizes behind one of three doors.  Make the best choice – and they’d win a mother-load of blessings from cash, trips, and appliances, to even a car!  But make the wrong choice, and well, they might have simply won an old goat (literally) or a big bag of un-popped popcorn kernels.

And, gosh, the amount of time some of these contestants took to make their big decision sometimes felt eternal.  They’d hem and haw and look for help from the audience.  They’d scratch their heads and bite their nails.  And then, finally, Monty would have to push them out of their indecision and they’d blurt out a door number.

Sometimes, we, too, find ourselves afraid to make a decision because we believe that every choice we face is “one and done”.  Pick the correct door and be blessed, or pick the wrong one suffer the regret and consequences of it forever.  Amen, anyone?!

Luckily, that’s not really the Truth!

“…so many people stress over knowing God’s will and what the right choice is to make.  But sometimes God gives us two or more choices that would all please Him and be in His will.  We get to choose.”  Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

Fear makes us think we need to make the perfect choice, doesn’t it?  Fear makes us believe that once a choice has been made, there’s no going back.  But fear doesn’t come from God.

What DOES come from God, sweet friends, are opened doors.

blank picture in the old room

Life is not a series of random, closed door choices, like Let’s Make a Deal.  God places opened doors in our path, and WE make the choices as to which ones to walk through.

And when we walk through one of them, we’ve automatically woven our life into God’s will for us.

God doesn’t force us through a doorway.  He does not even specify which door we are supposed to pick!  That decision is up to us.

God is concerned with us becoming the people He intended us to be.  And part of that process means growing and learning, and yeah – sometimes even making mistakes.  So, we are presented with a lot of doors this side of heaven, requiring us to make a lot of decisions.

And it’s okay if, after making what we thoughts was a wise choice, we realize we went the wrong direction.  We can retrace our steps, and head back to where we started – the door isn’t locked.  There is always a way out.  Through prayer, wise counsel and guidance, and even – if needed – repentance, we will learn from it and make a better choice next time, and the next, and so on.

The freedom that comes from following and trusting God, and walking through those opened doors becomes exhilarating because it honestly does mean that the possibilities are endless.

But you’ve got to CHOOSE.  Research has shown that the average 70 year-old American has made 1.8 million meaningful decisions in their life.  With that in mind, I think it gives us GREAT motivation to take at least a moment or two to include God in the decision making process!  His wise counsel through scripture and prayer is crucial in us learning to live out Best Yes, God Graced lives, don’t you think?

Listen to this: Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.  Proverbs 4:23, ERV.

In other words, be discerning in what you think, because your thoughts become your decisions, which in turn, become your actions.  Our decisions shouldn’t be knee-jerk, “Let’s Make a Deal” style, uninformed ones.  In fact, that little nugget from Proverbs clearly warns us otherwise.

God says, “I’ve placed these open doors in front of you.  You choose.”

Today, let that be your motivation to look at a decision you’ve been wrestling with and take a step or two toward (or even THRU) a door!! 😉

Following along with our series?  Here’s your homework for this week:

1.  Read chapters 10-12 in The Best Yes!

2.  Complete Session Three homework in the study guide!

3.  Write out a proverb on your chalkboard (see page 99 in the study guide for a list of them)!

4.  Have a look at my video for GracePace on the Woman at the Well!  (Click here for the link!)

5.  Listen/watch our song of the week, “Today is Beautiful” by David Dunn.  Here’s the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFLgmvzk-ik

Have a great week, everyone!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The smelly belly of a whale…;)

How to Weave a Blanket Out of Prayers

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When my daughter, Ella, was a newborn, a dear friend of mine gifted us with a beautiful blanket which she, herself, wove by hand on this massive, amazing wooden loom. It’s one of the most heartfelt gifts Ella received from anyone as a baby.

Weaving prayers with text

This precious friend of mine, Charlotte, said that with every strand of yarn she wove into that blanket, she would say a blessing for Elle over something that she prayed would come to pass in her life on earth, from her health and physical development, to her future career, marriage, and her own family.  It took Char two months to weave it, so she said a lot of blessings for my sweet girl, and I’m so honored that she took that time to do it.

Prayer has the power to prepare a way for the future, to speak life and Truth into situations that have yet to happen – even yet to be dreamed of.  It’s that amazing?  It also has the power to loosen the binds that tie us to our pasts.

This week, I’m finishing up my very first attempt at a Novena.  I’m learning so very much, experientially, about the power of layered and woven prayer.

Listen to my favorite line in the closing prayer of this novena:

“Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.”

Whoa.  I love that.

I’m learning how, through honest dialogue with the Lord, I can begin to bend my will back to God’s and impact the future and soothe the past.

Psalm 119 36

Like my friend, Char, and her loom work, we have the ability to weave and layer prayers into the lives of others, not only for this current moment and season of someone’s life, but also over their past – asking that God would undo those knots in the ribbon of their lives and dissolve the knot the way a massage loosens a tight muscle.  And, I’m feeling, for the first time, that I can move forward in time and pray layers of hope into events and circumstances that will likely come to pass.

For instance, I can already be praying for Ella’s future husband and her children.  I can pray for our family’s generations to come to live out Micah 6:8.  To pray that they would believe Jeremiah 29:11;  that they would boldly pray as we are instructed in James 1.

I can, with confidence, pray into the very real and near future for moments of hope, healing, and relief of the grief that is sure to come for a dear friend whose husband is dying of cancer.  I can rely on the supernatural power of prayer to be waiting there for her when she needs it most.

I’m beginning to sense how I can effectively weave in and deposit moments of grace into the lives of those for whom I pray .  I’m discovering how to live confidently, knowing the precious “deposit” of my prayers has been placed there for such a time as “that“. To know that the supernatural fibers of God’s grace and mercy will be waiting there for moments of hurt, doubt, fear, and pain.  To live with confident joy that I’ve done my part in ensuring that there will be moments of great rejoicing and blessing for my beloveds, my people, both this side of heaven and beyond, even when I’m not present.  To chase down the events that are to still come, and place fingerprints of prayer into them, trusting in the supernatural power that prayer surely brings with it.

Let’s be clear.  I’m not suggesting that we are creating a “mental movie” or photo shoot of how we think things should look or be in the future, although I love the idea of positive visualization!  Instead, I’m emphatically telling you that prayer gives us the chance to honestly partner with God to literally place love and care and hope and compassion into future moments of great joy – AND in moments to come that may be filled with great sorrow or desperation.

Our prayers cover and wrap people and situations in a sort of blanket of prayer that is heartfelt and powerful.

Forward (and backward!) prayer allows us to follow our decisions through and create Best Yes choices for ourselves and support those of our loved ones. It deepens the integrity of our prayers to where we can honestly speak what we desire for ourselves and those for whom we deeply care and weave it together with God’s will for all of us.  It provides opportunities for us to exercise faith, trust, and reliance on God.

Ribbon Prayer

One of our guiding verses for this series is Matthew 9:29, “Become what you believe”.  Weave your prayers with those of Jesus and let Him open your eyes to the possibilities of that precious piece of scripture!

“Oh the wonder of God brings forth things we couldn’t think of, didn’t know to ask for, and would hardly believe could be possible.  His wonder is my assurance.”  Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

Following along with our GracePace series and The Best Yes?!  Here’s your homework for the week!

  1. Click here and take a look at  video #3 in the GracePace online Bible study series!  This week, we delve into Moses-Sized Meltdowns and the power of delegating!
  2. Complete your desired level of homework in The Best Yes Study Guide for Session 2!
  3. Read chapters 7-9 in the main book, The Best Yes.
  4. Write out one of the Proverbs listed on page 71 of The Best Yes Study Guide.
  5. Check out our song of the week this week,  “Here for a Reason” by Ashes Remain!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb9Y_3O2tlQ

Please, God, Interrupt Me!

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““A [person] who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”  Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

That’s me these days – an overwhelmed schedule and a soul that could use a little break – some whitespace, if you will.

I love the term “whitespace”.   It’s a word that originates in the field of design.  But it isn’t just about blank and empty places.  It’s more about space that gives the eye place to rest – to breathe, to take in the beauty surrounding and incorporated within it, to let the occupant of the space move a bit, enjoy the space.

Revive White Space Heart

It’s easy to talk about the beauty of white space when you are looking at a relatively blank canvas.

However,  it gets a lot harder to find rest in that space once the canvas starts to get filled up.

And once the space is all filled up, there’s no room to breathe, let alone move.

Revive White Space Overkill

Our soul, just like a canvas or a living room, was never meant to be crammed full of things from border to border.  She needs room to pace, to grow, to breathe.  But when we begin to get overwhelmed, somehow we find ourselves reaching out for MORE instead of less.

I know.  It’s completely counterintuitive, right? But we do it anyway!  Before we know it, our souls begin to turn on us or, worse yet, just decide to give up and busyness becomes a way of living for a soul that was meant for far more than just a constant state of irritation and stress.

You see, what we need most in those moments of feeling overwhelmed is breathing room.  Space to be real and interact with what’s actually going on in our world.

But instead, that underlying state of agitation causes us to search for something to quench it with.  And the next thing we know, we are adding “MORE” to our life canvases.  And then, sweet friends, busyness has replaced any chance our souls had for taking a breath.

In other words, busyness has become a way in which we sort of “self-medicate” our souls.  I know that sounds harsh.  But we don’t know what else to do with ourselves.   It’s a concept we’ve learned from modern medicine, I think.  If something “aches”, there’s a medicine to take for it.  While that might be an ideal solution in healing the body, it isn’t necessarily so in the business of soul-tending.

When our lives are so filled up with “stuff” and activities, we have no room for God to come in and give us what we really need.  C.S. Lewis said it beautifully:

“We find God an interruption.  God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full – there’s simply no place for Him to put it.”  C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain.

After reading THAT, I recently wrote THIS in my journal:

Oh God, let me never see You as an interruption!  And if I ever DO – then PLEASE interrupt me!  Help me to see that my BEST YES is to look directly to You in those moments when I’m tempted to throw another activity into my already overloaded day because I’m too overwhelmed to honestly evaluate what I’m doing.  Help me to empty my hands of mindless things and meaningless to-dos, and instead keep them open to You and Your blessing.

Einstein is often quoted as having said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.  If that’s the case, then I might just be certifiably crazy, sweet friends! I keep loading my hands up with “stuff” and miss out on what God’s trying to give me, all the while wondering why I feel so overwhelmed.  You too?

What would it look like today if you tried something different?  If you told your calendar that she is not the boss of you?!  If you took control of the requests and opportunities coming your way and decided to proactively use your schedule as a place holder for the things in which God has led you to invest in, not what others request of you?  What if you spent time in prayer with God, withdrawing (like Jesus often did) “to out-of-the-way places”  (Luke 5:16) to clear your soul’s clutter, tend to the backlog, and bring those soul irritants into the presence of God instead of ignoring them?

I’d say that’d be a pretty great start to making better yeses, if not the best ones.  Ones that even Jesus would be proud of us for making.

I was reminded the other day of a snippet of scripture in the book of Acts depicting the stoning of Stephen.  It’s not the stoning part I want to discuss here!  It’s actually this bit:

“But [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'”  Acts 7:55-57, NKJV

Did you catch that?  Jesus STOOD.  Stephen’s act of faith in stepping forward caused our Savior to rise from His seated position next to Our Father.  Amazing!  I wonder if He wouldn’t also stand up for us as we make steps in faith towards decisions of integrity and best yeses.  Wouldn’t that be something?

Yep.  THAT would be beautifully overwhelming – in the best possible way!

Overwhelm soul

Following along with our GracePace 2015 Bible Study Series?!  If so, here’s what’s going on this week:

  1. Check out this link to the second online video!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANnb6bUfobU&feature=share  This week, I’ll be dishing on Martha and her sister Mary, preparing dinner for Jesus!
  2. Read Chapters 4-6 in The Best Yes main book!
  3. Complete your desired level of personal study sections for session 1 in the Study Guide for The Best Yes!
  4. On your chalkboard, write one of the Proverbs listed on page 44 of your Study Guide and remember to meditate on it each day!
  5. Check out this link to our song this week, “When the Crazies Set In” by Francesca Battistelli!

Have a wonderful week, sweet friends!  See you back here next week!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  Decisions, decisions…!

“Sloth” is a BEST YES Decision!! ;)

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(I’m not referring to the “deadly sin” kind of sloth here, sweet friends!  I’m referring to a movie character…read on!)

Back in the mid 1980’s one of my favorite movies was called “Goonies”.  It’s about this group of kids from an area of their hometown which is not-so-affectionately called “The Goon-Docks”.  These kids end up searching for a treasure in order to save their area of the town from be demolished by a developer.  The movie is action-filled and a ton of fun!  Definitely family friendly, too – which is a huge bonus!

My favorite character from the movie is this guy named Sloth.  Sloth is a big, disfigured guy that is being kept chained up in the basement by his own, bad guy brothers because of his disfigurement.  One of the Goonies, Chunk, stumbles upon him, makes friends, and helps lets Sloth go.

That’s when Sloth gets to show his beautiful, TRUE colors!  His big heart and sweet disposition allow him to save the kids from certain death at the hands of his own criminal family.  Sloth knows right from wrong and every fiber of his being knows exactly what he needs to do to make things work out for the BEST!

Sloth’s decisions were all “Best Yeses”!  They were based on what he knew to be right and good in his heart, and he acted accordingly.

Sometimes, it’s hard to get those outsides actions to match what’s going on inside and vice versa, though, isn’t it?    We’re grumpy.  We’re tired.  We’re sick.  We’re busy.  We’re stressed.  We’re insecure.  In other words, “we” get in our own way.

Remember what Paul said in Romans 7 about that very thing?

Jesus knows our true hearts and wants to heal those rough edges, not watch us pretend or “act” them away.

Jesus is looking for people of integrity.  People whose outsides match their insides.  People who personify his advice to The Woman at the Well:

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him.”  John 4:23.

THAT is what our Best Yes should be all about.  Digging in and digging deep to make decisions that not only honor God, but provide us the opportunity to do exactly what He created to do, at the time He intended us to do it.  That’s when our internal motivations directly line up with our thoughts, words, and subsequently our actions.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”  Matt 5:8, MSG

Sloth truly was a blessed Goony at heart! All it took was one, bold Best Yes decision to set him free to be the person God knew him to be.

Our goal here in this series is to simplify the processes we use to help us make wise choices in the midst of all the chaos life seems to continually throw our way – so that our “Best Yeses” are ones of integrity!!

Every good journey needs some trip treats, I always say!  So in order to kick off what I think is going to be a great Bible study series for all of us, let’s get to the goods!  Here’s a picture of what the ladies in our physical studies are receiving this week!  So cute, right?!

GP Goodie Package

Inside is a CD with my 10 current favorite songs from the Contemporary Christian Music Genre!  You can click here to see the song list!

Also in the package is a small, decorative chalkboard, some chalk, and an eraser or two!  We’ll be using these throughout our series to write out some Proverbs that speak to our hearts!  (More on that next week!)

GP Chalkboard

There is also a little package tucked in there with a pen and 10 tags all attached to a cute O-Ring binder clip that we will be using to write our praises and prayers each week and exchange with a sister friend in study so we can learn to grow in prayer support for one another!  We thought it’d  be cool to keep them all together on our O-Rings so we have one, easily accessible item to grab when we sit down to pray!

GP Prayer Cards

And finally, there’s a cute, travel-sized package of kleenex, too.  I mean, c’mon.  We laugh and cry and all that good stuff, so we need something to help us clean up the mess, right?!  😉

You can make your own kit by heading out to your local Walmart, hobby store, Staples or something like that!  You can always email me if you have any questions on how we made any of the goodies inside.  AND, as a special kick off giveaway, we’ll choose one commenter here on this blog to receive a FREE copy of the CD!!! Just leave a comment and we’ll announce the winner next week!

So, if you are following along with us for GracePace, here’s what you need to do this week:

  1. Read Chapters 1-3 in the main book, The Best Yes.
  2. Write out on a notecard (in 15 words or less) the current state of your life pace (i.e. “Lots of hurry up and go, yet not a lot getting done” or “I am trying to be everything to everyone but end up being nothing to anyone!” You get the picture!)
  3. Underneath that, write ONE thing you’d love to find the time to say YES to in the next several months (i.e. join a gym or yoga class, take up photography or French cooking, take a vacation this year, grow closer to God through reading scripture, start a dinner club, etc.)
  4. Staple that card onto the inside back cover of your Study Guide for The Best Yes. We’ll be coming back to that later!
  5. Have a view of my first video of the GracePace series for Mayslake Ministries! You can access everything you need to know about that by clicking here! Click the video for Week 1!  I had so much fun making these videos with Mayslake!

That’s it for this week, sweet friends!  I pray this entire series is going to be one of revelation and inspiration to each and every one of you who is doing it along with us!

Peace, love, joy, and GRACE!

Wendie

PS – Our song this week, “Find Rest” by Dara Maclean is awesome!  You can listen to it on YouTube by clicking this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVu5l1itVS4 !

Up Next Week:  A Powerful YES!

 

 

Hope for When You Have “One Of THOSE Weeks…”

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There are some weeks when you steel yourself to life’s curveballs and say, “it’s just one of those weeks”.  You put your shoulders into it, press on, and assure yourself that “this, too, shall pass.”

But some weeks, well…

Some weeks, clichés and adages do nothing to soothe your spirit or calm your soul.  Some weeks just take you by storm and no amount of shoulder pressing can do anything about anything that matters.

Those are the weeks we fear.  Those are the weeks that – no matter how hard we try to wish they weren’t, no matter how hard we pretend aren’t coming – cause our weary and raw souls to kick and scream and search for something to douse the achy fires of sadness, disappointment and depletion.

And if we aren’t careful, when they come, they can threaten to consume us and cause us to get beaten down and off course.

Am I speaking to anyone besides myself today?  Is anyone, like me, in need of a little help finding the beautiful pace of grace and a bit of smooth sailing?

Oh, sweet friend, if something has bumped right on into your happy place and stolen your peace this week, then this post is SO for you!  And I’m thrilled God has guided you here to hear this:

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us.”  Hebrews 6:18-20, MSG.

Hope Anchor to Soul

Unforced rhythms of grace (see Matthew 11:28-30) are possible when we allow HOPE to “anchor” us directly to God.

But how?  And what does that actually mean?

Gosh, I am so glad you asked!

An anchor is a source of stability and security.  Most often, the word picture that materializes in our minds when we think of an anchor is that of a boat, stopped in the middle of the water, securely tethered to a stable spot at the bottom of the sea.  That trusty anchor keeps the boat from drifting too far off course.  And it must be secured safely in solid soil or deeply imbedded into the sea bottom, not in the pithy fluff of shallow sand.

Now, I’m no boater or master sailor, but I do know that to trust an anchor tethered in a shallow sandbar would be foolish – the anchor could be dragged through the muck until it was simply flailing under the boat, taking the boat off course, creating an unstable situation and a course with no direction and a possible collision in sight.

So what does this have to do with our scripture from Hebrews?  Well, the author of Hebrews is assuring us that if we place our trust in the infallible hope offered to us through Jesus, we are assured of a lifeline that cannot be swayed or broken.

That no matter how stormy the seas of our week feel or appear, we are tethered to something infinitely stable and secure that will not be snapped.

That the fury of the waves kicked up by life’s winds will not send our precious cargo overboard, regardless of what it may look like to our human eyes.

Yeah, we will experience difficult seasons this side of heaven. Sometimes the storms of life threaten to almost take us under, and it feels like we might just break into tiny little pieces on a rocky shore. But I’m here today to tell you that you aren’t going to perish that way. It cannot happen if you are anchored to Life, Himself. Jesus is your Anchor. Jesus is your Hope. Trust that you have that precious Anchor so deeply imbedded into His Truth that no amount of wind-whipped waves can break the chain that securely binds you to Him. Unbreakable. Forever and always.

Thank you, Lord, that you give us that Heavenly strength in the midst of our weakness. Set our eyes on you – the Hope and the Rhythm-Maker of our week – even when appearances would have us think otherwise.

Next week, we begin our Winter/Spring 2015 Bible Study Series, GracePace – Experiencing God’s Grace in the Midst of Life’s Race. I can’t begin to know where you are in your life right now. But I hope wherever it is, you’ll join us – either in person in one of our three Bible studies that meet in our area, or even right here on our blog. Check back here next Thursday, February 19th, for our introductory thoughts, your homework, AND your chance to win a fabulous CD filled with 10 great songs that speak beautiful messages of hope, grace, and rest to your spirit! 😉

And if you are wondering…yes. I had one of “those” weeks this past week. Tim, Elle, and I had to say goodbye to our beloved Teddy “T-Boo”. Our six-year-old yellow lab suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, passed away last Friday from end-stage liver failure. Our hearts ache at his absence, but our souls remain anchored in the joyful hope that we will see him again someday! We love you, T-Boo. Miss your goofy little heart. Be good for God, sweet boy, and please – stop eating socks.

TBoo Waterlogue RIP

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: Chunk From “Goonies” – Making Our Insides Match the Out!

 

 

 

How To Get Revived in 24 Hours (yep – it’s possible!)

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Sweet, sweet  sister friends!  Is there honestly ANYthing better than a snowy, wintertime retreat with God and your girlfriends to revive a depleted spirit?! (Well, I guess maybe a weekend away at the beach might do the trick, too, but humor me for a minute!)

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In the midst of “Snowmeggedon 2015” here in Chicago (nothing like 19 inches of snow in 24 hours…), a big ole gaggle of God’s gals gathered together this past weekend to get REVIVED!

Revive 2015 Intro

Revive Day 1 Cont

Letting Jesus and his promises in Matthew 11:28-30 be our guide, we got away with him, walked with him, watched how he did it, and learned how we, too, can live in the unforced rhythms of grace!

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Revive Day 1 Pic 3

We let God replace the worry and busyness in our spirits, found whitespace for our souls, got rid of our inner “Modern Day Martha” “Melt-Down Moses”, “Woman at the Well Wearing Label”, AND our “Scared and Scarred Selves at the Side of the Road” , and had some good, old fashioned, sister friend fun!

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Revive Wendie and Girls

We let the unforced rhythms of grace re-enter our spirits, and left the retreat a little lighter and freer than when we arrived!

Revive Final Collage

Retreat CAYAB Snow

What a weekend, sweet friends!  It was my honor and privilege AND blessing from above to share in it with each and every one of you!!!  Always remember, you are NOT worn out to the epic proportions of Boo Boo Head Kitty Girl (her before picture, anyway, poor girl…)

Boo Boo Head Kitty Girl

We know we may find ourselves depleted at times, girlies!  But always remember this:  you are in the hands of the most mighty and capable Creator, through whom ANYTHING is possible!

Boo Boo Head Pretty Girl

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

UP Next Thursday:  Everything you need for GracePace 2015!

 

Look Out Energizer Bunny – I’m Coming for you.

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Recharge.

Revive.

Re-energize.

Elle (my favorite 14-year old in the whole world) got this crazy contraption for Christmas.

 Duracell-Powermat-Wireless-Cherger-For-iPhone-4-4S-Black-Power-backup-Battery-USB-Cable

It’s a super-duper, fancy schmancy phone case that doubles as a battery charger.  It basically means her phone is never, ever able to collapse, energy-wise.

God knows we could all use a recharging battery pack.  (Only the one WE need must fit our bodies, not our phones.)

Yeah.  THAT is what I need right now.  One of those Energizer Packs in a big-girl size, please.  Thank you very much!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30, MSG

Unforced rhythms of grace?!  Really?!  Is it honestly possible?  Living freely, lightly, and even (dare I say it) fully energized?

But, Lord.  I’m tired.  I’m depleted.  I’m BUSY.  I’m spent.  I’m something to everyone, yet unable to be anything to anyone.  I’m a “Push-me Pull-you” from Dr. Dolittle, going in circles, looking busy but unable to finish a thing because I just can’t seem to get everything moving in the same direction.

Can no one help?

Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?  The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  Romans 7:24-25, MSG

So I need to learn to live like Jesus.

Wait…WHAT?!  Live LIKE Jesus?

Is it possible?!  I mean, can we – even today – learn to tap into that tempo of grace that Jesus so confidently promises?  Can we learn to honestly find our footing on even enough ground where we feel we aren’t running uphill all the time and, instead, clip along at a pace that’s full of grace?

A little digging turns up a lot of insight.  Take a look at this:

Matthew Equation with copyright

Jesus is giving us the perfect solution through this equation, isn’t he?!  Come to me.  Walk with me.  Learn from me.

“LIVE like me”, he says.  So, I say YES.  YES, Jesus, I will. 

Will YOU?

Join us this winter and spring as we delve into this equation and uncover the secret to living in the unforced rhythms of grace.  Let’s get this right.  THIS time, let’s get it right together!

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If you’re local (in the Glen Ellyn/Wheaton area!), sign up for one of our in-person Bible studies!  Email wendieconnors@gmail.com for availability!

If you aren’t local, or have a schedule that doesn’t allow for daytime Bible study, just keep yourself connected here!  We’ll be going through Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes book and study guide here, too!  We’ll do it together – whether in person OR online!

Watch our online video series, GracePace, on Mayslake Ministries YouTube page throughout Lent 2015!  We’ll have the links up here when they go live, along with some cool graphics and summaries for you!

It’s time to refill and to believe God for a life that is FULL of grace and energy, not depletion!

Join us, won’t you?!  We begin the week of February 16th – plenty of time to order your books.  Click here to get them from Amazon.com!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

What I Need for 2015

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I LOVE the beginning of a new year!!!  Doesn’t matter if it’s a school year (with all those shiny, new notebooks and pencils) or the beginning of a new calendar year (with a brand new desk blotter – BE STILL MY SOUL –  or a fresh, blank, spiral notebook calendar to flip through)!

Good Golly Miss Molly, the possibilities seem ridiculously and beautifully attainable, don’t they?!

And while I’ve never been one for making serious resolutions of all the things I aim to conquer in a year, I AM one for sort picking a theme for my new year.

And, this year, I’m aiming for something I’m calling “authentic integrity’.

(I know.  Perhaps placing “authentic” in front of “integrity” seems a bit redundant.  But I like the sound of it…!)

It means our actions match our beliefs – regardless of circumstances, situations, people we’re with, even when we’re aloneIntegrity basically means that we live a life that shows we ARE who we say we ARE.

Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say about integrity:

Integrity:  The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

I like it.

But HERE’S what Jesus has to say about integrity:

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.  Matthew 5:8, MSG

I LOVE it.  As in TOTALLY LOVE IT.

And so, for me, it’s all about INTEGRITY for 2015.

To help my outside match the inside.  To authentically be the person God created me to be, in all situations, all circumstances, and with all people.  And to experience God on the inside AND the out.

Why?  Well, so that Jesus would see me and say, “She’s the real deal; she’s My girl through and through.”

So that I would be the kind of person other people see and be drawn where that peace, joy, and love truly comes from.

So that I would immerse myself in what He teaches and seriously BE those hands and feet I’m always spouting off about in the places and spaces in which He intends for me.

So that I keep the boundaries God helps me to set through prayerful conversations with Him, and to avoid giving in when the world (or my fickle flesh) tells me I “need” to bend a little for fame, attention, glory, or even to avoid the dreaded “guilt of saying NO”…

I know you hear me, you people pleasers out there.

And YOU, you folks who are convinced that “perfection” is THE way to happiness.  You know I’m striking a chord with you, too.

And YOU, who are afraid to fail at something because you fear the shame of not living up to what you said you could/would do.  Your ears are perking up right about now, amen?

And YOU.  The one who forgets that saying “no” is just as wonderful as saying “yes” when God has actually intended that “yes” to go to someone else.

Yeah.  This Year of Integrity is for YOU.  And for ME.  Because I struggle with ALL that stuff up there and more.  I honestly do.

Our overriding theme is simple, authentic, Godly integrity.  We’ll be learning simple, scripture-based  ways of balancing the demands of our days with the desires of our souls.  Calibrating what we can handle to what God has called us to do.  Developing an integrity about ourselves we’ve been craving but, until now, have unable to name or even put our finger on.

So what are we going to do about it?!  I’m so glad you asked!

Here’s what’s on tap for the first half of 2015:

January 31-February 1, 2015:  I have the privilege and honor to be leading the Revive 2015 Women’s Retreat in Itasca, Illinois!  We’ll be delving into the “how’s” of stepping into the unforced rhythms of grace promised to us by Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30!  Click here for registration information – but hurry because the registration deadline is January 5th and only a few spots remain!

February 2015-May 2015:  Stringing Pearls Bible Studies here in Suburban Chicago (we’re calling it GracePace!)  Stay tuned for more information on this 10 week study using fresh material from Stringing Pearls with Wendie AND a new book by Lysa TerKeurst called The Best Yes!  Here’s a sneak peak of our logo and theme for winter/spring:

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Lent 2015 (mid-February-end of March 2015):  GracePace online video series!  I am SO excited about sharing with you a “first” for me and Stringing Pearls Bible Study Ministry!  We will be jumping online to do a 7-week, video-based, Lenten Bible Study in conjunction with the wonderful Mayslake Ministries!  More information will be available here soon, along with the video links throughout Lent!

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.”  ~ Chuck Swindoll 

YES!!!! That’s what I’m going for. How about you?

(How could you NOT love a quote about “crack jack clean living”?! COME ON.)

Happy 2015, sweet friends!  BRING. IT. ON.

With all the love and integrity of He who lives in me,

Wendie