Tag Archives: simpl.if.I

simpl.if.I: Be HAPPY! (Summer Series Final Week!)

Standard

When I was in high school, I worked at McDonald’s and my favorite shift to work was in the drive-thru on weekend mornings! I loved wearing the headset microphone because it made me feel quite important and fancy! And it always felt like customers were in a really great mood on Saturdays and Sunday, without the impatience that a typical weekday morning might bring with it 😉 !

The BEST part was sending customers off with a smile and a kind word about their day. We were encouraged to say, “Have a great day!” as the customer was exiting the drive-thru. I took my job seriously, sweet friends. I really, really wanted those people to go out and have a great day and think to themselves, “You know what? I really DID have a great day and it’s all thanks to that darling girl in drive-thru!”  🙂

McD's sign Eph 5 15

Thinking on that phrase, I wish I’d have been wise enough back then to use a more active phrase like, “ENJOY your day!”; it just feels like a better way to remind each other that we all have a CHOICE in how we experience our daily reality. I mean, “have a great day” sounds like all you have to do is sit back and receive it, and some days, those “great” days just don’t seems to find you. Whereas “ENJOY your day” implies active participation on your part, doesn’t it? Kind of that “Mary Tyler Moore” attitude of making today a day GREAT regardless of what life throws at you.

Here’s the secret Mary Tyler Moore (aka “Mary Richards”) knows that maybe you don’t: “day changing opportunities” are always within your reach.

Be Happy Ecc 3-12

If there’s ONE thing Mary and I can tell you about having a good day and being happy, it’s this: if all else fails, do something good for someone else. No matter what today has thrown in your path, the moment you reach out and change the day for someone else is the same moment the day changes for YOU. It’s actively choosing and pursing goodness and not sitting back and waiting for it to find you. It’s stepping beyond circumstances and defying Satan’s attempts to bring you down into a bad mood. It’s believing God and taking Him at His word and partnering with Him to make TODAY enjoyable.

BE HAPPY. “Be” is an active word and happy is a delightful thing to be. And most of the time, being happy is simply, and quite frankly, up to you. It begins with your thought process and blooms from there.

Roald Dahl Sunbeams

(Is that the coolest quote ever, or what?!)

So if you are having trouble enjoying today, sweet friends, take a lesson from Eccelsiastes, Roald Dahl, and Mary Richards: go do some good for this world and find yourself BEING HAPPY as a result!

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take today toward HAPPINESS!):

  1. Find/Print our mantra and scripture card for this week. Display it on your easel or somewhere you will see it on a regular basis!
  2. Think of someone in your life for whom you could do a little something “good”. Make a note of how you feel before you do it and what your mood is AFTER. I think you’ll find God “ups” your happiness quotient as a result!
  3. Take a moment each day to read over ALL our scriptures and mantras for this summer series. I pray you find comfort and blessings through them.
  4. Watch this cool video from Building 429, “Impossible”!

If you are reading before amen by Max Lucado, time to finish the book! This week, read the final chapter – Chapter 9 and complete the study guide at the back of the book. Pat yourself on the back for another Bible study – well done!!!

What a great 10 weeks it has been simpl.if.I’ing our summers together this year! I am humbled and honored that you took the time to do so and spent it with us. Just like everything in life, all endings just mean a beginning of something new! We are excited to share with you the theme for our Fall 2015 stringing pearls ministries Bible study:

 be blessed logo rustic

Yes!! We will be studying the Beatitudes together beginning the week of September 14th! Details on the series will be posted here on the blog and on our Facebook page in a couple weeks! In the meantime, I hope you’ll swing back next week for our Back To School blog post for all of us sending kids of ALL ages back into the classrooms of the world!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: The Back to School Blues

 

Advertisements

simpl.if.I: Thank GOD! (Summer Series Week #9)

Standard

Sunflower

There are only two ways to live your life.

One is as if nothing is a miracle, and the other is to live as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

OOOOOooooo! I LOVE that! Two different perspectives; and you get to choose which one you will use as the lens with which you live out your life here on Earth.

As for me? I’m choosing the “everything is a miracle” plan. It’s the one that leads us down the gratitude path, and in turn grants us the great gift of grace – day in and day out.

Did you know that before every miracle Jesus ever performed, he stopped and gave thanks to our Father in heaven?  Gratitude.

Here’s the thing, sweet friends. Gratitude works miracles when we actually take the time to notice gifts and blessings from God. In other words, the second we can see something meaningful – even the tiniest of tiny things, like a smile from a stranger – as a little taste of God’s goodness, it activates something in our spirit to experience gratitude. And in that split second when we begin to feel that gorgeous feeling of gratefulness, we feel compelled to pass it along to someone else. And when we pass it along to someone else, we begin this incredible cycle of grace that cannot be stopped or contained.

It pattern that sort of looks like this:

See/experience blessings –> Experience gratitude –>

Express Gratitude –> Experience Grace –>

Pass It On –> See/experience MORE blessings…

and so it continues!

I’m loving that!

Thank God Romans 11-33

Gratitude precedes miracles and deserves our thanks in return. Always. And gratitude deposits gobs and gobs of grace. Always.

Gratitude is the state of being in which we get to take a deep breath and see things through peace-filled eyes. It’s when we see something as big as sunset and sense how blessed we are to be so small in its presence. It’s when we feel something as simple as hug and realize the hugeness of love. It’s the privilege of praying for someone in need and knowing a God as big as ours already has it covered. And it’s being in awe of the fullness of eternal life through Christ, yet confidently knowing the reality of it is ours.

Gratitude begins with “thank you” and expands into “let me bless you, too”. It’s the experience of “pay it forward” boosted by the goodness of God, which creates miracles we could never imagine, let alone create by ourselves.

You and I are never at a loss for something to be grateful for – big or small. Remember what Albert Eisenstein said – it’s all in your perspective. So this week, let’s choose the lens that helps us to see that ALL things are miraculous and trust that God prepared them with goodness and blessing in mind, regardless of how it looks in the moment.

Let’s spend our week focusing on blessings and giving thanks to God for all He provides. And when you really notice the miracles in your midst, you might find yourself surprised in how you, in turn, begin blessing others!

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take today to amplify your attitude of gratitude):

  1. Find/print today’s mantra-scripture card for this week! Focus on the words and remind yourself that you have a choice on how you see life – miraculous or not!
  2. Here’s a fun exercise from our book for the summer by Max Lucado, before amen: take a sheet of paper and make a list from A to Z of things you are grateful for! Get your friends and family involved in the process and don’t stop until you have a list of blessings that make you smile at God’s faithfulness and goodness in your life!
  3. Go back through all our mantra/scripture cards from our series so far. Which ones still resonate with you? What moved you the most throughout our series?
  4. Check out this very cool song from Dara McLean “Nobody Like You”!

Following along with before amen? If so, it’s time to read Chapter 8 and complete the study guide at the back of the book!

Beautiful friends, next week we bring our summer series to a close. We cannot thank you enough for your support and encouragement this year with our simpl.if.I series. It’s been life changing for our team and hope it has been for you, too!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie and the Stringing Pearls Ministry Team

Up Next Week: simpl.if.I week 10: Be Happy!

simpl.if.I: Be Nice! (Summer Series Week #8)

Standard

I’m one of “those” moms who cannot wait for the first SECOND of summer break. The thoughts of three blissful months of no arguing over homework, no making of lunches, and POSSIBLY sleeping just a wee bit later fill me with complete glee! And the fact that we are on our very own schedule just makes it even sweeter!

BUT. (There’s always a big but, isn’t there?!)

There ALSO comes a time every summer where I begin to think, “Hmmm…maybe summer break could be a teensy bit shorter”. This thought comes to mind because, to be completely honest, I’m not feeling so “nice” anymore.

The kitchen never seems to be clean. The laundry somehow multiplies. The gas in my car is constantly on empty. Our checking account feels a bit skinny. And my patience feels even skinnier.

Anyone feelin’ me today?

And so, upon waking this morning and realizing my less than stellar attitude about summer vacation (which continues for three more weeks, mind you), I spent a little time with one of my favorite truth tellers, Paul, who reminded me of the importance of being nice to others.

Be Nice Romans 1220

For me, praying God’s word back to Him is like picking up the phone to call a friend. Then sitting quietly and meditating on it is like giving Him the time to answer back. And today, He answered – loud and clear.

In the midst of my complaining to Him about all the things that were annoying me, He gently revealed to me that He wasn’t the only one to whom I had been complaining about it. Apparently (and embarrassingly) I had somehow exchanged my Mary Poppins bag of tricks that was always at the ready for spontaneity and teenage girl FUN, for a sack full of sour puss comments.

Whoops.

And in that moment, I understood that complaining about what I had been looking forward to for so long wasn’t my best plan.  I needed to change my perspective because my current mindset wasn’t helping anything. God showed me a great way of getting back to summer joy mode with my girl: remember the good things.

ephesians 5 15

The thought that I kept hearing in my head was this: “Remind Elle who she really is”. And as I thought about that, I realized this: who on this Earth is closer to her and more able to see the God-given goodness and beauty He placed within her than me? Who (other than her dear daddio) spends more time with her, loves her more, appreciates her, and celebrates her more than me?

God was prompting me to BE NICE and remind her of THOSE things, not the ones that were annoying me (because I’m sure she’s got her own list of what I’m doing that annoys her…)!

So, in between drop off at one camp and pick up an hour later,  I spent a few moments jotting down a list of the amazing things that make her unique to this world and so special to me. It wasn’t a long, multi-paged novella or anything like that! It was actually just a short-but-sweet bullet-pointed list of her beauty – inside and out.

When she got home, I watched as she found the card and read it. She smiled big and gave me a huge hug. She thanked me for the surprise love note and “being so, so nice” (her words, not mine) and reminding her why I loved her so much.

I caught her several times throughout the day opening the envelope to read the card again. She smiled each time. I had indeed surprised her with goodness and it felt so good, so sweet, to be blessed by an obedience to God’s prompting.

Who can you surprise with goodness today? Where can you add a little helping of “nice” to this world? It surely doesn’t need to be big or monumental or even cost a single penny. It simply needs to be authentic and from your heart right to someone else’s. It’ll change someone’s day  (and improve your attitude) I promise!

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take to improve your “niceness quotient” today!)

  1. Print/find this week’s mantra and scripture card. Display it somewhere prominent to remind yourself of the JOY in surprising someone with your goodness every day!
  2. Think of ONE person who could use a little nice in her/his world this week and make it a point to find something special (big or small) to do. The blessing you receive in return will exceed what you can imagine, sweet friends.
  3. Read all of Romans Chapter 12 in the Message Version! It’s honestly one of my favorite chapters of any book in the Bible!
  4. Watch this video from Needtobreathe called “Brother”. You’ll LOVE it!

If you are reading before amen by Max Lucado alongside us, this week we are reading Chapter Seven, “They Need Help” that beautifully talks about the power of intercessory prayer (praying for the needs of others). The study guide at the back of the book is great, too, should you have time to sit down to complete it!

Well, my dears, just two little weeks left of our summer series! I can’t believe it is flying by so quickly. But never fear – the ministry team is busily planning our fall 2015 series RIGHT NOW and we will announce it at the close of the summer session! So be sure to stay tuned!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: simpli.if.I week 9: Thank God!

simpl.if.I: Let Go! (Summer Series Week 7)

Standard

“Let Go.”

A simple, two word statement that isn’t always so easy to do.

The first time we encounter those words is in childhood, when we playing tug-of-war over a toy with another child, or when we’ve gotten a hold of something we shouldn’t and someone who knows better is trying to ply it out of our little hands!

As we get a little older and experience times when a friend hurts our feelings or even betrays our trust, those two, small but powerful words are doled out to us by “wise counsel” who encourages us to let go of our hurt because holding on to it just makes us feel worse.

When we have children of our own and they begin to grow up and find their footing and their own way, we’re told by those who’ve been through it before that it’s our job to let them go; that holding on for dear life (even if it’s what our heart is desperate to do) will only delay the inevitable and cause other issues in the process.

When we have painful pasts (or even rocky presents) and when we work through those experiences with people and professionals who help us come to terms with it, we’re counseled to let go of what’s behind us in order to live in here and now.

That’s all good and honest and wonderful advice! But it’s just not always easy, is it?

I think the reason it’s so hard for us to just “let go” is because we don’t know where we’re supposed to “put it”! In other words, if the experience or feeling exists, it’s got to go somewhere, right? You just can’t un-feel it, or undo something that happened. It’s like cleaning out your closet – those clothes that you no longer wear or need don’t simply vanish into thin air just because you are ready to let them go; you need to clear them out and give them to someone else in order to actually be rid of them.

That’s why this week’s mantra and scripture verse are so powerful! As Christians, when we talk about letting go, we’re really talking about the freedom that comes as a result of giving it up to God and trusting that He’s got it for us. We’re not just releasing our stuff out into thin air and hoping it doesn’t come back and settle right back on us. We’re literally giving it to the only One who can take it on without judgement and fight for us through it all.

Let Go Exodus 14-14

Freedom in letting go is possible when we trust God. It’s possible whether you need to grant forgiveness or you need to receive it. It’s possible when you need to let your child navigate the newness of middle school, high school, or even college. It’s possible when the time comes to let go of your past. It’s possible EVEN if you need to release control of a situation that you are desperate to keep your hand on/in when you know it would be better if you didn’t.

At the end of the day, that’s what our soul is desperate for – spirit-cleansing freedom.

I don’t know what you might need to let go of today, but I do know that if you trust it in the hands of Christ, He will take it from you and carry it and replace it with peace in your heart. Let’s pray for each other this week as we trust God to fight for us and let’s celebrate our victory in freedom!

Ruthie Donovan

(photo credit:  Alicia Donovan, photo of her beloved Ruthie running FREE!)

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take this week to help you LET GO!):

  1. Find/print our mantra and scripture card for this week! Display it somewhere you are sure to see it and read it each time you see it!
  2. Spend time meditating on this powerful verse and share with God the places in your heart that need His healing touch of release and freedom. Journal what you feel He might be saying back to you. Follow through with any Spirit-led actions you feel Him guiding you to.
  3. Go back through all our mantras to date and see if you can’t memorize them! Remember, we started back in the middle of June with Choose God! Click here to re-read any of the blog entries and to print up a new set of cards if you need/want to!
  4. Check out this super awesome video of Rend Collective singing “Finally Free “. I had the GREAT JOY of seeing this crazy cool band live on Friday night! They were so wonderful! If they are ever in your area, you HAVE to go see them!

If you are reading before amen with us, we are reading Chapter Six, “Forgive Me”. The chapter study guide at the back of the book is particularly powerful this week so if you have time, I encourage you to complete that, too! J

We’ll see you back here next week for Week 8 (yes, I said week EIGHT!) of simpl.if.I! As always, thank you so much for taking this journey with us! We are so grateful for you!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: simpl.if.I Week 8: Be Nice!

simpl.if.I: Be Real! (Summer Series Week #6)

Standard

Sometimes you just need to know you aren’t alone.  Sometimes you need reminding that weeping is cleansing and good and painful and hard, regardless of the reason why you’re weeping.

 Be Real Angel Statue

Jesus Wept.  John 11:35

When I read those two words from John 11 above, I honestly didn’t care why he was weeping.   I just needing reminding that Jesus wept and in the midst of it, I realized the healing power of this very short verse.  Jesus wept because he knew what it meant to be broken.  Just like us.  He wept because He knew it isn’t easy being human.  Just like us.  He wept because life is hard and He, Himself, experienced the fact that earthly life deals us blows we aren’t expecting and aren’t even able to deflect.   Just like us.  So He wept.  And therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that we do too.

 

We each weep because of a catalyst – an event.  Maybe because of a diagnosis.  Maybe because the bottom falls out.  Maybe because we can’t cope with the way it is for one second longer.  Maybe because it shatters our heart to see someone we love in shambles.  But honestly, regardless of the reason, we weep because we have been rocked at our very core.  We weep because we cannot have imagined “this” was coming.  We weep because we didn’t want it to be this way.  And we weep because we know change is coming.  But maybe change is just what we need to heal.

 

The beautiful flipside to the sadness is that we also weep when we are happy!  Can you even imagine all the times Jesus must have felt blessed tears on His holy cheeks when He looked around and thought, “My heart could burst with joy in this moment!”?  Even with all the heartache, there were most certainly tears of happiness shared around the table, too!  Just like us.

 

Weeping lets us be real, and being real is a grounding and simple and holy experience.  It puts us on an honest and transparent footing with others and, most importantly, with God.  Being real is a lifelong process that prepares us to intimately share ourselves with Him face-to-face.  To be real means to really know love.

Be Real John 11-35

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

So today, go ahead, be real.  Do the “ugly cry” if you need to – regardless the reason.  Because remember, sweet friend, you are infinitely loved and understood.

 

Practical Application:  (simipl.if.I’ed steps you can take to get REAL today!)

 

  1. Find/print our scripture card for this week: Be Real (John 11:35). Put it somewhere you can see it and read it to yourself over the course of this week!
  2. Read the verse in context of what was happening in the life of Jesus when this was recorded. Realize that Jesus experienced everything we do as humans. What a gift we have in watching how he did things.
  3. If there’s something going on in your life right now that is moving you to tears, let yourself be real enough to weep. Write a letter to yourself giving yourself permission to be mad/sad/happy/elated/frustrated. When you’ve written it, read it to God as a prayer. Tuck it into your Bible or a safe place to come back to once the emotion has faded and the situation has either resolved or lessened in intensity. It serves as a reminder that God brings us through to the other side of all things WITH Him.
  4. Check out this audio/video version of Francesca Battistelli’s “Holy Spirit”!

If you are reading before amen, by Max Lucado, this week you can read Chapter 5:  “Heal Me”.  And, if you are so inclined, complete the Chapter 5 study guide at the back of the book!

 

Thanks for joining us in this series!  We are growing together in Christ – it’s such an awesome thing!

 

Peace, love, and Joy!

 

Wendie

 

Up Next Week:  Simpl.if.I week  7:  Let Go!

simpl.if.I – Don’t Worry! (Summer Series Week 5)

Standard

Somewhere nearby, a dog sits in his backyard barking all. the. time.  As you might imagine, this annoys the neighbors and upsets households for blocks.  But instead of getting angry, I find myself feeling really sorry for him. The truth about his beautiful boy is this: he’s an anxious dog who is in serious need of some solid training and attention (and maybe even a little dose of tough love…).  I know he’s bothersome to many people, but I just try to keep it in mind that his behavior is a result of an owner who doesn’t know how to take care of him or how to deal with his anxiety.

 Doggie Gate

I’ve experienced times and seasons of anxiety in my life and it occurs to me that perhaps this pretty baby isn’t so different than many of us humans who also feel sad and anxious.  We all just want to feel better, you know?  Maybe we’ve been “barking” and crying for help for years, and even those closest to us didn’t hear us (or didn’t know how to).  All this barking to simply say – “I don’t feel good.  I feel worried.  Take care of me.  Help me.  Bring me inside so I can feel safe because I can’t do that for myself right now.”

Worry exaggerates reality and makes us do one of several things:  we fight; we flee; or we freeze.

“Fighting” most often takes the form of trying to control the situation with a sense of force, which is just a nice way of saying manipulation, and – let’s be honest here – nothing good comes from that.

“Fleeing” when we’re worried just prolongs the inevitable, because life has a way of catching even the swiftest of us.

And “freezing” creates a whole set of problems in itself, because we cut ourselves off from anyone and anything that could possibly help, and end up isolated and alone in our pain.

None of these options deals with the worry.  Instead, all of these options turn our attention onto ourselves and our situations and they distort the truth, so we’re left feeling hopeless in the midst of the anxiety.

But what if we added one more option to those choices?  What if we built on everything we’ve learned so far here in our simpl.if.I series and added a “Don’t Worry” card to our deck?!

Don't Worry Matt 6-25

 

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly tells us not to worry!  In my favorite verse of all time (you’ll be reading it in it’s entirety this week), Jesus reminds us that worrying doesn’t do anything productive.  It keeps us from living in the moment, prevents us from fully experiencing God’s blessings, and moves our focus off Him and onto ourselves.

But trusting God?  Well, that is productive!  It gives us freedom.  Freedom to live boldly, with hope and peace, covered in True Love, even when life tries to tell us otherwise.

So back to my neighbor’s barking dog.  What if this dog’s master was able to bring him inside, provide structure, love, and discipline, and training?  What if the Master were to show him the freedom in trusting Him?  How would that look from his heart’s perspective?

 

pretty boy

I think that’d look like one contented, peaceful pup!

Lord, meet me at the back door when I’m barking and usher me into Your peace.  Teach me to fight the urge to manipulate, flee, and freeze and remind me of the freedom I have in You.  Give me courage to stand up to the lies that “worry” tries to tell me. Instead, show me how to listen only to Your Truth:  that you love me, have good plans for me, that You will never leave me, and that I am Yours forever.  You are so rich in your mercy, Father.  Thank you.

Practical Application:  (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take so you learn not to worry!):

1.  Find/print our mantra/scripture card for this week:  Don’t Worry!

2.  Read this portion of Matthew 6 to get our verse in context!  Such good and meaty truth in here, sweet friends!

3.  Call out your worry!  Make a list of things that cause you to either fight, flee, or freeze and then CROSS THEM OUT!  Instead of letting them control you, spend time placing them in God’s hands through prayer and through meditation on His goodness and His ultimate control and concern for you – you ARE the one He loves!!!

4.  Watch this music video for the beautiful song, “Shoulders”, by For King and Country!

If you are reading before amen with us (by the wonderful Max Lucado!) it’s time to read Chapter 4:  “I Need Help”, because, really, who doesn’t?!   If you have time and energy, complete the study guide for the chapter at the back of the book!

Have a great week, sweet friends! Know I am praying for YOU this week to break free of whatever is worrying you!  TRUST God and KNOW freedom!  Don’t Worry!  😉

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I week 6 (yes, we are onto the second half of the series…!):  Be Real!

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION at a level which is disruptive to your daily routine and/or impairing your ability to function, I urge you to PLEASE call your doctor right away.  If you are feeling like things are hopeless and life is not worth living, please call 911 immediately.  You are important, you are cherished and loved, and you have so much more to say and do for this world!  Help IS literally one phone call away.  I am praying for you.

 

 

 

 

simpl.if.I – Believe God! (Summer Series Week 4)

Standard

This is my friend, Sarah.  As you can see, she is flawless.  Made by a flawless God.

sarah and keegan simply flawless

One of the coolest things about Sarah is this: she knows God made her exactly the way He intended to, and she isn’t afraid to flaunt it.  (Do you not LOVE this pose?!  Sarah and her good pal, Keegan, have this super funny thing they do where they say, “I woke up flawless” and strike that awesome pose!  I LOVE it!)  Sarah is a girl who 100% believes God.

Sarah can teach us a thing or two about believing God, because Sarah knows that believing God means more than simply believing IN God.  Believing God means taking Him at His word.  And taking Him at His word is crucial, if we are to have faith, and hope, in life.

It’s easy to say you believe in God, but it’s a little more risky to profess that you simply believe Him and follow Him based on faith.  It’s more than an “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality!  Hebrews 11:1 says this:  “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Believing God means giving up a little (or a lot!) of our self-imposed importance and acknowledging our smallness in this life.

Having said that, believing God means knowing He has created us for a purpose and a life that, regardless of how the world defines it, is infinitely important.  It means knowing He’s there, even when we don’t see Him.  And it means trusting Him, even when we don’t “feel” like it, especially when we’re angry, sad, or confused.

It means taking the time to look back over the days of your life and seeing evidence of His faithfulness in bringing you through difficult and rocky times so that you have the wherewithal to let Him bring you through the next valley.  It also means celebrating the high points with gracious gratitude, knowing the blessings came directly from Him.  And it means looking at the person you are and knowing you have been created exactly how you are meant to be, for this time and place.  No one can be a better you!

Believing God is a mindset that leads to a lifestyle and a lifetime of reliance on the One who makes no mistakes and already has a plan in place for when we do 😉 !  Believing God means placing our circumstances at His feet and acknowledging that He knows far better than we do how to work things out.  Our minds cannot begin to fathom His goodness and His plans for us!

Believe God 1 Cor 2-9

The first step in believing God is knowing what you believe about Him to begin with!  Wondering what it is you actually believe?  I did, too!  So I took a little time out to ponder it!  You can see MY thoughts on what I’m believing by clicking here.

His plans are flawless and perfect.  Believe it.  And then, just like my pal, Sarah, flaunt it!

 

Practical Application:  (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take TODAY to help you believe God!):

  1. Find or print our mantra/scripture card for this week. Display it prominently and read it every day. Ask God what He wants you to know about Him!
  2. Read this portion of 1 Corinthians 2 to get a better idea of the context of our scripture for this week.
  3. Click here to try your hand at writing down what you believe about God!
  4. Check out this AWESOMELY FUN video by MercyMe called (what else?!) “Flawless”!

If you are reading before amen, by Max Lucado, read Chapter 3:  “You Are Good”.  I am honestly loving how Max can just tell a story from his own life and it all just makes great sense!  He’s so gifted!  If you are so inclined, go ahead and complete the study guide for Chapter 3 at the back of the book.

As always, thanks for tuning in with us for our summer series.  Your comments and support honestly encourage us to keep writing and reaching out with God’s word!

Have a wonderful week, sweet friends!

(I’d like to say a very special thank you to Sarah, Keegan, and Sarah’s mom, Lora – who also happens to be one of our FABULOUS ministry team members – for allowing me to share their photo and a little of their story with you today!)
Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I Week 5:  Don’t Worry!

 

simpl.if.I – Pay Attention! (Summer Series Week 3)

Standard

I just started a new yoga class and I am already completely in love with it!  It’s not “power yoga”, “hot yoga”, or even yoga with lots of stretchy poses!  Instead, the class focuses mostly on breathing, and learning the power of being present in the moment; of being mindful of where we are at any given time, and to make the best decisions based on that mindfulness, instead of on quick or emotional judgment.

In order to practice mindfulness, we must learn to pay attention.  Paying attention means to notice all the details around and within us.  And when we can do that, we’re always going to see more than what we initially thought was there!

Cross Background made in 2d software

 

I’m thoroughly intrigued with mindfulness as it relates to my walk with God because it reminds me that I don’t always slow down enough to see the bigger picture.  Usually, I’m too caught up in replaying what’s already happened (or I’m too busy stressing about what is still to come) to live in the current moment.  But mindfulness reminds me that God does work in the present.  Yes, He knows what happened yesterday, and He is aware of what will occur tomorrow, yet He is also currently working on today – the here and now – for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28!).

Over these first few weeks of simpl.if.I, we’ve seen that sometimes things happen that make us want to grab control and try to steer the ship of our life back onto the heading and course WE believe to be best.  But the thing is, God’s got a better idea.  He knew this very day was going to happen (because remember – He isn’t surprised by the trials we face in this life).  And maybe, just maybe, He knew whatever your “thing” is had to break apart and scatter the pieces in a very precise and perfect way in order for it to be put back together exactly as He envisions.

Our job, sweet friends, isn’t to micromanage the situation.  Instead, our goal needs to be to stop and take in what’s really going on. And instead of asking “God, why is this happening”, we change our mindset to ask “God, what do you want me to do about this, right here, right now”.  Our task should be to watch, look, and listen for Him moving in the current moment, and respond accordingly.

But we can’t do that unless we’re paying attention.

If life steals our attention today, let’s try to be mindful.  Take some deep breaths and remain focused on the moment, completely dependent on God to steer the ship.  Don’t let your own inner control freak (or even your inner scaredy cat) fool you into missing out on the details God is weaving into your day TODAY.

Pay Attention Isaiah 43-17

Be mindful this week of everything happening around you and spend some time PERCEIVING it!  Underneath what may look like a wasteland on the surface of whatever ground you are standing on is actually some pretty fertile soil, preparing the way for something great and new to spring up.  Fight the temptation to curse the dirt or to move greener pastures! Instead, focus your trust and attention on God!

Pay attention.  Live mindfully, aware of God’s plan for you, because He promises it is a good one!

Practical Application (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take today!):

  1. Locate/print up our mantra and scripture card for this week: Pay Attention! (please note that our actual verse is Isaiah 43:19, not 43:17 as printed on the card – sorry about that!)
  2. Read this portion of Isaiah Chapter 43 to see our verse in context!
  3. Make time every day this week for a little mindfulness practice! Carve out alone time where you can read our verse, and ask God to show you the new things He’s doing in YOUR life. Pay attention! I guarantee there are springs popping up all around you!
  4. Get ready for a treat!  This song is my new FAVE!!!   Sit back and take in this beautiful song by Hillsong United: “Touch the Sky”!  (Come ON – those lyrics!  “I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground”!!  Seriously?!  I LOVE this!)

If you are reading before amen, by Max Lucado, read Chapter 2: “Father…Daddy” .  I love Max’s way of paring things down and making sense of what could seem pretty complicated!  If you are up for it, complete the Chapter Two study guide at the back of the book.

Thanks for joining us this summer for simpl.if.I.  I pray the series is working in your spirit to let the complicated stuff fall away and help to focus your body, mind, and spirit on Jesus!

Peace, love, and joy!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I week 4:  Believe God!

“Wild nights are my glory!”

Standard

Wild Nights quote

 

I just LOVE that quote, don’t you?!  To me, something magical, practically sacred, happens when you get a group of women together to eat, drink, talk, trust, and share experiences – big and small.  It’s wild, really.  Not in the crazy, college all-nighter kind of way, mind you.  But rather in the unscripted, raw purity that sisterhood brings with it. Guards down, hearts lifted up, and eyes meeting kindred souls with whom you can relate, regardless of your place on life’s path.

THAT is why we gather for our summer series dinners!  And I am so excited to share a little slice of our wild night together this week!  Tuesday, we had our simpl.if.I 2015 Bible study dinner!

Over forty of us descended on Carol’s beautiful home, which had been transformed into a “Farm-To-Table” kind of paradise by our truly talented ministry team!

 dinner collage set up

Dinner Collage Signage

 Tables were set with a chic, farmhouse flair!

Dinner Collage Tables

They were BEYOND gorgeous!

Dinner Collage Tables Up Close

 

Food and drinks were abundant and flowing, and served by our cherished sister friends!

Dinner Collage Cooks and Bartenders

The smiles were constant (and contagious!)…

 Dinner Collage Fun 1

The conversations were light and deep and meaningful all at the same time…

Dinner Collage Fun 2

Long standing friendships were celebrated and new ones bloomed!

 Dinner Collage Fun 3

 

And through it all, our faith flowed freely and the joy was tangible!

 dinner Collage Fun 5

“This is the day the Lord has made.  We WILL rejoice and be glad in it!”  Psalm 118:24

Thank you, Lord, for such a gorgeous summer night, on which we could come together to celebrate YOU and one another.  We are grateful to spend time in one another’s company, for Your amazing blessings and provision in our lives, and for the precious blessing of friends.  We thank you for the opportunity to take a breath, to laugh, to listen, to love, and to comfort.  Father, help us to never take our friendships for granted, because we know they are the earthly manifestation of Your love for us!  We praise You in the name of Jesus, Amen!

Thanks for coming, everyone, and a HUGE, big sloppy smoochie of gratitude to our ministry team that managed to plan yet ANOTHER wild, Bible Babe party!  😉

 

Peace, love, and JOY!

 

Wendie

Up Monday:  simpl.if.I Week #3:  Pay Attention (click here to learn more about simpl.if.I !)

 

simpl.if.I – Always Pray! (Summer Series Week 2!)

Standard

You’re Abe Froman – The ‘Sausage King of Chicago’?”

Sound familiar?! (I’m SO giggling right now!)

It’s actually a line from one of my favorite movies called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!  But if it isn’t one of yours,  I’ll spare you from having to sit there reading all my favorite one-liners (sorry, I couldn’t help myself with the Abe Froman thing…)!

If you’ve seen it, though, I think you’ll agree that the line and scene that is probably the most memorable (and most often quoted!) is the one where a teacher is standing in front of the classroom taking attendance. In that monotone voice that we all think our teachers had, he just keeps repeating, “Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?” with no idea that no one is listening to him, and oblivious to what he’s even saying anymore.

(C’mon – are you giggling yet? Please say yes!) 😉

I was just thinking about that goofy movie this morning as I spent some time in prayer.  And  – much to my chagrin – I realized that sometimes I act just like that tuned-out teacher when it comes to talking with God.

Because if I’m not careful, I begin to think that movie scene is an accurate representation of God’s attention to me.   I talk and talk and talk to God and mistakenly feel like He isn’t listening because I’m not getting the attention or reaction I “expect”.  So eventually, I just stop paying attention to what I’m saying and praying.  Ugh…

I can be a little self-centered that way.  How about you?

But scripture (Truth) tells us something different.  Truth knows better than to believe prayer is just a bunch of words that evaporate into thin air once spoken.

Truth reminds us that prayer is conversation with God, and has supernatural power and implications!  That’s why our beloved Paul encourages us to pray without ceasing:

Always Pray 1 Thess 5-17

When we earnestly pray to God, we grow in our relationship with Him. We spend time talking with Him, learning about Him, sharing our life with Him.  That’s the miracle of the vertical growth of prayer.

When we honestly pray with others, we grow with them, learn about them, share our life AND OUR GOD with them.  That’s the  miracle that comes from the horizontal growth of prayer.

The more we pray, the more in tune we become to God’s beautiful voice and His sovereign and holy will for this earth.

The more we pray, the more in tune we become to the needs of those around us.

The more we pray, the more joyful we can be in celebration and praise when those needs have been beautifully and perfectly met by God.

Here’s the bottom line on prayer, sweet things:  Every word we speak (aloud, in our heads, subconsciously, even as yet unformed…) is heard by our Father.  He listens.  And He speaks back.  Maybe not audibly, but through so many different ways – He speaks.  So when we choose to keep praying, even when we don’t see evidence of being heard, we’ve basically chosen to be in constant contact with the One who loves us most!

 

Psalm 116-2

 

Oh please, please, please don’t give up praying, my dears!  Always pray!  He is bending down, always, to hear you.  He cares for whatever is on your mind.  He IS paying attention and He loves you enough to answer.

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take to deepen the meaning of this lesson in your life):

1.  Find and display our second simpl.if.I mantra/scripture card:  Always Pray!  If you cannot find it or need to print one up, click here and you’ll find a link to the cards!

2.  Click here to read Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica.  The link gives you a little more context into our verse for the week!

3.  Pray!  Spend time conversing with God every day this week.  Give Him your thoughts, cares, worries, praises, and joy.  And then give Him time to speak!  Record some ways you see Him speaking to you – through friends, events, music, nature, your spirit, AND in scripture.  He’s just waiting for you to slow down enough to “hear” Him!

4.  Sit back and watch this beautiful music video!  Goodness me, you’ll be so glad you did!  😉

If you are reading before amen by Max Lucado with us, go ahead and read Chapter 1:  “The Pocket Prayer”!  It’s a quick, but powerful, take on Max’s ideas of what’s important in prayer and how to break it down to basics!  If you’re feeling really motivated (!), you can also complete the Study Guide for Chapter One at the back of the book!  It gives even more great insight into how prayer can change your life!

Thanks for following along with us this summer for simpl.if.I!  For more info on this series, click here!  We are so glad you are with us!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I week 3:  Pay Attention!