Tag Archives: stringing pearls ministries

Please Take Care of YOU!

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This week, we have the chance to hear Shauna Niequist talk about her book, Present over Perfect, with Oprah! I especially love this video because it serves as such a great reminder that three spokes of our OVERALL health:  body, mind, and spirit  – are intrinsically linked.  We are our own version of a trinity, sisters!  Just as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three unique entities yet also one united source, we are too!

Our power pack scripture for the week speaks to this truth:

1 thess 5 23 card

Now, we are NOT God, of course, or even mini-Gods. That’s  not what I mean. But we ARE created in His image.  And the truth of the matter for us as humans is that we are at our own personal “best” when all three spokes of our wheel are functioning and in balance together.  When one piece of our “triune”,   is out of whack, it does affect the other pieces. Each part needs nourishment and nurturing.

Yung Pueblo Quote

 

Next week, we’ll begin a 4-week study of the connection of our spirit and our mind, and how we can learn to lean in and on God to help in the fight with things like anxiety, fear, depression, attacks on self-esteem, etc. THIS week, we’ll watch this video from Shauna and Oprah to hear about the importance of self-care and its effect on our overall health.  Our homework will focus on mindfulness and living in the present moment!

Let’s watch Shauna describe what happened to her when her own life got out of balance and how she got back to a well-balanced place.  Here’s the link!  Enjoy!

If you are following along at home with our study, click this link for Week Three Homework!  And if you like all the extra goods (!), click here for Week Three Resources!

See you next week, sweet sisters!  Be good to yourself this week – body, mind, and spirit!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

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The JOY of Gratitude! (She PERSISTED Week Two!)

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Gratitude Quote

Here’s a little Bible trivia for you. In scripture, how many times to you think God speaks to us about gratitude in the New International Version?  Well, according to a word count website, christianbiblereference.org,  it’s 340 times.

That’s third in frequency only to directives regarding love, which comes in at number one at 551 times, and fear at 366 times (one for every day of the year plus leap year)!

We understand the importance of love, of course. It’s the very fabric of Christianity and woven into our DNA!  And we can also understand the need to reassured about fear and anxiety and to be directed to trust God! But gratitude?  Why would it have such a prominent place in terms of scripture themes?

Dr. Robert Emmons (UC-Davis), has helped to open the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkely to not only scientifically study gratitude and its effects on us, but also to promote the practice of gratitude world-wide.

Emmons and his associates have scientifically studied some of  the positive effects of a regular practice of gratitude (practices range from keeping a written daily gratitude journal, recording gratitude in some other way [like the 365grateful.com project we read about last week in  our Flow Book:  The Book That Takes It’s Time] to simply thinking of three things you are grateful for at the end of the day). The first thing they discovered is that you can rewire your brain to be happier by simply recalling three things you are grateful for each day for 21-days.  It all has something to do with neurotransmitters and the chemicals and hormones and stuff!  Basically, gratitude actually rewires the neuro-pathways in the brain to help release more happy chemicals than in the brains of folks who do not practice.

In addition, they identified these seven benefits mind and body benefits to the regular practice of gratitude:

  1. Strengthens relationships and helps to make new ones
  2. Improves your physical health and motivates you to take better care of yourself (less illness, quicker recovery times, exercise more, eat better, see doctors on regular basis)
  3. Improves psychological health (lead to improved memory, happier outlook, and a diminishing of depressive feelings and anxiety)
  4. Increases empathy and decreases aggression behaviors
  5. Improves sleep (one study states that if you spend 15 minutes recalling things that make you thankful at the end of the day will help you sleep better, deeper, and longer that those who do not)
  6. Improves self-esteem and helps you become an encourager of others
  7. Increases your mental strength and fortitude and makes you more resilient in times of hardship

Those are some pretty powerful and peace-inducing changes you can make to your body and your mind, right?  But, spiritually speaking, what’s so special about being grateful, other than the politeness of saying thank you?

Phil 1 3-4 Card

 

Gratitude breaks down the barrier between the mind and the spirit and is a TRIGGER for joyful and worshipful prayer!  How awesome is that?!

When we feel a sense of gratitude for something God has provided, (and let’s face it, it all comes from God!) our spontaneous response is prayer!  We don’t thank God because it’s the polite thing to do.  We thank God because we can’t help ourselves!  It’s our soul’s response to His goodness and our reward is His joy in our hearts.

Ann Voskamp, in her book 1000 Gifts, dives into the spiritual significance of gratitude.  She traces it back to the Greek word, eucharisteo, which, in Greek, encompasses the words:  grace, thanksgiving, and JOY.  Hang onto that for a sec, because we will be circling right back to it.

There is something called cognitive dissonance and that is a psychological term that means you cannot think and believe two polar opposite things at the same time. Like, you can’t be proud of your work while simultaneously being ashamed of it.

So with that in mind, you cannot feel gratitude in the spiritual sense (which we now know means grace, thanksgiving, and joy) and ALSO be sullen, burdened, and angry.

 

I did an informal poll over the weekend and asked people, spiritually speaking, what could they use more of in their lives. Unanimous two responses?

Peace and joy.

Okay.  So let’s do a quick recap of what we already know:

  • Number one thing gratitude does for your mind? Brings you peace.
  • Number one thing gratitude does for you spirit? Brings you joy.

Looking for more peace and joy in your world? The answer is to practice gratitude.

But , this is not something we do quickly, nor should we treat it as a “to do item” on a list of chores! It’s not just:  “QUICK!  Name three things you’re thankful for – GO!” and be done with it. It’s something we do persistently, intentionally, mindfully, prayerfully.  As Ann Voskamp says, “It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation.  How long do you think it takes your soul to realize when your life is full?”

I Belong to Jesus Mug

THIS is where we start getting intentional about mindfulness:  what it is, why it’s important, what it does for you, and how to begin a practice of it.  Our readings this week will be on mindfulness and gratitude and we’ll be stepping into exercises from our books to help nurture it!  Click here to access the homework exercises and click here to access additional resources for this week!

Go enjoy your week, sweet friends!  And get into the gratitude groove! 

I am GRATEFUL for YOU!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  A Special Conversation with some special guests!  😉

 

Always, We Begin Again. (She Persisted Week 1)

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Is there anything better than opening a beautifully wrapped gift?  And… drum roll PLEASE…here is what was waiting for the girlies inside this semester’s …breathe box…!!!

Breathe Box Contents Collage

Amazing stuff, sisters:  Two books, a journal, twelve power packed scripture cards on an adorable wood slat frame, an Emily Ley de-cluttering guide, a pail in which to store gratitude cards, a custom-blended “Per-SISTER” essential oil roller ball, prayer cards, an awesome “Nevertheless she persisted” desk sign, our song list, and  – what has become a favorite item in our boxes – Sugarfina Bubbly Champange gummie bears!!!   So, SO awesome!

St Benedict Quote

Our “in-person” studies began again this week and we had such a ball reconnecting and setting the stage for this semester.  Our new motto is:  “ministry with a side of moxie”.  We thought it fit well with us AND with this semester’s title of “She PERSISTED”, don’t you agree?

Each week, we will post here Wendie’s condensed teaching notes (she’s a wordy girl… 😉 ) for those of your following online!  Each post will have a recap of large group teaching along with links to “homework” you can do to follow along with us!  AND, there will be an additional link to a section of extra resources for you explore  – should you be interested.

If you want to follow along online, all you need to do is to get your hands on copies of the following two books AND something to write on.

Box inside with books only

A Book That Takes It’s Time (Smit, VanderHulst), and 100 Days to Brave (Annie Downs)

 

[Please note that while we LOVE sharing a lot of our “stuff” (and we do it for free), we request that credit be given where credit is due.  In other words, don’t take stuff you find here and pass it off as your own if you didn’t write it or create it.  That’s just not nice.  And we love nice. 😉  Thanks, friends.]

You can also click here for the She PERSISTED homepage for additional info on this study semester!

So here we go – Week One of She PERSISTED (make sure to read ALLLLLLL the way down for information on our big giveaway this week!)…

To be persistent means to pursue with zeal. I love that word, zeal.  It’s strong.  It’s purposeful and full of intent.  It’s sort of intimidating – in a good way – because it gets your attention and makes you perk up a little at what’s coming next.  So what are we looking to persistently pursue here this session?  Grace.  God’s grace.  And living in that grace regardless of our season or circumstance.

But what does that LOOK like?  I think it looks and feels a lot like this:

Galatians 5:22-23; The Message (MSG)

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

 

I want to be relentlessly persistent in my pursuit of this grace-filled way of living as Paul describes in verse 23.  Girls, go back and read that again!!!

That, my friends, is the Message version translation of the characteristics of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, namely: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

This session, this series of Bible study, we’ll be actively studying and practicing ways (big and small) in which we can learn, weave, and nurture these Christ-like characteristics into our daily lives.

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Your breathe boxes were chock-o-block of awesome tools that will help us get from here to there! And your first homework assignment is sort of a spring board off of which all other activities will begin.

If you were with us last semester, you know my love of all things Hygge (pronounced HOO-ga). If you recall, Hygge is the Danish custom of cozy comfort in all things from physical surroundings to clothing to food to relationships.  In the interest of keeping things consistent (and the fact that I can’t seem to un-Hygge my life at the moment), Hygge will once again be woven into this semester.

With that in mind, the very first homework assignment you are tasked with this semester is to create for yourself a Hyggekrog. My “Hygge Bible” (aka – Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge) lists the number one thing you can do for yourself to make your life more Hyggelieg is to create a Hyggekrog, or your own little cozy nook.

And in case you’re wondering, YES.  There is a spiritual connection to this!  Daniel (as in “Daniel and the Lion’s Den” ) gives us a glimpse into the importance of having your own space to retreat and go to for your own quiet time with God (see Daniel 6:10 for proof that I’m not making this stuff up!  😉 )

Your job this week, before you tackle any other homework, is to create your own Daniel-style Hyggekrog! I don’t care how big or how small it is, or even if you have to share it with someone else in your house.  Research tells us that one of the best ways to build the habit of prayer is to create a single spot to go to each day.  Hygge tells us that space should be comfy, cozy, use a level of light that is pleasing to you, etc.

One cool use of you breathe box is, if space is limited, it can be used as a Hyggekrog suitcase for all your BS materials.  You just pop your box of materials by a window, add a candle and a cozy pillow, and VOILA – instant Hyggekrog!  The idea is to create a space for yourself that is for your quiet time for scripture reading, book reading, journaling, etc.  Here’s mine!

Hyggekrog only 1

Now, some of you are going to say there is no space available and no time when you would be able to use said space anyway. I’m going to go back to what I said at the beginning – we are going to be persistent in our daily pursuit of God this semester.   Make it a priority;  and where there’s a will, sister friend, there IS a way.   Let it sink in, pray about it, and see what just might transpire.

hyggekrog night 1

I just had to show you another picture of my hyggekrog!  This one was taken in the evening!  Okay, maybe the salt lamp foot warmer and the pink fuzzy blanket are a little over the top, but come ON – so Hyggelieg!

HERE’S THE SCOOP ON THE GIVEAWAY!!!!! This weekend, I’ll be posting other photos of my “space” on our ministry Facebook Page (click here to access) AND on Instagram (@stringingpearlsministries).  If you post a picture of YOUR Hyggekrog on one of those social media platforms and tag us (@stringingpearlsministries) and use the hash tags:  #shepersistedspm and #hyggekrog, you will be entered to WIN A PRIZE RELATED TO HYGGE!!!  Winners will be announced next week!  (It’s a pretty good prize, girls.  You’ll want to enter!)

Okay. So, homework for this week, please click here.

For extra resources for this week, please click here.

That’s all for this week, sweet friends!  Sorry it’s such a long post!  Subsequent posts WILL be far shorter – just too much “stuff” to get in during the first week! If you’re still reading this, I love you!

Join us on social media this week and then back here NEXT week as we jump into the importance and benefits of gratitude!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo,

W

 

 

 

She Persisted!

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It’s almost here!!!  Our Winter/Spring 2018 Bible Study Series, “She PERSISTED”, begins in just about ONE LITTLE TEENY TINY WEEK!

In case you’re wondering what it’s all about, stay tuned!  The scoop on the series will be posted next week right here on the blog!  In the meantime, enjoy this little sneaky peek into the …breathe boxes… our local participants will be receiving next week!  Our …breathe boxes… are curated with items selected to support and enhance our Bible study curriculum!  It one of our FAVORITE parts of our ministry programming!

Until next week, sweet sisters!  Enjoy the “view” 😉 !

Box Outside

 

Box inside with books only

 

Box Inside sneak peek

 

Pretty, ain’t she?!  😉  Yeah, we think so too!

xoxoxoxooxo,

W 🙂

Celebrate Good Times – COME ON! (Lessons from “Elf” ;) )

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One week.  GIRLS!!!!  One week til Christmas!  One week!  To quote Buddy the Elf, “SANTA – OMG – I KNOW HIM!!!!”

I’m super giggly about that because Elf is such a silly, silly movie!  The one liners, the Christmas kitsch, the feel good singing at the end.  Oh my goodness, it gets you in the mood, girls!  I love it!

But do you know what I love the best (besides smiling, of course… 😉 )?

Wendie as buddy the elf

I love how Buddy the Elf can celebrate just about anything.  From the world’s “best” cup of coffee, to ABC gum (Already Been Chewed …in case you didn’t already know that acronym…you’re welcome).  Buddy has the gift of worship.

As we wrap up our Come Closer series of studying 12 spiritual disciplines, I love that we are ending on WORSHIP!!!  Worship is like watching a football game and when your team scores a touchdown; your body cannot help but throw your arms in the air!  It’s spontaneous clapping at the end of a symphony performance.  It’s the tears of awe streaming down your face when you are welcoming a new baby (or even puppy, as the case may be…) into your world. (I’m such a sucker for the puppies – it isn’t even a joke.  I LOVE them!)

Big Boy Pic from Taylir

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Love my Fry Guy!

Worship is essentially our response –authentically and organically – to the goodness of God in the moment in which we experience it. How do we react at a gorgeous sunset?  The birth of a baby?  Even the surprise of answered prayer, the awareness of provision we hadn’t noticed before or expected.  It’s WORSHIP!!!

Worship 3

Worship is our soul acknowledging His presence. It’s us reacting to His action and influence around us.

Worship 1

And it’s often one of the hardest disciplines, too, because when your team is down and the game ends and you’re on the losing end, how can you seriously and honestly praise anyone?

I’ve been there, in my own way. If  you are there right now, email me. I’ll pray for you, with you, and into you. Stick with us into the new year, because I promise we will be talking about concrete ways to build God into what you are experiencing.

But today, I’m asking that we all just take a minute or two considering worship as a form of celebration.

worship 5

You guys know I love to put myself in Bible stories, especially ones where Jesus is the leading character. Which is pretty much every story  in the gospels, so yeah.  I have this tendency to play this  supporting, behind the scenes kind of  role in all my versions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John right next to the main characters.

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But here’s pretty much one of my faves. It’s Jesus’s very first miracle. It’s the very first story about Jesus as, like, a big boy.  His ministry is just about to launch and somehow, someway, he and his mom and some other people have been invited to this wedding in the town of Cana.  And about half way through the party, they run out of wine.  OUT OF WINE.  AT A WEDDING.  WHAT?!  Poor planners or something.  But yet…

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But yet. In the midst of the party and the food and the celebration, Mary, our Mother Mary, this brave momma of the Son of God, goes over to Jesus (because, you know it’s a wedding and they’re not at the same table because it just isn’t the way it’s done…), and, in my version, she has  her hands on her hips and she has just a touch of an attitude, and she basically says, “Um. You need to do something about this.   I know you’re trying to humble and behind the scenes and stuff like that right now.  But these people are our friends, our people.  And they are out of wine.  AT A WEDDING. And that isn’t cool.  So.  Can you help us out?”

At first, like any young adult, he gives her an eye roll. Right? “Woman, what business is this of mine?”  (He actually says that. TO HIS MOMMA.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.) But then, like all mature-ish moms, she flippantly turns around, ups His eye roll, and confidently says to the servers, “Yeah.  He’s got this.  Do what he tells you to do and then fill ’em up.”

worship 4

I think they went home that night and had the giggles and stayed up high fiving and hugging. They knew some pretty intense and awful stuff was coming. But that night? I think they celebrated. His very first public miracle was for the FUN of it.  Celebration, girls.  It’s a big, darn big, deal.  And I LOVE it.  Like SUPER LOVE IT!!!!!!!

Worship 2

Girls. We gotta celebrate when the opportunities present themselves.  And here’s the even cooler thing:  He’s present in all of it if we just take the time to look for Him.  And THAT is what we’ve been discovering all semester.  All these disciplines lead to this:  our seeking and acknowledging of Him and His miracles – big and small  – in our lives.  We may not have always gotten them right or practiced them at all.  But you know what?  He saw us.  He sees us.  And He knows our heart.  He knows we love Him, that we’re seeking Him, and that we honestly just want to come closer.  And He’s celebrating with us today as we come closer to celebrating HIM at Christmas!

SO.  I’m CRAZY glad you joined us on this journey.  I am proud of you for reading and trying and questioning and trying again when things were new, uncomfortable, and even hard. And I cannot wait to tell you what’s coming in the New Year.  But that’s a post for January, sweet friends.  (Insert silly grin, giggles, hand clapping, and summersaults – because cartwheels are just too hard for this body…!)

In the meantime, here’s a little glimpse into where we are headed, which is even deeper into the disciplines we’ve been talking about this semester.  You aren’t going to want to miss this, girls.  It’s better than good…it’s GREAT!

She Persisted grace Logo Enlongated

I wish you and yours a very Merry and WONDERFUL Christmas and holiday break.  We’ll be back here the first week of January to let you know what we are up to in 2018. 😉

Thank you, as always, for your trust, prayers, support, and love.  I send all of that AND MORE back you way.

Peace, love, joy, and GRATITUDE!

Wendie

PS – Check out what I got from some gals for Christmas… aren’t they the most clever sisters ever?!

Typewriter from Camille and Amy

 

 

Filling in the empty spaces (how to serve well)

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I like to think that I can relate just about any lesson worth learning to fountain Diet Coke.  I’ve been drinking it since I was 15 and hardly ever drink it unless it is SPECIFICALLY from McDonald’s (no lectures on how bad it is for me – you’re going to ruin the lesson here… 😉 ).  There’s something just so perfect about their magical mixture of ice and the bubbly goodness!  Basically, it’s a glass filled to the brim with the best ice ever, and then all the empty spaces in between the ice are filled up with super carbonated soda!

diet coke

That’s something special right there, I’ll tell you!

I just love that image and how it relates to the spiritual discipline of service and the outpouring of lovingkindness into this world. Basically, it’s like this:  We see a “glass” that has empty spaces, and we use what we have fill it up.

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading at Church was Matthew 25:31-46.  Go ahead and click that link and read it for yourself!  Pretty powerful instruction on how we are to SERVE here on Earth, don’t you think?

Jesus is basically saying, when He returns to take us home, we will be called to account for how well we LOVED this side of Heaven – how well we poured out of ourselves and into the lives of those around us in need.  Right there in the middle of the passage, He lists for us the myriad of needs that exist in this world:  hunger and thirst (physical and spiritual),  loneliness and isolation, captivity, needs of all kinds, sickness.  And He makes it pretty clear that we have the power and obligation to serve anyone whose needs sound anything like those named on that list.

Girls, we are called to be traveling, mobile embassies for Christ; we maintain an open door policy to invite His people in – regardless of who they are and what their circumstances – and to pour out His love into and onto everyone He chooses to put in our path.

We fill in all the empty spaces with love. And in turn, He refills us so we can keep the good stuff flowing. That’s the miracle of service!

Here’s the thing I’ve come to know-that I know-that I know about the practice and discipline of service. First of all, it’s closely tied to the concept of calling.  I believe our calling is our chance to marry up our birthright gifts (these are the gifts God gave you when He thought you up!) with our passion.  When we can do that, that’s our “calling”.  For example, I was blessed with the gift of teaching.  I also happen to have a passion for Jesus.  So I soar in my calling when I teach others about Christ!  YAY! 🙂

So, calling =  gifts married up with passion.  And when we operate in that zone, the outpouring of our calling is renewed though God continuing to fill us up so we can keep it going on.  You know what I mean, right?  When we operating in this supernaturally, “spirit led zone”, we do not get depleted.  We get things done.  We excel.  We soar.

Similarly, service (as a discipline) also taps into our birthright gifts and talents. But instead of leaning into our passion, we soar in service when we marry up our gifts with what breaks our hearts.  And that list we just talked about up there in Matthew 25?  That’s chockful of things that break our hearts.  Jesus is just asking us to pick one and serve by filling in the empty spaces of someone’s heartbreaking situation.    That’s a miracle, girls.  And once again, the flip side reward of that miracle is the refilling of ourselves so we can keep pouring out.

And here’s a really cool thing, too. Our calling and our call to service often change throughout our seasons of life and circumstances.  And you know what?  I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be that way.

esther 4-14

 

Marry up your gifts and talents with what inspires you right now-that’s calling.

Marry up your gifts and talents for what currently breaks your heart-that’s service. And your biggest impact will be where your heart opens the widest.

Take some time and talk with God about your gifts, your passions, and what breaks your heart.  See if He doesn’t give you a little insight on how you can weave those things together to make a difference not only in someone else’s life, but YOURS too.

Following along with our Come Closer series?  Would you believe we only have ONE MORE WEEK to go?!  Spend this next week finishing up your Enjoying Jesus book and get ready for a final lesson next week on WORSHIP!  YIPEE!!!  And stay tuned – we’ll announce what’s coming NEXT soon!!! 😉

Enjoy the weekend, sister friends!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

 

I’m Stuffocating. (a First Tuesday* post!)

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I used to love email.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Those days when you’d open your inbox and it would have super fun and entertaining notes from people you actually knew

These days, though, opening my inbox feels a lot like going to the real, physical mailbox at the end of my driveway:  just one more “box” filled with junk.  Advertisements, bills, political circulars, coupons, and catalogs from stores I’ve never heard of clutter to the point of “stuff-o-cation”.  I almost hate to open it!  Ninety percent of the messages in that box are from people/companies I don’t even know.  Sometimes I delete 100 emails a day.  It all just feels so…impersonal.

stuffocating

Letters, postcards, and once treasured emails from my beloveds have been replaced by text messages and snapchats and social media posts that can be seen by hundreds (if not thousands) of others. Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling through Facebook and Instagram as much as the average person, but my heart aches a bit for that special feeling I used to get when a letter or email would arrive JUST for me.  That excitement of knowing someone intentionally wanted to get MY attention and share a little love with me made my heart super happy. It was personal, in a good way.

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about Jesus and the way He communicates. I’m learning that He personally seeks us out and actually cherishes time spent in our presence.  Interestingly (and quite counter-culturally), He’s not in the business of mass mailing His agenda and platform out to the myriad of mailboxes (and inboxes) around the globe, and He isn’t sitting at His laptop waiting for Likes and Loves on social media, YouTube, and blogs.  He’s in the business of dwelling with His people.

pitch that tent

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

John 1:14

I absolutely love the usage here of that word: dwell.  Translated from its original language, it means “pitches a tent”.  Can you even imagine?! JESUS came to camp out with us.

YOU and ME.

Camp out! As in, “Let’s do this together – in person. Face to face.  Life on life.  I’m intentionally pitching my tent with yours.  You’re that special to me.”

We don’t need a mailbox, an inbox, a social media account, or television to connect with Him. But what we DO need is space for His tent and His Word in our heart so we can DO life alongside Him.

“Watch how I do it and learn my methods (…because you seem to make it all so complicated when you try to do it on your own).”  Matthew 11:29 (my personal interpretation in parentheses!)

His Word is alive and well and begging for us to watch how He did it so we can replicate that love, that grace, that MERCY all around us. The problem comes when we stop looking to Him and instead clutter things up with all our own stuff.

This spring, in order to get serious about pursuing an intentional life of dwelling and camping out with Jesus, I’ve made it my mission to quiet down a bit and start the process of decluttering my own “space”, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s an ongoing process, sister friends, and often feels a bit slow-going!  But one thing God has got very serious with me on is the fact that I have become laden down with “stuff”.  On every level.  And in order for Jesus to comfortably pitch that tent with mine, I need to clear Him room.

Maybe you do, too?

create space for Jesus

Take a minute and answer this question for yourself: what’s stuff-o-cating you?  Is it physical clutter that needs clearing?  A preoccupation with emails and social media accounts that needs to be curbed? A habit or way of doing things that just doesn’t serve you anymore?  Is it a relationship that drains you more than energizes? Your physical being that could use to be cleaned up and cleared out a bit?  Start with one thing, just one thing, that you can begin to clear a little space within to make Him a little more room.  If there’s one thing you can be certain of, His deepest desire is to hang out with you.

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’”  John 14:23

Home sweet (uncluttered) home.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Practical Application:

  • Pick one area (body, physical space, mind, spirit) where you feel stuff-o-cated right now.
  • Pray this prayer (or one of your own): “Lord, I want nothing more than for you to come and pitch your tent next to mine! Right now, though, I’m feeling really overwhelmed and cluttered in the area of _________. I want to relinquish control of this area in my life to you. I want to clear it in such a way that makes more room for YOU! Jesus, help me to clean it up and let go of what doesn’t need to be there. Help me to use what You intended me to have in this area in the ways in which You have always planned. Show me Your way because I know it is better than mine. Forgive me for letting things get out of Your control. Thank you that You love me so much that You get personal! Help me not to feel guilt or condemnation over this clearing out, but instead to deeply know Your delight in my obedience to listening to this call from You. Lord, I am so looking forward to all our camp outs to come! In Your mighty name, Amen!”
  • Get quiet and let God guide your next step. Accept that it’s always one step at a time, girls. And remember that sometimes things gets messy before they can be completely cleaned up. 😉
  • Consider these scriptures as you start to “un-stuff yo-self” (pray them out loud, write them down, read them when you get up and before you go to sleep) to keep your mind focused: John 1:14; Luke 12:16-19; Luke 12:29-31; John 14:23.

Happy De-Stuffocation, sweet friends! I’m praying for you!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

*PS – Today is the launch of a series I’m calling “First Tuesday”! It’s my intention to post here on the FIRST TUESDAY of each month with a fresh look at scripture alongside some practical life applications to make it relevant to YOUR life!  The First Tuesday of the month is a special day around here because our local “emergency sirens” are tested at 10am!  Our Tuesday Bible Babes have come to LOVE those sirens because whenever we are in session, we stop what we are doing and offer prayers of gratitude to God for the privilege and freedom to be worshipping together!  It’s become our habit that (even when we aren’t in Bible study session) as soon as we hear those First Tuesday sirens, we drop to our knees and pray for one another! Check back here on Tuesday, June 6th for a lively post about How to Have a Good Summer, Spiritually Speaking!  You won’t want to miss it!  😉

That Time God Told Me to PIPE DOWN, ALREADY!

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just-be-quiet

Oh, good Lord.  Did He really just say that?

(Yes, He DID. I can’t EVEN.)

He can’t possibly be talking to me.

(Spoiler Alert: Yep.  He IS.)

Because I’ve foolishly been thinking it’s all about me and my big ideas. (*Ahem*)

Because, you see, without big ideas, I can’t make a plan to execute. (*Sigh*)

I’m a person who loves to execute plans.  Like, LOVES to.  It’s hard for me to “stop”.  Do you know what I mean? I like BIG ideas, BOLD plans, and BEAUTIFUL executions of them!   And God has been SO, SO good in blessing me with a great season of DOING all these things!

But the fact that He and I don’t seem to be “doing” anything like that in my life right now has me like:

what-you-talkin-about-willis

(photo: Pinterest)

(Did you just do the Scooby Doo “huhhhhh?” voice in your head?!  Me too! Me too!)

I’m the girl  (and maybe you are, too?) who likes to immediately take matters into my own hands when I don’t think I’m getting my way. So, in the absence of visions and plans coming my way, I have been a bit busy to try to kick start the process.  And every time I come up with a brilliant idea, it energizes me for about a day or two.

BUT THEN.

THEN  it’s like the fire under the boiling  “BIG IDEA” pot gets turned down to a low simmer and moved to the back burner, clearing lots of space once again on a big ol’ empty stove.

Every. Single. Front. Burner.

Wide. Open.

Like God is saying, “Well.  That looks delicious and all.  But let’s save it for another time, okay?  No need to be cooking up a storm right now. I’ve got reservations for us elsewhere.”

Kind of like a frying pan to the face – in a really good Godly way, I mean.  😉

God isn’t looking for me to DO anything right now except be obedient to the “season of rest” to which He called me last fall.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been so great at being restful.  I love-love-love being an ACTION VERB kind of girl – a doer, a creator, a teacher, a writer, a speaker.  But instead, I think I need to learn how to be a BEING VERB kind of girl (as in – be still, be quiet, be kind, be with others, be with myself, be with GOD…).

I need to pipe down, already.

And I need to be o-BE-dient.  

ecc-4-6
As I let that verse right there weave together with the original message I got from God, a more gentle wording came out:

Dear Wendie,

Will you please just be with Me for a bit instead of trying to DO things I haven’t even asked of you yet?  How about we start by taking care of you and your own four walls (literally and figuratively)?  I’ll be right with you every step of the way, but – for the moment – you need to STOP IT with all this other stuff. It’s going to be worth it, trust Me. 

And since you are wondering, YES – I see you. I hear you. I know you.  I adore you. I love you. You matter more than you can fathom.  And you’re Mine -always and forever.

Thanks, sweet one. Carry on being you by being with Me.

Xoxo,

God

Geez.  He writes really good letters, doesn’t He?!

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because I’m wondering if maybe He’s writing a similar love letter to you, asking you to let Him into your “four walls” for a bit.

With Lent starting on Wednesday, I’m asking you to join me in committing these 40 days to honest-to-goodness o-BE-dience to His voice and will.

After all, isn’t that the point of the season?!?

To be, rather than do.  To pray, rather than produce and plan.  To listen, rather than think/talk so much.  To let it “be what it is supposed to be”, rather than expect so much or try so hard to change it. To let “it” change us.

So what is this going to look like?  I’m not sure; it’s going to look different for each of us. We’ll just have to let each other know how it all shakes out in 40-some days.   All I know for now is that I’ve got my own four walls to focus on:  a guest room to clean out (long story…), a body to care for, some great people to love on (including YOU!), and an amazing God to hang out with all the while.

Not too shabby of a season centered on living in o-BE-dience, right?

My yoga teacher ends every class instructing us to take a deep inhale, and then exhale everything out that won’t serve us. I’m taking that seriously this Lent.  I’m breathing in the good stuff He has for me, and letting the rest go. Well, that and being a little more quiet, too! 😉

Love you and miss you girls so, so much.  Smoochies all around!

Peace, love and JESUS-LEVEL JOY!

Wendie

PS: (If you are looking for something different and meaningful  – and QUIET –  to try this Lent, join me in participating in this fantastic idea on praying for others! http://catholickatie.com/writing/my-favorite-thing-to-do-for-lent.html )

PPS: If you like awesome Christian music, click here to take a look at my current playlist!  It’s soooooooo good!  😉

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

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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!

 

 

Simpl.if.I (…you know you want to!)

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Happy Summer 2015, Sweet Sister Friends!

Have you ever thought or said anything like this:

Life would be simple if I just:

    • would’ve said no to…
    • cleaned up “that” mess in the first place…
    • kept my mouth shut when…
    • got back to basics on…
    • focused on what really matters with…
    • stuck to my guns on…
  • knew what God wanted me to do when…

 

Yes?  Me, too 😉 !

That’s why I’m so excited to ask you to join us this summer as we learn to simplify life through scripture and prayer.  We’ll be breaking it down to what GOD says about what’s truly important when our souls yearn for simplicity.

Girls, we gotta simpl.if.I.

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Let’s invite God’s word to get inside these beautiful hearts of ours and do its work in mighty ways!  We’ll be cutting the fat (so to speak!) and learning ten, simple and important lessons:

  1. Choose God.
  2. Always Pray.
  3. Pay Attention.
  4. Believe God.
  5. Don’t Worry.
  6. Be Real.
  7. Let Go.
  8. Be Nice.
  9. Thank God.
  10. Be Happy.

These two-word, weekly mantras will be accompanied by easy-to-remember scriptures, AND fun blog posts that will tie everything together!

These mantras aren’t “recipes” for gaining God’s love – we already have that!  And they’re not “to-do list items” that make us look better in the eyes of others.  Instead, they’re simple reminders to our body, mind, and spirit to turn to God and find what’s truly important in those moments when we tend to let things get more complicated than they were ever intended to be.

We’ll also be doing some optional reading in our series!  So, for those of you craving a great book this summer, get ready to start an awesome new read a by Max Lucado called Before Amen!

AND —ooooooohhh— did we mention there’d be a dinner party?!  Like, a REALLY fun dinner party.  Because we don’t tend to do anything without a party.  😉  If you are local, mark your calendars for June 23rd and watch your email for more info on the dinner!  If you AREN’T local – we triple dog dare you to organize your OWN dinner!  Come on – you know you want to…!

Next Monday, those of you who have been in our studies before will receive your simple.if.I goodie bag on your front porch or in your mailbox!  Inside, you’ll find some super fun stuff and further explanations to get you geared up for our June 15th start date!

(If you are NOT local or haven’t been in our studies before, don’t you worry!  Everything you need will be posted right here for printing and perusing on Monday, June 8th!  Invite a friend – the more the merrier for the glory of God, girlies!)

We are so excited to simpl.if.I with you this summer, sister friends!

Peace, love, and so much joy!

 

Wendie Connors & the …stringing pearls ministries… Team*

 

 

*This ah-mazing team includes these BEYOND angelically cool peeps:

 

Carol Murray, Marcie Clark, Lyn Schmidt, Laura Ulepic, Kathy VanEk,

Lisa Mojica, Lora Bak, and Lori Gapinski