Tag Archives: Summer Bible Study

Boxes, Goodie Bags, and Goosebumps!

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“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”  Philippians 4:13, MSG

Oh my dear ones!  Never underestimate a woman with a soul full of Jesus and a fire in her heart for others.

What happens when you gather a group of such women?  Well, a modern-day version of loaves and fishes, that’s what!

This summer, …spm… has partnered with YoungLives Chicago, a division of YoungLife that serves teen moms and their children.  What started  out as an idea to provide a few necessities for the teen moms for a week at camp grew into SO. MUCH. MORE!

YL Party Collage 1

(Having FUN at our summer party!!)

Our partnership culminated in our Cultivate 2018 Summer party!  Last week, forty-plus women gathered together to hear YoungLives staff explain their amazing program and share their experiences about the beautiful young women and children they minister to.  We also had the chance to pack 35 goodie bags chocked full of awesome goodies and necessities for the girls who will head off to camp in just two weeks!

YL Goodie Bags

(Goodie Bag Table and Assembly Line!)

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

Here’s the BIG GOD CULTIVATOR NEWS: through your additional generosity, ALL THE GIRLS ARE GOING TO CAMP; GOODIE BAGS WILL BE WAITING FOR THEM; THE SNACK SHOP WILL BE OPEN FOR THEM EVERY AFTERNOON AT NO CHARGE; and they have transport to take them to and from Chicago safely!

Sort of like the story of the loaves and fishes…

*sigh*

*fist pump*

*God is BEYOND BEYOND*

Our God is an awesome God (yes, I’m stealing that from a song). I am blown away by Him in this story (and of course, in so many others).  This summer, as a ministry, we had a specific amount we could give for goodie bags from the proceeds of the Cultivate …breathe boxes… .

Breathe Box for Cultivate (Summer 2018)

AND THEN. Due to the generosity of some amazing people, the girls and their babies are not only going to camp, they have cool goodie bags and snacks in the afternoon, and they have safe transport to get them there with their precious kids.

YOU GUYS. We started with goodie bags and these precious girls and children got even more than we imagined. We didn’t think to ask for all that extra but He provided it anyway.

I stand in awe of an incredible God who took what we had to offer and grew it into something incredible. I thank each of you for your generosity and I praise those of you whose hearts went viral with support of this program. I can’t wait to get pictures from Camp of “our” girls having fun and being teenagers all the while being such brave individuals who chose to parent in the face of crazy hard odds. And I’m so, so grateful for YoungLives Chicago for partnering with us and letting us have a glimpse of the miracles they perform.

YL Staff and Wendie

(Young Life Staffers Delilah, Kimmy, and Khadijah with Wendie!)

Check out this link for more information on YoungLives and a glimpse into the camp experience!

Most of all, I want to just remind you that God can do anything if you have a willing heart and spirit. The timing may not be what you expect. The way He does it may not fit how you imagined. The road to get there may not look good from the onset. The journey may have detours, flat tires, and canceled flights. You may have blisters from walking and sleepless nights from wandering. But HE SEES YOU. He’s got this. His itinerary outshines yours. And the ending is way better than you can ever imagine on your own.

Enjoy this day, sweet friends!

Peace, love and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

 

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The Butterfly Effect (why YOU matter!)

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I don’t remember the first time I heard about The Butterfly Effect but I DO know it fascinated me immediately! The thought that a single butterfly could flap its wings somewhere in like, Arizona or something, and that the eventual effect could cause a hurricane somewhere on the other side of the world (due to the movement of air molecules that, in turn, moves more air molecules, and so on and so on…) is just SO COOL!

butterfly effect

Did you know The Butterfly Effect actually has been scientifically proven and is now considered scientific law?  It even has a fancy pants title.  Listen to this mouthful: The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions. Don’t ask me to explain it to you, because math and science aren’t really my thing. But overall, I can explain it this way: every flap of wings, breath breathed, and action taken all matter because they cause another reaction, which causes further reactions, etc.

That refers to YOU, too, spiritually speaking.  As in:  your actions, your words, your skill sets and talents.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m evaluating myself and my “strengths and skills”, I have a tendency to look around at the skills sets of others and wonder why I didn’t get theirs instead!

But here’s the thing, you guys.  We cannot all perform the same function(s) because NOTHING on earth would get done. We’d all just be flapping our wings and moving air molecules back and forth at one another and they’d never make it half way across the globe in order to change the world in the way God intended! Listen to what Paul has to say about this in his first letter to the Corinthians:

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

1 Cor 12:14-24,The Message

I know. The ear always wants to be the foot. The foot wants to be the eye. The eye thinks it would be better off as the mouth. The mouth decides the hands have it goin’ on much more than it does. Sound at least a little familiar?!

But God knows what He’s doing, sweet friends. He designed us with a million different ways of serving, relating, leading, and connecting with one another so that things will get done and get done in His will! Here’s another way Paul said it:

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

1 Cor 12:4-11, MSG.

If we’d all been given the spiritual gift of wise counsel, who’d be out there healing the sick? If we all only had the gift of clear understanding, where would we get the miraculous acts? I could go on, but I think you’re getting the picture.
butterflly it matters

“There are generations of yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moved you make and the actions you take today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. By [God’s] hand on you, millions – billions – of lives will be altered, caught up in a chain of events begun by you this day.”

Andy Andrews, The Butterfly Effect: Everything You Do Matters, copyright 2009.

Whatever you’ve been given, however you’ve been wired, whoever you connect with and how, is a GIFT. Every single thing you do, every flap of your wings? It matters.  Spread those beautiful wings of yours and SOAR!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

Stop In Your Tracks!

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“Nature is one of our greatest spiritual teachers.” Oprah Winfrey

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise woman! And that quote right there is one of my favorites because I think she is spot on – all the lessons we need to learn about life can be found by observing the wonders and rhythms of the world around us.

sunflower-field
We learn the character of God in these wonders, don’t we? I mean, who else but a loving and creative God could design and make such diversity, resiliency, and beauty and put it on display for all of us to experience?

Job, are you listening?  Have you noticed all this?  Stop in your tracks!  Take in all of God’s miracle-wonders!

Job 37:14, The Message

From the gorgeous flowers that bloom each spring, to the powerful weather that races across oceans, we can see and learn the value of appreciating amazing moments AND riding out the storms.

From the wide range of races and languages and dialects across the globe, we can learn that the goodness of God’s love is universal.

From the resiliency of the changing seasons we can experience that, even when things look bleak, a new season of growth is around the corner.

From the gentleness and grace of a sunset, we can plug into a peace that is unlike anything else.

All of these life lessons are ours because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much, He wanted us to be surrounded by a natural world that would remind us of His goodness and care.  He’s a cultivator.

Don’t believe me?  I have a dare for you this week so I can prove it to you!  I want you to get outside this week and find things that meet the criteria listed below! Take pictures of them (you could even record them if you are more auditory than visual) or simply make of note of them in your notes section on your phone or journal.

  • Something beautiful. (Colorful flowers, a blazing sunrise, a hawk in flight, a moving song, etc.)
  • Something unique. (Individual shells along a beach, your child’s smile, the night sky tonight, a bird chirping, etc.)
  • Something resilient. (Ivy growing on a brick wall, a bird rebuilding a nest, WEEDS in your garden ;), cicadas humming their end-of-summer tune, etc.)
  • Something powerful. (Storm clouds, rushing water, a bonfire, thunder claps, etc.
  • Something peaceful. (Gentle waves, wispy clouds, leaves rustling in a soft breeze, a prayer whispered in the chapel, etc.)

Thank God for all the amazing “miracles” He created for your enjoyment and for the lessons we can learn by simply taking it all in and experiencing the ebb and flow of the seasons and all the wonder they bring.

Regardless of the season, let him remind you that He is always good.

Keep on reading your Everyday Holy Devotional, sweet friends!  It is sooooooo good, isn’t it?!  We LOVE Melanie Shankle!  And check us out on Instagram and Facebook this week for some SUPER FUN extras!  Post your photos from this week’s dare using the #cultivatespm  tag and be entered to win a surprise!  😉

Peace, love, and SO much JOY!

Wendie

Freckles are Cute, but You’re Cuter ;)

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Confession time. And it’s “juicy”.

The summer after second grade, I read the book, Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume and suddenly became convinced that my life would be perfect if I just had freckles.

I know – I’m totally aging myself here and some of you won’t even know what I’m talking about with that book title or maybe even the name Judy Bloom.

PEOPLE. JUDY BLOOM IS LIFE.

Well, she’s LIFE for those of us girls who grew up in the 70s and early 80s. And if you take Judy Bloom books and follow them up with John Hughes movies? Now THAT is honestly LIFE.

But I digress. Back to Freckle Juice. I’ll have to admit, prior to reading it, I never gave freckles a second thought. But after reading this book, I was obsessed with having freckles because I thought they would make me special. The thing was, I was NOT willing to drink the concoction (I totally thought it was real, BTW):

“Sharon’s Secret Recipe for Freckle Juice: Mix up all these things together – stir well and drink fast: grape juice, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, juice from one lemon, pepper and salt, ketchup, olive oil, and a speck of onion. One glass makes an average amount of freckles.” (from Freckle Juice, by Judy Bloom)

SO instead of drinking that gross juice, I decided to try sun-tanning, permanent marker, and prayer. But no matter what I did or how many prayers I prayed, I never got freckles.

You ready for a sage truth I’ve learned that summer? Here it is:

If you don’t have freckles, YOU WEREN’T MEANT TO HAVE THEM.

Feel free to insert anything you’ve coveted and yearned for over the years. There are times we look at the attributes we admire in others and wonder why we weren’t gifted and blessed in those ways. We spend too much time looking outside of ourselves and feeling neglected and left out because of what we don’t have. But the truth of the matter is that you weren’t made for those things; you were made for different (and dare I say BETTER) things. Things that suit you. Things that allow you to do YOU.

This summer, I’ll be encouraging all of us to start thinking about the following three questions:

Who am I? (How have I been created? What am I good at? What are the attributes God uniquely ascribed to me?)
What do I care about? (What are the things that make me tick? What moves me to tears – both good and bad? What do I want out of life?)
How can I live my life so that it reflects God’s purpose for me? (How can I marry up who I am to what I care about in order to make a difference in meaningful ways?)

Why are we doing this? Because it matters deeply that you connect and cultivate the gifts, talents, and attributes that God bestowed upon you. These things are uniquely yours and have significance beyond anything your sweet little head can imagine.

Our job is to take everything good and sacred and holy that God has placed within us and, as we nurture and cultivate and grow them, pour them right back out into the lives of those He places around us.

This world, YOUR world, needs you to be YOU. Not “a version” of you, not the you that has Sharpie freckles tattooed onto your precious face because you think that is what makes you special. WE need you to actually be YOU. Because THAT you is the special you.

Here’s what I want you to do this week.

• If you don’t already have one, get yourself a copy of Melanie Shankle’s new 100-day devotional, Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments. Start it NOW!

 

Melanie Book

 

There are 100 days from Memorial Day up to Labor Day! I can’t think of a more FUN and meaningful book to keep us in God’s word this summer!
• Start noticing the things that make you uniquely you. What are you good at? What do people tend to bring up about you that they admire? What role(s) do you personally gravitate to in your family/job/friend group (i.e. the one who gets things done, the big idea girl, the creative one, the teacher, the FUN one, the peacemaker, the calming influence, the math mind, etc.)?
• Grab a journal and start writing these things down!  Keep track of things as they pop into your head.
• Meditate (or even memorize!) this verse: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10, NLT
• Make this your motto this week:

be who you were created to be

 

See you back here next week for more Cultivate 2018! And follow us on Instagram and Facebook for Meaningful Mondays, Wisdom Wednesdays, and Friday Fundays!

It’s going to be a great summer, sister friends!
Enjoy your week!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

Cul.Ti.Vate! Our Summer 2018 Series!!!

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cultivate logo 2

 

Cul-ti-vate: (verb)

To foster the growth of something through nurturing and encouragement.

This last week in Chicago has been like a real-time viewing of  time-lapse video of spring.  Each day, it was like you could see the greenery and flowers growing right before your very eyes! Pure magic!  And a sure sign that, regardless of how long winter hung around this year, seasons really do come and go.

If you have ever lived in this area of the Midwest, you know that spring is short lived.  It lasts about a two or three weeks and is nestled in between snow and frigid temps and the heat and humidity of Chicago summers!  So, these few weeks are when we all bust out to Home Depot and get busy planting fledgling flowers and gardens, tidying lawns, and pulling out the patio furniture.  It’s all about hope for what is yet to BLOOM!

Spring brings with her so much hope for all measure of possibilities!  And along with the sunny days and warmer temperatures, we also experience rain and storms which are necessary in cultivating the growth that will surely be a result of our hard work in and on the ground.  

Ground level.  That’s were our efforts need to be focused to get the growth growing, girls.  You plant something too far down, it never gets the chance to sprout up into the light.  You plant it with roots exposed  instead of right a ground level, it withers from the lack of being nurtured by the soil.

Growth requires ground level cultivation.

We can all use a little cultivation these days, right? And, really, is there a better time to renew and grow than summer?!

BB Outside of Box

This summer, I hope you’ll join us as we take the time to slow things down just a bit and focus on what matters, and take time to cultivate people, experiences, and moments for ourselves and for those we love!

We’ve got great blog posts, fun resources, and a fabulous summer …breathe box…(TM) to get us digging into what God has planted in our hearts.

BB Contents

 

Inside BB

 

“Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin!”

Zechariah 4:10, NLT

If it matters to you, CULTIVATE it!  Because all good thing start small!  You guys, good things all begin at GROUND level. 

Our Cultivate summer series starts right here on the blog on MONDAY, MAY 28th!  We have lots of great things in store for you  so mark your calendars,  and get ready to grow with us this summer!

 

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

How to #HAGS (Have a Good Summer ;) )

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Happy First Tuesday, sweet sister friends! It’s FINALLY summer break!  I’m so, so happy about this for, like, a million and fifty-seven reasons. But Reason Number One is (drumroll please):  this beautiful family of mine needs a break.

Yours does, too? I thought so.

Don’t worry. We aren’t the only ones.  It’s been an issue for millennia.

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He knew we’d all need a break at times.  Thank you, LORD!

So here’s the practical application and importance of this – at least in my world.  For me, summer break means a break from the “control” of school days because it’s totally structured FOR us, but not necessarily BY us.  The school system decides when the kids will be in school.  The coaches and activity leaders decide when practices and games and recitals are held.  The tutors decide what hours they are available.  The teachers decide what homework is due and when.    The moms at pick up decide who is playing with whom afterschool and where…AHEM.

The order of our days is predetermined by the forces around us and, for the most part, we need to get in line with it in order for there to be order, if you know what I mean.

Graciously, summer dances to a different beat.

And so today, at the start of what is summer break for many of us, I am giving you a little advice on how to have a good summer. It goes something like this:

“GO DO YOU.

AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ENJOY IT.”

 Peony 1 Talmud

Is that awesome or what?! So often, we think of indulging in things we enjoy as something we will judged for.  But God (don’t you just LOVE Him?!) basically turns that thought on its ear and says, “Girl, if it’s permissible  –  and tons of amazing and fun things in this life are – you might as well enjoy it because I made it just for you.”

I don’t know what it looks like for you because He wired each of us so beautifully different. For me, it’s a big girl glass of wine on a starry night sitting by the outdoor fire.  Or maybe it’s just an extra half hour by myself at the pool with my Bible.  Or hey – it’s even ordering pizza two nights in a row just because I don’t feel like cooking.  But whatever allows you to have some seriously permissible fun this summer, I say GO FOR IT!

Bring Me Wine

(Photo from Pinterest)

Girlies, let’s shake things up for a couple months. Change your schedule and include something new you’ve been wanting to do.  Try taking after dinner walks with your spouse, or maybe early morning coffees on the deck.

Ask your boss if you can shift your work schedule to come in an hour earlier for a week or two so you can earn a little flex time and take a few extra days off to just kick around in your garden or in the city. Get creative with your time.

Let your kids “drive the boat”, so to speak. Have them choose activities that allow exploration of their passions and interests.  Let THEM choose their playmates and embrace their own choices and decisions (within reason 😉 ).  Consider ditching those dreaded “summer skills books” in favor of comic books and silly novels and even Netflix (did I just say that out loud?!). Volunteer at the food bank and make blankets to distribute to those in need when the cold weather returns (because  – SPOILER ALERT – no matter how hot it gets this summer, that Chiberian chill will be back).

Go get lost on a road trip. Swim in a lake. Wear cut-off overalls.  Go to a concert.  Call your college roomie. Hang out with your mom. Show up at your best friend’s house with some flowers and iced tea just because you can.  Talk a walk with Jesus.  Smooch a puppy on the lips (this one might be my favorite!)!

Have your own church service in the park. Eat a humongous cheeseburger, for Heaven’s sake, and wash it down with a cold beer or soda in a glass bottle.  Have a popsicle at breakfast and ride the Ferris wheel…three times in a row!  Eat sweet cherries and spit the pits on the ground.  Embrace simple things that bring mega-doses of joy.

Yeah. These are the things I wish for you AND for me this summer because even the smallest, simplest things reveal God’s great love for us.  And we are blessed to be able to experience them. Be aware of your gifts and use them to better this world.

I guess what I’m saying, love bugs, is that I wish you the happiest summer break ever. Like, EVER.

Stop making your summer bucket lists and just go do all the things you were going to put on them. Sometimes the spontaneous stuff is sooooo much better anyway.

Okay. Enough screen time.  Go on now. Get on out there.  The world is waiting.

What are you still doing here?!?!? I mean it – GO!  Get outta here!  I triple dog dare you.

#HAGS 😉

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

PS – See you back here on July 4th for the next First Tuesday post…!

PPS – If you are local to the Chicagoland area, I encourage you to check out a great resource:  “Glen Ellyn Moms Village”!  They have awesome social media sites for ideas and inspiration for your summer… AND year-round!! Be sure to follow them so you can  keep updated about local happenings and musings regarding Glen Ellyn and the surrounding communities; the sites are run by one of my favorite sister friends!!!

https://www.facebook.com/glenellynmomsvillage/

https://www.instagram.com/glenellynmomsvillage/

The Best Way to End Things

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The ending of something wonderful is never easy, is it?  I mean, when something sweet has run its course, how do you bring closure to it without feeling a wee bit depressed?

Well, you throw a party, of course!

Last week, we wrapped up our Summer 2016 series, easy, with a super fun, progressive Pop-Up style party!  We send out email invites a few days in advance and announced our secret locations!

We started the night at Camey’s house for drinks, appetizers, and lots of catching up and giggles!  (And Camey’s dog, Dodger, stole all our hearts!)

16 Candles Collage 1

16 Candles Collage 2

16 Candles Collage 3

16 Candles Collage 5

An hour or so later, we meandered through a candlelit path to Alicia’s, to find a spot to sit, relax, eat our picnic dinners, visit the popcorn and candy bar, and watch a silly movie from the 1980’s – “Sixteen Candles”!

16 Candles Collage 6

We spent out night enjoying each other’s company, eating delish food, and just plain ole’ took it easy!  My thanks go out to everyone who came and especially to our entire pop-up party team for your generous support of the night!  We had a BALL!

16 Candles Collage 4

And of all the wonderful things about Alicia, I have to say I was super impressed with her ability to pack my car so expertly at the end of the night!  😉

16 Car Packed

I hope you had as much fun walking through this easy summer as we did!  Stay tuned for our announcement next week – RIGHT HERE – for our big unveiling of our Fall 2016 series, “Wonder-FULL”!!!!  It’s going to be GREAT!!!

 

Peace, love and joy!

Wendie

 

 

The ONE Thing You Need to Know About Living “Easy”

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Karma.

It’s a Sanskrit word with origins in India and is a key concept in several religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. And according to these wisdom traditions, you can acquire good karma, or bad karma.

Basically, good karma refers to the belief that good intentions and good deeds lead to a good future coming your way. Conversely, bad intentions and bad deeds will attract bad karma and bad things in your future.

In other words, what goes around, comes around.

NTW Week 8

Jesus gives us that very same advice in this week’s final scripture selection of our summer series, easy 2016.  And I think he perfectly sums up all our series’ mantras in this one, matter-of-fact verse.

Think about it. When you’re open and loving and compassionate and generous and kind and accepting of people AND in life and it’s circumstances, don’t you find yourself (for the most part) receiving the same in return?  And when you approach people and life and situations with judgement and pessimism and skepticism and haughtiness, you find yourself most often inundated with anxiety, anger, misfortune, disappointment and paranoia.  And that is certainly NOT the abundant life Jesus wants us to live.

Jesus reminds us today that the best way to live an “easy life” is to approach every day with good intentions and lovingkindness to everyone and everything…including ourselves. Approach life with the intent to encourage people, not knock them down.  Make a conscious effort (and I KNOW it will sometimes feel like EFFORT…) to build people up, notice their positive qualities, and focus on their gifts.  The energy you release into the world when you do this is supernaturally and exponentially multiplied.

Couldn’t we all use a little good karma these days? Yeah, I think so, too.

So here’s the scoop. As we wind down this series (and I pray for each of you that God has ministered to you in new and fresh ways this summer), why not spend the next few weeks cultivating good intentions? Why not CHOOSE to see the good in people instead of ruminating on the bad?  Why not CHOOSE to be an encourager instead of a critic?  For some of us, it may be a challenge to change the way we see this world and how we react to it.  But scripture assures us in that doing so will change our lives, and the lives of our people, for the better.

It’s a simple mantra: “Today, I will encourage my people”. Say it to yourself when you get up.  Say it to yourself at breakfast, at the grocery store, at lunch, and in traffic.  Say it in those witching hours of 4pm to 6pm when things start to fall apart (especially if you have kids under 6…).  Say it as your grace-prayer before dinner.  And say it at bedtime before you drift off to sleep.  See what that might do to change the energy around you and in your people.  And then sit back and enjoy it as it comes back around to you.

little more easy

It’s been such a great pleasure to “surf” through these last eight, easy weeks with you.  I hope you’ve found a little wisdom, a great new recipe or two, and some good books and music to enjoy.  As always, I get just a smidge of melancholy as we end a series.  But even more than that, I get SUPER excited to get going on the next study God has inspired us to choose!  (More on that in the coming weeks, but for now, simply mark your calendars for a mid-September start date!  It’s a great one and you won’t want to miss it!)

Here’s the link to our very last week of easy goodies (mantra/scripture card, and a recipe for chicken and waffles!!!)

And here’s the link to our last song for the summer series!  It’s a great way to end, sweet friends:  Matt Maher’s “All the People Said Amen”!  LOVE it!

AND…get excited to read our August book by the incredible Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect!  I AM SO EXCITED TO BE GOING TO HER BOOK RELEASE PARTY TOMORROW NIGHT!!!  EEEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!! I’ll blog about it next week! I encourage you to order it now – it comes out August 9th!

AND, if you’re local, don’t forget to RSVP for our end of series wrap up party!  We’ll post pictures and a recap from it on August 11th!

Thank you so much for joining us this summer! I pray the rest of your summer is fantastic and that God keeps your precious self in the palm of His precious hand until we meet back here again.

Much love,

Wendie

PS – Be sure to check back here at the toward the end of August for our REVEAL of our Fall 2016 Series!  It’s wonderful… 😉

Five Things You Can Find Today for More JOY!

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“Nature is one of our greatest spiritual teachers.” Oprah Winfrey

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise sister friend!  And that quote right there is one of my favorites because I think she is spot on – all the lessons we need to learn about life can be found by observing the wonders and rhythms of the world around us.

We learn the character of God in these wonders, don’t we? I mean, who else but a loving and creative God could design and make such diversity, resiliency, and beauty and put it on display for all of us to experience?

NTS Week 7

From the gorgeous flowers that bloom each spring, to the powerful weather that races across oceans, we can see and learn the value of appreciating amazing moments AND riding out the storms.

From the wide range of races and languages and dialects across the globe, we can learn that the goodness of God’s love is universal.

From the resiliency of the changing seasons we can experience that, even when things look bleak, a new season of growth is around the corner.

From the gentleness and grace of a sunset, we can plug into a peace that is unlike anything else.

All of these life lessons are ours because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much he wanted us to be surrounded by a natural world that would remind us of His goodness and care.

Earth from Space

Take an easy hike outside this week and find things that meet the  criteria listed below!  Take pictures of them (you could even record them if you are more auditory than visual) or simply make of note of them in your notes section on your phone or journal.

  • Something beautiful. (Colorful flowers, a blazing sunrise, a hawk in flight, a moving song, etc.)
  • Something unique. (Individual shells along a beach, your child’s smile, the night sky tonight, a bird chirping, etc.)
  • Something resilient. (Ivy growing on a brick wall, a bird rebuilding a nest, WEEDS in your garden ;), cicadas humming their end-of-summer tune, etc.)
  • Something powerful. (Storm clouds, rushing water, a bonfire, thunder claps, etc.)
  • Something peaceful. (Gentle waves, wispy clouds, leaves rustling in a soft breeze, a prayer whispered in the chapel, etc.)

Thank God for all the amazing “miracles” he created for your enjoyment and for the lessons we can learn by simply taking it all in and experiencing the ebb and flow of the seasons and all the wonder they bring. Regardless of the season, let him remind you that he is always good.

If you are following along with our easy 2016 summer series, we have reached our second to last week! Can you even believe it?!  Only one more week to go!  But never fear as we are already cooking up what’s coming next!  We will announce our fall study in a few weeks.  In the meantime…

Click here for the following easy goodies:

  • Link to this week’s mantra and scripture card!
  • Link to this week’s yummy menu and recipe cards!
  • Link to purchase/find out about our July book, Giddy up, Eunice, by Sophie Hudson!
  • And click this link for another great tune this week by MercyMe, “Flawless” – one of my all-time favorites!!!

Have an easy week, sweet friends! See you next week when we wrap up the easy summer series!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

Try it, you’ll like it!

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Someone needs this word today.  Maybe it’s me preaching to me, or perhaps it’s the Holy Spirit working his awesomeness right here just for YOU.  Regardless.  Whoever you are, this one is for you. 😉

At the tender age of 23, I was a newlywed bride who somehow found myself on a transatlantic flight to England with no return ticket in my pocket. My husband of six months had been offered the opportunity to transfer to the northeastern region of England for his job.  Never ones to turn down a challenge, we jumped at the chance to take the leap over the “pond”, and it was one of the best decisions we have made as a couple.  It was SO awesome for us individually and as a couple…not to mention it was a totally cool, God-filled, three-year adventure!

Of course, we’re back on American soil and have been for over twenty years. But almost every time people  hear our story, their reaction is generally something like, “Wow!  I could never do that!”

I get their initial reaction. It sounds daunting, scary, new, unfamiliar.  And, sure –  most of the time, we all have a tendency  to want to just “play it safe”.  Take the same route to work, shop at the same stores, eat at the same restaurants (ordering our “usual”),  wear our favorite sweatshirt, use the same technology (even if newer and better tech exists), etc.

We want to “bloom where we’re planted”. We find comfort in routine and in the “known”, right?

But what would happen if we had the faith and courage to bloom where God took us?

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying He created us to be major adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers who just jump at every opportunity that comes our way! But I do think He  intends for us to step outside our comfort zones in order to to help make this world a wonderfully adventurous place to grow and share Him in it.

I was at my parents’ house in Sarasota this past week and I saw the most curious thing. An orchid “baby” off one of my mom’s many yellow orchid plants had made its way from a pot all the way to the joint of a pigmy palm tree.  Take a look:

orchids in a palm tree

Isn’t that the coolest thing?

Do you know what’s even cooler?  It’s thriving.

That orchid didn’t say, “Well, this isn’t where I thought I’d end up! I wasn’t planted here!  This doesn’t feel very familiar and it’s sort of uncomfortable!  Get me outta here or I’m going to wither on the vine!”  Instead, it took up residence in a brand new place, using its roots as an anchor to thrive and live and add a little beauty and color to an otherwise dull-looking tree trunk.

What if we used our faith as an anchor that allowed us to venture a little bit away from our planted places? What if we trusted in God enough to try on a little courage and muster up the bravery to try something new?

I don’t know what that looks like for you, sweet friend, but I do know something is waiting.  Maybe it’s a new hobby or sport.  Or maybe it’s a new neighbor waiting for someone to knock on her door.  Perhaps a different job opportunity or even a new church has presented itself to you.  Or, yeah, maybe even an across-the-world move beckons that requires you to rely on your faith and trust in God just enough to give you the courage to take the first step to a new adventure and spread the beauty of Jesus wherever you find yourself.

NTW Week 6

What’s tickling the tips of your adventure spirit these days?  This week, I encourage to spend some time with God talking about it, consult scripture and wise counsel.  It may not be easy, but it sure will be worth it if God has brought it to you. As you explore the possibilities, you’ll find God showing up  right next to you, waiting to grab your hand, and take you somewhere you never expected that will be worth every “butterfly” you feel!

Following along with our easy 2016 series? Can you even believe only have TWO MORE WEEKS LEFT?!  Click here for the following goodies:

  • Link to our “Note To Self” mantra/scripture card
  • Link to a printable copy of this week’s easy meal and recipe card
  • Link to find out more about our July book, Giddy Up, Eunice, by the hilarious and insightful Sophie Hudson
  • And click here to listen to this week’s easy, breezy tune by Blanca, “Different Drum”!

Have a great week, sweet friends!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

Up next week: Take a Hike (what nature teaches us about the rhythms of God’s goodness)