Tag Archives: summer series 2013

Life Is INDEED Sweet! Amazing! Glorious, even!

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Ah! La Dolce Vita! I can think of no other words to describe our final Pure Joy dinner of the summer! And I once again think I’m the luckiest sister friend ever! Take a look at these amazing snippets and snapshots of our wonderful evening!

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And before you mention it…yes.  I still have a smidgey bit of a black and eye and swollen face.  But it is SOOOOOOO much better!

The weather was so NOT mid-August in Chicago! We had no humidity, great temps (bordering on cool for an August night!), with just a touch of a breeze (I said that just for you, Annie!)! Marcie’s backyard was truly transformed into an Italian al fresco wonderland!

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We shared so many stories about things that we LOVE about being at home, coming home, “creating” home, and celebrating home. The food was phenomenal (I’m still stuffed!), the décor was amazing, and the company, well – the company warmed my heart to its very core!  And we asked for prayers and blessings on our dear sister, Jill, who is headed to Ethiopia this very weekend to bring her daughter, Tinsu, HOME!!!!

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It was perfectly fitting to me that this dinner was held at the very place where Stringing Pearls with Wendie was born just one year ago – Marcie’s house! I took a few quiet moments before the crowd arrived to thank God for all He’s done since last fall. We’ve expanded from a small, core group of women to a healthy group of over 50 ladies (AND GROWING!) who participate in Bible study on a regular basis! This blog has been viewed over 5500 times by people in 20 countries just since January – I think that’s amazing!  Women all over the globe followed our spring study, and then celebrated a summer of Pure Joy with us!

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I honestly don’t tell you all this to be all braggy (is that a word?!) because it isn’t about me.

All of this is GOD.

Not me, not the ministry team. But God.

Yes, as a team and individually, we’re learning to listen to Him, go where He calls, and trust His voice to guide us to our sweet spot.

When we get into that sweet spot, that place where God has always intended us to be, we soar! And when we soar, we basically get the privilege of riding shotgun next to an amazing Creator who has a big time flight plan for each of us! I keep looking to my left (since He’s the pilot and all…!) and I continue to be amazed at where He’s taking us, which, apparently, is exactly where He planned all along.

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Only God could do such things! We thank and praise You, sweet Lord!

Overall, here’s what I’ve learned over the last year: God doesn’t have a Plan B for you or for me. (It’s the “For such a time and place as this…” Esther 4:14 thing…!) Plan A is where it’s at and it’s always been that way, ever since the moment we chose (or choose…!) to follow Jesus. We can try to avoid Him for a little while, acting like we don’t know He’s waiting patiently for us to acknowledge His beautiful, holy, loving presence and get on board. But sooner or later, His will WILL be done! Don’t you want to be a part of that?!

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Thy will be done, Lord!

Don’t let ANYONE or anything steer you off course. Because I’m learning that “Plan A” is a crazy cool trip with a lot of fun stops (and okay, sometimes challenging ones) along the way. And just when you think you’ve reached your destination, another intriguing leg of the journey unfolds. The world just keeps getting bigger and bigger – along with His mind-blowing love for you!

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Here’s the bottom line: God created you. Everything God creates is glorious. So. What does that make you?

Yes, sweet friend. It makes you glorious!

Which, OF COURSE, brings me to the announcement I’ve been dying to unveil! The Stringing Pearls with Wendie Fall Bible Study 2013!!!

Glorious Poster

Um, puh-lease. How cool is that?!  A little “back to school” chalkboard mixed in with a little old fashioned “love story” postcard! Because girls, I gotta tell ya, He is head over heels in love with you!

Don’t you just basically YEARN for someone to tell you that you are gloriously amazing? Admit it, you do. And so do I.

And you know what? I personally think you’re pretty amazing!

But better yet, He KNOWS you are because that’s the way He made you.

So with that in mind, let me announce our book for the Fall 2013 series!!!

Already amazing book cover

Holley Gerth wrote this super cool book (You’re Already Amazing) which is all about discovering and accepting the perfect, unique, amazing, and GLORIOUS self that God created you to be, and I am SOOOOOOOO excited to do this study alongside each of you!

Stringing Pearls with Wendie is so excited to announce that we will be leading three local (in Glen Ellyn, Illinois), in-home Bible studies for women this fall! Details on these studies will be emailed out this week to all who have either participated in or requested info on our Bible studies over the last year! Studies begin the week of September 16th and continue through the week of November 18th!

If you are not local, or cannot fit daytime Bible study into your schedule, you can easily follow along with us here on the blog! I am also offering to send information via email to anyone interested in hosting their OWN local study with their OWN sister friends on how to host, how to create all the goodies we give out for study, etc.! Just email me at wendieconnors@gmail.com for more information!

I’ll be doing a more “formal” introduction to the series at the beginning of September! But in the meantime, get your books (click here to order from Amazon.com), and get ready to discover just how amazing you already are – all because He lives in you!!!

This summer, we’ve delved into Joy and discovered so much about the power and strength of joy in all things. This fall, we go full-on GLORIOUS. And I’m beyond giddy about it. Can you even stand it?!

So, with a joyful heart, I thank you for all your support, prayers, fellowship, friendship, giggles, and love this past year since we started this adventure together, and for all the FUN we have had this summer! And in glorious hope, I pray you will keep walking this amazing life journey with God as your pilot and me as your wingman (well, wingwoman…)!

Up Monday: The Back to School Blues (and reds, greens, yellows, oranges…!)

Have a GLORIOUS weekend (yep – that’s our new buzz word…)!!!

Peace, love and JOY!
Wendie

All things ARE possible!

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“Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” The White Queen, Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

white queen crown

How many of you smiled when you read that?! I smiled when I typed it! I LOVE thinking the impossible and I love BELIEVING it even more!

When Ella was four years old, she had this little pink scooter that she would scoot around on in our cul-de-sac. One day, a bunch of little boys were playing in a dirt pile in the center of the court and asked her to join in their fun. She happened to be wearing her Sleeping Beauty costume at the time and she scootered right up to their mud pie pile and, crown ever so slightly askew, said, “Excuse me, but I am Pwincess Awoawa (translation: Princess Aurora), and I don’t play wif mud.” And off she went.

In that moment, she WAS Princess Aurora, off on her pink chariot of a scooter to conquer the cul-de-sac kingdom. No doubt in her mind. I think even the boys believed it!

princess aurora scooter

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

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

We have God’s assurance that literally nothing is beyond His ability to do. Isn’t that so encouraging?! Even in the worst circumstances you can ever imagine, He can turn it around in an instant.” Wendie Connors, excerpt from The KISS, page 71.

Now. Go put on your crown, tell those nay-sayers you don’t want to play with their mud, and go conquer your world, one cul-de-sac at a time!

(This excerpt is taken from Daily Smooches: Devotions from The Kiss, copyright Wendie Connors, 2012. All rights reserved.  Click here to order:  http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Smooches-Devotions-The-KISS/dp/1480113425/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1372276014&sr=8-2&keywords=wendie+Connors).

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Up Monday: You have MORE…!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! Praying for you today!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Feed me? Feed my soul!

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“To set your table is to do hospitality with God.” Joanne Thompson, Table Life.

I have a neighbor who I am beyond blessed to call my very dear sister friend. I’ve known her for almost 20 years. For all of those 20 years, every time I step into her home, she has made me feel more welcome and comfortable at her table than anyone else I’ve ever had the privilege of walking alongside of in this life.

The crazy part is, I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped to explain to her what that means to me. As in, truly-down-deep-in-my-heart means. Sure, I’ve said thank you. Written cute, clever notes of gratitude. Asked for recipes (the ultimate compliment to a hostess, right?!). Tried to reciprocate with dinner parties of my own (which were nice, mind you, but didn’t hold a candle to the authentic hospitality of hers). I’ll call her the next morning to pour over the silly details and events of each night she hosts us. But I don’t think I’ve ever once expressed my soul gratitude for what each moment at her table says to my heart. So let me try it now…

It says to me: “I trust you. I value everything about you. I love you. I care to hear what you think and feel. And I want to share myself with you, too. I want to giggle with you; share tears with you; walk along side you; help you; let you help me, too. My door is always open – come on in.”

door ajar

THAT is how I want to DO LIFE with my sister friends, family, and even strangers, don’t you?! THAT is why thinking about life around the table and has come to mean so very much to me lately. To be the authentic hands, feet, mouth, and spirit of Jesus. Right here. Right now. In my house or in yours.

And it doesn’t need to be – and probably doesn’t make sense to be – a Martha Stewart-worthy event! Sure, it’s fun to get all Pinterest-y, Food Network-y, even a little Martha-y every now and again. But that isn’t the point of hospitality. There was no social media, no cooking shows no entertaining blogs or magazines in Jesus’ time! Yet everyone who ever broke bread with Him would NO DOUBT have felt it was the most magnificent experience just to be in his presence – whether in a field, on a mountain, in a boat, or over a table. They were in His life. They felt His LOVE.

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“…entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want – a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decided that every time you open your door it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide.” Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine (emphasis mine.)

Oh my gosh, I LOVE that!!! Nourishment. On every single level. Physical, social, emotional, spiritual. Sharing a meal equates to sharing life.

But it’s gotta be authentic in nature, right? Because authenticity leads to soul sharing. Soul sharing leads straight to Jesus (that “where two or more are gathered in MY name” thing!). Jesus leads to life lived abundantly, including an abundance of JOY. Oh Lord, I yearn for an abundantly joyous life! Amen?!

This Tuesday evening, many of my sister friends and I will gather together to launch this summer’s Pure Joy dinner series. It’s the first of three dinners we are hosting this summer to celebrate JOY and one another! And yes – we’ve been thinking on it, planning it, preparing for it, and talking about it for awhile now. And our wonderful sister friend, Carol, has graciously opened her amazing and LOVE filled home to ALL of us (she is so cool – you can’t help but love her if you know her!!!).  It’s honestly one of the most comfortably beautiful homes I’ve been in my life!  And Carol is  one of those amazing people who seems to just welcome you into her home and her family with ease and love.  Girl – you bless me more than you know!!!!

But I know in my heart that it doesn’t matter where we meet, what we eat, who is able to attend, or how cute the party favors are (and, um, they are pretty cute, BTW… but I digress.). What matters is that we just do it. We show up. We share. And we celebrate the FACT that God, in His infinite wisdom, put us on the same path – at least for this season – FOR A REASON. We come together to nourish one another with support, faith, friendship, and – let’s face it – some really good food. And if you are truthful right now, you have at least ONE really good dish you can make in a moment’s notice, am I right?

And so, I’m taking a page from Shauna Niequist, from my sweet sister friend neighbor, AND from Carol! I’m going to try very hard to not worry about having the perfect meal prepared with perfection on every level (because I’m prone to fall into  the “if it isn’t perfect, I’m not doing it” kind of thing).  That may mean that I have to learn to not stress about the “state of my house” anymore. I pledge to not care so much if clutter abounds in the dining room and chaos rules my hallways.

Instead, I will choose to look for opportunities to NOURISH others – on every stinkin’ level! I pledge that my door will always be open. My table will be set. If you knock, I will let you in!

“And so, regardless of circumstances, God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy!” Job 8:20-21, The Message.

Now, let’s get a couple things straight.  There may be dog hair on the floor, dishes in the sink, newspaper on the counter, and we just might need a new roll of toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom. But you are welcome. Anytime. I promise. (Just please don’t look in the closets. Oh – and I may be in my pajamas when you stop by. And if you remember, bring wine.) And it’s all okay. Because THIS is the very thing we are called to do.

So.  I want to go back to the beginning of this post – to my neighbor. I want to say this: Girl, you know who you are, and I treasure every little thing about you. So, thank you for fully using and embracing the many gifts God has graced you with, and most specifically, your GIFT of hospitality. Thank you for JOYOUSLY being His hands and feet to me and to countless others over the years and for what I am QUITE sure will be many years to come. I’ve learned so much from you. And in case you forgot, Miss Mols, my birthday is coming up and I kinda really sorta NEED my tummy to be nourished with an ice cold piece your Texas Sheet Cake for my birthday breakfast…;)

What’s on the docket for Pure Joy this week?! Take a peek:

1. Rewrite and meditate on the scripture of the week! It’s right up there just two paragraphs up (Job 8:20-21)! No matter where you are, what you are walking through, and who you are with – good or bad – He promises that you will laugh joyously again! That, sister friends equals HOPE!   I just love it, don’t you?!
2. Listen to our song for this week – The Generous Mr. Lovewell by Mercy Me. So fun, so true and soooooooo summery sweet!!!!
3. Pray for us and our super FUN Pure Joy Dinner #1 tomorrow night! Over 40 women will be gathering here in Glen Ellyn to share table life and faith! We are beyond excited to eat, drink, be merry, and lift one another up in love and prayer! I’ll post pictures of our night on Friday of this week right here on the blog!
4. Keep reading whatever book(s) you’ve chosen to read this summer to bolster your JOY in God! It’s never too late to begin so check out the book list above under the Pure Joy tab and get reading!
5. Keep up with the Joy Dare in whatever fashion you are doing it! I look forward to waking up each day to not only complete MY three gifts, but to hear what YOURS are, too!

That’s all for today, my friends! Up Friday: Our favorite pics from the Pure Joy Dinner!

Peace, Love, and so very much JOY!!!  Thank you, God, for JOY!!!!!
Wendie

Celebrate good times – c’mon!!!

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Today is my beautiful sister’s birthday. She is such a light of FUN in my life! She is cute, silly, wonderful, hilarious, smart, clever, sly, and did I mention GORGEOUS?! Yep. You might think it’s hard to be her LITTLE sister (sorry, just had to get it in there that I’m YOUNGER). But it’s not hard because she’s pretty awesome, so I kinda just like sayin: she’s mine! Happy Birthday, Kiki La Rue! We both ALWAYS love a good TIARA!!!!

Kiki and Me

So I thought, in honor of her, we could spend today celebrating! Celebrating what, you ask?! Well, the fact that our very first Pure Joy Dinner is in just FIVE SHORT DAYS! And do you know what? I am bursting at the seams to share a few fun deets of the night with you!

I don’t want to give away TOO much here because some things have to be a surprise for those who are attending! But here is a little sneak peak of a few things “on tap” for the night!

Adorable paper plates adorned with ribbons (how pinterest-y of us?!) for appetizers and dessert:

Plates for 1st dinner
We are all bringing copies of our favorite cookbooks to give away! (No worries – we all get to come home with a brand-spankin’ new one!) Here is the one I’m bringing to give away (shhhhh!):

Great good food

I cannot reveal the entire menu at this point, but here’s a sneak peak at the one of the main courses (YUMMY salads with gorgeously roast chicken, beautifully cooked and chilled shrimp, and expertly prepared beef tenderloin as add-ins  – this one expertly prepared by Tammy and Kait!):

Tammy Salads

A pretty little handmade booklet of “graces” as party favors handmade by ME!!!!:

table graces

If you aren’t a regular reader around here, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about and why we are having this Pure Joy Dinner! Well, it’s about community. It’s about faith. It’s about sister friendship. It’s about celebrating life around the table! We’re learning about Godly hospitality (it’s a command!). We are sharing food and making memories; talking about fears, promises kept, or maybe even forgotten. It’s about walking life together as sisters in Christ. And it’s about FUN!

I’ve been learning so much about these things from two great books: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequest and Table Life by Joanne Thompson. Next Monday here on the blog, I’ll be talking about what those books have done in my own soul and what I hope they might do for you, too! I sure hope you check back here.

In the meantime, let me just say, KEEP SINGING! You ARE ten feet tall (see Monday’s post…). And if the spirit moves you, say a little prayer for my beautiful sister who turns 29 (*wink*) today! Every princess deserves a million prayers on her birthday, don’t you think?! I do.

Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:3-6, CEV.

Up Monday: Bread + Wine = LOVE!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

I Got the Music in Me!!!

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Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out. Oliver Wendell Holmes.

music in you

No, I promise haven’t gone all “Debbie Downer” on you. It’s still me, Wendie, and this IS STILL Pure Joy Summer Series 2013! My friends, that quote above from Oliver Wendell Holmes is meant to be a motivator for you today – not a depressor!

I LOVE that quote. It’s super special. It’s an excellent reminder that: YOU HAVE MUSIC IN YOU. I HAVE MUSIC IN ME. And I am totally committed to letting out every last high note before I leave this world so I can get filled up to perfect pitch in heaven with my God and savior!

We’re living this earthly life with a unique song in our spirits that is meant to be sung, heard, shared, and enjoyed. Not to be bottled up, waiting for the “right time”, the “right circumstance”, or only when you’re with someone who won’t giggle when you veer off key!

When I was in those dreaded junior high years, I was BEYOND blessed to have an amazing music teacher named Miss Bartel. She started this cool mini glee club (BEFORE “Glee Club” was cool, mind you…) for some of us burgeoning rockers and called us “Up with People Juniors”. We rocked. Sorry. I’m putting all humility aside right now. Let me just say it again. We rocked. Or at the very least, we THOUGHT we rocked!

We didn’t hold anything back or refuse any gig. Miss Bartel gave us opportunity after opportunity to sing the songs she had taught us. We sang at local concerts, nursing homes, country clubs, competitions. Didn’t matter to us if we got fanfare, accolades, ‘atta-boys, or even got paid. Miss Bartel taught us that the act of singing, expressing your very spirit, was the reward – not the attention it could garner us. She was right.

Lift my voice to heaven

I recall that season as one of the most fulfilling times of my adolescence. I sang. From my heart. From my spirit. From my soul.

I know what you are wondering. And the answer is no. I never really sang “professionally” again after 8th grade. Sure, I can carry a tune, out-sing my family at church or in the car, and I’m secretly pretty darn sure Bruno Mars could’ve used my alto smoothness on his new single, Treasure (hee hee!), but becoming a professional singer was not my call at this time of my life. But it was for that season, and I felt my spirit fly higher and higher to heaven with each song I sang.

Do you want to know a secret? I still get that high to this day. Not from singing, anymore. Now, I get it when I lead a Bible study, speak at a retreat, write a blog post, or even simply reading the Bible alone or with a beloved friend or family member. As long as the Holy Spirit has placed the message in my heart, it becomes my music and I “sing” it with the passion of that 12 year old Gleek, whose heart rose to the edge of heaven so many years ago on the wings of song.

Let me be clear. It has to be from Him. Not my will, but His. When it’s His will, it’s music to my soul. On the slip side, when it’s my will, it’s just noise. And that, my dear friends, is the ticket. HIS will from His beautiful self, coming into, and settling onto,  your gorgeous heart is what creates the music.

You’ll see all this and burst with joy, you’ll feel ten feet tall, as it becomes apparent that GOD is on your side! Isaiah 66:14 MSG.

What music has He placed in your heart this season of life? Are you drawn to helping others? “SING” it. Are you a devoted wife? SING it. A dotting mother? SING it. A light in the workplace? SING it. Book waiting to be written? SING IT. Whatever IT is, let it up and out and sing it back to Him while you are still here. Do you really want to leave it unsung? I don’t think so.

Take time this week to meditate on the song God has placed in you. I mean really meditate. As in, shut out distractions, make a time and place to talk and listen, and really hear what He has to say. You can do it. You can. You owe it not only to yourself, but to the One who wrote the score and played it into being when He created you.

I am praying for you this very moment. If you already know the tune of your soul, I fervently pray you find the courage to sing it. Sing it LOUD and PROUD, as Miss Bartel would say! If you are trying to up the volume so you can just learn to hear it, I earnestly pray for the confidence you need to dig in and recognize the sweet melody that only you can play and sing. It will bring joy to your life like you have never known, and you, too, will feel ten feet tall.

So what’s on the agenda for this, week THREE of Pure Joy?! Here’s the scoop:
1. Rewrite our scripture of the week (Isaiah 66:14) in any format you want! As always, read it several times a day. Meditate on it. What does it mean to you?! Internalize it. Apply it. Spread it! SING IT!!!! YOU ARE TEN FEET TALL!

2. I’m throwing you a musical curveball today! Of course, you can listen to whatever songs you like from our Toe Tappin Tunes list, but I just decided that this week’s song needs to be MY ALL TIME FAVORITE song – SING A SONG by Third Day. Talk about my soul anthem! Whew! Sister friends, I blast this baby when I am at my highest of highest and cry to it when I am at my lowest of lows. It’s a doozy! Turn up the volume and get blown away! I’m blasting it right now, with a HUGE smile on my face!!! I cannot imagine how I neglected to put that one on our list!

3. Keep reading! What’re you reading?! Leave a comment here, on FB, Twitter, or email so I know what everyone around the world is doing (yep, at last count, we got ourselves readers in over 20 countries…)!

4. Check back here this Thursday for all the deets of next week’s first Pure Joy dinner! I’ll be listing up the menu, décor ideas, and a sneak peak at a couple little thingies I’ve got up my sleeve! If you are in our area and haven’t responded on Evite, now would be the time to do so – RSVPs are due tomorrow!

5. Keep up with the Joy Dare! We are having sooooooo much fun with it! God is so good and has blessed each and every one of us in so many amazing and different ways – let’s celebrate it!!!

Have a blessed and joyous week, everyone! See you Thursday with more JOY!

Up Thursday: A sneaky peek at next week’s Pure Joy Dinner #1!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Messin’ with my MOJO(Y)…

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I LOVE that we are sharin the JOY together! But I think we better get one thing out in the open. As in a – “smack dab in the middle of the table right now” – kind of thing: We’re going to experience some bad moods and probably even some bad days this summer that may threaten to mess with our Pure Joy mojo. In fact, you could be having one today (and I may or may not have had a string of them last week – just sayin’…)!

And I want you to know, it’s okay. Because someone amazing has our backs – GOD.

I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12b-13, NLT.

shackles

Yeah, that’s my Bible boyfriend, Paul, talking. (If you’re wondering why I have a Bible boyfriend, well, that’s a story for another day!) And if anyone could find joy in what could be perceived as a lowdown, no-good situation, it was Paul (which is really the reason he’s my Bible crush!).

Here’s where the story gets REALLY GOOD! Did you know that when he said that, Paul and his buddy Silas had been beaten, imprisoned, and were likely facing execution? And that instead of lamenting their misfortune, they prayed and sang songs of praise to God? AND…do you want to know what happened? A miracle! Their joy for the Lord manifested in an earthquake that shook their shackles to the ground, got them released, and brought others to Christ that day! (Please promise me you’re going to go read this awesome account in Acts 16:16-40. It’s honestly one of the most amazing, joy-induced miracles in the Bible!)

What are YOUR chains today? An illness? An irritating coworker, family member, or neighbor? Debt? Broken air conditioner? Too much stuff and not enough space?! Something a bit more serious?

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter what your chain looks like OR how long it seems. It can be as long as Jacob Marley’s or as short as the leash my Teddy gets walked with. What matters here is that you resolve to MOVE YOUR MIND UP. Get it up out of the depths of the prison cell the chain holds you in and move it straight up to heaven through praise and prayer. THOSE are the things that make the ground tremble and throw the chains off you and send them straight into hell. There is undeniable, atomic-power STRENGTH in joy-filled praise, my friends.

How do I know? Eighteen months ago, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, or “Lupus” for short) an autoimmune disease affecting multiple body systems. For me, it affects my sight, my lungs, my skin, and my joints. It affects everyone who has it in different ways and manifests its weird self in about 1,000,000 ways, too. I can go for periods of time with very little disease involvement and then suddenly get sidelined to my couch with symptoms and a bottle of prednisone. Let me tell you, this certainly did not fit into the big plans I had for myself!

As you might imagine, I was surprised with the diagnosis and overwhelmed with the new medications and lifestyle changes that came with it. And then, Nancy (yes, THAT Nancy – as in Cool- Beans-Sister-Momma-Nancy-Grisham, who graced us with her post right here last Thursday) showed up on my doorstep day and took me to the zoo. The ZOO, sister friends! I hadn’t been to the zoo (without a child) in probably 30 years!

Now, regardless of what you think of zoos, I’m going to tell you this: if you ever need a little perspective on wonder and JOY – consider gettin’ your bad self to the nearest zoo! God’s glorious creations on display in every size, shape, hair color, form, habitat, skin type, beauty, etc. (and I’m talking about the animals here, not the visitors – hee hee!).

Nancy and I spent a loooong time in the primate house. I was honestly so mesmerized by the silliness, joy, games, songs (yes, it sounded like they were singing to me!) they exhibited. They were in a “foreign space”, to be sure. But they made the absolute best of it and found that they were not bound by their surroundings and circumstances! They CHOSE to enjoy what they had been given, whether they “picked” that situation or not.

nancy ape photo from 2012

I felt my chains of being “a person who is sick” loosening up…

That afternoon I came home with a new perspective. I would CHOOSE to move my own mind UP to what God was offering in my circumstances. Yes, challenges would be in my path. But I was reminded of something profound that day; I had things to praise Him for. He is always with me! I had songs to sing back to Him for blessing me with things I hadn’t seen before or remembered for some time. And so…sing with joy I did, my friends.

And what did I get in return? Freedom in some very unexpected ways. The opportunity to speak and lead my very first retreat. Two published books. The growth of a little ministry of eight beautiful women to one that allows me to be in fellowship with all of YOU! A blog that reaches people around the globe. And many other amazing blessings, ministry related and BEYOND. Things I could not have dreamed of before, especially not with the chains of “Lupus” shackled to my wrists.

Here’s the thing: I’m not suggesting that prayer and praise take away our problems. I still have Lupus, and I still have flares, and I still end up on the couch sometimes, and I still take medicine all the time. What I AM saying is that the joy that comes from knowing GOD brings strength. Not necessarily physical strength – but spiritual strength. The strength to do things that we can only do through God. Starting here, starting NOW, starting today.

“Today is a special day to our Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.”

Nehemiah 8:10, ERV.

His joy is our strength. Can you imagine a better reason to be JOYFUL?

What are your chains? Can you find reasons to praise Him today? If so, you might just wake up tomorrow to find those chains on the floor, more strength in your spirit, and your Pure Joy mojo restored. Amen?

What’s on the docket for you in this week of Pure Joy (week 2, ladies!)?! Well, here it is:

1. Record, in your favorite version, our verse of the week, which is none other than Nehemiah 8:10 (look just a couple lines up there and you’ll see it!). Read and reflect on it at least once a day. Memorize it if you can! Build on our verse from last week (Psalm 118:24) and see what you can infer when you put the two together!

2. Listen to Live Out Loud, by Steven Curtiss Chapman! Such a fun song that reminds us to SHARE IT UP, SISTERS!

3. Keep reading your book – whatever book you chose from our summer reading list! It’s not too late – pick one up today if you haven’t started!

4. Continue with The Joy Dare! It has been a BLAST seeing what you all are finding each day as gifts from God in your life! Keep them coming because WE ARE USING OUR BLOG POST THIS THURSDAY to share what YOU’VE been sharing!

5. Keep watching for details of the Pure Joy Dinner #1 on June 18th! Our local dinner is turning out to be a great one!! We are sooooooo excited! Let us know if you want to Skype in!

I pray that each of you is beginning your summer with a dose of love in your heart, peace in your spirit, and JOY in your soul. I’m so blessed to know you. All of you.

Up Thursday: We’re sharin’ YOUR Joy!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

copyright Wendie Connors, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen…Start your ENGINES!

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For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Romans 8:19, NLT.

I spent the first 5 years of my life in Indianapolis. If you know NOTHING else about Indy, I bet you DO know about the Indy 500. My parents (from whom I’ve definitely inherited my love of all things celebratory!) always had a Race Day party on the Sunday before Memorial Day (a.k.a. Race Day!), where friends would come and go throughout the day to watch the race, eat great food, socialize, and celebrate the JOY of the race!

As a matter of fact, they STILL hold these parties to this day – even though they are no longer in Indianapolis! Traditions die hard and so does a race fan’s enthusiasm! So it feels so perfectly fitting to me that we are kicking off our exciting summer series here TODAY – the at the tail end of “Race Weekend”, as race fans call it! My pulse is racing as quickly as the ladies and gentlemen who zoomed their way around the oval track at The Brickyard yesterday!

Week One, Day One of Pure Joy! My head is swirling with the possibilities of what this Summer Series is going to create in each one of us because the more we pursue Him, the greater our joy will be!

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24, NKJV

That’s our scripture this week! I thought we’d start easy and build on it! You gotta admit, it’s short, sweet, and easy to memorize, right? I’m thinking back to American Bandstand when they would rate songs and say things like “It’s got a good beat; I could dance to it!”. This one’s got a great beat – so let’s DANCE to it, shall we?!

This small, danceable verse tells us volumes about joy and God. It tells us TODAY is the day God made. Yes, He made yesterday and He is the creator of all tomorrows, as well. But let’s rejoice about TODAY because He authored it, too! Regardless of circumstance, rejoice TODAY. Don’t live for tomorrow’s paycheck, or for next month when you are scheduled to go on vacation. Don’t sit daydreaming about last year’s “bumper crop”, or sit in repetitive yearning for the days of your youthful antics! Live for TODAY. For the gifts and joy of THIS moment. With the knowledge that this was created by Lord of Heaven and Earth for you. And me. And for each and every single one of us. To experience Him, to enter into relationship with Him, to rejoice and be glad in with Him and with others.

What a difference it just might make for us to think that way! To look at today (and every “today” you have) as a day made by God for rejoicing! Yes, I know you’re stressed with the details of life. I know you feel burdened with busyness and hardship. I know about these things because I am (and I feel) these very things, too. But the psalmist offers us hope in that little, sparkling verse!

Rejoice. He made today. And He makes everything glorious.

I love saying that: He makes everything glorious! If you’ve heard me speak at retreats or other gatherings, you know it’s my signature, go-to opener – especially to women or young girls! I always ask, “Do you believe God made you?” (Everyone always says yes!) And then I ask, “Do you believe, as the Bible says, that everything He makes is glorious?” (Again, everyone nods heads or murmurs a little affirmation!) And THEN, in a more hushed voice, after a little pause, I smile and ask, “So then, what does that make YOU?!”

And suddenly eyes brighten, smiles come out, cheeks blush, and giggles commence. “IT MAKES YOU GLORIOUS!” I declare. And I’m right. Admit it, you know I am!

Today IS the day the Lord has made for YOU and for me – His glorious creations. Let us truly rejoice and be glad about it, shall we?!

So, what’s a joyous creation like you supposed to do this week within the realm of this cool beans summer series we’ve got going on?! I’m so glad you asked!

  • First, find a place to record our scripture for this week (that jig-inducing verse you just read right above from Psalm 118:24!) Record it as written above OR in whatever version of the Bible you have or like best! Remember that you can always access FREE versions of the Bible from apps and websites like Biblegateway or YouVersion! Be sure to read that sweet piece of Truth at least once a day – if not more! Let it sink in, infuse your mind, soul, and spirit; memorize it even! Learn it, live it, love it!!!
  • Second, listen to our song for this week by Mandisa and tobyMac: Good Morning! I guarantee you will be dancing around to it like crazy cakes! It is GOOD. And I mean like, uplifting, energizing, heart pumping GOOD! You can access it for free on YouTube, and if you are so inclined, you can purchase it from your favorite spot to buy music, like iTunes.
  • Third, if you haven’t already, get yourself one of the books off our booklist for the summer series and start reading (remember, book list is available here at all times under the Pure Joy Summer Series 2013 tab at the top of this page)! Doesn’t matter what book you choose, just start one!
  • Fourth, mark your calendars to either attend OR HOST YOUR OWN Pure Joy Dinner Party for June 18th! More info on that awesomeness to follow soon!
  •  Fifth, start The Joy Dare! Find three things each day to record in some fashion (mentally, in a journal, through photos, drawings, music, etc). The Joy Dare can also be accessed from this blog under the Pure Joy tab above!). Here are my three blessings/gifts for today (three gifts found in church):

May 27 Joy Dare

(Cool, right?! I am learning how to use all these amazing apps and computer programs to make neat collages and edit photos! If you want to try something like this, check out the apps called “Over” and “Picstitch” for your smart phone or tablet! On your computer, check out http://www.picmonkey.com for some photo editing fun!)

If you feel like it, share up your thoughts, photos, artwork, etc. on one of our social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! Info on how to do that is listed under Pure Joy tab above. You’ll want to check out the Technology page for guidance! Elle Belle (my daughter) and I will be posting on those three outlets everyday this summer so check it out for some inspiration or just FUN!

I’m also SO excited to tell you that we have a GUEST POST coming later this week from honestly one of the coolest people I know! Dr. Nancy Grisham, author of Thriving: Trusting God for Life to the Fullest (one of our book recommendations for the Summer Series…!) will be here to talk about…what else…JOY! Nancy is a dear, dear friend of mine, and someone I love with all my heart! She is the founder of Livin’ Ignited Ministries. Take a little time between now and Thursday to get to know her – you’re going to adore her: http://www.livinignited.org/Livin_Ignited/Home.html.

Go enjoy today, my friends! It’s yours for the rejoicing in!

“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” 

A. W. Tozer

Up Thursday: Nancy Grisham!!!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

THIS, my friends, is a Triple. Dog. DARE.

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Yep, you heard me right. A Triple. Dog. DARE.

And in case you didn’t know, you can’t refuse a triple dog dare. Once someone has issued one of these babies, you MUST accept the challenge at hand and see it through. I’m totally serious! It’s like a rule or something. “Somewhere it is written…”!!!

So now you know! And so NOW…I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU to join us in this spectacularly life changing, Pure Joy inducing, portion of our summer series: The Joy Dare!

THIS is the final letter of our short but sweet summer word: JOY. “Y”, where we hope you join us in celebrating the JOY You already have right in your very own life!

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him! James 1:17a, ERV.

I LOVE sharin’ up some good scripture with you! And this one just about turns my heart into happy bursting mode! EVERY GOOD THING comes from God! You heard it here first (or maybe second or third!), ladies and gentlemen! What He gives is GOOD!!! And I think it’s high time we celebrate all that good stuff we got, don’t you?!

The Joy Dare comes to us directly from author, blogger, speaker, mother, wife, Jesus lover Ann Voskamp. Ann is the author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are! And in case you haven’t read it, or even heard about it, let me just take a sec to tell you that it is LIFE changing. The premise? Take time each day to find three things, three blessed little gifts in your life, for which to thank God. The book itself is on our Summer Reading List (you can access the entire list above under the Pure Joy Summer Series 2013 tab!). The Joy Dare comes directly from Ann’s awesome blog, A Holy Experience, which can be found at: http://www.aholyexperience.com/. I highly recommend it for some awesome daily reading!

The Joy Dare is a collection of fun little cards that Ann made that break it down to an easy, breezy way to keep track of your daily gratitude! Click this link to see what I’m talking about:

The Joy Dare: http://www.aholyexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/JoyDareCollection.pdf .

(This link will also always accessible under the Pure Joy Summer Series tab above!)

For each day of the year, Ann recommends three things to look for and to think on as blessings/gifts. For instance, yesterday (May 22nd), her Joy Dare was to find 3 gifts that made you laugh. If you know me at all, that wasn’t a challenge – almost everything makes me giggle, at least the good stuff! So here is what I found to list as my three Joy Dare Gifts for yesterday:

crazy boy ted

Smart Women

lemonade with straw

Oh my gosh – thank you GOD for ALL things that make me giggle!

Today’s Joy Dare is to find 3 gifts found in community. I think I’ll probably list something like children swinging at the park; neighbors laughing on my driveway; and the comfort of knowing Glen Ellyn is protected by our awesome fire department! Try it yourself and see what you can find today!

The whole point of the Joy Dare is that gratitude (the soul-feeling that comes from being thankful) is intrinsically tied to the experience of joy (come on  now, you cannot possibly be grumpy or hopeless AND be grateful – truly grateful – for something at the same time!). She also reminds us that gratitude allows us to find miracles in life, especially in the mundane moments! AND, in her book, Ann wisely shows us that before every miracle Jesus ever performed, he gave THANKS TO GOD beforehand. We honestly cannot expect joy and miracles without gratitude, sweet friends!

So this is how we are going to work “Y”! Each time (hopefully every joyful summer day!) you take a look at the Joy Dare Collection gift list for the day, you will record it in some way: you can make a mental note of thanks; write them in a journal; take photos of them; draw them; put them to music…the list of expression ideas is endless! AND for every day of the Summer Series, my sweet daughter, Ella, (who, I gotta admit, is a little bit of a budding photographer) and I will be posting photos of OUR three things on my Twitter account (@WendieConnors) and on the Stringing Pearls with Wendie Facebook Page: (https://www.facebook.com/StringingPearlsBibleStudyMinistry), AND my Pinterest page for Pure Joy (http://pinterest.com/wendiewu/stringingpearlspurejoy/) .  Anytime we post something – especially on Twitter – we’ll give it a hash tag that looks like this:  #stringingpearlspurejoy.  That way, we can all follow along if we search for that particular hash tag!

We are encouraging YOU to do the same! Share your thoughts, pictures, drawings, etc. on your own Facebook pages, our Facebook page, your Twitter, our Twitter, your Pinterest, and/or mine! Please access the technology section here on the blog for more information on how to do these things! Click on the Pure Joy Summer Series 2013 tab above (that’s a handy dandy tab up there, isn’t it?!). Ann even has a free app called 1000 Gifts for iPhone/iPad users available in the App Store that helps you take photos and keep track of them! It doesn’t follow the Joy Dare, so to speak, but if you like apps, check it out! It’s so fun!!

Whew! There we have it. Joy in Jesus, Joy in Others. Joy in Your Life. You can pick and choose how and what to do this summer – that’s the beauty of this series! No set rules, no homework, and just a smidgen of structure! As we like to say around here (thanks to Beth Moore), “Do What Blesses – Not What Burdens”! Summer is about hanging out, a looser routine, and experiencing a little bit of a slower pace of life – at least that’s what we are going for in the Connors household this summer!

Sweet friends, this summer, let’s build connections, and in doing so, we will build community. Let’s express gratitude, so we cannot help but experience miracles. Let’s fill our hearts with scripture and words of faith-filled wisdom, and in turn, fill our very souls with Jesus. Honestly, what could be more JOYful than all of THAT?!

Please join in the fun of Pure Joy, Stringing Pearls with Wendie Summer Series 2013 – it won’t be the same without you!!!! We’re kicking off this Monday (Memorial Day!), so –

On your mark, get set…

Up Monday: …GO!

Peace, love, and MUCH Joy!!!

Wendie

A Faith-Filled Foodie’s Favorite Bible Verse!

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So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!” Ecclesiastes 9:7, NLT.

Seriously. Somewhere it IS written, sister friends, and it IS right here in Ecclesiastes! I couldn’t make this up if I tried! I am grinning like the cat who just caught her sweet self a big ole, fat mouse! God wants us to enJOY life on this side of heaven (within the parameters of wise moderation, my sweet things – don’t take this out of context, please – I am NOT saying scripture condones gluttony or choices that are unGodly!)

However, this is the fun, giggle-inducing verse that my momma and I quote to each other on those all-too-infrequent visits we have with one another! Check out this picture of my fun-lovin’ mommy!

Pure Joy Sandy

How cute is she?! Can you tell we have a great time together?! I’m missing that beautiful lady today! Cannot wait to see her this summer!

And do you want to know something even funner? (Yes, I know that isn’t a real word – please just have a little fun with me!) THAT crazy piece of scripture is the verse we will be living out with one another this summer – sharing meals and LIFE together over the table!

So. Here we are! At the “O”! Last week, we explained how we plan to experience the “J” (for Jesus) through scripture, book choices, and songs! Today, let’s tackle what is our FAVORITE piece of Pure Joy (here at Stringing Pearls with Wendie, anyway!) – the letter “O”!

“O” stands for being a participant in JOY with others! And there are SOOOOOOO many ways to experience and share the joy of the Holy Spirit with others! There’s worship and attending church services. There’s attending Bible study and being a part of prayer groups. AND…there is meeting together over a meal, across the table, to celebrate God’s blessings on our lives and ask for prayers that apprehend our hearts and our thoughts for Him on a regular basis.

We’re doing this together, girls! And we are doing it with our IRL friends! IRL stands for In Real Life! I’m talking about those sister friends you DO life with, with whom you walk through the good stuff and without whom you couldn’t make it through the bad. You know who I’m talking about – we’ve all got ‘em!

Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

A meeting of the minds, inviting God to dinner to show us how He works things for the good of those who love Him (see Romans 8:28) coupled with a bunch of yummy stuff for your tummy thrown in for good measure. ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS I AM RIGHT NOW?! I sure hope so!

Mark your calendars for the following dates: June 18th, July 16th, and August 13th. We are COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY blessed here in Glen Ellyn to have three amazing women opening their homes for this very thing! We will be gathering together to talk about what we are reading, how we see God working in our lives, and spending time talking – as in REALLY sharing – our thoughts, prayers, needs, and JOY. If you do not live here OR, you are thinking about how to do this in your own neighborhood/town, this post is for you, too! Mark those very dates and begin to plan your OWN get-togethers, with your IRL friends! Let us know what you’re doing here on the blog, I’ll post info on how to contact us for an opportunity to SKYPE into one of our dinners to see what we’re up to!

Now. Why are we doing this? What’s so important about gathering together to experience God and joy?

It’s because of THIS:

When Jesus came to live on Earth in pursuit of our faraway hearts, he made a beeline for the kitchen table.” Joanne Thompson, Table Life.

Sharing a meal, expressing gratitude and thanksgiving for what we have been given (through His grace and mercy), giggling about our triumphs and good blessings, and celebrating the connection we have because of Him, make the table a place of refuge. A place where we can come together, lay it all out there, and expect nothing but support, love, encouragement, and hope within the confines of peace, Truth, and acceptance. THAT is what “O” is all about. Participating in JOY with others, no matter what the circumstances may be. This table is our opportunity to share, practice, and experience Jesus and Joy like He did 2000 years ago!

We are basing our dinners on the recipes and ideas in Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine, but you should feel free to create your own dinner/lunches/etc. on whatever ideas the Holy Spirit brings to YOUR mind! About a week before every dinner we are having here in our town, I will post the menu we will be serving along with discussion questions and overall JOYFUL stuff to make the night an amazing experience for everyone! I pray that you will either attend here with us, or create your own joyous night wherever you are for you and your IRL friends!

So now we are up to speed on “J” and “O”! On Thursday I will blog about the “Y” and get us all ready for next Monday’s kick off of Pure Joy! I hope you are as excited as I am. I am blown away by the response to this series! We have now officially delivered, mailed, and emailed 100 Pure Joy Kits! Check out how cute they are!!!

Pure Joy Bucket Full

Pure Joy Bucket contents

AND we are joyfully sending Pure Joy Kits to the following blog readers and contributors around the country: Sandy in Florida, Mumu in Colorado, Francie in Virginia, Ann in Illinois, and Kristin in Connecticut!

Clearly, God has touched many hearts for JOY this summer! By Thursday, most of the materials in the kits will be available here on the blog (click the Pure Joy Summer Series tab at the top of this page). (Sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to get the car magnet or the gumballs online!) Feel free to copy, share, mail, email, etc. any and all info on that tab! It’s all about sharing God’s joy this summer and I am SO happy you are along for the ride!

Up Thursday: “Y” (pursuing Joy in YOUR life, aka – the Joy Dare!!!)

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

4 Simple Ways to Find JOY and Experience God as You Read the Bible!

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So glad you stopped by today! I promise that you’ll be so glad you did because we are being treated to a wonderful guest posting by my friend and fellow blogger and writer, Francie Winslow! She has some GREAT ideas of gettin’ some good JOY and hearing from God through scripture! ENJOY!!!! Take it away, Francie!!!!

This summer with Wendie is about finding REAL JOY!! I love that! Today, we’re going to talk about finding JOY as you meet Jesus in His words.

But first, let’s get honest in this space. Do you ever feel a bit foggy, overwhelmed or confused as you read the Bible? Like its distant or a bit hard to relate to? Reading such an old text can seem daunting, and when it feels like this, it is hard to get into it, much less find JOY in it. Been there, done that.

BUT, the almost too-good-to-be-true NEWS, is that when we look for God, He shows up and leads us into truth! There’s nothing boring, foggy or hard to relate to about experiencing God’s nearness as you read His alive and active words.

Francie pic 1

God’s word is a BIG DEAL, and is thoroughly amazing.

Jesus said that we don’t actually live by bread alone. We LIVE by HIS words. (Matthew 4:4) We know from Psalms that in God’s presence, we will be filled with JOY! (Psalm 16:11) As we know Him and His words, our hearts and minds get transformed with Truth so that we think and live like Jesus! Digging deep into God’s word is also a way to discover God’s purposes and heart not only for us, but for all of creation!

So, if God’s words are that amazing, and are a vital key for thriving in life, then how can we experience joy and wonder as we read His words? How can we connect with Him in a real way and let His words impact our lives?

Here’s the deal: Read the Bible WITH the Holy Spirit, allowing Him room to be your teacher and to guide you as you go.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

1. Begin your time reading the Bible by asking God to lead you and for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to truth. Pray for eyes to see. If we read the Bible like we are kids sitting in our Daddy’s lap reading a story written just for us, then we can surely ask Him to interact with us while we read. It is His delight to teach us and reveal His heart to us!

“Open my eyes, that I may see the wonderful truths in Your instructions.” Psalm 119:18

2. While you read, expect God to “highlight” truth. Look for the “Holy Spirit Highlighter” to emphasize words as you read. Be aware of words or images that stand out, as though the Spirit of God just drew a big circle around a word, or drew a yellow highlighter marker over a sentence. Watch for things that He is emphasizing, and if something sticks out to you, don’t move forward…stay there and re-read it several times.

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things I have said to you.” John 14:26

3. Write out the verse/word that was highlighted in a journal or on an index card. And read it again. Go back to that verse for the next several days or weeks, until it has become a part of how you think and live.

“Do not let truth and mercy leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

4. Put the verse into a prayer form, and say it back to God. Thank Him for the truth and wisdom you see. Ask Him take the truth from the paper, and to write it on your heart; to feed your hungry spirit with His lasting Words so that as you walk about later that day, you will carry that truth in your mind and heart and apply it to your life.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22

I pray this post has given you fresh perspective and excitement about getting into God’s everlasting, rock-solid words. He has words to speak straight to our hearts and into our circumstances; words that will feed and satisfy our hungry hearts like nothing else. Praying your spiritual appetite is stirred and that you experience His JOY in a real and life-changing way as you read His living Word!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

AWESOME stuff from Francie, right?!? And in case you are interested on how to find her blog, here’s a little more info on this amazing woman of God!!!

Francie pic 2

Francie specializes in moving piles of laundry from one room to another and making tents out of old sheets. During any free time she has, you can find her writing blogs, Bible studies, and speaking to audiences of mostly moms like her. The thing that excites her most, is inspiring others to experience the heart of God, be transformed by His love, and make a difference in the world.

Francie graduated from Wheaton College with a BA in Political Science and an MA in Evangelism and Leadership. She now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three kids. You can find Francie’s blog at http://upinandout.com/. If you want to check her out on Facebook or Twitter, here’s the scoop:
FB: Up In And Out, Twitter: @franciewinslow

Up Monday:  The letter “O” and Why “IRL” is so important (hmmm, what in the world is “IRL”?!?  Don’t you LOVE a good mystery!!!)

Peace, love, and JOY!!!!

Wendie