Tag Archives: Truth

The Sniff Test (…and How My Dog Gets It Right)

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 Cuppie 1

Can you even stand that face?! I love this girl! She is my black lab, Cupcake. She didn’t have the best start to life (we believe she was a puppy mill momma, but we don’t know for sure). She came to live with us as a foster dog when she was about three years old. And, truth be told, she wrecked a bit havoc on our home for a little while as she adjusted to a far better way of living at La Casa Connors!

Cupcake became ours sort of by default.  We were only supposed to foster her for a weekend, while a more permanent situation could be found for her. But really. Look at that face. Please. She was ours from the get-go, crazy quirks and all.

She’s been fully rehabilitated, but she’s a sort of a funny one! I don’t think she’s left her past 100% behind her. She is a total love bug and a gentle old soul, but she can still be a little skittish and pretty protective of those she knows and loves. And she is a tried and true believer in what I like to call, “the sniff test”.

No, not the test your kids do to see if a shirt is wearable after 8 wearings without a washing. I’m also not talking about the one where you ask your kids to breathe on you before they head out the door to make sure they brushed their teeth before school (or am I the only one who does that?!).

Cuppie’s sniff test is a sort of the final “truth detector” that supports other evidence that she gathers to make sure something really is as it appears.

My favorite example of this happens every single night when we go to bed. She sees us get into bed (the same bed every night…). She hears us say goodnight to each other and to her (the same words every night).

But before she can settle down and fall asleep (yes, our dogs sleep in our bed – don’t get all judge-y on me), she has to get right in my face and sniff  it (and sniff Tim’s face, too) every night to make sure it’s really us and it’s really safe to go to bed.

Even though she just saw and heard us and knows it’s really us, she needs to rely on her most reliable source – her sense of smell – to tell her the absolute truth.

Cuppie 2

You might say she’s being neurotic and paranoid (and frankly, you could have a point when it comes to her…!), but I think Cupcake demonstrates a pretty good example of what Paul meant in 1 Thessalonians 5:21:

1 Thess 5-21

I think Paul took the opportunity there to remind us that the voice of man isn’t always the same as the voice of God. Sometimes, we get that idea confused. We are bombarded by religious doctrine (and dogma), political statements, and personal opinions all the time. From print and visual media, to social media and even conversations with respected friends and family. And some of that information is extremely convincing!

But Paul is reminding us in that verse right there, to run those words and ideas through the scripture “sniff test” before grabbing onto it too tightly.

It might look godly, it might even sound godly. But our job is to discern if it’s Godly – with a capital G.

Jumping on the band wagon, for whatever cause or conviction, feels good at the time. We love camaraderie! But be careful what horse you hitch up to because it could lead you in a very wrong direction.

We should aim to develop the skill of discernment. God wants us to test “all” things, not just the things that don’t sound right or don’t resonate with us! We honestly should not condemn anything without first investigating it. AND, on the other hand, we shouldn’t just accept anything until we first test it against the objective Truth of God’s Word.

Using scripture as our final (and first line!) litmus test doesn’t make us mindless drones following a god who just wants us all to think like him. Scripture causes us think and allows us to use the God given skill of discernment, along with the Holy Spirit, to decide for ourselves, True right from truly wrong.

THIS is why the Bible is so utterly and beautifully important to me – to ALL of us. It is God’s word, spoken for all of us as the expert testimony on all things.

Sniff out the Truth, sweet friends. I encourage you to use all the tools and evidence around you… and THEN use scripture as your final Sniff Test.

Are you a Pure Joy Sister Friend this summer?! If so, here are a few things for you to do this week:

  • Find or print our scripture card of the week – I Thess. 5:21, NLT (click here to download). SAY it and PRAY it, girlies!
  • Keep reading Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider and see if you can incorporate a few of her ideas into your life today!
  • Get ready to attend “Jazz in the Park” with us here in Glen Ellyn on Wednesday, July 16! RSVP if you haven’t already done so!
  • Enjoy this great music video for an amazing song this week, “Press On” by Building 429.

That’s all for now, sweet friends. Have a wonderful and joyous week.

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: The Cost of Contentment

WAY Better than a Hallmark Commercial!

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Are you a happy, sappy, television commercial crier like me?

C’mon.  You totally know what I’m talking about.  The Skype commercial with the dad who is a traveling salesman (I’m sniffling…).  The soldier showing up at her daughter’s prom (okay, the waterworks have begun).  And let us NOT forget the mom who packs peanut butter in her daughter’s college care package (well, unless your daughter is allergic to peanuts and then you’re crying anyway, for a way different reason…)!

Oh, I SO hope you have an affinity for the emotional tug of marketing, because today I have a superb specimen of a commercial to share with you that I just bet will make you blubber!

Are ya’ll ready for this:

I KNOW, right?!  (I said that just for you, Linda D.!)

Tear jerker city!

So.  I googled this thing left and right and I found out that this “Dr. Prajak Arunthong” is somewhat of a Thai urban legend, if you will.  He doesn’t actually exist – at least not with that name that I could find.  But man, what a great story line, with an awesome spiritual lesson built right in:

Do what you can do, when you can do it.  Because you never know who’s watching, who’s on the receiving end, AND what blessing might come back your way as a result of your obedience to the call.

With that said, it isn’t always about “you” and what “you are going to get out of it”.  Sure, this story had a feel good ending that was karma-ish in nature.  We all like to believe that what comes around goes around – both good and bad, don’t we?

Truth is – God isn’t in the business of tit-for-tat.  He’s in the business of “taking care of business for the good of His kingdom”.

And when we participate in THAT, well, no “karma” in the world can out-bless what He has in store for us.

You know what I love the best about that?  When we do something as simple as providing a meal or medicine or even a hug to someone in need, it may not even be about the person on the receiving end of the blessing. 

For who knows how the people witnessing how we serve will be changed?! 

JESUS KNOWS.

And maybe THAT is why we are called to serve. Not for us.  Not for the person being served.  But for those who stand in witness of the serving process and for the glory of the One who put us here to do it.

I wonder if God would’ve liked this commercial a bit better if our hero, Dr. Arunthong, had never signed the letter.  Because, really, it isn’t about the accolades.  It’s just about doing it for the LOVE of others and the GLORY of God.

Regardless, I’m still kinda in love with the probably fictional “Dr. Prajak Arunthong” for paying forward what was given to “him” 30 years prior so that all of us sappy, happy criers who witnessed this little piece of Hollywood magic would keep the love chain goin’.

Happy Morning Glory Monday, sweet friends.  Pay it forward today!

Peace, love and MORNING GLORY!!!

Wendie

Up Thursday:  Be Careful What You Treasure!

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeeeeeeling sad…

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Well.

Here we are.

I wasn’t prepared for this, really. It sort of snuck up on me, if you want to know the truth.

Pure Joy Beach Chair with text

But no matter how you look at it, we ARE here. It’s the last week of the Stringing Pearls with Wendie Summer Series 2013:  PURE JOY!

(Is it just me, or did it zoom by as quickly as those fireflies?!)

I honestly don’t have the words to express how much it has meant to me to spend these last 13 weeks walking it all alongside you!  We’ve learned scripture, partied in joy-filled fellowship with our sister friends, read amazingly fulfilling and enlightening books, listened to some uplifting music, and experienced the mystical and divine connection between gratitude, grace, and joy I’d say that’s something to celebrate!

I think it’s only fitting to go out with a huge prayer of joyous proportions, don’t you?  So in honor of one series ending (and don’t be sad since our fall series begins very soon…#imadeyouglorious…!), allow me to JOYFULLY pray a special prayer over each and every single one of you, using the scriptures we learned together this summer!

Sweet, Heavenly Father,

I come to you today with a heart bursting with happiness for all Your mighty hand has prepared for us, not only this summer, but always.

I thank you for every soul You touched through Pure Joy.  I am at a loss for words to thank you for allowing me the privilege of being Your wing-woman on the ride!

I praise you that Your reach extends far beyond what our human minds could ever fathom!  I thank you for answered prayers; You are so incredibly faithful!  I reverently lift up prayers that remain in waiting for their divine and holy appointment with You, to be answered in Your time, through Your will.

More than anything, Lord, we thank you for teaching us Your Word.  Your Truth.  Your lifeline to us that, without which, we could not begin to truly know You:

Week 1 –   Psalm 118:24

psalm 118 24

We praise you that THIS is the day you have made and that we have your amazing blessing to enjoy it in the here and now, without ruminating over yesterday or worrying about tomorrow!

Week 2 –   Nehemiah 8:10

nehemiah 8 10

We will faithfully celebrate each day with You, because we know YOUR JOY makes us strong!

Week 3 – Isaiah 66:14

isaiah 66 14

How can we ever fathom the support and protection You lavish on us?!  It makes us feel so joyfully blessed and confident!

Week 4 –   Job 8:21

job 8 21

We are humbled that no matter what our circumstances bring, You always offer us an opportunity to rise above the rubble and feel Your unending Joy in our spirit.  Help us to take it!

Week 5 –  Jude 2

Jude 2

We experience such peace, knowing that Your promise of “every little thing is going to be alright” stands true today, tomorrow, and for eternity!

Week 6 –  Hebrews 1:9

hebrews 1 9

We bless You, sweet Lord, for sharing Your very spirit of Joy with us – your faithful hands and feet!

To be continued…

Come back Thursday for the closing of this prayer using the last 6 scriptures of our series, thanking Him for all He’s done to make this summer such a special one (I may even have a special link and info on how you can print your own copy of it in its entirety…)!

Until then, I encourage you to pray these first 6 prayers and scriptures above to Him – you will be blessed in doing so, I promise!

Up Thursday:  “…I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feeeeeeeeel so bad!”

Continued prayers to all moms, dad, and kiddos headed back to school!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

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

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104 days of summer vaca

I love me some of that Phineas and Ferb theme song, don’t you?!

I’m not going to write all about the emotions of moms everywhere around the country right now regarding the age-old back to school sadness and drama. There are enough wonderful bloggers already doing that in one way or another, not the least of which include the wonderful Shauna Niequist, Emily Freeman,  our NEW FAVE Holley Gerth, and many other amazing voices.

It’s not that I don’t I struggle with it, too, because I do. I absolutely love having Ella home all summer! I love the relaxed routine it affords our family. I cherish every second that we’re not fighting over homework, searching high and low for a pair of matching uniform socks THREE seconds before we need to be out the door, or trying to unearth gym uniforms that should’ve been washed last week and swim suits that never got washed either and are still damp from swim class the week prior. (Don’t judge me – I’ve never been the house-keeping type.)

I crave (in a good way, of course) the hours and hours I get to spend with Elle in the summer, watching her in her “element” – which is truly just hanging out in our neighborhood with kids of all ages and from all different schools, and playing endless hours of games at dusty softball fields.

I love waking up not knowing what’s for breakfast that day, let alone dinner! I love having wine at night on the deck with Tim, popping open an iced cold Diet Coke from the cooler first thing in the morning, and sipping margaritas on the porch with neighbors (on a Tuesday, even!).

Margarita in a jar

So yes. I’ve got some not-so-happy emotions sitting in the pit of my tummy as we, here in our house, face returning to school on Thursday! But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.

Instead, I want to focus on the endless possibilities and new beginnings this very thing brings!

I want to assure you that, just like every other back to school season you’ve experienced, this one will be full of chaos (just breathe…), surprises of all kinds, new friends, old reliable ones, and intriguing opportunities. It isn’t a negative, sister friends! Because no matter WHAT may feel like it’s “ending” in your life right now, I promise something else just as great (or even better) is about to begin. And I believe God wants you to embrace it!

Open up a brand-spankin’ new box of sharpened colored pencils and what do you see?! A carton bursting with colors just aching to be pulled out of the box and spilled out with delight onto a bright, white piece of paper! Each one joyfully begging, almost audibly, “Pick me! Pick me!” to the creator.

Romans 8 15 16

What if we saw ourselves as those pencils?! What if, when that new box is opened, we were the first ones to raise our hands, jump onto the paper, and let Him write our new story with complete trust that our colors would show, or even shine?! What if, instead of hiding in the box, we let Him lift us out of our comfortable, supported position next to the ones we’ve been stored with for a long time and let Him make something beautiful with us? Because He can and He will if we let Him!

Sure, we may need a little sharpening. Maybe we’re not as tall or perfect on the outside as we used to be. Maybe we have a couple “bite marks” from past use by someone who didn’t know quite how to take care of us. That’s not what matters because our God-given colors are still as bright and unique and perfect as they always were – and He knows how to coax them out from the dust and even fix any misuse of us in the past.

Every color is beautiful to someone.  Never ever forget that.

god colors

We urge our children to put themselves out there each school year. To raise their hands. To volunteer. To make new friends. To take chances. That no question is a dumb one. To notice those who may need help and step in. We tell them it’s okay to make mistakes; to give an incorrect answer; that falls happen and to get back up and try again.

As we begin this new school year season, whether you are sending your children to kindergarten (and, oh, may God bless you with plenty of Kleenex for that first day!), back to the same school or home school for a new year, off to a brand new school, or even off to college (and I pray for plenty of Kleenex for you, too!), listen to your own advice.

Be the color that someone else needs to see. Look for complementary colors to walk along side you. Raise your hand. Ask the Teacher to pick you – and then let Him create a beautiful picture for this new season. Don’t stay in the Crayola box, sweet friends. Jump out onto the paper and see what He does with you.  Then send me a copy of it!  I can’t wait to see it and relish in your beauty.

Can you believe we are on our second- to-last week of Pure Joy?! Next week, we close down the summer series! But as I said above, as one thing comes to an end, something amazing always seems to follow! But more on that in two weeks!!!

Until then, what’s on tap for Pure Joy THIS week?!

1. Memorize/rewrite our scripture of the week: Matthew 5:14, The Message.

2. Listen to our song for the week: “More” by Matthew West! (I hope I didn’t already pic this one already! But even if I did, it rocks!)

3. Finish up whatever you are reading and take some time to contemplate all you’ve learned this summer! Good for you!!! Aren’t you glad you did it?!

4. While we don’t have another Pure Joy dinner left to plan for, why not ask some neighbors or friends over for an end of summer recap, enjoying one another’s company?! See if they are interested in our Fall study! Consider running a Bible study of your OWN this fall!!! Email me for more information on how to do it!

5. Keep up with the Joy Dare! Such a great way to bring joy into everyday gifts and experiences!

That’s all for now! Have a great beginning to your week! And God bless you and all the families who head back to the classroom this week! I’m praying for you – will you pray for me?!

Up Thursday:   A little Peter Pan giggles to counteract to your back to school blues!

Peace, love, and JOY!
Wendie

Believe it or not, I’m walking on air (…and you can too!)

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“Believe it or not, I’m walking on air! I never thought I could feel so free-eee-eeee! Flying away on a wing and a prayer…Who could it be?! Believe or not it’s just me.” Chorus from The Greatest American Hero television series (1980-1983).

(Please tell me you’re old enough to remember that one! If not, click here to hear it in its entirety!!!)

Two short months ago, at our very first Pure Joy Summer Series Dinner, one of the things that brought me the biggest giggles was sitting at my small group dinner table and singing (at the top of our lungs, mind you) the theme song from the 80’s television show, The Greatest American Hero! We thought we were so cool that night (ahem…), we actually sang it twice! And you know, once a song gets in your head, it can be kinda hard to get rid of, can’t it?!

Something about that chorus just makes me happy! “I’m walking on air – believe it or not, it’s just me!” As in – “anyone can do it!” As in – “I should try this!” As in – “LOOK AT ME, I’m doing it!” As in – “I actually have it in me! Wow!”  I am doing it and SO CAN YOU!

Yes! You DO have the power in you! You can walk freely, knowing that you have the powerful gift of a counselor, comforter, guide, companion, and friend who is always with you – the Holy Spirit!

2 Tim 1 7

Oh sisters. We have it in us, and it was given to us through the power and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ after He returned home to reign with Our Father in Heaven! He gifted us with a precious and JOYFUL way to live life on this side of Heaven exactly as He created us to live!

We don’t need to live afraid.

We don’t need to live powerlessly.

We don’t need to live without direction or purpose.

We’ve got Spirit, yes we do! We’ve got Spirit – how ‘bout you?! 🙂

Last week, I spent some wonderful, quality time with Ella and my parents! One of the coolest things Elle and I were lucky enough to do was a rope and zip line course high up in the trees near the home of my parents. Talk about walking on air!

Tree Umphh Suited Up

I watched my 12 year old in awe as she transformed from a tentative girl at the beginning of the day, fumbling with her harness and hooks into this graceful, confident, powerful young woman expertly hooking and unhooking herself to safety wires, zipping way up in the sky from tree to tree, and effortlessly moving along on the thinnest wire I’d ever seen a person traverse some 30 feet in the air. Talk about spirit! That woman child of mine was practically walking on air!

Tree Umphh Elle

How did that transformation take place?! How did she change from a timid child, afraid to try something so bold, into an air-walking, powerful young lady?

She chose to trust the tools that were given to her. They could be relied upon for her every need on the course. They would not let her down. They would provide a powerful “safety net” if she used them as instructed, and give her the freedom to fly.

What a gift for me, as her momma, to witness. Powerful stuff, my friends, to see your child fly. And fly she did. With pure joy in her spirit…and on her face!

THAT is the gift of the Holy Spirit! Our ability to choose Him as the power that gives us courage, strength, and discipline is exhilarating. The same power that helps us to grow the fruit of peace, joy, love, gentleness, kindness, goodness, humility, and faithfulness in our lives.

Do not be timid, sweet friends. TRUST that the powerful, Holy Spirit given to you from God will see you through anything that this side of Heaven can throw at you. The harness is secure, the safety wires are in place, and the zip line is intact. Choose Him. And learn to walk freely “on air”! You’ve never experienced ANYTHING like it – I guarantee it!

(BTW – a special thank you and photo cred goes out to my daddio, Bill, for the pictures today! Thanks, Daddy!)

Pure Joy Summer Series, Week 12 (yes, I said it. Week TWELVE…!)

Speaking of “flying”, can you believe we are in the middle of August?! Just two more weeks left of Stringing Pearls with Wendie Pure Joy Summer Series 2013! And TOMORROW we celebrate with our final Pure Joy Dinner of the summer!

We are so excited to be hosted by our beautiful and hospitable sister friend, Marcie, and be treated to the party planning skills of Leah, Erin, and Nattie Nat Natters (okay, her name is actually Natalie, but I just can’t resist a good nickname with her!)! We’re celebrating all things that remind us of the joys of “home”! I seriously cannot wait!

And, as has become my tradition with these dinners, I’ll be sure to post some silly photos here on the blog this Thursday! Be sure to check back to get a look at all the fun we had!

So what’s a good Bible study girl to do this 12th week of Pure Joy?!

1. Memorize/rewrite our scripture for the week: 2 Timothy 1:7!

2. Listen to our joyful tune for this week: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”!  I’m partial to versions by Jason Castro OR the incomparable Israel Kamakawiwo’ole .  Click here to see “IZ” perform it!  It’s awesome!

3. Keep on reading! You’ve got two weeks of “summer” left, sister friends! Make them count!

4. Attend OR HOST your own Pure Joy dinner this week! We’re going Italian style – La Dolce Vita!

5. Start thinking about how the Joy Dare has changed your perspective this summer! Are you finding it easier to see the intimate relationship between gratitude, joy, and blessings?!

One final thing, my dears! I will be announcing the Fall Series for Stringing Pearls with Wendie at the dinner this Tuesday! I’ll talk a little about it this Thursday on the blog – but as a little teaser, let me leave you today with this: mark your calendars for the Stringing Pearls with Wendie Fall Bible Study Series to begin locally at in-home Bible studies in our area the week of September 16th! If you aren’t in the area or cannot attend a day-time study with us for whatever reason, no worries! You’ll be able to follow along with us here on the blog! It will be ah-mazing and GLORIOUS… (ahem – that’s another little hint…!!!).

Until Thursday – may God bless and keep you safe and JOYFUL!!! Love you!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

I FAILED…but I’m totally proud of myself!

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I failed “Dog Fostering 101”. It’s true; I did; and I’m darn proud of said failure. The first (and only) time we ever signed up to foster a dog, we ended up adopting her. I’m just a sucker for a sweet lab face and a sob story, I guess! Cupcake came to us from a shelter in downstate Illinois. If we had not taken her in, she would have been euthanized at the tender age of 3.

 

Cuppie 1

When she first got here to our house, I think she thought she had just won the doggie Lotto! She was so overwhelmed by all the new things she was seeing for, probably, the first time in her life! She was entranced by stairs, her plush new dog bed, and toys! She was mesmerized by bicycles, her own food bowl, sweet potato treats, and a family that loved on her like crazy cakes! It was all good! But it did make me stop and think how sad her life must have been before us, you know?

If Cuppie could “people” talk, I think she’d tell you that there is nothing better than being found after you’ve been lost. There’s nothing better than someone “seeing” you when you thought you were invisible. There’s pure joy in being loved when you believed you were unlovable. I know that feeling too. It’s the feeling you get when you say YES to Christ and NO to a lifeless way of living! He wants to gift you with that! Won’t you let Him?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28, NASB.

“God WANTS to paint the ugly corners of our lives with His grace, goodness and mercy, even if we have done nothing to deserve it, even when what we DO deserve is quite the opposite of his goodness! THAT, sister friends, is grace with a big ole side of mercy!” Wendie Connors, THE KISS, page 34.

 

(Excerpt taken from Daily Smooches:  Devotions from The K.I.S.S.  Click here for the book!  Copyright Wendie Connors, 2012, all rights reserved.)

Cuppie 2

Can’t you just eat her up?!  Oh I love this dog! 

Have a blessed weekend, sweet things!  See you Monday and Thursday next week for a mini-series on anxiety…

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

I “MUSTACHE” you a most serious question…

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Be honest – do you think I need a lip wax?!

Wendie with Stache at Fiesta

Just kidding! I’ve been dying to say that since Tuesday night’s Stringing Pearls with Wendie Pure Joy Dinner #2! And as you are about to see, it was QUITE the Fiesta!  (Who ever said Bible study was boring?!?!?! NOT me, that’s for sure!)

Fiesta Pic 4

It is amazing how some creative minds and a bunch of willing hands can transform what was already a beautiful backyard into a magical Mexican village! The team who worked so hard on this night was truly A DREAM! Kim’s home was welcoming and GORGEOUS! Julie B. and Alicia were stellar in their roles as party leads and head chefs! Diana and Kathy are single handedly the BEST party décor dynamic duo alive! And don’t get me started on the rest of the chefs: Julie S., Nattie Nat Natters, Laura, Lisa, and Lyn! Yeah, it takes a village and all, but it was worth every single second of effort!

Fiesta Pic 6

Tuesday night was all about sharing our favorite things! And speaking of favorites, on Monday, I wrote here on the blog about my favorite childhood TV show, The Brady Bunch, and how it relates to my favorite book in the Bible, Esther (yep, the Brady’s meet the Bible!). I won’t bore you here by repeating what I wrote, but let’s just say it had a lot to do with Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! (Click here to read it!)

Fiesta Pic 1

Today, let’s relive another one of my favorite Brady episodes! It’s the one where Peter has a party and he’s been so busy talking it up and being a little self-centered about it, that at first, nobody shows up. But of course, like all things Brady, it all works out in the end and the house is FULL of teenagers having a groovy time being welcomed into the awesome Brady home (eating some of Alice’s tasty vittles, of course)!

Fiesta Pic 3

Peter learned a powerful lesson in that episode that we all should learn about the power of true hospitality.

Fiesta Pic 7

Hospitality, Godly hospitality, is really about creating a safe place within the world for someone else – not simply extending the invitation or just opening the door! Opening the door starts the ball rolling, of course, but then asking someone INSIDE (or even stepping OUTSIDE of your door) begins the changing process, one person at a time.

Fiesta Pic 5

Sharing yourself, your blessings, and your life with other people creates a bond of encouragement, support, and comfort that nothing else can humanly do!

Like Esther, we have been given much blessing in this life, and we each have a call on us that we were uniquely put here to live out. We need look no further than our own “palace gates” (or front doors, as the case may be!) for opportunities, as Ghandi famously said, to be the change we want to see in this world.

Fiesta Pic 2

So today, as we did on Tuesday night as a group, I want you to consider ways you might be able to share some of your favorite God-given talents and strengths with others.  Change lives, one person at a time.

Because if not you, then who will? You, like Esther, were put HERE for such a time as this!

Have a blessed weekend, my friends! Take some time to relax!

Up Monday: Untie that knot in your stomach!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

Here’s the story, of a LOVELY lady…!

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Did you ever watch The Brady Bunch? Oh please tell me you did! I mean, come on! Was there ever a better show?!  Everything about that show was spot-on and hilarious, from the groovy lingo and clothing down to the ridiculously unbelievable plots – that we all somehow managed to buy into!

The brady bunch

I loved all the episodes, I think, because there was ALWAYS a moral of the story that I could relate to! My sister and I can still quote all the famous lines from Marcia, Jan, Cindy, and the boys: “Something suddenly came up…!” “Mom always said, ‘Don’t play ball in the house’…”. “I’m not a snitch, I just tell it like it is.”

And I bet if you are anything like us, you can sing – BY HEART – every single song The Silver Platters sang (“When it’s time to change you’ve got to rearrange…” AND “Think I’ll go for a walk outside now, the summer sun’s callin’ my name…”). Go ahead – I’ll pause here a moment while you sing a few bars. You know you want to!!! (It’s making me giggle just thinking about you singing right now!!!)

Probably one of my favorite episodes was the one where Jan is fed up from all the attention Marcia gets and she tells her parents, “Well, all day long at school I hear how great Marcia is at this or how wonderful Marcia did that! Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Of course, Mike and Carol say all the right things and reboot Jan’s confidence in being the person she was created to be. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own Mikes and Carols who could, in 22 minutes (30 with commercial breaks, of course), speak Truth into our spirits for a little reboot of our own?!

If you know me, you know I LOVE the book of Esther. It simply rocks my heart and soul for reasons that I could spend the next 10 weeks writing about. I’ll spare you that for now (you’re welcome). But as I was thinking about it the other day, I thought that maybe Esther’s Uncle Mordecai does a little Jan Brady reboot on Esther, himself! I think I’m going to start calling him the Biblical Mike Brady!

esther 414

In a beautiful, life-changing moment of a sort of “parental-chiding-but-also-trying-to-boost-your-confidence”, Mordecai reminds Queen Esther of who she is, what’s she’s been given, and what she should be doing with it! And her actions from that “pep talk” result in her single handedly saving the Jews from annihilation and God’s chosen people live on!

We’ve been given gifts, characteristics, positions, and circumstances for a reason. This is our time. This is our place. Right here. Right now. This is where (and WHEN) we are supposed to be! Let’s not slip into Jan Brady mode and wish we were someone else, covet someone else’s position, or lament the gifts we have.

Instead, let’s USE what we’ve been given in order to live out – in Godly confidence and JOY – what we were put here to do. Your purpose and destiny are based first and foremost on your standing with God! Once we are in a deep and loving relationship with Him, following hard after Him, He will bring our strengths into the light (and even use our weaknesses) to see His will done through us here on Earth!

Esther realized she was here for such a time and place as this. You are too.

It’s not about “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” It’s about Jesus and You.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  Luke 12:48b, NIV.

Like Esther, you’ve been given more than you can imagine, sweet friends. Ann Voskamp recently suggested that we are the Esther Generation. I’d like to take that one step further and say, “Let’s start an Esther REVOLUTION” – changing the world, one palace gate at a time.

Open the gates of your own little world and see what might just happen!

And speaking of opening gates, my very good sister friend, Kim, is doing just that for over 30 women tomorrow night! That’s right! It’s time for our Pure Joy Dinner #2! This time, we’re having a Mexican Fiesta and celebrating “Our Favorite Things”! Here’s a sneak peek into what’s going on:

Every good fiesta deserves a really good margarita, don’t you think?! Our JOY wouldn’t be complete without this Pink Lemonade Margarita found on (where else?!) Pinterest:

pink lemonade margarita

Inspired by the song from “The Sound of Music”, party goers will be bringing packages of their favorite things to give away! I cannot wait to see what everyone else is bringing! Mine, of course, will be in brown paper packages tied up with string! But if you want to just see ONE thing I’m including in my packages, I’ll give you a little look into my latest summer obsession! (EOS Lemon Drop Lip Gloss!)

eos lemon drop

Just like last time, I’ll post pictures from the night here on the blog later this week (Thursday, I think!). You never know – you might be able to see a few of those shots earlier on the Stringing Pearls with Wendie Facebook page by Wednesday if I’m technologically coordinated enough to do that! Wouldn’t that be joyous?!

And speaking of JOY (!), here’s what’s on the docket for this week of our Pure Joy Summer Series:

1. Rewrite/memorize this week’s scripture: Esther 4:14!!

2. Listen to “Gold” by Britt Nicole. Okay, it’s kind of a summertime, tween girly tune (Elle loves it!), but it definitely makes me happy and I LOVE the message!

3. Keep reading! I just started The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan!

4. Come to the Pure Joy Fiesta #2 dinner tomorrow at Kim’s if you are local! Check back here later this week for photos and a recap of the night!

5. Continue with the Joy Dare! I have been recording mine in a journal lately instead of photographing! Shake things up a little to keep it fresh!

Have a beautiful week, sweet friends! And for your viewing pleasure, click here for a Brady Bunch giggle!

Up Thursday: A Photo Montage and Recap of Pure Joy Dinner #2!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Joy is a choice…so why is it such a battle?

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I’m profoundly excited and honored to bring you this wonderful post on choosing JOY from my friend, and fellow blogger, Kirsten Stokes! Kirsten writes a beautiful blog which can be found at http://godschick.net/. I encourage you to click on her link and see all the amazing things she has written!!!  EnJOY!

 

 

joycomesinthemorning

 

A couple weeks ago my kids went to Vacation Bible School. I walk into the church to greet my kids after their first day of VBS, and I can immediately tell they have had the time of their lives. We go home, but they can’t stop talking about it so they decide to invite some neighborhood friends to come with them for the rest of the week.

The next morning we arrive, friends in tow. My son’s heart is bursting with delight and expectation.

We sign up our little friends, but they get put in a different group than my kids. I knew this would be disappointing, but with over 500 kids in attendance, I had a hunch it would be tough to fit our friends into the same group.

I look at my son. His heart once swollen with joy is now deflated with disappointment. With tears welling up in his eyes and lips quivering he says, “Mom, I want to go home.”

I put my arms around him and whisper in his ear, “I understand how you feel, but sometimes things don’t work out how we plan. You had your hopes up, but don’t worry, it’s going to be okay. The day isn’t ruined. You’re going to have a wonderful time.” I feel his little body shaking to hold back tears.

I lean in to him and pray into his ear that Jesus would be his joy today.

I’m flooded with my own emotions now. I’ve been in his shoes.

I know all too well the struggle raging in his soul this morning. In the last 15 months, my husband and I have faced more disappointment and discouragement than I ever would have imagined. Plans failed, dreams were crushed, faith was tested, and the fight for joy at times has felt like an epic battle raging in my heart.

I also know well that joy is a choice, so why can it be so hard?

I’ve been the exhausted mom at home with three young kids. I’ve had those ugly moments where I’ve erupted in frustration instead of responding joyfully calm. I know the battle–it’s been waged in my own soul. I want joy, but I struggle to grab hold of it.

And I’m not alone. I’ve grieved with parents who have lost a child. I’ve cried with women whose marriages have been lost to infidelity. I’ve stood with brokenhearted mothers as they’ve cried tears of anguish over children that have rebelled beyond recognition.

I can hear the cry of the brokenhearted saying, “What then? How do we choose joy in the middle of THIS?”

We grieve, we cry, and then we fight. We wage the war against our own soul and fight for joy with praise and thanksgiving. Bringing praise in the middle of painful circumstance, in the night season of our lives, can almost feel like a sacrifice beyond the capacity of our soul. When our heart drowns under pain and sorrow, frustration or worry, we bring it to the foot of the cross in surrender, lay it all down at His feet, and offer it as a sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15), a sacrifice of joy (Psalm 27:6). We lift our hands and voices and verbally declare the goodness of God over our lives and our circumstance.

When we thank God for all He has done and all He is going to do, we break the power of circumstance to dictate the direction our soul will take and we allow Jesus and His joy to rule and reign over us from the inside out.

He fills us with joy that overflows from the inside and strengthens us. This sacrifice is holy to God, honored by Him. He sees straight to the heart and His joy is our strength. (Neh. 8:10)

This is not the end. God is faithful and He will bless you in the middle of your present circumstance. Joy comes in that place of surrender, that place where we wake up to the blessing that God has poured out over us in the midst of our trial. We offer that sacrifice in the middle of the dark, night season of our lives, and His promise is that joy will come in the morning. We thank Him, we count our blessings, we wait in hopeful expectation for Him. He won the battle for our joy at the Cross. He has triumphed, and so will we.

I pick up my son that day. I ask him how it went. With a full heart he declares, “You were right, Mom. It didn’t start like I had hoped, but it ended better than I planned. I made new friends and I had one of the best days of my life. Thanks for praying for me.”

My heart swells with gratitude. Joy is here.

I pray this today, Psalm 30, over myself, over you, over us, that joy will fill you today in this new day, this morning season of your life and mine.

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you restored my health.
3 You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
6 When I was prosperous, I said,
“Nothing can stop me now!”
7 Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.
8 I cried out to you, O Lord.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
9 “What will you gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O Lord.”
11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Thank you SO much, Kirsten, for inspiring and hope-filled words today!  I pray each of you have a beautiful weekend.

Up Monday:  Rise and Shine!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Firefly Frenzy!

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Last Tuesday night was a BIG NIGHT in the Connors house!!

Fairy lantern

The fireflies started showing up here in Chicago!!!

I honestly wait for this night with joyous anticipation each summer!  You see, my birthday is July 3rd and as far as the annual crop of lightening bugs goes, my birthday coincides with peak firefly season here! So I always equate the abundance of these “fairy lanterns of night lights” with celebrating my birthday with family and friends that I love!

(Let me clearly state for the record that we have a STRICT “firefly catch and release program” in my house! No keeping them overnight in jars in your bedroom for a nightlight, only to find them belly up at the bottom of the container in the morning! Just a quick catch in the hand, watch them blink a time or two, and off they go back to brighten the night sky for everyone else to see!)

They don’t stick around for long, mind you. They have about a 2-3 week period of time around here to show off their magic before they go off to who knows where! (Please don’t tell me they simply die. You’ll ruin my birthday and, regretfully, I’ll have to call you a party pooper.) But, I’m telling you, those two weeks can seriously readjust my mindset to focus on God’s provision of simple pleasures for the soul!

For those of us in whom Christ dwells, there is no limit to gifts He provides – large or small. He shows His majesty and greatness in every single thing He creates and gives us. And we have His promise, that as long as we follow Him, we will have an abundance in this life!

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Abundance means to have more than you need. To have more than you need creates an inherent responsibility to use what we have been given for the greater good, don’t you think? What good is a backyard full of fireflies ifyou don’t invite anyone out to share them with you? What good does $1,000,000 (or $10, for that matter) do if it simply sits in a box under the bed? What good is a spirit of joy if it isn’t being released into the world for others to experience? What good is a soul filled with gratitude if it remains inside you instead of returned to the One who gave you reason to rejoice in the first place?!

God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else. Hebrews 1:9, NLT.

Our Father literally poured out an abundance of JOY onto Jesus. Jesus, in turn, steadily and readily pours it onto us.

If you are blessed with the eyesight to read this, the soul to feel it, the mind to process it, the spirit to use it, and the means with which to pass it on, why don’t you?

Go and light up someone’s backyard today! Take a meal to someone in need. Write a card to a person who could use a pick-me-up. Call your grandma, if you are blessed enough to have one living. Send a smiley, emoticon text to your parents. Hug your kids when they wake up. Kiss your spouse before bed. Be the reason someone can celebrate the day TODAY.

He didn’t just give you an eyedropper of joy, you know! You got the whole bottle poured on you. You have plenty to share and the more you share it, the more He will continue to fill you up!

Yep, I know what you are going to say. You’re going to say you don’t always feel the joy, feel the love, feel the abundance. You aren’t feeling full enough to share anything sometimes. Living in an imperfect world will do that to a person. But if you’ve been living the lesson of this post, there will be others who can – and WILL – stand in the gap for you during those drought seasons to pour back onto you what you’ve showered on them.

Sometimes you are the fireflies.  Sometimes you are the one who gets to enjoy them. Either way, it’s a gift.

tree with fireflies

Praying for fairy lantern-filled nights for each of you this week, whatever that looks like in your neck of the woods!

And for a special gift of JOY for you this week, we have a wonderful guest post writer for FRIDAY! My new and amazing friend Kirsten Stokes, (who writes a completely cool blog called God’s Chick – click here to check it out: http://godschick.net/) is gracing us with a post about…what else…JOY! Be sure to check back here on Friday to read her insights and applications of God’s joy to everyday life! You’re going to love her as much as I do! (Did I mention she is a mom, a writer, AND a kale freak?! Maybe that is why we connect on SOOOOOOO many levels!!!)

What’s up for Week 6 of Pure Joy?!

1. Rewrite/memorize our verse for the week in your favorite version! This week, our scripture verse is Hebrews 1:9! It’s written just up there a few paragraphs! You are anointed more than others, sister friends!!! Let’s USE that abundance!

2. Listen to our song this week which is one of my favorites!!! Every Good Thing, by The Afters! You’ll LOVE it!

3. Are you ready to start another book yet?! We have plenty of great suggestions up there under the Pure Joy Summer Series 2013 tab!

4. Get ready for the Pure Joy Dinner #2, on July 16th! Our theme is “A Few of Our Favorite Things!” Mark your calendar and respond to the Evite! If you want to come and didn’t get the Evite, email me! wendieconnors@gmail.com

5. Continue the Joy Dare! We’re giving that gratitude back to the One who gave it to us!

Up FRIDAY: Kirsten’s post! DON’T miss it!!!

Praying for you this week! Standing by you and believing God for your intentions, needs, and praises!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie