Monday, November 28, 2011

Bribery, Retreats, and Soli Deo Gloria Party!

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.
This is me and the lovely Jan Johnson trying to pose for a picture while holding a phone camera a foot or so away.  It only took us about 4 times to figure out the pics looked funny because we weren't looking at the right dot.  Anyway, I couldn't focus on my smile because I had to make sure my eyes were looking in the right direction.  Hence, the enormity of my teeth.  Oh well.  Jan is beautiful, yes??

So, a few weeks ago, Jan drives down to see me and take me out to lunch (I told you she was cool).  She pays for mine (yep, she just gets better and better) and I say "Thank you!" of course.  And then she says, "Well, it's kind of a bribe..."

oh?

"Remember that blog post I wrote about my summer vacation and one of the SDG girls mentioned a SDG retreat?"

sure...

"Well, I want a retreat." (okay, so she was pretty much this bold, but I am paraphrasing here)

And, if you would have been there, you would have seen my mouth drop open because (and I so love it when God works this way) because God had just been putting on my heart that, yes, it might just be time for an SDG retreat.

And so, I am 99% sure that our theme is:  Lost in the city, Found by God, which means, we are not retreating from the city, but still relaxing and reveling nonetheless in downtown Austin, Texas in October 2012.

Yes, less than a year.  LESS THAN A YEAR!

I'm thinking October 19-21, 2012, but I am currently in the process of getting bids from area hotels and scoping out meeting spaces.  My heart is to make this as inexpensive as possible and it seems like perhaps, the more people we have, the less it will be per person.  Plus, we will have options of rooming, like how many people per room, etc.  I'm also hoping that Friday night will be super cheap (pizza, wine, and soft drinks??).

So, details are fuzzy, but the heart and the mission are becoming clearer by the minute.  God is in charge and I am simply following His lead.  It's an adventure for sure because I am not an event planner!

What can you do to help now?
1.  Pray.  Please pray for the retreat, pray about if you can come, pray, pray, pray!
2.  Let me know if you are considering coming and how much you would be able to spend without including your personal transportation costs (include lodging, helping with meeting room costs, and food).  You can either email me or let me know in the comments.
3.  Be thinking about others who might want to come and join us.  What an exciting way to build our community!

SDG Community Builder:  Pray for our retreat.  Start talking about it as you visit other blogs to make sure people know that they are welcome, loved, and important.

P.S.  I'm on a fun family adventure, so I won't be able to visit around this week.
P.P.S.  If you missed last week, I've started selling my art. If you are interested, please click here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winds of Distractions

Photobucket It's windy here today.
Windy as in difficult-to-stay-in-my-own-lane-while-driving-my-car-kind-of-windy.

While sitting in church today, I strained to keep my attention focused on the words of the sermon, but the wind continued to rattle the windows of my church.  It rattled the cross that extends itself into the sky.  It rattled the large brass cross that comes down over the alter.
As I strained to hear, I myself became rattled.
Will the roof cave in?
Will the cross topple?
Will the windows crack, the shingles rip off, the roof crater?
And before long, I was imagining the church where I have been since I was 7, standing no more.

How easy is it to be distracted by the winds that whip around us.  Winds that are not born of the Holy Spirit, but rather winds that seek to taunt us with needless worries, endless speculations.  Winds that seek to rock us off our foundations so that we are easily swept up by the world.

Have you ever felt whipped around by the wind?  Have you ever gotten to the point where the battle against it is so hard and you are so tired that you consider just surrendering to it, allowing it to carry you this way or that?

I pondered these things while straining to hear that sermon and all the while, I hear the still small voice saying this:

Remember your foundation.

And I think of times that I nearly surrendered to the wind, throwing up my hands, my exhaustion, my will.  Surrendering to those things that I thought would soothe, would numb, would help me forget.

But then...

But then, my Protector stepped in.  And I remembered my foundation and I saw the safety of surrender to Him, though I knew it would not be something without pain or tears or struggle.  But, I would be rooted.  I would be found.  I would not be aimless, flapping the winds, this way and that.  No.

I would be in the safety of His wings, surrounded by His Wind, the world's noise quieting once again.

As we prayed the Prayers of the People, me in my pew, head bent down, heart opened, communing with God that which I laid in front of Him on behalf of myself, on behalf of those I love, I was oblivious to that scathing, cold wind.  I was oblivious to the creaking, to the fear, to the howling that sparked worry in my heart.

It was only when I arose out of that prayer that my ears attuned to it once again.  And so I learn not only to remember my foundation, but to pray without ceasing.

Are you caught in the windstorm?  Have you ever been?



Also, would love for you to join us tomorrow for Soli Deo Gloria (link opens Monday evening and goes through Wednesday night).


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nourishment: A Choice

Have you ever just craved nourishment?  How do you get it physically, emotionally, spiritually?  Because I have these questions and I want answers, I've asked a series of people to come in and share how they find nourishment.  Will you come along for the journey?  We will meet here every Thursday until the posts  run out.  Have something to share about nourishment?  Contact me and we will set a date!


Meet Jenny.  Jenny and I have been friends since high school.  She is one of the most deep-thinking, yet fun, people I know.  She is currently on a blogging break, but wanted to share her thoughts on nourishment on a holiday like Thanksgiving.
photo source
I breathe deeply and I pause.  The Thanksgiving begins.

Amidst the “hello’s” and “nice to see you’s” there is an awkwardness.  A hmm, do I really know these people?  I wonder and I wander. 

Between tables, around corners.  Through conversations, amidst scents.  Dancing with the fragrances around me.  Turning around them as they swirl around me.

Family and food.  This is what this holiday is.

Or is it?

I think about nourishment because my friend has asked me to.  My definition of the holiday expands.  I am nourished because I choose to be.  Not by what I eat or don’t eat.  Not by what I say or don’t say.  Simply in the act of showing up I feed myself, I am fed.  By positioning myself to love, and be loved, I choose to nourish, and become nourished.

The Source of all nourishment is the Source Himself, the God of Life and Love, Yahweh, Ancient of Days.  When I open myself up to family, food, wandering conversations and wafting scents, I open myself up to love.  I open myself up to Him, His presence, His here and now.

I open myself up to…

…the unexpected deep connection with a cousin in the corner;

…the moment when I can speak encouragement over an in-law in the hallway;

…the laughter I hear emanating from the children in the playroom, that brings a smile to my face;

…the gifts all around me, wafting like the scents, both tangible and intangible, physical and ethereal, but all good and each substantial, filling and full-fulling.

As I push through the awkwardness that can be the holidays, as I open myself up and make myself vulnerable, I am nourished.  And, I am thankful.

May you be blessed with the perspective of His presence this Thanksgiving, and it may it feed you more than ever before.

Like I said above, Jenny is on a blog break, but if you would like to read more of her words, you can find her at In the Becoming

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When I First Encountered Him...


I'm guest posting today for Amy Wards' series on thankfulness for the Word.  Would you join me over there?  Here's a little teaser to lure you over...
photo source

I’ve spent most of my life in the Episcopal Church, which happens to mean that I didn’t grow up clutching a Bible to my chest when I walked into the sanctuary doors.  I didn’t have one in front of me amongst the Books of Common Prayer and hymnals when I sat down in the wooden pew, softened by crushed red velvet cushions.

The Bible was read from the pulpit and for most of my life, except in times of distress, that where it stayed. 

And then, in what seemed like a flash, the Bible became something living, something fresh, something relevant to me.  I was on a YWAM mission trip far from home and as we sat through training, the leader asked us to grab our Bibles, close our eyes, and listen for God to reveal His promises through His written Word.

“He can do that?” I thought.

And so I closed my eyes and strained to hear the voice of God... To continue reading, please click here...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Art and Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.


And congrats to Patricia who won the candle from last week's birthday party!!
The purpose of Soli Deo Gloria is just this:  to be a community of women who encourage each other as we share our hearts, bare our souls, and walk the road with God.  As the facilitator of this group, sometimes my posts become more about the group and not so much about what is going on inside my heart.  But today, I write with a bit of trepidation and anxiety in my heart because, well, I'm in the process of beginning to sell my, um, art.  Crazy. 


Above is a piece that I did for my beautiful, talented, most wonderful friend, Amy.  This is how it came about:


1.  I asked her if she had a verse (most all my art is scripture-inspired) she wanted me to use as inspiration or if she wanted me to pray and ask God for a verse.  To which she said, "Oh, I totally want YOU to pray and get a verse."  Of course, she would say that.


2.  So, in the shower, I prayed and two verses came to mind.  Upon toweling off and dressing, I looked up both verses, sent them to Amy, and had her choose.


3.  After I received her response, I re-read the verse, asked God for vision, and started drawing.  What really came through to me in this verse was God's rescue and the fact that in His strength, provision, and protection, we can have REST.  I thought about all the things that we need rescue from:  the storms of our lives, the walls we build around our hearts, the briar patches along the roads.  When I think about all these things in conjunction with what it means to feel safe in my Father's arms...oh, it soothes my soul.


So...I can do this for you.  I can do this for your friends or your family or anyone else.  I can either pray and ask God for a verse or you can give me one that is close to your heart.  Each piece will be done in charcoal pencil with an acrylic spray finish so that it doesn't smudge.  My paper is 9x12, but I can also create pieces that are more suitable to framing (sorry, Amy, I didn't think about this when I did yours) like 8x10 or 5x7.


I have to thank my sweet bloggy friend, Rachel.  Do you know that right when I began typing this post (doubting myself all the way), I received an email from her?  This is what she said:  "i adore your charcoal art. it's beautiful. i only wish you sold your work, so that i could buy a piece."  I'm kind of taking this as confirmation that I need to go ahead with this, at least for now.  We'll see what comes of it, I suppose. 


If you are interested, please email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  I am really insecure about this whole charging people money thing, but I'm gonna go with $30 per piece, plus shipping.  If that sounds good, just give me a shout.  


Oh, and if there is a piece in the My Art section of my blog that catches your eye, email me and I'll let you know if it is available.  Most all of those charcoal pieces are 9x12.


Alright, 'nuff said about me.  What's going on in your world?  How can we love and encourage you?  Link up your blog and we will come with our words and our prayers.


SDG Community Builder:  As you visit each other and leave your encouragement in their space, would you offer up a prayer for them, too? It doesn't have to be long, just a sentence or two.


Linking this also to Sneak Peek Friday at Studio JRU!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Lost Offering

Did you ever play King of the Hill?  I didn't but our priest describes it as a childhood game in which, through trickery or pure force, one seeks to dominate, control, and retain power on top of the hill.

Sounds much like the world today, yes?  He contrasts this with idea of servanthood, connecting his words with the words of Matthew in the 25th chapter and Ezekiel's in the 34th.  He talked about God as both the King and One who was homeless.  And our priest posed the question (paraphrasing here), What would happen if we spent more of our time serving instead of shoving with flank and shoulder, butting the weak sheep?

And I wonder, what about all those times that I seek to prove that I am right instead of just serving the one who contends with me?  What about all those times that I covet the roles and responsibilities of others instead of just sitting under their teaching and being thankful that I can learn from them?  What about all those times that I choose to build walls so to supposedly protect myself when instead, I just end up judging and hiding and limiting my ability to be light in darkness?

All these thoughts are swirling in my brain and the offertory plate starts to flow from pew to pew.  Just as it comes to us, my smallest one drops one of her quarters on the floor and even with a frantic search, we can only find two of the three.  There is no consoling her, for she simply must find it, she must put it into the plate.  This is her offering and she wants to give it fully.  And I try shushing and soothing, but to no avail.  She will not be quiet.  In the consoling, my eyes finally fall upon the quarter.  We pick it up and look back to where the plate has finally made its way.  It is too far back, but one of the ushers realizes our crisis and she comes to our rescue, allowing my smallest to place the quarter in her hand so that she may safely deliver it to the plate, to the people to whom this money will serve, to the very Hand of God.
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"  Matthew 25: 40
Will I be so frantic to serve?  Will I be undone when I cannot find my offering?  Will I choose to stop pushing and shoving and claiming what I deem to be my own, in order to bend down and humbly serve?

Will you?


Also, would love for you to join us tomorrow for Soli Deo Gloria (link opens Monday evening and goes through Wednesday night).


Friday, November 18, 2011

As of Late...

Photobucket

Lately, I've been able to say "Life is good."
Lately, I've been saying "Thank You" a lot.
Lately, I've learned that God is teaching me that I can say "Thank You" even when life isn't perfect.
Lately, I've been watching rain fall upon our parched land.
Lately, I've marveled at the spring flowers in bloom in the fall because the weather patterns are confusing them.
Lately, I've seen God color outside the lines.
Lately, I've realized that I don't get 7 year-old humor sometimes.
Lately, I've been so thankful for community.
Lately, I've surrendered more of my leadership to my husband.
Lately, I've gotten to meet some of my blog peeps in person.  Simply amazing.
Lately, I've been in love.
What are you up to lately?  Come share at CrittyJoy's place.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nourishment: Better Than Cow Therapy

Have you ever just craved nourishment?  How do you get it physically, emotionally, spiritually?  Because I have these questions and I want answers, I've asked a series of people to come in and share how they find nourishment.  Will you come along for the journey?  We will meet here every Thursday until the posts  run out.  Have something to share about nourishment?  Contact me and we will set a date!
Meet Marty.  She loves cows and her heart's passion is to encourage women into a deeper experience of the Father's heart for them through the giving out of His Word.  Clearly, what is there not to like?  I think we are kindred spirits.  Perhaps you will think so, too...
"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name."
Ps 23:1-3

 Have you ever noticed?  It’s impossible to remain stressed while watching a cow eat grass.  Seriously.  Try it.  No, I mean really try it.  Take some time.  Watch the process.  Let your mind enter into the grazing moment.  Anxiety melts.  Pressures deflate.  Worries subside.  It’s a total “Ahhhhh…” experience.  I stumbled upon this astounding discovery eleven years ago during the second-home-in-the-mountains chapter of our lives. 

As we would race to the somewhat nearby Blue Ridge Mountains for 48 hours of weekend bliss, I began to notice in interesting phenomenon:  cows were impacting my life in some significant ways.  Oddly enough, throughout our trip, I discovered my heart relaxing and breathing more and more fully with each successive cow sighting along the way. 

Without fail, this marked unwinding intensified and culminated on the last leg of our 3 ½ hour journey, as we inched our big-city car down the quaint, pasture-lined, dusty road leading to our beloved rural bungalow.  Inevitably, I experienced the need to pause along the way, gazing eye-to-eye with various members of the grazing herds, completely transfixed by their laid-back modus operandi.  Prior to this season in my life, I don’t think I had ever looked a cow straight in the eye at close range...ever.  It was the commencement of authentic and lasting transformation for me.

In this context, cow therapy was birthed.  The treatment plan for this approach is amazingly simple:  Stressed out?  Go watch a cow eat grass…for a while.  I was the original guinea-pig for the research behind this revolutionary medical discovery.  As a result, my life has been personally enriched by the exhaustive list of anti-stress indications linked to this tremendous bovine breakthrough. 

In fact, truth be known, I’ve been keeping it a secret all these long years.  Actually, I hadn’t intended on sharing this highly effective therapy with anyone until I could figure out how to market it…and retire early with my proceeds.  Alas, I’ve had a change of heart - for the better, I might add - and I have decided to disclose my treasure without regard to potential personal monetary gain… As a point of interest, my research into the impact of bovine behavior on the human heart has actually expanded into the equine field, and I’ve made an amazing discovery:  Horse Therapy is equally as effective; maybe more so...But that’s another topic. 

What is at the core of this revolutionary cow therapy modality, you may wonder?  What is the secret behind this innovative remedy for modern man’s (and modern woman’s) pressing malady of heart and spirit called, stress?  I’m not sure; even though now I am a self-acclaimed expert in this field.  I have watched a lot of cows eat a lot of grass during the past eleven years. 

Perhaps the secret lies within the cow countenance; the inescapable expression in their eyes throughout the grazing process…steady, unhurried, self-assured enough to unravel even the most tightly-wound, adrenaline-addicted soul.  With every bite, they seem to say, “What’s the big deal?  Relax…Chill…All is well….Here, have a blade or two.  Trust me.  It’s really good.”  Or, maybe the clandestine power of this radical therapy, so mesmerizing to the spirit, is hidden deep within the nonchalant way cows – of all breeds and backgrounds, I might add – methodically, yet somewhat randomly, move throughout a pasture, blade by blade, seeking out their next bite.

Yep.  I’m thinking that might be it.  Possibly, the effectiveness of cow therapy lies hidden within the whole blade by blade thing.  From our highly proficient human perspective, this incredulously inefficient process is in desperate need of an overhaul. 

From a time management point of view, the grazing habits of cows are an utter (pardon the pun) disaster.   I mean, really…How Neanderthal!  Where is the cow-version of a fast-food McDonalds?  Think of how much more they could cram into their cow-schedules if only so much time wasn’t squandered with the whole grazing thing?  And we humans know that more is always better.  Right? 

If I’m honest about the whole thing, however, I am forced to concede.  In spite of its agonizingly measured, methodical pace, somehow, the blade by blade approach to cow-life does, in fact, minister a tremendous measure of grace and peace to my frequently over-scheduled, frantic, frustrated heart.  It’s beyond my comprehension, but once again, I am indeed indebted to the cow for this poignant revelation. 

So now that I’ve disclosed my life research, where does that leave us?  What are the practical implications of this radical therapy?  Moreover, what possible relevance exists between these discoveries - regarding the connection between bovine behavior and human sanity - and those who sadly find themselves without the bottom line commodity, essential for beginning this therapy:  access to a cow…better still, a herd of cows??? 

For many years, I too found myself restrained by this unfortunate category of life circumstances.  As a result, cow therapy was completely inaccessible to me.  (Fortunately, however, at the time I wasn’t even vaguely aware of what I was missing.)  What to do for frazzled hearts caught in this situation?  Where can those of us locked within the confines of an urban lifestyle find rest and rejuvenation for the heart, when cow therapy simply is not a viable option, for obvious reasons?...  

Well, laying all cow-fun aside for the moment, fortunately, lasting hope is within easy reach for our weary hearts, regardless of our life circumstances.  It’s as close as the pages of God’s Word.  Truly, Scripture is the Light our paths require, and the Lamp our feet so desperately need as we journey through this life.  Psalm 23 reminds us, “The Lord is [our] Shepherd; [we] have all that [we] need.  He lets [us] rest in green meadows; He leads [us] beside peaceful streams.  He renews [our] strength.  He guides [us] along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” 

Familiar words….familiar concepts…Today, however, as we close our “clinical analysis” on the intricacies and benefits of cow therapy, let’s fully embrace the Psalmist’s words, and be drawn into that wonderful place of rejuvenation and peace our spirits crave.  Truly, Jesus is the one and only eternal remedy for our exhausted, thirsty hearts and lives.

In fact, in these days just prior to His return, those of us who claim to know Him must to be on the alert more than ever before.  The intensity of the times in which we live, necessitate us being scrupulously aware of the condition of our hearts and lives, with the Spirit’s help.  Only as we follow His lead, can we sufficiently tend to our souls and feast on His Presence, averting the many pitfalls aimed at our demise.  It is time to heed the delightful invitation to abide in our Lord, drinking deeply of His powerful Presence, in an unprecedented way.  His Arms are open wide, inviting us to come closer, to stay longer, and to know Him as our All-Sufficient Shepherd, more powerfully than we ever have in the past.

The issue of what to do with over-stressed hearts will remain a pressing dilemma for every generation.  And as much as I am a devoted proponent of the prolific benefits of cow therapy, (and plan on continuing to practice it on a regular basis) the heart of the matter truly lies in connecting with, The Heart of the matter.  He longs to be the One Who hold us close, whispering to the depths of our spirits, and filling us to overflowing in the midst of our over-crowded, stressful lives. This day, let’s pull aside from the hassles and heartaches of our circumstances long enough to feed, blade by blade, Word by Word, on His faithfulness…and be thankful. 

As we close for today, may your heart be renewed, and your eyes be on the lookout…Who knows?  Your next opportunity to engage in some peaceful, rejuvenating cow therapy may be closer than you think…
“Father, You are so gracious and abundantly extravagant in caring for us as you do.  What a treasure we have in Your Presence.  Open our eyes to see You more and more clearly.  Free us from all that distracts, depletes, discourages, and degrades.  Thank You for Your lavish reservoir of patience, mercy, and thirst-quenching Love which more than abundantly ministers to the depths of our parched, stressed-out hearts.
Lead us, Holy Spirit, this day into the fullness of Your agenda for each one of us.  Cause us to follow; to linger; to revel in Your Presence, as never before.  Open to us fresh, new pastures previously unknown in our experiences with You.  Fill us with a sense of excited anticipation over the journey ahead, as we devote ourselves to intimacy with You.  Take us higher and deeper into Your Heart, O God, for You alone truly know us intricately and have the power to fill us abundantly as our souls require.  Shepherd us, protect us, renew us, guide us and most of all, bring honor to Your Name through our lives, this day.”   
Want to know more about Marty?  Read more of her wise words?  Click here to visit/follow/subscribe her blog, Rhythms of His Grace. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Room That Is Not Yet Done

I take a mental tour of my house.  I pass the public areas -- the living room, kitchen, the dining area -- and they look presentable, pretty even.  I am satisfied.

I trek upstairs and while things look a bit more lived in up here, they are still pleasant, comfortable, clean, and not pretentious.  But if I travel around the curve that leads from the master bedroom, I enter into chaos.  I enter into The Room That Is Not Yet Done.

It is the place where household management, art, and my husband's music collide and the collision is not pretty.  Someday, we will have enough money to turn the room into what we want, and because that day is not today, I choose to ignore it.  I ignore the cluttered, confused room that is not suitable for eyes other than mine.

As I finish up my mental tour, God asks me to tour the confines of my heart.  He leads me by the hand and we travel through all those public places, the rooms where people regularly reside and enter in with welcome.  We travel into the rooms where I only let in a few trusted people, but I feel as though God is satisfied with the state of these dwelling places.  And then, then, we get to The Room That Is Not Yet Done.

We stand outside the door, the door that is covered in "caution" tape, whose handle is hot to the touch, whose lock is big and to which I only hold the key.  And He asks me the unthinkable.

Will you let me into this space, this Room That Is Not Yet Done?


And I stand there silently, I shake my head, a defiant "No!" for this is the uncomfortable place where chaos and confusion run rampant and I like to think that my life is order and chaos and peace.

He doesn't open the door, but somehow, He shows me what I look like when I operate inside this room, this Room That Is Not Yet Done, and I see myself small and cowering in a corner, the darkness threatening to overcome me.  I am tied up in rope, but there is no one else in the room that is my captor, no one tightening the noose.  But, oh yes, there is myself.  I am the one who keeps the ropes tight out of self-protection, out of fear, out of comfort because this pain is known.
photo source
And as I watch this little girl in the chaos, as I feel her heart yearning for freedom, I see that she does not know how to get out.  And He says, There is only one way.  You must let me cut the rope.  Imagine the freedom.

But somehow, all I can imagine is the pain that will come with the unleashing, my sore arms so taught, so tight, so unused to being able to bend and flex and lengthen.  I think of my tight runner's body before I knew yoga.  I think of the handcuffs around the accused and how he rubs his wrists after the release.  There is still pain, but it is the pain of the body stretching for freedom.   A pain born out of yearning and reaching.  Quite different from the pain of being encased in rope.

And so the question still hangs in the air.  Will you let me into this space, this Room That Is Not Yet Done?  Will you let Me cut the rope that binds you?  Will you let me unwind you, carry you through this pain of release?  Will you trust me to bring wholeness to your heart?


I see that small girl rise.  I see the glint of the scissors raised.  I see a small hand reaching for the door.  I breathe in and slowly turn the handle.

Will you turn the handle, too?
photo source
Linking with the lovely Emily at Imperfect Prose and Shanda at Pause on the Path.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Soli Deo Gloria!

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.
photo source
(I'm nearly 2 weeks late wishing our little group a happy birthday.  Time just gets away from me.  Do you ever get so caught up in the living that sometimes you miss the big dates?)

I'm in a reflective mood tonight.  I've finished my preparation for my final class of the semester tomorrow (I'm writing this Sunday night) and so my mind has a bit of room to wander.  I think back to over a year ago, remembering so clearly the call from God to start this group.  I relive the pruning process that God took me through so that I would have the time in which to facilitate in this space.  Does anyone remember the tree?  Each branch holds a job or role that I filled...

I think back on that first morning in which we went live, filled with anticipation and a little bit of worry that no one would show up on the opening day.  What has this community been for me?  Oh, the list is too long to count.  You have prayed, you have supported (emotionally, spiritually, financially), you have encouraged, you have loved.  You respond to me and to each other and most importantly, to God.  Any of you that I have met in person, I can attest, you are just as genuine "in real life" as you are on your blog.  (And do you know I got to have a fellow SDG sister in my house today??  Joy, I enjoyed every single moment.  You are a doll and a precious friend.  Oh, and she also got to come to my class today.  See below!)  
                                       
I think about the verse from 1 Chronicles:  "Who am I, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"  I just want you to know how privileged I am to host you in this space.  It is an honor to read your words.  It is an honor that you ask the people who enter here to pray for you.  It is an honor to know your heart and to love you.



Oh, and um, what's a birthday without presents?  I have this amazingly wonderful friend who makes these amazingly wonderful candles.  Seriously, you will not believe how much scent is packed in this beautiful blue jar.  Once you light her candle, you will never want another brand.  Yes, that is how good they are.  She has four scents to choose from that fit perfectly in this fall season:  Apple Jack, Pumpkin Brûlée (my favorite), Amish Quilt, and Bodine Brew.  How can you join in this birthday fun and win the best ever candle?  Just leave a comment on this post.  If your email is not connected to your account, please leave your email address, too, so I can contact you if you win.

So now, please raise your coffee/tea mugs or whatever else you are drinking.  Happy birthday, Soli Deo Gloria.  The best is yet to come.

SDG Community Builder:  In the comments section, let us know this:  What has Soli Deo Gloria meant to you?  Then, hightail it over to someone that you have never seen before and leave her some love.

A Bad Habit


I'm guest posting today at Melanie Dorsey's WINGS blog.  What is WINGS, you say?  WINGS stands for Women In God's Shadow and it is a resource for Christian writers and speakers.  

Here's a little teaser to get you over there...

art by Jen Ferguson
I’ve developed a bad habit -- something that threatens to derail my relationship with God.  It is not something that one would ordinarily herald as a blatant red flag.  It’s more insidious.  It catches me unaware.  I’m learning, though, to watch for the signs.  Perhaps you might have experience the symptoms of this bad habit?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Unexpected: 5 Minute Friday


From the Gypsy Mama:
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Unexpected…



Unexpectedly, I am at home with a sick child.  So my long run of 14 miles got cut short to 10 because that is all I had time for before I took my youngest to school.  10 miles in the dark.  In the cold.  And as I run, I am alert for the nocturnal creatures that sometimes like to come out...the possums, the raccoons, the coyotes, and deer.  


Fortunately, I only had to commune with a single doe.  I think it was a teenager one -- he was all by his lonesome and I think he was hurrying home to make it back before curfew.

I was thinking while I ran in the dark, the full moon illuminating my path, how it easy it is to sometimes let darkness and chill invade a heart.  Thoughts can run wild if we let ourselves be infiltrated, if we don't arm ourselves with the protection that only He can give us.  Those unexpected thoughts that pop up in our head -- the ones that we know we need not pay attention to -- but when we are dark and chilled, we let them sit with us for a bit.  And perhaps we find ourselves on the out-of-control side because we've been away from warmth and light for a few minutes too long.

When I break free of the thought that has held me captive for this moment too long, when I realize that this dark and cold is not something I want to carry into my heart, I reach, unexpectedly on this 10 mile jaunt, out to Him.  Like a little child, I ask Him to chase away the insidious thoughts that have intruded on my safe haven that I have with Him.  I ask Him to wash me in His light.  I ask Him to be strong in the face of my weakness.  I ask Him to be a big Daddy.

And He is.  As the light of dawn begins to illuminate my word, as the warmth of the rays slowly thaws this aching heart, I am safe once again.