Monday, January 2, 2012

What Will You Cultivate? and the Soli Deo Gloria Party


It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.

To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.
via Pinterest
I love routine.  I love clean spaces.  I love to organize and reorganize.  I love to clean out, rearrange, and start fresh.

And thus, I love January.

I also love the fact that God's mercies are new every morning and it doesn't have to be January for me to start over, to seek forgiveness, to change something that needs alteration.  But since I love schedules and routines, I love when change starts at a beginning.  I like it when life fits together like puzzle pieces.

Coming home from Disney World at the beginning of December, I received a gift.  I heard God whispering permission to find a routine again.  It was like receiving an award after a long race.  I had run as God had asked me to, along paths that did not seem feasible in my eyes, along roads that took me to places where I was not comfortable.  From August through December, He asked me to give up my own schedule and lean on Him at every crossroads for direction.  He asked me to view my time as something not my own.  It was a journey in which I learned that things in life really were beyond my control, but were not beyond God's.  I learned to listen for His promptings in small things, which sometimes, when they all add up, can end up being more meaningful than the big.  Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned through all of this is that there is no question too small for God.

Perhaps that's not the biggest lesson.  Rather, perhaps the most rewarding and tangible lesson I've learned through all of this is surrender.  That word used to have such a negative connotation for me.  I viewed it as God standing tall above me, finger pointing in my face, saying LAY IT DOWN...OR ELSE.  Surrender to me was fear-based.  But looking back, I realized that I was afraid to give up something because I had so closely identified that something with me.  I was only worth how much I had or did or knew or created.

When I think about surrender now, I think about a soft pillow.  I think about falling into His arms.  I see kindness in His eyes when He opens His hands and I see a heart that longs to teach me and hold me.  I see Him valuing me above anything I do.  Surrender, I have found, is love-based.

I never picked one word last year to help me frame out my year or guide my efforts.  But God knew that 2011 would be about surrender.  2011 would be about laying down and picking up.  It would be about dying to self, dying to ambition, dying to control, dying to expectation.  I think I still have a few more "dyings" on which to work, but the one that stands out clearly in my mind right now is rushing.

I rush a lot.  To and from.  To this and that.  I must believe that if I hurry up and get something done, there will be more time for something else.  But chances are, I'm going to rush through that, too, because isn't there always something else to be tackled?  And so, perhaps that is why I keep hearing God whispering the word cultivate.  It all started when God's word from Luke struck me during Advent:  Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  (Luke 2: 19)  It's hard to treasure and ponder while rushing.  It's hard to savor and store up when I'm looking ahead and expending energy on the next thing.

I'm starting a new series on Thursdays about how the act of cultivation fleshes out in the real-life.  If I don't have practical, tangible ways to integrate spiritual process in my life, the spiritual process usually takes a nosedive.  Perhaps this is why I have not had much success with past New Year's resolutions.  After a few weeks, I would like to open it to guest posts, so if the world "cultivation" hits you or has meaning for you, would you consider writing for me?  I'd love how you cultivate space and time for God and the things that He has put in your life.

SDG Community Builder:  1)  Notice the new poll in the top right of the blog?  Would you take a moment and prayerfully consider your response about coming to the SDG retreat?  Planning is underway and I would be blessed beyond belief by your presence!  2) If you haven't liked s(He) Listens on Facebook, would you do that, too?  I'm planning on announcing a lot of retreat details through that and it would be a great way to generate more publicity for the retreat for some other sisters that might not know we exist yet!  3)  Tell me in the comments which button you like best:
#1                                                                             #2
Photobucket Photobucket

37 comments :

  1. Your place is looking so beautiful! I love the new art. Oh, it's so you. Good, good.

    The previous post on your grandma is so tender. You can feel how much you miss her.

    I like button #2...I don't like buttons that move.

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  2. loving the new place, and loving the second button! too much movement in the first one! but this is an adventure that i cannot wait to undertake with you...already starting to save for this retreat! <3

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  3. Love what you've done here - beautiful! I like the second button a lot. Hope I'll be able to make it - I'd love it and learn so much!

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  4. Great post!! I like the second button. Thanks for doing this each week! :)

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  5. Oh this is so wonderful. Especially when we decide to truly trust our Lord and allow Him to guide us! Excellent post as always Jen :)

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  6. excited about the retreat. i like the 2nd button.

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  7. I love January for that fresh feeling too. I made a list today of all the things I want to get done in 2012. But if I get three done, I should be satisfied. :-)

    2010 was a year of surrender for me. 2011 was learning more to depend. I think 2012 will be a year to branch out. Perhaps God is working on a progression with me....

    I love your theme of cultivate and look forward to what you'll say about it!

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  8. I am looking forward to more details about the retreat and also liked the second button.

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  9. He gives me words like that - just not always on Jan. 1. This past year has been The Year of Walking - I'm excited about what He has told me about this year! Wishing you blessing your Year of Cultivating.

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  10. I like the 2nd one and it still reminds me of something. :P I love your word cultivate. I can't wait to see how God works this word through your life and to read about your walk with it.

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  11. You're such a blessing, Jen. Thank you for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and for sharing with us how God is growing and teaching you.

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  12. I like the 2nd button better. It's much clearer and easier to read. What an exciting plan!

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  13. Dear Jen, This post really speaks to my heart. Surrender is everything -- dying to the sin nature, dying to self, living for Him and letting Him use us as He sees fit. Your beautiful "Praise Him with Dance" piece is in a prominent place in the ballroom, reminding us to surrender our dancing to Him as well.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  14. I like the 2nd button pic...gorgeous picture!!!

    Wish I lived closer so I could attend...but I pray you have a great gathering to minister to :)

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  15. I can relate to the whole surrendering issue. And the New Year? Like a blank canvas sitting before me...a fresh notebook waiting for words to be written :)

    Happy New Year, friend!

    PS...I like the 2nd button.

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  16. Second button. I'm too scattered right now to look at all that movement (although it is very eye-catching).

    I plan on being at the retreat as long as it does not cross dates with the High Calling Writers' Retreat (date not up last time I looked).

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  17. Adore your new look with your art!!! Beautiful.

    I like button 2.

    And I adore your word. Cultivate. It rings of something growing and what comes from that.

    I like January too. I enjoy the quiet it brings after a hurried end to the year...there is January all fresh and new ready to be painted with the colors of life.

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  18. Hi Jen! Happy New Year! I like button # 2. BUT, I would like the simpler font at the bottom instead of the fancy fought. That's just me, though. :)

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  19. Love how you remind us that GOD gives us each moment fresh and new. We don't have to wait for a new year.


    2nd button...

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  20. Love the fresh start of a new year. I feel energized and focus - now to keep it up. Looking forward to reading your new series too.

    Liked the second button the best.

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  21. You give me a very interesting thing to think about. I, for one, am hard at surrendering. I have my own plan for the day and that's what I like sticking to. I tried to give God the control but didn't mind him so much as each day started. I need to work on that! And I think I will starting today!


    And I don't know much about the word cultivating. But I will surely meditate on it and write a blog for you!

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  22. Oh Jen, the words on this page are giving me much food for thought. "Laying down" is such a huge lesson for me right now - things I "want " to surrender yet keep picking back up. I am learning and so reading this today is timely. I look forward to "cultivation" on Thursdays and know that before one reaps, sowing and cultivating must be done!
    I prefer the conference button on the right, but I am not one for flashing things. Maybe that is my age ... 64! : )
    with care, ~ linda

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  23. I struggled with my post today, thinking it was because I'd gotten out of my routine, out of my habit. Maybe I should have read your post first. I think we're on similar journeys. In any case, I'm back and happy to be linking with you again. Happy New Year, Jen!

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  24. Wow. You hit the nail on the head! Rushing is how I often feel as well. I'm learning to slow down, though. I guess I need to hurry up and blog and link up. ;) I like #2 because it isn't flashy, but I would change the text at the bottom because it is a little bit hard to read. :)

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  25. May this year bring you amazing blessings that you will find it difficult to contain them all!

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  26. I love button #1. :)

    God is teaching me to focus this year. I tend to just jump around from one thing to another. I rush to finish this task so I can move on to the next, and then rush through that. Sounds like God is speaking similar whispers to our hearts.

    Many blessings, Jen!

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  27. i prefer #2...thanks for hosting this!

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  28. I like the 2nd button and I like thinking of a soft pillow when I think of surrender. Thanks!

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  29. whew! I think that challenge for you to 'get out of the routine' so to speak....you have met the challenge well and the Lord is saying, "good job my darling!" Happy back to a little more routine!

    Also, my sis just moved to Austin, Texas and you want to have a retreat here, I think I will get busy on this 'prayer'!

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  30. Hey Jen! Your post inspired me to let the control button go and surrender. Let's see if I can do it! There are days it's easy, but most days I just don't let it go!!! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Years. I took December off so I am behind on catching up with everyone! God bless!

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  31. Cultivate is such an interesting word. And I love the thought that we will all cultivate our spiritual lives in our own, unique ways. So cool.

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  32. I don't like moving buttons, so I would go with the second one for sure.
    The idea of the retreat is great, but, what is the retreat for? Are you having a speaker? If so, who is this speaker? What is the theme for the retreat? What is the cost? Is it your retreat or put on by your church? Your denomination? Is it for your friends? I am trying to throw out some of the questions that some people might have. I wonder if those details are important for someone to really consider attending. Very commendable that you want to make this happen and put all the work into it. I wish you the best as you plan this out!

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  33. Hi Jen! I've been searching for my word for this year and I think maybe I've found it:surrender! Will discern some more! A wonderfully blessed new year to you and your family! Patsy from
    <a href="http://patsypat.blogspot.com"

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  34. Surrender as a soft pillow. And it's hard to ponder when we rush. Hanging on to those thoughts. Thanks!

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  35. I am loving how you describe this entire journey to surrender. I have found I have to go through this process periodically because of some things from my past. I'm used to being the only one to take care of me, so reliance on God sometimes...well, I just let my flesh take over.

    I love the idea of this retreat, Jen. And I love both of those buttons. But maybe the second one better. Love to you, lady.

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  36. This is a beautiful thing, what He has taken you through this year and how much stronger you are in Him and how listening has played such a role...I love it all and what He has been working in you since I've had the privilege to journey with you here:}

    and I like the one on the right that doesn't flash better...seems to fit 'retreat' better, though, sadly, you know, I will miss you all:(

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  37. its a Mary vs. Martha kind of post.
    I think you are right to think there are different seasons on our lives for each.
    Sometimes it is about surrendering our schedule to His... and then other times He gives us permission be more Martha about it.
    Love reading your thoughts... wish we could do coffee...lol or tea in my case.
    T

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