Monday, April 23, 2012

Irrational Thoughts, Small Groups, 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.  oh! and we now have a mission statement -- check out the SDG page!
We have a tree that stands tall in our backyard that our neighbors gave us.  We hired a company to transplant it from their backyard to ours and then we all just crossed our fingers and hope it would survive the brutal Texas summers.  One never knows if the established tree will do well in a new environment and for awhile we weren't sure if it was going to make it.  It's a Red Oak tree, which means it loses its leaves in the fall and stands barren all winter.  When spring rolls around, it's always one of the last to show its buds.  Every spring, I hold my breath, wondering if has any life left inside it.

Every year, it becomes nature's manifestation to me of hope on a tree.  

I feel like that tree in the dead of winter.  Although He knows that life courses through my veins, I stand there looking at myself, wondering if I have the strength to bloom.

It's not that I'm tired or overwhelmed with the scope of my life.  In actuality, I am overjoyed about the SDG small groups, the retreat, my new class next fall.  I've been more intentional about my parenting and fostering a relationship with my kids (um, well, except for this morning).  It's more that my heart and mind seem to have flashed back in time and these old behaviors and irrational thoughts that I thought I had left in the dust years and months ago have taken over the truth that I KNOW is alive and active in my heart.

I've started unplugging the toaster again.
I've started driving and then had to turn around to make sure my front door was locked.
I've become a militant dictator about our budget.
I've been super controlling about the amount/types of food my children eat.

The root of all this is fear, which drives me absolutely insane because the last decade of my life has been all about the CASTING OUT OF FEAR.

If I continue on this path, I will be making decisions while standing on shifting sand.  I will operate out of the desperate need to control, shackling myself in the bondage of over-planning and self-reliance.  Every gift will taste bitter because I will be looking for what came before and after, weighing myself on merits and obligations and lack.

I imagine God's heart, soft as a white down pillow and I desire to press in.  To be enfolded into His endless love, grace, and mercy.  To lay this fear, this irrationality, this idea of self-sufficiency at the foot of the cross.  To look up, at Hope on a tree, and realize that I am no longer bound, but that I am free.
"But I am trusting in You, O LORD,
saying 'You are my God!'
My future is in Your hands.
Rescue from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let Your favor shine down upon Your servant.
In Your unfailing love, rescue me."
Psalm 31: 14-16, NLT
the tree today
SDG Community Builder:  1) If you have signed up to be in a Soli Deo Gloria Small Group (click here for more info), you should receive an email from your small group leader very soon.  If you have received it, please start visiting the other ladies in your group.  But also, feel free to visit other sweet sisters, too!  2) If you are new, please write "I'm New!" as your caption so that we might come and get to know you, welcoming you into the fold.  3) If you are not in a small group and would like to be, please leave me a note in the comments.


  1. Thanks for all your work in setting up groups, Jen. I got your email and will start visiting in the morning.

    And I know that battle with fear. Truly. I cling to this: Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!

  2. I, too, know this battle. This grace walk is a continual picking up and letting go and falling into that soft down pillow...praying for you this evening, sweet friend, as you press forward in full confidence and faith knowing He has called you for such a time as this.


  3. Casting out fear is a daily re-commitment, and you are not traveling this road along. I'm proud of you for taking that introspective inventory of your spirit...another task that takes courage and perseverance. Very inspiring, SIL!

  4. "Hope on a tree."

    Yes! I hope your tree makes it, and I love that Hope really did come to us on a tree.

    Our group has already decided we want to be more than Group 3, so we're thinking about a name change soon to come. Isn't that great? :-)

  5. stopping to pray for you right now as you battle fear....i love seeing that your tree has leaves.

  6. Jen...I think all woman on some level deal with fear/control...the root of fear is control...I know for me...the more I came to a resting place in God's love for me...That God is good all the time...He is not angry and disappoint with me when I fail...I could let go of controlling my life and others around me. Keep resting on that soft pillow...on His breast as a weaned child. blessings and prayers my friend.

  7. We all have seasons where our old ways surface. It is so good that you are recognizing them. Blessings on you, Jen, as you keep trusting. I loved your list of things that are going well, too.

  8. I love the lessons we can learn from trees!

  9. Fear...
    I am walking right beside you on that one!

    I love the verse you quoted. It is just what I need today. I wrote today about multitasking being a bad idea, and I have caught myself doing it lots. Arrggghh.
    I do need rescuing!

  10. I'm praying for you Jen. Praying you do feel his grace, love and mercy and are able to let go of the things He causes you too.
    I know I have struggled recently and decided to step back on many commitments and projects. God is ministering to me and rewarding me by giving me a peace beyond understand.
    God bless you

  11. Just the fact that you recognize the fear is a good place to be. And your view today, has helped me see too. Thanks for your honesty Jen. It's borrowed freedom.

  12. I hear you, Jen. Great post today, and thank you for all of the time, planning, and effort you've put into these small groups. I believe God is really going to use them.

  13. I don't know if I'm already in a small group, but if I'm not, I'd like to be :) Thanks so much for all you do here - you are always such an encouragement.

    1. Hey there Deidra, sorry that I didn't get a chance to email you until this evening, but welcome to my group lady!

  14. So you had one of those mornings, too, huh?!

    I think the battles I re-fight are most discouraging - like reading my journal and thinking I keep learning the same lesson over too many years. I also think that after great victory comes great defeat. Elijah sat under the juniper tree dispairing of life after Mount Carmel.

    I like your last verse - it is your declaration of choice and truth! Bloom on, girl!
    Hugs to you,

  15. I'll make this short and sweet - Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. I highly recommend reading it~ :)

  16. Jen - it's so easy to let fear creap in. I'm guilty of letting it happen so often. I have liften you up in prayer.

    Thank you so much for setting up the small groups. I'm planning to email my group in a few minutes and begin visiting in the morning.

    God bless you!


  17. Jen, love your tree story and the way it reminds me that God is in charge of the blooming and growing. But we are in charge of sinking our roots deep in Him and drinking deeply, aren't we? Always blessed and challenged by your honesty. Thanks for all you do to make SDG a sweet place of fellowship!

  18. You know what? This is gorgeous, for a hundred different reasons. Thank you, friend, for ministering to my soul.

  19. We all have to face giants like Joshua! I guess if you recognize them, that's a good first step! patsy

  20. What you call irrational is familiar to so many of us - the need to control. So many women, including myself, find ourselves there at times. Bless you for recognizing it as a challenge to faith, and for clinging to God's promise that He will bring you through. You are an inspiration, friend.

    P.S. I'm excited about the small groups! :)

  21. My hubby preached on joy this weekend and called worry one of the two main joy killers in our life (the other one being sin, of course). Your post took me back to that sermon. Not only does worry kill hope, but with hope gone, so is joy.

    I'm excited about small groups too! And meeting Amy this weekend. I wish you could come too!

  22. Letting go of that fear is a liberating thing - it's an opposite-day-kind-of-thing, too because it operates on God's kingdom faith - not on a worldly-faith. I look at fear as a call to prayer, too! It's an exciting year for you. Don't let Satan steal the heap of gifts in your basket during this season!

  23. Yes, our future is in His hands. We just have to trust and rely on Him.

  24. Darn! Just when we think we are getting a grip by holding on tighter, we realize that our fist is clenched in a death grip. Of course recognizing it is a huge beginning. God bless you, girl.

  25. Oh Jen, how well I know that battle with fear! Praying for you sweet girl--you are already fighting so well! The fact is, you're a threat and the enemy is checking to see if arrows that used to get to you still work--he will fail!! Your post is evidence that you ARE pressing in! A passage of scripture that has helped me with every fear skirmish I've ever won is 2 Cor 10:4-5 "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV1984) The J. B. Phillips translation is amazing too. I pray that you will sense the strength of the weapons you have and that you will see those fearful thoughts led away in chains by King Jesus while you walk free in His joy!!

  26. *hugs*

    Moment by moment, choosing to believe in the power of the cross. . . choosing to live in freedom and not bear the weight of the fear, or the guilt, or the worry. . .
    Together, we do this.

  27. Praise God for hope, or blessed assurance, in eternal life through His grace! Please do add me to a small group.
    Love in Him,

  28. I love the picture of the red oak tree 'today'. And I love how the Lord's cycle of nature, all His creation reminds us of our own relationship with Him. Each season resonates with the human heart.

    Fear... I think it's something that will try its best to linger on our heals as press on in this journey. But never has it the ablity, on its own, to control. Praise to the Lord who we can come to over and over again for renewal of strength against this one enemy called fear.

    Praising the One who Saves!!

    It's great to link up with the SDG Community, thank you:)

  29. That tree looks great! Like a lot of things I worry along with my fears that would have done just fine on their own. How *natural* to fall back into our human patterns of fear or whatever frailty! Seems like recognizing the recurrence for what it is, is half (or more?) of the battle. God bless.
    (One of my frailties is being technologically disabled -- er, challenged! But... I think I'm finally going to get a comment to stick here...)

  30. I love your post. It's a reminder that we can all conquer fear with prayer and the Heavenly Father's love.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog via Blog Frog.

  31. Oh, Jen, your tree is beautiful. Isn't it amazing how nature teaches us about seasons? I always need reminded...renewed. Just as you describe here, it doesn't take me long to fall back into place that I thought I had achieved victory over. It's just human nature, I think. That's why God was always telling the Israelites to remember. He wouldn't have to if they didn't forget!

    I love your idea for small wonderful! In typical me-fashion, I haven't had time to respond. Thinking on this. Some weeks I don't even get all my linkies visited, so I don't want to commit to something that I can't follow through on. But, you are the bomb! Praying for this beautiful ministry. It truly is. Beautiful.

  32. Oh how those fears creep right in. His Perfect Love casts out all fear, this I know; but that means we have to continually roll those burdens back on Him.

  33. "No longer bound...but free." Amen, friend!

  34. Oh, dear Jen, fear is a persistent enemy of mine, too. How well I understand you. Much of Psalm 31 resides in my heart, the different nuances in your translation make it fresh again. May the Lord fill you with His love and wrap you up in His tenderness this evening. Thanks for your honesty.

  35. Thank you for the invitation to join with all of you. I'll enjoy learning along with all these beautiful gals!


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