Monday, January 30, 2012

voting TIME & 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.
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photo source
No, I'm not going to ask you to vote for the next Republican candidate.  Actually, much more fun and exciting matters await you...

It's time to vote for the Soli Deo Gloria tagline.

It was actually very difficult to narrow down the field, so I had my husband do it.  Really.  He also took his red pen to his favorite, so I'm posting the original and edited versions.  So instead of just 3, you actually have 5 choices.  Sorry, folks.

Choice 1
Soli Deo Gloria :: Separate cities, connected by the same Savior

Choice 2
a)  Soli Deo Gloria :: The glory of His Story in our story (unedited)
b)  Soli Deo Gloria :: The glory of His Word in our story (edited)

Choice 3
Virtual friends, real sisters. Soli Deo Gloria

Choice 4 (because I just can't help myself!)
Life works better with a sister by my side.  Sharing life with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.

So glad you have the hard work to do and not me (clearly I already had the hard task of going through all the fabulous entries -- thank you to everyone who participated)!  Leave your vote in the comments, please.  I hope to have the shirts designed by our next SDG meeting!
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On another note, I'm moving my bible study class vlogs to Thursdays since that is when I've been exploring my thoughts about cultivation, my word for 2012.  Please join me if you can!  This week, we will look at the first chapter of Habakkuk if you want to read ahead to get a grasp of what we will be discussing.

AND HUGE ANSWER TO PRAYER!!  I asked my Monday morning Bible study to pray for the last $217 to come in so that I can pay off the deposit before my credit card bill is due.  No sooner did I finish the request, but one of my sweet ladies pulled out her checkbook and wrote out a check for exactly $217. I am thankful and humbled and astounded!!
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Soli Deo Gloria is all about sharing our hearts.  Since I've taken up your time with the above business, I'm just going to summarize here:

It's easy to write about your kids when things are peachy, but a bit harder when there is a problem that still needs to be resolved.  Around our house, we are really working on being honest and obedient.  I'm excited on one end -- we have a behavior plan in place, a tangible goal to work forward, and I'm am armed with prayer.  I've highlighted some great scriptures in Beth Moore's Praying God's Word and I've printed out some prayers that specifically help parents pray for the development of different character attributes for their kids.  On the other end, it just kills me that it's an issue.  Not so much the obedience, but the dishonesty.  Question for you parents out there -- did your kids go through a dishonesty phase?  Any illuminations for me?

Every week, I look forward to seeing your sweet faces.  Since my class is in full swing, I don't always get around to each one of you, but I want you to know that your participation is so valuable to me.  Even more important than that, though, your participation is important to the entire body of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.

SDG Community Builder:  1) Vote!  2)  Before leaving a comment on another sister's page, pray for words from the Holy Spirit to flow from your heart to your fingertips as you leave a comment.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bob Dylan & The Lord's Prayer

Who knew that Bob Dylan would ever come up in church, much less a sermon?

Not me.  (Although, interest piqued, I just read that Dylan became a born-again Christian in 1979.)

And yet his song, Gotta Serve Somebody, gave perfect illumination to the gospel lesson today from Mark 1: 21-28.

In these verses, the people in Capernaum are astounded at the authority Jesus has over the unclean spirits who had recognized Him as He taught in the synagogue.

Jesus "engages the forces of evil in a decisive battle," declares Fr. Parker in his sermon today.

I don't often picture Jesus in this form.  I know that He has authority.  I know that He commanded crowds of people.  I know that He spoke out against evil and all temptations, but sometimes I get so enamored with the overwhelming love and grace that He extends to me that I miss this part of why He came into the world in the first place.
photo source

Father Parker begins to recite the Lord's Prayer as illustration:

"Our Father, whose name is holy...
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done...
on earth as it is in heaven."

Jesus came to establish God's Kingdom on this earth, this earth that we know is a fallen world.  The enemy has sunk his nasty claws into the dirt of our existence and fights daily for our attention, for our allegiance, for our life.

You gotta serve somebody.

Jesus came to earth and walks with us today not to just remind us how to be, how to act, what good things there are for us to do.

He came and He walks so to equip us for this same battle so that when the forces of evil threaten to snare us, to bury us, to drown us in the sea of temptation and evil, we will prevail in His name.  There is a war going on every day.  Every day we as a people battle addiction -- addiction to alcohol, drugs, shopping, busyness, pornography, money, power.  Seems like if you  name it, we can make it a god.  Could we not, instead, become addicted to the only thing that will never betray us?  Could we become addicted to Jesus?  When He says, "Follow Me," can we drop our nets, dock our boats?  Can we respond with the entirety, the very entirety of our beings, "Yes?"

Yes.

His Kingdom on this earth.
His Will, not ours.

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Bob Dylan

Linking with these lovelies:  Michelle @ GracefulShanda @ Pause on the PathLaura @ The Wellspring

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cultivate: knowing when to turn over the tools

photo source via Pinterest

I realized this afternoon (writing here on Wednesday) that I don't have a good shut-off valve.  God gives me a task, a job, a mission, and I push forth with everything I have to do what I believe He has called me to do.  I get so focused on the task that I don't realize that my energy is depleting at a rapid rate and if energy was blood, I'd be due for a transfusion any minute now.

I go out and meet God in my garden.  He stands there with His hand outstretched.  I hide the spade in my hand, promising that I can enjoy the space without toiling, really I can.  But why don't you let me keep the spade just in case a little weed pops up and I need to take care of it real quick, I say.

He doesn't say anything.  But He looks into my eyes and He shakes His head.  Finally, His words break the silence and I hear the whisper:

This is my garden.  And I need my tool.  It's my turn.

Like a little girl, I shyly pull the spade from behind my back and place it in His hand.  I look around and the work that has been done, the seeds that have been planted, and there is simply nothing more that I can do in this moment.

Trust me, He says.  Believe the words I have given you.

photo source via Pinterest
And I think back...

Psalm 27:3

Joshua 1:9

I don't want to get point where I have built fences around my garden, shutting out the one who gave me this space to begin with.

So I put down the tools, surrendering to the Ultimate Caretaker.

I find a bench not far.  I curl up with a good book.  And I read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

when you feel mismatched

photo source via Pinterest


sometimes i feel...mismatched

like

my frame is too small to carry this burden
my heart too fragile to feel this pain
my mind too incapable of navigating this obstacle
my fear too strong for this mission
my endurance too short to finish the race

sometimes the feat just seems bigger than i could ever be

and so i seem to shrink even further
i blow farther with the smallest of breezes
i lose my footing so easily because somewhere
i've started to trod on shifting sand

and i beseech Him,
like a small child worming her way out of something her mom asks her to do,
"do i hafta?"
it's not a stubborn unwillingness
(or...is it?)
it's a genuine fear of messing up, of asking too much,
of biting off more than i can possibly chew

and i ask and He graciously responds,
Psalm 27, verse 3
and i plod my way past the old testament and i read these words:

"Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident."

how many people in His Word have felt so, so little.
mismatched.
it seems that's how God likes it best
because He wants us to keep walking on the firm foundation
that is HIM.
if the task was achievable on my own merits,
wouldn't i be so ever ready to toot my own horn?

but He knows my heart:
soli deo gloria
for God's glory alone.

photo source via Pinterest
and besides all that, have you ever been astounded by things put together
that would not ordinarily be paired
but when they are,
oh.
the beauty, the astounding beauty that results.
photo source via Pinterest


Monday, January 23, 2012

you want to enter THIS contest & 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.

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photo source -- well, pay comes in the form of the free t-shirt...
I was thinking about making t-shirts for our little Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood as a fundraiser for our retreat.  What better way to know you are covered by your sisters than by well, being covered by your sisters (or at least a t-shirt that says sisterhood).  I pulled up a design your own t-shirt site and um, sat there.  No inspiration.  Nada.  Suddenly it was time for family movie time in which my husband had ordered Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure from Netflix (while watching I think I actually LOST brain cells, and thus, at this point had absolutely no hope for further inspiration.)  But then I thought, why not have the sisterhood come up with a cool tag line for our group here?  Just a thought -- the tagline should address the sisterhood and not the retreat, as not everyone is able to come to the retreat, but every woman IS able to be a part of our group.

And so, an idea was born -- you are in charge!  Come up with a tagline and leave it in the comments.  I'll select the 3 that I like best and we shall vote on the one we all like next week.  The winner of tagline contest will receive a FREE t-shirt!  
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Another idea I had (obviously borne before PeeWee's Big Adventure) was that I would take what I'm teaching in my class at my church and share it here in the form of a vlog.  If you'd like to join in with our class content virtually, just hit the play button (and I promise I will get better at this vlogging thing!):

If you can't view the video from here, you can view it on YouTube by clicking here (email subscribers, you can either come to my blog or just click the YouTube link).

SDG Community Builder:  1)  Join in the tagline fun contest!  2)  Pray as you look over the faces of those women who have joined today.  Which face pulls on your heart?  Take that as the Lord's prompting and go visit, leaving some encouraging words before you leave.

Looking for how to donate to the SDG Retreat?? Want to help a sister who wants to come but needs a little financial help?  Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.  Only $218 until the deposit is paid off!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mercy.

photo source via Pinterest
I haven't heard much talk about Jonah.  He only takes up 48 verses in the entire Bible.  I have to say, though, the times that I have read it, God always seems to pack a punch within the few words contained within its pages.

At first glance, it seems the main lesson is this:

Do what God tells you to do the first time, lest you want to get eaten by a big fish.

While I think this is an important lesson, I think the bigger reason why Jonah's story is included in the Bible is because it is a story of mercy.

Sure, God shows Jonah mercy by giving him another chance to fulfill his calling, but God also teaches Jonah the importance of being merciful.  Sometimes we are quick to receive mercy, but hesitant to give it away.

The whole reason that Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh is because he knew what would happen if he went there, opened his mouth, and let God's words tumble out.  He knew that Nineveh would repent and that God would then spare them.  He cries out to God,
"Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD?  That is why I ran away to Tarshish!  I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and rich with unfailing love!  You are eager to turn back from destroying people!"  Jonah 4:2
It all sounds kind of silly to my ears at first.  Who would blame God for being compassionate and merciful?  Would not we sink into this truth instead, filled with gratitude that we serve a God that will not turn away from our desperate repentance?

But then, Fr. Mike goes on, comparing Jonah to the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son.  It is at this reference that I understand the heart of Jonah in that moment.  It's a heart of pride.  It's a heart that says:

I'm better than them.
My works are more meaningful.
It's not fair that he..., when I have...

It's a heart that cultivates a false image of myself for a myriad of reasons -- self-protection, self-elevation, self-image.  The key word is self -- when I neglect to extend mercy, I choose myself.  When Jonah wanted an entire city of 120,000 people to perish so that he could feel good about his own life, his own culture, his own people, he chose himself.

I wonder if Jonah got the message.  I wonder if it pierced his heart so much that he couldn't help but allow God to free him from the worldview that so consumed his life?

I want to be pierced.  I don't want to go through life living for myself.  I don't want to bind myself in chains of comparisons and judgement.  When God says go, I want to go freely, ready to embrace the amazing qualities of God that daily transform my soul.  Plus, I don't really want to spend three days in the belly of a fish, or some sort of equivalent.  

What about you?  Have you had times when it was hard to be merciful?

Linking up with Michelle at Graceful.


And don't forget:  Soli Deo Sisterhood link opens Monday night at 7:30pm CST.
And did you know?  We are planning a retreat!


Finding Heaven

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cultivate: Remember Your Progress


photo source via Pinterest

With cultivation, I envision slowness.  In many ways, then, cultivation is the antithesis of the rhythm of my day.  What I realize now, though, is this:  If I take in things that are happening around me and to me with a pace that is frantic, hurried, and fast, I am unable to recall the lessons that God has taught me previously.  However, if I take in these events or words or relationships and mix them into the soil of my life, I can more readily either see how they fit in.  When I digest events instead of attack them, more than likely, clarity ensues.

Example:

In the past, I have always freaked out about money.  If an expense popped up that I didn't expect, even if we had money in savings to cover it, I would chose to deal with the situation often with worry, anxiety, fear, and a fair about of tears.  Even if we could pay for something, I viewed the expense as something that took away my security (i.e. my savings account) and that left me vulnerable (i.e. What if something else happens and we've spent all our money here and then don't have money for this?).  When the new expense popped up, I immediately reacted, which meant that all the times that God had provided meant nothing to me at the moment.  I couldn't assimilate this new happening with those of the past because I was too busy trying to figure things out with an anxious and restless heart.

Today when the heater repairman came to diagnose my unusually loud A/C unit and then, about 15 minutes later told me that the motor was out and it would cost approximately $1100 to fix, I went through this process:

1.  Okay, we have the money in savings to cover this.
2.  It doesn't leave us with a lot, but God is faithful.  He will provide if we need money for something else.
3.  Oh my goodness!  Maybe I need to go back to working part-time so these things don't require us to take so much money out of savings!
photo source via Pinterest
4.  Wait, God did not say anything about going back to work.  He has called me to do what I am doing, even if it's not making any money right now.  God is faithful.  He will provide.  He is my security.
5.  Breathe and continue folding laundry.
6.  God will provide.  God will provide.  God will provide.
7.  When the repairman says, "Oh, I forgot to add on the $69 diagnostic fee," repeat step 6, coupled with the phrase, "Do not hit the repairman."

It wasn't a perfect process, but I didn't call my husband crying.  I didn't start looking up part-time jobs on the internet.  My stomach didn't tie itself into knots.  And on the whole, it's a heater and we need heat, so I'm just going to be thankful that we have the money and pay the man.  With joy!  (that last part, I'm totally being sarcastic -- I'm still a work in progress)

I just wonder how many times I have gone through the same thing over and over again simply because I chose to ignore the lessons God had taught me previously and instead react with worry, anxiety, and fear. This little (expensive) event has given me new insight on how I can react to new events with the spirit of cultivation instead of a frantic panic.

What about you?  Is there some trigger that normally sends you over the deep end?  How would a spirit of cultivation help keep you sane and grounded on His foundation?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Identity and iPhones

photo source via Pinterest
No matter what it's doing, my iPhone always remembers its identity.  

If it is sending an email, it still rings.
If it is processing my latest Words with Friends move, it still rings.
If it is playing Adele on my docking stereo, it still rings.

It still rings while browsing the internet, sending a text, or loading Facebook.

My phone does not get sidetracked by it's bells and whistles.  It always remembers that it is a phone first and foremost.  When someone calls, it lets me know, and casually offers me the choice to accept or decline.

Do I always remember that my identity is simply this:

I am a CHILD OF GOD.

My bells and whistles?  Well, there is an assortment, I tell you.

How often do I get wrapped up in the fact that I:
photo source via Pinterest
mother
teach
write
speak
draw
create
decorate
clean
organize
cook
wife
friend
run
volunteer
read
consume
give?

How often do I wrap myself so tight that when He calls, I do not answer?  I do not ring.  I do not accept.  How often do I decline?

I want to remember my identity as well as my iPhone.  HIS FIRST.

all else, secondary.

a simple bell
or a simple whistle.

When He calls, I will answer
now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

20 Seconds of Courage & 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.

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Clearly, I am still processing life through the lens of the movie, We Bought a Zoo.  One of the key life lessons that the main character, Benjamin Mees, learns from his brother is that he can do anything -- all he needs is 20 seconds of courage.

How many times have I felt the Lord nudge me to do something, but instead of gathering my courage and just doing it, I rationalize, I over think, and then I talk myself out of the whole thing?  But what if I heard the call and realized that all I needed is 20 seconds worth of courage?  When I think about delving into a new adventure (mundane or not), the hardest part is just getting started.  Can you relate?
Last Sunday, I knew that God wanted me to ask my priest if he would consider donating money toward the Soli Deo Gloria retreat to help defray the cost for those wanting to attend.  I saw him across the parish hall, finishing up a conversation with two other men.  Could I ask him for money in person or should I hide behind an email?  My stomach was filled with butterflies (oh, how I hate asking people for things!), but I knew that I needed to start the conversation and now was the time.  All it took was about 20 seconds to walk over him and start opening my mouth.  And do you know, after that conversation and one more follow up conversation on Wednesday, he told me he was sending me a check for $500 out of his discretionary fund?

20 seconds of courage in this case ended up being worth $500 -- and so much more.  Not only am I closer the goal of raising $3000, but I also have more confidence, further confirmation that this is a worthwhile pursuit, and even more courage to go on asking.

So, what about you?  Is there a task or adventure or conversation where if you thought, "All I need is 20 seconds of courage..." and I could do this?  Tell us about it in the comments!

SDG Community Builder:  1)  As you visit, is there a way that you could inspire courage and confidence as you leave your comment for the author?  2)  (summoning up my 20 seconds of courage)  If you feel led, would you consider making a donation (no matter how small or large) to the SDG retreat?  If so, you can donate by using the ChipIn widget that is now housed here? (thank you Nancy!).  Funds are securely processed by PayPal.  3)  Grace for me this week?  I might not get around as much as I'd like.  My first class of the semester that I am teaching at my church starts next Monday and on Tuesday I really need to prepare.  Thank you, sweet ladies!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Adventure awaits?

photo source via Pinterest
I love how God can work through any medium.  I also love how He brings things full-circle.  Things that I've pondered in my heart, but didn't really know what to do with, He brings back up and shows me more. He shows me why He planted them there.  Or, perhaps He doesn't explain, but He gives me another illustration, and that which has laid dormant is now alive again.

And all this writing is pouring forth because we went to see We Bought a Zoo.  Yep, never thought God would speak through this one.

During Christmas I read something or I heard something that focused on how Mary went to the inn and the door to that space was closed.  And yet, it didn't mean that Mary wasn't supposed to have the baby.  She didn't look at the closed venue, throw her hands up to God, and say, "Clearly, You are telling me I'm not supposed to have this baby."  The closed door didn't equal don't' give up.

In We Bought a Zoo, (SPOILER ALERT), it's opening day for the zoo and there is no one lined up at the gate.  The son screams, "Something has to be wrong!"  He takes off running and they discover that a tree had fallen into the road, prohibiting people from passing through.  As far as the eye can see, cars and people are lined up, ready and willing to venture into this new space in the community.  The Mees and the zookeepers can't move the trees, so instead, they help people through the trees so they can get to the zoo.

Benjamin Mees could have looked at the fallen trees as a closed door, a sure sign that this zoo wasn't meant to be.  He could have said, "Sorry folks, we can't open the doors because there is a tree blocking your cars."

He could have missed the best grand opening of his life.

Mary could have complained about her surroundings and missed the bundled joy.

Sometimes I get so focused on things going right that the slightest veer from my intended path starts me questioning if I should have gotten on the road to begin with.


I dare to say that I don't think this is how God wants us to live.  I'm actually kinda starting to think that God wants us to be a bit...adventurous.  Scary thought for the likes of this girl.

And yet.  When we are called to overcome odds, God gets glorified.  When projects seem insurmountable, God helps us to overcome.  When the only way through seems a bit unconventional, it means God is so incredibly creative.

Obstacles don't necessarily mean we aren't doing what God wants us to do.  Obstacles can mean that we fulfill our destiny as overcomers.  Sure, when the doors keep closing, God could be giving a sign that this is not the way to walk.  For me, though, I am realizing that just because it gets hard, it doesn't mean that God doesn't want me to keep persevering.  I'm realizing that life really is an adventure.  When we get on the ride, we can be in for the thrill of a lifetime.  But we have to get on.

My oldest daughter has this streak of adventure.  She oftentimes looks forward to the unknown, to the thrilling.  She might be a little scared, a little anxious, but she doesn't want to miss out on the fun.  Here she is on the back of her grandfather's motorcycle:
I want to be on my Father's ride.  And when He pauses, I want to be ready to go again with this type of enthusiasm.  I want to be ready for adventure, tucked behind my Father, who is steering the ride, even if I am unsure of where I am going.  Even if there will be some bumps in the road.

Linking with some beautiful ladies, whom I grow to love more and more each week:  Michelle @ GracefulShanda @ Pause on the PathLaura @ The Wellspring, and Jennifer @ Getting Down with Jesus)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Process of Awakening

From the Gypsy Mama:

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just writewithout worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?
    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 important: comment and encourage the person who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:


Awake…


via pinterest

It's not my best time of the day.  In fact, there are few times when I'm ever much worse.  It's those first few moments after my eyes finally flutter open and the first words that have to interact with another's.

At first "awake" I am grumpy by nature.  I don't want to talk.  I don't want to hear whining.  I certainly don't want to be the commanding officer of the morning routine with my children.  I have to really work to be pleasant.  I have to work to keep my temper in check because when all I feel is the need for silence and my house sounds like a deafening roar, well, let's just say I have a harder time controlling my tongue.

To fully awaken is a process for me, but not just in the morning.  In my relationship with Him, too.  Sometimes I feel like I come back to revisit the same bad habits and sins simply because the last time He went through it with me, there was part of my soul that was still asleep.  It wasn't sensitive to His touch.  It wasn't cognizant enough to hear those words that He breathed into my heart.

So much of life is a process of being awakened.  Awakened to His grace, His beauty, His gifts.  So even if it means I might be grumpy for the first half an hour, my soul hungers to be awake, alive, and singing.

Also, linking with the beautiful Michelle for Caffeinated Randomness.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cultiviate: A Sabbath

photo source
How many of you are tired of me talking about rest?  How many of you think, "When will she just learn to take a day off and be done with this?  How many days, months, years, decades, will it take her to get this?"

I wouldn't be mad if you looked at the title of this post and scoffed.  I wouldn't be mad because I look at the title and scoff.  When will I give in?  When will I fully surrender?  When will I just do it?

To be fair, I have actually taken a full Sabbath a few times.  The best one ever I chronicled here.  I know it's good.  I know it's right.  I know that taking a day off is pleasing to God.  So what's so hard?

photo source
It comes down to one thing.

Trust.

Do I trust that if I stop, God will make up for my lack?  It sounds like a silly question, but I know that when I stop, it means that things get left undone.  When I stop, the world keeps going.  Do I trust that when the Sabbath day is over and the next day arrives, God will show me how to manage my time, my attitude, my steps?

Last Thursday, I woke up glad it was the Sabbath day for me (I claim my Sabbath as a time when the house is empty.  I try not to blog, work on the SDG retreat, do housework, run, etc.)  But when my mind kept turning to the details of this and that, I couldn't help but go try to iron out some of the kinks.  I couldn't help but send another follow-up email.  I couldn't help but get ahead on the laundry so that I wouldn't be waylaid the next day.

And then, as I was folding laundry, I realized that even if I got still enough to read a good book, my brain would not be at rest.  And I felt God say this:

I give you permission not to think.

It was such a shift for me to match the idea of my physical rest with my mental rest.  I've never been good at putting things out of my mind.  If there is a problem, solution, idea, I want to work on it now.  But the problem is, if I am always working on the future, I miss the present.  I know it's cliche, but what happens is when I don't get physical and mental rest, I regret that I missed the time to take a break.  And then I get a little bitter or a little down or I don't have the energy to be the person I really want to be.

For me, I have now realized that a sabbath is something that needs to be cultivated.  Just like I mentioned here, there are preparations to be made. But there lies on the Sabbath day, permission to put aside.  In the act of putting aside, there comes the gift of relishing the moment.  There comes a gift of being able to trust the Father, that He will hold the thoughts, the ideas, the problems, the solutions, the laundry, the whatever, in the palm of His Hand.

Cultivating the sabbath is an act of cultivating trust.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Much Is Your Faith Worth? 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.

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Saturday morning came with a sense of fear.  As the light filtered through the slats, all I could hear was my husband's words the night before:

photo source
How many people do you need to attend the retreat to make ends meet?

My response:  I don't know.

In the morning, my response was this:  ohmygosh.  I don't know!  And I have to pay this deposit and what if people don't come and what if I'm crazy and what if I can't figure out what I'm doing.  And is God really asking me to do this?  ohmygosh.  ohmygosh.  ohmygosh.


And then I heard, "Is your faith worth $750?"

And I said, "Lord, I'd love to say yes.  I'd love to say it's worth  much more than that, but I'm going to need some pretty specific confirmation here."

I padded downstairs and opened my devotional to the day's reading (only just now did I realize that I read the wrong date).  Kristin Armstrong, in her devotional, Heart of My Heart, writes this:
God takes our meager offerings, limited by our knowledge and our energy, and He multiplies them -- just as He did with the loaves and the fishes.  He takes the little that we have to offer and He makes it sufficient. (page 6)
Even though $750 doesn't sound meager to me, I got the point.  We give a little in faith and God takes care of the rest.  By His grace, He covers our offerings and makes them enough.  He covers us and He makes us enough.

Okay, I say I got the point, but I wanted something more.  So, I asked God to direct me to a place in scripture to give me further confirmation and I heard a whisper in my head -- John 11:8.
"But his disciples objected.  'Rabbi,' they said, 'only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you.  Will you go back there again?"
Confused?  Yes, me too, until I read the context.  Jesus had to go back to Judea because that is where Lazarus was.  He was going back to comfort Mary and Martha and then raise Lazarus from the dead.  The disciples think Jesus is crazy because they equate the journey to Judea to a possible death sentence.  Obviously, Jesus knows better, but the disciples only see the risk.  But then, something beautiful escapes from the mouth of Thomas.  In verse 16, Thomas says something beautiful:
"Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let's go too -- and die with Jesus.'" 
And there, yes there, from the words of Thomas, my eyes start to brim with tears.  To Thomas, his faith is worth his very life.  To Thomas, allegiance to Jesus is all there is.  To Thomas, it didn't matter the risk.  The only thing that mattered was going where Jesus was going.

So, friends, I'm putting down the deposit on this retreat.  I don't know what lies ahead, but I know where Jesus is telling me to walk.  And I've decided my faith is worth at least $750.

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To find out more details about the Soli Deo Gloria retreat, please click here.

SDG Community Builder:  1) If you would like to be on the SDG prayer team (meaning you will commit to praying for this retreat for the planning and actual event), please let me know by email or in the comments.  2) If you know of a small business or organization that might be interested in sponsoring the event so to help defray the cost for the participants, please let me know how to contact them.  3) Give lots of comment love as you are visiting each other!  4) Oh, yes!  Would you consider putting the retreat button on your blogs?  5) And if you haven't liked s(He) Listens on Facebook, do that too, so you can catch all the latest news!

(I'm a little pressed for time this week, so I'm linking this post with some other very nice linky ladies:  Michelle @ Graceful, Shanda @ Pause on the Path, Laura @ The Wellspring, and Jennifer @ Getting Down with Jesus)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

5 Minute Friday & A Sale! A Sale! A Sale!


From the Gypsy Mama:
Let’s do it. Let’s just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.  For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Let your mind and your words and your heart fly free; wild – no editing, no over thinking.
The Rules:
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – don’t edit; don’t second-guess.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Must: 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:

Roar…

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Roar?  Really?  I do not roar.  I do not like to draw attention to myself like that, you know.  But as I read on about Gypsy Mama's calling and her passion that wells up inside her, well, I can definitely relate to that.

That's how I feel about Soli Deo Gloria.  That's how I feel about creating spaces for women to bare their hearts to God on a continually real basis.  That's how I feel about community.  If I could roar about Jesus' undying, unchanging, fierce love for women, I would roar until I no longer had a voice.

Why does the lion roar?  I'm afraid I don't have regular access to the psyche of a lion, but I'm sure at some point because they roar to protect their space.  As I make plans for the Soli Deo Gloria retreat (more info to come!), I hear God telling me to pray for protection.  He warns me not to get lost in the details because He will be in charge of those.  He asks me to stand and protect the pride -- standing, covered with the armor of God, roaring my prayers, asking Him to send His angels, His warriors, His Holy Spirit to descend upon the preparation, the retreat, the lovely women who will be there, perhaps even the city of Austin itself.


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Just a note...

Who doesn't love a sale?  And what about FREE?

Oh, I love getting things for free, don't you?  If you are like me, then you simply must check out Vyrso.  They have several ebooks that you can download for...you guessed it...FREE!  Essentially, they are all about bringing books written by Christians for Christians.  They have ebooks that you can also integrate with your LOGOS Bible software, too.

I highly recommend that you check them out by clicking here.  (They also have an app that is...well, FREE!)

Linking with The Gypsy Mama & Caffeinated Randomness today on this lovely Friday!

Cultivate: A Weeding Session

via Pinterest
You see, the first morning we had to get up and get ready for school was fabulous.  And when my darling daughters arrived home, everyone was in a good mood.  They willingly did their homework without arguments.  They ate what was fixed for dinner without complaining.  They were kind to me and kind to each other.

It was a good day and I went to bed fulfilled and satisfied.  Their little love tanks must be full.  Things are going to be good.  Being a mom was so much fun today.


And then Tuesday happened.

The first words out of my oldest's mouth were, "Hannah hit me."  It just went downhill from there.  Shuffling feet, angry words, rejected breakfasts.  What has happened to my children?  How can I put them to bed one way and have them wake up completely different people?


I was mad.  I was grumpy.  I grumbled while I ate breakfast. I grumbled while I did my quiet time.  I grumbled while reading SDG blogs (I hope that didn't spill over into the comments, ladies).  I grumbled until I was 8.5 miles into my 10 mile run.

via Pinterest
It took a full morning and 8.5 miles for me to get out of my own head long enough to hear God speak to me about the events of the morning.  And what did He say?  Ahem:

And what did you cultivate this morning?

A particularly painful question because this happened on January 3rd.  Yes, only 3 day into my new word and, um, clearly I was failing.  But instead of arguing, I just listened.  Paraphrased, this is about what He said to me:

You reacted to their mood.  You were so focused on getting them to be respectful in that moment, so focused on getting them ready for school, so focused on what it felt like to wake up to completely different kids, that you missed the opportunity to cultivate a different environment for them.  You contributed to the grumpiness.  You did not cultivate an environment in which they might want to change.  Grumpiness begets grumpiness.  You cultivated more grumpiness.


Yes, He does have to repeat Himself with me sometimes to get His point across.  But I did get it.  The environment that I want to cultivate for my family has to have time to grow, to really take root.  At the same time, some of the old behaviors need to be uprooted (hence the conversation I had with God this morning).  If God didn't point out the weeds, I wouldn't have the space for the fruit.


I'm learning that cultivation is not just bringing in newness to spaces, but it's also about de-cluttering.  And with any job I want to do well, it takes time.  It takes not rushing.  It takes being intentional.  It takes being willing to bend and extend grace and realize my part in it.

The kids came home from school and I started using my word in conversation with them.  So far, I've just been asking them if their actions cultivate love.  Right now, I'll admit -- it's a bit more for me than it is for them.  I have to say my word out loud a lot in order to keep the goal in front.  But, I'm really hoping that one day, they'll start using the word, too, calling me on my actions and words.


"Mommy, are you cultivating love?"

In so, they will be a part of the uprooting and the sowing, the weeding and the nurturing.

Hopefully, when that day comes, I won't be so grumpy.

What about you?  How do you cultivate an environment of love in your house?  How do you climb out of your own funks so that you don't react, but instead, rebuild?


Linking with Jennifer at Getting Down with Jesus.

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
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