Monday, July 30, 2012

Expectations 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.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
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We've been talking about surrendering small, but the last week or two, I realized that I have something big to give up.  It's not my house or my car or my blog.  It's not even a tangible thing, but it is something that eats away at my soul and causes me to be my own idol:

EXPECTATIONS -- those that others hold of me and the ones I create for myself that are not God-given.

I've spent so much of my life trying to live up to them and each time I failed, it felt like a long drawn out process of dying.  And I know that rhymes and it sounds a bit on the cheesy side, but you know friends, it's the truth.

Trying to live up to someone else's expectations put you on the path to death.

I used to think "if I could just please, then they will be happy, which means I will be happy."

But we all know that happiness is fleeting, yes?

And what if "those" expectations are contrary to God's expectations?

What if we toil and we strive and we try to live for someone else?  What if we try to make our lives and our homes and our children and our words look so good on the outside?  What if we do all that?

What do we gain if we succeed?  What if we make them happy?  Do we clasp our hands together, dance with joy, and let it all go?

No.  Because there will always be more expectations.  The bar could always go higher.  And just what would people think if you just stopped trying so darn hard?

If you didn't fail the first time, you could still fail the second.

And when it's not enough even when we have tried our best, tried our hardest, and not given up until we thought it was near perfection --

Failure becomes our reality.  It squashes all hope because all we can see is our own wrecked heart or mind or life.

I don't know about you, but when I can't measure up, I feel destroyed.  Dead.  Hopeless.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? 
Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God, 
for I will yet praise him, 
my Savior and my God. 
Psalm 42: 5

How many times have I put my hope in man?  How many times have I turned my ears to hear the sounds of praise of me instead of turning my mouth to praise Him?

I have to repeat that again for myself to really hear --

Which would I rather do?

Turn my ears to hear praises from others about myself
or
Turn my mouth to sing praises about my God?

It's hard to be talking and listening at the same time.  It's hard to be self-focused and God-focused.  We have 2 eyes, but they can't look in two different directions at the same time.  And the hard reality of trying to measure up to other people's expectation is that what we are really seeking is

praise from other people.

At some point there has to come a severing.  All these invisible cords that tie us to the expectations of others, we must unwind ourselves from them, and then hand over the ropes to Jesus.

In that moment of turning them over to Him, aligning our face to His and His alone, we can find freedom.  We can find joy.  We can find hope.  We can find rest.

And when words come to pierce our souls, we have a Shield, a Protector, a Rock.

By day the Lord directs his love, 
at night his song is with me— 
a prayer to the God of my life.  Psalm 42: 8
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SDG Community Builder:  1)  Here at SDG we have small groups!  If you would like more info about this, please click here.  If you would like to join a small group, please leave me a note in the comments or email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  2) If you are new, please write "I'm New!" as your caption so we may come and give you a bit of extra linky love and extend a warm SDG welcome.  3)  Register.  For the incredibly awesome retreat that we are planning for October.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

downcast, oh my soul

This is what I tell myself today:

Put your hope in God --

not in your accomplishments or your failures

your children or your husband

not your house or your friends

not your parents nor your church

not your ministry or your words.

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There is no REAL hope

unless rooted in God.

All else will fly away,

dust in the wind.

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I will hope

even when in despair.

I will hope

even when destitute.

I will hope

even when death feels certain.

I will hope

even when I feel destroyed.

I will hope

in the Everlasting,

the Rock,

the Redeemer.

I will hope in the One

who makes all things new.

I will hope so hard

that my heart may hurt

from the sheer effort of

hoping.

Why are you downcast,

oh my soul?

The LORD is with you.

He cares for you.

His love is abundant and overflowing.

And I will long for Him.

As the deer pants for water,

so I thirst for You, oh God,

and for the HOPE

that is found in You.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Break the Tape: I Cannot Forgive

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place.  
Meet Cooking Up Faith.  Those three words are just the beginning of this sweet woman's blog.  Her heart has such far-reaching depths and you can tell from the moment your eyes meet her corner of the blogosphere.  She chooses her words wisely and they penetrate my heart almost every time I read them.  She is also the founder of A Meal in the Mail ministry, so be sure to jump over there to see how you can help.
The pain which comes from not forgiving someone is often worse than the pain caused by that someone in the first place. 

When we have unforgiveness in our heart, our mind dissects every little detail about that other person. What they did, why they did it, how they should be punished. The bondage of these thoughts is endless. And that's just what unforgiveness is...

bondage

Bondage of a broken record that keeps playing the tape of the other person's actions over and over and over. 

So how do we forgive someone who has hurt us so deeply, and worse, continues to do so? 
How do we break the tape of unforgiveness and be free to sing a new song?
 Maybe you have already figured it out. It took me many, many years. And I didn't actually figure anything out. The Lord showed me after I begged Him to tell me how to handle this person in my life. 
And here it is. The Word, the Truth, the Scripture which broke that tape...

For God has accepted them to be his children. They are God's servants, not yours. They are responsible to him, not to you. Let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. And God is able to make them do as they should. 
Romans 14: 4 (LBE)

Simply put, this person, their actions, their choices are not my responsibility. They do not belong to me.
They are God's responsibility, and He will handle that person and their choices accordingly

My tape is broken and the song I sing now is full of peace. 

I pray the same is true for you.

Please go visit Cooking Up Faith for more encouragement and to help with A Meal in the Mail!  You can visit by clicking here for her blog and here to find her on Facebook.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chasing Silhouettes & 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.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
One of the things I love about being in community is the ability to support each other, to build each other up, to love them, to give them opportunities to be known more fully.  Today, I would love for us to rally around our fellow SDG sister, Emily, supporting her as she launches her new book, and shares her soul with the world.  

Here is Emily...

We were moving, for the tenth time in seven years, and I’d seen a bad word on the side of the grocery store wall (but had no one to ask about it) and Mum didn’t tell me I was beautiful and I couldn’t go to public school and Dad was never home, so I stopped eating.

I chewed pencil, tasting lead. Our heads were bent over textbooks, together at the kitchen table, and Mum’s back was turned, while she rolled dough on the counter, and I wanted her to look at me, tell me she loved me, over and over, give me a mirror and trace my cheeks and help me believe I was worth something, but she didn’t know how, having never known it herself, and so I broke my pencil pressing it into prose and tried to find myself in the lines of the page.

I heard the sounds of girls going to school, ran to the door, and saw they were wearing pink backpacks and I wanted to run with them, but my legs were too fat; no one likes a fat preacher’s kid. Besides, we were home-schooled in case we should move again. Also, I had cried when I’d gone to kindergarten, so Mum had brought me home, ordered books, and vowed to teach me. That kind of thing was supposed to tell me she loved me, but I didn’t feel it. Because, to me, love was words and gifts. So I sat down to do my math and tried to forget.

I tried to forget the way Dad laughed with strangers in their pews, listened to them, as if their stories were more important than mine. And the way he closed the door to his study and sighed when I knocked, timid to ask him a question. I tried to forget the way he spanked me not knowing what I’d done wrong, only that Mum told him to because she was too angry to do it herself, and scared of that anger. It didn’t hurt me anymore, not even when he used his belt, because I refused to let it.

A neighbor saw me on the carpet, toy-playing, seven-year-old oblivion, and said, “What a big girl,” and I carried those words around like a bird in a cage, until one day the bird got loose and I stopped eating. Soon I would run on thin legs with the girls next-door.

It was a slow-stop, one that began with saying “No,” and the “No” felt good. I refused dessert. I refused the meals Mom dished up for me. I refused the spreads on my bread and then the margarine and then the bread itself. And it felt good, like the ribs on my fingers, as I practiced my counting.

I was nine and I felt 109. Mom let me go to school again, but I wasn’t allowed to do English class, because the books were too risqué, and she still didn’t say I was beautiful. The days were long and I was tired and no one could hear me, so I starved harder and the teachers couldn’t see me, so I shrunk my words making them smaller, smaller, until the teachers were forced to pull down their glasses and study the prose I’d made, the winning prose, and I aced class and I flunked recess.

At night, I dreamt of food. Mum found me, hunting for chocolates in my bedspread. I wanted her to hug me and make the fear go away, but then I was worried I’d eat real chocolates, because my guard would be let down with the soft of her touch, so I stopped hugging her for two years. My legs were getting thin, and that was what mattered, but I dreamt about her arms, and woke up hugging myself.

God didn’t care. He made me recite names each night before bed and I couldn’t go to sleep without reciting, because then people would die, and I wanted to die but I didn’t know it until the day everyone tried to force me to eat and I refused it all, and now it was clear to the world and maybe to God too: I was in control.

It was supper and we were seated and Mum was dishing, dishing, dishing and the macaroni and cheese piled orange and white as she handed them, plates plunking against old wood table, and I’d already decided, it tasted like straw, even before I took a bite.

Tonight, I would eat only half, and she’d threaten me with no dessert and I’d tell her point blank, that’s fine. Maybe it would make her worn sweaters unravel and her straight-lined school schedule smear and maybe then she’d take me into her arms and tell me she was sorry.

Sorry for praying that prayer when I was in her womb, the one I learned of later on, the one she said with good intentions not knowing how it would hurt me, the prayer which uttered God, don’t make my baby beautiful, in case she becomes vain. (I can see Mum’s hands trembling on her abdomen in the night as she offered her baby like Hannah did with Samuel, and it makes me love her, yet, despise).
In my own dark nights I worked to reverse that prayer. I’d train as though for war, to see food as nothing but a trap. I’d lie there feeling ribs, measuring wrists, planning the next day’s meals. And if there was to be a party somewhere, soon, I’d eat less in preparation, allowing myself the freedom to snack for then no one would know the difference.

By day, I’d peer into the mirror as if into my soul and imagine myself skinnier, beautiful. I’d creak onto the toilet seat after bath, spend half an hour turning this way and that, analyzing naked bones. Sucking in and pulling skin and strategizing how to become invisible.
Salvation came through imagination.

The apple grew a face which mocked me, and so I didn’t finish it, for every time I defeated the food, I gained points against Mum, and maybe God, and I was winning. The food had nothing on me. Sometimes I’d trick it, making the piece of bread think it would fill me up then rip it into halves and eat only one, and there was a thrill in leaving food on the plate, as though I could disappoint it. Even the raisins in the tapioca seemed to stare holes, and I would push it away, feigning fullness.

But food was everywhere, and it never slept. It would beat me in my dreams—the cakes, the pies, the sandwiches. In my mind there would be a buffet, high-calorie. I’d gorge, drool, and crumbs would spill over into daytime and I’d wake feeling bloated, spend the next day getting back at food by eating less.
I’d suck in my cheeks in the mirror; I’d suck them in for photos and I’d try not to talk so I could suck them in day-long. It was tiring, this looking like a model, but I was determined to be beautiful. I would weigh myself every time I ate, every time I went to the bathroom; I’d take off my shoes, my socks, my pants, just to see the numbers drop.

And I wept through the pain, wept behind closed doors with my arms wrapped tight, but I couldn’t stop.

Emily Wierenga is an author, artist and freelance journalist from Neerlandia, AB. Please pre-order her book, Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, to donate to your libraries, churches or the family down the street in need of hope and healing. Thank you.

(Repost; originally appeared at The High Calling, November 2010)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Break the Tape: I've Got this, God

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place.  
Meet Michelle.  There are many cool things to know about her, but one thing I LOVE is that she has a heart for middle school boys.  She's even written studies with her husband for them.  You can check them out here.  I could go on about her heart, but I want you to get on with reading her words...

photo source

MINE!
I GOT IT! I GOT IT! I GOT IT!
Words I yell to call people off a ball when playing sports.
They mean, "Back off! I'm taking this and I don't need your help."
Crucial in a game like volleyball or baseball
to avoid a collision or to make a play -
deadly in my spiritual walk.
I'm a Paul: A++ in the pedigree and training category (Philippians 3:2-11). The big difference between Paul and me is that I trusted Christ at the age of 4. By personality and background, I've been blessed with an "I got it" attitude. At times I do fear things, but most of the time I'm operating in a confident mode.
The only problem is
I sometimes subconsciously yell,"I got it! I got it!" in my daily routine.
 Maybe not in words, but definitely in actions.
It's not a willful rejection of God. It's getting comfortable in my routine, thinking of myself more highly than I should, ending up with me in the driver's seat wanting to direct, because I think - no, I know - I can.
   I have a Master's Degree in education - so of course I know how to home school my kids.
   I have a Bachelor's Degree in Bible - so of course I know the Bible and theology and doctrine too
   I have memorized lots of scripture growing up - so of course I'm a walking Bible
   I don't remember much about life before Jesus - so of course I'm really not that bad

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!
   GOD has the wisdom I need for teaching my kids, not my education (although it helps)
   GOD is my teacher, not my degree. He reveals the truth of His word - fresh and new when I read
   GOD wants me to continually hide His word in my heart, not rest on my laurels
   GOD says ALL have sinned and fall short of His glory. My righteousness (while it may look fantastic to me) is filthy garbage to Him
Throughout this "little" journey God has me on, I'm learning that each little moment of the day needs to be His. While it's true that I can do these things because I have lots of training, if I'm not doing them in concert with God, depending on His strength, nothing of eternal value is accomplished. Too often I get so caught up in being proactive and prepared that I push the Holy Spirit right out of the picture. I think my next journey is going to be balance - it's actually one Tim & I have been on for a very, very long time!
I need to be more like my oldest, who brought a friend to a big youth outreach event. During the invitation, Nathan said, "It wasn't me. I didn't have anything to do with it. I was just praying, 'OK God, here's where you do your thing'." He prayed, waited, and watched the Holy Spirit work in his friend's life to bring him into the Kingdom!
So now when I say, "I got it!"
those need to be words of understanding.
~Eureka!~ The lightbulb turned on!
Yes, I got it!
it's NOT mine. It's YOU, God!

Want to read more of Michelle?  Click here to travel to her blog, Leading God's Generation.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Coffee, Anything, 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.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
photo credit
I stir my coffee and I think about Grannie.

I've only begun to drink coffee over the last few months, finally trading in my chai lattes for something a bit less...caloric.

I stir my coffee and I think about Grannie, even though she probably wouldn't come near my cup with a ten foot pole.  I use honey instead of sugar, half and half over evaporated milk.  I brew mine in a Mr. Coffee pot, while she used her percolator from the 1950s.  And mine is probably one tenth as strong as hers.

But I stir my coffee and think of how I fixed hers when I was a little girl.  "Two spoonfuls and a smidgen and enough milk to make it caramel brown."  Even though our ways are totally different, I can still relate.  I am bound to her in this coffee-fixing tradition, different but still the same.

What does fixing coffee have to do about a book review of Anything by Jennie Allen?  Allen conveys that even though our "anythings" can look totally different, we are still bonded by the common cause of surrendering it all and serving God out of obedience.

Anything is full of life and hope.  Through her own personal journey, it is clear that the act of praying "anything" can turn your life upside down, but in a way that gives us access to more joy and fulfillment than we could ever imagine.  It is not easy to tell God that we are willing to do anything He would have us do, nor does this act of trust ensure a road that is easily trod.  However, even though there will be hard places, Allen stresses that this life is not supposed to be about easiness and comfort.  But it is when we abandon these false securities, we trade up for ultimate security for our eternal lives.

The book begins with Zac and Jennie praying together, "God we will do anything.  Anything."  They put everything up for the taking -- their house, their cars, their church, the empty bed in their son's room.  Even when things didn't make sense, either to keep or give away, they pushed forward, their road lit by the light of God.  They trusted, even when they could only see five feet in front of them.

I would recommend this book to anyone (plus, I like to support my Austin peeps, even when I don't know them personally).  In my own journey, though, as I talked about before here and here, God has used this book to remind me that when I say anything, I also must be willing to give up anything.  If God points to this, I cannot say to Him, "Oh, why would you want that?  It's so small?  Surely, you don't want that?"

It's the small things that I've realized I cling to most fervently.

I tried an experiment the other day.  In the early morning hours, I wrote down everything I wanted to accomplish in the next sixteen hour period.  I wrote out my whole agenda.  Then, at the bottom of the page, I jotted down this:

But I surrender my agenda to You and I will walk the path YOU have for me today, even if it means deviating from my own.


During the day, not only did I checked off what I did, but I also wrote down things that I was able to do that I didn't even put on the list.

God reminded me that I needed to go to the grocery store just at the time when I realized I could go without kids.

When the kids asked if we could start our family painting that we are creating for the mantel, I said "yes!" because guess what -- spending quality time with the kids was something I forgot to put on the list.

I finished up another project that had been hanging over my head and called back a friend that I neglected the day before.  I got the guest room ready for my nieces, renewed my library books, and took all the kids to the pool.

There were things that were initially on the list that didn't get done, but you know what?

The world didn't topple over.  I didn't even regret not having everything crossed out because there were so many more life-giving events that I got to be a part of that got ADDED to the page in my journal.  What if I had been so focused on my needs, my world, my agenda, my life that I forgot about everyone else?  Sadly, I think it might happen more than I initially thought.

For me, surrendering the small is so new that I think it might be a neat experience to, every day in my quiet time, write down my agenda, and then offer it up.  See what God does?  See what He asks me not to do?  To hand Him the list and let Him become the list -- seeking after only those things that He wants me to paint on my canvas?

Does anyone want to do this experiment with me?  A few days or weeks, writing down our agendas, giving them to God, and chronicling what happens?  I'm a bit excited!  If you want to hop on board, maybe you could email me over the next few weeks about what happened and I can share some of our stories here?

(Disclosure:  I received the book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers, but all opinions are entirely my own.)
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SDG Community Builder:  1)  Here at SDG we have small groups!  If you would like more info about this, please click here.  If you would like to join a small group, please leave me a note in the comments or email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  2) If you are new, please write "I'm New!" as your caption so we may come and give you a bit of extra linky love and extend a warm SDG welcome.  3)  Register.  For the incredibly awesome retreat that we are planning for October.   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Break the Tape: I Don't Have a Voice

Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape.  Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place. 
Meet Jennifer.  She writes with purpose and with passions.  I never would have guessed that her tape was the one she describes below, but she is a fully picture of the healing power of Jesus.  You can tell this by the way He courses through her words and her heart.
I’m in my room, 13 years old, at my cherry wood desk with the old brown, humming desk lamp by dad used when he was in college. My dad is on the floor, stretched out on the brown carpet, ever-patiently helping me find words to a speech I don’t feel qualified to write on my own. 

I am valedictorian at my Jr. High graduation, and, while I feel honored, I dread trying to write words that captivate an audience of my peers and their parents.  What I say needs to be good.  What I say needs to be interesting and stirring, proof that I deserve to be up there, at the podium, giving the main speech that evening.

And I believe I am the last person anyone would want to hear.

 “Your girls are so quiet . . .” That one statement was said just a few times to my parents, to me and my sisters, while I was young.  But it was the tone that registered, not the words, which made me feel like I had a disease that needed to be cured.

From childhood through college, social situations were opportunities to prove to myself, and others, that I wasn’t a failure, that I did have words to say, that people did find me interesting and want to be around me.  Silence, shyness, became one the things that defined me.  And I detested my inner struggle – my failure -- to find words.

When I needed to write the speech for my Jr. High graduation, I knew my own words wouldn’t be good enough.  And so I asked my dad to give me the words, instead.

“What’s Wrong with a Strong America?” was the title – a talk that spoke patriotically of our Founding Fathers and the Federal Reserve and then dug into the topic of the World Bank and money lending and the insidiousness of interest and how our freedom as Americans is being taken away.  I walked confidently up to that podium in my beautiful pastel cotton Jennifer McCormick dress, the lavender and pale blue flower comb my mom lovingly pinned behind my right ear, and addressed the crowd with confidence and a voice that never wavered. 

Although I had no idea what I was talking about.

These words, the ones my dad gave me to say, were good ones – although somewhat controversial – but full of passion and zeal.  They were words to stir hearts and minds, to capture imaginations and prompt conversation.  I loved my dad with all my heart, respected his ideas, and believed in his power of words.  I had begged him, that day, in my room, to help me write the speech, as I feared, more than anything, that using my own words would be a failure; I would be making a fool of myself.

And he did.  He gave me every word, while helping me to convince myself that he was only helping me frame ideas that were already in my head.  And that is where the tape in my head that ran, continuously, “you’re not good enough . . . see, you don’t have words” got solidified. 

Friends, we become lost when we reject who’ve been made to me and don’t claim the truth of who we are.  Do you have a tape that runs in your mind, whispers to your heart, “you don’t have what it takes,” too?

These tapes in our heads need to be broken for us to believe we are not a mistake, but beautifully, perfectly made, with a voice that gives the Father delight to hear.  For me, it needed to be broken so I could believe that my words mattered, that my heart mattered -- especially in order to accept that I was the daughter of a King.

Three years ago, during a spring break vacation, my husband asked if he could lay hands on me and pray.  I was feeling discouraged, worn down, but I couldn’t pinpoint why.  But I had recently received healing prayer for an abortion I had kept silent about for over 20 years, and I was eager to continue seeking the Father’s healing from wounds He wanted me to turn over, fully, to Him.

As our three kids were tucked in bed and asleep in the next room, my husband prayed that I would be reminded of the truth of who I was – that the Spirit would give me a picture of a place in me that needed to be healed, restored to Him.  As we bent our heads, in silence, in a few moments I saw myself back in my bedroom, 13 years old, sitting at my desk in my room, my dad on the floor.

The difference with this memory was that it became clear, for the first time, that my dad and I weren’t the only ones in the room.  Standing behind my dad, looking at me, with tears in His eyes, was Jesus, full of sorrow, as He witnessed the blows to my heart with each word my loving, good-intentioned dad said – and I wrote down.

With each patriotic word of that speech, the message I heard was, “You aren’t good enough.”  “You don’t have a voice.”  And the messages that I had already believed became the tape that ran over and over in my head. 

There might be false beliefs that you have tucked away in your heart, too, friend.  Likely, there are messages you have believed that, although untrue, feel like the truest thing about you.

The Father is not going to tell you that you are not good enough, but that you are the most glorious, the most beautiful, and, actually, the most strong, in your weaknesses, in Him. 

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB).

The Father is not going to tell you that you don’t have what it takes to accomplish what He has given you to do.  He is going to tell you to lean into Him, trust Him with all that you are and He will give you everything you need.  You, partnered with Him, have His life in you as your guide, your mobilizer, your strength.

“This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing" (Matthew 10:42 MSG).

I pray, friends, that, as He pursues you {for the Father wants more than anything for you to realize the truth of who – and Whose – you are} that He brings to mind the hidden, wounding messages that you have tucked deep into your heart.  He longs to have you recognize them and let them be brought out into His light. 

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy “(1 Peter 2:9 NASB).

You are His girl.  You are chosen and beautiful and adored.  Any message that makes you feel less than that is not from Him.  And He has an amazing plan to show you the truth. 

Shall we lean in friend, to His truth, together? 

Listen.


{About Jennifer}

Jennifer Camp, voice finder and the wife of a heart warrior, in N. California, mothers three children and leads My Girls, in her home on Monday mornings. She writes at her blog, You Are My Girls, where she writes to remember the truth of her identity in the Father's eyes and to encourage other women to remember, too. Come on over to connect with her at You Are My Girls Community, on Facebook, or at twitter, JenniferCamp1.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pebbles in her Pocket 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.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
Pinterest
Last week's post seemed to strike a chord with many people.  Through all the comments and encouragement, it became very clear to me that I am not alone on this journey of surrender, or more specifically, this journey of surrendering small.

I pause as I write this, imagining what surrendering small looks like to God.  I picture a little girl approaching Jesus, pebbles in her hands, offering them up, and then laying them down at His feet.  On either side of Jesus are larger rocks, even a few boulders, things that this little girl has already offered up.  One rock says "house."  This little girl already knows that if God were to say "move," well, as sad as it would be, she'd pack the boxes, sell the house, and go wherever it is that God says to go.  Another rock says "jobs," and while the little girl has been obedient, giving up several jobs in order to move more fully onto the path that God has for her, she still has a pebble in her hand that says "monetary savings" to which she clings.

It occurs to me in this vision, that there are pebbles everywhere.  Those that are in her hand, she is close to spreading at the feet of Jesus.  But she still has stockpiles of pebbles in her apron, in her pockets, and scattered around the trail on which she walks.  There will always be pebbles to surrender, some old, some new, some she had already given away once or twice or even twenty times.
via Pinterest

What makes it so hard to lay the little things at His feet?  What is the hardest thing for me to give up right now and why do I not want to lay the pebble down?

What about you?  Is there a pebble you try to hide?  Maybe you stuff it in your apron?  Maybe you think you can hold onto it because you think you have surrendered enough big things that the little ones make nary a difference?

I can rationalize away most anything.  If God says something like, "Please don't spend so much time linking to other blogs just to get comments," I say something in return like, "But they are my guest posts and I want my guest posters to be known and heard and loved.  I'm just doing it for them.  Plus, it doesn't really take that much time, you know."

But if I stop my blabbering for a few minutes, if I stay really still and listen, I hear this:

Jen, do you think I need you in order for your guest posters to be known and heard and loved?  Do you not think that I can prompt my people to come visit them in your space?  Do you not think that I can whisper to them, lead them, show them?  And what about that other motivation you have?  Do you fear that if this guest poster (or perhaps even yourself when you link your posts) doesn't receive comments, perhaps you will think that you will be poorly reflected?  Perhaps you will feel judged or unloved or unknown?


Perhaps, yes.

This little rock, the small pebble labelled "blog link-ups" is in my hand and must be laid down in love at the foot of Jesus.  I know that there will be a time again when I can link my posts, but first, God has to refine this avenue of getting out my words.  He has to put in through the strainer and catch all the ties to pride.

This may not be your pebble, but I'm sure you have them -- other pebbles with other names.  They may seem so small, so insignificant, and yet, He wants them still.  Sometimes we may not understand why we must let them go, but all the same, we must lay them down in love, in honor of our God, who wants only the best for us.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.       1 John 2: 15-17
Sweet friends, this does not mean that Soli Deo Gloria will stop.  Soli Deo Gloria will continue to be a space for YOU to come link up and share your heart.  All this means is that I am not going to link my posts with other link-up parties for the time being until God teaches me what He wants me to learn through this act of surrender.

SDG Community Builder:  1)  Here at SDG we have small groups!  If you would like more info about this, please click here.  If you would like to join a small group, please leave me a note in the comments or email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  2) If you are new, please write "I'm New!" as your caption so we may come and give you a bit of extra linky love and extend a warm SDG welcome.  3)  Register.  For the incredibly awesome retreat that we are planning for October.