Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Taking Time, Making Time: Reflections on Time Guest Post Series

Welcome to our new guest post series about "time."  
How do we use it? Misuse it?  Many of us spend so much time complaining we don't have enough of it, but how often are we grateful for what we actually have?  It is a gift we receive every day...a fresh allotment.  But how will we spend it?  And what values shape how we use it?  As we reflect, may there be space to consider how and where we spend our precious seconds of this gift.
A guest post by Jody Collins:

"I don't have enough time."
"I don't have time for that."
"I'm out of time."
"This is not a good time for me."

Anyone else use statements like that?

For the last few months I've had a default conversational setting, "You think you're swamped? Well, top this."

The holiday season adds to the intensity...time is a precious, precious commodity.

My 'can you top this?' frame of mind was due to the demands of a new job with a very steep learning curve.  It had been consuming not only my days but my nights and weekends, too.

There was no time for anything extra, something had to go...a LOT of things had to go. 
· I unvolunteered from singing on our church Worship Team on Sundays.
· I took a Sabattical from our Home Group.
· Told our Children's Pastor I could only serve two out of the three months I signed up for.
· Backed out of a Christian ministry conference I was invested in.
However.
It's funny how you can make time for what you think is important.
Not easy. Not convenient, but do able.
And life-changing.
Even in the middle of the too muchness of my life I was committed once a month to going to the Seattle nursing home with our blessed friends Richard and Susan. (below)
Why? Because I knew the investment of my time and energy would be multiplied ten times over.  I always came away more filled up and blessed than when I came.

As if the giving out somehow filled me up.

Because it does.

Instead of worshipping up front with the electric guitars and super sound system at church, I was standing next to Susan at the piano, a cappella-ing to the old hymns with the old folks.
Instead of teaching the kindergarteners about Jesus, I sat and listened to my precious husband share his 15 minute sermonette while Desi 'amened' him and finished his Bible verses--from his hospital gurney.

Desi could light up the whole room, especially when he laughed. 

Three Sundays a month, the residents come--in their wheelchairs or with walkers, with working voices or no voice at all, trusting someone will speak words of life to them and lift their spirits. They revel in the familiar, old gospel tunes.  They light up when we stop to say, "I see you. You're valuable in God's eyes." 

Sometimes we turn pages in the hymnal, sometimes we pray, sometimes we just listen.

And it is never time wasted.  It is time with a dividend of joy that fills me to the brim and makes me glad I came.

I'm so grateful for God's economy that says when you give life away, when you take time for the lesser loved and little knowns, for what matters to me, you will leave more blessed than when you came."

There is always time for that.


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There is so much for which we can give thanks
But the real joy comes in the giving


Who is Jody Collins?  I've known Jesus since I was 19 and got dragged to Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California,back in the 70's. My husband and I have been married 40 years and currently live near Seattle where we worship at this Foursquare Church. By day I'm an elementary teacher and in my spare time I get to bless my 5 grandkids and pour into the lives of their parents, who thankfully aren't more than 3 hours away.  If I lived during the times of Emily Dickinson.....I'd be just like her--hidden away in my garret with my books and paper and pens.  Writing is like breathing for me--necessary for life."  I blog at Three Way Light.

Linking with  Michele and Women to Women today.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Craving Restoration and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
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I asked Jennifer Camp, our keynote speaker at this year's SDG retreat, to share with us some of the wisdom she imparted to us as well as her own reflections about the retreat.  Here she is:

Can you picture yourself as a little girl?


What were your biggest dreams then? What were you like? What did you love to do? What made your heart beat fast?


I am at the Soli Deo Gloria retreat, with Jen, and I ask my sisters to spend a few minutes writing down some of their first memories regarding their identity. 

I wonder if the truest parts of ourselves, the beauty inherent, can be uncovered, discovered anew, in the heartbeat of a little girl...before suffering...before longing...before wounding threatens to distort dreams tucked deep inside.
They spend a few minutes remembering and sharing and being brave. And I tell them:

No matter what beauty surrounds us, there is always an aching within each one of us to believe in more, isn’t there?  You may have had a joy-filled childhood, or you may have had one that has left you with wounds. These are wounds God knows better than you do, wounds only God can truly heal.

We hear that God has come to redeem us, to bring healing to our hearts, to restore us from the suffering we endure here, during our time here on earth. But do you believe it is it true--for you?

The verse that God put on Jen’s heart for this retreat was Peter’s words to Christ followers:

“Resist him [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your [sister]hood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:9-11, ESV).

Triumph in suffering. Beauty in suffering. Restoration in suffering. Healing in suffering. Redemption in suffering.

Do you believe, sisters: our suffering, when we commit it to the the purposes of our Father, our God, will bring about our salvation? Do we believe our suffering is what we do because it is what Jesus did for us?

We will suffer, and we will be restored. We will suffer, and we will be confirmed. We will suffer, and we will be strengthened. We will suffer, and we will be established. Peter gets worked up, energized here, in these verses.  

He has known his own heart--his wishing to not suffer; his rejecting Jesus’ prophecy of His death; His denying Jesus when asked if he was, indeed, a disciple. He knows what it means to run away and try to avoid suffering, and he knows what it means to endure it, as Christ did. He knows it was through Christ’s suffering our salvation, our redemption, our restoration, our hope, exist at all.

And so, suffering, my friends, is worth it.

I have a friend whom I have yet to meet face to face. But she is a sister whom I know because through our words, our letters to one another, we share and understand each other’s hearts. And she is in pain, and she feels alone, and she knows suffering, and she endures it with a beauty and hope that bring me to tears.

Oh, I want to be like her. She suffers, and she sees Jesus’ gaze upon her. She suffers, and she knows she is not alone. She suffers, and she knows this time, this pain, will end. She suffers, and she knows who holds her and there is a future that is real.
Because sometimes, sisters, the waiting, the waiting in the suffering, can just feel too, too hard.
But it is possible.
God is here, now, in the middle of whatever you are going through. And that is, I believe, one of the reasons we gather, as sisters. We need to be reminded, simply, that He sees us; we are not alone.
Sometimes, our wounds, our fears, our suffering can be what overwhelms us. But this isn’t what God intended, for His girls, for me, for you. Right?

We are made to be awake to what God has for us.  We are made to be free to say ‘yes’ to Him and live lives of joy. We are made, sisters, to be restored.

Here is the definition of restore: return, go back to the beginning, realize the vision, the initial design, the first plans.

God asks us to let Him in a little more, let  Him peel back more of the truth that is our story, that is our heart, that is the beauty He sees that He so much wants us to realize and live out, too.

But then, sometimes--we’ve all heard that expression--life gets in the way.  We make mistakes and have deep regrets, things we want to wish away, things we would do almost anything to change. We are wounded. This life is hard, and we get bumped around a lot. A loved one dies. A relationship is strained. Trust is broken. We feel alone. We feel weak, unnoticed, uncared for, lost.

We are suffering, and we are tired. We are sad and we are weary and we know there is more. There is more. And we know we can’t fix ourselves. We can’t do this all on our own. We can’t get back on track, mend our own brokenness, find our own way.

Although we try. It would be so much easier that way, wouldn’t it? If we could just pick up our own pieces, the broken mess that we are and make ourselves all sparkly new and beautiful.  It would be so great if we could just be restored . . . brand new. . . . I know.

Here’s the thing, sisters: we can’t be restored when we are trying to hide the beauty of who we really are. And often we don’t want to reveal who we are because we don’t think we are beautiful. The wounds we carry, whether self-inflicted or imposed by others and outside circumstances, can’t be treated unless they are uncovered and exposed to light.

Our savior knows suffering. And He sees us in our suffering. He wants to be with us. He wants us to surrender it to Him. He wants to let us be healed.



What is your deepest prayer right now? What is the deepest cry of your heart? What needs to be exposed to His light? How do you need to be restored?


Jennifer is, at heart, a country girl, finding God in the middle of an almond orchard, long ago. She is married to Justin and is the mom of their three crazy kids. She is also a listener, writer and speaker, in that order.  She writes at her blog, You Are My Girls.com, and is the co-founder of Gather Ministries, the new non-profit she works on with her husband. Her current favorite project is called Loop, an email devotional for women written straight from what she hears God say to her when she asks Him, "What do you have to say to your girls?" His words are her favorite things to ever scrawl down.


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Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? Want more info on what this sisterhood is all about? Click here.
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Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!
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Friday, November 22, 2013

FMF: Fly

At the SDG retreat last weekend, someone realized she had wings.  And the chains encircling her feet were broken and she could finally take a full deep breath, the kind that reaches into depths of her lungs.  The kind that reaches into recesses you didn't know existed.  The kind that fills you and keeps you going.  The kind you didn't really even know was missing until you've found it.

She realized she had wings, but she's still afraid to fly.  Because the truth is, life has been hard.  And not just hard, but brutal.  And it takes a long time to trust that the air He says will sustain you really will.

She realized she had wings, but I think she kept imagining being up there without her tethers, without her chains, and she couldn't help but look down.

And I understand.  Not because I've experienced her life, but because I've walked with her and I empathetically feel in the pit in my stomach and I hear the echoes of her heart and her lips...Is this really real?  Am I really designed to be free?

Am I really made to fly?

And as she spilled out these words during the testimonial time, as she pondered her deep questions and deep breaths aloud to all of us, as she looks as us quizzically asking, Is this really real? we as sisters in Christ respond...

Yes.

And at that moment, I think her feet lifted from the ground.  Her wings rustled, the dust shook off.  And for a moment, I think she believed, if only a bit, she really could fly.

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I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Flashy Neon Light: Mommy Porn


I'm betting you, Mom, don't feel satisfied in every area of your life every single day.  And I'm betting that you, like me, try to do something to change this, even if it's just a momentary lift.

It happens.  We feel lonely, we go get some chocolate or wine and settle into a good book.  We feel restless, we begin to think about exotic vacations.  We feel out of control in our household environment, we leave for a run or a night out with friends.  Anything to escape these negative, and at times, overwhelming feelings.  We're made to crave light.  We don't like dreariness.

I'm glad I have outlets and I think God gives us fantastic writers, good chocolate, and amazing friends to help us deal with the pressures of this life.  But we have to evaluate what we're running to, lest we find ourselves seeking joy and pleasure in these outlets instead of our relationship with Jesus.  See we crave light, but we often substitute the true light of Jesus for flashy neon ones.  The world twinkles, doesn't it?  And we are often drawn in by its lure like a moth to a flame.

Keep reading with me?  Join in the conversation over here at The Whatever Girls.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Redeeming the Time is Not Just about Doing More: Reflections on Time Guest Post Series

Welcome to our guest post series about "time."  
How do we use it? Misuse it?  Many of us spend so much time complaining we don't have enough of it, but how often are we grateful for what we actually have?  It is a gift we receive every day...a fresh allotment.  But how will we spend it?  And what values shape how we use it?  As we reflect, may there be space to consider how and where we spend our precious seconds of this gift.
Ever since I was little I never liked to sit there doing nothing. 

And if possible I’d rather do two or three things at once! I then learned from the Bible that God wants us to ‘make the most of every opportunity, redeeming the time’ (Eph 5:15) which just put extra wind into my sails!


Not so long ago I went on a long journey, and trying to redeem the time I thought, “I’m going to have all these hours with no children, husband or house to look after - I can get lots done!”  So I planned out all the things that I could do.

But not very far into it I realised that I was getting my usual earache that comes from stress. There was no apparent reason for it because everything had been pretty leisurely so far. But I realised that maybe I needed to relax a bit more and not fill up every single minute with things I could tick off my list!

So I lay back and just rested for a while. Once I started to relax and take things more slowly my earache went away and I was able to enjoy the journey better.

Too much activity can sometimes lead to stress which means we’re not at peace and probably not that joyful either, and can lead to physical problems down the road. It can also lead to impatience with those around us. So while we think we’re glorifying God by redeeming the time, maybe we’re not.

The Bible doesn’t just talk about doing active things – there’s a whole lot more than that.  Some things that we are called to do as Christians that aren’t necessarily ‘active’ things are:
  • ·       Praying
  • ·       Meditating on God’s Word
  • ·       Seeking God’s glory
  • ·       Becoming more like Christ
  • ·       Loving and spending time with our families
  • ·       The Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control

If we’re cramming every moment full it means that when unexpected things come up we’re less able to respond well to them and can become impatient or be less helpful and loving than we might be otherwise.

One example that always sticks out to me from the Bible is Isaac. When Rebecca was brought to him, it says that he had gone out to the field to meditate in the evening. How many of us fill up our life with things to the extent that we don’t have time just to meditate and reflect?

What I am learning is that I need to take things more slowly, be more flexible and keep the big picture in mind – tasks are important, but so are attitudes and loving others.

We need to realise that redeeming the time doesn’t always mean ‘doing something’ but can also mean meditating, reflecting and having enough space to be able to spend time with our families and other people in our lives when they need us.

Let’s not fill our moments so full that we neglect to live, talk and think in a way that honours Him.

Rhoda is a homeschooling mother of three little ones and English wife to an American missionary who is pastoring in the UK. She blogs at Living To Please God so that she can share what God is teaching her about living for Him, in the hope that it will help and encourage others.

Linking with EmilyMichele and Women to Women today.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brokenness made beautiful and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
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Today, in my journal, I quoted David: "Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me so far?"  And I said this because I really think, "Who am I to be able to do this? To plan a retreat and have You show up like You did?  Who am I to hear Your voice so clearly and carry out Your works?  Who am I to be able to witness the miracles of your restoration in broken, shattered lives?  Who am I to be this blessed?  I am overwhelmed by Your goodness, Your presence, Your care, Your promises.  You are so faithful."

These are the only words I have for you tonight.  Because I haven't fully found the words (except for the ones that describe the video below) to describe what God did, what my sisters did.  The pictures paint a picture that words simply cannot touch.
email subscribers, please click here to view the video

Suffering is not fun, nor is it easy. When we hurt, we long for restoration. And this is what God promises us in 1 Peter 5: 9-11. And not just restoration, but confirmation, establishment, and strength. But this restorative process isn't meant for us to engage in alone. Instead, we can share our brokenness with others and through that, God uses us to help restore each other, even if we aren't fully healed or whole. But we must be brave, sisters, and share the pieces of our lives, whether they are still scattered on the floor or in the form of a new, beautiful creation.

Our activity was this: We broke our own individual pots, shattering them on the cold concrete floor and thought about those moments when we have broken.  And then, we compiled all our broken pieces in the middle of the table, sharing each other's brokenness, and asked the Holy Spirit, "What does my restoration look like?" And then, we created pictures of beauty, pictures of our individual restoration that would not have been the same without our fellow sisters' pieces.

At the closing of the retreat, we shared testimonies of what God had done that weekend.  And we watched our pot activity become lived out in the flesh.  We heard how one woman's story led to another woman's healing.  Who am I to be able to witness such glory?

Our stories matter.  Let us bear witness to His glory.  Let His light shine through our cracks. Let us put our pieces in the middle and see how He brings beauty from the dust.

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Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? Want more info on what this sisterhood is all about? Click here.
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Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!
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