Wednesday, January 30, 2013

when you think you're trading up, part 2

Sometimes God lets us go through these intermediary stages before we finally arrive where He really wants us to be.  A few weeks ago, I talked about ditching some of the labels that I wore throughout middle school and replacing them with ones that I felt would define who I wanted to be.  But as some of us know, life is not about being who I want to be.  Life is about living into how God originally created me to be.

Essentially, if I am walking with God, every label that I have put on will or could lose its stickiness.  Clearly, the labels that were demeaning and derogatory would lose their hold because they are in direct conflict with what scriptures says about how God sees me.  The labels that I slapped across my personality, like extrovert and always happy, would eventually fall away because they are simply unsustainable and exceed my human limitations.  Plus, what woman can relate to someone who is always happy?  It simply isn't possible.  Even Jesus wept.

My next intermediary phase was when I started labeling myself with my calling.  If, I reasoned, God called me to speak and to write and to be a leader in women's ministry, therefore I must be a speaker, a writer, and a leader.

But what would happen if one day, I lost my voice and it never returned?  What if I lost my hands and could no longer write?  What if God took away every woman from my life that needed to be led?

Would that change my identity?

When I get wrapped up in who I claim myself to be, when I place label after label on my body on my blog and on my bios, I begin to tune out the voice of God.  I start to believe that my worth comes from the fact that I can write, that I can speak, that I can lead.

But no.  The only label that gives me worth, the only label that brings me true joy and happiness, the only label that sticks and will not fall off is this one:
While I realize that I might sound like a broken record, I have to keep this front and center in my mind. And I wonder, if some of you out there, are much akin to this heart that is bleeding in front of you right here?  Do you forget like I do?  Do you put on labels that sound good and look good and make you feel good?

But what if it was all taken away?  Do you have this label on?  This one that lays claim to the Giver of all good gifts?

With this label come these...
Friend of Jesus. (John 15: 15)
Child of God. (John 1: 12)
Branch of the True Vine. (John 15: 1, 5)
Fellow heir. (Romans 8: 17, Galatians 4: 7)
Temple. (I Corinthians 6: 19)
New creation. (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
God's workmanship. (Ephesians 2: 10)
Citizen of Heaven.  (Philippians 3: 20)

All of these, well, they kind of make "speaker, writer, leader" pale in comparison, don't they?

Linking today with Tracy , Courtship Connection, and Emily.  (Although this isn't completely about light, to me, label free living is about reveling in His light.  Light is freedom.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Across the Kitchen Table and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Party


Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood weekly party!  To find out ways that you can be involved in the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, please click here.
If you are planning to link up, would you kindly visit the person that arrived before you?  You never know what surprises you await in this community!  Prepare to be encouraged and loved.
************************************
This is me.  Au naturale!  Again!  You know you want to do one, too!
email subscribers (or if you are having viewing trouble), click here

So, to recap:

{1}  Next week (Feb. 4th), put your Armor of God on and bring your vlog to the link-up party.  Remember, you are beautiful because He made you.  What you say will be awesome because it will be authentic and you are using the voice He gave you.  It will be fun because we will all be in this together.

{2}  You do not have to do a vlog next week to come to the party.  If you do a vlog, you don't have to do it au naturale.  Bring what you got to the kitchen table.  We will love you!

{3}  The new tagline for the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood is this:
Inspiring women to just keep it real.

{4}  In the comments, share with us your biggest fear of vlogging.  Or maybe your biggest fear in general.  We're game for anything here!

Need some help creating a vlog?  Here is a helpful article here.  Also, feel free to email me at jenfergie2000 @ me. com

Need some further encouragement?  Listen to this:

**********************************
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? Read our new, revamped page by clicking here.
**********************************
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!  
**********************************
(linking up with Jen, for Unite, a theme I love, obviously!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

When you need some applause


                                     Linking with Sandra on Saturday and Deidra on Sunday.

Friday, January 25, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Again

Go.
I don't ask this question of myself much --

Would you do it again?

Because, depending on the day, I may or may not know what my mind would say.  And sometimes, just sometimes, my mind can trump the heart and lead me down a road of logic that just leads to despair.

Because if I said "no."  If I said "no," I would rob myself of the infinite joy that I have, or at least have access to every single day.  If I said "no," I'd just be trading it for another kind of pain.  If I said "no," I'm sure I still would have found myself just as desperate, just as lost, just as hopeless as I mired in some other tragic hard.

Saying "no" isn't an option.  Til death do us part, sickness and in health, richer or poorer (and we have known "poorer" in many senses of the word, haven't we), every day we say "yes."  Sometimes out of duty, but most of the time from the heart.

The heart that seems to get stronger after forced through the flame.  The heart that seems to operate in the overflow when we finally fall into bed and let the grace of the day overtake us.  Saying "yes" daily doesn't mean perfection.  It doesn't mean that we've overcome it all.  But it does mean this:

We do take heart because He has overcome the world.

And this world includes all the heartache, despair, and brokeness we've been through, babe.

I take heart.  And I'd say "yes" all over again.

Stop.
(Y'all, have you ever started a 5 Minute Friday and it took a completely different direction than you thought it would?  Totally happened to me today!)

*****************
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..


A note from Jen:
Wanna take a dive into sisterhood?  Walk with us each week?  Or maybe even each day?  Find out more info on the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Porn Girl

Last week I talked about Label Free Living and I was supposed to continue the story, but the truth is, there is a more pressing label now that I'm fighting.  The anxiety rises and I am afraid.  So, what better way to deal with it than to lay my heart bare to y'all and to God, to let the concern and the fear just pass through me, out from my fingertips, into safe hands?

What if I become "the girl who writes about porn?"  What if people think of me and think "oh, the girl who wrote that book about how her husband was addicted to porn?"  What if I like a certain blog post and there it shows up on my Facebook feed and people think "there she goes talking about porn again?"

It strikes me as ridiculous that I can record a vlog with no make-up and talk about authenticity and vulnerability and then my hand shakes and my heart stops before I actually hit that Facebook "Like" button, knowing that the title of the article ("50 Shades of Porn") is going to show up on my timeline.

But the larger truth is that all my friends who read those books -- I don't want them to read those books.  I don't want anyone to like those books.  Because I want them to like their husbands better.  And if they don't, I don't want them to escape into a book so that for a few moments that can feel what "it might be like if only..."  I want women to fight for their marriages.  I want men to fight for their marriages.  Watching some movie that is supposed to set the tone for a romp in the sack is not what God has intended for sex. It just leads down to a very, very bad road.

Trust me.  I know this.

And anxiety courses through my body because I DON'T WANT TO BE THE ONE WHO KNOWS THIS.

Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling, wrote on January 22nd, this:
"Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity."
You can say that again, Sarah.  There are days that I kick and scream at God about this.  It's all in my head, though, most of the time.  And y'all, I am totally overwhelmed and blown away by this book contract with Discovery House.  And I know that there is going to be tremendous growth from it.

I know.

But I'm still scared. And I didn't realize how scared I still am until today.

I know I am more than this book.  And I certainly am more than the contents of the book.  And so, I'm not going to let the "porn girl" label stick.  People could call me that, and well, maybe it will get the book in more people's hands?  I don't know, but I'm not going to let it change how I see myself.  And it certainly doesn't change how God sees me.

Because we are more than what we write.  We are more than what we say.  We are more than how we act, what we look like, or what we dream.

We are His.  What more could we ask to be?

(Thank you for listening, friends.  I just had to get that off my chest today.)

Linking with Tracy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Real Life (mis)Adventures of Parenting: I Didn't Listen

(Looking for SDG this week?  Scroll down one more post.)
I told her that she would have a two week break from swimming.

I told her that because it's what I *thought* the coach's email had said.  But a subsequent email spelled it out much differently.  Swim practice would be held, and although they recognize that some swimmers would be out of town, for those of us still here, those of us who were extra dedicated, we could swim all our practices and then be allowed to *buy* a special t-shirt that would prove to everyone that we really were serious about our sport.

And so, I told her that we were dedicated ones.  We were serious.  And we would go to all four practices during Christmas break.  And I bribed her with a trip to Sonic.  We made a deal.  We shook on it.

And then Christmas Eve morning, we went to the pool and no one from her usual class was there.  She knew no one except her coach and she declared that she would not be swimming.

And being the wonderful parent that I am, I threatened.  And I threatened.  And I threatened.  Christmas presents, no lunch, in her room all day before church (what a cheery Christmas Eve, yes?).  And she stared at me and said, "Fine."

Further proof of my excellent parenting skills, I started in on her about the importance of keeping a commitment.  I told her that she broke my trust because she said she would do something and now she was refusing to follow through with the promise.

And this was true.

But then she quietly whispered from the backseat that I had broken my commitment, too.

Please come on over to the Whatever Girls site to continue reading the rest of the story.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sisterhood: Au Naturale and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood weekly party!  To find out ways that you can be involved in the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, please click here.
If you are planning to link up, would you kindly visit the person that arrived before you?  You never know what surprises you await in this community!  Prepare to be encouraged and loved.
************************************
This is me.  Au naturale!  Why come to you with hair undone and no make-up?  Watch the video to see!
Email Subscribers (or having trouble viewing), click here to watch!

**********************************
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? Read our new, revamped page by clicking here.
**********************************
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!  
**********************************
(linking up with Jen, for Unite, a theme I love, obviously!)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The House that Love Built


It looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, I know.  But while Dr. Seuss would probably call it something like Lerkim Differdoofer House, I call it The House that Love Built.  

Why?  Because it let mess (you should have seen my kitchen table) and inconvenience (so many things I could have checked off my to-do list instead) in my life, but it was USEFUL in helping my daughter feel oh-so-loved to make this work of art together.  

And this is why I'd rather have God in charge of my time than to leave myself to my own devices.


Friday, January 18, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Cherished

I've been digesting this concept of Label-Free Living -- the notion that maybe we don't have to have labels to define us.  I think about the ones that I wear, even the ones that simply describe what I do:

Mom
Writer
Wife
Speaker

And I think about how I might view myself differently if somehow I lost

my voice
my hands
my thoughts

or much worse...

my children or my husband.

Sometimes I think I use super-glue to keep my labels on, even when they start to lose their stickiness.  The goo of pride makes me hold on even when God gently tries to pull them off so that I might be free.  Even those that I know I'm better off without, I cling to still because there is comfort in that which remains unchanged.  And if I wear them, I have a place to hide.

Eventually, He gets His way with  me and indeed, I've lost many labels over the years.  The ones that told me that I was boring and ignorable and unacceptable unless perfect.

But the one label that will never lose its stickiness, the one label that I never want to lose, perhaps the only label that I really want to wear is the one that says

HIS.

With this comes much: loved, forgiven, cherished.



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..


A note from Jen:
Wanna take a dive into sisterhood?  Walk with us each week?  Or maybe even each day?  Find out more info on the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

when you think you're trading up

photo-28_zpsbc441153

Seventh and eighth grade were not kind to me.  Or rather, many of the people in my school were not kind to me.

Reliving some of those painful moments of my middle school days often causes me to cringe.  I think of the labels I wore on top of my Coca-Cola rugby shirt, which of course, was paired with my waist-high, ankle-rolled jeans.  (Come on, some of you know what I'm talking about.  How many of you wore Swatch watches??)

My labels read:

Fat
Unpopular
Ignorable
Goody-Two-Shoes
Booorrriiinnngg

Right before my ninth grade year began, I went on a mission trip with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) to Boulder, Colorado.  Sometime during that trip was the first time I heard God speak to me and I had other people around me that confirmed that it was indeed God that was talking.  I started to realize that perhaps I was not destined to end up unlikeable and boring, that maybe it was possible to have more than one or two friends, and if God wasn't ignoring me, perhaps other people might start paying attention, too.

When I started high school, I started fresh.  There were new people to meet, new boys to impress, and old ways to leave behind.  I ripped off my old labels and plastered one some new ones.  Surely if I behaved like I owned them, I would actually be them.  So on the flannel shirts and overalls went words like:

Always Happy
Extroverted
Giving
Admirable
Friendly
Compassionate
Achiever

And these were great labels that seemed to serve me well up until, oh...motherhood?  Certainly, I never was all of those things all the time through high school and college and the beginning of my professional career as a teacher.  But most of the time, I strove to make everyone around me happy.  Who doesn't love a giving, compassionate, always-smiling friend?

When my children arrived on this earth, the labels started losing their stickiness and I realized that it was incredibly hard to keep up appearances.

Children + people-pleasing = exhausting, actually.

How could I wear the label "Achiever" after my child is labeled "aggressive" in the church nursery?
How could I be "Admirable" when my husband chose to look at porn instead of me?
How could I be "Giving", "Friendly", and much less "Compassionate" when I'd gotten less than four hours of sleep for who knows how many months?

Anyone who has even babysat for two children under the age of two probably understands how quickly "Always Happy" fled the scene.

I found myself desperate for my labels, for applause, for recognition.  I kept begging God for someone to tell me I was doing a good job when all along He just wanted to tell me who I actually was.  In a world that loves labels, it was too scary to appear naked before anyone, much less God.  So I ditched some of the labels that I realized I could no longer handle in my life (um, extrovert) and set out to find some new ones -- labels that would be useful in defining myself in this new stage of life...
***********************************
Will you come back next week for the rest of the story?  Meanwhile, can we have a conversation?

What is the most prominent label that you feature across your shirt?  Is it useful?  Is it not?  Is it losing its stickiness?  If so, why do you think that is?

Linking with Tracy and Emily.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to Build a Sisterhood and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood weekly party!  To find out ways that you can be involved in the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, please click here.
If you are planning to link up, would you kindly visit the person that arrived before you?  You never know what surprises you await in this community!  Prepare to be encouraged and loved.
************************************
Which of the ideas above have worked for you in building your sisterhood?

This week and next, we are celebrating sisterhood.  I would like us to link up a post that shows what the concept of "sisterhood" means to us.  It can be a photo, an art piece, a poem, a standard blog post, a vlog-- however you want to communicate your idea of sisterhood. It can be a holistic view of what sisterhood is and/or does OR it can characterize one or two particular aspects of sisterhood that are especially important to you.  Don't have a sisterhood post this week?  Feel free to link up any post that expresses you.

If we have good participation, I'm thinking about turning this into a online magazine or book (I'm still working on the details of what that might look like).  Please let me know if you have any questions!

**********************************
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? Read our new, revamped page by clicking here.
**********************************
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!  
**********************************
(linking up with Jen, for Unite, a theme I love, obviously!)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Dive


Go.

I don't think I've even taken a dive off the high dive.  The low dive, maybe.  But life keeps going at this break-my-neck speed and all that lies behind me stays blurry a lot.

I let fear stop me often in my younger years.  Sure, I dove into those things that I knew I could do, and I'm grateful that I had confidence to do some things.

But those things that caused me to look down...
But those things that caused me to have to depend on something outside of myself, like a pool of crisp water on a hot summer day...
But those things that caused me to stare at something for long periods of time with trepidation...

No.

But something happened.  God changed how I viewed the bouncing board and the water below and even the millions of steps upwards that lead to the plank.

It's because He changed how I viewed life.
It's because I learned that the jump, and the fear, and the climb, and the dive...
it's not all about me.

It's all about Him and all those people out there in this world that He loves.

Will you take the plunge?

STOP.

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..


A note from Jen:
Wanna take a dive into sisterhood?  Walk with us each week?  Or maybe even each day?  Find out more info on the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham (or Mess and Inconvenience)

stock photo
Ahh...the word "Useful."  To a type A, get 'er done gal like myself, that word that leapt off the Advent devotional I was reading, and I snatched it up.

I love being useful.  I love doing things for God, being encouraging, uniting women, creating stuff, and checking of the to-do list.  As I reflected on why God would choose a word that so fits my personality, I thought of how it would challenge me.  Because surely, God would not give me a word that wouldn't also stretch me beyond my comfort zone.

"Useful," I decided, would allow me to encompass and grasp hold of all things that are life-giving.   Things that I don't readily pick up.  Things like rest, relaxation, and play.  There is the challenge, I thought.

Challenge, yes.  But stretch?  Not really.  Because He knows that I've learned a good part of that lesson.

Maybe this will just be an easy year?  Not so fast.

There happen to be a lot of things that are useful that I would actually care to dismiss.  Things that fit in the brussel sprouts category.  I don't even think you can make brussel sprouts taste better with bacon.

But just because I don't like them, doesn't mean that couldn't be useful and good for my body.

And so when I read two other people's words for 2013 and I think "thank God that those are not my words"...

...and then I hear God say something like, "Well, that could be useful", I have the same revolted reaction that I have every time I even think about those little cabbages.

What are the words?

Inconvenience and Messy.

Yep, you heard it.  It's me gagging on the other side of your computer.

I don't do mess and I definitely do not like to be inconvenienced and how can this really help me?  I'm still in denial.  And I'm afraid.  Because this is waaayyyy outside my comfort zone.  I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

But, because I like to think of myself as a confront-your-fear kinda gal, I am going to list the 11 Spiritual Benefits of Letting Inconvenience and Mess into Life (taking the cue from this delightful article about brussel sprouts).

1.  Learning to deal with things (tangible and intangible) out of place helps me to realize that I do not have to be in control.  The more comfortable I am with His arrangement of things, the less I will have to fight His will.

2.  The more I understand that life simply is messy, the more I will reveal how truly messy my heart can be.  In my authenticity, I will be more likely to reach out to others when I need help.  Who offers to help someone whose life seems so put together?

3.  To allow myself to be inconvenienced is to allow myself to show grace to others.

4.  To allow myself to be inconvenienced is to allow me to put the needs of others above the needs of myself.

5.  To allow myself to be inconvenienced is to open myself to new opportunities. (Whether I will like them or not is besides the point.)

6.  The more comfortable I am with mess, the more I will learn to be flexible when my routine gets bent out of shape.

7.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I can't come up with any more reasons on why mess and inconvenience are useful.  I'm still gagging on the first six.

My year-end goal shall be to come up with the full 11 Spiritual Benefits of Letting Inconvenience and Mess into Life.

But, I'm still not eating brussel sprouts. 

Linking today with Tracy.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Favorite Person in the World and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood weekly party!  To find out ways that you can be involved in the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, please click here.
If you are planning to link up, would you kindly visit the person that arrived before you?  You never know what surprises you await in this community!  Prepare to be encouraged and loved.
************************************
Yesterday, my favorite person in the world turned 38!  And since his love language is words of affirmation, part of his birthday present is for all my Soli Deo Gloria sisters to know the 38 top things about my sweet husband.
38.  Even though he's lived in Texas since he was in high school, the moment he crosses the Texas/Louisiana border, his southern drawl comes back...with a vengeance.

37.  He walks the dog in the morning, even when it's sprinkling.  (If you know my dog, you know the day is miserable if he doesn't get his walk.)

36.  He tempers my irrationalities like when I say, "Honey, let's get red quartz kitchen countertops from IKEA!"

35.  He lovingly solves my tech support questions.  Even though he works at Apple, he does not work in AppleCare, the tech support division.  Many people do not understand this distinction.

34.  He lets us come on his business trips when we can and does all the grocery shopping before we get there.
33.  He lets me write and share about our marriage.

32.  On family picture day, he wears what I tell him to wear.  With minimal arguments.

31.  On family picture day, he tells the girls this is the one day where mama's opinion on clothes reigns supreme.  This is a big job, if you know my girls.

30.  He learns from his mistakes.

29.  He lets me tease him about being "so much older" than I am.

28.  He didn't completely wig out when I told him I loved him on our 2nd date.

27.  He asked me to marry him after dating me for only 11 days.

26.  He graciously allows me to indulge in my controlling behaviors about bill paying.

25.  He asks for things like a talking Star Wars lunch box for Christmas.  And is totally stoked when he gets it.
24.  He vacuums.

23.  He does laundry.

22.  He remembers that my sweaters do not go in the dryer.

21.  He lets me go away for girl time.

20.  He mows the grass and helps me dig holes for new plants when the limestone rock that our house is built on gets too much for me.

19.  He comes to my races.  And moves the kids around to different mileage points during my marathons.
18.  He gives me back rubs.  And an occasional foot rub.  With lotion.  When I really beg.

17.  He plays in the church praise band.  (God knew that "guitar player" was on my "Prerequisite for Husbands" list.)

16.  He's an artist, although he rarely admits this.  He's way better than me.

15.  He understands that sometimes I don't want to talk, but his presence in the same room that I am occupying is important to me.  Blame it on my introvertedness.

14.  He gets my introvertedness.

13.  He FaceTimes with the girls even though he'll see them in an hour.

12.  He is secure in his manhood.
11.  He's learning to ask for help.

10.  He tells me when I've messed up, even though he knows I probably won't take it well.

9.  He supports the calling that God has placed on my life, even though it rarely brings in any money to the family coffers.

8.  He keeps trying, even when he's failed.

7.  He provides.  So much more than financially.

6.  He's relaxed and laid back and teaches me how to rest.  He is essentially the antithesis of me and this is very good.

5.  He reads the Bible and prays.  Everyday.

4.  He speaks encouraging words to his daughters.

3.  He cooks.  (Thank God!)

2.  He fixes things, and occasionally, even builds me something.

1.  HE LOVES ME!  HE REALLY LOVES ME!

Alright, girls.  Help Craig start his year off right with some encouraging words for him?  I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

**********************************
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? Read our new, revamped page by clicking here.
**********************************
Want to show a sister some love?  Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters.
**********************************
!!!SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ALL SDG SISTERHOOD PARTIERS:

Exciting news!  On January 14th and/or January 21st, I would like us to link up a post that shows what the concept of "sisterhood" means to us.  It can be a photo, an art piece, a poem, a standard blog post -- however you want to communicate your idea of sisterhood. It can be a holistic view of what sisterhood is and/or does OR it can characterize one or two particular aspects of sisterhood that are especially important to you.

If we have good participation, I'm thinking about turning this into a online magazine or book (I'm still working on the details of what that might look like).  Please let me know if you have any questions!

(linking up with Jen, whose post is about encouragement today!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Opportunity

GO:

It's just a spelling bee, but to my eight year old, it feels more like life or death.  Failure or success.  Embarrassment or triumph.

At the end of our conversation, it's more than she's willing to risk.  It's just a "no."

And so I close with this:  "Why don't you go get your bible, your journal, and ask God what He wants you to do?"

She comes back quickly and says, "He told me He wants me to do it but it's MY CHOICE."

And how do I argue with a child who just sought out God and came back (probably) with an honest answer?

I recess into another room and think about the situation.  I decide I have only one more thing to say and I go find her sulking under her desk.

"God often gives us choices.  And He often gives us suggestions.  We can choose to participate in the opportunities that He gives us...or not.  But if we choose the "not," we risk opting out of His blessings. You don't know what's around the corner, but He does.  Personally, I don't like taking the risk of missing out on what He has for me.  But, like He said, it's your choice."

There aren't many kids that reject presents and this is what I want my daughter to learn:

His opportunities are gifts.  They may not look like what we imagine they would be, but who doesn't want to open the box anyway?

STOP.

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..

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One Word: Useful

Tonight at dinner, my family was discussing the fresh new year before us and what we wanted to add or change to our lives.  I told them about my One Word - useful - to which my sweet daughter replied,

"You are already useful to God."

She spoke truth to me, which flooded my heart and made a smile cross my lips.  I thanked her for the compliment, but I added this:

"There are many things that I do, though, that are not useful to God."

I wonder if that is the truth for all of us sometimes? Even things that look like they would be useful, productive, good, are not so much in God's eyes.  It's not because the act is bad, but because it is not the best place for our time, talent, or energy.

God knows that I've spent a lot of time spinning my wheels doing things that look like they would be good for me, only to find out that I could have actually been getting somewhere had I been paying attention to what He says is good for me.

(And maybe I can stop feeling guilty for never getting on Pinterest because it's just not useful for me??  Whenever I DO get on, I just end up sighing with envy.  Anyone else??)

My One Word was born out of this quote:
The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves:  it is because his manifestation in the world must be through us.  Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air which shall radiate the glowing epiphany of God, catch and reflect his golden Light.  Ye are the light of the world - but only because you are enkindled, made radiant by the one Light of the world.  And being kindled, we have got to get on with it, be useful.  ~ Evelyn Underhill
stock photo
{1} To be useful to God, to me, means to reflect His light and not my own.

{2}To be useful to God means to consult Him first prior to launching out with my own ideas.

{3}To be useful to God means to take care of myself.  There is a use for rest, for play, and for work.  (I often forget the first two.)

{4}To be useful to God keeps the big picture in the forefront of my mind.  This journey is about showing the love and way of Christ.  To forget that is to forget everything.

{5}To be useful is to continually be cultivated (my One Word from last year) by His Word and the Holy Spirit.  Without this relationship with God, my soil will cease to be enriched, fruit will not come forth, and I will be useless to His Kingdom.  (Now, I know there is a whole lot of grace and that God can redeem all things, including our mistakes.  I'm not being legalistic here.)

{5}To be useful means to allow, always, space for pruning shears.

I think that there will be many more ways that God shows me how "useful" will apply to life with Him.   I can't wait to see what your One Word is and how it plays out in your lives!
                  
                   *************************************************************

*A huge thank you to Melanie, who designed the Useful button.  You can link up your One Word post with her here.  You can also join the One Word community and link up here.

*Also, wanted to thank Kelly and Steph for inspiring me to put to words what "useful" might look like in the days ahead.

*************************************************************
*One last thing...if you are new to this space, I would love for you to read about our little group of encouraging women called The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.  We'd love to welcome you into the fold!