Friday, July 26, 2013

A Word from my Daughter: Dealing with Kids

I'm still on a blogging break, but my darling daughter wrote a blog post to post here and I just couldn't resist.  I have left this completely unedited.  (BTW, she made the photo herself on PicMonkey.)


DEALING WITH KIDS

When you have special friends and they do something mean to you, how do you react? 

Do you react kindly and calmly or do you get angry and yell? 

Well you parents sometimes get really mad at your kids because they did something horrible. Right? So, you yell at them [or he/she]. Why can't you just take deep breaths and talk it through? 

You scream and yell because you can't control your anger. Or you just yell because you feel it's right. Take this for example me and my sister Hannah are playing ball in the house when mom told us not too, then mom sees us and yells because she's mad. Same with most of you. 

Take a deep breath and talk the problem through instead of going the wrong way that JESUS WOULD NOT want you to take.

So what do you think of Abby's advice?  Let her know in the comments.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gray Grace at The Overflow



For most of my life, I have lived in a world that is only black and white, where there is north or south, yes or no, here or there, right or wrong.  Shades of gray existed only in a foreign land, in which I was fearful to step foot.  I equated this land of gray with the wilderness, a place where I feel lost, unsure of my footing, and usually helpless.  I cannot see clearly where I am going and I find myself grasping at the tiniest bits of light in hopes that, finally, a direct path will be illuminated. 

Recent events in my life, though, have uncovered a fantastic truth.  It is one that I would have never thought to look for in this land of foggy nothingness. 

Grace is gray.

Join me in uncovering the color of grace at Alicia's?  click here. Comments turned off here so we can all converse there.


photo credit: (michelle) via photopin cc, words added by Jen

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Your Back Breaking?


I hate asking for help.

Let me clarify: I have no problem asking my children to help around the house or giving not-so-subtle hints to my husband that he his free to come home early so I can have a break from parental responsibility for awhile.

But ask my friends to pray for me because I'm having a hard time?  Ask them to take time out of their busy schedule to meet me for coffee so I can cry on their shoulder for a bit?  Not really my cup of tea (or coffee).  In fact, most of my friends attest that I know much about what is going on with them (I am a master question-asker), but they know hardly at all what is going on with me.  When they find out later (because I'll talk after I find resolution), they lament: Why didn't you tell me about this?  I could have ______________!  And what they could have done (pray, help in tangible ways, etc) would probably have been amazing.  And yet, I let my uncomfortableness in asking for help rob me of the relief God intended for me.

I'm talking about how we're called to carry each other's burdens at The Whatever Girls today.  Continue reading on?  Join me here.

Comments closed so we can all chat there.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Are You Tasting Freedom? and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Party!
I am incredibly glad you are here.  If you are new, you might want some details, yes?  Click here to find out more about us.  Also, be sure to read the end of the post today for some important announcements.
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I'm not even quite sure what to say.  This is a dilemma when one is a blogger, yes?  I wish I could just paste my heart onto this screen so you would know.

So you would know that my heart beats for you.

It beats for women, for community, for the hope that God can somehow transform these words into something He can use for His glory.  It beats for authenticity, a love that builds up, and for the tangible gift of freedom.

And so many of us need freedom, yes?  Even those of us fully in love with Jesus, we still find ourselves in chains sometimes, don't we?  They sneak up on us and before we know, we are trapped.  Trapped in fear, performance, anxiety, addiction, fatigue.

At Speak Up 2013 (thank you, dear friends, for praying for me), I had an amazing time connecting with SDG sisters, making new friends, leading a breakout session, worshipping, and learning.  I literally felt the breath of God pulsing through me, empowering me to smile at strangers and introduce myself in love to people who hadn't even glanced my way.  (If you are an introvert, you know this is atypical behavior.)

I was able to give and receive.  And it was good. Glorious.  Eye-opening.

The last session I attended was about preventing burnout and I learned I am on the edge, perched in a precarious position, knowing but only a slight wind may send me toppling over.  And I heard Him whisper words of return...returning to Him for some rebuilding, for some rest, for a realm of freedom I have not yet tasted.

And I ask Him, "What if...what if I lay down down this space, this small room of internet, and I return to You and then, they do not return to me?"

I know.  It's a stupid question and I have the right answers near to my heart, but there is a fear of desertion.  There is a longing for rest, but a greater (?) longing for the continuation of community.  I simply don't know how to let go well.

But I think, How many times has He gone before me and it all comes back in some form of goodness?

I remember --

I can trust Him.  Even when life and words do not flow in their appropriately scripted manner.  Even when the worldly rules say: You can't do this.  Even when it seems like the most backwards decision, He goes before me.

And this has to be enough.

Life, unscripted, has amazing potential doesn't it?  Because it's free.  And things that live in the freedom of Jesus, they flourish, don't they?

During my breakout session (entitled Building Authenticity and Trust in Women's Ministry), I went along my scripted Keynote presentation and handwritten notes.  And when I caught my breath to pause, I heard Him speak to me:

"Have them write down the one thing they know I want them to share, but that which they are too afraid to do so.  At the end, ask them if they want to share."

And I ended my talk fifteen minutes early to share and in those precious minutes, one-third of my class shared the hard. Not only did they share the one very painful thing, but they were then encircled by 9 other strangers who soon became friends, as we prayed for them, loved them, accepted them, chains and all.

They tasted freedom.  They gave up the self-protected walls they had worn for so long.  They traded it for the armor of God.  They trusted Him to go before them and He did.

He's trustworthy like that.

And so, I trust He will hold this community in the palm of His Hand.  I trust He will continue to knit us together in ways we haven't yet imagined.  Because this sisterhood is bigger than me. It's bigger than a blog.  It's bigger than words, scripted or not.
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Logistically, here's the plan:
{1}  We will visit each other this week during our SDG party.  Will you commit to visiting at least 2 people while you are here?
{2}  The SDG party will take a hiatus through the rest of July.
{3} Mark your calendars: We will restart the party with Across the Kitchen Table on August 5th.
{4}  We will still keep in touch via the weekly prayer requests (let me know if you are not on this list but would like to be), small groups, and our SDG Facebook Page.
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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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Did you see?  SDG Retreat Registration is LIVE!  Click here for more info & the link to register.
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Linking with Cindy for the Speak Up! blog hop.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tasting the Abundant Life


We've recently been talking about struggles with food - whether it's eating too much, too little - and why we choose to eat or not eat.  Are we using food (or food deprivation) to nourish our souls instead of allowing food to nourish our bodies?

I've asked people to share their struggles and today, Hannah Rivard has done just that.  I pray her words would resonate in your heart, that you would allow God to nourish you through this testimony, and that you would, too, taste abundant life.  (If you have a story to share, please let me know.  You can reach me at jenfergie2000@me.com)
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“You’re a model, and you’ve struggled with food? With self image?! But you’re not even overweight!”

That’s because it’s not about the food. At least, it wasn’t for me, not entirely.

My struggle with food and body image were inextricably tied, wrapped up in the lies I believed, the agreements I’d made, the assumptions I had. It didn’t matter whether I weighed 112 pounds or 140; the insecurity lay in the obsession and the bondage, not in the scale. As a model and actress, there was always someone thinner, always someone prettier, and when I did not get cast, it was easy for that to become a judgment on myself.

If I weighed less [were prettier, better, smarter], I would have a boyfriend.
If I can’t lose weight [get fit, make money, ace this test], it’s my fault, and I’ve failed.
If I just tried harder, I could lose weight [make my business work, hear God’s voice, counsel my friend], so I must be lazy.

Do you see? It was not about the weight. It was about the lies.

It didn’t even matter that I had many wonderful friends and family who loved me unconditionally; the lies were still in my soul, and until I dealt with them there, I would not find, as John Eldredge says, the utter relief of holiness.

It dragged down my heart, the constant self-evaluation (“Is this healthy? Am I truly hungry? Is this emotional eating? Should I finish this last bite or leave it? Will this ice cream make me gain weight? Will I no longer match my headshots and statistics for my agency?”), when I just wanted to… eat. And not eat. Easily. I wanted freedom.

And I couldn’t find it.

I knew it was there, somewhere, the effortless eating, the utterly free body image, the deliverance of my heart to focus on the rest of the world’s beauty and pain versus this constant selfish self-evaluation and struggle.

So I imagined what it would be like to be free—not just functional, but entirely, effortlessly, completely transformed and released, not even a thought anymore to food, to my image. That is what I knew I was offered in Christ, total transformation, even in something like this. What would it be like? It would be an utter relief, and this is what I held on to—that it was there, because Christ came that I may have life and have it abundantly.

Weight loss and body image often seems to be an agreement with struggle: “I’m always going to struggle with this, it’s just the way it is,” but that is not the abundant life; surrender to struggle is not the victorious life He brought us. If I wanted holiness in food, it was going to mean total freedom, and I refused to submit to the lie of, It is a struggle. Doesn’t that just seem too… hard? It didn’t matter everyone else seemed resigned to struggle interminably, in exhaustion: I would not accept that as the norm, for that was not the life I longed to live and the life Jesus holds.

But first, God had to show me what I was doing. The core issue here was not weight: it was lies versus truth, freedom versus bondage, which is covered far more deeply in such books as Women, Food, and God, Made to Crave, or so many others. I read those books and it transformed my understanding of food, allowing me put my desire to eat emotionally at the foot of the cross.

But though I’d given my food to the Cross, I had not yet transformed it by the Resurrection.

Meaning, there was still not transformation for me. I was not yet free.

I knew the answer was in Christ—after all, He lived the perfect life, both eating and drinking, fasting and feasting, and in this was my transformation: In searching Scripture, there were only three main principles I could find regarding food: fast, feast, and glory.

You follow Yahweh, you fast (Matt. 9:15 and many others). I’m not talking about skipping a meal, but actual days of extended fasting. There are dozens of verses in Scripture on the necessity, the beauty, and the incontrovertibility of fasting: it wasn’t even an option to me as a believer. I pray, I love, I witness, I obey the 10 Commandments, I fast, and, if nothing else, Jesus fasted, so I was going to as well.

This seemed black and white to me, so I began to fast. First a day here and there, then three days, then longer. I would ask Jesus how long He wanted me to fast, and then simply do what He said.

The spiritual and psychological change I undergo when fasting—not reducing calories, but entirely, completely abstaining from all food—cannot be overemphasized. Suddenly what seemed so impossible, so difficult to overcome, absolutely shreds to pieces before my very hands. It is something you have to do to experience. Food becomes utterly unimportant. Certainly it is nice and pleasant, but the dependence on it for pleasure, for time keeping, for distraction, for socializing, is utterly burned on the altar. It made a personal reality all of the freedom I only had known intellectually.

(Actually, I distinctly remember day five of my first long-term fast, feeling quite well, and walking outside and wondering, “Wait… why did I ever eat? What’s this eating thing? Is eating just a great big scam?” J)

But it is not all fasting—you follow Jesus, you feast. I love eating! Food is awesome. Not just the carrots and broccoli, I’m talking about the total incredible gift of full fat and huge servings and chocolate and peanut butter and Nutella and lasagna. Adam and Eve ate in the Garden, in perfection—food is incredible! In fact, over and over, feasting and plenty are emphasized in Scripture, and Jesus Himself called a glutton and drunkard—you don’t get that way by counting calories, that’s for sure. Even C.S. Lewis saw the beauty of the feast:

Then Bacchus and Silenus and the Maenads began a dance, far wilder than the dance of the trees; not merely a dance for fun and beauty (though it was that too) but a magic dance of plenty, and where their hands touched, and where their feet fell, the feast came into existence sides of roasted meat that filled the grove with delicious smell, and wheaten cakes and oaten cakes, honey and many-coloured sugars and cream as thick as porridge and as smooth as still water...

Thus Aslan feasted the Narnians till long after the sunset had died away, and the stars had come out… The best thing of all about this feast was that there was no breaking up or going away, but as the talk grew quieter and slower, one after another would begin to nod and finally drop off to sleep with feet towards the fire and good friends on either side...

~Prince Caspian

Yahweh places an incredibly high value on eating, and eating with abandon. After having fasted, without food controlling me emotionally, I became free to eat and love it. Feasting is not a habit—fasting comes to moderate—but with the balance of the fast, I’m able to eat and eat well without a second thought.

But above all, food is about glorifying Him. I treat food as more of an art, now. I have a respect for it, having gone weeks without it. I learned to love the beauty and the smell and the texture, the time to prepare it and the social time with friends in consuming it. I see His own joy in food and seek to recreate that in my life, truly loving the food not only as a reflection of my Bread of Life, but because He created it and loves it as well. In seeing the glory of food, I give glory to Him who loves it with me. And I glorify Him by listening to His voice: if He tells me to stop eating, I seek to stop. If His words are to eat, I eat. My desire is to let Him control everything, and in this, too, to glorify Him.

This is an endless journey, into food and freedom, but it is the great adventure of listening to the Lord’s voice in every moment of my day. And therein is absolute, scandalous liberty. So I dive into the pizza and eat three brownies; I reject the potluck and fast for a week; I spend three hours making lefse with my grandmother; I choose to leave sugar until the Lord tells me otherwise. And doing this—fully rejecting the lies and the agreements, fully believing there is freedom, fully embracing the fast and the feast, fully listening to His voice every moment—has led me to see food as yet another road to glory and to the utter relief of holiness.

And I taste the abundant life.

Hannah Rivard is an actress, horse trainer, and writer, and a recent graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN. While raised in rural Minnesota alongside killer roosters and attack cats, she now travels extensively as the Lord shapes her life through her combination of horses, film, and the fight for social justice. One of Hannah’s greatest desires is to see people set free into the beauty, adventure, danger, and glory of this world—the life they always longed to live. You can learn more about Hannah by checking out her horse training at https://cambriaequine.com/ and spiritual musings at http://www.prayersoflight.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 1, 2013

Feeling like Coffee? and the Soli Deo Gloria Party


Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.  Only have time to read one?  Choose your neighbor -- no one wants to leave a party empty-handed!
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I wrote the review of this book...and then I remembered.  Today is ATKT!  What is that you say?  Across the Kitchen Table is where we let our virtual friends (yet true sisters) into our kitchens.  (Click here for some FAQs.)

What to do, what to do?  What to do is take advantage of the fact that I am with the author (!) at Speak Up! and we can do a joint ATKT.  You didn't know you would get twice the fun here at the SDG party, did you?

So, enjoy Amelia and me as we get together for a real coffee break!  And then, since after watching you'll love her so much, read my review and enter to win a copy of her book (AND find out how to purchase it!)
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Here's my written review:

I didn’t think I’d know it all, but I assumed I’d have a pretty good handle on what Amelia Rhodes talks about in her new book, Isn’t it Time for a Coffee Break?  The book is about “doing life together in an all about me world.”  It’s about authenticity in relationships, letting down our guards, and loving people well.

I am authentic.  I have let down my guard a lot.  I love many people well.

And then there are a few…not so much.

And those few matter.  As much as I would like to relegate them to the outskirts of my life and my heart, God wants something better for me and for them.

He wants love to permeate all of my relationships, in some form or fashion.

As I settle into the chair on the plane on my way to Speak Up! and delve into chapter 1, I am confronted by all the things love is.  There are twenty “Love is…”statements Amelia pulls from scripture, but I have a hard time getting past the first one:

“Love covers wrongs.  (Proverbs 10:12,17:9)”

I swallow and continue reading.  It doesn’t get much better.

“Love does good to those who hate you.  (Luke 6:27)”

And then,

“Love blesses those who curse you.  (Luke 6:28)”

The final straw:

“Love prays for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:28)”

I’m on the first chapter, and I feel God’s call for me to put the book down.  He wants to talk to me.

I kinda feel like I’ve been pulled over for speeding.  The police officer is walking up and I can see him, lights flashing from his car, in the rear-view mirror.

But just as the police officers want to keep me safe on the road, so God wants to keep me safe from things like unforgiveness, unnecessary self-protection, the burdens of bitterness, pride, and resentment.

I sit on the plane and I imagine those hard-for-me-to-love people.  And I get to a place where I think I can love them, but then these questions pops into my mind:

What if they just hurt me again?  How long can I keep up the cycle? How many times can I risk myself?

Later on (after I am permitted to read again, the flashing lights gone), I find a hint to my questions in chapter 3.  Amelia writes:

“We can plant love and generosity, even weed out our own selfishness and sin.  But we cannot control which relationships will grow.” (p. 71)

And I realize I am not responsible for their reaction to me and I have a big God who tells me He will protect me.  And so in the seat of the plane, I start praying the armor of God over myself.  And God and I make a plan.

A plan to love.  (Feel free to ask me if I follow through with this plan.  Ahem.)

Love and relationship growth are just a few aspects to Amelia’s book.  I’m only halfway through right now, but I wanted to write what was fresh on my heart before you know, I, um, forgot the plan.  The plan to love.

Here are some other tidbits that might spark your interests:

From chapter 3, Share a Cup: Generosity
“You may not realize the deep value of the daily little things you already do.”  (p.64)

From chapter 4, Experience the Variety of Blends: Practice Hospitality

“Hospitality is not about being Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray…It’s about opening up your heart, as flawed as you are, and your home, as cluttered and confined as it may be, and letting people in.” (p. 88)

Amelia does a fantastic job of exploring all facets of relationships and showing us how God desires us to live – as a living, breathing, loving, helpful, fun community.  It’s a book that stokes my enthusiasm even more for my sisters and how we can live together, putting our facades and competition and never-measure-up feelings aside and joyfully living as Christ created us to be.

Are you ready to be fired up about friendship?  You happen to be in luck.  Not only can you purchase Amelia’s book, but you can also win one today, using the Rafflecopter widget below.
You can purchase this book on Amazon.com or wherever books are sold.  Find it here.  Make sure you enter to win the giveaway!  Amelia is giving away 2 copies!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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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Did you see?  SDG Retreat Registration is LIVE!  Click here for more info & the link to register.

linking with Jen