Monday, March 17, 2014

0% Prepared and 100% Dependent on the Holy Spirit (and the SDG Party, of course)

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.
Some things to know:
1.  It's important to take some time to visit a friend.  If you decide to link up a post that reflects your heart, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
2.  We are a safe place to be real.  I deeply cherish your involvement in the community.  Consider answering the question from "Let's get real" at the bottom of the post in the comments section.
3.  Please be sure to check out our Woven with Love auction item at the end of the post! We are raising scholarship funds for the 3rd Annual SDG RetreatMore than Conquerors.
The empty glass was on the screen, proof that whatever liquid was left had a slightly sour taste.

Because when I'm tired and I have nothing left to give, I'm not often oozing sweetness.

I'm standing in front of my IRL SDG sisters, my Monday morning regulars who have come for class.  Only what I have to give them is not what they're expecting.  Because normally, despite craziness, God usually gives me time to prepare.  He gives me insights and words and connections.  But prior to this class, He gave me nothing but one word.


The back story is short and sweet.  After yoga, my teacher and I are talking and I'm lamenting the fact that I don't have anything left in me to devote to preparing Monday's class.  I'm just back from speaking (and being a mom) at Tween/Mom retreat.  My dad had been in town just prior and now it's Spring Break (suffice it to say, my kids really like attention, so time to plan was not in the future).

And she opens her mouth to speak and I know I'm supposed to listen.  There is wisdom coming and God says "hear this."  Here's a recap of our conversation (because I'm still tired and I have no bandwidth to craft this in a better way):

Michelle: Remember how when you were a kid and you'd just open your Bible, close your eyes, and put a finger on a verse and that would be what you read that day? (side note:  How did she know I did this?) Why can't you do that?

Jen: Because we are studying John.  We can't just randomly jump around.

Michelle: Okay, well, read the next chapter of John and talk about it.  Let them talk about it in their groups.

Jen:  But then they'll know I didn't prepare.

Michelle:  You did prepare. Having them read and discuss the next chapter is your preparation.

Jen:  But I'll look like I didn't take the time to prepare.

Michelle (smiling because she knows this is hard for me to grasp and she's oh-so patient):  Your preparation for this week is to surrender.  To trust God that He will direct whatever is supposed to happen.

Jen:  Okay.  But it will still look like I haven't prepared.

That conversation took place on Tuesday and from then until today, I obsessed over my lack of preparation. But I knew God didn't want me to plan a typical class.  When I would try to start to plan, He would interrupt me (not hard with children at home.  They were used by the Holy Spirit and didn't even know it. And to think, I just called it whining.)

I never even read John 5.

I showed up with a plan that consisted only of not really having a plan.  Well, that and a picture of an empty glass.  Oh, and this quote from Jennifer Dukes Lee's Love Idol book:
"The Love Idol's prey live in fear of failing to meet expectations.  We fear the facade will drop and our peers or coworkers will discover the flawed us, the perpetually freaked-out us.  We cringe over the threat of disapproval, real or imagined.  And we feel as if we continually need to explain away any potential flaw.  
My life had become a defensive posture against possible criticism." (p. 23)
Whoops.  I gave up criticism for Lent. Could it be that my desire to have my class planned and primped and prepared was not so  much about imparting the word of God, but so I didn't look like a fool?  Was I unwilling to be real, to stand up in front of my sisters and say "I'm empty and I need to be refilled?"  Was I afraid they would see coming as a waste of time if I had something I viewed as less than to offer them?

And when was the Holy Spirit less than?  

Ouch.  Never.  Ugh.

But it's a good "ugh" and not a critical "ugh." Because I'm human and I'm going to go through moments when I forget what it's all about:


And I can smile now because my friend Michelle was right. It's about full surrender.  It's about being real.  It's trusting the Holy Spirit to move all the time, not only when we feel like we can't.

Click here to pre-order
I plopped myself down at a table and read John 5 with my sisters.  I resisted giving too much direction.  I worried not if people were on task.  I focused on the sweet faces in front of me.  I listened, I absorbed, and I contributed, all the while three other tables around me did the same (well, hopefully).

The Holy Spirit moved.

I could feel my cup refilling.

And now, it's time for a nap before the kids get home from school.

Let's Get Real:  Have you gone to great lengths to not look like a fool or to guard against criticism? What happened? 

**FYI**: I'm having computer issues, so I might not get around to your sweet faces like I would like to.  Thank you for your grace! :) *********************************
Time for a bit of fundraising for the 3rd Annual Soli Deo Gloria Retreat!  Last week was such a success!  Thank you, Tammy, for bidding and winning! This week's offering is from Dawn!
A note about the auction's set-up:  Because I know every one's budgets are different, I wanted everyone to be able to have a scarf and not lose because she was always outbid, hence the pledging.  Because we all deserve some tangible love around our shoulders, right?

How to participate in this silent auction:
1.  Click on "Place your bid." in the Rafflecopter widget below.
2.  Fill in the blank with the maximum you are willing to pay for this scarf, knowing ALL monies are going directly to the SDG Retreat.
3.  I'd be honored if you'd share this giveaway with your friends.  Not only is it a fundraiser, but I'd love for women to be physically covered by her sister's art!
4.  Next Monday, Rafflecopter will choose a winner and I will announce it at next week's SDG party.  Check or credit card will be accepted (I'm working on the credit card option. Stay tuned!) for payment and the scarf maker will mail the scarf to the winner after I have received the payment.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

photo credit: Lizziemay1 via photopin cc (text added by Jen)

 Time to link up, sweet sisters! Show us your heart and then visit a friend...


  1. Oh how I get this. I'm right there with you, friend, learning how to surrender over and over again.

  2. Oh, those Jennifers and how they love to mess with us. ;) I'm so proud of you.

  3. Jen, our weekly Home Group Bible studies have been in this format for years....When I've had to lead a Small Group for our women (say, with Beth Moore or something) I'd prep ahead by reading and doing the lesson, but our leader roles at church have always been as facilitators rather than teachers.
    It's hard to hold back when you're so gifted--but it sounds like you learned something, too.
    God is so cool like that......:-)
    p.s. thanks for your honesty.

  4. Hi Jen,
    Sounds like you did a great job surrendering to what God was teaching you in that moment...there is great power in simply reading God's Word and seeing what the Holy Spirit teaches...and there is also great power when a teacher comes and all depends on the Holy Spirit and surrender...Appreciate your honesty and how you process life with God :)

  5. I totally get this, Jen. I find that God always chooses to show up when I finally get out of the way.... :)

  6. So good! Instead of us trying to control God, we need to let go and He can do His thing!!!! Such a hard thing but such an act of honoring Him. Thank you for your timely words!

  7. I loved this! I loved how God brought everything together - Lent, idols, surrender. I am sure as you honored Him & surrendered, each cup was filled that morning. Beautiful lesson for us all to learn.

  8. Yeah, I have and it's paralyzing, not really living. Being in the Spirit and just going which way He moves you every day is the way to be used by Him. (

  9. Guarding against criticism - not wanting to get "in trouble" - that can be a full time job - and He is trying to liberate me from that cycle of bondage. Amazingly enough, my husband is encouraging me in this. It is an unusual journey - freeing myself from this. I am glad your surrendered and were blessed - and that you got your nap!!!

  10. This story really makes me smile, Jen. I'm sure we all think like that far more than we even realize...none of us wants to look bad so we'll go to great lengths to prove that we are good enough. But surrendering is what Jesus wants. That's not just good enough, it's great. Glad you were able to do it. And talk about it with us. I'm listening and learning.

  11. I can relate to this. Last year as I was preparing to speak 5 times at a retreat, I felt the Lord tell me to go with only a basic outline for the 5th session - so unlike me! I did and it turned out fine. Then I discovered I was on the schedule to speak 6 times! I had not been informed of a sixth session.

  12. I hate criticism too! I don't want anyone to think ill of me at any point in time. If given the chance I try to explain (or over explain) my side of the story. And if not then I get defensive. I think the fear of being misunderstood is one of my biggest and I've had to give this over to God many times. Thanks for sharing your story and for striving to be real on your site!

  13. Your post filled me this morning. The words, "The Holy Spirit moved" was what I could feel as I read your words. I'm coming out of a 3 day migraine, feeling pretty empty. Your obedience to surrender leaked out of your Bible Study group and will go further than you could imagine. Sometimes the ugly things about ourselves are used by God in a big way.


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