Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chapters 11 & 12 (The end...or the beginning?)

We are at the end of our book study!  What an amazing journey this has been.  As I have said before, this is a book that will probably not find it's way to the donation pile :)  I will read it, quote it and read it again.

God is calling us "-in our heart of  hearts- to follow Him on the unpredictable, but exhilarating journey of life!" 

Chapter 11:  Living Beyond Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
Psalm 27:1

If you've ever struggled with fear, you know there is truth in the following statements:

Fear is truly the enemy of passion and a roadblock to the wisdom God would give us.

Fear can breed a kind of paralysis that makes you think you have to wait until the fear is gone to do the thing you need to do.

...where the fear that stalks our souls and strangles the life of our hearts comes from resisting the gentle prodding of God to move out into life in some new way.

....we get stuck in a shrunken form of the life we are meant to have.

What is it (if anything) that you are afraid of?  What is the one thing that is holding you back from living the life God meant for you to live?

I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face....You must do the thing you cannot do.

When we operate in fear, we are being controlled by whatever it is that we are afraid of.  We are accepting limits and boundaries placed on our lives by the thing that does not want us to succeed or move forward.  When we move forward anyway, and DO IT AFRAID....we are taking back ground that was stolen from us and releasing ourselves from the chains that held us captive.

That we are afraid is not a mark of being insufficient to the task or made of inferior stuff.  Risk is always part of the package (pg. 167).

The movement of God in our lives is always to take us by the hand and walk us through the territory of our fear.  Sometimes that feels like the adventure it is - other times, we are led there kicking and screaming.  But God leads in that direction because it is the place of encounter with Him (pg 161).

Fear comes in many different packages, colors, shapes and sizes.  Our own insecurities are rooted fear. And if we let them, they will speak to us with "advice" that is not so Godly or encouraging! On this topic, Paula quotes Nicole Johnson on page 164, "These voices keep our souls chained in the basement.  They make us fearful to try anything new, anxious about what others may think of us, and they keep us on the treadmill of performance (oh my, I've started that exercise program one too many times!).  In short, if we allow them, these voices can easily rob every ounce of enjoyment from the lives we have.  Many women don't even know they are giving power to the voices, living in a state of constant self-disapproval.  Understand this: these voices can immobilize us and keep us from dreaming our dreams.  They can discourage us and cause us to think too small and expect too little from our lives....They make us afraid to be who we are.  The voices can keep us from writing books or changing careers or loving our children well......But only if we let them."

When we begin to trust God in spite of the fear whispering (or sometimes screaming) in our ear, and step out in faith to do that which He has told us to do, there we will find Him, His provision, and the grace we need to complete our task.  In that place of trust, we begin to know Christ intimately.  In that place of intimacy, in that place of KNOWING, we begin to BE.  We begin to live the life we were meant to live.

A few questions from the back of the book to keep you thinking! (pg 233-237)

Do you ever see the smiles of confident women and think they are made of sturdier stuff?  In what way do you identify with the tendency to wait until you no longer feel fear, rather than "doing it afraid"?

If your fear assumed a voice (which it does), what would it say to you? What does the harsh negative message in your mind sound like?

Now, as you pray, think of Jesus sitting with you in the place of your fear.  What words of encouragement do you think He would speak to you?

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed. Deut. 31:6,8

Our book ends with Chapter 12: Longing for Resolution.

The central question before us has been, "How do we make this journey with the Lord without leaving our hearts behind somewhere on the trail?"

Some advice from Paula on pg. 169, "I would suggest to you that making the journey well, with your heart intact, hinges on how you see the big picture of your life.  How does the story end? Do the broken pieces ever really come back together? Is there resolution of some sort? For if there is, then it may actually be both safe and wise to bring your heart along for the ride."

She compares our life on earth as a cover page to a book.  It is only a very "small part of our story.  We were ultimately created for our Father in heaven.  Our way home to Him has already been prepared.  It is something we run toward, while living in this moment with "our heart open and alive....because our future looks really bright."

The future riddles the here and now with meaning.  It frees your heart to truly live (pg. 174).

If God has you in the palm of His hand and your real life is secure in Him, then you can venture forth- into the places, the relationships, the challenges, the very heart of the storm- and you will be safe there (pg. 174).

The last 2 paragraphs of the book, finish our study well and leave my heart expectant.....

There are only three options for approaching life, Gerald May wrote in his book Addiction and Grace. We can deny the call of God on our lives or just pretend the call isn't there.  Or we can try to claim control of the the shape and form our lives will take.  The third option, he says, is the courageous attempt "to face life in a truly undefended and open way".....Where trusting God is indeed the only agenda that makes any sense at all. It is a posture of "gracious uncertainty (Oswald Chambers)", meaning that we have given up the illusion of being certain of anything but God......In this place of gracious uncertainty, we wait. For the broken pieces to be brought back together.  For the meaning of our suffering to be revealed in His.  For the righteous reign of a might God, whose goodness we will spend all eternity celebrating. We wait- with open, expectant hearts."

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  I pray that you have heard God calling you.  That you have rediscovered your heart, and all that is within, and that you have allowed Him into those places that no one- maybe not even yourself - knew were there.  That you have gained strength and started healing.  That you have begun to know Christ more intimately than you ever have before.  And that you've found the courage to say "yes" when you hear Him speak. 


(PS...Thank you to Angie and Jessica, who hosted this study on the Bloom Book Club blog and prompted us to follow along.  Without them, we may never have found this book!  And thank you to Paula Rinehart, for your obedience in writing Strong Women, Soft Hearts!  Click on the links to find your way to their'll be glad you did!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's Talk! Tuesday

Welcome to our little chat today! :)

To link up....just give Mr. Linky your info!

My convo pieces for the day.....

1.  My sister and niece are here for a visit....Yay! :)

2.  We went fishing yesterday.  It was so hot, though, that we weren't gone for very long.  One large mouth bass and a few mosquito bites later and we were on our way back to the house.  Good thing we can fish on our own property, we didn't have far to go.  Oh, and the snakes are out and about so we had to wear our boots! :)

3.  As I mentioned in one of our previous chats, I love to craft (when I have the time!). One of the blogs I read from time to time is hosting You: Create on Thursdays which may motivate me to find more time to create!....check it out!  This is the first week and I can't wait to link up :)

4.  I'm currently reading Jesus Manifesto by Sweet/Viola.  It's my first review and I put it on hold because of our book study (of which I have one more post this week) I'm hoping to get it finished soon.   One of the things I read last night that was really good: 

God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as He is about finding us in our brokenness and giving us to Christ. 

It you take the time to really meditate on this, it speaks volumes.  At least it did to me.

I'll have to get back to you on my take of the book as a whole! :)

5.  Hmmmm.....what to have for dinner?  Does anyone else feel like they make the same things over and over again?  Going to the grocery store is so routine I think I could do it in my sleep!

6.  Last week I posted on Monday night before midnight so my Let's Talk! Tuesday posted on Monday....this bugged me everytime I looked at it!  Yes,..... it did.    Sooooo, this week I'm staying up until after midnight so my time will match my title. ;)  I know....I know.  (After posting and checking I'm Totally bummed again!!  It's showing up as 10:03 when it was actually 12:03 when I posted!  What's the dealio???  Ugh.)

7.  We are currently watching a hurricane in the Gulf!  Don't forget to pray for the Gulf Coast Area!

Happy Tuesday, my friends!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are You Listening?

I read a blog post the other day that pretty much summed up my thoughts on the topic that the author, Alisa from Faith Imagined, presented:  Writer's Grace. You can find it here.  Here is a sample of what she said:

People who write about godly insights offer up their efforts only to realize that they've come up short. We will never be able to describe the fullness of every God-given insight. There will always be a different angle, a different aspect, a different interpretation, a different application and a different relevancy.

Kinda sounds like a disclaimer, huh?


I don't know everything.  Or half of everything.  Or a quarter of everything.  You get the picture.

When I write, it's sometimes my thoughts, my opinions, or what God has spoken or is speaking to me personally.  I am not exempt from errors or making mistakes.  But His Word is.  So the only thing on my blog that doesn't need a disclaimer is each scripture that I directly quote from the bible. :)

I'm just a small fish in a big pond (someone should probably get credit for saying that). There are thousands of other women writers out there who love the Lord and write to encourage others.  I am 1 of many.  And I love that we can share and love and grow together. :)

Having said that.......on with my post! :)

I have been meditating on Samuel.  Particularly the beginning of his prophetic ministry.

In 1 Samuel 3, Samuel, while still a young boy, heard the Lord call his name - except he did not know that it was the Lord.  Why did Samuel not recognize that it was God who wished to speak with him?

V. 7 says, "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him."

"Knowing God" implies a personal experience or direct relationship with God. Although Samuel had ministered to the Lord (2:11) and had grown in stature and in favor both with the Lord and men (2:26), he had not yet experienced God in this way.  The study notes in my bible suggests that Samuel's "not knowing" God yet was due to immaturity.  So he didn't recognize God's voice not because he was away from God or didn't know who God was, but because the experience of hearing God was new to him.  He had not yet matured in this area.  But I think he was in a position to hear!  He was ministering before Lord, and his heart was to serve the Lord. 

In contrast, 1 Samuel 2:12 says the sons of Eli did not know the Lord because they were corrupt.  Because of their disobedience and sinful lifestyles, either God chose not to speak to them or they could not hear him.  Their sins magnify their heart condition, and their hearts were definitely not pursuing or seeking the heart of God .

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down, and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1 Samuel 3:8-9

Eli, the priest, knew God.  But he had chosen to honor his sons - even in their sin - before the Lord.  Why did it take Eli three times before he realized it was God who was speaking to Samuel? Was it, perhaps, because even though Eli knew the Lord himself, his dishonoring of God weakened his sensitivity to God?

Like Samuel, we can hear God's voice.  Maybe not always (or ever) an audible voice, but God still speaks.  We must position ourselves, make ourselves ready, and listen.  We must prepare our hearts, rid ourselves of anything that would separate us from God or harm our relationship or fellowship with Him.  We must honor God above everything and everyone.

A few mornings ago, while studying and meditating on this passage of scriptures and when Samuel first heard the voice of the Lord, Logan - my 5 year old - came running in the house from playing outside and said, "Yes, Mom? You called me?"  I said, "No, it wasn't me." He said, "But I heard my name, someone called my name really loud." So he asked his brother and cousins who were all inside the house playing the Wii at the time, and none of them had called him either. He came back to my room where I was still studying and I said, "Logan, maybe it was God. Maybe he wants to speak to you this morning." With a nod of his head, he disappeared into his bedroom for some quiet time.  A few minutes later he came out.  I asked, "Was it Him?" "Yes." "What did He say?" "He said He wants me to be proud of Him." So I explained that maybe God wanted him to brag about how good He is to all of his friends and to never be ashamed to share his faith.  Then I asked, "Did He say anything else?"  And Logan replied, "He said He loves me."

God never ceases to amaze me.

Not only should we position ourselves to hear from God, but we must prepare our children to know and expect for God to speak to them.

Are you listening today? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let's Talk! Tuesday

Welcome to Let's Talk! Tuesday......a time for us to ramble on about random things going on in our life in hopes to get to know one another a little more personally :)

Don't forget about Mr. Linky!..You can join in by signing in below with your name and website and grabbing my button from the right side of my blog for your post! :) This will link your post with mine!

With that said, are my random things for the day....I thought I'd do something a little different and add some pictures today....I may regret it later and hit the delete button, so look quickly!....... :)

1.  Last week I went on my first guided fishing trip!  It was so much fun!  I caught two redfish...and let me tell ya....they are something to catch!  I thought my arm was going to fall off.....but I persevered and here's one of my prizes! :)   The picture makes it look small, ....really......there must've been something wrong with the camera.....or maybe they switched my was a monster....I thought I had a shark on the

(Sorry it's a little fuzzy.....taken with a phone camera)

2.  My 5 year old is the cutest sheep ridin' cowboy there is! :)

(He actually won a silver buckle for this ride!)

3.  I love to sew, but never have enough time.....

4.  Hair this big should be illegal!   What in the world were we thinking?  (Me on the right....a very (very) long time ago at my senior prom)

5.  My husband cloned himself.......seriously, every day our 13 yr old son becomes more like his dad.

6.  One of my favorite things about my daughter.....her laughter bubbles up from the inside.....pure joy. (I wish this picture showed her adorable lime green cowboy boots she had on with this outfit!)

7.  Last year I was blonde.....platinum blonde!  Can you believe it?  It's officially summer now, and I'm thinking about adding some highlights :)  Doesn't everyone change their hair with the seasons?  (And who did I think I was ...standing like that! haha!....At least I can laugh at myself...)

 Ok....I've embarrassed myself enough for one day.  It's your turn! :)

Happy Tuesday!! 


Chapter Ten: Loving Beyond Reason

(Since I was on a mini vacation last week with my hubby, I am playing "catch up" and publishing 2 posts back to back.  So, if you're following along with our book study, be sure to read the previous post as well.  Also, keep checking The Bloom Book Club for updates!)

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one.  It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. " C.S. Lewis

Paula starts off chapter 10 by saying that "our hearts are safe until love enters the picture.......The hope in becoming a strong woman with a soft heart is that God would set us free to love - lavishly and with wild abandon - the people he puts into our lives.  That's what we've been made for. But loving well is no small assignment."

How true is this?!  I can think of many close relationships in my life where I've loved and been hurt (and when I've been the one to do the hurting). Sometimes, we stink at loving.  And sometimes love just stinks.  It never feels good to be let down, abandoned, betrayed, neglected.....

"Loving someone is the one venture in life in which the more you succeed, the more you have to lose."

So so true.


"The capacity to love - to really give ourselves to someone in a marriage, or even a friendship - is what God made us for.  He calls us, first of all, to risk our hearts with love others out of the love we've been given."

"We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts." Romans 5:3-5

Paula explains that the "greatest evidence that we know God is relational" found in John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

There is so much in loving each other and having (and sustaining) close relationships.  Love.  It sounds so simple, but because of our complexities and our JUNK, we make it complex and difficult at times. 

She quotes Henri J. M. Nouwen, a French priest, "We must hold each other as we would hold a wounded bird.  If we grip too tightly, we will crush the life out of the other person.  And if we don't hold securely enough, of course, the relationship will falter altogether."

I have a tendency to not hold securely enough.  I don't know what it is, or which of my JUNK drawers I need to look in to find the reason, but I usually step back when I should maybe step a little closer.  It doesn't come naturally for me to open up and share my most intimate feelings or struggles....maybe that's why I write.  I find it easier to share here. :)  Thanks for listening.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I sometimes offer advice too quickly in an effort to try and "fix" things. Because I'm a peace maker, and I like to help!  But that's not always a good thing.   "In a close relationship, we have to recognize the part of the equation that uniquely belongs to the other person.  It's their choice, their feelings, their responsibility, their painful past - that kind of thing."  In other words, sometimes stepping back is the right thing to do.  Sometimes loving is letting go, or at least giving a little room for God to do what only He can do.

"...close relationships always contain generous measures of strength and softness, of yes and no.  Love in a fallen world utterly requires them both."

Loving well requires that we say "yes" but that we also say "no" when it needs to be said.  The strength to say "no" is "a part of the equation."  Paula explains that setting boundaries in relationships is one way of saying no.  (If you are interested, there is a book about setting boundaries that is really good!  "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend)

"Loving someone well is a kind of tending of the relationship, not unlike cultivating a garden.  The relationship itself is almost a third being: not you, not the other person, but a living thing itself.  For the sake of the relationship - for the sake of love itself - you offer the warmth and attention that would allow something good to grow, even though past hurt can make you wary.  But the relationship, like any good garden, needs cultivation.  And similarly, honesty insists that you tell the truth about the weeds taking over in certain spaces.  Any real relationship will take some back-breaking work in the hot sun with a hoe in your hand.  A good gardener knows that if she ignores the weeds, they take over.  The reward comes in small moments of intimacy and connectedness - moments only, as elusive as any summer butterfly - but they do come. We just cultivate the garden as best we can. And try to be patient."

Study Questions (pg. 229-232)

1.  When are the times in a close relationship that you are most reminded of the exquisite pain that loving someone well entails? 

2.  If your heart had actual walls around it, would those walls be too thick - meaning that it's hard to get close to you? Or would those walls be too thin - meaning that you are more easily taken advantage of and you require too little of others? Why?

Chapter 9 Sexuality

We are down to our last few posts of our book study.  What a great book this has been.  If you haven't bought the book, I encourage you to do so.....and you can go back and review the posts at any time so it will be just as if you did the study with us :)

Today, we are reviewing Chapter 9 Sexuality: The Heart's Unsuspecting Mirror.  To keep this reading from being too long, I will include Chapter 10 in a separate post.  (And remember, this is only a short overview of some of the topics covered in each chapter, and not a complete summary or discussion.) 

Chapter 9 Sexuality

The title of this chapter made me a little nervous.  Honestly, sexuality is not something that "Christians" normally talk about, is it?  But why not?  Sex in marriage was God's invention and idea! :)  It is something sacred between a husband and wife and is truly more than just a sexual encounter.  The world has turned it into something that it was not created for.

"No matter how much our culture tries to pretend, we cannot keep ourselves from realizing that sex has both context and meaning - that in a sexual encounter, we are standing at the edge of something holy."

"For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is great, but I am speaking in reference to Christ and the church."  Genesis 2:24

There is a parallel drawn here between the intimacy of a husband and wife and that of Christ and the church. 

"Physical intimacy, set in its true context, takes us straight to the heart of God, because the necessary components of trust and faithfulness and passion belong, first and foremost, to Him."

Paula draws lines between our previous topics - our ability to trust, our longing to be known, our forgiveness of others and ourselves, etc - and sexually intimacy with our spouse.

"Sometimes there are genuine physiological differences in couples that greatly influence their desire for sex - a kind of cocktail of neurochemicals and hormones that vary widely from individual to individual.  Physiology plays a huge role in the world of sexual passion..........Having said that, though, sex can provide a world of insight into our emotional lives and inner worlds. We act out the closeness we don't feel sometimes by quietly keeping our distance, hugging the side of the bed. Last week's argument never got resolved. The distance builds and the tension mounts. And while we may manage the kids' carpool and the family checking account and a host of other things, our sexual lives slide to the periphery and we hope our husbands won't mind all that much."

Anyone ever been there? ;)

Our relationship with our husband is affected in every way, including sexual intimacy, by the issues of our heart.  And as God "brings more freedom and cleansing to my heart, the most intimate relationship of my life will feel the effect."

Study questions (pg 225-227)
  •  How do you see your sexuality as a window into your heart? In what way is that thought freeing, encouraging, threatening or challenging? 
  • How does the reality that sexual intimacy mirrors ours intimacy with God - our longing to be one with Him - affect the way you feel about sex?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Let's Talk! Tuesday

Welcome to Let's Talk! Tuesday......a time for us to ramble on about random things going on in our life in hopes to get to know one another a little more personally :)  Come on KNOW we can TALK about some randomness!!!  (ADD??...just sayin...)

Don't forget about Mr. Linky!..You can join in by signing in below with your name and website and grabbing my button from the right side of my blog for your post! :) This will link your post with mine!

Some random things from me this week......

1.  I drove 4 (yes 4) hours to a graduation party on Sunday, stayed 3 hours and then drove home!  The things we do for the people we love! :)  I wouldn't have missed it for anything!  I grabbed a grande toffee nut white mocha with a triple shot of espresso from Starbucks to help me drive home!  Yep.  Felt like my eyelids were stapled to my forehead!

2.  I made the trip from #1 in a day because my husband and I had to turn right around and leave Monday morning for a couples getaway/fishing trip!  That is where I am now....yay!  We have to get up bright and early to meet our guide and start catching some red fish!  But I was determined to not miss our chat! (Awwwww......I know.)

3.  My husband looked mighty fine tonight in his cowboy hat :)  Mmmm Hmmm....I am a lucky woman :)

4.  Although this book study had been UH-MAAAAY-ZING!!!.....I am excited about finishing up because I have a couple of new articles I'm working on to share with you!  Remember....if we will just position ourselves to hear.....God is speaking!

5.  I've really been enjoying the study on marriage and becoming a better wife hosted by Stacy over at Graceful Sisters....if you haven't visited, go check her out....good stuff!

6.  I was reading a bedtime story with my 5 year old the other night and the book he choose was one about dolphins.  Did you know that when one of the dolphins is hurt or injured, some of the other dolphins come up beside and under it to carry it to the surface for air every few minutes so that it can survive?!  They do this until it gets better and is able to make it on its own!  (You know there is a blog post coming about this soon!!!)

7.  I love that we have the opportunity to share with one another via our blogs.....what did we ever do before the Internet? :) ... (I know.....we spent more time cleaning house.....)

8.  A friend recently sent me a message saying that she just read my post on Chapter 5 of our book study - Control and how it was a word from God for her at just the right time.  It is so encouraging to hear that God is using these words to not only encourage me but others as well!   I went back and re-read the post and it just so happened......I needed it that day, too. :)

9.  My eyes are getting heavy (no Starbucks tonight!)  so I'll stop with number 9 today.  Have to get rested up for our fishing trip in just a few short hours......

Have a great Tuesday everyone!  I look forward to reading your posts when we get back in the evening!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chapters 7 & 8

(Because I am reviewing two chapters at once, my discussion for each chapter will be shorter than normal. There is no way to possibly include everything from each chapter, without rewriting the whole chapter!  But, if you have the book, I encourage you to take time with each chapter and allow God to speak to you concerning whatever topic is presented.)

Chapter 7 Vulnerability: The Secret Side of Strength

My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

In chapter 7, Paula points out that when we think of being a strong woman, vulnerability is surely not the first thing that comes to mind.  But it is, in fact, "the secret side of strength."

"To be vulnerable is to voluntarily place yourself, for the sake of a larger purpose, in a situation that could bring pain. You see something at stake - your own spiritual growth or someone else's - and you are willing to risk your heart in a vulnerable way."

This is definitely not the "strength" that is modeled in the world today.

But when we consider Jesus, we find a different model.......

Questions 3 and 4 of our study guide in the back of our book:

3. Christ came in the utmost vulnerability, laying aside His true splendor and beauty.  Through His vulnerability and suffering God makes His power known. (Read Isaiah 53:2-3)  What about His chosen vulnerability most touches you?

4.  What's amazing is that Isaiah also shares the inner life of Jesus- how He felt in the midst of it all. What do you see as the secret of His strength?

"For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
He who vindicated me is near...Behold, the Lord God helps Me;
Who is he who condemns Me?"
Isaiah 50:7-8,9

When we take the time to share our heart with others, make our story known, then God is able to make His power known through us.   But the truth is, sometimes we can't share our heart because all too often, our heart is what gets pushed to the side in our busy lives, making it unfamiliar territory.

In the section on Discovering Your Heart, pgs 94-98, Paula encourages journaling and quiet time (solitude) to help us get to know our own heart.  I agree!  She states that "it is incredible to see the way feelings and conclusions you did not know you even had slip out the end of a pencil!" :)  So, dust off your journal that you got for your last birthday........

"The strength of vulnerability is the fire of a tender heart that forges steel in the soul.  As difficult as it is to life with a vulnerable heart, it is far easier than camping out behind a facade."

Paula also addresses vulnerability in relationships all throughout this chapter.  "We don't mend each other's brokenness, we admit our needs and let that draw us to each other and to God."

Chapter 8: Forgiveness: Experiencing a Heart Set Free

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.   Hebrews 12:15

Another good chapter.....remember if you have the book, don't limit yourself to reading just what I post.  There is so much more in the book! :)

I'm just going to list a few of my favorite quotes from this chapter.....

pg. 109....Unforgiveness probably looks like  "...a dark, sticky cement that shuts down my heart, piece by little piece, and turns it into something as hard as stone......There is less of me to offer others, less of me that can really respond to God."  This really got my attention.....less of me that can really respond to God....

pg. 110...."Fundamentally, we forgive because in Christ, we have been forgiven.  The arms that embrace us are wide enough to embrace those who hurt us - and those we have hurt as well."

"A harbored wrong can control a life.  It becomes what we feed off of, and we feel full of  - occasionally even happy in our misery - but we are full of awful stuff."

On pg 113, she compares the heart to a garden that requires tending. "A root of bitterness is so potent it will invade other people's gardens, and worst of all, it will choke the grace of God in my life."

pg. 114...."The problem, so to speak, is that forgiveness offends our basic sense of justice.  If we've been really hurt by someone we love, some voice in the core of our soul screams, 'It's not fair.  This is not right.'"

pg. 115...."Recompense is an Old Testament word that acknowledges there is truly a debt to be paid......The idea behind recompense is that God knows the injustice we feel.  It offends Him far more than it does us.  And He is offering to repay the debt Himself - in His way and His time."  (Kind of goes back to our chapter on trust!.....)

pg 117 ...."Forgiveness is about looking the pain straight in the eye and saying, 'God is bigger than this.'"

pg. 122..."We are such broken people - all of us, both victim and agent - standing in need of the grace of God."

pg. 123..."The reality of being forgiven means that we, of all people, have the freedom to admit when we are wrong."

Questions 4 and 5 from our study guide (pg. 222 - 223)

4.  One passage I've turned to through the years is the story that Jesus told Peter when he wanted to be able to forgive seven times and no more.  Take a few minutes to let yourself sink into the feelings that ricochet through the story of the ungrateful servant in Matthew 18:21-35.   At what point in the story do you feel the weight of what you owe God? What kind of effect does the awareness of a cancelled debt have on you?

5.  How would you complete this sentence:  I want to forgive, but the thing that holds me back is........

Again, this is sooooo much in these two chapters!  There's no way I could cover it all here!  As I've said before, this will be a book that I read again and again and again.  What spoke to you the most concerning vulnerability and forgiveness?

Angie and Jessica over at The Bloom Book Club posted Chapter 5 on here to read there discussion and watch the video!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Let's Talk! Tuesday

Goodmorning!  And happy Tuesday!  Grab a cup of coffee (or something!) and let's chat!

If you want to participate today, I've gone high tech (not really) and added a Mr. Linky!  I hope it works!

Also, remember to grab my button for your post!  :)

Some random things from me this week....
1.  I'm writing this @ midnight, so I'll actually be ON TIME this week instead of posting in the middle of the day!  Yay me!  :)
2.  Brooke's party was a huge success!  Thanks to all of our family and friends!  I am almost recuperated.  Almost.
3.  I've always had problems with my eye shadow creasing by the middle of the day, but I recently found something that helped!  It's one of my new favorite things!
4.  My 5 year old told me that he has decided he doesn't want to be a kindergartner.  He wants to be a fisherman.
5.  My sister (and 18 month old niece) are here visiting at the moment.  She was my personal photographer for the graduation ceremony and the party.  She takes awesome pictures! 
6.  I am thinking about taking the 24 day Advocare challenge - 12 inches or 12 lbs in 24 days.  A friend of mine sells it, but I don't know much about it.  Has anyone ever used any Advocare products?
7.  My "enter key" button on my laptop came off and I can't get it back on.  Looks really nice. 
8.  I want to redecorate my master bedroom and bathroom.  I'm thinking about chocolate brown and light blue, or black and white.  Two totally different color schemes, but I've seen them both look so cute!  I guess whatever bedding I find that I LOVE, will help me decide! :)
9.  I love to create things.  I love to paint, glue, glitter, sew, etc!  But never enough time (or space!).
10.  I can get lost in a book....for days. 
Thanks for stopping by!  I hope to read some of your random things for today!
Have a great week!  I'll be back in a couple of days to post my thoughts on Chapter 7 of our book study.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chapter Six: Trust

After this chapter, we are halfway through our book study!  Although it has gone a little differently than planned, it has been a really good book!  I think I may post the remaining chapters 2 at a time....7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12.  That way we finish up and can switch gears a little, with summertime upon us (and kids out of school!).  :)

So, this chapter was no different than the others.....good stuff!  This book is not going to disappoint.

A few of my favorite quotes from the book:

Paula states..."A major turning point in my life came when I realized that being able to trust God is grounded in staking the whole of my being on the reality that He loves me."

On page 75, she says "Trust lies in the willingness to accept the particulars of how and when and where God chooses to intervene."  This, in my opinion, is the key.  So often we say we trust God, but then try to dictate timing, circumstances, and outcome.  Trusting is just  Period.  No matter what happens.  And that can be really, really hard sometimes.

You know I can't go another post without using a definition.  I mean, it's been a few posts! and I have become great friends, and I paid him a visit tonight. :)

One of the (many) definitions for trust fit perfectly into our chapter. 

TRUST:  to permit to remain or go somewhere or to do something without fear of consequences

I think that about sums it up, don't you?

Rinehart explains that the ability to trust rests in the absolute knowing that God loves us.  And allowing Him to do so.  She says on page 78 that "letting ourselves be loved by God is the place where we stumble upon trust."

"We think some grand achievement or someone's approval will finally baptize us with the sense of being loved.  (Did someone send her copies of my journals?  Was it you??)  But the need to trust is our invitation, over and over, to the place where we look into His face - and no one else's - and let ourselves be loved by Him.  We let ourselves be loved by God. Our hands release their grip on the reins of our lives and we stop trying so hard to be women with all the answers."

Ya.  I know.

"When you taste a measure of being able to love and enjoy the people in your life, without having to have any particular response from them, you are tasting bliss.  You can move out in life and don't have to have your parking ticket stamped by human approval to do it."

Seriously.  Is anyone else hearing this?  Or did she write this book for me? :)


Again, so much in this chapter....I could make several posts out of each one.  Read it if you have it, or just read my post, and let me know your thoughts!  A few more quotes that I just couldn't leave out...

From page 81: "Indeed, any serious grappling with trust will lead us to the heart of mystery, of all that God chooses not to tell us.........But accepting the mystery of what we cannot know will lead us to the heart of God where we trade our craving for explanation for a simple willingness to trust."

On page 83 she quotes Brennan Manning, "The scandal of God's silence on the most heartbreaking hours of our journey is perceived in retrospect as veiled tender Presence and a passage into pure trust that is not at the mercy of the response it receives."

And finally on page 85, "Your trust and willingness to take your sticky fingers off the steering wheel of your life rest on the risk that, in face, the goodness of God will catch you when you let go."

This is going to be one of those books that I keep and read again and again.  And if you borrow it from me, it may be a little worn out.

I pray that we can learn together to allow ourselves to be loved by God.  Really loved.  And in that place, we stumble upon trusting Him.  Pure trust.  No matter what.  No matter when.  No matter where. No matter how. 

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. 1 John 3:1

As you know, I started this book study because of Angie and Jessica over at The Bloom Book Club.  They have had some delays (including the birth of Angie's beautiful baby!), but will be finishing the book soon as well.  So click here or on the button on my sidebar to visit their blog!

I'm posting this without proofing so have mercy! :)  Although I probably won't be able to sleep tonight wondering how many mistakes I made.......I'll probably come back and change it! :)

My daughter's Graduation in 23 hours!!  Woohoo!! Get the kleenex ready!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Let's Talk! Tuesday

Hope you all had a fabulous 3 day weekend!!

Some friends that are joining me today....
1.  Run, Work and Save

*Leave me a comment if you want to participate and I'll add a link to your blog on my page! :)

My random things for today! :)

1.  Party planning today.......a little anxious about my daughter graduating this coming Friday night and about having 100 + people at my house on Saturday to celebrate!

2.  Choosing to keep my peace. :)

3.  Home this morning @ 1:00 from a fun weekend filled with water (visited the Gulf of Mexico, a nearby lake and did some river fishing!), friends, fun, and food!

4.  Meditating on the fact that we are all flawed.  No one is perfect.  Realizing this makes relationships a lot easier and healthier (especially when you are able to communicate).

5.  I need some quiet, alone time with God.  I read on someone's blog the other day (can't remember which one.....I think it was one of the ladies from Proverbs 31) that she took a short trip away by herself (I've never done this but it sounds appealing to me for some reason!) to read, write and pray.

6.  I went to bed with my hair wet last night and woke up looking like a crazy woman today!  My hair is naturally curly.......enough said.

7.  Wondering if 5 year old boys ever run out of questions?

8.  Hoping that 13 year old boys outgrow their attitude ( I don't remember my daughter being quite this contrary).

9.  Thankful that my God loves me even when I don't deserve it. 

10.  Off to order cake and buy a million (or more) balloons.

Have an amazing day, my friends!!


Feel free to grab my button and I'll add you to my list!