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Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Heritage of Joy

As you begin a new year perhaps you've decided to read through the Bible, or examine your life in light of your mission on earth....but I'm betting the first concept in your mind wasn't "joy".  But you come from joy, you are made for joy, and it's not a long shot to see joy as your destiny and your greatest weapon against the burdens and obstacles that conspire to weigh you down.  I'm privileged to have been given a sneak peek at a new book by author Margaret Feinberg "Fight Back With Joy", and I want to whet your appetite by sharing a bit of it with you.




Joy emanates out of the abiding sense of God's fierce love for us. #fightbackwithjoy
From the first pages of Genesis we see that creation itself was a process of  joy - God proclaims "It was very good" repeatedly as he rejoiced in His work. Think of the happiness that radiates from a small child, unburdened by expectations, as he create with fingerpaints or flour or shredded tissues - how much deeper was the joy God experienced as he created his masterpiece?  His joy spans from the beginning of time through the history of mankind. Margaret writes: "The astonishing love of God found in the relational dance of the Trinity is brimming with delight. Joy splashes at Jesus' baptism as the Holy Spirit descends and the Father proclaims Christ as his beloved Son...The fullness of joy abides in God's presence." His joy is part of the fiber of our very existence.

God delighted in mankind, and we as his creation have the capacity for deep joy. God blesses us with profound and simple joys - sunsets and puppies and children and love....and gives us the ultimate gift of joy in the person of Jesus. "Jesus arrives in joy, departs in joy, and calls us to great joy through fellowship with him." Through Christ we are destined for joy.  We tend to fuss and worry about finding our purpose in life and Margaret reminds us gently "Joy is where you come from. Joy is what you are created to experience. Joy is where you are headed."  If we can grasp that concept how would it impact our lives to live from a wellspring of joy? As you go forward with strong intention in this new year, I urge you to claim joy as your heritage, and  I promise you'll see things differently.


You have joy because you are drenched in the grace and mercies of God. #fightbackwithjoy



This post is part of Margaret Feinberg's Partymob for her brand-new book and Bible study, Fight Back with JoyTo grab a copy of this book use these links: Amazon or Barnes and Noble .  
If you pre-order it by Jan. 6 you'll get some great free gifts!To pre-order click here: Fight Back with Joy - free gifts offer.





 To learn more watch this fun video!


video

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wake Up!

I don't know about you but I'm on college football overload, and extremely grateful for a husband who pulled the Christmas lights down and stored everything under the stairwell today, and I'm really ready to get on with this new year.

If you'd like to find a place where you can be encouraged as you reach for your goals this year I want to suggest that you join a Hello Mornings group. The Hello Mornings Challenge asks women to commit to meeting with God each morning, working exercise into their day, and being intentional by planning their time and tasks. Women meet on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to support each other and share tips and challenges. There's a free bible study (Colossians this winter) provided and other really helpful resources. The best part is making new friends!  There are groups set up for specific life stages (homeschooling moms, etc), by time zone, and even groups like the one I lead that has gals from all over the U.S., New Zealand, and the Philippines!

Here's where you can sign up and find a group that fits you best - just click this Link! Registration begins bright and early Monday, January 5th.

If you'd like to join the group I co-lead, look at the Facebook groups, Pacific Time Zone, and find the group led by Karen Sesnon/Brenda Herring. We'd love to have you join us!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word....One Day

Today is the one day each year when we set our intentions for the course of the next 364 days....a point in time at the cusp of lots of time.  How we react to the words we set on paper or in our hearts on this one day depends I suppose on our personality - do we carry forward achieving the goals we have set for ourselves? Do we give up a few days after missing the mark repeatedly? Do our "resolutions" pile on guilt or stir us to action?

I'm personally not "good" with resolutions....too lazy, undisciplined, whatever it is I find it hard to choose a list of steps and commit to them. In my defense I'd like to be more fluid and be in a constant state of transformation. I'm also averse to failure and so it's easier to not commit to change and just celebrate when I stumble upon it.

A relatively new concept has been to choose just one word for your year (One Word 365) and here again I find myself flailing about unable to settle on just one word to guide my year. In the past I've had a motto for the year ("Do Less More Fully", "Excellence not Perfection", "Be Fully Present") but when I try to choose a word I over-think it. 
I'd like a pretty word like "Flourish" - doesn't that sound lovely? And it looks so nice in a feminine script....flourish... 
Perhaps a restful word like "Abide"...reminding me to Let It Go....to trust and not strive..
Maybe I should take on a meaty word like "Risk" or "More"...oooh that makes me tired and a bit frightened just seeing it on paper. 
So another New Year's day is upon me and yep I wanna lose 30 pounds and be kinder and really live in obedience to God's call to join him in His work of reconciling the world to himself....a new planner and a list of nice measurable goals speaks to my little organizational soul (I'd be sure to add some fun ones like "read a new book every month") but in my inaction here's what happened to me.



My girls bought me my first "Glassybaby" votive for Christmas and the one they choose was called "Strength". It's beautiful (like they are) and serves as a reminder that my strength comes from the power of the Holy Spirit - that flame inside that empowers and convicts me.

Then I saw this pop up on my Facebook news feed in a thread about choosing your "one word" for the year...and the coincidence of the color and the word made me pause for a moment. God's action in my life has truly been one of persistence and patience and I want to be faithful and strong for Him and for my family.


So, STRENGTH it is...I will recognize and celebrate the strength that is my identity in Christ, I will rely on His strength in the tough moments and pray that my character muscles will grow from constant use and that the end of the year will find me kinder, more peaceful, joy-filled, overflowing with love and goodness and proven faithful to the gospel.


Where are you heading this year?  

I arise today 
Through God's strength to pilot me: 
God's might to uphold me, 
God's wisdom to guide me, 




 
 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hello Mornings 2014

The Hello Mornings challenge begins again.......this time offering a 6 week study on the book of Ruth. If you'd like to participate or learn more please use this link Hello Mornings Challenge. If you'd like to join my group choose "Facebook Groups" and then select Pacific Time zone - my group has my name attached.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Gift of Another Birthday...How Will I Use It?


It's my birthday, and I'd like to have a word with you.


I'm grateful that we live in a culture where thankfulness has become hip, where counting your blessings is a priority for families, where "an attitude of gratitude" is causing folks to be mindful and present to those around them. Thankfulness as a weapon against consumerism and selfishness is a good lifestyle. It's even beneficial medically -and is so much more fun than miles on treadmill!

I often find myself somewhat overwhelmed at the blessings I experience. We have so much - stuff, freedom, health, opportunity - and God is so faithful to provide all that we need. But I'm reflecting more often on another list that I've started keeping - it's not as pleasant and sometimes parts of it need to be a bit more private - but I believe it's a list that holds far greater value for God's Kingdom. I'm talking about my "Trials List". Now I'm not gonna go all "Ann Voskamp" (love you Ann without an "e") and try to reach for 1000 trials.........but I do want to ponder and redeem the hard times I've been granted in a way that gives testament to God and His work in my life.

My personal strengths and gifts lie in the areas of empathy and faith, so it's natural for me to use a common thread as the entry point for living out the gospel with another person. I'd never make it on a street corner shouting scripture or debating Biblical facts ...but I can live life with you, and I can hear your story and share mine, and try to make space for the Holy Spirit to move. A few months ago I was privileged to hear a remarkable man articulate the concept in my heart as he spoke about identifying "who you are numbered with" and then reaching into those demographic groups. What makes Steve Stern remarkable isn't his intellect or charisma or position in society. What does stand out is a humble man walking on a path that none of us would choose (his diagnosis is ALS) in a way that glorifies God and challenges those he meets. Steve is actively using his trial to share the gospel, to serve and care for people, and in his words, to bring a message of comfort to a broken and hurting world. You can hear Steve speak on this topic in this video (the talk starts at about the 50 min point):  Steve Stern 1WNumbered, Westside Church, 1/9/14

So this year on my birthday I'm reflecting on the good things (blessings) and giving thanks for them, but I'm also looking more deeply at the difficult things I've endured and been shaped by. I'm not gonna run out and start a group for "left-handed, divorced, remarried, Lay's potato chip fanatics, who have X illness, and who "almost died snorkeling at 2-Step on the Big Island" (regardless of my husband's version of the story). I will however be looking for the ways I'm "numbered" with others and seek to share their journeys and burdens with them. Perhaps I can even bring a little comfort. 
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1

Friends, count your trials as treasure, for they are the pathway to a submitted heart and will. The more you collect, the greater your circle of impact for the gospel will be.

Gratefully Abiding in His Grace,

Karen


Oh hey, just a little plug for a great book that just happens to be written by Steve Stern's beloved wife....you can order it here and I promise you, it will change you!

To order on Amazon: Ruthless by Bo Stern


I get a new cell phone, and a new grand baby every two years!



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Savoring Sunday

Pancakes with maple syrup. Strong hot coffee. A crackling fire sans smoke or ash (love love love our direct vent gas fireplace). A book so beautifully written that I back up and re read and savor words and phrases. I'm privileged to be a recipient of a pre-release copy of Bo Stern's new book "Ruthless" and I'm doing a quick first read through this week. I'm reading chunks out loud to my husband (who is trying to focus on an important RFP)...he's adding to my Sunday joy by reading aloud a news article about the baseball playoffs as some sort of retaliation.



Here's the thing, I'm so grateful to Bo for digging in and studying GOD and then leading us into a deeper understanding of God's character, which I firmly believe is bedrock for a sustainable faith. The book is super readable ...even for poor old eyes squinting at a PDF on Kindle. I really can't contain my enthusiasm and I want you to pre order this book right now. It's on Nav Press and Christianbook.com and if you are a Prime member you can skip the shipping costs on Amazon.  This may well be the best $10 you could spend on yourself, or a friend. It releases on Jan 7th and if you order it now you will have your copy hot off the press.

If you'd like to journey through this book with me next spring send me a little note...

~blessed on this foggy, quiet, lovely Sabbath~

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hello Mornings Fall Challenge

Registration for the fall challenge begins TOMORROW - Monday August 5th. This fall we will study the book of Ephesians, meet daily to check in with each other and spur one another on to stronger habits of time spend in God's word, in prayer, caring for our bodies, and planning the way we use our time. This is a process....filled with steps forwards and backwards....and in the midst of the process you may just find yourself making new friends and learning more about your true self. Join me! Let's seize the day!

Check out the Hello Mornings website to learn more. To register to join my group please use this link: Grace-Full Mornings group