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Announcing a New Bible Study and An Invitation for You

Great news! My new Bible study on Ephesians is coming June 6th! This study invites women to consider living in seven new ways and to connect with God and one another through sharing Savior Stories (instead of Shadow Narratives).

I focus on the seven most important verbs in Ephesians from each chapter: included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. I just love this study! I wrote the kind of study I would love to participate in myself; it’s designed to foster authentic connection with God and others. And it provides some vision and training regarding writing and speaking, so women know how to share their Savior Stories with others in their communities.

To help promote this study, would you consider joining the Launch Team for a free book, fun gifts, sharable images for social media, and behind-the-scenes book news before the big release day in June? Sign up by Sunday at https://goo.gl/forms/a8u2XHmf4u6hMsYI2 . You can also read more about the Launch Team at that link.

I cannot wait to connect! Feel free to share this post!

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Our Savior

Happy Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed! 

What a Savior who loves us like this! He transfers us from the domain of darkness and into His wonderful kingdom of light. 

He conquered sin and death, and Easter rises in our hearts today and every day. 

This is all we need. This is who we are. 

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New Ways of Seeing

My dad hands me a pair of high powered binoculars to examine the birds at the feeder across the yard. I zoom in with perfect clarity on the bright yellow and black America Goldfinches and linger awhile. 

I close my eyes and listen to the songs of a dozen kinds of birds in the woods behind the house. 

I consider carefully new ways of seeing. Such a beautiful world! 

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Crown of Thorns

I’m down by the creek, wandering and wondering. I’m hoping to find something–some nest, some egg, some fantastic creature. I peer deep into the rushing water, wanting. I feel like the naturalist E.O. Wilson when he writes from the water’s edge, “I also hoped for more. . . what exactly I could not say: something to enchant the rest of my life.”

Something to enchant the rest of my life. 

Defeated in the search, I make my way back to civilization. As I push away branches and tall shoots, looking one last time for something, anything, I come upon the strangest tree I’ve ever seen in my life. From the trunk, enormous thorns protrude; they jut out longer than my arm.

It’s some kind of locust–a honey locust or black locust–that grows in marshy areas. But I’ve never seen one in Pennsylvania.

I stand there, after all my searching and wandering, and I see Jesus’ crown of thorns. I stand there, suddenly in awe as I consider this particular Easter moment. I stand there, satisfied that in all of creation, I consider nothing more beautiful, astonishing, enchanting, and fulfilling as this reality of Jesus crucified and resurrected.

I stand there, enchanted for the rest of my life.

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The Rain!

I’m so thankful for the rain last night. So thankful. Before, I complained all about the rain! In March, in rained so much, and I found myself ready for sun and warmth. April has delivered on both accounts. But with my allergies flaring and pollen floating about, stagnating, through our valley, I longed for rain again to wash through and settle all that pollen down.

The rain came last night. And I loved it for what it was doing to the pollen. I remember this blog’s theme that what I often most resent becomes an avenue for blessing. What I often resist is what I most need because of what God sees that I don’t see. This thing I don’t want last month becomes the very thing I rejoice over now.

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What Destabilizes Identity?

I immensely dislike the verb destabilize. I seek stability; I don’t want anything to mess with my calm, inner world where I know who I am, what I stand for, and what I’m doing. But when an experience comes along that destabilizes me, I don’t know how to recover. I feel immediately disordered. I feel lost at sea, unsure and confused.

What unmoors us like this? I’ve been thinking of a few things:

When our work changes (we believe we are what we do)

When our health changes (we believe we are just bodies)

When our relationships change (we only know ourselves in relation to others)

When our location changes (we form identity based on geography)

When our impact changes (we see ourselves as valuable based on influence)

When our expectations are not met (we live in our future selves)

These dependent variables often change, and we cannot control them. But what endures? What stays unchanging and independent of our circumstances?

I think about God. I think about being made to worship and to become more like Christ. This unchanging position—as a worshipper and someone being sanctified—offers a permanency when everything else changes.

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A Biblical Definition of Flourishing

I read in Psalm 53 how David contrasts a flourishing person to someone who instead boasts, deceives others, trusts in wealth, and uses power to bring others down. But then, David writes:

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints

I note the flourishing state of trusting God, praising God, and hoping in God. 

May we flourish today! More and more, may we grow up into trust, praise, and hope in God. 

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Speaking Purpose Into Situations

Today my friend explains a translation of Jesus as “Wonderful Counselor” in Isaiah 9:6. Instead of thinking of counselor in the sense of giving advice or direction, the Hebrew words approach more closely the sense of “speaking purpose into” something. 

God speaks purpose into everything. He’s the Wonderful Counselor of directing meaning into what seems meaningless, random, unfair, or unnecessarily painful. 

I think about every situation and how God can bring Purpose no matter what. 

How wonderful!

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Making Home More Homey

Today I remember my mother’s advice about engaging all the five senses to create a beautiful, restful space. She always talked about what people feel, taste, see, hear, and smell when they enter any room. Certain rooms had tinkling water fountains, treats arranged to enjoy, beautifully matched fabrics and artwork on the walls, soft textures on seats, and fragrant smells of fresh flowers.

I think about each space, and I especially enjoy the aspect of smelling and hearing. I think about music to play and new scents to spread around to help people enjoy every space.

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The Ants and Peppermint Oil

Every spring, the ants return to the kitchen. Living so near the forest, we’re used to all kinds of welcomed insects and even an occasional playful field mouse visiting, but ants in the kitchen drive me crazy.

Not in my kitchen! 

I’ve been reading about a quick, pleasant, cost-effective, and natural way to rid your house of ants. I’m a skeptic, normally, but this time, I read of how peppermint oil masks an ant’s trail pheromones and inhibits their social communication, so they leave. They go elsewhere immediately to locations where they can communicate about food.

It sounds like science. It sounds like something I must try.

I can’t believe it.

The ants leave by afternoon. They haven’t returned.

I simply sprayed the peppermint oil and water combination on my counters, around the baseboards, and under my sink. No ants. And, strangely, no ladybugs, no spiders, and no other forest insects.

I think about the wonder of ants and the unseen communication by pheromones. How much else is happening that I cannot see and know nothing about? How much more can I learn in this amazing world?

Meanwhile, my house smells like a candy cane.

And I’m off to read more about trail pheromones.

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