CHALLENGE FOUR: Celebrate!

Written by: Cindy Morrone

It’s time to Celebrate!!

We have made it!! Congratulations to us!!

As we reflect on how far we’ve come, we can’t help but notice the steps we have taken.  We meet consistently with the One; the only One that can help us when it comes to using the power in our words to “…heal, build up, encourage and cheer.” (page 180) We have overcome tongue wrestling challenges and continue to step up our ante.  We regularly feast on the Wunderbar Pretzel Sandwich and boy; does it taste good!  Now it’s time to celebrate and share our victories.

Are you ready for our final Keep It Shut Challenge?!?

(Drum roll, please…….)

Write 5 Remembrance Letters and hand/send/mail them out.

Review pages 173-175 and let’s be encouragers, like the apostle Paul.  Let’s use our words to thank others‘…directly, verbally or in writing.  It really doesn’t take that much time to briefly step out of our daily routine and devote a moment or two to shooting off an email, making a phone call, or even sending a handwritten note to someone whom we would say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”’ (page 171)

Don’t miss Karen’s page 172, Love Prompts for some great starters!!

Post It!!

We’d love to hear about someone you’ve chosen to bless with a remembrance letter!!  We don’t need names of course but perhaps why they’ve been chosen and how you expressed your gratitude.

Thank you so much for your willingness to partake in this study and challenges!!  Thank you for sharing with us.  We are honoured and know there is learning in the sharing!!

Can’t get enough challenges?!! Want more? See Karen’s final challenge at the bottom of page 203.  Who’s in?!

Bless you and your endeavors with the Holy Spirit to, Keep It Shut!

CHALLENGE THREE: Eat Your Words

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Who’s hungry?  Anyone up for a “Wunderbar Pretzel Sandwich?”

The Apostle Paul gives us excellent advice when it comes to speaking to others.  “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”  Ephesians 4:15

Whether we struggle with people-pleasing, flattery, being honest or feeling angry, this advice will help us; do as Jesus did, love on others.

Keep It Shut Challenge #3

Let’s put Karen’s, “Wunderbar Pretzel Sandwich” approach into practice when we “need to deliver difficult words in a delicate situation.” (page 153).

Review her approach on page 152.

Notice the steps:

  • Start with an encouraging word
  • Speak the hard truth statement
  • Finish off with another encouraging truth

Post it!  Let’s share how we’ve attempted to use this approach throughout our week.  We learn from the sharing.  When posting, let’s please remember Karen’s guidelines about controlling our digital tongue found all throughout her Chapter 6 Behind the Screen in pages 95-111.

  • Let us continually and constantly remember, we need never do this on our own. Karen reminds us, “And if we’re trying to die to self in our own strength, they will also be impossible.  In order to die to self in the daily, routine hassles and relational challenges we face, we must draw deeply from the available power of the Holy Spirit, surrendering our life and words to his will.” (page 167)

CHALLENGE TWO: Step It Up

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Hi! I’ve come to meet with you in your personal sanctuary. I won’t be long, I know this is your sacred time and place.  I just want to know. How are you doing?  How is your time with Jesus going? Have you been able to spend this time with Him consistently? Without distraction?

If yes, so awesome, isn’t it?  I know when I’ve committed this time to my Jesus, He has never let me down.  I am more equipped for my day; at peace because I rested in His Holy Presence.

If no, do you remember our key word from the last challenge?  Grace

And press on.

In Chapter 4, Karen encourages us to, ‘turn first to prayer to process life.’ (page 63) And all throughout this chapter stresses the importance of conversations with our God.

We are better poised to process life’s troubles after petitioning God first.  I’m still learning this lesson, but the calm I feel when I get the order straight encourages me to keep on trying.” (page 63)

Keep It Shut Challenge #2

Review pages 72-77 and notice Karen’s outlined 5 steps ‘to be a little more prayer warrior and a little less prayer wimp.’ (page 73) 😊

Pick your place.  I see these steps as incremental; one building on the other.  If you are on step 1 then jump to step 2.  Or if you are already in the habit of journaling your prayers and devotions (step 3) then step it up and memorize those recorded Scriptures (step 4).  On page 75, Karen lists 10 relevant Scriptures that I am writing on my heart by memorizing.

Step 5 is for all of us.  In our sanctuaries as we read, write and memorize let’s apply our heart changes in our everyday.

And remember we are never alone.  Karen reminds us on page 77 that, “God’s Word is both powerful and practical.  Through it He will give you directives, but not without also giving you the supernatural strength to carry them out.”

Post it!  It would be so great to hear from each other.  What step are you on and how have you stepped it up to meet this challenge?

CHALLENGE ONE: Overcome A Challenge

 

Written by: Cindy Morrone

As we now meet with Jesus regularly in our own personal sanctuaries, enveloped in His Word and by the convictions of the Holy Spirit; amazing things start to happen.

This is just the start, my friends!  Let’s not just be attentive to the leading of God during our intentional times with Him but at all times; all throughout our day.

Karen, in Chapter 1, urges us to “…do it all with an attitude of openness that continues throughout the day. Be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s whispers to you—keep silent if that is the Spirit’s leading.  Or open your mouth and allow the words he is whispering and urging you to say to come out in your own sweet little voice.  It isn’t easy. It takes effort.”  (page 19)

Ready for Keep It Shut, Challenge #1?

Let’s read over pages 30-37 and take our cues from Joseph.  Notice Karen’s 8 learning points she has taken from Joseph’s life story.

Identify which one of these cues is your biggest challenge.  And in your meetings with the Lord, ask Him how He can help you with this challenge.

My page 39 is highlighted and underlined from the top to the bottom with Karen’s teaching on how to help us, Keep It Shut.  One word, my friends, one word……Grace. Grace. And more Grace!

Resist our urge to lash out? Yes! Bite down on our tongues? Yes! Do the right thing? Yes! Show Grace?!! Yes, and Yes!

Why?

“When we lace our words with grace, healing happens.” (page 39)

Post it!  We love to hear from you!  Share your biggest challenge from the cues from Joseph # 1-8 and how God helped you address and overcome this challenge this week!  There is so much learning in the sharing!

Sisterhood Sunday with Julia Bracewell

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Hi, Readers!  You don’t want to miss this interview with Julia Bracewell!!  Her openness, honesty and realness is inspiring and courageous.  Be inspired, as she shares with us, how losing her father at a young age has shaped her faith to now, a young woman with a cause.

Thank you, Julia for sharing with us!!

And here is her ministry contact information:

The Acacia Movement

acaciamovement.com gofundme.com/acaciamovement@gmail.com

 

Christianity Is Not About, “You Scratch my Back and I’ll Scratch Yours.”

Written by: Cindy Morrone

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 & 14

There have been significant times in my life, when I have experienced such love and it has changed me.

My single Mama shouldering the care of her family.

My love asking me to marry him.

A young, nephew (prompted by his loving Mother) calling to wish his barren Aunt a Happy Mother’s Day.

A Pastor with his 8-month pregnant wife meeting us foreigners for dinner in a time of deep angst.

Unsolicited prayers from dear friends.

Coffee times with my bestie sharing in trust.

It takes risk, vulnerability, transparency, sacrifice, and a willingness to lay down one’s own needs to meet others.

And yet, despite the cost, they did and I am different because of their acts of love.

I could never repay them.

Words were not sufficient to say, thank you. There was not a gift valuable enough to give. And no favour could be done in return.

Thank you all for showing me such love. I am different because you did!!

 

Why I Find Seasons of Rest Difficult

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I ran a ½ marathon once. 21.1 km or 13.1 miles. Years ago. BC. Before children.
I didn’t do amazing but I finished.

Once I crossed the finish line, I had only enough in me to take a shower and eat a pasta dinner.

Then, what I assume rigor mortis felt like, started to set in.

I had only enough to complete the race, then rest and recuperation was necessary.
My spiritual marathons have ended the same.

Elijah, an Old Testament Prophet’s experiences were similar. 1 Kings Chapter 19 tells us that Elijah, after two significant spiritual victories found himself in the wilderness, under a tree asking the Lord to take his life. ‘“…I have had enough, LORD, “ he said. “Take my life;..’ I Kings 19:4

Miraculously the Bible tells us that an angel appeared to Elijah not once but twice and gave him exactly what he needed. Food, drink and rest.

‘The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”’ I Kings 19:7
…….for the journey is too much for you…….

There is an essential element missing in my necessary seasons of rest. A degree of empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It’s back to basics, breathing, eating and sleeping.
So, like a deflated balloon, I wait until the next marathon.

It’s in this deflated position that I must remember three important Truths while I rest, eat and drink.

1)It was never about me. In those times when I am smack dab in the middle of my God calling, and things are going well, that it is not because I have done all the right things. I often look back on those times and truly wonder how I did it. It’s not about me and how well I can do things; it’s about how perfectly God has empowered me to love and serve others.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

2)It is not about me. Deflated and lifeless; seemingly purposeless as I rest, I need to recall it’s not about me. The Spirit gives what is needed and when. It’s not time to be inflated.

“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:11

3)It will not be about me. Like Elijah there will come another spiritual marathon; God’s purposes and plans for me are not over. And when He calls me again, He will equip me as He has so faithfully done in the past.

“…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” Colossians 1:9-11

Duped

Written by: Cindy Morrone

On a day trip, we went back to my alma mater.

As we entered the university gates, I could see the many buildings that I once sat in to study for my degree.

We crossed the bridge over the river that ran through this beautiful campus and climbed the rolling hill. It was then that the memories flooded into my thirsty identity causing turbulence.

Back then who I was; was all wrapped up in my education, career and making a great income. There seemed to be a confidence and an assurance that I was successful. I worked hard and was rewarded with tangible payments. A degree. A paycheck. A new car. A paid vacation.

It wasn’t about the degree or career getting (I believe that was part of the Master plan), it is about the wrappings of my self-worth.

I have never had less to my name than I do today.

I have never been more satisfied about who I have been created to be than now.

And I continue to try to make sense of it all.

Not too long ago, I was asked the question, “What motivates you?”

Over the years, the answer to this question has changed much for me.

The difference has been an ever progression to letting go of the tangible and pursuing God’s kingdom purposes for my life.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

God Grit

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I have an enemy. In this season of change, loss and grief, he constantly tells me, my callings are worthless; I am worthless.

For our summer vacation, we visit the Outer Banks, North Carolina. After our long, 2-day drive, once parked at our beach house, we RUN to see who can make it to the ocean first.

I deeply inhale the salty air, take in the vast horizon and with eyes closed hear the crashing waves. The ocean welcomes me like a long-time friend and a part of me is once, again home, even for a short time.

On the shoreline, is where our love-relationship ends though. I let my feet and legs soak but to go past the ever-changing few metres of waves reaching towards me takes real commitment.

I know what it’s like to battle them. I’ve gotten caught in their relentlessness.

Few times I have been brave enough to plunge through them. Conquer wave after wave; either jumping over them or swimming underneath them.

The ocean rests calm on the other side of this turbulence.

‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ 1 Peter 5:8

During this season, I am weak and weary. And it takes alertness to realize the battle I am in.
Unlike, fighting the waves in my own strength and power, this battle will not be won in my own effort.

It will take grit but not my own.

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9

The victory is had by choosing to believe differently. That change when lead by God is and will be awe-inspiring. That loss and grief is because we love so well.

It’s only in Him, that I am strong! And as He carries me through the turbulence, I rest in His ever-calming Presence.

Christmas in July?…No, thanks!

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I don’t appreciate the attempts to celebrate a holiday in the hot of the summer, which takes place in the blistery, winter months. My apologies to those who would love to celebrate Christmas all year long.

A Christmas tradition in our home is to wake up early and together come down our stairs to the adorned Christmas tree standing tall in our front, living room window. The natural fireplace, pre-lit by the man of the house, sends dancing flames to reflect off the many presents under the tree just awaiting their opening. We cannot access our downstairs without passing by this magnificence.

In this season of grieving for me, this scene was impressed upon my attention. I thought about Christmas in July. I remembered those presents under the tree and how on Christmas morning, I cannot help but pass by the gifts just waiting to surprise, delight, provide and bring joy.

And I realized that gifts are waiting for me every day and I am passing them by.

So focused on what is lost, I am forgetting all that’s found.

So I start to look all around me and notice…..the everyday magnificent.

Gratitude and thanksgiving then remind me of God’s goodness; His faithfulness. How His blessings towards us are rich in abundance and pour onto us constantly.

And as I remember and my gaze is upon Him, I am drawn nearer in His Presence and then I am wrapped up in His abundant joy and peace.

Opening these presents all throughout the day, I experience better than Christmas all year long!

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4 & 5