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It is with grateful hearts that we thank God for you! Because of your contributions and prayer support this year, we have been able to further the work of Jesus Christ and bless women through retreats, our website devotional blogs, and Biblical teaching! Please continue to join us in prayer as we seek new and innovative ways to minister creatively to the heart and spirit of women.
We hope you will enjoy our "first ever" video (in the raw) and share a joyous heart as we give praise and thanks for all that God is doing with Restore Ministries. We praise Him for the transforming work He does with the women who attend our events, and with the work that He is doing in our own heart as we prepare weekly to usher others into the presence of our Savior. To God be the Glory!
We hope that you will continue to partner with us as we continue to provide a ministry permeated with the love and grace of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit; encouraging and equipping believers and seekers to experience the depth of God’s Word, draw close to the Lord in quiet, prayer, intimate worship and to be restored by the transforming work of God in our lives.
For easy access, we have included active buttons for you to explore the many ways that you can participate in this ministry. We'd also like to invite you to explore our archives of blogs listed to the right of this blog!
We had so much fun making this video. We thought you'd be amused by our many bloopers! Laughter is good medicine for the soul! May God richly bless you this week as you give Him thanks! Many Blessings, Kathy & Sherry
Today we would like to welcome Kelley Fauchaux as our guest blogger. Kelley has participated in many of our retreats and loves serving others and the Lord! As she continues to trust and hear from the Lord, Kelley faithfully responds in obedience and seeks to serve Him wholeheartedly. We think you will enjoy hearing a fresh voice today through today's Monday Musing. Please welcome Kelley's insight as she shares her heart about feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.
No matter how old we are, all of us have a little girl inside. When does yours show up? Mine shows up this time of year when I hear Christmas music and remember caroling in the neighborhood with my friends and family. She also reveals herself when someone says a cross word and she wants to retreat inside her room like she did when she was criticized by her mom for not being pretty or talented enough.
I’ve spent many of my grown up years trying to protect my “little girl.” She wasn’t confident as a child. She would put on a strong front at times, but felt consistently insecure. As an adult, I learned to overcome these insecurities by becoming a people pleaser and a perfectionist. Never wanting to disappoint anyone. If I felt like I let someone down, my “little girl” would remind me of the feelings I had that I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried. These feelings remained constant throughout my life.
God began speaking to me through Psalm 40:1-2. He began lifting me out of my pit of self-doubt and insecurity. I began to understand that I was His “little girl.” He began telling me who I truly was. That I was His. That He created me in His image and I was perfect in His sight. I did not have to please Him by what I did or how I looked. There was no judgement or condemnation. He loved me and had loved me all along!
As my “little girl” started allowing Him to love her, my adult self started to grow. I began to believe in myself and became more confident. I embraced who God created me to be and stopped trying to please others. 1 Peter 3:4 began growing inside of me – “Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
I slowly began to feel more beautiful on the inside. I began to realize who God truly created me to be and embraced those qualities. I began to ignore the negative voices my “little girl” heard so often and replaced them with the words of my Father, “You are altogether beautiful my darling, there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7
I have learned to see myself in God’s eyes. Still imperfect but loved. I’ve forgiven those who hurt my “little girl” knowing they too struggled with their own insecurities. I now pray that they would know the love of Jesus and find the same peace that I have found.
It's a great joy to welcome Margaret Kemp once more to our Monday Musings blog as a guest writer. Today, Margaret shares some reflections that the Lord gave her after the fall Restore Retreat. The opportunity to pull away and spend time in God's beauty with extended time in the Word, worship, prayer and fellowship is such a blessing in our busy lives. Unfortunately, reentering into the "real" world can sometimes overwhelm and frustrate us. What I love about Margaret is she is always seeking to hear the Father speak truth into her life wherever she is. The lessons learned and time invested in a weekend away can help to restore and carry us through the difficult days we often face in our everyday lives.
We hope that her beautiful writing and photographs in this week's blog will encourage you to pull away and join us for the Restore Spring Retreat, March 10-11, "Awaken to the Pursuit of the Bridegroom." There are many beautiful photos throughout the blog including a slideshow of the gorgeous grounds of Solomon Episcopal Conference Center. Photos were taken by Margaret Kemp and Jennifer Leigh Spiers at our Fall Retreat. You will be able to view them better on your phone if you click to the website. Our Spring Retreat will be in the same location and we encourage you to come with another woman in your life such as a mother/daughter or daughter in law, aunt/niece, someone you mentor, or perhaps invite someone who has invested in your life. Registration is now open. We hope you will join us!
Photos below of the grounds, Bridal theme decor and teaching sessions taken by Margaret on the "Awaken" Retreat.
It was a surreal experience—still, quiet, peaceful. The woodsy setting made me stop and appreciate creation: the rustling of leaves, the still, glassy water that mirrored the lush greenery, the sunlight playing hide and seek among the trees. The indoor setting was equally as serene as our eyes feasted on beautiful artwork, lovely table settings, and exquisitely arranged altars. The fellowship was sweet at the Restore Retreat, and the teaching was inspiring. We are the bride of Christ—chosen, redeemed, washed clean. I was ready to “walk in a manner worthy of my calling,” holy and blameless.
That was Saturday and Sunday.
Then came Monday and Tuesday, delivering pain and aggravation. Earaches. Demands of the job. Difficult children. People who complained and criticized me, despite my best efforts to accommodate them and to show them the love of Christ. The entire month of October was characterized by frustration and illness.
My “Holy, Holy, Holy” changed to “Help Me, Help Me, Help Me!”
I left the retreat with beautiful wedding images, “White lace and promises, a kiss for luck and we’re on our way (as in the Carpenters’ song, “We’ve Only Just Begun”). But suddenly my theme song became, “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”
I know I’m not the only one who felt this way. I talked to other ladies returning from the retreat, and they, too, were met at the door with trials and difficulties.
Was the honeymoon over?
Then I remembered: the wedding has not yet taken place. I was thinking in terms of our culture where a couple becomes engaged, the wedding ceremony takes place, and then off they go to live hopefully happily ever after.
But the ancient Jewish wedding tradition was a little different. The prospective groom makes a marriage contract with the bride-to-be. He offers the girl a cup of wine. I imagine, if she is a willing bride, she’s dressed in her finest clothes and jewelry, batting her eyelashes and smiling coquettishly as she accepts the cup. Her acceptance of the cup signifies an acceptance of his proposal, and for legal purposes, the couple is married.
But then the groom goes away to prepare a place for his bride. And the girl remains in her parents’ home. She puts on her work clothes and performs the same mundane chores as always. Maybe the housework is dull. Maybe her siblings are difficult, or she finds her parents overbearing. But she endures all this, all the while preparing for the day when her groom will come to get her.
The preparation is sometimes a difficult process. Sanctification is a difficult process. I know that I have been chosen by God. I am redeemed from the slave market of sin—bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ. He’s cleaned me up, washed my sins away, and now I am forever His. Somehow, I expect to be instantly transformed into this beautiful creature carrying the fruit of the Spirit in a basket and strewing gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control wherever I go.
But it doesn’t work like that. It’s a process. God is sculpting me, molding me into the image of Christ.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
God isn’t finished with me yet. He will continue working on His church, His bride, until the Bridegroom returns.
So- what can we do in the meantime, while we’re waiting?
Here are a few things that will lighten our load:
1. Let go of trying to live up to expectations of others. It’s impossible to please everyone anyway, so we might as well drop that ball and chain. We’re working for the Lord. We’re eager to please our Bridegroom.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Colossians 3:23
2. Let go of comparisons. It’s counterproductive to compare ourselves to others we see as Superheroes and Heroines of Faith or to compare ourselves against the elusive standard of The Ideal Christian Woman, that Barbie doll of faith who possesses qualities we think we should have but can never seem to attain.
3. Let go of expectations we have for ourselves. Each day is a new day. We do what we can in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we mess up, we confess our sin, think of what we can do differently to prevent future mess-ups, and move forward.
“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9
“This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
God chose us while we were still a stinking, dirty mess---while we were yet sinners. He cleans us up, and He will do it again and again until He returns for His church and we are truly holy and blameless, clothed in His righteousness.
Our Bridegroom is a Man of His Word; He will not nullify the contract because our behavior.
God will never desert me,
Never “defriend” me,
Never divorce me,
Always defend me.
Never deny me,
Never dismiss me,
Never discard me,
Always assist me.
Scripture substantiates all these truths. (Hebrews 13:5, Jeremiah 31:13, I Thessalonians 5:24, Isaiah 41:10 Joshua 1:9, II Thessalonians 3:3, II Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 94:14, Hebrews 13:6)
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and enjoy the gifts He gives: a day flooded with sunshine and cooler weather, dear friends and family who encourage us and surround us with laughter, a cozy bed, a hot meal, a comfortable home...Our Bridegroom is good—all the time! And His grace is sufficient for us.
The honeymoon is not over. It hasn’t even begun. Let’s enjoy this time of waiting and preparation, accepting the trials as part of our sanctification process and embracing the ever-present joys that are ours as the Bride of Christ.
Lord Jesus, we look to You. Our hearts are bursting with gratitude for what you’ve done for us.
Help us to look up to You and to trust Your faithfulness, Your goodness, and Your sufficiency.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul,
and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:23-24
His Beloved Bride,
Take a moment to enjoy these beautiful photos taken by Jennifer Leigh Spiers of the exquisite grounds at Solomon Episcopal Conference Center in Loranger, LA. We hope that you will prayerfully consider joining us in March. Come experience God's beauty in creation and the Word. You are His Beloved. Your Bridegroom longs to meet you there and speak into your heart and life!
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It’s amazing to me how God choses to speak to me and often get my attention. I love when He speaks through His word, nature, and friends; but, this particular day, He spoke loudly through the words that flew out of my mouth while I was teaching a piano lesson. It was an “Aha!” moment but these words that I have heard time and time again took personal shape. It felt differently coming out of my own mouth, speaking aloud, and with full confidence.
For those of you reading this and know a little bit about playing music, you will understand this next sentence fully! Jason plays mechanically! For non-musicians, Jason hasn’t gripped the idea of “making beautiful” music and playing with heartfelt expression. Right now, everything is played technically and in “working order!” The element necessary for exhibiting beautiful music is the knowledge and experiential understanding of aesthetic musical phrasing.
Within each musical phrase or thought lies a climax and release. Jason has not grasped this technique, yet! But I feel confident that this little guy will become an awesome musician as he learns to express his love for music through playing the piano! He is still in training and with training comes strenuous work, and often tears of frustration.
This particular lesson was a little unusual for Jason. His timing was really off! We worked on the rhythm of the phrases time and time again. “Count, Jason!” I would tell him. “I am counting!” he would reply. “Count it aloud, you’ll get it,” I said. I could see his demeanor dimming. “You’ve got this, clap and count it aloud…speak it,” I persisted. He kept coming back with, “It’s hard!” We had a little battle of the will. Because it seemed hard for him, he refused to count aloud and do what I had asked of him. He has played much more difficult music in the past! I knew he could tackle it and overcome. He just had a mental block! Then I said something to him that I never do, nor ever have…and with a pretty firm voice looking him straight in the eye, I said, ”Jason, we are not leaving this until you count aloud! Now speak it!” You see, I was taking him back to the basics! To fully get a grip of learning rhythm, the best practices are to speak it, clap it (make it physical), write it, and then internalize it while playing (demonstrate understanding!) He finally surrendered his will and counted aloud while he was playing and got the passage correct! His smile reappeared. That may seem a little harsh to some of you, but life isn’t always easy! He had to do the hard thing to gain a deeper understanding of what will come next. He has now made a memory of how to overcome when he runs into difficulty in the future. He knew my love for him wasn’t diminished and that I was doing what was best! After all, I am the teacher!
It’s in these next few statements that flew out of my mouth, which caused me deep reflection. “Yay Jason, you did it! Don’t you know that I’m not going to give you something that is too difficult for you to handle? I’ll never do that! Sometimes pieces will be easy and sometimes they will be more difficult. I have taught you well from the beginning and have given you tools to accomplish great pieces! You have a strong foundation! Some works will require longer periods of time to learn and some works you will fly through. Difficult pieces will require you to take physical action (clap, speak, write) and others will be a breeze. Just remember to go back to the basics and speak it aloud! I’ll never give you more than you can handle!” Tears began to flood my eyes as his small body sat there on the hard black piano bench with a “seemingly hard” manuscript of music before him. I saw myself sitting in his place and heard the echo of the voice of God. With God ALL things are possible! He will never give me more than I can bear. His grace is sufficient.
13 No temptation (test) has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond your ability,
but with the temptation (test) he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
In this teachable moment, I told Jason that God does the same thing in our lives and as he grows older he will have a better understanding. God gives us what we can handle with His strength. Nothing more!
“If I survive any test or accomplish any work when I am tested, it is decisively grace, not decisively me.” ~John Pipe
Like Jason, always practicing to do his best, he was faced with a difficult challenge. He didn’t think he could rise above this demanding and arduous assignment. It was when he stopped, took a breath, went back to the basics, and spoke boldly with words of power (words to keep him on track) that he was able to overcome! Did he need some help and encouragement? Absolutely! And I was sitting right by his side cheering him on!
We all face difficult situations. Some seem harder than others. As I look around at my circle of friends, family, and myself, it appears that the “testing of faith” is apparent. It has been a long season of tremendous loss and transition for many of us. (I will not elaborate here, but I bet you sense it too in your own life!)
What do we do when those moments arise? Sometimes action needs to be taken other than whining to God for help and complaining, “this is too hard!” Put your faith into action! Is there something that God is asking of you?
“Faith must be followed with actions that are consistent with what is believed. Faith is the noun form and believe is the verb form of the same Greek word. Faith is the ability to believe, but that ability must be used and acted upon for faith to come alive and work. Believing is the action side of faith – believing is ‘acting in faith.’ Just having faith is not enough. Having the ability to believe is not enough. One must act on that ability by acting consistent with what is believed. James tells us that faith without corresponding actions is lifeless and dead.” ~ Rex Rouis
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by (corresponding) action, is dead (dormant). James 2:17 NIV
God meets us at our time of need. When we surrender our will to His will, then we are in the place of greatest peace.
There are many examples in the Scriptures where corresponding actions were needed to make peoples faith come alive and be productive: Go, wash John 9:7, come to me, stretch forth your hand Matthew 12:13, take up your bed Luke 5:24.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the (spoken) word of Christ. Romans 10:17
It is a hearing in faith that bridges the great gulf. A.W. Tozer
There is something about speaking aloud and adding a physical action! I made Jason clap and count aloud so that he could hear himself and correct his problem area. He heard the words, and put into practice what he learned from the very beginning. He began to stand on his solid foundation of instruction. Shouldn’t we do the same in our spiritual life? Speak God’s word aloud. Hear your own voice declaring the Word of the Lord. Do you believe what you speak? Put it into action!
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
You demonstrate faith when you speak according to God's Word and worship Him with audible praise! There is power in the spoken word!
When you face distressing situations, have faith in God and a lively active faith would put as great a power into your prayers as if speaking to those mountains and moving them! Use God’s powerful word and name according to His will and let faith in God strengthen you in your inner man.
… Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says [Mark 11:23, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6].
Often we don’t need to have our mountains removed, for that is the very thing that God uses to draw you closer to Himself. What we need is a believing heart and an attitude to trust that it is God who gives us just what we can handle with his strength. It is with this kind of faith that we could cast anything into the sea!
And this is the confidence that we have toward him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14
Proverbs 4:20-22 – My Child (put your name in here) attend to my words;
incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Let them not depart from thine eyes;
keep them in the midst of thine heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
Worship God in all things! His words are life and health to our flesh. Praise Him for there is power in praise. On many accounts, I have personally seen God do miracles when praise was spoken aloud and lifted up to Him in the most difficult of situations. This action has caused my faith to become active and no longer dormant.
Worship is a declaration of our weakness and God’s strength. I challenge you in your next point of need to make that hard choice to be a worshiper and let the breakthrough God fight your battle for you.
When we worship, the invisible God is at work doing invisible and powerful things. We get realigned, refreshed and refueled; we find unspeakable joy and indescribable peace. We discover the breakthrough strength of God, which enables us to walk in the truth, live in His presence and see Him fight our battles for us. It is how we can put the beauty of the Gospel on display, receive His many blessings and at the same time be a blessing to the world.”
~Tommy Walker (https://billygraham.org/story/understanding-the-breakthrough-power-of-worship/)
I love the Old Testament account (2 Chronicles 20:1-30) of Judah’s invasion and how King Jehoshaphat prayed aloud before Judah and Jerusalem and the new court. Jahaziel heard from the Lord with much authority, encouragement and instructions proclaiming them to “Listen! … ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 17 You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.”
They did just that! Early the next morning, on the battlefield, there were songs of praise and worship, sung ALOUD, giving thanks to the Lord, for His loving-kindness is everlasting. At the power of their audible words of praise, the battle was defeated.
The story doesn’t stop there. I think there is much more to learn in the following events. In that time, “people came to take their spoil,” from the defeated after the battle was won. Meaning, they found much among the conquered, including goods, garments and valuable things, which they took for themselves. It was more than they could carry. In fact, it took them three days to pack away what they had gained. After they returned from battle, they blessed the Lord.
“Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.” Vs. 27
Did you catch that is was the Lord who had made them to rejoice and filled their heart with joy?!
They were charged to “station yourself, stand, see the salvation, fear not, and go!" All actions of faith! And he gave them more than they could carry away for 3 days! Abundant provisions and valuable things! Isn’t that just like God to give us more than we could ask or dream possible?!
It was only then that God gave them rest on all sides and peace in the kingdom!
God seems requires audible worship and praise. Even in Salvation, He requires confession with the mouth. There is power in speaking aloud.
Speaking aloud is a strategy for remembering.
Speaking aloud helps to shape ideas and clarify thoughts.
Speaking aloud provides perspective.
Speaking aloud often declares what you believe.
Speaking aloud helps put faith into action.
Speaking aloud is something that God commands throughout scripture.
As Jason left my house that day, he and I learned more than what we both expected. Returning to the basics will bring great reward and prepare you for difficult passages in the future. With heartfelt expression, the reflection of God's strength will be revealed in our lives. As our life is phrased with many climaxes and releases, with faith we learn to make a beautiful life that brings glory to God. He is the Master Teacher and will never give you more than you can handle!
Learning lessons everyday,
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