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Need Direction? Gather Co-Listeners + A Next Right Thing Giveaway!

Becoming a Worthy Listener

“Gather Co-Listeners” is one of my favorite chapters in Emily P. Freeman’s latest book, The Next Right Thing.

In it, Emily shares how, in the midst of transition and all the questions that came with it, she and her husband invited a few trusted friends in different stages of life to simply listen to their words and see what they had to say. Although they weren’t asking for advice, they were open to it.

She says, “We wanted people we loved and trusted to hear what we were saying, to see if there was something obvious we were missing, and to be with us in the midst of our uncertainty.”

Their friends listened, asked questions, and prayed for them. They even agreed to do it again a few months later. Emily goes on to share how God used their community of co-listeners to eventually help make her husband’s next step clear. They didn’t sit around complaining about how people weren’t showing up in their time of need. Instead, Emily and her husband prayerfully and intentionally sought out co-listeners to join them on their journey.

She shares more details in her FABulous book, so while you wait for your copy to arrive (or possibly win one here!), here are three simple things Emily suggests you keep in mind if gathering your own group of co-listeners:

  • “One, do it on purpose. …There’s something powerful about gathering people specifically for the purpose of listening, asking questions, and reflecting.”
  • “Two, the co-listeners don’t have to know one another, but they all need to know you well.”
  • “Finally, you have to ask them.”

Brian and I have shared in a small setting, but I can’t say we’ve ever intentionally invited others over to simply listen. That might just be our next right thing! Thanks, Emily.

 

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Becoming a Worthy Co-Listener

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menninger

 

Think back to the last time you felt listened to — How did it make you feel?

  • Understood?
  • Loved?
  • Connected?
  • Relieved?
  • Healed?

Chances are your listener possessed one or all of these fundamental elements:

 

A Godly Motivation

 

Several years ago when Brandon, our oldest son, and his new bride, Megan, called to ask if they could come over for a few minutes, we knew something was up. Turns out, he was offered a position as a worship pastor in Ohio. You know, the eight-hours-away-Ohio.

At that moment, my flesh wanted to cry out, “No, please don’t leave!” but quietly below the chaotic flesh was the remembrance of inked lines in my prayer journal where I often asked God to use our boys for His glory. Although this mama’s heart struggled, trying to hold on for all the wrong reasons was not going to happen.

{I wish I always listened with two ears and a heart bent toward heaven, but I don’t.}

So before agreeing to be a co-listener in any setting, maybe we would be wise to ask God to search our hearts first.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23, 24

If we find ourselves waiting for the person to hurry and finish up so we can one-up her, or tell her about our experience (that we thought of while she was sharing), or give advice based on anything but God’s truth, we may want to stay here for a while and soak.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV

 

Spiritual Maturity in Action

 

Since joining our church last year, I’m reminded of how spiritual maturity has little to do with age. Our small group consists mostly of young couples and college-aged students. I marvel at their wisdom and knowledge of the Word. But I’m especially inspired by the tenacity in which they seek to grow in their faith.

Speaking the truth in love, birthed from a godly motivation, benefits the body of Christ, whether we co-listen in a group setting or over a lavender latte in the local cafe. *wink*

Rather, speaking truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… Ephesians 4:15

 

Embrace the Ministry of Listening

 

“Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I’d never considered listening as a ministry, but it’s true, isn’t it? When we listen well, we make ourselves available to share in the work of Christ, lending the ears of God and the power of the Word to those who seek it.

 

So much of Emily’s book has inspired me to reclaim forgotten truths, like the beauty discovered in a listening ear.

The Next Right Thing

If you would like to have an opportunity to win a copy of **The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman, simply share one way you would like to improve your listening skills in the comment section below.

**This is an affiliate link which means if you purchase this book by clicking the link above, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. {Savin’ for that latte!}

Soli Deo Gloria! (Glory to God Alone)

{Tiny House on the Hill subscribers: Be sure to check your inbox tonight. Your Monthly Letter includes the first peek of our flooring choice for the tiny house, specific ways to pray for children as they head back to school, and ways to use a simple picnic basket to remind people of God’s love. I appreciate you so much!}

 

3 Things I Learned in the Wait + A Prayer for Those Who Wait

Waiting. In line. In the waiting room. For the results. On the pain to pass. To hear God answer our prayers. To see our prodigal come home. To be in love. For Fall, or for vacation, or retirement.

 

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”  Joyce Meyer

 

Notice the title of this post is written in the present tense. I don’t have this waiting thing licked. I write with bare-skinned knees from flat-faced falls and carry band-aids in my pocket for future ones. But as a daughter of the King I’m confident there will be no lasting scars. Still, the process of waiting remains, and I have much to learn. Here are a few things I’ve picked up so far:

 

1. Misguided Expectations Eat Your Lunch and Devour Your Dessert Too.

 

In recent months, four friends sold their homes within 24-48 hours. When ours recently hit the market, I expected no less. So when no one called within the first several hours I was convinced something was wrong with the phone. I didn’t realize how much I’d allowed my expectations to get out of whack until I found myself in quite the funk…for days.

I confess my unbelief because, well, that’s exactly what it was⏤not believing what God has for us was His absolute best, regardless of the wait. And then I came across this post, {Above all, Trust in the Slow Work of God}, by Shawn Smucker, featured on Emily P. Freeman’s site. To me, it was a simple nod of acknowledgment from my Heavenly Father saying He is with us in the waiting room. We wait, God works.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9

 

2. There’s a temptation to devour anything more than the Word.



Do you spot a pattern here? First, there’s talk of devouring desserts and now this. I wish this was a good thing, but it’s not, at least for me. There was no longer any doubt that I was an emotional eater during our wait. Stress must weigh in around 500 calories per bite. Sigh.

My indulgences⏤my dependency⏤are to be in the Word and I failed miserably. Truth finally gained traction as I clung to grace and mercy around every bend of my wayward ways.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16

3. God isn’t a game player. He is a game-changer.

He doesn’t toy with our lives or with His time. Every breath is heavy with purpose. Being confident of this in the wait ushers in inexpressible peace. Everything God does in the lives of His children is motivated, spurred on, and poured out from a heart of love. Even His discipline is motivated by love. There’s no escaping it! He isn’t a God of love. He is love. In this, we can trust…and rest.

Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. 1 John 4:8

 

No doubt there will be other lessons to learn in this waiting room of life. But I pray I’ll be found faithful, not consumed by circumstances but by the One who is sovereignly at work behind every word, spoken or unspoken, and deed.

Heavenly Father,
You are the designer of the waiting rooms we find ourselves in today.
The walls seem high, but You are higher.
The floor shifts at times, but You are our Rock.

The chairs, they confine us when all we want to do is run
but instead, we trust.

You alone know the precise moment in which to open the door and call our name.
It’s not a moment too late or too soon.

It is perfect timing
because Your love is perfect.
Help us to awaken every morning with a whisper of gratefulness on our lips,
and a heart bursting with anticipation,
confident that You are at work
while we wait.
Amen.

 

Are you in a time of waiting? If so, do any of the above observations resonate? Or do you have a different observation to share? 

 

Photo by Glen Noble on Unsplash

Curling Up With “Simply Tuesday” by Emily P. Freeman

by Cathy Baker

What better season to curl up with a book and a warm cup of tea than Fall? This is especially true if the book you’re reading is Emily P. Freeman’s recent release, Simply Tuesday…Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. 

I’ve been a fan of Emily’s work since I read A Million Little Ways. (If you missed this post, you can read it here.) 

Her voice reads as one of a friend that you could sit with and chat for hours…on a bench, of course (you’ll have to read the book!) Her message resonates with the writer within, but even more, it echoes my desire to stay in step with the Spirit, not only in the so-called big things in life, but the small as well. 

Truth be told, I would’ve purchased this book simply based on the fact that I enjoy Emily’s work but its release date was no coincidence. In recent months, I’ve struggled with the word contentment and how it lines up with my life. I had peace about a certain situation but I wanted to put it to the test, if you will, by reading a book that deals with living in the now. I wanted to be awakened to the challenge, not soothed to sleep by words more comforting than a warm grilled cheese sandwich, with a side of soup. Emily delivered.

One of my favorite chapters is Community & Competition…Finding Safe Places to Feel Insecure. We all need to safe place to land. I know I do. Emily explores what this might look like if we have a proper perspective on community. As a result of this chapter, I’m praying about starting my own Tuesday Group. (I’ll keep you posted!)

Oh, how true! Wouldn’t you agree? It’s not called the comparison-trap for nothing.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone longing to live their ordinary days in extraordinary ways. 

So go ahead! Download this book or grab another, pour a hot cup of tea, or brew a batch of coffee, and settle in for a true celebration of this awe-inspiring season. 

Your turn! I’d love to know what book you’re currently reading. Please, share it with us. Many are searching for a good read these days. Thank you.

Congratulations Ginger Harrington! You were the randomly selected winner of the writing journal for the September drawing. Please message me your address.

10 Things I Learned in 2014

Image Credit: Blogworld

by Cathy Baker

Happy New Year’s Eve!

To close out 2014 in the blogosphere, I decided to share ten things I’ve learned this year. Hopefully, I learned more than ten (ha!) but it was first come, first serve in the memory bank so here goes (in no particular order): 

1. I have two new favorite authors!

Actually, it’s because of Emily P. Freeman that this post exists at all. The idea originated on her site, Chatting at the Sky. Emily’s book, A Million Little Ways, remains at the top of my all time fave books. 

Another favorite author is Lori Roeleveld. Her recent release, Running From a Crazy Man (and other adventures with Jesus), forwarded by Jerry B. Jenkins, is a must read for those who are serious about putting the gospel on display. (It’s 1.99 on Kindle right now!)

2. Every choice I make either moves me closer to my goals or draws me
further away from them.
   

When I consider my self-talk at the brink of an unwise choice it often goes like this: What difference will one frappe make in the big scheme of things?  Truth is, that one frappe does make a difference. Every single time I say “no” to an unhealthy choice I’m actually saying “yes” to my goal of becoming healthier. 

Why My Laptop Was Left Behind

Our view from the Portofino IV deck in Garden City, SC

by Cathy Baker

If you know me, you know my vacation actually begins when pen hits paper a few weeks prior to our departure. Yes, the list could be saved on a Google doc but there’s something about starting with fresh paper and bright ink each year that makes me…well, downright happy. 

This year, however, I felt the tinge of a holy adjustment coming my way every time I glanced at the words “lap top” on my list.

Moonlight skimming the ocean.

I knew with three grandbabies on the trip there would be no desire to peruse the internet, check email or write blog posts during the day but I admit I thought it might be the perfect way to close the evening before heading to bed. 

And then I came across Emily Freeman’s post Why Rest Takes Courage. Her final paragraph clung to my soul, refusing its release:

The details of soul rest may look different for each of us, but
probably includes some combination of silence, solitude, nature, your
people, and the willingness to come into the presence of Christ and
simply be ourselves.

The Holy Spirit was as clear as the moon on our first night at the beach—I was to leave the lap top behind. And I did, resulting in a few discoveries along the way: 

  • I was ambushed by the uneasiness that crept in as our departure day drew near. What did I think I’d really miss in 7 days? 
  • A new-found freedom emerged as I carried out my beach days with little to no thought of the lap top. I felt no obligation to check Facebook or email. I tried to rest in the fact that if someone didn’t receive an immediate response from me, all would be well in the end.
  • I lost nothing by leaving my lap top behind but I did gain a liberty I didn’t know existed, time I can never recapture and a renewed appreciation for God’s promptings. 

I’m not suggesting everyone should leave their lap top behind, but I don’t ever see it reappearing on my family beach trip list again. Ever. 

So, how about you? Is there one thing in particular you most appreciate about God’s promptings in your life? 

Taking time off is not a punishment or a dare or a rule.
It is a gift.  
-Emily P. Freeman

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