An Invitation to Connect

Invitation to Connect - ShelliBourque

It is no secret that I like quiet, uncluttered spaces, and this blog is no exception. Yet, as I began tending the seeds of my dreams I noticed that in simplifying this space I had not made it easy to for you to join me. Connections to other places you can find me, such as Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest were hidden. And with the ever-present threat that Pages will soon disappear from your Facebook feed (unless I pay for advertising, which I will not do), those who rely on updates on Facebook may soon lose that connecting point. Even worse, when I changed my website layout several years ago, I removed the option for readers to subscribe to posts via email. Oy!

I have spent the past two weeks correcting those blunders. And believe me when I say, I was not simply playing in the sandbox. It was work. My behind-the-scenes coding skills were stretched to the max, and I could not have done it without the help of wonderfully techie people who were generous to share their knowledge through tutorials and forum assistance. You’ll probably be quick to notice a styling issue that is not quite resolved, but I cannot stand the wait any longer.

It is time to invite you in.

If you are not already there, please hop over to my website and discover all the doors that have been opened to welcome you. In the upper right corner, you’ll see links to all the places you can find me and I invite you connect with me via your favorite social media choices. You’ll also see a link to send me an email if you ever wish to connect privately.

More importantly, if you scroll down to the bottom of this post (and every post) you’ll see an Email Invitation. With the changing world of social media, email is the most sure way we’ll stay connected. I invite you to subscribe to receive blog posts and my newsletter directly in your Inbox. It’s easy to do, it’s free, and if you change your mind you can unsubscribe at any time.

I realize by inviting you to subscribe, I am inviting myself into your email. I do not take this lightly. I will never take advantage of your email address. If you subscribe to Blog Posts you will simply receive my blog posts by email so you can be sure you won’t miss one. If you subscribe to the Newsletter you may not receive anything for quite some time. I am planning for the future with this option, hoping to some day send special messages of encouragement and announcements. Would you accept my invitation to subscribe to both?

If you are reading this via email, I know you’ve been with me for quite some time. I want to especially thank you for sticking with me all these years. If all goes as planned you will receive this post by email in its new, prettied-up form. (Here’s to hoping that everything works as it should.) While you will continue to receive blog posts as you always have, I did not want to presume that you would want to subscribe to the Newsletter as well. So I extend the invitation to you to hop over the my website and update your subscription preferences.

Thank you to all my friends and readers. You are very dear to me. God bless your weekend!


Weekend Renewal

Golden Ice - ShelliBourque

Happy Saturday!

What joy it was to behold the glow of sunrise reflecting off ice-laden trees a couple of weeks ago. Now we are awaiting a heavy snowfall with six to twelve inches of snow predicted. It’s surely winter in Michigan and I am enjoying the beauty of the season. Yes, it is cold. Bitterly so. But snuggled warm in my home, it is hard to complain. I am so thankful.

I am also thankful that this weekend will finally see the end of the holiday treats that have lingered. I am looking forward to returning to healthier eating. I dare not say healthy eating or I would be giving you a completely untrue vision of myself. So I’ll just stick with healthier, for surely a cookie is healthier than ice cream cake, wouldn’t you agree? ;)

I continue to ponder goals and resolutions and one words.  So much is being said about these this time of year, and no matter what approach you take don’t be fooled into thinking a one-time declaration will bring about change. It’s only a start. Real change takes time, and it happens in the moment by moment decisions we make on the very ordinary days to come. Paul David Tripp says it best, so I’ll leave it to him:

Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones

The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart-and-life change is always a process. And where does that process take place? It takes place where you and I live everyday. And where do we live? Well, we all have the same address. Our lives don’t careen from big moment to big moment. No, we all live in the utterly mundane.

Most of us won’t be written up in history books. Most of us only make three or four momentous decisions in our lives, and several decades after we die, the people we leave behind will struggle to remember our lives at all. You and I live in little moments, and if God doesn’t rule our little moments and doesn’t work to recreate us in the middle of them, then there is no hope for us, because that is where you and I live.

May God rule in the mundane moments of your day today. Have a blessed weekend, friends.

One Word 2014

Frozen landscape - ShelliBourque

For several years I have chosen one word on which to focus for an entire year. This word becomes a constant companion in the back of my mind, pressing me to move forward, challenging me to take steps of faith or to grasp hold of a promise of God, and even giving me courage to make hard decisions. In past years my one word has been Satisfied, Reach, and Faithful.

As 2013 and my year of seeking to be faithful came to a close I could not ignore the nagging feeling that I never allowed faithfulness to touch one area of my life. It begged for attention, gnawing at the recesses of my mind. I rationalized and made excuses, yet it would not let me be. So as the new year opens up before me, I know that I must submit to it, facing it head on by making it my one word for 2014.

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The Best Goals Are Ones We Will Never Achieve

Best goals - ShelliBourque

The New Year provides a natural opportunity to reflect on the road which we have traveled and to peer ahead to where we are going. We evaluate our priorities and align our goals and make resolutions to direct our steps accordingly. And we are told over and over again that if we want to be happy and make 2014 the best year ever we have to write goals that are S.M.A.R.T. and then know and follow a plan to achieve those goals.

Formulas that are big on promises make me squeamish. Yet they easily become the talk of the town so I wonder if I’m missing something that everyone else seems to understand. I churn this whole concept around in my mind, peel back the hype, and wrestle through the implications. In the end, I take hold of this truth.

The best goals are ones we will never achieve.

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weekend renewal

Hot cocoa - ShelliBourque

As I mentioned last week I’ve been playing in the sandbox of my blog. Well, playing turned into thinking and thinking turned into planning. Many times in the past my thinking would get stuck in the dreaming stages and I wouldn’t step away from the fun of the sandbox to do the work of planning. Since I realized back in June that it was time for my blog to grow up, the seeds of my ideas have been growing roots while I’ve focused on getting my counseling certificate with CCEF. Instead of jumping right into writing during my break from classes, I decided I needed to give my little plants a thorough watering.

If you are reading this in a reader or email, you may want to hop over to my website and take a peek at what’s been growing. She’s been prettied up a bit and more importantly, you’ll notice the new title I hinted at last week–An Invitation to Grace. I’ll explain more later about why I chose this name, but I want to mention now that if you’ve ever had a hard time finding me because you couldn’t remember how to spell my name, you can now get here through Joining this title is a tagline/purpose statement–Bringing Biblical Encouragement into Everyday Life. If you’ve been reading here for a while you’ll recognize this as the vision I’ve had; I just finally put a stake in the ground and labeled it.

I am really excited and I’ve put a lot of care into making some concrete plans. Now I have to do the work of implementing. With my next course starting soon, it will be slow at first, but I am hoping that as the roots are growing deep, they’ll be ready to burst forth with fruit come springtime.

In the meantime, I am also enjoying preparing for Christmas. This year, for the first time, I had fun preparing small homemade gifts for a few friends and special people. Not long ago my sweet online friend, Kristin, shared a recipe for homemade hot cocoa. My daughter and I have whipped up a few batches and it’s really good. I also found the darling, customizable Noel labels here. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found the tags that are tied on.)

And I found this perspective on Christmas worth a read. I agree wholeheartedly.

Christian Christmas Grinches

There is a time for fasting in the Christian life and a time for feasting. The Old Testament teaches us that. And so does Jesus. If Western Christianity is selfish and bloated, let us be the first to say so and the first to show a more excellent way. But let us be the last to use the occasion of the incarnation for moral preening. If the disciples were to rejoice when the Bridegroom was with them, surely we can do better than to be outraged sourpusses every year when we commemorate his coming.

May you find hope in the celebration of our Savior who, once born in a manger, will return as the King of  kings. Hallelujah and Amen!

Merry Christmas, friends.