Hope & Expectation

A Christmas Exploration // Week 1

🕯️ This week we light the first candle of Advent. We set aside this time each year to prepare our hearts not only for celebrating and receiving, but for reflecting on what The Father has given—hope and faith, peace, love & joy.

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

Isaiah 9:2

🕯️ When we’re looking at the future of our family, we set our hope and expectation on Jesus. We are grafted into the family of God. Only He sees the end from the beginning & our hopes are filled in Christ alone. As we walk through this season, may we look with expectation on (not humans, not the perfect family, not expectations on others) God alone—Maker of Heaven and Earth. Know that He made you, He loves you, and He invites you to walk through this time and experience Hope in Him this season.

🕯️ Father, may we ever be reminded of your nearness as we through the dark shadows of unrealistic expectations & into your glorious light. For in that place—our souls will thrive, a space where Hope resides. Amen.

Lasting treasure takes time…

My husband & I love to walk in our neighborhood, the architecture of the older homes spark great conversation. He notices structure—I notice beauty.

Did their grandma always plant sunflowers in her garden? Was turquoise her favorite color as a child? Did he always dream of a home like this…

All the while he’s over there doing the math & taking mental measurements—wondering how long it took to build & if it has a slab foundation or block…

Is it built to last?

The material we use matters.

The attention to detail matters too.

Lasting treasure takes time…

one breath at a time.

one day at a time,

one brick at a time,

one seed at a time,

one grain of sand at a time,

There are no shortcuts.

This one’s for the sister who feels like the season you’re in will never end & everything feels like a lot & are we really going to make it through…

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

Understanding, you’re my closest friend…

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”‬‬

James‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NIV

So many times, we hit a situation in our lives and feel like we need a person to come alongside us and sort it out.

We don’t know what to do so we call, text, and social media. (Help us, Jesus!)

Maybe we’re looking for affirmation in our decision-making, distraction from our difficulties, consolation for our pain.

But these patterns will always leave us empty.

Even our best friend can’t take His place in our lives.

So, let’s get the wisdom of God in every situation—

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

If you’re looking for an answer…

Look no further.

If you need a friend to confide…

The door is open.

Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.

She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.””

Proverbs‬ ‭4:5-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Wisdom you are my sister…

Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”

and call insight your intimate friend…

Proverbs 7:4

I was delighted to find out the writer of Proverbs valued the character & essence of a woman. The father (Solomon) counsels his son to have a deeply connected relationship with the Word of God as one would with his sister.

What a beautiful description of the heart of God!

How He desires us to love & honor His Word—like we would an older, wiser sister.

There’s something very special about the women in our lives that are more seasoned. They offer a perspective that can only come from living & walking through real life.

Wisdom doesn’t come instantly, it’s a process.

We gain it as we go, as we grow.

Wisdom begins and ends with knowing Him.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

Wisdom gives.

Wisdom listens.

Wisdom encourages.

Wisdom heals.

Father, may our hearts be set on you—always asking for Your guidance, always looking for Your wisdom in every season of our lives.

Wisdom Is…

The Parable of the Wise Man & the Foolish Man {Matthew 7:24-29}

Hidden Treasures series ~ The Pearl Community

I’ve heard it said that wisdom is doing now what you’re going to be happy with later.

To me, wisdom is a tricky concept because we often associate it with words that come from other humans—a sage proverb, advice from an elder, words of king and court.

In this moment in history, the one thing I believe and stand by is that Truth and Wisdom can’t be rooted and grounded in any of those things. Eventually, they’ll all let us down. Here for us one day and gone the next.

So where can wisdom be found & what is it truly?

There’s only one place I can always go…

The Words in Red.

When Jesus spent time with people—talking to them, teaching them things, and healing the brokenness in their lives—it wasn’t long before they followed him everywhere.

One day He saw a crowd of those people and went to a mountainside to talk to them—everybody at one time. All of them…& all of us.

He talked about what “blessing” is and where it comes from,

Everyday things like salt in the kitchen and light from a lamp in our house,

He tackled big things like law-keeping and hearts that hold anger,

Things that we do with our love and our hate,

The words of our mouth, the actions of our hands,

The way we treat our enemies when they act hurtfully toward us,

The way we treat the poor & needy,

The way we pray & fast—and how we act while we’re doing it,

What treasure actually is & where to find it,

How to deal with worry,

What happens when we judge,

He gave us all—permission to ask

—invitation to enter through the gate

—clarity to see true things from false

…& then—He says this:

{THEREFORE} everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Maybe today your house feels blown and beaten. The storm is raging, murky flood waters swirl outside your door, and all you hear is wind, rain, and the voices of uncertainty and doubt.

Oh, love—

Today rest assured. Your house is still standing.

Your foundation is strong.

It’s nothing you built & nothing you can control.

Your foundation is the Rock—JESUS.

This week, if you’re feeling the storm, go back to these words in red. (All the ones mentioned can be found in the Sermon on the Mount starting in Matthew 5) I’ll be right there with you.

Let’s speak these words today—over our lives, our homes, our communities, our nation, our world—

“It is well.”

Treasures New & Old

Sitting here this morning on my veranda I’m surrounded by little treasures that remind me of my granny. The glider my grandpa bought her, the painted rocks that we all painted for her garden, fresh blackberries, ivy that covered the back of their stone house, flowers—always flowers…

She would’ve loved today, a cool summer morning —perfect for sitting outside. Sharing slow conversation about years past, lessons learned, disappointments, & treasured memories.

I’d give anything to have one more day with her.

I didn’t always recognize it then, but in this season of life it’s so clear to me that our experiences & the people we share it are what shape us.

Last week Nicki shared the disciples response to Jesus when He asked them if they understood what He was teaching them through The Parable of the Net Matthew 13:47-50 & how quickly they replied “Yes”!

They couldn’t possibly understand the fullness of what they were a part of! Just like we can’t always fully understand the impact we make on others lives in real time.

I think there’s purpose in that, a kind of grace. Perhaps if we knew the depth of it, we’d try to be too perfect.

& real, messy, beautiful treasure would be lost.

“…the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Matthew 13:52b {Hidden Treasure series, The Pearl Community}

So sisters, we take along with us old treasure into the new—we gather memories like those stones we painted for Granny’s garden & pass them onto the next generation.

This past weekend marked two years since we said goodbye to Granny this side of Heaven. We’re still unpacking what she left behind. Just this morning my mama texted saying she was making banana pudding & cutting up watermelon, Granny’s summer go-to’s!

Nearly everyday I catch myself doing something that I know came from her—how I often find myself humming random hymns, the urgency I feel to share my faith with others, the way I pray for my children & grandchildren while falling asleep at night, naming them one by one—asking Jesus to hold them close & keep them safe.

All this—a reminder that discipleship happens in all kinds of ways.

In homes, at tables, on verandas…

This week I hope you’ll take time to remember the ways God uses your past—the people, the places, the things to prepare you for what He has in store!

Saying Yes, &…

Hey there, Sweet Sister! It’s so good to be here with you again. 💙

If you’re joining us for the first time today, we’ve been spending time in the Parables.

Last week, Carly shared about The Parable of The Pearl and a little bit about how our blog, The Pearl Community came to be. If you haven’t read this one yet, I want to encourage you to go ahead and check it out.

For everyone who’s been following along with us for the last year, I want to say a big,

“THANK YOU!!!” 💙💙💙

We love being part of your lives & sharing pieces of our story along with the Word of God.

We also hope you’ve enjoyed diving into the Parables as much as we have. {If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments below!}

There’s something about reading every word written in red—It seems like I find something new every time I take a closer look.

This week, as we continue our search for treasures hidden in the words of Jesus, I want to invite you to look in a little bit different way as well.

The Parable of the Net {Matthew 13:47-51}

Hidden Treasures series ~ The Pearl Community

This week we’re looking at The Parable of the Net. You can find it in the reference listed above. Today, though, I just want to look at one verse.

It’s the conversation after Jesus talks to His disciples and tells them a story representing the “end of the age”—some serious, straight out of the Book of Revelation kind of stuff.

He looks at all of them, asks one question, and here is their response:

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.”

Matthew‬ ‭13:51 NIV

Wow. Seriously?

I don’t know about you, but reading this I feel like it’s nowhere near the actual truth.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, because this is what we’re still doing today…

Can you hear it too?

It’s fear talking. {Ask me how I know.}

So many times we’re afraid to own up to what we don’t know, things we don’t understand, places we’re not getting it right…

& we end up missing out on a learning opportunity, a relational moment, or making space for grace.

What if the disciples had redeemed their response by being honest—saying no, I’m not sure, or at the very least: “Yes, &”—

I’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately, maybe you’ve heard it too, but let’s think about it for a second. What would this response to Jesus look like in our own lives today?

• Yes, Jesus, I want to follow you & I need some help knowing what to do in this situation…

• Yes, I trust You, Lord, but I don’t know what to do about this struggle that’s been in my life for a long time…

• Yes, I believe Your Word, and that’s why I’m asking You to help me understand these questions I have about faith…

It’s real and raw when we open up to God instead of simply saying yes and turning the page of our Bible (or closing it)—

It’s also brave and beautiful.

This week I want to challenge you to bring your “Yes &” and even your “No” to Jesus—along with the question you may have.

He’s big enough to handle it.

& this is where beautiful relationship begins.


Lessons From a Pearl

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price {Matthew 13:45-46}

Hidden Treasures series, The Pearl Community

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

///

The birthstone for June is the pearl.

& I (Carly) just happen to be a June baby!

Pearls have always been on my radar.

A few years back I opened an art boutique in the heart of small town Franklin, KY & called it The Painted Pearl. Unfortunately, I had to close my little shop. However, my fascination with the pearl continued.

I once read something about pearls that stuck with me—“The Pearl needs no cutting or polishing by man.” From the moment I read it my heart yearned to go deeper & explore what more I could learn about these tiny iridescent treasures.

Here are a few facts that really stood out to me:

  • Pearls are unique in that they are the only gemstone that are made by a living creature
  • Pearls are formed over many years, deep within the sea, and must first overcome many obstacles to survive
  • Pearls get their shape & color from the environment they grow in

The more I read, the more connected I felt to the message of the pearl. I would spend my free time recording thoughts & the lessons I was learning.

I started to see how, in so many ways, we are all like the pearl!

So, I reached out to my amazingly talented sister-in-law (Nicki) & we began a journey toward what we now call The Pearl Community!

Our desire is to create a space for a community that celebrates women from all walks of life, all ages & stages…

Smart & Sassy

Quiet & Loud

Mothers, Wives, Sisters, Friends,

Artists & Dreamers

Same but different

A place where we honor the ways our Creator has uniquely fashioned us & share our redemption stories.

From the recovery community to the church ladies the resounding message is that He makes everything beautiful in it’s time!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

We believe the Parable of the Pearl is a beautiful example of how God sees us—Beautiful, Valuable, Priceless. He gave all & joyfully sought us out.

Stay tuned this summer as we unpack what The Pearl Community is all about!

Here’s a link to one of our first posts on Instagram, it says everything. 🐚

A Mustard Seed of Faith

The Parable of the Mustard Seed {Matthew 13:31-32}

Hidden Treasures series ~ The Pearl Community

“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.

Though it is the smallest of all seeds,

yet when it grows,

it is the largest of garden plants

& becomes a tree,

so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”” —Matthew‬ ‭13:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This week, as we look at this familiar parable, it’s our privilege to share with you one story of how a simple seed of faith can grow.

So, let’s take a trip to Franklin, Kentucky, and step into Mustard Seed Market on the square.

This mother~daughter business first started in the Fall of 2015 when daughter, Tammie Carey, first talked to her mother, Ann Evans, about an idea for a shop on their hometown square. This shop would make space for local products and small business owners, as well as supporting fair-trade sellers and women’s ministries.

Within 8 weeks, that dream became a reality as this mother & daughter together opened a storefront in the heart of downtown Franklin, KY just in time for Christmas!

“Opening the shop was a true leap of faith. I’ve never worked retail so the whole experience has been a true learning experience,

We have been blessed so much by our vendors, the people we have met, the relationships made and the experiences we have had. We truly love being a part of Downtown Franklin!”

Tammie Carey

Since that time, the Mustard Seed has more than doubled in size. After moving into a bigger building in October of 2018, they are now able to house 32 market spaces—which offer a little bit of everything!

If you look around you’ll see…

Mustard Seed Market Scripture tees, devotionals, or a mustard seed necklace

Mercy Workshop jewelry & New Hope bags—made in the Dominican Republic by women saved from abuse & human trafficking

Thistle Farms bath & body products—made by women survivors and supporting their healing journey

We especially love the prayer wall—a place where visitors can write their own prayer on a shop tag & hang it together with so many others to be prayed over by the owners as well as other sisters in the Lord.

This local treasure is more than just a business—it’s also a ministry. Blessing those in the community as well as visitors far and wide.

We’ve had people from all over the world. You never know what seed you’ve planted.

Ann Evans

So whether you’re from Kentucky or simply stopping through, we hope you’ve been encouraged by this faith story & what started as a mustard seed of faith. 💛

If you’re praying over your own mustard seed, will you let us know in the comments? We’re praying over every one. 💛

Pulling Weeds

The Parable of the Weeds {Matthew 13:25-30, 36-43}

Hidden Treasures series, The Pearl Community

“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.

“ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:24-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

///

Uncomfortable. Not a “feel good” story. Almost offensive. It feels like a lot.

Here’s the thing. In Jesus’ time, all this made perfect sense—

Back then, if someone was mad at you, it wasn’t uncommon for them to sneak into your field at night and plant unwanted seed in your wheat crop.

& not just any kind—a certain variety that looked exactly like the real thing, except it was completely worthless.

Imitation wheat.

No value.

So obviously, the thing to do is yank those out of our field, right? Pulling weeds.

It’s our first instinct.

When there’s a problem, we get rid of it.

Where there are issues, we can edit those out.

But the parable tells us no—there’s a purpose here. We have to grow—here in the soil we’re planted, leaving our roots intact.

Then & only then will we be able to see the real thing—when we reach maturity & all else is stripped away.

The time of harvest—gathered by the One that planted the fruitful seed.

“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.

The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:36-43‬ ‭NIV‬‬

At first glance, I always think this story feels harsh, uncomfortable, out of place in the Gospel. But this time, reading the words of Jesus, I’m applying the heart of the Savior. Looking at His Word through eyes of Grace.

This parable reminds us we are planted.

• You are planted with a purpose.

• You have been given the time & space to grow.

• Your beautiful, genuine growth is sending a message to the world around you.

What will that message be to those around us? To one another? As we grow, what seed do we show?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”—John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬