Monday, August 31, 2009

Time for some B & B

When I hear that someone I know is going to spend time at a B&B it invokes images of a beautiful Victorian style house with rooms that are intricately decorated around soft, overstuffed beds. I can almost smell the fire in the fireplace as it crackles and see the lush tranquil surroundings. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? Don’t you feel more relaxed just thinking about it? I know I do!
Unfortunately that’s not the kind of B&B that I’m referring to. Instead, the B&B that we are all in desperate need of is Balance & Boundaries. While it may not instantly invoke peaceful feelings, this B&B is the only way to bring peace into your life.

Most of us are in the midst of creating our new fall schedules. Endless choices fly around our minds like the autumn leaves that are soon to fall. Trying to figure out where you need to be and when you need to be there is an overwhelmingly daunting task! I know my head is spinning! That’s why I had to yell ‘Stop!’ to the demands that were fighting for my time and attention. Here’s the deal – we can’t do it all! But we can do far more if we have Balance & Boundaries.

Balance comes when all the priorities in your life are aligned properly. The order of priorities that God has commanded is: GOD, then Marriage, then Family, then Activities. Did I mention that God is first? He’s the appointment that you can’t afford to reschedule! Time with Him is what will get you through the rest of your priorities!! In today’s world we seem to put kids first, then activities (which fill 90% of our time) then God and marriage somewhere at the bottom. And let me clarify that doing church activities is not the same as time with God! Doing things for Him is not the same as spending time with Him! This order is so important because it just makes sense. GOD strengthens us by filling us with Him, we give time and attention to our marriage which creates a firm foundation for our family. We invest time in our kids to raise them up into the people God intends them to be. Finally we are involved and serve in our community because God created us to be in relationship with one another. He provides opportunities and creates friendships so we can ‘do life’ together.

Here’s where Boundaries come into the picture. The world does not see this as the proper list of priorities. You may get push back or even be judged because you’re priorities are different from those with a worldly view. Stand your ground! As a parent, you protect them from being unbalanced in their life. Your kids need for you to say ‘no’ to something good to say ‘yes’ to something better!

I know finding the right B&B can be a difficult task, but remember, God will align your schedule to His will if you’ll let Him! He can seemingly stretch our 24 hours when we give Him the opportunity and authority to use our time for His glory. He gave us this day, let’s use it for Him!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Monday, August 24, 2009

A weed or not a weed? That is the question

Earlier this week I was looking out my office window anticipating the arrival of my sweet Bible study group and I noticed something interesting in my front flower bed. I have an area near my front door of stacked stones with decorative grasses planted behind them. I have no idea what it’s called, but I love them because they’re hardy and haven’t died in our harsh Texas summer. The grasses are long and green with soft, fuzzy plumes at the end that looks a lot like fuzzy wheat. As I was admiring the grasses, I noticed that there was one small tuft that didn’t have any plumes on it. Upon further inspection, I realized that the grass blades were just a little different from the rest of the blades too. Then with a gasp I suddenly realized that wasn’t decorative grass at all it was a weed! I walk past those grasses several times a week but this was the first time that I had realized that a weed had made itself at home as it pretended to be decorative grass.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus teaches us a parable about the wheat and the weeds. He mentions that the weeds look just like the wheat and have grown amongst the wheat stalks and that they would be separated at the time of judgment. The wheat represents those who believe in the redeeming power of Christ while the weeds were the evil unbelievers who worshipped worldly things and not God. In this parable Jesus was describing the day of judgment but the same concept can be applied in our daily lives as well.

Years ago, I used to teach a class of 3 year olds at our previous church. During second service I would put on my happy teacher face, plaster on a smile and endure those kiddos for an hour that would never end…every week! By the time I was done in that class I was irritable, stressed out, frustrated and needed to attend church all over again. I did this every week for a year! The curriculum was followed, animal crackers distributed and runny noses wiped but I was not the blessing that I should have been for those kiddos. I was a weed in the garden. My presence there was certainly not harmful to anyone, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was not doing what I was gifted in, the kiddos were not getting the enthusiasm that they deserved and I was robbing the blessing from the person who should have been in that class. Ironically, now my 13 year old daughter teaches in a class of 3 year olds and loves it! No one was standing in the way of the role that God intended for her and she serves as a reminder to me that God has given us talents and gifts that are so unique.

This week I encourage you to consider the things you’re currently involved in. Do you enjoy it? Are you doing it because you want to or because you feel you need to? Is your heart fully engaged in those things or are you feeling disconnected? You owe it to yourself and others to evaluate your role from time to time. Seasons can change in our lives and soon we begin to realize that we’re no longer producing the beautiful plume… we’ve become the weed!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

Parable of the Weeds can be found in Matthew 13:24-30

Monday, August 17, 2009

Point of pain

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been wrestling with a familiar foe…chronic back pain. Every now and again this nasty opponent raises its’ ugly head and attacks in the same place each time. While the pain always originates from the same central point, it often resonates to several areas of my back or even into my legs at times. The attack usually comes when I least expect it, when my guard is down and I’m not thinking about how my actions will affect me. Sometimes, the pain will come when I’m feeling pretty good and think I’m stronger than I really am. One day I’ll be digging in and getting things done and the next day I’m laid out, literally!

This physical condition applies to our spiritual lives as well. Through our lives, there will be several hurts that become a weak spots in our spirit. Those pain points, if left untreated, begin to resonate to other areas of our lives. The pain of unforgiveness can quickly become an inability to trust. Pride can resonate into the pain of becoming inflexible and sometimes our pain can end up hurting others.

I’ve tried everything in the past – chiropractic care, conditioning and isolation exercises to help keep the pain away. Hot pads, back rubs and rolling ball massager thingies are then the second line of defense when the attack does arrive. But this time, I decided I would try a new defense… I’d medicate it!! I received medication from a different doctor to use for a week hoping that it would relax the pain and make it go away. And it worked…kind of! For the first few days I felt great! I felt like a younger, more agile version of myself and was completely pain free. This was great! I should have tried this years ago!! But as I began to wean myself off of the medication, the pain began to reveal itself again. You see, the pain hadn’t gone anywhere; it was simply covered so I couldn’t see it!

I’m sure that I’m not the only one of us who has ever tried to take the easy way out and not deal with what is causing the pain. Whether your pain is physical or spiritual, there is always a root cause. Ignoring the point of pain, or worse, masking it so you can pretend it’s not a problem will not solve the issue. Not only does it continue to hurt us and others, it becomes an easy target from the enemy’s attack. While there may be several options available to deal with physical pain, God’s love is the only thing that can heal spiritual pain. God offers healing ointment through His forgiveness, redemption and direction through His word. God is our Great Physician…and no appointment is necessary!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." Acts 3:16

Monday, August 10, 2009

Are you listening?

Not long ago a dear friend of mine was on my mind. I hadn’t spoken to her in awhile and I kept thinking that I should give her a call. She always seemed to come to mind when I was in the middle of something else. I had every reason not to call…my work schedule, busy with the kids, spending time with Greg… but she still kept coming to mind. I would see commercials about calling loved ones, hear about it on the radio, see people talking about the importance of friends on tv shows…geez, it wouldn’t go away!! So I cleared a few minutes in my tremendously important (in my mind) schedule to give her a call. I dialed the number thinking “I have just a few minutes to talk”. The phone rang. Then I was thinking “why is me calling her such a big deal?” It rang again. Now I was getting a little impatient “um, God, if this was so important why isn’t she answering?” The ringing stopped. I was immediately humbled when a small, frail sound that barely resembled her voice answered “Hello?”

I cannot explain the emotions that washed over me from that one word. It was as if a broken dam of pain and sorrow rushed through the phone. She didn’t have to say another thing because my heart instantly broke for her. Here God had laid her on my heart days ago, and I was just now being obedient. She had been hurting, parched and needing someone to help her be replenished with living water. I had been running so fast up and down the road that I hadn’t noticed that she was broken and bruised by the side of the road unable to even cry out.

We talked for hours that day. We laughed, cried, listened to each other and shared our hearts with one another. God used that time to bond us even closer together as sisters in Christ. I’m so thankful for that bittersweet day. While it was heartbreaking to hear her pain and know that my disobedience made her suffer alone, I was also grateful that God would be willing to bless me through her. Her honesty and trust in me is a treasure that I honor. I may have been the one prompted to reach out and bless her, but God chose to bless me even more!

That day has changed my perspective about listening to God. Now, instead of thinking that something is a ‘have to’ I see God's promptings as a ‘get to’. I get to be used by Him, I get to walk along someone in need, and I get to see that our God is a faithful restorer. When God lays something on our hearts it is for our benefit and His glory. Our role is to listen and do what He is prompting us to do. As I prayed for a message to blog about today, this story was laid on my heart. Fortunately I’ve learned to be more readily obedient…and now I ‘get to’ share it with you!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:23-24

Monday, August 3, 2009

What does your front door say about you?

Okay, you’ve probably not given much thought to what your front door says about you and neither had I until this weekend. Greg and I were changing the light bulbs in our carriage lamps when I noticed the condition of our front entryway. The door was pitifully dirty, covered with cobwebs and dust and the porch was in desperate need of sweeping. We usually go in and out of the house through the garage, so our poor entryway had been neglected! Weeks of high winds from summer storms had blown woodchips from the flower beds into small mounds by the front door. The entryway just looked sad and unkempt and was certainly not welcoming.

After a good cleaning, our front door was happy again! It now stands proudly waiting to greet our friends, family and neighbors. The clean front porch is far more welcoming now that it was easier to navigate. Taking care of the routine maintenance of the entry way resulted in a pretty space that not only catches people’s eye but welcomes them in!

We’re just like our front door. Often people can tell just by looking at us if we are pleasant and welcoming or if the storms of our lives have made us unapproachable. When they are looking at you can they see through to your heart because of your transparent behavior or are you closed off and private? One thing that breaks my heart is when someone will say “I didn’t ask you to____because I know you’re so busy!” If I hadn’t been a closed door to them that said ‘I’m just too busy…’ then they wouldn’t have felt that way.

What if we felt that way with God? What if God greeted us with a closed off, unwelcoming attitude? Thankfully we serve a God who not only welcomes us, but longs for us to come to Him. He wants us to enter in and allow Him to teach and bless us. So what does your front door look like? Are you open and welcoming or closed off and unapproachable? Maybe we should give ourselves a little attitude clean up so that we can continue to be a blessing.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16