Monday, December 27, 2010

Following directions

My husband, Greg, and I set off on an adventure yesterday afternoon. The day was clear and crisp, we had internet directions in hand so away we went. Our destination... Peaster, TX. We had never been to Peaster but the directions said it should take about an hour. The directions had a long list of turns down country roads that we'd never heard of, with only one or two sounding familiar. So in order to save some time, we ignored the beginning directions and took a short cut to the road we were familiar with and started there.

As we drove down the familiar road, we kept looking for the illusive country road turn off we were supposed to be turning onto. It never came. Greg began to doubt my navigating skills as he checked and double checked the direction list again. Fortunately we were going to intersect with a highway we had heard of before so we decided to go ahead the way we knew to find the highway.

Success! Now all we needed to do was head west until we were able to pick back up with the internet directions. As the miles and minutes passed, the mood in the truck began to change. Our 'it's all good' attitude was being replaced with 'let's just get this done'. By now we were about 30 minutes behind our scheduled meeting time in Peaster.

From that point on, every direction I gave was met with hesitation and second guessing. We made it to our destination, but we were very late and our confidence was a bit shaken.

Ever been there? Have you ever run ahead of God by taking short cuts? Ever felt that you knew a better way? We found out later that day that if we had followed the directions from the beginning we would have ended up in the right place. Our short cut didn't take us far enough down the road to intercept with the country road we needed to take. Instead we went numerous miles and about 30 minutes out of our way. Some short cut!

God gives us directions for a reason. They often don't make sense at the time and we feel we can do it in a more efficient way but they always result in something good. By not following directions we wasted time and lost our confidence. When we follow the directions God puts before us, we are able to balance uncertainty with faith. The will of God will never lead you were the grace of God will not protect you. Let God write that on your heart. Now, are you ready to hit the road?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rest in Him

My feet hit the ground running early Monday morning. I had a busy week ahead, my 'to do' list was long and my available time was limited. Work, appointments, meetings, Christmas shopping, car pool and birthday planning had all found a spot in the schedule. By Friday I was beat but I was finished.

My in-laws all came into town to celebrate Christmas making a total of about 25 Mersbergers in the house. Oh, and we also celebrate birthdays too. 8 of them! It's always a good time to see everyone but, like every family gathering, it gets a little hectic. Needless to say I was completely unprepared when an extra guest arrived for the party, the flu bug.

Throughout the week I was so busy trying to get everything done, I hadn't taken any down time for myself. My days all started early and ended late as I tried to cram in as much as possible. I kept my daily appointment with God for my quiet time, but I hadn't allowed time to just rest.

Normally my arsenal against germs would be fully stocked. Vitamins, anti-bacterial soap, plenty of water and rest usually do the trick. I was so busy checking off my list that I never stopped to think about what I needed to stay healthy.

Ever find yourself in the midst of your situation before you realize you're not prepared? Attack comes in many ways: germs, thoughts, words, emotions. Are you prepared for battle? I might be fighting germs right now but my thoughts attack me just as often. The things that I will think or say about myself can be the direct opposite from the truth God is showing me. I find myself blaming Satan but have found that I've become really good at tearing myself down without his help.

My message for you this week has two parts. First, be certain you are equipped for battle. Regardless of what form it comes in, attack will come and you can overcome it! Second, allow yourself to rest. Even the mightiest warriors understand that they have to rest in order to persevere in battle. These two ideas seem to contradict each other but are, in fact, in complete balance. God equips us to fight the good fight and then rejuvenates us as we rest in Him. How's your battle going?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Monday, December 13, 2010

The gift list

The Christmas season is in full gear. If you haven't trimmed a tree, decked the halls or jingled bells yet, you're definitely running behind. You don't have to be finished but you really need to have started by now. That goes for shopping for Christmas gifts as well. I have friends who are already done with all their shopping. They have the gifts purchased, wrapped and tucked neatly under the tree. Then I have another friend who hasn't slowed down to make her shopping list yet. She's been busy with work, decorating and other Christmas activities. I'm somewhere in between. I have some gifts purchased and wrapped but there's still a few I've yet to buy.

My gift giving seems to fall into categories. As a make my list I group the gifts accordingly to be sure I haven't forgotten anyone. I have gifts for Greg and kids, my extended family, Greg's family, close friends and our small group from church. Then there's smaller gifts for neighbors, teachers, the mail lady, etc. Not to mention the five birthdays that our family has right around Christmas... whew, someone pass the eggnog!

It's easy to be overwhelmed by all the gift giving but I've learned how to keep the stress of Christmas at bay. At the beginning of the Christmas season I start off by giving one gift right away. I go before the Lord and offer the only things that I could possible give Him – my love, my praise, my time and my attention. You see, when I pledge to love Him, He helps me love others. When I give Him my praise, He shows me things that are praiseworthy. When I give Him my time, He multiplies it. When I give Him my attention, I hear His voice and my heart is drawn to His. I remember that no gift can compare to what He's already given me. That starts the whole feeling of love for Him again...what a great cycle to get caught in!

Putting God first on your list will be a blessing to you and to Him. The stress will be gone and you'll have time spent with Him...isn't that the reason for the season?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.” Psalm 54:6

Monday, December 6, 2010

A slow cooked life

It's gotten chilly in my little corner of the world. In Texas you never know what kind of weather you're going to get. But the low temperatures are becoming lower and lower each day. That only means one thing in my family... it's time for soup!

My family is very particular about their soup and not just any kind will do. If the soup isn't hearty and full of meat, I can forget about bringing it to the table. There are few exceptions to this rule! So when I gathered the ingredients for my Chicken Tortilla Soup yesterday, my family was thrilled.

I grabbed my trusty 3 qt slow cooker and got to work. As I rinsed, chopped and sautéed my mind started to wander a bit. It's amazing how I can throw a combination of raw ingredients into the slow cooker and a few hours later it becomes a tasty meal.

It's just like what God does in our lives. He tosses in a mixture of talents, skills and abilities that he knows will develop over time. He adds weaknesses and trials so the mixture is not over powering. God then sprinkles in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to season our lives. The ingredients He uses are unique for each person. They are put in raw and develop over time.

I learned early not to take the lid off of the crock pot except if you're draining, straining or turning meat over. Every time you take the lid off, you lose about half an hour of your cooking time. You actually undo what you've been doing. I think our lives are that way too. Every time we take our 'lid' off to do something our way, we loose just a little bit of what God's been working on. Just like the expression “Three steps forward and two steps back”, we have to keep regaining ground God has already conquered for us. We have to resist the temptation to pull off the lid and start mixing things up.

In time the raw ingredients become something wonderful. Just as the aroma of the soup fills the house, the aroma of God's work in us is evident to others. I love to ladle out the soup and see my family's reaction to what they receive, they are always so excited and thankful! When the time is right, God will begin to pour us out so we can fill other people too. While they will definitely appreciate what you give them, perhaps you'll find that you are the one most thankful for your slow cooked life...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:4

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lowered expectations

I love watching home decorating shows. It's exciting to see a room go from drab and ordinary to colorful and fabulous! I especially like the 'surprise' reveal at the end when you get to see the home owners' reaction to what has been done. Sometimes they love it and other times they're not so sure.

The other day a designer cleared out a young family's living room of all their baby paraphernalia to give them a sleek, modern new look. Basically they painted the walls gray, put a stick in a jar, centered it on their coffee table and called it a day. During the reveal you could see the young mom's disbelief as she tried so hard to mask her disappointment. I imagine she wanted a warm, comfortable space to raise her little family. What she got was a cool, modern room without much furniture and a large choking hazard as a centerpiece.

When they asked the young mom what she thought of the room, she simply said “I guess anything is better than how I had it.” My mental wheels screeched to a stop. What? How is ANYTHING better than the effort she had already made? That idea really burnt my toast!

It's that kind of stinkin' thinkin' that we all seem to get wrapped up in. 'So and so could do this better than I can' or 'I don't know how to make it happen so I shouldn't hope for something better'. What are we telling ourselves? Have we lowered our expectations so much and so often that we don't really care how things turn out? Do we not want more for ourselves or our situation?

This young mom was surrounded by people telling her that everything was fabulous. Yet you could see on her face this was not her wish fulfilled. She wanted something different, didn't express her feeling and took what she was given. Can you relate? Have you given up on a hope or dream because you don't see how it could possibly work? Have you lowered the expectations you have for yourself? For others? For God? Remember that the hope in your heart that aligns itself with God's will was put there BY GOD! He gave you the dream in the first place. His expectations haven't lowered one bit for you. Is it time to ask God to rekindle your dream? Or maybe to ask for a new one? Trust me, God is an amazing Dream Giver...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, November 22, 2010

The 'to-do' list

“Did you put the turkey in on time?”

“Yes.”

“Did you remember the little timer thingy?”

“It's there on the side, you can't miss it.”

“Oh, the wine. Did you pick up the wine?”

“Yep, I got it.”

“What kind did you get?”

“I don't know...a red, a pink and a yellowish one.”

“What??”

“Stop! You are driving me crazy! I have no idea why we ever host anything for your family because it makes you a basket case. You need to stop freaking out!”

Greg was right. Why do I get so stressed out about having my family over? I love them and don't get to see them much. There's just something about being all 'Martha Stewart' that makes me frantic. My mom and sisters are able to pull off amazing dinner parties effortlessly. They make beautiful centerpieces, serve gourmet dishes and mouth watering deserts. Here I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown with a husband who's fed up with me.

“God I need a little help here. I'm irritated and tense. Please give me a new perspective!”

I stop for a minute and just listen to the silence in the house waiting for my new perspective to arrive. Another minute passes...nothing. Assuming God was busy elsewhere, I went back to my 'to-do' list.

#1 - check the Jello. I made the Jello first thing this morning so it could just chill out in the refrigerator until the meal was ready. I gave the bowl a little jiggle to check the consistency...nice and firm. Hmm, it started as a liquid but has become so much more with just a little time and patience.

#2 - bake the crescent rolls. I do believe the world would come to an end if we didn't serve crescent rolls at our holiday meals. The twisting may go awry and they look a little weird but their buttery, flaky goodness still melts in your mouth. These go to show even when things get twisted up they can still turn out beautifully.

#3 - check the stuffing. I was amazed how much stuffing the turkey could hold. The turkey was filled to overflowing with the moist mixture of herbs, raisins and bread crumbs. I guess we can choose what we're filled with; stress and anxiety or appreciation and gratitude.

#4 – let the pies cool. These will be the best part of the whole meal! A pumpkin, cherry and pecan pie were now cooling on the baking rack. What a sweet reward for all the hard work. God, You are so faithful in rewarding our efforts when we work with all our heart.

The doorbell rang and soon the whole family had arrived. My stress and tension was gone and I was able to relax and enjoy the day. God's peace blanketed the entire house. It was the best Thanksgiving celebration we'd ever had. I took a moment of silent thanks for each blessing as it came to mind throughout the day. But I was most thankful for the new perspective God gave me through a simple 'to-do' list.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude

I received a special gift from some sweet friends this week. My friend, David, noticed that the journal I write sermon notes in was almost full. While he and his wife Sharon were out shopping one day, he felt led to buy me a new one.

Meanwhile, God had been laying an idea on my heart. A few years ago I began writing a Gratitude Journal. Each day I would find a few things I was thankful for and write about them in a journal. Sometimes they were just basic things: my health, my family, my job. Other times it was extremely specific: someone's motives, an exact word of encouragement, a cool breeze on a hot day. As each day passed, God revealed more things to be thankful for and drew me closer to Him. I filled my journal and never got around to replacing it. That was enough to make me fall out of the habit and I've not done it since.

David intended to fill a need, but God used him to be a blessing. My new Gratitude Journal was born that day! My first entry listed my thankfulness for David and Sharon's obedience to God's prompting. The second entry was for a God that meets me in even the simplest of needs. Now a day hasn't passed without taking a few minutes to list a couple of things I'm grateful for.

Being grateful is a choice. It's easy to take things and people for granted. It takes effort to appreciate them. I encourage you to consider exercising your attitude of gratitude by trying a Gratitude Journal. Opening my mind, reflecting on my day and seeing how God's hand moved has been a huge blessing. It is making this humble heart softer toward His promptings. Isn't it time to start counting your blessings?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let there be light...

I'll admit it, I don't always have a bright bulb! I'm embarrassed to say that the light bulb above my kitchen pantry has been out for almost 3 months. The day it went out I felt I was cooking in a cave. As each day passed it bothered me less and less until I didn't even notice it anymore. Somewhere along the way I just got used to preparing meals in the dark.

You can imagine how proud of myself I was when I remembered to buy a replacement bulb at the store. My son, Jordan, ascended the ladder and screwed in the new bulb. I flipped the switch and instantly a bright beam shone forth. (I think I even heard the 'Ahhh' sound from an angel choir.) It was amazingly bright. I checked to be sure it was the correct wattage and the right size. I was a little shocked by how much brighter the kitchen was.

I can't help but think about the things in my life that can keep me in the dark. Lies I tell myself. Hurts that weigh me down. Sin strongholds that keep me bound up. But I can chose to replace my thoughts, my feelings and my actions. I can get rid of my 'stinking thinking' and trade it for God's word. Suddenly I'm basking once again in the radiance of His truth.

Have you been living in the dark lately? Is it time to replace some thoughts, actions or feelings that have been blocking out the light of God's truth? Just like a burnt out bulb we can quickly get used to living in spiritual darkness. Take a look, you may have some replacing to do...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fighting the Pain

I have a theory that there are three types of pain in our life: sudden, chronic and residual. Some of us have a high pain threshold while others are side lined at the smallest twinge. Regardless of our tolerance to the pain, what are we doing about it?

Sudden pain
This is the kind of pain that you don't see coming. It hits you out of the blue in the middle of your daily activities. But the impact of it can drop you to your knees. I get this a lot in the form of shooting back pain, stubbing my toe, and dropping my laptop on the top of my foot (that was NOT pleasant). But it can also come in the form of betrayal, insult or physical harm.

Chronic pain
This is the dull, nagging pain that we manage to live with. We alter our lifestyles to accommodate the pain and avoid some activities all together. My right knee gives chronic pain that I've had to adjust to. I have to avoid stairs as much as possible if I want to be able to actually bend my leg at the end of the day. I have also had to give up kneeling on that knee altogether, but God understands and accepts a variation in worship. I've spent time with those who are coping with the chronic pain of addiction in themselves or loved ones.

Residual pain
Residual pain and chronic pain seem to play in the same sandbox in my mind. They are both pain that you live with and, in many cases, adjust your life to accommodate. But residual pain is the pain that radiates from a hurt deep within your spirit. For some it could be abuse as a child or being victim of assault. For years I had the residual pain of making a poor choice with horrific consequences and my behaviors were altered because of it. For others it may words of rejection that replay over and over in their minds. Feeling unworthy of affection or 'less than' those around you.

Whether it's sudden, chronic or residual, we all suffer with pain. How we react to it, however, will make all the difference in our life. When we take our pain to God and lay it at His feet, He makes the choice to take away our pain or use the pain to strengthen us. Either way, God makes us better.

I don't know what kinds of pain you're going through in your life, perhaps several kinds. I pray that you will take that pain, no matter how big or small, and lay it at God's feet. He longs to love you through this and bring you healing according to His purpose. He is the Great Physician and loving Daddy that wants only the best for you.

Be blessed,

Jennifer

“But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me.” Psalm 69:29

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of glory

As I drove to work the other morning, I noticed a little cloud cluster between me and the sun. The white fluffy clouds were just big enough to block the rays that would shine down on me. But the edges of the clouds were a beautiful golden glow because the sun simply could not be contained. Soon the clouds drifted away and the full radiance of the sun was blinding.

I started thinking about a few times in my life that clouds blocked my view of God. Sometimes they form like large billowy thunder clouds. Layer after layer of one thing and then another form a thick barrier between me and God's radiance. Conflict cracks like lightening bolts and I cringe as the thunder becomes deafening.

Other times the clouds create a gray overcast. There's no tumultuous storm, there's just a hazy indifference. These clouds usually show up when I haven't been in fellowship with God. I allow my schedule or priorities to slowly separate me from God's presence and the clouds roll in.

Regardless of what the clouds look like, the sun is still above them. When a dark storm rolls into our neighborhood, the sun doesn't run off and take shelter. No! It remains high in the sky whether we see it or not. That's the amazing thing about the sun, it remains constant regardless of our weather condition. Just like God. He is above our cloud cover, above our storm constantly loving us through the storm.

Do you have a situation in your life hanging like a cloud between you and God? Does it feel like a small cluster of clouds, a raging storm or completely overcast? Has it been awhile since you've seen the Son? Felt His warmth? God is above your storm and in His perfect timing He will break through the clouds with His radiant glory. Are you watching for Him...?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 57:5

Monday, October 18, 2010

But God...

My hometown in Texas may be flat, but I've been seeing a lot of mountains lately. I'm not talking about the picturesque kind with grassy fields and breathtaking views. I'm talking about the hard, cold, ragged mountains that loom over us when we least expect them. Several of my friends and I are all standing at the base of our mountain wondering how to get over it. There are marital mountains, financial mountains, faith mountains...you name it. Funny how no matter what kind of mountain, they all still look the same. And they all can be overwhelming.

Some are gearing up to take on the challenge. While others are feeling completely defeated by it. My situation felt overwhelming until God reminded me that I'd been here before. The mountain may have risen from a new scenario but the end result will still be the same.

I didn't value myself but God brought a man into my life to remind me that I'm loved. I was entrenched in my sin but God redeemed me and made me clean. I was a newer believer but God put me in a position of leadership and continues to work through me. I didn't have a lot of marketable skills but God provided a job for me. I didn't have anything to say but God gives me His words. I thought that no one would listen but God brought you to read this today.

The mountain ahead of you may seem momentous but God...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Monday, October 11, 2010

Going through to motions

“This is stupid, it's not like we're moving now. Why do I have to pack up all MY stuff? You're not having to get rid of anything.”

My sixteen year old son, Jordan, is clearly thrilled about preparing for our family move. If you've ever sold a house you know all the prep work that needs to take place to make the house 'show ready'. Step one: clean his closet. Step two: dust his furniture. Step three: start making his bed every morning. That's it! Three easy steps.

In the mind of a sixteen year old boy, here's how those steps are apparently interpreted. Step one: take everything you hold dear and angrily shove it into boxes until the closet is empty. Step two: ignore step two because you did it two weeks ago and think it looks 'fine'. Step three: begin living in prison where a quarter will be dropped on your bed daily to see if it will bounce.

When his eyes glassed over and he switched to auto pilot to just get it done, Greg and I stepped in for a heart to heart talk. The issue may not be resolved but at least it makes a little more sense in Jordan's mind.

I went to bed last night thinking about all the times that I have reacted just like Jordan. God will give me instructions and I will mindlessly do what He's asked. And that's only when I finally get around to doing it. God provides limited information to support His request, I just have to be obedient and do it. But like every good parent, God doesn't just want me to go through the motions, He wants me to be engaged in what I'm doing. God's not required to make sure His instructions make sense to me, I have to have faith that there is a greater purpose behind the action.

Giving God a ½ way effort is the same as flat out defying Him. He expects the task to be done in a certain way, not until I feel it's 'good enough'. My standards aren't even close to God's standards. When He asks for me to give someone my coat, He expects me to offer them my shoes as well. When I think of giving someone my coat, I offer the one I wear the least or didn't like very much. I don't even think about offering my shoes too, I just gave them my coat for goodness sake! Sound familiar?

All to often my first step in obedience will be to count the cost. What does this cost me to do? Time? Money? Energy? None of which I have in abundance. So why is God taking from me to give to someone else? Ever had that conversation?

Sometimes God demands a reoccurring obedience. He wants a certain discipline to materialize in me. Just like the daily making of the bed, God wants me to prepare myself for the day ahead. Engage my mind and heart into His plan and instructions instead of rolling out of bed and rolling with the punches. Ever had to face that type of obedience?

God expects obedience but He blesses engagement. Have your eyes glassed over as you are going through the motions? Has God instructed you to do something that you're giving a ½ way effort? Are you obedient to what God says but just enough to get by? Or not even doing it at all because it doesn't make sense in your mind? Stop! That's not what God's asking you for. When you fully engage in the task at hand God has a blessing for you and others. Trust me, you won't see it through glassy eyes...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good” Titus 3:1

Monday, October 4, 2010

Off balance

You know that feeling you get when you've gone on a really fast roller coaster with twists and turn and loops that make you feel all dizzy? It's a good feeling for a minute or two but then your adrenaline kicks in and everything feels normal again. Imagine having that dizzy feeling for several days. Every time you turn your head, stand up or sit down you feel like you're back on the roller coaster. Unfortunately, that is exactly what my last week has been like. Swelling in my inner ear created an issue with my equilibrium and gave me the 'fresh off the roller coaster' feeling for 4 days!

I've not always been a fan of roller coasters, but I have always enjoyed spinning and twirling! I remember as a little girl I loved to spin on the carousel playground equipment. I would shriek in delight as my playmates spun me faster and faster until the world was just a huge blur. I learned that all I needed to do to make the world stop spinning was put my feet on the ground. The world would suddenly stop spinning (although the headache would hang on for another half hour or so).

I have the same opportunity today that I did as a little girl. When my world is spinning out of control and I'm feeling disoriented and confused, I speak God's word over the situation. God is my foundation so speaking His truth grounds me again. The spinning stops and things begin to make sense. This past week anytime I was feeling dizzy and out of control I just put my foot on the ground and thanked God for providing firm foundation. I felt centered again and the spinning stopped.

Have you been feeling dizzy lately? Are situations in your life spinning beyond your control? Do you feel off balance and disoriented? God's got a cure for that! Ask Him to give you scripture to hold onto so you can be instantly grounded in Him when you begin to feel disoriented. The roller coaster of life can make your head spin, be sure you know exactly Who grounds you!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Isaiah 33:6

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lights to guide you

I have a strong dislike of driving in the rain. That dislike is only surpassed by driving in the rain in the dark. So you can imagine my excitement when the sky opened up and began to pour as I dropped my daughter off at school at o'dark 30 for a volleyball tournament.

Prayers for safety begin flowing out of me like water. I could barely see a thing and was continuously blinded by the oncoming traffic. My hands clenched the steering wheel as I rigidly focused on the unlit road ahead of me. A large semi truck sped past, pulled into my lane and continued to cruise along. The lights on the back of that semi were all I could see and they guided me through the steady rain. When I saw the lights swerve, I knew I would soon need to swerve with the road too. Soon I was at my exit and we parted ways.

I merged into the traffic on the frontage road. Traffic consisted of one car. I once again followed the tail lights as we traveled the dark roads together. When the car reached it's destination and turned off the road the rain stopped. God had led me through the storm.

What storms are you in the midst of right now? God's word promises that He is there with you. He will not leave you! Pray that you will see a glimpse of Him in the midst of your storm and then trust His plan for you. Our God is Mighty and can conquer your storm! Until He does, allow Him to guide you home.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Golden Rule

When I was a small child my family briefly lived in Tucson, Arizona. I don't remember much about it other than it was Africa hot and I became really good at catching little lizards. I also remember that there was a neighbor lady next door who always seemed to be in the middle of every childhood tiff. Her response would always be the same, “Remember the Golden Rule: 'Do onto others as you'd have them do onto you.'” I was about 6 or 7 years old at that time and had no idea what 'onto' meant. I chalked it up to 'stop doing whatever it is that you're doing and play nice.'

Fast forward about 10 years and now I'm in high school dealing with two girls that had issues with, well, everyone. As I sat in Algebra listening to the girls berate a classmate for what seemed like the hundredth time I finally reached my limit. I decided enough is enough and I started dishing back what they were dishing out. No one had ever stood up to them like that before. With a few choice words, a brief skirmish in the hallway and 3 days of detention, it was finished. The girls kept to themselves for the rest of the school year and we developed a mutual respect for one another.

As an adult I'm shocked at how self centered and thoughtless others can be. But in those times I'm usually the one being self centered and self righteous. The girls in my high school didn't want to anyone to treat them the way the treated others. They believed they could act any way they wanted and it would never come back around to them. But unfortunately, that's just not the case. It's a very simple concept – give what you want to get back. If you want people to be rude and nasty to you, be rude and nasty to them. If you want friends who are good to you, be good to them first. Do you want blessings? Be a blessing!

So, I have to ask...what have you been receiving lately?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7b-8

Monday, September 13, 2010

Waiting on God

Are you a newer believer? A seasoned spiritual veteran? Somewhere in between? Regardless of where you are on your faith journey at some point you'll find yourself waiting on God. These times can be the most frustrating but also the most fruitful. You may not have the power of choosing God's timing in the matter but you do have the opportunity of choosing how you're going to behave while you wait.

Imagine sitting in a doctor's office waiting room. There are several patients in the room of various ages each needing the doctor's help in their own way. On this day, the doctor is running behind schedule and the wait is longer than normal. A woman in her twenties scowls as she sends a continuous stream of text messages growing more and more irritated by the wait. A four year old boy wiggles and whines getting up and down out of his chair constantly asking his mom if they can just go home. An elderly gentleman sits very still as he reads his book.

When we come to God with our prayers and situations, we take our place in the waiting room. The difference is, God never runs late! He's never behind schedule, He's just not on OUR schedule. So which patient do we represent?

The twenty year old. This is the believer that does not like to be inconvenienced by God's time table. She understands that she needs God in her situation, but the longer she has to wait the more frustrated and angry she becomes. Sound familiar?

The four year old. You would assume that this represents a new believer that hasn't grown in their faith. I like to think of him as the believer who becomes uncomfortable with the position he finds himself in and wants to run. He wants to be anywhere but here. Because 'here' is too hard. 'Here' takes too much faith. 'Here' is a turning point in his faith walk.

The elderly man. This man came prepared. He allowed the time in his day and he brought a book along so he would enjoy the time . He's not concerned with his own agenda and time table because he knows that what's coming is worth the wait. We assume that wisdom comes with age. But believe me, that's not the case! Wisdom comes by learning from life lessons. It comes from remembering what God has done in your past so that you can be confident in what He'll do in your future.

To be honest, each one of us have been each one of them. We've lost all patience, we've wanted to run away from the situation and we've had times of being still and trusting God. But which one are you today? In this situation? The Great Physician will tend to your needs but how you behave while you wait on Him is entirely up to you.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15

Monday, September 6, 2010

What am I worth?

I sitting here my head held low
trying not to let my feelings show.
I'm confused. I'm angry. I'm sad.
The rush of emotions make me even more mad.
All of these feelings makes everything dark
At the very center lies a question mark.
“How can I measure my worth?
By income? By things? By position at birth?
What must I do so that others may see
that I am an asset and make them want me?”
I asked God my question and patiently waited
then into my heart He lovingly stated:
'Your life is not measured by what you can hold.
It makes little difference if you're young or you're old.
What matters most are the things you can't see
You're valued because your life glorifies Me.'

Are you struggling with your worth today? Are you fighting the urge to give up? Where you are today matters to where you'll be tomorrow. This time is not wasted and God is your biggest fan. Keep going...there's more here than you can see!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do I stay or do I go?

This weekend marked the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Several Sunday morning news broadcasts were reporting on the condition of New Orleans after the storm and still today. It was humbling and sad to see the rows of abandoned homes no longer fit for human inhabitants leaving over 50,000 people displaced. Many of the homes looked normal from the outside but the flood waters left the insides muddy and moldy. Seeing all the abandoned neighborhoods left me with a feeling of despair.

But in the midst of all the damage, there sprang forth new life. One reporter's story focused on the families that came back to the area and began rebuilding. This was where their dreams were rooted so they would not abandon New Orleans like so many others did. Cleanup, construction and repair is beginning to breathe new life into the area. Some areas are already back to their former glory while others are starting over with a completely new look and purpose.

I started thinking about how I respond to the storms in my own life. Do I let the high winds and pressure cause me to abandon my dreams and seek safer ground? Or do I endure the storm and begin rebuilding on the foundation that God laid? What do you do? Let's think about it together for a minute. You may not have had a life storm that could potentially throw you off your axis yet. Or maybe you have and you're still standing in the rubble. How will you respond?

Do you feel a storm brewing? Are you in the midst of one now? Or are you on the backside of the storm wondering what to do with the broken pieces? God wants us to cling to Him in the midst of our storms and not let go until our feet are on dry land. Have you lost your dream or is this the opportunity to build it better with God as the foundation? Let's roll up our sleeves.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are you deficient?

It's time to share a secret about myself that not many people know... I'm lactose intolerant. There, I admit it. For the last two years I have had a love/hate relationship with milk. I love milk, milk hates me. It probably started much earlier in my life, but it wasn't until the last few years that I realized that this issue was real and it was impacting my life. Knowledge is so powerful!

Seriously though, I have had to modify my life a bit because I'm lactose intolerant. Nothing drastic, but I see the biggest difference anytime I'm away from home. I try to bring my 'milk free milk' as my family calls it along with me whenever I can. As you can imagine, most of the time it's an inconvenience and I leave it behind.

Being deficient of anything will quickly take it's toll on our body. Whether we are lacking necessary nutrients or a daily infusion of God, the effects can become obvious quickly. Our body and our mind is designed to inform us when we are lacking something it needs. I know by day three of not having my lactose free milk, my nails become weak and break easily. While by day three of not spending time with God, I'm snarky and react to things negatively. Just as the milk strengthens my body, time with God strengthens my soul.

Are you feeling a little deficient lately? Has your body been telling you it needs something? More sleep, more protein, more exercise? Has your soul been telling you it needs something too? More time with God, the living water of His word, time spent in worship? It's easy to ignore the signs, but when we give our body and soul what it needs, that's when we will flourish!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37b-38

Monday, August 16, 2010

Too much of a good thing

My family just got home from a week long Caribbean cruise. We've cruised several times and love it! There are tons of activities, games, contests, shows and of course food.

The last two nights on board my husband Greg and I decided to partake in one of our favorite foods...sushi. It was very tasty and we quickly snarfed down several pieces before dinner. By the time we arrived at dinner we were already feeling pretty satisfied so nothing on the menu sounded very good. We went ahead and ordered, ate again and went about our evening. The second night of having sushi before dinner I noticed that not only was I not very hungry for dinner, I didn't enjoy it very much when I was there. I picked at my food and didn't appreciate all the hard work that had gone into making it.

When we're inundated with appealing options, it's easy to overindulge! Whether it's tasty food or too many activities, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. On board we were presented with options – you could do as many or as little of the activities as you wanted. You could have as much or as little of the food as you wanted. It was all about options and the decision was entirely yours.

This is true in the 'real world' as well. Now is the time of year when kiddos head back to school and their schedules start filling up. You can do as much or as little of those activities as you want. It is still all about options and the decision is still entirely yours. How many sports are your kids going to play? Are they going to participate in church youth group? Will they still have time to spend with friends? Will you?...

In the midst of all the activities during our cruise, I found the hardest thing to do was have time to myself. I wanted to be with my friends and family. I wanted to participate in all the fun stuff. But I rarely took time to be alone and commune with God. Sure, I thanked Him for all the opportunities and the beautiful things I saw but I didn't just take time alone with Him.

As you create your schedule for the upcoming fall, consider not overindulging. Fewer options and 'have tos' will allow you to savor those experiences. Allowing each family member to have some down time built into every week will refresh and rejuvenate them and truly enjoy the things they are involved in instead of simply running on all cylinders.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Following directions

Today has been an adventure! In preparation for our family vacation, my husband got directions for our hotel online. We were traveling across 4 states so we wanted to be sure we knew which way to go. The directions seemed simple enough and we went on our way.

Ten hours later, we realize that the directions were not entirely accurate. They did eventually get us where we needed to be, but in a crazy round about way. The printed directions referenced routes it was familiar with, but not the route that was most direct.

Instead of letting our 45 minute goose chase to find our hotel get under my skin, I started thinking about how often I've caused myself to go 'out of the way'. God's word is true north in our lives but how often do we only do most of what it says? We get around to what God told us to do but we make certain to do it our way and in our timing. How many extra hours and countless miles have we traveled trying to get around what He has instructed us to do?

Many of us our comfortable with the beaten paths we are already familiar with. We hesitate venturing into the unknown because we're so comfortable with where we've already been. So often we'll miss blessings that God has for us because we don't follow the direct path He's laid before us.

God's directions are tried and true. He has proven Himself a faithful guide and can lead us to His promises if we'll put down the map we think we know and follow the one who laid the path. He has an amazing journey for you!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me." Psalm 43:3

Monday, August 2, 2010

A time to harvest

It's hay baling time! Have you noticed lately that all of the open fields seem to have large rolls of hay sitting on them? It's the time of year when we have more heat than rain, which is exactly right for baling! A rancher friend of mine told me that if they don't bale the hay at just the right time it can still have too much moisture which will get hot and actually catch on fire!

Two things jumped out in my mind: hay has to be harvested in the right season and what's inside matters.

Farmers are very specific about when the hay is harvested. During the spring the grass is lush and tender as it pops out of its winter bed. As the summer progresses (especially in Texas) the fresh green grass begins to dry out. Once it's almost completely dry, it gets cut and left to continue the drying process. We're just like that hay. We start out all fresh and green, pretty but not useful. Only after we grow and season do we become something that God can use to 'feed' others.

Moist hay will rise in temperature as it's being compressed until it get so hot that it actually becomes a fire that consumes the whole bale. Have you ever had something burning inside of you that seemed to make your temperature rise to the point that it consumed you? I have and the feeling is terrible! This one thing that we try to 'stuff down' inside grows and grows until it has impacted every area of our lives. It can be anger, hurt, guilt...you name the negative emotion and it can consume you!

When we allow God to prepare us for the harvest, He will protect us from combustion. God seasons us with life lessons and His word so that we can be 'food' to those who are hungry. We learn how to be more about Him and His harvest. Part of that process is allowing God to bring His light to every area of our lives. The moist dark place can only spark a fire if we allow it to stay inside of us. Secrets and sin don't have a foothold in us if we open those struggles to God and allow Him to heal us. Only then will we be used for His greater purpose...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ministry of friendship

This weekend was amazing! Not just for the anointed message I received through gifted speakers. Not just for a very comfy bed in my hotel room. But for the precious time spent with a dear friend.

I am just like so many other people: I work, I have kids, I serve in my church, etc... and I allow myself to get too busy for one thing that enriches my soul – my friends. God brings people into our lives to walk beside us, support us, encourage us and give us a big dose of reality from time to time. Do you have a person like that in your life? If not, why?

It's pretty easy to count out reasons why we're too busy to invest time in another person. Life is demanding and it will take every minute from you if you haven't budgeted how you spend your time. But if you're not investing in someone else...who's investing in you?

I'll confess, I've allowed myself to be too busy to spend time with some of the people most precious to me lately. Having the opportunity to spend with a dear friend was like rain falling on sun scorched land. I didn't realize how dry I was and how much I missed sharing life with a friend!

Are you feeling parched? Do you have some stuff in your life that you've been dealing with that you need a friend to stand beside you in? Do you need someone to believe in your dream with you? God gives us the gift of friendship. He chooses who we do life with but we have to nurture those relationships. Just like a plant won't bloom without water, our friendships need a little TLC to become beautiful. Friends aren't a 'have to' they're a 'get to'!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

Monday, July 19, 2010

Setting the Pace

The traffic flowed at a normal pace for a Wednesday. Everyone was on their way to work just like any other day. While listening to the morning radio banter, a white flash caught my eye. I saw it moving closer and closer bobbing and weaving between the cars until suddenly it blew past my door. The white Mustang was letting all it's horses run and was probably going about 90 by this time. Suddenly wheels squealed to a halt, smoke from the tires filled the air and the Mustang was at a stand still – stuck at a red light.

I'll be honest, part of me felt that 'Hot Rod' got what he deserved. He arrogantly weaved through the cars as if he was too important to be in the normal flow of traffic, who did he think he was? I felt a little self righteous seeing him at a complete stop while several of us minions passed him and kept going on our way. But then God made me see it another way.

'Doesn't he remind you of someone?' God spoke to my heart. I suddenly remembered all the times I've been that white Mustang. Bobbing and weaving, taking care of business, getting things done. Each right move brought just a little more arrogance, getting more and more full of myself as I went along. I would be clicking on all cylinders when suddenly – a stop light. It would usually appear at an inconvenient time and would completely ruin my momentum. I was totally humbled by the thought of it.

It didn't take long to realize the stop lights came from God. It was His way of reminding me that I was running ahead of His plan and purpose for my life. He doesn't intend for me to be a showy race car zooming through people's lives and leaving them in the dust. He wants me to go with the flow of traffic. When I move at God's pace I am more aware of when I need to change lanes or let someone in ahead of me. He prompts and I have time to react.

Are you catching a lot of red lights lately? Think you may be running ahead of God? The frustration that comes from stopping and starting can be avoided if we allow God to set our pace.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2John 1:9

Monday, July 12, 2010

Do I have to??

I can always tell when it's time for my little dog, Daisy, to get a bath because she starts smelling like a cracker. She enjoys getting a bath but the process can take awhile and involves several steps. This is why my kids don't like doing it...it's a process.

Requesting that Daisy gets a bath is a process too. Rarely will she be bathed on the same day that I mention it's bath time. We usually go through the 'do I have to?' and 'I don't have time today...' and even 'can't you just do it?' questions before the kids reluctantly give in and give her a bath. Usually by that time I'm feeling a little snarky and I'm just glad to have it done.

I'm like that with my Heavenly Father all the time. He will lay something on my heart that may be uncomfortable or inconvenient and I start saying 'do I have to...?' Then there are days that He'll prompt me to reach out to someone who's on my mind and I come back with 'I don't have time today...' But I think I frustrate Him the most when He is trying to grow me by having me try new things but all I say is 'can't you just do it?'

If my kids would just wash the dog when I ask the first time I would be so pleased that I would treat them to something special. How many times have I missed extra blessings because I didn't do what God asked me to the first time? Obedience isn't about wanting to do it, it's about God wanting me to do it. However, obedience is a process too. I don't have to want it, understand it or even agree with it...I just have to do it. Eventually I will want to, I'll understand why and I'll whole heartedly agree with the reason. But until then I need to just do it! Hmmm, I have a feeling that I'm not the only one...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lake Lessons

I just got back from spending a few days at the lake with my family. I'm so thankful that God will reveal Himself when we look for Him! Here's a few things He reminded me of...

Live like fish, stay in groups.
There's safety in numbers and we strengthen each other. We're designed to live in relationship and life is so much better when we go through it together!

You can't judge the depth of something (or someone) just by looking at it. As we skimmed across the lake, sometimes our depth finder would read 135 feet and then other times it would read 6 feet but the top of the lake always looked the same. People are that way too, assuming someone is deep is just as bad as assuming someone it shallow.

Sometimes clouds are protecting you from getting burned!
Our first day on the lake was cloudy with a few rain showers. There was no lightening and we were planning to get wet anyway, so we went boating despite the ominous clouds. It was our best day of boating and no one was sunburned! The next day the sun came out and I got completely fried even w/ consistent sunscreen application. The point is, sometimes God chooses to give us what we need instead of what we want.

Are you choppy water or calm water?
I noticed that there were several areas of the lake that were calm and glassy while other areas were rough and choppy. The same breeze was blowing in both areas but the calm water seemed to have a peace about it that the rough water didn't have. Regardless of our situation, we can either be calm water or choppy water. We can reflect the turmoil and frustration going on all around us or we can reflect the peace that God provides through the Holy Spirit within us.

Enjoy the sunset. I've always been a fan of sunsets! Each one is unique and exquisite, a true blessing from God. He paints a masterpiece each day for us, we only need to take a minute to appreciate it.

Remember that God is ever present in your life. Ask Him to show you something in the 'every day' with new eyes...you'll be glad you did!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'” Luke 5:26

Monday, June 28, 2010

A bird in the tree

There's a tall, spindly Live Oak tree in my backyard. It’s only about two years old and you can practically see right through the thing. We live on the rolling countryside so the tree is usually bent over from the steady wind. Greg has staked it down a few times, but the top limbs would still bend and bow. I was beginning to lose hope that the tree would flourish until I saw a bird sitting on one of the limbs. While the top limbs danced and swayed in the wind, the bottom limbs were still and offered a perfect resting place for a weary traveler. The tree was so well rooted that although the top limbs blew around in every direction, the thicker bottom limbs are steadfast and peaceful.

Our faith life can be just like that tree. Problems of the world can throw us off our axis, ruffle our feathers and cause our limbs to bend and bow. But deeper in us lies a faith that everything will turn out for the good. There's a peace that's found only by being rooted in Christ. His Holy Spirit provides the resting place in our soul, the calm in the storm. Are you focusing so much on how the tree bends that you don’t notice that there are birds perched in the limbs? Are you only seeing the problem at hand without noticing the blessings that are there as well? In the midst of your struggle, God is showing up and blessing you in very unexpected ways. Are you watching for the birds?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Therefore we do not lose heart…for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Monday, June 21, 2010

To the point of failure

Ever pushed yourself to the brink of your ability? Have you ever gone as far as your can and then expected yourself to go just one step more? My husband and I have started a new workout program. We workout to a video each night that focuses on a different area of your body. But, to begin the program you first have to go through a series of exercises that you do 'to the point of failure'. I'd never really heard of doing that before, I'm not really up on exercise lingo. But basically it means that you do that particular exercise until your body simply can't do it anymore. Then you write down how many you did and at the end of the complete workout series, you go and do the same exercises 'to the point of failure' again to see the improvement.

Don't you and I have a tendency to live 'to the point of failure'? Don't we attempt to do things in our own strength and only reach out to God when it becomes more than we can handle? I know that I can easily get in the habit of trying to handle my daily life on my own while turning to God for the big stuff.

If we're only exercising our faith muscle when we've reached our 'point of failure', we're missing the point! God isn't a 5 hour energy drink, He's the Living Water. He doesn't step in at our 'point of failure', He's there from start to finish equipping us to keep moving forward. Are you allowing God to strengthen your faith muscle or are you using Him as a spotter, just on stand by in case you need Him? What we can accomplish in Christ is far greater than what we can accomplish on our own...ready to workout your faith??

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

Monday, June 14, 2010

Defying Gravity

Are you a dreamer? Do you allow yourself to have secret (or not so secret) aspirations of what you hope to become in your life? Do you believe it can really happen or is it just the thought that your mind wanders to when you feel overwhelmed? Have you talked with God about your aspirations?

In today's world, dreams seem to fall by the wayside. They get trampled on by busy schedules, a lack of resources and not enough time. When I was a younger woman starting my own way in the world, it didn't take long before the world was having it's own way with me and my dreams began to quickly fade away. But that's not how it's supposed to be! God put hopes and dreams in our hearts that were seemingly impossible for us to attain, but entirely possible for Him! There's just one question... does your dream ultimately glorify God?

God grows and equips us in a unique way so that our dreams can become reality! He allows us to defy gravity of this world to experience His supernatural strength and power! What I mean is, God removes the worldy weight, the barriers and obstacles that keep us held down so that we can soar. When we are able to rise up to accomplish our dream, God is glorified! He's the one who gave us the dream to begin with, we just have to trust Him and persevere!

What's keeping you from defying gravity? Lack of time? Pray and ask God to extend the hours of your day. Lack of energy? God's waiting to infuse you with His strength. Lack of ability? God equips each for the purpose of our calling. Afraid? God has won the victory over evil, if He is for you who can stand against you?! He has you and you can do this! Are you ready....?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spiritual yard work

I love a nice yard! When each blade of grass is thick and green like a stretched out blanket that calls for you to come lay down on your back and watch the clouds roll by. My front yard is finally(I'm happy to say) just such a yard. But it didn't just happen overnight, it took a lot of work! Our first spring in the house we spent 'family time' sitting out in the yard pulling weeds. Every night after Greg got home from work we'd head out to the front yard with a plastic grocery bag and each person had to pull enough weeds to fill their bag. We knew that if we let the weeds stay in the grass, they would spread and eventually choke out the good grass. Our weed pulling expedition soon transitioned into a grub hunt. We'd gather and kill the nasty grubs living in the grass. If we didn't get rid of the grubs, they would eat the roots of the grass and kill it. All in addition to the countless hours that Greg spent giving the grass the right mix of water and nutrients...it's been a labor of love!

Having a well kept yard is just like having a well kept spirit. Being able to say 'it is well with my soul' comes with some effort on our part. The enemy comes to destroy what we have but we don't have to let him! With a little spiritual yard work we can have the peace that God intends for us. Start by taking time to pull out the weeds of anger, unforgiveness and doubt. By not choosing to pull them out we will allow them to spread and impact all areas of our life. Next make sure to kill the 'grubs' that eat at you and steal your joy. Things like being judgmental of others and yourself. Then be sure to give your spiritual yard what it needs...living water and nutrients from God's word. Before you know it, you'll have the best spiritual yard on the block!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Perspective

The other morning my toothpaste lid rolled across the vanity counter, onto the floor and under the bathroom cabinet. The cabinet is raised and has feet so, of course, the lid rolled all the way to the back by the wall. Frustrated, I got down on my hands and knees to retrieve the lid. As I reached under and grabbed the lid, I also caught an unwanted dust bunny!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t put a lot of time or attention to making sure the area under my bathroom cabinets are dust free. But after practically laying upside down to retrieve the wayward toothpaste lid, I’m deciding to give it a little more attention!

Sometimes God allows us to see the things we forget about or take for granted in a new way. He has a unique ability to turn us on our axis to completely change our perspective. God knows how to get our attention and shows us a new perspective for our benefit.

Do you think you may have some spiritual dust bunnies that may need to be cleaned up? Is there anything that may have built up over time because it’s been ignored? Anything been ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Things like unforgiveness, anger or bitterness are not only spiritual dust bunnies, but they seem to breed new ones. When you’ve chosen to ignore the dust bunnies, God will give you a new perspective to remind us that it’s time to clean it up! What needs your attention??

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Search me, O 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

Monday, May 17, 2010

Congratulations...

As I was driving to work listening to a favorite local radio station the other day, I heard a rather strange conversation between the radio announcer and a contest winner he was calling:

“Congratulations _________, you’re our Teacher of the Month!”

“Oh great!” she said politely.

“You’ve won $1000!”

“That’s nice.” she states.

“In addition to the money, you will also receive…” (he began showering her with gifts)

“What a nice treat, thank you.” she replied with minimal excitement in her voice.

At that point they wrapped up the call and I sat in my car completely amazed that the woman had not been whooping and hollering, crazy excited about being chosen for such an honor! How was it possible that she not be more excited or perhaps even emotional about receiving such a selfless gift? I thought about all the times a similar conversation has taken place:

“Congratulations _________, you’re loved and chosen!” God proclaims.

“Oh great!” we say politely.

“Your gift is eternal life with Me in Heaven!” God continues.

“That’s nice.” we state.

“In addition to Heaven, you will also receive…” (He begins to shower us with Spiritual gifts)

“What a nice treat, thank you.” We reply with minimal excitement in our voice.

We’re given an amazing gift through Jesus Christ, yet somehow we seem to lose our excitement about Him. We can receive what He gives with a polite smile or with complete abandon. He wants us to be crazy excited and sold out for Him. Enthusiasm is contagious and there’s nothing more thrilling than the love of Jesus Christ. Let’s go be excited about Him today! Can I get a woot woot?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hold Fast

While sipping coffee from my travel mug, I sit in a long, twisting line of cars all waiting for a train to cross. From my vantage point I can see the end of the train and there are only about 15 or 20 boxcars still to come, so I relax for a minute and begin flipping through a little daily devotional that I keep in the center console of my car.

A woman in a small SUV several cars ahead of me must have gotten tired of waiting and decided to just turn around. I thought this was rather odd because we hadn’t been waiting very long and, as she drove past glancing at her watch, I watched the end of the train go through the crossing.

If she would have only waited, she would be moving forward by now heading in the right direction. Instead she will be going several miles out of her way to find another crossing that will get her to the other side of the tracks. All because she couldn’t bear the wait!

I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve been that woman. Instead of holding fast and having faith, I lose my patience and try to find a short cut. All the while I miss out on the blessing that God provides when I wait on Him. By the way…God really dislikes short cuts, it’s not His thing!

Have you ever made more work for yourself because you were impatient? In the end, did it turn out your way or God’s way? You would think by now we would understand that when God says ‘Wait…’ there’s a reason. That means He’s up to something and it is usually for our benefit and His glory. I know the ‘train’ can seem so long and be painfully slow, but have faith that no matter what you’re going through, the train will pass and the blessing will come!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3

Monday, May 3, 2010

One decision away...

What comes to mind when you think of hell? A cartoon red horned devil running around with a pitchfork and a tail? Or perhaps an evangelical preacher thumping on the Bible as he warns about the flames of hellfire licking at your feet? Or maybe just a dark void of nothingness that you prefer not to think about.

The truth is we are all one decision away from an eternity in hell. So does that mean if you cheat on your taxes or cut someone off in traffic that you’re heading to hell? What about telling a lie even if you’re trying to spare someone’s feeling? Oh, oh… and what about not telling the cashier when she gives you too much change back? (Are you hearing the ‘Highway to Hell’ song playing in the back of your mind?? I am.)

Of course the answer to all of these questions is ‘no’ because none of these are the ONE decision that we need to make to avoid hell. Point blank – the ONLY way to avoid going to hell is to confess that Jesus Christ died for your sin. The decision is to accept what has already been done.

You might be thinking ‘I’ve already accepted Jesus’ death for my sins so I’m covered’ but let’s think about the people in our lives that may not have made that decision yet. The people who are still thinking that if they are a good person or do good things, that will be enough. They’re the ones on my heart right now!

Is God laying someone on your heart that may not have accepted what Jesus died to give them? Are you nervous about having a conversation with them about it? Ask God to give you the words that are tailor-made for them. It’s the most important conversation they’ll ever have…

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Luke 12:4-5

Monday, April 26, 2010

Are you a grazer?

Okay, so it looks like God’s teaching us another lesson from the bovine world. When we last spoke, our cow friends were having a bit of a tiff and one of the cows was left out of the herd. They’ve since mooved past their issues and are all together as one happy family.

I drove by their pasture the other day and saw a pretty familiar sight. All of the shiny black cows were grazing on the lush green grass of the field. They happily munched the tender blades while completely ignoring the buzz of traffic that rushed by. Their heads stayed low and their focus steady as they accomplish what they’d come to do…get their fill.

God fills you just like the grass fills the cows. He wants a relationship with you that draws you into Him for all that you need. He asks only for your attention and to have His will be your main focus. He provides for the cows with fresh, green grass but He provides for you through His word and Holy Spirit. When you consider God in your choices and spend time in His word, you are grazing on His goodness.

The cows get their fill on everything that God provides, but do you? Are you continuously going back to God for sustenance? Or are you so busy watching all the cars drive by that you forget why you’re in the field? Maybe it’s time to start grazing on God!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.” John 15:9-10

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stay in the Herd

Ten black cows snoozed in a lush green field. A few feet away one cow slept all alone causing questions to rattle around in my head:

“Was there some cow drama going on?”
“Was the little cow cast out of the group or was she just taking a much needed break from everyone?”
“Was she just a ‘loner’ cow that didn’t quite fit in?”

The ‘mom’ in me wanted to know why the little cow was not peacefully slumbering with the rest of the herd. I hated the idea of this little cow being all alone!

I ran several scenarios in my head that could have caused the separation and found that each situation was a scene from my own life: The teenage drama that would hang heavy like a dark cloud over a sunny day; the constant chatter that I would find myself wanting to escape from; the hard reality of not fitting in with the group you longed to be a part of. Geez, no wonder the cow wanted to mooove out of the herd!!

On the other hand, Jesus would leave the ‘herd’ to be still before God and pray. He needed time alone to reflect on all God had been doing and allow God to prepare Him for what still needed to be done. Jesus knew leaving the group so that God could whisper to His spirit would be beneficial for everyone but He was always certain to rejoin His friends when He was done.

God created us with the herd mentality, we’re just better together! Are you currently part of a herd? Or are you sitting just a few feet away by yourself? Have you realized that the herd you’ve been hanging with may not be right for you? It’s important to spend time alone with God, but He also wants to love you through others…and that’s no BULL!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Monday, April 12, 2010

Denial

My husband, Greg, is on a health kick. He’s spending more time on the treadmill and has started eating salads for lunch (which is an astonishing since he had only eaten maybe 10 salads in his life so far…) He’s determined to shed a few pounds and lead the family into a healthier lifestyle. It’s been said that in a balanced diet ‘you can have things in moderation’, but it’s the moderation part that trips me up. I prefer to stop at the ‘you can have things’ part of that quote.

As Greg works off the 10 lbs or so that may have accumulated over the last year and a half, I’m trying to chisel off 1/3 of my body weight! Although our goals are distinctly different, we both have to say no to foods that we like and that, quite frankly, make us happy. He’s a meat and beer-asaurus and I’m a chocoholic so we both consistently need to deny ourselves those indulgences.

Do you have something that you need to start denying yourself of? Have you been enjoying something that just isn’t good for you? I have to disagree that ‘you can have all things in moderation’ because so many of us lose sight of what healthy moderation truly is. Sometimes we just have to say ‘no’. For example, a good friend of mine just celebrated his fourth year of sobriety this week. He’s the first to testify that sometimes omission, not moderation, is what’s required to have a healthy life.

Jesus knew how to say ‘no’ to the things that held no value so He could say ‘yes’ to the things that would matter for the kingdom. He knew that the things He would give up could not compare with the benefits He would gain! We have the opportunity to follow His lead. The first step is denying ourselves of the things that stand between us and God so we can gain what is truly beneficial.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”Luke 9:23-24

Monday, April 5, 2010

What are you talking about?

This weekend I took a journey to another time and place as I watched Fiddler on the Roof for the first time. Now, I did have to watch it in three sections as I did not have one large 3 ½ hour chunk in my day to watch it all at once, regardless I am so glad that I did!

If you’re not familiar with the story, let me recap a little. Tevye, his wife and their five daughters live in a small village of Anatevka in Ukraine on the eve of the Russian Revolution. Tevye is a poor milkman whose daughters begin to make increasingly unconventional choices that move further and further from tradition. This forces Tevye to decide if he’s flexible to change or if he will stay rigid in the traditions he has always known.

Several times throughout the movie, Tevye loads up his donkey and walks around the village delivering the milk for the day. As he does, we’re privy to some of the conversations that Tevye has with God. Tevye talked with God about his joys, his struggles, thoughts and ideas…pretty much everything! What stood out the most about that was the perfect balance between familiarity and reverence that Tevye had for God. He was fully aware of the deity he was speaking to, but knew God intimately enough to be real with Him.

Tevye also included in God in almost every conversation he had. He would take a minute to pause, consider the situation and chat with God about it for a minute. Now in the movie this would ‘freeze frame’ the other person while he talked it out with God to make the conversation he was having in his head make sense to the audience. It was as if he was measuring each situation against God’s yard stick to see what he should do.

All of Tevye’s conversations with the Lord were one sided, but Tevye had faith that the God he loved was listening to him even if he didn’t get what he was asking for. He was content with whatever the Lord gave him… joy, struggles, love and heartbreak. He would make comments like “Riches are the evil of the world, oh if I could only be so cursed! I would carry that affliction all of my days…” Tevye talked with the Lord as if He were a friend while always maintaining the respect that the Lord is due.

So, what do your conversations with God sound like these days? Do you tell Him the feelings that are in your heart or do you assume He already knows? Are you sharing joys and hurts with Him? Is God your best friend or an acquaintance that you run into once a week? He longs for you to be real and talk with Him. Be honest if you’re angry with Him, He can take it! Share the things that bring you joy as well as the things that scare you. He’s waiting to talk with you…

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13

Monday, March 29, 2010

The bigger picture

I’ve been hearing a lot of stories lately about families who are standing at a fork in the road. They are considering new jobs, investment opportunities, a new chapter in their lives and even new places to live. Although each situation and crossroad is unique, the questions they are asking are the same, “what is the bigger picture?”

Our personal thoughts, dreams and goals are similar to a basic sketch…it’s black and white. We usually know pretty clearly what we’d like to accomplish and who we want to be. But then we add in the thoughts, dreams and goals of our spouse and now a little more dimension is added creating a picture. Next we consider the thoughts, dreams and goals of our children, other family members and friends and even more shading and dimension are added to the image creating more depth and background. Finally, and most importantly, we consider God’s thoughts, dreams and goals and we are able to more clearly see a masterpiece.

The amazing thing about the masterpiece that God is creating us to be is that it continues to evolve over time. The simple black and white sketch that could be found on the back of a cocktail napkin today can become the next Monet years from now. God can do that! The hopes and dreams that we have for our lives are not there by chance, they are there by design. What we fail to realize is that our lives are a journey, not a destination. We live in the process and are only made perfect when we are seeing Jesus face to face in heaven.

So what does all of this have to do with forks in the road? Simply this: we have to consider the bigger picture. Opportunities present themselves but if they are not in the right season of your life they can become more of a curse than a blessing. By looking at your life in the mindset of God’s masterpiece, you will be able to more clearly see the choice that is right for you.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths” Psalm 25:4

Monday, March 22, 2010

Instruction Manual

Today's blog is a re-post from last week. Last week was Spring Break for a great majority of school districts and it was recommended to me that this message was worth repeating for those who missed it! As always, feel free to browse the archived blogs to revisit those that you may have missed!

Instruction Manual
Saturday afternoon found me sitting in the middle of my living room floor with my daughter, Paige, assembling bar stools. It was a beautiful day outside, but because my son and my husband were taking on the first yard mowing of the season, my allergies dictated that I find an indoor activity.

Paige did a great job taking the lead and reading through the instruction manual and then explaining how to do each step. We had several stools to assemble so having one source of instruction was extremely helpful! Step by step we took all of the smaller parts and pieces and intricately attached them to the places they were designed to fit into. It was interesting to see how the odd little pieces that looked so random on their own had such an important part in the finished product.

As God assembles each of us, He uses the random bits and pieces that we see little value in or don’t even understand and uses them for a specific purpose. The things you are doing today may not seem valuable, but in fact they are an intricate part of who you are becoming. Some experiences are used for foundation, structure, comfort, and yes…even bling! (Okay, so you may argue the ‘bling’ part but I’m referring to the things about us that make us appealing to others, so for the sake of this conversation we’ll call it bling.) I know most of my readers, and trust me, you have bling!!

Regardless of what role it plays, what you’re walking through right now matters to the person God is making you to be! Although you’re not reading the instruction manual yourself, you can allow yourself to receive your instruction from God as your one source. Have you asked Him what He wants you to learn from your present situation? Do you trust that He has a purpose for it? We may not have an instruction manual for our lives like we would to assemble a bar stool, but God has a plan all the same. He wrote the manual and He knows how He intends to assemble you. Hmmm, that sounds like a good topic for a Bible study…

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

Monday, March 15, 2010

Instruction Manual

Saturday afternoon found me sitting in the middle of my living room floor with my daughter, Paige, assembling bar stools. It was a beautiful day outside, but because my son and my husband were taking on the first yard mowing of the season, my allergies dictated that I find an indoor activity.

Paige did a great job taking the lead and reading through the instruction manual and then explaining how to do each step. We had several stools to assemble so having one source of instruction was extremely helpful! Step by step we took all of the smaller parts and pieces and intricately attached them to the places they were designed to fit into. It was interesting to see how the odd little pieces that looked so random on their own had such an important part in the finished product.

As God assembles each of us, He uses the random bits and pieces that we see little value in or don’t even understand and uses them for a specific purpose. The things you are doing today may not seem valuable, but in fact they are an intricate part of who you are becoming. Some experiences are used for foundation, structure, comfort, and yes…even bling! (Okay, so you may argue the ‘bling’ part but I’m referring to the things about us that make us appealing to others, so for the sake of this conversation we’ll call it bling.) I know most of my readers, and trust me, you have bling!!

Regardless of what role it plays, what you’re walking through right now matters to the person God is making you to be! Although you’re not reading the instruction manual yourself, you can allow yourself to receive your instruction from God as your one source. Have you asked Him what He wants you to learn from your present situation? Do you trust that He has a purpose for it? We may not have an instruction manual for our lives like we would to assemble a bar stool, but God has a plan all the same. He wrote the manual and He knows how He intends to assemble you. Hmmm, that sounds like a good topic for a Bible study…

Be blessed,

Jennifer

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

Monday, March 8, 2010

The road of compromise

I'd like to share an insight I've recently been taught with you. A few weeks ago, I attended my church home's ladies retreat. I had the pleasure of listening to Paige Henderson, co-founder of Fellowhip of the Sword ministry. She had several wonderful lessons but one thought in particular struck a cord with me and I'm thinking it might for you as well.

Paige talked about the compromises we make in our life. In her example she shared that sometimes God will call us to go down a certain road in life (she used local Hwy 377 as her example) but we decide to take a road that parallels the road of our calling (for example, taking Rufe Snow instead). Both roads can eventually get you to the same place in the end, but the things you see and experience will be different. On Hwy 377, you may have more opportunities and things available to you but you chose Rufe Snow because there's less traffic. Rufe Snow may have less traffic, but you will probably encounter more potholes and stop signs. Both roads have their pros and cons but only one road is the one that's been chosen for you by God.

When you take the 'parallel road', you are often still within God's permissive will (remember that from last week's blog??) but you are not in God's perfect will. You are most likely missing out on experiences and blessings that God has for you. Regardless of the condition of the road you're being called to travel, God has a reason for having you go down it! It may be lonely, boring, desolate, hectic, difficult...insert any adjective you want to use, there's still a reason He wants you to travel your own road. Perhaps you won't see it now, but you will appreciate it later because it will have equipped you for the hope God has for your life.

So, where are you? Are you traveling the road God has called you to or have you chosen a parallel road that's similar to what He asked you to do? From one traveler to another...let's find our way to His perfect path, not ours!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spiritual curling

Last night my family watched the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. There were so many athletes and events that we were completely in awe of and we didn’t even get to see them all. But our family now has a new favorite winter sport…curling.

The Game - The basic goal is to get a large orb (called a rock) as close to the center circle of a target at the other end of the track as possible. Similar to a dart board, there is a small circle with an outer ring surrounding it. Any rock that goes outside of the rings doesn’t count for anything.

The Team - the team consists of the shooter who pushes the rock down the track, sweepers who help direct the rock as it approaches the target and a coach who helps them discern the best way to go.

While I watched the sport with my family one night, God began to show me how much curling represented our spiritual walk…

As I saw the shooter consult with the coach, I thought about how that’s just like how we look to God for instruction and encouragement. Through prayer and meditation on His Word, God speaks His will into our heart.

Next, the shooter positions herself, aligns her body with where she wants the rock to go and then curls (pushes) the rock. This represents our efforts to be obedient to God’s instruction, sometimes we are going in the right direction and sometimes we miss the mark.

As the rock heads toward the target, it gets directed by the sweepers. The sweepers reminded me of all the people that God brings into our lives to help direct our path and encourage us to keep going in the right direction. They want us to succeed and give their best effort to help make that happen.

The primary target is the center circle. This could be considered as God’s perfect will for our life. To reach it you need to be specific in how you ‘curl the rock’ and it is valued the highest because it is the hardest to obtain.

The secondary circle could be considered as God’s permissive will. This is an area that is easier to obtain and still has value, yet may not have been exactly the hope that God had for you.

The area outside of the target could be considered everything that is outside of God’s will. This is where the strongholds of sin and pride can be found and are things that have no value to God.

While we may try to curl a perfect game, we have to remember that we face an opposing team that wants to knock our rock out of the circle of God’s will. Our competition (Satan) is crafty and skilled and is constantly strategizing against us. Fortunately, we are part of a winning team with a Coach who knows what it takes it crush our opponent…in fact, He’s already won!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” Job 22:22

Monday, February 22, 2010

Use it or lose it

A few years ago I had a pretty nasty accident that has left me with limited movement in my right knee. While some days are better than others, I have realistic expectations of what my leg can and can’t do. So the other day I was a little surprised when I found myself lunging forward on that leg to help a friend keep from dropping a box she was carrying. In that instant I was not sure what shocked me more, the fact that I was using my leg in a way that I normally wouldn’t have or the fact that it was NOT doing what I was asking it to do! I had to quickly shift legs to not end up on the floor along with the box!

Once I got over my embarrassment for my complete lack of grace, I began thinking about what had just happened. I knew that the range of motion in my leg had become limited after my accident and that certain movements brought pain and swelling, but I had never experienced something that my leg just couldn’t do. I guess in the back of my mind I always thought that if push came to shove, my knee would still be able to do all the things it could before but just with a little more pain. Clearly that’s not the case!

We have the tendency to take things like that for granted in our lives. We expect to improve muscle tone without exercise, acquire knowledge without studying and climb the corporate ladder without investing the time and effort. One thing I have personally taken for granted is having an arsenal of Scripture. For years I thought if I just read over a verse a time or two, then I would be able to recall it when I was in need. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth! While we may be inspired or touched by Scripture, we won’t be able to remember those words if we don’t take time to memorize them. Just like with an injured muscle, we won’t be able to utilize Scripture without investing some time and attention to it.

Deuteronomy 11:18-20 says Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates...” Apparently practice makes perfect! God knew that His word needed to be something that we would need to constantly remind ourselves of so that we could live according to His will for us. We can’t fight with the weapon of God’s word if we don’t have it in our arsenal…if we don’t use it we WILL lose it!!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

Deuteronomy 11:18-20

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bent but not broken

North Texas experienced a first this past week…about 15 inches of snow! Some areas got a little more, some got a little less but they ALL got more than they had ever had before, in fact this winter storm set a new record! The landscape was magnificent as it glistened in its new winter cloak. I found the most breathtaking images were all the trees outlined with snow, they were beautiful! Unfortunately, the trees were not as nearly excited about the snow as we were and some of the limbs cracked under its weight and some trees, like the one in my parents’ backyard, fell apart entirely. We’re still mourning the loss of their enormous live oak that provided park-like shade to the yard and was a friend to numerous birds and squirrels. I believe a moment of silence is in order right about now…

In some ways, we are a lot like those trees. We start out as a seed, we grow and produce fruit and can be a blessing to those around us. Trees develop a large root system as they grow but their strong, stationary trunk limits their ability to move. Those who are rooted in Christ will also stand throughout the storm, however, having God as our trunk gives us the ability to be flexible so we can bend and not break as we endure the harsh wind and rain. Jesus grows us with grace and love which softens our hearts toward others and keeps us from being rigid. He instills us with the confidence that when the storms of life come (and they will) they will not destroy us. We will bend, endure and be made stronger for it…all for the glory of God!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2Corinthians 4:7-9