Monday, January 25, 2010

Mad in General

Last night I was helping my daughter Paige with a project that she was putting some finishing touches on. She had come up with a really cute presentation idea, but was having a little trouble with the execution of it. After a few tries, she slumped back in her chair and began to give out a whiny groan. It seems that she couldn’t make it look right and my attempts were just not quite ‘good enough’. It didn’t take long for me to set the project down and walk away saying “If I can’t do it right then you figure it out yourself!” She was shocked at my reaction! When I told her that I was leaving because I seemed to be making the situation worse she simply said, “I’m not mad at you…I’m mad in general!” It took a minute for that the sink in, but when it did it struck me as being so funny that we were both laughing about it and were able to move forward.

Have you ever just been ‘mad in general’? Where everything around you seems abrasive and irritating? When you’re not sure why you’re angry, you just are?! It can feel like there’s a layer of sand in your spirit and everything interaction rubs against the grittiness causing more irritation. Like a piece of dust on a contact lens…it can be completely debilitating until it’s removed. While sometimes we may not be able to see the cause of the problem, we are certainly able to see the effect of it. Our bad attitude begins to permeate into the people and things around us. Suddenly anger has spread like a virus, infecting everything it comes into contact with. Bad attitudes are easy to catch and even easier to spread.

The good news is that even though we are exposed to bad attitudes and offenses, we have ways to prevent the spread of infection. Beginning your day with a healthy dose of Scripture is a great place to start! It not only protects your mind from the spread of infection, but it equips you with the tools to continue to fight off the attack. When the attack comes, and it will, be sure to quickly ask God for His strength and protection. Focusing your mind on Him will help you to discern how to respond to someone else’s issues. He will direct you in what to say or not to say, and what you should or should not tolerate. Choosing not to be offended by the behavior of others is a vital, and difficult, part of being in relationship with people. Most of the time, their issue isn’t even about us.

In case of infection, be sure to go to the Great Physician at the first signs of exposure. When you start feeling annoyed with people, start feeling your temper shortening, and begin to feel a little ‘put out’ by the needs of others…go straight to God! Ask Him to search your heart and mind to remove the dirt that’s causing the irritation. If left untreated, the symptoms of being ‘mad in general’ can result in isolation and loneliness. Let’s all work together for a cure!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Monday, January 18, 2010

Categorizing Your Day

Welcome to a new day! Today is a day full of new challenges, new opportunities and maybe even a few new experiences. As I was lying in bed this morning thinking about the best way to spend my vacation day, I realized that each day consists of the same four categories: the ‘have to’, the ‘want to’, the ‘need to’, and the ‘get to’.

The ‘Have To’
We are all extremely familiar with this category! These are the things in our day that have consequences if they are not done. Things like grocery shopping, paying bills and waking up at 0 dark 30 so you can get ready for work or school.

The ‘Want To’
We all love this category! This is the fun stuff that we get to put in our day, the things we really enjoy. These can include (but are in no way limited to) taking a nap, watching a movie in the middle of the day, chatting with friends on the phone, spending the day at the lake, getting a massage…ahhh, the list goes on and on!

The ‘Need To’
In this category fits all the things that almost fit into the ‘have to’ category but technically do not have black and white consequences if they’re not done. This is more of a gray area of daily requirements and is the biggest category for things we procrastinate doing! Things like exercising, writing notes to friends, doing the laundry, washing the dog…if it could be put off for another day, it would fall in this category.

The ‘Get To’
Now we’ve reached a curious and unique category in our day. This category is a combination of all the others, but its contents depend entirely upon your point of view. For example while making dinner for your family may be in the ‘have to’ category, getting to try out a new recipe would fall into the ‘get to’ category. ‘Wanting to’ meet a friend for lunch may soon become a ‘getting to’ category if your schedules line up.

We fill each day with a combination of all of these categories. The key is to balance the ‘have to’ with the ‘want to’ and the ‘need to’ with the ‘get to’ so that we can enjoy the life we’re given. True, some days will be more full of ‘have to’ then ‘want to’ but you must allow yourself another day to let ‘want to’ be more prevalent. There is nothing more draining then a life filled with ‘have to’ but there is nothing more fruitless then a life filled with ‘want to’. Purposefully creating a balance in your life will help you to remember the true purpose for your life!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't forget to knock... (repeated)

My husband graduated this weekend…finally! I watched him walk across the stage, shake the president of the university’s hand and receive the degree he has been working so hard for. This moment was the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice and I found myself not only excited about this finished chapter in our family’s life but encouraged about the start of a new one. The commencement message was given by Dallas Holm, a well known Christian artist, and I’d like to share part of his message with you today.

Dallas told the parable of the friend who comes at midnight asking for food and drink to serve to his unexpected guest. The homeowner turns his friend away stating that he and his family are already in bed for the night and he can’t help him. The man continues to knock at his friend’s door knowing that he cannot go home empty handed. In time, the homeowner opens his door and gives his friend all that he asked for and more, not just because they were friends but as a reward for his perseverance.

Dallas congratulated the graduating class for their perseverance. They had all continued knocking at the door and now the door of opportunity was finally opening to them with the hope of a great future. He encouraged them to continue to be persistent especially in prayer. Dallas described persistent prayer as a boulder that you try to break with a very small hammer. You hit it and hit it with the small hammer to no avail until one day, the boulder splits. It wasn’t the strength of that one last hit that breaks the boulder, but the combination of all of the hits. Our prayers aren’t answered because we say one eloquent ‘super prayer’ but as a result of numerous faithful prayers.

As I sat and listened, I thought about my own prayer life. There were a few unanswered prayers that came to my mind that I had grown tired of asking for. Day after day, hour after hour of praying for these things have made me tired and I’ve begun to lose faith. I was interpreting God’s silence as a ‘No’ instead of being persistent. In that very moment, I vowed to dust of those old prayers and continue giving them to God. We have to believe that not only is God able to answer prayer, but that He will!

Do you have any dusty prayers that you’ve stopped believing God for? Have you interpreted a ‘Not now’ from God as a ‘No!’? Haven’t you ever delayed giving your child what they’re asking for just to see how badly they really want it? If they ask once or twice, they may want it a little but if they ask everyday without fail you begin to see just how much it means to them! It’s in that time of waiting on God that He prepares us to receive the things we’re asking Him for. He develops our faithfulness so that we can continue to persevere in His plans for us. Faith is required to persevere, and persevering builds faith…it all works for God’s glory!
Be blessed,
Jennifer

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

Monday, January 4, 2010

Calculated Risks

Okay, I’m just going to admit it…I’m a weenie baby! It’s my natural tendency to be fearful of things that are unfamiliar to me or that have even the slightest chance of danger. I’m not sure where the fear comes from, I’ve been fortunate to have only had a few mishaps in my life that have caused physical pain. But the fear has been there for as long as I can remember, it’s not debilitating but it is very present and at times can steal my peace.

In spite of my own personal wrestling match with fears, I recently celebrated a personal victory. My family took a weekend ski trip in New Mexico. I don’t ski due to one of those little mishaps that I mentioned early that has left me with limited function in my right knee, but I was all for the change of scenery. On the first day that Greg and the kids were going skiing, Greg insisted that I drive them up the mountain and drop them off so that I could have the car for the day. My heart began beating faster as I thought about driving up and down the narrow, twisting, icy mountain roads…alone. Before I knew it I was sitting in front of the steering wheel watching my little family head toward the ski lifts. After a few prayers and some cautious driving I found myself once again at the base of the mountain. I had done it!

I know what you’re thinking, ‘okay…so?’ Conquering my fear of driving down the icy roads was a big thing, but it wasn’t the best thing. You see, as I was driving back to the hotel at the foot of the mountain I was given a special blessing. I was stuck behind a large RV that had been covered with snow and was driving about 25 mph instead of the 40 mph limit. I was driving patiently behind him, basking in my recent victory and telling God how much I appreciated Him bringing me down the mountain safely, when the RV suddenly sped up. As it did, the snow from the top of the RV blew up into the air, glistening in the morning sun and rested on my car. It was magical! It looked like sparkly fairy dust and dissolved as soon as it landed. I was mesmerized! It was as if God Himself were covering me with a blanket of peace and love that I could actually see. I was so in awe of that moment!

Not only did I have the victory of conquering a fear, I allowed myself to receive a bigger blessing than I could have ever imagined…a new experience with God! Sometimes we need to take calculated risks so that we challenge our personal boundaries. When we allow God to lead us outside of our comfort zone He will reward us for trusting Him. God had something to show me that day. He wanted to share the beauty of all He had created, give me a new appreciation for His majesty and reach me in a very personal way. God wants to do the same thing with you. He is longing to hold your hand as you trust Him to expand your boundaries. He’s waiting…what are you afraid of?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.” Psalm 145:5