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

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life on the Farm

I enjoyed a great discussion this weekend with several couples from our church that have come to mean the world to me. As we were sharing some things going on in our lives, we begin to joke that the seasons we were going through were similar to life on a farm. There were people in a season of deciding what to sow, plowing the field, reaping the harvest and resting the field.

Several of my friends were in a discernment season, trying to decide what to invest their time in. T his took the form of many hard decisions and taking time to determine the priorities in their lives. Decisions like taking new jobs and leaving current positions were being prayerfully considered. We were reminded that God is so faithful to open and close doors to direct our steps when we humbly ask Him for His will.

Others were in a plowing season in which their head was down and eyes were focused on getting through the task at hand. Unrewarding jobs, grueling schedules and little to none kudos are usually found during this season. Satan seems ever present to make us feel unappreciated and useless, making us question the work we’re doing. One friend mentioned that her aunt in Iowa would always say, “Sometimes you’ve just got to plow the corn!” Her wise counsel instructed that even though there are things we don’t enjoy doing or are difficult, sometimes they just have to be done!

A few were in the harvesting season and have begun to see the fruits of their labor. It was awesome to celebrate the victories that are coming from all they have invested! By pouring themselves into others, my friends are opening the doors of possibilities and leading others into God’s hope for their future. God is rewarding their obedience by showing them the fruit of their labor of love.

Finally we discussed the resting season. While images of palm trees, lounge chairs and drinks with umbrellas may come to mind, more accurately it is a time of being still before God. I don’t know about you, but it’s usually easier to serve others than it is to just be still. After a harvest, the farmers cut down the stalks, turn over the ground and then let it rest while it gets replenished of the essential nutrients it will need for the next season. For us, this is a time spent one on one with God to replenish and prepare for the next season of sowing. It’s a precious time spent with Him learning and growing deeper in His love for us as He prepares us for the next season of serving.

No matter what season you find yourself in, take heart in knowing that you’re not alone! You’re working shoulder to shoulder with all of us. We are co-laborers working the fields together by God’s strength and for His glory. He equips us to tend to His fields, winning hearts for the kingdom. He has a plan for our lives and, as one of my friends eloquently stated, ‘each stage is an integral part of a bountiful harvest!’

Be blessed!
Jennifer

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’" Matthew 9:37-38

Monday, February 1, 2010

Saturated

Have you ever become discouraged in your prayer life? Do you ever feel frustrated that maybe God isn’t hearing you and things just aren’t going right? I definitely have! I have spent time in prayer just to come away feeling about as dry as I was when I started. I have even had times when I informed God how frustrated I was about taking a quiet time with nothing to show for it. I shudder to think of such insolence and am so thankful that God is merciful and refrained from smiting an unappreciative brat like me!

I’ve come to learn that in my fruitless quiet times, I was usually the one doing all of the talking but not much listening. God was listening but I wasn’t allowing Him time to speak and He can only fill us up if we’re willing to hear Him speak truth into our lives. Our spiritual lives are like a sponge, and the condition of that sponge can vary. If we’re not spending time with God or are choosing not to hear Him speak to us, the sponge is hard and brittle. In this state, the sponge can actually do more harm than good. Now, based on what level of exposure we have to God and how open we are to receiving what He has to say changes the condition of our sponge. This can be anywhere from a little damp to full out drippy! But, when the sponge gets fully submerged in the water it becomes full and the water runs freely from it. That’s what God wants for us… to be fully saturated! He wants us to be so full of Him that His love and virtues run off of us like water; all we need to do is allow Him to fill us up!

Please notice that I said ‘allow’ Him to fill us up…this is really important! We can do all the right things, go to all our classes and say all the Christian sayings, but unless we’re actually being still and allowing Him to do some talking, our sponge will start drying out. Just like a sponge cannot stay saturated for days on end, we can’t rely on yesterday’s blessings! The sponge has to be re-submerged over and over again to stay saturated and so do we! I’m the first to admit how easy it is to let a ‘mountain top moment with God’ become something you ride out for a few days, but before you know it you’re back in the valley wondering what happened. Sound familiar? God wants to talk with us everyday not just every so often. He wants us to be saturated in all He has for us, we just need to allow ourselves to be submerged. Dive on in, the water’s fine!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38