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