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