Monday, June 27, 2011

Repurposed

As the 100+ degree temperatures beat down on our backs, my husband and I pressed toward our goal. This labor of love began about a month ago and we were finally in the home stretch. Remember me mentioning the fire pit project we began last month? Yep, this is STILL the same project.

Today we complete the final step, filling in the cracks. We were planning on coloring mortar to fill the cracks but it just didn't have the natural look we wanted so we created a new plan. We decided to use decomposed granite instead. I wasn't familiar with it, but online research proved it would be our best option.

I don't know if you're familiar with decomposed granite (DG) but it's basically chunky sand. The grains aren't as small as fine sand but small enough to get into little spaces. Once you compact the DG into the crevices, it will harden and act like a mortar.

As I sat on the flagstone pressing the DG into the cracks I felt a little sad for the granite. This was once a strong, solid stone created from magma. It's highly sought after for construction because of it's strength. I've seen such beautiful things made from granite and now it's here filling the cracks of our fire pit.

What a reminder of how temporary the things of this world are. The earth quakes, mountains fall into the sea and something as strong as granite decomposes into sand. Oh, how often have I built hopes and dreams on shifting sand only to have them fall apart! Building our lives on anything but the rock of Jesus Christ is meaningless, a labor in vain.

While I was feeling bad the granite had lost it's prestigious stature, I was extremely thankful for the job it was doing for me now. When you pack the DG into the cracks and give it an hour or so, it does become hard. That's exactly what we needed! Although the granite was no longer a strong slab, it was still useful for something else.

Do you have a ruble pile of broken dreams or ambitions? Even if it hurts you heart, you can take the pile to God and ask Him to use it for something different. Our broken stones can create a pathway for someone else to walk on. He can make it something beautiful...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 18:2

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Family Tree

They say you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family. Our friends are the pressure value that allows us to vent, our partner in crime when we get into a sticky situation and our shoulder when life brings us to tears.

If your family tree is like mine, there can be a whole lot of crazy growing on those branches! With so many different personalities, it may seem that you have both apples and oranges growing on the same branch. But upon closer inspection, the fruit may not be as different as you may think.

Here's a few take-aways I had from a recent family reunion up north:

God rewards integrity. No matter if you're a business owner, high level manager, work from home or punch a timeclock, God blesses those who work with integrity.

You never stop parenting. Even when you raise your own kids, God may use you to help raise your grandkids as well. Give it all you've got!

We're stronger than we think we are. Things like divorce or the loss of a child may feel like the end of the world but God won't leave us there!

Every person has something to teach us. I know that opposites attract, but they're not the only people we can learn from. We can learn from every person we come in contact with. Even if the lesson is what NOT to do...

Don't take family for granted. This one's a hard lesson for me because I am so guilty about not spending time with my brother and sisters even though they live nearby. They may be different than us, but God will use them to bless our lives in ways we'd never expect.

As I said in the beginning, you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family. You may be thicker than theives and love spending time together or your personalities may collide and you seem worlds apart. Either way, I can't help thinking there's a reason God has placed you on the same tree. Although you may seem different, just remember...you're actually both nuts!

Be blessed,

Jennifer

"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!" Philippeans 4:1

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sayin' not prayin'

I've been going through a spiritual drought lately. My routine hasn't changed but my attitude sure has. Instead of being filled to overflowing, I've been feeling a bit crispy.

I'm not sure if it's the heat, my family's summer schedule (or lack thereof), my husband's time consuming projects or my own insecurities making me more 'me centered', but that's where I've been.

I've felt very judgmental, been easily offended, and refrained from reaching out to people I have felt hurt by. (Lord, this confession is killing me!) Have you ever been there?

Each morning I come into my office and have some prayer time before I start my day. But honestly, I haven't been feeling it lately. Of course I'm still thankful for everything God has blessed me with and I still lift up my loved ones in prayer, but I haven't felt an emotional response.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that a person's relationship with God should be about 'warm fuzzies'. But genuine prayer seems to come from a deeper place in our spirit. Just saying “God, I need Your help...” is so different than when your heart cries “God, I need Your help...” That's part of my problem – I've been sayin' it but not prayin' it!

I came before the Lord the other morning and said “Lord, I want to not take things so personally. Please remind me that there are things going on in that person's life that have nothing to do with me. Their actions have nothing to do with me!”

The moment I said it, something stirred in my heart. As if a dam broke, emotions came flooding out as tears. Every hurt feeling, moment of anger and ounce of bitterness rushed down my face as I sobbed. Praise You God for hearing me!

I had finally broken through my spiritual clog! I had been so busy focusing on the speck of dirt in the eyes of others that I failed to see my own plank was clogging my spirit. It worked it's way in gradually until it had blocked me up completely.

I've talked to so many people who are frustrated with an unproductive prayer life. Just as I described, they spend time in prayer only to walk away feeling like nothing's changed. Ever felt that way? Do you feel that way now? If I may be so bold... maybe you're sayin' not prayin'!

Friend, God's going to change YOU long before He'll change your situation. When I finally realized I was camping in the 'me centered' valley, I had to choose to leave BEFORE God would move me. Now I'm following Him into greener pastures...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;” Psalm 130:1

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mixed Emotions

It's Graduation week! I don't have a kiddo graduating this year but so many of my friends do. I feel for the whirlwind of excitement and apprehension building in their spirits during this time. So much planning and hard work have finally come to fruition!
I wrote a story about this time of life about a year ago and I'd like to share it with you today. If you've ever invested even part of your life into a child, you'll relate. But be sure to stay with it until the end...

Mixed Emotions
The bags were packed and waiting by the door. The house was a buzz of activity with friends and family stopping in to say their goodbyes. My kids were leaving for college today. Jillian and Joel were starting the next chapter of their lives at Texas A&M.

As I watch the constant stream of people, my mind drifts back to the days when the kids were young. I remember all the warm summer afternoons playing catch with Joel in the backyard and staying up all night when he broke his arm during the little league game. Even after he fell asleep I couldn't bear to leave his side in case he woke up afraid or in pain.

Jillian and I had spent countless hours taking long walks and hanging out in her room listening to music. Jilli was so shy and never had much to say, but when she wanted to talk she would always come to me. I remember her first dance, first love and first heartache. She became a young woman right before my eyes, where had the time gone?

A windstorm of memories fills my mind as I try not to let my emotions show. I don't want to let on that my heart breaks a little more every time I think of them leaving. My life has revolved around them for so long, I can't imagine not seeing them after school or putting them to bed at night.

Before I know it, the well wishers are gone and it's time for Joel and Jillian to leave. As the bags get loaded into the car, Jilli buries her face in my neck and I feel her tear soaked cheek.

“I'm going to miss you so much, I wish you could come with me!”
“C'mon Jilli. We'll be back at Thanksgiving. We've gotta go.” Joel reassures his sister then gives me a smile and quick peck on the forehead.

Within moments the house is empty and I'm watching the car pull out of the driveway. My sorrow gives way to overwhelming pride. My kids have become adults and I am so lucky to be their dog!

Congratulations to all of our graduates for their accomplishment and to the parents for their faith and perseverance. May God claim all the glory! The best is yet to come...

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