Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Healing touch

The surgery was a success. I wasn't even home yet when the wave of pain and nausea hit me. I curled my body over and cried like a little girl. The first of many times...

My sweet husband, Greg, is a great caretaker. From the minute we pulled out of our garage at 4:30am, to the hundredth time of filling my water bottle, he was "all in". As we've struggled to find our new 'normal', he has jumped through hoops to try to make me comfortable. Who knew it would only take a touch.

In the midst of a very low moment, Greg did the only thing he knew that would make me feel better. He rubbed my hair. I could feel my body relax despite the maelstrom of nausea and pain I was caught in. His gentle touch calmed my storm.

Over the last few days when clouds of pain, defeat or fear came rolling in, Greg has grounded me back into reality with a gentle touch of his hand. Neither of us have liked experienceing the pain but, together, we're getting through it.

God uses each of us to be a comfort to one another. His word is a healing ointment to the hurting and we can apply His truth with a gentle touch and welcoming arms. A 'get well' hug for a dear friend or just being there to hold someone's hand as they cry can bring far more healing than we can imagine.

Do you feel God prompting you to reach out and show His love to someone who's hurting? Is something keeping you from it? Trust me, your healing touch may be exactly what they need...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

"Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.” Daniel 10:18-19

Monday, August 22, 2011

Once bitten

I had my first run-in with fire ants when I was a little girl. I was running around in shorts and sandals in the Texas heat with my best friend Julie. After riding bikes and jumping on the trampoline, we decided to explore in the field at the end of the block. As we walked across the parched ground, my foot gave way into softer soil. Within seconds my foot was covered with hostile fire ants. Together Julie and I managed to wipe the ants off but only after we endured countless bites.

My foot felt numb as we hurried home. My mom knew how to help me feel better. I was lucky to not have more bites. I didn't know it then but people die from fire ant bites every year. But by the end of the day sores had formed all around my toes. We were told not to remove the poison from the bites so I endured the pain. Those bites left scars on my foot for years.

We can get emotionally bitten as well. The sting of harsh words can send venom coursing through our spirit. The more bites we receive, the greater the impact. And as long as the poison stays within us, it causes damage.

Now that I'm older I know if I don't remove the venom from an ant bite it will scar my skin. But how do we remove the venom from being bitten by others? We forgive them. But first we need to give a little TLC to our spirit when we're attacked emotionally. Words hurt.

Cry if you need to. I wailed like a baby as those ants attacked me. It hurt and I cried out in pain. So allow yourself a few cleansing tears. But then evaluate what was said: Is it true? Does it align with God's word? Would God himself say that about you? Were you in the wrong? Is it possible that their comment really more to do with them and less to do with you? In other words, were you caught in the crossfire of their own emotional battle? What else could have motivated them to say what they said?

Then finally, forgive them for it. Look, we are all human, flawed and imperfect. We all make mistakes and say things we wish we could take back. I know I have! It breaks my heart to think my careless words could cause an emotional scar. But they can. For all the times I've been bitten, there are several times when I've been the ant. Lord, please forgive my foolish words.

Are you nursing the wound of a pretty bad bite? Are you ready to get rid of the poison inside? Pray God's word and allow Him to speak truth into your life. It is healing ointment for the soil...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” James 3:7-9

Monday, August 15, 2011

Claiming the victory

Player #10 threw the volleyball into the air then made contact with a loud thump. The ball sailed across the court and sank into the net. They were another point behind. A mixture of frustration and defeat hung on every player on the green team. #10 dropped her shoulders as she made her way back to the bench fighting back tears. This just wasn't her day.

Four more points were lost to the blue team before the coach called a time out. The coach said a few words but then, surprisingly, #10 spoke up. Her demeanor was different now. She was determined. After a few words and team cheers, the players returned to the court no longer looking defeated.

One point at a time, the green team clawed their way back into the game. Soon they were tied with the blue team. Step by step the team celebrated every point won and encouraged one another when a point was lost. They were finally playing like a team.

In the end, the blue team won 27-25. But the green team celebrated another victory. They had overcome a great opponent that day...themselves. They may not have won the game, but they came away with a renewed confidence and a will to win. One player decided that she was not going to stay defeated, she encouraged her teammates to believe in themselves and her determination spread like wild fire. A positive attitude can spread just as quickly as a negative one. With their new found determination, the green team won the next two games...

Are you on the court wafting volleyballs into the net? Do you feel you keep missing the shots that come your way? Or are you sitting on the bench watching the game happen but not being in the action? Well then it's time for a team huddle.

Teammate, this is your time! God brought you to where you are for a time such as this.(Esther 4:14) He has a plan and purpose for you being in the game. (Jeremiah 29:11) You are not just another player to Him. (Psalm 139:13) Trying and failing is far better than not trying at all. Take it from a player that has shanked more serves than she cares to admit. Each attempt makes you better and strengthens your faith. If you aced every serve you may come to believe you don't need God to coach you. And trust me, you want to be on His team!

Try again, believer, try again. I have goals I'm striving for just like you. It takes time, practice and a lot of grace to get it done. But God is leading this team and, with Him, we cannot lose...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reliance or compliance?

My family loves to cruise. We've taken a cruise each year for the last several years. The anticipation builds as we draw closer and closer to our trip. When departure day finally arrives, we are almost giddy as we reach the port. We're on cloud 9 when we finally cross over from land onto the ship, knowing the fun and relaxation that lie in store for us.

Maritime law requires that all passengers complete a muster drill. This drill walks us through the procedures we will follow in case of an emergency. They gather us in our assigned meeting place and walk us all up to the deck that contains our lifeboats. As you stand on the deck looking up at the lifeboats, it's a little daunting knowing they are our lifeline if the ship should go down.

While several passengers grumble at the required drill, I have come to appreciate it. It's not just about staying in compliance with the rules, it's relying on the captain's plan to keep me safe. The captain creates a plan specific for this ship and teaches his crew how to carry it out. Their primary goal is to lead us safely out of danger.

How do you see your relationship with God? Do you strive to comply with His word or have you come to rely on it? In this fallen world I know how difficult it can be to stay in compliance with God's instruction. I certainly have days when I feel His example is completely unattainable. I feel overwhelmed by how far away my sinful self is from Him. These are the days when I focus only on complying with His word.

But God doesn't just want us to follow His rules. He wants us to follow His heart. That's when we become reliant on Him. God knows it's hard to live in this day and age, so He wants to help us. When we come to the end of ourselves, we will always find Him. Following His rules come naturally as we follow His heart.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by God's rules? Are you trying to follow them but keep falling short. Take heart, God has a better way! Rely on Him and He will faithfully lead you through...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

Monday, August 1, 2011

The choices we make

Imagine walking down a path in the woods. You come across a fork in the road and have to choose which way to go. Neither option allows you to see the road ahead, so you have choose one by it's appearance or by stepping out on faith. Either way, you make a choice.

After choosing a path, you continue on through the woods. Soon you come across another fork in the road. Just as before, the path does not reveal its' destination. You have to make a decision without knowing the outcome. Once again you make a choice.

Throughout your walk you face the fork in the road time and time again. Each scenario is the same, the road does not reveal it's destination. Each time you make a choice. Now imagine that you stop walking for a moment and take a look around. Are you where you thought you would be?

Several times a day we're faced with forks in the road. We are forced to choose option A or option B. One option is usually better for us while the other may be temporarily more appealing. Each choice leads us down a path that presents even more choices. Depending on your choices, you may quickly find yourself off course.

Let's put this in the real world for a moment. Let's say you go out to lunch with some friends. You enjoy a light meal but still feel a little hungry. Someone suggests getting dessert.

Choice #1 – do I order dessert?

Everyone else is excited about having such a rare treat so you decide to have dessert too. As you scan the dessert menu your eyes fall on a description of the most decadent chocolate cake. It sounds so warm and gooey your mouth begins to water. There are other options like angel food cake with fruit or key lime pie but you really want the cake.

Choice #2 – do I order the chocolate cake?

Yes you do. You figure if you're going to treat yourself than it should be something you really like.
Later that afternoon you're scheduled to go to a class at the gym. Your stomach is still full from all the rich food and now you don't feel like going.

Choice #3 – do I go to the gym?

And so on and so on... Am I saying that one little indulgence will lead you to down a path of gluttony and laziness? Of course not! This just shows a practical example of the point I'm making. One choice leads to another.

I recently made a string of choices that I'm not very proud of. Choosing to skip my quiet time with God opened the door for me to fall into an old sin pattern. Needless to say, I didn't bring God any glory and found myself stuck deep into the woods. Believer, don't fool yourself to think you're not just a few choices away from your old self. Thankfully, we have a loving God who forgives and restores. Praise God.

Have you been making some choices you regret? Are you maybe not where you hoped you would be?Confess it to God. Ask for His forgiveness and help. He will open doors and lead you back to the path He has for you...

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13