Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Head in the Clouds

As I was driving the other morning, I noticed a little cloud cluster between me and the sun. The white fluffy clouds were just big enough to block the rays that would shine down on me. But the edges of the clouds were a beautiful golden glow because the sun simply could not be contained. Soon the clouds drifted away and the full radiance of the sun was blinding.

I started thinking about a few times in my life that clouds blocked my view of God. Sometimes they form like large billowy thunder clouds. Layer after layer of one thing and then another form a thick barrier between me and God's radiance. Conflict cracks like lightening bolts and I cringe as the thunder becomes deafening.

Other times the clouds create a gray overcast. There's no tumultuous storm, there's just a hazy indifference. These clouds usually show up when I haven't been in fellowship with God. I allow my schedule or priorities to slowly separate me from God's presence and the clouds roll in.

Regardless of what the clouds look like, the sun is still above them. When a dark storm rolls in, the sun doesn't run off and take shelter. No! It remains high in the sky whether we see it or not. That's the amazing thing about the sun, it remains constant regardless of our weather condition. Just like God.He is above our cloud cover, above our storm constantly loving us through the storm.

Do you have a situation in your life hanging like a cloud between you and God? Does it feel like a small cluster of clouds, a raging storm or completely overcast? Has it been awhile since you've seen the Son? Felt His warmth? God is above your storm and in His perfect timing He will break through the clouds with His radiant glory. Are you watching for Him?

Be blessed,

Jennifer

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 57:5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shoot for the Moon

Have you ever taken a chance, but didn't get what you were hoping for? Ever put yourself out there only to find that you weren't the right person for the task? I hope you can honestly say Yes because that means at least you've tried.  I recently submitted my new Bible study, One Size Fits All: How to Wear God's Word, to the Women of Faith writing contest. I've never entered a contest like that before and knew the odds of winning were just a bit better than the local lotto. I also didn't know if they would even accept a Bible study or if they were looking for something different. But I did know that it wouldn't hurt to try, so I took a shot.  I'm sorry to report that my study was not chosen to be a contest finalist. I'm disappointed, but not as much as I thought I'd be. Sure, I would have loved to have a book contract with a renowned publishing house. But I didn't walk away empty handed...  It gave me a goal. I used the contest's deadline dates to structure my time. I didn't just have an idea wandering around in my head anymore. I had the motivation I needed to create small goals so I could be completely finished by the final deadline date.  It gave me a focus. I don't know about you, but I can have ten different thoughts running through my mind at any given minute. I'll be working on the task at hand and then “something shiny” distracts me and next thing I know, I'm running down a rabbit trail. Knowing I had limited time to finish the book kept my mind engaged and increased my focus.  It gave me hope. How often do you dream about your life? I know so many people who don't have a dream. They used to, but somewhere along the way they lost hope and let it go. Finishing the study reignited the passion within me. I had lost touch with the reason why I started writing in the first place, to spread God's message of hope. God lays dreams in our hearts for a reason—to glorify Him. He has a hope and a calling for each one of us. We just have to believe that He can do it! I may not have been a finalist, but I certainly came away a winner! Hopefully my experience will be an encouragement to you. Is God prompting you to take a chance? Are you allowing yourself to dream? Or are you afraid you may fail? Please trust me as I say, allowing fear to keep you from your dreams is the biggest failure of all. Be blessed,
Jennifer
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rescued


My family has grown by four feet. This weekend we adopted a little dog from a local shelter. She's a beagle/chihuahua mix (or as we like to say, a bewahwah) named Chica.

The first night she was home, Chica lay sleeping on my lap. I wondered what kind of stories she would tell me if she could. What had she been through? How did she end up living in a cage?

  • Rejected – pushed aside, or even sent away because someone thought she was lacking?
  • Afraid – does fear cause her to cower down or lash out? What scares her the most?
  • Alone – which is worse, being afraid of those around you or being completely on your own?

I guess when it comes down to it, we're all like Chica. We need to be rescued. We need to know that our perception doesn't have to be our reality. Our situation can change and we can be made better by it. We weren't meant to live in a cage, we were meant to live our lives to the full.

Our Rescuer, Father God, longs to set every last one of us free. He wants to release us from the bars that hold us and replace our fears and doubts with His love and strength.

  • Chosen – God calls us each by name, longing to give us an eternal home.
  • Victorious – In the battle of good vs evil, God has won! Through Him, we cannot be defeated.
  • Loved – God loves us so much that He gives us His Holy Spirit so we will never be alone.


We welcome Chica into our family, hoping to share a lifetime of joy with her. God welcomes us into His family to share in His joy as well. Are you ready to be rescued?

Be blessed,

Jennifer

"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Feel Good or Get Better?

“Do you want to feel good or actually get better?”

You've got to know the answer to that question BEFORE you lay down on the massage table. Your answer will determine what you experience for the next sixty minutes.


I'd waited four weeks for the day of my massage appointment to arrive. I couldn't wait to get a relaxing back rub to the sound of soothing music in a dimly lit room. Ahh … bliss!

So when Alicia, my massage therapist, asked me if I wanted to feel good or actually get better, I automatically said “I want to get better.” I mean, who doesn't want to be better? There's always room for improvement, right? I was a foolish, foolish girl.

The next hour was an exercise in restraint. You know, the don't-scream-out-in-pain, cry-like-a-little-girl, or pass-out-completely kind of restraint. There was no restraint shown by Alicia, however, as she attacked every pressure point on my body.

If I'd only said “just make me feel good” I could have wandered out of her office feeling like a limp noodle and made my way home for a mid-day nap. But since I said “make me better” I left feeling sore in muscles I didn't know I even had, longing only for the recommended epson salt bath.

We have the same choice when it comes to God's Word. Do we want to feel good or actually get better? How many times have we gone to Scripture just to get a warm and fuzzy word of encouragement? A word to help us through the task at hand? Don't get me wrong, God gives us His word to replenish our spirit and encourage us to keep going. It's our living water.


But then there are other messages, the one's that challenge our thinking and discipline our behavior. Those messages are tough to take, but they actually make us better. They don't tell us what we WANT to hear, they tell us what we NEED to hear.

Alicia could have just given me a light, gentle massage and ignored the underlying problem. Instead, she got to the root of the issue and caused the muscle to release the toxins that were causing me pain. Scripture releases toxins too. God's Word brings light to the dark areas of our hearts, forcing us to let go of the lies that have built up and hurt us.

What has Scripture been telling you lately? Are you just looking for the feel-good messages? Or are you allowing God to get to the root of some of your pain? Maybe it's time we ask ourselves the question, “Do I want to feel good or actually get better?”

Be blessed,

Jennifer


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God my be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16