Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mental altars


While having dinner some a few dear friends, the subject of memories came up. Just having celebrated Memorial Day, we were talking about the importance of reflecting on our history while still striving for our future. (See…women do talk about more than shoes and kids!)

We discussed the story of Joshua. The Lord miraculously held back the Jordan River so that the Israelites could cross into the Promised Land on dry ground. God had told Joshua to have twelve men, one from each tribe, carry a large stone across the river. They stacked those large stones together as an altar to serve as a reminder of what God had done for them.

Have you ever built an altar? How do you remember the times of seeing God move in your circumstance? Earlier in my faith walk, I spent a very long season camped out in a lonely valley. As God took down my tent to move me to higher ground, I mentally built an altar to remember my time there. I knew if I could mark that season in history, I wouldn’t have to relive it.

In honor of Memorial Day, my friend Gloria posted a great quote. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”(George Santayana) If I didn’t take note of how God moved me from the depth of my valley, I would end up there again. He didn’t let me stay because that’s not what He has intended for me. Can you relate? Has God moved you out of a valley and brought you to higher ground?

Mental altars help us not only remember where we’ve been, they help direct where we’re going. Like mile markers on the highway, mental altars show us how God directs our path.

Think back at a time when you saw God clearly move in your life.

Now, think about the time you saw Him after that.

And the time after that…

Recalling those times are much easier if you’re looking for the altars you built. Didn’t build an altar at the time? Well, believer, ya better build it now!

Our journey of faith is long and challenging. We need to know that we don’t walk it alone. Remembering how God was with you yesterday will get you through today. Taking note of how God is moving in your life today will be strength and encouragement for your walk tomorrow.

We may not be where we’re going … but we’re not where we were!

Be blessed,

Jennifer

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Decisions, decisions


“What do you want to do today?”

“I dunno. What do you want to do?”

My husband and I did this, back and forth, for almost an hour. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, the kids were gone and Greg and I had most of the day to ourselves. We just couldn’t decide what to do with it. We’d come up with good ideas but indecision and lack of motivation just couldn’t separate us from the couch.

The sad thing is I’ve done this more than once. Not just trying to decide how to spend a Saturday afternoon, but how I should serve the Kingdom. There may be a lot of good options, but indecision and lack of motivation keep me sitting on the couch.

Sound familiar? Have you wasted precious time trying to decide what to do with precious time? 

“God, what do you want me to do?”

“Did I really understand what you said, God?”

“I’ll just wait on You, God, until I feel I have heard you more clearly.”

Have you said any of these before? Are you saying them now? All too often we wait to see a heavenly neon sign before we’ll begin our journey of faith. But that’s not what God wants from us. He wants us to lace up our shoes, push the door wide open and step out in faith. Instead, we sit on the couch batting around a few ideas but don’t pursue any of them.

Trust me; I know how it feels to be afraid, uninspired or even indifferent. But I also know how it feels to be excited, motivated and invigorated. It wasn’t until I decided to do SOMETHING to serve God that He led me to the RIGHT THING. ‘You can’t steer a parked car!’ Just start somewhere.

Oh, in case you were wondering how our Saturday turned out. Greg and I found a restaurant we hadn’t been to, shared some tasty Mediterranean pizza as we discussed our plans for the future, and then saw a movie in which a lot of things got blown up. It was a Win/Win! And it all started by leaving the couch…

Be blessed,

Jennifer

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Privileged


I’m going to be brutally honest with y’all for a minute… I don’t always enjoy my job. There are things about running a ministry that I love and then there are those things that I wish I could run away from. Do you ever feel that way? It’s not a matter of being afraid to do the work, it’s the frustration you feel when the work just seems so hard.
Before I tackled another ‘have to’ on my list, I decided to have a little retail therapy. I was fussing around in my spirit as I meandered through the store until someone caught my attention.
“Jennifer, is that you?”
I turned around to find myself looking right into the eyes of a stranger.
“It IS you!”
“I’m sorry, have we met?”
“Yes, I know you. Well, I guess I don’t really. I read your blog!”
Before I could thank her, the sweet woman began to excitedly tell me a little bit of her story and how she came to find me online. She spoke to me like a longtime friend and I enjoyed hearing what God had been doing in her life.
After a few minutes we gave each other a goodbye hug, I purchased my blouse and hurried to the car. I was thankful to not see anyone in the parking garage because I could feel a rush of emotion building inside of me. The moment I closed my car door behind me I began to sob. I begged God to forgive my selfish heart and thanked Him for the fresh perspective.
I am privileged.
Privileged for the opportunity to lead a ministry. Privileged to speak to the hearts of those I may never meet. Privileged to serve a God who knows me intimately and wants the best for my life. Privileged to share this life with you.
Do you feel privileged? In the middle of your ‘have tos’ can you see all of your ‘get tos’? I know how easy it can be to become overwhelmed by the task at hand, but we need to help each other see the joy there too. We are privileged. It’s a privilege to know and serve such a Mighty God! And it’s a privilege to be standing side by side with a believer like you…
Be blessed,
Jennifer
“It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What does a Mom do?



For all the Moms out there:

“Mommy, what DO you do?”

The tone in my eight year old daughter's question jumped on me like a spider monkey. I knew I needed to calm myself down before I responded, so I thought about my day for a second.

I start each morning by wrestling you out of bed.
I make sure you have a full tummy and a straight ponytail.
I supervise the brushing of your teeth so you don't have puppy breath.
I pack your lunch and backpack while you're putting on the shoes we just spent 10 minutes arguing about.
I keep your drawers full of clean panties and your closet full of your favorite dresses.
I make it possible for you to walk across your bedroom floor everyday without being pierced in the foot by a small toy.
I constantly dust and vacuum because of that allergy issue you have.
I take care of the dog you just 'had to have' but do nothing for.
I meet a few ladies for Bible study so that no one gets hurt.
I drive you across town to ballet or gymnastics, depending on the day.
I hurry home and help you with your homework just before I make a dinner you will think is gross.
I supervise bath time and begin the nightly negotiations of how much TV time will be allowed.
I read your favorite story for the millionth time using the character voices that need to be 'just right'.
I listen to your bedtime prayers which normally include every family member by name. Aunts, uncles, cousins...all of them.
Oh, and then there's the list of things I do for your dad and your brother because you're not the only person in this family.

I took in a deep breath and smiled.

“I just do my best.”

Have a blessed Mother's Day!
Jennifer

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Time Out by Gloria Ashby

            I’m ashamed to admit it…some Sundays I attend “Church of the Covers.” That’s my code for sleeping in rather than going to church. I did that last week. Weeks of non-stop busy-ness with work and personal commitments caught up with me physically and mentally. I needed a “time out.”
            I slept in but later nursed a horrible guilt hangover. Guilt for not going to church, guilt for taking an hour to read the newspaper over breakfast and guilt for not accomplishing even one thing on my “To Do” list. When I bemoaned my sinful nature, my very wise husband reminded me, “Hey, you go constantly. The body needs rest every seven days. God said so.”
            What exactly did God say about Sabbath? In Deuteronomy 5, He instructed the Israelites to do all their work in six days but none on the seventh. Instead rest, He commanded. Keep the Sabbath holy or pure. Dedicate it to the Lord.
            Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning “intermission” or “rest.” God created us to take an intermission—a break from our labor, a time out—at least every seven days. But, why when there is so much to be done? What’s the purpose of that intermission?
            The answer to that question came when I remembered when Jim and I attended a play or musical. We used intermissions to recharge for the next act. To linger in the lobby. To chat about what’s happened in the show so far. Deuteronomy 5 suggests God created Sabbath for the same reason. God told His children to use that day to take a break from labor to remember the time He brought them out of bondage from Egypt.
            God created Sabbath for me to rest, renew and reflect on Him and the blessings He’s showered on me so far. It’s my intermission to worship God as a loving Father, realign priorities and refresh perspective about where He is working in the midst of life. God gave Sabbath to help me stay focused on Him and the main things in life. After all, as theologian William Barclay remarked, “There are few things in life that really matter, but those few things matter intensely.” Am I focused on them?
            Mind you, I’m not suggesting that attending church is not important. God wants me to worship individually as well as corporately. But, I am suggesting we all need periodic breaks to rest and remember. To take a Sabbath. To take time out with God.
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work…Remember that you were once slaves in the land of Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15, NLT)
To read more from Gloria, visit her blog Glimpses of God at http://gloriaashby.wordpress.com