Thursday, November 29, 2012

Handle with Care


Christmas is slowly coming to life at my house. Boxes are coming down from the attic and the normal decor is being replaced by lighted garland, nativity scenes, and a few of my favorite snowmen. The seven foot spruce stands patiently in the corner waiting to be adorned with ribbon, berries, and glittery balls.

While unwrapping ornaments the other day, I noticed one of them had broken. Thin shards of glass reminded me of the hurry I was in last year as I put the Christmas decorations away. Ready to just get the job done, I shoved too many things into the box and apparently there were casualties from my lack of patience.

You and I are just like those ornaments. Beautifully and delicately made, each unique in our design. But we’re fragile. Harsh words and hurt feelings can cause cracks that may not be easy to see, but we know are there. The world becomes impatient with us and before long, we break.

My pretty little ornament may have been a lost cause but fortunately we are not beyond repair. God is willing and able to fix our hurts if we let Him. His supernatural grace, mercy, and love fill in the cracks and bind our hearts back together again. Not only does He repair us, He makes us stronger. So the next time we feel the pressure of worldly expectations, we will be more able to endure in His strength.

Knowing how easily we can crack and break, we need to extend that same awareness to others. Are you going to be seeing that family member that you can’t help but fight with this season? Do you have to spend time with people you would normally choose to avoid? Ask God to give you the grace and mercy you will need to be with them. He will give you His words to share with them instead of your own. In the midst of protecting your heart from damage, God can faithfully use you to build those people up as well. Like them or not, they are just as precious to God as you are – so handle with care.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him…” Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learning as we go


Today marks an interesting milestone for me – I have officially been married more than half of my life. Greg and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.

I was 19 years old when I said “I do” and had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to love another person more than I loved myself. I didn’t know how to do life with my new husband day in and day out. Where was my space? Where were my girls’ night outs? Why isn’t everything my way anymore? It was time to grow up!

Isn’t that how you and I are in our faith walk too? When we give our hearts to God, He gives us a new perspective. We realize there is so much we don’t know – how to love others, how to be in relationship with Him, how to walk away from our own sin nature. We have to grow up!

Thankfully, we don’t have to grow up alone. Greg and I have had amazing models of marriage over the years. Some couples (like our parents) have been together 50 years or so and have created a legacy of love. Other couples have shown us what not to do as their marriages fail to weather the storm. Both examples have molded and shaped us into the couple we are today – strong, flawed, and grateful.

God expects us to learn as we go. He never intended to show us His whole plan all at once. Instead He provides the instruction of His word and relationships with others to teach us one lesson at a time. We have the opportunity to take those examples, both good and bad, and learn from them. Only then will we ever grow in our faith!

So as we embark on our next 20 years (Lord willing) we are thankful for the experiences we’ve had, the people we learn from every day, and the God that brought us together in the first place.  We know full well that even though we’ve grown a lot over our time together, we are still learning as we go…

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning…” Proverbs 1:5

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A little more room


I’m a multitasking; get it done kind of person. And since I live about thirty minutes from the closest shopping area, I have a tendency to group my errands and appointments together in the same day. Normally this process serves me well – but not today. Today I scheduled myself too tightly and when one appointment fell out of place, they all came tumbling down like dominoes.

The frustrating thing is I missed out by trying to do too much. When my first appointment ran late and was ultimately cancelled, I pushed ahead to the next domino. One by one the dominoes fell because they were lined up too tightly and I had allowed zero room for error. Before I knew it, my day was a mess.

If I had allowed more time for each appointment, I wouldn’t have missed out on anything. I wouldn’t have missed the blessing of spending time with new friends, of hearing stories of what God has been doing, and feeling the Holy Spirit move throughout the day. Instead I ended up completing some ‘have tos’ and missing the blessing.

Can you relate? Are you trying to fit so much into your schedule that you don’t have time to be flexible? If the Holy Spirit prompts you to linger awhile or catch up with an old friend, can you do it? Or does it knock down all of your dominoes leaving your overbooked schedule in shambles?

I don’t particularly care for days like these, but I’m thankful for the new perspective. And with the busy Christmas season fast approaching, I plan to be far more mindful of how tightly I pack my dominoes. I know this is in stark contrast to the multitasking world we live in, but how about we leave a little more room? That way if one falls down, there’s no problem. Or better yet, put fewer in the line. Sound crazy? Maybe it is. But just think of how God may choose to use a little more room…

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pursued

A new friend of mine is getting re-acquainted with God. She’s known about Him the majority of her life, but is just beginning to form a relationship with Him. She’s seeing His presence in new ways and trying to open her protected heart. While still a little apprehensive, she is slowly becoming more aware of God in her everyday activities.  I’ve been so blessed to have seen the subtle ways Father God is reaching out to her and the “coincidences” that have transpired lately. I have a Godly jealousy remembering how sweet the beginning of the love story can be.

Another sweet friend I met recently reminds me how it feels to be on fire for God. Her new love for Him burns like a brilliant flame and you can see how enamored she is with Him. She has a heart for serving His kingdom and runs with enthusiasm toward the things of Him. Her energy encourages me to remember the joy that comes with relationship with God.

As I thought one morning about how God is gently working in each woman’s life, a sermon came on the radio. There was one of my favorite Bible teachers sharing a message about something I had been dealing with in my own life. His words of truth, hope and encouragement spoke directly to my heart.  

There You are, God. You’re still pursuing me.

That’s the amazing thing about God – He never stops reaching out to us. He doesn’t win our affection and then walk away; He pours His love into us again and again if we let Him.

For some of us, our love for the Lord may not be a new thing in our lives, but it certainly still makes us new every day. God opens our eyes. He encourages and equips our souls. He has fun with us. He speaks to us in a way that we will understand. He makes us into the people He intends for us to be. He pursues us… are we pursing Him?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

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

Friday, November 2, 2012

Attack of the stomach flu

I'm finally on the back side of a nasty case of stomach flu. The germ seemingly came from nowhere and has knocked me to the ground for the last three days. Now that the nausea-induced fog is beginning to clear, I can see that I've been in this situation before.

Attack is always out of the blue. Just about the time we think we've achieved a pretty good balance and everything's going well... BAM, we can be knocked to the ground. As believers, we can become lax in our faith when things are going well. We lower our defences and make ourselves vulnerable for the enemy's attack.

You're knocked to the ground, now what? It's a perfect time to get on your knees! The enemy loves to push us down but fails to remember that we can easily fall to our knees and cry out to God for His help, protection and provision. Why not? You're down there anyway! ;)

You use muscles you didn't know you had. I'm not going to get graphic here, but if you've ever been sick for an extended period of time you know that you'll strain muscles you didn't know you had. We do that when we exercise our faith too. Fully relying on God and praying as if our lives depend on Him (and they do!) strengthens our faith muscles. Before you know it, you're stronger than you thought you could be.

While I'm still not 100%, I'm definitely feeling more normal. But after this experience, I'm also feeling a little more humble, more aware, and more grateful for a God that watches over me no matter what I'm going through.

Be blessed,

Jennifer

"The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." Proverbs 18:10