Thursday, January 31, 2013

Be a duck!



I know you’re having a hard time, but you’ve got to be a duck. Ducks are calm and cool as they float across the water, but underneath they are kicking like crazy!

My dad gives some great advice! I remember him telling me this when I was a teenager. Its meaning has changed over the years depending on what I was going through. It has reminded me to do things even if I was afraid, taught me that people would only have confidence in me if I had confidence in myself, and reminded me that I would never get where I wanted to go without making the effort. But most importantly, I learned that every duck functions the same way. People may look like they’ve got it all together, but deep down they’re kicking like crazy – just like me!

I’m not telling you to pretend everything’s great while you deal with your stuff in secret. I’m suggesting that God lavishes so much grace on us that we are able to function while we deal with our stuff. The ducks glide because their Creator designed them to, not because they’ve accomplished it on their own. God equips us to be a D.U.C.K.

Discern what to say
 Not everyone needs to know your business. This may seem to go against the idea of being transparent, but stay with me for a minute. God wants us to be genuine and show His love for others through the things we do and say. He doesn’t say we need to air our laundry out to everyone we talk to. I used to be terrible about this. I thought if I was transparent than I needed to be brutally honest about ALL my junk and, quite frankly, people didn’t know what to do with it. God refines us moment by moment. Some of His lessons are meant to share while others are meant just for you. He knows exactly what tool to use to create His masterpiece. 

Understand your purpose
 We would save ourselves so much grief and heartache if only we knew our purpose. Ducks are content to hang out in the pond with their duck friends, catch bread thrown by people on an afternoon outing to the park, and bask in the beauty of their surroundings. They are not focused on climbing the ladder of accomplishment or busying themselves with worldly things. While we may not have been created to hang out in the local pond, we have been created for one purpose – to glorify God. He uses each of us in a different way, but just like the ducks, we are all here for the same reason.

Choose not to be offended
 I’m going to be honest with you, I struggle with this concept. Like water rolls off a duck’s back, we can choose to let offenses roll off us. Just because someone intends to hurt our feelings or make us feel bad, it doesn’t mean we have to allow them to. I know full well that this can be easier said than done. I fail at this more than I care to admit. I’ll open myself up to someone only to feel foolish or rejected and it’s hard to not be hurt. We have the power to forgive them and let their offense roll off our back.  People can only steal your joy when you let them.

Keep kicking!
Life is in session and we need to be actively participating. Ducks get where they want to go by kicking their little legs until they get there. Sure, they can just sit back and let the current pull them along but then they don’t get to decide where to go. Are you still kicking? Or are you drifting along waiting to see what’s around the next bend? God intends for us to actively participate in our lives. We’re not here by chance; we’re here to glorify Him. That doesn’t happen by accident! God speaks to our hearts and directs us where to go, but we have to do some ‘leg work’.

Sometimes the simplest words of advice can be the most profound. Thanks to my dad, I grew up being a duck. Hopefully you’ll be one too. See you in the pond!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:3

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are you clogged?




Blurp – gurgle – slosh! Instead of releasing the bath water down the open drain, the tub voiced its disapproval. I had no idea we had a clog in the pipe until it was too late. Now I had a tub full of sudsy water and no way to get rid of it.

This was just what I needed today. I had been on a cold medicine induced roller coaster for several days. My nerves were frayed and I was more than a little sensitive. So when a friend didn’t react the way I thought she should, I quickly choose to be offended.

That’s not fair!
Doesn’t she care about my feelings?
Why is it always my job? Doesn’t this matter to her?

Admittedly, this was not my finest hour.  Overwhelmed with frustration, I decided to soak in a nice hot tub. I needed time to think and, basically, feel sorry for myself. An hour later, still angry and hurt, I pulled the plug to drain the water but the tub refused to comply. Something was clogging the pipe. In that moment, God gave me a much needed change of perspective:

I was clogged with self-assurance.
My feelings were hurt and I was justified to feel the way I did, wasn’t I? Or was I so set on having my own way that I didn’t stop to consider there was another point of view? Maybe my way wasn’t the only way to do this.

I was clogged with self-righteousness.
Yes, my friend had disappointed me. But how many times have I disappointed other people? Disappointed God? She deserved the same forgiveness I had been given time and time again.

I was clogged with self-centeredness.
Were my feelings hurt because my expectations were unrealistic? Did I really know what she thought or felt about the situation? There could be more going on with her than I realized. 

Gradually I had become so clogged with ‘self’ that I wasn’t allowing God to flow through me at all but I didn’t realize it until it was completely blocked. I had taken my eyes off of God and focused on the things I wanted. Thankful for the new perspective, I asked God to push out the clog that blocked His mercy and grace. 

Have you been feeling a clog in your spirit? Has His love and mercy been freely flowing through you or do you have a little ‘self’ blocking the way? Just like purging the buildup in a pipe, we can allow God to remove the ‘self-clog’ so His love could flow through… no plumber required!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

  “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Passion, Purpose, and Prayer




I don’t plan to tell you to start exercising, eating healthier, and organizing your life. You’ll need to go to another blog to get that message today. While being inundated with articles and advertisements about how to ‘fix’ myself, God whispered a gentle truth into my heart.

Live Passionately
What are you passionate about? Is there an issue, a people group, or a problem that captures your focus time and time again? My passion is helping women see their value to God. He has laid them on my heart because He wants me to speak His truth into their lives. Your passion is probably different than mine, but do you know what it is?

God is passionate too. You and I capture His attention over and over again. Sometimes He corrects our behavior, redirects our path, or rewards our obedience. He is always pouring out His love on us, one way or another. He is so passionate about us that He sent His son to die for our sins just so we can spend eternity with Him. That’s an overwhelming passion!

Live Purposefully
I have a friend who intentionally tries to be “in the moment.” She disciplines herself to slow down and enjoy what she is doing right now instead of running several steps ahead like the rest of us. That’s great advice! A slower pace and more narrow focus allow us to remember what our true purpose is.

But what is our purpose? What are we supposed to be focused on? God teaches that our purpose is to glorify Him. He gives us specific people and situations for each of us to magnify Him through. The people you’re called to love on are different from mine. But neither group is more important than the other. When we glorify God through our thoughts and actions, together we expand His kingdom.

Live Prayerfully
It’s fine for me to say all of this, but if we’re not covering ourselves in prayer none of it will matter. God directs our paths and equips us to do what He has planned. When we spend one on one time with Him, He reveals truth to our hearts and grows us deeper. Praying for ourselves and for others ultimately glorifies Him because we acknowledge He is sovereign. 

Prayer is a conversation between our heart and God’s. We may not always hear Him speak, but He is always listening. He longs for us to come to Him with everything, not to check off some list of wants and needs, but to lay our lives at His feet. When we pray, we submit ourselves to God’s will. We’re saying, “Lord this may be what I want, but I want You more than anything!” 

So as you busy yourself with resolutions of a creating a newer you, consider how your life would improve with some passion, purpose, and prayer.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Remember the Redbird



I'd like to introduce you to a writer friend of mine. Lisa Burkhardt Worley is passionate about helping women overcome strongholds in their lives. After being a sports anchor and reporter for 19 years, Lisa felt the Lord call her into ministry and she has pursued that calling ever since. Please get to know Lisa better at www.pearlsofpromise.com.  I hope you enjoy her sweet story of God's presence as much as I do!
Be blessed,
Jennifer
 
Remember the Redbird
Lisa Burkhardt Worley

     I took all the ornaments off our Christmas tree yesterday. I find it somewhat sad, because the Christmas tree and the season of Christmas is a time of year that I enjoy a great deal. However, I do discover that I take much more time to examine my ornaments when taking them down versus putting them up. I am in such a hurry to get the tree decorated, that it’s more about getting it done, than about sentimentality.

     As I laid the ornaments on my dining room table, preparing them to be wrapped and stored, memories came flooding back. There was the “My First ‘Kissmas” ornament, given to my husband and me from my mother-in-law, Sally, after we first got married. It reminds me of Sally, who I loved dearly. She passed away in 1993 after a battle with lymphoma cancer. There is the stork ornament I was given by my husband when I was pregnant with our first child. Other ornaments remind me of places we lived or visited over the years. The many crosses I put on the tree represent why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

     I also noticed we have more redbird ornaments than I realized. While I was Christmas shopping this year, it seems the redbird was predominant everywhere; on candles, Christmas plates, and ornaments. It was as if God was telling me to make note of the redbird.

     The redbird carries great significance for a young friend of mine, as her mother told her on her deathbed to not worry about her passing, for she would come back to see her as a redbird.  While Christians do not believe in reincarnation, I do believe God comforts those who mourn and that sending a redbird to the grieving person does not seem out of the realm of possibility.  Interestingly enough, when her mother was in hospice, my friend told me a redbird was perched on the window sill through most of her mother’s final hours. Since her mother’s death, numerous redbirds have visited my friend, providing comfort.

    Before Christmas, I told myself I must look up the meaning of the redbird.  What does it symbolize for us Christians? It took me until the New Year to do it, but here it is, straight off my internet research! “The red bird, or red cardinal, specifically, has become a symbol of beauty and warmth of the holiday season. A glimpse of this brilliant bird brings cheer, hope and inspiration on a gray, wintry day. As nature’s reminder for us to focus on our faith, the cardinal’s scarlet plumage represents the blood of Christ shed for the redemption of mankind.”

     Now I understand why it seemed God was tapping me on the shoulder before Christmas, almost saying, “Don’t forget the red bird” as I bustled around shopping frantically.  In reality, He was saying, “Lisa, don’t forget what this season is all about. It’s also about my Son and your Savior, Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for you.” A good reminder. In fact, I might just go and unwrap one of those redbird ornaments and display it all year long!