Thursday, May 30, 2013

Drawing the Line





Have you ever had to draw the line with someone? Did the things they said or did make you decide enough was enough? Do you need to do that with someone now? It may be difficult to do, but there are some very valid reasons for drawing the line:

It sets boundaries
People often think that creating boundaries is the same as building up walls. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Creating healthy boundaries with your friends and family members allows you to grow closer to them while maintaining a mutual respect. But did you catch the word ‘healthy’ in there? Boundaries are necessary but if you have so many that you shut people out, you’ve probably built a wall instead.

It creates expectations
I’m a huge advocate for setting expectations. We can avoid a lot of frustration and hurt feelings by having proper expectations of one another. When we acknowledge the giftedness of our friends and family, we learn who we should turn to.  For example, I am blessed with having a few precious women as my closest friends, each with their own personal strengths. There is an encourager, a problem solver, a visionary, and a no-frills personality type. I know I need to go to the problem solver to brainstorm an idea, but she’s not who I should turn to if I just need a cheerleader. In turn, they know I’m the one who will talk with them about absolutely anything but I’m not the one to babysit their kids. 

It sets an example
By drawing the line, we teach others how we want to be treated. If a certain behavior offends us but we tolerate it from that person, we allow them to treat us poorly.  My heart has been hurt so many times by the behaviors I have allowed from others. Most often, they didn’t even know what they were doing was hurting me. I had to change what I would allow from them.

Drawing the line with friends and family can be hard, trust me I know. But I truly believe it’s a necessary step in growing healthy relationships.  It allows us to love one another the way God intended while protecting our hearts from unnecessary hurt. Are you ready to draw the line?

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1



Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Pause button



I seldom repeat a blog post, but this morning as I was praying God reminded me of this moment. It is exactly where I am in my life today so I thought we'd revisit an important truth...


 We spent months planning our London trip. We did research, bought tickets, made plans and waited with great anticipation. When we finally landed we hit the ground running, checking off everything we wanted to see and explore. Before we knew it, the week was almost over.

I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the rich history of everything we had seen. But as I sat in the middle of St. Paul's Cathedral, I found my pause button. I gazed at the magnificent detail of the domed ceiling and let God's glory wash over me. There was no audio lesson or list of details to be seen. There was only me and God in the house He inspired.

As I sat in the silence of the church, I reflected on everything we had experienced on our trip. While I appreciated each one at the time, only then did I actually absorb it. Like a dry sponge, my soul finally took in every moment of our trip and made it a part of me. My pause button allowed me to appreciate the moment before it passed me by.

Now that I'm home again, I'm determined to remember that day in St. Paul's Cathedral. The day that God allowed me to be still before Him and take in everything He had shown me. The day He revealed a pause button in my spirit allowing me to stop everything, just for a moment, and actually absorb the experience.

What a wonderful reminder, now before this busy season, that we have a pause button. We can choose to stop for just a few moments to absorb the experience into our soul. In the midst of 'to do' lists and tight schedules, we have the ability to remember why we are doing all of this in the first place. When we think about the people we love and the God who loved us first, we write our own rich history. But they only become a part of our soul when we hit the pause button...

Be blessed,

Jennifer

“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Everywhere you look





I recently participated in a Q & A session with a group of ladies that had just completed my newest Bible study, One Size Fits All. This was such a treat for me because there are so many ladies I never have the opportunity to meet, even when I’m invited to speak to their church. I appreciated the invitation.

As we discussed things that God had revealed to them throughout the study and how they were applying His truth, an interesting question came up – how do you know when God is telling you to do something?

I’d like to share my answer with you today…

A few years ago, my family was looking for a previously loved car because my son would be going off to college. We found a sassy red Camry. We didn’t know much about the car so we started doing some research. Soon the weirdest thing happened; we started seeing red Camrys everywhere!

We had never noticed the car before, but now that it was on our “radar” it was everywhere we looked. On highways, in parking lots, in TV commercials – everywhere! We eventually decided it was a good fit for our family and we bought it. A decision we have never regretted.

In my opinion, God works the same way. When we spend time getting to know more about Him, He will reveal things to us in the most uncommon ways. He shows up in things we read, encouragement from a friend, even a storyline on our favorite TV program – we start to see Him everywhere!

So to answer the question, how do you know when God is telling you to do something, I have to say I spend time with Him and then open my eyes. I do the research by learning more about His will and His nature. Once I’ve done that, I begin to see His hands moving everywhere. 

We’ve all probably asked for a neon sign from God telling us what we need to do at one point or another.  It seems to me that God prefers signs made of flesh and blood over signs made of glass and neon. He uses the people and things around us to speak His truth into our lives. But do we see Him? Maybe it’s time we ask Him to open our eyes in a new way. He truly is everywhere we look.

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Get out of the way




I’m one of those pet owners that feed my dog table scraps. I’m very particular about what I give her and know which foods to avoid (please don’t send me nasty emails). It’s always just a few pieces of chicken or steak but by Chica’s reaction you would think I was serving up filet mignon each night! 

My little dog gets so excited about the treats; she won’t wait until I’m done filling her bowl before she shoves her nose in. Her big ol’ Chihuahua ears get in the way so she doesn’t get all that I planned to give her.

I have to wonder… do I act that way with God? Do I get so excited about the few treats He gives me that I forget to allow Him finish what He’s doing? Do I jump ahead and stick my nose into things before it’s time? Unfortunately the answer is often “yes.”

I don’t mean to get in the way. I’m just so thrilled to be given a task for His glory that sometimes I jump in without having all the details. Unfortunately, I miss the additional blessings or equipping He has for me because I’m too focused on the first few nuggets. Sound familiar? Have you ever run ahead of God in your excitement? How did it turn out?

God has so much planned for our lives. He wants to glorify Himself through you and me in ways we can’t even imagine. But when we jump into things before He tells us to we can miss out on some of the blessings He has planned for us. Sometimes the best way we can glorify God is to just get out of the way…

Be blessed,
Jennifer

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

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do you remember?




Almost every morning I write something in my prayer journal. I jot down the things I’m struggling with, am excited about, and especially the things I’m grateful for. Then beneath that, I list my prayer requests for the day. I make sure to leave space to write down how God answers the prayers.

Yesterday I felt prompted to read through some of the earlier entries of my journal. I randomly picked August of last year. I had forgotten what a big month that was! My latest book was just being released, I had a schedule full of events and book signings, and I was about to send my son off to college for his freshman year.

As I scanned page after page of heartfelt cries to God, I was reminded of how present He was during that time. But I didn’t always see Him. There were so many spaces left open in the journal waiting to be filled with God’s answer. I was longing to see Him move and desperate for Him to direct my path. 

I’ll be honest; tears ran down my face as I read some of the journal entries. I wasn’t sad or disappointed for unanswered prayers. I was grateful for how clearly He addressed my cries in His timing and in His own way. It may not have always been the answer I was hoping for, but it was certainly the answer I needed. God heard my cries and He was faithful!

Do you keep a journal of your walk with God? If not, what other ways do you use to help yourself remember? Faith journaling isn’t like keeping a diary; you don’t have to share your most intimate secrets. You will, however, become more intimate with God. I love and appreciate Him more because of the things we have walked through together. Remembering what God walked me through yesterday gives me strength for today. If you don’t currently have a way of reminding yourself, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make a few prayer notes. I guarantee you will be amazed by what God will show you!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3