Wednesday, December 30, 2009
God's love flowed through me this Christmas—and I could feel it especially when I knew that without Him, I'd have felt angry, upset, or bothered. I could not have done it without Him, and if anyone could have been in my shoes throughout the entirety of this struggle, there's no way that they would not believe in Him and the power of His love.
Unfortunately, those who still seek the truth can't fit in my shoes to see the proof. However, maybe those who saw me (and, perhaps, those who put me) in my "shoes" could still see enough of it to light the spark for them. (One can hope.)
Clear as mud? I'm purposely not getting horribly specific here, but I wanted to share that things went quite well.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This is the rough draft for a talk I gave at my church's women's Christmas brunch....
We are coming together today to celebrate one of the most important holidays in the year.
I brought a prop. This is my son, Logan. He is 1 month and 1 day old. I love him. I am so pleased with him. He is so cute, you should pay attention to him. Or should I say, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Matthew 17:5. God loved his son so much more than I love my own.
I am not one taken to an overpowering, immediate love for my children when they are born. It may be different for other women, but I begin loving my child the minute it becomes a part of me and this love grows over time. The Bible says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2) God is love. 1 John 4:16 Any inkling of love that I feel for my children, pales in comparison to the love God has for his son. Yet, as much as God loved Jesus, he gave him up for us. Because he loved us. (For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16)
God could have sent Jesus as an adult with a flaming sword and a host of heavenly warriors behind him. He could have sent him as a child to the most well-to-do family in the world. Arrayed him in splendor and given him worldly wealth. But The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14) God came to live among us, not above us. He came for me, a sinner. And how do you reach a sinner? You love them.
I love that every year I read the Christmas story, I find some new detail that evidences God's love....and divinity. This year it had to do with Mary. Mary and Joseph were betrothed -- It's in between engaged and married. Even though they weren't married, yet, the only way they could break off their relationship once they were engaged was to get divorced. Let's see if I can explain how perfectly God provided for this little family. Mary became pregnant while she was still a virgin. God could have sent Jesus before Joseph had ever even heard of Mary. Sure, she would have been a single mom, but maybe she would just raise Jesus in the home of her parents. Or what if she and Joseph were already married with three children? Then the prophecy would not have been fulfilled (Therefore the Lord himself will give you [a] a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and [b] will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14)
Now what do we do with this?? God is love. He loves His children. and any of us who believe that Jesus is God's son, that he came to save us, we get to be called children of God as well.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19. God calls his children to walk in love. A pharisee asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is and Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40
This Christmas season, walk in love (2 John 1:6) for this is the true reason we have Christmas. It was God's greatest gift to us and it can be the greatest gift we give to others.
Monday, December 14, 2009
– Philippians 4:4
Yesterday, I had one of those amazing experiences (which happens quite often, actually) where I was in church, and the sermon satiated my thirst for an answer to many, many prayers that I've spoken over the last year (and mostly in the last week).
I was reminded that I am blessed to be able to have conflict with my family. Before you go and write me off as being nutty, let me attempt to explain myself.
Not all conflict is black and white and easy to resolve. In fact, sometimes, it is impossible to fix whatever the issue is that may have caused the conflict in the first place (sometimes, you may run into someone who believes that the events that occurred are a completely different reality to them than to what actually occurred). But, how we choose to look at it, and how we choose to handle it (with the help of God) can bring peace, civility, and even forgiveness to a seemingly impossible relationship. And, heck, even over time, maybe that relationship can grow into something beautiful again. (Who knows?)
In the meantime, though, we can be reminded that it is beautiful that we can feel this hurt. Pain, sorrow, and all of the absolutely dreadful things of the like are part of what makes this life worth living. If we didn't have horrible, nasty junk to deal with now and then, it would not be so special when things are going so well.
This Christmas, while part of me is nervous to have to work so hard on myself for some relationships, I am more thrilled than ever to be alive and to be working this hard to do God's will. I have the opportunity to do it. I also feel completely thrilled (we're talking giddy, schoolgirl status) to have the opportunity to share it all with my budding, little family.
One might look at this post and think, "Oh. Okay. So, Jenny thrives on drama, then."
That couldn't be further from the truth. I am the most anti-dramalicious person you'll ever meet. Part of me thinks that God allows it into my life because he knows that it's a serious challenge for me. Sometimes, though, I think it's from the stinkin' devil, and if I'm not careful, it could really suck me over into the dark side. Now, for once, I have armed myself appropriately, and I can now look at it with a smirk on my face and say, "Bring it on. Bring. It. On."
I'm ready. Let's do this.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I think God leaves me alone to let me find my own strength
because no one else can give it to me.
Sometimes it is very lonely.
But I know the lonely times teach me the most.
I must let go in order to let anything in.
No one can love me, for me.
~ Sabrina Ward Harrison
I am learning. I think we are all learning as we go through life - learning about ourselves, learning about our spouses, learning about life and how to live it honestly and fully in each and every moment.
All you stay-at-home moms can relate with this - you just get lonely when your husband is gone. Whether it be a normal 8-hour work day or a week-long business trip, it's tough to get through the day without your partner. And yes, there are little ones at home to keep you company, yet it's times when you are alone with them when it's hard to look past parenthood as a chore and see it as a gift. And in those times, I can honestly say I yearn for the days when it was just me...just me and my work without anyone to answer to, without any responsibilities beyond myself.
Now how selfish does that sound???? REALLY?! As much as I didn't really see myself as that typical stay-at-home mom, I have assumed that role. And I do try to make time for my creative side and have a successful side business that is going extremely well. Yet WHY do I always desire more? Even when I was just by myself, I was STILL lonely and desired, what else...companionship and the sound of cooing babies and pattering feet.
Lonely moments do teach me the most. Sometimes it is simply a moment in reflection. Sometimes it is a quick tearful release. One thing that loneliness has taught me is that sometimes we need to just let go. By giving up control and by loosening the tight grip we have around our lives, our blessings are revealed in the most unusual ways. It is the little grins from my 3-month-old at 2 am that get me through the night. It is the hugs around my legs from my 2-year-old that get me through the mornings. It is the text messages that my husband sends me before his planes take off that get me through the afternoons.
And though I feel lonely, I know that I am never really by myself. There is more that lives within me than just myself, and it is the moments of chaos and the moments of quiet where I can touch the One that is beyond me and bigger than me. And I realize that lonely times really do teach me the most.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The many names of God are important, too. I have started a list of characteristics and names of God. As I come along a description or name of our Heavenly Father, I write it (along with the scripture reference) in the front of my Bible. As Priscilla Shirer says, "The more you know and believe to be true about who God is and what He can do, the more willing you become to obey what He commands." I will share just a few of the characteristics I have found. Please add on.
- my strength (Psalm 18:1)
- the blessed and only ruler (1 Timothy 6:15)
- sovereign (Micah 1:2)
- the King of glory (Psalm 24:8)
- you who judge righteously and test the heart and mind (Jeremiah 11:20)
- a God who knows (1 Samuel 2:3)
- the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
- the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17)
- reliable (John 8:26)
- the LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
- compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7)
- worthy of praise (Psalm 18:3)
- a refuge in times of trouble (Nahum 1:7)
And don't forget, as Christians we have a new name as well.
"To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 (emphasis mine)
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Has anyone wondered if the some of the urgings that they are feeling are from God or from their own imaginations and thoughts? I have been struggling the last few weeks with hearing God, and finding His voice to guide my life.
I have an amazing friend who shared with me several months ago, that she felt like God was preparing her for something big;. Long story short, she and her husband have three little girls and were not planning on having anymore. My dear friend ached for another baby, but honored her husband and their decision not to have any more biological children.
They had been praying and thinking about adoption for the last several months. Last week this little miracle was literally dropped into their lives. They are now planning on adopting a little boy. I am not at liberty to go into details, short of saying that this story has God written all over it!! Because she stopped and listened, God spoke to her and was preparing her and her family for their new addition long before they had any idea what was going to happen.
This made me realize...a little quiet time with the Lord and some time spent in His word will go a long way towards "hearing" Him. Isn't it truly amazing that we have a God that knows what is in our hearts and that He has given us this amazing manual to find the answers and truths to better hear Him!!
..."that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him...
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
instead of your own.
- Harold Coffin
Then I realized, why be envious of my friends when I have everything in life that I need right now? I have a wonderful husband, two happy and healthy kids that make me smile everyday, a roof over my head, and food on the table. We can laugh, cry, eat meals, welcome friends and family, and love in a house of any size. Besides, if we had every physical desire that we want NOW, it doesn't make us appreciate what we acquire in the future. So today I wake up, give my girls morning hugs and kisses, make breakfast in my fully-stocked kitchen, shower in hot water, and put on clothes from our almost-too-small closet. And I'm thankful for every last bit.
- Psalm 37: 4-5
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It is true. With parenthood comes the ever-present need for patience. I wish I could store it all up and use that extra patience I had from day 1 and use it on day 4. I found myself losing my patience several times today with my almost-2-year-old daughter as she ferociously loved my 6-week-old daughter - namely, she was laying smack dab on top of her, hugging and kissing her. She has her gentle moments, and then she has her violent and ferocious love moments. All come with good intentions, but you think she would reconsider literally smothering her sister with love while she screamed and writhed in pain beneath her. And yes, I called my mother tonight to ask her what to do. Ended up, I was doing the right thing all along, which was yanking the old one off the younger one and explaining the whole concept of inflicting pain on someone smaller than yourself. Not sure if it got through to her 20-month-old brain, but here's hoping.
How many times have you found yourself in the same situation? How many times have you tried so hard to have patience with your little ones, with your husband, with your parents, with your co-workers...and you get to the point where patience just doesn't cut it anymore and you want to blow your top? And how many times have you had the patience to love kindly, gently, patiently...and when there is no physical reception of that love, have you ever lost your patience and loved "ferociously?" They are the extremes, these things called patience and love - so easy to feel, yet so hard to contain.
So tonight, I will go to bed and pray for my patience to restore itself while I sleep. It's nice to know that with each day comes a new slate, and we can approach it as patiently or ferociously as we choose.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:11
A lot can be learned in one episode of Sesame Street. Today, everyone on the street suffered from "mine-itis". No one wanted to share. Everywhere Elmo turned, someone was snatching something away from him and saying, "MINE!".
Sometimes I think we suffer from "mine-itis" when we think of our church.....our church...OUR music....OUR ministry...it's really God's church, isn't it?
It's easy to get sidetracked into thinking that we'll only participate in activities that go along with all our ideas exactly. Some people will go so far as to leave a church, because they can't get it to conform to THEIR desires. But, what does God desire from us?
I think he wants a church full of people who deeply care for one another, and truly enjoy "doing life together". I've been hurt by people who go to my church...in every church I've ever been to....AND every school, grocery store, etc. as well. Life would be rather dull if we didn't have ups and downs. It feels good to have a church "home" where there are people who are deeply concerned for you. Even if there are some who aren't.
In summary, "church" is really just a group of people who come together to fellowship and get through life....while offering up their Praise to our Creator.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
We've been doing a series at church called "unshakable". It's all about living joyfully even though our world and our economy is upside down right now. My husband is literally losing co-workers to his left and right, and we keep praying for his job to be secure.
I learned a big lesson this past week about living humbly, and I wanted to share it with you. It seems that overlooking injustice is really difficult for me...in a way that's good...I never let the sun set on something that isn't set "right". However, I've risked some temper flares in a few of those "fights for injustice". I might have been a good lawyer, but I digress...
Someone bullied me this past week and ripped my self-esteem right from under me. My first instinct was to "rip" them something new, but it occurred to me that our sermon this Sunday was about esteeming others as better than ourselves. We can live joyfully in a humble manner. Now, I certainly don't mean that it's okay to let our self-esteem plumit and allow people to walk all over us, it is good to remember that we aren't #1. It's good to remember that God loves the other person just as much. It's also good to keep a clear conscience when it comes to things we say to one another.
So,...I bit my tongue. I responded kindly.....and just as momma always said, you only attract bees with honey. The other person responded back in a kinder manner. It had the potential to be really ugly, but it's better to have peace in knowing God will set it straight later.
Psalms 37:11 "But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace"
Proverbs 11:2 "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
Proverbs 28:25-26 "A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe."
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
We had a strong storm come through last night and all I could think about was that little dove, sitting out in the flower box, holding fast against the strong winds and rain to peacefully watch over her little eggs. God does that for us, you know. In the midst of turmoil, he holds fast against the storm, protecting us from chaos all around. It doesn't mean we are oblivious to the chaos, just peacefully cared for during the storm.
It may feel like life is chaos all around right now. You may be suffering hurt and wondering where God is. He isn't far. He's holding you and offering peace if you'll trust him.
"I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn't like the peace that this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid." John 14:27 (CEV)
"He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5
"Don't worry over anything whatever; whenever you pray, tell God every detail of your needs in thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which surpasses human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:6-7 (Phillips version)