Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Being "Thankful"

This is the season for being thankful, right?

Wait, when did Jesus say, "Be thankful 1 day a year when you're eating way too much food"?

I'm not beating you over the head for being a part of a huge holiday, I'm just wondering if all of these Facebook posts of how thankful we are could last longer than 1 month?

All week I've had Colossians 3:15 in my head:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."

Notice how the be thankful part was a separate sentence. Almost like a no-brainer. Like, duh...if you've forgotten- be thankful!

I love the part before it equally though. We are called to peace. That's our calling. It's not just one day or when we're around so-and-so or when we feel like it.

Holidays bring stress and craziness, but if we continue this thankfulness and realize our calling to peace, that should change things.

All of this said, I know I'm going to be around people in the next month that don't know Jesus. In fact, they want nothing to do with Him. I won't overstep my bounds, but if you're going to be around me, I've decided you're going to see Jesus. You're going to hear about Jesus. You're going to sense the love of Jesus.

I'm called to spread His name...and I'm called to peace.

This is my current balancing act.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3 things you don't know about me

I have a hard time remembering everyone has their own story...everyone.

Did you catch that?

That short-tempered cashier, that rushed waitress and yes, even that person in traffic who is so mad they're making you mad. All of these and more have their own "reasons" why they're at the place they are with the attitude they have. I'm not saying it's ok to blame your circumstances (or lack thereof) for your bad behavior, but when we take a second to see where someone is coming from, it REALLY helps our perspective change to give them a little grace.

If I forget this, surely someone else does too. So, in my attempt to help, and be transparent in the process, here's 3 things you don't know about me that have impacted the way I am today:

1. I've been to a lot of funerals. A lot. Probably more than the number of years I've been alive. That's a lot of loss; a lot of grieving. I still remember carrying around pictures of my best friend who died when I was 6, and that's just one of many.

2. I was bullied in school, complete with death threats. I still remember her face and wondering what I did to make her hate me so much.

3. I never really had friends. My parent's friends had all boys. It wasn't until I was about 12 before I had my first female friend. We moved when I was 15 and completely lost any friends I did have.

So there's my sob story :) Honestly though, these are just 3 things in my life that I can look back on and easily see what it's done to my character, not to mention the little day-to-day things that try to steal my joy and attention.

These types of things don't define us, but they sure do shape us one way or the other into who we are today.

Just something to think about as you encounter people today...what might their story be?

What's your story?

Monday, October 14, 2013

One day at a time

If you know me even a little, you know I'm a planner. Hardcore planner.

Let's get all the details written up, scanned for typos, updated to the minute and laminated.

Wouldn't it be nice if life were like that? For me, that would be ideal. Show me the plan and I'll follow it!

The thing is, when you follow Jesus - He is your plan.

I've been a Christian for a long time and I'm still learning this one.

I don't need to know all the answers. I don't need to know how the day or week will turn out.

I want to, but I don't NEED to.

I need to seek Jesus. I need to go to Him for everything and trust that He's got this.

I need to put down my planner, stop thinking of where I'll be a year from now, 5 years from now, etc., and take it one day at a time.

One...day...at...a...time.

I cringe just typing that. It's against my nature, but a lot of things with God are.

You know that whole "His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts" thing? It's true.

We've got to continually train ourselves to think and act like Christ, because it doesn't come naturally.

Bottom line: I don't need to know and plan out every detail of my day or life. I need to take it one day at a time. (Give yourself some bonus points here if you are to the point of actually being excited for the adventure of taking it one day at a time.)


*Are you a planner? How do you choose daily to trust God with all the details and "plans" in your life?


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Disappointed

Disappointed. What a word.

I remember my Mom telling me and my brother, "I'm not mad...I'm just disappointed", growing up.

It's not her fault, but I hear that word and I instantly feel guilty.

Even when I am the one disappointed...I feel guilty that I even feel disappointed!

There's just something about things or people not living up to what you wanted them to be.

It can crush your world, actually, if you let it.

I almost let it crush mine this summer.

Long story short, things didn't go how I thought they should. I felt like I did all the right things, but it didn't matter.

When I get to that point, my gut instinct is to give up.

I mean, what's the point, right?

What's the point of trying so hard when it doesn't work out anyway?

What the point of living right & making right choices when people around you are being rewarded for living for themselves?

What's the point of being nice and generous to others when there's never a difference in the way people treat you?

I know, I sound like a whiny baby, but hang with me for a second.

Here's the point:

Because God sees. Because you're glorifying Him when you live like that. Because you're storing up treasures that can't ever be taken away when you treat others like that. Because you will see a blessing that others only dream about.

Because you're planting seeds today for an amazing harvest you'll see someday.

Have you ever planted seeds? Knees in the dirt...sweaty...bugs...who knows what under all that dirt...not fun.

And all that to finish and see nothing for all your work.

Not yet, anyway.

It's there.

You can't see it yet. You may not even be able to imagine it yet, but it's there.

Your harvest is growing, it just hasn't reached the surface yet.

Don't give up. It's coming.

As I tell you this, I'm reminding myself...God hasn't forgotten us...He's just working underground right now, increasing our harvest...and it's going to overflow your barn (or whatever you use for storage these days :))


"Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" Psalm 31:24 
"And let us now grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 
"I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6


Monday, July 8, 2013

Not afraid, not ashamed

Something has happened in the last year. I can't put my finger on exactly what or when it was, but I've changed. I'm not afraid like I used to be.

I was never really all that scared to begin with but I had your average, everyday fears all the same.

All I know is now I'm just not as scared. I'm not apprehensive to do things that used to scare me to death or at least bring butterflies to my stomach. Public speaking/singing is still a big one, and one that the butterflies have hung around for, but even so, I do it with more ease now.

Maybe this is all a part of getting older? Maybe this happens for everyone at some point?

I'm just surprised and happy that it's happened now. I'm ready. I think maybe a part of it is continuously caring less of what people think.

Don't get me wrong, your opinion is valid and even important to me and to God. The difference here is I won't let your opinion or other's opinions change the way I think, act, speak, etc...I know, so elementary...but it's a huge weight lifted for me.

I can't tell you one person who I'd listen to more than God. Seriously. His voice is now the loudest, above all the Nay-Sayers, pessimists, and even well-meaning criticizers.

I'm sorry, your opinion just doesn't trump what God says about me, personally.

Cool thing is He thinks and says the same thing about YOU.

You are wanted. You are called by name. You are so loved. You are talented. You are worth more than you know. You are thought of. You are known. You have a future. You are enough.

No need to let the voices of others drown out the only voice that matters. Don't be afraid. Don't be ashamed. God's truth about you lasts longer than your's or other's view of you.


*On another note, I really want to go on roller coasters everyday now just to have the adrenaline of being afraid :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm Unlovable

How many times has this thought consumed your mind? It swirls powerfully, like muddy rapids. Thrashing heart and mind round and round like a toy boat in a damaging river of doubt, fear and lies.

The “I’m unlovable” thought tosses us from one painful situation to the next. Rejection from a parent leads to a heart desperate to fill the void that leads to an unloving abusive relationship. A broken heart is patched up with food that leads to weight gain that makes you feel less than beautiful and unworthy of love. I don’t assume to know the tongue lashings, torturous words or deeds, and taunts you've endured.

I don’t know what rejections, rudeness, or raw aches have slayed your heart. I don’t know what choices you've made—what choices were made for you—that pushed you into the roaring rush of this river that tries to drag you down with lies and pain.

I only know this—you will drown in that river unless you grab hold of this trustworthy safety rope: You are lovable.

Yes. You. You are lovable.

There is an all-loving Creator who is Sovereign. This is a big word with bigger meaning: all powerful.He had the choice to concoct you in His mind. He had the option to create you. He had the wherewithal to call you by name!

He didn't have to.

He could have said, Nah, I know how that one turns out...
Depression and doubts are her go-to’s instead of Me.
Guys are allowed to violate her body.
Her marriage falls apart.
Her relationship with her parents isn’t good.
Her kids can’t stand her.
She’s frumpy.
She’s not worthy of My time or talent.
She’s not lovable.

But He didn’t. No.

Instead, He said, I know how that one turns out...
She trusts me despite her teetering emotions and difficult circumstances.
She redeems her past to inspire purity in young girls.
She encourages and invests in other’s marriages.
It’s My delight to be her Father and call her My daughter.
Her knees hit the ground in fervent prayer for her children.
She’s beautiful.
She’s worthy of my Son’s life and death.
She’s so lovable, I call her Mine and nothing she does—nothing that happens to her—can take My love from her.

I don’t know why you don’t feel you’re lovable. Or what lies come trying to convince you that your past, your actions, your shame, your guilt disqualifies you from love.

What I do know is this: you are worthy of love. You are lovable  And you are qualified as a child of God. But don’t take my word. Take His…

This is what the Lord says: ‘[Insert your name] who survives [insert what makes you feel unlovable] will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to [her].’ The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build [Insert your name] up again and you will be rebuilt.’” (Jeremiah 31:2-4a)

I hope daily as you seek God, you begin to know...truly know...that you are lovable and you are loved.

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” Song of Solomon 8:7

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day to YOU...all of you!

Happy Mother's Day to...

those who gave birth this year to their first child- we celebrate with you.

those who lost a child this year- we mourn with you.

those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains- we appreciate you.

those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away- we mourn with you.

those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears and disappointment- we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don't mean to make this harder than it is.

those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms- we need you. You do more than we'll ever know.

those who have warm and close relationships with your children- we celebrate you.

those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children- we sit with you.

those who lost their mothers this year- we grieve with you.

those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother- we acknowledge your experience.

those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood- we are better for having you in our midst.

those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year- we grieve and rejoice with you.

those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising- we anticipate with you.


This Mother's Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart, it's a calling and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you. Thank you.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

23 Random Acts of Kindness

Such a fun way to spend my birthday! Please know that as you give, it becomes contagious. You can't help it and others around you can't help but give too!

I'm posting this simply to inspire you on your next birthday or even today, to give...just like our Savior gave us the greatest gift.


1. We left our mailman a box of girl scout cookies in our odd, rusted round mailbox :) 


2. Left a bag of candy on our neighbors porch with a note saying Happy Easter!


3. Left quarters in kids' machines at the store..imagine the happy little faces :)


4. Taped popcorn to the 4 Redboxes in town with a note "Can you say "Movie Night"? Enjoy this random act of kindness!"


5. Bought a gift card at Walmart, then gave it back to the checker...this was harder than I thought it would be. Turns out it's against their policy to accept "tips" or "gifts" from customers. After talking with a few managers, I ended up coming back an hour later on her break & met her in the bakery & gave it to her! She had the quote of the day: "I've never heard of someone giving away money on their Birthday!" That's the point :) (Side note if you decide to do this: might buy it, then give it to the customer behind you!)

6. Left post-its in public bathrooms saying things like: "You're beautiful!" "Jesus Loves You", "Happy Easter", etc.




7. Left change on the vending machines outside with a note "Enjoy a pop on us! Enjoy this random act of kindness!"



8. Left diapers on the changing table in the bathroom with a note: "You're a great Mom!! God bless you! Enjoy these items and this random act of kindness!"


9. Left notes on a lot of aisles around the store saying "Don't give up", "Jesus Loves you" and "Happy Easter".

10. Took carts from random places in the parking lot to their right place!

11. Hid $1 bills in the toy aisle at the Dollar Store for kids to find!



12. Took 2 dozen roses to the nursing home by my house and passed them out to everyone we saw! One man instantly wanted to know who I was and what I was doing. The woman next to him was staring at her yellow rose saying, "Yellow is my FAVORITE color!!" He said, "Well here, have mine. Men don't do well with flowers." One of my favorites stops! :)

13. Took a basket of sweets to a local fire station with a note: Thanks for your service to our community! Happy Easter!"


14. Took another basket to the Post Office with a note saying: "We appreciate you! Happy Easter!"




15. Went to Chili's for lunch. While there I scouted the place & ended up paying for the table next to us with a bunch of ladies having lunch. I wanted to do it anonymously, but they started to catch on, so we ran out! :)

16. As we were rushing out, I scattered these on a few tables we passed:



17. Oh, we all piled our money together to leave a HUGE tip for our server too! It was probably what she makes in about a week...loved doing that!

18. Scouted out a gas station too looking for someone buying gas. It took longer than you'd think! Finally a lady stepped out of her car and I just knew she was the one. I walked over, asked if she was there to get gas. She obviously thought I was strange, but I said I wanted to pay for her gas and handed her plenty to cover it. She held it out with a confused look on her face. I said it was no problem and to have a Happy Easter. She stood there for a while saying how grateful she was!

19. We went to a local park & hid 2 dozen Easter eggs all over. They were filled with candy & little notes saying "Jesus is Alive!", etc, and left a bucket that said: "Have an Egg Hunt on us - please enjoy this random act of kindness!" I saw a kid with his Mom on the way back to the car and said, "We just hid some Easter eggs over there, if you want to go find them, you can!" They looked at each other excitedly and raced off to find them!



20. Stopped by a laundromat with an envelope full of quarters. Spotted a woman by herself in the corner. I asked her if she was doing laundry, she seemed confused, but I handed her the envelope and told her to have a happy Easter!


21. Drive-thru difference, kind of :) went to Starbucks & paid for my Mom & bro just because!

22. Brought dinner to a sweet friend just to bless her.



23. Wrote a note to one of my best friends who's suffering for Jesus in Hawaii just because :)


Everywhere we went we help open doors, smiled and gave out compliments like free candy! It was such a great day serving those around me and focusing on others and how to make them happy. It was almost like people watching sometimes...I would just watch people and get excited to do something nice for them in the next few moments. We should do this all the time...once you try it, your attachment to money will pretty much disappear.


It really is more blessed to give than to receive, I know from experience!

Want to say a special thanks to those who went with me to share in this giving day. Thanks to Janelle for lunch, her sweet gifts & kind words. To my parents for getting me the only thing I needed, a new set of hot rollers! And thanks to my bro who got me this gold box. Oh, and the truffle that was inside before I inhaled it!


I hope you were inspired by this day and choose to give when you see the chance! Hope you had a great Easter like I did as well! He is risen!!






Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm learning

Over the last couple months I've secretly thought my best days were behind me. That's dangerous.

I would look back at a picture, video or talk about something we did and think, "Man, things were REALLY good back then." "Why didn't anyone tell me to enjoy that more?" "Why didn't I soak in the moment more?"


Years ago I wondered where I would be today...and I got here one day at a time. When I look back, I see how I got from there to here.

That's the thing about life. It's ordinary days strung together, with a few big events in between. It's gradual, slow and sometimes mundane.

So, if I look back and think things were pretty great 10 years ago...2 years ago...even 2 months ago, things must be pretty great NOW, too.

Right?

I'm just so busy in the "now", I don't notice how blessed I am. I don't take extra time for hugs and kind words. I don't realize how many people around me love me like crazy. I don't notice the little impacts God makes through me every day. I don't notice the lingering smiles just because I'm in the room.

I don't notice, because I'm in the now and it's so subtle.

It's more sad though when I look back and THEN I notice...I missed it.

Don't miss right now. Don't miss what God's doing.

What He's teaching you through your current heartache. How He's growing you today. How you have a better attitude today than you did yesterday. How He's maturing you and increasing your compassion. How much your love grows for your family when you're all together.

Today counts...don't miss it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Winta's Story



On my recent trip to Ethiopia, Africa a dream came true. I got to meet the little 5 year old girl I sponsor through Mission of Mercy, Winta.

This was the biggest thing I was looking forward to on the trip.

I knew I would instantly be drawn to her, but I didn’t realize the instant love that would overtake both of us! I saw her across the way and just knew it was her. I got to introduce myself to her and her Aunt. I gave her a present with all kinds of toys, play dough, hair things, etc. As we were opening it, I was told Winta means “Gift”!

I talked with her about school, her church, her family and what she likes to do. She asked me about my family and my job too. She seemed shy at first and the translator told me she wanted to look at my face but was too shy to. I told her she could stare at me and it would be ok!


Got to color with her, dance, sing and play with her for a couple hours before they had to leave. She was becoming more than a picture on my refrigerator. This was a real child with a real family and a real need.

We took lots of pictures and gave lots of hugs, then they turned to go. Her Aunt came back and through a translator said, “I have to tell you something before we go.” She said, “Winta is an only child and her Mom is a single Mom. She was a prostitute to take care of Winta. Because you sponsor Winta, her Mom no longer lives that lifestyle.”

That’s where I lost it. I just cried and hugged her and said, “It’s because of Jesus!”

I had faith that each month when I send money that I’m helping a child halfway around the world. On this trip and through that conversation, I got a heart-knowledge that God is actively working through the little that I give every month. It’s changing this child’s present, future and changing her family too!


We never know the full extent of what God will do when we’re willing. All the long flights, few hours of sleep, culture shock, etc. was worth it. Seeing firsthand what God is doing through Mission of Mercy, and choosing to do through me, is still blessing me today.

You can make a difference and sponsor a child here: http://www.missionofmercy.org/



Thursday, August 2, 2012

The "A" Word


I’m talking about accountability here.

I never thought I would write about this, much less have it be a big part of my life. (Also, the word accountability is so clunky and sounds buttoned up with a tie and jacket. It’s stuffy…but I digress.)

I really don’t want people knowing all my junk. It’s personal. It’s mine.

It’s selfish.

I like to be independent, because let’s be honest, I can handle life on my own, right?

Though that’s crazy, that’s how I tend to think.

How does that cause me to be closer to Christ? If no one knows my weaknesses and checks in once and a while, what stops me from messing up?

Nothing.

It’s obvious that our “wills” aren’t strong enough to choose the right things all the time, that’s why we mess up.


I’ve slowly gotten past the disdain for wanting anyone to check on me daily and have been accountable to a friend for a few months now. We text each other every day when we’ve read and spent time with God. Before this, I usually got it done, but the days I didn’t, I had no reason to make sure it never happened again. I was the only one who knew. I had no plan to move forward instead of having a mediocre, part-time relationship with Christ. Now, I look forward to reading and sharing what God is showing me…EVERY day!

Even though I was apprehensive about having to “report” every day to someone who might find out that I was human and mess up sometimes, I’m pushing past that.

I’m finding that accountability is a HUGE un-tapped resource we have available to us. It’s FREE, and more people want it (and desperately need it) more that they’d ever admit. Even though it can be uncomfortable to start, the rewards are so great! There’s freedom! There’s growth! There’s joy! There’s closer friendships! There’s quality relationships!

Think about who in your church family, small group, etc., is like-minded and would be willing to grow with you in pursuit of Jesus.

If you really want to be closer to Christ- I mean, you really want to be like Him and have every area aligned to Him, find someone asap to be accountable to/with.


Have you even been accountable to/with anyone? How has it helped you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Waiting...still waiting.


You would think after doing it for over 22 years, I would be good at waiting.
 
Hahahahaha, no.

Not the case.

It’s like I reset overnight somehow.

Doubts creep in.

I forget who I am in Him.

I forget what He’s done & what He’s promised.

As I type this, I realize it sounds silly and it really IS!

I think we all do this. We have a head knowledge that God has an amazing, mind-blowing plan for us- yet our flesh, surroundings and insecurities test us every day. They question the truth that is ours, no matter what.

We forget all the time what God has done and His promises that we know He will fulfill.

Don’t jump the gun. Don’t go on your own whim because you’re tired of waiting. Don’t let your doubt overcome your faith.


So, just as a reminder for today, you’re not forgotten.

He hasn’t changed His mind.

He hasn’t stopped loving you.

He’s not torturing you by waiting. (Though sometimes it feels like it.)

He’s growing you through this and the outcome will be greater the longer you wait.


I’m saying this to myself too; He knows your desires. He knows your heart. He knows the difficulty of waiting. He knows the amazing outcome and joy that’s coming!

Hang on!


What are you waiting on? What reminds you not to give up?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Next destination? Africa.


I’m going to Ethiopia, Africa.

Now, I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to go. Honestly, I’ve never even been on a Mission Trip, so this is all new to me.

I’ve always heard other’s Mission Trip stories of how God used them, changed them and they always had incredible pictures!

Now, I want my own story and I want you to be a part of it.

Yes, I want YOU to travel with me and Mission of Mercy for this crazy, awesome, life-changing, 10-day trip in September. Speaking of Mission of Mercy, I’m so excited we’re working with their experienced team and that they will be there every step of the way!

Please, pray about joining me in Ethiopia this September to go as the hands and feet of Jesus to build a restroom/shower facility, do VBS with the kids, go to an Ethiopian Church and whatever else God wants to do through us there.

If you’ve always wanted your own story, here’s your chance.

More details and sign up info here.

-Jenn

P.S. The day before I heard about this trip, I wrote down this prayer: "Lord, sometimes I'm afraid of letting You have complete control of my life. Show me how to be a "yes" kind of girl, like Mary was, and use me to bring You to others." ...the very next day I was asked to go on this trip. God answers prayers, and specifically too! He'll do the same for you.