Three Ways to Push the Slow Motion Button and Find Joy…

JoyI’ve been working on looking at life through a slow motion lens. The kind that lets you hold onto the precious moments of time for just a smidgen longer. My very favorite movie is While You Were Sleeping. There is a scene that shows the family members opening up their Christmas gifts. Each person is so grateful and loving toward each other. Sandra Bullock is shown gazing at the family and savoring each second with them.

I can’t help but think that even though our lives move in real time, that we can, if we want, savor joy-filled moments just as if we had a slow motion button to push. And, in light of recent loss, I’ve decided to do this more often.

I know there is a way to breathe these moments deeply and dance through them in joy.

But how?

Here are three ways that that I think we can hit the “slow motion button” in our lives.

  1. We need to be aware.

Most of us justify enough cardiovascular exercise simply because we live life rushing to complete tasks. So much so, that we often neglect the moments that will impact us the most. We are just too busy to see the beauty. We have to make a choice to be aware of what is happening around us. This is so we can find joy in the moments worthy of holding onto for just a bit longer.

  1. We must purpose to find joy.

I hate to say it, but joy isn’t natural for all of us. It doesn’t automatically bubble up and cause us to look at situations optimistically. Joy is a gift that must be claimed. If you want it, you need to take it. Own it! That means, no matter where you are or what your circumstances may be, you must look for the joy inside of them. In other words, don’t stop looking until you find it! And once you do, grab tightly!

By nature, most of us take joyful moments for granted. We see them as ordinary rather than extraordinary. When was the last time you had a joy-filled moment you wished wouldn’t end? If you can’t remember, it’s possible you need to live working to create those moments.

  • Find a reason to host a party
  • Call a dear friend
  • Be generous with your time and money

 

Whatever it takes, create moments that will bring you joy. And when you are surprised by a spontaneous joy-filled moment, be aware of it, own it!

Look for the lovely and savor it!

  1. We need to continually ask the Lord to refill our joy.

if you are anything like me, and have experienced an extremely difficult year, then you know only God can fill the grief-hollowed gaps in the soul. It takes very little for joy to dissipate. Sometimes, we need to battle for our joy.

It’s easy to forget that true joy comes from Jesus. He died to save us from death and hell, and ultimately from ourselves. And with the gift of the cross comes the fruit of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. (See Galatians 5:22-23)

The point I want to get across today is this: We have the ability to hone joy. To grab it, form it, and see it in everything. Joy isn’t hiding from us in the dark, because Jesus is light. True joy resides inside Him.

Seek joy today, friends, and don’t stop looking until you find it!!!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Why Family Traditions are so Important

Christmas cookiesThe other day, my mom and I were out shopping. On the way home, we started talking about Dominic and all the cookies he liked to consume this time of year. It was then that she expressed something really beautiful. Through all the difficulties of this season and dealing with loss, she has learned valuable lessons. And I have too.

Last year, we mourned because it was our first Christmas without my uncle. Going to Christmas Eve dinner seemed tortuous in a way. Nobody wants to stare at an empty chair. My uncle had a favorite cookie. It is an Italian cookie that has spanned generations in my family. Not one of us baked it last Christmas. It was too painful. We didn’t want the salt of our tears pouring in the dough…

However, that cookie was also one of Dominic’s favorites. He loved it. We had no way of knowing that young, healthy, man wouldn’t be with us this Christmas. On the way home the other day my mother said, “I’ve learned that we need to keep going. We can’t give up on traditions. We can’t stop baking, buying, and wrapping. We don’t know if this year will be our last with those we love.” Now, that is wisdom.

We will forever miss those who aren’t with us anymore. But my wonderful stepfather wouldn’t want us to stop, and my uncle wouldn’t have wanted us to skip a year of baking those delicious cookies. Our loved ones are safe in eternity, but we are still here living and breathing the air the Father has ordained for us. We are still walking the road which has been mapped out for our lives, and through it all, we must preserve the gifts He has given.

Cookies, shopping, wrapping – they are only stressors if we allow them to be. We need to find joy inside our crowded malls and sugar coated kitchens. The loved ones who have gone before us, they were gifts. And someday, we will be looked upon as gifts too. So let’s live making memories for those who will continue onward in the traditions, old and new, that we created.

And most importantly, let us glorify Jesus in all of it.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

-Psalm 43:5

It’s the season of hope. Let us breathe deeply the gifts of this world and make some beautiful memories with those we hold dear.

What are some of your family traditions?

Love,

Jennifer

If You’re Searching for Comfort…

make a way where there is no way way_nToday, I opened my Bible and decided to study some scripture from the book of Zechariah. I know, I know… Who actually decides to read Zechariah? Well, it came to mind that I haven’t read that book in a very long time, and I wanted to seek out something different from the norm.

I’m searching for comfort, friends. And when I open up the Word, it doesn’t take long to find it.

When I was suffering infertility and pregnancy loss, I used to pray every day that God would make a way where there was no way. Those words became engrained in my being. It occurred to me that through this recent struggle of loss, I’ve forgotten what it means to pray that prayer. You see, I may have suffered a devastating event I cannot change, but that doesn’t mean God can’t make a way for something beautiful to happen through it. He can light a brand new path leading to an amazing plan that only He has the power to design.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

-Romans 8:28

Zechariah is a book of prophecy. The purpose of this prophet was to minister to those living in Jerusalem who returned from exile in Babylon. He needed to let them know that they were still God’s covenant people.

In chapter three, there is a scripture that tells about the angel of the Lord admonishing Joshua. (Not the same Joshua from the book of Joshua.) Verse 7 says this:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among these who stand here…”‘

-Zechariah 3:7

When I read the words, ” I will give you places to walk,” I immediately found the comfort I was looking for today.

If you, like me, are looking for some reassurance, then I have some encouragement for you:

We serve a God who specializes in making all things new. He is a God who makes the crooked ways straight and causes the blind to see. He can, and WILL, make a way where there is none. However, we have to continue to trust in Him, to keep His commandments. There are days when it won’t be easy, but it will always be worth it. Our prayers will never fall on deaf ears. They gust through the doors of heaven straight to the throne of the Almighty. He longs to work everything together for good. He has a plan, friend, and it is uniquely created for you alone.

Ask Him to make a way where there seems to be none, wait, and see what He does. The waiting is hard, but the outcome will be more than you could ever imagine.

He will give you places to walk! Why? Because we serve the God of the impossible…

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

And Grace for Grace…

river_nThe other day, I sat on my bed distraught by the reality of how different my life is today from this time one year ago. Last year, I picked him out a television for Christmas. This year, a headstone. The other day I told a friend via text message that I just keep going, going, and going some more so that I won’t be weighed down by the grief of it all.

But then I remembered something: grief can only weigh me down if I allow it.

I know that to be true. And so I’m fighting to stand upright. One of the ways I fight is by means of the Word of God. So as I sat on my bed, I opened up my worn, red, leather Bible and went to battle. I’ve been studying the life of Jesus, and that means spending a lot of time rereading the Gospels. Like so many times before, I began reacquainting myself with the birth of Christ. However, I found another birth story. It’s one of rebirth, adoption, and wild, unhindered grace…

To understand this particular birth story, you have to comprehend that Jesus didn’t just come on Christmas day. He has always existed.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

-John 1:1-5

If you look closely at the above scripture, you will realize that the word, Word is capitalized. It’s referring to Jesus. He has always been and everything made was made through Him. In Him is life. And because of that life, there is light that shines in the darkest places. Even in the black, hollowed out, grief stricken spots.

As that truth began to stir inside my soul, I could already feel the hope begin to well up from the deepest part of my grief. ..

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

-John 1:6-11

The previous verses are talking about John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ. Isaiah prophesied concerning him. John came preaching repentance and remission of sins. But even with Isaiah’s prophesy fulfilled, Christ was still rejected. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (See John 1:11)

And then comes the part where the burden of my grief is lifted. The load has been taken because of who my Father is. You see, what I realized as I read these scriptures, is that this rebirth and adoption story is mine.

And it can be yours too!

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

-John 1:12-13

I have received Christ. I’ve made the decision to live for Him, to submit my life to Him completely, and that means letting go of the burden and the heavy weight of grief. Just like a little girl, I can run into the arms of my Father and know that He is more than enough for me. It’s up to Him to win the war over grief for me. And He will.

I am His child because I believe in His Son. And if you believe, then you too have been adopted by wild, unhindered, amazing, grace. The kind that can lift any burden and heal any heart. The kind of grace that says all things are possible. Why? Because Jesus lives…

JESUS LIVES!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1:14-19

“And of His fullness we have ALL received, and grace for grace.”

Grace for grace, my friends!

Love,

Jennifer

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Hope Does Not Disappoint…

hopeHope: It’s this beautiful thing that rises in the midst of every storm. The best part is that it never goes away. It’s always there ready and waiting for you to latch on to it.

Hope: It’s a Biblical truth that causes one to think with their heart instead of their head.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

-Romans 5:1-5

My favorite statement in that scripture is, “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

It is a statement that confirms the Almighty’s love for us. He poured out His love and gave us a paraclete. The Greek word is parakletos and it is translated “comforter” or “counselor.” It simply means that He dwells inside all who believe in Him. He is our helper. And that, my friends, is what I call hope.

Your hope.

My hope.

Our hope.

Just about everywhere I look this season, I see the word believe. I pray that all who see that word would believe in Hope. The One, True, Hope.

If you are having a difficult day, if this time of year is causing you sadness over lost loved ones, financial worries, or stress of any kind, then I pray His hope will well up inside and allow you to breathe in freedom. May your greatest gift this Christmas be peace that only comes from the Comforter living inside you.

Be blessed today!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: The Nothing to Hold but Hope Healing Project (book club) will begin in late January. Details to follow!

What I’m Saying to the Girl in the Mirror…

overcomerGood morning, friends. This space has been quiet compared to normal. I’m directing a large musical tonight and blogging has taken a backseat to my professional chaos.

I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten about you, and I’ve been praying for so many who send me email and ask me to keep certain situations in the forefront of my whispers to Jesus.

I have exactly one hour before a full day of dress rehearsals begin followed by our performance tonight, but I want to send you a note of encouragement…

I’ve been feeling that all too familiar pressure again this holiday season. Not the typical baking, shopping, and wrapping type of pressure. I’ve been feeling the “outside beautiful” pressure. It’s awful because the only person making me feel this way… is me.

I’m sad over the numbers on the scale that are a result of all the baking and shopping trips to malls with great restaurants. I envision the kind of little black dress I would love to wear on New Year’s Eve and know that it won’t happen this year. All of these battles are once again raging, even though I know that none of it is what makes me beautiful.

So, today, I’m looking at myself in the mirror. I’m pointing a finger. But instead of overly critiquing what I see, I’m giving a firm talk to that girl in front of me.

This is what I’m saying:

You are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are a child of God. (John 1:12)

You are righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

You are an overcomer. (1 John 4:4)

You are the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

You are a friend of God. (John 15:15)

You are an ambassador. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

You are saved. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

You are set free. (Romans 6:18)

You are chosen. (John 15:16)

You are loved, (John 3:16)

You are forgiven (1 John 1:9)

You are all these things because of the I AM!

You have worth because Christ is worthy!

I hope this is something you needed to hear today as well. Take His word and begin battling, ladies!

Talk soon!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

The Real Art in Life…

The Nutcracker_n

We took our twins to see The Nutcracker over the weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if they would sit through it, or try doing their own dances in the aisle and drive the other audience members insane. It turns out they loved it. Pure joy came in the form of […]

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I’ve Been Grappling with God…

I'm still here

Hello Friends. I hope this finds you well and that you each had a lovely Thanksgiving. It’s been a while since I’ve written. The days have melted into one another and the drive of the holiday season has sent me into a busy forward motion. My days have been full of shopping, cooking, cleaning, and […]

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God and Ferguson…

I would have lost heart_n

I don’t want to write the hard stuff. I just don’t. I don’t like writing about what is so upfront and in our faces. I’m not a fan of anything that might stir negative controversy. And yet there is something I need to share… The decision came down from Ferguson last night. Unless you live […]

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I Feel Like Screaming…

Broken and blessed

In this fast-paced world, we are unaccustomed to silence. Everything about our lives seem loud. Living inside a society that applauds “keeping up with the Jones’” has deemed it that way. We work hard at climbing the mountains to achieve what we want out of life. In fact, We work so hard that we can’t […]

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