Because Sometimes We Want to Clobber Somebody!

Let everything that has breath...I sit listening to the gentle sounds of the piano and hear the cicadas outside my window singing along. They must be praising Jesus again. I happen to think that all creatures of the earth were designed to do nothing but worship. How lucky are the ones without the free will?!?! They do nothing but exalt with their mouths. No matter what, they know God is on the throne, and so their voices cry out. I envy the cicadas.

I consider my day. How well have I done? Have I shown love, given grace, shared hope? Have I used my voice in praise? Was it enough?

I believe in investing in people. I want to love, give the benefit of the doubt and always hope for the best. I need good to come from bad. I desire to be more than a conqueror. Christ says it’s possible. Because of Him I can be more than. More than! More than a conqueror!!! (See Romans 8:37)

Wow. Hope, in all its glory, wins because there is no end to what more than actually means. There is no limit in the Lord. His love goes on and His grace overcomes. He lifts up blonde haired, blue eyed girls like me with messy hearts and says, “You can because my Son already did!”

So what happens when enough for Christ is never enough for somebody else? What happens when people hurt you and they continue to hurt you? How can we be conquerors in Christ when we want to clobber somebody?

Here’s what I think: The only way to keep loving, to keep living wholly in holiness, is to give every shredded piece of our hearts to Jesus. When people tear, just keep handing it over. Piece by piece He’s weaving together our victory, because we are choosing surrender.

When I close my eyes, it’s as if I can see God with scarlet thread sewing my heart up and making me whole. I imagine that He’s chosen the color scarlet to represent the color of love, the color of blood, to show me sometimes love bleeds and hurts.

I recently heard a very wise man say, “Love, at its core, is commitment.”

Love can be risky, friends. It was for Jesus. He suffered and died for a lot of people who refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord. Whenever I’m upset with someone, all I have to do is think of that and I want to drop to my knees.

What right do I have to complain? My job is to love and my commitment to Christ obligates me to do so.

I’m on a journey of completion. I know it won’t happen until I meet my God face-to-face, but every day of my life here on this earth is the process of Christ making me more than a conqueror.

  • Because of His death and resurrection, I live.
  • Because of His love for me, I’m able to love others.
  • Because of the security in His commitment to me, I’m able to freely commit to Him.

Do you know why the cicadas sing at night? To avoid predators.

Our praise to the living God, our surrender to Him, helps us shun the invitation of sin that would love to enter and destroy us. Praise and worship of the Father is actually protection, and I believe it helps birth love inside us for others. Even when they hurt us.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

-Psalm 150:6

So friend, keep praising, keep loving, keep surrendering. Even when you’re hurt, even when you don’t understand, use your life to praise God. You’ll never be sorry you did.

Love,

Jennifer

Write the Vision

Write the VisionWhen I was waiting for God to bless us with another child, the process seemed to take forever. Fifteen years is a really long time for a woman who longs for the godly desire of life and feels with each passing month that hope is dwindling.

In our society, we race against the clock wanting everything now. I wonder what the time zone in heaven is, because I’ve lived in both eastern and pacific zones and neither one seems anything close to the clock God works according to.

I believe the dreams and desires I can’t shake have been divinely placed, and are meant to come to fruition. The problem is always the question of when...

I have a feeling that most of you are probably nodding your head in agreement. Everything seems to take too long and the process usually has us asking Him at least one of the following three questions.

  1. Is this desire really from You, God?
  2. Do I not have enough faith for You to answer?
  3. Why must I endure so much pain in the process of waiting?

Today, I was reading in Habakkuk. This minor prophet brings a message of hope and trust for a nation who is in need of comfort. Just like any of us seeking divine answers, Habakkuk is one to ask God questions.

After the second question Habakkuk asks God, He waits for His answer. He was confused as to what he was seeing unfolding all around him and was determined to stand firm for an answer.

As usual, God did not disappoint.

Then the Lord answered me and said:

“Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

-Habakkuk 2:2-4

 

(Just as a disclaimer, I’m always careful to dig into the context of the scripture before I rip it apart and apply it to my life in the way I feel God is speaking specifically to me. I’ve done that in this book and can now use this wisdom and apply it directly to my situation. It’s important to understand that Habakkuk wanted to know why good people were suffering and why evil rulers were allowed to rule. God answered specifically according to his questions.)

For me, writing down our desires from God, dating the entries, and writing prayers to Him concerning the seeds which have been planted deeply in the heart, is extremely important in the process of waiting for growth and completion. The Lord told Habakkuk to write the vision and make it plain.

He also said that the vision will speak and not lie. He told him to wait for it, because though it may seem to tarry, it will surely come. SURELY.

God went on to say, “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”

Humility is key throughout the process of waiting. It’s too easy to take ownership of our dreams and desires as if they are all about us. We can become prideful and feel as if we hold the rights to them. We don’t. We must remain humble and realize that when the Lord God Himself chooses us to place a beautiful dream inside, it connects directly to Him. He is choosing us to be vessels for a greater purpose, and I believe that most of the time, we aren’t anywhere close to grasping the depth of His purpose. Now that’s the promise of hope, friends!

I’m going to talk more about this in the coming week.

May your Sunday be filled with new hope as you wait on the Lord to fulfill every desire He has placed within you.

Love,

Jennifer

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Because It’s Never Fun and it Always Hurts

It always hurtsSeveral years ago, I was at a jazz concert at Heinz Hall. It was an upscale event featuring songs from the work of Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong. During the concert, the woman who was performing brought attention to a cup of tea sitting next to her. She told us she had a sore throat and that her mix of hot tea with honey, lemon, and cayenne pepper helped to heal while allowing her to sing.

I’ve dealt with a fair amount of hurt recently and today as I was processing many different issues in my life, that memory came to mind. I thought about the honey – how it’s smooth and sweet, and how the cayenne pepper, although it helps long term, has a bit of a burn as it goes down. They don’t seem compatible, yet both work together for good.

And then I remembered in Judges chapter fourteen when Samson kills the young lion with his bare hands. He later returns to scoop honey out of its carcass.

Gross, I know!

However, here is what I’m thinking: Sometimes we have to endure the pain to scoop the honey. We must keep striving for completion in Christ, and sometimes that takes facing a scary lion or a great, big giant in order to bring about wholeness deep within ourselves.

When it comes to other people, in their eyes, we might not measure up. It’s possible we won’t hold the same beliefs, maybe our gifts won’t be good enough or appreciated. It’s likely we won’t ever be treated with the same kindness, affection , and respect with which we’ve treated them.

It’s okay.

As long as we continue to bravely face the scary, loud, roaring lions, then honey awaits.

We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities. (See Ephesians 6:12)  It’s entirely too easy to confuse those, isn’t it?

God is good and He is faithful to meet every need. He is loving and patient, kind and giving and never gives up on us. I guess that means we shouldn’t give up on others. We can back away for a while and take time to process the pain, but we must allow that pain to work toward completion. And that means letting our difficulties aid us in becoming who Christ calls us to be.

It’s never fun.

It always hurts.

However, in the end, we taste the honey.

Don’t be afraid to wrestle that lion, friend.

Love,

Jennifer

 

None of it Made Sense…

Paul and Jen WeddingI was a little bit of a crazy kid, and he matched my insanity. We started out two dramatic young teenagers whose names ended up synonymous before high school graduation, and only two months after I walked Pomp and Circumstance as an eighteen year old girl, I found myself marching to Here Comes The Bride.

Now that I’ve had children, its unimaginable to me what my parents must have been thinking when I declared, as a fresh faced seventeen year old that, yes, it was a diamond on the fourth finger of my left hand, no, I didn’t believe in long engagements, and, yes, I would be tying the knot promptly after high school graduation.

I recall hearing my mother on the phone with my father, they’re divorced, by the way, crying something to the effect of, “She’s going to ruin her life!” I was horrified and thought she was unfounded. If I had been in her shoes, I may have tied up my daughter, gagged her, threw her in the backseat, and drove fast and furious to a convent.

None of it made sense.

I was in love. The kind that makes your knees knock and your heart pound. There was no wrong he could commit and no right short of perfection. He was born for me and I for him.

I was so nervous on the day of, August, 16, 1991. The smell of my bouquet made me want to vomit. I took deep breaths while waiting for the ceremony to begin. My mother, after planning my dream wedding, gave me one more out, “Do you want to run?” I calmly shook my head no. I was sure.

Our decision seemed to lack wisdom to everyone around us. Our friends were headed for college to be young and free, hoping for future financial gains, and the power of a higher level education. Our parents never expected their children to have what could only be classified as temporary lapses of insanity. And no one, not even us, could explain the deep calling and persuasion of a God who kept saying, “Yes, I made you for each other.”

On our first wedding anniversary I was six months pregnant with our son. By our fifth, we suffered two miscarriages and a stillborn daughter. When our tenth rolled around, we were professionals at grief resulting from secondary infertility with one more early loss under our belts. We lived begging God for just one more baby.

By twenty years, we had sustained two more losses and a successful round of IVF resulting in, after quite a difficult pregnancy, healthy twins. We renewed our vows. I was ready to scream yes all over again.

Paul_Jen_Vow_RenewalIf I had to, I would revisit every painful place we had already traveled just knowing Paul was there. I would, again, walk through any of those doors to find him because God said yes to us and gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever known, the best friend I’ve ever had, and a love that cannot be spoken in words, only lived.

We’ve been living love for twenty-four years.

  • It hasn’t all been picture perfect, but it’s been enough.
  • Not every day was easy, but it’s been enough.
  • Sometimes, love is more of a choice than a feeling, but it’s always enough.

Every moment we share is a hard fought, joy chasing, Jesus seeking, passionate pursuit of each other. We are as crazy now as we were then. We’ve never ceased dreaming, and I think it’s because we’ve never allowed our hearts to age. Though we have lines forming around our mouths and eyes, our hearts still beat young and hard awaiting the promises from our Creator. They are etched deep and burn hot with belief in new and beautiful things to come.

Friend, all things are possible with God. No matter what your particular circumstance is – maybe your struggling in marriage, child rearing, friendship, career choices, deep spiritual questions. Maybe you’re searching for hope – guard your heart. Demand it stay young and open to the God who says yes in circumstances which make zero sense to anyone.

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

-Psalm 31:24

 

Happy twenty-four years to us!

Dear Jesus, please, just one hundred twenty- four, or forever, more…

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

Balancing Contentment While Striving for Completion

balance between completion and contentmentLast week, I had a conversation with someone where I discussed the possibility of some major changes in my life. In the midst of the exchange I said, “I’m still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up.” I’m sure at some point you may have said something like that yourself.

The apostle Paul talks about being content in every state we find ourselves. He said he learned contentment. Learned behaviors are studied for a reason: they aren’t natural. Contentment needed to be learned by the Apostle, and I’m still learning myself. You too?

Contentment in the middle of growth requires balance. Personally, I need to feel the push and pull of life in order to move me in a direction I may not have otherwise traveled in.

Recently, I wrote a post speaking of something else Paul said: Become complete.

Completion is calling my name as if it were a close friend longing to see me. The problem is that whenever I feel like I’m making progress in my journey, I become weary and worn down, as if I’m too tired to continue making strides in the calling God placed on my life. I’m not exactly content with who I am, and I know there’s something more, yet I find myself discouraged throughout the process of completion.

Now, here’s the hope in all this: regardless of how I may feel, I’m following close behind Him, allowing Him to lead. Are you?

The truth is, I don’t know exactly what my future holds, but none of us do. Am I right? I’m not content with who I am now, but I’m called to become complete, and that means continuing to persevere for Christ’s glory. When life isn’t going my way, I need to rely on Paul’s call to contentment and continue studying the lives of biblical patriarchs who have gone before me.

Today I read Psalm 63:8. King David wrote…

My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

I see every single answer to any uncertainty we face wrapped up tightly inside that verse. If we follow close to Him, He will uphold us. We might feel as if we are slipping and even standing in the wrong places at times, but if we follow, we cannot go wrong.

Maybe you are feeling a little bit like me right now: stuck. And, maybe you long, just like me, to become unstuck. I’m certain that if we follow where He leads, we will be on the road to completion. We will learn balance and contentment in who we are now, all while knowing and understanding what changes we must make in order to become complete.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

-Psalm 62:8

May there be favor in your Friday and hope in your weary bones.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

For When You Question Your Ability to Serve…

fallow groundThe words of Hosea 10:12 won’t leave me. Months ago, I read them in all their glory and they keep coming back to my heart.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

-Hosea 10:12

Fallow ground is dormant, completely inactive, and unable to produce anything of worth. I wonder just how much fallow ground waits quietly inside my soul, and it unsettles me.

I’ve thought a lot this summer about where my writing should go and what direction I should take in every aspect of ministry. Questions have plagued my mind. Am I at the church God wants me attending? How can I use my gifts to serve? What gifts are for now, and what gifts need to be refined before I can properly serve Christ with them?

Recently, I heard Christine Caine say, “Your gifts will take you places your character cannot keep you.” Ouch and Oh, God, yes. So much truth.

I want to break up the fallow ground in my heart, soul, and life. I want to till it and plant seeds that will grow righteousness.

We’ve been traveling and the other day on one of our long drives from California to Nevada, my oldest son said, “I believe everyone’s purpose in life is to point people to Christ.” He went on to tell me that he isn’t a fan of the famous quote by St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

He told me that, of course, love is first and foremost, but God gave us words, and using them in love and truth seems to be a dying art. He’s right.

Our actions speak loudly, and they often prepare a heart to listen, but we must use words.

I’ve endured some trials recently. There are things I’ve said through them that I felt were important to say, but there have also been instances when I wish I would have handled particular situations differently. And in reliving those moments I have to be so careful because the enemy wants to whisper words founded on lies, such as, “See, it doesn’t matter how far you’ve come, you’ll never be good enough to serve Christ completely.”

Friend, aren’t you glad “good enough” isn’t a factor in whether we are able to serve Christ?

We will always have moments when we say the wrong thing, act incorrectly, and question our “ministry status’.” The reason being, without the belief and knowledge of Christ’s work on the cross, none of us are good enough. However, when we know who He is and begin to grasp the impact of what He’s done, we recognize that He lives in us and absorbs the weight of our sin, which flows holy blood to cover every piece that wasn’t enough without Him.

His love on the cross makes us enough. The fact is, on our own we won’t ever be good enough. It’s His love and outpouring of blood that qualifies us to fulfill every need He’s intended us to meet on this earth. He makes all things well, and that includes us.

So, for those of you who are questioning your purpose and whether or not you have what it takes to fulfill it, I want you to know…

  • You do, because He did.
  • You can, because He has.
  • The work on the cross is what defines your life in Him.
  • Separate from Him you can do nothing. With Him, you can do everything.

If there is any fallow ground waiting to be tilled, then prepare it. Offer it to Him. He will lead you, guide you, and set you free. And throughout the process, you will produce the fruit of His purpose in your life to be used in nourishing the lives of others. And when you make a mistake, allow Him to pick you up and brush you off. Don’t ever lean on your own abilities. It’s the strength which comes from Him that makes you whole, enough, and loved more than you know.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

We Aren’t Meant To Do Life Alone

grace airplane picture

Every heart longs for something more; it’s just the way it is. Pure and simple soul yearning for care and compassion has been built into the makeup of our beings. We aren’t meant to do life alone. And it’s not necessarily the tangible likeness of another human being for which our hearts cry. We can […]

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You Were Made for Completion

Become Complete

I sat with my pen in hand and Bible open wide as I read through the passage. I’m tired, not feeling well, and frustrated. I don’t like roadblocks. It’s always something, were the words on my mind. As my eyes continued to scan, my mind was putting up a fight to process what I was […]

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May Your Spaces be Filled

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May God fill every space of your life: The parts that are lonely and long for affection and hope, the pieces that seem broken beyond repair, and the places you’re ashamed and worried no one, even Him, will want. May you have the courage to offer the whole of who you are to the One […]

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What the Heart’s Spill Sounds Like…

waterfall

Over the last few days I’ve been wondering what it might be like to completely spill my heart to someone. I’m talking about unleashing the dam and letting it all go. There are many reasons I don’t make a habit of doing that. First of all, I don’t want to burden anyone. And, second of […]

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