Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Gift of Song


I have my alarm set to a contemporary Christian station.  A few weeks ago, God woke me with these words from Colton Dixon's song "You Are"

If I had no voice,
If I had no tongue,
I would dance for you like the rising sun.
And when that day comes and I see your face.
I will shout your endless glorious praise.


I've been a part of a church choir for many years.  As I sing, its my shout to God for his amazing grace, provision and mercy on my life.  Its as much of a ministry and a blessing to my heart to stand and sing as I hope it is to those who hear it.

In July of 2011, I had a very minor ear surgery.  The procedure, simple, performed in office, was the greatest thing in the world for the dizziness and constant pain I had been facing.  I never expected something so simple to literally change my life.  As soon as the procedure was finished, I could tell sounds I heard all my life were very different. The doctor assured me it would level out in the coming few days.

A lot of it did.  One area did not, however.  After singing for many years, all of a sudden I could no longer hear my voice in a group when I sang.  I could not hear the notes I should be singing.  Not knowing if I was singing solo off tune in the midst of a group performance made me anxious, and for a while I gave it up.  It left a hole deeper than I realized.

If I had no voice,
If I had no tongue,
I would dance for you like the rising sun.
And when that day comes and I see your face.
I will shout your endless glorious praise.


Those words pounded deeply into my soul.  Even without my voice, I can still praise my Savior.

Thankfully, after almost a year and a half, I've "trained" my ear to hear some of the things I need to be able to sing again.  Its challenging, and there are lots of days I still sing by remembering what its supposed to sound like.

Even the most simple things bring important lessons.

First of all we are never to take the gifts God gives us for granted.  Use the talents he gives you!  As he told Jeremiah when he called him to be a great speaker, he equipped us for the task he gives us, no matter how terrified and inadequate we feel we are. 

I also learned if you don't hear what you need to hear...listen harder.  We don't always get the answers we need as a shout of thunder.  Sometimes we have to diligently listen for the whisper.

Often it takes more work than we realize to accomplish what he calls us to do...in that case, train harder for the task. 

Finally, remember when times are hard, lean on what you've stored away in your heart.  Those words given to us in the Bible are made for times when you need extra encouragement.  Store scripture away inside your heart so when you find yourself struggling, you'll have just the right verse to carry you through.

Our family is preparing to sing together for the first time next week.  I have looked forward to the day for many years when I could raise my voice in worship with my husband, daughter and son. I am so thankful for that second chance.

I stand in awe of a God who hears and sees everything.  I'll never again take that for granted.

  • Colton Dixon

    You Are

    Colton Dixon

    from the album You Are - Single
    When I can't find the words
    To say how much it hurts
    You are the healing in my heart
    When all that I can see are broken memories
    You are the light that's in the dark

    (Chorus)
    You are the song,
    You are the song I'm singing
    You are the air,
    You are the air I'm breathing
    You are the hope,
    You are the hope I needed
    You are

    And when my circumstance leaves me with empty hands
    You are the provider of my needs
    When all my dirtiness has left me helpless
    You are the rain that washes me

    Chorus (x2)

    If I had no voice,
    If I had no tongue,
    I would dance for you like the rising sun.
    And when that day comes and I see your face.
    I will shout your endless glorious praise.
    (x2)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nothing Compares

As I sit writing this morning, the sun is breaking through the clouds from the east in an explosion of warmth and light that makes me think of heaven.  These moments in life where we see just a tiny glimpse of what the eternal holds, they are so special.

Tears of joy, that's what's flooding my face right now.  Reflecting on the past few months and the sweet release God has brought me. 

Recently, several of our choir members prepared cardboard testimonies to use during our Christmas musical.  The stories just our group can share of God's amazing plan for each of us is yet another small glimpse of the greatness of our Lord.  My "testimony" is the final one.  It was meant to be a general summary of how nothing compares to life with Jesus.  Ironically, it accurately describes my journey as a Christian.

I was brought up in church and saved as a child.  I have no doubt the experience was real and I know with certainty I gave my heart to Jesus that night.  I've not wrestled with my salvation, but I sure have wrestled with giving complete control of my life to Christ.

In fact, I have wrestled, and wrestled.  Mrs. I Can Do It Myself has taken 39 years to figure out she's not going to win this battle alone.  I knew it wasn't alone, but my idea was to blaze a trail of where I wanted to be in life and ask Jesus to help me get there.

I had finally gotten to a place where I was miserable.  Not because of the circumstances of my life-I had everything I could ever want.  I was miserable because I was running from where I was supposed to be.  Finally, I surrendered to the call he placed on my life to let go and give Jesus complete control of my life.  Its not been easy.  I don't know what the next turn will bring, and I'm living my life one day at a time and looking each day for the direction and provision.

It has given me perfect peace.  All of a sudden all the days of going through the motions, seeking happiness and fulfillment and never finding them are over.  When I stopped running my way and ignoring the call he has been placing on my heart; when I turned around and ran into his arms and sank at his feet...nothing compares.

Jesus' gift of salvation is the greatest gift any of us could ever receive.  But Christians who live each day without having that "Daddy" relationship where you know he's holding your hand every step of the way are missing out.

I invite you to join Riverview Baptist for our Christmas Musical, Sunday, December 16 at 6 p.m. and see the greatness of God shared by our members. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

My Great Web page

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Electing the Leader of Our Nation

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord. 2 I will praise the LORD all my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3 Don't put your trust in human leaders. Don't trust in people. They can't save you. 4 When they die, they return to the ground. On that very day their plans are bound to fail. 5 Blessed are those who depend on the God of Jacob for help. Blessed are those who put their hope in the LORD their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth and the ocean. He made everything in them. The LORD remains faithful forever. 7 He stands up for those who are beaten down. He gives food to hungry people. The LORD sets prisoners free. 8 The LORD gives sight to those who are blind. The LORD lifts up those who feel helpless. The LORD loves those who do what is right. 9 The LORD watches over the outsiders who live in our land. He takes good care of children whose fathers have died. He also takes good care of widows. But he causes evil people to fail in everything they do. 10 The LORD rules forever. The God of Zion will rule for all time to come. Praise the Lord.

Our media streams are full of information about the upcoming presidential election.  All you have to do is "google" the name of one of the candidates, and you can find everything you possibly would want to know about him.  I can only imagine the pressure these two men and their families must be feeling as the nation, and the world, watch their lives.  For America, this is one of the biggest decisions our country will make this year. 

We look to the leader of our nation for the solutions to our unemployment, healthcare, social security and other problems. In reality, Psalms 146 spells out clearly who has responsibility for caring for these tasks. Our hope for the future of our nation does not depend on Obama, or Romney, or any other candidate who might take the oath of office. Its in the Lord our God. 

Whoever we elect as our country's leader is still a man - a human being capable of making mistakes.  He holds the responsibility for our welfare, but in the end, he's still accountable to the same one we are, God our Father.

I encourage you to vote next Tuesday.  More importantly, I encourage you to pray.  Pray that we choose our next leader wisely.  Pray our leader is someone who listens to God's voice to help our nation. Pray for God's hand to protect our leader and to guide him with his decision making.  And pray, as you enter that voting booth, for the wisdom to make the best choice.



Presidental Election

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Illumination

Ephesians 5:13-14

 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:  “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.”

One of the things I won't soon forget about my time with the American Cancer Society is the drive home after an overnight Relay event.  The overnight Relay experiences symbolizes the hard, dark road walked by a cancer patient followed by the hope that comes at the end of their journey.  Watching the sun rise after a long Relay event has always been a magical experience.  As the light spreads its way across the field, it warms the soul and brings with it a renewed spirit.  However the light does not take away the exhaustion, nor does it wipe away the experiences of the dark night.  Only when the light begins to break does one realize just how dark the night was before.

Photo taken at the Dodge County, Minn., Relay For Life, courtesy of the Post Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

Its pretty easy to understand how something exposed to light becomes visible.  However its the second part of the verse I want you to see - how everything that is illuminated becomes light.

We all face dark times in our livesTimes where we walk in darkness, faced with situations that make us exhausted, and we wonder if we can even make it through.  But each and every time, we find the dawn that comes on the back side of a difficult journey..  

As God guides us through these times in our lives, he's creating an opportunity for us to be illuminated.  How?  By being an example of how he works in our lives, through not only good times, but also in the deep, dark valleys.  

We were never promised an easier path with our Christian walk.  His promise to always walk beside us, however, produces a testimony to share with others about God's grace, his mercy and his provision.  

A dark thing, illuminated.  Those oppressive times in our lives can become light for those who may follow behind us through the same valley.

I encourage you to not run from your dark times, but to embrace them as an opportunity to encourage others and to share the message of how Christ can change lives.    

John 15:16 says God CHOSE us so we could go forth and bear fruit - fruit that will last.  Fruit grows in the light, so go forth knowing that the dawn brings a new day and a new opportunity to share your message with another.  

You are illuminated!  How will you let yourself shine today?     


Friday, October 5, 2012

Redeemed



This is one of the toughest posts I have been called to write.  Admittedly, it has taken more than a month for the words to come together to share.  It bears an issue with which I really struggle, and I know there are others here who deal with the same things.  I have heard too many of them around me lately.


After praying for how to share, I was blessed with a testimony of Rhett Walker, lead singer of the contemporary Christian Group The Rhett Walker Band.  Rhett was a preacher's child who led a life of rebellion during his teen years and fathered a child.  

He discussed the destructive behavior I call "self beating."  You know the feeling, that nagging, second guessing of yourself, That voice reminding you often of the things that could have been better or should have been better.  "Oh if only I had," or "if only I hadn't."  Satan is so wonderful to remind us of our imperfections and use it to keep us down. Don't you find it so much easier to forgive others of their wrongs and imperfections than you do yourself?

Does that describe you?  It does me.  And a dear friend called me out on it not too long ago. 

Rhett Walker spoke of this self beating behavior, saying it dishonors God when we do things like this. Why?  God is the grantor of mercy.  He forgives and forgets.  We should likewise do the same.

Mercy is defined by Webster's Dictionary as: 1) compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or subject; clemency or kindness extended to someone instead of strictness or severity; 2) a blessing regarded as an act of divine favor or compassion; 3) relief of distress; compassion shown to victims of misfortune.

 God's great gift of mercy, given through his son Jesus Christ on the cross means we are forgiven.  His compassionate divine act means we are redeemed. We owe it to ourselves to hold our heads high because he created us to be who we are.  He's proud of us, and we should be proud of ourselves.  All those things we beat ourselves up for every day...he has placed those in the past, and its our job to do that too.  We're not perfect, but we are forgiven.  What a miracle to share with the world!

Titus 3:4-5
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  

Redeemed, forgiven.  

I want to share with you the words to Big Daddy Weave's song Redeemed.  What a beautiful message he gives of how God sees past all the "stuff" in our lives we can't seem to put behind us.  He sees a beautiful child, full of his Glory, ready to share that redemption message with the world to help someone else overcome their chains of bondage.

Redeemed

Seems like all I could see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won” (Chorus) I am redeemed You set me free So I'll shake off theses heavy chains And wipe away every stain Now I'm not who I used to be I am redeemed I am redeemed All my life I have been called unworthy Named by the voice of my shame and regret But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head” I remember oh God, You're not done with me yet Chorus I don't have to be The old man inside of me 'Cause his day is long dead and gone Because I've got a new name A new life I'm not the same And a hope that will carry me home Chorus (X2)
 
Beautiful children of God, lift your head high.  You have been redeemed, forgiven.  Throw off your shackles and go forth, free from your past. Do not let Satan steal the power of your gift.  And if you haven't experienced the redemption and freedom that comes with accepting Christ as your personal savior, I will be glad to help you do just that.  My email address is jyantjones@ymail.com. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Post-Paige Barnes

Today I would like to introduce to you a very special guest blogger, Paige Barnes.  Paige is my cousin by blood and my sister in Christ.  I had asked her to share on my blog several weeks ago, and when God gave her the words to say, it was the same subject I was preparing to write about myself.  So enjoy her post, and then check out her blog for more!  Thank you, Paige for sharing.



Sucker Punched
 By: Paige Barnes


Realizing that you have not been truly obedient to God is like a sucker punch to the gut. It's like you think you are making progress, and then God speaks to you. And this time you can hear him because you are really listening.  And He tells you that you are not being completely obedient to him. You are partially obedient, but that is not enough. He has called you to more. He asks for and is due complete obedience. It's not because God is greedy and needs it, but He desires for me to be his pure and spotless bride. He knows that it is for my good and thus, for His glory. Some good has come from my partial obedience. Yet, I believe it is only the tip of the iceberg. 

There has been some life change, some heart change, some freedom.  His word says He has more planned than I can imagine for this life, but if I am only walking in partial obedience then I am only seeing part of the blessing. The blessing comes in pouring myself out for others, in the way God has called me to. Not the ways I choose, necessarily, because I often want to choose what is pretty and clean. Many times God wants to call us to service that is not polished and often messy. 
 
My pastor talked yesterday about serving others. I thought I was doing this one! I am always trying to teach or lead or help or something. And then my pastor asked who we might be overlooking that God was calling us to serve. 

 I felt sucker punched again. I grabbed some scratch paper in my Bible and began to make a list. Ten people. Ten people on that list that I am not really serving. Its not like I don't know God has called me to serve. So today marks a step toward total obedience. I have no idea what it will look like or what it will feel like. I can only imagine that it will be something similar to......freedom.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

On a Very Personal Note-Perfect Peace


My blog has been silent for a couple of weeks.  I've spent a lot of time listening, intensely, to the call God placed on my heart more than two years ago.  Until now I have been able to shove it neatly back into that corner, waiting on this huge opportunity for everything to fall perfectly into place as I wanted it to happen.

God has called our family to make changes this year.  We started off looking at a relocation, to make things logistically easier.  Instead change has been about awakening our very complacent spiritual souls and reviving the heart of our family.  We have been so guilty of "going through the motions" of life, living by a checklist of what needs to be done, then falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day with nothing left to give.

I have been so incredibly blessed with a job that has fed my passionate desire to help people.  Its been an honor to know that every day I worked, I made a difference in the lives of people across our world, as well as my neighbors and family.  A fantastic career, good pay and awesome benefits.  Something great to make a family feel comfortable as we prepare for cars, college and retirement.

Yet I was falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day with nothing left to give the ones with whose care I have been charged.  A teenage daughter...now is the time she needs my advice and guidance.  A son who still hugs and loves on his mom...so short is the time until he becomes too cool for that.  A husband of 16 years who has stood by and supported me, and pushed me over the edge to pursue the person God has called me to be.  After a while even the job fueling the passion was a series of motions too.

So after much prayer as a family, I am taking a leap forward on faith, leaving my place of comfort to answer the call I have been asking to come in a different way.  I wanted a promotion, a pay increase and a regular schedule, but He has closed the doors on this avenue in multiple situations.  Surrendering to the call and stepping out to take this challenge has taken a bigger leap that I expected, but I have the perfect peace of knowing its the right one.

So for now, I will be working from home with a schedule that lets me finish by 3:30 and care for my family.  I can help people during my shift, and pack the job away until the next morning.  Its going to require a pretty good budget adjustment, relying on the diligence we've needed to have as we had gotten "comfortable."  We also know God is the provider and he has never failed to give us what we need.

I've also felt the calling to get serious with my writing, and now is the time for that.  The book outline, tucked neatly away in my journal, may very well find its way to publication.  I want to grow my blog, not to self serve or promote, but to reach those who need encouragement through Jesus Christ.

Most of all, I want to follow the will of my heavenly father as I discover the person he wants me to become.  So I ask for your prayers as I take this Leap forward with my life and as my family comes along for the ride. 

Thank you to the many who have touched my life during the past five years.  You know who you are.  The stories of courage and faith I take away, the privilege of friendships and working alongside such a caring and dedicated group of people, they will remain with me always and have changed my life in such a positive way. 




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Taking the Message Back to School



Back to school means shopping for new supplies.  Its always been a favorite time of year for my daughter.  As soon as the list comes out, she is begging for her trip to the store.  She carefully considers each item before making her selection.

We were ecstatic to be chosen to review Dayspring's line of Back to School Supplies.  For me, it is an opportunity to send my kids to school with a little reminder of God's love while they are surrounded with the great big world.  For my children, they have cool school supplies that make a statement.

We received the "Forever is in my Future" and "Jesus is my BFF" set.  As soon as the box was opened, the binders, folders and composition notebooks immediately disappeared straight to my daughter's backpack.  She was kind enough to share one of the notebooks with me.

Her favorite thing?  The encouragement that comes from them.  The composition notebook has a cover full of scriptures and one line encouraging notes that would make awesome Facebook posts.  "God has you, and your day, covered.  It's all good."  That's just one of many.

We also received the cutest little guy from Dayspring's new U-NEEKS line.  His name is Dweeber.  For the cool kid who isn't into plush, Noah immediately fell in love with Dweeber's hair and quickly discovered it could be "styled" into several variations.

The U-NEEKS are quirky and funny little plush characters based on the verse that says we are all uniquely and wonderfully made.  Dweeber came as part of a collection that also has three greeting cards sporting the verbage "I will always be hair for you." 

Dayspring is offering their school supplies buy two, get one free.  Just click this link to see their whole selection:
Back to School Items From Dayspring .  These items are also available at your local Wal-Mart.

Thank you Dayspring for allowing my kids to go back to school equipped with supplies that help them share their faith!

Guest Posting Today!

I am honored to serve as a guest post for Candice at Lilly Through The Valley today.  Please visit her blog at http://lillythroughthevalley.blogspot.com/. 

Candice is a mother to a special needs child, a Proverbs 31 wife, and writes a great Christian inspirational blog. 

The great big internet makes it possible for small town moms to share the message of Jesus all across the world!  The more people who see our blogs, the more lives we can change.  If you enjoy what you are reading, please share it with a friend who may need it.

Feel free to message any prayer requests you have on my Facebook Page.  Have a great day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Message to My Daughter


It seems only a short time ago God placed you in my arms, a tiny baby with big, beautiful eyes.  Time has passed so quickly.  Yesterday, as you prepared to go to your "dress up" lunch to celebrate the beginning of school with your friends, you took my breath away.  Standing before me was a stunning young lady, dressed in her beautiful dress and heels, makeup accenting those big green eyes and sparkling freckles. 

The next few years will not be easy.  God gives us our babies to feed and nurture for just a short time.  You are now a fledgling, and we will attempt to teach you how to fly.  Just like the baby birds, you will make mistakes.  You will fall, and you will get hurt.  The hard part about being a parent is sometimes we just have to sit back and to watch.

We want you to know that we will always love you, not matter what, and your heavenly father loves you, no matter what.  You will never be alone in this world!

We want you to know we aren't perfect.  We have made our share of mistakes, so when we tell you we don't approve of something, it comes from love and probably experience too.  We will be wrong about things from time to time, but we are your parents, and we expect your respect even when we are wrong.

We want you to keep an open line of communication.  We promise to talk honestly and objectively with you about things.  Remember you can do that with God too.  He can guide your heart even better than your mom and dad.

We want you to know the decisions you make will follow you the rest of your life.  They may not ever be seen by anyone but you, but you will know, and God will know.  They may not keep you from obtaining your heart's desires and achieving God's plan for you, but you will have to answer for them.  Most importantly, remember there is forgiveness.

My beautiful daughter, you are loved and you are special!  You have blessed our lives in more ways than you will ever know.  We're not looking forward to sending you off into this great big world, but we are looking forward to seeing the plan God has for you revealed as you do.  We are praying for you, and for the future Godly husband we hope he is preparing for you.

You know these verses are special to me, but I pray them for you as well.  God has a plan to prosper you, if you seek him WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART.  Attack this world with the confidence of knowing you have the creator of the universe behind you.

Love,
Mom and Dad

Jeremiah 29:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Protection

Isaiah 43:1-2: 
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.


I flipped open my Bible to Isaiah several weeks ago after reading this verse, shared by a coworker as he began his cancer journey.  They are words of hope, and words of courage.  They are calming words and a promise from God to take care of us during our hardest times.

I got so excited as I thought about the examples the Bible of God's provision described here.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked in the firey furnace unharmed.  The Israelites crossed the Red Sea after it was parted by Moses.  Peter, walking on the water to meet Jesus.

As a busy road warrior mom, I often listen to my Bible while driving.  The next few weeks my phone kept mysteriously opening the Bible "app" and spilling the promises of Isaiah 43 into my heart.  

Verse 4
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...
 
One afternoon this verse, spoken by my deep, strong voiced Bible "app" man, almost made me stop the car dead in its tracks.  There is something about knowing you are loved and cared for by the maker of our universe!

Perhaps you are facing something in your life today that seems impossible to handle.  Perhaps you have a fear of the unknown and what lies ahead.  Perhaps you are just needing to know that you aren't alone in your journey.  Here's your assurance.

Sometimes I don't understand why things happen, but I do know that nothing takes God by surprise.  Whatever journey he calls us to take, I am praising God that through it we will have another awesome testimony to His goodness and provision!

There's more in Isaiah 43...check out this post too:

http://planforyoujones.blogspot.com/2010/12/isaiah-4319-message-forget-about-whats.html

 Blessings,
Jennifer

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Tale of the Stretchy Shorts and Bummy T-shirt

I have been guilty of being seen in public in my slouchy stretchy tees and shorts, along with no makeup and my hair pulled back...on multiple occasions.  You see I'm not a fashion diva, and honestly it pains me to take extra time to change clothes just to run to the big box store to grab something we need for dinner.  I dress for work and church, why shouldn't I get to be comfortable when I am on my own time?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you can't be comfortable or go without makeup.  I've seen women who are absolutely beautiful in their own skin.  Everyone is entitled to their time of pajama pants, although tucked in your cowboy boots at Pizza Hut while having dinner is a little outside the limits in my opinion.

So while I was at said store, I ran into a stay at home mom,.  After scoping out her matched shirt and shoes,  makeup AND jewelry, I realized just how little I had put into myself.  Then as I was studying later in the evening, I ran across these verses:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 New International Version (NIV)

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

There's no sin in slouchy stretch pants.  God doesn't care what clothes you wear (most of the time).  Really, God, my stretchy shorts?  What he does care about is that we treat our temple with respect, and clearly I haven't been doing that. I'm capable of taking a little time to look somewhat respectable before dashing out of the house.  Honoring my temple for me means taking a little extra time to "fix up." 

So hopefully you won't see me in town looking like I stepped straight out of the Saturday morning pile at the dig store.  Now if you stop by the house while I am in Mrs. Fixit mode...be prepared.



How have you chosen to honor God by taking care of your temple?  



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Courage

Matthew 14:  25-33
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.   But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”   Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God." 

I have walked in Peter's shoes.  Stepping out on faith to honor the path God places in my life.  As soon as you get comfortable, you look around and get caught up in the world's storms.  How many times have we caught ourselves sinking?

"Ye of little faith."  Yeah, that would be me, too.  There have been times I have literally been on my face shaking my fist at a God who continues to reply to a frequently asked request with one simple word..."wait."  While it seems this prayer is hitting the ceiling, he awakes me from a dead sleep to tell me its time for a change in an area of my life where I least expected it.  The road I have walked lately is not exactly the path I had planned or desired, and its absolutely tested my all.

A friend shared with me her fist shaking, anger filled conversations with God and how he answered her "why."  God does not bring us through trials in our lives to make us stronger.  That is just the byproduct of success.  He brings us through to remind us we can do seemingly impossible things when he is by our side.

As long as Peter was focused on Jesus, he could walk on water.  The same is true for us.  If we keep our eyes fixed on the one who controls all areas of our lives, we can do it too!  It may be excruciatingly hard.  It may test us beyond what we think we are capable of doing.  We may get wet, but he won't let us go under.

Psalm 27:14 says "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." 

Warriors, be courageous in battle.  We can get through anything the world throws at us.  Victory is ours!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Running

My all time favorite movie is Forrest Gump.  I can't tell you how many times I have watched that movie, and each time I catch something embedded in the scenes that reaches deep into my soul. 

Lately I've been thinking about Forrest and his running.  Forrest ran as a child to escape the taunting of his classmates.  Ironically, that ability to use a skill gained from a not so good situation gave him the college education he otherwise would not have been able to get.  His running saved his life during the Vietnam War.

Then there was the scene where he "just started running", traveling across the country.  Why did he run?  The movie never explains out loud his reasons for running.  Maybe it was to escape the pain from Jenny.  Maybe it was the way he knew how to let go of the hurt.  I've heard runners talk about running to relieve stress and to clear their head.  The reason he ran may not be as important as the message of what happened along the way.

Forrest meets people as he runs.  He helps a struggling t-shirt artist and creates a renowned bumper sticker.  He motivates a gaggle of followers and creates national media attention on his journey. 

I've felt a bit like Forrest lately.  Running...feet to the pavement, eyes seeking a destination not yet in site. Running to run, and not really knowing why.  Running from things I'd rather not be facing, running in hopes of finding that place of peace in my life where I am meant to be.  Head down, feet to the pavement, I've gritted my teeth and buckled down to get to the top of that next mountain.  I can do it!  I can make it! 

Through a gentle, small voice, God reminded me its not about the destination, its about the journey.  We know the victory line is ahead.  The race course may take us up hills and through valleys.  It may take us through bitter cold and scorching hot.

We may not know the course set before us, and we sometimes get mighty weary along the way.  However we can't forget that along the journey we're meant to play a vital part in this world, and when we get so engrossed in getting to the finish line that we forget that, we lose the purpose for the race in the first place.  The race of life isn't about how your finish, its about the impact you make as you run...motivator, supporter or trainer.  Furthermore, we need not forget to allow others the same opportunity to impact our lives along the way.

My friends, I would welcome the opportunity to pray with you about things you are facing in your race.  Feel free to message me at taylorandnoahsmom@yahoo.com.

Hebrews 12:12  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Renovation Realities

Maybe it was that obsession with HGTV that got me started.  Maybe it was all that time working with my Daddy in his shop growing up.  My self proclaimed title of Mrs. Fixit has led to a string of home improvement projects over the past two years.  Becoming a DIYer has taught me a lot. more than one blog entry will hold  The greatest one, however, is things are never as easy and simple as they appear.  A project you think should be straightforward and take just a couple of hours to complete almost always becomes a lesson in patience and perseverance.

Our latest adventure started with a can of paint (let's brighten up the kitchen) and has now included electrical, sheet rock, a tile back splash, under cabinet lighting...and the list continues.  For the past year, we have been finishing out our sunroom into a real dining space, insulated and wired, along with an overhaul of the kitchen.  We were looking forward to the near completion of our project.  We hired out the flooring work, and the contractor began tearing out the old vinyl damaged by a water leak a few months back.  As he peeled away the floor, he found we had subfloor damage too...the sturdy understructure that was supposed to be holding up our cabinets and floor was weakened to the point his foot went through in two different places.  Thankfully no one was hurt.

I must put in a plug for my fantastic neighbors...they have been such great mentors in our bright eyed renovation efforts...usually having to get us past the "what were we thinking" phase that comes right behind demolition.  Their expertise and sweat equity investment mean the world to me and Troy.

To keep the project moving forward so I could get my kitchen, and my life back, we spent a lot of time last weekend taking up the damaged boards and replacing them with newer and stronger material.  As I swept up in the sawdust signifying the completion of that part of project, I looked at the floor.  It had weathered many years of use.  We had removed the damaged section and replaced it with something new and stronger.

How it reminded me of my heart!  As we go through life, we often find ourselves with weak and damaged sections too.  Damage from mistakes we have made.  Damage sustained from circumstances beyond our control.  Sometimes it even feels like a foot falls through the walls of our hearts.

That damage that may never quite go away, but you know what?  It too can be repaired. 

2 Corinthians 5:17  English Standard Version (ESV) 

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Jesus can take that weathered heart and make it new.  He forgives us of those mistakes, and heals us from those circumstances that made us weak.  He gives us renewed strength.  (Phillipians 4:13).  The scars may never quite go away, but like the meshed together old and new material of my floor, it becomes part of your character and it makes you stronger.

I arrived home after a long day, and my floors had been completed.  The new underlayment and vinyl covered up the patching we did this weekend, and unless someone peels back the layers, they will never see the damage we repaired.  We can rest assured knowing the floor is stronger and better than it was before. 

People won't see your heart damage, but they will benefit from your stronger and better perspective gained from its repair.  Maybe just maybe that's why God chose a carpenter to serve as his son's fatherly role model.

 Don't let your "damage" keep you from being the person God wants you to be.  Be proud of the scars, and use them for his glory.  He loves you for who you are!