Be Still


Have you ever seen a child, squirming in their seat, despite their mother or father’s constant pleas to “sit still?” Or have you ever experienced a time when you were so nervous that you fidgeted in your seat, waiting for some important news or event? Maybe you are running to and fro, constantly caught up in the day’s activities, unable to stop and take a breath, even for a moment.

In this world, there are things that we all must accomplish each day. There are also things in life that are difficult to handle. It is natural for us to want to try to do as much as we can to either make others around us comfortable, or to find peace for our own troubled soul. But, try as we might, there are some things we cannot do alone. Even if we run ourselves ragged, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, peace can only be found through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

In Psalm 46:10 (NIV), we are given simple instructions on what we should do when we are feeling weary and spread too thin. God’s Word says, “‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” Notice this scripture does not say to run around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to be about the Father’s business. Instead, it simply says, “‘Be still.’” In other words, stop. Slow down. Listen carefully to His voice.

Recently, I observed one particular child at a large event. Sitting in the row in front of me with their parent, the child did not want to sit still. Not only that, but this child continually stood up on their seat, blocking my view of the platform. They whined and complained to their parent, but no matter what consequence they were given, the behavior continued, just as before. The child stood up, walked across the seats, leaned on their parent’s shoulder, and complained some more. This cycle continued until the program was over. While I was a little annoyed that they would distract me during a beautiful portrayal of the life of Jesus, I thought of the parallel between this child and many children of God.

We get so wrapped up in the things that we are doing on this earth, and we often fail to remember that God is guiding us along the way. Instead of sitting still and listening to His voice, we keep running back and forth, whining about the things we want, listing the things that are going wrong, or even complaining about life itself. In our constant pacing, we often distract other people along the way. We block their view, and in doing so, we may cause them to miss out on some of the blessings God has in store for them as well.

The final part of that verse says, “‘know that I am God.’” God doesn’t say to be still and see if I turn out to be God. It doesn’t say to be still and wonder who I am. It says, know that I am God. The word know means to be absolutely certain about something, beyond a shadow of a doubt. God is saying that if we just stop what we are doing and pay attention, we will know that He is God. There will be no question. There will be no mistaking. We will know for a fact that the God of all creation cares for us, loves us, and is always with us.

In this world, people worship many different gods. But, there is only one God who is the Creator of the world. Genesis 1:1 (NIV) says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It doesn’t say one of the gods; it says, “God” in the singular form of the noun. There is only one God who can save your soul. There is only one God who can make you whole. There is only one God who can give you real peace.

Maybe you’re reading this blog, thinking, I wish I knew this God Jennifer is writing about. Perhaps you have heard about Him before, but you feel you are not good enough to have a personal relationship with Him. God loves you. Don’t race around, looking for answers. Avoid living a hectic lifestyle, constantly searching for peace. Before you complain, look to God, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Simply be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10 NIV).

In Christ’s Love,
Jennifer

Broken to Beautiful

Today I went to Lowe’s and purchased some pansies and hosta to plant in my garden.  As I browsed through the selection of plants, I looked carefully for the perfect hosta plant.  I wanted one with brilliantly colored green leaves and the symmetrical shape that I desired.  The problem was, every plant had some sort of imperfection.  Each one had a yellowed leaf, a broken stem, or some other flaw in its appearance.  I finally settled for one that was less than perfect, but good enough to plant in my garden.  As I neared the checkout lane, I thought of the way that Jesus Christ has done the same for us.  Even though we are broken, flawed, and less than perfect, He chooses to love us anyway.  We are “good enough” in His eyes.  And in the same way I prepared a placed in my garden for these imperfect plants, Jesus has prepared a place in Heaven for us.

Like the flawed plants, there is not one human being on this earth who is perfect.  God’s Word says that we are all sinners.  We have all fallen short of the glory of God.  In other words, we are not worthy to enter His presence.  But, I am so happy to be able to tell you that Jesus Christ gave His life for every man, woman, boy, and girl, so that our sins could be washed away.  If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, your sins are washed white as snow.  All of your imperfections are erased, gone forevermore.  You do not have to carry around your shortcomings with you any longer.  Jesus wants to take them all away for good.  Just like the plants that will eventually grow into mature, healthy, and blossoming plants, Jesus will help you grow into a pure, beautiful, and beloved individual.


You may be reading this blog thinking, I am too broken.  I am too scarred.  There are things you do not know about me.  Jesus would never love me.  Granted, I do not know what you are going through.  But, I am here to assure you without one ounce of doubt that Jesus loves you unconditionally.  No matter where you’ve been, where you are, or where you are going, Jesus loves you.  He looks down at you and He sees your flaws.  He sees your brokenness.  Instead of overlooking you because of your imperfections, He chooses to love you.  He focuses on your positive attributes, disregarding your faults.  Jesus knows you are good enough.  More than that, He knows you are worth dying for.  You are His child, and He loves you.  He wants to mend your broken heart, strengthen your broken spirit, and restore your broken soul, so that you can enjoy a life full of complete joy.

When full grown, a "broken" hosta becomes beautiful.
Think of the plants.  With God’s loving care, the broken leaves will grow back even more beautiful than before.  The yellowed leaves will soon turn green with adequate water and sun.  And the shape of each plant may not be perfectly symmetrical, but it will reshape itself into the shape that God intends for it to be.  One day, no one will be able to tell that this plant was broken.  Why?  Because I overlooked its flaws and gave it a chance.  Likewise, Jesus Christ can take your broken life and mold it into the life He intends you to live.  There is no life that is broken beyond repair.  Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  He gave His life, so that every single person on this earth could receive everlasting life.  He overlooked our many flaws and gave us a chance.  There is nothing in your life that will stop Jesus Christ from loving you.  He will take your brokenness and make you beautiful.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

New Eyes

Sitting here across from a gorgeous waterfall, I cannot help but wonder why God’s peace often seems so far away.  Looking up through the trees, I see evidence of new growth sprouting forth from every limb.  Spring is here.  A new beginning.  Yet, I feel that I am trapped, unable to fully sense the complete beauty of God’s budding creation all around me.  There once was a time when I considered this to be the most peaceful place on earth.  Nearly three years ago, in the blink of an eye, it transformed into one of the most disturbing places on earth, at least in my mind.  Since that night, I have been praying diligently for a new perspective, a new set of eyes that allow me to see the peaceful beauty, as opposed to the images of the most difficult night of my life.

Since that horrific night, I have had countless nightmares recounting the details of that frightful experience.  For me, returning to our camper in North Carolina could be likened to returning to the scene of an accident.  Only in this case, there was no accident.  Still, the images of the night seem as if they will be forever etched into my permanent memory bank.  When I sit on our sofa, I think of that night.  When I walk over to our neighbors, I think of that night.  When I stand anywhere inside or outside our camper, I think of that night.

The moment my Mom sat up, her eyes staring straight ahead, my heart fell to the pit of my stomach.  I cried out, “Mama!  Don’t leave us!”  I prayed, “Jesus, bring her back to us.”  On the phone to 911, I pleaded with them to hurry.  I ran next door to get our neighbor, so my Dad would have help administering CPR.  I did everything I could do.  But no matter what I did, nothing changed.

That night, my Dad and I sang the most difficult song we have ever sung as a duet.  We sang the song, “Living by Faith,” to my Mom.  Undoubtedly, the hardest song I have ever sung.  Yet, somehow, even in the midst of the circumstance, the words brought a little comfort to my sorrowful soul.  While I could not have answered any questions concerning our future on that particular night, I knew that we would press on, entering the future with our heads held high.  And all the while, we would be living by faith.

As we stood outside the camper in the wee hours of the morning, we called our immediate family.  When I looked out toward the mountains, I could see the silhouette of the mountain in the distance.  God brought to mind the scripture that says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).  Even in the darkest hour of my life, God’s presence surrounded me.  He knew that I needed His loving arms wrapped around me, holding me up when I could not stand on my own two feet.  And He sent little reminders of His promise to never leave nor forsake me, even in the bleakest of nights.

Still, I am human, so the trauma of the night began taking its toll on me.  It was after 4 o’clock in the morning before I finally laid my head down on the pillow.  I had no intention of sleeping, but I had no desire to keep reliving the last five hours over and over in my mind either.  That night, something happened that I will never ever forget.  I had gradually fallen asleep, but was awakened by what I thought was someone entering my room.  I turned to look, but did not see my Dad.  It was as if my Mom was standing there with a glow about her.  She simply said, “It’ll be alright.”  And just as quickly as the vision had appeared, the image vanished.  While I didn’t know it then, I have since realized that yes, it will be alright.  How?  I don’t know.  When?  Only God knows that.  Even so, I have the assurance that God will be with me, whether He is guiding me through nightmares or dreams, or sorrows or joys, or tears or laughter.

Now, three years later, I see things with a slightly different perspective on life.  For this, I am grateful.  Still, there are other things that I seem to be looking at with the same pair of eyes.  It is my prayer that one day God will give me a new pair of eyes, so to speak, so that I can once again clearly see the peacefulness that permeates our mountain home.  I want to be able to find a new sense of enjoyment at this beautiful location He has so graciously allowed us to call our second home.  I hope that I will one day be able to solely focus on the fond memories, as opposed to the devastating ones.  I know that God will continue to work in my life, as He has done so many times before, molding me and shaping me into the person He wants me to be.  And in His timing, I know He’ll give me a new set of eyes, so that I can see the beauty all around me once again.

What about you?  Are you struggling with nightmares of the past?  Do you find yourself dwelling over a tragic event in your life?  Is it hard to find peace or joy, despite your many attempts to gain a new perspective on life?  Friend, I am here to tell you that there is only One individual who can guide you through the treacherous storms you may face.  Jesus Christ is the Shelter from the storms.  He will calm your fears, erase your sorrow, and restore your joy.  If you are looking for a new set of eyes, call out to Jesus.  He is waiting with open arms.  He wants you to enjoy life.  He wants you to live a life full of joy.  He will cleanse your soul, renew your mind, and yes, He will give you a new set of eyes, too.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

Searching

Not too long ago, I spent quite a bit of time searching for one particular item.  I thought I knew where I had left it, but surely enough, it was not there.  Nearly an hour had passed, yet I had not located the item in question.  Finally, I gave up and decided to end my search.  It seems quite odd now, when I think about it, since I cannot even recall what the item was.  Something so insignificant now, but at the time, it seemed to be the answer to all of my problems.  Still, I could not find it, whatever it was.  And now, it doesn’t really matter at all.  Nonetheless, there are things in life that do matter.  Often, these things we search for are the keys to pivotal moments in our life.  Sometimes, finding these things is an easy task.  And other times, much like my experience with the unidentified object, the item we need seems unattainable, out of reach, and possibly lost forever.

What about you?  Are you searching for something?  Perhaps you are looking for something far beyond a missing sock, earring, or newspaper clipping.  You may be longing for your future husband, wife, or children.  Maybe you wish you had a home of your own.  Or it could be that all you really want to find is rest for your weary soul.  You may be holding on to the end of your rope, not even able to search for the things you need.  The disappointment and fear you have encountered in life could have you trapped, unable to find safety from your precarious position.  I am here to tell you that there is a way out.  As someone once said, when you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.  Hold on and call out to Jesus.  He is the One who can find exactly what you need.

No matter what you are searching for, Jesus Christ can find it for you.  There is nothing in all Creation that is beyond the reach of our Heavenly Father.  He knows when you will marry and who you will marry.  He knows if and when you will have children.  In fact, He even knows their names.  He knows when you will close the deal on a home of your own, or if it is better for you to remain where you are for now.  And without doubt, He can restore your weary soul.  Nothing is beyond His mercy and grace.  He can breathe new life into you, motivating you to enjoy the life you have been given.  He wants you to experience a renewal of joy, a blossoming of hope, and a bounty of peace.  Don’t suffer any longer, searching in vain for the things you desire.  Present your requests to God.  He will give you what you need and so much more.  All you have to do is ask.

God’s Word says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)  Notice that this scripture does not say that we should wait for God to come to us and give us what we need.  Instead, it says that we should ask.  He wants to give us our heart’s desires, but we must go to Him and present our requests.  All He asks is that we talk to Him.  He wants to hear our voice.  He longs to listen to our problems, whether big or small.  He wants to help us find the things that are missing from our life.  It does not say that we should get into a frenzy, upset over something that is lost.  Rather, it says that we should seek the things that are lost so that they may be found.  Jesus will help us find the missing pieces in the puzzle of our life.  He knows where every piece is and He knows exactly where each piece belongs.

Finally, it does not say that we should wait for someone to open the door for us, meekly standing on the doorstep, never announcing our arrival.  When you go to a friend’s house, do you simply stand on their doorstep, wearing a hole in their welcome mat, hoping that someone will eventually notice your presence?  Certainly not.  Instead, we either knock or ring the doorbell, letting our friends know that we have arrived.  Likewise, Jesus does not want us to stand still, but instead, He wants us to knock.  If the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is on the other side of the door, wouldn’t you want to knock loudly, letting Him know that you desire His attention?  Jesus doesn’t want us to tiptoe and whisper in His presence, so as not to disturb Him.  It is His desire that all of His children should talk to Him daily, coming to the throne to tell Him our sorrows and joys.  Jesus loves us, and He welcomes our company.  As such, when we step up to His doorstep, so to speak, we should knock loudly.  When we knock, we can be assured that the door will be opened for us.

You see, God does not call us to be passive Christians.  God calls us to be active Christians.  He wants us to be proactive, always involved in the life He has so graciously given to us.  He doesn’t want us to sit on the back row, so to speak, watching our life flash before our eyes.  We cannot simply sit stagnant in one place, never claiming the promises that He has given.  We must reach out and claim them.  We need to be bold Christians.  God wants us to present our requests to Him.  If we need something, we are to ask!  If we lose something, we need to seek the Lord and then we will find what we are searching for.  If we are standing at the door, unsure of whether we should knock, we need to knock loudly.  Do not hang at the end of your rope; instead, go inside the safety of His arms.  Jesus Christ is waiting for you to ask, seek, and knock.  He loves you, whether you are emotionally drained and hanging by a thread, or if you are confidently standing at the throne of grace.  Don’t spend your life searching.  Seek His face, and the things you are searching for will be found.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

Easter Blessings

The celebration of Easter brings with it one of those special moments in my life when I feel like God is smiling down on me.  In these moments, it is as if God is filling my life with blessings.  I guess you could say that there are times when my cup is truly running over.  I often wonder why I deserve such an abundance of blessings.  What did I ever do to deserve the precious life God has given me?  How could I merit such love, such grace, and such joy in my life?

Thankfully, I am in good company.  As Jesus and His disciples were partaking of the Passover meal, the disciples did not feel worthy enough to have their Master wash their feet.  Jesus said to them, “‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’  ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’  Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’  ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’” (John 13:7-9 NIV).  Although Simon Peter did not feel worthy, Jesus explained to Him that his feet must washed in order to remain a part of the Lord’s work.

Many times, I do not feel worthy of the love that Jesus continually bestows upon me, but I know there are times when Jesus must cleanse me and at times, even carry me through a difficult time in my life.  As a child of God, I cannot refuse the love of Jesus Christ.  To do so would be to turn Him away completely.  Even if I feel unworthy, I know that I have been bought and paid for by the blood of the Lamb.  I have come to realize that Jesus graciously wants to help me.  Like Simon Peter, I want to be all in.  I want to give my entire being, all that I am, to the work of the Lord.  Why should I do otherwise?  It is the least that I can do, considering the fact that Jesus gave His all for me.

Last night, I had the opportunity to experience an Easter drama portraying the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As I sat in the congregation, I felt as though I had been transported back in time.  I truly felt as if I was there, in the crowd, when they shouted, “Crucify Him.”  I became saddened and angry that other humans, just like me, could hold that level of hatred toward the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  How could anyone look upon Jesus’ face and see anything other than compassion for you and me?

As the soldiers beat Jesus, I flinched each time I heard the snap of the whip upon His back.  Then, I found it difficult to watch as Jesus struggled to carry His own cross to Calvary’s Hill.  Not only did He carry the heavy cross upon His back, but God’s Word says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5 KJV).  Just imagine what it would be like to endure every sickness, every affliction, and every sin simultaneously.  Surely, no human could withstand such pain and suffering.  Even though Jesus could have called ten thousand angels, He remained on that cross, out of love for you and me.

Inevitably, the crucifixion of any other human being on this earth would not have done anyone an ounce of good.  You see, Jesus Christ is the only perfect human being who ever walked among men.  He was the only Perfect Sacrifice.  Only His blood was pure enough to erase the sins of the world.  Only the Son of God could endure such a horrifying death and then rise victorious three days later.  Only Jesus Christ can heal a broken heart, restore someone’s joy, and save a person’s soul.

God gave His only Son.  Jesus Christ gave His life for you and me.  What more could we possibly ask for?  Surely, we should expect nothing more.  Yet, each day brings new blessings.  The moment I awaken, the first breath I take each morning, the sunrise in the sky above…all of these things are blessings bestowed upon me, even before my day has barely even begun.  My family and friends, my home, the food I eat and clothes I wear…the blessings are truly endless.  When I see a dove soaring above, watch a butterfly flutter by, or view a rainbow up above, I am reminded of the everyday blessings that God bestows on me.  Isn’t that just like God?  He gives and He gives.  Then, He gives us extra special blessings that are always present, if we just take the time to admire them.

Like Simon Peter, we may feel unworthy of the infinite blessings we are given, but we can rest assured that God blesses us out of His love for us.  He wants us to experience a life of peace and joy.  He wants us to rejoice, on this Resurrection Day, and always.  Philippians 4:4 (NIV) tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  So, on this Easter Sunday, take a moment to thank Jesus for everything He has done for you.  Thank Him for the smile on your child’s face when they found their first Easter egg.  Thank Him for the joy you felt after celebrating this special day at an Easter Sunrise service.  Thank Him for giving you an abundant life to live.  Most of all, thank Him for giving His life.  Jesus Christ loves you unconditionally.  Will you love Him in return?

Easter Blessings,

Jennifer

When was the last time you stopped and asked for directions?  Maybe you searched for the desired destination on your Global Positioning System.  Perhaps you called someone on the phone to find out which way you should go.  It probably didn’t matter where you obtained the information, just so long as you made it to your destination safely and on time.  In life, there are many places we must go and appointments we must keep, but the most important directions we will ever read are the ones in God’s Word.  This Book is a roadmap, not for the highways and byways on which we drive our automobiles, but a map for life itself.  It tells us where to turn, where to stop, and where we should be at all times.  If you find that you are lost on your journey through life, Jesus Christ can help you find a new sense of direction.

Today, the dog that took up residence on our doorstep this week seemed to get a sense of direction.  He started walking toward our hay barn on the hill and disappeared out of sight.  All of the sudden, it just seemed as if something clicked in its head, and he knew which way to go to get home.  No, he didn’t have the ability to search for his owner’s house on Google Maps.  But God knew which direction he should go, and I am sure that God guided him all the way home.  Now, he is no longer sitting on our doorstep, looking like the misplaced canine he once was.  Even though he didn’t have a written map with him, he seemed to know exactly where he was going.  Unfortunately, finding the right direction is not always so easy, especially for people.

Sometimes, there are directions in life that have nothing to do with driving a car down the road.  These types of directions cannot be found on the Internet or any other electronic gadget for that matter.  You see, life is not equipped with a GPS unit that will continuously tell us to “turn left” or “turn right.”  Some decisions will be extremely difficult.  Some journeys will be nearly impossible.  Some roads will be treacherous.  Yet, you can take comfort in the fact that Jesus Christ will be with you every step of the way.  And with Jesus by your side, you will always know which direction to turn.

Perhaps you have made a wrong turn in your life and do not know how to cope.  You may have left your family, seeking a better life or a more fulfilling existence, only to find that single life is not what you truly desired.  It may be that the absence of the love of your family is nearly more than you can bear.  Or you might have entered a life of drugs and alcohol, just to realize that these things only provide a temporary reprieve from the difficulties you are facing.  You may have decided that these things are not the ultimate answer, but you do not know how to get back on the straight and narrow.  Or you could be someone who was raised as a Christian all of your life, but have recently found yourself straying away from Jesus Christ.  Now, you may be trying to find your way back home to the safety of His arms, but you’re so far away, you do not know how to get there from where you are now.

Jesus Christ has not forgotten you.  He cares for you.  He wants you to come home.  There is no spot on this earth that is out of the reach of our Heavenly Father.  He knows where you are.  He knows everything you have done, every turn you have made, every road you have taken.  Even if you made poor choices, He loves you unconditionally.  He wants to guide you and direct you, and He wants to help you make it home.  The Bible says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6 KJV).  He doesn’t want you to stay lost, wasting your life in all of the wrong places.  He will give you directions, leading you to the right places.

If you are struggling with some particular aspect of your life, don’t sit on someone else’s porch, simply because you cannot find your way home again.  Ask God to help you.  Ask Him for His guidance.  Ask Him for a new sense of direction.  He will show you how to get home.  God’s Word says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him” (Psalm 37:5 ESV).  Trust Him today.  If you are going the wrong way, God allows U-turns.  He loves you more than you could ever imagine.  Open up your heart, listen to His voice, and allow Him to guide you to the life you have always dreamed of living.  Don’t wander around aimlessly.  Look to God for a new sense of direction.  He will bring you to a place of peace, joy, and hope.  Best of all, he will bring you home.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

When I arrived home this afternoon, my first thought was, there’s the dog.  The light brown boxer sat on the porch, patiently waiting for us to return home.  There was one problem with this picture though.  We do not own a dog fitting this description.  Although my initial thought was, there’s the dog, I quickly realized that this dog did not belong on our porch, no matter how much he looked like he did belong there.  I began asking myself questions like, where did he come from?  Who does he belong to?  And why was he sitting on our doorstep?

After giving him some water, I called the neighbors to see if I could find out where he belongs.  Sadly, no one seems to know where he came from.  Inevitably, he must have lost his way while he was on some grand canine adventure.  While he seemed content to simply walk around our yard, I cannot help but think that somewhere, someone is calling for their lost pet to come home.  But, instead of returning home, he returned to our doorstep.
How many times has someone come to your doorstep, in need of a drink of water, a morsel of food, a pair of shoes, or a tank of gas?  Did you provide their needs, or did you turn them away?  When someone in need comes to you, how do you respond?  This “doorstep” could represent more than the physical stoop outside your door.  It could be a phone call, an e-mail, your office, or the door to your church.  Do you really stop to think about who is on your doorstep?  Or do you ignore those in need, never taking time to really look at what is going on around you?

In life, it is easy to become complacent.  We become so busy that we do not always notice the needs of others.  Or we may get to the point that we do not realize something has changed with a relative, friend, or colleague.  Even if we notice a slight change, we could possibly interpret it as something that has always been; in the same way that I first thought that the dog had always been there.  We need to make a special effort to be attentive to the needs of others, always doing unto others as we would like them to do for us.

Other times, we may find that we are the ones who need assistance.  We may call out to Jesus, wondering if He hears our requests.  Instead of paying attention to His answer, we may ignore the blessings He sends because we are waiting for the answer we expect.  Instead, we may receive an unexpected answer.  The answer could even be sitting on our doorstep.

I am reminded of the story of the man who was caught in a flood.  He called for Jesus to help him.  A truck came along, offering to take him to safety.  He refused, saying the Lord would rescue him.  Then, as the water was beginning to rise, a boat came along.  Again, he politely refused, telling the rescue team that the Lord was on His way.  Finally, he found himself perched on the roof of his home.  A helicopter flew in to rescue him from the dangerous floodwaters that were surrounding him.  Once more, he said the Lord was coming and he did not need to be rescued.  The man drowned that day.  When he arrived at Heaven’s Gates, he questioned why God never came to rescue him.  God answered, “I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter.”


Sometimes, God may be standing on our doorstep.  Sure, He may not always be physically standing on our doorstep, but He will always send the answer to our prayer.  Even if He answers a prayer in a different way than we expect, we can rest assured that He cares about every little detail of our lives.  Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20 ESV).  Jesus will never leave us.  He always has our best interest at heart.  If we will only pay attention when Jesus knocks on our heart’s door, there is no limit to what joy awaits.  Jesus is knocking.  Will you answer the door?  Will you listen His call?  Will you take some time to see who’s on your doorstep?

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

Lost in Translation

 A few days ago, I had the opportunity to watch some middle school students actively engaged in a round of the popular children’s game, Telephone.  In this game, one person whispers a message to the next person in line.  After the message has been whispered all around, the last person repeats the message they were given aloud.  As you can imagine, the message becomes quite garbled among the whispers and giggles being shared among all participants.  Eventually, the original message becomes completely lost in translation.

While this was simply a team-building exercise in my Journalism class, I began to think of the parallel that often exists between this game and our communication with God.  How many times have we prayed and asked God for something, but instead of listening closely to what He has to say, we may repeat what we think He said?  Or perhaps we just make up an answer that is in accordance with our will, instead of His.  Or maybe we do not listen at all, thinking that He has not answered our prayer.
While we may not always understand God’s will for our lives, or we may not comprehend His answer, He truly knows best.  Sometimes, God will answer our prayers with a definite, “Yes.”  Other times, He may answer our prayers by saying, “No.”  And at times, He may simple say, “Not now.”  Regardless of what answer we receive, we need to be content with His response.  God is aware of our desires, our wants, and our needs.  He knows where we are at in life.  In Philippians 4:11 (ESV), Paul tells us, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”  No matter what is going on around us, we can be happy.  If we are in God’s will, we will be content.

In John 18:37 (NIV), Jesus tells Pilate, “‘You say that I am a king.  In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’”  Notice that Jesus points out what Pilate says.  Then, He goes on to tell Pilate that everyone who is truthful listens to him.  In other words, Jesus is saying those who listen to Him are honest people.  If we choose to ignore the things that Jesus tells us, then we are being dishonest.  We need to listen to His words, in order to fully enjoy our relationship with the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

In the same way, a child needs to maintain a level of honesty with their parents, in order to experience effective communication.  Imagine a young boy who is asked by his parents to clean his room.  Instead of hearing this request, he “thinks” he is supposed to go to his room and play a “clean” video game.  Certainly, the child heard the original request.  However, his own desires cause him to purposefully lose some of the meaning, being left with a fragment of the request.  All he chooses to remember is that it was something to do with his room.  In the end, he does not perform the task that he is asked to do, ultimately making himself untrustworthy in the eyes of his parents.
When was the last time God asked you to do something?  Perhaps He asked you to call a dear friend who was critically ill in the hospital, but you didn’t have time.  While you may have been busy, God knew that calling your friend tomorrow would be too late.  Or maybe God requested that you stay home and resist the urge to go shopping, but instead, you went to the store.  God knew that you would have your purse stolen if you went shopping at that particular time of day.  And you might have felt the urge to stop and pray for someone at work, but you felt out of place, asking to pray for them in public.  God knew that your coworker needed to be reminded of the hope that only Jesus can give.  Without this reminder, they could have been planning to take their own life that very evening.  You see, God knows more than we do.  He knows what we should choose to do, and He knows what we will choose.  Additionally, He knows the consequences we will suffer if we do not choose wisely.

God will not ask us to do more than we are capable of doing.  Still, He knows the comings and goings of every single individual on earth.  And He knows who His children should be with, what they should be doing, when they should do it, why they either will or will not do it, and where they should be.  He loves you.  He cares for you.  And He does not want any harm to come to you.  God wants what is best for all of His children.  Don’t let the wisdom and guidance God has designed especially for you get lost in translation.  Listen to His still, small voice today, and stand amazed at what God has planned for your life!

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

The "Big Break"

 Are you waiting for that “big break?”  Do you spend every waking moment dreaming about that moment when you win the lottery, land a role in the next box office hit, or finally get the job you have been waiting for all of your life?  In your zest to radically change your life, do you often overlook the daily joys because of your focus on the single moment that you hope changes everything?  While it is easy to center your life on one lofty goal, make sure you take time to enjoy the small victories in life.  As one wise person once said, “Take time to smell the roses.”  Otherwise, you may easily miss out on what is happening right now, simply because you are waiting for something to happen.

Personally, I often find myself thinking of the future, as opposed to delighting in the present.  There are times when my Dad and I will be anticipating an exotic voyage on a cruise, or other adventurous vacation, and it seems all of my thoughts revolve around that one trip.  At times, I can scarcely concentrate on my daily tasks, due to thoughts regarding our adventure…  What clothes should I pack?  How many SD cards should I format for my camera?  I need to make sure I take my curling iron.  Oh, and I certainly cannot forget to take my iPod!  And most importantly, I need to pack my Bible.  The list goes on and on.  I know there are times I spend a much greater number of minutes planning what to pack than I spend actually packing.  But, it is the anticipation of the joyful journey that lures me in, and causes me to center my thoughts on all of the tiniest details, often to the exclusion of what is going on in the immediate present.

Other times, I find myself dreaming of the moment that I am blessed to have my first book published, a dream I have had since I was a little girl.  I write and write, anticipating this very day.  The desire to write becomes so great at times that nothing but writing will provide contentment.  The words come flowing forth, and I find such relaxation when I am writing them all down, sure to not miss even one.  Does this mean I don’t like to do anything but write?  Certainly not!  But, there are times when I want to focus all of my thoughts and energy on this one passion.  At the same time, there are moments when I put all of my resources into singing or speaking to women about my journey to finding joy around the bend.  Even so, I realize that I have so many opportunities to minister to others, whether I am writing, singing, speaking, or simply performing my normal daily routine as a middle school teacher.


We may want to be the next big superstar or we may wish we were a millionaire.  Inevitably, though, the most important thing is whether or not we are in the will of God.  In His timing, He will move us to the next phase of our life.  We are called to give 100% of ourselves to the Lord’s work, knowing that everything we do as unto the Lord is valuable.  I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  God calls us to stand firm.  In other words, we should not waver.  We should put our complete trust in the Lord that He will give us the ability to complete every task with the knowledge that we are on a journey to a destination much bigger than Hollywood or Broadway.  We are working toward a Heavenly goal.  And what is the best part?  This “big break” is given freely to all who will believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.

So, if you’re constantly thinking of what step you should take to strike it big, remember this: the most important step you will ever take is to ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life.  Once you begin this personal relationship with Him, you will be able to immediately say that you are a servant of the Lord of Lords, a child of the King of Kings, and a friend of the Savior of the World.  Worldly successes may be enjoyable, but only for a season.  The successes you find in Jesus Christ, however, last forever.  So, the next time you think about your next “big break,” think about the ultimate “big break.”  If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will experience a life beyond any you could ever imagine on this earth below.  One day, you’ll have that mansion you’ve always dreamed of, and you’ll be walking on streets of gold surrounded by gates of pearl.  Everyone will know your name, and you’ll know their names as well.  Best of all, Jesus Christ will be walking right beside you, just as He’s done all of your life.  Why wait?  Take the first step today.  Your “big break” has arrived…

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

As I look back at the last two and a half years, I realize just how far I have come.  The loss of my Mom was nearly more than I could bear.  I often wondered how I would get through the motions of each and every day.  While I had the desire to live life, I had absolutely no desire to sincerely enjoy life.  Since that time, I have found that I can enjoy life, even with the absence of my Mom.  My Dad and I enjoy many amazing experiences together, but through it all, there is always something missing from our daily life.  There are times when joyful times still have a bittersweet shadow lurking overhead, simply because my Mom is not there to share it with us.  Still, I want to remember the sweet memories I have of my Mom, with the assurance that I will see her again.  I suppose you could say the old adage, “Two steps forward, one step back,” is an accurate description of my journey to joy.  Some days are incredibly difficult, while others provide hope, strength, and happiness.  Even though I may be looking back, I am also moving forward.

During the times that I struggle to see the hope Jesus gives so freely, I am reminded of other moments when His hope was ever present, even amid difficulties I was facing.  While my Sweet Sixteenth year on this earth began with an All-Day Singing and Dinner on the Grounds, it ended in a much different realm.  My Mom was in the hospital at the time.  I walked into my closet to change clothes, so my Dad and I could go visit her that evening.  All of the sudden, I felt as if I had been stabbed in the side.  It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt in my life.  I immediately told my Dad, who quickly ushered me out the door.  We went directly to the hospital emergency room.  I was evaluated, and it was determined that my colon had perforated and my heart rate was dangerously high.  The situation was extremely critical.

As they were preparing me for emergency surgery, my Dad was able to get permission to bring my Mom down to see me before I went into the operating room.  My Mom and Dad later told me that they wanted to see me one last time, in case I didn’t make it.  While I knew the situation was severe, I had complete assurance that Jesus would be in the operating room, guiding the surgeons’ hands.  Although I knew that peritonitis and all of the medical terms being spouted off by the nurses and doctors added up to a serious situation, I did not worry one bit.  I even recall telling my Mom and Dad that everything would be alright, and that Jesus would take care of me.  Even in the midst of what looked like a dire circumstance, I had complete faith that He would see me through.  I knew without a doubt that He would heal my body and restore my health.

I came through the surgery with a few complications, stayed in the Intensive Care Unit, and finally was able to come home several weeks later.  During the time I was in the hospital, my Mom was discharged from the hospital, so my Mom and Dad stayed by my side every day and night, except for the days when my Dad had to be at work.  I know it was a very difficult and trying time for them, worrying about their little girl.  Still, I know that my faith never wavered even once.  I knew that God would keep His promise.  In God’s Word, we read, “By His stripes, we are healed.”  I claimed this promise and I knew that I would prevail.  What I do not understand now is, how could I have had such a strength and faith at the young age of sixteen?  What was so different then?  While I have strength and faith now, there are times when I look back on August 2, 2008, and I wonder, why didn’t God intervene?

For me, I guess it was easier to believe that God would heal me and keep the faith, especially after He did heal me.  Now, I am left wondering why He did not answer my prayer for my Mom to stay with us.  Although I know He has my best interest at heart, I do not understand how the absence of my Mom is in my best interest.  Looking back, I can see God’s hand working in my life from the very moment I was born lifeless.  I realize the trials I had experienced up until this point were meant to make me stronger, to help me understand the will of God for my life, and to strengthen my relationship with Jesus.  What I have yet to figure out, as I strive to move forward, is how the loss of my Mom is meant to help.  Each step I take into the future, I have yet to determine how God will work this tragic loss for my good.

Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good, to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.”  Perhaps I was born lifeless and then had the emergency surgery when I was sixteen to reveal to others Jesus’ healing power.  Quite possibly, some of the things that I have experienced throughout my life have been to show others the way I smile and shine forth the joy of Jesus, even in the most difficult of times.  But, what I have not figured out is how God will work this most recent trial for my good.  This loss has been devastating.  While I am not proud of this fact, I have not remained smiling and joyful 24/7 since my Mom went to be with the Lord.  And there was no healing about which to testify.  So, what is His purpose?  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that Jesus is the answer for every single question.

Inevitably, there are times in our lives when we will not know God’s purpose.  In reality, we may never know the purpose for some of the things that happen in our lives.  Even so, we must cling to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  As I look back on the way He has been so faithful to me, bringing me out of the toughest valleys and most raging rivers, I know that He will remain faithful.  Although it is difficult to move forward, I will press on.  I know that something better awaits.  It is my prayer that God will help me continue to live my life in service to Him.  And I pray that I can minister to someone’s heart through the message I bring.  That message is to tell you that even when life changes, there is joy around the bend.  I cannot explain the past, or the present.  But whether I am looking back or moving forward, I know the future is bright.  Because one day, we’ll be looking back at earth and moving forward to a Heavenly home.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

A Donkey

Have you ever wondered why Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, rode into town on a donkey more than two thousand years ago?  There was no champion thoroughbred, no luxurious chariot…just a donkey.  The King of Kings entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey just for you and me.  He did it to carry out His Father’s plan that included a difficult journey from the cross to the grave.  This journey of love began with a triumphant entry and transformed into a sorrowful crucifixion.  Think about how Jesus must have felt, riding a donkey, knowing all the while that He would be crucified by the very people His Father created.  One day, they were waving palm branches as He rode into town.  A few days later, they would be waving their fists, shouting, “Crucify Him!”  And to think, it all started on a donkey.

I wonder if Jesus ever questioned, “A donkey???”  Did He ever think, “Come on, Father, you’ve got to be kidding?”  Surely there must have been the slightest bit of hesitation when the Savior of the world was being asked to ride into town on a borrowed donkey.  While Jesus may have never questioned this minor detail, I am sure that my often outspoken, human self would have had something to say about that.  I know there are times in my life when I wonder why God gives me a donkey, so to speak, when I have requested a faster and more comfortable mode of transportation.  Sometimes, God does not hand us exactly what we want on a silver platter.  Instead, He gives us the things we need.  Rather than giving us a “fast pass” through life, He wants us to trust Him to provide what we need when we need it.  And Jesus Christ trusted His Father completely.

Jesus knew that God would only ask Him to do what He could realistically accomplish.  Although He may have questioned the events relating to His crucifixion, He remained steadfast in His love for His Father, fulfilling His Father’s plan.  Even unto death, Jesus carried out the will of God.  Jesus knew that He was the only Perfect Sacrifice.  He knew that a world without His crucifixion meant that all would be lost forevermore.  He knew that you and I needed a Savior.  As the old song says, “He could have called ten thousand angels, but He did it all for you and me.”  He knew He could not back out at the last minute…to do so would have changed the world for eternity.  And in effect, it would have put an end to the notion of eternity for you and me.  If Jesus had not trusted His Father, there would be no way for us to have our sins washed away and there would be no means of getting into Heaven.  If He had not given His life for us, the end of our life on this earth would literally be just that - the end.

Thanks to God’s amazing love for us, and the love His Son Jesus has for us, we have hope for eternity.  If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will live forever.  John 3:16 (ESV) says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Jesus doesn’t want us to live without hope.  He doesn’t want us to see death as the ill-awaited doomsday of our life.  And He doesn’t want us to fear the future.  Instead, He wants us to cherish the time we have on this earth, all the while, joyfully awaiting the moment we walk into Heaven’s gates.  He wants us to believe that He is the Son of the Living God.  If you believe this to be true, you will not die, but live.  I Thessalonians (NIV) says, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”  Jesus wants to walk beside you on this earth, and when your earthly life is over, He wants you to live with Him in Heaven.  If you have asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you have a life filled with hope.  You have the hope of eternity.


So, the next time you see a donkey, think about the animal that, over two thousand years ago, carried the King of Kings upon its back.  And the next time you wonder why God chose a donkey, take a closer look at the donkey’s back.  I know that God, the Creator of this hard-working creature, must have seen the significance in the design upon its back: a cross.  Since the beginning of time, God knew that His only Son would ride upon a donkey on His journey to Calvary’s cross.  He knew that His only Son would die for every man, woman, boy, and girl.  And yes, He knew that some people would love Him, and He knew that others would reject Him.  He knew that the name of Jesus would be praised and adored, and other times, this holy name would be criticized and mocked.  Yet, He did it all, just for you and me.  Jesus Christ loves you unconditionally.  Will you love Him in return?

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

Stuck in the Sunset

When I was 16 years old, I wrote a song titled, “There’s Sunshine Awaiting You.”  The moment I finished writing the song, I knew that God himself had given me the lyrics.  Why?  Because the song had a message that transcended the limits of my understanding at this period of my life.  You see, the first verse talks about a mother who has lost her child.  While I have known people who have gone through this same trial, I have not personally experienced this sort of tragic loss firsthand.  Still, God knew that my Mom was the one who needed to hear the lyrics to this song at this exact moment in her life.  She was the first one who heard the song, and the first one who cried as she listened.  I immediately knew that God had a hand in this one.  Little did I know then that this song would one day hold a more significant meaning to me personally.  More than a decade later, I would find myself stuck in the sunset.


When I was a little girl, my two little brothers were born prematurely and passed away as infants.  I am almost certain that this is why the first verse of my song touched my Mom’s heart in such a special way.  As I sang the song repeatedly over the years, and even recorded it on my very first cassette, I was so humbled to see that it was ministering to people on so many levels.  I enjoyed singing it, I thought the soundtrack was beautiful, and I knew the lyrics were anointed.  Still, I could not personally identify with the lyrics of the song, having never been through such a dark time in my life.  I had always been the one to smile, no matter what.  I could always see a glimpse of sunshine, even behind the darkest storm cloud.  Truth be told, I had not yet seen the darkest storm cloud at this time in my life.

I had witnessed the death of more close friends and loved ones than most people I knew had even been to funerals.  Brothers, grandfathers, a grandmother, aunts, uncles, and other friends and relatives…so many loved ones going on to be with the Lord.  But, even in the midst of the loss we experienced, my Mom, Dad, and I remained a close-knit Christian family.  No matter what happened around us, we knew that the three of us would love and support each other through sunshine and rain.  We were like the Three Musketeers.  And I had faith that God would always keep us together, no matter what storms brewed overhead.  On August 2, 2008, the darkest storm of my life came upon me as suddenly as a tornado can flatten an entire town.  There was no warning, there were no goodbyes, and there was nothing my Dad or I could do to silence the violent storm.


Since that tragic night, God has spoken to my heart on several occasions.  I still don’t have all of the answers.  I don’t understand why my Mom is not nearby, waiting to read the next entry of my blog, a blog she never had the opportunity to read.  And cannot tell you why my Dad and I are not living in this house as a family of five, my Mom and younger brothers still with us.  What I do know is that God has a perfect plan for our lives.  He walks with me in the sunshine and in the sunset.  He holds my hand, whether I am climbing mountains, traversing a rocky terrain, or wading through a raging river.  Psalm 23:4 (NIV) says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  I will not be afraid of what tomorrow may bring because I know that God will comfort me in all of my tomorrows.  He gives me His perfect peace and He shines forth His light, even though the sun has set.  And I know He will continue to bring forth the vibrant sunshine in my life once again, in His timing.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to sing at my home church on Mother’s Day.  For many singers, I am sure this would not be a problem.  For me, it is another story.  The moment I was asked, a red flag shot up.  I thought, no…no, I can’t do that.  I can happily sing any other Sunday, but not that one.  I think the pastor must have seen the look in my eyes similar to a deer caught in the headlights, and he quickly asked if it would be too difficult for me.  I’ll be honest with you.  My first response would have been, yes, it would be virtually impossible for me to sing on Mother’s Day.  And I am sure the pastor would have accepted this, and asked me to sing at another time.  Yet, something tugged at my heart and immediately, I knew that this was something I must do.


As I told the pastor that I would sing, I pondered the song that I would share on this day on which we honor our mothers.  So, I thought about what I would sing if my Mom could be in the congregation on this special occasion.  And of course, the answer was simple.  I would sing, “There’s Sunshine Awaiting You.”  Now, I had not sung this song since my Mom’s funeral.  So, I quickly began seeking God for a different answer other than the one I knew He had given.  I mean, I couldn’t sing on Mother’s Day, much less sing this song.  Have you ever had one of those moments when you thought, what is God thinking?  Well, this was one of those moments for me.  Since I was asked to sing, I have run through the song twice.  The first time I ran through the song, I heard the lyrics in a new light.  My song was ministering to me.  I realized that I had been stuck in the sunset.  And that is why I need to sing this song.  Sure, when I stand up on the platform on that particular Sunday, I will likely blubber as I introduce the song and I am sure pitch will have a new meaning when I reach the song’s end.  But, sometimes serving the Lord isn’t about eloquent speech or perfect pitch.  Sometimes it’s simply about answer His call, no matter how difficult it seems.


Even when we’re stuck in the sunset, we have the assurance that there is sunshine awaiting us.  Although it may seem unbearable at times, we need to be faithful to the One who created us.  He will bring us to a place of rest, away from the storms of life that overwhelm us.  The lyrics of my song speak about seeing a sunset that seems forever, and how difficult it is to face grief and pain.  This sunset that you find yourself in may seem long-lasting, but it is not forever.  When you reach the lowest, darkest valley, God will bring you to your knees.  When you cannot go on one more mile, God will carry you through each and every storm.  If you find yourself stuck in the sunset, rest assured that there’s sunshine awaiting you.


In Christ’s Love,
Jennifer

Anticipation


From the moment I awoke this morning, I have literally been counting the hours and minutes until I make the 84-mile journey to the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee, Florida.  For several months, I have been anticipating this very night.  Several weeks ago, our tickets came in the mail.  Every time I have seen them on my desk, I have pondered, with great anticipation, what tonight would be like.  And now, the time has finally arrived.  Tonight, along with my Dad, I will have the opportunity to hear Dr. David Jeremiah speak.  It is hard to imagine that all of those months of waiting have quickly gone by, and now, April 14, 2011, is here.
 

Isn’t it funny, though, how we can eagerly anticipate such an event so much?  We look forward to it for days, weeks, months, or maybe even years.  At first, it seems so far away.  In fact, there are times when it seems like the days just drag on and on and on.  And then, seemingly out of nowhere, it comes upon us like a whirlwind.  Once the highly anticipated date arrives, the event comes and goes so fast that it is easy to have it breeze on by without truly relishing in the moment.  Sometimes, it seems as if we did not even really experience it at all.  As Christians, Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives.  We need to ensure that all of our experiences are valuable, cherished, and enjoyed.  We need to savor every moment we have here on earth.  And when we anticipate an event, we need to be prepared, just in case everything does not go according to plan.


While many things that we anticipate will happen according to our plans and will generate long-lasting memories, some of the things we greatly anticipate will not go as planned.  And in reality, they may not even happen at all.  Often, this can lead to great disappointment.  I can recall a time when I looked forward to attending Livestock Judging Practice, one of my favorite activities when I was involved in the local 4-H program.  I greatly anticipated this event, but I never once thought that I would miss the practice and that the day would end as it did.  As a young teenager, I had taken my bike up the driveway to get the mail, just as I had done many times before.  This time, however, my tires were not rolling on solid ground and after hitting an uneven patch of grass, my bike quickly crashed to the right with me in tow.  To complicate matters, I was thrown directly into the barbed wire fence.
 

I got up, got back on the bike, and rode straight for the shed.  Yes, you read that correctly, the shed, not the house.  I could tell me neck was bleeding from where the wire had punctured my skin.  So, my “bright idea” was to go to the shed, wash it up, and then be able to go to judging practice.  Talk about dedication, right?  I knew that I couldn’t go to the house to wash the wound, as that could result in my Mom suggesting I stay home.  So, after I did what I could do in the shed, I entered the house.  My Mom saw the wound and her face had a look of horror.  I thought, how bad could it be?
 

In reality, I had a fairly large gash in my neck, right near my juggler vein.  If the wire had punctured my neck in a slightly different place, this could have been a life-threatening accident.  And to think, I was just going to “wash it up” and go on to judging practice.  I mean, I had anticipated this event and I did not want anything to get in the way.  Instead, I found myself going to our family physician, receiving stitches, a tetanus booster, and antibiotics to prevent infection.  This was surely a change of plans, nothing like the afternoon I had highly anticipated.
 

Even though my plans changed, God knew best.  Perhaps a trip to livestock judging practice would have resulted in my Mom and I being involved in a fatal car accident.  Or maybe I would have experienced a permanent injury, much worse than the one I received from the bike accident.  Even though our human minds may anticipate an event, and we may do everything we can to prevent something else from interfering in our plans, there are moments when God says, “Not now.”  We often have grandiose ideas, and sometimes, these are wonderful experiences.  Other times, our ideas are simply unsafe or ill-advised.  And of course, God may have something even better in store, if we will simply lay aside our own expectations and learn to expect great things from the One who sits on the throne in Heaven above.



If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is one event that you can look forward to with great anticipation.  It is an event like no other ever seen.  And it is one that will not be interrupted or cancelled, if you make a commitment to be a friend of God.  God’s Word shares this awesome promise in Titus 2:13-14 (NIV): “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  If you want to have something to really look forward to, call on Him today.  He wants you to be a part of this great celebration that all Christians highly anticipate.  Seek God’s face and be delighted at the amazing opportunities He gives you to look forward to on earth, all the while seeking and anticipating the arrival of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Now, that glorious day is certainly worthy of great anticipation!

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

Have you ever been disappointed?  Did someone disappoint you?  Or are you simply disappointed with life itself?  Maybe you hoped you would receive a promotion at work, but a co-worker received it instead.  You may have experienced defeat in the loss of a competition.  Or perhaps a highly anticipated lunch date with a friend was cancelled at the last minute.  And it’s quite possible that you have experienced love and loss through the death of a relative or friend.  Inevitably, life does come with its share of disappointments. But, even when we are disappointed, there is a rock we can go to.  Jesus Christ is the one who will never disappoint.  He is the mainstay in a sea of disheartening days and upsetting nights.  He knows your disappointments before you even experience them, and He is waiting to hold you in His arms, bringing comfort in these dissatisfying moments.  Jesus will turn your disappointments into dreams.

In my own life, I have experienced many disappointments, some small and some very large.  Most recently, I was invited to attend Ann Downing’s Middle Tennessee Women’s Retreat this weekend.  Everything has been graciously covered by a dear friend, with the exception of the airfare from Florida to Tennessee.  I’ve prayed all along that God’s will would be done, yet no airline ticket has appeared on my doorstep.  Such a wonderful time of fellowship, a renewal of joy, an uplifting experience...  I cannot help but wonder why it would be God’s will for me to miss such an awesome opportunity.  The thing is, God sees the outcome, whether I go or stay.  He knows that a trip to Tennessee could result in my being involved in a car accident.  He knows that it may be best for me to attend the Retreat next year instead.  In reality, I could question God until I lost my voice, but His answer would be the same every time.  He would say, You are my child, and I will protect you from harm.  I have a plan for your life, and I truly know what is best for you.

Other times, I have endured much bigger disappointments.  As an only child, my Mom, Dad, and I were always very close.  We were like the Three Musketeers.  I always thought we would be together forever.  Even though I had lost two baby brothers, three grandparents, and other friends and family members, I hoped and prayed that the three of us would always be together.  And then, God revealed a different plan.  He took my Mom home to Heaven.  She was my Mom, my friend, my confidante…how could he take her away from me?  Talk about a major disappointment.  Even now, I don’t quite understand God’s purpose in this aspect of my life.  I never expected to have such a huge disappoint in my life.  Still, I know that He will work all things out for my good.  Even amid the disappointments, God brings comfort and peace to me troubled soul.  He tells me it will be alright.  And He helps me see the promising future that lies ahead.  I may not understand at this very moment, but God has my life under control.


While I know God has a plan for my life, I often question God’s will.  I know I shouldn’t question God.  But, in my humanness, I sometimes wonder, why.  But, you know, life isn’t like a mail-order catalog or online shopping cart.  You cannot just “order up” the things you want in life.  I may want a million dollars, but I cannot order it up.  I cannot order up material things any more than I can magically have my Mom back with me.  For a reason unknown to me at this moment, God wanted her to leave this temporary home.  I may never know why, but I do know that God is a sovereign God.  He knows what is best for me at every moment of the day, every day of the week.  God has everything planned out, from the exact time that we take our first step to the moment we fall in love and the day we start our first job to the week that we leave this earthly home.

So, the next time you experience disappointments in life, look to Jesus.  He has a dream for you life.  He wants you to experience joy and peace and a passion for life.  He wants you to be resilient, pushing through life’s disappointments and living out His dream.  God will always keep you in His care, comforting you when you need it most.  I know for a fact that He has shown me His unconditional love, as I try to overcome the disappointment of losing my Mom.  And He gives me joy and peace, regardless of how significant or seemingly insignificant the disappointment may be.  He cares about every single aspect of our lives.  He will give you hope when everything seems hopeless.  No matter what things happen to disappoint you, God is in control.  No matter what, GOD is in control.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

One Day, I'll...

Did you ever hear someone say, “One day I will do this, one day I will go there, one day I will (fill in the blank)?”  Many times, we get so caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities we must uphold that we lose sight of the fact that we need to cherish each and every moment.  In this life, we have no guarantees of tomorrow.  Because of this fact, we need to live in the moment.  If we want to vacation with our family, we need to do it.  If we want to live out a lifelong dream of purchasing a motorcycle, boat, or mountain cabin, we need to make it happen.  And if we want to reconcile any differences we may have with our children or other loved ones, we need to mend the broken fences and nurture these relationships, as opposed to neglecting them.  In this world, we cannot put off until tomorrow what we could do today.  Why?  Because we never know how many tomorrows may remain.

Nearly three years ago, I remember talking to my Mom about my future wedding day.  We discussed all of the details in depth, from the tiered wedding cake, complete with a fountain in the middle, to a garden of daisies and roses sprinkled throughout the sanctuary.  She was to be my Matron of Honor.  Everything was going to be perfect.  The only thing I had to do was wait for that special someone to come into my life, in God’s timing.  I knew that “one day” my Mom and I would enjoy sharing my special day together, along with my Dad and new husband.  Little did I know that God had other plans.

Since my Mom went to be with the Lord, I have often talked to my Dad and a couple of close friends about my future wedding day.  At first, I wondered how I could have a wedding without a Mother of the Bride…and without my Matron of Honor.  Since this time, God has shown me that He has a dream for my life.  No matter what trials come, He is in control.  While I do not understand His plan, I know that He will remain faithful.  And He even cares about my wedding day.  In His infinite goodness, He will provide a Matron of Honor and perhaps, a Mother-in-Law of the Bride or other dear friend with whom I can share this special day.  And of course, I am prayerfully trusting God to send that special someone as well!  In spite of the changes that have taken place in my life, I know that “one day” my special day will take place, according to God’s dream for me, not my own.

Often times, we seem to forget that God has a plan for our lives.  We may also ignore the fact that our steps are ordered by the Lord.  Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Notice that God gives us the freedom to plan what we will do along life’s journey.  Yet, you cannot omit the second part of the scripture.  God has established our steps.  Our steps have been planned out, before we were even born.  God knows what we should do and when we should do it.  He knows if we will do His will, or follow a treacherous path of our own choosing.  He also knows when we will walk our very last step on this earth.
If you knew that you only had one week left to live on this earth, would you live life differently?  Would you go out and buy things you’ve always wanted, but have put off purchasing?  Would you travel more in seven days than you ever have in your entire life?  Would you say “I love you” more often?  What would really you do?  Take a moment to contemplate the honest answer to this question.  Now, think about the way you currently live your life.  Do you spend your money wisely?  Or do you either waste it on frivolous things or pinch every penny, never to enjoy a luxury now and then?  Do you cherish each moment?  Or do you simply go through the motions of life?  Do you cherish time with your family?  Or do you take them for granted, spending more time with your coworkers, television, or computer?

On countless occasions, I have heard someone who is nearing retirement say, “One day, when I retire, I will go on a cruise.”  Or they may say, “One day, I will rent a motor home and take a road trip out west.”  Or “One day, I will go visit my grandchildren.”  Sadly, I have also seen some of these same individuals develop physical ailments before they retired.  Often times, their health prevented them from experiencing the dreams they had waited their entire life to fulfill.  One dear friend had many dreams, yet she had a heart attack a short time before retirement.  As I sat at her memorial service, I recalled the many things she had planned to do with her husband, children, and grandchildren.  For this sweet friend, “one day” never came.


King Solomon was a very wise individual who gives us advice on enjoying life.  He wrote, “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.  Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV).  This scripture tells us that even amid the work we must complete in life, we will have joy simply by enjoying life.  He also gives us some insight as to the varying number of days or years we each have on this earth.  He states, “However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all” (Ecclesiastes 11:8 NIV).  Regardless of what things must be done, we need to realize that our days are numbered.  While we do not know how many days of our life remain, we should live each one as though it truly matters.

In this day and age, I know that times are hard.  I know the economy is suffering.  Still, I have seen firsthand that life has no guarantees.  You may save up money to do something or go somewhere “one day,” and that day may never come.  I Timothy 6:17 (NIV) says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”  Don’t wait until you retire, or strike it rich, to do the things you want to do with your family and friends “one day.”  Instead, put your hope in God, and He will provide a way for you to experience the enjoyment of life in the here and now.


Personally, I know that our lives truly are but a vapor, as we read in God’s Word.  James 4:14 (NIV) states, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  Our lives on this earth are only temporary.  There is no guarantee of tomorrow, and we need to ensure that we do not worry about “one day,” but instead cherish today.  I am so grateful to God for giving my Mom, Dad, and I the opportunity to travel and enjoy each other’s company as much as we did.  I would be even more brokenhearted if I was sitting here today, wishing that “one day” had ever come.  Neither my Dad nor I regret any trip we ever took, even if it caused a financial hardship.  And we continue to travel, as much as we can and often as we can.  Why?  Because we can tell you firsthand that waiting until “one day” may be too late.

In Christ’s Love,

Jennifer

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