She Was Convinced

We are kicking off our “Women of the Bible” series by taking a look at Eve. The story of Adam and Eve is one of those stories that most people, both Christian and non, are somewhat familiar with. Though many may not understand the truth and relevance of the story, they have heard the basic concept- Adam and Eve naked in a garden, Eve is tempted by serpent, eats apple, and after that they are hiding behind bushes. For those of us who live a life a faith, we know there is so much more.

We know that the world we live in is not the world God desired for us to live in. We know that had it not been for that one act of disobedience, we would be living in perfect harmony not only with each other, but with the animals and the environment. We know that we wouldn’t always be running frantically to and fro trying to fit 36 hours of work into a 24 hour day. And we know that we would not experience pain, loss, suffering, and death.

The Good News is we also know that this is a temporary situation. We know that one day things will be restored and we will experience the world God desired us to live in. We know that we will see the people we miss and that every tear will be wiped away by Jesus himself. And though these truths bring us comfort and peace there are still days when I say “seriously Eve, what were you thinking?”

Think about it. Prior to the fall, Eve was content walking around naked! That alone is a world I cannot even fathom. I don’t even like walking around in a swimsuit or shorts let alone be naked. And I must say I find relief in knowing that we are given white robes of righteousness in heaven because the thought of being naked just may keep me out.

All joking aside, have you ever wondered why Eve did it? Why would the woman who has everything, even the gift of walking and talking to God himself, risk it all? Though it may seem easy to judge and question her, the same is true for many of us today. We buy the same lie that Eve did. We believe there is something more out there and if we have whatever that something is, we will be happier.

We are bombarded with a million “somethings” every day. It says in Genesis 3:6 that “Eve saw that the the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom the serpent told her it would give her.” I don’t know about you but to me it sounds like most of the magazines, commercials, and Facebook posts we take in every day. We are presented with something beautiful and perfect and told if we buy this product we will be beautiful and perfect also and then we will be happy. We are solicited to join a dating site filled with handsome, adventurous men that will listen intently to our hopes and dreams while going to the mall with us and our new lives with these new men will be perfect. We see friends and family going on perfect vacations, buying new perfect cars, and building big perfect houses, and we look around at our stained carpet and old car and decide to bite the financial debt fruit.

It’s easy to see that Eve, like us, bought the lie. She was convinced there was something more. She was convinced that God was holding out on her. She kept looking at the one thing she didn’t have until she finally couldn’t take it any longer and just had to have it no matter what. And once she had it, just like us, she was not only disappointed, but now for the first time experienced shame and guilt.

So the short answer of why Eve ate the fruit is that she bought the lie. What I want to look at next is how she bought the lie. What made her more vulnerable than Adam? I have an answer based on something I noticed for the first time yesterday. You have another day or two to read the chapters and see if you come up with an answer also ๐Ÿ™‚

For those of you who may be feeling like you are not enough, especially in your marriage, take today’s verse as a little kiss on the forehead from God

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” Genesis 2:18

Love, Grace, and No More Lies To You All,

Jen

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All About Eve

For the first time in the eighteen years that I have been going to the cabin in Washington I had not one, but two girlfriends come visit. It was so much fun that from now on it is the only way this chick is going to roll ๐Ÿ™‚

One night my girlfriend and I were sitting on the bed chatting about different Bible studies and good books to read. We were both setting some personal goals, and we wanted to include a spiritual growth goal. She showed me one of the books she had bought titled Women of the Bible. She hadn’t read it yet so she started looking through it.

The book was divided into chapters discussing different categories of biblical women. For example, women that endured severe hardship, women that made history in a man’s world, etc. She would give me the category and I would try to guess the women listed for each chapter. It was actually really fun. Am I a nerd?

I was surprised by a couple things. First of all there were women that were not listed in areas I thought they should be listed in (does that shock any of you), and I had never even heard of a few of the women. Not knowing who these women were peaked my curiosity. How could I have never heard of them or remembered them?

So I have decided to do my own little “women of the Bible” study. Who better to start with than our girl Eve? You may think you know all there is to know about Eve, but when I read Genesis Chapter 2 and 3 this morning I saw things I had never noticed before. We won’t cover all there is to say about Eve- entire books have been written on Eve. I just want to highlight a few things that stand out to me as I study. I would love it if you wanted to study with me :).

Tonight I simply want to share with you the chapters that discuss Eve so you can have a chance to read for yourself if you choose. Genesis 2:8-4:1 will give you a good context of the things we will discuss over the next few blogs. Please bear with me as I adjust to the new work schedule. I am hoping to post Monday-Friday but it may take me a week or two to get there.

I always want to leave you with a verse and since it is bedtime I will give you one that I say to my kiddos and to myself when my mind is racing at night.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Love, Grace, and a Sweet Sleep Night to You All,

Jen

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Walking on Water

We arrived home Friday night from our three week vacation in Washington. After two days and twenty-one hours of driving I looked and felt like a zombie Saturday, but what do you expect when your lunch consists of sugar free Rockstar and sour patch kids? What? It’s not like I can eat a salad while driving…

I return to work tomorrow so for me summer is officially over. I know there are still warm days ahead and I will be able to walk, bike, and paddle for another month (hopefully two). When I say summer is over for me I mean the relaxed, minimal stress, easy going, happy go lucky part of summer. To me, that is the best part of summer (and the tan…everything looks better tan)!

In honor of my last night of summer, I thought I would share one final lesson I learned from Faith (my paddle board). It’s not that there won’t be more stories and life applications from Faith in the future, but starting tomorrow we are switching gears and starting a new series that I am very excited about(please pray God helps me figure out how to fit writing in as I return to work).

Our last night in Washington the lake was smoother than glass and the evening air was perfect. It was the fifth day in a row of 90 degree temps and the evenings were amazing. Add to that the fact that there was a full, or close to full moon. As it comes out it looks so close you would swear you could touch it if you jumped off the diving board high enough. Even though we had a lot of last minute things to do before leaving at 7am the next morning, I simply could not pass up the chance for one last ride.

My first few minutes were so peaceful as I glided along the water. It couldn’t have been a better night. About fifteen minutes into my ride I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of kayaks, pontoons, and speedboats coming out on the lake. It seemed more like a Saturday night than a Wednesday night. The lake is only 450 acres so it is easy to take note of the boat traffic.

I saw a woman sitting at the end of her dock and mentioned that it seemed like a Saturday night on the lake and she said everyone was out to watch the space shuttle launch. Supposedly we were going to see it start from the west and go over the lake. It seemed odd to me but as I looked around the lake I saw a few boats just sitting in the middle and others still coming out so I thought it must be true. I decided to turn around and get the kids so they could see it.

As I made my way back home I heard the sound of a boat that seemed close behind me. Since it was dusk and the full moon was already glowing I was concerned they may not be able to see me. I turned around to see how close the boat was and as I turned my head back towards the front, a small wave rolled in on my left and I almost fell off. The only time I have fallen off my board is when I attempted to do some yoga (which I can hardly even do on dry land). I have never fallen off while paddling.

I was caught off guard by how quickly it all happened. All I did was turn to look to see if I was in danger and the next thing I knew I was wobbling all over on the board. I immediately thought of the story where Peter walks on water (not that my story was anywhere near as cool as his). One minute he is walking confidently towards Jesus and the next minute he hears the rolls of thunder, and sees the raging waves and bloop, he starts to sink.

As I head into a new school year I purpose to keep my eyes on Jesus and not get distracted or fearful by the thunder rolls and storms of life. I know I have a busy schedule, but so does every other woman I know. Somehow when it is all said and done, our kids make it to school (most days), have food to eat (thank God for $5 pizza), and all the things that truly need to get done gets done. FYI- the dusting NEVER truly needs to get done ๐Ÿ™‚

The sun has officially set tonight. My summer is officially over. It’s okay though because tomorrow begins the year of walking on water. No more anxious thoughts about how to get it all done. No more frozen in indecisiveness moments of fear. No more insecurity. No more less than God’s best!

Jesus is calling each and every one of us to get out of our boats and walk on the water towards him. I’m getting out of mine. Anyone care to come with me?

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” said Jesus.-Matthew 14:12

It’s not that there won’t be days that like Peter, we take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to sink in the struggles of life. It will happen. The awesome part is the fact that Jesus will still be there offering his hand to pull us up. Don’t be afraid of failing. Technically Peter failed. However, the story is not referred to as “the time Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and sunk into the sea”. No. It is referred to as the time Peter walked on water.

I would like to be remembered like that.

Love, Grace, and a Walking on Water Day to You All,

Jen

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The Rescue

Growing up in Minnesota we would go boating for hours on the river or on Lake Minnetonka. It was our favorite thing in the world to do. I could sit in the front of the boat all day long while we cruised on the water. It never got old. Boating with my parents are by far my favorite memories. I miss my dad for many reasons but one of the things I miss most is going with him on a boat trip. I have heard people say that heaven is whatever your idea of heaven is. If that is true there is a never ending river and an open bowed boat with my dad driving it right now. The very thought of that makes me smile, even if it isn’t true.

Our cabin in Washington sits right on the lake. If I take ten steps from our front door I will be in the water. It is a great, clean, spring-fed lake. It is the perfect size lake to swim, kayak, paddle board and tube. It is not however a great size lake to go boating on. It is fun to driving slow and looking at all of the houses and cabins, but I like to go fast :).

For years I have been begging my father-in-law to take me on some “big water”. Our cabin is close to the Pend Oreille river which runs right into Lake Pend Oreille, the second largest fresh water lake in the country. Every year the guys would talk about the lake and how it is 1100 feet deep in some parts and I would beg to go on it. The response was always the same “That would be fun- someday”.

Well this year my “someday” finally came! My father-in-law bought a new boat and he was ready to try it out on some big water. We launched the boat in the river and had an eighteen mile boat ride to the lake. The river was amazing. It was so wide and the houses alongside were huge. Some of them even had their own tram running from their house to the lake. I was smiling from ear to ear with tears running down my face as I was flooded with memories of boating with my dad. The only thing that would have made the moment better was if I could have shared it with my mom and sisters who also share the love of boating.

The river was amazing, but the lake- the lake was absolutely breathtaking. It was huge! The mountains surrounding the lake were magnificent and with each turn you felt like you were in another part of the country. If you told me I was in Alaska, or the Puget Sound I would have believed you. I felt so small and the world felt so big and it was all so perfect.

We stopped at a little marina so we could use the bathroom and get some snacks. I saw a tank top that read “My Happy Place- Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho.” I had to have it as I couldn’t have been anymore happy than I was at that moment. I put it on for the return trip and as the boat headed home I had the same smile and another tear or two over the perfectness of the day.

We got through the lake and entered the river. We had eighteen miles back to the boat launch. One mile in the boat made a horrible sound and then stopped completely and shut off. Tom tried to restart it, but it just sputtered and died. It was out of gas! Though the gas gauge read more than a quarter tank, the boat told us differently. The gauge was obviously broken. We were stranded in the middle of the river.

We will bypass, for today, the whole “Well didn’t you fill up with gas at the marina just to be safe” conversation. That is another lesson for another day. I will jump straight to the “What do we do now?” part of the story. After about two minutes of all of us staring at each other in disbelief while ignoring the “Why didn’t you guys just fill up the tank when we stopped at the marina?” elephant in the boat,the guys started waving their arms at a boat nearby. At first the people simply waved back thinking we were just following friendly boat etiquette but when the guys kept waving they finally stopped and said “Do you need help?”

Their boat was an expensive bright orange Wake Setter boat with all the bells, whistles, gadgets, and more. They were out trying to surf behind the boat when we flagged them down. The driver seemed nice enough but the others in the boat simply seemed annoyed with the thought of taking time out of their day to help the idiots that ran out of gas on the river that runs into the country’s second largest freshwater lake.

The driver said he would drive the four miles north to the next marina to see if they had a gas can or some other means of helping us. That was the extent of their offer to help but beggars can’t be choosers so we thanked them and watched them ride away.

After what seemed like eternity we all came to the conclusion that they did not go look for help. We thought it more likely that they turned the corner of the river and said “So long suckers!” and went about their Friday afternoon fun. I asked my father-in-law if the boat had a paddle. He dug it out of the hull and I took it, smiled, and said “I have been training the entire summer for this moment.”

I climbed on the bow of the boat, sat down, and started paddling. Now paddling a twenty-two foot boat seventeen miles down the river would be quite a task, and I did not think for a million years I would accomplish that task. I did however, take great pleasure in seeing my hours of paddle-boarding amount to something as we worked our way down the river, and I preferred taking an active role in my rescue rather than just sit there like some helpless damsel in distress.

I also knew that when another boat saw a middle aged woman sitting on the bow paddling the boat, they would know we were in need of rescue. Rather than flag down someone that doesn’t want to help, this would give someone that is willing to help an opportunity to come to us.

Sure enough, within a few minutes two boats approached us, one on the right and one on the left. The one on the left was heading our way and offered to tow us to the marina. It was an Italian family (judging by the beautiful dark skin, hair, and sweet accent) with a small yellow boat named Vintage Whine. We attached to their boat and began the thirty minute tow to the marina. We kept commenting on how awesome it was that they would do this as it was now about eighty eight degrees of pounding sun and we could tell they were miserably hot. So awesome to come across such generous people.

We will also bypass the part of the story where we get towed into the marina that is also a riverside bar and grill and were faced with approximately one hundred sympathetic, yet condescending, smirky looks for the poor idiots that did not fill up the tank when they stopped at the marina on the lake to use the bathroom. There is no need to discuss that. There is nothing amazing about that part of the story.

What was amazing is the fact that the gas attendant pointed over to the sheriff boat and said “Someone came a few minutes ago to call the sheriff and tell them you were out of gas and where you were located”. We looked and saw the sheriff and then we saw the bright orange Wake Setter parked along the dock. What do you know, the nice guy with the crabby crew pulled through after all. He did in fact rescue us, just not in the way we thought.

There have been many times in my life that I have cried out to the Lord for help and felt like I have waited forever for that help. There have even been times when I felt like there may never be a rescue at all. However, time and time again God has proven faithful and has rescued me. Whether I was in distress due to my own idiotic mistakes, or the victim of someone else’s, He has always rescued me.

In the times that I feel I need an immediate tow, but God had a different rescue plan in mind, I often find that my character develops, my faith grows, and ultimately when the rescue does come, my relationship with God is strengthened. Sometimes those lonely cry for help times are the best ways to grow your faith and your relationship with God. If life cruised along perfectly down the river all the time, I have the feeling I would drift away from Him and forget how sweet it is when He is my rescue.

If you find yourself up river without a paddle in life right now, I assure you that God is aware of your circumstance and has heard your prayer. I also assure you that the prayer has been answered and help is on the way. Though you may feel like you need an immediate tow, He ultimately knows the best rescue for your situation, and the answers are on their way!

He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. Psalm 145:19

Love, Grace, and a Tow Rope Rescue To You All,

Jen

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Cleared of All Charges!

A few years ago I got a speeding ticket. I wasn’t happy about it and even though I was guilty I decided to fight it in court. Paying a $100 fine was bad enough but even worse than that was the thought of it being on my driving record. I was afraid our insurance would end up raising our rates and that would be an added expense we definitely did not need!

By the time my court date arrived I was thoroughly convinced I would be free of all charges. I had been praying about it and I had pictured the scene a million times in my mind. My friends and family would tell me there was no way I would get out of it, but I told them to wait and see- I was coming home with a clean record!

I remember sitting in that court room trying not to smile. I could not wait to get home and tell everyone “I told you so!”. The longer I sat in the courtroom, the more confident I became. I was sitting in one of the back rows and I could hear the county attorney in the small room behind me making deals with other offenders. He was dropping DWI charges down to reckless driving tickets left and right. Surely, he would make this forty year old mother of two’s little speeding ticket disappear.

Finally it was my turn to plead my case. I was so confident regarding the outcome that when he denied my request I simply sat across the desk from him staring with my head tilted to the side the way a puppy looks at you when they know you are talking to them but they don’t understand. After what must have seemed like eternity to him he finally said “Mrs. Gilbert, we are done here. It’s time for you to go and pay your fine.”

I left the room wondering what had just happened. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. I had plead my case with my whole heart. I even admitted that I was guilty but explained how this was a financial hardship for us and surely since I had a clean record up to this point, he could make sure it remained clean. I even got choked up and had to fight back the tears- the natural response for both my sister and I whenever we are fighting against an injustice. I begged and pleaded and yet here I was walking out of the courtroom towards the pay station. I couldn’t believe it.

Aren’t you glad that our heavenly Father is not like that crummy old county attorney? Aren’t you glad that he doesn’t pardon sins for some people while holding accountable the sins of others. Aren’t you glad that when you approach him at the throne of grace you don’t have to worry about whether or not you will still be left paying for your mistakes?

God is more just than any courtroom could ever be. Yes, he demands payment in full for our sins, but he also knew we would never be able to pay all the fines we accumulate. They are far too great. Rather than simply looking away, he sent his only beloved son as payment for all of our sins. When Jesus cried out from the cross “It is finished”, he could also have said “PAID IN FULL” because that what the finished work of Jesus is. It is payment, full payment, for each and every one of our sins. We will never have to “pay for” what we have done. We do not owe God anything. That is what makes His grace so amazing!

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt! Psalm 32:1-2

Love, Grace, and a Day Cleared of All Charges To You All,

Jen

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I Quit!

This morning my daughter Charley and I took our one year old Mastiff Nana on a hike. It is 1.5 miles to the top of the hill and back down again. There are some steep parts on the way up where your heart gets pumping pretty good, but overall it is a pretty nice three mile hike.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring Nana today. I had brought her with yesterday and she seemed a little stiff and tired. I thought she maybe needed a rest day. However, as soon as I started to put my shoes on she stood next to me wagging her tail and whining. I took that as a sign that I should bring her with.

A few minutes into the hike I realized it was a little warmer than I had expected. It was a cooler morning but when the sun finally came out it came out strong. There was also no wind at all. Within minutes Nana’s tongue was hanging out and I could tell she was getting warm. She kept running ahead and exploring and her little nub of a tail was sure wagging so I assumed she was doing great.

On the way back down the hill Nana suddenly stopped, sat down, and then laid down. Her face was worth a million words, but all she needed were two- I QUIT! There was no way she was getting back up again. I looked at my phone and it said we still had a half a mile until we were back at the car. Nana weighs about 85 pounds so carrying her was not an option. I told Charley to wait with Nana and I would run ahead and drive back to pick them both up.

We’ve all been there haven’t we? We get to a point where we just can’t do it anymore. We are tired, weary, and hopeless. It doesn’t matter what hike we are on. We could be in a struggling and dysfunctional relationship. We could be dealing with an addiction. We could simply be overbooked and exhausted by all there is to do as a woman these days. Whatever the hike is, we sometimes get to the point where we throw up our hands, sit down, and say “I Quit.”

The Good News is, just as I was willing to run ahead to get the car to save Nana, we have Someone that has already gone before us and knows the end from the beginning. He is more than willing to be our refuge and hiding place when we grow weary. He is more than willing to pick us up when our journey has us worn out. And when we can’t take another step, it is just like Jesus says in the famous Footprints poem “It was then that I carried you”.

Then Jesus Said, “Come to me all who are weary, and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

If you find yourself wanting to say “I Quit” in any area of your life, please know that Jesus is waiting for you, with open arms. Unlike me, who wasn’t strong enough to carry Nana, He can carry you through anything as far as you need him to. All you need to do is ask. If you would like prayer for any area of your life, please fill out a prayer request. I would be honored to pray for you.

Love, Grace, and a Place of Rest To You All,

Jen

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Got Weeds?

The other day while I was paddle boarding I noticed that I was barely moving. This seemed odd because I was paddling on calm water and I should have been cruising right along. I turned around and saw that there were a bunch of weeds wrapped around the fin and dragging behind me like streamers. “That’s weird” I thought. I didn’t even notice I went through any weeds.

I tried backing up to see if they would fall off but they stayed put. I tried whacking at them a little bit with my paddle but all that did was knock me off balance and I almost fell off. I finally had to get down on my hands and knees and reach down and pull them off with my hands. Once free from the weeds I was able to cruise ride along and enjoy the calm water.

The same thing happens to us throughout our lives. We unknowingly pick up little weeds along the way and suddenly wonder why we are moving so slow towards our goals and dreams. The weeds come in many forms. Sometimes they are the weeds of distraction that steal our time so we are always running behind. Sometimes they are the weeds of bad habits that rob us of our health, time, or relationships. Sometimes there are people in our lives that our dragging us down and hindering our forward motion.

Whatever the weeds in our lives are, God wants to help us get rid of them. Sometimes the weeds are an easy fix. Once you realize you have the weed you can easily rid yourself of it and keep on moving like I tried to do with the paddle. All you needed was the realization that it existed in the first place.

Other weeds may take a little more time to get rid of. Sometimes you need to stop what you are doing, get down on your knees, and focus your attention on eliminating the weeds. Nobody wants to take the time to address these bigger weeds. It seems like we get behind in all the other areas of life when we have to stop to address these weeds. However, the longer we let these weeds drag along, the harder we will have to work just to barely move forward, or even remain in the same place.

There is no shame in having weeds to deal with. We all have them. There is not a single person that doesn’t have weeds they deal with in their lives. The key is to deal with them before they slow you down and prevent you from living the life you were intended to live.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight (weed) that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.-Hebrews 12:1 NLT

I was paddling with my neighbor the other day when I found myself dragging weeds again. She simply paddled over to me and said “Let me help you”. She was able to easily knock them off with her paddle and we were off cruising in no time. Sometimes the best way to get rid of weeds is with the help of another. If you are dealing with some weeds in your life and would like prayer regarding them please fill out a prayer request. You can remain anonymous.

Love, Grace, and a Weed Free Day to You All,

Jen

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What’s the Point?

This morning the kiddos, pooch, and I went for a hike on the other side of the lake. When you get to the very top you can see the entire lake and the cabin. It’s an awesome view and I was excited to share it with the kids as they had never been there before.

It’s not that I have never invited them to come with. I have asked them countless times to accompany me on a hike or kayak ride. The answer is always the same “No thanks”. This year however things have changed. Charley has decided she wants to be more fit so she promised me all summer she would go hiking with me. Thomas had more noble reasons- he wanted to hatch Pokemon eggs. Apparently the only way to hatch eggs is by walking. I know there are many people who think this whole Pokemon Go thing is stupid, but all I know is after twelve years my boy is finally going hiking with me!

We set out happily on our hike eager to reach the top. We had gone out last night and did the smaller version of the hike that still leads to great views, but isn’t quite the top. We were running out of daylight so we didn’t have time to do the higher trail. Today though we had plenty of time to reach the top. It is only a total of 3.5 miles which is nothing for a couple of young healthy kiddos.

The happy trail didn’t last long. Thomas’ phone wasn’t getting service and his game wasn’t acknowledging his movement. every couple minutes he looked at his phone and would complain about his phone not working. I ignored the comments knowing that if I engaged in the drama soon we would all be frustrated and the hike would be ruined.

My patience lasted about ten complaints and then finally I had heard enough whining. “Thomas! I am sorry that your phone is not acknowledging your steps but look around you. Look at this view. Look at your surroundings. Can you please try to find the enjoyment simply in being out here!” For the most part he was quiet after that though there were a tremendous amount of dramatic sighs and grunts.

I couldn’t really blame him. As humans we are wired to crave reward and acknowledgement. I believe that is part of the draw of devices like the Fitbit. We love to see that we made our 10,000 steps or that we came in under our calorie allotment. We have a need to have our accomplishments recognized and rewarded. If you think that’s incorrect I have one word for you- Facebook.

The problem with needing acknowledgement and reward for our hard work is that we live in a world that does not offer much acknowledgement and reward. Most of us have bosses that not only fail to offer acknowledgement but leave us feeling as though we don’t do enough. We are also too busy working our hineys off for acknowledgement that we don’t take time to acknowledge those around us. We are all craving the same thing and working too hard just to get a little recognition.

I remember when the kids were little, like one and three, and Tom was working horribly long hours. I was having one of those days where I was feeling under-appreciated and alone in raising the kids and taking care of the house. I desperately needed some acknowledgement. I decided I was going to clean that house like it had never been cleaned before. I was going to complete all the laundry and make a delicious dinner. The house ws going to look so perfect surely Tom would notice and rave on and on over my Proverbs 31 woman skills.

As the day went on I was getting more and more exhausted and irritated. I decided it wasn’t enough for the house to be spotless and the dinner to be delicious. I decided Tom had to see just how hard I was slaving away at home while he was off enjoying the world (at work behind a desk). I decided I would save the kitchen floors for last. I decided that when he got home that night he would find me scrubbing the kitchen floors. Surely then he would know how hard I worked to maintain a clean house.

As the day turned to evening I became more and more agitated. How late could he possibly be? I had already put the kids to bed and I could’ve been relaxing or even sleeping but there was no way I was going to miss my final performance. I finally heard his truck pulling up the driveway and I assumed my position on the floor in front of the scrub bucket and started working away at the floor. Finally after ten minutes of him finishing up a phone call in the garage he came in and walked into the kitchen. He plopped his suit coat on the counter and looked over at me and said “What are you doing on the floor.”

I felt like such an idiot. There was nothing I could say that would make me sound like a normal human being. I muttered something about spilling something and left the kitchen and crawled into bed furious with myself and with Tom. All I wanted was to be validated as a stay at home mom. All I wanted was a little reward in the form acknowledgement for my hard work. I am sure Tom felt the same way after being at the office for 12 hours but I was too caught up in my own needs to see his. Funny how looking back I can see it from his side but at the time I simply thought I married the most insensitive man on earth.

We all have times in our lives when we become overwhelmed and exhausted with all that we are doing. Even the prophet Isaiah felt under-appreciated and in need of some acknowledgement. Listen to his lament in Isaiah 49:4

I replied, “But my work here is so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”

It’s true, God will reward us for all the good that we do while here on earth, and that will be a glorious day. Perhaps in the meantime we can lift those around us up with some words of encouragement and a little acknowledgment. Who knows- maybe we can change the world one acknowledgement reward at a time ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are feel under-appreciated feel free to fill out a prayer request. I would be happy to lift you up and acknowledge all you do!

Love, Grace, and a Rewarding Day to You All,

Jen

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You Are Not Lost!

It was too windy to paddle by board or by kayak this morning so I decided to take the kids and Nana (the dog) to a campground about ten miles from the cabin. It is a nice little campground with a few short hiking trails. It’s a great park and in all of the years of going there I think I have seen a total of two people.

As Nana and I were hiking I started thinking about the fact that even though I have hiked this trail over twenty five times, I still have never gone the same way or ended up where I thought I would. It’s strange really. There are only two trailheads and the trail is easy to follow yet I never quite know where I am going or where I will end up. Sometimes I end up back at the trailhead, other times the trail kicks me out way down the road from the campsite and I find myself walking a half mile down the road back to the car.

It used to bother me. I used to get irritated when the trail didn’t seem to take me the way I thought it should or would suddenly kick me out on the main road. All of the other hiking trails I have been on have a clear start and finish to them, or at least have signs along the way telling you which way to go depending on which trail you want to be on. This one however just has a bunch of trails and your hike may take twenty minutes or two hours depending on which twists and turns you take. It really is quite odd.

Today when I realized that the path I was on was not taking me to the top with the cool view but was winding me down towards a place where I would once again get spit out on the road I thought about all of the paths my life has taken over the years. I thought about the times I felt as though I were climbing uphill forever and would never get to a point where I was rewarded with an amazing view. I thought about the times I thought my path was finally leading somewhere only to turn a corner and be spit back out onto the road. I thought about the times when I wasn’t aware of the effort I was putting forth because I was enjoying the journey so much that when I suddenly hit the top and looked around at the view I had no idea really how I got there.

We take many different paths during the course of our lives. Some of them lead to fantastic views, some of them are a lot of work with no reward, and some of them simply spit us back out on the road. I used to drive myself crazy trying to figure out what path I should take or if I am on the right path. To be honest with you, I still often find myself wondering if I am where I am supposed to be when it comes to the desires of my heart and my current job. It doesn’t make sense to me that the path I am currently on will lead to a mountaintop view of the dreams I have.

Regardless of what makes sense I simply continue taking one step at a time on the current path I am on. I meditate on Gods Word that says He will show me which path to take (Proverbs 3:6) and trust that even if I do not know where I am going, He does.

I used to worry that I had made too many mistakes or given up too many times for me to ever get back on the path God had planned for me. I believed God had good plans for me, but I also feared I had ruined that plan somewhere along the way. I put more faith in my mistakes than in Gods mercy and grace. I started to believe I had been moved to Plan B for my life. Yes, it was still a good life, but it was not Plan A, which is the plan and the path I want more than anything.

Maybe you feel the way I did. Maybe you feel like you have been down too many paths leading nowhere or have somehow found yourself on the wrong path altogether. Maybe you feel like God has moved you over to Plan B instead of his original Plan A for your life. If you feel this way please meditate on todays verse. Write it down and stick in on your bathroom mirror. Let it sink down into your heart and bring you peace.

The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those that go astray. Psalm 25:8 NLT

Notice it says that the Lord is good and does what is right. It doesn’t say that we are good or that we do what is right. It has nothing to do with us. God has a path for us and it is up to him to make sure we are on that path and make it to the mountaintop. The only thing we need to do is trust and believe him and keep moving one step at a time. If we are off course He will get us to where we need to be!

Love, Grace, and a Mountaintop View to You All,

Jen

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What Good is Faith Without a Paddle?

We made it! My two kids, my one year old Mastiff and I arrived last night in Washington after a two day road trip. My brain is still foggy and I am a little sleep deprived but other than that all is well, Praise God!

It’s not easy packing for a 21 day trip. Though I kept telling myself there is nothing that can’t be bought once there if I forget it, I still found myself going over and over in my brain the essential things I must not forget. You know, things like the coffee grinder, coffee pour-over, coffee filters, and coffee. Seriously- what does anything else matter if I am too tired to enjoy it :).

We spent Thursday night and Friday morning packing our bags and loading the car. I went over the mental checklist and felt ready to head west. About 45 minutes into the drive my son innocently asked, “Mom, did you bring your paddle?”. WHAT!!!

NO! No I did NOT pack my paddle! I look up through the sunroof where Faith (my paddle board) is securely strapped on. I have my board, my gloves, my swimsuit,and my little booties that stop me from curling my toes and giving me foot pain. I even have my waterproof fanny pack to store my phone in (a gift from my friend- you know in case I ever feel the need to call someone from the middle of the lake). I have everything I could possibly need. Everything except a paddle. Now let me ask you- what good is my Faith without a paddle?

Faith is meant to glide upon the waters. Faith is meant to take me new places and show me new things. Faith is meant to bring me peace and calm in the midst of a busy life. Faith is my way of staying active while enjoying the sun. Without a paddle all I can do with Faith is lay on it like an extremely overpriced air mattress. Sure- at least it would keep me afloat but what fun is that? Faith without a paddle really isn’t Faith.

Our God given faith works the same. Our faith is what allows us to ride upon the waters even when the current rages beneath. Our faith should take us new places and show us new things. Our faith is meant to bring us peace and calm in the midst of a crazy messed up world and busy life. Our faith is not simply a ticket to heaven and in the meantime we cling to it trying to simply stay afloat.

Our faith gives us new life. Our faith gives us right standing with God. Our faith grants us forgiveness. Our faith breaks strongholds in our lives. The Bible says our faith can move mountains! Our faith makes us well! Our faith will bring others to Christ! Read what it says in Hebrews 11:33-34; By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned into strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.

Perhaps you are thinking that the people being referred to in those verses were perfect people and that is why they had such great faith. Let’s see, in the mix we have a liar, a thief, an adulterer, a manipulator, a prostitute, a drunkard (in one documented event anyway)and a murderer just to name a few. I believe it is safe to say that there is nothing you have done that disqualifies you from being known as a great woman of faith!. The only thing you need to be a great woman of faith is to use it. Don’t just float around on it trying to stay afloat. Do not treat Jesus as an overpriced ticket to heaven- go move a mountain!

“Dear woman”, Jesus said to her, “Your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. -Matthew 15:28 NLT

If your faith needs a new “paddle” take a few minutes to read Hebrews chapter 11, also known as the great examples of faith or faith hall of fame chapter. If you want to upgrade to a poly-carbon paddle (that’s SUP talk for a paddle that allows you a more efficient and lighter ride), I recommend you take the time over the next few days and get to know these great men and women of faith- then you will see for yourself that there is nothing in your life that has disqualified you from being a great woman of faith!

Love, Grace, and New Paddle for Your Faith,

Jen

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