Moviefone

Do you remember Moviefone? It was the automated phone system you could call to to find any movie at any location? You would enter in the first three letters of the movie title you wanted to see and it would search locations and times for you. If you don’t remember it, chances are you are under forty, in which case you have also probably never seen a rotary phone (which couldn’t be used to call Moviefone)

There is a Seinfeld episode where Kramer keeps receiving wrong calls because his phone number is almost identical to the Moviefone number. He decides that rather than disappointing the callers, he would simply start pretending to be the actual Moviefone.

He is horrible at it. He cannot decipher the sound the numbers make to identify the movie. At one point he can tell that the caller, who just happens to be George, is getting frustrated so Kramer finally says “Why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you selected?” in his Moviefone voice. It is hilarious.

I have been praying for direction in my work/home/ministry life. As I mentioned in an earlier blog I want to make sure I am doing what God has called me to do, rather than just busy myself with good things. There are many directions I see myself going and there is a potential job change I have been praying about.

This morning while praying I thought of Kramer’s Moviefone experience. I felt frustrated just like he did as I want to get it right, but I can’t “decipher” any clear direction. “Why don’t you just tell me what you want me to do?” I said in my best Moviefone voice, hoping the Lord was also a Seinfeld fan…

I am sure you have been there at some point in your life. The place where you desperately want to live God’s will for your life, but you are not exactly sure what that is. You seek his wisdom and his voice and you wait in expectation, excited to do whatever it is He has in store for you. You pour out your heart and wait. And wait. And wait. Until…..nothing. Awkward silence. Crickets.

There was a time when the prophet Isaiah desperately needed to hear from the Lord. He was worn out, weary, and on the run from Jezebel who vowed to kill him. It says in 1 Kings 18:11-13:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The Lord was not in the windstorm, the earthquake, or the fire. The Lord was in the gentle whisper. Now I know you may be thinking “But Jen- Elijah still heard God’s audible voice. We don’t.” It’s true. That is because we have God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, living and dwelling within us. In the Old Testament times, God spoke audibly to just a chosen few. As Christians we all have the ability to hear God’s voice.

Ah- but it is in fact a gentle whisper. So gentle that we can often miss it. Especially if it is crowded by the noise in our own minds and hearts. To hear the gentle whisper of the Lord we need to still our minds and hush our inner dialogue. We need to quit running through all of the scenarios trying to figure it out on our own. Most of all, we need to not stress about it. Nothing tunes out the whisper of the Lord like stress, fear, and worry. Which is probably why the enemy uses these tactics the most.

So what am I going to do? I am going to follow my own advice for once lol. I am going to resist the urge to try to figure it out. I am going to trust God’s word that says he delights in the details of my life. Most of all, I will stay in his Word. The answers to the smallest questions are often found in the perfect Word at the perfect time.

If you find yourself in a Moviefone place in your life, I encourage you to still your mind and quiet your inner dialogue. Open up God’s word and ask him to reveal something to you about your situation. He may not answer audibly right then and there, but He will answer, in is own gentle, tender, whisper.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that lives and dwells within me, guiding me in my life. Help me to quiet my mind and heart so I can hear you speak to me in your quiet, gentle whisper. Thank you for the plans you have for me. I may not know what they are, but I know that they are good! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and No Need for Moviefone,

Jen

 

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Counterintuition

Counterintutionintuition that is counter to common-sense expectation.

There are a few signs that give away a new paddleboarder. First of all, they have this unsteady, uneasy look about them. Secondly, they are either standing too upright or bent too far over. Thirdly, they are holding the paddle backwards.

You can’t blame them for holding the paddle backwards. The correct way of holding a paddle board paddle is counterintuitive. It looks wrong when you hold it the correct way. It doesn’t make sense. Even when you are told the correct way to hold the paddle it doesn’t really make sense because it is so counterintuitive. You pretty much just have to trust that the person who is correcting you knows what they are talking about. (and then you go home and watch multiple youtube videos just to make sure) Some people can’t get past the fact that it does not make sense and they continue to hold the paddle backwards.

It says in Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. If you think about it, the gospel is counterintuitive. It does not make sense. It does not make sense that God would ask His only son to die for us. It does not make sense that Jesus would so willingly do so. It does not make sense that we have been forgiven and set free and allowed to spend eternity with the Lord, despite what beautiful messes we are.

For those of us who trust this Good News we have been told, what was once counterintuitive now feels right. We can’t imagine life any other way. We are thankful that we are loved by a God that does not make sense to our natural way of thinking. The counterintuitive nature of our faith is what makes it so sweet and precious.

Yet there are still so many people in the world that want a god that makes sense. They want a god that fits into their natural mind. A god that believes what they believe. A god that bows down to them. A god that serves their needs, ideals, and allows everyone to do whatever they want. They refuse believe the Truth, and they will go through life holding their paddle backwards, working against themselves as they try to get to wherever it is they want to go.

I love this counterintuitive life! The fact that God does not always make sense to me gives me comfort. If I could make sense of God, if I could understand all that He is, if I could fully comprehend how much He loves us, He wouldn’t be big enough. I love the fact that I serve a God bigger than what even the biggest daydreamers such as myself can come up with. Don’t you?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being such a big God. Thank you for having thoughts higher than my thoughts and ways higher than my ways. Thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for saving me so I could live a blessed counterintuitive life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Life of Counterintuition To You All,

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

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Homesick

I am officially homesick. If I were away at camp this would be the day I would go crying to my counselor begging them to let me use the phone to call my mom to come get me. I was never that kid when I went away to camp, but I am feeling that way today.

I love it here. It’s just that I miss my people. The people I “do life” with. I know you may be thinking “Isn’t she out there with her family?” and the answer is yes. The fact that they are not the ones that I feel I actually do life with is an entirely different topic for another day…

As I stared out the window this morning looking at the lake and feeling homesick, I thought of Jesus. Talk about feeling homesick! Can you imagine giving up heaven? And talk about missing the people He did life with. He would be missing the people He created life with!

Thinking of everything He gave up for us gave me a fresh revelation of his love for us. Oh how he loves us! He knew that many, including his own family, would reject him. He knew that he would be betrayed by someone closest to him. He knew that the ones that knew him best would desert him. He knew that he would be mocked, stripped, beaten, scourged, spit on, crushed, and nailed to a cross.

Despite it all, he willingly left home to be our Immanuel, our “God with us”. He left his home to become our home. To be our refuge, our shelter, our fortress and hiding place in times of trouble.

Not once do we see Jesus regretting his decision to leave home to be with us. Not once do we hear him say to his exasperating disciples “Are you kidding me right now? Do you have any clue what I left behind to come be with you bozos!?” Even when he was speaking to them regarding their lack of faith, he never made them feel as if there was anyplace else he would rather be than in the midst of them.

Yet we know he was homesick. It says in Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Though he loved the people on earth he came to serve, he missed the people he did life with.  He was willing to leave the people he did life with in order to have all of us to do eternity with. The thought of it takes my breath away.

I have two more full days here. I think I will follow Jesus’ lead on what to do when feeling homesick. I will withdraw and pray and meditate on my future home. A home filled with so many peeps to do eternity with, I will never be homesick again!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for who you are. Thank you for giving me a fresh revelation of your love. Oh how you love me! I cannot fully comprehend it even when I experience it! Help me to show others the love you have for them. Help me make the most of my days and my time. Use me to be a light and a blessing to others, that they may come to know you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Cure for Homesickness,

Jen

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Faith Bank

I have been lazy this week. I sleep in as late as I want. When I do wake up I just lay in bed for awhile thinking about what I may or may not do that day. Sometimes, for a very brief second, I feel guilty about it. Then I quickly remember that in a couple weeks I return to reality where the days of sleeping in are just a dream.

This morning as I was laying in bed I was thinking how nice it would be if we could bank extra hours of sleep. Then on those exhausting days following sleepless nights we could simply withdraw a few hours from our sleep bank. I know my friend with two kids under thirty months is probably nodding her head yes and saying Amen! (or more likely she is nodding off to sleep during a midnight feeding :).

Think about it. Wouldn’t it be fun to spend the rainy, snowy, and cold days in bed banking hours of sleep so on the fun, summer days you could just go go go? Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel stressed out on the long work days knowing you have a couple hours in the bank you can draw from? I think it would be a life changer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. (insert sigh)

Thinking along those lines, wouldn’t it be nice if you could store up faith in your own personal faith bank? Then on the days when you are feeling discouraged or uncertain you could simply withdraw some extra faith to get you through? Never again would you be tossed about by life, questioning whether God truly sees your situation and has a plan to see you through. Unfortunately, just like the sleep bank there is no Faith of America faith bank.

Or is there?

Every minute we spend in God’s Word and in prayer builds up our faith bank. Every time we journal what God has done for us, so we can be reminded of His faithfulness, we are depositing faith into our faith bank. Every time we share our testimony with others and they share theirs, we are depositing faith.

We all have days were we feel spiritually empty. Days when we feel abandoned and forgotten. Days when we second guess the words we once believe God spoke to our hearts. On those days, we need our faith banks. We need to take some time to sit still and bring to remembrance all we have learned about the goodness of God, and all that He has already done for us thus far.

We often feel too busy to spend time in the Bible and in prayer. That seems like a selfish part of our day. A part we can only indulge in when our obligatory to-do list is done. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Spending time with the Lord will not only bring wisdom and encouragement for that day, it will build up your faith bank. Lord knows we all need one!

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34 Amplified

When Jesus says “all these things”, He is talking about our basic day to day needs. He knows our to-do list, our responsibilities, and our needs. He promises that if we get to know the character of God- by spending time with Him, we will be taken care of. We will have a full faith bank!

Dear Heavenly Father, I want to know you more. I want to spend time with you. I find my days slipping by and my time running short. Help me make more room for you. Help me manage my time. Help me prioritize my schedule. Help me trust your word that says you will take care of me if I put you first. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Faith Bank For Us All,

Jen

 

 

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The Smoke In Our Lives

One of my favorite things to do at the cabin is to sit outside at night and gaze at the moon and stars. The moon is huge and the stars are brighter than anywhere else I have ever been. It feels like if I took a running start and jumped off the diving board I could grab hold and swing from one.

Due to the forest fires north of us I have not seem a single star in the the nine days we have been here. Tonight the smoke is so bad I cannot even see the moon. It is pitch black outside when there would normally be moon and star reflections dancing on the water. The smoke has stolen my vision.

In Calvin Miller’s book Into the Depths With God he writes “In 1 Corinthians 6:12, the apostle Paul reminds us that while all things may be permitted some things aren’t good for us. Those things that steal my vision for God are not good for me.”

The question I have been asking God  is “Is there anything in my life that needs to go (or needs to start) in order to live the life you created me to live?” In other words “Is there any smoke in my life that is stealing my vision?”

I return to work next week. I also return to being a youth leader, a mom with kids in activities, and all that goes with it.  Last year I was so busy and often overwhelmed that I didn’t even, couldn’t even, think of writing. I also didn’t have much time to take care of myself. I cannot have another year at that pace.

The thing is- I don’t feel like I spent time doing wasteful things. I am not a tv or Netflix person, and this blog is my only form of social media. Those are the two most common time wasters. I am lucky if I can get through a chapter of a book without falling asleep at night. When I looked at my schedule it seemed as though everything I spent my time on was good and/or necessary. I didn’t know what I could cut out.

As my last days of summer go by I am seeking God for wisdom and direction. I cannot afford to have any smoke stealing my vision for God. Neither can you. I encourage you to ask God the same question. The stars and the moon that are waiting behind the smoke are worth a million times more than anything the smoke can offer!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving me. Thank you caring about the intimate details of my life. Thank you knowing what is best for me. I ask you to show me anything in my life that is taking me away from the call you have on my life. I want nothing more than to have you be the center of my vision. Speak to my heart and show me what changes I need to make in order to live my life to the full measure you have created me to live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Smoke Free Life To You All,

Jen

 

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The Dangers of Loneliness

Webter’s defines loneliness as being without company, or sadness from being alone.  Though that may be accurate, there is a loneliness that hurts more than the loneliness we can experience when we are alone. It is the loneliness we can feel when we are in the midst of many.

I have no problem being alone. I am pretty independent and can entertain myself for hours :). But to be surrounded by a group of people and feel no connection is the loneliest feeling for me. It it almost like a physical pain for me. The only way for me to alleviate the loneliness is to get away by myself and be truly alone.

Have you ever experienced that kind of loneliness? When I experience it I often assume there is something wrong with me.  As a look around the group they all seem to be connecting and enjoying themselves. I am the odd woman out. If the majority is connecting than the issue must be with me. So now in addition to the loneliness, in comes it’s evil brother isolation.

I was suffering from loneliness yesterday. Yes, suffering. Connecting to others is one of the things that makes me tick. I can only engage in so much small talk and surface conversation. After awhile I disconnect. My soul needs heartfelt, truth seeking conversation in order to flourish. I do not have that here, and it’s a struggle.

I have spent a lot of time alone on this trip. Last night I asked the Lord why I was feeling so lonely and emotional. I mean come on- am I seriously going to spend each day of vacation experiencing a painful emotion just so I can blog about it?!

I got the sense God was allowing me to feel this way to teach me a couple of things. First of all, though loneliness is painful, it is sometimes necessary. Being like everyone else is not the way of those that truly follow Christ. In fact, when you live as Christ has called us to live, we will often find ourselves as outcasts; alone, and sometimes isolated. He also assured me there is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with the others either. They simply don’t crave the deep connections that I do.

He also reminded me that I have many amazing people in my life that He has connected me to. I reached out to a couple of them in my distress. Having them share my pain and assure me they understood got me through the worst of it.

The most important thing God is teaching me about loneliness is that even when I feel lonely, I am never alone. He is always with me. Though I was in emotional distress last night I could sense He was with me and that He would not allow me to spiral downhill- as long as I remain tethered to Him.

If you find yourself in a state of loneliness, please fill out a prayer request. I would love to pray for you. Or pretty much just text me. I think it’s only my dear friends and family reading this. You all have my number 🙂

You are not alone. God promises us in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Though you may feel alone, if you sit still and quiet yourself before the Lord, He will make himself known to you. If being lonely every once in awhile is what is takes to remind me to sit in His presence, I assure you, it is worth it!

Dear Heavenly Father, I confess I often find myself feeling lonely. I know you promise to never leave me or forsake me but sometimes you feel so far away. Please bless me with your presence. Let me experience your love in an intimate way. Thank you for setting me apart for better things. Thank you for giving me the desire to live in connection with my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Reminder that You Are Never Alone,

Jen

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The Dangers of Jealousy

I went out on the deck with my morning coffee to enjoy the quiet stillness of the lake before the weekend recreation boats came out. As I looked out on the lake I saw off in the distance a man on his paddle board. Once again the thoughts began.

“His form is horrible. Does he even know what he is doing? I wonder if he even realizes he is going with the wind and he is going to have a heck of a time paddling back. In fact, I can’t wait to see him try to fight his way back.”

Woah! Put on the brakes Jen! Is this seriously how you are going to start your day? Two sips into my morning coffee and I was already having negative, critical thoughts. Where are these coming from anyway?

Jealousy. They stemmed from jealousy. The initial thought that didn’t even register at the time was “Oh man- I sure wish I had my paddleboard”. Instead of acknowledging that feeling, my mind went into overdrive with jealous thoughts.

Jealousy is dangerous. Even more dangerous than offense. It says in Psalm 27:4 Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.

Jealousy is at the root of many problems in our relationships, our self- acceptance, and our lives in general. I was quick to recognize what was happening this morning and was able to laugh at what a ridiculous baby I was being, but many times jealousy goes unnoticed. We find ourselves having a variety of responses and reactions to someone or something and do not even realize that the source of it is jealousy.

Some of the dangers of jealousy are:

It releases our critical spirit.

It causes us to gossip.

It causes us to become judgmental.

It causes strife and division.

It causes us to become bitter and ungrateful.

It robs us of our peace and steals our joy.

Think I am being dramatic? Read what is says in James 3:14-16 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

Earthly, unspiritual, and DEMONIC? Where you find jealousy, you will also find an evil spirit at work. It’s goal is to cause harm and distress. Think about it. Have you ever felt at peace and grateful while harboring jealous thoughts? Of course not. They are not compatible. Jealousy undermines all of the good in our lives.

So what do we do when we find ourselves struggling with jealousy? We pray of course, and tell God we no longer want to be jealous and ask Him to help up remove this burden. There are also some activities we can do to help overcome jealousy. Here are a few:

Get to know the person you are jealous of. You may find you really like them. I have a friend that has an amazing body. I tease her all the time saying that God brought her into my life to challenge my love walk. My love of her and of our friendship outweighs the fact that often times my first thought when I see her is “I wish I had her body.” What could’ve kept me from being her friend is now a source of laughter.

Write a list of everything you are grateful for. Putting your focus on your blessings and what you do not have will take the focus off the things you don’t. If you cannot come up with anything on your list, perhaps you are in need of a missions trip (I say that with love).

Take action. If the thing you are jealous of is something you have control over, do something about it. If you are jealous of athletic ability, start exercising. If you are jealous of someone’s cooking, take a cooking class. If you are jealous of someone’s marriage, start pouring into your own. The people that have a talent you want did not develop it overnight. They had to work at it also.

Remember who you are! You are a child of the Most High God! Nothing and no one can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38). What you have or do not have is not what makes you who you are. What makes you who you are is what God says about you. He says you are perfect and blameless!  You are loved! You are His masterpiece! You are the apple of His eye! When you remember who you are in christ, you will find it easier to forget who you are not, or what you don’t have.

Jealousy is dangerous. If left unchecked it will rob you of your joy for today and your hope for tomorrow. Most dangerous of all is that it will derail you from the call on your life. Remember, at the root of jealousy is a demon evil, harm, and ruin. Do not let the enemy snare you with jealousy!

Dear Heavenly Father, I confess I harbor jealousy in my heart. I do not want it there any longer. I ask you to deliver me from this jealousy. Show me what I can do to rid myself of it. Heal my heart. Heal my hurts. Bring me back to the path you have for my life. Thank you for loving me even in the midst of my jealousy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Jealousy Free Life To You All,

Jen

 

 

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The Dangers of Offense

I had the opportunity to get offended today. Unfortunately I took advantage of the opportunity. Someone said something to me that both offended me and hurt my feelings. I tried to defend myself once but only received a sarcastic remark complete with an “exit stage left” move that had me sitting there fuming.

Thoughts immediately flooded my mind. Most of them snarky. Thoughts like “Passive aggressive much?” and “I am sorry you are miserable, but I have a life.” I also thought of remarks I could say later. Two can play the passive aggressive word game…

These vengeful thoughts made me feel sick and sad. I did not want my day to go like this. I was just minding my own business (listening to an online prayer service no less) when this interaction went down. I also know that the person that offended me truly cares for me. The comment that was made to me came from their issues, not anything I was doing. Trying to talk myself down I did the one thing I knew to do. I prayed for them.

I prayed that they would have a good day. I prayed that whatever was bothering them would be fixed. I prayed that they would be able to rest and have peace. I prayed every good thing I could think of. As soon as I finished I returned to feeling ticked off. I couldn’t shake it.

It says in Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

But what do you do when that forgiveness doesn’t come easily? What do you do when you have tried to shake it off and you still feel hurt and offended? I did the only thing I knew to do. I got into the kayak and started to paddle.

I prayed and asked God why I was having such a hard time getting over such a trivial little offense. In my mind I knew it was ridiculous but I couldn’t seem to shake it. The answer I received was more of a lesson than a reason. In fact, I would argue that the Lord allowed me to sit in my offense long enough to see the dangers it brings.

Offense brings out the worst in us.

It brings out our pride, “Well, I will show them!”

It brings out our self righteousness, “They are not living for God.”

It brings out our judgmental nature, “Look at how they are wasting their life.”

It brings out vengefulness, “Oh just wait, I will get even.”

It brings out our insecurity, “Oh they have hurt me so bad.”

Are you convinced of the dangers taking offense causes? I have one more for you. Offense robs us of our joy. That was the big one for me. I had been having the perfect day up until the incident. Within two sentences my joy was gone. Gone!

As soon as I realized the power I had given a ten second conversation, that I would give up my joy that quickly, something in me surrendered. I truly let go of the offense. I also had the feeling that God taught me this lesson because I am going to have more opportunity in the future to take offense. I need to learn the dangers of it now or it could have the potential to derail me and my dreams.

Forgiveness truly is the antidote to offense. Do you know what true forgiveness does?

It increases your compassion.

It takes away the sick feeling in your gut and heart.

It frees you from the need to retaliate.

It allows you to move on to the good things god has planned for you.

It allows you to sit on the dock later and laugh and talk and enjoy time as a family.

It restores your joy.

If you are dealing with offense in your life that you cannot let go of, I encourage you to spend some quiet time with the Lord. Ask Him to show you why you are having trouble letting go. Ask Him to show you a glimpse of what is happening in the offenders life. Ask him if there is anything within you that you need to make amends with. Ask Him to show you your insecurities and to heal them. Just talk to Him like you would a friend and sit still and listen. He will speak to your heart. He will set you free!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the times you have forgiven me. Thank you for all of the blessings you have poured out on my life. I do not want to offend anyone or hold on to offense. Please take these hurts and offenses from me. Show me if there is anything I need to do in order to let go. Thank you for being with me through every hurt and offense. Thank you for loving me even as I struggle to do what is right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and an Offense Free Day To You All,

Jen

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The God of Second (and many more) Chances

Today we put the boat in at Pend Oreille River and rode seventeen miles into Pend Oreille Lake. You may remember last year when we did the same thing. You may remember it because the day inspired the blog The Rescue because we ran out of gas and were stranded on the river…

I was so excited to go this morning. The words Second Chance kept going through my head. I was happy that we got a second chance to do this trip again. A second chance to end the trip on a high note rather than a frustrating rescue. A second chance to learn from our previous mistake. A second chance at a perfect day on the water with my family.

Throughout the day I thought about how God really is the God of second (and many more) chances. I thought about all of the second (and many more) chances I have personally had in my life. Even when I was the one to blow it, He has never said “Enough- no more chances!”

It says in Lamentations 3:22-23 The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

If you are feeling like your life is a mess that is beyond repair, let me assure you it’s not. God has not and will not give up on you, your children, your spouse, your career, or anything that is important to you. He is always there ready and willing to give you and your situation a second (and many more) chance. His mercies never cease!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God of second chances. Thank you for all of the second chances you have given me in my life. Thank you for your daily fresh and tender mercies. Help me to receive them and trust in your faithfulness for all of my needs. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Second Chance For Us All,

Jen

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She’s Living My Life!

I am currently on our annual family vacation to Washington. We are here for twelve days and the forecast is high 90’s every day without a single cloud. I am so thankful we are right on the lake!

We flew this year so I could not bring my paddle board. I was bummed but there is still plenty to do here so I wasn’t too concerned about it. We arrived Tuesday around noon and the first thing I noticed was that the entire lake was pure glass. It is never like that during the day! Usually you need to go out first thing in the morning or wait until after dinner to get water like that, and even then there are usually still ripples in places.

I just stood there on the dock staring at the water. It felt like it was taunting me. How dare it be so calm midday when my paddle board is two thousand miles away? It is never like this in Minnesota either. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity (in my dramatic mind anyway). It remained smooth as glass all day and night. I couldn’t believe it.

I was so thankful on Wednesday to see that the lake was it’s normal rippling self. No more taunting and teasing. Tuesday had simply been a fluke. Or so I thought.

I woke up today and once again the lake was pure glass. It really is something. It is so calm and serene and looks like a postcard. I don’t know why I find it so fascinating but I do. I had come to terms with the fact that I did not have my board and rather than lamenting anymore (probably because no one seemed to feel sorry for me )I sat on the deck marveling at the view in awe. I was content in the moment, appreciating that I had nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Then I saw her. Off in the distance there was a paddle boarder. “How dare she” I said to my daughter who just rolled her eyes at my ridiculousness. I just stared at her out on her board. “Not fair!” I thought. “She is living my life! That is what I should be doing right now!” I was so jealous.

I have felt that “No fair! She is living my life” feeling many times before. Every time I see a woman my age publishing a book, writing a Bible study, or speaking at women’s groups I have that feeling. I will read a book or a devotional and think “I could have written that” (it is not said in disrespect- it is just that often I read something and it sounds like the person literally spent time in my head or read all of my journals) and then I go on to wonder why I hadn’t.

Do I lack faith? Discipline? Did I give up too soon? Did I make this whole dream up in my head? Did I miss the boat? Am I just some egomaniac that craves the stage? Is my writing just for me?

These thoughts used to drag me down into a depressive pit. I would wallow in self pity and jealousy. It has taken me a long time to simply rejoice in another woman’s ability to encourage us women. Thank God for them! I have benefitted from these women and they have carried me through a lot of difficult times. I have come to a place where I know that if it is God’s will for me to write for more than my own benefit it will happen- as long as I don’t crawl back into the tent :).

And what if my writing is just for me? Is that so bad? What if God has given me a creative way of drawing close to Him and seeing Him in everyday life. I think that is pretty sweet. Don’t misunderstand me though- I would love nothing more than to share his sweetness with others :).

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Galatians 6:9

Love, Grace, and A Right Time For Us All,

Jen

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