Need a Little Help Here!

I just hung up the phone with my friend. I called her in near tears to tell her I was sitting in front of the computer trying to write but all I could think about was how I had nothing to say and what was the point anyway as I have to go back to work in three weeks and if I don’t have time now to write how will I possibly have time to write once work and school and activities and youth group start up again and what was I even thinking when I decided to start writing again and I keep having work dreams and I am clearly in distress and tomorrow I am taking the kids to Wild Mountain which is insane because we leave the following day for three weeks in Washington and we get back the day before I go back to work and I was supposed to go back to work all refreshed but I am not refreshed I am exhausted and since we have to go back in three weeks we might as well just cancel vacation and go back to work now as that is all I can think about.

I am pretty sure I said it all just like that. In one big breath. In one long sentence. In one frantic “I can’t do this” meltdown.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever have one negative thought that leads to another negative thought that leads to another negative thought that snowballs until you find yourself frozen in fear and anxiety? It’s a horrible feeling. I don’t experience it often but when I do I can barely function. I find myself short with those around me and I can hardly stand being around myself. Suddenly I am aware of every single one of my shortcomings and failures and start believing all of the lies running through my head. Though I know they are lies, and I will be fine, my mind will not stop racing.

God tells us in His word to give all of our worries and cares to Him because he cares about us. I believe deep down that this is true. As much as I know that God cares and loves me to the point that he has numbered every hair on my head and that God’s plans and purpose for my life will prevail and He will give me all of the strength, energy and endurance I need for each day, it is still so easy to get caught up “Who, What, Where, Why’s, and How’s” of all of the expectations others have for me as well as the ones I have for myself (which I admit are often unrealistic).

Sometimes you need to call in a little reinforcement to help melt the anxiety snowball. Sometimes you need to call someone that will not reply with “Oh no! How are you going to get all that done!? Why did you waste your time and energy on a new website? Wow, if you already have writer’s block how do you ever expect to write a book?” No- You call someone that says “Oh no, I am so sorry”, and proceeds to distract you with a story so the next thing you know you are both laughing at yourselves and each other for the ridiculous ways we as women drive ourselves crazy. As she hung up the phone she said “Now get on it. My phone better ding that you have a new post before I get back home.”

That is the kind of friends we need. The kind that show a little compassion but not pity, that love us without enabling us, that encourage us and build us up, and then give us a little kick in the hiney to push us forward and help us accomplish the things that truly matter to us.

If you are in need of a friend that will lift you up, please take a moment to fill out a prayer request and I will be happy to do for you what my friend did for me today 🙂

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Love, Grace, and a Belly Laugh with a Girlfriend Day to You all,

Jen

Continue Reading

Selfish Faith

I was supposed to have a friend over first thing in the morning last Friday to go paddle boarding. I had just recently reconnected with this friend after not seeing each her for almost two years. She had come over a few days earlier and we had such a good time we decided we needed to get together one more time before I head out of town.

When I say we had a good time, I mean we had a good time talking. The paddle board portion of our get together was fun- sort of. I let her use Faith since she had only been paddle boarding once before, and I borrowed one of the neighbors paddle boards. Now the neighbors have a board similar to mine, but they also have two of the heavy plastic type paddle boards. They are better for family use as they can’t break and crack as easily as the fiberglass boards.

I figured I would be fine on the plastic board seeing how I am now such an avid boarder (it has been like 3 weeks since I first started after all :). We headed out on the lake and I tried to warn my friend that it was windier than it looked and we needed to be careful or else we would find ourselves across the lake. She then decided she wanted to rest and lay down on the board for awhile. I couldn’t really lay down on the board I was using. I found myself mentioning multiple times that we were drifting across the lake but she didn’t seem concerned so I finally decided to let it go.

Sure enough she suddenly sat up and said “Oh my gosh! We have completely drifted across the lake!” like it was a total shock or something. I simply responded “Yep”, though that was not exactly what I was thinking :).

And so it began. The paddle home. And by paddle I mean frantically paddling to make any progress, not to mention keeping the board facing in the right direction (I later found out that the board I was using has a bent fin that points the wrong way…). I finally got some momentum and felt okay. My friend however was a different story. She kept blowing back and despite me telling her not to do the very thing she was doing she insisted on doing things her way (probably why we get along so well:). I could tell she was starting to panic and would not make it on her own out of the windiest part. My only option was to turn back around and help her get going.

I helped her get going and then she was off and racing across the lake. I on the other hand was having a harder time now than I did the first time. I kept looking to my left at a house on the shore and it seemed as though I was in the same spot forever. The best part was the fact that the board I was on was about 2 inches under water. I was on my knees paddling at this point and I started to worry that my neighbors board maybe had a crack and was slowly sinking to the bottom of the lake.

My friend on the other hand was cruising right along making her way back home. Now I am glad she was safe on my board, but at that moment I really wanted my board. I was done sharing Faith.

As Friday drew near I started dreading Friday morning for multiple reasons. I am going to just be honest with you even though I know I am going to sound like a big jerk. First of all, I was tired. I had another busy week and I felt like I just didn’t have the energy to entertain anyone. Mainly however, I kept looking at the weather and it showed that Friday morning was going to be a perfect morning for a ride. I didn’t want to ride a heavy red plastic board. I wanted to ride Faith.

I was driving home when I was having these thoughts of wanting to cancel and as soon as I realized that the main reason I wanted to cancel was because I wanted to use MY board I heard that still small voice whisper “It isn’t always easy sharing your faith”. Now it says in the Psalm 94:11 that the Lord knows peoples thoughts and I believe it because my first thought was “I want to use my own board” and the second thought was the one about sharing my faith.

I smiled because I knew the Lord was teaching me something. It’s true. It’s not always easy sharing your faith. Sometimes it’s scary because we don’t want to be rejected, or offensive, or sound downright nuts. It’s not always convenient either. Sharing your faith takes time. You need to invest time into someone and let them know that they are loved and that you are not just trying to offer them some quick fix, but a real relationship with a real person. And sometimes, just like with my friend, you need to go back and share your faith over and over again with someone who’s life keeps blowing them off course.

No, sharing your faith isn’t easy, or convenient, but it was never meant to be. It is however what we are called to do. I find that so often I am pretty selfish with my Jesus, just like how I was feeling about my paddle board. I want it all to myself and I don’t have time for others.

About fifteen minutes later my friend text me and said she wasn’t feeling well and that she may not make it over in the morning. After my revelation on faith, I was truly disappointed. I wanted to be generous. I wanted to see her. I know she is struggling with some things and I wanted to encourage her. If I had received that text earlier in the day I would have been happy, but now I was bummed.

My friend didn’t end up coming over. I did however go paddle boarding with the neighbor girl. We have wanted to go together since I got my board but it’s never worked out. We were out for almost two hours, and guess what- I got to share my faith with her. Not my board, but my real faith. She loves the Lord but she had some questions and it was such a blessing to be able to speak with her and share my faith with her. I smile at how God orchestrates these things.

Girls, God is good and He is faithful. I know you know that, but I bet you know someone that doesn’t know that. I encourage you to step out of your comfort level and allow yourself to be inconvenienced so that you may share your faith. I promise you it will bless you as much as the person you share it with. You don’t need to worry about the outcome. Let God do that. The Word tells us we need to share our faith, it doesn’t say “and if you don’t save them than shame on you!”

I would love to be encourage by your bold faith!If you have a story to share about sharing your faith, or having someone share theirs with you, please enter in a comment or fill out the contact page.

Worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15 NLT

Love, Grace, and a Faith Sharing Day to You All,

Jen

Continue Reading

The Smooth, Easy Way

In honor of the heat wave we are supposed to experience over the next couple of days, I thought I would share with you some life lessons I have learned on my new paddle board. I have had her less than a month but she has already taught me a lot.

Why do I refer to my paddle board as “her” you ask? That’s simple. I refer to it as a her because her name is Faith, and Faith is clearly a girls name. If you think it’s silly that I would give my paddle board a name, I may as well tell you that I also have a kayak named Grace. It will all make sense eventually…

One day while out on Faith, the water went from glass to rippling. It wasn’t super windy or anything and was still easy to paddle on but I was really in the mood to cruise along on some glass like water. I had experienced a few rough rides in the previous days and I longed for a smooth sail.

I noticed that the west end of the lake had the glass I was looking for. I got excited and started paddling faster in order to get there. By the time I approached I had a little momentum going. I hit the smooth glass and gave one fierce paddle and BAM! I came to a complete stop and almost flew head first off of the board.

I looked down to see what had happened (you are supposed to look straight ahead while paddling). I noticed I was in the thickest weeds I had ever seen. The reason the water was so calm is because the thick weeds went all the way to the top and there was nowhere for the water to ripple. What I thought was going to be the smooth sailing easy way ended up stopping me in my tracks.

Once I finally got out of there I started thinking about how many times I have tried the smooth, easy way and how often it ends up just as it did with my paddle board. Whether it’s a quick fix diet pill, borrowed cash off a credit card, or giving up on a goal so I am not disappointed, I have raced towards the smooth easy way and it always ends up the same- I feel stuck in the midst of the weeds in my life and what was meant to be quick an easy ends up being frustrating and time consuming.

It’s great when life is running smooth and easy. I try to acknowledge and appreciate those seasons. However, the truth is, life will not always be glass. Most days contain ripples, and many days send whitecaps. During the ripples and whitecaps, the goal is not always to race to the smooth glass but to stand in (or on) Faith and trust that you will make it back to shore.

If you find yourself in the ripples or even the whitecaps of life today, I encourage you to sit still for a moment. Don’t spend your day mentally searching for the glass. Spend your mental energy focusing on Gods promises for your life. Promises such as He will never leave you or forsake you, He has good plans for you, He delights in the details of your life, He is your refuge and hope, and He is the Good Shepard that provides ALL of your needs. Stand on the Truth. Stand on Faith ☺.

There is a way which seems right before man and appears straight before him, But its end is the way of death. -Proverbs 16:25 AMP

Grace, Faith, and a Ripple Free Day to You All,

Jen

Continue Reading

Ready, Set, Finish!!!

I am a great starter. I am constantly coming up with awesome ideas. Not only am I great at starting things, I am also great at convincing others they should join in on the fun. If being an excellent starter were a spiritual gift, I would definitely be listened in the spiritual gift hall of fame (not that there is one, but if there were I would be in it ☺).

Unfortunately I am a horrible finisher. I come out of the gate like a thoroughbred and cross the finish line like a donkey (if I even cross the finish line). I have to force myself to complete even the simplest tasks, let alone finish big projects. For example, I have a load of clean laundry in the dryer right now. It’s been there for three days. I think about getting it multiple times a day but then I shrug it off.

At work I have to force myself to sit at my desk and complete tasks. I have to keep telling myself to sit still and finish and then I can go talk to someone as a reward. I know it may sound ridiculous, but as the teens say The Struggle is Real…

I am sure many of you can relate on some level. Our attention span is decreasing by the day due to all the stimulation we are bombarded with. In fact, a report came out in 2015 stating that the average attention span for humans has gone from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which is one second less than a goldfish!

There are other contributing factors to me being finisher-challenged. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age twenty-six so many of my quirks are due to the characteristics that come with that, such as boredom, procrastination, perfectionism, chasing squirrels, etc. I tried medication for it but didn’t like it. I didn’t like it because I love some of my quirks. I am creative, high energy, imaginative, a go-getter and highly entertaining (mainly because you can never be sure what I am about to do next, but it generally involves bursting into song).

Rather than try to eliminate the qualities I don’t like, I have tried to manage them through things such as exercise, diet, sleep, and supplements. I even found a job that has so many random responsibilities that my obsession with multi-tasking and bouncing from one task to another are the exact qualities that have made me successful in my job.

That being said, I would still like to improve my finishing skills. I would like to finish painting my house, finish writing a presentation without having to stop for multiple chocolate breaks, finish cleaning out my junk drawers, and good grief Jennifer, just go get that load of laundry out of the dryer!

In the past I would use scripture to help me work on my finishing skills. I would say things such as “Finish what you started”, and “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2 Corinthians 8:10, 2 Timothy 4:7). These scriptures are great, but the truth is, they only got me temporary results. I still had to hyper focus on the scripture to get things done. I still felt as though I were struggling the entire way through.

I still use scripture to help me with my finishing issues. However, rather than using it as a mantra to get me through, I use it as a refuge. I use it as a source of comfort and peace. I use it as a reminder that God created me and He will see to it that I finish the things He created me to finish.

How do I finish a task?

By looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12-2 NKJV

I also love that He is the Author ☺

Peace, love, and finish line day to you all,

Jen

Continue Reading

Sin Radar

On the way home from the gym this morning I was praying and asking God what I should write about today. I have a million things in my heart and it’s hard for me to know where to start at times.

As I rounded the curve in the road I noticed out of the corner of my eye a sheriff car parked on the opposite side with a radar gun out. Instinctively I looked down to see how fast I was going. It’s not so much that I have a lead foot; it’s just that I wasn’t really paying attention. I was relieved to see I was only going sixty in a fifty-five and I smiled to myself and thought “Ha- you didn’t get me.”

Immediately I felt that still small voice whisper “That’s how many people feel about me.” I felt sad for a moment, as if I could actually feel how the Lord feels about his people having such a wrong perception of him.

It’s true though. I have had many conversations with both Christians and non-Christians that hold a view of God that is contrary to who He is. They picture God on the throne with a sin radar gun just waiting to nail someone. They believe God hands out sin tickets in the form of lack, disease, hardships, and suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I remember a few years ago I had a boss say to me “I have had a horrible morning. I was fighting with Kelly and then on the way here I got a huge rock chip in my windshield. I guess that is what I get for being a jerk. God isn’t going to let me get away with that.” I asked him if he seriously thought God sent the rock chip as punishment for fighting with his wife. He said yes, and he was just thankful it wasn’t a bigger rock.

I tried to tell him he was wrong and that God doesn’t deal with us that way but I could tell he wasn’t buying it. The Truth sounded too good to be true and didn’t make sense to him. It didn’t help that he was raised in a denomination that pretty much taught him things like “You better watch out, God is watching you” and “You get what you deserve.”

It was no surprise to me that he wasn’t living his life for the Lord. Why would he? Why would anyone want to serve a God that might nail them with the sin radar at any moment? After all, we all know how sinful we are- even once we are saved. We still fall short of the glory of God and we still stumble. The last thing we need on top of a failure is a ticket with a huge fine.

The truth is all of our sin tickets and all of the fines that go with them were paid in full at the cross. You may experience natural consequences from your mistakes, but rest assured they are not fines being handed down from God. Jesus was nailed to the cross so that God would no longer need to sit on the throne with his sin radar pointing at us.

God still sits on the throne watching us, but it’s no longer to nail us with a sin ticket. Look at what it says in Psalm 33:13-15, 18-9:

The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.

God knows our hearts. He knows our flaws and our failures. He knew we could never pay the fines for our sins and so he sent his only son to pay the price for us. Now he looks down on us with love and when he sees us he sees the words PAID IN FULL. There is no need to ever hand out another fine.

I pray you let the Truth of Gods grace for you sink deep into your hearts as you come to a deeper understanding of his love for you.

Grace, peace, and a paid in full day to you all,

Jen

Continue Reading

The Comparison Trap

After I posted my blog yesterday I went out for a ride on my paddleboard. You will be hearing a lot about my paddleboard in the days to come but for now all I will say is that it was a strenuous ride. Perhaps you remember the perfect kite flying conditions yesterday? Most people do not paddleboard during perfect kite flying conditions, but my tendency towards doing these kinds of things is a topic for another day.

I keep my paddleboard down at my neighbor’s beach. I do this because there is a colony of snakes that has established residence at my dock. Though God has not given me a spirit of fear, He also has not given me a liking for snakes.

As I was walking up the neighbors yard my neighbor came out on her deck and said “I just got done telling Ali that today is not a good day to paddleboard and then Ali pointed out the window and said ‘Isn’t that Jen going by on her board’?” I say this only to confirm what I said in the first paragraph ☺.

We went on to chat about a variety of things. As she was talking I found myself thinking the same things I often think while we talk. Things like “She is so gorgeous, and fit, and full of energy”. From a distance I often cannot tell if it is her or her gorgeous eighteen year-old daughter. Even more than her external attributes, she is one of the nicest, most generous, creative, and talented people I know. She is an amazing career woman that goes from wearing six-inch heels and a power suit, to Under Amour shorts and flip-flops and looks completely natural in both.

Did I mention her house is perfectly decorated? Her family was even on a DIY television show a few years ago as they remodeled their basement and turned part of it into an amazing theatre and game room complete with theatre chairs. I say this because most of my house is still the same eggshell white that it was when we moved in thirteen years ago.

I asked her what her plans were for the day and she said she was going to paint some new canvases for the house. The canvases were so big she had to bring the trailer up to Michaels to pick them up because they did not fit in their SUV. I then learned that most of the amazing art work in their home was done by her. I finally looked up at her and said, “I don’t know why I even stop to talk to you. I always leave feeling like I need to go decorate my house- or at least clean it. My house is still the same eggshell white it’s always been.” We laughed and she assured me that the apartment look was very in these days and I was good.

I walked home smiling at the irony of the morning. I had just written about being comfortable with who we are and two hours later I am faced with someone that is everything I am not. There was a day when I would have spent the rest of a beautiful Sunday not only wishing I was her, but feeling like I SHOULD be more like her. I also would have stared at my colorless undecorated walls stewing over my lack of desire to change them.

Thankfully I did not experience any of those negative thoughts and feelings. I have come to learn that comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to end up feeling as though you do not measure up and are not good enough.

When you are grounded in who Jesus says you are, it is easier to delight in the amazing gifts and talents of others. It is easier to appreciate those that have what you don’t rather than feel jealous of them. This morning as I sat down with my Bible and cup of coffee I looked over to the neighbor’s house and smiled. I really am so thankful to have them as neighbors. They are the kindest, most generous and thoughtful people I know. Rather than be jealous of them, I enjoy the benefits of being their neighbor.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I don’t always pass the comparison test. There are still many times when I find myself feeling as though I come up short when compared to another. In fact, if I had not been meditating on yesterdays verse all morning I may very well have fallen into the trap. I guess that is one of the many reasons I love to write. I need to meditate on the Word in order to keep my eyes on Jesus and off of myself. Though I hope others benefit from my words, I know my own family benefits when mom is not stuck in the comparison trap ☺.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT

Grace, peace, and a day free of comparisons to you all,

Jen

Continue Reading

The Day of Small Beginnings…

I have been waiting for this day for a long time- the day I sit back down at my computer and write a blog. A few years ago I wrote Monday through Friday as if it were my job. I had over 600 posts. During that time I thought I was working my way towards being the next Joyce Meyer (or at least a local author and speaker). I believed God put those desires in my heart and I had faith that God would make them happen.

Then life dealt me a series of blows that slowly took the wind out of my sails. It seemed I would just recover from one hurt or loss and another would hit. Sometimes I didn’t even have time to recover from one before the next one occurred. I no longer had the words to write.There were many days that all I could say was “God is good. God is faithful.”, and those words were often spoken in hope more than in faith.

Days turned into months and months turned into years. After struggling so long to keep my faith, I had completely given up on my dreams. I prayed God would take away my desire to write and speak. I refused to get my hopes up anymore.

God didn’t answer my prayer. Instead, He sent people into my life to breath encouragement into me. It was so frustrating! I would get a forwarded email from a friend regarding a writing contest with a message that read, “Saw this and thought of you”. I wanted to respond with “Haven’t you heard? It was all a mistake. I thought God called me to write and speak but I was wrong. I no longer entertain those silly dreams”. I resisted that desire and simply replied “Thank you.”

I cannot tell you how many times people sent me emails about writing contests, self- publishing information, or speaking opportunities. It seemed funny that when I did have faith nobody sent me those things but as soon as I decided to give up then I am flooded with them. Okay, maybe I wasn’t flooded, but even getting something every few months was frustrating. It’s hard to put out even a flicker of faith when God keeps sending people to blow fresh hope and fan the flames!

So here I am, taking a step of faith for the first time in many years. This blog may not contain any of the mind-blowing insights (okay maybe not mind-blowing, but insights nonetheless) I have written in my many journals (gifts that were given to me by my annoyingly encouraging friends ☺), but it does contain the most important part of me. It contains my heart, the one thing I believe God called me to share with others. The one thing I have kept guarded from others and from my dreams for the last few years.

I have decided to believe in my dreams again. I have decided to trust God again. I have decided to listen to the still small voice and the voices of those God put in my life to encourage me, rather than the voices in my head telling me I will never ever be anything more than what I am today.

If you have given up on your dreams, I would like to be a voice of encouragement in your life. Please email me under the Contact or Prayer Request page.

To all of my annoyingly faithful and encouraging friends, I would like to say thank you for having faith in me, especially when I had no faith in myself. I wouldn’t be able to take this first step without all of you!

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.-Zechariah 4:10a NLT

Grace, peace, and a day of small beginnings to you all,

Jen

ps I feel the need to tell you that the entire time I was writing I had the Gene Autry song Back in the Saddle Again running through my head. It’s good to know I am still as random as ever 🙂

Continue Reading