No Short Cuts

Do you ever find yourself counseling God? I often catch myself telling God the best way to handle a situation in my life. Of course I disguise my wise counsel as “prayer”, but when I stop and listen to myself I realize I am telling God what I need him to do for me, and how he should do it. For example, “Dear Heavenly Father, please help me in my marriage. Please draw Tom nearer to you and speak to him in a way that he hears you. Please help him to see what I need from him and how awesome I am and how lucky he really is to have me as his wife. In Jesus’ name, Amen“.

Don’t even pretend you have never prayed something similar to that at some point in your life. Well maybe not quite that obnoxious, but we have all “counseled” God in the best way to get things done from time to time. It’s especially tempting when we feel like we have been waiting forever for an answer to prayer- especially when we can see the answer so plainly!

Throughout the Old Testament we are introduced to people that experienced the same frustration. The “Hello God- you said this was going to happen yet here I am in the same situation and nothing has changed” frustration. Like our friend Abraham. He believed God when he promised Abraham that he was going to be the father of many nations, and for many years he lived happily expectant of this promise. And then one day he was like “enough of this waiting, I am going to take matters into my own hands” and he took a short cut to Gods plan for his life.

Abraham found out real quick that there are no short cuts to God’s plans for our lives. He found out that our genius ideas not only fail to fulfill the promise, but often delay it, and at minimum cause strife, grief, and even more frustration than the frustration of waiting causes.

God does not delay his promises because he enjoys watching us suffer. As author and speaker Susie Larson so eloquently puts it “He is making me wait because he is making me ready“. We think we can handle the dreams in our hearts but the truth is we do not know the full picture. We do not know what is happening behind the scenes and what the pressures will be when we get there.

It says in Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, god did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt”.

We learn two things from this verse. First of all, God is well aware of the quickest route to get there. In other words He does not need our wise counsel. He knows how to read a map. More importantly we learn that one of the reasons we have to take the “long way” is because we are not ready for the battles that we will face on the road to our dreams.

There will be many battles along the way. We have to fight our own fleshly struggles with pride, fear, insecurity, and all that fun stuff. We will also face spiritual battles as the enemy of our faith hates nothing more than a Christian fulfilling the call God has on their life. He will fight us every step of the way. The Good News is we will come through victoriously, but only when we are ready. And only God truly knows what we will face and when we will be ready to face it.

If you feel like you have been put on the sidelines watching opportunity pass you by, do not get discouraged. God is preparing you. He is making a way for you. He is strengthening you in ways you don’t even know you need. Keep your eyes on God and remember that the only One that wants you to fulfill your dreams more than you is God himself!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the promises you have for me. Thank you for protecting and preparing me. Thank you for doing your perfect work in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and the Long and Perfect Way For Us All,

Jen

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Promise Keeper

Last year was a struggle for me. I felt stuck in a rut. I was way too busy and overcommitted yet I didn’t see what I could walk away from. I had little time or energy to do the things I needed to do for my own well-being, which left me miserable. I often found myself withdrawn, agitated, and anxious. I probably grumbled and complained more in the last year than I did during our really tough years.

It’s not that things weren’t going well. In many ways I had a great year. It just wasn’t the way I thought it should be. I struggled to understand how I am in the job that I am in (even though it is a perfect job fit for me). I kept feeling as though I should be doing something different. Something more significant. Something more purposeful. I had bought the lie that if you are not working full time in some sort of ministry capacity you are not really doing anything “important”.

Feeling as though I had been put on Plan B for my life, I lost faith in the dreams that I was once so confident and excited about. Every Monday as I drove to work my doubt and disbelief grew. I tried to make myself happy in my new norm and put all thoughts of writing aside. If anyone ever asked me about my writing I would tell them I was too busy and I was taking the school year off. It’s true, I was too busy, but the bigger truth was I was out of hope more than I was out of time.

By the time summer rolled around I had given up completely. I now had plenty of time, but no desire. I wouldn’t even think about it. That part of my life was off limits to think or talk about. Nobody seemed to understand that I had given up though. My friends continued to give me journals and cards with dream encouragements on them. Instead of saying thank you I said “Didn’t you hear? I have given up on my dreams.” My friend simply smiled and said “I haven’t”. Even my teenage kids picked out dream and faith items for my birthday all on their own. I couldn’t hide from anyone. Especially God.

About a month ago I felt led to study out the word promise in the Bible. Did you know that in the New Living Translation there are 364 scriptures that either have the word promise or are referencing a specific promise?! Do you think it is a coincidence that there is a promise verse for almost every day of the year (God must have figured we could get by on Christmas or Easter without one 🙂 If you could use all 364 promises go to biblegateway.com and search the word promise.

I have barely started on my promise word study and already I am so excited to share some of the treasures I have found. The first three things the Lord showed me all relate to reasons why there are delays in reaching our dreams. I am not going to get into them today but I will tell you this; two of the reasons are for our protection and one of them is our fault. I hope you are curious enough to stay with me over the next few days :).

Today I want you to think about some of the dreams and promises you believe God has placed in your heart. Or even take a look at a few of the 364 scriptures that talk about the promises God has spoken to us. Pick out a couple of those promises that you are in need of and then meditate on what it says in Numbers 23:19 God is not a man that He should lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?Stand on the Word that assures us He is a promise keeper and the written and spoken promises He has over your life will be fulfilled.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your promises. Thank you for your written Word that reveals your heart towards us and gives us hope each day. Open my heart to your promises. Renew my faith and restore my hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Promise Kept For Us All,

Jen

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Prisoner of Hope

About eight years ago I taught a two part series at a large women’s group. It was only my third time teaching but afterwards I knew as I knew that I had found one of my main speaking themes. The first part was titled Dare to Dream. In it I encouraged the Girls to look beyond their current situations and circumstances and to start spending time with the Lord each day dreaming about the big plans God had for them and their families. Many of us in the group had multiple kids under the age of five so our idea of a big dream was being able to take an uninterrupted shower and to sleep long enough at night to actually have a dream.

The following week I taught part two, I’ve Got Big Dreams…Now What?”In it I spoke about the things that happen between the time we first identify our dream and the actual fulfillment of the dream. As most of us have experienced, dreams, especially God given dreams, do not happen overnight. There is a process. I have often heard it described in terms of a pregnant woman and the stages she goes through until giving birth to the dream. Similar to pregnancy and delivery, though all woman must go through the same stages, no two stories are alike. I wonder if dreamers like to tell their dream delivery story as much as women like to tell their labor and delivery story. Have you ever noticed that? But I digress…

I had so much fun preparing and delivering that two part teaching. It blessed me so much because it truly spoke to the Girls in our group. I give God the glory for that, as there was something special about that teaching. It seemed to flow out of me easily unlike some that I have had to labor and struggle over. Over the following weeks and months I would have someone come up to me and tell me things like “I am going back to Grad school because of your teaching”, or “Your teaching gave me the courage to start my own business.” Again I say, to God be the glory!

I was so excited that God would allow me to be a part of these ladies’ dreams. I thought for sure I was going straight to my dreams as well. I was going to be the Dream Lady. I would travel and speak and encourage women to live life big and pursue their dreams. It was a very exciting time for me. I knew the path I was on and where I was heading, and it was good.

And then life happened. I won’t go into the details now but there was a five year period of struggles, loss, pain, and uncertainty. It was one thing after another. Just when I could muster up enough hope that things were looking up, something would come along and knock the wind right back out of my sails. There was no more dreaming for me. My only dream during that time was to wake up from the nightmare we were living in.

Even though we have come through the pain, loss and uncertainty- Praise God- I have found it difficult to build my faith back up in the area of my personal dreams. I have gained momentum here and there but it doesn’t seem to take much to get me off track and giving up. My once feisty and tenacious hope had grown scared and timid. My heart has been fragile and I have been guarding it pretty tight.

As Dr Phil would say “How’s that working for ya?” It isn’t. Not one bit. The pain of running from my dreams finally outweighed the pain of loss, defeat and setbacks. I decided last Saturday that if I had to experience pain regarding my dreams, I may as well chose the pain. I would rather look back on my life and see failures and setbacks than regret. Regret has got to be one of the most painful feelings of all.

So I am back to where I started over eight years ago. I’ve Got Big Dreams….Now What? I don’t know what the end looks like or what the journey entails. What I do know is that I am taking one step a day, no matter how small, towards my dreams. Today’s step is found in Zechariah 9:12 NIV Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. The New Living Translation reads I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.

I am a prisoner of hope. Now matter how hard I tried I could not free myself from the dreams in my heart. I am returning to my fortress of faith and I anxiously anticipate the blessings that are promised to those who have confident expectations in what the Lord has promised. There is plenty of room in the fortress if anyone would like to join me :).

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being my refuge and fortress in times of trouble. Thank you for holding me safely as a prisoner of hope. Thank you watching over me, protecting me, and for protecting the dreams in my heart. I let go of all the past pain, loss, and setbacks. I thank you for blessing my work and restoring back to me double for my trouble. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Return to the Fortress For You All,

Jen

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Declaration of Hope

I am sitting at my writing desk for the first time in eight months. My laptop barely fits here because I have used my desk as a dumping ground for everything from cookbooks to clothing. There are piles everywhere. I guess I was hoping the more I could cover it up, the less I would think about how I was not writing. Silly me…

I am aware just about every second of every day that I am not writing. I try to push the thoughts away. I try to justify the excuses. I try to ignore the fact that each and every day I feel as though a little part of me is slowly dying.

Think I am being dramatic? It says in Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Notice it says that hope deferred (postponed, delayed) is what makes the heart sick. It’s not the delay of the dream itself. It is the act of losing hope, of giving up, of quitting and failing to believe that the dreams in your heart are real and they will come true.

Hope is not a whimpy “cross your fingers and make a wish” thing. Hope is defined as having a confident expectation of.True hope requires grit, patience and endurance. Hope gets feisty and stands its ground when faced with adversity. Hope says “I don’t care what it looks like right now. I only care what it looks like in the end.”

I am here to declare renewed hope. I will no longer be moved by lies, circumstances, limitations, or any of the other things that have slowly chipped away at my once tenacious hope. No more heartsickness for me. How about you? Are there dreams in your heart you have lost hope in? Would you like to join me in declaring renewed hope for the things you have given up on? I would love to hear from you and pray for you.

We will put substance to our hope declarations over the next few days. We don’t have to make up for the last eight months all at once. I am not going anywhere 🙂

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are the source of all hope. I thank you for the dreams you have put in my heart. I ask you to give me renewed hope for those dreams. Thank you for believing in me when I no longer believed in myself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Declarations of Hope,

Jen

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Alumni Day

A few weeks ago we had Alumni Day at the office where we all wore something from the high school we graduated from. We also had to turn in a senior picture. We played a game where we tried to match the senior picture to the current staff person. When I turned my photo in the ladies had two responses. The first one was “Oh my goodness! Look at all of that hair!” I was truly a product of the 80’s and my hair barely fit in the picture. The second response was “Except for the hair you look the same. Everyone will recognize you right away.”

“I hope not”, I thought as I walked away. I was not referring to my appearance though. I was referring to the important part of me, the inside of me. The part that I pray is dramatically different from the big haired girl in the photo.

The girl in the photo had a lot of friends and did well in school. She had cute clothes and a cool car. She had a busy social life and a good and stable home life. From all outward appearances she had it all. On the inside however she was a hot mess. She struggled with insecurity. She struggled with depression. She struggled with body image. All these struggles led her to make some very bad choices and decisions as a young adult.

I would like to think I am dramatically different from that insecure big haired girl, but to be honest with you I often find myself revisiting the same issues I have had for years. I think I have just learned how to deal with them (and hide them) a little better. I still struggle with insecurity, am prone to depression, and have to fight daily to make peace with my body. It’s exhausting at times.

The good news is that even though I still struggle from time to time with these same issues, I don’t respond to them the way I once did. I don’t let them control me and I don’t allow them to drive me towards bad decisions (most the time :). In fact, it is often my struggles and weaknesses that provide the most ministering opportunities.

We are told in 2 Corinthians that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. Sometimes we have to receive that truth in faith. The enemy loves to remind us of our past. He especially loves to point out our current mistakes as he whispers things like “Look at you, you will never change. You are still the same old mess you used to be. In fact, you are worse because now you are trying to act like you are different but you are nothing but a phony. If anyone knew the real you they would see that you are still the same insecure out of control girl you have always been. You may as well give up and give in.”

If the father of lies has been telling you that you will never change, that you will never be good enough, or that you are just one mistake away from ever receiving anymore of God’s grace,take some time to meditate on the truth of Gods word that says you are in fact a new creation and your old life is behind you. When God looks at you today He sees you as a new creation. You have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and you can go boldly before Him at the throne of grace and pour your heart out to Him. You never have to spend another minute feeling as though you are not good enough!

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, a new life has begun. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Love, Grace, and a Fresh Start to You All,

Jen

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A Final Lesson on Faith

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last blog.” Even though I am not Catholic, that is the confession that runs through my mind daily. The confession is accompanied by feelings of frustration and guilt. I have a few friends that refer to themselves as recovering Catholics. They tell me I would have been a great one since I am naturally hard on myself, feel the need to confess all of my shortcomings to everyone all the time, and feel guilty about just about everything- including the fact that I feel guilty because a “true” Christian should fully understand that there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ. But I digress…

We have had a beautiful fall and I have been able to paddleboard through last week so I thought I would share one final lesson on Faith. I went out one night last week and was surprised to find the waves choppier than I had imagined. It didn’t seem very windy out but the lake was rough. The time seemed to drag on and I wasn’t really enjoying myself. The only reason I kept going was the fact that I knew it could very well be my final ride of the year.

In order to keep myself out there I set the timer on my phone. I had to keep paddling for another 20 minutes before I could turn around and head home. The time dragged on and I kept checking the time every five minutes. Suddenly I hit this calm, smooth as glass area on the lake. I had been on glass like water before but there was something different about this moment. Other times I could see the smooth surface ahead and it was like a goal to reach it. However this time it seemed to appear out of the blue, like a little reward or blessing out of nowhere.
I stopped paddling and just enjoyed the stillness of it all. I was the only one on the lake. The only one floating on this little spot of glass surrounded by rough water. For a moment I felt peace I hadn’t felt in awhile and I didn’t want to leave it.

I think faith is often just like my ride. We find ourselves in rougher water than we expected to be in. The time in this rough water seems to drag on forever and we keep asking ourselves and God when the timer will sound and we can go back home. Then suddenly, out of nowhere we find ourselves on smooth water again. We get our breakthrough, a reprieve, an answered prayer, or simply a feeling of peace we have been longing for. And when we find it, we just want to stay there.

The life of faith doesn’t work like that though. Just as I had to leave the glass and paddle home, we don’t get to stay in that easy place for long. Life has a new set of waves rolling our way. The Good News is, once we experience the peace of still waters, we can carry that peace with us into the waves because we know that at any moment God will deliver us once again and bring us to that place of stillness and rest.

What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely to harbor! Psalm 107:30

If you find yourself in rough waters today, please know that the the Lord will most certainly calm the waters and bring you safely into harbor. He will offer you peace and rest. He will be your refuge and hiding place. Though you may feel like you have been waiting forever, at just the right time, you will be delivered, and you will find a peace you have not experienced before. He will never fail you, forsake you, or leave you. He has not abandoned you and He hears your cries for help. Hold on to his promises and you will find yourself floating on smooth waters of peace!

Love, Grace, and Smooth Waters For You All,

Jen

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Leash Walking

My one year old Mastiff Nana tore her ACL this summer and had to have surgery. During her recovery period she must be brought outside on a leash at all times and is not allowed to run or play. We are four and a half weeks into the eight weeks of recovery. Each day is gets harder and harder for us to control Nana on the leash. She is feeling good and wants to run into the woods. The air is so crisp and fresh and the woods have all kinds of animal activity this time of year. She sees the squirrels collecting acorns and wants to chase them. She hears the turkeys and wants to chase them. She sees the family of deer down by the lake and wants to chase them. It doesn’t matter what it is, she simply wants to run.

There are two things we can do to help us all survive this eight weeks. The first thing is to buy a lot of bones and chew toys. Giving her things to chew on help her focus and channel some energy. The other thing we do each day is sedate her with a prescription from the vert. We give her just enough pills to make her lazy and sleepy, but not so much that she is completely out of it. It sounds horrible and I do hate the thought of having to do it each day, but the day we didn’t do it she ran all over the house and showed signs of re-injury. Sedating her appears to be our only option.

Sometimes I feel like my life is in a recovery period. I feel as though I am not free to run and chase after the things that are in my heart. Though I feel like I am strong and ready to run, I sense the leash is still on telling me “not yet”. It feels frustrating and unfair sometimes, and though I don’t understand I simply have to trust that God is still working in me, and preparing me for the things that are to come.

Similar to Nana’s survival plan, I have found there are two things I can do to survive this leash-walk period of my life. The first thing is to meditate, or chew on God’s word. When I meditate on God’s promises I find it easier to focus my energy towards the day set before me rather than worry about what may or may not happen down the road. The other thing I do is my own form of sedation- prayer. It brings me a peace and calm that settles my anxious heart and brings me back to the present rather than dwelling on the past or looking towards the future.

You know, I just realized something. Unlike with Nana, there will never be a day when God suddenly takes me off the leash and tells me to run ahead of him. He will always be my guide and my leader. Maybe that is what I need to embrace more than anything. Maybe instead of feeling as though I am being “restrained”, I need to realize that I am being “lead”. God is not holding me back from my dreams. We are walking slowly and steadily on the path he has set before me. And the best part is, when it is time to run, he will still be there alongside me every step of the way. I will never again be left on my own.

I hope you all got something out of that because I just preached myself happy! I just went from feeling alone and restrained to feeling loved and cared for by a Father that loves us too much to let us simply wander off on our own. God is good, all the time…

Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:4-5

Love, Grace, and a Leash-Walk Day to You All,

Jen

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Get Back in the Game

I entered a writing contest at the last minute Sunday night. It was due at 10pm and I hit send at 9:59. It was the first contest I have entered in exactly three years. Last time I entered I was so hopeful and had this sure feeling that I was going to win. That feeling turned out to be wishful thinking. It was also the last little bit of wind I had left in my sails after a series of disappointing events. After that I no longer dared to dream in regards to my writing, or pretty much anything for that matter.
As I hit send Sunday night a rush of excitement, anticipation, and energy rushed through me. I thought, “This is it. This is really going to happen this time”. It’s not that my story was even that great. It just, I don’t know, felt like maybe all of my stars were finally aligning and this was going to be the big bang that kicked it off. I can’t really put it into words properly.
I found out on Tuesday night that I did not place in the top three for the contest. I was disappointed, but not crushed. I haven’t had the heart to read the top three winning stories yet, but I will. I just need a little time to celebrate the part that truly matters at his moment, which is the fact that I took myself off the bench and got back in the game.
I have felt like I have been living life from the sidelines for a few years now. Sure, I needed to rest and catch my breath. I had to allow some time for my emotional and spiritual injuries to heal. And I needed to study the playbook a little harder. The problem is, the longer I sat on the bench, the more I believed that maybe the Coach was the one that had taken me out of the game, or traded me for a better player. A player that didn’t make so many mistakes, the same mistakes, over and over again. As much as I wanted to play, I felt like the Brett Favre of Christian writing and speaking.
If you are at all familiar with the Bible, you have most likely heard the story of Sarah and Abraham. Abraham was told by God, before he ever had any children, that he would be the father of many nations. In fact, he changed Abraham’s name from Abram to Abraham because the name Abraham literally translates to “father of many nations” in the Hebrew language. For years when Abraham introduced himself he would be saying “I am the father of many nations”, yet when they would ask to meet his family he would have to respond and say “well technically I don’t have any children yet”. I can only imagine how embarrassing that must have been.
I can also imagine how horrible it must have been for Sarah each month as she realized yet another month had gone by and she was not pregnant. Month after month, year after year, she would feel like a failure. I can picture her looking at Abraham and shaking her head no without saying a word. I can picture Abraham hanging his head down wondering if he had misunderstood what God had promised.
Sarah eventually got tired of feeling like a failure and took herself out of the game. Not only did she take herself out of the game, but she also found her replacement. Sarah sat on the sideline and sent her servant Hagar to sleep with Abraham. Seemed like a great idea. Sarah was too old to play and Hagar was still in her prime. Sure enough Hagar became pregnant and gave birth to a son. It didn’t take long for Sarah to regret her decision as she realized she was not meant to sit on the bench- even if her body told her she was too old to play.
God in his mercy honored his word and later blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son of their own. I can imagine how difficult it was for Sarah to get back in the game. I wonder if she got to a point like I did, where it was more miserable to sit on the bench watching others live her dream, than it was to suffer some disappointments and long periods of patient(okay IMpatient) waiting.
When God puts a dream and desire in our heart, he promises to be our Coach for life. He will never bench us. He will never trade us for a new rookie. He will never ever give up on us. If it seems like we have been sidelined we need to trust that he is simply giving us time to rest and catch our breath. And while we are there we should study the Playbook so when its time we can hit the field running.

The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised Genesis 21:1

Girls, God loves you just as much as he loved Sarah. Trust the promises he has whispered to your heart. Trust that you will always be his star quarterback and you will never be permanently benched. Stand up, take a deep breath, and get back in the game!

Love, Grace, and a Great Day to Get Back in The Game,

Jen

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The Mother of All Lists

Yesterday I shared with you the struggle I had been having with The List. It is the list of “should” and “should not’s”, the contestant chatter in my mind, I often torment myself with. Reading yesterday’s blog you may have wondered what The List had to do with our study of women of the Bible.
Let me introduce you to the mother of all lists found in the Bible. Let me introduce you to the Proverbs 31 woman.
The famous, or often in my opinion infamous Proverbs 31 woman sets the standard for all godly woman. It is a list of all she does. Some of her to-do’s include finding and spinning wool and flax, bringing exotic foods from far away places in order to make her family amazing dinners, researching and investing in property- property that she builds a vineyard on in order to generate ongoing revenue, all while being so nice to her husband and kids that they actually arise and call her blessed in the morning. Can you imagine what this woman’s pinterest board would have looked like?
Let me share with you a glimpse of how her list translates in my home. She buys flax because she read it is very healthy for you and has every intention of putting it in her smoothies but she is too rushed in the morning to actually make the smoothie so the flax goes bad. She drives to Trader Joe’s to get a variety of exotic nuts and dried fruit for her family to snack on while she makes one of the five homemade meals in her monthly rotation. She would love to plant a garden but can’t even keep a cactus alive. Her kids arise and ask if she has signed their field trip forms while her husband still sleeps.
When I compare my list to the Proverbs 31 woman list I could easily get discouraged, and for years that is exactly how I felt. I would avoid that chapter in my Bible at all costs and if anyone made reference to her I would tune out so all I could hear was the teachers voice from Charlie Brown.
Then one day I actually had the courage to read the entire list all the way to the end. When I did I noticed something. I noticed that there was one thing that I could do. The best part is I truly believe it is the most important item on the list. I believe that by doing this one thing, we will find strength to do all the others. Maybe they won’t look quite like the woman in the Bible, but they will be the 21st century version of her.
Do you want to know what the most important thing on the list is? It is found in Proverbs 31:30b:

A woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30b

Fear of the LORD simply means to worship him with awe and reverence. It means to acknowledge that he is God and He is awesome, glorious, beautiful, and worthy of our praise.
When we live a life of worship, the list goes from being overwhelming to doable. It also helps us prioritize the list and be happy with our own versions of the Proverbs 31 woman.
I know one of the biggest struggles for women is finding the time to sit at the feet of Jesus and surrender our lists to Him. We love the idea of it but are simply too busy to do it. I encourage you all to take the time each morning or right before bed to surrender your list and thank Jesus for helping you take care of those He has entrusted to you. It will make your life so much more enjoyable. I don’t know why I allow myself to suffer a few days before I take extra time to do it myself, but I hope you learn from my mistakes and try it for yourselves.

Grace, Love, and Another Day to Surrender Your List,

Jen

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The List

Another week has gone by and this is the first I have sat down to write. Every morning I say I am going to write when I get home from work. Every night I go to bed frustrated as I struggle to figure out how to fit all the things I want and need to do into each day.
As each day of the week came and went I found myself getting more frustrated and depressed. My mind was constantly racing with The List. You know The List- the list of things we should and should not do.
It sounds something like this: “I should stop at Target on my way home tonight so I don’t have to do it tomorrow. I should have taken out that pound of ground beef so it was thawed for tonight. I should sit down and write tonight. I should not have eaten that. I should work out. I should work out my upper body. I should work out my core. I should work out my lower body. Oh forget it- there are just too many body parts that need work, I can’t do them all so I am not going to bother with any. I should throw in that load of laundry. I should lose ten pounds. I should have worked out at least one stupid body part. I should have prayed more today. I should quite my job. I should be grateful and thankful for my job.”
The List is exhausting and never-ending. It robs me of the ability to enjoy the present and steals my peace for the future. As much as I know the list is bad for me I struggle to stop it. The list makes it impossible for me to just be still. I get so exhausted from the list that I don’t have the energy to even take care of anything on the list. From the minute I wake up in the morning to the minute I lay my head down the list tries to take over my mind.
I’ll be honest with you- I don’t like to admit that I struggle with this. I would much prefer to let you all think I have it all together and I have all the answers. There is a part of me that fears that when I share the struggles I will be disqualified as a woman of God who has anything to offer anyone else.
But I named my website What Real Women Do and you know what- I know I am not the only real woman that is tormented by The List. Sure, your list may look different from mine, but I imagine the impact it has on your ability to enjoy the moment is the same. Maybe if we all come clean and admit we have lists that drive us crazy, we can help each other ditch the lists!
I know God wants us to ditch the lists. Jesus hung on the cross so we would no longer need to live a life of should and should not’s, of lists, rules, and regulations. Jesus ditched the list for us. Now we need to keep our thoughts on Him and off our lists. He will help us put our lists in order. He will show us where we need to put our time, energy, and focus. The thing is- we need to sit still long enough to hear His voice. It cannot be heard above the ramblings of The List.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting (not exhausting) way. Psalm 139: 23-24 NASB version with an added parenthesis by me ☺

Girls, if you are struggling with lists of your own, take some time to be still before God. Write down everything that comes to mind on the list and then tear it up and turn it over to the One that freed us from worry, anxiety, fear, and lists!

Love, Grace, and a Great Day to Ditch the List,

Jen

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