Cease Striving

Cease-Striving-Pin-166x300Growing up, I can remember knowing my very young mother felt compelled to prove to a harsh and judgmental world that she could be the mother everyone seemed to doubt her capable of being.

The compulsion created a pressure, whether perceived or real, in me to perform, to help my mother to show the world she would not be defeated, that she could accomplish what no one seemed to think she could.

It was like honey for my soul, as people would acknowledge my hard work, my “perfect” behavior, my conformity…

Soon, the voice driving me was less from my mother, less an effort to prove anything on her behalf and more loudly bellowing from within.

Thundering from inside, my voice telling me I had to do it all, prove to the imposing world I could do it, that I had it all together, and my life was a flawless stream of perfection.

I wasn’t good enough in my own mind, so I was driven to prove myself wrong.

Add in the pressures of a commercialized Christmas to the mix, and my perfectly groomed gingerbread house comes crumbling down. Something had to change.

Cease striving.

Through my relationship with Jesus, I began to find freedom and actual joy in who I am, as a new creation. I found peace in Whose I am. I began to trust the truth of me being enough, and more importantly He is enough. That quieted the demanding shouts of that same imposing world.

The demanding and critical voice inside my head urging me to perform, perform, perform, quieted. It was through relationship with Jesus, the grace and the mercy and the beautiful love He showered on me, I discovered I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. My validation comes from Him.

Cease striving.

So when I visited the retail giant this year in July (July?! Really?!), when the stores started inundating us with all their Christmas wares, taunting the recovering type-A control freak perfectionist in me, urging me to forget Who I belong to, tempting me to see the waves instead of the Savior, I had to reset my focus. Continue Reading at StephanieKAdams.com

Life gets tedious but I have this Anchor

“Life gets tedious”, as a dear friend and I like to say to one another, reminding each other that life can get to a place where it’s a bit tough to handle. That same friend and I even share a little frazzled hand gesture (similar to spirit fingers, but not quite) to represent that tedium of life when we share the phrase. We actually borrowed the gesture from a lady acquaintance with a bit more life experience than the two of us. Between us, sharing it, we know that it means life is a bit troublesome at this moment, but that’s life, right? We can easily commiserate with the struggle.

Doesn’t it though? Get tedious, I mean. Aren’t there times when life seems to pile up on top of us like a giant, stinky pile of rubbish? I mean, doesn’t life seem to crash around us at times, drowning out the very air we breathe? Can you sometimes almost feel the waves storming in the raging sea that sometimes seems to sum up life in the moment?  Do you want to, at times, just gasp for breath and exclaim, “ENOUGH!!”
Is that just me?
I really doubt it.

Sometimes I feel like I virtually need to divide myself into 3 segments, give or take about 20, just to be in all the places and accommodate all the demands placed on me at a particular moment?  Sick family members, increased work load, school forms-orders-money, attending functions, preparing for meetings, ministry work, time with God, time with family, time with friends, dealing with my own illness… literally juggling all the demands, so nothing hits the ground… gasp,  left undone, undealt with.  When things get into a routine and the machine works like a charm, all is well, but, boy oh boy, you throw in a couple of wrenches… and let the havoc unravel.

I think there is an incorrect notion out there, that once we become followers of Christ, that we have this perfect little life and everything goes right, and we handle every situation with grace and mercy and love, perfectly.  I have people tell me that it seems I have it “all together”. I guess I can see where it might appear that way.  I do work hard to establish certain efficiencies.  I organize my life, and I plan ahead, and I work diligently to think through and mitigate every preconceived negative outcome.  I am a relentless, Type-A, recovering  control freak.  I’m working on it. (See older posts for more details there.)

But still, my life turns to what feels like complete chaos in the blink of an eye, just like the next guy.

I have points in my life where I hit the end of myself and I throw my hands up and say, “I just can’t handle any more, not one more thing!!” Really.

Fortunately, I have a God who can, He can handle that and so much more.

I have a God who lets me get to the end of myself, so I can see where He is, where He’s been all along and where He is waiting for me to just give it to Him.  Friends, God WILL give us more than we can handle.  Let me say that again because I have heard people say otherwise, God WILL give us more than we can handle. If not, relentless, Type-A, recovering  control freaks such as myself, would never get to a point of relying on God.

In this world, we WILL have trouble. We will have storms. We will have battles. We will have more than we can handle.  We will have things pop up that demand our attention and our prioritization.  We will have sickness.  We will have lost keys.  We will have late night ER visits.  We will have weariness. We will have tedium. BUT we can take heart, because the One we follow, the One whose child we are, the One who can quiet those very storms, HE has overcome the world.  This tedium I face, that we all face, hasn’t caught HIM off guard, not like it tends to catch me off guard.

When those storms inevitably come (and I promise you, they will), we need to find a way to keep from drifting from the very source of peace and rest, that very peace that He promises us.  You know, that place where we can run and not grow weary.  We can walk and not grow faint.  We can soar on wings like eagles.  He promises that if we come to Him, when we’re weary and burdened, He will give us rest.  He promises that if we trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding, that He will make our crazy, crooked and tedious path straight.  He promises that if we pray to Him and make our requests known to Him, that He will give us a peace that surpasses understanding. He promises that we can cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.

Doesn’t that sounds amazing?!!  It’s a way out of the tedium, but how?

We need to keep from getting bogged down and focused on our circumstances, the turmoil, the waves crashing around us, the giant pile of rubbish, and set our focus on the One who has overcome all that.


Hebrews 6:19

Hebrews 6:19

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

What hope? It’s the hope of a promise being fulfilled. It’s a hope that comes from trusting that the One who promised is faithful. This world, this place, full of sin and muck, is not our home. Our home is with Him, and He promised that, so it will be.

So, that hope, the hope of a promise fulfilled is an anchor for the soul.

An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, used to connect a vessel (love this word choice here) to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. The word derives from Latin ancora, which itself comes from the Greek agkura.

To paraphrase, an anchor is something solid that connects a vessel to the foundation so that it won’t drift during the storm.

To take it a bit deeper (you see what I did there?), an anchor translates to the Greek as Agkura (anchor)from the same word as agkale’, which means “an arm, especially as bent to receive a burden.”

Do you see what He did there?  He gave us this anchor (hope) as His own arm bent and ready to receive our burden.  You see, my friends, we don’t have to carry it.  We don’t have to handle it all perfectly.  We don’t have to juggle it all.  We have to learn how to give it to His bent arm.

My advice to you is to take your eye off the storm, grab onto your Anchor for dear life.  Let your Anchor stop the drift during that storm.  I’m going to work on doing the same.

And I’m ok with that,
Jenn

Waiting on a Joshua moment… when I should be waiting on a Jennifer moment

It took me reading a random stranger’s blog post shared by a dear friend for me to have some powerful revelation, and I mean what I read blew me over, slapped my face and knocked some sense into me.  Fortunately, her blog spring-boarded me into an intimate conversation with God about what has been going on with me.  You see, I have been sitting here on this rock in a raging river, waiting for God to tell me when to step onto the next rock that’s not there yet, a true Joshua moment type of thing, cause I just love that story.  Somehow, even though I have personally shared some of the amazing truths about Joshua’s miracle, I missed some of the most important aspects as they relate to me.  Let me start at the beginning cause I think I might be babbling.

Since hearing it, I’ve always admired Joshua’s story.  He had experienced exile in Egypt, lived through the many plagues that helped the Israelites to escape the tight-fisted grip of Pharaoh, witnessed the miracle of God parting the Red Sea in order to allow Israel safe passage and escape from the Egyptians pursuing them.  It was unimaginable what took place, truly miraculous and clearly (as in, no doubt, whatsoever) an act of God. Joshua was one of the chosen men sent to explore the Promised Land (hear that? PROMISED Land!) with the others and saw how much more equipped their adversaries seemed, yet going against the grain with his pal, Caleb, risking alienation and mockery, he rested in God’s promise of that very land.

Joshua had trusted that very same, miraculous God to make a way for them to get there.  When they came to the Jordan River, Joshua trusted the same God he’d witnessed part the Red Sea to make a way for them.  This time though, The Lord did not part the waters ahead of them.

 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’” (Joshua 3:7-8, NIV)

And Joshua trusted.

Joshua had been given a promise, a commandment to Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, NIV)

And Joshua trusted.

Though the raging waters did not part.  Though the priests carried the very ark of the covenant.  Though logic would tell him and all the others otherwise, he trusted.  And, because he trusted, he was one of two (plus those who were underage at the time when they set out on the 40 years tour of the wilderness) from the original group of exiles to actually step foot into the Promised Land. Because Joshua trusted.

I love that story.  I love Joshua’s faith.  I love that God did… a new thing.  I have shared that very same truth, I don’t know how many times, but have somehow missed just how significant that is, until Mary DeMuth shared her blog, “Hurting”. She started by sharing the NLT translation of a portion of Isaiah 43.

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    Israel’s Creator and King.
16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
    making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
    with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
    their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

18 But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
    the jackals and owls, too,
    for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
    so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21 I have made Israel for myself,
    and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

How have I missed it?

Moses’ moment was for that time, for God’s purpose, to glorify God through Moses.
Joshua’s moment was for that time, for God’s purpose, to glorify God through Joshua.
Jennifer’s moment will be for this time, for God’s purpose, to glorify God through me.

I’ve been sitting here waiting for a burning bush, for the sea to part, for God to call me out upon the waters, for Jesus to walk by that I might touch the hem of His robe, for God to strike me blind, something, any one of the miracles I have read about.  I’ve been waiting on everyone else’s moments, but I haven’t trusted that He has one for me, one that is unique to me and specific for my need and His purpose through me.

My doctor has told me that I have an incurable, quite resilient-to-treatment auto-immune disease.  This disease is at times debilitating, extremely painful and extremely discouraging.  The fact that my body is fighting back against extreme and serious treatment is frustrating and disheartening.  Though I do have to admire the zeal with which my body does battle.  I have been in an active flare since 2009.  I wasn’t successfully diagnosed until 2013, which is when treatment began.  Though I rebuke the claim that it is incurable because I serve a Mighty Physician who can, in fact, heal me.  I also know that His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts, so I trust that He may or may not heal me before my arrival at my final Destination, but I am claiming healing.  I am expecting a miracle, a miracle that He has prepared for me.  I’m going to stop looking for an antidote of “if this, then God does this…” or “if that, then God does this instead…”  I am going to set God free from this box I have placed Him in and just let Him be God instead of me, cause He is unbelievably and indescribably better at it than me and better, in fact, than I could ever imagine.  Miracle

That being said, I am pretty sure He just wants to me free-fall into His arms and quit looking for bushes or parted seas or rocks or for a robe and just fall into His loving arms. And trust Him.

And I am OK with that.
Jenn

The bumps along Perfect Road

It was a rough blow.  Something so unexpected and sudden.  It launched me off the perfect little course I was on.

And it hurt.

Bad.

I wanted to just curl up in a ball and pretend it never happened.  Pretend I hadn’t heard those words, those words that had no place in my perfect little picture. It’s amazing how much impact words can have.  How much they can change things.

I was pretty certain that the ground I had been standing on, shattered beneath my feet.  What I had conceived in my mind as what was supposed to be, had been warped and distorted from the image that I had cooked up.  What do I do with these shattered pieces?  How do I recover my footing on this shaky ground?  How do I fix this?  How do I pick up the pieces and move forward?

After all, it’s all up to me to fix it, right?

When my idea of perfect and actuality collide...I have to confess, the only way that it could be fixed in my mind was for things to be perfect again. That’s right, for things to be fixed, things needed to be restored to how they were before… before everything suddenly wasn’t.   I needed to be unhurt.

That’s what it came down to, really.  When you wipe away the ick and the muck and look at it from my perspective, and if I allow myself to be really real about it, I can acknowledge that I was holding out for that repair.  Unhurt me, please.  And give me assurances that it won’t happen ever again.  Make me whole and fix this mess and it can be like it was and everything will be all better.

Unfortunately, in that context all the steps in the right direction are made obsolete in the shadow of one error, one slip, one imperfection. Every step, every word, every action gets weighed against my warped perception of what will keep me from experiencing that hurt ever again.  Trust moves to the back burner, as I demand proof through perfect actions that it won’t happen again, because words mean nothing. In my head, I can hear the blaring monologue, “If you cared enough, loved me enough, if I had enough value….”  oh.  That sure is a lot of pressure to put on a person.

As I’ve gotten further from that point of impact (when things got a bit out of my control), I’ve had the opportunity for some powerful revelation regarding my less than perfect reaction to the situation here.  I said that I forgave.  Forgiveness is a choice, right?  Forgiveness doesn’t mean the hurt wasn’t real, right?  Forgiveness releases me from the prison of bitterness and resentment, right?

That is how it’s supposed to work, but when you cling to pieces and use them to remind, punish and control, how much forgiveness has really taken place??  How can I release the person with forgiveness and hold it over their head at the same time?  It’s not possible. I was out of line.  I hadn’t forgiven. I had only said the words, while harboring a bitter root and justified it with the desire for a restored perfection.

Only one problem, it wasn’t ever perfect to begin with.

It wasn’t ever meant to be perfect.  Human relationships aren’t perfect.  People are involved, and we are not perfect.  Regardless of how I work to prevent the hurt, hurt will happen, when you love, when your heart is exposed and you let another person in, you will be hurt.

I’ve spent a lifetime of placing demands on people in my life that are impossible to meet. I’ve counted on people to make me whole, to fill that gaping God-sized abyss inside of me.  I demanded it of them in their actions, words, deeds, sentiments.  I expected them to be my perfect protection from hurt.  Not surprisingly, they have all fallen short, and the correlation that I’ve drawn in my head between them falling short and me not being good enough, valuable enough, worthy is a bogus correlation.  It’s not their job to fill my God-abyss.  He alone can fill it.  He alone can make me whole. AND He can throw in using even my hurt for good, just cause He is able.

In retrospect, I realize that my expectations helped shatter things and worse, a lack of true forgiveness kept things shattered.   My withheld trust and ridiculously high demands couldn’t be met.  My bitter root festered and invaded many aspect of the relationship. Sin through unforgiveness has tendrils…

It’s OK not to be perfect.  Instead of approaching people, expecting them to take on the role of God in my life, I am going to expect God and treat people the way God approaches me.  I am so grateful that His glorious grace extends beyond my imperfections, that He made a way for wholeness through Him despite me being an icky mess.  He could justifiably harbor a grudge against me for my sin and inadequacy.  He didn’t have to grant me His grace, and His mercy is the best protection I could ask for.  I need to approach people, trusting God to take care of me, even in the hurt.  He’s got me.  That will free me up to just be in relationship with people, broken people just walking out this thing called life.  We are called to relationship with people.  He doesn’t promise they will be perfect, but He promises to be there with us, and we can let Him be perfect.  We can just be “broken together” as this Casting Crowns song suggests.

And I’m Ok with that…
Jenn

Control is an illusion…

God is REALLY in control

God is REALLY in control

Really, the title should read “The concept of me being in control is an illusion…”, but that seemed a bit excessive, so I pared it down to be just that control is an illusion, but my “should be title” is implied.

What is it about control that makes me think it’s something “I” can achieve, conquer, contain, manipulate, decide, or master?  {EEK!}  I often describe myself as a recovering control freak.   As such, I’ve teetered around actually writing this post for weeks now.  It’s been stirring in my heart, my mind, my spirit, begging for release.  I’ve referenced it in my other blog posts, saying I would get to it.  I have been told that I have been disobedient in this call to share. (I stick my tongue out in your general direction–you know who you are. I know, I know… Holy Spirit.)  I’ve been running from the topic, cause I have suspected that God plans to work in me through it (nope, no problem with control here… sarcasm).  Delayed obedience is still obedience, right? Well….

I have been called to share my revelation regarding this truth:  Control is an illusion.

I know, my Type-A readers, that is a  disturbing, shocking, startling and really irritating truth for me to blatantly put out there, but despite our outrageous attempts to assert ourselves, anticipate and dictate outcomes, organize, make lists, prepare, plan, train people, coerce people, line everything up, do all the leg work, run, swim, fly, walk, crawl…    that feeling that I’ve got it under control is an illusion.  That control that we (talking to my other “recovering” control freaks out there) have worked diligently to maintain and cling to–It’s an illusion.

What are we doing to ourselves????

Control is a dreadful mirage in a barren desert, where you will end up weary and thirsty and worn, if you continue to pursue it.  All the anticipating and planning and mitigating leaves us ridiculously tired, and still, do we really have control of the outcome?

I have chased that mirage for years and years and years and finally am awakening to the Truth of Scripture.

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

God is in control.  Not me.  Not you.  God.
My perception of me being in control is an illusion.

That means that all my asserting, anticipating, dictating, organizing, list making, preparing, planning, training, coercing, lining up, doing, running, swimming, flying, walking, and crawling, are in vain.  I’m not saying I should be a lazy lump of nothingness, not doing anything or following God’s call for my life.  I am not saying that for you either.  We are called to be obedient and act.  We are just also asked to trust God with the outcome.  We just plant the seeds, He makes them grow.

What we really need to do is search our hearts for why we are doing whatever it is we are doing, a test, if you will.  I need to stop and ask myself what my motivation is.
Am I serving God and giving Him all the glory OR am I trying to be validated in some way, recognized for all MY hard work?  Hm.
Am I praying expectantly and leaving the results to God OR am I trying to manipulate the outcome with an assertion of my will?  Um.
Am I trusting that God really has got this OR am I trying desperately to mitigate every situation in my life so that I can circumnavigate suffering, so I don’t have to hurt??  Er.
Am I trusting that God is good OR am I trying to prove that I am good enough??? Sigh.
Am I treating God as “I AM” OR am I putting God in a box by saying that I am????  Ouch.

I’m pretty sure I failed that test.  If I am working hard to manipulate scenarios in my life to be validated or prevent some anticipated, yet still just imagined hurt, then I am not trusting GOD with the outcomes HE has planned.  That means I not trusting HIS promise told through the prophet Jeremiah?  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (29:11).  

Lord, forgive my lack of faith.

Not only is control an illusion, cause He truly does establish my steps and my outcomes, but it is a sinful, faithless slap in God’s face.

Not only is the lack of trust sin, but while I am doing all that planning and preparing and anticipating, I am most likely delaying my response time.  He is saying “Go!” and I am saying, “In a minute, let me just…”  Delayed obedience, as a result of perceived control.

I may be further along in my control freak recovery than I was years ago, but I can see now that I am still bound to it.  As I’ve typed and my heart palpitated at the thought of giving it all to God, my realization that I am still very much a control freak became painfully obvious.  I am not doing well in my “recovery”.

I can hear God whispering to me, “Jennifer, it’s okay not to be perfect.”
“Jennifer, I’ve got this, for real though.”
“Jennifer, I will use even the suffering for my glory and for your good, because you love Me and are called to My service.”

So, I am challenged to seriously cut back on my asserting, anticipating, dictating, organizing, list making, preparing, planning, training, coercing, lining up, doing, running, swimming, flying, walking, and crawling.  Some is good to carry out His plan and do it well, but not to the level I have taken it and certainly not with any of the self-serving motivation.   I am challenged to listen for His prompting to go and to do and quit getting bogged down in anticipating the outcome, thereby paralyzing myself before I even act.  Because then I am getting NOTHING done!

Quit trying to control it all, Jennifer, just trust Him and step out onto the raging river, knowing that He’s got this!  He’ll either put a rock there or He’ll rescue me from the depths or He’ll let me float on down a ways, but if I wait to be obedient until I have handcrafted a life vest and a boat and called in for helicopter rescue and sent up flares, I have most likely missed countless opportunities to do His work, the work He told me to just GO and do, now.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Will you join me in breaking the chains of perceived control in our lives and stepping into the freedom that He has purchased for us?  I am ready to stop my delayed obedience and willful control since really, who am I kidding, His outcomes are so much better and the delay is really just disobedience… i.e. sin.

And I’m NOT okay with that…
Jennifer

When the storm comes…

As a weather aficionado, I tend to perk up when I hear descriptions, analogies and puns involving the weather. I can’t even make simple small-talk regarding the weather because, for me, weather is serious business.  For example, a conversation with me might sound something like this…


 

Random person: Lovely weather we are having, isn’t it?
Me: With the frontal passage behind us, we find ourselves under a nice high pressure system, which should keep things mild for a while, but as the disturbance in the Pacific makes its way ashore, we can expect another plunge, thanks to the jet stream.
Random person: Ummm, yeah, have a nice day.

Or how about this one…

Random other person (since the first one doesn’t talk to me about weather now): Look at those pretty clouds!
Me: Oh, yes! Cirrocumulus clouds with some iridescence and contrails.  Whoa, is that a solar halo!?  Oh, and is that a circumzenithal arc?  And those crepuscular rays are magnificent!
Random other person: I was going to say, looks like a rabbit.
Me: Oh, yes, pretty clouds.


 

I am not sure why I am wired with this freakish obsession with weather.  I am not sure why weather small-talk is an absolute impossibility where I am concerned.  I AM sure that weather is one of my love languages.  I know that Doctors Chapman and Campbell didn’t mention that one when they discussed the 5 Love Languages, but I promise it is one.   It’s rare, but it’s mine.  You see, even though I obsess over the science of the weather and know generally what causes certain things to happen in the meteorological realm, there is an unpredictability and an I’m-not-in-control (again, another post, another time) element that points me right at God.  Again, it’s my love language.

When a cool (loosely translated as anything weather-related that is out of the ordinary) weather event occurs, I can generally be found gawking at it, taking a picture of it, or reporting about it, or more likely, all of the above.  It fascinates me.  It draws me in.  I love it!  It’s this unbelievable passion that stirs inside of me.  He (God) speaks to me through the storm.  I’m not the only one though.  Countless stories and references in Scripture look to the storm, the sky, a cloud… and see God.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1 (NIV)
He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Psalm 107:25 (NLT)
Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. Exodus 9:23-24 (NASB)
There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. Isaiah 4:6 (ESV)
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29 (ESV)

I could go on all day, and the Word of God is absolutely overflowing with these meteorological gems, but let me try to get to a point here.  Each reference to a cloud or hail or lightning or a whirlwind or tempest, it speaks to me deeply and resonates in my Spirit.  God, You’re speaking my language.  I mean, You really get me.  I hear what He’s saying.when the storm comes 4 blog

So, my real point… over the Thanksgiving holiday week, during the hustle and bustle of dinner prep and joyous family time and shopping craziness, I found myself in a storm.  I’m not talking about a little dust devil here, I am talking about an EF-5 tornado, figuratively speaking of course.  I was walking on this one road and had all my plans, all my steps all laid out.  I knew what we were doing.  I had established my time frame for getting it all done and things were good. We had even purchased our Thanksgiving pheasant.  Don’t ask. Then, out of the blue (as it often happens), this storm rolled in with it’s crashing waves and roaring thunder and devastating wind, and I found myself in the middle of it.  One phone call and there I was launched by a ferocious storm onto an entirely different road.  God has a way of taking us off of our comfortable road and launching onto His path, doing His Will.

My pastor often tells us that if we aren’t currently in a storm, we are either just coming out of one or will be heading into one.  Yes, In this world we WILL have trouble. As I took the call, the blood drained from my face, my heart sank into my toes, my stomach did somersaults, the walls came crashing in around me, my breathing shallowed as my chest tightened, the hail had already started, the tornado wasn’t far behind… as hard news was shared with an even harder delivery.  My life was suddenly on a different course.  My steps were clearly being ordered by God.

Relatively quick and very prayerful decisions were made with my husband, and it was agreed that I would go. I needed to be there.  Someone needed to be there to take care of things, to advocate, to shine Jesus into the situation.  I needed to go.  All else, all the other plans, they had to wait.  So I went.

But, I was going to be walking into a catastrophic storm.  The Lord said “Go!” so I went.

When you’re launched into a storm, and your only hope is Jesus, it is very tempting to perceive that He is sleeping and want to shake Him awake, “Teacher, do you not care that [I] am perishing?” {Mark 4:38}

It seems like it is so.  It seems like drowning is a certainty.  How could He be sleeping at a time like this?! Does He not care? Ah, but He does! And He knows. And with just His Words, “Hush, be still,” and it can all come to a halt with perfect calmness.  But then, the rebuke… And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” {Mark 4:40} 

Ouch.  I can’t awaken Him.  I should know that I know that I know that He is there, that He’s got this, that HE’S GOT ME!  So instead of racing to Jesus with my desperate, “Wake up!!!  How could you possibly be sleeping at a time like this?!  This situation is so much bigger than anything I could handle on my own!!!”, my prayer went something like this:

Father, prepare the way before me.  Go ahead and with me and give me the words, Your Words.  Give me strength, Your Strength.  Give me boldness, Your Boldness.  Strengthen my faith…  I give this to you, Lord.  I can’t do this on my own.

That’s right, I want more faith, all the faith He’ll bless me with.  The whirlwind was in full spin.  I walked as a sheep into a lion’s den of spiritual warfare.  Sure, I had prayer covering.  Sure,  I was aware of the situation that I was walking into.  But, I was equipped. I was prepared.  I am confident in Whose I am. I have Jesus who is able to calm the storm with just His Words.

Unfortunately, for me, this time, like with Peter walking on the water (part of that faith strengthening, no doubt), He chose not to calm the storm and sea this time.  He let me step off that boat onto the raging sea with its swells and its crashing waves, and I kept my eyes on Him.  I kept my eyes trained right on Him as I looked for that next rock.  And it was there, and He was there, and I was OK.

Sure, I was on a different path, and I appeared pretty alone in it, but I was anything but alone.

A battalion of prayer warriors lifting up my situation were back home.  They stormed heaven from their knees, making pleas on my behalf and on behalf of my situation.  I could see the army there with me.  I could see His Light shining brightly on the situation, in the very room with me.  I had Jesus firmly planted inside of me fueling my hope and peace and rest and strength.  I was wearing the full armor of God and kept checking it throughout the week, making sure it was all intact and secure.  I had the Holy Spirit gently whispering Words to me, life giving Words, encouragement and comfort.  I was made bold to share the source of my hope to those who had none. God made a way. He didn’t let me drown.  He planted me firmly.

Jesus shone brightly through me as a beacon of light, a lighthouse to alert ships that would otherwise perish in the perilous waves of the storm.

when the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. Proverbs 10:25 (NLT)

I have built my house on a rock.  The storm won’t win.  Jesus wins.

And I’m (more than) OK with that.
Jenn

Just a juggling…

I’m pretty sure those compulsions I spoke about in my previous posts,  the compulsion to be perfect and the desperate drive to overachieve can be sort of damaging. Not just in the sense that they wear me slap out. (But they do.) But in the way they tend to cause other people to see me, my life, my actions, my example and set up a standard of performance that they then get worn out trying to emulate or aspire to or accomplish.

I can’t even tell you how many times I have had friends or even friendquaintances (yes, I made that word up, the meaning hopefully is obvious) share with me their perception of me that I seem to have it all together. WHOA! 

That could not be further from the truth. Sure, my compulsions make me a bit obsessive about certain details of my life.  Sure, I may have done certain things more completely than some other person.  I may have accomplished more in one particular path, but I promise that something that they got accomplished, I didn’t.  It’s a trade off.

I think we can always find someone who seems to have done more with their time than we have.  I need only to hop on Pinterest for a moment to discover that in some ways I am not as “together” as some people because I don’t make my own laundry detergent, don’t have 30 pre-prepared meals ready to plop in the crock pot already bagged and labeled in my freezer, haven’t already hand made Christmas crafts for each of my daughter’s teachers, haven’t re-purposed everything in my house in some specific theme, don’t have my elf-on-the-shelf ideas already predetermined and mapped out through the year 2020… I could go on, but you get the point.  Right?

WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OURSELVES?!

Why are we spending our time comparing ourselves to one another and trying to do everything they are doing in addition to everything we are already doing, in addition to doing what that person over there is doing?  I promise you that what I accomplish requires certain sacrifices and prioritizations (Did I make that word up? It has the red squigglies underneath it.) that may not work for your particular station of life.  I am not where you are.  You are not where I am.


We all have a unique calling and plan for our life, which God has for us.  My best yes won’t look like yours and that is really OK. (I have just started reading the Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst.  Since I have just started it, I haven’t got a plethora of wisdom from Lysa yet about it (I know I will soon).)

You see, as I walk out this life thing, everything that comes at me (and we have SO MUCH coming at us!!!  Don’t we??) has to go through a filter of sorts. Yes? No? Maybe? Wait?  I categorize everything into one of those four places.  I am one of the very fortunate ones who is already quite comfortable with my use of the word “no”.  I know many people struggle with that, especially when it seems like it’s a really good thing you are being asked to do, especially (it seems) if it’s service for Jesus.  Fortunately, even my overachieving tendencies no longer inhibit my use of the word “no”.  They used to, but praise Jesus, I am now mostly free of that.

I found this online... anyone know her?  Looks like my life...

I found this online… anyone know her? Looks like my life…

That does not mean that I don’t have to juggle being a wife, with being a mom, with being a friend, with being a grandma, with being a business woman, with being a leader in the church, with being a discipler, with being a disciplee, with being a follower of Jesus.  I have been developing my juggling act all my life, and I think many of us are in that boat (there I am on the water again).  We juggle and juggle and juggle and occasionally, as it sometimes happens when juggling…

It all comes crashing down.

The laundry piles up to the point that I have no clean socks to wear.
I put two different shoes on my feet as I head out the door to work.
I tell my co-worker I will order the plaque to help her out and totally forget to order it.
I forget to tell hubby that I was coming home late because of a meeting at church.
I miss college night at the school because of when I scheduled that very same meeting.
I double book myself scheduling a coffee date on top of said meeting.
I miss my daughter’s orthodontist appointment… you know why.

061809 lightning 2 largeLet me clear the air, set the record straight.  No folks, I don’t have it all together, I am juggling each element of life, just like you to be the best wife, mom, friend, grandma, business woman, leader, discipler, disciplee, follower that I can be. Sometimes, it all works and things jive and life is happy and things function smoothly, and those are probably those chance times when the friends and friendquaintances are watching and thinking that I am somehow fitting my life together perfectly. BUT sometimes… it all comes crashing down.  Life gets tedious and sometimes I fail miserably at piecing it all together.

When that happens, and I promise it does, I bring my focus back to Jesus who is a way better juggler than me.  He gives me peace and rest, and I stand on this rock which puts me right there at His Feet and it all seems to work, and the rest really doesn’t matter.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:12

I am a work in progress, just like you and everyone else.  I am not the standard. Don’t let me be your standard.  You are not mine.  Jesus is my goal, and I am going to make an extra effort to avoid comparing myself and my life to your goals.  I’m just going to listen for His Voice and walk out the path He is laying out for me, one rock at a time.

And I’m OK with that.
Jenn