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Isaiah 6

This song and scripture, Isaiah 6, peirced my heart today. It’s often easy to think that everyone knows about Jesus. I often fall blind to the reality of those who are lost. It’s not as black and white as my small mortal mind would like to make it, placing the notions of soul salvation into two rote categories of those who’s Eternity are secured (like me) and those who have heard and just for some reason have chosen not to be. I often (sadly) think of the lost as  souls who are purposefully living outside of God’s love and friendship. As if everyone has had the chance for choosing Christ and they know the consequences of their choice for not choosing him. 

Evangelism. 

Even the word envokes a thought of some ancient thing that tends to not be common today. It’s something my husband is deeply called to and lives to share hope to those who are lost. 

I’m hearing this word in my spirit that there are more hearts to be gathered for Gods Kingdom. And it’s time to go out and tell them. Who else will go?

“There are roads that are still untouched

That have have yet to receive your love.

All creation is crying out, to receive your cross.

There are hearts that have yet to see

The power of Christ that has set them free

For such a love you have sent your Son to save what’s lost.

…So who will go?”

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Hugs. For Life.

hugs

Let’s talk hugs.

I visited a church one weekend with my husband, and met this beautiful gal who greeted me at the door with the sweetest smiling face. Her skin was the color of Africa, and that may be why I liked her all the more, but her smile and warmth could be felt as equally as far away as her country of origin. “Thank you,” were the only two words I spoke to her as she gave me that rich warm greeting and held my door open. I turned back and added, “You are so pretty!” Which is about the only thing I know to say when my heart is feeling full, and I want to tell someone that I appreciate them more than this fleeting moment. She stopped and did something entirely unexpected from this rich-smile-warm-heart door greeting lady, she hugged me. She pulled me in and gave me a precious, loving-kindness kind of hug. Her hug was this melting embrace, that pulled me in like a milkshake on a hot Sunday afternoon. It was a rare moment, one that I’ve never felt with a complete door-lady stranger before. I felt God’s embrace. I felt His love. I felt his face upon my face, his hands upon my shoulders. I’ve never been “given” a hug quite like this before. Especially from someone whom I had only spent a few seconds with. That was a tender GIFT that she freely GAVE. And now I understand what it means, “my cup runneth over.” When you find your gift, it spills over, from a place of overflow, not a place of I have to or need to, but I’d Love to!

I’m a hugger. An unrelenting, unashamed, unabashed…hugger. Yes, if you know me, you know you are going to “get” a hug. My friends, my work-mates, my church-mates, the little kids down the street, the ones I meet in the grocery store, even my bosses…”Oh You’re Getting a hug!” Cause ya’ll, I love hugs!

But there are those who are the “others” of huggers.

awkard hug

You know the ones… Like, you go low and I’ll go high, yet some how one of us ends up kissing the other in the eyeball! Awkward! Or that one guy who lingers a little to long with the ladies, who really needs to learn the Jon Acuff method. They are like the “getters” who love to get hugged, and their mission is to find you and squeeze your neck off. And you have to sleep on a heating pad to recover from the encounter. It’s all just so awkward. And draining.

I realized when I met the gal with the “gift of hugging” that it’s truly a gift. I felt like I had “received” a hug, nothing in return, nothing expected. No sorrow left on my shoulder. No tears for me to ponder as I walked away. I left feeling like my burdens had been exchanged for joy. My encounter shifted something away from my shoulders and onto the Lords, in some kind of great hug-exchange. As I drove home later that night, for the first time in my life I realized the true difference, and that some are “hug givers” and some are “hug getters.”

I want to be a life-giver, not a life-getter! “Lord, help me to be more like you to console those in my circle, to be life to those in need, to give Hope, and to leave an exchange of your goodness on every shoulder that I meet.”

#ihavedecided

Finding My Worth.

true beauty

True worth is determined not by what is seen,
but rather by what is unseen


But there are times when I feel worthless, when I hear the powerful voices, They don’t want you. They don’t even like you. It’s not even worth trying. No one will ever see you for what you really are, or what you were made for.”

Yes. Those voices.

Being liked. Being perfect. These are some of the driving desires that can saturate a mind. I continually battle those voices from the evil one, who would try to paint the scope of my life with something other than truth. Somedays when I let those thoughts linger, I’m effected in ways that beckon me to correct and perfect my flesh with human efforts like shopping for new clothes, eating lots and lots of chocolate, or filling my calendar with distracted obligations which never satisfy.

But the Great Voice has spoken. He has a plan for me. He has designed a destiny inside of me. He created value in my inmost being. He built worth inside of me, before time began. (Jer.
1:5) So why, oh why, do I listen to these fleeting voices, both from man and the Author of all Lies? Why do I partner with this lying spirit in my ears that would dare compare me with anything less than God’s perfect plan?

James 4:14 says, Life is a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. – KJV
The Message version says, You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.

These are the truths I’m tuning my ear to. Life is fleeting. Eternity is what matters.

One of my all time favorite worshippers, Rita Springer penned a song that pierces my heart when I don’t understand the hurts and pains of life, and I need to be reminded of the truth and promise of my tomorrow.

Worth it All.

“I don’t understand your ways,
oh but I will give you my song.
Give you all of my praise.
You hold on to all to my pain
With it you are pulling me closer
And pulling me into your way….
Now, around every corner,
and up every mountain
I’m not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I’m desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of your face
is all that I needed I will say to you… It’s gonna be worth it
Gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it all.”

Ask. Seek. Knock.

door knock
“Ask, Seek & Knock” this was my word study this week. I could not pull myself away from this scripture this week. I kept meditating on these three words.

I had the revelation that this passage is speaking to three uniquely different levels of pursuit: spiritual (heart) emotional (soul) and physical (body).

The Lord says, “When you seek me with all your heart…you shall find me.”

I began to think about this concept of knocking! How do you knock, when you are told no? Keep knocking.

Knocking requires a physical encounter…it’s done with the hand in the air, and also an open ear close to the door, so you can hear someone say, “Who’s there??” You can’t just keep knocking. Listen and be ready to answer, “It’s me!”

“What do you want” – the owner says

“I’m hear to ask and seek from you.” – the heart replies

Be ready with your asking, be ready with your seeking. God always prepares us in perfect sequential order with what we need. You’ve already been asking, you’ve already been seeking. Now when you knock, the door will be opened. Because you will know how to ask and seek from the Owner, as your petition is ever present on your lips.

Physical knocking of the hand to the door can mean physically placing a fist in the air, making a phone call, or even monetary exchange. Whatever is it that you are spiritually seeking, make your request complete by a “knocking” encounter in the physical.

reCreate – ladies night

recreate jenn
Last night I had the awesome privilege of spending time with our church ladies group. Good food, good fellowship, means good fun! Our ladies have been going to the reCreate Conference, at Church of the Highlands each year, and since so many of our ladies were not able to go, I wanted to carry a piece of that annual, life-changing weekend back to my church girls. So we rallied up the troops and hosted a little local “reCreate Ladies night” of our very own.

What does it mean to reCreate? I’m sure COTH, has a clear vision for the women’s conference, but here’s what I shared with our ladies last night of my own version,

“reCreate” – to reshape, to refresh, to restructure, to reconnect. The word “create” means to fashion or to make something. ReCreate is as similar to the rearrangement of one’s living room furniture three times a month, as it is to the ongoing reshaping of her heart and life. I can’t explain to my husband, Why I have to reshape the furniture – I just do. When we experience the power of this recreating together, we reshape, refresh and renew one another into stronger, more powerful, more Godly women. I can’t really tell you WHY we need each other – we just do!

We tossed a ball around the room, like a hot potato, and laughed together until I nearly peed my pants! It was then my turn to bring the devotional (more on that to come..), and I began by sharing a story from when my husband and I were first stepping out onto the Dave Ramsey debt-snowball life, and how a sweet church friend became my Secret Jesus (because apparently, having a quality deep conditioning treatment IS vital to survival, it’s food-clothing-shelter-conditioner, people!) Sometimes, having someone simply notice what we are going through, by sending a card, sharing a hug, giving a gift or treating us to Starbucks, makes all the difference in the world.

I can’t really tell you WHY we need each other – we just do!

Last night was the start of something really amazing for the ladies that I church and do life with. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us this year!

Bedding in Bedlam

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there”
Psalm 139:8

The Psalms have been my sweet place of refuge and healing ointment to my soul these past few years. There is just so much goodness, madness, grief, messiness and all out drama among those pages, I can’t help but soak up its everyday reality. King David was about as real as it gets. His best friend turned his back on him. He rose to incredible position and purpose, yet failed morally and miserably. He tried to cover his crimes with more crime, became desperate and destitute. Through it all, this man held on to that place in his heart for his Father in heaven. Like a current running through the ocean, his pure of heart love for God ran deep. So deep that he threw off high society and his rich wardrobe, and danced before the Lord like nobody’s business.

What Will People Think?

I believe there are three main thoughts that flood the mind of mankind:
1. Worry
2. Self Doubt
3. Confusion

Those three working in conjunction together can destroy families, careers, finances, and futures. How do I know that most thoughts consist of those exact three? Because those are the three themes I consistently hear threaded in daily conversations. If you listen, you will hear them, too.

“I’m so worried…”
“But, I’m just not..”
“Why? I don’t understand…”

Lately, I’ve partnered into conversations that have taken the path of worry, diverged onto the dirt road of self-doubt, and started bush hogging the road to confusion. It’s like taking a trip with no map. You think your destination is just a little bit further, you’re sure you are getting close. And yet, you get further and further deeper into the woods, or more miles away from your true destination.

Worry gets in the car with you and smells a little foul. Doubt coaxes the keys away from you and convinces you to sit in the back. Confusion takes the keys, cranks the car and recklessly speeds away leaving you hopelessly lost, helpless and car sick in the back seat.

The sad truth is people forget that they own the car! Their Father gave it to them. The keys actually belong to them! And they have the power and keen ability to drive their car. Because their Father taught them how.

Even sadder is that once confusion has driven them to the place called Bedlam, where all confusion lives and dwells, they take up residence with them. They make there bed there and remain trapped as slaves for the rest of their life.

King David knew about confusion. He asked God many questions. But he also made many life observations that are true and full of faith and facts. No matter how confusing life gets, no matter how lost we find ourselves, or how low the grave is we feel we have dug. Even if we make our beds and camp out in that deep dark place, where we truly don’t belong, He is there. He is always there.

Psalm 139 is framed with the author’s notes – “for the director of music.” Leading worship in my church each week, this one is for me…

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me…”

breathing

Breathing.

It’s an under stated function.

Breathing regulates our hearts, and restores our bodies. Oxygen repairs our cells, and is a natural aid in times of pain, stress or exhaustion.

As a chronic night owl, the repetitive yawns repeatedly beacon me goodnight.

I’m lover of all things southern fried, and will plunge past the first and second full-belly warning breath at our Paula Dean style family dinners.

Pilates is my favorite form of exercise.  Simply for the fact that there is no excessive cardio or heavy lifting, and un poquito sweating!  It’s mostly deep breathing and stretching, and it works!

Before worship on Sunday, I prayed specifically for people to experience the presence of God. That we would not just have the knowledge of him, but the presence of him as well.   The band began to play, and the thoughts in my head turned to the conversation I might have with the new believer, “Jenn, what in the world do you mean…”feel the presence of God, and experience him?” How does that happen!?”  I’ve just asked these people to do something I’m not quite sure I can explain.  So my heart turns to God and I question, “Yeah! How does it happen?”

As the band plays, I’m standing there simply “breathing in.” As I’m pondering, that great question, “how do we experience God,” I become keenly aware of the fact that I was beginning to experience Him, to feel His presence, encountering His Spirit of Love, Joy, Peace…simply by breathing Him in.  That’s simply how we encounter His presence.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah wanted to experience God’s presence. While hiding in a cave, God revealed that he was not in a fire, or a storm, or a wind, but in a still small whisper.  God’s presence was in the quiet voice, and breath.

Breathing is an autonomic process. We don’t think about it, it just happens.  It’s just present. It helps us live, it relaxes our nerves, and if done strategically, can help us heal or even get in shape!  It’s the same with God’s presence (his spirit, the breath of God) working in us. When we are functioning in His Spirit, his presence is autonomic.  It just happens.  We don’t really know how we are feeling peace, we just are.  We’re just breathing.

It’s extremely simple.  And it’s extremely complicated.

How have you experienced God or encountered His presence?

the teacher to remember

This week I spent some time training about the wonders of Word & Excel Mail Merge. I reminisced for a moment about first discovering Mail Merge, and how valuable it has been over the years in my career. And I realized, this person may remember this moment for the rest of their life, ok, maybe not. But showing someone something wonderful and new, is so rewarding. Afterall, our brains seem to get permanently embedded with memories of the first, the greatest, the worst and the recent.

It’s the memory that alludes you in the moment you do something pefectly normal, when you can’t help but think, “I’m so grateful they showed me this.” Every time you make really great sweet tea (thank you, Mom!), when you put a boullion cube into a pan of gravy (thank you, Grandma), or when you grind freshly roasted coffee beans, to the perfect degree (thank you Keith’s best man & pastor friend, Derek). Those memories are forever attached to the ones who planted them there.

I remember my business teachers who taught of amazing business and computer tricks. The one that stands out the most was Mrs. Black at Dothan High School teaching us about savvy business attire, and in her southern buttermilk-thick accent telling us how to “double up” our panty hose, “Ladies, if you get a run in one leg, just cut it off, and double it up with another pair of one legged hose.” Because saving money on purchasing pantyhose would come in handy in our future career. Mrs. Black also taught me great jargon, like “bark bustin’ cold,”  that I absolutely must use when it gets below 49 degrees in the south.

I love teaching my neices and nephews amazing and new things, like blowing bubbles with your gum, turning on the jets in a garden tub full of bubbles, how to jump in mud puddles, and where grandma keeps all her good candy. Their parents thank me for it, with someday payback warnings.

When I was five, our church bookkeeper taught me how to make paper-clip bracelets and necklaces, remember those?. Fast foward 20 years, when I was hired to work on staff as the youth assistant in that same church, with the same bookkeeper. I carried on her legacy of paperclip jewelry and belt making for kids, teaching all the staff kids who came into my office looking to play. One day our Music Minister warned me, “please, our mini-van can’t handle any more jewelry.”

I think about someone special when…singing scales,  painting my nails, wringing out the dishcloth at night so it won’t sour, and cleaning out the lint filter in the dryer (that’s right, saving our family money, baby!)

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

The Final Summit

by Andy Andrews

Thomas Nelson Publishers

A Fiction Book.  I don’t normally read fiction.  Rarely ever.  But something about the three coins on the cover and the feather looked appealing. I’m a sucker for enticing design.

Without giving too many details away, I found this story as riveting and entertaining as a major motion picture. The way Andrews weaved history with eternity was fascinating. His writing is intelligent and flows well, the word pictures painted murals on the walls of my imagination.  Its my first read by this author and I hear this is not the first rodeo for David Ponder character, so I’m very interested in going back and seeing where this story all began for him. I’m officially hooked!

Here’s the Official Book Description:

David Ponder is back. This time the fate of mankind is in his hands.

This is mankind’s last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.

With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history’s best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.

Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler’s Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.

DisclosureBookSneeze provided me with a complementary copy of this book, in return for my review.  The opinion expressed here is entirely my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

waiting in pain.

I was sitting in a waiting room for a post physical therapy follow up.  A gentleman sitting across from me was leaning forward, his right hand cupped carefully around his left hand which was wrapped in a small white towel.  He was obviously in pain.  Adjusting his position, shaking his knee, at times he was huffing and puffing, closing his eyes or looking in the air.   My heart was melting for this man in his present misery.  The pain in my neck, and my night time headaches seemed insignificant next to his urgency.

I wondered what happened to him.  No one else seemed to notice.  We all live very different lives.  Have different jobs, interests, and experiences.  But one thing was the same today.  Our pain.  His hurt became my hurt.  Sitting there feeling his pain, I remembered the day my left hand was broken, I realized how a one inch surgical cut above my broken ring finger bone made my entire body ache, for weeks.

I wondered if the man knew Jesus.  If he went to church or had some people who could help him feel better.  I wondered if he knew the answer like I knew it?  That Jesus came to heal all of our diseases, to wipe our tears, and take our pain away with the power of what he did on the cross that day.  After all, God sent his son to the earth, the ultimate sales guy, to spread the word about his life changing power!

The thought rose up in my spirit, as if Jesus stepped into our row of chairs, sat down beside me and cleared the air:  “He is the type of person I laid hands on, when I walked the earth.  The type that I would walk up to on a crowded street, when no one else noticed.  I would share my love with him.”  My heart visualized the scene, like one straight out of Hollywood. Jesus, walking up to this man, the man in pain that no one noticed.

As most waiting room scenes go, eyes are glued to People magazine, or CNBC on the TV.  I put People aside and caught eyes with him, smiled, and said simply, “What happened to you?”   He told me the story of starting out to work early and how a truck tailgate accidently crushed his pinky finger.  And now he is in waiting in this room, in pain, and has been for an hour and a half. 

I stood up and walked over to him, to get a better look, and told him I understood his pain, and I shared my story too.  I went up to the desk to be Mrs. Advocate and take up his cause with the nurse.  He and I talked for a few more minutes, and noticed how our conversation has made his whole body language change, he is not huffing and puffing or wincing.  Maybe somehow I had helped him forget about the pain, or the long wait.  I said a brief prayer for him and told him about Jesus.  He thanked me and said he he goes to church and knows the Lord.

Social, Racial, Historical, Financial, Spiritual…there is a lot of difference, and distance in the world we live in.  But we have to break through the ocean of difference, and speak to that pain.  We have to cross the street and break the distance.  We have to place the ususal People magazine aside.  Because Jesus came to heal all of our pain.  Not only did he cross the distance of heaven and earth to come to us, he walked down a road, and up a hill. He gave it all for the ones in pain, the ones who are broken, the ones who are waiting and hurting. 

Maybe my small conversation that day did not produce a Top News at 5 type of miracle report, “Man miraculously healed in waiting room in Downtown Montgomery.”  ~ No.  But what did happen was for a small moment during his day, his pain was lifted, his hope was stirred, his spirits just might have been lifted in that one moment.  And that one moment matters.

My worship today:
Hillsong:
Cry of the Broken