Thursday, October 11, 2018

Puzzled by Life

Another day on the beach and another blog post. If you are still reading, I’m glad. I used to blog a lot more until I got a full time job as an activities director at an old folks home. Now I blog when I have time or like currently, when I’m on vacation. 

I brought a 1500 piece puzzle to work on while we are here. We have it spread out on the kitchen table in our condo. It occurred to me while working on some of the harder parts of the puzzle that a puzzle is much like our lives. It’s a lot easier to figure out what part of the puzzle goes where when you use the picture of what it looks like when it’s finished. Unfortunately in life, we don’t have a picture to look at when times get hard and our pieces of our lives don’t seem to fit just right. We just have to trust that God has the picture and we just keep turning the pieces this way and that until they fit. Sometimes we get satisfaction in figuring out pieces of our lives and putting them together into a beautiful picture and other times, we work and work to no avail. 


It just looks like an overwhelming mess. God has the picture in His hands and knows how the pieces of our lives go together. One day, He will sit us in His lap and show us the picture and it will all make sense. Until then, we have the written picture of the Bible that will help us along the way. Ultimately, God holds the picture. He knows how all of it fits together. 

All we need to do is keep plugging at it. Turning the pieces of our lives this way and that until they make something recognizable. Sometimes our lives are harder to put together than others, but one day it will all make sense. May we all have faith to keep on keeping on even when the pieces don’t fit or make sense. 

Jennifer

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Even the Wind and the Waves Obey

As I sit on the beach, I reflect on the power of the ocean. It’s sound is mesmerizing. It’s smell is intoxicating. It’s sound is rejuvenating. Hurricane Michael is wreaking havoc on the panhandle of  lorida with 140 MPH winds and surfs as treacherous as the panhandle has ever seen. Here in Gulf Shores, we are far enough west that we are not bothered by the hurricane. However, the wind is incredibly powerful here as residual from Michael. The waves are as high and as spectacular as I have ever seen them. They are crashing at a rate that I have only seen on tv. Yet, here I am, live, witnessing it with my own two eyes. I am blessed and highly favored. 

As I sit and reflect, Jesus’ teaching comes to mind. Particularly in Mark chapter 4 where Jesus was teaching and he went out in a boat to teach so that the people on the shore could hear and see him.  Later in that same chapter, he goes away with his disciples and takes a nap in the boat. In a panic, they wake him saying paraphrased, How can you sleep when the water is raging into the boat?  They were human. Worriers. 

Jesus Stills the Sea

      35On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” 

Worrying gets us nowhere. It is not a profitable use of our time. These guys were worrying and Jesus sits up and calms the sea and the wind with his words. Just like that. As I sit here on the beach watching the fury of the waves crashing in and the wind blowing so hard and marvel at the fact that not only was all creation spoken into existence, but the wind and the waves obey his command. Jesus could walk up on this beach right now and command the waves to stop and the wind to cease and it would happen. Incredible and yet, I believe. As we go through life together on this earth, may we always remember that the One who can speak the world into submission loves us enough to die for us and we live for Him. Faith over fear. Prayer over worry. Peace over turmoil. It’s a gift we receive without deserving. Take advantage of it and skip the worry. God’s got this. He can speak the waves into submission, He has your little part of the world covered also. 

Jennifer



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New Every Morning


I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve had a lot of thoughts but haven’t made time to write them. I’m at the beach this week and I feel my most creative and reflective at the beach so here is the fruit of that reflection. 

We can dig the biggest holes and build the largest sandcastles on the sand every day and each morning, the beach is smooth and magnificent and perfect and new. The waves and tide come in and wash the sand back into the holes and flatten the sand sculptures back to perfect beach every day.  It reminds me of a scripture. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23

No matter what holes we may dig in our lives or what elements we add to the top that may not belong in our lives but are pretty to look at(much like sand castles), God wipes us clean every morning. The waves balance the beach back to center. Perfect North. Ready for what the new day will bring. A new kid with a shovel, a new artist with an idea for the sand, a new family to have fun. No matter what the day may bring, the beach is smooth and ready and fresh every morning. 

We are like the beach and God is the ocean. We can make a mess of our lives or build things that are beautiful to look at or catch our eyes. But in the morning, God has made it all new again, smooth, fresh, a new beginning. A new day, a new start, a renewed sense of hope for the future. Let’s all take advantage of God’s gift to us each day of a fresh start. Leave behind yesterday and it’s follies and look at today. Tomorrow may never come, yesterday is gone, all we have is today. Fresh and new. Make it the best day ever!

Jennifer



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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Storage

I noticed today that a gorgeous piece of undeveloped property close to where I live is now being built upon.  What are they building is a valid question and the answer to that is a storage facility.  A place with rows and rows of storage garages of various sizes to rent for your excess stuff.  I think these places are great for people who are in transition of some type who need a place to store things until they are settled somewhere else.  Or the family with a boat may need that to store their boat, or a car or recreational vehicle that won't fit on the property at home.  For those people, there is a storage facility just around the corner from the one that is now being built.  Two storage facilities built within two miles of each other.
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There are shows on television about people who go to storage facilities and buy the garage contents sight unseen hoping there is something valuable in the unit.  The storage owners are actually having to auction the contents of storage units that have outstanding rent, abandoned units, etc.   WHAT are we storing that we can't keep at home??  Are we at a point in life where we keep so much "stuff" that we can't even keep it all in our home and we even forget about what is in the unit?  Are we buying so much junk that we don't really need that we end up with an overage that warrants an extra monthly payment to store it all?
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WHAT are we doing??  This all occurred to me as I noticed this new storage area being built. Clearly there is need for two storage facilities two miles apart or they would not be building it.  We have THAT much junk to warrant such building.  Bless.


In a world of overindulgence, I long for simplicity, crave less, am satisfied more, and am blessed more than I deserve.  The more stuff you accumulate, the more stuff floats around in your head producing anxiety, stress, breakdowns, and a sense of general unhappiness.  We have so much that we need a storage unit for the excess and we can't even remember most of what is in the unit.  Enough that a show has been made to chronicle the auctions and what is found in abandoned storage units.  I pray that my storage unit is full of peace, happiness, contented feelings, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and good works.  May we all have an overflow of those things that our bodies can't hold all of it so we need a hypothetical storage unit for the abundance.  Not clothes.  Not furniture.  Not earthly possessions.  But love.  Peace.  Happiness.  And the ever hard to achieve-contentment.

Simplify.  Start small, and get the excess of stuff in your life completely away from you and you will find that contentedness and peace will overcome your feelings of stress, anxiety, and being in the rat race.  We don't need a storage facility on every corner.  We don't need that much junk to clutter our lives.  Let's store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves will not break in and steal.  Let us store up our fruits of the spirit and drown out all the excess earthly stuff that brings out the worst in all of us.  Stay simple.

Make today the best day ever!!
Jennifer

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Good Decision

Chocolate chip or Sugar?
Red or Blue
Go or Stay?
Snack or wait?

Decisions decisions...

There are actually a few decisions that are disguised as feelings.  Love is a feeling.  It is something you fall into.  Something you feel in your soul, and heart.  Something you get butterflies over.  It is uncovered when you find your soulmate. I am suggesting today that love is not a feeling at all.  It is a decision.

I have been married for 26 years.  27 in May.  We met at college in Nashville, TN. He was from Georgia, I was from Nashville.  It was love at first sight.  I told my roommate after I met him that I had just met the man I was going to marry.  There were butterflies.  There was giddiness and laughing.  There was excitement to see him.  It was the same on his end.  We dated.  We loved.  We had fun.  We got married.  What if I had gone to school at Texas A&M?  Would I have found this man I married?  hmmmm

No.  I would have married someone who was in my pool of eligibles at the time I was ready to get married.  This does not minimize my love and adoration for my husband, it just means that I picked him out of the pool of eligibles within proximity to where I was at the time I wanted to get married.  THIS, my friends, is why so many marriages are failing nowadays.  People think that love is a feeling.  Something they fall into, and as time passes they fall out of.  Do I feel butterflies when I see my husband now, 26 years later?  hmmm no.  Am I glad to see him?  yes.  Do I miss him when he is gone?  absolutely.  But do I burn with passion for him?  no.  Did I? yes.  You see, love is a decision.

When butterflies go away in time and it's kids and bills and commitments, you don't burn with passion anymore, Yes, desire is still there, but more of a comfortable desire and the desire may not be for the dude who passes gas on the couch.  People give up here.  They divorce here.  Because they saw the secretary at work and felt butterflies for her.  They saw the dude at the local honkytonk that gave them giddiness and rumbly tummy.  It's fun to feel that way. But that isn't love.  That is temporary endorphins that make you feel good for the moment.  It passes.  Even with the secretary or the dude at the honkeytonk it will pass.  Feelings are temporary.  Love is forever.

Love is a decision to commit to your husband even when he is undesirable.  Love is a decision to stick with your wife even though she went and got her entire arm tattooed because she wanted to.  Love is a decision to accept your husband even when he was too hard on the children or you don't agree on which house to buy.  Love is commitment even when your husband blew through $5000 at the poker table.  There are no butterflies in these situations.  No desire.  Just a decision.  A decision to love even when you are unlovable.  A comfortable commitment in sickness and health.  Butterflies are temporary, love is eternal.

When you wife breaks her arm and leg and you have to serve her and put her shoes on for her and snap her bra on her because she can't do anything for herself, you choose to love.  There are no butterflies or giddiness in this situation.  Just love.  A decision to put someone else's needs above your own.

Love is a decision to place someone else's needs above your own.

We love our children but when they draw all over the white couch with sharpie marker do we adore and get giddy over how cute they are?  NO. We decide to love them anyway and purchase a couch cover.  We don't divorce our children or put them up for adoption and make another one that won't do that.  So why are we throwing away our marriages?  Because the world has taught us that love is a feeling.  And when we fall out of it, we throw in the towel and find someone who makes us feel alive again.  Love isn't something we fall into or out of.  It isn't some out of control feeling that lasts forever.  It is a decision.  A decision to love when he plans the most amazing anniversary getaway ever and also to love when he forgets your birthday.

Love is a decision to place someone else's needs above your own.

Share my blog with anyone you think needs to read this.  I hope it touches your heart.

Have the Best Day EVER!
Jennifer

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Why do Good People Suffer

I have often wondered why good people suffer and bad people seem to just skate by with things. I had a complete revelation on the subject as I was being quiet and thinking. Often, if we will be still enough to hear, God's voice will become more apparent. 

Good people suffer because this isn't about them. Just because you are dealing with hard times whether it be financially, physically, mentally or spiritually, does not mean that you are the one who needs to learn from the circumstances. Other people are watching you and taking note on how good people handle bad situations. Your children are watching, your friends are watching, your coworkers are watching, random people you come across in life are watching whether you realize it or not. When bad people go through trials people don't watch. They would expect bad people to end up in jail or shout profanities or throw a fit. So they don't watch them to learn from. Even bad people watch good people deal with their problems. 

Good people suffer because it isn't about them. It's about how others perceive and can learn from the trial the good person goes through. People watch Christians go through trials and they make note of how they handle the trial. They may not say anything but they notice. They see. They see how faith gets them through. They see how a church family rallies around those who are in the midst of trial. They watch as friends take care of all immediate needs like childcare and food of those who are in trial. And while we are in a trial, we must always be prepared to give an answer to the hope that is within us. Because as people watch, they will also ask. And when they ask, you will be able to profess that Jesus is the solid rock on which we stand and that all other land is sinking sand. 

Have a great week!!
Jennifer

Friday, August 4, 2017

52 Weeks

As we pack up to go home from vacation, my oldest conveyed the thought that she didn't want to go back to reality. And actually, I have seen that comment a lot this summer when people's vacation is over and they resume work, school, etc. In years past, I have actually shed tears leaving a vacation spot and going back to normal life. Then I realized something. 

If we spend our lives anticipating and enjoying the week of vacation then don't we spend the other 51 weeks of the year disappointed or in constant state of wishing we didn't have to_______?  I don't want to give a condominium in Destin that much control over my life. I don't want to give a shore of sand that much control over me. I don't want to be tossed to and fro at the mercy of what good things or bad things have been thrown my way. I want to find as much joy in a wildflower growing in a crack in the sidewalk as I do watching the moon reflect on the ocean with my husband. I want to choose to be happy whether I am sitting on beaches with crystal clear waters and not a care in the world or if I am recovering from major oral surgery and don't have a row of teeth in my head on the left side. I will choose joy because technology is such that my teeth can be permanently restored after I have suffered a little while. I want to be just as happy to go back to work on Monday as I was to leave for the beach last Saturday. I don't want a day of the week to have enough power over me to ruin my attitude. You see, attitude is a choice. Events come at us good and bad and we have no control over those events. But what we do have control over is our attitude towards it. We can choose happiness. Choose joy. Even when your mouth feels like a bomb went off inside of it. We should count it all joy when we fall into various trials because it produces patience. Good or bad, beach or home, work or play, choose joy. Spread happiness around like confetti and don't let anything have control over your reality. A condo on the beach is reality and so is going to work and coming home and cooking dinner. 



Vacations are wonderful. My husband and I sat on the beach at night and watched as the full moon reflected onto the waves. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Was that reality?  Yes it was. And so is sitting on my deck drinking sweet tea and talking about our day together. Choose joy. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, broken people can choose happiness  every single minute of every single day. I'm not coming back to reality tomorrow. 52 weeks a year is reality for me. Reality is not some awful existence where I allow my circumstances to determine my happiness. Some people think happiness is a feeling when it actually is a choice. 

Let me know what you think!
Jennifer