In the spirit of LISTENING for God’s voice to speak, when I am in the car by myself I am trying to listen to sermons so that God can fill my brain with His Word and Truth rather than allowing the stillness and quiet to let Satan fill my mind with questions and concerns.

Today I had to get a CT scan of my head and I felt like it was the perfect time for my head to be filled with TRUTH!  So I decided to listen to part 3 of “The Power of the Same” by Steven Furtick.  This particular week’s message title was “This May Take A While.”  I highly recommend listening to the whole set of messages, but I wanted to share this thought:

I am not going to be inconsistent in the friendships that matter, so that I can be consistent with the relationships that really don’t count.  And it isn’t because I don’t want to be friends with everybody, but I realize that I am not The Vine.  And to stay connected in a meaningful way to some people, I can’t be connected to all people.

These thought has been hitting me over and over these last few weeks as I have been leading some women through the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.  I have to be consistent in what really matters.  I have to protect the relationships that really count.  I can’t people-please.  I can’t go through life in a rush.

I MUST slow down and be consistent with the friendships that REALLY matter.  So today I will focus on blessing my husband and my kids.  I will call my mom, just so she knows I love her.  And I will check on a friend who I know is hurting.

How can you be consistent with the relationships that count??

If you want to listen to this sermon series, go to http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/the-power-of-same

“One Word” for 2015

So I have done this before.  Asking God to show me “one word” for the year.  He always blesses me beyond belief when I seek Him and allow Him to speak to my heart through this “one word”.  In the past my words have been joy and freedom.

This year my “one word” is LISTEN.  And the way in which God confirmed this word has not been my favorite, actually it has been rather painful.

On January 3rd I woke with the worst ear infection I have ever experienced.  My ear was in alot of pain and I could not do anything to make it stop.  I finally woke my husband up to ask him to help me, which he wanted to, but couldn’t.  I didn’t know what to do other than cry.  So I cried as I tried to go back to sleep!

The bad part about waking up with this ear infection is that we were 700 miles away from home.  We had been visiting family and this was our day to head home to Georgetown.  I was not sure if we should stay or go.  But I knew my husband had to be back home the next day by 10:30 AM to preach, so we packed the car as we planned, and headed for home.

After my ER visit later that evening, I learned we should have waited.  Traveling through rolling hills with a change in elevation and pressure was not good on an ear drum.  Actually it is likely what caused mine to burst, which it did later that night.  After your ear drum ruptures, in case you have never dealt with this sort of thing, you are completely deaf on one side.  And in my case, the pain did not go away.

So back to my “one word”… After I could think clearly again, I began contemplating what God may be trying to teach me through this circumstance.  During my quiet time I read the following verse:

Listen to my words, Lordconsider my lament.  Hear my cry for help, my King and my God,
for to you I pray.  Psalm 5:1

listen

 

So I felt pretty certain that God wanted my “one word” to be LISTEN.

So LISTEN I will.  I will LISTEN to His Word each day.  I will ask that He LISTEN to me as I pray to Him about all things.

 

Now three weeks later, I still have this horrible ear infection.  My doctor has been great but cannot find an antibiotics that will make this go away.  I have tried other treatments and therapies to no avail.  So tomorrow I head to see an Ears, Nose and Throat specialist.  I am prayerfully hopeful that the ENT will have answers and will be able to bring relief!

But in any case, I will continue to listen!

Jesus showing love

This morning I was reading John 4 about the woman at the well and her encounter with Jesus.  This story is rather familiar to me however today, Jesus’ absolute, unconditional and extravagant love struck me like a 2×4.

When Jesus approached the woman, He was asking for water.  Then Jesus changed the conversation to the gift that He could give her.  Then Jesus changed the conversation yet again to her personal life and worship.  He was drilling down in her heart to the real issue at hand.  Yes, she would love to have some water so that she did not have to keep coming back to that well just for a drink.  But what she really NEEDED was the well in her heart to be filled.  Could this come from the men she had in her past or the man she currently had?  NO.  She had to go to Jesus to get her heart filled.

The woman’s words to the town also struck me, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)

Because Jesus knew her intimately, she believed what He said.  And not only did she believe, but she called others to meet this precious Jesus who “told me everything I ever did” yet did not bring condemnation but only love.

I want to be like this woman- getting my heart’s fill from Jesus alone and telling others about His love and striving to love others like He loves me.  True and authentic.  Love that does not bring bitterness or condemnation.  Just absolute, unconditional and extravagant LOVE.

May I encourage you to read John 4 today and see what the Savior is saying to your heart.

Love is (part 3)

It has been my goal to look at the Bible’s definition of what LOVE IS and hold that up to my definition of love.  Yes, God’s definition will win out in my life every time.  However without an intentional look at what God says love is, I will continue to love my way and not God’s.  In August I looked at love is patient and love is kind.

Today I want to explore:

envy

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what Merriam-Webster says that envy is– “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage”.  So to be envious I have to have painful and/or resentful thoughts/attitude toward someone that enjoys something that I want to enjoy myself.

Now, I typically don’t see myself as an “envious” person.  I try very hard to be thankful for all the things that God has given to me because God has blessed me and my family a TON.  But I don’t believe that envy applies only to material possessions.  I believe it goes along with relationships and time and a host of other things.

I have noticed that sadly I do find myself thinking “Oh, I wish my husband would express his love to me like that…” Or “Oh, I wish I still had that close friendship with…”  Or “Oh, I wish my children and I could…”  And those are envious thoughts.

Thoughts of comparison usually lead to envy and envy is not love.  So how can I stop the envy??  I believe it comes down to a few things:

  • being thankful for the things God gives me, whether that is a relationship or a material blessing
  • being thankful for the season I am in with relationships that God has given me
  • trying to be the person that God has made ME to be
  • not allowing myself to mindless scroll through Facebook and Instagram because this can lead to envy.  Pastor Stephen Furtick says “We struggle with insecurity (and I would add envy) because we compare our behind-the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  You don’t often see statuses or pics of people’s bad days and this is where social media gets me in trouble.  Seeing the “highlight reel” and wishing for THAT rather than knowing that “real life” is happening but not being shared!  Actually Pastor Furtick preached a great message about this very thing.  You can find it at:  http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/the-hope-of-glory  The message you want to listen to is Part Four- The Problem with Pinterst.

I hope you will continue to join me as I learn to love God’s way.

 

 

A Scripture for this School Year

So I just read a great blog by the wonderful Lysa T.  If you have kids headed off to school this year, you should read it too. Here is the link: http://lysaterkeurst.com/2014/08/before-they-go-to-school-have-this-conversation/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_campaign=0&utm_content=303165

Anyway… I wanted to share with you the scripture that I will be praying for my kids this school year. And yes, my “kids” include my firstborn, Andrew, as well as all the other “kids” that have come in my life, our foster kids past and present, youth group kids, etc.

Galatians 1:10 says “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Dear God, I pray that You will dwell in the hearts of my kids this year. And that Your presence would be so evident that You are the only person they are trying to please. Help my kids to not fall into the people-pleasing trap. Because when that happens, they are no longer striving to be Your servant. Also, God, please help me, their mom, to strive for Your approval only. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What verse are you praying for your kiddos this year??

Love is (part 2)

I am trying to take a slow look at what God says love is. Last week I looked at how love is patient. Today I am going to look at being KIND.

Love is kind. To be kind means to be “indulgent, considerate or helpful.”

I like to think of myself as a helpful person. However when it comes to those I say I LOVE the most, sometimes I wish they would be more “kind” to me. I wish they were more considerate and helpful to ME. But that is selfish thinking and not loving at all. So I guess this week I am trying to be more considerate and less selfish. More helpful to those I love and being content with whatever help may be offered my way.

I want to leave you with a quote I found online:

Kindness. One of the greatest gifts that you can bestow upon another. If someone is in need, lend them a helping hand. Do not wait for a thank you. True kindness lies within the act of giving without expectation of something in return.

Love is (part 1)

I think God is trying to teWhat_Is_Love_Quotesach me a little something about love these days.  I heard it preached about from my favorite preacher at Soma this week.  It keeps popping up in my morning Scripture reading and devotion time.  And I have been reading all about it in blogs and facebook posts…

Love.  What is it?

And can I love God, my husband, my kids and ice cream and coffee all with the same kind of love???  I don’t think so…  Therefore, I am going to try to take a slow look at the love that God calls me to have over the next few weeks and months.

God has written down what LOVE IS in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  And if this is what God says love is, then this is how I need to be loving people in my life.

Today, lets start with patient.  Love is patient.  If love is patient, what is patient?

A definition I found: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.  

So if this mom is gonna be patient I need to bear annoyances and delays with calm and without complaint or anger.  OUCH!!! That one hurts, especially this week because I know that I have not been very patient, though I have had plenty of opportunities.  With tying shoes, learning the “Jones family house rules”, waiting for meal time, waiting on sleepy, fussy children to finally go to sleep, waiting to see my little boy who mommy misses very much, waiting to spend a little time with a friend, waiting on my husband to return from camp, waiting on a case plan, waiting on things in my life to go back to “normal” so that I can feel sane again… all of these little annoyances and delays I must bear with a calm spirit and no complaint.  Seriously, God?  Are you sure this is love???

Pair “love is patient” with what I have been reading in 1 Peter all about suffering.  (Sidenote: I realize fully that what I am experiencing this week– adjusting to life with our new foster kids, trying to help them be ok where they are right now and how much they miss their mom, missing my husband and son, and all the other little bumps life is throwing at me right now– is not truly “suffering” like I know some are suffering.  But I think God sees my current suffering and gives me permission to apply these verse to my current circumstance.) I have been reading things like:

1 Peter 1:6-9 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  To me these verses bring comfort, that yes, I am suffering, even though it may seem small to others, it is big to me right now.  But there is a purpose in my suffering– to prove my faith genuine, to bring me joy and to bring about the salvation of others.  

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  When I am going through rough waters, I need to be like Jesus and entrust myself to God who judges justly.  

1 Peter 3:15-17 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  These verses remind me that sometimes it is God’s will for us children to suffer.  And I was reminded earlier this week in another study by Beth Moore, that He only allows us to go through suffering that is necessary for OUR journey.  And no matter what, He will be there with me through it all.  

1 Peter 4:1-2 (AMP)  So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],  This verse reminds me that it is better to be patient with the suffering than to not please God, which is our ultimate purpose.

1Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.   Another reminder to commit myself to God in the face of any suffering.  

So if love is patient, honestly, this week I have not been very loving.  I have not endured without complaint.  But I am committing myself to a change of course– working on my love toward others, to being more patient and to not complaining.  And that goes for my husband, my children, my friends and even those who could  be considered my “enemies”.  God wants me to love and God wants me to be patient in suffering, no matter how big or how small.

Looking Beyond Myself

It has been a long few days at the Jones house.  Maybe even a long few weeks.  In case you have missed it, it is WINTER time in Ohio.  And it has been crazy.  We have had lots of snow days and even “too-cold-to-go-to-school” days.  

And when this happens, I will admit, I get crazy with cabin fever.  Yes, I often get to go to my job on these snow days, but even being out of the house for 3 1/2 hours doesn’t cut being cooped up at home with three crazy kiddos who are always “bored”.  

This last round of winter weather brought ice and with ice usually comes downed power lines and very cold houses.  I will let you in on a little Jones family secret– I don’t like being cold in my own home very well.  I have witnesses who could tell some great stories about that, but we will hold on to them for another day…

So yesterday I woke up super thankful that our home was one of the lucky ones who did not lose power through the night.  But I also woke up cranky because I have had a nasty cold for three days.  So I stayed in my nice warm home and worked on Blizzard Bags with my children for most of the day, while I watched on Facebook about all my friends whose homes were struggling to keep power.  

Yes, I did the right thing and offered that they come over.  No one took me up on that… but who would want to do with nasty cold germs infesting my home.  I also offered that some go to our church to get warm there.  But all in all I stayed focused on the fact that I had a cold and I was super cranky.  Doesn’t sound very Jesus-like, does it?

This morning on my drive around the block to work I saw this… 

Image

In this moment I realized how truly blessed and thankful I SHOULD have been yesterday.  This little accident is right behind my home.  And yes, there is a power line that is ALMOST down.  But praise Jesus that it isn’t.  (I can’t even imagine how bad my attitude would have been if I would have been COLD with my COLD.)

But that brings me to what Jesus spoke to my heart this morning… “Grace, sometimes you can’t look beyond myself.”  Sometimes I just stay so focused on my needs.  Like yesterday, I really needed to get rid of this cold because I am too busy to be sick.  And I really needed my children to be quiet little angels because I had a super horrible headache.  And I needed them to finish their Blizzard Bag without much help from me.  And I really needed my husband to get home so I could go to bed…   When really, all these things that I thought I NEEDED are not what wanted me to be focused on.  

He wants me focusing on His Kingdom and what I can do to help further it.  I have kingdom work to do right here in my home— raising three children that God has blessed me with, helping them work on school projects with a good attitude and with minimal unglued momma moments, honoring my husband and doing things to help him when he is out at work, encouraging friends and helping neighbors.  

This week the verse I am working on for #TheJesusProject is pretty simple and it speaks directly to my cranky attitude from yesterday: Do whatever He tells you.  John 2:5

So I guess the next time that there are effects of WINTER all around me, I need to look beyond ME and see God’s Kingdom and what He is telling me to do.  I hope you will do the same- eyes wide open, palms turned up, ready to work further God’s cause.  

 

 

(for more information on #TheJesusProject, go to Ann Voskamp’s website.)

Christ is Enough

This week in A Confident Heart Online Bible study, we have been wrestling with the chapter on “When Doubt Whispers I’m Not Good Enough.”  

This morning in my car I heard this song and it really spoke to my heart in regards to these “not good enough feelings”.  I need to come to a place where I get my good enough from Jesus.

I have by no means mastered this. Actually just yesterday and today, I have been struggling ALOT.  But I am choosing to replace Satan’s lie of not good enough with Jesus’ promise found in Ephesians 1:3-12 (The Message version)

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.  Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.  It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

I don’t know about you but being the focus of God’s love to be made whole and holy through his love– that sounds like I am enough.

I am free, ABUNDANTLY FREE.  And I need to get on with glorious living that God has planned for me rather than wallowing in Satan’s pit of lies.

If I was enough for Christ to send His Son to die for me, then I need to let go of my HIGH AND UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of myself and allow Christ to be enough for me.