This past Monday the world marked the advent of the Autumn season. It’s always been a favorite of mine, partially because my birthday is in October, but regardless there is just something refreshing about the crisp Autumn days after the heat of Summer. I grew up in Florida, so in other words, we don’t have much of an Autumn. I love it nonetheless. Even now living in South Alabama, we put out our pumpkins and wear our sweaters even though it is still in the 90s through most of October. We’re also in a new season for our family, in many more ways than one. We’re settling back into our home after the hurricane damage, and expecting our third baby (A BOY!) just before the Winter Equinox. It’s season full of change like the leaves.Read More
No risk. No reward.
We’re often willing to take many risks in life. Financially we make that investment. Relationally, we reach out to that guy or girl we like. We send that text with our heart attached. We book that plane ticket. Interview for that job. Climb that mountain. Sign that mortgage. We know we might loose out or fall our face in the process of “risking it,” but we know what might be on the other side makes it “worth the jump.” Read a just about any self-help or business book, and you’ll find the message is unanimous: take a risk…you might fail, but get up and do it again until you make it. We know this “no risk, no reward” principle is true in life. We’re willing to take a risk on a lot of things in order to gain whatever it is we desire.
But when is the last time you took a risk in your faith? Jesus is pretty clear about the call to follow Him. It’s all or nothing. It’s complete surrender. And yet, we often act like we can choose the “safe bets” with God. It’s easy to be afraid that if we take that jump, He might have us do something crazy, you might look foolish, or it may involve suffering. Again, Jesus is upfront about the call: yes, it will most assuredly involve suffering, and He will probably take you somewhere you never imagined you’d be. He also uses the “foolish things to shame the wise.” (1 Cor. 1:27) But it’s the most sure risk there is! He says that risking it on Him produces eternal dividends. We can stop taking risks for our own little kingdoms and start taking risks for His. Maybe we forgot which kingdom lasts forever, or that our life here can count for something so much more than just for today or 30 years from now.Read More
At the end of December I felt the urge to step away from the sphere of social media as I entered into the new year. I needed a sabbath for my mind, and to clear out extra clutter and noise. I have mostly found social media a positive place. It can be harnessed for immense good, foster beautiful connections, opens up great entrepreneurial opportunities, and help us reach further than ever before. In fact, you're reading this on a screen right now and I may not even know who you are. That's pretty amazing. I also had an online-based business for 5 years, and was so blessed to connect with people from all over the world. There is much to be gained from our online world, and yet I confess, it is easy to put too much importance on what happens online. I have often struggled with getting on and zoning out, consciously and unconsciously comparing myself to others, or caring too much about what I see and the little numbers on posts. Even if it is mostly positive, those positive things can still negatively affect my heart. I'm no psychologist, but I think a lot of people see themselves negatively affected by so much "connection" via screens and social media. For me personally, it was so refreshing to unplug. I reached for books, instead of scrolling on my phone. I had to ask friends what is going on in their lives, because I didn’t read about it online. I allowed myself to experience a lull during downtime, and found my mind quickly filled the space productively. I went about my life without knowing what everyone else was up to, and it helped me find deeper contentment in my ordinary. It was like a cloud lifted from my mind and my thoughts found more clarity. But even when I stepped back I knew I wouldn't stay away for very long. The nature of our world has changed, and it's all online. For better or worse.Read More
This year I really don’t want to post about anything we’re doing for Valentine’s Day. It’s not that those things aren’t good, or that I don’t want to celebrate my wonderful husband or do fun things with my girls. But looking at so many posts gets to be too much sometimes. I don’t know were your click on this post fell in your feeds full of happy faces, lovely dates, crafted perfection or special gifts, and I just don’t want to be another one of those this year. Instead, I want to tell you a story about a time I messed up.
I had just made one of those sweet, heartfelt posts for a special occasion…you know, sort of like today. I was happy and feeling the love. Later that day, the same special person I wrote about said something and I took it the wrong way. I’d like to say I responded in a loving and gracious manner, but the truth is that I didn’t. In my pride, I responded selfishly. And I felt pretty awful about it afterwards. I wish I could say I repented right away as well, but again, I didn’t. Putting something kind and loving online is a lot easier than actually being kind and loving all the time. Of course, I’m not advocating that we should all share our mess-ups with the world online. It’s just that what we say online and what we do in person are sometimes different. I’m no more immune to my own humanity than anyone else, but I carried around the shame of my words the rest of the day. I felt the dichotomy between what I had said and how I had acted, and it felt like a chasm.Read More
To be “on fire” is often how we term someone who is visibly passionate for God, and the ones who seem consumed by working for God’s glory. It’s a good term. Rewind about 15 years, and you’ll find little teenage Jenny (as I was called then) sitting on her bed reading of the heroes fo the faith, and asking God to make her “on fire” too. I wanted to live out God’s purpose for my life with passion, all in and whole-hearted…on fire. But how does it actually happen?
I don’t know much about building fires, but I do know that you can’t rush it if you want it to be long-lasting. Sure, you can get a lot of heat quickly by grabbing anything flammable, pouring gasoline on top and lighting it. Will it last? Probably not. A truly good fire takes experience to construct. It needs the right kind of wood, kindling and design. Our lives are the sticks for the flame. God has created us with passions fit for a purpose in His Kingdom. The potential for flame is there and often the desire for it too. The problem with passion and wanting to be “on fire” comes when we rush God’s purpose or try to arrange our lives on our own. We feel a nudge towards our calling, and feel as though it must happen immediately. I sense God’s calling, so I want to pour gasoline on everything. I want the sticks to light. I want to see a tangible result in burning brightly. It’s easy to think God should make our flame start quickly. We’re passionate, after all! We want to follow the Lord’s calling on our lives. And then we look around us and don’t see it happening how we envisioned. Our sticks aren’t arranged how we think they should be. Maybe we question, “Surely my calling can’t happen here?” Or perhaps we look at someone else and think our fires should burn like theirs. We can easily presume that we know the way God should light the fire of our lives. We can go after things in our own strength, but we’ve all seen how that turns out: burn out. Lasting fire comes when we first let God arrange the sticks of our lives and light them in His time.Read More