Step Out 

// October  11 & 12 // 

I am aware that I completely missed October 11. To be honest, I did not know what to write about. I sat in the prayer room digging through my thick pool of topics, but nothing intrigued me. In fact, I actually ended up falling asleep. I am going to attempt to incooperate both days into one. 

First, I woke up Wednesday morning at 5:30 am to be at work on time. You can bet your bottom dollar that the first thought that went through my mind was “Lord, please let them send me home early”. Well, God answered that prayer and I got to leave two hours early! It was such a blessing and gave me time to rest from being sick. 

Today, I accomplished a personal goal. A few months ago some friends and I that were brought together with the likemindedness of missions gathered around two small tables at the smallest Starbucks I have ever been to to talk about things we could do to spread missions on our college campus. I had this idea of asking students that had been on a missions trip or had cross-cultural engagement experience to speak to other students and share. 

I didn’t think it would ever happen because our missions club fell through for the semester. But God gave me another outlet- through the cross-cultural engagement office that I work at. When I told my boss, he was all for it. 

I began contacting people, applying for it to be a spiritual-formation opportunity (so students grt credit for being there), and just asking the Lord to guide the evening. Well, tonight it finally happened. 

Now, let me tell you, usually when I am trying to lead something or put on an event of some sort, I get aggravated easily when things don’t go as planned or when people don’t respond. But this time was different. I felt so calm about peaceful about it. When a student told me last minute they couldn’t speak, I quickly prayed and God provided another. 

I wasn’t nervous speaking in front of a small group of people, but I actually enjoyed it. The best part, however, was hearing the students speak about their experiences and how God shaped their hearts and lives from the trips they took. It truly was an incredible experience and I am honored that the Lord allowed me to help plan it. 

That being said, I want to encourage you to step out. Take that leap of faith. Trust the Lord with your dreams. He is BIGGER and MIGHTIER than all of your dreams. Know that if you submit to Him, He will bless you greatly and make your dreams come true. 

When we lean on the Lord and show Him our dependence for Him, He opens doors and uses us in ways we never imagined possible. Three years ago if you asked me, I would never have thought I’d even be capable or adequate to put on an event like this. The Lord can take those insecurities and reign in victory over them! 

Step out my friends! Step out! Just like Peter, we too can walk on water when we fix our eyes on JESUS. We just need to step out! 

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14.19

YOLO ✌🏻

// October 10 // 

So I know this one is a day late and I’m probably a dollar short, but hey, we all have those days right? 

Something that spoke to me yesterday is this concept of YOLO- You Only Live Once. I’ve never really liked this phrase because it connotates that you might as well do the thing because you won’t get to again. But I want to challenge that. 

I was at a Bible study yesterday morning and the speaker began talking about what you think JESUS will ask you when you finally get to the gates of Heaven… many of us think He will ask us about our service, prayer life, and devotion to Him, but what if He asks about something else? Like come on, God has placed so much good on this earth, what if He wants to talk about that? 

Like, I really enjoy coffee, books, and being outdoors, since JESUS is the man that wants to invest in every. Single. Person. I feel like He would want to know what we enjoy and maybe ask us about it… man, imagine getting to Heaven and Him saying “did you enjoy the coffee? The thousands upon millions of books? The hammocking and hiking?” 

God has given us these things to enjoy. So, back to YOLO… 

If you only live once, don’t you want to make the most of it? Like, enjoying these good things God has given us? 

There’s a song that says “you only live once so you better live it well”. I don’t want to walk through life stressed, defeated, and bored. I want to step out and be adventurous, trusting that my God, my ABBA Father in Heaven, is leading the way day by day. 

That being said, I’m going to enjoy my coffees, books, and outdoors. I’m going to YOLO right on through life, but I’m going to YOLO for Christ. 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. | Psalm 90:12

Be a Winner 

// October 8 // 

Today I feel defeated. 

I have a stack of school work so high it’s taller than me (but I guess that doesn’t say much because I’m so short). I am scheduled to work everyday this week with both of my jobs combined. I feel drained and empty of all my energy. 

I went to bed late and had plans to go to church with two of my favorite friends. I did not want to go and was secretly hoping my friend would sleep through his alarm (he’s known for that). But he didn’t, and I had already committed to driving. 

The service went later than I expected and we got back to campus later than I thought we would. I had about 30 minutes to grab lunch before I had to head off to my next event. I knew that I would be out late (Pssh, is 8:30PM late?). I was dreading the night because I have to work at 7:30 in the morning and have so much school work to do. 

I feel defeated because I have so much to do, but not enough time or energy. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Did I get myself involved in more than I can handle? 

I was reminded, however, in the midst of my chaotic day that God views me much differently. He sees me as a winner. Even though my human self may fail by getting myself caught up in more than I should, He sees me as precious in His eyes. 

He sees you the same. Even though you may feel weighted down and burned out, the Lord still sees you as victorious. 

And how can we say that we are anything BUT victorious when JESUS is the great King that reigns in victory? My prayer tonight is that our Father in Heaven would touch each of us with grace and restore our energies. Also, I pray that He would remind us and still in our hearts that we are winners in His eyes. 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Self Care

// October 7 //

This morning I woke up dreading the day. Another day of working until mid-afternoon and then an evening of school work. This routine gets old to me. I know that I signed up for these things but sometimes I just need to breathe and take a minute to recollect.

After asking God in many prayers to be sent home early from work, the Lord provided and my manager told me to leave and hour early. When she told me I nearly cried I was in such disbelief, it was incredible (God can truly work miracles).

I got back to my dorm room and was planning on cranking out some large assignments that are due this coming week and the next. However, after eating my leftover pizza and pumpkin bread I realized I was so tired that there would be no way I would get ANY work done. So, I did what any other college student would do, I crawled into bed for a mid-afternoon nap.

After laying there for a while, I got bored (I know, I’m crazy). I remembered it was such a beautiful day out as I drove home from work, so I had this spontaneous idea of hammocking. Not able to bare the thought of just laying in a hammock doing nothing, I checked out some of the reading assignments I have to do for this week and grabbed three different books. For some reason, I thought I was going to be super productive on this hammocking adventure.

I got my hammock all set up and finally got comfortable in a position to read and take notes on what I was reading. I read the first assignment and noticed myself drifting in and out of sleep. I thought, maybe I could just close my eyes for a second and be alright to continue working. BUT, I ended up just throwing the rest of my books and notebook to the ground and taking a nap.

When I woke up I could hardly remember where I was. But when I figured it out, I felt so soothed and “recollected”. It was incredible. Then, I packed everything up, went to dinner, got a coffee, and cranked out some school work for the rest of the night. It was great.

You see, one thing I fail to do is practice self-care. I fail to allow my body to rest, as well as my mind and spiritual side. I am a high energy, go-go-go kind of person (just ask my mom and roommate, they’ll tell ya!). But sometimes, I have to take a deep breath and realize that if I want to do even the slightest of a good job, or be helpful, then I need to take care of myself. Hammocking today was definitely a good decision to help me do that.

Do you have ways that you practice good self-care?

A Biblical way of looking at this is the Sabbath Day. We are called to take a whole day where we basically rest in the Lord. We can be reminded of this in Exodus 20.8-10, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.”

 

Enjoy the Good Things 

// October 6 // 

Today was a good day. Despite the fact that I had to work the majority of it. Fortunately, God has blessed me with fun people to work with. After work, however, I was really exhausted and just wanted to sleep. 

I was sitting in my dorm room with my suitemate and we started talking about how weird it is that when I pack everything up at the end of the semester, I’ll never be u packing it at this particular college again. It was very sad to think about, or bittersweet. 

It made me want to have fun this last semester. It made me want to enjoy friendships and just let laughter take over. And that’s exactly what we did tonight. 

My roommate came back from dinner with her parents and brought us yummy cookie sandwiches. I dipped mine in my caramel coffee that I made. It was truly a good thing.  I pondered how pleasant and sweet the moment was, just like the many moments of my college years. 

Simply said, I don’t want to be so stressed out about after college that I forget to enjoy college now. I want to enjoy the good things while they are here. I encourage you to do the same. 

Don’t get so caught up in the future that you let the good times slip away. If you wait too long, the cookie will go stale and you will not get to enjoy it. 

Romans 15.13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Just a Draft

// October 5 //

In my Intro to Creative Writing class today I had an interesting thought. As the first part of the semester is coming to a close, we are finishing up the poetry section of class. To do so, we are each required to write a poem and workshop it with the whole class. This means, reading it out loud and then accepting feedback from other students and the professor.

In other words, this would be the first draft. The goal is to get enough feedback to edit it and put it in a writing portfolio at the end of the semester. So, today we learned about revisions and editing. We talked about certain techniques that we could use to make our work of art the best it can be and bring it to perfect completion.

I immediately thought of all the other papers I had drafts of. In middle school I remember having 1-2 drafts of small papers that we had to turn in. Last semester I had a first draft of a 15-20 page paper to turn in.  Without the feedback from those I had read the first draft, I never would have concluded with the final product. I cannot recall the grades I got on the papers in middle school, but I can tell you that I had a 97% on the 15-20 page paper that I read at least 3 times myself, let alone what I asked others to read.

I also write for our school’s newspaper. Each week I am assigned a topic and interview several students on the topic. By Friday at 5PM I am to have sent my first draft to the copy editor who then makes corrections and sends it along to be published. He has to read the first draft and correct mistakes before it can actually be published.

As I was sitting in class and pondering the idea of drafts, I thought of this: maybe we are all just drafts that God is continuing to edit throughout our lives. Each day, God works at creating us to be more like Him. He makes revisions and eventually, our final product will be perfect.

One thing we talked about was how difficult it is to make revisions on a poem or short story. That is because we may have spent hours upon hours of writing it to begin with and think it is already perfect in its first form. However, once we go through the editing process, the work of art is so beautiful in the end that we forget about the pain of revising.

This is how I imagine it to be when we are in Heaven. If we, as humans, can never achieve perfection, but God is constantly working on us, making us whole and complete in HIS image, then one day, we too shall be perfect with Him in Heaven.

It is painful to undergo some of these changes and revisions, but in the end, we will see that it is well worth it!

James reminds us of this in chapter one verse four of his letter: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Walking in Your Own Shoes

Do you remember as a kid when you would try on your mom or dad’s shoes? Maybe mom had a pair of heels or dad had a pair of work boots that just intrigued you because you wanted to be just like mom and dad. Sometimes, I would try to put them on my dog too. He deserved to be just as fashionable as the rest of us. We wanted to be like our parents because of how awesome they were to us.

My mom and I share this song called “Watching You” by Rodney Atkins. The lyrics go:

I’ve been watching you, dad, ain’t that cool? I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you And eat all my food, and grow as tall as you are We got cowboy boots and camo pants Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we dad? I wanna do everything you do So I’ve been watching you.

Except, I always change the word “dad” to “mom”… and I’ve accepted that I’ll never be taller than 5’2 1/2.

I always wanted to be like Mom. When I was a kid I used to go with her to work. It made me want to be a nurse too. I wanted to help people just like Mom did. However, as I got older, I realized that maybe the nursing profession wasn’t for me. Maybe the reason I can’t stand the sight of blood is because I am not supposed to be a nurse.

As God worked in my life and in my heart I learned that I had my own calling. I learned that I am my own person. I read in scripture that God has plans for my future, to prosper me, according to Jeremiah 29.11. It’s not that I didn’t want to be like my mom anymore, it’s that God had a single plan JUST for my life, as He did for my mom too.

God has called each of us to something greater within this fallen world. For my mom, she was called to be a nurse. For me, I am called to the field of social work. You may be called to be a firefighter, policemen, teacher, bus driver, mailman, or stay-at-home mom. All of these occupations are worthy of the Kingdom.

Beyond the idea of a career, however, God has a single plan, a story, for each and every one of us. The problem with my thinking growing up was that my story was going to look just like my mom’s. But truth be told, no one’s story is going to be the same. We may share experiences, but God has a set of shoes for each of us to wear. I am not created to wear your shoes and walk your journey just as you are not created to wear and walk mine.

God prepares us for these journeys. He gives us gifts and talents to help us along the way as well. Have you ever seen a gifting in someone and just thought, “man, I wish I could do that!”. Most of the photos you see on this blog are taken by the best photographer I know (including the one for this post). I wish I had that gifting. A close friend of mine has the gift of prayer. I wish I was anointed in that way to lead others in prayer. But God has gifted me elsewhere. God has anointed me in another area.

Do you ever find yourself getting jealous of a friend’s gifting? Or maybe you find yourself getting upset because you see how successful they are becoming and that the Lord is working such great things in their lives, yet you are just sitting there, practically begging God to move in your life, and the same old, what seems like status quo continues… We have all been there at one point in our lives.

I want to share a vision with you that God gave me almost a year ago. In this vision, everyone is playing an instrument in an orchestra. Jesus is conducting. He points to a certain section and motions for them to play louder while using the other hand to quiet the other sections. Sometimes everyone is motioned to play quietly, and other times everyone is playing forte. Occasionally, someone will have a solo and everyone else will be quiet.

You see, when Jesus is conducting the orchestra of life, sometimes one person is going to have a solo where you have a rest. Other times we are all going to be playing loudly together. It is not a matter of them being more faithful to God, but rather God orchestrating HIS plans into our lives, creating the most beautiful story and harmony during HIS timing.

If you feel that you are being left behind by all of those around you, jealous that they are succeeding, or that the Lord is silent, let me tell you, brother or sister, God is surely working! He is preparing you and equipping you with what you need for your next big solo. He wants you to be prepared. He wants you to be ready. God does not set us up for failure, so He is taking the time to shape you and mold you into what you need to be to take on the next big step of life.

Do you know the greater thing God has called you to? What work is Jesus asking you to participate in?

When I am trying to find what God is calling me to do, I often look at what those around me are doing. And then I try to do that too. Unfortunately, when I get into it, I find myself frustrated that I am not as successful. Sooner or later, I realize that God actually has something else in store for me. It is something the Lord crafted for me, and only intended for me.

It is not always easy to see what God has before us, but if we fix our eyes on Him and continue to be obedient, the calling will come. And when it does, we need to continue to be obedient and recognize that because God is calling us to do it, we are adequate for the job!

I urge you, dear Child of God, continue to press in. Pursue HIM. Ask Jesus to show you His next step for your life. Ask Him to prepare you for what is to come.

God has a story for you. God has a plan. He has crafted a pair of shoes that fit your feetimage better then any man-made shoe. Walk in them, my friend, walk in them!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

– Ephesians 2.10

 

In His Grip,

Jenny