Monday, February 17, 2014

Simplifying Life

Psalm 90:12 (NKJV) “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Steven Furtick of Elevation Church was speaking on Psalm 90:12 during his Times and Seasons series and he said a couple of statements about this passage that struck a chord with me.  He was trying to clarify what David meant by saying “teach us to number our days.” He said “Teach us how to correctly number our days”; “Teach us how to count what counts, so that we can make the most of the time we have”; “Teach me how to know what moments matter”; and “Teach me how to keep what matters most first and foremost, so I can make the most of the time I have.”

Near the end of the year last year I found myself very overwhelmed with life.  I felt unhappy and really just truthfully felt hopeless.  There are certain things about my life that I wanted so bad to change (nothing immoral – and it’s none of your business J).  I really lacked any type of vision for my life whatsoever.  During 21 days of prayer and fasting that was just my main prayer “God give me vision for my life, vision for my family’s lives, vision for our future.”  I firmly believe that having vision constantly before you is what keeps your motivation to succeed up.  Constantly being reminded of why you do things, and everything you do serving a purpose keeps you engaged in life.  I realized that I was doing (and still am to a degree) so many things just really for the sake of doing them.  So things piled up and piled up and suddenly I was doing so many things that I was overwhelmed.  I was stressed and unhappy and felt like that was carrying over to my home life.  I was physically and emotionally worn out and just tired, tired, tired when I was home.  I knew that wasn’t fair to my family and really not fair to me.  I was not enjoying my life.

Along the way I’ve been making little tweaks here and there.  Backing off from meetings and appointments where my presence really made no difference whatsoever, cancelling my Facebook account, I stopped venting personal things in my life to people who could not help.  The older I get the more I see how exhausting chatter for the sake of chatter is.  It may not even be audible chatter.  Constantly checking in to Facebook to see that someone liked some random photo that belongs to someone I don’t even know (WHAT SENSE DOES THAT EVEN MAKE???  WHY DO I CARE?? I DON’T!)  So I cut those things out.  I see the value of using social media for “marketing”…totally get it, but I honestly feel like it’s such a dangerous thing for personal use.  It sounds extreme…but the stress that constant chatter causes just isn’t worth it.  This girl’s brain can only take so much.

I also took some time to plan out how to readjust my priorities.  “What are my main priorities?  MY walk with God and my family.”  So I’ve made it a point to keep those my priorities.  I’ve just realized that there are different seasons in life.  Right now my kids are getting older, they are in a place where having my husband and I around is important.  We need to be available to impart things into them while our opinion matters J.  We need to be PRESENT (and not tired) as much as possible.  Our two oldest are school-aged and face things at school that sometimes require us to be there for encouragement, give them direction in how to navigate, etc.  It’s now that we are setting the tone for our relationships with our kids for years to come.  It’s now that we are able to create that safe place where our kids feel comfortable venting when they grow to be teenagers.  It’s taken me realizing that there will be times when I can be available again for things outside of our home, but what matters now is home—creating a safe place for my husband after a long day at work, being there to raise my children and give them (hopefully) a magical childhood. 

It has taken some time to readjust to not having somewhere to be all the time or not thinking about projects all the time.  I can honestly say that I’m a happier person though.  There’s just something comforting about recognizing seasons in life and realizing this particular season is only going to last so long.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year!!

Well… after almost a year, I’m back!  2013 was a very hard year for me and it honestly was just hard to put the effort into my blog posts.  I thought about it A LOT – and I missed it.  I have very few followers so I knew it wasn’t really an issue.  I do these posts as a way to get the words out.  I have no main focus…just use it as an outlet to talk.

2013 in hindsight was a great learning experience for me.  The year started off with the passing of my grandfather—which was really hard.  I’ve never had a member of my family that I was around a lot to pass away.  It was so nice though to learn more about him after his death though.  It’s honestly such an honor to have had him as a grandfather.  That’s the only way I know of to put into words how I feel.  He was a man that cared so much for his family – every.single.member.  I still cry when I think of him, but it’s not out of sadness.  I’m just grateful to have had the privilege of knowing him.

In 2013 I grew as a mother.  I have a daughter that is 6 going on 13 and that has provided its own set of challenges this year.  I honestly feel like I am the least qualified person to raise daughters… and somehow I ended up with 2.  If you know me, I am an information hog.  I’m constantly reading blogs and reading other peoples perspectives on life issues.  I’m open-minded and follow blogs of both christian and non-christian mothers.  I’m in a unique situation.  I don’t have any close friends that have kids in the same order I do: boy (8), girl (6) and girl (18 months).  I’ve found myself really needing help navigating situations with my oldest daughter, but no one I’m comfortable talking with would understand.  I can’t just talk with other mothers that have 3 kids because their kids don’t follow in the same order.  Having a middle child that is a daughter is hard.  I constantly find myself thinking about how to approach things where she won’t get her feelings hurt.  My son, he’s a breeze.  Nothing bothers him – really ever.  He cares very much about obeying the rules and getting the approval of his parents.  Even when he’s in trouble, he learns from it and shakes it off.  We have to handle our daughters with more care though.

I grew up in how I handle my relationships in 2013.  I became choosey in who I share information with.  I can really only think of 2 people that I really share details of my life with.  Talking about any issues with people that really don’t understand, and offer generic advice, makes no sense.  Now don’t get me wrong…I have many friends and I value those relationships VERY much.  I’m just talking about being choosey in those I trust with information.  I think it’s important to be that way.  I’m not interested in feedback from someone who has no experience in my situation – because they just don’t know….and that’s okay!  THIS was the hardest challenge for me.

I ended the year on a great note though!  My heart has been so full of expectation for the upcoming year.  I walked through a test the last few months and once I felt the release in my heart I was just immediately full of optimism for the new year!  I truly felt like I shut the door on the last year and was able to shake it off the second the new year began.  It’s honestly THE absolute best.feeling.ever.

At our church we are currently in a time of fasting – 21 days of fasting and prayer.  I have looked so forward to it because I truly believe the Lord wants to give direction for our family this year.  There are things in my heart that I have been mulling over and I’m just so happy to get some clarification and direction.  I truly believe that there are some big things on the horizon for our family this year and it’s exciting!  I’m not the least bit nervous or scared – just excited. J

So here’s to a new year sweet followers!  Believing your 2014 is the best.year.yet.

Much love!
Jen

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Winning Battles


I’m not sure exactly where the shift occurred.  I have to assume it was when my hubby and I stepped into a role with more responsibility in our church, but somewhere along the line I obviously crossed a line into “preparation” mode.  I can tell because it seems like I have more and more battles to fight as of late.  Overcoming offense being a major one. 

There is a battle that I am constantly having to fight in my heart.  I tell the Lord in a moment of frustration “Lord, I CHOOSE to forgive this person”, and at least once a month the situation that caused the offense comes back to mind and I find myself upset all over again.  I started getting discouraged last week because I just cannot seem to get past this situation.  In all honesty, it happened YEARS ago, and it wasn’t a big deal, but for some reason it cut me…. deep.  Despite the fact that I have actually verbalized “I forgive this person” the temptation keeps coming back and I find myself falling back into unforgiveness. 

It’s a dangerous place to be and I know that, which is why it has been so frustrating for me.  I have the DEEPEST desire to truly set this person free in my heart.  My anger is not something that is bothering them… it’s bothering me….and it’s keeping me bound.  I had a moment of revelation though in our LIFE group this past Monday and I’m so thankful.  The Lord always comes through right on time and this was no exception.  As I said, last week I started getting really discouraged because I could not get past this, and on Monday I received just what I needed to overcome.  Our lesson was speaking about Unforgiveness and below is the portion that gave me my answer:

Is there anyone you need to forgive?  God will give you the power to release them…Pray for God’s blessing on their lives.  Do like Jesus did in response to those who crucified Him: ask God to forgive them because “they know not what they do.”
(Luke 23:24)

Now I know that this seems so simple.  I know you all know this already.  Truth is, I’ve sat under years of sermons that have brought this same principle to light.  Sometimes though, you just have to be in the heat of battle for revelation to occur.  Things that you wouldn’t read twice any other day suddenly come to light.  Know what I’m saying?  This was that moment for me.  You know it’s God because my flesh does NOT want to pray blessing on someone who has done me wrong, but I’m looking forward to it!  I hope that this helps you in some way as well.

P.S.  I’ve thought long and hard about my vision for this blog.  I’ve tossed around the idea of conforming to every other blog out there.  Pretty pictures, blurbs about my family, etc.  I believe I’m supposed to keep moving forward in the direction I’ve been heading this whole time though.  I want this blog to be a place where I can share revelation I receive and (hopefully) offer encouragement to you.  I’m not saying that the cutesy posts will not occur in the future, but for the most part, this is just a place for me to vent.  I’m not interested in followers…though I love you all.  I’m just doing this more so as a way of putting words to my feelings.  I hope you’ll continue to follow.  Looking forward to the future!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Closure


I’m back!  I made it!  I apologize for the long break.  We’ve had quite a mad last couple of weeks.  I hope that you were able to catch some of the photos I posted from my trip to New York to Instagram.  I took about a hundred but just haven’t had time to upload just yet.

You may remember me talking about my grandfather being sick, which ultimately resulted in him passing away last Thursday.  A major loss for our family.  I left New York that morning knowing that when they removed him from the ventilator he wasn’t expected to make it the rest of the day.  I turned my phone off on the flight to Atlanta, and turned my phone back on to find he passed away en route.  His kids were with him as he passed and I can think of nothing sweeter.

Grief is such a foreign thing to me.  I’ve had a few friends pass away over the years, but none were particularly close to me.  This.. was such a shock to my system.  Immediately though I was just so happy for him.  I wept and wept and at the same time just wanted to burst because he’s in heaven!  What could be better?  He’s restored… not broken, he’s not struggling to breathe, there’s no sickness, there’s no pain.

We’ve spent the last 4 days with family.  We’ve cried together, shared memories, thoughts, hugs, and it’s been good.  I’ve always been one to feel like there has to be conversation.  If conversation starts to lag I babble in an effort to avoid “awkward” silence.  Not this time though.  It was the first time that I just knew that no words were needed.  Company was needed.  Sometimes that’s the most comforting thing.  Just someone to sit in silence with.

Before my grandfather’s health really began to fail, I went to visit him in the hospital.  He was a man of few words.  He wasn’t going to talk just for the sake of talking.  That day it was just he and I.  He was watching the practice rounds for the Daytona 500, and we just sat in silence watching the T.V.  It’s a day I will treasure.  Just being there to keep him company.  The other being the Saturday before our trip to New York.  The last time I saw him alive.  I was able to sit with him for an hour, again not talking, but just being.  I watched the monitors, I prayed here and there, but mostly just tried to soak up that moment.  When I left, I told him I loved him and kissed his head.

When my father contacted me to let me know they would be removing my grandfather’s ventilator, I had peace in my heart.  Though I didn’t know that the previous Saturday was my good-bye to my grandfather, it was enough for me.  I preferred it that way.  Not leaving him in tears….just a see you later.

Today the tears are still just under the surface, but it’s not quite as hard to contain my emotion.  I assume it will gradually get easier and easier.  I don’t feel quite as sad today as I have the last few days.  I’m mostly just thankful.  I’m thankful for the life of my grandfather… for the man he was.  I’m thankful for the memories I have of him.  I’m thankful for the playful hugs he gave me as a child.  I’m thankful that any time I see Doublemint gum I will be reminded of him.  I’m thankful for the legacy he has left behind.  I’m thankful that things are well with him……just thankful.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quickly

“When the world is falling out from under me
I’ll be found in You
Still standing
When the sky rolls up
And mountains fall on their knees
When time and space are through
I’ll be found in You.”

“Shadowfeet”  -Brook Fraser

Life is crazy for me this week.  My husband and I are preparing to go to New York this weekend, but we’ve had several hurdles to jump before we get there.  School projects, meetings, and spending time with family during a hard time.  My sweet grandfather is in poor health, but we’re confident that his health will be completely restored soon.  I spent the large majority of yesterday at the hospital with my fam.  Honestly could use your prayers.  I’m out of words.

I may not have time to post in the next few days.  If you’re interested, I’ll be documenting our trip to New York via Instagram.  You can locate me as mrswizznatch.     

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fresh Air


I was listening to Terry Gross interview Bradley Cooper in an episode of “Fresh Air” this morning.  Terry was questioning what caused Bradley to want to be an actor.  In response, he described seeing a movie when he was younger that deeply affected him.  In describing that moment he said “I didn’t know anything at that point, I just knew that I wanted to affect people the way I had been affected.”  When I heard this I immediately related that feeling to the way I feel about serving in our church.  The exception would be that I don’t want to be the one to affect people, I want to be a part of creating an atmosphere for people to be affected deeply by the Lord as I have been.  Just being a part of that pivotal moment in someone’s life.  That day that they remember forever as the day things changed.  The day that their lives found meaning, the day that their lives found peace, the day that their lives found healing.

Like many others in our church, my husband and I spend (sometimes) hours thinking about our church, praying for our church, setting lights, working on music, setting up for events, etc.  This can prove to be A LOT of work and very tiring.  The thing about it though is that as tiring as all of the prep work can be, that feeling completely goes away the second someone acknowledges their need for Jesus.  The fact that all of us coming together and performing our respective duties is able to create an atmosphere where people’s hearts are changed makes all of the work worth it.  That’s what keeps us coming back to do that week after week!

I guess all of this is just to give a clear picture to those that have either experienced burn out, or are hesitant to get involved in church in any shape, form, or fashion, the reason behind all of the work.  I feel it’s important to have a “keep your eye on the prize” mindset.  “The prize” being that one (or 50) individuals that will experience Jesus in a real way during the upcoming service.  This is one of the ways I keep my heart in the right place.  You don’t focus on the work, you focus on a changed life.  Period.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Take Heart


Excerpt from "Take Heart
"
Hillsong United
2011 Hillsong Church
Hillsong Music Australia


All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome

All our failure
And all our fear
God our love
He has overcome

All our heartache
And all our pain
God our healer
He has overcome

All our burdens
And all our shame
God our freedom
He has overcome

All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome

All our failures
And all our fear
God our love
He has overcome

God our justice
God our grace
God our freedom
He has overcome

God our refuge
God our strength
God is with us
He has overcome


This weekend I went to the hospital to visit my grandfather who is recovering from some health issues.  The last news I heard about him before heading to the hospital was that his condition had worsened.  Not knowing what to expect when I made it the hospital, I put on this song on the drive up.  The words are such a great reminder of who God is and what He has done for us.  It stirs such faith in me.  Here's a link: Hillsong United "Take Heart".  I'll be back with a longer post tomorrow.  I hope that you had a great weekend!!

P.S. This weekend at Relate Church we baptized 12 people and 16 others accepted Jesus as their Savior.  God is moving in the earth!  He is drawing hearts!  We are on an incredible journey as His body in the earth.  I couldn't be more psyched for the future!!