3 Truths Breathing Life into Weary Lungs

I rarely write on other topics throughout a Bible study series, but there’s something I need to share with you today. I hope you’ll find some hope through this post, because it comes from the deepest, most tender place inside my heart. I have a very strong feeling there are a lot of people who, like me, are struggling. Maybe you’re one of them. If you’re not, maybe you’ll choose to share this with someone who needs it.

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I have a lot to say and rarely know how to say any of it. Last week, two women showed up at my door to share their faith, and though my belief system is much different than theirs, I was confused as to how to communicate what I wanted to say. I shied away from a God-given directive to invite them to my table for coffee. As I closed the front door, choosing not to extend an invitation, the Holy Spirit conveyed this thought: “I don’t need you to defend me, Jennifer. I only need you to show I live inside you.” Though there is no condemnation in Christ, I still felt as if I’d failed.

These days, I often feel like a failure. My mind is overrun with thoughts of not writing well enough, speaking well enough, parenting well enough, and the list goes on. I’m living with anger, fear, and good-old-fashioned remorse. I’m not who I was and can’t seem to figure out who I am. I find myself looking at the sky asking, “What is it? What do I need to know, so I can feel like me again?”

I walk around angry inside and no one knows it. I attend functions, and smile for selfies, without allowing a hint of the crumbling happening way down deep to show. I laughingly play with my kids and make my family dinner all the while feeling lifeless inside. I’m not upset with anyone in particular, and I’m not at all faulting God for any of this. It just so happens, like many others, I’m on the battlefield of life. This particular battle might just be the toughest one I’ve ever fought. The struggle to choose joy is real.

However, when I find myself overthinking how I feel, the wind blows…

I’ve been fascinated with wind for several years now. We see the power of it inside storms and feel its gentle breeze when our skin needs cooled. The Hebrew word ruach literally means wind, spirit, or breath. Because of this, every time the trees move I picture the breath of God. All through the Bible we see the significance of the Almighty’s breath. In Him we live, move, and have our being and it’s all because our God breathes.

I’ve been in need of some spiritual resuscitation, and there are three pieces of truth continuing to breathe life inside these weary lungs.

  1. I don’t have to be enough, because He has always been enough for me.

This can be tough to comprehend, but it is what it is: We weren’t meant to be enough on our own. It’s the mighty power of God that equips, making us conquerors. It’s never about us and always about Him.

  1. I breathe only because He gave me breath.

We breathe because He allows it. It’s that simple. The most incredible part of this is He knows each one of us, and purposed before time that we would carry His breath in our lungs. Anyone who has ever walked this planet was chosen by the Almighty.

  1. The one who designed redemption is more than capable to redeem my pain.

In the midst of grief, the only reason my mind is sound is because He makes all things well. Believe me, I look at my situation and question the meaning of redemption. I don’t see it, but I know He redeems everything. I have to trust in His blueprint of restoration regardless of how much I wish I could have drawn the plans. My human condition cannot begin to engineer any worthwhile design at all. Christ alone.

I lost my brother this summer, and with him went part of me. I’m learning how to be an only child. I feel a little lost and a lot confused. I won’t ever be the same, but I must stand up and start shouting hallelujah!

You see, I’m not meant to stay the same on this earth. Comfort cages, cages confine, and as much as I loathe suffering, I don’t want the Spirit of God inside me to be soft, sweet, and content. I want the Spirit of God inside me to be a raging wind. His breath blustering through my lungs is all I want. It’s His life-giving power that transforms, heals, and overflows into other lives. I need to shut down all other feelings. What about you?

Dear friend, regardless of what you’re going through, do not allow horrific change to hinder your growth. Instead, let it propel you forward into the arms of the only One who can give you spiritual CPR and heal you from the inside out.

Do not be contained; be contagious.

  • Your hope is in Christ.
  • Your life is in Him.

And it all starts with the power of His breath.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

In Greek, the word transcends means to throw over or beyond, to run beyond.

  • However you feel today, run beyond it.
  • Whatever your circumstances are, run beyond them.

Run into the wind… into the mighty breath of God.

Love,

Jennifer

Because Sometimes We Want to Clobber Somebody!

Let everything that has breath...I sit listening to the gentle sounds of the piano and hear the cicadas outside my window singing along. They must be praising Jesus again. I happen to think that all creatures of the earth were designed to do nothing but worship. How lucky are the ones without the free will?!?! They do nothing but exalt with their mouths. No matter what, they know God is on the throne, and so their voices cry out. I envy the cicadas.

I consider my day. How well have I done? Have I shown love, given grace, shared hope? Have I used my voice in praise? Was it enough?

I believe in investing in people. I want to love, give the benefit of the doubt and always hope for the best. I need good to come from bad. I desire to be more than a conqueror. Christ says it’s possible. Because of Him I can be more than. More than! More than a conqueror!!! (See Romans 8:37)

Wow. Hope, in all its glory, wins because there is no end to what more than actually means. There is no limit in the Lord. His love goes on and His grace overcomes. He lifts up blonde haired, blue eyed girls like me with messy hearts and says, “You can because my Son already did!”

So what happens when enough for Christ is never enough for somebody else? What happens when people hurt you and they continue to hurt you? How can we be conquerors in Christ when we want to clobber somebody?

Here’s what I think: The only way to keep loving, to keep living wholly in holiness, is to give every shredded piece of our hearts to Jesus. When people tear, just keep handing it over. Piece by piece He’s weaving together our victory, because we are choosing surrender.

When I close my eyes, it’s as if I can see God with scarlet thread sewing my heart up and making me whole. I imagine that He’s chosen the color scarlet to represent the color of love, the color of blood, to show me sometimes love bleeds and hurts.

I recently heard a very wise man say, “Love, at its core, is commitment.”

Love can be risky, friends. It was for Jesus. He suffered and died for a lot of people who refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord. Whenever I’m upset with someone, all I have to do is think of that and I want to drop to my knees.

What right do I have to complain? My job is to love and my commitment to Christ obligates me to do so.

I’m on a journey of completion. I know it won’t happen until I meet my God face-to-face, but every day of my life here on this earth is the process of Christ making me more than a conqueror.

  • Because of His death and resurrection, I live.
  • Because of His love for me, I’m able to love others.
  • Because of the security in His commitment to me, I’m able to freely commit to Him.

Do you know why the cicadas sing at night? To avoid predators.

Our praise to the living God, our surrender to Him, helps us shun the invitation of sin that would love to enter and destroy us. Praise and worship of the Father is actually protection, and I believe it helps birth love inside us for others. Even when they hurt us.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

-Psalm 150:6

So friend, keep praising, keep loving, keep surrendering. Even when you’re hurt, even when you don’t understand, use your life to praise God. You’ll never be sorry you did.

Love,

Jennifer

What You Will Always Have and Two Special Announcements!

Ocean and rock blog picHello, Friends! It has been a few days since I’ve written. I pray you are well.

Last weekend, I had the honor of speaking to a beautiful group of women at a M.O.P.S. conference. Speaking encouragement into hearts is something I love to do. It is a privilege.

My topic was about surviving grief. We discussed the breath of God and His ability to breathe new life into any situation. I shared a “light bulb moment” God gave me relating to Genesis chapter 1 where the word speaks of His Spirit hovering over the dark waters.

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

-Genesis 1:2

That word Spirit is translated from the Hebrew word Ruach, which means wind or breath. Think about that… the Breath of God was hovering over the waters.

When our life seems without form, and void, when darkness surrounds us and we cannot see any light in our situation, the breath of our God is hovering. And with that breath, He has the ability to do something amazing!

We know that it takes breath to speak. Let’s take a look at the next verse.

 

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

-Genesis 1:3

With His breath He spoke light and life into the dark. Regardless of what you are going through, God will never leave you. He is there. His breath is hovering and in an instant, He can speak light and life into your situation. Do you know what that represents? It represents hope!!!

No matter how dark your situation is, you always have hope! (Tweet that.)

I know that one of my callings is to share His hope. And, because of that, I have written a book entitled, Nothing to Hold but Hope. It is scheduled for release on July 2, which would have been my daughter Courtney’s 18th birthday. It serves as proof of healing in my life. And now my scars will shout His glory!

I also have something else I would like to share:

Over the course of the last month, I have received emails asking if we will be offering another ticket special for The Mercy Retreat. I’ve had women inquire about scholarships as well. Unfortunately, we do not have any scholarships available. However, my heart longs to help those who feel they cannot afford the ticket prices at the current rates.

After much prayer, and speaking to the members of the retreat team, we are going to run a 48 Hour Memorial Day Weekend special. Tickets will go on sale at a reduced price. It is the lowest price yet and it will only be available for two days: Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26.

The current prices are all inclusive and we are not making a profit. Extra funds go into providing gift bags, extra surprises, special décor, and covering the expenses of our keynote speakers. The reduced rate Memorial Day Special (also all inclusive) is the lowest prices we can offer. Actually, we will be taking a minimal loss on those tickets, but we feel called to do what we can to help you join us. The Mercy Retreat Team has been in prayer for each woman who will be attending and we want you to experience a beautiful weekend to be refreshed and rejuvenated.

All inclusive Ticket Sale prices will be as follows:

Triple Accommodations (per person) $185.00

Double Accommodations (per person) $205.00

Single Accommodations $ 265.00

For details on what your ticket includes, click here.

To learn about speakers, click here.

To meet the retreat team, click here.

Tickets are available through Eventbee.

I pray you will join us for a weekend together to talk about mercy and hope. I can’t wait to see you there!

You are enough, and there is hope for whatever it is you are enduring. You can do this. Go with God, my friends! He’s hovering over you! His breath of life is our promise!

Love,

Jennifer

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150Today, I’m linking up with Holley Gerth to encourage you through Coffee for Your Heart!

Shaking the Dust

"Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Over the last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the “dust” we are supposed to “shake off” can mean.  How can we apply this in our lives? After studying Luke 9, I decided to go back to the beginning when God the Father used something as ugly as dust and turned it into life.

Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

It wasn’t only dust that God used to make man into a living being. It was the amazing gift of His breath. The living God actually breathed life into Adam. It is astounding for me to try and comprehend the actual breath of God.

After the sin of Adam and Eve, the ugliness of dust was confirmed.

Genesis 3:14

So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.

A few verses later God speaks to Adam…

Genesis 3:19

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

The good news is that regardless of the curse, the Father sent Christ to redeem us. He loved us enough to send grace and mercy in human form. His only Son suffered and died to pay for every sin we would ever commit. And that breath of life God breathed into Adam became the same breath He would breathe into us through the precious blood of Jesus.

Though we will eventually face physical death and our bodies will no doubt turn to dust, our souls can fly home because of the sacrifice of our Savior.

When Jesus talked about shaking the dust, He meant it in the context of those who wouldn’t receive the disciples in His name. However, I have been pondering “dust” in the context of a metaphor for sin. The other night at Bible study, I asked the ladies these three questions. I thought I would share them with you also.

  1. What “dust” holds you back from freedom in Christ?
  2. Why is it so hard to shake that “dust?”
  3. What do you think you can do to shake it from your life once and for all?

This is some food for thought. I’ve been making these same evaluations in my own life. It is important for me to rid myself of anything that may be holding me back in my relationship with my Lord. I want to live fully in the breath He gave me. I desire to inhale His beauty and exhale His praise.

I’m placing my hope in the Lord, and I’m shaking any dusty sin from my life to move forward in freedom!

Have you considered “shaking the dust?”