Why Do We Allow Busyness to Dictate our Actions and Behaviors?

Why do we allow busyness to dictate our actions and behaviors_-1

Good Morning, Friends. I know that recently I’ve only been posting on Wednesday’s to study Jeremiah, but I decided to go off schedule and give a word of encouragement for your weekend. I have a reason.

Some days just don’t turn out the way we expect them. Without going into the entire story and crafting this into more words than it needs to be, yesterday was an unexpected day. Long story short: I had a doctor’s appointment, he decided I needed a cortisone shot, I had a reaction to the medicine, and about five minutes after receiving the injection I passed out cold. Ugh!

But let’s take a step back so I can tell you that the morning leading up to that moment wasn’t my greatest. My husband insisted on accompanying me to the appointment. In my small mind, I thought that was a really dumb idea. I should probably say that I didn’t want to see the doctor about a silly shoulder injury. I thought for sure I could power through and that there was probably nothing wrong at all. Not the case. I have a minor injury that needs some attention. However, my actions were not the kindest towards Paul because he was the one who insisted I take time out of my busy schedule to see a doctor. He wants me to feel better… the nerve!

Why do we allow busyness to dictate our actions and behaviors?

It’s not that I mind being busy. Lord knows I’ve brought most of what I do on myself voluntarily. But here’s what I’ve noticed: there is a test in the middle of the busy, every day happenings of life. I’ll be honest and tell you that yesterday morning I didn’t pass. Paul told me he wanted to come to my appointment to make sure I was alright. Instead of accepting his kindness, I complained I had to go in the first place and didn’t think he needed to waste time waiting in a physician’s office just because I had to be there.

Aren’t you glad God is atemporal? He isn’t limited by the confines of time. And with all my heart, I think He’s calling us to look up from our calendars so we don’t miss the moments He’s designed especially for us. We operate on a 24/7 schedule with full planners and little room for change. When we need to switch something around, guilt takes the driver’s seat. Listen, it’s okay to be busy and stick to schedules. However, it’s not okay to become so imprisoned by what we need to accomplish in a day that our mood shifts and we aren’t able to see what God wants us to achieve. If we aren’t careful, full schedules have a way of making us into control freaks leaving little room for God to work.

I ended up having to spend almost the entire day in bed yesterday, unscheduled. I wasn’t happy about any of it until I began seeing the fingerprints of God on my situation. I had an injury that needed diagnosed, I wasn’t alone because my husband was there when the medication triggered a reaction, and I needed some rest that I wouldn’t have otherwise given myself.

This weekend, take some deep breaths. Consider deviating from the schedule and filling some space with family and friends. Make memories and share stories. Do something that you want to do and be intentional about not allowing guilt to suffocate your choices. Plans are meant to change, and sometimes it’s because God has a divine appointment waiting.

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

-Mark 6:31

In the above scripture, Jesus and the disciples were busy ministering. Jesus decided they needed a place to rest, so they got in a boat planning to go to a deserted place. Guess what? The multitudes followed and Jesus was moved to compassion for them. The disciples at first wanted to send them away but Jesus had a feeding miracle in mind. The disciples had their own plans, but Jesus had a divine appointment waiting. Even before the existence of calendars humanity needed lessons on listening to the divine appointment Maker.

I never want to miss a divine appointment. What about you?

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Don’t forget to comment and/or subscribe on last Wednesday’s post for a chance to win Rebekah Lyons book You Are Free. You’ll love it.

The Kingdom Building Call (Part Two)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

Kingdom Building through the Life of Jeremiah

(Week Two)

The winner of Lisa-Jo Baker’s book Never Unfriended  is Jenn Miller! Congratulations, Jenn! I will be contacting you via email for your address! I’m giving away another wonderful book today. Details are at the end of this post.

If you’re joining us today for the first time, welcome! For some tips on how to study with us, click here.

Week Two Study Overview: Today we will deal with the inner struggles and feelings associated with having no idea why God chose us, or why it seems He hasn’t chosen us for anything at all.

Key Point of Struggle:

I’m not sure I can accomplish the calling on my life and be successful. I’m not even sure I know what my calling is.

Key Proof of Comfort:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah has stolen my heart. I feel like I know him well. I’m not trying to compare my small struggles to his immeasurable pain; that would be ridiculous. However, in my mind, I can picture myself conversing to him about the call of God and the everyday crazy it makes me feel. I think he would be a good guy to connect with on the topic of purpose. If it were possible, I would lament to him over a steaming, hot cup of coffee in a corner booth at Panera Bread about all that seems to undo me regarding how God wants to use my life. And, it’s almost as if I can hear the weeping prophet saying, “Yeah, I get it. I totally get it.” I know you do, Jeremiah, I so know you do.

Jeremiah’s background:

  • He was called as a young man and his ministry lasted more than forty years.
  • He was from the town of Anathoth and born into the family of Hilkiah. It was a priestly family. We do not have any evidence to say Jeremiah himself was a priest, but I do think it’s safe to say he would have been trained in priestly ways.
  • He was commanded by God not to take a wife and have children because of the imminent judgment on the next generation.
  • Because of his calling he had few friends and experienced great rejection and pain.
  • Jeremiah did not hold back his feelings, which is why he is known as the weeping prophet. He is quite a writer and very poetic in style. (He used his scribe and faithful assistant Baruch to pen his words.) He his honest about his struggles and even shows himself to be a bit pessimistic at times. (We see you, Jeremiah!)

In a nutshell, I believe kingdom building is about being obedient to whatever God calls us to do. Jeremiah was called to the bewildering task of prophesying to Judah about their impending doom due to their wicked ways. This was about the breaking down of a kingdom from impurity of heart. Seriously, the historical account of Jeremiah seems like anything but kingdom building. Jeremiah actually witnessed the collapse of Jerusalem and the temple. However, God has a plan and purpose in every task he assigns. It’s not up to us to measure the task in order to weigh the importance of it.  And, it’s absolutely not okay to analyze how it might benefit us. Being obedient to God’s calling means faith and trust with eyes wide open focused on Him. We must learn to look past ourselves in order to get a clearer view of His will. Last week, we talked about our purpose being nothing at all about us. It’s about how the Father chooses to use us. I’m not saying there isn’t blessing within it, however, our definitions of blessing and God’s can sometimes be very different.

  • Have you ever been in the midst of a difficult situation and thought no good could ever come from it, but after emerging out of the other side you become aware of God’s fingerprints? If yes, write about this in your journal. I believe it’s important to remind ourselves of God’s hand in past circumstances. If not, and you can’t see God’s goodness in that situation, write a prayer asking Him to reveal his presence over the pain.

Kingdom Building Through The Life of Jeremiah Week 2

Let’s dig into Jeremiah’s call:

In Jeremiah 1:4, Jeremiah tells us the word of the Lord came to him. What God actually says in verse 5, in my opinion, is the most significant piece of the puzzle regarding purpose and calling for every beating heart.  Let’s take a close look at it.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

-Jeremiah 1:5

Let’s break this verse down beginning with “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

Take a good, long look at the word before inside the above scripture. That word has the potential to change how you see the significance of your life.  We cannot possibly understand our role in kingdom building, or the importance of the breath inside our lungs, if we cannot understand that God breathed purpose into us for more than we can see or imagine. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, His plan for us is to carry the power of His Holy Spirit inside us and march on for the cause of Christ. When we pour out, He will pour back in. Before we were formed there was purpose for us. Friend, you’ve always had a name, and your name has been on the mind of the Creator before time began.

  • What does the word before, as it relates to Jeremiah 1:5, mean to you, specifically?

Whenever I sit down to write, I think about what I might say before I begin. I meditate on a specific piece of scripture or idea. After that, I put pen to paper. I can’t possibly compare my process of creating to anything God creates, but for me it’s amazing to have just a tiny glimpse of His process. He cares about what He creates, and therefore, He plans every piece with detailed intention.

How many times do we sit down and think about the process of our own creation in the womb? I’m betting the time we spend doing that is nonexistent. And, if we did, would we relate it to God or biology? Before God created us, He thought about us individually. Not one of us is an accident. God doesn’t create anything by accident. His purpose fuels our purpose. Our lives mean something. I don’t know who it is reading this that needs to hear these words, but I will tell you right now that God has a plan for you and no matter what anyone has ever told you, you were created  in love by love. God is love and He created you. Just like the prophet Jeremiah, you were on the mind of God before ever being placed in the womb.

Let’s move to the next part of the scripture.

“Before you were born I sanctified you…”

To be sanctified means to be set apart. As a child, were you ever selected to do something special? Maybe you were chosen to be on a sports team or had a role in a play. What about as an adult? Do you remember the way you felt when your spouse made it clear they wanted their forever to include you? Those moments in time are examples of situations that set us apart from others. When they happened they made us feel pretty good, right?  Can you imagine how life changing it would be if we could all just have the faith of a mustard seed in believing we were set apart by the Almighty before time began?  Before we ever breathed the outside air, every detail of purpose, calling, and kingdom building ability was carefully crafted in each of us. Saint Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Let’s look at the last piece of the passage.

“I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Okay, friends, here’s the tricky part. Jeremiah’s calling was different from our own. We aren’t all meant to be prophets. The apostle Paul gives an overview of this:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

-1 Corinthians 12:4-5

  • I would like you to think carefully about the following question: what are you called to do?

Remember, world changers aren’t defined only by those who are called to witness to dying nations. (Like our Jeremiah) Last week, we talked about living our callings in the typical day-to-day. From changing diapers to showing kindness to our neighbors we are living the Great Commission. We don’t often look at everyday activities as living a life of great purpose, but that’s exactly what it’s all about. What happens during the events of an average day changes lives and makes disciples.

  • In your journal, I would like you to make a list of the things you do on a daily basis that you haven’t necessarily looked at through the lens of ministry or disciple making before. It should consist of activities you are now recognizing as part of your purpose. Use the above scriptural phrase from Jeremiah 1:5 I’ve ordained you a __________ . (You fill in the blank.)
  • After that, make a list of the other gifts you have that you would like to use in a ministry capacity right now. Talents you enjoy such as music, writing, speaking, drawing, cooking, entertaining, teaching etc.…

Here is an example of my list taken from the ordinary everyday as well as ministry gifts I like to use in a more traditional sense:

I ordained you a wife and mother. I’ve given you the ability to drive, cook, clean, and do laundry. I’ve ordained you a friend, someone who loves to entertain others in your home. You are an encourager, writer, speaker, worship leader, and studier of My Word.

Now that I’ve identified those abilities in my own life, I can use them for good. Even the ones that aren’t so fun, like cleaning.  I can choose to recognize purpose in everything I do on an average day. Those seemingly insignificant choices are all part of the process of my life being used for more than what I can see. I’m taking care of people and showing the Jesus inside me. I’m choosing to see each task as a gift from God to touch other lives. Perspective is everything.

When we can put ourselves into the pages of the Bible and realize these lessons are not just about the person who actually lived and endured them, like Jeremiah, but also for us, we can better grasp who Jesus is to us and the purpose He’s given each life.

Next week, we are going to discuss Jeremiah’s response to God’s call. I would like to encourage you to go deeper this week in study. Here are my suggestions:

  • Read Psalm 139 and use it as the foundation of truth to journal God’s thoughts toward you.
  • Read John 1:1-3 Journal about the truth of knowing that Jesus was at the center of every creation, including your life.

Today, I’m giving away Rebekah Lyons book You Are Free. It’s a wonderful portrayal of kingdom building as it relates to her struggles with panic and anxiety. She tells the process of overcoming, which enables her life to be used in kingdom building. It spoke to my life, and I believe it will speak to yours. To enter, all you have to do is comment and subscribe. Already a subscriber? Just leave a comment regarding kingdom building. I will announce the winner next Wednesday!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Show others your ordinary day-to-day kingdom building tasks through using the hashtag #KingdomBuilidingSisters on Social Media. You can connect with me on Instagram to see my posts.

The Kingdom Building Call (Part One)

Kingdom Building Through the Life of Jeremiah

(Week One)

Today’s blog post is longer than average. This is because I’m providing information on how to use the study, as well as adding an introduction. Please don’t be put off by this. Since you’ll only be receiving blog posts on Wednesdays, feel free to break the study into pieces and take it one small portion at a time throughout the week.

What you need to know before beginning this study:

  • Jeremiah is a very large book of the Bible, fifty-two chapters to be exact. It is also not written in chronological order. This means that for the sake of a six week study, we will be discussing highlights of Jeremiah’s life as it relates to kingdom building, his ministry, how he dealt with his calling, and his interactions with God. We will not be covering the entire fifty-two chapters.
  • It will be helpful to have a journal alongside your Bible as you study. There will be questions to answer, key verses, and prayers along the way that will be worth writing down throughout the journey. (This isn’t required, only recommended in order to gain the most from the study.)
  • Every week as we begin the study, you will see a Key Point of Struggle and a Key Proof of Comfort listed. The Key Point of Struggle is a piece of the study that could possibly stir the most angst inside you as you’re working to seek purpose and live it well. The Key Proof of Comfort is a piece of the study that will help calm your soul as we discover truth together.

 

Introduction

We have each been created by the Maker of the universe – intricately woven with matchless pieces from Himself that gives us just a hint of who He is and the smallest clue as to who we are. Upon creation He fills us with longing that leaks from our souls. Little-by-little from the time we have intelligent thought we begin the lifelong search of figuring out what we were created to do and why.

Those of us who know with all certainty exactly who made us, know the foundation of truth in Psalm 139. We are ready for our assignments, and just like a bunch of small children who want to please their teacher with the correct answer, we raise our hands while jumping wildly from our seats begging, “Pick me, Lord, pick me!” We recognize our gifts have marked us with unique stamps of purpose, and we are ready to own our callings.

Women like us come wrapped in passion. We seek purpose and gain worth from figuring out what we were born to do and then pursue doing it well. Fueled by the desire to use our gifts we pray to thrive where He sends us. But sometimes He sends us to unexpected places and assigns tough tasks that require much more than our talents and abilities can offer. We quickly learn this “thing” He sent us to do is so much bigger than us. And then we realize something even more terrifying: this actually has nothing to do with us at all. We possess zero control and there’s more to this calling than we ever imagined.

No matter your mission, serving Christ is not platforms and accolades. Whether you stand on a stage, feed the homeless, volunteer in Sunday school, or spend each day praying over the feet of your very own children- pleading God‘s mercy as to where they might walk –  fierce callings are filled with weeping, humility, and lots of practice holding tightly to Jesus. It’s the most rewarding life possible, and it comes with a high, high price.

I recently read a book by Dennis Peacocke who said, “The greatest tragedy of our age is an unused life.” So, as we begin our study today, here’s to Jeremiah: a real person with a real calling who experienced a gamut of emotions, and wasn’t afraid to have honest dialogue with his Creator. And, here’s to you: a called woman of God who longs to live your ministry well while learning more and more each day that this mission you’re on has nothing to do with you. Yeah, you’re beginning to see the bigger picture, and you hold the thrill of hope down deep inside.

Key Point of Struggle:

Serving Christ doesn’t always look the way we thought it would.

Key Proof of Comfort:

When we learn to refocus and update our definitions of ministry as it relates to kingdom building, we will begin to open our hearts to the purpose of Christ. His purpose and calling for us often looks differently than we expected. To find comfort in this, we will study Matthew 28 and find out how the Great Commission relates to us.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Kingdombuildingthroughthelifeofjeremiah

Out of every prophet, we can learn the most about the intricacies of ministry, and personal cries of the heart, from the life of Jeremiah. When we read his book, we read his heart. And, because of these Holy Spirit breathed words, we have access into the struggle of an average person called to an above average assignment, to say the least. But, before we can fully dig into the scope of this man’s life, we need to talk about what kingdom building and calling is as it relates to our purpose.

I’m guessing many of you are unsure of your purpose. You have no idea what you’re called to do. Most of us tend to look at purpose in the form of a dream longing to be fulfilled. Or, we don’t really have a dream beyond our day-to-day lives, and that makes us feel as if we are part of an unending search requiring us to look for something we are supposed to have, but don’t. It’s time to change our definitions. It’s time to reevaluate. Is that okay? Here’s why: It’s not about the big dreams. Sorry, it just isn’t. Listen, I’m a dreamer so this has been a hard truth for me to accept. Also, it’s not about seeking out a dream to fulfill. You might not realize this, but right now, at this very moment, you’re living with enormous opportunity to fulfill what you might not even recognize exists. Let me clarify:

According to Mathew 28, Jesus gives a charge called the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

-Matthew 28:18-20

What does the Great Commission mean to you? Consider answering this question in your journal.

The Great Commission is our common purpose. But many of us tend to read it and think that we are all to become missionaries in foreign lands, lead a women’s ministry at a mega church, or become Mother Teresa. We think that if we don’t do those things, then we aren’t fulfilling the call. Some of us might even think that whatever it is we are doing right now isn’t meaningful enough to be titled kingdom work. It is true that some of us are meant to go to other countries, or to minister to large numbers of people right here at home, but not all of us. How we go about fulfilling our common purpose is unique to each life. Some of us are called to show our neighbors love – in the literal sense – like walk next door with a batch of freshly baked cupcakes, or offer to babysit kids who will surely hang on our curtains and tear up our houses. And here’s something else we often forget: our own kids – the ones staring us in the face at 6am, startling us out of that rare thing we call sleep, well, they’re the definition of our Great Commission. And, that job, regardless of whatever else He chooses to give us in the future, will be the greatest assignment of our lives.

We cannot kingdom build correctly if we make up our own definitions of what kingdom building is supposed to be. We have to understand our worth in Christ doesn’t depend on the calling itself, or our definitions of how enormous we think it should be. Our worth comes from His willingness to use us and our obedience in saying yes.  

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples.” So, who are the disciples we are supposed to make? I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting some of them off the bus after school today, feeding them dinner, and giving them baths. I’m guessing you’ll be speaking into the life of your spouse and encouraging him to be who Christ called him to become. I think you’ll say something to a friend over coffee that will change how she processes a difficult situation.

 There is a brilliant ministry inside what seems like a boring mess and we don’t often see it.

Jeremiah was called as a prophet for a huge task and the price was high. We are going to discover more about his initial calling next week. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many words today. You see, before we could really dig into Jeremiah’s life, we needed to adjust our focus and redefine some important principles. That was the point of today.

In preparation for next week:

  1. In your journal, please write Matthew 28:18-20. When you’re done, list the people in your everyday life who you have the opportunity to love and make into disciples. This list can include your children, spouse, friends, neighbors, parents, siblings etc.… after your list is complete, commit to pray for each person on your list throughout the week. (I understand that some of the people on your list may already be serving Jesus, but they do need encouragement. How can you encourage them to keep on keeping on in their journey of purpose?)
  2. In your journal, write down what you think it means to kingdom build and what you think your calling is. Using the Great Commission as God’s definition of purpose, do you think your answers align with His? Why or why not? If they don’t, how can you adjust your focus to get in line with God’s will for your calling?
  3. Between now and next Wednesday, please read Jeremiah chapter one.

Don’t forget to comment under today’s post sharing your thoughts on kingdom building. In doing so, you’ll have a chance to win Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker! If you’re not on my email list, I would love for you to be part of this kingdom building community! (Subscribing makes you eligible for the giveaway. You can unsubscribe anytime.) For more details on how the giveaway works, click here. I’ll be announcing the winner next Wednesday, May 3rd!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Share on Social Media what everyday kingdom building looks like to you! We can find each other by using the hashtag #KingdomBuildingSisters.

Choose Hope (Hope is Coming)

Choose Hope

So it’s December 3rd and things are crazy out there. We navigate life through a tug-of-war known as joy and grief, and all of it is overshadowed by some sense of worry. I watched the news this morning and it was enough to turn my stomach upside down. Even though innocent blood is shed and evil tries to steal this season, hope will still arrive. Through tears, heartache, and sorrow no mother should know, He is coming. There’s not a soul able to steal what God has ordained. No not one.

In the midst of Advent, I’ve been studying events from creation to Christ’s birth by walking through history with the line of Christ. All I can see is hope weaved throughout. From Adam and Eve to Noah, Abraham and down the line we see so much failure, but above it all hope lives. It rises up when there seems to be nothing left. Hope hovers over us with mighty breath, much like the spirit that hovered over the waters in the beginning.

The sin nature, with which we were born, loves to contend with God. However, those of us who choose His hope will rise above mistakes born from the weaknesses of our flesh. We will repent, return, and allow God to form our hearts into what He says they can be – obedient, willing, humble, receivers of hope.

We have a choice. We can choose to obey a God who has a perfect plan – a God who reconciled Himself to us through sending His Son Jesus. He chose hope to come and all we have to do is grab it!

When the world seems dark, the light of our only hope is eternal and will never go dim.

The evil of this world, especially what we are dealing with now, will still hurt us and cause fear to be our greatest temptation. But friends, just like we were born with a sin nature, I believe we were also born with a deep knowing that, indeed, there is a God who exists. We can either fight Him or accept Him. We can choose His hope.

Hope is coming and no one can stop Him.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Today is the last day to enter to win Ann Voskamp‘s book, The Greatest Gift, click here to enter.

 

 

A Covenant Keeping God (Hope is Coming)

A Covenant Keeping God

This is the first year my family is celebrating Advent using candles in a wreath, a Jesse tree, reading nightly devotionals… the whole nine yards. There’s something shut up in my bones that wants to bring Jesus alive in a new way for my children, family, and friends.

By the way, you don’t have to go to great lengths to take part in Advent. You can be unique in your own celebration of His coming. There’s no need to purchase anything. God honors worship from a pure heart, and Advent is all about worshiping Him and the authentic splendor of His arrival.

Traditionally, every Sunday throughout the Advent season, a candle is lit. The first one represents hope.

The genealogy of Christ, from the beginning of creation all the way to His birth, represents hope from sin that tries to ravage our souls like cancer. It serves to remind us how God used ordinary humans, both men and women, to bring about life for ALL.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever;
Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.” “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David:‘Your seed I will establish forever,
and build up your throne to all generations.’” Selah

-Psalm 89:1-4

The Jesse tree claims its name from King David’s father. God made a promise to build up David’s throne to all generations, and if you know anything about King David, then you know he was not only a man after God’s own heart, but he also made terrible, sinful mistakes in the midst of it all. Let’s face it, every Christian can relate to having a heart to please God and still find ourselves wrapped up in moments of satisfying the flesh instead.

Here’s the hope: Even in the midst of our sin, God is faithful and unchanging. When He speaks a promise it’s forevermore with no end. Though David didn’t always do right, God knew the condition of his heart and kept a covenant concerning him. When future generations birthed from that very same bloodline chose to ignore our covenant keeping God, He sent His only Son to fulfill the promise.

And isn’t that just like our God? As long as we have breath He will continually pursue us presenting hope-filled opportunities to reconcile us with Him and His unchanging, ever-faithful, Word. The Word became flesh… (See John 1:14)

No matter how difficult today is, I want you to know you serve a covenant keeping God. A God who doesn’t give up on His chosen generation. And, friend, every generation is chosen. He created us all on purpose for a purpose.

Your life matters and your God is waiting for you to grasp hope in a brand new way!

Maybe this season is a hard one. Maybe you were dreading the holidays because you miss someone desperately and hope feels dead. Let me tell you this…

Hope can never die because our Jesus is alive! (Tweet that)

On this second day of advent let’s hold tightly to the promise of our covenant keeping God… Hope is coming!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: It’s not too late to enter the giveaway for Ann Voskamp’s book, The greatest gift. Click here for details.

 

Hope is Coming! An Advent Series and Giveaway!

HopeIs Coming

Hey, I have something to tell you: Hope is coming!

The anticipation of what this means begs my flesh to stand down that my heart might beat in holy rhythm. My soul is desperate for it. Yours too?

Like spiritual glue, hope holds the pieces of my life together. In fact, I wrote a book telling my own story of holding tightly to it through one of the deepest, darkest seasons of my life. When I felt stripped of everything else, hope remained faithful.

The best thing about hope is it constantly reinvents itself according to the situation for which it’s needed most, and at the same time, it’s a source of stability because its foundation is unchanging. Isn’t it something how the chief cornerstone makes all things new? Hope is the most beautifully abundant of all gifts, and I often find myself catching glimpses of it in the ordinary, mundane of every day. It exemplifies a mysterious tangibility, as if it waits for me to reach out and grab it, beckoning me to share it with others. And, friend, I cannot for the life of me think of a better way to express hope than correlating it to Advent season.

The word Advent comes from the Latin – adventus, which means coming or arrival, and is actually derived from the Greek – parousia, holding the same meaning. Though there have been many opinions and explanations handed down throughout centuries from scholars working to explain the history of what this word was intended to represent, for me it embodies hope.

Hope came to a fallen world and will one day come again. (Tweet that)

If it’s possible to worship together through an online space, then I want to do that. Beginning today, this first Sunday of Advent, all the way through Christmas Eve, I want to take a few moments each day to take a deep breath, brush the glitter from the Christmas decor off our hands, and focus on the hope of a coming Savior.

Every December, my life consists of directing two Christmas musicals, shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and praying I can make Christmas meaningful for my family and others. To be honest, it’s overwhelming. I know you can relate…

Here’s the crazy part: As chaotic as life is for me this time of year, I don’t want to change anything. I have no desire to decorate less, bake fewer cookies, or hideaway from the endless hustle and bustle. I’m not writing a series about simplifying what we do to celebrate. I’m writing to encourage worship of our Savior within every moment of preparation. I want each action to shout, “Christ is Coming! Hope is on the way!”

With every fresh cookie baked and ornament hung on the tree, with every dollar spent and gift wrapped, all I want to do is adore Jesus is in all of it. It’s my heart’s cry that every part of this season would be an act of worship.

What do you say, can we worship together?

Last year, I read a beautiful book that changed the way I think regarding the days leading up to the birth of Christ. I really want to share it with you! So to begin this journey, I’m having a giveaway!

In a way only she can, Ann Voskamp wrote a book about Advent season entitled The Greatest Gift. I’m overjoyed to give a copy away. To enter, just leave a comment on this post anytime starting today, November 29, 2015, through Thursday, December 3, 2015. A winner will be randomly selected and announced here on the blog Friday, December 4, 2015.

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

-Hebrews 2:1

Our salvation and reconciliation with our Father God began with the first coming of Christ. Let’s take this life-giving advice from the writer of Hebrews and heed the things which we’ve heard, lest we drift away and lose focus in the middle of all the festivities. A birthday celebration awaits, let us not lose sight of Hope.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: When you subscribe to Jenniferkostick.com via email you receive my eBook, Mercy Waits, FREE! To learn more about me, click here.

Day Two: A Covenant Keeping God

Day Three: Mercy Unravels

Day Four: Maybe This Time

Day Five: Choose Hope

How I Beat Fear (And THREE Winners Announced!)

How I Beat Fear

It’s the Saturday before Thanksgiving and this year many of us find ourselves glued to screens with images of chaos. If you have a television, it’s impossible to deny living in a world where terrorists lurk and nations tremble.

Still, in all this, Christ abounds.

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

-Psalm 62:1-2

Fear is familiar to the flesh.

Sometimes, fear is so common that its visits seems comfortable. Many of us are used to living with it. I’m someone who has struggled greatly with panic attacks, anxiety, and fear throughout most of my life, so I get it.

Over the last few years, I have slowly but surely experienced freedom from the kind of fear that wants to steal my life, soul, and God-given gifts. Often, especially in turbulent times such as these, I have to make a concentrated effort to wage war against the familiarity of fear. When I see others suffer, from the people of France to the refugee crisis, everything in me hurts.

Here’s what I do to beat fear:

I tell my flesh to submit and command my soul to wait silently for God alone. Because, friend, you have to tell that old familiar visitor, “NO!” Shout it inside your mind and let it echo throughout your heart into the deep of your soul.

It takes practice.

I tell a story in my book about the weeks following the loss my baby daughter. I would go to church, raise my hands in worship, and sing through the ache. Who knows? Maybe those around me thought I was processing my pain well. I wasn’t. I was making myself go through the motions of praise, hoping that it wouldn’t be long before I unlocked the part of myself that actually wanted to praise the God I loved so much, but could not for the life of me understand.

His mystery holds a beauty each soul longs to know, and at the same time, it’s downright frustrating.

For me, the way to remind myself to put down fear is to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise – despite the condition of the world – despite the condition of my personal life- despite every type of chaos coming my way.

We MUST tell fear it is no longer welcome, and the best way to do that is to practice praise.

You can beat fear!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I want to thank my friend, Christin Ditchfield, for writing such an amazing word of encouragement for us! I have randomly selected three winners to receive an assortment of Christin’s books! (By the way, I have my kids choose from a hat… we are SO fancy here!) The winners are: Deborah Jameson, Tonda, and Ann Geier! You will each receive an email confirming your gift!

 

 

Finding the “Still” Inside the Storm…

New Day 5Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
so He guides them to their desired haven.

-Psalm 107:28-30

I wish I could say you will have everything you’ve ever desired, I can’t. But there is something I’ve learned over the years from pursuing stillness in Christ: He molds my desires to be more like His own. When I make the choice to seek Him, He transforms what I thought I wanted, and needed, into His will.

He places desires deep within my heart, and when I learn to search every part of Him, then I learn my only desperation is His purpose and plan for my life.

He will calm the storm and make the waves still. It’s possible the situation won’t resolve, but your heart will. It’s perspective, friend.

He will guide you, but you must allow Him to lead. I don’t know when the crashing of waves will stop, I just know that he brings a peace deep inside the storm, so much so that it seems as if the waves are still, even when they aren’t.

Tears still fall during stillness because we live in a world that’s not our home.

But in all this…

There is hope.

There is peace.

There is stillness.

Because there is Jesus.

Love,

Jennifer

Today is the last day for new email subscribers to receive the kindle edition of my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, FREE from Amazon! Thank you to all who joined this blogging community over the last week! Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here!

If you’ve missed any part of the October Series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, just click here.

 

Why I Want God (And a Winner is Announced)

I Want God_nI read Lisa Whittle’s book, I Want God, during a weeklong trip at the beach. The entire week before we left, the book called to me as it sat on my dresser ready to be packed inside my suitcase. I couldn’t wait to read it. However, I knew there was going to be a lot to digest, and I wanted to be in a place where I could read a little bit at a time and then reflect on it.

Lisa’s words did not disappoint.

Most of us have come to the realization that we need God, but wanting Him is entirely different. I’m glad to have the opportunity to share it with you because those typed out letters on each page form more than just words. They connect us to the passion of a woman who truly wants God and needs to communicate that message to her readers. It’s a soul awakening.

Many of you told me why you want God, so I thought I would let you know why I want Him.

I want God because He paid a high price for my life and knows me by name.

I want God because of His faithfulness to love me despite my flaws.

I want God because He sees the best in me when I see the worst.

I want God because He’s God, and that’s enough for me.

The winner of the book is Amy! I will be contacting you soon, Amy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

I’ll meet you back here on Monday.

Love,

Jennifer

For When All the Little Things Go Wrong…

gracephotoOh, friend, It’s been quite a day so far and it’s only 2:53pm on Tuesday. I don’t know what else is going to happen, but if it’s anything like my morning then someone hold me!

Here’s a quick rundown…

I had to drag myself out of bed at 7:15 this morning. We usually wake up around 6:55; the twins catch the school bus at 7:39. Need I say more? I think I may have taken them to the bus stop with my pajamas on and my hair sticking straight up in the air. Honestly, I can’t even remember. I was that tired.

A little later in the day, I tweeted something to a major author which included a ginormous typo. She must have scanned right over it, because before I caught it she had already retweeted it. I know you’re probably thinking it isn’t a big deal, but to this girl who struggles to do her very best and has issues with proving her intellect, (to herself) well, she I felt sick to my stomach.

Note to self: never watch an episode of Parks and Rec while tweeting!

Under normal circumstances I would have grabbed a bag of chocolate and ran for cover, but I’m trying to get fit. Again.

Instead of my beloved M&M’s, I reached for the lettuce and made a nice big salad. It was very large because even though I want to treat my cholesterol right, I’m also thinking, “Let’s not get crazy here.”

I carried my salad to where I was going to sit but forgot to grab my drink, so I put it down on the arm of the chair. (Do you understand what I’m saying about needing to prove my intellect?) When I returned, I sat down on the chair, knocked the extremely large plate off kilter, and everything flipped over on my lap.

I should mention that my salad was a little out of the ordinary. Whenever I’m trying to eat well, I start each day with a whole head of romaine lettuce, a sliced banana, and a teaspoon (or two. or three. or more.) of peanut butter on top. It sounds crazy but it’s yummy! I should also point out that my mom has been staying with us and is obsessed with keeping up on laundry. I love this. However, she’s not home today, so when she returns later this afternoon, heads straight to the laundry room, and sees the lap area and bottom of my jeans…

I promise, mom, it’s only peanut butter!

There is so much more to this day, but I won’t bore you with it. I think you get the point.

Believe me, I know that in the scheme of life, these are nothing more than inconveniences. I’ve had far worse days. Life changing days. And, yet, I still beat myself up over silly things that make no difference in the long run.

God knows my heart and He knows that a typo in a tweet is not going to affect my writing career. He also knows I make messes, and I’m bound to make more. (Both literally and figuratively.) And He loves me regardless.

I don’t know what your struggles look like. It’s possible you’re like me and wrestle with how you appear to the rest of the world. Maybe your issues are completely different. But there is something I do know: No matter what you’re facing, there is a God who loves you and wants you. He calls you His own and He knows you by name.

I’m also certain that He doesn’t want any of us to concern ourselves with things that don’t impact eternity. He sees the heart. And I believe He wants us to prepare our hearts so that we might make a difference with His love. The old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It’s true.

We have worth because Christ is worthy. No matter how many mistakes we make, we have worth. Searching scripture will tell us how much He loves us. He won’t ever stop.

I also want to say that if you’re worried about large mistakes, He will forgive. As far as the east is from the west His love and forgiveness stretches throughout the universe and touches each of our souls. When you seek Him, you will find Him. He’s always waiting because you are everything He wants!

The purpose He pours into each of us is much greater than we can imagine. We need to work out the big things, laugh at the little things, and just keep going.

Love,

Jennifer

Hey, I’m having a giveaway! Come check it out!