Category Archives: Faith & Hope

“Did I say that?” (Are you listening to the words coming out of your mouth?)

A few years ago, I’d gone into Staples to pick up some office supplies, and happened to be there at the same time as a young mom with two small children.  I remember those days, that season of life when you need an extra set of arms, and eyes in the back of your head.  Those years when you seem to function in a constant state of tired.  To all mothers of young children – take courage for this too shall pass!

Surely, I must have caught this mom on an ‘off day’ and what I observed was not representative of her typical engagement with her children – for there in plain view for all the world to see, this frazzled mom was trying to ‘discipline and rally’ her children into better behavior by very loudly telling them how stupid they were and how disgusted she was with them.  And my heart broke for them all.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  (Proverbs 18:21)

Faith Like A Seed
Faith Like A Seed

I lead a women’s small group, and for the past few months we have been studying the power of our words to bring forth blessing or cursing into our lives, into our families, and into our every day circumstances.    As we explore the simplicity, and the complexity of ‘changing our confession’ so that the words we speak out of our mouth come into agreement with what God has to say about a subject/concern, we discover that ‘speaking life’ over ourselves is not about releasing magic words as if they were part of some sort of spiritual incantation.  But what we do learn from studying our Bibles is that there is power in the spoken word, power to bless and power to curse.  James has a lot to say about the power of our words.   Bible teachers like Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and Charles Capps have also had great impact on my life and radically changed my thinking on the power of our words.

 “Today I am giving you a choice of two ways. And I ask heaven and earth to be witnesses of your choice. You can choose life or death. The first choice will bring a blessing. The other choice will bring a curse. So choose life!”  (Deut 30:19)

We know from Matthew 12:35 that the words we speak reflect what we believe in your heart.   If we want to know the condition of our heart, or of our spiritual health, all we really need to do is to pause and listen to what’s coming out of our mouths.

Are we speaking words of encouragement, of hope and compassion?  Or are we speaking words of fear, judgment and hatred?  Are we speaking of our confident expectation in the promises of God?   Are our words agreeing with the words of the enemy who wants to steal our dreams, rob our resources, and utterly destroy any positive impact we can have in a hurting and broken world?

If the words that a man speaks are like seeds planted in the ground which will yield their harvest at the appointed time, whose word-seeds are you planting?

Blessings,
Jenny

 

 

Seeds planted, with high expectations for the harvest!

I love to garden – to slip on my gloves and green rubber boots, and get out there to play in the dirt.  Especially in the spring, when gardening energies run high.  The blackberry patch invites me in to cut back last years fruit vines, and stake the canes that will bear this summer.  My Weigela is already budding out and is sure to be overtaken with blooms by late June.  And this year, I am absolutely certain I have cracked the code for a high-producing vegetable garden.  The seeds are planted, and I am anticipating a bounty large enough to keep my daughters and their families fully stocked with berries and vegetables for most of the summer.

But I like gardening for more than just the fruits and vegetables.  I like it because it reminds me of two beloved passages that have transformed my life.

Luke 8:11-15
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

 

Faith Like A Seed
My “Faith Like A Seed” craft project (summer vacation 2011)

Mark 4:26-29
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.
  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.

In these two passages, I’m reminded that the Word of God is a like a seed that a farmer plants into the soil of his heart, which if it is held onto and tended will produce of its own kind.   In other words, just like those Kentucky Pole Bean seeds I planted are guaranteed to sprout green bean and not orange trees, I can be certain that all those “Word-of-God Seeds” that I have planted into my heart over the course of my lifetime, and most especially over the last few years, will produce for me from the type of seed sown.   It’s the way the Kingdom of God works, just like Jesus said it works.

And so as I carefully planted my zucchini, green beans, beets and other veggie seeds a few weeks back, I was also reminded of the “Healing Seeds” I’ve got in the ground for the healing and full restoration of family members.  Oh, and over there, I’ve got some “Provision Seeds” for financial blessing upon my income and retirement accounts.   I’ve even got me some “Husband Seed” planted, and I’m waiting in faith for that godly man to come along.

And guess what!  The “Career Seed” I planted two years ago is just about to start producing fruit, just like those berry vines will later this summer.   Yes indeed, for two years I’ve been callin’ in my harvest for that ‘perfect, well paying, and satisfying job’ to manifest … and in May 2014, after months of prayer and multiple confirmations from the Lord, I launched my own small business!   Turns out my perfect job wasn’t one that someone else was going to give to me, but one that the Lord Himself called me to create.   I’m a small business owner! 

Friend, if you’ve got some “Word of God Seed” in the ground … don’t give up on it!  Keep on tending to it by making sure you keep those ‘pesky critters’ of doubt and fear out of your garden and off of your seed.  And keep your seed watered, by continually reminding yourself of His faithfulness to you, and His faithfulness to His Word .

It may not look like anything is happening right now … but you can’t see all that’s going on underneath the ground.  So keep taking care of your seed, and believe (trust in) God.  With faith, patience, and a little TLC … that seed will produce!

Blessings,

Jenny

 

From a full heart

I’m a new blogger, still finding my way and learning what works and what doesn’t.  Which is why so I appreciate the great advise that is so freely given by those who have gone before and succeeded.   In fact, just a few weeks into my blogging adventure, I read a great tweet by Ninie Hammon reminding her followers of the importance of appreciating your audience.  It may even have had a link to an article or post, and had I known then how impossible it would be to find that tweet now – I would have “starred” it!  (a Twitter feature I am sure to use more frequently from now on!).  And what about those who have inspired, such as Liz Ryan of Human Workplace, whose blog posts and artwork gave me the courage to share some of my artwork and also pursue a business dream (but more about that later).  I shall be forever grateful for that!  There are more, but you get the idea.

Well, I just celebrated 3 months of blogging – and I’m amazed and oh-so-humbled by the reception I’ve experienced.  Not only has my blog gathered a following, but I’ve met so many amazing people as a result.   Some have overcome much.  Many are still in the process of overcoming.  And if we are being honest, aren’t we ALL in the process of overcoming something!  Some days we’re brave.  Some days we just want to pull the covers over our head and stay in bed!   But of course, you can only get away with that for so long – eventually feet must hit the floor, and the world spins on.    But my heart is enlarged by each encounter.

And so if you’re reading this, wherever you are in your journey, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for giving of your day (and story) to read and share in a bit of mine.   

Thank You

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:3)

Or to quote my daughter, “my love tank is full!”

Blessings,
Jenny

But God

I recently attended a fund raiser for women in crisis and watched a video in which several young women shared their stories of abandonment, abuse, and failed relationships.   My heart ached for each woman, and my mothers heart wanted so very badly to be able to give them a long and comforting embrace.    Thankfully, their individual stories are gradually being transformed on a day-by-day basis.

And listening to the stories of these brave women reminded me of my own.  I don’t often stop to think about it, but every so often I’m reminded of the girl I once was.

It took me a long time to get to this place of understanding, but I now know that the people who inflicted the most pain on my young soul were each dealing with their own family histories and experiences as best as they could.  The truth is, when you put broken and wounded people together in a relationship – you usually get a big ol’ mess that often spills out onto others.   I should know, because for a long time, I was broken and wounded … a big ol’ mess just waiting for a place to happen.

And happen I did.   Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, from my current vantage point I can practically pinpoint the precise moment when the wheels first came off the track.  It was during my early teen years, when while watching my parents play penny poker in the kitchen with the neighbors, I came to the brilliant conclusion that all my personal pain and sadness would be solved … by getting married.

Photo by nazreth (RGBStock)
Photo by nazreth (RGBStock)

When I got married, I would have a voice.

When I got married, I would be loved unconditionally.

When I got married, life would be full of roses and lollipops, and we would live happily ever after.

Honestly, I don’t even know where that came from – because my parent’s marriage wasn’t exactly the model of perfection.  But in any case, that’s what I thought, and so as soon as I got old enough to date – I started looking for my future husband.  I met him at 14 1/2.  He was my 2nd boyfriend, and he was almost 4 years older than me.   We married shortly after my 18th birthday.   I’ll give you one guess how that turned out.

I divorced a few years later, and at 21 years old I took another spin on the wheel-of-marriage.  Not a wise move, because all the pain and desperation I felt growing up (and thought marriage would somehow fix) was now multiplied exponentially … making me a prime candidate for the type of man they write country songs about (and not the good kind of country songs).  I stayed in that marriage just shy of 10 years.  It was almost my undoing.

There is a little tiny phrase in the Bible that I love to read.  BUT GOD.

BUT GOD had other plans for my life.  BUT GOD interceded.  BUT GOD rescued.  BUT GOD healed.  BUT GOD transformed me from the inside out and completely changed the trajectory of my life.  BUT GOD!!

Yes, the lives of those dear girls are being transformed on a day-by-day basis, just like mine was and continues to be … all because of those two little words.

Are you in need of a BUT GOD moment?  Drop me a note or post a comment below and I’ll be happy to pray for you.

Blessings,

Jenny

 

Water Walking

In a previous post, I spoke of having a recurring stream of thoughts, ideas, and scriptures for the last several months.    It’s been rather like something is trying to be birthed within me … but how does one go about giving birth to something when you don’t yet know what it is?  As I opened my heart to new possibilities, I also opened my Bible and began to look for instructions in His Word.  After all, if God is truly leading me down a certain path, that path will be in agreement with His Word.

I am still in the process of seeking out those answers in full, opening my heart and my ears to receive instruction for the birthing of this new thing, this new season.   As I do, I discover that I am most surely being led out into the deeper waters of faith.  And eventually the time for investigating, praying, and consulting culminates with a decision.

Recently, the song “Oceans” by Hillsong UNITED has taken on a whole new meaning for me, especially the first two lines.  We’ve been singing it at church for many months, but it was during a women’s event a few weeks back that the lyrics really clicked in my heart.  I felt that I was most clearly being invited to step out onto the waters.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a risk taker, but lets face it – the bigger the risk, the harder it is to take that first step.  Especially if that first step is off the dry land and onto the wet!

And as we worshipped to this song, the Lord began to speak to my heart in images – something He often does (images which are frequently inspiration for my watercolors).  And this is what the conversation He and I had during worship that night sounded like.

Water Walking
Water Walking

 

LORD:  “Daughter, you are a delight to my heart and I am thrilled that you are putting your foot out over the waters for that bold first step.  But if all you do is hover your foot over the waters, you will never reach the destination I’m calling you to.  No, my daughter, you must actually put your full weight on that foot and begin to move forward, or you will remain at the shoreline.”

Me:  “But we both know I can’t walk on water, Lord.”

LORD:  “Look down, and tell me what you see beneath your feet?”

Me:  “Dry sand, that eventually gives way to wet sand, that eventually gives way to water above the sand.”

LORD:  “Give thought to that very fragile line of delineation, the very point of transition when the water ceases to be below the sand, or even equal to the sand, but is now above the sand.   The water is only a few centimeters deep, but the water is above the sand line, correct?”

Me:  “Yes, Lord.”

LORD:  “Can you walk on water, daughter?”

Me:  “No, Lord.” 

LORD:  “And yet, if I stood directly in front of you, and called you forward from dry land to stand upon even as little as 1 centimeter of water, would you believe me for it and take that first step?”

Me:  “I believe I would Lord – I would respond to Your invitation.”

LORD:  “Daughter, if you were able to walk on top of even as little as 1 centimeter of water, the limitations of your mind and body would not even be able to register or perceive such an infinitesimal elevation.   You have the faith to trust me for 1 centimeter of water-walking power, but what I want you to remember is that once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water is irrelevant.  I’m asking you to take the first step from dry to wet.  Do that, and leave the ocean to me.”

On my own, I know without a doubt that I am completely incapable of walking on water, regardless how shallow the water is.  But in Him, I know that all things are possible … even walking on water (a symbol of walking in His empowerment over the circumstances of my life).   And so are you!

In the weeks since that dialog, I’ve taken the first step forward out onto the waters, and then another after that.  And this morning, as I pondered again the insanity of this journey, the Lord reminded me of other times when I’ve dared to trust Him and “water walk”.  I first read the following scripture some 20+ years ago when I dared to “water walk” by leaving an abusive marriage.  There were some mighty big waves in that ocean, let me tell you … but here I am, safely resettled on the other side!

I will bring the blind by a way they do not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.   (Isaiah 42:16)

There have been many other “water walking” occasions since and in all of them, true to His word, He led through ways I did not know and has made dark places light before me, and crooked places straight.  He has not forsaken.

And He still leads!

I would love to hear your thoughts and read about your stories (from either side of the ‘water walking’ adventure).  Please take a moment to post a comment below.

Blessings,

Jenny