I Blog Because...

I am a wife, a mom, a servant, a seeker and a follower of Christ. I am blogging to chronicle my own journey with God with the hope to inspire others to deepen their relationship with Him. Perhaps my mistakes and blunders will make you chuckle. Or, maybe, my disappointments, mistakes and learnings will speak to your heart. I often write at night, so forgive the grammatical mistakes and misspellings. This is a place for me to empty my mind and thoughts, with the hope of one day blessing my 2 girls with the raw honesty about life from their mom. I invite you to journey with me and share in my joys and sorrows as I seek to know my Lord. Proverbs 8:17 "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."



Friday, February 19, 2010

From Garden to City

From Garden to City

There are a lot of Bible reading plans out there. I wanted to share with you a plan I started on Ash Wednesday. There is online reading as well as a daily blog site. Stay connected to The Vine ~ Jenny

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Light of the world, you step down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see

Darkness was overshadowed today by the light. I entered a dimly lit chapel this morning to meet with God and journey through an Ash Wednesday experience. I made the walk up the hill to the chapel from my office with the full expectation to meet with God. I opened my Bible to Psalm 139 and lingered at verse 23. I asked God to search me, test me and lead me. Whenever I ask such things of God, He doesn't disappoint. I don't think I was fully prepared for all that the Holy Spirit had planned for me. You see, I asked God to search ME, and test ME and lead ME. If often hide ME from God. I approach the throne of grace as a wife, a mother or a children's minister, but I withhold the real me from God. I too often allow the seasons of my life to dictate and define who God is in my life. He is mine and I am His -- all of the time. He is interested in the condition of my heart and soul. He is interested in my confession and repentance so that my life may bring glory to God. Earlier in the same Psalm it states that God formed me, He searched me and He knows ME. He knows my every thought and my every sin. Nothing is hidden from Him. "Even the darkness will not be dark to you. The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you." The light did shine upon my darkness today. I presented ME to the Lord today, all of me. My soul cried out to God as I named sin in my life and asked for forgiveness. Tears flowed and streamed down my face in the darkness. It has been too long since I have opened my sin stained self up before God. The Light of the World, opened my eyes and let me see what needs pruning in my life. I didn't want to leave this precious time with my Lord. His presence was strong and almost palpable. I moved from uncomfortable to comforted. I marked myself with ashes in the form of a cross on my wrist. I am a sinner, but not a slave to sin. Death is at work but so is life. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12 "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." So I say, "thank you Jesus." I am again overwhelmed when I consider His love for me. His love is for me. For me. Me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Serve Him + Know Him = Joy

I was struck by these verses in Ephesians...

Ephesians 3:7-9 (The Message)

7-8"This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!"

I was struck by Paul's gratitude. He considered it an absolute privilege to be given the responsibility of ministry (and keep in mind he was in jail as he wrote). I can imagine Paul saying, "Can you believe I get to do this?!? How lucky am I!?!"

It makes me think about how often those of us in vocational ministry lose sight of the joy of our calling. I know we all go through hard times at work, but if we feel "burdened" or "put out" by our responsibilities then perhaps we've allowed joy to be stolen from us. Maybe we've forgotten what a privilege this is.  Or, maybe, we've connected ourselves so closely to the tasks of ministry that we've forgotten to connect ourselves closely to the Vine.

I often say to our volunteers, "we can't give away what we don't possess." If our spiritual gauge is on empty, we can't deposit life-giving fuel into others.

Perhaps the secret to longevity and joy in ministry hinges upon this:

John 15
The Vine and the Branches

1-3 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

4"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9-10"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.

11-15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature."

I am grateful to our God for the privilege to serve Him.    Above all else, the true privilege is to seek God and know Him more each day.

It's Sunday night and it is time for some sweet Sabbath time.   "Lord, I'm coming to connect with you.  Fill me, renew me and continue to use me, I pray."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are You Ready for a Revolution?

I am relaxing this evening with the family and our family pet, Spice (the most adorable cockapoo to grace the earth).    Snow is falling and all the world seems quiet from my vantage point.  Ahhhh...

I am beginning a new book tonight entitled, "The Compassion Revolution" by Dave Donaldson.   Chapter 1 - "Imagine for a moment that you are relaxing at home and the phone rings.  When you answer, you hear a friend's breathless voice:  'Are you watching the news?  Have you heard what has happened?  It's horrible!'  During this one day, 30 jumbo jets have crashed, killing a total of 5,700 people.   Don't you think the whole world would be shocked and in mourning at the announcement of this awful event?    Of course this didn't happen --these 30 jets didn't crash.  But the children who died today simply because they lack clean, safe water would fill all of these planes."

rev⋅o⋅lu⋅tion⋅ar⋅y  [rev-uh-loo-shuh-ner-ee] - a drastic and far-reaching change in thinking and behavior.

In Luke 6:36, Jesus instructs his followers, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."    The challenge is not to merely feel merciful, but to BE merciful.     The needs of this world are so great.  Hunger, homelessness, sickness, poverty...can we really make a difference?    When the disciples posed this same question to Jesus he said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.   He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  John 14:12

I am looking forward to reading this book, meditating on the scriptures and reacting with Christ-like compassion.

Let's join the compassion revolution!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ye, Myself and I

Snow plow? No plow as of 11:08 p.m. this Sunday night! At the moment, I am completely fine with the lack of attention from the State Highway Administration. Once the wall of snow is penetrated and shoved aside, I know that the world will move full speed ahead. It will be time to jump back inside of the giant hamster wheel and start running the race all over again. Do you ever feel like that? Maybe you feel like you're being chased by an avalanche or giant cartoon snowball. As I sit in silence, encased in a protective wall of white, I again recognize my need to be still. Why is that so difficult to do for some of us? Shouldn't I be doing something to try to get a little ahead? March is coming, Easter is coming. Move, move, move my inner being cries out!

Thankfully, the deepest part of my inner being is crying out and has a louder voice. I have allowed some time for examination before God and believe I have an answer for myself. You can call me, "ye of little faith" or you can call me "Ye" for short. Humiliating or humbling? I admit it to be both, but fortunately there is learning from this title. Faith is the very basis and foundation of my relationship with Jesus and yet it can be one of the most difficult things I wrestle with. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died and 3 days later rose from the dead, that He can heal the sick, transform lives, and even move mountains. I struggle with why I fail to have the faith to see how God will meet the needs of every day life. The unexpected expenses that creep in, job stresses, family matters, money stress, feelings of inadequacy, health issues or sickness.

And yet, how many stories are there in the Gospels of healings that happened just because an individual, simply in a child-like fashion, knew and believed that Jesus could heal the person they were concerned about? I can memorize scripture and attend Bible studies about these miracles, but if I don't have child-like faith, it means nothing in my own life.

I have some needs right now. I could make a list, a long list. I have forgotten that all I need is my faith in God. All I need is God. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." There is a certain simplicity to faith. Simply believe. God didn't have to, but he has shown His credentials. He is faithful and He has shown us this through the ages. Manna from the sky and water from a rock. Lazarus raised from the dead, the parting of the Red Sea, feeding 5,000, calming the storm and creating the entire world...what more do I need!!?? I don’t see dead birds or other animals lying around in the snow as a result of the storm. God provided for their every need. Need after need has been met over and over again. The almighty God has shown Himself strong! And yet, I have to call myself "Ye" from time to time.

I am spending tomorrow in solitude in silence, realizing that I can, because God is in control of all things. Not me. He’ll get along without me just fine. I will meet with the One who is able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. I plan to show up with "Ye, myself and I" and be renewed from the inside out. God, I'm here to meet with you, come and meet with me.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMb3xBsGiZU

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'd Stop the World and Melt with You

Well, it is 1:10 a.m. and I am unable to sleep. The anticipation is great! A big event is imminent and there is a rush and flurry of activity. Preparations are in place and people are keenly aware of their needs and living essentials. Phone calls are being made to friends, neighbors and family members ensuring that have heard the latest news. It is important that they are prepared for what lies ahead. My friends, we are talking about the snow forecast for our Maryland area. Yes, we are expected to receive up to 2 feet of snow or more in the Baltimore area through Saturday evening.

S N O W- (snō), noun

1. Particles of water vapor which when frozen in the upper air fall to earth as soft, white, crystalline flakes

It sounds heavenly, yet this water vapor which falls to the earth as soft, white flakes evoke fear, panic, and frustration for many folks. Are we really surprised by snow in the winter? It certainly is plausible for January and February. Someone taught us that snow is an anticipated part of the winter season. Yet, we seem ill prepared for the crystalline flakes when they are forecasted. We think about everything we need; the essentials. We prepare and plan. We make a mad dash to the store for milk, bread, and toilet paper. We even think about others' needs. Something is coming and we'd better move fast, with a sense of urgency. What if we are trapped in our homes for a few days? What if our plans have to change or are cancelled? What if we can't get to work? We run around like Chicken Little...the snow is falling, the snow is falling!

And, of course, there are others who eagerly await the snow. They gaze upon its beauty and consider the wonder of God's beautiful creation. Every flake quietly falls from the sky and blankets the world in pure white. All seems still, quiet and at perfect peace. For a time, there is tranquility and the only focus is upon the One who created each icy, glistening particle. The One who created the heavens and the earth. The One who beckons and calls us to slow down our pace. Peace, be still. He calls to us and says, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."  Oh gentle Savior, to look upon your face and consider the wonders you have done.

Where do you find yourself? Are in you in the "snow camp" or the "slow camp" at the moment? I have to admit I've been living out the past few days in the "snow camp" club.

In these moments of quiet, alone in my living room, I realize my desire for some slow and silent moments with God. Blanket me with your presence O God, and make me white as snow. No rush, just slow and steady moments with you, steeping in your Word.

I'd stop the world and melt with you. Let it snow and may I be blessed with no place to go but into the arms of my Savior.

~Sleep in heavenly peace~

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Wheels on the Church Go Round and Round, all through the town

The Wheels on the Church Go Round and Round...

I can't believe it has been several months since I took the time to update my blog and empty my head. Where to begin?

This has been a time of transition. A time of change, growth, adjustment, acceptance, grief, wonder, excitement, joy, uncertainty, expectancy, and prayer.

Ecclesiastes 3 A Time for Everything

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."

There is indeed a season for every activity under heaven. God has set apart this time and season in my life to follow hard after Him. In order to follow someone, you need stay close and never lose sight of where your leader is leading you. You listen closely for your leader's direction. You keep your eyes on the leader, otherwise, you can end up lost and going your own way.

God is on the move! He is depositing a bunch of his followers smack in the middle of Bel Air to begin a new worship site at the John Carroll School. Why? To reach the people Jesus misses the most. Mountain Christian Church is going multi-site and will be holding worship services at John Carroll on March 21st. The wheels on the church go round and round...literally. This is a "God-sized" mission which simply confirms what I already know: "Apart from Him, I can do nothing" coupled with a healthy dose of "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." I will be leading Children's Ministry at the new site and will be part of an amazing team which God has hand picked for such a time as this.

I am learning a lot of about my Savior as He moves Mountain. I am learning what it means to completely surrender to Him, to listen for His voice, to seek Him first and then all else will be given. I need my Savior moment by moment as we embark upon this amazing new thing. God's new thing. I repeatedly stand in awe of what He is doing and that He is using a wretch like me.

When I think about the kids and families that can meet Jesus through our new site, I can scarce take it in. Life after life will be transformed. When lives are changed through Jesus Christ, people notice. Neighbors take notice. Kids at school take notice. Family members take notice.

There is much to pray about. I am reading one of Bill Hybels' books, Too Busy Not to Pray and am reminded of my need to be in constant communion with God.

God's got wheels...and I am chasing hard after Him. Follow along with me, for it sure to be a wild ride!

Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."