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esau_24— Genesis 24:34-41 —

 

When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.

 

But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”

 

Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice.a First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?”

 

Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”

 

Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept.

 

Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

 

From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”

 

Forgiveness. Usually when that subject is tackled we use Joseph as the number one example, right? He had to forgive his brothers for throwing him in the pit and wanting to kill him, then deciding not to do that and instead selling him into slavery… Then he had to forgive Potiphar’s wife for manipulating him and accusing him of rape… He had to forgive Potiphar for putting him into prison… And he had to forgive the cupbearer for forgetting about him when he helped him.

 

Not for me! Why? Because Joseph is SUPER-HUMAN to me. I wish I could be like Joseph. He is remarkable! I hope my kids can be like Joseph – resisting temptation, patient, caring for others above himself, organized, brilliant, talented, the bastion of forgiveness. Sadly, I have to admit, when it comes to forgiveness, I am more like Esau. Please don’t judge me all of you lovely Joseph-types out there.

 

Honest moment: I have let unforgiveness consume me, which leads to hatred, just like Esau. It is not pretty. I absolutely LOVE the part of Isaac’s blessing that jumped out at me today… “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

 

Wow! I never really notice that before. Esau is such a small blip in the story of Jacob, who becomes Israel, a legacy of God’s people. In the blink of an eye you almost miss him, he is just a footnote in the incredible lifesong of the amazing transformation of a sneaky lying cheating dude who becomes a Prince an entire nation is titled after when an encounter with an angel changes his name.

 

I read those verses above and I can feel the emotions in Esau as he cannot hold back the sobs while he begs his father for a blessing. In this somewhat calloused generation we may not understand the power those words had to people back then. The blessing of their forefathers was everything!

 

It was not mere spoken thoughts carelessly cast upon the firstborn like a broken and empty jar tossed uselessly aside on the ground. It was life… seeds planted… a foretelling of the future of his path and the next generation. It truly was their universe.

 

Jacob shattered Esau’s world, not once, but twice. Of course Jacob runs away because his brother now hates him enough to want to kill him, and Esau is left to pick up the pieces with a mother who also betrayed him. And you thought your family had issues?

 

Here’s where we forget all about Esau and focus on Jacob and his changed life. Jacob moves to a foreign land and has a huge family, an encounter with God, and decides he would like to come home again. There is still a tiny bit of the old Jacob left, so Israel, afraid that Esau might still hate him and want to kill him, does a little scheming.

 

He sends wave after wave of all his riches (all the animals – goats, ewes, rams, camels, donkeys, etc, goods, servants), and then children and wives to greet Esau. He wants to show his brother how successful he has become. He also attempts to lavish his brother with gifts.

 

Now let’s forget about Israel/Jacob and focus on Esau:

 

Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept. – Genesis 33:3-4

 

Rough and rugged, Esau – hunter, angry, full of hate, the man who once wanted to kill his own brother for deceiving him – was able to forgive and love him again. This is amazing to me. He accomplished what his father said in the blessing many years before, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

 

There are two parts to this verse that are important to point out:

  1. Breaking free from hate and unforgiveness is a DECISION, a choice. You have to make that choice for yourself. No one can do it for you. (Trust me, I’m talking to myself more than anyone else right now).
  2. The yoke around your neck may have been placed there by a hurt someone else inflicted on you. This pain might run so deep, you might feel no one understands. I know that kind of indescribable pain. You might feel hopeless, like you will sink under this weight, never to recover. When will I ever be delivered from this yoke around my neck? I am sure Esau wondered that. It probably consumed him. He was able to break free somehow and shake this off.

 

Do you believe in miracles? Esau is a testament to the miracle of freedom in forgiveness. I’m still working on mine.

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Pastor’s Wives Only

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The Day Before I Became A Pastor’s Wife (little did I know. Hehehe).

I never do a “focused” blog for a select group of people, unless it’s teens (I do that all the time), but here it is:

 

Let me start with talking about my hubby: He is the youngest of nine children… He has an outgoing (sanguine) personality… He’s always the life of the party… People love him easily and are drawn to his charismatic personality… If I had a dollar for every person who told me how amazing they think he is, I’d be a rich woman!

 

AND THEN THERE’S ME:   The oldest of three… Painfully introverted at times… Usually a wallflower at parties… I admit people sometimes make me nervous (my insecurities tend to take over)… Some questions often asked at our church, “Jen, who? Who is Jen? Who the heck is the pastor’s wife anyway?!”

 

I even ask myself, “Who is this pastor’s wife?” She’s the person who doesn’t always fit in at church… the person who wonders if she has anything to contribute… the person who gets criticized so often it’s hard to NOT feel like a failure… the person who rarely feels accepted for who she is and is more often than not being told she needs to change… the person who tries to put her family first (soccer practices & games, track practices & meets, youth events, chaperoning activities, etc.), yet is criticized for not being at every church outing or outreach or event or activity. She is the person who has made too many sacrifices to count, but would do it again in a heartbeat. She is the person who is most often invisible. She is the person who is sometimes very lonely. She is the person who knows her multitude of flaws so well, that she would never judge you on yours.

 

Why is being the “Pastor’s Wife” such a tough experience for so many? If you are one of the fortunate few who LOVE this position, I am super-happy for you and want to know your secret! Honestly, though, I think contentment comes with age and experience. When you stop letting people tell you who you are supposed to be and JUST BE YOURSELF, then you can finally let go of your own expectations and insecurities and find joy in the ministry.

 

In my almost twenty-five years of ministry I have experienced being over-involved to the point of extreme burnout, being under-involved to the point of depression over not having a purpose, to finding a balance and being exactly where God wants me.

 

At times I’ve been treated as something LESS than a real person: There were times when people have tried to use & manipulate me, thinking that’s the way to get their voice heard through me to my husband… Some have been outright mean and judgmental of everything from my parenting – ministry style – clothing choices – house appearance – how my yard looks – to what I watch or don’t watch on tv… People have criticized my husband, kids, marriage, hair, weight, and even makeup. People have made things up about me. People can sometimes be rude to me. People can also be cruel and mean at times. Those people think I can handle it because I’m a pastor’s wife. If only they knew!

 

Here’s something NOT related to just pastor’s wives: since I have never been blessed with a “big” personality, I have always tried to get attention/affirmation in other ways (this was DEFINITELY a problem when I was a teenager). When I was younger it was in all the wrong ways of acting out. When I got older it was in a different kind of acting out.

 

Then, as a “grown up” I became obsessed at being the best at something, even if it was in only one thing! I worked myself to death at various jobs; in Bible college I fought hard (with my limited intellect) to achieve grades that put me at the top of my class; at home I read books to help me to be a better parent; even my ministry opportunities were approached with zeal and the psycho attitude of an over-achiever!

 

Everything I did was done whole-heartedly, with every ounce of strength and will-power (also very limited, haha) inside of me.   I didn’t realize it until just recently, but my extreme drive was purely selfish and not done for the glory of God at all. I was trying to make up for what I thought were character flaws and deficiencies by excelling in any way I could.

 

Recently I experienced a serious health scare. If the blockage in my heart wouldn’t have been caught and fixed, it’s possible that the next time I went to sleep I would not have woken up.  My particular area of blockage has a 1-4% survival rate.

 

A lady from church brought me some food a couple of weeks after I got home from the hospital. She looked me right in the eye and said, “I want you to know that I am so glad you are still with us. We need you. We love you.”  I broke down in tears when she told me this.

 

I still cry as I recount those words. Someone loves me? I mean, this is me, the unlovable one. I still can’t believe it! I guess in my head I thought of course the world would feel like it came to an end for people if something happened to my husband, but no one would really care about me. It meant so much that she said that (even if it was only one person. Hehehe).

 

So after this long blog about being a pastor’s wife I can finally get to my point, to someone that really needs to hear this: YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE NEEDED. YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE. YOU ARE AN INCREDIBLE PERSON.

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Destructiveness of Jealousy

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     Cain killed Abel because of it… Joseph’s brothers sold him into a life of slavery because of it… Sarah sent Hagar and her son to die in the wilderness because of it… Rachel and Leah talked their husband into an immoral practice of surrogate mothers because of it… These are just a few examples of jealousy.

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? – Proverbs 27:4

     Envy starts with desire – wanting something you can’t have. It might start with self-comparison or continue to thrive with competitiveness, but always ends with hatred, insecurity, and destruction.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. – James 3:14-16

     Jealousy is ugly! It could be wishing for a better job, a better body, more recognition, more appreciation, a higher status, popularity, or even love. Someone has that “thing”, you think they don’t deserve and you do, one feeling leads to another… and before you know it you have started down the dark path of jealousy.

For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. – Proverbs 6:34

     It feels like a war is raging in your heart and mind. You know it’s wrong, but feel powerless against it. Thoughts like “Why do they get all the attention?” or “Why does the world seem to constantly revolve around them?” or “Why does it seem so easy for them?” take over your mind. Sometimes it could be thinking that someone is better looking, happier, wealthier, or more gifted.

     Soon everything that person does, no matter how small, innocent, or insignificant is like a punch in the gut to you. Your mind twists everything into an affront. You can’t stand to be around them and eventually end up hating them. The ironic thing is: the majority of the time the person has no idea! You are only hurting yourself!

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. – Proverbs 14:30

     You have to figure out a way to let it go. If you can learn to be happy with yourself and the way God created you, that’s a step in the right direction. God has given us all gifts and things that make us unique. YOU can touch a life that no one else is able to reach.

     Always wishing you were like someone else or to have what someone else has will never bring joy to your life, only pain.

     I’ve experienced these things too in the past… Jealousy, insecurity, anger, and even hatred. These are horrible feelings! My reaction was to crawl back into my shell and pretend the world doesn’t exist. Guess what? That doesn’t work, because the world is still there every time you wake up in the morning. My other reaction was to put up walls to protect myself from relationships. Guess what? That makes things worse AND I just end up feeling alone and depressed.

     Somehow, like the verse in Proverbs, you have to replace that envy with peace. Do you want life? Or will you let yourself rot?

     Peace – what a perfect way to combat covetousness. It can lead to being content with who you are and what you have, no matter what!

     When you think about it, life never really turns out the way you expected it would, but is that a reason to walk around in a perpetual state of unhappiness? I love that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Truthfully, though, I have a very pessimistic personality and have a really difficult time making lemonade out of lemons! My mantra would sound more like this saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

     Yup, I would rather run away when things get too hard. You can’t do that though, none of us can. As much as I would love to go live on a deserted island sometimes, it’s not reality. Reality is facing your struggles and growing from them.

 

Prayer and love, even for those you see as your “enemies” is the answer. Also, a heart full of unending gratefulness will change you. It absolutely won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You owe it to yourself. It will bring the healing that you desperately need right now.

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The “One”

And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” — Mark 10:8-9 (NIV)

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Uncle Steve & Aunt Cindy

How do you know when a person is the “One?” one of my kids recently asked me. I told them some things to look for, and that it would also come as a feeling deep in your soul.

 

But… feelings can be tricky and deceptive, so maybe I should’ve started with this advice instead. (I’m a list person, so bear with me.) Also, some things may be a little different for guys and girls.

 

Seven things to look for BEFORE you get too caught up with your feeeeeeelings:

 

  1. Both: Shares the same faith as you! Some people may think this is insignificant, but in reality this cannot be emphasized enough. Relationships are hard! When you get married, two self-centered people are learning to live together. It seems romantic at first, but that fades when disagreements come to the surface. You don’t need to add disunity in your faith as well! You need to be on the same page where this is concerned! Present and future problems arise when this is not the case.

 

  1. Both:             This relationship will MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON, and that goes for him/her as well. YOU WILL BE GOOD FOR EACH OTHER, pushing each other towards better things. If you find yourself unhappy with who you are most of the time, lying about things, spiraling downward, or changing for the worse, that person is NOT the one for you.

Girls:              He makes you feel amazing… beautiful… smart… treasured… the list goes on. If he makes you feel terrible much of the time, he’s NOT the one for you.

Guys:              She accepts you for who you are, with all of your idiosyncrasies. If she immediately wants to change you, she’s NOT the one for you.

 

  1. Both:             We are selfish people by nature, but “love” will cause us to constantly put the other person first. If this person steadfastly displays selfish behavior early on, they are NOT the one for you.

Girls:              Guys sometimes take a little longer to see the bigger picture; it’s a huge windfall if he is already putting you first.

Guys:              Most girls are naturally nurturing. She might already be putting you first. Watch out for unhealthy behavior though, such as her losing her identity or becoming too controlling.

 

  1. Both:             Faithfulness, loyalty, and dependableness are important qualities. If you feel like you can’t trust or rely on this person, they are NOT the one for you.

 

  1. Both: You are treated as their equal. If they look down on you, make you feel small and not up to their level, they are NOT the one for you.

 

  1. Both:             You can BE YOURSELF around this person. You don’t have to put on a show for them or try to be someone you are not.

 

  1. Both:             Unless you live in a crazy home, your families will fall in love with this person too. Remember, your family loves you and knows you like no one else on the planet, so if they see warning signs PLEASE LISTEN.

 

 

Remember this:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? — Jeremiah 17:9

 

How can we trust our hearts when it comes to dating? We can’t! That’s why it’s good to look for these seven things.

 

Singles, maybe in addition to this, you should make up your own list? Of course, no one is perfect, but you should at least have a starting point before letting your emotions get the best of you. Then maybe you won’t get hurt as often or end up in the wrong relationship.

 

The best advice is: “Why not be careful and choosy when making one of THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS OF YOUR LIFE?” It is more important than picking a college (you may end up hating your school)… It is more important than choosing your career (the average person will change careers 5-7 times throughout their life)… It is more important than just about any decision you make on a daily basis.

 

God loves you and truly wants the best for you, just like I want the best for my children. Don’t ever forget that!

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Grampa (in heaven now) & Grammy Grover

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I know this is Wedding2 (7) 2a little late… but, because a lot of people were asking about the letter my hubby read in his sermon on Sunday, here it is:

Sometimes I think the devil is laughing at us. Sin has taken God’s most beautiful form of creation and turned it into something dirty, shameful, and occasionally even hateful or hurtful.

When God created man, he saw how lonely he was, so he created this beautiful woman to be with him. They became one, in every way. It’s called Yihud – the Knowing. This beautiful, intense, loving, amazing, practically indescribable experience has been so tainted by depravity that we forget Who created this and why: For two people, God literally created for each other, to come together as one on an other-worldly level, like the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, before sin entered their lives.

It’s not to be shared with more than one, it’s not to be taken lightly, it’s not to be abused, used as manipulation, or expended as a power-play. It is the loving, giving and receiving of a precious gift.

Somehow instead we have let it control us, dishonor us, guide us onto dark paths, or shackle us into chains of imprisonment – all with willing smiles and misguided minds. Our search for love, selfish pleasure, and artificial happiness has distorted one of God’s most AMAZING and truest treasures.

Maybe it’s time to take back what God intended for us… To shut out the mocking, inappropriate voices in our head and remember that sex is good, beautiful, loving, and wonderful… To remember that all the warnings from heaven were to protect us so we could truly experience the greatest of all blessings.

No matter what our PAST held, the PRESENT holds only the PUREST of white, whiter than the fresh fallen snow, because we are wholly made righteous the moment we turn to Christ. As a woman and as a wife I will remember this and will be able to ENJOY God’s most heavenly gift without being tainted by the world’s point of view, but instead can go to my husband as Eve went to Adam, without shame, feeling beautiful and completely able to truly “know” each other.Wedding2 (10)

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This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all. – 1 Timothy 1:15

 
I may not be the worst, but I’m no saint! Although, sometimes my guilt and shame gets to me and I feel like the worst of sinners. I make mistakes on a daily basis and have enough issues to fill a house full of magazines, but thank you, God, I’m changing every day.
There are hundreds of examples in the Bible of how Christ treats sinners, but one BEAUTIFUL story stands out this morning, the woman tossed on the ground in front of Jesus, ready to be condemned to death for her sin.

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The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” — John 8:3b-5

 
As they forced her to stand before a large group of holy men what must she have felt? (These are things that always run through my mind when I read the Bible.) Embarrassment over being “caught in the act”? Shame over what she had done to violate the marriage? Fear that she was about to die painfully? Disgrace over having brought dishonor to her loved ones and deep sorrow that she would never see them again? Repentence or Rebelliousness? Feelings of unworthiness for anything but death? Unforgiveness? Unloved – hated by those who shouted her sin for all to hear?

 
How awful it is to have your sin out there for everyone to see! To have people judging you and pointing fingers in anger, ready to condemn you to death. My heart is heavy for anyone who has ever been in a situation like this; it is a lonely place to be! You or I may not have the exact sin as this woman, but if your sin has ever been out in the open, you KNOW what it is like to go through this incredible pain. We may not be in fear for our lives as she was, but sometimes it might feel that way… like we can’t go on… the sense of lonesomeness… like no one understands… the hopelessness.

 
They were using this as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. — John 8:6b-9

 
The worst part of being brought before all of the holier-than-thou Pharisees was surely being used as a human trap on display before Jesus! How humiliating! There was probably not a person for miles of cities around who didn’t know of Jesus and how amazing this “Rabbi” was, who went around teaching the law with more authority than anyone had ever heard, working miracles of which no one had ever seen! Yet here she is, in front of the most famous, holy man of her time, covered in shame and wretchedness. I can imagine the sickening feeling in her gut over what HE must think of her. What would happen? But then HE DEFENDS HER! What???

 
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin. — John:10b-11

 
This is amazing grace! I know sometimes people like to point out that Jesus tells her to go and leave her life of sin, but that’s another story. Anyway, it’s not our job to follow up with people to make sure they leave a particular sin behind. Some people might always struggle with certain things, who are we to judge? Did Jesus follow her around after to make sure she behaved herself? I think she reacted to His unconditional love and forgiveness with a changed heart and a changed life, but who knows?

 
My point is this: I will never be the one to cast the first stone, the last stone, or any stone in between! I am not perfect, and am certainly not without sin!

 
I have a lot of regrets in my life, some of them from years ago, and some of them from yesterday. There are more times than I can count when I wish I could be like Marty McFly in Back to the Future and go back and change the past somehow. Unfortunately I can’t, none of us can. I CAN be grateful for forgiveness, and for Jesus, who “wrote in the sand” for me.

 

I won’t be pointing any fingers at anyone else, because I’m a rotten scoundrel myself! I definitely live under the constant scrutiny of others, subject to a lot of judgment, criticism, and sometimes the condemnation of people, but I know of One who doesn’t condemn me. Thank you, God!

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KidsIt’s been A LOOOONG time since posting a public blog. Truth is, ever since starting this outside job about a year and a half ago I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed and short on time. That’s NO EXCUSE.
A scripture today hit me between the eyes and I wanted to share…

 
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

 
That was what I texted to my kids this morning as they went off to school, with these words for them to think on:

 
“Hey guys, I can’t even begin to imagine how life would be if we thought about others as much as we think about ourselves! We don’t even realize we are doing it, but all day long our world revolves around the self-focused thoughts taking place in our heads. What kind of impact do u think we could have if we spent even half that time thinking about what we could do for OTHERS?”

 
As I slowly punched in those words with my thumbs (not winning any cash prizes with my pathetic texting abilities), I did it knowing that I WAS GUILTY of this as much as, or more than, just about anyone!

 
I get so caught up in frustrations or pity parties or feeling overwhelmed or busyness or… the list goes on, that I become too self-focused to see what’s going on in others around me. How is that loving my neighbor?

 
When I looked at this scripture closely I realized something! A lot of times we are self deprecating, with a negative outlook about ourselves. We are so hard on ourselves, picking apart our flaws with every chance we get! If you ask many of us if we love ourselves, we would say, “No!”

 
In actuality we think about ourselves more often than anyone else and protect ourselves more than anyone else, even to the extent of building walls up or hardening our hearts against pain when we are afraid of being emotionally hurt. Isn’t this a subconscious love that we have for ourselves? One that surpasses any effort that is put forth for anyone else on the planet? Even when you fall in love with someone or have that first crush and spend every waking moment thinking of them, it all comes back to how they make YOU feel, which, of course, all comes back to YOU.

 
I only say all of that to circle back around to the scripture and those words I sent in the text to my kids this morning. Loving someone as much as “yourself” is a crazy concept! Can it be done? What if we really DID make an effort to think of others as much as we thought of ourselves?  What do you think?

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