Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
A few months ago I claimed this as my family's Mission statement:
Know Him and make Him known
I think from before we even started a family, from before we were even a couple this was my goal for life. But a few months ago, I consciously claimed it to my children and John. This is our official mission statement. These are our only goals in this life:
*make Jesus known
All my life choices... all my decisions... I want them to filter back to this....
But sometimes life just doesn't LOOK like what you thought it would look like. Sometimes the pieces are scattered all over the floor and they make no discernible image. Sometimes words like cancer, and guilty, and unfaithful shatter the image we have of what our life was going to be like. I've been there. In fact for about a year and a half now, my tent's been pitched there. In this wilderness... where I keep looking around thinking THIS is MY life?!?!? How can that BE??? Even though the Bible constantly disproves this notion, somehow I keep thinking if you love God, if you follow His decrees, if you dedicate your life to serving Him and doing His will then things should go your way. But they don't always. And in fact often in Scripture I see the opposite... for Joseph... for Job... for Jesus!
Recently in one of the particularly dark shadows of this valley we're in, I stopped... I looked around at the UGLY filth and thought how can this awful landscape be my life. Then right there, midthought the Holy Spirit spoke to me. And I looked around again at the ugly... the waste... the broken parts... and I thought, here, at the bottom of this outhouse pit do I know Him? YES! Possibly more intimately than ever before. Am I making Him known? YES! Over and over... blow after blow... sitting here on this hardly inhabited island waiting for the Lord to send a search plane to rescue us... I am SCREAMING my belief that eventually HE will have HIS way. No matter how dark and desolate this gets, I will NOT stop saying HIS WILL BE DONE. So yes... this IS my life. The ugly... the broken... the awful.... if those things are making me know Him and I'm making Him known... it's. my. life.
I realized life's ick... Satan's attacks... these potholes along the way.... they don't matter.... what matters is that my mission statement stays true: know Him and make Him known.
The things that happen along your road to Heaven are not what's important. Don't let them define you! It's your mission. It's your journey. Those are the things that matter.
I want to know Christ....
Thursday, May 18, 2017
*Declan Fisher O'Brien didn't fall down a flight of stairs.
*We have great health insurance.
*I love the doctor we found.
*Not only will my doctor repair my ruptured tendon, but he'll remove this deformity thing on my heel that has given me two decades worth of tendonitis.
*My bosses are SO supportive.
*My job is very flexible.
*Because I work-at-home, I will be out of work less than 2 days.
*Because I am such a taskmaster my children are fully capable of running this house in my absence.
*John takes such great care of me.
*My office, my bed and a full bathroom are all on the same level.
*(and what you all kept telling me when we moved into this dream house) our house is only two blocks from the hospital!
|Did I do that??|
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Today it hit me.... maybe all the prosperity people are right... see I've long had a problem with those who preach the message that "God wants you to prosper!" Because that's not what I read in my Bible... that's not what I've seen working it's way out in my life or the life of my friends... but today I thought maybe those people are RIGHT. Not about the prospering part but at least about the positivity behind it.
Let me back it up a bit in case I lost you.... the very first time I had a mammogram I had to go back for additional tests to rule out something nefarious. I remember the fear in the pit of my belly... I remember trying to convince myself, "God's got this." But I remember STRUGGLING too because see I know that sometimes children get cancer, sometimes daddy's don't come home, sometimes it doesn't all work out like a fairy tale, and those times God is STILL in control.
So now fast forward back to where I was before.... today I was driving down the road and it HIT me... like a Mack Truck crashing into a VW bug... what if they're RIGHT.... What if believing God is gonna heal you, rescue you, provide for you is what it is really about... then it doesn't matter if the rescue EVER COMES.... What matters is you NEVER gave up hope... cuz the ONLY thing we can do in the face of a hurricane ripping through our lives is TRUST in the only One who controls the outcome.
See the outcome isn't ours to do.... what got us here can't be undone.... how we'll deal with a... b... or c... not the question. What's ours... the ONLY thing God calls us to... often the only thing we CAN do.... is BELIEVE.
So maybe these prosperity people who tout this God WANTS you to live in health and wealth mantra... maybe they have actually got it RIGHT. Because they refuse to entertain any other possible outcome but one where God REIGNS in the end.
Just a lil food for thought....
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Last night John and I watched the movie Lone Survivor. I'm not sure I can in good conscience reccomend the movie. It's quite brutal.... the gore of war... the LANGUAGE of soldiers... most of all the TERROR that one day that could be MY military-loving boy doing that. It was pretty intense! I feel like my ears need to be washed out with soap after all those cuss words, and I stopped the movie at one point to BEG my child NOT to choose that path. However, that SECULAR, brutal movie had a message for my soul.
I'm pretty sure these aren't going to be spoilers. Heck, the title of the movie pretty much tells the end, right?...even if you never heard the story of this group of Navy SEALs... But just in case, I'm warning you... this blog will give away parts of the movie.
The mission of this group of SEALs is compromised, and they have a choice before them. Basically they can choose to do the morally right thing which will be HARD, or they can save their own butts and save their mission by doing the wrong thing. Their leader chooses the moral high ground with DISASTROUS results. And here's where my sermon began. Sometimes doing the right thing has UNPLEASANT results. Sometimes the moral high ground is rocky and FULL of Taliban soldiers with RPGs. BUT just because you suffer HORRIBLY doesn't make the moral high ground a wrong choice. Right is ALWAYS right, even when it's hard. Sometimes doing the right thing just makes the enemy RAGE against you even harder. But it is ALWAYS good to choose what is RIGHT and even if you lose for choosing it, if you honor God by choosing right you will win in the end.
At one point in the movie all four of these SEALs are wounded. They have tumbled down not one, but TWO rocky mountain sides. They've been shot. One guy was shot in the BACK OF THE HEAD. Another guy had all the fingers on one hand shot off. BUT. THEY. STILL. KEEP. GOING. They NEVER quit. They're trying to reach flat ground so they can more easily fight the enemy. They get separated from one guy, and the Taliban catches him. These men... battered, bruised, shot, exhausted.... do you know what they do? They don't turn tail and run. They don't write their guy off and save themselves. They TURN AROUND and start pushing back UP THE HILL to save their guy. AMAZING! INCREDIBLE! This goes WAY beyond being a hero. But yet isn't this what Christ is calling us to EVERY day. Lay down our lives to show Jesus to a dying world in the hopes that we might save just ONE man.
The movie was superbly meaningful to me. I wept. I learned. I was inspired. And I just want to say, "Lord, I will keep choosing right. No matter how wrong this world thinks I am. I will NEVER stop doing what You are calling me to. No matter how hard Satan rages against me. I will persevere!"
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Monday, May 1, 2017
The question on my heart this morning: Is God is okay with "blocking" or "de-friending" people?
On one hand, He has called us to love the unlovable and shutting ourselves off from people who are difficult kinda defeats the purpose of spreading God's love. But on the other hand, I have had a relationship or two where God has CLEARLY told me, "You are done. Wash your hands and walk away."
I guess the best answer I have for this is:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
I think that almost all of the time God wants us to embrace the difficult people in our lives.... to reach out in love to those who rub us the wrong way... to live at peace with everyone. I think once in awhile God may give us permission to let go... to shake the dust off our sandals... to let someone else be Jesus to that person who's hurt us again and again. But I don't think that happens very often.
I think it's similar to being angry. The Bible says over and over and over again: control your anger. Yet most of us just love to use that ONE time Jesus got angry as our example instead. Because it's easy. It's easy to let our anger fly... its easy to avoid people who hurt us or make us uncomfortable.
I guess if the list of people you are cutting out of your life is longer than a couple you might want to rethink the validity of that choice. I don't think God wants "blocking" people to be our norm. For me, I think that I'm just gonna keep on trying peace no matter how much it hurts. Because I don't really care to be pain free, but I desperately WANT to be like Jesus.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Lately God has been convicting me about my words. More specifically, He has been convicting me about the words I say to myself, inside my heart and my head. I am so rough on myself! When things aren't perfect, I am vicious in my blame of myself. And in Jamiland everything that happens in this world can somehow be traced back to my fault. The Lord doesn't want me stewing in condemnation. "Godly conviction leads to repentance..." anything more than this is the devil trying to slow me down!
So for some weeks now God has been convicting me about the way that I talk to my own SELF. I have realized I would NEVER be that harsh with someone I love. I would never even treat a coworker or acquaintance that roughly. Yet everyday, I beat myself up with accusations, negative judgements, and harassing thoughts. I have been doing this so long that the thoughts just naturally rage against my heart, almost of their own accord.
The first step God gave me for battling this problem was TRUTH. Most, if not ALL, of the ammunition I throw at myself isn't even TRUE. "I'm worthless." "I'm a terrible mom." "I'm a horrible employee." "I hate my life." "I can't DO this!" God has convicted me to start fighting off those lies with the truth. When my head throws, "I'm worthless." at my heart, I will my spirit to shout back, "I am worth enough that Christ DIED for me!" When I think, "I'm a terrible mom." My spirit counters, "There are three young men and one little princess who would beg to differ." I'm NOT a horrible employee just because I made a mistake. I don't HATE my life; I just don't want to be walking down this current path of suffering. And I CAN do this because I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.
The other day I saw a pin. (yes Pinterest is my new addiction... it's currently filing the void left when I quit Facebook last year.) It said basically... tell the negative committee that meets in your head to sit down and HUSH UP! #exactly
I'm sure the things you tell yourself aren't the same as the things I tell myself. You might not be so mean to yourself, or heck maybe you're even meaner. But regardless, maybe you to should hold the thoughts you think about yourself up to the mirror of truth too.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The devil screams his lies so loudly. Critics spew their hate so easily. The negative, the errors, the fails, the mistakes, they all stand out so blatantly.
We have to WORK to be positive, to speak and believe the truth. We have to bite back the negative retorts. We have to use love to cover the shortfalls.
I remember a teaching conference I went to decades ago. The speaker said, "It takes ten positive comments to make up for just one negative comment." Just because of the numbers, we should choose positivity! The sheer volume of work required to makeup for being negative should deter us from choosing that option.
But Jami... sometimes people or things are WRONG! Sometimes a job is not done correctly. Sometimes someone says or does something that I need to critique. Take it from this perfectionist with OCD tendencies, "I get you!" I truly do! But still I think there are better options.
1. Find something good instead of something bad. Did your child spill a glass of milk on the ground? Well at least the glass didn't break. Did the glass break too? At least no one got hurt. No matter WHAT you can find one thing to be grateful for. Even if it's, "Well I'm not dead." There is ALWAYS a silver lining if you look hard enough.
2. Say nothing at all. I'm sure your momma taught you, "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all." Just bite your tongue. Let it go. Refuse to contribute negativity.
I realize these things are way easier said than done. But like anything, with practice, choosing to be positive will come easier and easier to you.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Sunday, April 23, 2017
I lay each one down at Your feet
No matter what I face You're by my side
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
There's not a day ahead you have not seen
Psalm 20:7 NIV
Saturday, April 22, 2017
I woke up this morning and opened my Bible app. The verse of the day:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
It's my life verse. But more than that, it's the promise I was speaking aloud all day yesterday. It's the verse I was using to fight off the attacks of the enemy. Every time I felt afraid yesterday... every time I felt despair... every time I wavered a lil bit.... I said to the enemy of my soul, "He has plans! Plans for hope! Plans for a future!" Then this morning, before I even wiped the sleep crud out of my eyes, God spoke that promise back to me.
He's SUCH a good, GOOD God. He loves us SO much. He not only loves us enough to have plans, hope, and a future for us, He loves us enough to whisper little ily's to remind us.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Sometimes life hurts. BAD. Sometimes you are left in a crumpled puddle of tears and snot wondering where the heck THAT came from and HOW the heck you will ever get back up. I never want to suffer through those times in vain. If I'm going to have to cry, scream, and scratch my way through a painful situation then by golly it better mean something in the end! That's kinda the whole point of this entire blog. If I can teach even one person the lesson I learned through something, then my suffering wasn't in vain.
Yet in the past I've been too quick to forward to the lesson part. I think one lesson I've learned from those this-hurts-so-much-I-can't-even-MOVE situations is that you can't always fast forward to the lesson. Some hurts cut so deep they demand to be felt. I've been learning a lot about this buzz word "self- care," and I think it is JUST what you need when pain leaves you dazed and confused. Here are a few of my self-care ideas for when your heart has been rubbed raw by life.
1. Protection... everybody has those well meaning people in their lives who instead of pouring well-needed balm on our wound accidentally grab the salt shaker and give a few shakes right in there. Pull yourself back from those people. They don't have to be a part of your healing team. It's okay not to share EVERYTHING you're going through with everyone you love. It's also okay to tell your details and then firmly ask someone NOT to comment.
2. Company.... but don't keep everyone outside that barrier. You need some company to walk you through this. You need someone you can lean on. You don't need advice. You don't need judgement. You just need someone to be present in your suffering. Find them!
3. Permission... you need to give yourself permission to feel, to grieve, to hurt. Cry if you need to. Scream until your throat hurts. Admit to every.single.thing. you are feeling and allow yourself to FEEL it. (Just be careful not to pitch a tent and start living there.)
4. Tenderness... you must be gentle with yourself. Point yourself towards the sweatpants section of your closet. Find your fuzzy slippers. Invest in some essential oils. Pull out the noodles and cheese. (Again be careful about not living in this place, but...) Handle yourself with kid-gloves. Now is not the time for berating yourself. Now is not the time for analyzing. It's not yet time glean wisdom. Don't push yourself. Don't judge yourself. Cut yourself some slack.
5. Faith... this one might he the most important one. No matter how bad it gets. No matter how dark your valley. You must have FAITH. Believe that God is right there with you. Believe that His grace is sufficient. Believe that He will carry you through this. BELIEVE.
As long as we are here on this planet, life is going to hurt. Sometimes so badly it shakes you to the core. But you WILL get through it. I saw this pin the other day... "You've survived 100% of everything in your life so far, so there's a pretty good chance you'll survive whatever is next."
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
In the pit of deep, dark suffering there are so many misunderstandings of God, His will, His ways. I've been in pits... deep, dark, stinky, TERRIFYING pits... more times than one. I've felt that pain and agony that is so deep you literally aren't sure you will survive. And I've learned that a lot of the things we Christians tell ourselves when we're in the pit of suffering are wrong... dead wrong.
God will never give you more than you can handle. Negatory! Completely FALSE! In fact, the pits of suffering we reside in are almost always more than we can handle. If we could handle everything on our own, what need would we have for God? And for that matter.. what about growth? If we never got more than we could handle, how would we ever grow? So I scream FALSE to that myth. Sometimes, often times, our suffering IS more then we can handle.
One day you'll look back on this and understand why. Not necessarily. God NEVER promises us a why this side of Heaven. Some things years, heck decades, later will still be puzzling. Some things will never, ever make sense. The Bible says "now we see dimly" and it promises that in Heaven we'll see clearly.... but God never promises any clarity while we're here on this earth.
Just don't stop believing. God will bring victory in the end. Sometimes. But not always. Sometimes God says, "No." Somtimes we lose. Sometimes we are not healed. Sometimes we are not rescued.
If you do God's will, you will be blessed. Where is that example in the Bible? I don't see it. I see Job losing everything. I see disciples being martyred. I see Joseph in a pit. I actually find the opposite to be true. In my experience, the more I do for God, the harder Satan rails against me. And I find that God cares very little about my comfort and a whole lot about my character. He wants to make me like Himself. And that most definitely is NOT going to be comfortable.
So what is true? When we're down there, in that pit of despair. What can we believe? When the pain is so great we're quite sure we won't survive? His Grace is sufficient. That's the one I'm not able to debunk. In the midst of suffering.... His Grace is sufficient. When we've got "more than we can handle"... His Grace is sufficient. When we just don't get WHY all this is happening... His Grace is sufficient. When He does not rescue us from our situation... His Grace is sufficient. The one thing that rings true... the one thing we can cling to... His Grace is sufficient.
I don't know what you're going through today. I don't know the details of your pit. But I do know this, His Grace is sufficient.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9