Pesky Gnats

Among the several things and people I pray for, my daily prayer for years has been (in no particular order) for finances, Jake, general anxieties, and ETA of my husband. As I journaled this morning, the Lord took over my pen and wrote these words to me. My prayer is they are an encouragement to you as well:

“You don’t trust Me enough to guide your heart. Trust Me in all things. Trust Me to take care of Jake. Trust Me to protect you in the car. Trust Me to provide for you in so many more ways than food or rent. Trust Me to protect your heart and your mind. There are tons of things you covet in your mind. Help Me as we both, together, fight the thoughts that enter your mind. You are so weak mentally. There is no type of protection over your mind. The anxiety you have, the lust you allow, it is because you haven’t given Me your mind. Your husband won’t come until you give Me your mind.

I love you and the plans I have for you and your husband are wonderful! Way more grand than you could ever comprehend. I am excited for you to meet, fall in love with Me as a couple, and walk on the beautiful and hard terrain I have for you, but you need to be ready to walk that road. You need to prepare now so you won’t fall later. You are My beloved. It hurts Me when you fall, when you allow such things to control what you see and what you do. That is not of Me.

I give you desires for you to control not for them to control you. Those desires are a reminder that I have not forgotten you. But I also know a deeper desire is to follow Me, to do as I have designed for you.

Fear. That thought that just came into your mind that you aren’t good enough; that you can’t do it. See how we caught that thought like a gnat flying around? We can catch it and kill it or we just swat it enough for it to fly away for it to come back at some point. Sometimes you think you have killed it, but you weren’t even close. Don’t let the gnat or the thought of it returning distract you.

Let Me handle the gnats of your mind.”

I pray you are able to identify the gnats in your mind!


In early June, Jake and I went to Boston to see my family for a much-needed vacation. In later June/early July, I went to Guatemala on a mission trip. In between those two significant events, Jake and I moved from Thomasville, AL to Jackson, AL (depending on where you are, it can be a distance of 30 to 40 miles). I kept my job at Pineview Baptist and Jake will continue going to Thomasville High when school starts up again, so not much has changed besides a longer commute. I used to be able to roll out of bed 20 minutes before I needed to be at work and still make it on time. Now, I drive longer than it takes me to get ready.

The only problem with the commute is the sporadic radio station signal. I listen to K-Love Christian Radio and although there are two dial stations in the area, the signal is pretty bad which often causes more static than music.  Trying to recognize a song in midst of the static can get quite frustrating especially if it is a good song. When I can recognize the song, the static doesn’t bother me as much. However, when I can’t recognize what song is playing that is when the static became more annoying and distracting. At one point the static was so loud, I turned the radio off. That is when I heard Him.

We are in a patch of static, Jen. You haven’t spent nearly as much time with Me as you once did and our relationship is being affected. During our time together, your strength is renewed. Knowing a few, even several Scripture verses, isn’t enough. To minimize the static and ensure a clear connection, you need to be in constant prayer and studying of My Word.

Of course, He was right. My quiet times are the antenna that allow for a clear connection with my Savior, and not having quality quiet times was causing lots of static which translated in physical and emotional exhaustion. Instead of addressing the connection issue, I was trying to listen to His song around the static. Although I heard Him loud and clear, I have yet to get back to where I need to be  in my quiet times. But I praise God that He continues to send me messages through the static.

No Longer Naive

I was once told by an African-American friend that I was naive. We were having a conversation of the racism that still exists and how I seemed completely ignorant to its modern day occurrence. That conversation was about 10 years ago and I am realizing how true his description of me was. However, fortunately (or possibly unfortunately), my naivety is growing less and less by the day.

I was born and raised in the north in Boston; from there I moved to Florida, which is only the South by geographical location. Now living in Thomasville, Alabama (say it with a southern drawl), I am well aware, often too aware, of the racial divide that still exists today. By no means am I saying this is the only place with a racial divide, but this is my only current point of reference. There are 2 funeral homes; one for the whites and one for the blacks. The churches are also divided by race. No, it is not to say that there is never any overlap considering Jake and I are members of a “white church”, but for the most part, races keep to themselves in this town.

When Jake started school, the kids teased him because they did not know what he was. Considering the kids are mostly either white or black, someone of Jake’s complexion was foreign to them. Jake was called Indian, Asian, even Mexican. He was quite frustrated at the beginning, but the teasing has since subsided…I hope.

It shocks and truly irritates me when someone is described by their race. Obviously, those are descriptive words and are often used only as descriptive words, but instead of the saying “the black women working in the nursery”, could it just be “the women or ladies working in the nursery”? Or the “white” male cop. We can describe people with something other than race. Why does it matter what their race is? I know it is insignificant to most people, but when I haven’t been exposed to such conversation, the constant use makes me…ok, I will say it, irate!

There are several things that are wonderful about Thomasville and, again, this is not the only town that has a racial divide. Yes, I am well aware of the soap box I am currently on and how I may seem like I am bashing Thomasville, which I am not. Jake and I have been blessed to be welcomed as we have been and have no doubt this is where the Lord has us for the time being. There are several people whose intentions are great and their hearts are even greater, and simply only lack exposure to other cultures.

As the town of Nineveh (in the Bible; Jonah) did not know they were doing wrong, neither do some of the people here. I am far from being a prophet of God or anything of the sort, but I pray as Jonah was used to bring the message of repentance to Nineveh, God would use me. Also I am praying bitterness and resentment does not fill my heart as it did in Jonah’s. After all, that would be me conforming instead of transforming.

Standing Strong

An email I got from my best friend, Ana. Definitely thought-provoking and encouraging!

Yesterday during my devotional I was reading about our “battle” and the equipment God gave us in order to fight effectively and successfully; the  whole armor of God.  And as I started to break down the verses, I felt so inspired to share about our battle and how God, our Commander-in-Chief, has graciously and fashionably adorned us to fight.  So, I decided to share.  By sharing, I am also enforcing the Scripture in my head.  Hope you are blessed as I was.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Part 1: The Battle – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual  hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (v. 12)

The enemy has a strategy; evil spirits and powers placed in different stations on this earth and around it.  Some think that this verse can explain the 4 different levels of hierarchy in the enemy’s strategy for this battle of good and evil.  Principalities being the highest under the enemy himself. It is them against us; the devil and the fallen, against The Lord and the heavenly hosts. Their weapons are to blind us, confuse us, mislead and lie to us, weaken us, to make us lose our stand, our ground, to shake us, ultimately take our eyes and faith off of God and onto them;  causing us to stumble, become taken, and die in this battle. They are well-organized in order to cause the most confusion and chaos.BUT, God has given us what we need in order to fight back successfully!!!  The full Armour of God!

Part 2: The Weapons – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you might be able withstand on the evil day and having done all to stand.” (v.13)

  1. The Belt of Truth: Gird (To encircle with a belt or band. b. To fasten or secure (clothing, for example) with a belt …) your waist with truth.   A belt helps keep your pants up; but it is also an accessory, displaying the outfit.  Truth should be our accessory.  It is what keeps us covered.  It prevents gaps on the rest of our armor.  Displaying it separates us from the rest of the world. It shows who we are Children of God. Display truth like a nice expensive belt.
  2. Breastplate of Righteousness:  The breastplate protects our bodies from trauma and death.  It covers our core and major organs. Righteousness protects us from being banged up by the enemy, preventing serious blows from to our most vulnerable parts.  A hard covering, protecting our faith, our major organ in the spiritual sense.  Saved by Grace through faith, our salvation!
  3. Shod your feet with Preparation of the Gospel of Peace:  (Shod: past tense and a past participle of shoe.)  We are to over our feet, prepare to walk in peace and spread peace everywhere we go.  Let peace be the way we approach things. It is also another accessory for our armor.  A public display of the difference between evil and good, Christian and non-Christian; The Lord and Satan.
  4. Shield of Faith: The shield protects us from all darts and weapons being thrown at us.  It absorbs the impact instead of absorbing it ourselves. Faith is similar in fashion. Faith in the Lord and His Son, Jesus Christ, makes the darts of the enemy less harmful. In a sense they bounce off, causing us to not be afflicted or to recover more quickly. It makes us impenetrable,  difficult to afflict.  It can also be a weapon, to bash the enemy in the face with!
  5. Helmet of Salvation: Helmets are head-gear that keep us safe in potentially hazardous environments. Helmets keep us safe from trauma and death.  They protect our head and our brain, where our thoughts and the control of bodily functions occur. It is also another accessory.  Beautifully displaying the brilliance of God’s salvation.  A sign to others that I am ready for battle!
  6. Sword of the Spirit:  The weapon of choice –  The Holy Spirit!  Through the spirit, God’s work can be transferred to our physical.  It is sharp and dangerous to the enemy; cutting into his plans and schemes.  If used correctly, after much practice and preparation (prayer), it can be a definite weapon of destruction of evil.
  7. Prayer: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (v.18) The combination of prayer and the Sword of the Spirit are critical techniques in our fight. The only way to improve on our technique is to practice it over and over and over.  Let us pray without ceasing; praying for each other, praying for godly things, and for God’s will in our lives. May we remain watchful of our surroundings, and diligent in praying for all of our fellow soldiers who are fighting the very same battle; the battle of our lives.

Hope you have been blessed by what God has revealed to me. Let us pick up armor and stand strong!

Good Enough…Is It Really?

Why go for great when good is so easily accessible?  That question is something that so many of us struggle with. Something good comes along and we are distracted by the fact that something good is actually coming our way. We jump on it because well, come on it’s the best we can do, right? I mean, we surely couldn’t go for great without eventually proving to ourselves and to the world that we should have just stopped at good (Please note my sarcasm!). What lies we [choose to] live.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly, but so many of us tend to only focus on that part of the verse. We ask God, “why can I never catch break if this verse is so true?” I believe God’s response to that question is that we need to read the whole verse. The beginning of that verse says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” So, if we are promised abundant life, we are also promised that someone, a thief, is out to steal, kill and destroy it. Yes, it stinks, but it is just a part of this fallen world we live in.

God calls you to step up and be a great person, but you don’t believe you have the ability because “the thief” has stolen the confidence (in Christ) you need. God tells you that  He will fulfill the promise He made to you, but you believe that if it hasn’t happened by now, it will never happen. You move on from that promise and stop pursuing it because “the thief” had killed the little hope you had.

The word abundant means “exceeding some number or measure or rank or need”. Having life abundantly is having over and above; more than is necessary. To me, that qualifies as great…not good. So, why settle for good when great is, not only attainable, but promised to us? I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to take the chance and wait on my great to come along!

Recognize to Resist

The most common lie that we are told is that there is no devil, but the Bible clearly states that he does exist and his goal to kill and destroy those of us who choose to follow Christ (John 10:10). Which leads to the second most common lie:

If the devil does exist, he doesn’t care much about you. Well, that is true if you don’t love and follow Jesus…he could care less because you aren’t a threat to him. Those of us, on the other hand, who have admitted of our sin, believe Christ died and rose again as a ransom for our sin and choose to follow and obey His calling on our lives, need to WATCH OUT!! The devil HATES God so much, he will do his best to trip us up. So, don’t fall for it!!

Here are a couple of questions, you can ask yourself or friends to recognize and resist the devil’s attacks:

1. How do you know when the Devil is attacking you? Examples: Feeling worthless, hopeless, overwhelmed, frightened, discouraged, insecure, tempted? Do you feel misunderstood? Are you easily angered? Experiencing self-doubt, extreme humiliation, shame? How about depression, restlessness, anxiety, or insomnia? Do you question the reality of your faith, the love and care of God? Do you have no peace? Feel beaten down or consumed with self?

His attacks are not limited to this, so just because you don’t see your listed, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Trust me, if you claim to love the Lord, you are either just out of an attack, in the middle of one or about to go into one…so prepared!

2. What do you when you are feeling attacked? Reactions are different for everyone and can range from keeping yourself so busy (with other people and their lives) that you ignore yours to going into isolation.

James 4:7, tells us we need to submit to God AND resist the devil! Not only should we turn to God, but as we turn to God, we call on His Sovereign name to make the devil flee…which, if you mean it, he’s gonna run!!! AMEN!!!

Finally, when doing all of this recognizing and resisting, don’t lose focus! Another tool the devil can use is consume you so much on fighting him, that you forget to praise, worship and turn to the Lord. Remember our focus is not to dwell on the attacker, but looking to the Rescuer!

Post inspired by Duty or Delight? by Tammie Head

Opening up…to let go

Scream, beg, cry for the Lord to take something from you, but in order to let something go, you have to open up your hand…

I’m learning that there are some things I am holding on to so tight that it scares me to let go. My question, I always thought was can I move without them, but it really is, do I trust God? Really trust Him? With everything? I don’t know if I can say I can right now.

Is that something, me, a person willing to move to another country, allowed to say? I guess being a missionary isn’t the equivalent to being perfect because here I am facing that baggage once again.

I did a skit called Open/Let Go when I attended a church in Tarpon Springs about 5 years ago. It was about this subject…willing to trust God with everything. I thought it would be a great idea for me to do this skit again at our Fundraiser Dinner next Thursday night; not because I thought I was dealing with doubt or baggage, but because I thought others could relate. As I work on my lines and pitfalls happen, God is revealing to me that it wasn’t my idea to do this skit again, but His. Because I am still holding on to many of those items I thought I had let go of and He needs to work them out of my hands.

I love how we can mess up and pick up the baggage we had once released, but God NEVER forsakes us. In His Loving and Merciful tone says, “Yes, you can trust Me!”

I hope many of you will be attending the dinner at Bascom’s this coming Thursday, not only to support us, but to hear what the Lord may have to say to you about letting go.

Voice of Truth

Scared! That was my answer yesterday at church when everyone was asking how I was feeling about the move. Still very excited, but knowing my “logistics” trip is coming up, I was feeling a bit anxious…

This morning when I was driving Jake to school, we turned on the radio and the Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns came on. It was like the Lord had it played just for me:

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me. Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed. The waves they keep on telling me time and time again “Boy, you’ll never win, You you’ll never win”.

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!” and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory”

The “voices” is the enemy trying to discourage me from making this move. He uses every avenue, including friends with good intentions. They, in not so many words, relay the high risk of failure with this decision. Basically, the enemy is trying to remind me of all the times I have tried to do the “right” thing and have fallen flat on my face. But, this morning, through that song, God reminded me that no matter what happens…no matter what…this is HIS calling for us and HE WILL BE WITH US! And if we fall flat on our face, He will be there to pick us up. He will be there to encourage us and shine His Light of Truth on and through our highs and lows!

Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth!

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid” Isaiah 12:2

Diggin Deep

For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God! – Ezekiel 36:24-28 The Message

As we pray through our areas of struggle, God’s Spirit saturates our inner beings. This is exactly where transformation happens when it’s just you and God working through the deeper issues of your heart. We can easily get in the habit of breezing by and never truly dialoging with God about the real issues of our lives. What we fail to understand is that when we do this, we succumb to shallow Christianity.

Whether you struggle with temptation, weariness, fear, failure, suffering, oppression, or some other issue, you don’t have to sink into an emotional hole of isolation, condemnation, guilt, denial, or loneliness. Stand on your fortified foundation of truth. You can always know where you stand with God. You know He bids you come and seize Him. He is your inheritance. – Excerpt from Tammie Head’s Duty vs. Delight

We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design. We are called to be an honor to God’s glory because we were the first to hope in Christ. You too heard the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit because you believed in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-13 CEB

No thanks. I’ll just stay right here.

Last night, I was driving home from Bible Study and a song came on the radio. It was a song I love and know the lyrics by heart, but last night, the following words cut me like a knife. I, literally, felt sick to my stomach…

I am the man that called out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face

The words “turned away with a smile on my face”, even right now, still make me sick. I do that! We do that! We spit on Jesus’ face, walk away and do whatever it is we feel like doing.

Now, that I, hopefully, made you feel like crap…let me tell you the flip side…

In 1833 (United States v. Wilson), the Supreme Court made the following decision when a man rejected a presidential pardon he had received: “A pardon is a deed to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

In essence, pardon can be given, but we have the freedom to choose it or not. So, let’s say, you are sitting in jail, chained to the wall. The person who you committed the crime against drops all charges and he, himself, opens the cell, and cuts the chains allowing you to walk away in freedom, but you in your genuine remorse choose to stay in the cell. Does that seem ridiculous to you?

Then why do we choose to sit in the cells of our past sins and continue to stew over them when God, the One who ALL sins are ultimately against, drops all charges, unlocks the chains and the cell and tells us not only to walk in freedom, but to walk with Him?

Now, let’s dwell on that for a bit…Your friend whom you love and has been your best friend for as long as you can remember does something horrible. (It can be as “simple” as stealing some money from you or gets involved with your husband.) Your heart-broken. Devastated. You can’t believe she would actually do this to you, but you know her heart and can forgive her. Okay. Wonderful. Now, to the shock and obvious disapproval of everyone, you go back to being her friend like nothing ever happened. No recovery period. No “give me some time and I will come around”. You say, I forgive you, let’s go out to lunch. Unbelievable, huh?

That is what God does for us. We go to Him, confess and turn away from our sins and then, He doesn’t forget what we did, He chooses to not remember them. 

Okay, now, that you have forgiven your friend and you ask her to lunch, she says “I’m sorry. I just can’t. What I did was so horrible. I just can’t accept your forgiveness.” Basically, “thank you for removing the chains and unlocking the cell, but I’m going to stay here until I think I deserve to come out.”

We have every right not accept the “pardon” and choose not to rekindle that friendship and not walk in freedom, but that doesn’t mean that the pardon hasn’t been extended to us. So…

God has chosen not to remember, will you?

2 Praise the LORD, my soul, 
   and forget not all his benefits— 
3 who forgives all your sins 
   and heals all your diseases, 
4 who redeems your life from the pit 
   and crowns you with love and compassion, 
5 who satisfies your desires with good things 
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5