Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals

I’ll admit, I tend to resist goals.

My perfectionist nature resists setting a standard for fear that I might fail. It’s one of the reasons I had such a hard time finding my “one word.”

I don’t like to be wrong.

I don’t like to fall short.

But the flip side of that is never stretching myself, never reaching for something more, never giving myself a chance to succeed.

It’s not that I don’t have any goals for myself at all for; it’s just that I don’t often claim them, don’t voice them aloud, don’t share them with others, don’t hold myself accountable.  I’m guilty of keeping my goals general rather than specific because that makes them easier to meet.

However, this year I recognize the need to risk a little more, step out in faith while trusting in the God who is at work in us and promises to complete that work (Phil. 1:6).  I recognize the need to put some of the goals I hold in my mind and heart into actual words and to share them here with you all.

So, here goes – goals for 2015. 🙂

One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals, setting goals for 2015, goals for the year, how to meet your goals

One of my goals for the year is to do my part in restoring my health. I need more sleep. I need more exercise. I need to eat more balanced meals and to take in less sugar. This past month or so of illness has been eye-opening. I need to do these things in order to be healthy, but more importantly to honor the Father with my body, to walk in obedience with Him.

I’m not sure how to make those goals specific other than to say I aim to eat the recommended daily values of fruits and veggies and to also limit myself to those daily values in other areas where I tend to eat as I wish. I started using My Fitness Pal to help me keep track of both my activity and my eating habits.  I also aim to be in bed by 11 p.m. at the latest! Pray for me, sisters!

one simple way to meet your goals, goal setting, goals for 2015, how to meet your goals for the New Year, resolutions

Another goal for the year is to use my time more wisely through better planning.  Time management affects so many areas of my life, but to be specific, I plan to spend at least two mornings a week writing and working on this blog. Previously, I’ve squeezed writing in here and there, but I’m finding lately that if I don’t plan time to write, it just doesn’t happen. And then I lay awake at night with all of these great ideas and phrases and sometimes whole sentences or paragraphs swirling around in my mind. Anyone else? 🙂

I want to obey the Lord in best using this gift of writing. I don’t want to put that on hold unless He asks that of me, and lately He seems to be asking more in this area. So, I want to be faithful even if it means saying a firm “no” to other things that occupy my time.

Women everywhere understand this pull to be involved in ALL of the good things, but often in our attempts to do so, we miss out on the best things. Especially as a pastor’s wife, I’m learning that over-scheduling is rampant in our world and creates unnecessary stress. If I want the best for me and for my family, I have to learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and not man’s wisdom. I make it my goal to please Christ.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Gal. 1:10

A final goal is to love my husband as Christ does.  It’s been a really tough year for both of us. The trials have been nearly constant and there is always the temptation to withdraw into oneself in order to survive the refining fires. But we cannot! For the sake of our marriage and our family, we must learn to suffer together, to support one another even when we already feel the weight of our own burdens. I see already how the Father is working that understanding into us, teaching us a better way. I know He will be faithful to complete the work in our marriage, as well.

he makes all things beautiful verse, goals in marriage, setting goals for the year

One practical way I can love my husband better is to consistently reach out to him, whether through words or actions or touch. I can hug and kiss him when he leaves for the day and when he comes home. I can look at him and ask him how his day was even if I’m busy when he comes in the door. My goal is to intentionally seek connection with him, to encourage him, and to help him feel loved – every day.

Whew!

When I read all of the words above, I am easily overwhelmed!  I see all of the flaws, the areas that need work. There are so many and I…I am only one. Do you feel that same lacking, sisters?  That same inadequacy?

However, the Father reminds me that I can accomplish these goals by doing one simple thing: abide in Him.

It’s true! If I focus on abiding in Him, I will be sensitive to His leading and these other areas of life will fall into place so much easier than if I try to work towards these goals all on my own.  If I get up with this long list of “must do’s” each day, I’ll be worn out and discouraged before lunchtime. But if I get up with the goal of abiding in Him and following His leading, I can be at peace. You can too!

It comes back to that work-in-progress truth, my sisters in Christ.

He promises.

And I believe Him.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: The Loft, Grace and Truth,

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“One Word” Disappointment

Here’s the thing about “one word” for 2015: I’m just not sure how much I buy into it.

There, I finally said it. 🙂

It’s not that I doubt others when they claim to have received a word from the Lord to focus their year around, and I would never tell others to quit choosing a word, especially when they find it meaningful and purposeful. I’m just a skeptic in general. And to be honest, I’m not sure my word has changed all that much from what the Father was teaching me last year.  So, I find myself struggling with whether to really embrace the idea or not.

It feels a little forced to me, I suppose.

Yesterday, when I read about the same ol’, same ol’ from Grace Covers Me, I felt so relieved! I’m not alone in my doubts or frustrations over the one-word frenzy.  I’m not the only one lacking in the one-word department. I’m not a spiritual failure.

Maybe that’s what it really comes down to: fear of failure.

I’m afraid to choose a word – what if I get it wrong?  What if it’s my will doing the leading in choosing it and not the Father’s? What if I don’t like my word for the year 2015?

One Word for 2015, disappointed in your One Word,  one word struggles

And you know, that’s exactly what happened.

I’ve been praying, even begging, the Lord to give me insight. To open my eyes to His plans for this year. To provoke change this year.  I’ve wasted too many moments worrying about this one word, as if the word itself held power over me rather than Christ Himself.

Finally, I decided maybe I wasn’t supposed to have a word for this year. I quit looking for my one word everywhere, quit justifying the words I wanted to choose for myself.  I decided I could skip the one-word link-up or just choose one of the verses that keep popping up for me instead and run with that.

But then one morning we had this quiet heart conversation.

…………………………………………….

Persevere.

What?

Persevere. That’s your word.

I don’t really like that word, Lord. It sounds hard and possibly painful. And we’ve already done a year of trials and suffering. We’ve already been discouraged and overwhelmed.  What about “Overcome?” That word sounds better to me. It’s joyful and final, and I know the ending of that word is good. That word means triumph, and isn’t that true, Father? We have victory in You!

But your word is Persevere, Beloved.  The triumph is coming, don’t doubt that. The victory is at hand, and is in fact, already yours. You’re like a child who sits willingly for a little while, learning the lesson, yet too quickly you hop up from this place. You think you understand, but you’ve only grazed the surface of the banquet of learning I have to offer you. Be patient. I know you’ve struggled long. Be patient; be still. Sit for the full lesson. Do not leave the table so eagerly, sure you have have found “the answer.” Sit. Wait. Stay (Ps. 27:14).

But in your staying, don’t lose heart, Daughter, Beloved One. I promise growth, imperfect progress (Phil. 1:6). I promise blessing (Luke 1:45). I promise rescue and deliverance and victory (Ex. 14:14). You will overcome! You will prevail. I am the God of the impossible and the God who keeps His promises.

I am.

Don’t run ahead; stay by my side and let me shelter you.

Don’t lose faith now. Persevere.

one word 2015, one word worries, persevere

Oh, Father, I’m so weary and so frail. I’m so ready for the rescue. I want a different word, yet not my will but Yours. Help my unbelief. Help my trembling heart. Give me “chazaq,” courage to persevere even in this. When I am weak, then I am strong. Don’t let me forget it!

I will never let go, Daughter. I will never leave you or forsake you. You are not in this alone, for I walk by your side, even more I carry you.  That’s the deliverance you receive now. I carry you. I am with you. I don’t ask you to persevere alone and by your own strength, but by my Might (Josh. 1:9).

Persevere!

Ok , Father. Ok. I see now, although not yet fully. I see there is power in persevering. I see the hopeful waiting, the strong assurance that You will not leave us here to waste away. I see the strength in that stance. I feel the joy in it!  I hear you calling me to stand, yet not to run. No, not yet. But soon. I will follow You and wait on You. You are the Lord God, the lover of my soul. You make all things new in Your time. So, I will wait and only by your grace, I will persevere.

…………………………………………….

I’m certain this conversation will keep playing out for me, stubborn, sinful thing that I am. 🙂  I still have a few lingering doubts about “one word” but I find value in this process, for it required much abiding in Him. And that’s never a bad thing.

My friends, if you find yourselves lost in the one-word frenzy, don’t despair. You are not alone. Even more, if you’ve heard His voice, yet find disappointment in what He has to say, take heart. He will carry you through.

As my friend Arabah Joy wrote in Trust Without Borders:

“Why do we languish when we have so great a salvation?  He will not remove His compassions from us and His mercies are not without effect! ….We can throw ourselves fully upon His mercy and on His good character, knowing that he who trusts in the Lord will never be disappointed.”

So there it is – the same ol’, same ol’.

But as Christine wrote at Grace Covers Me,

“OK, so maybe “same-old”, minus the negative connotation, isn’t such a bad choice after all. Same-old dependence. Same-old faith. Same-old consistency. Same-old ministry. Same-old following. Same-old day-in, day-out walking with the Lord.”

I can’t say for certain that this word will be mine all year long, but I do believe it’s mine for now.

Same ol’ truth; new perspective.

Persevere.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: Grace & Truth Christian Living

Sharing with: The Loft

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Just a Closer Walk~ #TheLoft

My sisters in Christ, I’m very excited about this week’s topic for The Loft. I look forward to reading what each of you have to say about your walk with the Lord.

I know in my own life, I get easily distracted. I struggle with consistency and self-discipline so often.

And I used to believe that the sweetest times with the Lord were on the mountaintops, when I chose to abide closely in Him. I spent large chunks of time reading the Word and praying.  But lately I’m learning there is a sweetness to be found in the valleys as well because what I’m hearing from Him in the valleys would have been impossible to hear on the mountaintops.

The last few difficult years have challenged my view of God like never before.  His grace is much greater, His love much deeper than I ever could have imagined. He faithfully loves me even when I cannot love myself. Even when I loathe myself.

Perhaps it’s maturity at work in me or just life circumstances, but I find it easier to abide in Him, especially in the dark times, when I’m really honest with Him.  I realize now that much of my “young” Christian life was spent trying to please a God who was already pleased with me.  I held myself, and others, to high standards, and although I thought I understood grace, I think I was probably a little legalistic, maybe even self-righteous. I’m sure I still make that mistake sometimes even today, we all do at times. 🙂

And then came the valley of the shadow of death, or at least it felt like it, that filled these last couple of years.  At times I didn’t even want to leave my bed. At times I begged the Lord to come quickly – everyday life felt like too much to bear. I questioned the Lord like never before. I wrestled with him like Jacob as one blow after another fell upon my life. I quit trying to act the part of perfect Christian and begged for understanding. I got real with Jesus.

It was (and still is in some sense) a most difficult struggle.

Yet my faith has been strengthened!  Out of my honest conversations, out of my most desperate cries, came an understanding that I am perfectly loved, perfectly wanted, perfectly accepted.  I knew a brand new Grace, and it blew my mind – still does!

Because when I was my ugliest self, He loved me still.

He loves me still.

He loves you, too, my sisters, even at your ugliest, your most unlovely, your most unworthy.

And when we come to Him honestly, then He can begin the real work of “creating a clean heart” within us.  He gives us “grace-colored” glasses and teaches us that progress is what really matters, not perfection!

He teaches us confidence that only comes from fully understanding our Daughter-of-the-King status.

Walk with the Lord, Abiding in Him, Just a Closer Walk, Spiritual Life, Christianity, Christian Living, Growing in Christ

 

I’ve come out of that valley with a closer walk, not a perfect walk, but a closer one.  Not because I do my devotions without fail, not because I am sweet to my family, not because I serve Him at church, not because of the words I type out here.

But because I know Him more deeply.

I trust Him more deeply.

You can trust Him, too, sisters. Whatever your valley may look like, He promises to carry you through.

…For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”  Heb.13:5-6

Even this.

Even this.

Jen 🙂

Also sharing this with Tell His Story.

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

About #TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!

 

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

This Week’s Topic: “Intimacy with Jesus” (What does that look like for you? How do you abide in the vine? What barriers do you face or victories you’ve discovered in maintaining intimacy with Jesus? Let’s encourage each other!)

Get a running start on Next Week’s Topic:”Fall Recipes” (Please do share your favorite fall recipes so we can enjoy too!)

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic 🙂

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

Click to Add Your Link Below:

 

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Arabah Joy’s “In Christ” E-course

A few months ago, I had the privilege of joining an online e-course for bloggers developed and led by Arabah Joy, a blogger friend of mine.  The e-course was free for those of us who responded to her offer, but I wasn’t really certain what to expect.  After all, I was relatively new to blogging and even newer to things like e-courses. 🙂  However, I was so blessed by the wisdom AJ shared from the Word.  She has a gift for taking people deep into Scripture and for asking thought-provoking questions.

At the same time, I found AJ’s lessons to be incredibly encouraging.  Truth poured forth accompanied by much gentleness and personal honesty that I found refreshing.  AJ isn’t afraid to be authentic.

So, my sisters in Christ, I’m really excited to share with you today an opportunity to learn from my friend, who is also a mom to 4 (one via adoption), a missionary, a wife, a writer, and a committed Christ-follower.  Arabah Joy is offering a new e-course (an online bible study) and registration ends tomorrow!!

Make 2014 a year of spiritual growth with the “In Christ” eCourse by missionary and blogger Arabah Joy. Understanding our identity in Christ is foundational to successfully living the Christian life. This spiritual growth course will aid participants in understanding their identity, how to abide in Christ, and will impart tools for letting the word of Christ richly dwell in the heart and mind (Colossians 3:16). The unique blend of story, scripture, community discussion, and practical application is thoughtfully geared for participants to experience ongoing life transformation.

The 4 week course will begin February 4 and run through March 4, 2014. Registration closes January 31, 2014. Course fee is $19.99

For full course details and to register, visit Arabah Joy’s “In Christ” eCourse page Click here to view more details .

If you are interested in participating in this bible study, the discount code Arabah has given to affiliates to share is “InChrist25″ and don’t forget, registration closes tomorrow!

Praying you’re finding strength and rest in Him today,

Jen 🙂

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Power to Produce

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If you are anything like me, then cleaning out the fridge is low on the totem pole. You might occasionally reach in for some sustenance and pull out rotten food instead. Instead of giving life and energy, the food is wasted, worthless, and sometimes even downright disgusting.

Our spiritual fruits can be that way, too!  Have you ever tested your fruit?  Held it up to the Lamp, the faithful Word of the Lord?

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love,

joy, peace, patience,

kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control;

against such things there is no law.

 

In my bible, beside this passage I have written two small words: the test.  Do you want to know how closely you are walking with the Lord? Examine your fruit of the Spirit!  Do they pass the test?  Are you overflowing with patience, joy, peace, kindness, love, goodness and so on?

All too often I find myself trying to produce these fruit all on my own. I wake up in the morning thinking, I’m going to be patient with my children today.  I’m going to be kind and loving to my husband.  And later in the day, when strength runs low, I feel frustrated and out of control. I wonder, “Why am I acting this way?  What is the matter with me today?”  as if some sort of spell has come over me, and I’ve been rendered incapable of obedience.

In truth, my fruits show that I’m not out of control, I’m off of the vine.  I’m not abiding, not remaining.  Instead, I’ve chosen my own path, my own methods.  I’ve chosen doing rather than being, resisting rather than submitting, striving rather than resting.

I’ve somehow forgotten that most basic truth of Christianity, that we cannot produce fruit on our own, for there is nothing good in me.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;
for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
Romans 7:18
When I lift my fruit up to the Lamp, I see it – that bruise there when I chose to be selfish rather than selfless.  The wormhole caused by putting off time alone with God.  The blackened area of sin left hidden and unconfessed.  Surprisingly, some of my fruit appears to be pretty and polished, but on the inside the core rots, the result of a valiant effort to do things in my own strength.
It’s ugly fruit.
It’s rotten and worthless.
It reeks of self.
I have to toss the bad fruit out and start anew: reconnect to the Vine, drink the Living Water, break the Bread of Life.

2Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,

for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

so that the man of God may be adequate,

equipped for every good work.

Only then, in the hands of the Master, can I produce beautiful and bountiful  fruit, sweet-smelling fruit. No matter how often I fail the fruit test, He is faithful to forgive, faithful to redeem.  His grace is sufficient for my weakness!
Today are you feeling weary, impatient, overwhelmed, dissatisfied, or out of control?  Test your fruit.  Hold them up to the Lamp of Truth and see what they reveal.
come to me all who are weary
Matthew 11:28-30
 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We have no power to produce good fruit on our own!  Instead of trying and toiling, why not take His yoke and find rest? Turn to your Maker and Sustainer for the power to produce!
Which fruit is most difficult for you to produce?  What verses help you to rely on the Spirit rather than self?  Please share with us in the comments!
Jen 🙂
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A Blogger’s Prayer

This weekend marked the one month birthday of this blog, Being Confident of This.  It’s a blog I started, but I’ve decided not to call it my blog anymore because it really isn’t.  It’s God’s blog. The reason I say it’s His blog is because He’s done greater things for it in this short time than I could have ever imagined!

I’m happy to tell you that today “Being Confident of This” is being featured on two other blogs! Exciting! 🙂  My cousin, Angie, at http://www.angieknutson.com/ has been a huge help to me in my blogging journey this far.  She has a wealth of knowledge and has been kind enough to share it with me, in spite of her own busy schedule, on multiple occasions.  I really appreciate her support! Tomorrow she’ll be sharing a brand new post from me about how to handle dreary mornings, so stay tuned for that!!

So far, He’s used this blog to reach others, but even more, He’s used it to reach me.  How often do we set out in life to lead others, to teach them, only to realize we are being taught ourselves?  That’s how I feel about this whole blogging experience so far. 🙂

A Blogger's Prayer

So, here’s my prayer as I continue on in this journey:

I see what you did there, God.  I see how you used that post about Mary Moments in a Martha World to remind me that the best thing is spending time with you.  I see how the post about  being a Transformer convicted me to live out truth in love.  I see that the biggest flaw in our Sanity Saving Chore Charts is whether or not we as parents are consistent in our follow-up.

At the same time, Lord, I’m learning that I have to be careful with this blogging thing.  I heard my little boy the other day when he said I was spending too much time on the computer. I know I need to watch how much time I pour into this.  I have to find balance between my time with you and blogging and family and church.  It’s not easy, but I know You’ll help me.  I see now that it’s part of the process, part of that work in progress.

Father, I’m also learning that you just want me to be me and to trust You to give me the words to say.  When I try to create a fabulous post on my own – it flops. 🙂  When I trust You for the message, it soars.  I see how that works, God, and I’m trying to get out of the way so that You can use me.

I am the vine

I also see, Lord, the potential to find my worth in the numbers (now I know what my pastoring husband feels like!).  I don’t want numbers to be a measure of who I am.  I want who I am to be found in You alone.  Help me to be obedient to You in sharing the messages You give without worrying about how many people are visiting today, tomorrow, or the next day.  Help me to remember that the value is in the obedience to You.

Most of all, Lord, I want to remember that it was Your idea to create this blog, not mine!  Like anything else in my life, it ultimately belongs to You.  Help me to surrender that control!  Help me to remember that You can bring an audience all on Your own with no help from me.  I’m simply the vessel.  Make me a humble vessel.

Thank You, Father, for this amazing journey.

In Christ alone,

Jen 🙂

What is God teaching you lately?  If you feel free to share, leave a comment! 🙂

Also linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World

Like many women, I’ve been really busy this week with a lot of good things.  In addition to my everyday tasks, two things in particular have taken up a fair amount of time: a Mother’s Day talk I am working on for church and a future blog post that just isn’t quite right yet.

They are both really good things, both uplifting to the Body of Christ and instructive for me, the writer.

However, last night and this morning God was working in my heart to show me a truth that I had learned before, but temporarily forgotten.  Good things can become bad things when they distract me from the BEST thing – my relationship with Him!  You see, I thought I was doing good by feverishly working on these projects in my spare time, which you can understand as a mother of four children is indeed very spare. In my zeal and enthusiasm for this good work, I forgot to turn to the Source from whom the words flow.

Sounds an awful lot like Martha, doesn’t it?

Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World, Mary vs. Martha, Mary and Martha, choosing the best thing, abiding in the Lord

Luke 10:38- 42 reads:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was busy doing good things – taking care of others, preparing food to serve them, and so forth.  They were necessary preparations.  But when she expressed her frustration to the Lord about her sister Mary, He actually rebuked her instead!  He told her that Mary’s choice to fellowship with and learn from Him was the better choice, the BEST choice.

I had the opportunity earlier this year to attend a women’s conference, and the main speaker, Kimberly Sowell, so aptly narrated this story to us.  She reminded us that we live in a Martha World – full of work and busy schedules.  Those tasks, those good and necessary things that we do on a daily basis (raising up children, working, serving others, preparing meals, even work related to ministry) have to be done, but we must be careful not to let them distract us from the most important thing – abiding in Him.

Don’t make the mistake I made; don’t choose simply good things over the BEST thing.  Choose to make time for a Mary moment in spite of your Martha world!  And as soon as you make the choice to be Mary, don’t be surprised if something needs your immediate attention!

This morning, as soon as I sat down on my bed and opened my Bible, my preschoolers who were playing so nicely together suddenly needed my TOTAL attention.  Thankfully, God reminded me that Satan is always at work, and rather than getting frustrated and giving up, I was able to quickly attend to their needs and come right back to my Bible.

It wasn’t easy with two distracting 4-year-olds at my feet (and on my bed, sometimes even in my lap), but it was worthwhile, and I know He was pleased with my obedience.  I know because when I finished, I had peace.

Jen 🙂

Question:  What “good” things tend to distract you the most from the BEST thing? (feel free to share in the comments)

Other articles you might enjoy:

http://pastorswifeslife.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/what-am-i-chasing/

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

 

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