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Perfect…

God is teaching me that we can’t assume His plan. I think many times we see God’s plan through our own eyes. We assume perfect to us is perfect to Him. However, I am discovering perfect to us and perfect to Him can look quite different. I know my plan to redeem humanity would not have looked like His. I would not have given up my only son for all of humanity. I am not sure I would have given up my family to save others. I believe I would be too selfish for that. I would have come up with a different plan…maybe like take a deep breath and blow out all the sins of the world. Or I might have simply waved my powerful hands and declared “sin be gone.” But God’s plan looked completely different and guess what, His plan was and still is perfect. I am so thankful that His plan looked different than mine. He is wiser than I am. His understanding of our needs is greater than mine. He sees the days, weeks, months and years ahead, while my sight is limited. My sight can barely mark out my day.

What could possibly happen when we set our heart and mind on our plans?  We can start to question God when it doesn’t look as we have envisioned. We might become bitter and saddened when things don’t go how we assume. We stall ourselves in the waiting until “perfect” comes around. We miss out on opportunities because we are so focused on seeing our plan accomplished. Our days become filled with frustration as we get caught up in the plan, instead of the ultimate Planner.

I know for me I have envisioned what the days ahead look like. As my family has stepped out in faith to move and start a church, my plan was that as the step happened, the house would sell, the resources would line up and so forth, but right now things look a little different. We could sit here and easily question the step of faith we have taken. We could easily decide to wait until our defined perfect rolls around. But instead, we are choosing to submit our plan to Him. We trust His plan is perfect. His timing is perfect and He can be trusted for He knows whats in the store in the days ahead. So, today I am taking time to remind myself that my perfect and his perfect might look a little different…okay, maybe a lot different. Instead of my perfect, I desire His perfect.

Ps. 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect.”

It does not get any clearer than that. I pray that I am always reminded to seek His way and His plan. I pray that I stay humble and trust His ways our greater than mine. He sees what we need. He sees our hearts desires. He sees the days ahead. He knows what is best for His children. And He can be trusted.

So today I encourage you to submit your plan to His perfect. Take all that you hope and desire and give it God. Seek Him and His ways. Remember His ways our greater than ours. His way is perfect and most of the time looks a little different than our perfect.

I also encourage you to read His word and discover how His ways and His timing in His plan look different than we would assume.

 

 

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PACE

PACE: the speed at which someone or something moves; speed; tempo; rhythm

I recently joined a women’s workout group that was described as walking and jogging intervals and other interval training. I enjoy intervals so I knew I would enjoy this group. I was also excited to get to meet new friends and exercise a bit as well. The group was so popular that it was soon split in two groups, one group focused on walking and the other focused on running. I’m not a runner, but I knew walking would be an easy way out for me, so I stepped into the running group. As we were heading out, the leader said, “So I was thinking that we would start the Couch25k (C25K) app and complete a 5k at the end of the semester.” As I overheard her say these words, I began to argue with myself and excuses to leave the group ran rampant in my head. But despite my excuses, I stayed. The first couple of weeks of following the app weren’t as hard as I thought. I actually puffed up with a little confidence in my running ability. But then week 4 of the app came and I was dying. Now to be honest my longest run on this day was only five minutes. I know what you are thinking, “Jen, you couldn’t handle five minutes?” But I’ll just admit it…I couldn’t. I’ve never been a runner per se and I could feel my lungs caving in at 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I left that day feeling pretty defeated. I consider myself pretty healthy working out 3 times a week or more and eating healthy the majority of the time, but on this day I questioned it all. I walked away thinking I was completely out of shape and more excuses of why I should quit surfaced again.

I had to make a choice: quit or show up the next week. With some encouragement from my family and the other women in the group, I stayed. I started following the C25K app at home to train my body for the group running days. When I arrived at group the following week and we started our run, our leader said something to me that stuck with me and has not left. We had just begun an 8-minute run and she looked at me and said, “Her pace isn’t your pace. You have to find your pace.” She went on to tell me that my friend, whom I was running with, runs 8-minutes per mile. My friend also ran track in college and clearly has had way more training than I in the running department. My leader continued to encourage me to find my pace and that once I found my pace, completing my runs would become easier. And she was completely right; it was easier. That day I walked away completing the entire run.

HER PACE ISN’T YOUR PACE…I was trying to keep a pace that I was not physically able to keep. I was wearing my body out by striving to stay at a pace that was not mine. (Did you know that there are pace charts for running based on age, weight, height and distance?) Once I found my pace, I not only completed the runs, but there was so much peace in it. I actually enjoyed the run once I discovered my pace. As I thought about this more and more I realized that finding our pace isn’t just important when running, but also important in every day life. Her pace, whether that’s a friend, someone you work with, a family member, or a simple acquaintance, is not your pace. Sometimes I can find myself trying to keep the pace of others thinking if I can keep up with their pace, I am accomplishing more. Sometimes I find myself adding to my day to make my pace seem more attractable to others. But the reality is trying to run the pace or rhythm of someone else’s life leaves me feeling defeated and tired. When I’m upping my tempo to impress those I around me, I’m again left worn out. It is also very hard to finish the race, goal or path before us when we are not living in the correct pace. The desire to quit creeps in more and more when we set our lives in an unhealthy rhythm.

So how do you discover your pace? Here are a few questions that are leading me to discover my pace.

  1. First I must ask myself daily, “God, what is the pace you have called me to today and in this season of my life?”
  2. Do I have peace in my pace? When you discover your pace, I believe there is an unexplainable peace that is found.
  3. Are my days constantly leaving me rushed, tired and overwhelmed? This is usually a sign that I need to change my pace.
  4. What is currently on my plate? Sometimes I add so much responsibility to my plate that I can barely run the path of my days. Is their something on your plate that needs to be removed? There may even be something that needs to be added. It is possible that you finish your days speedily but not fulfilling. You don’t want to add the very thing God is asking of you out of fear that your pace will have to change. But know this…it is better to have a changed pace doing what God has called you to do than a fast pace unfulfilled.
  5. Do I simply enjoy my days? Does my pace let me enjoy my family, friends and things God has placed in my life?

Now I know the pace set now may not be the pace I have in a coming season. Pace can change as we face circumstances, transitions, valleys and mountains. Think about this in the natural…it is easier to run a faster pace on level ground than to run a fast pace up a mountain. This is also true in our lives. I believe we need to evaluate the pace of our days to discover if God desires us to slow it down or speed it up. As you approach news seasons and circumstances, refer back to the questions above to help you discern your pace. And in all seasons, circumstances, and days of life I hope you do not live in a pace that doesn’t belong to you. Discover your own pace and remind yourself that her pace is not your pace.

My prayer is that you would take time in the next few days to evaluate your pace.

My prayer is that you no longer live in the stress of someone else’s pace.

My prayer is that you would discover a pace that brings peace and fulfillment. A pace that brings you freedom to fully live in the path set before you.


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Open Hands

We have a phrase in our house…”We live open handed.” We say this phrase to remind ourselves that we desire as a family to live generously. We don’t want a life of white knuckles holding onto our stuff, selfish and greedy. When our kids are in the midst of fighting over their toys, we always remind them…”Open hands. The Laird’s live with open hands.” Our children have heard the phrase so much that we can simply look at them, open our hands and they know exactly what we are communicating. And it is not just a phrase for teaching our kids, my husband and I have to remind ourselves of this very phrase as well for there are days we don’t want to give up our things, time, and money. This phrase might be simple, but it is such a great reminder for our family to be willing and ready to release anything the Lord asks of us.

This phrase had always been singular focused on the opportunity to give and release, but one day God shifted it to be more. A few weeks ago I was sitting across from my oldest son, Liam, at lunch. I cannot recall the very conversation, but as we talked I was about to remind him of how and why we live open handed. As I was about to give my familiar speech, I felt the Lord tell me this…”Jennifer, you don’t live open handed to only give, but I want you to live open handed to receive.” As soon as I heard this I was quickly telling Liam. I explained to him that there was more to just living open handed to give, but the Lord wants us to live open handed ready to receive.

How could I have missed that? Open handed is way more than giving, but I think it is naturally how we think sometimes as Christians. We think we honor God only when we are giving something up. We become some focused on living a life of sacrifice that we can easily lose sight that our God is a giving God who desires for us to receive. Sacrifice and giving is definitely a part of our Christian lives, but I believe God wants us also to see how much we honor Him as we receive as well.

God desires for us to receive wisdom, blessings, revelation, love and much more. He wants us to receive from our friends and family when they offer help. He wants us to receive rest when we have lived in a week of being non-stop on the go. He wants us to receive the complement and encouraging word from our friend and spouse. And the ultimate gift He would have us receive is salvation. See God released His son and gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to receive grace, righteousness, and an abundant life. Who would not want to receive such a beautiful gift?

James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

White knuckles can keep us from not only living in a posture of generosity, but also a life where we miss out on the opportunity to receive. For me giving is usually what comes easier than receiving. I am guilty of staying focused on releasing and missing out on opportunities to receive. Therefore, I know this word was not just a word for my family or for you, but it was directed to me as well. Living open handed is two-fold…to live a life that is ready to release and receive. Our phrase may be the same, but it has a bit more to it now and I am so grateful it does….”Open hands. The Laird’s live with open hands.”

Open Hands

 


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Look Again

Ever feel like you can do nothing more for your situation? You don’t necessarily want to give up, but you feel like you have hit a dead end in your search for an answer. Last week, this was me. I stood at my dead end moment as I looked at my two year olds continued suffering with eczema and allergies. His body was being attacked pretty intensely and I felt I had hit a wall. For the past two years, my husband and I have researched for answers almost everyday, prayed daily, and brought him to pediatricians, allergists and a dermatologist. On top of that, he has been seeing a homeopathic doctor for the past seven months. With what seemed like no other options, I felt defeated. Do I find another doctor? Do I google for answers one more time? Do I keep praying? Or do I just let go and see what happens? Do I just face that this might be our family’s reality?

There is point in our lives where we face a reality and have to make a decision either to simply accept this reality or to face the reality in faith. The reality is that our son has eczema and severe seasonal allergies. I cannot deny this fact, but this fact attached with fervent faith has a chance to change something. This revelation came to me as I read 1 Kings 18:41-46. Here Elijah tells King Ahab to go ahead and eat because a rainstorm was on its way.  Elijah’s statement was especially bold since at this time in history there had been a drought in the land for over three years. God had sent this drought to the land because the Israelites were worshipping foreign gods and had completely forgotten the one true God and all of His ways. Elijah stated that a rainstorm was on the way despite there being no evidence of rain approaching. By faith and the promise of God, he declared a rainstorm was on its way. Then he travels to Mount Carmel to pray to God for the rain to come. He would pray and then send his servant out to look at the sea to determine if the rain was approaching. However, the servant returns six times to tell Elijah that there was no sign of rain. But Elijah does not give up, he sends out his servant again and on the seventh time, the servant returns and reports, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” After the report of a tiny rain cloud, Elijah instructs his servant to hurry and tell King Ahab…he was to hurry because the rain would end up stopping him. Have you ever hurried to get to a safe place because you saw a small rain cloud the size of a hand? Me either, but there was a surety Elijah had that required his servant to hurry. Then just as Elijah stated in faith, a rainstorm occurred.

I have been reading this passage for several days and believe God is instructed me to call some things out in faith, pray and continue to watch for God to show up. God is teaching me several things from this passage that I would like to share with you.

1.  Despite the evidence, hold onto the promises of God and approach your currently reality in faith. For the Israelites, they had lived in a drought for years. However despite the reality, Elijah called out a rainstorm. His faith statement might not have made sense in the natural, but in the supernatural, he trusted God to show up.

2.  Do not stop praying. Elijah continued to pray. He did not give up when the servant brought a bad report the second or fifth time, but instead Elijah prayed without ceasing and in faith sent his servant out a seventh time to look for evidence of rain. Do not stop praying for the supernatural thing you are needing. Do not be discouraged by the reports of others. Instead, continue to pray and in faith continue to look for God to show up.

3.  Do not overlook the small cloud. Hold onto the small glimpses of God’s provision. Elijah could have become discouraged and asked, “Why God?” when his servant reported a small rain cloud. He could have easily replied, “That’s it God? A small rain cloud?” However, Elijah took that small sign to build his faith for the promise of the rainstorm to come. For me, God is challenging me not to overlook moments when our son is not scratching or days his allergies are not acting up. He is reminding me that these small signs are to build my faith for the greater promise to come…my son’s complete healing.

For my family, we are holding onto the promise that our son will be completely healed. With that promise, we are facing the reality we live in now with faith. God does not want us to give up and accept eczema and allergies as our reality forever. And He does not want you to simply accept your current reality, but to stare at your reality in faith. He wants us to continue to fervently pray and to look out one more time for the promise to reveal itself. When we do look again, let us not be discouraged if we only see a small sign, but let this encourage us to continue to believe that the promise will come in it’s fullness. Despite the dead end you feel like you are facing, look again in faith and proclaim the promise God has given you. Be encouraged and celebrate the “small cloud” moments of that promise being revealed. Like Elijah, in faith, let’s boldly believe, continue to pray and look again for the promise of God to come.


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Just Because

just becauseHave you ever received a “just because”? Have you ever given a “just because”? This “just because” might have been a free coffee, thank you note, hug or simply a quick text letting someone know you were thinking about them. Recently, I received one of those simple text; a just because text that simply wrote, “I am thinking about you.” Some people may refer to these “just because” acts as random acts of kindness; however, for me when I refer to a “just because” I am referring to a moment when a friend or family member decides to let you know they care. You receive a letter in the mail from a long distance friend. Your child runs to give you a hug for no reason at all. You meet up with a friend for lunch and they brought you a gift. Your husband calls you in the middle of the day to remind you how he much he loves you. These “just because” moments go a little deeper than a stranger buying your lunch. (Those moments I refer to as “God winks” but that is for another blog for another day.)
When I received that text the other day, it brought a smile to my face and it warmed my heart so much to know that my friend in the middle of her day decided to stop what she was doing to let me know I was on her mind. That simple text spoke volumes to me and added a little extra pep to my step that day.
If it has been a while since you completed a “just because” for someone you know then I challenge you to complete one this week. Remind someone they have value. Remind someone who you see every day how much you care about them. Sometimes the people closest to us hear that the least. Remind your friend that you are here for her by bringing her dinner. You may not know even why that friend or family member is on your mind, but stop and simply let them know you are thinking about them. So don’t just sit there, grab your phone, turn on the oven or grab a card to start your “just because”. You never know whose day needs a little extra pep.


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Devotion or Discipline or BOTH!

Devotion and discipline have been two words that I have been pondering the past few weeks. I have been wondering if the two are related or are they opposites? Is one more important than the other? What does it mean to be disciplined at something versus being devoted to something? Most of these question arose as I began to decide what my beginning of the year fast would entail and as I thought more and more, I felt God bring these two words, devotion and discipline, to my heart and mind. Was I going to be fasting out of devotion or was my fast going to be about my disciplines? For me, becoming disciplined at something can almost become a trap as I find myself more concerned with sticking to the rules than anything else. I will beat myself up if I don’t reach my goals and/or if I “fail” at one of my rules. For these reasons and more, I believe God is trying to bring me to a place of devotion for something than discipline at something. Now by no means am I saying that being disciplined at something is bad; however, for me I want to be fueled by my devotion rather than my disciplines.

As I began looking at these two words further, I came across this quote by Luciano Pavarotti, “People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.” See this legendary man was devoted to his art and it was because of his devotion that he worked hard, practiced and produced excellence. It wasn’t the discipline he had, but the devotion he had that drove his disciplines. I think if many of us were to think of the disciplines in our lives that have lasted, we would conclude that it was because we were devoted to it. For instance, the devotion to health will last, while the discipline to diets will fade away. If out of our devotion to health we make a lifestyle of eating heathy and exercising, then health in our lives will last.

Here are a few of my nuggets about devotion and discipline:

  • Devotion is from the heart. Discipline is a matter of the mind.
  • Devotion will keep you, discipline won’t if not attached to something deeper.
  • Disciplines developed out of rules will fade. Disciplines developed out devotion will last.

Therefore, this year I want to determine what I am devoted to and work from there. I do not want to be a person that creates disciplines for rule/boundary sake. I want to be a person who if asked why I do this or that, I will be able to respond, “because I am devoted to it.” Therefore, determine what you are devoted to; determine what you are passion about and create your disciplines from there. I pray this year you will not be caught up in the rules. I pray you will live a life that honors what you are devoted to.

I have decided…

  • I am devoted to God.
  • I am devoted to family.
  • I am devoted to health.
  • I am devoted to living a generous life, not just with my finances, but with my time, talents, love, and kindness.

And now from these decisions of devotion, I need to spend my time, develop my goals from and live daily with these at my forefront. What are you devoted to? Does your disciplines stand alone or are they attached to something deeper?


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Cheers to 2015!

Here it is day 6 of the year 2015. I do not know about you, but there is something so refreshing and exhilarating and at the same time something a little scary about stepping into a new year. It is exciting and thrilling that we have another 365 days of newness ahead, but that newness carries many unknowns. I guess that is why I continue to exclaim that “it’s all adventure.” Approaching life as an adventure has continued to help me navigate my days.

Adventures will teach you, strengthen you, make you laugh, make you cry, cause you to think and cause you to question. The year 2014 was full of many of these moments as I started playing soccer, homeschooling my sons, moving into a house, traveling with my family, building new friendships, trying new recipes, and so much more. Many of these moments I plan to share right here with you. (A sneak peek of some upcoming posts will be about pre-k lesson plans, devotion vs. discipline, quick breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas, juicing, parenting tips, and more.)

So I hope to encourage you with this: Do not sit out  2015. Engage in this year. Be fully alive each day. Approach your moments with adventure. Because no matter how scary an unknown adventure is, I would not want to sit out 2015 and let all my adventurous moments pass me by and I pray that you won’t either. CHEERS TO 2015!

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