Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Immanuel – God is with us

This is the season where we anticipate God's coming to live with men through the birth of Jesus.

From the beginning of creation, God has desired intimate relationship with man and woman. He walked with them and talked with them in the cool of the day in Genesis 3.

At the end of time, the events of this present age will culminate in God coming to dwell with us on the earth.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them. Revelation 21:3

I have been thinking about what it means to live as though I believe that God is with me. This seems especially important given events like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and people experiencing terror and the devastation of grief. It feels important as I talk with people in my office about their pain and suffering and how they can connect with God when their feelings are so intense and ugly. I feel more desperate for God to be with me when I experience shock, disappointment, pain, rejection or loss. I think that this is fairly normal.

But, I think that it is just as important to consider how God is with me when things are going well. As I look forward to having time off of work to rest and play with my family, I want to continue to intentionally pursue God as Immanuel, the God who wants to be with me. I want to share with Him my joys and celebrations as much as my hurts and fears. I want to celebrate God as Immanuel in every season, situation and feeling. I want to learn to live my life in deep partnership with God and to let Him tabernacle with me.

I long for the day when Jesus will be on the throne of the earth in Jerusalem and Father God will come to live with us here, on a refashioned planet. I want to start practicing for that kind of closeness today.

Still Counting Gifts:
  • #659: 3 more days of work before I am off for Christmas break
  • #660: A quiet morning at home
  • #661: How God quiets me with His love and makes me still when I think on Him
  • #662: An office nap yesterday afternoon
  • #663: My beautiful and cozy scarf gift
  • #664: How God teaches me and helps me to steward every feeling well
  • #665: The ability to receive today and each day as its own gift without worrying about tomorrow

Monday, December 10, 2012

Messy People

I spend a lot of time with messy people. After all, helping messy people is what I do. But recently, God has been sending me some people who are even messier than usual. And, I haven't responded very well.

I don't like being screamed at in my office. I don't really like when other people scream at each other in my office. I don't like hostile clients who insist that they have no problems and everyone else is to blame. I don't like injustice or when people sin against my clients in a gross and habitual manner and they hurt. Mostly, I don't like when these things are happening and I start to feel powerless and completely unable to do anything that will help bring about change.

I tell God that I feel overwhelmed and I do not think that I am equipped to handle these kinds of clients.

I hear Him respond, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:12-13)

I enjoy working with those people who are aware of their brokenness and partnering with God to become whole. But, they are already on the path to eternal life. It is those who are still walking the road straight to destruction that most need mercy. These are the people that Jesus intentionally ministered to. Why am I so surprised that He is asking me to pursue them with Him?

I don't say it aloud, but I think, "Can't you just send them to someone else? They don't really want to work with me anyways."

I hear Peter speak, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." (John 6: 68-69)

Jesus gently reminds me that I have words of eternal life because His Spirit lives within me. I can offer these especially broken and miserable people life because I have believed and have come to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God. God asks me, "Jody, to whom shall I send them, if not to you?"

I know that I have to respond in obedience because I love the One who asks me. But, my heart is also moved with compassion toward those who are so precious to Him. I choose to lean into God and ask Him to enable me to do this beautiful and painful work that is so important to Him. I commit more time to intercession for my clients and choose to see them as the flock entrusted to my care. I don't want to abandon them to the harsh elements because I grow weary of caring for them and feel inadequate. I remember that my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and I put on the full armor of God every day (Ephesians 6:10-18). I rejoice that God has invited me to join Him in this work of healing and I entrust myself and my work to His loving leadership. I ask God to do the impossible and bring eternal life and freedom to the most desperate of people.

Still Counting Gifts:
  • #650: A new work schedule for a new season of work
  • #651: How inadequacy always reminds me of my incredible need for God
  • #652: Our Christmas tree framing the window and adding beauty to the house
  • #653: An unexpected phone call with a dear friend living far away
  • #654: How a long drive can be soothing
  • #655: Taking a long nap in the middle of the day for the sheer pleasure of it
  • #656: Psalm 46:10 and how God always knows how to help me be still and send the anxiety away as I think of the truth that He is God
  • #657: One of my colleagues sponsored yummy Chinese food for lunch
  • #658: Time at the HOP to start my week well

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holy Days Instead of Holidays

I just listened to an excellent teaching by Mike Bickle from the Zechariah conference at IHOP-KC in September. I strongly encourage you to take an hour and listen to this teaching.

I want to share a few of the words that really impacted me.

5Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Mefor Me? 6When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? 7Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous?" (Zech. 7:4-7)

Eat and drink: In both their fasts and feasts they focused on themselves without regard for their relationship with the Lord or His larger purposes for their nation. Whether in times of fasting with mourning or in feasting with celebration, the same issue is key:

  • Their national feasts were to be a time to remember God's goodness with gratitude. Their holy days became merely holidays where they enjoyed food and recreation without taking time to rededicate themselves to God.
  • Fasting and feasting are both to be based on the same value of desiring a deeper relationship with God. Fasting was not just about obtaining blessings to make their life easier and feasting was not just getting time off for more recreation. They viewed the feasts as time off from God, instead of it being a day to draw closer to Him.
It is much easier to celebrate holidays than Holy Days in our culture. I love eating, drinking and relaxing and enjoy celebrations where these things are encouraged.

As we fast and pray during the Global Bridegroom Fast this week, I am choosing to go without those tasty foods and drinks that I enjoy so much. I don't want to do this out of obligation. I also don't want to finish this fast with excessive feasting.

I want to celebrate God's goodness with thanksgiving, prayer and worship. I want to draw near to Him and devote extra time and energy to cultivating deep and meaningful relationship with my God and Savior. I also want to spend myself more in seeking the advancement of God's kingdom instead of being so worried about the condition of mine. I want to offer my small sacrifice of tasty foods out of love and with great joy.

I invite you to find ways in your own life to celebrate Holy Days this season and not just the holidays.

Still Counting Gifts:
  • #640: Spring like weather in December
  • #641: Extra time in recent weeks with my squishees, Noah and Kingston
  • #642: Extra time in the HOP this morning
  • #643: Finally feeling inspired to write about something
  • #644: Hope in my heart
  • #645: Remembering that my struggle is not with flesh and blood
  • #646: The full armor of God that protects me
  • #647: Time to connect with friends and celebrate Christmas
  • #648: Opportunities to trust that God will provide for me and my family
  • #649: Space in my life to breathe

Friday, November 16, 2012

When I overdo it

I had a pounding headache by lunchtime. I ate lunch, took Advil and waited for it to pass. I kept going, going, going, as I have been since the beginning of November.
Finally, around 2 PM, I closed the shades in my office, put on the little heater for background noise, turned out the lights and curled up on my couch with my down jacket as a blanket. I gave in to sleep for about an hour and woke up feeling much better.
I have been overdoing it recently. I think that my body had finally had enough by today and the headache insisted that I stop and rest.
Being full-time at work is amazing, but it means that I am there working, a lot. I’m still carving out time at the house of prayer, but it means putting it in my schedule and forcing other things out. I’m trying to sleep, exercise, connect with friends, respond to emails, pick up dry cleaning, fill my tank with gas, cook delicious things, watch Once upon a time with Karyn and Downton Abbey with my mom, read and so many more things that I cannot remember and am probably not doing as a result.
It has been so long since I have responded to Facebook messages that my friends may give up hope and I can’t find time to finish reading Grace for the Good Girl so that I can figure out how to actually let go of the try-hard life.
I think I actually like the try-hard life in some twisted way. I like having a full-to-bursting schedule and always being needed somewhere for something. I feel significant when I am required at meetings and events. I tell myself that I am being completely poured out for others. I think that this is what it means to serve wholeheartedly.
But secretly, I wonder if everyone is actually getting leftovers of my time, talent and treasures. Can my clients tell when I’m trying not to fall asleep on them? Would they judge me if they knew I was tired because I didn’t go to bed on time so that I could watch a TV episode or finally read a chapter in my book? Do my friends feel rejected when I cannot remember to text them back or respond to their email because they get lost in my huge to-do list? Does God feel sad because I have been too busy doing things to try and please Him instead of just stopping to enjoy Him?
I am really looking forward to next week because I have taken Thursday, Friday and Saturday off of work in order to celebrate Thanksgiving. I want to intentionally recognize how richly blessed I am and I want to take time to be quiet and enjoy my maker. I am asking Him for help because I don’t know how to steward myself well right now and I’m sure He does.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #633: 26 clients this week
·         #634: Warm weather in November
·         #635: Great quality time with several friends this month
·         #636: Doing puzzles
·         #637: The Grounds for Life annual fundraiser
·         #638: Patrick’s 24th birthday, Pietro’s pizza and DQ ice cream cake
·         #639: People who invite me to be myself

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 31

Well, I did it. I blogged for 31 days on one topic.
I was reminded of last fall when I blogged almost every day during Fire in the Night. I find that having a challenge to write daily helps me to write more. But, I also tend to put pressure on myself to do it perfectly, which means that I have to post every day. I intentionally chose not to blog on Sundays, to give myself a day of rest, and I took a few more days when I didn’t have anything to write. This protected me from the pressure of perfection because I started with an imperfect goal.
I hope that my heart is tenderer today, October 31, than it was on October 1. But, I am realizing more and more that I have to fight to keep a tender heart. Pursuing the goal to write about having a tender heart almost daily helped me to do more heart checks and take action when I discovered hardened places.
I haven’t had any big discoveries or significant insights. The only thing that felt really different was that I was inviting others into what I was thinking and feeling on a more regular basis. What was happening with me became the material for my posts and I opened the door for other people to see behind my “fine” fa├žade. So many of you shared wonderful feedback with me and I really appreciated your words and reactions.
I have come to accept that I am a “blogger”, though this was much more difficult for me to see than it was for so many of you. I really do enjoy writing. And, I think that there is something valuable and vulnerable and healing in sharing my thoughts and feelings in a public way on a regular basis. I don’t know how often I will be posting now that October is finishing, but I have the intention to make it a regular habit.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #625: How Lily always waits to greet me just outside the bathroom door
·         #626: Making coffee
·         #627: God values me and my work, however small we may seem
·         #628: Teaching others how to fight for joy and overcome suffering
·         #629: Doing things for the first time
·         #630: When Karyn picks out my clothes and everyone complements my outfit
·         #631: Finding a TV show to share
·         #632: Going home at the end of the day

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 30

I was counseling a person who is suffering great despair over painful life circumstances. They told me that they were hanging on to their faith by a thread and that they were afraid it would break at any moment. They said that their joy had been taken away and that they were not sure that they would be able to get it back. They said that they were having a hard time locating hope because they cannot see how God is working in their impossible situation.
I was reminded of this as I was reading Lamentations 3 tonight.
He (God) has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains. And though I cry and shout, he shuts out my prayers. He has blocked my path with a high stone wall. He has twisted the road before me with many detours. (7-9) He has made me grind my teeth on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” (16-24) For the LORD does not abandon anyone forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion according to the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow. (31-33)
I think that we all have seasons of life and painful circumstances that tempt us to believe that God is against us and all hope is lost. But, the truth is that His love never ends and He has given us Himself. So, no matter how impossible our situation may appear, I think that we can always hope in the LORD for our deliverance. I also think that we can look to Him to sustain us with His love and joy while we wait and pray and suffer until our circumstances change.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #616: Too many people showed up to serve at the soup kitchen
·         #617: This made it possible for me and Karyn to leave early and hang out at Katie’s Cup before work
·         #618: Noah singing and dancing in a scarecrow costume
·         #619: Delicious hibachi lunch with Mandy
·         #620: Searching Barnes and Noble for the perfect book to launch our Pearcy ladies book club
·         #621: Hours of fun and freedom in the middle of a work day
·         #622: Mom’s and kid’s
·         #623: New clients
·         #624: Anticipating my Chicago weekend with great delight

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 27

I think I’ve fallen sick with rule-following again.
I hesitated to put lotion on my face this afternoon because I had already done it this morning. My rule is lotion twice a day, once in the morning and once at bed-time. Lotion in the middle of the day, even if my skin feels really dry, is against that rule. I almost didn’t put it on and was about to let my skin suffer until I realized that I was being ridiculous and I am free to put on as much lotion as I want.
I’m here at the House of Prayer for our 12 hour burn and I have hardly said two words to God. I have been too busy serving as a prophetic singer, catching up on my one-year Bible readings, taking care of administrative tasks, reading my next section of Grace for the Good Girl and now, writing. I have been really busy doing things for God, instead of enjoying His sweet presence.
I should have recognized my symptoms when I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I was sure that I am a terrible person. I felt so awful that I started trying to find sins that I could repent of so that I could feel close to God again. Even after I repented of everything that I could think of, God still felt far away and it hurt my heart. I finally fell asleep again, but I wasn’t at rest.
Then, I was singing during a watch this morning and trying to convince myself that God is always close to me, even if I can’t feel Him. I felt completely numb and disconnected. I was also nervously asking myself, “Why do I feel so bad? What is wrong with me? How can I feel close to God again?!”
Fortunately, chapter 6 of Grace for the Good Girl is entitled: the rule follower. As I read, I was deeply relieved to realize that I was striving again to please God through my works and that this explains why I have been feeling so terrible. I am not good enough to please God on my own and this is why I have been feeling such failure and hopelessness.
So, I’m done working now. I’m officially resting now. I am going to put everything away and I am going to draw near to my God. I know that He will be excited to see me and give me rest in His grace.
Still Counting Gifts:

·         #611: I am not under the law, but under grace Romans 6:14
·         #612: The righteousness of God is mine because of my faith in Jesus Christ Romans 3:21-22
·         #613: I am not competent in myself to claim anything for myself, but my competence comes from God. He has made me competent as a minister of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
·         #614: I can draw near to God in full assurance of faith
·         #615: God wants to give me rest in Him

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 25

I feel sad for trees losing their leaves. They look so exposed and vulnerable with their bare branches.
I felt a bit like that the other day. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, but every once and a while I will look at other people’s pages. A few days ago, I was looking at a friend’s page and I started having some insecure feelings. We graduated high school in the same year and she is only a few months older than me. But, she, unlike me, has been married for a few years and now has a baby.

I was looking at some of her pictures and I started feeling exposed. The questions that I try to avoid asking myself started coming.
Why is everyone my age married? Why do so many of my friends have children already? Why am I so different from all these people? Is my life less than those of people who are married and have kids?

My singleness and my childlessness felt like bare branches whose leaf covering had fallen away.
I wondered what people my age think when they look at my Facebook page. I think that those close to me understand that I am still single and without children because I am waiting on the fullness of God for the provision of these precious gifts.

But, what about everybody else? Are they seeing these gaps in the leaves and wondering why these branches in my life are so bare and empty? Do I seem obsessed with my career because that is where God is cultivating my life right now?
It’s true that I often try to focus conversation on where I do feel successful: my work. I’m desperate to call your attention to the leaves that are on my tree because I fear your judgment where my branches are showing.

But, when I meet new people and the inevitable question of whether or not I’m married with children comes up, I try to answer authentically. I usually say that I haven’t found someone that I want to have children with yet. This is true. And, people tend to be very gracious when I am this honest. They say things like, “That’s wise.” Or, “It’s worth the wait.” Or, “Good for you.”
So, I’m going to try to stand tall the way the trees do and proudly display my leaves and my bare branches. This is the season of life that the LORD has me in, and it is very good.

Still Counting Gifts:
·         #602: The last bits of warm weather before the cold front
·         #603: Green light after green light on my way to work
·         #604: A hurting human heart exposed
·         #605: A fascinating presentation by Pablo Korona at Rockford Rotary Club
·         #606: Watching a storm roll in
·         #607: A song I really wanted to hear played on the radio just before I got out of the car
·         #608: How God keeps giving me pockets of time and how He uses them to nurture my spirit and help me remember to breathe deeply and rest in Him
·         #609: My business is actually God’s business and I can trust Him to have His way
·         #610: The delicious knowledge that I am taking a day off tomorrow and get to go to the apple orchard (finally!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 24

When I go out to the waiting room to get a client, I try to always greet them by name and with a smile. As we cover the short distance from the waiting room to my office, I usually ask, “How are you today?” Almost always, my client will respond, “Fine.” Once we are safely inside my office with the door shut, I will ask this question again and my clients are almost never “fine”. They are angry, sad, depressed, terribly anxious, disappointed and uncertain of how to handle all of their “un-fine” feelings.
I really appreciate this exchange with my clients. I have laughed with several of them over how they really aren’t “fine” and why do they say this when it’s not true? But, I understand the problem because I have it too.
Chances are, if you have ever asked me how I am doing, then I probably responded with, “Fine.” And I can guarantee that some of those times, I really was not fine in that moment.
Why do we do this? Why this obsession with being “fine” all the time? Why not share how we are really feeling?
For me, I think that it has to do with my tendency to classify feelings as “good” or “bad”. I think feelings like sad, angry, disappointed, jealous and scared are “bad” and I should not have them. I feel guilty and I think I’m a bad Christian when these feelings bunch up in me. So, I pretend that I don’t feel these feelings. I hide them under the veneer of “fine.” It doesn’t really feel like lying because I’m not pretending that I’m feeling happy or content. I’m just not sharing my feelings honestly. And, I don’t want to have these feelings, so it’s hard to own them.  
I just finished reading chapter 4: with a wink and a smile, hiding behind her fake “fine” with Emily P. Freeman and Grace for the Good Girl. She explores why good girls use “fine” all the time. Emily also writes about the natural swing of emotions that God designed us to have. I underlined almost the whole chapter, but there were two parts that were particularly meaningful to me, so I will quote them here.
So often I feel embarrassed or guilty over my humanness, but our emotions and experiences are all a part of that swing.
Trying not to experience the whole spectrum of emotions is like trying to be inhuman.
Our fluctuating humanness is there on purpose, to remind us of our need and draw us to the One who can meet it. We don’t have to figure out the whys and the origins of every swinging emotion. But it is so important that we admit they are there. To embrace the color and fullness of our emotional, un-fine state is to open wide enough to receive compassion and grace. Only then will we be able to offer that same compassion and grace to others in honest and authentic ways.
To be able to receive and extend compassion and grace sounds wonderful to me. I guess I will have to start embracing my humanness and the color and fullness of my emotional, un-fine state then.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #592: Enough perseverance (or foolishness) to do the 30 day shred video this morning
·         #593: When my dad made extra coffee just for me
·         #594: Turning getting ready into worship
·         #595: Finally being on time this 3rd week of the Zechariah study!
·         #596: How God knows exactly what I need on a daily basis and clients will cancel and open up time in my schedule just when I need it
·         #597: The work in me that still needs to be done is God’s responsibility
·         #598: When my office becomes a prayer closet
·         #599: I can still see fall colors right outside my window
·         #600: God’s love, goodness and faithfulness are all toward me
·         #601: Today, I am really enjoying my life, just as it is

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 23

Have you ever been afraid to hope? I have.
I imagine hope like a little plant with bright flowers that wants to grow in the soil of my heart. I’m afraid to let this little plant bloom and grow because it can open the door to disappointment. Disappointment, when it encounters hope in my heart, rushes in like the secret police discovering a fugitive. Cruel disappointment crushes hope and forcibly removes it from my heart. This leaves a gaping hole that hurts. I can feel where hope used to be and how it was torn away.
As a result, I am extremely cautious about letting hope grow in certain areas of my heart. In areas like work, where I perform well and disappointment only visits rarely, I actually enjoy when hope blooms and grows. I will even pitch in and help to cultivate it. But, in other areas, like in the area of hoping to be married, I almost never let it grow.
A good friend from church pointed this out to me the other day. She said that I can feel hopeful every day because any day can be the day that God brings a man into my life. I responded that I can’t do that because every day that my hope is not fulfilled is a day that disappointment comes. And disappointment every day is too crushing to risk. She responded that this was a bad confession on my part.
I knew then, as I know now, that she is absolutely right. My fear of disappointment in the area of meeting a man and getting married is so enormous that I tear out my hope anytime it starts to sprout. I vigilantly watch to make sure that I am not feeling hopeful about ever meeting someone so that I am not at risk for being disappointed. But, as my wise friend observed, this is a bad confession.
Isn’t God big enough to provide for this need in my life? Wouldn’t it be better to let hope grow up in my heart and fill me with all joy and peace in believing that God is at work in my life? (Romans 15:13) And doesn’t God love me enough to comfort me whenever I meet disappointment?
I have decided to open up my heart to hope once more. I confess that it is terrifying. Every time I catch sight of it, I want to run over and tear it up by the roots. I keep listening for disappointment to come banging on the door to punish me for being foolish enough to host hope. Then, God lovingly reminds me that there is no disappointment that He cannot heal. He promises to heal every broken and hurt place in my heart with His mercy and grace, by Jesus’ blood. God reassures me that there is no disappointment that we cannot overcome together and that He will never leave me.
So, don’t be surprised if I start to seem more hopeful to you. I’m growing hope in my heart.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #586: Sharing a bathroom with Karyn and Ava, which allows me to actually see them for 5 minutes in the middle of the week
·         #587: When my schedule changes for my good and I get to eat lunch, spend 2 hours in the prayer room and leave early at the end of the day
·         #588: Opportunities to share with my clients that God really is enough and that He really can give them joy in His presence despite their painful circumstances
·         #589: Sharing intercession with Jesus over these beautiful people that He has entrusted to my care
·         #590: Moments where I encounter someone who already has something I want and I can remind myself that He’s not done with me yet
·         #591: When I ask God to remind me of things that I am certain to forget and He does

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 22

Yesterday, my sister and I had one of those rare moments where it’s just the two of us and we get to talk for an uninterrupted period of time.
It was wonderful and I delighted in every second of it.
Karyn is one of my best and safest friends, but I still get nervous when I want to be real with her. I was telling her some of my thoughts and feelings that have been provoked by reading Grace for the Good Girl. I started telling her about some of the terrible things my “good girl” says to me when I’ve done something that I should not do. She looked at me with a mixture of surprise and compassion as she said, “Wow, that’s what it’s like in your brain?” It was interesting and helpful for me to see how my perspective looks to her and to hear her perspective on me.
Karyn went on to share with me some of what she is struggling with and I got to share my perspective with her.
Somewhere in this refreshing and authentic exchange, I told Karyn that I really want to offer what we were experiencing to other women. So much of what we think and feel remains hidden behind our exterior “everything is fine” appearance. We don’t realize that other women are also hurting and struggling and we don’t share with other women when we are. Some of us do share these things, but these occasions are the rare exception rather than the rule.
I’m going to challenge myself to share more authentically with the women in my life, especially when I’m struggling. I’m also going to challenge myself to invite women to share more authentically with me when they are struggling. I invite you to join me.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #576: My first run in over a week
·         #577: A quiet house to myself this morning
·         #578: Coffee with Jesus
·         #579: Catching part of a Jon Thurlow watch at IHOP-KC online from the prayer room
·         #580: Time to run errands
·         #581: That all my car needed was gas when it broke down yesterday
·         #582: How God kept speaking to me as He was speaking to my clients through me today
·         #583: More time with Jesus at the prayer room
·         #584: Finding time to take care of life details
·         #585: Another Sunday night bonfire in my backyard

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 19

I’ve been fighting a cold this week. There, I finally admitted it.
A few people have asked me if this was the case over the past few days and I repeatedly said, “No.” I blamed allergies and changing temperatures initially. And, I’m sure those things contributed to my sore sinuses, my tender and tickling throat and the choking cough that gets provoked. (Those of you at church last weekend will remember what that is.)
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #569: I am thankful for this cold.
·         #570: This is the first time that I have been sick since June 2011!
·         #571: I’m not sick with a sinus infection or bronchitis as I used to be 4 to 5 times a year.
·         #572: I’m not confined to my bed or forced to sleep all day long because I’m so miserable.
·         #573: I’m actually very functional, just a little tired and dragging.
·         #574: This is just the thing that I need to give myself permission to say No to being overly active this weekend.
·         #575: This is a great excuse to spend my time in my pj’s reading my Bible, reading my favorite blogs, reading more of Grace for the good girl, praying, writing, drinking tea and taking naps.
I’m also going to share a few things that I have been reading during my recovery time that I think you may enjoy.
·         This moved me to tears. I have had these ugly moments where I see what is really inside my heart as it explodes out of my mouth and they are so horribly painful. I really appreciate how Ann tells this story and how she resolved that crisis with humility.
·         Joel Rosenberg just posted some videos from the recent Epicenter Conference. I was listening to his State of the Epicenter message about current affairs in the Middle East and it was really interesting. It’s about an hour though, so you will need some time.
·         During these 31 days of reflecting and writing on keeping a tender heart, I have been realizing how much I am still wrestling with perfectionism on a regular basis. I am committing myself to reading and digesting Grace for the good girl because I know that God wants to use this resource to continue to heal my heart in this area. Here is a link to Emily P. Freeman’s introduction on this book if you are interested:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 18

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Ann Voskamp quoted this passage in her blog recently. Then, I read it in my one-year Bible for October 12. Seeing it twice within a week caught my attention.
Verse 16 is: Always be joyful.
This sounds like a command to me and I don’t think God would command us to do something we can’t do. If He tells me to always be joyful, then I believe that it is always possible for me to be joyful and that this is what God desires for me.
Verse 17 is: Keep on praying.
I hear another command. And, it follows the first one, which I understand to mean that prayer is related to being joyful. The joy provokes the prayer; the prayer sustains the joy, or both. Either way, I like how God has placed these two directives right next to each other.
Verse 18: No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
No matter what happens, I can be thankful. God’s will for me, as one who belongs to Christ Jesus is that I would be thankful. This stirs my heart to commit to the regular practice of gratitude all over again.
God wants me to be joyful, constant in prayer and thankful. This is what I hear Him say in this passage, “Be joyful, Jody. Be constant in prayer, Jody. Be thankful, Jody.”
Why does God link these three things? I think He is trying to show that they go together. When I practice gratitude through prayer in every season and situation, I will experience joy in God’s presence. This sounds good to me.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #558: Tea and coffee in the morning
·         #559: Having the freedom to wear jeans to work
·         #560: A short work day in a quiet building
·         #561: An afternoon adventure with my parents to Galena, IL
·         #562: Fall colors that have remained despite wind and rain
·         #563: New smart wool socks!
·         #564: Window shopping
·         #565: An Italian dinner with two of my favorite people
·         #566: Finding a coffee shop that made espresso drinks right before it closed for the day
·         #567: Laughing hard together
·         #568: Car naps