Broken~yet Beautiful

Broken…yet beautiful

We were having so much fun, my five-year-old granddaughter and I, walking along the beach on a bright summer day looking for shells. It was a beautiful day at the beach. Of course, for me, I’ve never really had a bad day at the beach! It is a favorite place of mine. I like to call it my therapy time. It does this momma good when I get to spend time at the beach with my kids and grandkids.
 
As we were strolling along the beach, Addie would bring me shells and tell me to hold them for her. She had brought me a few that were broken and I said to her, “honey, these are broken, lets find some that aren’t so broken.” And she replied, “but grandma, they are so beautiful.” 
 
Out of the mouth of babes! I was instantly reminded of the song Broken and Beautiful by Brian Doerksen. It is a song we use at church for communion—a reminder of what Jesus did for us, you and me, on the cross. I love these words from the song:
 
Broken and beautiful 
Extravagant love
Prodigal grace
God’s perfect justice
Mercies embraced
 
It also reminds me of the fact I, too, was once broken…but from sin. Jesus has taken my life that was broken from poor choices, heartaches, and disappointments and made my life beautiful. That’s why Jesus came. He takes what has been broken and makes something beautiful.
 
If you are feeling like the broken seashells, may I remind you that the Lord can take that brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.
 
Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 
 
I like what Psalms 34:18 in the Message translation say, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.”
 
It’s so comforting to know that the Lord knows everything that is going on with us and He is right there to comfort and help us. Our part is to allow Him to do just that. Give Him your brokenness and allow Him to bring healing, wholeness and beauty out of it all.
 
Today, I pray that the fragments of brokenness are laid at the feet of Jesus and you allow His extravagant love to wash over you. He sees you beautiful.
 
This is the way You’ve choses to say
This is the way You make all things new
Broken and beautiful 
Extravagant love
Prodigal grace
God’s perfect justice
Mercies embraced

Praying for you today, sweet friend.
Jeannine

 



The Lazy Days of Summer

The “lazy days of summer” have been anything but that around here!

A few weeks ago, my mom fell and broke her hip. She had fallen on the bathroom floor. We tried to move her but she winced in such pain, we knew we had to call 911. EMT came and assessed the situation and determined she needed to be taken to the hospital. After waiting for what seemed like forever, we were finally able to go back and see her. X-rays confirmed she had broken her left hip. Up to this point she has been physically healthy—no walkers, no canes, no broken bones!
 
After her hospital stay, she went to rehab and was there for nineteen days! About 3 ½ years ago she was diagnosed with vascular dementia, which really compounds her situation as she doesn’t answer questions accurately or come to a right conclusion at times. I needed to be there every day to make sure she was being properly cared for. I knew that the next few weeks could be challenging!
 
She was home about a week and half when one afternoon she began throwing up! I’ll spare you the details, but it went on for longer than we felt it should. She had no flu-like symptoms, nor eaten anything to cause the nausea she was feeling. In her condition, she couldn’t be transported to the hospital by car, so we called 911.
 
Another trip to the ER. This time it was at 11 p.m. It was somewhat quiet for the ER . However, most people know a trip to the ER is never a quick trip. Finally, after a CT scan it was determined she had a blocked bile duct. She was admitted to the hospital. At this point it was 5 a.m. and I was exhausted. Two more hours and I would’ve been up for 24 hrs. I don’t need a lot of sleep, but I do like it, if you know what I mean!
 
The doctor came into see us (yes, I was back at the hospital by 9!) and let us know she would have to have the duct cleaned out and then her gall bladder would be removed because there was an abundance of stones in there. These are two separate procedures.  
 
Again sparing all the details, like the doctor had never seen so many stones in a bile duct and the fact her gall bladder was ready to rupture, she came through both procedures well.
 
During all this, I had my 2-year scan. I’m happy to report the scan came back clean. In fact, the doctor said it was a perfect scan, there was nothing to even see. Thank you, Jesus.
 
The doctor did tell me my lab work came back revealing I was anemic! He asks, “have you been feeling tired?” My first thought was, “I’m not crazy, it’s not in my head, I have a reason for being so blasted tired!” I said, “well, I have had a lot going on!”

He said I needed to come in for 2 Iron IV treatments.

By now, our daughter and her family came home for a visit. I truly enjoy having them here. Routines are on hold, good eating goes by the wayside, stayed up late, did over 20,000 steps at the Magic Kingdom in 1 day! The day they left a dear friend came to stay for a long weekend and teach at our church service…needless to say—Yes, I’m tired!
 
So where exactly are these “lazy days of summer” at? Not my house!
 
 
 
I am reminded of the verse in Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who are weary!

“Are you weary…then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. You will find refreshment and rest in me.”(The Passion Translation)

Now that my mon’s health is settling down, the excitement of family and friends being here is gone and I got the first of two iron IV treatments—I sit and rest.
 
I sit here writing this listening to worship music, reflecting on all that has transpired in the last few weeks of this quickly fading summer.
 
I am grateful that my mom didn’t hurt herself more than breaking her hip. Because of the way it broke, they did a partial hip replacement, which allowed her to heal much quicker. The gallbladder issues were discovered and resolved. She is doing well.
 
I am very thankful for the memories made this summer with both our kids, spouses and grandkids. All together for a short period, which does this momma good. I love time spent with our kids.
 
I am grateful the scan can back clean. No more scans, just bloodwork in six months.  
 
I have not had any of those lazy summer days.  Yet, as I sit in the sweet presence of Jesus the weariness fades because HE refreshes my soul and renews my spirit.
 
Whew! Hope you aren’t worn out just by reading this! I’d love to hear how your summer is going. Maybe you’ve had opportunity to have some lazy summer days. If so, that is wonderful. There are still a few weeks left, so I may get in a lazy day or two!
 
No matter what your days are like, I pray you find time to sit in the presence of Jesus and allow HIM to refresh and renew you.
 
Blessings to you my friend,
Jeannine


Finding Joy When We Feel Discouraged


Finding Joy When We feel Discouraged

 

Life can be so disappointing, can’t it? Life can throw some real curve balls we we’re never expecting. Like many of you, I experience times of discouragement. How do we deal with it? I have found eating that whole bag of potato chips was not a good idea! Or spending money on new “stuff” that I didn’t need. Sitting around and having a pity-party with me, myself and I is not a great idea either—makes for lousy company!

I really like this definition of discouragement from William Ward.

“Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God”.

That definition right there should cause us to “snap out of it!” When I read that definition, I thought “wow… Lord, forgive me for being so ungrateful for all you’ve done, are doing and will do for me.

During these times, I fight it by engaging in self-talk. I like this version of Psalm 42:5-6a from the Message translation:  “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you…”

Then I read these words from Titus 3. 

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.(Titus 3:5-7)

What encouragement these verses are.

This is the redemptive power of God’s good news. When we receive good news it should make us happy. If the Gospel doesn’t make us happy, perhaps what we’ve accepted isn’t good news (and is therefore not the Gospel), but a burdensome bad-news religion. Or maybe we haven’t truly embraced it and experienced its implications in our hearts. We need to daily remind ourselves of what the gospel means, and cheer ourselves daily with God’s good news that should never get old for us.

Few of us will experience in our lifetimes as much utter desolation as Jeremiah faced. In a book written at a time in Israel’s history so sad that it is called Lamentations, there is still a transcendent happiness:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

This defies explanation. It is a joy that flows from being immersed in who God is and what He has done for us. It’s the new, fresh, daily experience and contemplation of the unceasing steadfast love of God, and His great faithfulness to us. What else can this do but make us happy and give us strength for the day ahead?

Don’t let the enemy rob you of the joy of the day. He would love nothing more than for you to have a down in the dumps day, week, month. It’s easy to slide down that slop and go from discouragement to depression.

I hope and pray that this has encouraged you today! Try and remember to do some self-talk to yourself. It really does help. Remind yourself of what God has done for you in the past. Meditate on verses that lift you up. Listen to worship music. When you worship, it’s kinda hard to stay discouraged!

I’d love to hear from you and what you do to encourage yourself when discouragment comes your way.  I am praying for you as we journey together on this road of life.

Love you my friend,

Jeannine



It’s the little things ~ They’re really BIG

Today I went on my first walk away from the house since I had cancer. Gosh, even saying “since I had cancer” still seams so surreal to me. I walked 3 miles. It’s the same route my daughter, Jenna, and I use to take when we were homeschooling. I loved those walks. Today was no different. 
 
Image result for walking
I was reminded of how much the Lord has blessed my family and me. I am so thankful that I am feeling back to my “old self”. And yet, I don’t want to be like my “old self”. Some where along the cancer journey, more of me died…which is a good thing!
I am not thankful for having cancer, but what I am thankful for is all that it taught me and what I have learned! You can be taught something but that doesn’t mean you truly have learned it. So I am applying what I have learned. 
 
I’m learning more than I realized that the little things really are the BIG things. I know we’ve all heard that before. But do we really comprehend that?
 
As I walked today, I was thanking the Lord for the ability to get out and walk. I have been so apprehensive to walk alone to far from the house in case I couldn’t make it back! I’ve done walking with my family, but someone has always been with me. Today I was reminded of those who could not get out and walk and  I prayed for them.  I prayed for those who are still suffering with the dreaded disease of cancer and other debilitating diseases.
 
It was wonderful to feel the sun on my face and the breeze refreshing me. I could hear the birds singing in one ear and Casting Crowns in the other! Interesting combination. 
 
Now don’t get me wrong, I have been walking on a treadmill and doing various exercises to help build up my bones and muscles from all the damage done by chemotherapy. But there’s something about getting outside and walking in the splendor of what our amazing God has created, minus the sound of roofers hammering away or the lawn guys mowing! 
 
This week the Lord has answered some amazing prayers. Prayers that may seem little to someone else but are BIG to this mothers heart. 
 
God is into the little things—He KNOWS they are really the BIG things!
 
I want to encourage you today to remember the little things really are the BIG things. God is all around us doing amazing wonders, if we will only look and listen. 
 
I find myself pursuing the Lord more than I have in a really long time. I am finding as I pursue Him, He is right there to meet me. He loves me and He sees value in me and He sees worth in me. He loves me.
 
Here’s the deal my friend… He loves you, He sees value in you, He sees worth in you. Purse Him today and He will be right there with you. 
 
It’s a little thing that turns into a really BIG thing. 
 
Blessings my friend,
Jeannine
 
 


I’m Dying

This past week I’ve really tried to ignore it, or hoping it would go away. But the stark reality is if I want to continue to press on in my relationship with Jesus, I must die…to self.
 
Someone really blasted me this past week, it was really directed towards my husband, Jeff, but I got the first blow. Pent up frustration that had unrealistic expectations finally erupted… all over me!
 
If you are anything like me, someone can “dis” me, but “dis” my husband, my kids or grandkids—well, that’s a different story. As a wife and mom I am pretty protective of my family. Yeah, I know the bible verses about not taking up an offense for someone else; so don’t send me any emails telling me what I need to do! That is the whole point of trying to work this all out this past week. I KNOW what I’m supposed to do.
 
I have a right to be offended, to have a “how dare they” opinion. I can sulk, be depressed and have a bad attitude. I have feelings too. Right? I say, Right? Especially, where there has been no apology for their actions and attitudes.
 
This is where the dying to self-part comes in.
 
Truth be told, no I don’t have the right to be offended, have a bad attitude and hold this against another. The Bible in 1Corinthians chapter 13 talks all about that. In fact I have that verse hanging on my living room wall (thanks to a dear friend). I normally enjoy looking at the sign. It really is quite lovely. However, this past week, I try ignoring that sign every time I walked into the living room. It was like that verse was haunting me, “hey, read me; this is what you’re suppose to be doing.”
 
One morning as I was reading in my quiet time. Yeah, try that with all these attitudes, feelings and thoughts going on in the heart and brain! I began to have this conversation with the Lord that went something like this: “Lord, I don’t know how you stood before your accusers and said nothing. I’m not like you Lord, I just can’t forgive like you.”
 
I have Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God Devotional and wouldn’t you know it the devotional for that day was….drumroll—Forgiveness! Yup, it was. Oh my! Think the Lord was answering me? Yes, He was. I sat and pondered what I had read and what I know to be true. I’ve taught, spoken on being in a prison of unforgiveness, wrong attitudes, etc., etc.! I did not want to be held hostage to my own selfish self.
 
Jeff, my husband, has been preparing for Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday services. He says to me, “ hey, I want to watch this video and tell me what you think.” The video is entitled, The Sounds of the Cross. As I sat there and watched with tears streaming down my face, unable to speak when Jeff asks me, “what do you think—should I show it?” The reality of what Christ did for ME, how he forgave ME, how he went to the cross for ME; could I do any less?
 
I was also reminded of the parable Jesus taught in the book of Matthew chapter 18. Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Then Jesus tells a story about a man who had been forgiven a huge debt. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘you evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Jesus said, “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
 
I have chosen to forgive this person, even without any apology. Not my responsibility if they don’t see how hurt or offended I was or the need to apologize. I have to let it go and allow the Lord to deal with it all.
 
Dying to self… that’s what I’ve done this past week. This is good news and bad news. Why? Because I know it won’t be the last time I will have to die to self. The Apostle Paul says, we are to die to self daily. Some days are easier than others! It is a choice that has to be made daily.
 
Thanks for letting me share my heart, be real and authentic here. The struggles are real. It is how we handle them that count. I have learned that My God is bigger than any struggle I may have. He will help me and He loves me enough not to let me stay in any prison. He has the keys to let me out.
 
He loves you too! If you are having the same kind of struggle, take it from me as hard as it seems to die to our own selfish ways, just look to the cross. Hear the sounds of the cross? The agony Jesus bore as he was being beaten; the pounding of the nails in his hands and feet. His crying out to God… IT IS FINISHED.
 
He did that for you and me, my sweet friend. Since Jesus died for us, surely, we can die to ourselves and live for HIM as He intended us to live.
 
 
Blessings,
Jeannine


Living In The Dash

Went to a funeral this week and have another one this weekend. As a Christian we like to call them “A Celebration of Life.” And it is. When we have lived our life in Christ, for Christ, it is a life well lived. Like Billy Graham use to say, “ I’m not going to be dead, I will have just changed my address.”  That is true for one who dies in Christ. Romans 6:8 says, “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.”

On the headstone or grave marker there is the name with date of birth — date of death. There is a dash between them. Unless it is the death of a baby or someone young there is much that happens between birth and death. 
 
We call it life.
 
 
Even as a Christian death is bittersweet. We rejoice that our loved one or friend is in heaven with Christ, perhaps no longer in pain or suffering, but we who are still here grieve the loss. Our heart hurts. We have memories. We miss the physical touch of the hugs and kisses, hearing the laughter and even the cries. We chuckle at stories we remember.
 
Why… because we remember the — (dash) the life of our loved one or friend.
 
For me, in my early years I thought I was living life. It wasn’t happy at times, even chaotic and very dysfunctional most all of the time.  Circumstances happen, bad situations take place and adjustments are made. But I thought this was how life was led. You go through the motions, do what you think you’re supposed to do and keep on going, doing the best you can do until the end!
 
It wasn’t until I became a Christian that I began to live life. Accepting Christ and turning my life over to Him was the best decision I have ever made. I realized that I was now truly living.
 
At this celebration of life, we heard of a life lived for Christ. A man who left a legacy of faithfulness to his wife, an example to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family members and friends. He enjoyed life; even when there were difficult times he understood real living came from Christ. Living in the ability to choose to love, forgive often; hold no wrong accounts towards another, being salt and light as the Word of God tells us we are to be. He received wisdom and counsel on how to live life from the One who gave us life–JESUS.
 
When it comes time to have a celebration of my life, I want people to be full of joy knowing that I lived life to the fullest. I want to leave a legacy to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family and friends of a life lived in Christ and for Christ. I want them to be able to say they saw Christ in me, our hope of our glory as Colossians 1:27 says.
 
While going through cancer I decided then that I was not going to live in the land of regret—no matter the outcome. I packed up and moved from that neighborhood! I don’t want to come to the end of this life, as we know it and be regretful that I didn’t do (or did do) something I should have.  
 
I want to be salt and light wherever I go to others. I want people to see Jesus in me. Yes, that is hard to do sometimes—sometimes I want to lay hands on somebody suddenly… you know what I’m talkin’about!  But, that only means I get to choose how I will respond, how I will live my life. The Bible says there is LIFE and death in the tongue. Another words, what we say WILL impact not only our life, but also those around us.
 
Let’s choose to live life!
 
Tell those around us we love them, often. Compliment others when we see something worth complimenting.  Smile at one who needs a smile. Hold our tongue when we want to give a harsh word. Help someone when you can be of assistance.
 
So I want to leave you with this thought today… are you really living life or just merely existing?
 
We don’t know how long we have that choice to fully live life. Our days here on this earth are not known to us; each day is a gift. Because you are reading this, you have been given another day, my friend…
 
choose to live in between the —(dash)!
 
Blessings to you,
 
Jeannine


A simple question

 
How may I pray for you? It is a simple question and yet can be so complex. Sometimes when we ask to pray for someone, we can a myriad of answers. One person may so, “oh well, just pray for my friend, she really needs prayer.” Or how about the statement, ” I’m ok, really. I’ll get by.” And I love the answer of ” Oh, I don’t need prayer, I’m ok, everything is fine.”  Really?  I often think when I get that answer, hmmmm she must have been in that pageant Queen of Denial and won the crown!  Life could be going fine in the sense of nothing earth-shattering, no one died. But in all honesty we all can use prayer. None of us have “arrived” to the place where we are perfect. If that were the case, I pretty sure they call that death and now living in heaven, where yes, we are made perfect! Until that time… we are all gonna need some prayer! 
 
I have found that for some it is difficult to ask for prayer or even admit they need prayer.
 
Why is that? I have a couple reasons that I have been pondering this week and just want to share them with you in hopes that if you are on the asking end you may understand the response you may get and dig a little deeper. OR if you are on the receiving end of that question that you will allow prayers to be said on your behave. 
 
I think perhaps one reason is people are afraid to be vulnerable. Let’s face it, when we say we need prayer, we are sharing the “stuff” that is going on in our lives. Being vulnerable takes stepping out of our comfort zone and actually being REAL with someone else. 
 
We are afraid of being judged. Not that any of us have ever done that before! We don’t really want people to know what we are going through or dealing with because we are afraid we will be thought of as “less than Christ-like” because we are struggling.
 
I have found that after talking with someone who needs prayer and responds to the answer I spoke of previously these two reasons seem to be the most prevalent. 
 
We don’t want to be hurt by being vulnerable and we certainly don’t want to be judged. 
 
I’m not saying we just share everything with everyone. We need people in our lives who we can trust and who can pray for us. 
 
There is a community of believers that truly do care for one another and truly do prayer for each other.  I pray for you weekly. I may not know each of your struggles, but God does. 
 
This has just really been on my heart this week. There are so many who struggle in secret. That does not have to be. That is such a lie from the pit of hell…”don’t tell anyone you are struggling. What will they think of you?”  The enemy of our soul does not want us to walk in the freedom that Christ has for each one of us. 
 
Today, my prayer is that the next time you are asked “how may I pray for you?” you will answer with “thank you, today I need prayer for…” and fill in the blank.
 
On the flip side of this there are many times I ask someone how I may pray for them and they truly do share what is going on. Why? Because they know I will pray for them, right there on the spot, in that moment. And here is one of the biggest reasons. They know they can trust me. I’m not going to use this as a “prayer request” to others and then begin to gossip about the situation. Yes, that does happen. 
 
So here’s the challenge for you this week! Ask someone how you may pray for them. Then DO IT!  Be sincere, be trustworthy. Then follow up with them and see how they are doing.
 
And if you get asked how someone may pray for you. Tell them! If it is someone who you may not know real well, give them something “simple” to pray for and test the waters, if you will.  I know that many of us who have been a christian for any length of time have been burned by being vulnerable and being judged and not being able to trust. I get it, believe me, I get it! Been there, done that. I have people often whom I don’t know well enough (especially when I was going through cancer) say to me “how can I pray for you?” I found a truthful answer by saying, “pray I keep my eyes focused on Jesus.”  Now that is a prayer every one of us can use! If our eyes are on Jesus, we will have all that we need and  because Jesus will give us the peace, wisdom, discernment  to handle the “stuff” that we are dealing with. 
 
So…. my question to you today is, how may I pray for you?  I’d love to hear from you. 
 
Blessings my friend. 
 


Time is Fleeting



Be Anxious for Nothing

 
Last week I had some lab work done and a CAT scan. My blood pressure was…well, lets just say it was very high. So high, the nurse took it again using my other arm! so much for being anxious for nothing!


The Art of Waiting

 
 
Steadfast. That’s the word the Lord gave to me at the beginning of the year 2016. “What an odd word,” I thought. I couldn’t help but wonder if something would soon shake my world or test my faith, requiring me to be steadfast. I felt unnerved.

My suspicions were right. Not long after receiving my word, I was diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The diagnosis came as quite a shock; I lived a holistic, healthy lifestyle, and cancer doesn’t run in our family. Cancer is no respecter of persons. It can hit anyone.

The Lord knew that chemotherapy and its challenging side effects would require me to practice steadfastness. Each day I had to cling resolutely to what I knew to be true in my heart despite what I felt in my body.
What did I know to be true?