The day started out so great. Hope was in the air, things were looking really good. And then my friend heard that dreaded word, “No.” What a discouragement. More than that, hearing a “No” can feel like a startling slap in the face sometimes. Under certain circumstances “No” can feel like rejection, under other circumstances “No” can feel like a stern rebuke. Sometimes “No” can be just plain confusing, I mean after all that planning and seeking wise counsel, preparing and asking for prayer.
"No" always feels bad. Especially if it is something we really want. Or need. We are convinced we need it and “No” gets in the way and limits us. It feels like forever. It seems so powerful at the time. A good, stern “No” can instantly wipe away every “Yes” from the past. It can tap into all the disappointments we’ve faced along the way and make them seem permanent.
Sometimes it seems as if “No” right now means “No” forever. But what is the truth?
Comfort from friends can accidentally add a real sting to that slap in the face. Yet we want to comfort, and encourage. Is there a way to do that without adding to the sting, without sounding trite? I think it depends on the relationship. I wanted to encourage, to say just the right thing to fix it. But I couldn’t. There are no words that work. Not from me anyway. Believe me, I tried. Every time I typed something (we were communicating through messenger) I had to backspace and delete it.
Then, looking back over previous conversations, I was encouraged by a verse that this same friend had recently shared with me. A verse from the Bible about how God has His plans, and He is faithful to carry those plans out. So I typed that verse in a message. I felt strongly that I wasn’t to add an emoji (even though I really wanted to, as my kids will tell you) or my take on the verse, or how I think God will use this verse in his life. Just God’s Word.
Right away my friend let me know he was encouraged, “I was very sad, and now I am strengthened,” He wrote. (Well, I certainly can’t take credit for that one) Sigh. I’ve been pondering this afternoon how God’s Word is alive. I am thankful. Hope lives.
Friday, April 01, 2016
There is a young man who is like a nephew to me, in fact I had to be his “Aunt” once in order to sit with his Mom as she waited in the hospital after his surgery for a football injury. He’s a positive, intelligent, and enthusiastic person. A natural leader. He comes from a close-knit family who supports him in all his endeavors.
He’s one of those well-rounded people who has good grades, excels in sports, and can sing and dance in the school musical. I’ve had the privilege of serving beside him during two different mission trips where the youth built homes for impoverished families in Mexico. This young man stands out to me because he is a kind, quiet leader who reaches out to and encourages people in a most sincere way.
It would be easy to think that life is easy for this “All American” kid, but in fact he is weathering through one of the most difficult seasons I’ve seen anyone go through. It is one of those seasons when if anything could go wrong, it chooses this time to do it. Like many young leaders he was easy to blame when things went wrong. Shortly after the season began, some important people turned against him, and it got ugly at times. Thankfully, with the support of his family, and the strength that comes from his own relationship with his God, he is coming through a stronger, wiser, and still kind person.
Fast forward to this week. I picked up my daughter’s New Living Translation Bible called The Way, and found this description of Jeremiah: “Jeremiah’s been drafted to play for a losing team deep into a horrific season, and nothing can turn the tide. But God is present.” Immediately I thought of my young friend.
Please rest assured I’m not trying to take the Bible out of context, and I’m not trying to say my friend is like Jeremiah or like the Jewish people in the book of Jeremiah. But I do find it encouraging that when I read the Bible, God reveals Himself in the book of Jeremiah. (Admittedly, when I “read through the Bible in a year,” I take 2.5 years and use a children’s Bible to get through Isaiah, Jeremiah, & especially Ezekiel!) In His Word, God shows us His heart and His unchanging character, and we can see His love for His people. He is a God of restoration. He is a God of Salvation. He is Present.
Difficult seasons are just that, difficult. I’m not going to say anything cliche here, there are simply no easy answers. As I continue to pray for my young friend, I’m challenged and inspired to watch him fight the good fight and see him grown in strength of character. He seems to already know for himself that God is a God of restoration (Jeremiah Chapters 30+), a God of salvation (John 14:6) and He is Present (Psalms 61-64;Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 11:30 and surrounding verses, the list goes on and on!) These are some of my go-to assurances in God’s Word, what are some of yours?
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Yee Haw!There were two Italian churches putting on the western-themed Festival, and our little family was part of a team of Americans sent to serve, encourage and support the Italians as they reached out to their community. There were all kinds of free entertainment at the festival: Crazy Dress-Up Photo Booths; American Cooking Booth; "Teenager Girl" Make-up & Nails Booth; Crafts; Health & Blood Pressure; Speak English; Line-Dancing, etc, etc.
We had some regulars who came to Horseshoes each night, and T.Michael & I used our very broken Italian to be kind and loving to those who came our way. One night Cindy from the English-speaking booth said a young Italian man asked her where she was from and she replied, "Portland." Then he said, "Just like Jennifer!" Wow! I couldn't believe that my little 'small talk' was really getting through to my new friends!
It was so affirming to know that even though I couldn't "witness" to them, I was a witness just by being available and consistent. Then, at the end of each evening there was live music followed by a great speaker who DID share Jesus with people clearly and in their own language. What a privilege to serve with my family in Italy!
Monday, May 27, 2013
In John 3:30, John said to his disciples:
"He must become greater; I must become less."
Ever since John was in the womb he knew Jesus as Lord. (Luke 1)
Later, while baptizing people, he said he wasn't even worthy to untie Jesus' sandals. (Luke 3:26)
John's whole life he knew his job, his purpose. He was sent ahead of the Christ. (John 3:28)
Like John said, Jesus must become greater; I must become less!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
This Mother's Day is particularly special to me because not only do I have the 2 most amazing kids ever, but also I am reunited this year with several kids from an orphanage I served in 20 years ago in Honduras. In fact I just received a text last night from one of "my orphans" (I hope that title is not offensive to them) saying:
"HAPPY MOTHERS DAY - DIOS LE BENDIGA"Wow! I experienced that jolt of love in my heart that you feel when one of your own loves you back! Relationship is what our time here on earth is all about!
Our Pastor challenged us to pray about sponsoring a child through Compassion International this Mother's Day...pray about it. Hmmmm....So I have been. I don't mean to over-simplify the challenge, but I wonder if I'm praying about sponsoring a child, or really praying about how to add something new to my monthly budget. This may sound a bit crass, but I'm sharing from my heart that if we sponsor another child, it will be so much more than a money decision.
As usual, I came across an interesting part of my daily reading that pertains to this very question. (As you can guess, I don't believe this is coincidence!) In Luke 16 Jesus shares a parable about a shrewd manager. At first I was puzzled by this seeming appreciation of a dishonest manager -- but then I read a commentary that I tend to agree with. The author wrote:
"The Cash value of each reduction was about 500 denarii, what a laborer would earn in 500 days. Jesus does not commend the man's dishonesty but commends his use of the money to prepare for his future. Too often believers use money without considering eternal rewards."
I know through my friend Missy that sponsoring a child is a real blessing. She sponsored a child many years ago and one time I ran into her just after she returned from visiting her sponsored child in Africa! In addition to sending monthly support, she has faithfully prayed for her child over the years -- relationship that spans time and oceans! (Through an organization that does what it says...now THAT is impressive.)
Missy has seen her money used as promised, to help feed, house and educate a precious person. She uses money while considering eternal rewards!