From Consumer to Creator

Day 69 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

God began to convict my heart about the amount of media I consume a while ago. My husband would tell you that I have a long-standing sensitivity in this area. Over our 15 years of marriage I have regularly taken inventory of what I’m putting in my mind, body, soul – a healthy habit that I highly recommend. But this year was different. During our fast at the beginning of the year, I fasted TV and movies for over 40 days and the most remarkable shift happened: I moved from being a consumer to a creator.

As image bearers of Christ, we were created to create not merely consume.

In Ephesians 2:10 Paul encourages us that, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT) God desires that we use the creative gifts He has given each of us. As we create, we are walking out His purpose for in lives, for His glory. I recently really enjoyed reading Rebekah Lyons new book, Rhythms of Renewal, and I love how she defines create “using your specific talents, skills, and callings to live deeper into your God-given purpose, to create something that blesses him and the world around you” (page 221).

We live in a culture with an insatiable hunger for entertainment. It is so easy to fall into the gluttony of the “Netflix & chill” mindset and completely miss the purpose for which God created us. What’s worse is often this mindset trickles into how we view our relationship with God. Many desire to be entertained more than they want to be transformed. Attending church solely to be entertained with their favorite type of music, speaker, décor etc., rather than desiring to use their gifts in obedience to Christ and in service of His call and purpose. Getting bored with reading the Bible or prayer because it’s not exciting enough. Constantly seeking entertainment and consumption.

It is impossible to create when you are constantly consuming. Think about it! When we are too busy consuming the creations, lives, and stories of others – that is time taken away from creating big or small for the glory of God. Don’t get me wrong, I love to enjoy the beautiful creative works of others but I’m advocating for balance and a season of introspection.

“No matter our age, dreams get squashed when our lives are consumed with entertainment and technology” (Rebekah Lyons, Rhythms of Renewal, page 227). Consuming was literally robbing me of fulfilling my dreams and walking in my God given purpose. Unplugging the TV for 40+ days allowed the space in my brain and in my life to dream again. I began to use my hands and mind to make things, write, and dream like I haven’t in such a long time. To use Rebekah Lyon’s analogy, this time allowed me to build a creative rhythm back into my life that was long overdue.

As I stood in the kitchen for hours yesterday prepping our meals for the week, I stood back and thanked God for the opportunity to create meals with my hands, for His glory. I thanked Him for the necessary shift that has taken place in my life. Creating isn’t limited to arts & crafts. It is using the gifts God has given you, in the way He has wired you, for His glory. I’m convinced that our ability to create is limited more by our own over consumption than any other circumstance. Over consumption is literally robbing the world of what you and I were made to create. I pray that my own journey will be the catalyst you need to seek balance and move from a consumer to a creator.

Journal & Process

-What are the dreams that God has placed within your heart?

-What adjustments to your consumption need to take place in order to walk boldly in your purpose?

-What is limiting your ability to create?

5 Daily Actions

Day 62 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

Last year I heard a powerful talk by John C. Maxwell that made a huge impact in my daily habits. Within his talk he shared what he calls “The Power of Five”, and of course he has a whole book about it that I cannot wait to read, here’s the link in case you want to dive in. During his point on the importance of consistency he shared with the audience 5 things that he does every single day of his life. Five essential, invaluable actions that he repeats over and over and over again. These actions in and of themselves were simple & straight forward, yet they are critical in helping him accomplish his call and purpose.

After hearing his talk, my husband and I were challenged to pray about and write down our own 5 daily actions. These are 5 actions unique to each individual that are essential to our mental, spiritual, & physical health. They are also invaluable to our purpose and calling. As I share mine, try to think about what your 5 daily actions might be. Some might be the same, but some might be totally different which is to be expected. I have noticed that as I engage in these 5 daily actions, they make a HUGE difference on my sanity throughout this crisis. My mood is happier, my hopes are up, and I’m able to be patience, kind, and loving toward my family. Y’ALL these 5 daily actions are a lifeline from Heaven that are making such a big difference for me. I wonder if yours would have the same affect for you???

First, I pray! My prayer time begins with a few moments of silence & stillness in the presence of God. I focus my mind and heart on Him, surrendering my fears and receiving His love. Then I pray through several lists of needs from our church, family, friends, ministries we support etc. As I intercede for these loved ones, laying their needs in the capable and mighty hands of Jesus, an interesting thing happens. I feel lighter & happier – like the burden I was carrying was literally transferred to Jesus and now I’m not weighed down by it.

Second, I write. If you’re new around here I’m a very big advocate for journaling. Throughout the quarantine I’ve begun each journal entry the same – partially to record this amazing moment in His-story and partly because I wake up each day literally not knowing what day it is, lol! Here’s what today’s entry looked like:  Thursday, May 14, 2020 at home QD 62 (quarantine day).

As I journal, I share a summary of our activities from the previous day – to be noted I don’t normally treat my journal like a diary, although you totally can but each day is so unique during this crisis and I want to be able to go back to this time years from now and reflect on this season in greater detail. I will also write a prayer to the Lord with anything on my heart that day. Then as I continue my time with Jesus, I use my journal as a space to record all the many things He speaks to my heart through His word. I’ll write verses that pop out at me, even whole passages. Something powerful takes place in my heart when I’ve not only read a verse but read it out loud and written it down. Those extra steps seem to cement the truth deep within my heart and memory banks. This space in my journal is precious to me, it’s like God’s love letter to me, beautifully crafted from our time together. Lots of times this writing becomes a blog post or is used as I serve others.Third I read. While reading my sole motivation is to PUT TRUTH IN. Listen, there are millions of things coming after our minds each day, it is critical to our sanity throughout this crisis to be vigilant with what we are putting in our minds. You are a gate keeper, choose wisely my friends. I begin with reading the Psalm & Proverb from that day’s date, then continue to whatever book in the Bible I’m studying at that time. I am currently devouring the fascinating truth within 1 & 2 Kings. As I read, I sit with my journal, my Bible, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Whenever I have a question, don’t understand what something means, or am curious about a detail from the Bible I whip out Dr. Evans Commentary and look it up. It’s like having the greatest Bible teacher in the world as a personal mentor – I highly recommend it.

At the beginning of 2020 I committed to read at least 1 chapter in a book per day. To date I have completed 16 books by staying consistent with this tiny little habit. What happened was a love for reading was birthed in me, after my 1 chapter was completed, I found myself longing to read more later in the day. There have been many times that I’ve chosen reading over watching the TV at night, who am I? John C. Maxwell says, “consistency compounds” and he is totally right.

Fourth I move. God beautifully designed movement as a vital part of our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Moving is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. My hubby and I walk at least 30 minutes daily (weather permitting, while social distancing of course) and I can tell such a huge difference in my mood when we do. Moving allows us to think more clearly, talk through the day, and dream together.

Fifth I connect. Last but not least, I try to connect with family and friends every day. This looks like texts, calls, messages, video chats, and even Zoom hangouts. God created us as relational beings and connection with family & friends brings a level of perspective and hope that is much needed. Often, I am able to encourage someone who’s having a tough time, which then encourages me as well. Connection speaks truth to the lies of isolation, reminding me that I am not alone, and I am deeply loved.

As I pray, write, read, move, and connect I am grounded in God’s love and truth. I am building health habits that will compound, serving my calling & purpose. I am taking the best care possible of my mind, body, & soul. I hope these inspire you to pursue 5 daily actions both now and far beyond this pandemic.

Journal & Process

-What are 5 daily actions that are essential to YOUR purpose?

-What adjustments will you need to make as you begin to walk in these actions?

-What is your mind, body, & soul craving in this season?

Speak Truth to Lies

Speak Truth to Lies BLOG rev2Day 16 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

I woke up this morning and processed my online grocery delivery order via a handy little app I was recently introduced to, only to find several items that I needed were unavailable, and I found myself wallowing in self-pity. At this point in the COVID-19 crisis we are all feeling a lot of emotions, and there is no doubt we are just beginning this marathon. If you are wrestling with anxiety through this crisis I know  you’ll be blessed by the tools I shared in my recent post 10 Tools to Win Your Battle with Anxiety.

I continued to meal prep, cutting up a bunch of veggies I had over bought in bulk and needed to cook before they go bad, listening to Mark chapter 13 on my Dwell Audio Bible app. As the words of Jesus rang through my smart phone, I felt Him tenderly nudge my heart toward truth.

The truth is that I am safe, sound, and have everything I need.

The truth is I enjoy the freedom and privilege of being a citizen in the wealthiest country in the world.

The truth is I am wealthier than 95% of the world’s population. A population that is also enduring this global pandemic without the luxuries of grocery delivery, access to exceptional medical care, the ability to video chat friends and family at whim, Amazon Prime, etc….

The truth is my loved ones are safe, abundantly provided for, and healthy.

The truth is I was born in the most technologically advanced era in human history, with entertainment, education, and connection literally at my fingertips 24 hours a day.

The truth is I lack nothing.

The truth is I am loved by God.

But Jen, if we are loved by God why would He allow something like this to happen to us. That’s an honest question that a few people have asked my husband and I recently. As I stood in my kitchen cooking up an amazing frittata and veggies that will top 3 different delicious homemade gluten free pizzas, I couldn’t help but wonder what God’s up to.

God never promised us a life without suffering, however Paul’s writing to the church in Rome in Romans 5:3b-5 demonstrate how God uses suffering in our lives. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Speak Truth to Lies VERSE rev2As a Pastor’s wife I have a front row seat to what my husband calls the “Big C” church, that is, the people around the world that love and serve Jesus. Y’all it ain’t always pretty!

The truth is people who claim to love God often don’t live lives surrendered to Him.

The truth is the people of God have made soccer practice on Sundays, more important that gathering as a family in their local church.

The truth is many people who claim to love God haven’t talked to Him in years.

The truth is the average American family attends church 1x a month, which reflects its priority in their lives.

The truth is this generation is moving further and further away from God.

The truth is we’ve been sleeping, and we need a wakeup call.

In Mark 13: 32-36 Jesus is teaching his disciples about the end times and says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

COVID-19 has brought tremendous sorrow and tragedy, there is no doubt about that.

But could God be using this crisis to draw the hearts of His people back to Himself?

Could He use this crisis to reset families into healthy sustainable rhythms according to His original design?

Will this be a wakeup call for you and I?

I pray that now more than ever you and I will seek the face of God, surrender our lives to His perfect will, and trust Him. Friends, as fear rises in your heart over the next few weeks and months, speak truth to lies. Instead of spinning out in fear, take back control by sitting down and listing what is true about your actual reality, then read those truths out loud!! Ground yourself in truth, allowing God to use this circumstance to produce endurance, character, and to renew your hope.

Journal & Process

-Use this statement to identify what is true in your current circumstances: The truth is…..

-What do you need to surrender control of to God today?

-What lessons are you learning through this crisis that you will remember years from now?

10 Tools to Win Your Battle with Anxiety

10 Tools Anxiety BLOGThere is an epidemic of anxiety happening in our world. Almost daily friends reach out to us for prayer, desperate for support completely beaten up by anxiety. So, I am going to war! I am fighting for and with you friends and I want to share a few powerful tools that are currently being used by God to help many (including me) win the battle with anxiety.

Each tool that is linked below is a Christ centered resource to encourage you on your journey. I know when I am wrestling with anxiety I am not always in a place – mentally – to read. So, I’ve included a variety of types of resources: books, audio, music, podcasts, etc. I pray that each of these resources will point you to Jesus and given you the strength no matter what you’re facing to “cast all your cares on him, because he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 CSB

God’s Word

There is no greater tool against fear and anxiety than the truth of God’s word. Psalms 55:22 says “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” But it’s one thing to read a verse like that and it’s another thing to live it. Allow God’s word to become life to you, abide in it, and use it to combat every fear.

#1: Author & Bible teacher Rebekah Lyons has put together a list of 30 scriptures you can print, memorize, and soak in. Here is her FREE download:  30 VERSES ON ANXIETY

#2: I have been reading Rebekah’s new book: Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose and it is fantastic! You can grab a copy HERE to dig in.

#3: Or if you’d rather just listen check out her & her husband’s podcast: Rhythms for Life by Rebekah Lyons & Gabe Lyons at this LINK

#4: I have recently fallen in love with God’s word all over again through the Dwell App. This app is an audio Bible that allows you to listen to the words of scripture. The calming music and amazing voices are uniquely and wonderfully different than any other audio Bible I’ve tried. You can access a portion of the content for free but like me I bet you’ll fall in love so quickly that you’ll be totally willing to pay the annual fee of $29.99 ((worth it!!)). I want God’s word to be the first & last thing I hear everyday and this has been a great tool to make that happen. Here is the LINK to the Dwell App.

Worship

“Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space. One always displaces the other. Choose worship.” — Louie Giglio

#5: Worship is a powerful tool to battle anxiety. I recently found out there are entire playlists on Spotify (and I’m sure other platforms) all dedicated to battling fear & anxiety. Check out this playlist or make your own. Here’s a link to my favorite “Fear is a Liar” Playlist on Spotify.

The Psalms of David were often songs filled with truth and powerful tools to fight anxiety. “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:3-410 Tools Anxiety PS56Let Others Fight for You

There are times in the battle with anxiety that we need others to fight for us and with us. You are NOT alone, and you are deeply loved. If you need someone to fight for you in prayer please contact me, I’d be honored to fight for you! Here are some of my favorite Christian teachers that are fighting for you and me with powerful truth. Each of their own personal experiences with anxiety speak so vividly into our own circumstances. Check them out!

#6: Y’all Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants by Louie Giglio is a MUST READ!! My husband and I both read it last week and WOW! It was beyond fantastic with so many relatable and simple principles to apply. Get you a copy and thank me later! Here is the LINK.

#7: Next on my list to read is Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen. I had a chance to hear her testimony about overcoming toxic thoughts at a conference and it left me in tears. Here is a LINK to her book.

#8: Jennie also has an Anxious Thoughts Guide that is available for FREE on her website. I love that it not only provides scripture, but a few activities designed to help you process your thoughts and regain control. Here is the LINK to that resource.

#9: My favorite podcast right now is Jennie Allen’s Made for This podcast. Season 3 is all about her book (above) with some amazing guest speakers. It’s available on all the podcast apps, here is the link for Spotify: Made for This

Journal & Process

#10: Last but certainly not least is my 10/10/10 Exercise! We are seeing breakthrough in so many lives through this simple and effective tool. Print the template and sit with Jesus, allow Him to give you the strength to acknowledge 10 gratitudes, surrender 10 fears, and declare 10 truths. This process carried us through one of the scariest seasons in our lives. I pray it’s a blessing to you! Here is the LINK to my previous blog post with the 10/10/10 Exercise. 

I pray these tools are a blessing to you! Please share this post with a few friends and let’s fight this battle together by God’s grace and strength.

 

 

 

10 Gratitudes, 10 Fears, 10 Truths

Last Fall was one of the most difficult seasons we have ever been through as a family, yet in the middle of it God gave us this incredible tool that I want to share with you today. My prayer is that this tool will be something you can use to draw closer to the Lord, to process deep emotions in a healthy way, and to walk in gratitude and truth with renewed hope.

But first, let me give you a little background. Y’all last Fall was rough! We had some pretty hard things at work, my husband is a Pastor, and potential changes at church were causing division and heartache. At the same time we got the call that I had a tumor in my right breast that needed to be surgically removed to determine if it was cancer (spoiler alert by the grace of God it was not cancer, more details on that here: Holding onto Him). All of this stress was affecting our marriage, our eating habits, our ability to be intimate, and especially my husband’s sleep. Insomnia plagued Adrian night after night, which in turn caused me to awaken often in concern for him, so neither of us were well rested.

One night I had enough of it. I was literally angry at the insomnia and the emotional turmoil we were feeling and knew we needed God to intervene. Before bed that night we prayed together and I felt God leading us to praise God and acknowledge 10 things we were grateful for. The number 10 stood out to me so vividly and I think the quantity was significant because it caused us to put in the work emotionally. We can easily share two or three things we are grateful for, but 10 made us really dig deep. We each praised God and acknowledged 10 gratitudes while lying there in bed before drifting off to sleep.

Around 2am Adrian woke up and was rolling around in frustration, which of course woke me up. Instantly I felt God leading us to surrender 10 fears. I had no idea where that idea came from except the Holy Spirit. The phrase “surrender 10 fears” was imprinted on my heart so vividly in that moment. I was barely awake myself and was most certainly not in the mindset of working through an exercise like that. However, we were both so defeated by this insomnia that we would do anything. ANYTHING! So I shared with Adrian that I felt God leading us to surrender 10 fears and my deeply sleep deprived husband obliged. Adrian shared as many as he could but only got to 5 or 6, then I took a turn. Y’all surrendering 10 fears in the middle of the night when you haven’t slept well in weeks is very VERY hard. I was lying in bed with tears dripping down my cheeks onto my pillow. We surrendered fears to God that night that we had never acknowledged and certainly never shared out loud.

As soon as we finished surrendering our fears I felt God leading us to declare 10 truths. 10 truths we could hold onto. 10 truths that would carry us through that moment. 10 truths that would combat every lie of the enemy, every crippling thought, and every fear. In bed that night we dug deep and pulled from scriptures that we have memorized. We believe God’s word, the Bible, is the ultimate source of truth. We also drew truths from knowledge & life experience. Again the number 10 was so significant because it pushed us. We weren’t just throwing a single Bible verse or rational fact at the problem, we were going to war!

There is so much power in gratitude, in surrender, and in declaration. SO. MUCH. POWER.

We are emotional, spiritual, and physical beings and each of those areas are interconnected & interdependent. If you think for a minute that issues you are having emotionally are not affecting you physically or spiritually you are sorely mistaken. This crippling insomnia was deeply rooted in not only the physical but the emotional & spiritual. After working through this exercise Adrian was able to fall back to sleep for the first time in weeks.

In the weeks that followed I couldn’t get that experience out of my mind. I began to regularly work through what I titled my 10/10/10 Exercise. This exercise made such an impact on me that I began to use it often during my morning devotions or times of journaling. After using this exercise for several months my husband and I decided to use it with a group of couples we were speaking to during a workshop on Spiritual Intimacy at a local conference center. Wow! I fought back tears watching couples sitting knee to knee and digging deep, working through painful fears and walking in gratitude and truth.

I wanted to share this simple tool with you because it has made SUCH a huge impact on our lives. You can walk through this exercise mentally or out loud as you’re going through daily tasks or lying in bed like we did. OR write them down, create 3 columns on a blank piece of paper or print out this pdf form I created to walk through the exercise 10 10 10 printable.

TIP: I highly recommend going through each column completely before moving on. For example acknowledge all 10 gratitudes before moving onto fears, surrender all 10 fears before moving onto truths.

Step 1: Acknowledge 10 Gratitudes
I like to work through my gratitudes like a prayer “Lord I thank you for…” or if you are not a Christian you might say “Today I’m grateful for…” Think of everything you are grateful for big or small. It could be as simple as being grateful for warm socks, or money to pay bills, or for your family, etc.

Step 2: Surrender 10 Fears
I also like to surrender my fears in prayer “Lord I surrender my fear of …” I believe that as we surrender these fears to the Lord it releases the power they have over us. Our fears once surrendered now reside in the capable and mighty hands of God.

Step 3: Declare 10 Truths
As I declare 10 truths on the go, I will draw from scripture I have memorized or rational facts. It’s beautiful how God will bring certain truths to my heart exactly when I need them. But my favorite way to declare truths is when I make the time to dig deep into God’s word and actually write the verses down. Often I will sit with my bible and look for scriptures that combat the fears I’ve surrendered. The truths you declare don’t necessarily have to be associated with the fears you’ve surrendered but I’ve often found myself drawn to ones that do. Don’t be afraid to Google key words or use Bible Gateway to search for verses.

TIP: It is very powerful to not only write down the fears I am surrendering & truths as I’m declaring them but to actually read them out loud. Romans 10:17 says that “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Reading it out loud engages our faith in the process in a powerful way.

GOING DEEPER: Working through this simple 10/10/10 Exercise with your spouse or together as a family (parents & children) provides a powerful outlet for communication, understanding, intimacy, and discipleship. I highly recommend it!

As you work through this exercise please let me know if it was helpful and what you are learning. Your feedback is invaluable! I pray that God will use this simple 10/10/10 Exercise to breakdown the stronghold of fear and release you to walk in truth & renewed hope!

Dependence + Obedience

Dependence + ObedienceAs I look at the life and ministry of Jesus two of His most remarkable attributes are His dependence on and obedience to His Father. I shared a few weeks ago that I have been studying the life and leadership of Jesus in the New Testament since the beginning of the year. I am in awe as I read that repeatedly Jesus took time away to pray, recognizing His need and utter dependence on His Father. Think about it, this is Jesus, the God Man – fully God and fully Man, lives completely dependent. Not only is He dependent but He lives in intimate communion with the Father. It is through that communion and connectedness that obedience flourishes. Jesus lived in obedience to His Father’s will, always doing as the Father commanded Him (John 14:31). You guys, our Savior beautifully modeled perfect dependence and perfect obedience so that we might follow His example!

In my opinion there is no greater illustration of these attributes than Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane in Matthew 26:36-46. Here we get a tiny glimpse into the agony of Jesus’ life just hours before the cross. The incredible relationship Jesus has with his Father led Him to the garden to pray. He was sorrowful and troubled (vs. 37) when he prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (vs. 39b). Yet in obedience, demonstrating his great love for us, He allows the guards to take him rather than calling down legions of angels to his defense (vs. 53). Christ’s obedience resulted in him being falsely accused, mocked, betrayed, beaten, and brutally killed in order that He might secure our salvation and bridge the gap caused by sin between God and man. Wow! How can we do anything but worship when we really think about what His obedience cost.

Dependence + Obedience MATT 26As modeled by Jesus, it is through our dependence (via communion and connectedness to Him) that our obedience grows and our lives flourish. Although the cost of our obedience isn’t usually death on a cross, there is a cost to walking in obedience to Jesus. Far too often we opt out of paying the cost. Independence and disobedience are costly. By choosing them we’re missing the beautiful communion and abundant blessings that come with being fully dependent and obedient on Jesus.

My writing this year is coming from a place of dependence and obedience. I have felt God tugging at my heart for quite some time to write consistently and have reasoned His voice away with busyness. I have been disobedient and really had to repent before Him. As I seek His face, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3b. I am so grateful for His merciful and consistent presence leading me back to His will in this one of many examples.

If you find yourself humbled by the awareness of your own disobedience, you are in good company. Be encouraged by this truth shared by Priscilla Shirer in Awaken: 90 Days with the God who Speaks:

“Even when we’ve chosen unwisely, even when we’ve relished our stubborn resistance, He remains eager to express these beautiful elements of His character to us. He longs to receive the rebellious back into His welcoming arms. He loves seeing His grace exalted and watching it change us into His image. Nothing we’ve done, no matter how devastating or devious, can push us too far out of His love to reach us, rescue us, and restore us. When we call to Him, He hears us.” (pg.135)

Call upon Him today, allow Him to restore your soul, to lead and guide as only He can!

Questions for reflection, prayer, & journaling

– What is one thing you feel God asking you to walk out in obedience?

– How does Jesus’ relationship with His Father inspire you?

– Are you willing to pay the cost to walk in obedience?

Distracted.

Distracted BLOGWe began the new year with 21 days of prayer and fasting with our church family. Daily I sat at the feet of Jesus with an open heart & open Bible longing for Him to speak. During those few weeks something changed in me. I could feel it, like a fire was lit from deep within. There is something about fasting that provides tremendous clarity and purpose. Years from now we’ll remember with awe and wonder how God transformed our lives during the prayer and fasting of 2020.

One of the areas God continually addressed throughout the fast was how distracted I have been. Distracted by the “good” but not the “best.” Distracted by the constant noise of a busy life. Distracted by my to-do list that I had consistently put as a priority over Jesus.

In the quiet of the fast, God spoke.

With great intention I began my days with 2 hours of silence, stillness, prayer, bible study, journaling, and reading. I kept my cell phone on the other side of the house determined to not let anything distract this sacred space. The adjustment to being without my phone was both brutal and revealing, wow I had given it so much power over me.

Halfway through the fast we traveled to Ohio for a family visit and attended Oasis Church in Norwalk. Pastor Vince Cooper spoke a timely word titled “It is Possible to have Clarity” about Mary & Martha in Luke chapter 10. Let’s take a look at the story…

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV

I can relate to Martha, can’t you? She was focused on caring for her VIP guests, stressing over hospitality, while missing the opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet. She was allowing her to-do list to rob her of the privilege of intimacy with the Master.

Here are some insights that Pastor Vince shared that were so powerful!

“Details are important, but they are not the most important.”

“Distraction disables relationship.”

“Martha not only missed what Jesus was saying, she was also trying to get others distracted.”

“Don’t be distracted & don’t be distracting.”

“You will always have distraction. You have to choose; will you be divided by the distractions or will you put them away?”

“What are you going to do when Jesus says, nope?”

Pastor Vince Quote BLOGY’all I’m all about the details, if you need details, I’m your girl! But my, oh my! I am learning that details are not more important than Jesus. If you’re a recovering Martha like me, let’s say that out loud together: details are NOT more important than Jesus.

I am learning that living a distracted life will disable my relationship with Him. I am learning to not live in such frantic constant movement that I am unable to hear His still small voice. I am convicted by the countless times I have been not only distracted but distracting to others. Oh Lord let this be a lesson that transforms my life forever.

One thing is necessary friends, one thing. Let’s sit at the feet of Jesus and not allow distraction to rob us from His very best.

Questions for reflection, prayer, & journaling
– When was the last time you sat quiet & alone at the feet of Jesus?
– What one distraction is God calling you to surrender today?
– How have you been both distracted & distracting?

Friends if my brief notes from this message ministered to you, I highly recommend checking out the replay from Oasis Church Facebook live at this LINK. Thank you to Pastor Vince Cooper for permission to share my take-aways from his message.

Fear Not

Fear Not blog (1)Last year I shared our journey through a particularly difficult season + a tool the Lord gave us to navigate that season. It was one of the most popular posts I’ve ever shared, if you missed it, check it out here. Throughout the journey and still today, fear often shows its ugly head in our lives. Don’t you wish these lessons were one and done? Anyone else find themselves circling the same mountains over & over again?

Apparently, I’m not alone as evidence by many popular worship songs, Spotify playlists, and books dedicated to the theme of overcoming fear. My favorite is the song “Fear Is A Liar” by Zach Williams. These lyrics absolutely nail the subtle, sneaky depth where fear takes hold, then battles those lies with bold truth. Fear IS a liar! Check out the chorus below…

“Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar”

I recently walked through the 10/10/10 Exercise and journaled my 10 gratitudes, fears, and truths. It was interesting that my fears were a spectrum of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It was so life giving & revealing to take pen to paper and write out my fears. I actually had to laugh out loud. Wow! The enemy had me walking in fear and believing all kinds of lies. If you’re feeling that way, you’re not alone!

The phrase “fear not” appears in the Bible 158 times (ESV, Bible Gateway). It is most often used by God (or angels) to console those being addressed and encourage them to trust in God’s plan no matter their current circumstances. Many times, this phrase is accompanied by humans falling on their faces in holy reverence before God or angels, which seems perfectly appropriate. Fear has often had me on my face before God.

“Fear not” is used three times as Jesus instructs his Apostles about ministry in Matthew 10: 26-31. Check out these verses:

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10: 26-31

Fear Not Quote blog revDr. Tony Evans makes these observations on this passage, “What motivation does Jesus offer to enable them to become fearless? First, there is nothing hidden that won’t be made known (10:26). No persecution of God’s people, then, will remain secret forever. God will turn the tables. Second, there’s no need to fear those who have temporary power in history; believers rightly fear the one who has limitless power in eternity (10:28). Third, God the Father has great love for his children. He’s sovereign over the events of your life. Nothing comes to you that hasn’t first passed through his fingers. His children are valuable to Him (10:29-31).” (The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, page 882-883, emphasis added)

Let’s say that again: NOTHING comes to you that hasn’t first passed through his fingers. You & I are valuable to Him.

I am encouraged through this text to fear not: in the complex and in the daily grind of life. God cares. He sees all, knows all, and is in control of all. He cares so much about the details that He has given a number to each of the hairs on my (& your) head. He is a good, good Father and He is trustworthy. As I combat fear with truth I hold on to these verses for life.

Questions for reflection, prayer, & journaling
– What are your 10 gratitudes, 10 fears, & 10 truths?
– How does Matthew 10 encourage your walk of faith?
– What truths sustain you in difficult seasons?

Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus

Keeping our eyes on Jesus blogI have been studying the life & leadership of Jesus since the new year with a renewed sense of awe and wonder. Matthew chapter 14 particularly hit me as throughout several experiences Jesus models both perfect humanity and all-powerful deity.

As the chapter begins, we learn about the brutal, vicious, and horrific murder of John the Baptist. Jesus finds out what happened and is notably affected by this devastating loss. John the Baptist was not only His cousin but shared a significant space in God’s story (HIStory) with Jesus. John was God’s chosen messenger, preparing the way for Jesus (Matthew 11:10). Jesus desired to get away and be alone, so he departed by boat.

As always, people were in need all around Him, following Him by foot from town to town. So, his alone time was put on pause while He selflessly and compassionately heals all the sick. After abundantly providing lunch for 5K men (plus women and children) and simultaneously teaching his disciples an incredible leadership lesson, He still needs that time away. No doubt the loss of John the Baptist was heavy on His heart and the long days of ministry were exhausting. So, He puts His disciples on a boat, dismisses the well-fed crowd, and spends the night alone in prayer. Even the perfect Son of God required regular connection to the Father and self care.

Meanwhile a storm is brewing…

As we pick up the story in Matthew 14: 24 I love the response of the disciples! Keep in mind they have been with Jesus for quite awhile and have seen incredible miracles, but their minds are utterly blown when they see Jesus walking on water!! Like whattttt!!! Of course, Peter wants in on the action and is the first to jump at the chance to walk on water.

“And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped him and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” Matthew 14: 29b-33 CSB

When Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and looks at the wind, fear settles in his heart. He took steps forward and was doing fine, but as soon as he takes his gaze off Jesus and sees the strength of the wind Peter starts to sink. Isn’t that just like you & I? When we take our eyes off Jesus, focusing on the storms, stress, & struggles in our lives, we begin to sink too.

Peter was a fisherman with lots of experience in powerful storms. His experience no doubt informed his fear. Many times, in his past he witnessed the powerful destructive capabilities of wind, rain, & storms. In that moment he relied on his experience rather than his faith in Jesus.

Faith water blogFaith will take us out of the familiar every time.

It doesn’t matter how powerful the storm, or what our past experiences, abilities, or limitations are trying to take us under. God controls the storm! God can do anything, far beyond what we can even ask or think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Nothing is impossible to our God if we will keep our eyes on Him. (Luke 1:37)

I don’t know about you but verse 31 ministers so much grace to me. Even when Peter failed to keep his eyes on Jesus, Jesus still caught him. Thank you, Father, for being the type of loving, compassionate, and merciful Father than catches us when we fall.
Wherever you are today and whatever you are facing. Keep your eyes on Jesus! If you’ve fallen, reach for His hand and He will catch you. Nothing is impossible because He controls the storm.

Questions for reflection, prayer, & journaling
– Are the storms that you are facing more impossible than walking on water? (Hint: nope they’re not)
-What is Jesus calling you to in this season?
-How can you rely on His voice and step out in faith in this storm?

Trusting God in the Storm

I vividly remember responding to an alter call at Summer camp when I was about 10 years old. I stood among my peers, hands held high belting with all my heart these words as a promise and declaration of devotion to the Lord…

“I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all”

To surrender means to “abandon oneself entirely.” It’s an act of submission to the authority and will of God wherein we cease resisting and hand over control of our will, our plan, and ultimately our lives. If we have never met in person, let me tell you a little bit about myself. Hello, my name is Jen and I’m a control freak! Plans are a safety net where I abide and thrive. Surrender does not come easily for any of us, especially a Type A, Enneagram 8w7, commanding personality like me.

Little 10-year-old Jen had no idea what surrender meant. My beautifully naive heart must have imagined the call of God as a “tip toe through the tulips” as my husband loves to say. But there have been many storms. Each storm has been used by God to produce life, character, & endurance in me. In hindsight I wouldn’t change a thing, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. I’m learning to trust the authority and will of God as I navigate the storms of life.

Recently I added a daily chapter of Psalms and Proverbs to my morning time with Jesus. The striking imagery in Psalm 29 has captivated my heart this week, especially as it relates to trusting God in the storms. In this chapter David demonstrates the power, authority, and strength of God over water, nature, trees, mountains, fire, & flood. His symbolism culminates in verses 10 and 11 which read…

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned, King forever.
The Lord gives his people strength;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29: 10-11 CSB

No matter what you and I are facing in life at this very moment we can be encouraged that we serve a God who sits enthroned over our storms. There is nothing in heaven or on earth with the power to circumvent His ultimate authority and power. He is King forever and He is trustworthy!

The promise David relays so eloquently in verse 11 is that the Lord gives strength and peace to His people in the storm. As we abandon ourselves entirely to His perfect will and authority (aka. surrender), we can rest confidently that our God is in control. He hasn’t abandoned us or been surprised by our circumstances. He is allowing the storms in our lives to produce endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope (Romans 5: 3b-4).

As you navigate the storm you are facing, rest in the strength and peace that God provides and trust Him. Abide in His presence for He is faithful to restore, heal, and equip. Memorize these verses and remind yourself that He who is King forever has all authority, dominion, and power over all circumstances. He is trustworthy!

Questions for reflection, prayer, & journaling
-What does surrender look like in your life in this season?
-As you meditate on Psalm 29, what encourages you the most?
-How do you see God moving in your storm?

MY FAVORITE THINGS – ESSENTIAL OIL TOOLS

I did it y’all!! I finally compiled a complete list of all of my favorite essential oil tools. I have links for everything from DIY supplies, storage solutions, reference books, & more. I hope this is a blessing to you on your journey and makes life super simple!

ESSENTIAL OIL BOOKS

Most of these books listed below are available at www.discoverlsp.com or you can use the Amazon links referenced below. *All Amazon links are affiliate links

Essential Oil Pocket Reference – https://amzn.to/34VLpLO

Essential Oil Desk Reference – https://amzn.to/2Xfn9lq

Supplements Desk Reference by Jen O’Sullivan – https://31oils.com/supplements/ or https://amzn.to/34REZxp

Animal Desk Reference – https://amzn.to/32CMrL7

Gentle Babies: Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infants and Young Children (10th Anniversary Edition) – https://amzn.to/2pdgA6h

Betsy Bosom’s Baby Book: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Using Essential Oils from Bellies to Babies (Lucy Libido) – https://amzn.to/2qQvgbG

Lucy Libido Says…..There’s an Oil for THAT: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Using Essential Oils Between the Sheets (Volume 1) – https://amzn.to/2X8OYLV

Essentials: 50 Answers to Common Questions about Essential Oils by Lindsey Elmore – https://amzn.to/2NFxwMa

Essentials: 75 Answers to Common Questions About Essential Oils and Supplements by Lindsey Elmore – https://amzn.to/32CTIe9

Healing Oils of the Bible – https://amzn.to/373irvE

Essential Parfumerie by Melissa Poepping – https://www.essentialparfumerie.com/

Pure Male Cologne Book by Melissa Poepping – https://melissapoepping.com/

Essential Oil Make & Takes by Jen O’Sullivan – https://31oils.com/make-takes/ or https://amzn.to/2NEBG6M

The Art of Blending with Essential Oils Booklet – https://amzn.to/2O4YjR0

ESSENTIAL OIL BAGS
Modern Makerie – https://www.modernmakerie.com/

Honey Hive Five – https://www.etsy.com/shop/HoneyHiveFive

Baggage and CO – https://www.etsy.com/shop/BaggageandCO

Cowgrl Creations – https://www.etsy.com/shop/Cowgrlcreations

Amanda Fair Designs – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AmandaFairDesigns

ESSENTIAL OIL SHELVES
Tucker Design Co. – https://www.etsy.com/shop/TuckerDesignCompany

Chipped with Charm – https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChippedWithCharm

His Hers Woodworking – https://www.etsy.com/shop/HisHersWoodworking

Essentially Curated – https://www.essentiallycurated.com/

Tree of Life Oil Shelf – https://amzn.to/2NZomc4

Oily Hounds – https://www.etsy.com/shop/OilyHounds

Essential Racks – https://essentialracks.com/

DIFFUSER JEWELRY (*best choices)

*Ashley Madrigal – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AshleyMadrigal

*Put On Love Designs – https://www.putonlovedesigns.com/

*Lava Essentials – https://www.lavaessentials.com/

Aroma Dream Jewelry – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AromaDreamJewelry

Leaved Gates – https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeavedGates

Ashleyy’s Finds – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AshleyysFinds

Joy Plus Jewels – https://www.etsy.com/shop/JOYplusJEWELS

Halle’s Jewels – https://hallesjewels.com/

CARRIER OILS

YL V-6 Carrier Oil: http://bit.ly/204kDHA

Coconut Oil Unrefined – https://amzn.to/2NEP4bf (#1 choice)

Coconut Oil Refined – https://amzn.to/2X5IaPg (some use in beauty products)

Coconut Oil Fractionated – https://amzn.to/2XcAavV (good for rollers)

Sweet Almond Oil – https://amzn.to/2NIrDxT

Jojoba Oil – https://amzn.to/2KfDDo6

Argan Oil – https://amzn.to/2qOY5Wk

Vitamin E – https://amzn.to/2Kg4Wi8

DIY SUPPLIES

Shea Butter – https://amzn.to/2KgcOjG

Cocoa Butter Wafers – https://amzn.to/32DV203

Bees Wax – https://amzn.to/2rGdJDT

Epsom Salts (8lbs unscented) – https://amzn.to/2qO9JQW

Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap (32 oz unscented) – https://amzn.to/36YqQQT

Witch Hazel (8oz) – https://amzn.to/2CzzJ5t

Aloe Vera Gel (12 oz) – https://amzn.to/2X9wP0x

ESSENTIAL OIL ROLLER BOTTLES

*I recommend re-purposing your empty essential oils bottles then make a roller by adding an Aroma Glide Fitments from YL. These fit both 5ml & 15ml bottles bit.ly/1RQ8W3t

Whimsy & Wellness –  https://www.whimsyandwellness.com/

Wood and Oils – https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodAndOils

The Root & Petal – http://www.therootandpetal.com/

10ml roller sets on Amazon

6 amber with black cap – https://amzn.to/2KfzXTg

8 colorful frosted – https://amzn.to/2O5roeX

12 amber with gold cap – https://amzn.to/2CGGbr6

12 colorful with gold cap – https://amzn.to/2KiUWVA

OTHER DIY CONTAINERS

8oz Glass Spray Bottles • for diluting Thieves Household Cleaner:

6 pack assorted colors – https://amzn.to/2KfEO6Z

6 pack amber – https://amzn.to/36Wi45Q

2oz Glass Spray Bottles • perfect for linen, room, or outdoor sprays:

4 pack blue – https://amzn.to/2O2JfTU

6 pack amber – https://amzn.to/34WGKt7

2oz Dropper Bottles • for face serums, holding carrier oils, etc.

2 pack blue – https://amzn.to/2rwstF1

2 pack amber – https://amzn.to/2pVqwBP

Foaming Hand Soap Dispensers (3 pack) – https://amzn.to/34SYHZA

Empty Veggie Capsules • for taking vitality oils internally – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/clear-vegetable-capsules

4 oz Mason Jars (set of 4) – https://amzn.to/2O47dOA

8 oz Mason Jars (set of 6) – https://amzn.to/2QeCKjw

MORE FAVORITE ESSENTIAL OIL SUPPLIES

Essential Oil Bottle Labels – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oil-bottle-labels

Essential Oils 25 pack 2ml Sample Bottles – https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/essential-oil-sample-bottles

Essential Oil Spray Tops For 5, 10, 15 to 100 ml Bottles (rainbow) – https://amzn.to/356JdRX

Smelly Faces – stuffed animals – https://www.etsy.com/shop/SmellyFaces

The Cheeky Doormat – essential oil doormat – https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCheekyDoormat

6 pack of stainless steel lids and straws for wide mouth mason jars – https://amzn.to/2q5GGIE

4 pack stainless steel straws – https://amzn.to/2O1yhOw

Essential Oil Inhalers (great tools for those interested in quitting smoking!) – https://www.breathefum.com/

YL BUSINESS BOOKS

Propel: Your Guidebook to Freedom by Niccole Perez – https://inspiredsharing.com/  Or https://amzn.to/32Dju1B

Gameplan: The Complete Strategy Guide to go from Starter Kit to Silver by Sarah Harnisch – https://amzn.to/2QcmW0Q

Unstuck: How To Talk To Humans & Get Them To Respond To You by Sarah Harnisch – https://amzn.to/2O8RRrZ

Getting Noticed: A No-Nonsense Guide to Standing Out and Selling More for Momtrepreneurs Who Ain’t Got Time for That by Lindsay Teague Moreno – https://amzn.to/36VKtsK

Boss Up!: This Ain’t Your Mama’s Business Book by Lindsay Teague Moreno – https://amzn.to/33Jr0cW

The Four Year Career, Young Living Edition by Richard B. Brooke – https://amzn.to/34VXVuK

25 To Life: Jailbreak Your 9-5 & Escape to Financial Freedom by Adam Green – https://amzn.to/2qaa5Bs

YL BUSINESS RESOURCES

Young Living – https://www.youngliving.com/

Young Living Blog – https://www.youngliving.com/blog/

Young Living Seed to Seal – http://seedtoseal.com/en

Young Living Foundation – https://younglivingfoundation.org/

Young Living Farm Tours – http://younglivingfarmtours.com/v2/

Nature’s Ultra – https://naturesultra.com/

Life Science Publishing – https://www.discoverlsp.com/

GROworkspace – https://www.groworkspace.com/

Oil Revolution Designs – https://oilrevolutiondesigns.com/

Oil Supply Store – https://oilsupplystore.com/

31 Oils – https://31oils.com/

The Social Oiler – https://thesocialoiler.bigcartel.com/

Melissa Poepping – https://melissapoepping.com/

Essential Oil Transformation – https://essentialoilstransformation.com/

The Oil Posse – https://theoilposse.com/

Inspired Sharing – https://inspiredsharing.com/

Bethany Shipley (Diamond Workbook) – https://bethanyshipley.com/

Oil Ability Team – https://oilabilityteam.com/

Growing Healthy Homes – https://growinghealthyhomes.com/

*All Amazon links are affiliate links