The Little Things

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“Jesus said, ‘He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much…\’” ~ Luke 16:10 (NASB)“Make it BIG, Momma!” my two-and-a-half year old shouts.He LOVES balloons and regularly asks me to blow one up for him.  As the balloon stretches, so does his smile.  “Make it BIGGER!”I like to do things big.  Never half-way, always full-out, I firmly believe anything worth doing is worth doing well.  I’m a classic First-Born, Type-A, Overachiever.The Hostess in me LOVES birthday parties, holiday get-togethers and church events.  Just ask Stevie-P or Momma; they usually get roped-in to helping me.Hospitality has long been one of my Spiritual Gifts, but sometimes I take it to extremes.  It’s like a giant teddy bear on Valentine’s Day; the bigger I make it the more obvious my love.But God is showing me it’s The Little Things that are the biggest to Him.…A note of encouragement and a $2 bill.…Caring for stray animals on a cold night.…Hand-me-downs.…A hot shower.…Balloons for a 2 year old—or a 68 year old.Nothing big.  Nothing planned.  Just little things that happen to happen.I’ve been challenged by books and blogs urging me to Do Life Big.  Go the extra mile.  Look for The Need and take bold steps to meet it.  And I’ve taken that to heart.  The Lord has even helped me do some of those things and I am thankful.But I’m realizing, sometimes on my quest to obey and do The Big, I miss the impact of The Little.I get so busy planning and executing The Big, I forget The Little Things matter just as much, maybe even more, because The Little Things happen every day.My availability for The Little is just as important as my commitment to The Big.That same little boy is also ecstatic when I wash his Ninja Turtle jammies.  Pulling them from a warm heap he smiles, “D’you wash ‘dese for me?!  Yay!!! T’anks, Momma!”The way I respond to The Little tells more about my heart than the way I host The Big.I don’t always have to Do Life Big in order to be doing life big,  It’s The Little Things that prepare my heart for The Big.God is Big and He is in everything.  The way I love my people, care for animals or open my home and plans, He uses all these Little Things in Big ways.In fact, He rejoices in them, even more than a two-year-old with a balloon and clean jammies.“Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of The Lord rejoice to see the work begin…” ~ Zechariah 4:10 (TLB)Take a minute and think about some of the things you do every day, even routine tasks.  What Little Things are you overlooking the Big impact of?xoxo,Jessie

Source: The Little Things

How To Be Prepared for Anything

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2016 has let me in on the biggest secret of life: I now know how to be prepared for anything.

I’m a Planner. (No shock, I know.) I like to plan and prepare and organize… and control. Sure, I claim to know I’m not in control, but my actions tell a different story.

I’m also a mom, so everything I seek to do is based around a central theme of comfort and convenience. Is it safe? Is it a good decision for us? Will it meet our needs? Will it bring stability? “I just want to make wise decisions,” I say, but ultimately it really doesn’t matter if I have answers to those questions or not. My wisdom only affects so much.

Life has a way of happening, regardless.

I can plan and prepare and save, but in the end my efforts have zero control over what happens. Yes, my preparations may ease a few tensions along the way, but they will not stop those tensions from arising. Life will still happen.

Unforeseen events are just that– Unforeseen. Even if I’m the world’s greatest planner or prepper, I have no way of knowing exactly what to plan or prep for.

A hardworking, active daddy could fall asleep peacefully and not wake up. A healthy young husband could have a life-threatening heart attack relaxing in his recliner. An honest businessman could show up for his secure job only to be told it’s no longer his. Life insurance policies can fall through. Unknown taxes can arise. Successful businesses can take a deadly downward turn.

No warnings. No prepping. No control. This life is not ours.

I know I sound like Negative Nancy but that’s truly not my intent. Just learning to accept my newfound freedom. I’m finally free from keeping all the balls in the air because I finally see that I can’t, even if I try! And when I insist on planning and fretting for control, I’m only torturing myself.

I’m done torturing myself.

God gets to be God. He alone sees the parade simultaneously from all vantage points: He’s at the start, while watching from the sidewalk midway through, while standing at the end and hovering above in a helicopter. He sees every float from every view in real time. I can only see what passes in front of me as I look through a tiny hole in the fence.

And that’s all I need to see. It’s all I really want to see. Life as it unfolds. I don’t need to have all the answers and solutions in place because He does. I don’t have to worry how I will handle “X” situation because it may never happen anyway. And if it does, I now know He will give me the strength and wisdom and answers and provision I need when I need them. Not before.

Therein lies the secret.

There is only thing I have to do in order to be prepared for anything: I must be faithful to Jesus. And not just on Sundays. I have to actually read His words–daily. I have to talk to Him every day–really talk to Him. And I have to listen for Him every day–like, actually focus on hearing from Him. Then I have to love Him by showing love to others–I have to live it. I have to put my efforts into Him, not my earthly work and planning.

Time with Jesus is the only preparation for whatever life will throw at me and here’s why:

I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

If I know Him, I know His presence. If I know His presence, I know His peace. I know His power and position of authority to help me.

And ironically, I am the only one who controls how well I know Him.

So, 2016 has taught me to throw in the towel when it comes to controlling my circumstances and outcomes. I’ll spend my time instead throwing myself into Jesus’ presence, waiting for His strength, resting in His provision and enjoying His peace.

And He will prepare me for the Parade of 2017.

❤️Jessie

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬ NLT

P.S. Momma has long known this secret and has kept this saying on display for as long as I can remember. Wish I could’ve gotten its message sooner.

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The Mess of Christmas

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God must have shook His head when I wrote this 3 years ago. Not because it’s wrong, but because I had NO idea just how messy life was about to get. Even the family and friends I mentioned in this post have seen their messes grow exponentially messier over the past 3 years. Has yours?

If your life is feeling messy this Christmas, I pray you feel the hope in these words and it becomes your own. I can attest to the dark, messy moments of sorrow and fear, but I can also say that’s where I see Him the clearest. He is Emmanuel–God with us in our mess.

notmyownblog

Ever feel like your life is a mess?

Does regret over poor choices or wrong turns leave you fearing life will never become what it was meant to be? Has the grief of loss left you hopeless, feeling life will never return to what it once was?  Maybe you despair over the parts of life that were and are out of your control, reinforcing the idea that for you, life is simply unfair.

A Mess.  Relationally.  Financially. Emotionally.  Spiritually.  Just a Big. Fat. Mess.  Well friend, I have good news for you:  God loves The Mess.

God loves The Mess because it gives Him room to work.  It creates space for Him in our lives.  It is His stomping ground and where we are guaranteed to find Him.  We live with this false assumption that He prefers to dwell among the perfect, pristine, unblemished life, like the air brushed images…

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Thankful for It All

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I’ve always considered myself a thankful person. Thankful for my husband and children. Thankful for my family and friends. Thankful for my home and possessions, my education, upbringing, and heritage of faith.

But I’m learning that’s not what true thankfulness is really about. It’s a no-brainer to be thankful for the good things in my life.

True thankfulness is being thankful for ALL of life.

The good. The bad. The ugly. The annoying. The frustrating. The unexplained. The unanswerable. The heartache. The loss.

If this past year of life has taught me anything it’s that time is precious. It’s put my priorities back in their proper place and reminded me to be thankful for every day I’m given. Unexpectedly losing my daddy combined with the sudden possibility of losing my husband was like a bucket of ice water dumped over my soul. It jolted my mind with the stark reality that this earthly life does in fact come to an end.

Sure, we all “know” death is inevitable, but how many of us live like it? Won’t we always have another day? Another chance? Another holiday to get together? Another time to sort problems out?

We envision life going according to The Plan.

Our parents will grow old together, and with beautiful silver hair, rock on the porch as the sun sets on them. They will live a long life, see their grand babies and great grands. And though we will miss them, their passing will be timely; a result of the circle of life. Acceptable.

Our own life will look much the same. We expect to grow old with our husbands, retire together and travel. We put in the work to raise our kids right. They become competent, decent adults, out on their own, so we can finally get back to just the two of us. We have a lifetime together to pursue happiness.

We hear of unexpected tragedies, but we never expect they will happen to us.

So how are we to be thankful when they do? When The Plan doesn’t go accordingly? When life as we’ve known it collapses and just doesn’t make sense anymore?

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 TLB

Honestly, from where I’ve stood over the past 12 months, I read verses like this and I feel beat up by them. This is what I should be doing– I should be joyful and thankful during the most tragic season of my life. These words don’t feel comforting while you’re suffering. At times, they feel downright impossible. How can you ask me to be thankful for this, Lord? Why?

If not for The Lord, my family and my faithful friends, I would be in a straight jacket by this point. I have no idea how non-believers survive tragedy because even walking hand in hand with Jesus, this is the hardest storm I’ve ever had to navigate. Panic attacks at 3am. Heart wrenching questions from my kids. Financial woes and worries. It’s a lot for a person to take.

But then I come to passages like this one, and though I don’t have a solid answer to my How or Why, somehow it makes sense in my soul.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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I can no longer read these words without tears.

And without being thankful.

I am thankful for this season, though it seem so crushingly evil. I’m thankful to be made more aware of His presence. I’m thankful I no longer overlook His peace. I’m thankful I don’t just count my blessings but seek to relish in them. I’m thankful Eternity is now a real destination.

When we set the table this Thanksgiving, Daddy will be missed. When we carve the turkey, he will be remembered. When we give thanks to the Lord, he will be honored. For Jesus has carried us through this first year without him. And I expect he will carry us through the next.

That’s The Plan.

And for that my heart is thankful.

❤️ Jessie

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I Didn’t Vote for Trump…

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I didn’t vote for Trump.

I voted for The Lord.

See what happens when His people pray and seek His face? When we humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways? He. Hears. Us.

Yes, last night we “deplorables” told Corruption and Deceit, “No”. We told Progressivism to take a hike. We took up the armor of God, withstood the evil day and remained firm. But as Ephesians 6 teaches, now is not the time to relax.

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”
~‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:14-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Yes, we can take a deep collective victory breath, but prayer and praise and evangelism must be our exhale. This battle for our land isn’t over.

This entire election–like everything else–has been a spiritual battle. Not a race between mere flesh and blood, but a fight to the finish between principalities and rulers of evil in the spiritual realm.

Satan and his deplorables have been blindsided and make no mistake; he is reeling, conspiring, conniving a new plan to thwart God’s. He is The Deceiver, but his deception didn’t work this time. His next move? He transitions to the role of Accuser.

You can bet Trump’s former life and sins will be smeared even thicker across our screens. They will seek to discredit him in an attempt to make us second guess ourselves, our future and our good God.

But just as we didn’t fall for The Deceiver’s campaign, we must not fall for his jeers. Let him make all the jabs he wants; God is on the move.

Regardless your personal beliefs, We The People made a turn back toward God last night. We chose the man, though not our first choice, who represents God’s ways. We voted for those who represent His standards for how our laws should be decided and our lives governed. We made the choice for life and blessings and all of heaven and earth witnessed it. (Deut. 30:19-21)

No, I do not expect the next 4 years to be a road lined with sunshine and roses, but I am hopeful it is the road to Healing. For if we continue turning from our sins, if we continue uniting ourselves in prayer, if we continue making straight a path for The Lord, He will show up real quick and in a hurry.

He is ready to heal our land.

❤️Jessie

Praying Instead

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The closer we get to Election Day, the more I want to crawl in a hole! I can’t stomach the news anymore and the debates literally nauseate me. My inclination is to get all riled up and spout my opinions or rant about what angers me, but my mind and emotions just don’t have the energy. Instead, God keeps impressing on me to pray.

Pray for our nation, our people, and His church. Ask forgiveness for my many personal sins and our collective ones. Humbly seek Him in His Word and look for His direction. Turn off the radio or tv and sit quietly in His presence. Wait for His answer and then obey whatever He directs.

One of the most effective methods of prayer is to get in God’s Word and pray it back to Him. Today He led me to Psalm 25. Wow– such a bold prayer! The second time I read through it I couldn’t help but read it in plural tense and pray it back to Him. We desperately need all that’s asked of God here.

Will you pray this chapter of His Word with me today?

Psalm 25 (TLB)

“To You, O Lord, [we] pray. Don’t fail [us], Lord, for [we are] trusting You. Don’t let [our] enemies succeed. Don’t give them victory over [us]. None of those who have faith in God will ever be disgraced for trusting Him. But all who harm the innocent shall be defeated.

Show [us] the path where [we] should go, O Lord; point out the right road for [us] to walk. Lead [us]; teach [us]; for You are the God who gives [us] salvation. [We] have no hope except in You. Overlook [our] youthful sins, O Lord! Look at [us] instead through eyes of mercy and forgiveness, through eyes of everlasting love and kindness.

The Lord is good and glad to teach the proper path to all who go astray; He will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to Him. And when we obey Him, every path He guides us on is fragrant with His loving-kindness and His truth.

But Lord, [our] sins! How many they are. Oh, pardon them for the honor of Your Name.

Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best. He shall live within God’s circle of blessing, and his children shall inherit the earth.

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him. With them alone He shares the secrets of His promises.

[Our] eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for He alone can rescue [us]. Come, Lord, and show [us] Your mercy, for [we] are helpless, overwhelmed, in deep distress; [our] problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save [us] from them all! See [our] sorrows; feel [our] pain; forgive [our] sins. See how many enemies [we] have and how viciously they hate [us]! Save [us] from them! Deliver [our lives] from their power! Oh, let it never be said that [we] trusted You in vain!

Assign [us] Godliness and Integrity as [our] bodyguards, for [we] expect You to protect [us] and to ransom [America] from all her troubles.”

Thank you for praying with me! May God hear our cries, forgive our sins and heal our land!!🇺🇸

❤️ Jessie

Trump: An Unlikely Savior

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True or False?

God is sovereign.
God always provides a path to redemption.
God longs to rescue and restore His people.
God is for us, not against us.

If you answered True to each of these statements, this post is for you.

First off, I am a sinful human and I know it. I am not always right and my opinion does not matter more than any other. Those qualities belong to God alone. So before you decide this is another random soapbox, please hear me out.

If you agreed with that list of statements, then you probably agree with my belief that God is righteous and His Word is inerrant. He always provides a way of escape, a path to redemption, a chance for correction. His Son is living proof and His Word is packed with evidence that He longs to rescue His people and restore their hearts.

What if we apply these truths to the presidential election?

God is faithful to offer His children His best, but He is also fair to offer us the freedom to choose. (In that way, God is pro-choice!) Sometimes, though, our choices are not optimal. Like choosing between chemo or death, occasionally we do indeed have to choose the lesser of two evils. As my family is currently learning, sometimes you don’t like ANY of your options but you must choose one if you want to move forward.

I promised myself I wouldn’t post anything political because honestly, my heart and mind can barely navigate a usual day right now much less the mess that is our current election. But today I felt such a strong urge of The Spirit that we — God’s people — have a choice set before us and if we aren’t careful, we risk being the same stiff-necked, rebellious people we’ve always been.

I’ve read countless posts and articles and listened to endless rants from Christians who cannot stomach the thought of having “no choice” but to vote for Trump. And I get it. He’s not our first choice nor does he embody the morals we wish to see represented in the White House. But what if, perhaps, he is the better choice God is offering us?

What if Donald Trump, worts and all, is the vehicle by which God will lead us out of captivity?

I was prompted to read Isaiah 48…

“’Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises, even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies…

‘Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last. It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.’

“Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The LORD has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies. ‘I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed. Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.’

“And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.’

“Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The LORD has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:1-2, 12-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God made it clear– He chose Cyrus to do His work and restore His people’s freedom. Okay… So who was Cyrus?

Cyrus II The Great founded the Persian empire, the kingdom that would become modern-day Iran. Yet he was the very man God would use to end the Israelite’s bondage in Babylon and restore them to their rightful land. God even prompted him to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3).

Sounds interesting, right? The more I read of Cyrus, the more I’m reminded of Trump. Paul D. Gardner’s commentary on Cyrus sounds oddly similar to our current situation. Check it.

Gardener writes, “The Lord even says of Cyrus: ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please (Is. 44:28). In Isaiah 45 He calls Cyrus His ‘anointed’ whom God will use to rebuild the city and Temple.”

“I have raised up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will direct all his paths. He shall restore my city and free my captive people–and not for a reward!” Isaiah 45:13 

Perhaps a modern Cyrus might have the slogan “Make [Jerusalem] Great Again”? And perhaps he would accept no “rewards” from lobbyists?

Gardner further writes, “It is not clear how Cyrus knew that he had heard from Yahweh. However, many have suggested that he may have heard the word from Daniel or someone like him: a person who held a high position in the empire and therefore had the ear of the king.”

Cyrus surrounded himself with God’s people. Enter Mike Pence.

Further commentary says, “The details of how Cyrus oversaw the start of the Israelite return to Jerusalem and initiated work on the Temple is recounted in Ezra. Even more remarkable is that Cyrus encouraged the work by ordering gifts to be given to the returning people of Israel and by returning to them the Temple treasures that had been taken from Jerusalem when the city was conquered.”

Sounds a bit like returning jobs and restoring wealth that had been shipped elsewhere, doesn’t it?

Lastly, it is clear that even though Cyrus was used by God, he himself was not a man of God. Gardener writes, “There is little indication that Cyrus actually became a follower of Yahweh. Probably his enlightened policy of administration of such a huge empire meant that he showed respect for the religious beliefs of many different peoples. However, his rise to power at that particular moment in history was subject to God’s authority and such a political policy was conceived within God’s purposes for the sake of the protection and resettlement of His own people.”

Believers, what if Donald Trump is God’s choice for our particular moment in history? What if he is the man God will use to restore our freedom and economy? Trump has clearly been gifted with “an enlightened policy of administration” or else the man could not have built the “empire” he has today. He is not without fault, but he is also not without skill.

If we agreed with the list at the beginning of this post then we have to believe God is offering us a path to redemption in this election. And if Trump is the choice we have, then we as Christians must stop complaining about him. We must stop whining about how grotesque his comments are, how he is not godly enough or Christlike, or how he doesn’t represent the morals we desire. No, he’s not a godly man but he may be God’s chosen man.

It’s hard to accept, I know, but what if he is the one to pave our nation’s path to restoration? Will we complain about our way of redemption? (Isaiah 45:9-13)

Before we vote, I believe we must ask ourselves these questions again. Do I, a follower of Jesus Christ, truly believe:

God is sovereign?
God always provides a path to redemption?
God longs to rescue His people?
God is for us, not against us?

If I do, then perhaps I can trust God to use Donald Trump.

Jessie❤️

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬