The Last Thirty Days of My 30s

Tomorrow begins the last thirty days of my 30s. I always love celebrating my birthday. I joke that it’s a national holiday and should be commemorated around the world. Haha! I remember anticipating my 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays. I recall thinking 22 sounded weird, as did 27, but for the most part… every June 10 was just an excuse to overindulge in whatever I wanted. So, of course, I threw a huge party at a friend’s house for my 30th birthday. And then life changed drastically. Not really for the worst, but not really for the best. Things were just different. I thought differently. I acted differently. I reacted differently. It was truly like an old chapter had closed, and a new chapter had begun. That said, I have to admit that I’m a bit emotional as my 40th birthday nears. I know that life will likely make another drastic change. I’m excited to gain more wisdom and more confidence with the decade ahead. But I’m certainly more aware of reality now too; and coming to terms with things like aging parents, my own aging body, certain responsibilities, and certain goals that may need to be adapted, or even let go.

Despite the handful of apprehensions, I still love to celebrate and I plan to start ASAP! I have a lot of fun things coming up on my schedule. I thought it would be fun to use social media as a way to document the end of another decade. Over the next four weeks, I will post a blog every Thursday to highlight some of those fun things, as well as some of my favorite memories. I will also use the hashtag #jennslast30 for a photo-a-day on Instagram. (The hashtag will appear on Facebook and Twitter, too!). Be on the lookout, and please feel free to participate. Share some of your memories or an old photo, share advice, offer encouragement, or just say hello. Not every post will be birthday related… so if you see me in your town, attending an event that you’re at, or trying something new that you’ve tried too… I would love to hear from you! Please remember to use #jennslast30 🙂

Hello, NCBN friends!

Y’all… I am so excited to be a part of the NC Blogger Network. I wanted to send a quick hello to any new friends who may stop by and check out my [somewhat recently neglected] site. I am looking forward to getting to know you all, and meet my fellow Triad bloggers. I would love for you to leave a comment to let me know that you’ve stopped by! Thanks 🙂

NCBN

Spring Clean Your Life in Three (Mildly Sarcastic) Steps

If you are anything like me the thought of Spring Cleaning is something that finds its way into your mind and then exits promptly.  Honestly, when God was passing out talents I got lost on the way to the Loves To Clean line, you’re either one of those people or you are not.  I am NOT.  When faced with certain tasks I usually find other things to prioritize and then maybe six months later will tackle something that usually wasn’t that painful to begin with and would have been a lot easier to address had I done so in a timely fashion… The time is now.  So they say anyways…

Step One to Spring Cleaning Your Life: Organize Your Home

I love to hold on to things. No it’s not an episode of Hoarder’s up in here.  Not yet anyways.  But it’s a possibility that a cartoon girl is under a pile somewhere screaming “Let it Go” and I’m not listening, or maybe there is a sock in her mouth. Who’s to say?  Actually it’s not the cartoon at all. I was told yesterday that I should take advantage of the upcoming church yard sale to make some extra money and I immediately said. “I don’t have a thing to sell”.  Really? I don’t have a thing to sell… Really??  Someone needs to get a grip on what is really worth holding onto and what can be a part of the purge.

I think the key is to pick small task areas and not try to sort the whole house out at once.  Once overwhelmed distraction and procrastination can slip in and derail me, and I think we’ve all been there before.

Me thinks a list would suit this situation!

  1. Donate (You don’t need 8000 books now do you)
  2. Clean out the Expired: Pantry, Freezer, Fridge (that 2010 cream of chicken needs to GO!)
  3. Yard Sale it and Make Some $$
  4. Windex It (All of IT) Even if the dogs stick their faces on it 37 seconds later… DO IT!
  5. Vacuum all those places you never vacuum
  6. Put on the HAZMAT Suit and Defunk the shower. (You know your mother raised you better!)
  7. Make a plan for your yard/garden. (What do you plan on planting this year, are you going to change up any yard décor, add additional seating, or finish that fire pit area you’ve been planning for 3 years?)
  8. Pull weeds, pick up sticks, and mow the grass already…
  9. Assign Bigger Chores Deadlines (Power Washing, Deck Sealing, Mulching, etc.)
  10. Do a Post Winter Walk Around (nail down loose boards; fix the siding that’s blown off, etc.)

Realize that Spring Cleaning your home is more than just about the physicality of something being clean or orderly.  Having projects that stack up can lead to stress and anxiety.  So even if you baby step your way through whatever list you set for yourself try to check off a few when you can.  In the long run coming home to a less chaotic/cluttered environment can be good for your mental health as well.

Step Two to Spring Cleaning Your Life: Dust Off Your Body

For me there is more to Spring Cleaning than just doing windows.  I have taken this season of rest we call winter and exploited it.  I have hibernated like a big ol bear watching cheesy holiday movies and have become a sedentary lump.   But now the lump is excited that the weather is getting a little warmer and that spring is almost here so now it’s time to shake off the dust.

Where to Begin?  My problem seems to be that in my mind I’m an adventurous outdoorsy girl when in reality I’m more of a couch potato.  Couch Potatoes of the World UNITE!  Rise Up and Get Busy- there is a whole beautiful world out there ready for the taking, the key is to take it in a way that is appropriate for YOU!

See last year when I got the New Year’s idea to get busy getting healthy I joined a new exercise class.  I knew going into it this class was going to be doing a lot of activities that were over my skill level.  It was a phenomenal class full of wonderful people who were all about lifting each other up and sharing their faith, all the while getting one heck of a work out.  The instructor preached every class don’t do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with, make all of the adaptations that you need to etc.  At some point I guess I got over confident in my abilities and decided to undertake a 30 day Burpee Challenge.  I don’t know if you know what a Burpee is, but essentially it’s a demonic ritual that has you jumping to the sky then back to the floor in a hand plank pose over and over again.  It’s a pure NIGHTMARE.  Well long story short I didn’t survive the 30 day challenge, and really did a number on my body.  It wasn’t appropriate for my skill level- I knew it, but I wanted to push myself.  What I ended up with was an orthopedic doctor looking at me going you did what? All the while applauding my efforts, but basically telling me what I already knew. Make appropriate choices for your body in the shape it’s in now, so you can continue to work on getting it into the shape you want it to be in the future.

So moral of that story if you want to be active and STAY active don’t derail your efforts by putting your body into situations you are not ready for.  So now that I’m finally ready to get the train back on the tracks I know I have to go about things differently this time.

Coach Potato’s UNITE, Spring Get It Done Right This Time List:

  1. Just Say No To Burpee’s (unless that’s something you feel comfortable doing)
  2. Walk, even if it’s just to the mailbox DO IT! (Unless your mailbox is 50 feet away, in that case walk to the neighbor’s mailbox.)
  3. Make small obtainable goals.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new things – just be smart about it.
  5. Find friends to be active with.
  6. Get outside and explore
  7. Find the challenge that is right for you- if you want to do a 30 day yoga challenge and it takes you 90 days to do it because you need days off, then that’s okay, 90 days of something is better than 90 days of nothing!
  8. Find what’s economical for you.  Gym life became something I cut out of my budget years ago.  There are lots of free opportunities in your community, you just have to look, and if you don’t have DVD’s for indoor days check out YouTube.  There are tons of videos posted that can work you out on any skill level.

God wants us to be present in our lives, to make use of the bodies he’s blessed us with.  To be able to do for others we must make taking care of ourselves a priority.  I should probably remind myself of this more often.

Step Three To Spring Cleaning Your Life: Feed Your Soul

Of Course Spring Cleaning isn’t complete if we don’t address the inside as well as the outside.  To face any season we have to be well with our souls.

Sometimes the gray gloominess of winter and all the roller coasters that come with the holidays can give us a run for our money, but the best thing about spring is new life.  New life that springs from the Earth and new life that comes from a Risen Saviour.

The Season of Lent is upon us and for me The Easter Season is the most important time of the year.  The purposeful reflection practiced during Lent helps me to be grounded and to reprioritize.  Unlike a New Year’s resolution which I may make it to a week of success, there is something about a Lenten promise that I hold fast too.  The daily sacrifice of small things keeps constant in my mind the monumental gift of Jesus’ grace.

Making a priority the upkeep of my soul has been a lifelong transitional process and on-going struggle.  The road map that I constantly pray for is often too blurry to read but when I go in search of something God has a way of making the path known.  We must acknowledge that to have spring time growth we must foster the seed.  The seed of our faith has taken root but waits for us to build up a foundation with Christ before it can begin to grow or even dream of one day blossoming.

There is purpose in this season.  40 Days we reflect, we don’t get from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday without going through the process.  We must use this time as an opportunity each day to find a new way to Spring Clean our lives.

I feel another list coming on… aww heck maybe even two!

Prepare Yourself for Holy Week By:

  1. Communing with your fellow Christian.
  2. Spending Time reading a Lenten Devotional
  3. Deciding if you will be fasting or committing to other things to give up as a part of your time of sacrifice and reflection.
  4. Deciding if you are going to add something to your life such as a daily purpose goal.
  5. Committing to Sunday and Holy Week service attendance
  6. Reflecting on the Stations of the Cross.
  7. Spending time in prayer

Feed Your Souls Throughout the Spring and the Rest of The Year By:

  1. Setting some seasonal goals.  Is there anything you want to accomplish during the spring or summer that you need to plan for?
  2. Making time for rest and relaxation: are there any travel destinations that you have in mind?  Do you have a happy place that gives you peace? Find a way to get there!
  3. Make time for Serving Others.  Service can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things we can do in our lives.  I’m a firm believer that Faith without works is dead.  Don’t miss an opportunity to share the blessings God has given you!
  4. Surround yourself with the people you love, be those friends, family, or even your favorite animals.
  5. Just do something that makes you happy, smile, or laugh.

Go now in peace knowing that each season God gives us more blessings than we can ever imagine.  I hope they fill you up each and every day!

Motivation Monday: The Comfort Zone

This is a pretty significant year for me. I turn 40 in June. I eased my way into my thirties and have, for the most part, enjoyed the time there. Sure, I experienced some pretty scary times over the last decade, but I somehow managed to maintain a confidence that I never had in my twenties.

For some reason though, I don’t seem to be as comfortable preparing for this birthday. I can’t pinpoint why. Two of my nieces are pregnant, each with their first child. A new generation will soon be entering our family. I have always felt youthful, but maybe now I’m finally starting to feel old? Or at least, feel my age. I am also coming to terms with my health. I’m seeing my body struggle. I can’t eat like I used to. I don’t heal as fast as I once did. And it certainly isn’t easy to stay get in shape. Ultimately, I think I’ve gotten a little too cozy over the past 10 years. The upcoming milestone birthday is acting like a giant neon sign for reality. I’m not getting any younger or healthier just sitting here.

A friend of mine recently shared this quote with me:

Boy, did that hit home! Instead of sitting around worrying about what this year (and/or the next decade) will hold… maybe it is time to stop being so complacent. Although I can’t physically get younger, I can still reverse the uneasiness of growing  “old and unhealthy” by pushing myself beyond my normal limits.

I made the first step out of my comfort zone this past weekend. I became a member of my local YWCA/YMCA network. I did it with anticipation of marking something off of my 2016 Bucket List: my first triathlon! I have to admit… this is scary! I’m extremely nervous about it. I’m afraid I will fail. I’m afraid I will give up. I’m afraid of knowing how uncomfortable I will be over the next six months. This journey will not be easy. I’m a mediocre runner. I love the water but it has been years since I’ve done any lap swimming. And I’m really not certain if my aging knees will even allow me to cycle. This could be the biggest disaster ever. Or, this could be just what I need to jump-start a healthier, 40-year old Jenn.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” is a great motivational quote that can apply to so many things. For me and my mission to be healthy, youthful, and confident in my 40s, I’m going to have to work hard for it. I’m going to have to acknowledge my comfort zone and push past it daily.

What is your mission for 2016? Is it health related? Or have you always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Maybe you have goals of traveling? How about starting your own business? Whatever it is that you have been wanting to do, let this quote motivate you to do it. The wait is over. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone. Let life begin today!

The Struggle

I have been struggling lately – I can’t seem to focus – and that bothers me.

focus
(Photo credit)

There are too many distractions. I can’t even sit and read a book anymore without my mind wandering to 1,000 places. I fight through prayer because I start thinking of other things that I need to do when I’m done. I have even stopped my Bible study homework to write this blog. Why? Why have I become the person who constantly has to be connected? I’m sure technology, social media, and the way society has adapted to it plays a big part in it. But I am curious if there is an underlying factor that I am refusing to address? Perhaps I’ve spent so many years being so involved in things that I’ve lost all ability to just sit and think? Is there a reason I’ve been so busy? What are my intentions… with anything that I am doing?

I am becoming frustrated with all of the projects that I start, and never seem to finish. I am annoyed that I can’t balance things in my life anymore. I am bothered by my lack of motivation because I’m overwhelmed with… well, everything. I can’t even be productive when I am home now because I have become too accustomed to being on the go.

I need a vacation. I need silence from the every-day chaos. I want to find the old, pre-Facebook, multitasking, creative, carefree me. I want to give 100% to my life again, instead of giving 1% to 100 things and 0% to me. I want a schedule that allows flexibility. I don’t want to pencil in “a workout if I feel like it.” I want a run to be part of my daily activity. I want things like my hobbies to be who I am again, without me blocking off a measly hour on my calendar to do things I enjoy. (Before anyone reads the previous as selfish, let me reiterate that volunteering and helping others are hobbies of mine… but I need to regain control over them being a hobby and not an expectation.)

And I want need my primary focus to be on God. I want to be able to stop what I am doing and immediately find Him. I need my brain to chill out and allow me to sync up spiritually at any second. I crave this more than anything. I have turned into Martha, distracted with much serving, now anxious and troubled, and it is keeping me from just being still before the LORD.

I wish I had an easy solution. My first thought is to kill all of  my social media accounts. I no longer use Google + (like I ever really did) and I have backed off of Twitter considerably. Facebook and Instagram seem to be the two thorns in my side right now. I’m seriously considering removing the Facebook app from my phone. I should probably consider removing Instagram and Amazon too. I need to actually turn this computer off from time to time. And I certainly need to stop being so physically involved in so much.

I can’t help but wonder… if I am feeling these things, how many of you reading this are overwhelmed too? Maybe I was lead to stop my Bible study and post this blog because one of you is struggling too. Are you having trouble focusing? Do you feel like your life is consumed with urgent things, but not necessarily important things? Let’s seek the LORD while he may be found (Isaiah 55:6) and pray for one another to be still (Psalm 46:10) and focus on Him. Let’s re-evaluate our priorities to make sure that we are living the life God intended for us; a life of peace and patience… not busyness and frustration.

I read a blog that said, “Our natural tendencies are pedal to the medal, full speed ahead. But in His Word, God is instructing us to put on brakes and be still. Being still before God is not inactivity, it is wisdom.When we sit still and trust God, it will silence the enemy as he knows God is our rescue.” It’s time to stop struggling.

Heavenly Father,
I ask that you help those of us who are struggling with focus to direct our attention to You. Please give us discernment in our daily lives so that things like television, internet, work, sports, volunteering, etc. will no longer consume our time from You. Let us be still, LORD, so that You may reveal Yourself to us and we will know You more.
Amen

 

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

 

Balance

It has been nearly 5 months since my last post. I went through a period of guilt for not blogging regularly, but then I realized that there is no real rule to blogging. And sometimes…. real life happens!

That’s what I’ve been up to; living life offline. That isn’t to say that having a blog, or tweeting, or YouTube-ing isn’t life – or that it is bad. It isn’t, and I don’t want my statement to sound negative. I love my online life! I had just been devoting too much time to it, and had been forgetting to embrace things away from the computer or iPhone.

What helped force me away from social media a while was the job promotion I received shortly after my last post in October. It was not expected, and literally came out of the blue. It is best explained as divine intervention. I don’t think I even realized what my heart desired, so the promotion was proof that God always does. I must admit, the promotion was a bit more than I was mentally prepared for. It took me a little while to adjust to my new responsibilities and the higher expectations that came along with it.

Before I knew it, Thanksgiving was over and Christmas had hit me in the face. I hadn’t made time for any of my annual traditions, so I scrambled to do what I could in the short time I had. I was still running, and training for the Run, Run Rudolph 5K. Anyone who knows me, knows winter is my least favorite season. I started to pout about the cold temps, and well… by the time 2014 was here, I was ready to join the bears in hibernation.

So here I am, the day after the worst ice storm we’ve had in a while in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, trying to find a healthy balance between being plugged into, and living away from technology. I hope to start blogging more regularly again. And hopefully, my friends will join back in with some new On A Mission fun!

In the meantime, check out my Haiti tab. I will finally be adding my first post to that page today.

As always, thanks for stopping by!!

This is Jenn On A Mission

Six months ago today, I was in the middle of my seven day adventure in Jacmel, Haiti. I was starting to feel under the weather despite a great morning in Peredo and an evening of playing board games with Ginny and the girls. I ended the day writing a blog about my frustrations with the language barrier that I was facing. That was the last blog that I posted.

My break from blogging was not planned. And I have made several attempts to get back in the routine of writing to no avail. What I have learned from this hiatus is that things happen when they’re supposed to happen. That isn’t just true for things we want to happen, but even for things we could never see coming. I had heard that Haiti would be life-changing, but I never expected it to affect me that way that it did.

Feeling under the weather on March 8, 2013 turned into a full-blown illness just 48 hours later. I had no idea what I had contracted but I was certain that I had a fever, along with vomiting, unreal sinus congestion, and exhaustion. By Sunday, I was unable to attend evening service at church. I even skipped most meals that day. I had already packed for my early morning drive to Port Au Prince (we had to leave at 4am) so that I could nap for the better part of the day. Because I was feeling so poorly, I had no control over my anxiety. I was starting to worry again… this time about my return to the states alone. Ginny had explained repetitively how to navigate around the Port Au Prince airport, how to prepare for immigration in Miami, and the process of claiming and rechecking my luggage for my final flight to Charlotte. Still, I didn’t feel well and I was lacking confidence (and, I guess, faith).

As we made the four hour drive to Port Au Prince, I was numb to all emotion. Ginny and I chatted between naps as her husband David navigated the roads up and over the huge mountains toward the airport. My voice was weak; I’m guessing from a combination of nasal drainage and stomach acid. By the time we made it to Port Au Prince, my voice was completely gone. I said goodbye to my friends and heading inside. I managed to get through one security screening, checked my luggage, and made it up to the American Airlines gate (where a second security screening took place) before I had a meltdown. I felt so miserable, and I just wanted to be home. A couple of hours later as I boarded the plane, I realized that I couldn’t find my Antivert. How would I make it two hours in the air without my motion sickness medication? Meltdown number two ensued. Thank God, the woman sitting beside of me had a Dramamine. However, the flight made me feel worse.

Immigration in Miami was a nightmare. We stood in line for an hour. ONE HOUR. And I had less than a two hour layover. By the time I was cleared to enter the US and found my luggage and recheck it, I had less than 30 minutes to board my flight back home to NC. The security lines were as long as immigration, and I had my next meltdown. This time, it was BIG, and I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. The TSA agent told me to run down to Concourse E because that line was considerably shorter. “Sure! I’ll run. I feel like taking a nice lap around Miami International Airport.”, I thought.

I managed to make it through the security checkpoint, back down to the Concourse D checkpoint (where I had to run up what felt like one million stairs) to the Skytrain, which then shuttled me (what felt like a mile) to the actual Concourse D with literally five minutes to spare. My gate was at the furthest point, of course. As I picked up my pace from a steady jog to a full-on psychotic sprint, I heard “Final boarding call for Flight Whatever-Number-It-Was to Charlotte, NC” and had my last good meltdown. Have you ever tried running for 1/4 mile as hard as you possibly can, with a 20lb backpack, a fever, head congestion, and a runny nose, while crying to the point of hyperventilation? Let me tell you….. it’s hard. Really, really hard!

I made it on my flight, barely. I sank into my seat, completely a mess – both physically and emotionally. The less-than-two hours in the air between Miami and Charlotte felt like the longest flight I had ever been on. My ear drum ended up retracting during flight. Know what that feels like? It feels like someone stabbing you in your ear and brain. Actually, I think it would have felt better had someone actually stabbed me in the ear and brain. The entire experience traumatized me. Truly. I was out of work for another week, unplanned thanks to being sick. I had a double ear infection and the worst chronic sinus infection I had ever had. I felt like I was dying. No lie. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t hear out of the ear with the retracted drum. I coughed nonstop. I had no appetite. I had no energy. I was done.

When I finally did make it back to work, I couldn’t speak about my trip. (Seriously, y’all… my voice was back but I was traumatized.) I couldn’t even share all of the things I had experienced in Haiti. I had completely shut down.

I can’t believe that a half year has already past since all of that. And I also can’t believe that I now have to figure out how to share everything that has happened since then, without posting too many long-winded and potentially annoying blogs. But I’m back…. back, better, and with a fresh perspective. Hopefully I can FINALLY pull this blog together so that it serves a better purpose and is enjoyable to everyone.

My blog already has a new look. It also has new pages! I recently combined my side project {On A Mission Online Magazine} with my personal blog to create Jenn On A Mission. Here you’ll find recipes, advice, and faith-filled stories from some of my dear friends, in addition to the usual stuff you already get from me. There may be some missing links and photos though. Please bare with me. I’m still trying to get everything merged. 🙂

Swallow Your Pride

A friend asked me today how my 5K training was going. She knew this journey was one that began nearly ten years ago for me; one that has been a constant struggle year after year. I am still a bit dumbfounded when I consider my recent attempts at running. I was, after all, the girl who said I would never run unless something was chasing me. So I can’t seem to grasp the fact that I run three days a week now.

I explained to my friend that I found a comfortable pace in which to run, at 1.5/1 intervals… meaning I run for 1.5 minutes and walk for 1 minute for the set length of my route. Mondays are my long routes. I ran 2.5 miles this week. On Thursdays, I do a shorter route, usually about a mile less than a few days before. When I arrived at my training session yesterday, I didn’t see either of my coaches. My heart sank. I knew that could only mean one thing… I would have to move up to the 2/1 group.

Although I was sad… and scared… I knew that it would take something like this to advance me into the next level. I don’t need to run at a comfortable pace. I need to push myself. So I did. It wasn’t a pretty run. I made some silly faces and grumbled a bit, but I finished in the middle of my pack.

My friend, happy to hear that I had pushed myself, asked if I was proud of myself. Without hesitation, I replied no. I think my response kind of shocked her. And her reaction kind of shocked me.

The truth is… I don’t have a lot of pride in myself. That is not to be confused with self-respect, which I do have. I feel like in order to be proud of myself, it would mean that I accomplished something on my own. And I haven’t. God is the driving force behind my runs. When I run, I pray. I ask Him to give me strength and endurance. He sets the speed and distance. I just put one foot in front of the other. I don’t deserve the credit. He does. The only emotion I have after a run is that of gratitude to God.

I know there are a lot of people who will argue that pride and feeling proud are two separate things, and that it is okay to feel proud. I am not here to argue that. For me, I just try to avoid the temptation of pride altogether. I want to remain humble… and thankful.

Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God. -Deuteronomy 8:14

Dirty Boots

I read an article in Christianity today about a small town in North Dakota.  Their population has tripled over the last 10 years because of the oil industry.  This town has been flooded with workers seeking housing in a town that doesn’t have room for them.  There is no homeless shelter and the hotels stay booked weeks in advance.  Several churches have opened their doors for temporary housing for these workers until they are able to find a place to live.

I was thrilled by their Mayor’s comments.  First he mentioned that this was the perfect opportunity for churches to reach into someone’s life that might not otherwise have interest in religion.  He further told the magazine, “They (the workers) may not understand the whole process of trying God, but they will try the church.”

Everyone has this basic knowledge and pull to go to a church if they need assistance of some kind.  Even if they don’t “do” church, there is somehow an instinct to connect with a ministry if help is needed.  How much more should we as the body of Christ, or the “building” shine with big blinking, neon signs that read:
•    “I won’t judge you”
•    “I love you for who you are, right now”
•    “It is safe to talk to me”
•    “I survived, let me help you to survive”
•    “I honestly care about you”

Pastor Jay Reinke, another minister in the town said:  ‘A lot of people say, “Well, pastor, you can’t save the world.”  I’m not trying to save the world, but here’s a man standing in my office.  I can help this man.” We get so bummed out from the big picture of how impossible obstacles look that we can’t experience what is right in front of our face.  This town could easily have flipped out and refused to accommodate the new residents.  They could have viewed them as a looming mountain of despair.

Instead a few leaders focused on people and not situations, to be God with skin on to men desperate for basic human needs; shelter, food and more importantly acceptance.  The beginning of the article painted a humbling picture of the sun setting on a local church with a pile of work boots stacked outside the activity hall.  The heavy shoes were stained with oil and red dust.

That’s the perfect picture of humanity.  We are stained, tired old work boots BUT, they are left outside the activity building when we allow the Lord to stay in our hearts.  After all, he was looking for a place to stay just to be born.  When we allow Him residence in our lives, he doesn’t try to scrub us up, He just tells us to take off the old, dirty stuff, leave it and come in where life is being lived.

A Sweet Deal

Even though this is the age of technology, meetings, late nights at work, Facebook, soccer games, sub-divisions and networking; it’s really easy to feel lonely.  You may have hundreds or even thousands of contacts in your phone, email, and social networks.  You may be part of a large family that regularly meets for dinner.  You could be part of a mega church with thousands worshiping together weekly, but no one but you resides in your skin.  At the end of the day, when the noise shuts down and you crave those few hours of blessed rest, you alone are left with your thoughts, decisions and choices.

In 1 Peter 1:1-2 there is a precious reminder that none of us are overlooked, abandoned, misplaced or dismissed. I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!

You may very well feel like an exile.  Maybe you feel insignificant or you have slipped from the Lord’s memory.  I know you are not alone in these feelings.  Depression is at an all-time high.  It can take medication, therapy, etc. to work through depression, but the biggest component of successful treatment is settling your mind on knowing that your Creator has His eye on you.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you have been, what you have done, or even what has been done to you; our Daddy has our number.  He is a responsible parent (1 Peter 1:17) and wants our life to be energetic and blazing (1 Peter 1:13-16).

Let’s be honest, this is a hard concept to wrap our minds around, but allow me to take the pressure off—He never asked us to comprehend or understand it, just accept it as He offers.  It’s a gift. A gift is something given freely.  It’s a benefit, an offering…a relief.  In my opinion, we have a pretty sweet deal.  It cost God quite a bit to rescue us from this dead end life; do we realize how fortunate we really are?