Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm Dreaming of a Blue Christmas

I've got the Christmas blues!! "What are the Christmas blues??" you ask? Ummm... read it that I can't wait for Christmas to be over. I'm serious. The "magic" of the season has been non-existent for me thus far.

Oh, I know it's terrible of me! After all, Christmas is supposed to be a time of laughter and love and family and giving and most importantly... remembering our Saviour's birth. I'm trying to reflect on this... that is in-between extended holiday work hours and finals and shopping and figuring out what on earth I am going to give my fourteen Sunday School kids.

I have been shopping (sort of) once; and I bought one gift for my sister, which I ended up giving to her the next day... go figure! I always made fun of people who have their shopping finished in August; but now it sounds like a good idea... I see their point.

My problem is I cannot begin to think of Christmas any earlier than mid-November. I know, it's not right; seeing that we start decorating the shop for Christmas in October accompanied by those festive carols that I can't bear until December. I'm one of those people who like Christmas music at CHRISTMAS, not at Valentine's Day or in March or October. (And while decorating this year I heard "Silver Bells" enough in one day to taint the song forever in my memory. ;)
Now the holiday rush is in full swing at the flower shop. Everyone thinks working at a flower shop is the most peaceful job on earth. All I can say is they should try it during the holidays when the orders are piling, the rose petals are flying, and the constant ring of the telephone is a continual clangor. Enough said. :)

Well, it's not a white Christmas... yet; nor is it holly jolly thus far. I just pray that I will not let the commercialism and the crash and burn chaotic craziness to get in the way of the One whose birth we remember on that day -

Emmanuel. Be with us this this season and always, dear Lord! Help us to put You first forever and now. Amen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thank You Oh My Father...

There is a Redeemer, Jesus God's own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One

Thank You oh my Father, for giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit 'til Your work on earth is done.
(Keith Green)

Thanksgiving is here, a time to reflect, to remember with gratitude our many blessings. I love this song because it reminds me that the greatest thanks belongs to our Lord; Who gave His life for our sins. What a gift! The perfect sacrifice, His death... for mine.
I fall, I stumble, I sin constantly; yet He catches me in His grace and forgives me, and stands me on my feet to start afresh.
Thank You, my Father; for being my Redeemer.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Daaa DOT-Da-Daaa... Daaa DOT-Da-Daaaa

I'm so excited... I was asked to be in a wedding!! I know, it shouldn't be THAT exciting, but I'm young enough that I haven't had many friends married yet; and this is the first time I was asked to be a bridesmaid. I get to be in on the wedding details, the flowers, the dresses, and I'll throw a bridal shower.

This is too cool! My friend Danielle is getting married!
WHY are weddings so exciting? I don't get it, why do we girls dream and fuss and plan so much for one day? I used to think the day after my own wedding I would wake up and realize I could no longer have the fun of planning my wedding. I mentioned this to a friend who was getting married, and he answered, "Oh, great, so my wife might have a crisis about not being able to plan her own wedding later on??" I thought a minute, and I answered; "Well, then she will have you." I think that should be enough.

Maybe it sounds silly to dream, but girls do. Most of my friends have their wedding colors picked out, whether it is in the forsee-able future or no. It's not wrong to dream, I do it. It's not wrong to think ahead and plan, it helps with the details later on when necessary.

The only thing is, I can't place too much importance on one day of my life, a day that may or may not eventually come. And I can't let dreaming or wishing get in the way of my present - my life right now. Focusing too much on a dream prince might cloud your eyes when he finally is standing before you; and dreaming too much of the might-happen-some-day could cause you to miss out on the moments of the already-happening-here-and-now.

And I don't want dreaming to make me miss out on the joys my Lord has for me in the now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


She was a part-time driver where I worked, and she would come in as necessary when we were swamped. "I live just down the road," she would say; "if you need me, just call me."
She appeared to have had a difficult life, and it made her attitude pessimistic toward the world and life in general. "Don't get old, your children leave, you have aches and pains, and no one cares." she would tell me. "Just don't get old. Me, I'm old as dirt."
For some reason she took a liking to me, she called me her daughter, saying at first that I was the only teenager she knew who could be quiet. "Daughter!" she would call and wrap her arms around me, causing quizzical looks among our co-workers. "I haven't seen ya in a while! Hey, tell me if your parents ever want to be rid of ya, I'll adopt ya." She lived alone with her cat.
She needed some one to reach out to her; and I could have been that some one...
She died suddenly last week after surgery. She is gone, and I could have been there for her, but I wasn't.
It makes me look at the world differently, how do I know what is ahead? Who could need me? Who is there for me to reach out to? Life is a breath, it is given, and we never know when it may be taken away... and sometimes we remember this too late.
Maybe the last thing Jean did helped me to open my eyes more to the world around me. She would like that.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Boys, Boys, BOYS!!!

Well, today I have the day off from school, it happens that my siblings have a day off as well, and I am seeing how much I am missing by being gone from home so much! For instance, my brothers have been so wound up today, they have been running around the house like crazy. "Give it back or I will give you 50 lashes with a wet fish!!" yelled Jesse. "Jesse??!!" I said, shocked. "Well" was all he answered, and he followed in close pursuit after Jonathan.
I was doing laundry, and I found Jon's pants with a heavy padlock fixed to the belt loop. "Jon, I need the key to your padlock, or it will bump around in the dryer." I called. "Oh," he answered, "I lost the key." He LOST the KEY??!! WHY did he even need a padlock fixed to his belt loop in the first place??!! I tried as best as I could to pad up the extra weight and put it in his pocket, yet the dryer is still going bump, bump, bump...
Kevin, the two year old, dumped Mom's sewing basket on the floor. "Kevin, pick up your mess." I told him. "Not wight now" he answered. Picture this... my two year old brother with his baby face saying with his baby voice, "Not wight now." WHERE did he come up with that?? "Yes, Kevin, right now!"
Jesse and Jon were still running around the house, so I gave them each a chore. "I'm so tired," Jonny muttered as he headed toward the dishwasher, seconds after chasing his older brother with a toy held in a threatening position.
Stephen and Michael were having a disagreement with Julia. "You should hear what happened to the last cousin who said that to us!" Michael teased. "Yeah," Stephen joined in, "They're buried out in the swamp." No way, are these MY angelic brothers saying these shocking things??
Yes, today I am very aware of the fact that boys will be boys, and I guess that is what makes them so much fun. And believe it or not, I think I need days off from school more often to enjoy my brothers, for they will grow up so fast, and I will grow to miss the noise, the messes, and the constant teasing. That is, until I hear, "Hey Jen, you know, those hair sticks really make you look like you have an antenna." Boys WILL be boys!
(written Monday, November 6th)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fear... It's a Scary Thought

I have been afraid of many different things since I was little. My "fear list" has included bats, (the flying mammal kind,) doctors, winks unaccompanied by a smile, librarians, tall men with mustaches, any step higher than the 3rd on a ladder, the color red, rice-a-roni (yes, really!) driving in sleet, being an old maid, spiders in the shower, any of my brothers creeping up behind me on a dark night, and angry underfed green kangaroos carrying monkey wrenches. (Okay not really... but it's a scary thought! :)

More recently my fears have been more of a different type. I tend to worry much too hard about what people think and how they interpret my words or actions. I make blunders, or think I do, and then agonize over how it came across. I am afraid of what people think. I am also afraid of my future, I am afraid of making a unrepairable mistake, I am afraid of being hurt, I am afraid of hurting others.

Yes, I have many fears, and I suppose there will always be something to be afraid of - yet He gives me the promise that I can trust Him when I am afraid. The hard thing is letting go of what I want enough to trust Him. My Lord tells me not to be afraid and He promises never to leave me or forsake me, (Deuteronomy 31:6.) He promises to keep me in perfect peace; as long as my mind is stayed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3.) He reminds me, "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6.)

If I believe that my Lord is in control, and that He keeps His promise to work all things together for good; I have no right to tremble and fear.

Dear Lord, give me the real, childlike trust in You that doesn't question the paths You are leading me on. Help me to let go of my fears, and fix my eyes on You, trusting that You are in control and that You do keep Your many precious promises. Thank you for the promise to be here with me, and to work out even the confusing difficult situations for good.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Trust the Driver

I don't really like to drive. I mean; I put up with it, I am so grateful I can drive because I really couldn't get along without it. Yet I tend to confuse directions, and unlike other drivers, I will take the wrong exit twice in a row, or even more times before I get the correct directions down!
I have a friend who loves to drive around and get lost on purpose; I could never understand that, for getting lost frightens me, and I am always relieved when I come to familiar territory. You would think riding with my friend would scare me, but oddly enough, it never does. She absolutely loves to drive, getting lost is an adventure (for her,) and I can relax because of her confidence. I'm never afraid when my friend is behind the wheel.
My Lord is teaching me a good driving lesson these weeks to hang on and trust in Him. When I don't know where I am going, or where He is taking me, He guards my heart and mind with the "peace that passes all understanding." He promises to go with me, to never leave me or forsake me, and He knows the plans He has for me. He calls me to trust in Him when I am lost and don't understand; and I can just relax in the passenger seat as He gradually reveals our destination.
Because if my Lord knows where I am going, I don't need a road map!

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Contractor for His House

This week in my devotional time, I was lead to read from Haggai. In chapter 1, verses 7-9, I read, "This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house."
These verses convicted me, for I have been "busy with my own house," failing to build the house of my Lord. My life has been more important, for I have given my Lord whatever I had left over; which is never much. Although keeping to a form of devotional time and study, my life has certainly been my focus and concern. He has shown me this week, that in failing to build His house, I am missing out on blessings, spiritual ones for sure, but perhaps also temporal blessings.
Being convicted that I needed to get to work on His house, I prayed that His house would be my first thought and energy focus, and that I would be given the time necessary to build it. I have heard before, "Be careful what you pray for, He might give it to you." Well, whether in answer to my prayer or not; Wednesday I woke up violently sick with a stomach flu, there was no going to school that day!! Then Thursday my stomach was better, but I was down with a sore throat, which I still have today. My Lord granted me lots of extra time this week to study Him, and relax in His word. I pray that His house will always be my focus, and I will not miss out by being caught up in my own house.

Friday, October 06, 2006

When I Am Old...

I met a wonderful old lady the other day. I was dropping off a friend, when she told me, " You have to come in to see Grandma's cat." Well, I saw the cat, it was the biggest cat I had ever seen, which was her reason for showing me; but "Tigger" wasn't the reason I stayed longer than I had planned. As soon as I met Tigger's owner, I knew I had found a treasure.
She smiled when we were introduced - she had a lovely smile, complete with smile wrinkles from doing it often. She hugged her granddaughter and laughed when the cat lay down to eat his dinner... he was so large he didn't stand up to eat. "He's my room-mate," she said, smiling.
We talked for a long time, she told me how her town used to look, and we found a common interest in journaling. When she showed us to the door, she apologetically said that she couldn't follow us out. "My daughter doesn't want me going down steps, she thinks I might fall," she explained.
Her peace and contentment and joy just showed on her face, and she was beautiful.
Sometimes I will see an elderly lady and just think; "I want to look like that when I am old." Someone once told me that our lives are revealed on our faces when we are old; and once we are aged we no longer hide our true selves. Perhaps that is true; for a tree is known by its fruit, and what we put into our lives will come out whether it is sooner or later.
"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." (Proverbs 16:31) There are so many elderly people I know whose righteous lives are an example and a blessing to all those they interact with. Maybe they aren't very mobile, perhaps they tire easily, maybe they are dealing with many medicines and doctor appointments; it doesn't affect the shining example of a life lived righteously.
And I want to look like that when I am old.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Life in a "Dream World" ... and No More Mr. Nice Guy

"Oh, Jennifer! You are living in a dream world... there are no men like that!" I was at work in the flower shop, and the girls were discussing their boyfriends. When asked about mine, I laughingly said that I was waiting for my knight, and didn't want to date in the meantime. From previous discussions they already knew that I had high standards - which they considered impossibly high. "Get real, Jen!" "Are you expecting a prince riding a white horse??!!"

No, he doesn't necessarily have to be a prince, for a prince might soil his white gloves in changing a tire for me, and I can't quite picture a prince holding a dirty-faced child on his lap. And he doesn't have to ride a white horse; after all, my King rode a donkey.

The girls told me that all I needed to look for was a nice guy, making two incorrect assumptions; 1) That I wanted a nice guy, and 2) that I was looking for any man, nice or otherwise.
As far as nice guys go; I do respect them, and of course I like them; they are so nice! But I want my knight to be a good man, and there are times when being a "good man" does not mix with being a "nice guy." For instance; my Lord overturned tables in the temple and chased people with a whip - this simply is not a "nice guy" action! A good man will stand up for what is right, and although not always the most popular move, in the end he will be blessed for his firm convictions.

Then the question, am I looking for any man? The answer to that is no, for I believe that if my Lord wills for me to marry, that He will send the right man in His time: which is always perfect. If I marry, the "nice-ness" characteristic will not be at the top of my list; for I would want a good man - a man after my Lord's heart.
In the meantime; I need to keep in mind - that any man after His heart... would be looking for a woman after His heart.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Of A's and Failures and IT

I have a confession to make that I have always been hesitant to admit... I am an A student. My GPA is a 4.0. I was never able to completely commiserate with other students when a particularly difficult test was given, for I would usually still scrape by with my A, while the rest would be concerned about passing. If a fellow student moaned about getting a D, I would sympathetically say that I didn't do as well as I hoped, which would be true.
It's not that I'm necessarily smarter than most people; it's just that I have never been able to be satisfied with less than an A since I started college. It's almost a handi-cap, for stress increases when it is focused on safely finishing each course with an A, rather than simply passing. And then what do I say when a friend tells me he can't stand people who don't study and complain when they get a B? (I just smiled and kept my mouth shut.:)
So I came to expect that I would always finish with A's throughout my college career, my A average seemed indestructible.
Then IT happened. IT was a 67 on my first Cost Accounting exam. Not only was it not an A, but it was a D, the first ever of my experience! I had never gotten a C before, let alone a D! And to crown it all, 7 points out of my grade were given to me as a bonus. This was something that was never supposed to happen, not to me.
However, I found that IT taught me a lesson. My grade showed me that not only is my A average not indestructible, but I am not indestructible. I am fallible, I am human, and confidence in myself ultimately leads to disaster.
My 67 was necessary, for it was a lesson that I needed to hear, painful though it was. I am who I am through the grace of God, and in desperate need of His grace every day of my life. I am reminded of Philippians 3:3, where Paul says, "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh."
Confidence in myself, my flesh, is never enough, for I will always fail if put to the test. I want my confidence to be in and from my Lord, for He alone is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-mighty.
And my Lord will never fail me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Words of the Worship

What does it mean when we sing, “All to Jesus I Surrender.” Are we really surrendering our all to him? Or do we simply sing the words, not realizing what we are saying? Are we singing a lie, not prepared to submit all details of our lives to His authority?
How sad this is, that we can stand in church and be so blinded to what we are singing that we don’t realize the sheer impact of the promises we are making. “All to Thee I freely give;” this means giving up our desires, our wants, perhaps everything we ever wanted out of life. In return, we have Him. Maybe He does not require us to give up everything greatly desired, but the key is; we must be willing to do so for Him. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, the child of his old age, the promise of future generations. Imagine the anguish in this decision. Yet, he was obedient to the Lord even then, and when he proved this he was given back his son.
“Jesus, all for Jesus;” Are we willing to give up all for Jesus? What about the minor details? Would we lose an hour of sleep for Jesus? What about curbing our spending in order to dedicate more resources to Him? What about the major details? Would we radically change our goals in order to fit His plan?
“You’re all I want;” Is this true in our lives? Do we gain satisfaction in doing His will, or are other things necessary for our happiness?

Dear Lord, be all I want. Let my desires surrender to Your will for me, my plans conform to Yours. Be my all in all; my everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Identity... as His Daughter

Who am I? What is my identity, how do I define myself? I know my name, but who does it stand for? This is the name I received at birth, I had little choice in the matter, yet from that time on my personality began to develop...
I am a daughter, a granddaughter, an older sister, a cousin, a niece. I am an accounting major, I am a florist, I am a bookkeeper, I am a pianist, I am a cook. There are many names I have been called; including "the good girl," "the weird one," "the dreamer," "Jeb," "Doppers," "Jempf," "Jenny-girl," "sweetie," "smiley," "Amish girl," (I'm not Amish) and "ditsy brunette," (don't ask) along with other names better not remembered.:)
I've been called an idealist, emotional, moody, crazy, smart, an idiot, self confident, insecure, a worrier, and enough other conflicting terms to cause serious personality issues! The question becomes; which of my names or personality features is required for me to be me? Would taking any one aspect away result in an identity crisis? What happens when I change from a daughter to a wife to a mother to a grandmother, does my family role define who I am?
In a way, it does; for I am my Father's daughter. I am adopted into the family of God, and blessed in being called His daughter as well as His handmaiden. The two relationships to my Lord fit so well together, for it is natural for a daughter to delight in serving her Father.
Strip me of my talents, faults, career, and academic strivings; with His help I won't have an identity crisis. For this is not how I define who I am...
I want who I am, to be completely wrapped up in Who He is.
For I'm His daughter, and I find my identity in Him.