Monday, March 25, 2013

Well played, God, well played

The Lord really does work in mysterious ways. August of 2011 I had to come back to NCU and face people. People who would tell me that God wasn't going to provide. People who thought I should never have been there in the first place. I had to face them with the knowledge that yes, His provision is connected to His plan--and NCU wasn't in that plan. I call the trip back "the trip from Hell" for a reason. October of 2011 I started working at Kid Kollege in the Infant Room. I remember the first day, staring at these wiggling babies all around me and thinking to myself "What the heck am I doing here?" Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, I prayed "God what do You want me to do?" And very gently, He spoke to my heart: I want you to learn how to love these babies the way I do I had heard of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar doing this. Praying and asking God to help them love their children (all 19 of them!) the same way He loved them. And while reading their books and watching their show, you can just feel the love of God on this family. Well, I reckoned if God would help them with their nineteen, He could help me with these five babies. So I prayed and asked God to teach me how to love those kids the same way He does. And you know what? He did. Hey, don't get me wrong. I haven't arrived yet. But looking back, I can see how far God has brought me. I am even more in love with my job and my kids now than I was when I started. I have been blessed with supervisors who mentor me instead of just throwing me in a classroom to figure everything out on my own. And while I was changing diapers, making bottles, burping, and the like, I was having a very rough time spiritually. I went through anger toward God (even though He didn't make a mistake; I just didn't listen), confusion, loneliness, bouts of depression, and envy. So many times I was just ready to quit and give up on the plan God had for me. Sometimes, I just wanted to crawl in a hole and die. But His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me (one of my all-time favorite songs!). It was during this year and a half that I grew closer to God than I had ever been. It was hard at first. I had to give up my dreams: my dream of being the director for Steps to Beauty for my junior year. The fact that I wouldn't have a junior year, or even a senior year. The fact that this time, I wouldn't have a community of amazing women around me who would encourage me and be encouraged by me. My potential of going into vocational ministry came to a temporary halt as a result of not going back. Yes, it was very hard indeed. My friends were getting married left and right, my brother married during this time and found himself doing what he loved most: ministering to teenagers. My friends were graduating from college and finding jobs. They had it all together, and I was a complete wreck. I wanted to be where they were. I even went out to my garage one night, and yelled "God, this isn't fair!" But it was only once I gave those dreams back to God, that He could come in and heal my heart. As I moved from the infant room to the two year old room in June 2012, God over and over again reassured me that I did have a call to full-time ministry...but for the time being, my calling was at Kid Kollege, to serve my boss and the parents of my kids, and to help and encourage my coworkers any way I could. At this point, I was happy to oblige. :) But in January of this year, I was praying--my parents had been too--and we just knew that something was going to SUDDENLY come up that would put me in the next phase of His plan. More details on that later. I am just so overwhelmed with all that has happened over a year and a half. I just had to get it out. I also want to be an encouragement to you if you are feeling the way I felt. Trust God. Yes, you may not be able to see anything happen right now, but that is why it is called FAITH (Hebrews 11:1).Be of good cheer! He loves you more than anyone else could. That's why He sent Jesus. Pray often. A lot! Read the Word. Study it! And keep calm and carry on. :) God bless!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Given Up???

One of the greatest acts of mercy I have ever heard of came from Iraq. The war in this area of the Middle Eastern country was particularly intense. Of course, there were media present, scribbling observations, talking into a microphone, asking questions. In the midst of the chaos, an American medic runs into the heat of the battle and carries back a wounded soldier. No, wait...not one of ours...he was from the enemy camp! Immediately, the media begins to scream at our medic to abandon his charge to die. Why help him? He's the enemy! He doesn't deserve to live! Furious, the medic gave the media the bird and shouted "#%&@, he's wounded, and we're Americans!" My dad told me this story a few months ago, and as I was praying the other day, the Spirit brought it to my remembrance. As I meditated on this story, it hit me: This is the heart of evangelism. Every time my Encounter peeps and I hit the streets of downtown Minneapolis on Friday nights, we came across people who looked to be without hope. No peace, no joy. Many looked as they had hit rock bottom ages ago. Yet they were still filling themselves with as much marijuana as they could find, hoping to experience the peace and joy they are expecting, only to wake up with massive hangovers the next morning. Steps to Beauty. Our goal was for the girls who attended our sleepovers and conferences to understand the fact that God created them beautiful, and that He loves them--more than anyone else could. Scary to think that our children can be overlooked in our churches. Scary to think that we could lose them later on because we failed to teach them the Word. Even scarier to me is them winding up in a place like downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night, high and depressed, and drunk out of their minds. It breaks my heart to think that many of these are people that the Body of Christ has given up on. "They're beyond hope!" "Don't even try to talk to them!" "They never were saved to begin with!" God hasn't changed though. He is still passionately pursuing them. Even though we were His enemies, He came and took what we deserved, even though He had done nothing wrong! He wants to carry us away just like that medic did. He wants to help and heal us! Why can't more in the Church be like that medic? God never gives up on us; so why should we give up on His creation? I believe that is why ministries like Encounter and Steps to Beauty exist: to carry away the wounded and the desperate. To teach them about the goodness of God, which will eventually lead them to repentance. To rush into the battle and bring back a wounded soul in need of healing, love and compassion. Lord, let me be someone who never gives up on Your people.

Monday, October 8, 2012

What to do when the Well-Meaners come knocking

We've all been there. God tells us to do something and we do it. People ask questions, shake their heads in disapproval, or try to tell you what you SHOULD do instead. Yeah I just had one of those conversations. My uncle calls me to wish me a belated Happy Birthday. Good start. Then, we rant about politics and why voting for stupid reasons is...well, stupid. Then I mention my college algebra class (NO NO NO WAIT!) and he, being a math person took the wheel and went that direction. After a college-level math lecture we get on the subject of college. Gulp. What was I supposed to do? We are talking about a man who has a bachelors degree, a Masters degree, and to add the icing to the cake, a PhD. He is a believer in a good, well-rounded education. (Hey, before I go any further, let me be clear: I am NOT against education. Okay, phew. PSA is done!) How could I tell him that I'm at the place where I don't even WANT a degree? What does it matter anyway? Not like it does any good in this stupid economy. And after NCU? Screw it. Not happening. If people want me to just go for online classes and pick a random major out of nowhere and "just get the degree", then they need to talk to God about that. Let's face it; the real reason that I'm not in a school right now is because...well... GOD TOLD ME NO! Well at least for now. Do I regret this? Absolutely not. I'm where God has me. I know that. I rest in that. So what am I supposed to say to people who tell me I should just go to school, get two jobs, and burn myself out getting a piece of paper that will mean nothing 20 years down the road? I tell them the truth. Yeah, following God's way isn't always easy. It's not always popular either. But there are times when you know for sure you are hearing from God and you just have to set your face like flint. That's what I did when people here were telling me not to go to Minnesota: not jokingly, but seriously. I can still hear the comments: "It's too far away from your parents!" Really? Dangit, God and I are in this together. "It's too cold!" Um, hello? Acclimation? If God wants me in Minnesota, then He will help me adapt to the weather. "Too expensive! Just go to _______________ and you can get a full ride with a 26!" Let me be honest, I didn't even GET a 26 on my ACT (23. Fine, but not good enough for me). "Can't you get that degree here?" Yeah, I could've. But I would not have been where God wanted me. I never would have met Jessica, Kayla, Amber Marie, Amber Joy, Sara, Amy, Autumn, Lauren, Emily, Jake, Kevin, and many others. So many friends. So many memories. And a TON of experience in ministry administration. I was where God wanted me. That, my friends is the bottom line. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Late Night Fury

I was done. I had had it with not knowing what the heck I was supposed to do. I was ready to get out there NOW! Even if it meant going back to NCU and taking on more debt. Even if it meant going on a nine-month mission trip! Only one problem: God didn't tell me to move. Great, just great. My brother and his wife recently started working as youth pastors at an Assembly of God church in Crowley, Louisiana. I still am stunned writing this to think that in less than a year, my brother is married to the sweet and beautiful Sydney and they are already in full-time ministry. Not to mention getting paid for it, which is only a bonus. Dang it, it's hard not to be jealous of him sometimes. He's in his place, where his gifts are being used and he's getting to minister with his wife as a team. Yes, surely you can sense the grass-is-always-greener syndrome. Anyhoo, it had been almost a year to the day that I had to come back from NCU. A year. A year of absolutely nothing happening (except for Stephen getting married; that was awesome! And I started working at the preschool; That was definitely a bright spot), no new step. I had been looking around at online schools, even considered Pulaski Tech and UCA, but I got a "no" from the Spirit on every school. Yup, it's been a year and I am not a single step closer to where I want to be. I cringe every time I think about the fact that I'm supposed to be a senior at NCU right now. So I did what every self-respecting, mature believer does: I went to my garage after Mom and Dad went to sleep and yelled at God. Right there, I accused Him of forgetting about me, of messing me around. I called not going back to NCU a "sick joke." I even told Him, "If Your plan is going to be this complicated and frustrating, then forget it!" But deep down I knew I didn't mean it. After I had yelled myself out, I got quiet. Then, the Spirit led me toward John 5:64-66. Jesus had just given His disciples something big to chew on spiritually; for some, it was so big that they got frustrated and didn't bother. They left, and no longer followed Him. Verse 67 has Jesus asking the remaining Twelve disciples if they want to leave as well. Simon Peter's answer stuck out to me; a very simple phrase but in that moment it was what I thought: Lord, where else would we go? Those disciples who left Jesus totally missed out on a blessing! Sure, they might not have understood all His teaching at the time, but they would have later on as they matured. They missed seeing Jesus' miracles, they missed Him raising Lazarus from the dead, they missed the Last Supper!!! And sure, I don't understand everything that's happened, but I can't turn my back on His plan just because I don't understand it. I'll know in time. But I don't wanna miss out on what He is doing! And as of recent, there have been some open doors. :) Will post details some other time. His plan is better than anything you or I could come up with. That is how much He loves us! Oh, how He loves us!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eat Mor Chikin

Yesterday restored my faith in the American people. About a month ago, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathey came out affirming his view that marriage should be one man and one woman. Really, this should have been expected. He's a CHRISTIAN, an Evangelical. So the reason that the gay community decided to just now explode over this escapes me. Now let me be clear: I do not hate homosexuals. Period. Does this mean I have to agree with them? No! And if disagreeing with someone means you hate them, then they are just as guilty of "hate speech" as we are. What spurred the movement was the vile remarks and attacks against Mr. Cathey because of his beliefs. Mike Huckabee, former governor of my home state, asked that everyone show up at Chick-Fil-A on August 1 to support free speech. Really, Dan Cathey has a right to an opinion just as anyone else. Why is it that when a company comes out and supports gay marriage are they seen by the media as wonderful while those of us who disagree with gay marriage are called intolerant, homophobic, and bigoted? Maybe they're the ones being intolerant. Just sayin'. Chick-Fil-A was my soapbox for the first few days of August. I honestly wondered why I was taking the Appreciation Day so seriously, but then realized that it had to do with my beliefs being attacked with leaders trying to forbid a legitimate business for coming into their cities just because of their beliefs. As the old saying goes, "Evil prevails when good men do nothing." Anyway, the turnout August 1 was record breaking in the company! I did not foresee this kind of turnout and it happened! It really restored my faith in the American people. It was also a time to realize that God isn't finished with America. Our job is to love everyone regardless; His job is to bring them into His kingdom, to experience love like no other.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eh, oops!

Please forgive me if my last post sounded sarcastic and condescending (which I'm pretty sure it did). It will be undergoing some editing to make it more reader-friendly :).

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Surprising Answer

You are moving way too fast. Wait. Those are the words the Lord spoke to my heart just a few minutes ago. In my garage. At 11:30 pm. All I was aiming to do was to go out and start a load of laundry. Yet God had different plans. For awhile now, I have been considering going into the military to pursue chaplaincy. Whether that is God's plan for me right now I do not know. But I had been allowing confusion to scream so loudly, that I could not hear from God about it. One part of it was questioning my motives: Was I really going to serve, or was I going to prove to my friends that I was more than the sweet, innocent, naive twit that they knew? Another was fear: How would I meet the physical requirements for the Army? After all, I'm not athletically talented. Those who have discouraged me from pursuing it have pointed that out. Enlisting or signing up now would be a leap of faith. Another variable in the equation is UCA. I've considered going there and getting my bachelor's in Nutrition, maybe even doing ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps). For weeks I have wrestled with this, feeling like I have to figure it out NOW. Many of my friends are graduating college next year, some are getting married and having kids. All of those are what I desire, yet it seems I'm nowhere closer to it. These questions kept racing through my head: What am I gonna do with my life? How is this going to play out? Why am I not at peace? I caved to depression (AGAIN!)and God felt so far away(thankfully we don't live by our feelings). I couldn't hear Him through all the noise that I had created. Tonight, in my garage, that changed. I started the towels washing and was about to go back in the house when the Spirit tugged on my heart. So I stayed, pacing back and forth, praying in tongues. Then these lyrics from the Kari Jobe song came to my heart and I sang them aloud: So faithful, so constant So loving and so true So powerful in all You do You fill me You see me You know my every move You long for me to sing to You, Lord I know that You are for me I know that You are for me I know that You will never Forsake me in my weaknesses I know that You have come now Even if to write upon my heart To remind me who You are Shortly after I finished singing, I heard the Lord (not an audible voice) speak to my heart and say: You are moving way too fast. Wait. Do not try to figure all of it out now. Peace flooded my entire being just hearing His voice again. But His words still echo in my heart even as I write this. My flesh is currently screaming at the idea of waiting any longer. That's how our flesh works. Flesh wants anything and everything RIGHT NOW. Sorry, but it'll have to wait. Wait for what? Wait for something better There is a Scripture verse that I have on my mirror in my room; Proverbs 4:18. "The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn which shines brighter and brighter till the full light of day." It dawned on me that this is a time for me to just get to know my Creator better without having a lot of distractions. Maybe instead of fight it off, I should embrace it. :) I hope this post was encouraging to you. We all can yield to God's Master Plan. Very rarely will it be something that you saw coming. Some of the steps you take may seem unconventional. But the truth is, God is loving and He has a good plan for us: one to prosper and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11). So many people think that if they give themselves to God that they will be expected to be a deacon in the church or something like that. Now if God tells you to become a deacon in your church you need to pursue it, but that's not God's plan for everyone! Not every Christian is called into full-time ministry, but every Christian--everyBODY has a place where they belong and too many are going outside of God's will trying to find that. If we all understood how good God is, we'd all be running after Him. Yes, this is something I'm still learning myself. If we can just remember that GOD IS LOVE...why...that would solve a lot of problems in this crazy, messed-up world we live in. Peace to you! :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yielding to God's Master Plan

I have been reading Gloria Copeland's book "God's Master Plan for Your Life," (which, by the way, I totally recommend. You can buy it here When the Holy Spirit first nudged me to buy this book, I was a little resistant. Maybe because I knew there would be things in there that would rub me the wrong way at a first glance. Turns out I was right. But isn't it amazing; when the Holy Spirit convicts me about something I'm doing wrong, it kinda hurts at first (I mean hey, who in this world is excited and super-pumped about receiving correction?) but later, I realize "Hey! He was right!" I'm still a little hurt about NCU. The more posts I see on Facebook from my friends who are graduating and from Reach Out Minneapolis (one of the ministries I worked with), the more I cringe on the inside. Am I happy for those who are graduating? YES! Am I happy about all that God is doing through Reach Out and the Student Ministries Board? YES! Am I happy that I'm not there to celebrate and minister and learn up there? uh...NO! But I know that if I were still up there, I would not be where God wants me. It's so easy to become like the Israelites in the wilderness; to get my focus off of God and look at my surroundings. I'm currently living with my parents and nowhere closer to a degree. I don't really have a ministry like I did up in Minneapolis. Most of my friends are either away at school or in Shreveport, LA. There is no Encounter on Friday nights, no chapel everyday, no community of women that I can get spiritual encouragement from and vice versa. I work at a preschool (which, not gonna lie, I LOVE!). Who would have thought that my life up till now would be like this? How could this of all things be God's plan for me? I didn't want to be the psyched-up kid who tells everybody "God called me to go to North Central!!!" and then after three semesters, drops out due to some lame excuse. Yet, that's what happened to me (Although finances could be considered plausible..). Yeah, it's easy to complain. But why would I complain about God, accusing Him of messing me around when He only wants the best for me? That's what the Israelites did when they were in the wilderness. Their refusal to believe kept them out of the land God had promised them, the land flowing with milk and honey. Hebrews 3:12-19 tells it like this: 12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”[b] 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed[c]? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Even though the Israelites had seen God save them time and time again, they still rebelled against the One who loved them and cared for them better than any parent. When push came to shove they wouldn't believe God could save them out of it. UNBELIEF--refusal to surrender and take responsibility--kept that generation of Israelites out of God's best plan for them. I don't want to make the same mistakes they did on my journey with God. I don't want to disconnect from God's Master Plan just because its not going as fast as I would like it to. Or because its not what I planned. He knows better than me about where I belong. That being understood, I have made the decision to just keep trusting Him and keep staying in His rest until He moves me elsewhere. In the meantime, I will continually surrender my desires and my plans to the One who loves me and understands me better than anyone. The LORD will fulfill His plans for my life. For Your faithful love, O LORD endures forever. Psalm 138:8 And for those of you out there who are in the same boat as I am, BE OF GOOD CHEER! And remember Jeremiah 29:11. Peace out! J

Monday, April 2, 2012

The One About Fear

Every person has or has been afraid at some point. We've been afraid of many different things, ranging from spiders to simply going outside.

But this kind of fear is something I never remember experiencing before.

Last night I had a dream--well more of a nightmare in retrospect. I was in my nursery caring for my babies when I realized that I needed to relieve myself. So I walkied for backup, and it was a girl who I had never seen before wearing our uniform. Apparently, she had just been hired that day. Upon thanking her, I left for the restroom and was back in five minutes.

I came back to a whole different scene. One of my babies had succumbed to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in my absence.

Shock, grief, and sorrow attacked me all at the same time. I had never seen that baby before either, but the feeling of guilt was just the same: a baby entrusted to my care had died. When I reached in the crib to try to resuscitate the baby, I woke up. I was relieved that it hadn't really happened, but at the same time,fearful that it would.

All morning the images of the baby in my dream continued to haunt me. But as I cleaned the bathtub this morning, while I was still faced with those images, these words came to my heart:

There is no fear in love, but perfected love casts out fear because fear has torment.

That's when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, saying "Jeannie, you can beat this with faith!"

That was it. I knew exactly what to do. Faith speaks to the mountain: whether it be fear, sickness, poverty, you name it (Mark 11:22-24)! Faith believes that what the Word says is true above all others.

So I began saying that verse out loud. The more I said it with my mouth and believed it with my heart, the less intimidating the dream was. Soon, I was at peace again. Score one for the blood-bought child of the Most High :)

But LOVE driving out fear? It didn't make any sense to me. So I asked the Lord about it and He directed me to 1 John 4:17-19 17 "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Then He directed me to 1 John 2:5 which says, "The One who keeps His Word, in him is the love of God perfected."


Keeping His Word. That is how God's love in us is perfected. When you talk about defeating any obstacle in life, that's what it all boils down to. Reading His Word. Studying His Word, and most importantly, putting the Word to action!

Isn't it amazing how much the Holy Spirit can and will teach us? All we have to be is willing to listen and learn!

I look forward to what else He will teach me while I'm here!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Assignment

I always looked at my current placement in Arkansas as a setback to all my goals in life. I was frustrated here; most of my friends were in Minnesota, I have been unable to do evangelism like I want to, and I miss my professors and chapel everyday. But little by little, the Lord has shown me that this is not a setback, but a step forward.

A soldier doesn't have a choice about where he lives most of the time. They tell him to go somewhere and he goes. They tell him to move somewhere, and he moves. The same with us as Christians. When God moves us, we are to move with Him. We are warriors spiritually speaking, and I keep reminding myself that it's only for my good; He loves me that much. A month ago, I couldn't wait for God to move me again...yet, I find myself not wanting to move right now.

I have a great job! I love my babies and the children at the preschool. I am feeling more connected at my church than ever before. I have learned so much since coming here! I have been able to meet some awesome people--some I go to church with, some I teach with.

God is giving me an opportunity to minister through my job; in my interactions with parents, in my interactions with the children--God has done so much since I've been home!

Looks like my greatest disappointment is turning into a great adventure! So I tell people "I am currently on assignment in Arkansas at WVAG and a preschool."

I like the sound of that! :)