Friday, July 18, 2014

Thank You for Challenging Me!

When I was in high school my track coach used to constantly push me to do better, be better, get stronger, be more focused.

I asked him one day, "Why are you always so hard on me?  I'm trying.  You don't bother other members of the track team all the time."

He said, "Jocelynn, you have so much potential.  You can go far.  You may not be a track star, but you can apply these principles in other areas of your life.  When I stop pressing you, I have stopped caring."

Wow!  Even at 15, that hit home.  My coach cared about my future.  He cared about helping to build a strength and determination in me that would make me "dig in" by default.  (Thank you, Thad)

I liken this to the coaching that Christ does.  I know he has not stopped loving me because He is always pushing me.  He has put people into my life to speak truth, to challenge my perspective, to make me question my habits.  Some days I say, "God, why are you so hard on me?  I don't see you challenging other people like this."

He says, "Jocelynn, you have so much potential, but you can only go so far in your own strength.  I need you to choose me every time.  I need you to "dig in" and lean on me when things get the hardest.  Jocelynn, I have great plans for your life.  I want you to live a life free from bondage, free from debt, free from the shackles that are the desires of this world.  There are so many lives I want to touch through you.  I will never stop pressing you because I will never stop caring."

Today my heart is sad (sorry, gotta be honest) because God is pressing me.  He has asked me to choose Him instead of me.  I know this is the time for faith despite my flesh.



Always Striving,

Joce

Friday, July 4, 2014

Proverbs 4 - Wisely Guarding Your Heart

Proverbs 4 is chock full of goodies!  I love how King Solomon begins by telling us to sit up straight and listen.  Haha!  He knows this word is important.

"LIVE!" He says. "LIVE!"  Heeding good counsel, seeking wisdom and understanding afford you the opportunity to live life to the fullest.  That's what I want for myself and my family.  I wasn't a bad kid, but I certainly chose to take Temptation Turnpike to Devious Dr. a time or two.  I am praying the principles of Proverbs 4 over my children.  Many nights Jon and I sit up talking about how we want to impart wisdom on our kids.  We think it is important to share our mistakes and triumphs, but we want to do it in a way that 1) honors God, and 2) helps them see the lesson, not just the loose behavior.  We want them to understand that they don't have to consort with wicked people.  They don't have to take the road most frequently traveled.  We want them to see that true living is living in Christ.  Children imitate what they see because our actions speak louder than our words.

 It says in Proverbs 4: 18 "The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine."  Am I shining?  I want to shine for Christ.  I want to shine so my children see Christ's love reflected all over me.  I want them to know my story so they understand that our God saves, sanctifies, and satisfies.  I want them to see that even though Mommy wasn't always guarding her heart, God always was.  When I decided to get serious about guarding my heart, that is when my life began.  But I want them to know that I could have been living a full and satisfied life much sooner if I had sought after wisdom and understanding, if I had listened.

I would love to hear about ways that you have worked to instill the love of Christ in your children.  How have you shared your journey with them in an effort to steer them away from unnecessary heartache and trouble?

Always Striving,

Joce

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Proverbs 3 - Wisdom and Common Sense

As I read the chapter for today and considered what I would write about it, I heard my husband listening to an Oprah Winfrey interview with Kevin Hart.  In the interview Kevin Hart talks about the wisdom imparted to him by his mother.  She specifically told him to read his Bible because he would need to stay faithful along his journey.  It's interesting how God works.  :-)  I am seriously always amazed.  I had not necessarily been praying, but I guess I sort of was praying.  Anyway, I was deeply moved by what I read today and I always want my words to reflect Christ.  I know that I am a vessel.  So, I sort of knew what I was feeling about the text.  I sort of knew what I wanted to focus on, but hearing the interview crystallized it for me.  Thank you, Lord!

In Proverbs 2:4-6 King Solomon says, "If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgement and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don't ever trust yourself.  In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success."

This is what Kevin Hart's mother knew.  This wisdom she passed onto her son.  It is so tempting to trust in ourselves or man.  God doesn't seem to answer you right away, or in the way you think is best and you try it your way.  Ok, maybe I'm just talking about myself.  LOL  I know I have gone in circles because I would not listen to the wise counsel of Christ or other's He had chosen to speak into my life.  Even now I have to constantly redirect.  I have to fight my flesh, my natural desire to do it my way.  This seems silly because I've literally seen the difference between trusting God's wisdom and trusting my own....  Right!

 Dating my way yielded a broken heart and a broken me.
 Dating God's way got me the best man I never knew I need.  A man who pours into me, prays with and for me.  A man who loves Christ more than himself and certainly more than me.  A man who seeks to fix the brokenness...crowned with success
 Marriage my way yields needless arguments, bitterness, missed opportunities to display God's love to others, and just straight up silliness.
Marriage God's way is filled with laughter and challenge.  It is working together to make this life amazing!  It is showing others the glory of God in an earthly example of the Holy trinity.  It is purposefully crowned with success.
 Parenting my way yields yelling and crying, breakdowns, angry discipline, wishing time would hurry up.
 Parenting God's way is praying, praying, praying for the wisdom to raise your children in a way that honors God, a way that they see Christ's love reflected in your eyes.  It is purposeful discipline.  It is crying and praying. It is cherishing every moment because there is truly something to cherish in every moment - good, bad, difficult, and crowned with success.
 Building friendships my way yields tracking tit for tat -  I did this for her, but what has she done for me.  
 Building friendships God's way lends itself to rich blessings.  It provides opportunities to pour into someone's life with out seeking anything in return.  It is laughter and tears.  It is support and valued advice.  Prayer and accountability.  It is beautifully crowned with success.



Lord, I thank you for your wisdom.  I thank you for a desire to seek after your ways.  Looking at the chart that I just typed I'm thinking, "Yep.  Gotta stay prayed up.  Gotta keep seeking His face.  Gotta continue to die to my flesh every single day.  Ok Jesus, let's go!"  Ha Ha!  Because I am back an forth between these columns more regularly than I'd like to admit.

This challenge, even three days in, has been a huge blessing!

Always Striving,

Joce




 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Proverbs 2 - Wisdom, Knowledge, Insight

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King Solomon is definitely dropping knowledge in Proverbs 2.  As I read each verse, all I could do was shake my head yes.  God is faithful and keeps His promises.  

King Solomon advises honoring God, heeding wisdom, and diligently seeking insight.  God will honor your search for Him .  He will impart wisdom upon your mind and understanding upon your heart.  This will keep you out of trouble, away from those who would tempt you into trouble, and on a straight path.  Additionally, you will be happy and content because you're focused on growth in your knowledge of who Christ is and your ability to discern.  

Reading this chapter brought three other verses to the forefront of my mind.

10-11 This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.     Jeremiah 29:10-11 MSG
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13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.    Jeremiah 29:13-14 MSG
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20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.   2 Corinthians 1:20 -22 MSG

(All verses copied from www.biblegateway.com)

Always Striving,

Joce


Proverbs 1 - Wisdom


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As I said earlier this morning.  Proverbs 1 is pow pow powerful!  King Solomon, who had asked God for wisdom above all else is sharing some wisdom in this first chapter.

I thought this was really powerful because the older I get, the more I seek wisdom.  God has called me to some incredible roles and I cannot fulfill them without His wisdom.  As a wife and mother, as a mentor, role model, and friend I seek wisdom from the Lord.  ~Lord teach me your ways.  Show me how to love my husband and children.  Show me how to honor friendships.  Teach me to be the wife, mother, and friend you have called me to be.~

From my understanding of the text, and please comment below with further insights, Solomon offers four pieces of advice on ways to become wise.

1) Trust and reverence God - I am learning to trust and reverence God more fiercely with each passing year.  Many times it is difficult.  I would rather trust what I think I know, when what I think I know is not going to yield results.  Trusting God brings a peace unlike anything I could try on my own.  Yet I still fail to trust and reverence Him at every turn.  It doesn't sound good.  I cringe even typing this, but I have to be honest.

~Lord, give me the wisdom to trust and reverence you always.  Your thoughts are greater than my thoughts.  Your ways are higher than my ways.  I desire to rest in you.~

2) Embrace learning - Why is listening to the wise counsel of your parents and elders so darn difficult!  As a youth I ignored most of the advice my parents gave.  I certainly wasn't seeking wise counsel in any other elders.  The advice of like minded friends or love interest were much more highly valued.  Hmmmmn... ya, probably could have saved myself some heartache if I had listened to my parents a bit more.  Life is life and thankfully I am learning.

~Lord, let my walk and Jonathon's walk with you reflect on the lives of our children.  Lord, let them see the value in trusting in you.  Let them see the importance of seeking wise counsel.  Open their hearts to see that we offer counsel because we love them and only want the best for them.  Open their ears to hear what we say.   Open their minds to be able to discern, to sift through the advice given, and wisely choose the correct path.~

3) Stay away from people who try to tempt you to do wrong - But sometimes doing wrong is so much fun!  Define fun.  Will this fun hurt you or others?  Define fun.  Why do I have to follow the rules when everyone else is doing whatever they want.  A wise person trusts and reverences God.  A wise person knows that He will not leave you nor forsake you.  He wants to prosper you and not harm you, give you hope and a future.  Seek the ways of wisdom.  Seek the ways of the Lord.

~Father, even now I need you.  My definition of fun might have changed over the years, but that doesn't mean that I am not still tempted by others to do wrong.  Father in a world that condones lascivious behavior, infidelity and divorce, I need you.  In a world that promotes reckless spending, social climbing, and keeping up with the Joneses, I need you.  I need you, Lord.~ 

4) Seek wisdom.  Do not shun it. - Sometimes wisdom is imparted by a person you would never expect.  Receive it.  For me, it's not necessarily shunning wisdom, it's shunning the source of the wisdom.  I often ask God for something.  I pray, I pray, I pray.  I get frustrated because God has not answered me.  I'll talk to Jonathon about it and he'll say, "I thought X just gave you this."  or  "Didn't I hear Y say this to you?"  Then it dawns on me.  God did answer my prayer, it just wasn't wrapped in a package I liked.

~Father, open my ears.  Open my eyes.  Open my mind.  Let me receive your word.  Give me discernment.  Help me to look past my notions of right and wrong and accept your offerings of wisdom.  


Thank you Dee Dee for offering up this challenge.  While I have read many chapters from Proverbs before, I have never read all of them straight through, and in a short time span.  I am eager to see what knowledge I will glean from reading this book of the Bible in this time.  Wisdom is shouting in the streets and I am listening.

Always Striving,

Joce


I Accept

My aunt Dee Dee challenged me and a number of other women to read one chapter of Proverbs each night - 31 chapters in 31 days.  Well, I accept! Join me, friends. Lets read and share.

I just read Proverbs 1 in The Message Bible. Pow pow powerful! It's late and Im sleepy now so I'll come back later and really dig in.  Please share your thoughts, concerns, and prayer requests. :-)

(Not sure who gets the photo credit)

Always Striving,

Joce

Monday, June 30, 2014

Contemplating Contentment

I've been thinking a lot about contentment.  Thinking.  Thinking.  Contentment or discontent starts with a thought.  A choice.  When I choose to think about all the things I don't have, compare myself, my marriage, and my kids to others I start to feel that tug.  Discontent creeping in.  I let it creep in.  I picked up a seed - a thought.  I planted it, water it, and continue to tend to it every day as I complain to my husband, scroll Facebook and Instagram envious of everyone's "perfect" life, and separate myself from God by filling His time with other things.

Yesterday, pastor talked about the authority of the believer.  Two of the scriptures he had us look at really struck me.  My mind ran back to the blog I had just written about contentment.

Keep a cool head.  Stay alert.  The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.
I Peter 5:8

So let God work his will in you.  Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.
James 4:7



These scriptures, while they do not speak specifically about contentment, helped me to see that I have the authority to capture negative thoughts.  If I do not capture these negative thoughts, the Devil is waiting and ready to hand me the watering pail.  He is eager to see discontenment ruin a life, a marriage.

The scriptures also provide hope.  The first instructs the believer to keep a cool head and stay alert.  Don't let the Devil catch you sleeping on the job.  But what if you do fall asleep?  Well, the second scripture encourages the believer to YELL (don't just tell) "No!" to the Devil.  Speak with the authority given by God and the Devil will flee.

I don't know about you, but reading this makes me feel great!  As I said in my previous post, I have struggled with feeling discontent.  I know this may sound crazy to some, but I have to be honest.  The only way to reach a break through is to be honest.  I am thankful that God has given me the authority to ask for help.  I am thankful God has given me the authority to tell the Devil no.

So, how do I  continue to check the spirirt of discontentment?

  1. First and foremost, spending individual time with God is a must.  I'm not saying you have to spend hours each day, but there does need to be some dedicated Christ time each day.  If you are not communing with Him, then how can you be assured of His endless mercy, His love, and His desire for you to be happily growing living out your purpose?  
  2. Focus on growth. Growing spiritually, in your relationships, professionally, academically, etc is very important in fulfilling your purpose. When you live a purpose driven life your are fulfilled and content. 
  3. Have an accountabillity partner.  I have talked about this many, many times.  Having an accountability partner with whom you can be completely honest, one who will keep it all the way real with you is VITAL.  I have three accountability partners.  My husband, one of my sisters, and a long time friend.  I can be completely honest with all three of these people.  They don't judge me for the "ugly" that sometimes resides within.  Instead they pray for me, help me check my motives, encourage me to turn my face back toward Christ.
  4. I periodically get off all social media.  I need to disconnect from the carefully crafted selfies and picture perfect family photo opts.  Don't get me wrong, but sometimes it can be little overwhelming.  I can be tempted to compare my life.  Start asking God why I don't have a new car or a bigger diamond. 

I cycle between being content and discontent.  I must say however, there are much longer periods of contentment than discontentment.  Lol  I am learning it's not about what everyone else has, it's about what God has for me.  I am growing.  I really am content.  I am happy.  Being content is much more peaceful, stressfree.


Always Striving,

Joce