Saturday, April 2, 2016

Walking on Water



In October/November of 2014 I found myself singing this song over and over.  Meditating on the words. "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders."

Without borders.

Without borders.

Jesus.

I believe this was a peek into where God was planning to take me next.  To this place, this space in Him where my trust is unquestioned.  A space where I go because I trust Him without borders.  I move in His strength where ever He leads.

Oh, by the way, typing that was super easy, living it, not so much.

In January 2015 we officially moved away from the St. Louis area and into turbulent transition.  I didn't realize it at first.  I was lulled by the chaos of the move.  The details of organizing.  Setting up life for our family.

Slowly, slowly I began to see that this was going to be a season of learning to trust God in a whole new way.  Might I add that strengthening the trust muscle has been one of the most rewarding and excruciating exercises of my life.

The first step for me was closely examining truths about life, my life that I believed were unchanging, true, and trustworthy. Where was I placing my trust and why?  We are, of course, free to put our trust in whatever and whomever we choose.  Placing trust in earthly objects, persons, or situations is inevitably going to fail us at some point.  Even though I knew this I had done what many people do.  I fell prey to the world's truths and began trusting people, things, and circumstances above the word God have given me.  (Tough to type that.  Very tough.)

Our God is a jealous and loving God.  I am thankful that He wants me and pursued me with crazy intensity last year.  Please don't mistake these words to mean He courted me with roses.  No, my eyes had to be opened in a real way.

In 2015 I saw the end of friendships, sickness run rampant in my family, the failure of my career pursuits, multiple blows to the foundation of my marriage, and an identity crisis.

Watching all these things tumble before me was painful and humbling, but the truth was that I had put an unhealthy amount of trust in friendships, career ambitions, my marriage, and an identity that I created for myself.

You may look at this list and think I'm being dramatic.  That's cool.  Everyone has to come to the place of discovering that trusting God above all else is the only way.  God is the only one who will never fail.  He never breaks a promise, never breaks your heart, never leaves you out to dry, never betrays you.  Your trust is safe in Him.

Friends fail.  Careers fail.  Marriages fail. Self constructed identity fails.  It's a fact.  If you haven't experienced any of this, live a little longer.

The tough stuff.  The real stuff.  The worth it stuff.  The God stuff.

I probably cry or scream at least once a week about something.  (The pregnancy hormones don't help. LOL)  I'm ok admitting this.  It's my healthy way of releasing the hurt, confusion, frustration.

In 2015 I saw the deconstruction of a lot, but I also saw the reconstruction of my trust in Christ.  I saw just how much He loves me.  How much He cares about the inner recesses of my heart.  I saw how He lovingly prepared me to witness each tough bit.  He held me.  He put some people in my life to help me deal.  He bathed me in the Word.  He gave me a thirsting for His knowledge.

2016 has been all about healing and rebuilding.  Do I experience fear as I walk out onto the waters?  Of course I do.  So many days I just want to stop.  Then, I am reminded that this thing called life, the purpose God has given me is about more than me.  It is about more than the tears I cry this week.  God is doing a beautiful thing for His people.  I want to share in this.  In order to do this I must have my eyes, my mind, my heart, my life focused on Him.  I must trust Him without borders.  He must know that where He leads I'll follow.  He needs to know I won't dip out every time I get a little thorn in my foot.  

This morning, before I spent time with God :-( I sketched out a plan about how I was going to give up today. I wrote out my plans.  I justified my future actions. After I was done I opened my devotional and was smacked back into reality.  HaHa!  This is why you gotta go to God first.  You won't waste time wasting time.

Revelation:  Once the walls of false truth have been completely knocked down the rebuilding can begin.  As the master builder prepares He must examine the foundation.  Maybe some parts of the foundation have been cracked.  Other parts of the foundation might have been improperly laid.  God's got the tools to make it right.  So, that's where I am.  The rebuilding stages.  Cracks are being filled.  Old foundation is being ripped out, and new foundation is being put in place.

"But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share his eternal glory in union with Christ, will himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.  To him the power for ever. Amen!
I Peter 5:10-11 GNB

Still striving, friends.  Still striving!

Joce



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Strength?

The Bible says, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7 (NLT)


I have been asking for, seeking, and knocking on the door of strength. Every day that I wake up I find I need a new infilling of strength from the Holy Spirit.

So each day I keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.  Every day, God gives me what I need.  Not always what I think I need, but certainly what He knows I need.   

Toward the end of 2015, after multiple blows to my physical, mental, and emotional strength, I said, "God, show me your strength in me.  Show me please, because Lord I'm tired and weak.  I don't feel like I have anymore to give to this journey that you've called me to take."

In true God fashion, he answered my prayer in a way that was real and true for me.  He said, "You're going to run."  For those who don't know, I am a runner.  I LOVE to run.  When I am stressed I run.  When I am happy, I run.  When I am bored, I run.  I love to run.  The beginning part of my pregnancy did not allow me the physical strength to run at all.  Most days I couldn't get out of the bed without quickly leaning on a wall for support. So, when God said I was going to run I was thrilled, but a bit skeptical.  "Lord, I have not run in months.  I've lost weight, muscle mass, and now I have a belly."  Because He's God He wasn't trying to hear any of that!  LOL  I love God!  :-)  He had me listen to a sermon entitled Facing a Red Sea Challenge by Priscilla Shirer.  He also brought my attention to Olympian Alysia Montano, who ran the 800m dash at 8 months pregnant.  

So, it was decided.  I would run a 5k at 8 months pregnant.  As I trained for this race, there were days my hips hurt so badly afterward that I doubted I would actually be able to do it.  There were days when people told me I was crazy for running a 5k. Understandably people were concerned for the health and safety of the me and the baby.

BUT....

There were also so many people encouraging me.  Cheering me all along the way.  There were people that were inspired by a strength that God placed inside of me to keep running each week until race day.  I believe God placed these people in my ear to keep me going, keep me accountable.  

So, a few weeks ago I ran the Valentine's Day 5k.  I was 31 weeks pregnant, just hitting 8 months.  I ran and kept running until I crossed that finish line after about 45 minutes!  

Now, I have to be honest.  Even after training for weeks.  Even with my excitement running high, the race wasn't easy.  I had to press into a deep down strength that was placed in me by God.  I had to listen to the encouraging words of my husband as he ran beside me.  I had to trust the word God had given me. I had to keep going.  I had to keep going.  Even on race day, walking in the moment of promise, I had to lean even more on the strength of God because it's often right there that the Enemy would love to steal your confidence, your joy, your hope.

When I got home that afternoon.  My son screamed, "Mommy, Mommy did you win the race?!"  I said,"Yes, Jace I did win the race."  He looked over at his babysitter and said, beaming from ear to ear, "My Mommy won the race!"  My heart erupted in a thousand praises.  

I went upstairs to sit in quiet reflection for a few moments and broke down crying.  I cried tears of joy and awe.  I cried tears of thanksgiving and renewal.  I was amazed at God's love for me.  Me.  I was amazed at how He uses everything to heal, restore, encourage, and inspire.  I imagine Moses felt this type of overwhelming amazement after God showed him His glory.  

God knows what we need.  He will take care.  On days like today, when I ask for strength, as I struggle through unbelief, I am reminded of God's love, God's faithfulness, God's strength placed in me.  

Always Striving,

Joce




Friday, January 29, 2016

What Do You Do with Your Kids?

Many of you know that I have been a full time working mom (FTWM), a stay at home mom (SAHM), and a part time working mom (PTWM) of two adorably and exhaustively energetic children.  Having been in a variety of mothering roles I can attest that each is both rewarding and challenging.  Each requires different sacrifices.  It really perturbs me when someone tries to hold one above the other, but that is not the purpose of today's post. :-)  

As a SAHM and a part time stay at home mom, many people have asked me for advice about what to do with their children all day.  As a SAHM or PTWM you are essentially solely responsible for your child's learning.  It's a lot of pressure.  Both challenging and rewarding.  So, here are some things I've enjoy doing with my children over the years.  Just as a frame of reference, my children are 4 and 2 with one in the womb!




When I first became a SAHM the first thing I did was look on the public library's website to find out when story hour took place.  The library is a LIFE SAVER and it is free!  :-)  Typically after story hour there is a related craft.  Some libraries have instruments, dancing, bubbles, coloring sheets.  I searched the libraries in my area for the best story hour.  This is something the kids like to do 2 - 3x per week.

A good friend just reminded me about Pottery Barn's storytime and Whole Foods - Whole Kids club where there are typically food inspired crafts.  Both great outings!




The second thing I did was find something for both me and my son to enjoy.  I like working out so I signed up for Baby Boot Camp.  3x a week a group of moms get together to work out with their child(ren).  The group I joined when I lived in St. Louis, MO met in a great park, worked out through the zoo sometimes, or the mall if it was cold or rainy.  These moms became wonderful friends and a
huge support.  It was also nice for Jace to see the same kids on a regular basis.  We would often get together for play dates.  If there is no Baby Boot Camp in your area there may be Stroller Strides - Fitness 4 Moms, See Mommy Run, Moms in Motion, or Active Moms Club.  
**Each group has it's own philosophy about the amount of interaction between mother and child during workout time.

If you're not a work out mom, there are a ton of other groups.  Googling Moms Meetups is a great way to find some local groups.  A few well known groups are MOMs Club and Mocha Moms.  

Another great resource that I used to find other activities for me and the kids to do is the website Macaroni Kid.  It is a national website in which you can input your zip code and find a calendar full of activities for all age groups.  Some of the activities are free.  Some are paid.  I highly recommend signing up for Macaroni Kid.  If you happen to live in the St. Louis area, there is also another great website called St. Louis Sprout and About.  Both of these sites are a game changer for SAHMs.

One final resource that I absolutely love is Mother's Day Out.  This is a program typically held at a local church.  Mothers can drop their child off once or twice a week for 3-4 hours.  This was very, very helpful for me and the kids loved it.  I was able to get some things done without hauling two children in and out of the car with each stop.  Some days I just sat and read a book.  

So, what does a typical day actually look like?  Well...let's save that for the next post.  I'd love to hear about your go to resources for enriching the lives of your children!

Love to all parents!  Love to all Moms!

Always striving,

Joce






Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Decision

"Forget the former things; 
do not dwell on the past. 
See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland," (Isaiah 43:18 - 19 NIV)

Here's the thing. We all have a choice. We have a choice to trust God or trust ourselves, our flesh, our circumstances, the enemy. We have a choice.

So, 2015 was tough.  A number of painful realities were revealed to me over the course of the year. However, if I look back at the year carefully, I see that for every pain there was God, in His purposeful precision, fortifying me. He was a strong tower around my heart, my mind, and my body so that I would not be broken, but built up stronger to declare His love and faithfulness, His grace and tender care, to testify about His fight for me. 

I have a choice in 2016 to trust God at His word, which NEVER fails, or trust in my feeling and emotions which constantly fail.  I have a choice to let go of the hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment, fear, disappointment. I am writing this post and working through this at the same time.  I am right at this moment, there is no lag time.  

I have not already worked through it, but I was convicted last night talking to my mother about the pain of the previous year. she said, "Jocelynn, I wish you would stop. You need to cast some words out of your vocabulary this year.  Stop giving them life.  Let go!"

I was convicted again this morning as I read my Bible and was reminded that Caleb was permitted to go into the promised land because unlike everyone around him, he followed the Lord wholeheartedly. (Deuteronomy 1:34-36) He didn't operate in the fear and unbelief that gripped his people. He remained strong in the promises of God.

I was convicted again as I trolled Instagram and saw this post from Christine Caine:

After seeing this I was called back to Isaiah 43:18-19 (posted above). God's word.  Unchanging. Unfailing. Truth.

"As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord's word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my ways secure." (Psalm 18:30-32 NIV)

Does that mean it is going to be easy? Absolutely not. Letting go and letting God is tough business. BUT I'll tell you what, every single time I have let go in the past...EVERY SINGLE TIME I have let go I have experienced a peace like no other. I have seen God carry me like he did the Israelites in the Old Testament as they wandered through the wilderness to the promised land.

"There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, 
as a father carries his son, 
all the way you went until you reached this place." (Deuteronomy 1:31 NIV)

So, I'm mostly writing this blog post for myself. (LOL) To document the word God has given me on today. To remind myself of His faithfulness. To place this here for accountability.

God says, "Will you trust me today, Jocelynn?  Will you trust me enough to let go of the hurt and the anger and the disappointment and the fear? Will you let me strengthen you, daughter? Will you let me be glorified in this so that others will see how sweet is the reward of turning over everything to God? Will you? Jocelynn?"

Always Striving,

Joce




Friday, January 1, 2016

Hold On to Your Bootstraps!

Well, Happy New Year!  It's been quite a while since I've written a blog post, but I felt led this morning.

2015 was a year filled mostly with tests, trials, and mess.  As I reflected yesterday I thought, "Lord, you are the only constant, the only good.  Your love, faithfulness, mercy, grace, steadfastness, forgiveness.  God you are the best part of 2015."  And then I proceeded to cry for an hour.

I cried tears of joy that my relationship with Christ has gotten stronger.  I mean stronger.  I only made it to today because of his strength.  It's like the poem,

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. 
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."
- by Mary Stevenson

I had a "Footprints in the Sand" kind of year.  I'm sure I'm not alone.

I cried because I was sad. I had many moments this year when I thought, "God, this isn't fair!  Why me?"

To this He responded, "No, but I am fair.  Why not you?  You have me.  I am all you need."

Not the response I wanted.  Sorry, just being honest.

After I finished crying, I talked to my sister.  I said, "Sister, when I think back on 2015 it will always be a year ..."  She proceeded to cut me off and say, "... a year that God used to propel you to something greater!"

I burst into laughter.  "That is not what I was going to say."

"I know." She said.

I love my sister!  I love God!

Listen up, everyone!  2015 presented some tests that God will turn into amazing testimonies.  I walked through some down right dirty mess that God is going to turn into a message for His glory!  He really already has.  I have been amazed at how the Holy Spirit has been working through my pain, sadness, anger, etc. to present a message of love, hope, salvation, restoration, and grace to those around me.  I pray that He continues to use me for His glory. 

So, hold onto your bootstraps!  God's got a word, ya'll!  He has completely wrecked me, my thoughts about Him, the meaning of love, faith, grace, strength have been changed upside down this past year.  He is doing something new.  My eyes are open in a new way.  It won't be a smooth journey cause that's not my testimony.  It won't be a smooth journey because the Devil ain't happy right now.  I. DON'T. CARE.  I am taking up God's word and I am continuing to wage war!


Please, join me.

Always striving,

Joce 












Saturday, August 29, 2015

But, Why?


Over the past couple of months I have been in some very interesting situations.  I found myself asking God why.  Why do I have to face this challenge, endure that suffering, be rejected by those people? Yesterday as I lay in my bed, exhausted from days of travel and Mommy duty I was drawn to my answer.

The answer came back to my point of prayer list.  No, God was not having me experience all of the situations of the people on my list, but He was providing insight. Because the Holy Spirit abides within me, I know that I am qualified to pray in a unique way.  So, why the need for perspective?  Well, God does not force His hand or His will,  he has given us the freedom to choose. A little perspective often takes our eyes off of our lives, needs, wants, etc. and places them on others.

As I lay in bed yesterday I was overwhelmed by a desire to pray for a particular woman who has been battling cancer.  In my exhaustion I was reminded about how much greater her exhaustion must be, yet she focuses on Christ.  I prayed for her husband and children.  As a wife and mother I know the love, the bond, the dreams, hopes, and desires you wish to see fulfilled.  I can imagine the heartbreak as her family watches her struggle for physical strength day after day. The stress, the strain, the uncertainty, yet UNWAVERING faith in God. I am humbled by their story.  Celebrating Christ in every moment possible.

I was literally brought to tears praying for this family.  I do not know them, but I thank God for perspective to pray for them.  I thank God for every situation that leads me to pray for another.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Point of Prayer



As I said in my post on Saturday, I found out about some things, really over the last two months, that have made me say wow!  Happy wows, sad wows, disappointed wows, overjoyed wows.

About a month or so ago, I was sharing this with a good friend. Her response was so on point that I asked her if I could share it with you all.  :-)  She said, "Jocelynn, God has given you ears to hear and a heart that sees His people.  Now find the point of prayer."

"What do you mean, point of prayer?" I asked.

"It is the place in the happy and the sad where they need God.  People can gab on and on and on, but you have to listen for what it is their heart desperately needs.  That is the point of prayer. God brings certain people into your life so you can intercede for them.  Maybe you have had a similar experience, maybe not.  Either way God knows the temperature of your heart and the pulse of your prayer life. He knows you will allow the Holy Spirit to give you the right words."

"Sometimes I know I'm supposed to pray for a person, but I can't quite focus in on the point of prayer."

"Get rid of your distractions. Without the distractions of your own "stuff" clouding your thoughts, you'll be able to hear God speak more clearly."

My friend actually keeps a point of prayer list.  I thought this was a wonderful idea.  As I go through my day, I try to focus less on myself, and more on the joy and sadness of those around me.  I try to see them with God's eyes.  I pray for them.

God has given all of us opportunities to find the point of prayer.  Are we missing these opportunities because we are so distracted by our own "stuff"?

I challenge you to listen through the happiness, sadness, and straight up madness for the point of prayer.

Pray for the continued strength and joy in a couples' marriage.  Pray peace that passes understanding for a couple that has lost a child.  Pray for reconciliation in a family broken by infidelity, strife, and unforgiveness.  Happiness, sadness, madness.

Always Striving,

Joce