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March: A Month of Change

Peonies from my garden, May 2018 [et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.19.15″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.19.15″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.19.15″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.15″]

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

In Ohio, many winters are harsh and spill over long into spring. As I write, it is snowing outside — the perfect type of day for a writer. No matter if it is sunny and warming and beginning to feel like spring, or if it is snowing out, March is a month of change. 

March, Month of Change

Many years ago, I read a quote to the effect of Even if we live to be 100 year old, we will have experienced Spring only 100 times. I have written about that quote here. 

I’m a person who loves to witness the miracle of Spring. I marvel at the green shoots poking through the barren earth in March, and I anticipate the flowers that will blossom from the stems in a month or two. I love Spring.

 

Peonies from my garden, May 2018

Peonies from my garden, May 2018

Change in Blog Frequency

Some may have noticed that for the months of January and February 2019, I posted daily blogs, which republished content from the book I wrote in 2007. It was an effort from the heart.

I personally read brief thoughts and devotions each day, from the Bible.com app and from other thinkers like Seth Godin. Both impact my train of thought for the day. I like to spend time to stretch and grow and be inspired to live my best.

The effort in publishing the daily inspirations from my book published in 2007 by Tyndale House was a success. But I have also learned something else during the past two months. The large amount of effort needed to sustain the daily blog is beyond what I am capable of sustaining. I spend much time and energy at my work, at being a mom and a friend, and have to invest myself carefully. This is why I am scaling back.

I will continue to occasionally publish photographs of travels and things that inspire me, and will share them here. And with that, I want to say thank you for your interest, reading, and thoughtful words you’ve shared with me.

Now, to enjoy the season upon us, of change, of miracles, of rebirth. To enjoying one of those 100 springs!

Jennifer

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February 28: Orderly and Welcoming

Rose Blossom

February 28

Orderly and Welcoming

She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. (Proverbs 31:27)

Life gets overwhelming sometimes. Toys, fuzz-bunnies, cobwebs, and heaps of junk mail soon clutter our homes when we’re not organized. We need a strategy for clearing clutter and making room for the important things in life.  

Mail and email tend to get out of control when it isn’t tackled immediately. Sometimes it takes undivided attention and discipline to sort out the pile.

Without attention and a few minutes to clean it up, shoes, dishes, bags, and homework create stacks of clutter. Home organization isn’t easy to achieve, but it can be done. It takes everyone to buy in to the places things need to be kept and stored for the next use. It takes willingness to keep a space tidy.

Life gets complicated and messy on busy days in busy families. God does not want us to be overwhelmed. He wants us have an orderly life that makes room for things that really matter. Take time each day to tidy up and create a welcoming home for your hearts.     

Make space for what is most important. 

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 27: Beautiful in Time

Lake Como, Italy

February 27

Beautiful in Time

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Have you ever set your heart on something and been completely disappointed when your hopes didn’t work out? In most of our lives, disappointments come in large and small sizes every day. The trash man comes early, the car wash isn’t open, or the weather is lousy when we counted on sunshine. The test results come back positive, the kids perform poorly, and loved ones let us down. Life often falls short of our expectations.  

How we handle the unexpected reflects our deepest attitudes. We may close up and shut life out, become depressed, or feel angry. It is easy to be dissatisfied and frustrated when things haven’t gone our way.  

If we realize that the way things are going is for the best—that they will become beautiful in God’s time, not ours—then we can let the disappointments go. 

The things we hope for don’t always come through in the way that we expect, but there is still something to be enjoyed. Even in disappointment, there is joy. 

The joys of each day are fleeting, so we must treasure them before they disappear. We have to release our disappointments to discover the joys.

Treasure today’s joy and beauty.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 26: Emotional Baggage

Lake Como, the view from the Alps -- sheer beauty

February 26

Emotional Baggage

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Many of us tend to fill our lives with things. We stuff things into our bags—makeup, car keys, diapers, umbrellas, cell phones, planners, food and drink . . . everything. We do the same with our emotional baggage. We pack bags of worry, anger, frustration, disappointment, and pain, and carry it all around. Sometimes we become emotional pack rats—we’re used to extra baggage, and strangely, it becomes a comfort.  

It’s hard to let go of last week’s disappointing news or yesterday’s squabble with a neighbor. We drag out past regrets and failures. We haul overstuffed bags of guilt around with us, day in and day out. 

But, we don’t have to carry that baggage. We need to turn it over to God.  

God wants the fullest life for us. Life isn’t nearly as enjoyable and vibrant when we are sore and cramped from hauling emotional baggage. God offers us rest and emotional healing in exchange for the load. He will handle each of our burdens with loving care.  

Turn your baggage over to God and receive his healing and rest. 

Give your baggage to God

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 25: Too Far to Jump

Mountain Peak in Austrian Alps

February 25

Too Far to Jump

Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Just as the distance from our world to the moon is too far for us to jump, the distance between us and God is too far to reach on our own power. Our sins keep us from our Creator. Our natural selfishness widens the gap between us and God. 

When we turn from ourselves and admit that we need help, God points us to Jesus, who gave his life to bridge the gap to God that we cannot cross on our own. Jesus gave his life for ours so that we may live.

God’s word shows us the way to a joy-filled life now and forever. When we admit our need and turn from our old ways, we can walk through life with faith and love, and experience the richness of a joy-filled life.  

God is answer to all our searching. From this day forward, personally believe in the work that Christ did on the cross. Grow in relationship with Him. He wants to be your Savior and friend, now and forever.

Trust wholly in God.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 24: Quiet Moment

Lake Como, Italy

February 24

Quiet Moment

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lordwas not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a sound of a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

A million things compete for our attention. To listen and really hear, we need to swim out of the world’s noisy ocean and take a quiet moment on the sand.

Our all-powerful God does not choose to shout in an earthquake, a fire, or the wind. He does not demand our attention above the roar of life. God waits until he has our attention and comes alongside us when we are still enough to hear his gentle whisper.

To hear God’s voice, we need to quiet our hearts. God delights in speaking with a heart humble enough to be still and to listen to him.

We hear God’s gentle whispers of love in the beauty of creation. Soft puffy clouds glide through a blue sea of sky. Children spill across the backyard. A friend offers a listening ear. A family laughs together. The sun rises on a brand new day. 

God speaks his love all around us; to perceive it, we must listen.

Listen to God’s gentle whisper.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 23: Warm Meals with Warm Hugs

Lupine, Maine, USA

February 23

Warm Meals with Warm Hugs

So encourage each other and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

In times of transition or crises, many families reach out to others, providing warm meals, and often warm hugs. Possibly a home-cooked meal and a smile of encouragement are the quickest route to meeting the heart’s need.  

Just as a long-distance runner needs extra encouragement to get past the aching legs to the finish, we all wear down and gasp for an encouraging push through the slumps in our own lives. Paul urged the Thessalonians to encourage one another, knowing that we need the constant support of family and friends to be at our best.  

Open your eyes to those in your life who may need an extra word of encouragement, a hot meal, a thoughtful card, or a warm hug to brighten their day. By giving of yourself for the encouragement of another, you will also be strengthened. Think of people who have encouraged you in your race by offering love and support and by cheering you on. Take a moment to say thank you with a note, an e-mail, or flowers. When we show appreciation to others, our lives flourish.

Encourage someone today.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 22: Prayers

wildflowers at sunrise, maremma, italy

February 22

Prayers

The Lord delights in the prayers of the upright. (Proverbs 15:8)

Life has many busy seasons. Sometimes, finding time to sit down and eat is difficult, much less offer a formal prayer. In college, I had a roommate who prayed while she dried her hair in the morning. She said that it was a reliable, undistracted time when she could connect with God.  

I don’t think that God has a preference as to when or how we connect with him in prayer. He delights in a sincere heart that offers him daily concerns and thanks. Prayer time connects us with God so that we can listen for his whisper of love. If that can happen under the hairdryer, it can happen anywhere.

Be creative. Pray for your loved ones as you iron their clothes. Pray for God’s joy in your day as you drive to work in the morning. Pray for the world’s health and well-being when you are stuck in traffic. God hears all of our prayers.

God’s help and comfort are available 24/7. God asks us to seek him, and tells us that he will respond if we reach out to him. Make time for that today. 

Connect with God in prayer.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 21: Sand Castles and Sea Shells

My vote for the World's Most Beautiful Beach: Seagrove Beach, Florida

February 21

Sand Castles and Sea Shells

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)

Worldwide, people love to vacation at the beach. On the beach, we can leave our shoes at the door and let the sand rub away our roughness. The saltwater restores our spirits as we pass our days building sandcastles, digging large holes, catching blue crab, and watching dolphin. Through sunsets and shells, footprints and kite-flying, we experience God’s pleasure.  

God has planted in each of us the longing for a better place than this earth. He made us that way for a reason. If we wanted to stay in the frayed chaos of life as most of us know it, we would have no need of heaven. We live our busy lives in chaos many times because we are searching for a solution for our restlessness.

Heaven is the place that we thirst for. To me, beach days suggest the beauty, wholeness, and adventure we will experience for eternity in God’s presence. God is preparing a place for each of us where every longing and desire will be satisfied. 

God is preparing our place in heaven.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 20: A Cup Quite Full

Color, Light, and Form

February 20

A Cup Quite Full

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. (Psalm 23:5)

Our family tends to get sick in late February, as often happens with children in the house. I dread having our home invaded by sneezing, coughing, and sleepless nights, but I realize that God sometimes uses sickness to slow us down. Being home sick is a great time to refuel our spirits and show our love by caring for loved ones. 

We can learn to see through Jesus’ eyes and realize that regardless of a broken dishwasher, a flat tire, or the family being sick, he is in control. God uses every circumstance of our lives to form us into who he wants us to be. As we choose to see the flowers instead of the weeds, we can see our blessings and be thankful, even during hard times.

Practice having a thankful heart today. Focus on the numerous joys and blessings that sprinkle down with the rain instead of just longing for sunny days. Our glasses are full to running over with God’s love.   

God blesses our lives.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.