Inspiring People to Use Their Gifts for Global Impact

Posts tagged ‘A Gifted Generation’

The Power of Place

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“What if your greatest barrier in life was your place?”

When I heard my pastor pose this question during one of his messages about seven years ago, it hit me.  It wasn’t a statement that caused me to nod my head and then was quickly forgotten. No. Instead, it hit me and stuck with me.  I couldn’t shake it.

As a teacher, I immediately began to think about the students I worked with on a daily basis who, for the most part, had every opportunity, resource, and relationship before them.  I thought of the classroom in which I was teaching filled with books and bins, technology and training materials. Our school was a warm and safe place. Our building was one where students felt valued and appreciated, significant and sown into.  Children I taught knew that their teachers believed they had potential and greatness on the inside of them, and each day was spent unearthing, cultivating, and promoting the growth of each child’s unique gifts and talents.

Our school was a beautiful place filled with love and learning,

joy and journeying.

Then, just as quickly, my mind flashed to the classrooms in Haiti that I had visited in the past few years.  In 2010, right after the major earthquake, I was given the opportunity to go work with teachers and students at a school in Les Cayes.  Despite the conditions, and the 30, 40, & 50+ students in each class, the teachers there were working just as hard to teach and train the young people in their care.  They were spending hours each day doing their best to teach the children what they were expected to learn, with minimal materials, while sorting through the devastation their nation had just experienced.  Through it all, their heart for the children was evident.

There was one difference … one significant difference …

and that was their place.

For the children in both places, the desire to learn was the same.  The innate talent and ability was the same. The gifts and talents, the potential, the dreams and vision, desire and hope were the same.  

The imagining and dreaming about

“What do I want to be when I grow up?” was the same.

What was heartbreaking for me though, as I thought about the similarities between children in Haiti and the children in my own school in Ohio, was that the one difference was so significant.  

For children in Haiti, their place doesn’t make their dreams and vision, hopes and heart any less important.  The fact that they don’t have books in their classrooms, have six students sitting at a desk built for three, are using broken pencils and “nubs” of crayons, with no electricity, no technology, and are trying to learn as the 90 degree heat and humidity causes sweat to drip down their backs … does not minimize their significance one single ounce.

Where they live, where they play, where they go to school, where they spend their days does not reduce their ability to think big, hope for the impossible, and see themselves making an impact on the world.

The children who are growing up in “places” all over the world where the resources are lacking, the support structures for growth are not in place, and the doors of opportunity are often closed or absent altogether … those children, just as much as children from wealthy neighborhoods and families, communities and regions, are just as worthy of experiencing the joy of growth and the sweetness of success.  

They are just as gifted, just as talented, just as brilliant as the children who have been blessed to be born in places of abundance.  There is no condemnation for those who were blessed to be in environments where all of their needs are met in above and beyond ways. However, those whose place would not be defined that way deserve opportunity too.  They deserve atmospheres and environments where their hopes and dreams can thrive, and their gifts, talents, and abilities can be cultivated and utilized to impact the Kingdom.

And that truth … that truth alone … hit me that day, and I knew I needed to do something about it.

So, as I spent time in the Global School of Ministry at Cornerstone Church, I knew I needed to start a nonprofit organization to unearth the gifts, talents, and abilities of underprivileged children around the world.  Through one of our “Business Plan” assignments, in the Kingdom Business track, I had the chance to create a real plan that could make a real impact. The business leaders, who were my mentors at the time, helped me with this process.  I am so grateful, because I knew I needed to take the resources that have been afforded to me and sow them into the lives of children whose place is their only limiting factor.

As a result, A Gifted Generation was born in 2012.  We are currently a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and our mission is to unearth the gifts and talents of children around the world by providing the resources and environment where growth can occur, while instilling the belief that each child has been uniquely created for a divine purpose.

Since 2012, we have partnered with many generous people who also believe that if we can reduce the barriers caused by a child’s place, they can grow and thrive in ways we never imagined possible.

God is doing amazing things in Haiti, and I am grateful to be a part of the revival that is taking place.  The children I have worked with over the last eight years have impressed me beyond measure, and they continue to challenge me to do more to help cultivate what has already been planted in them by God.

There is power in place.  

And, the best part is that no matter the place you’re in, God has placed something in your hands that can assist others in rising up, seeking Him, and knowing that the greatness on the inside of them is significant and needed in the Kingdom.  

Let’s keep changing the world together!

With love,

Jeanna :)

www.Facebook.com/aGiftedGeneration

www.aGiftedGeneration.org

 

Refill Please!!

Refill Please!

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 Do you feel like you’re running on empty?

Are you completely drained at the end of most days?

Maybe you even feel drained as you START your day!  If that’s the case, you have your WARNING sign! :)

We’ve heard it before, but let’s consider this analogy…

Your life is a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a can of your favorite beverage.  You enjoy those moments when you get to take a sip or sometimes gulp after gulp.  Every once in a while, you even share your favorite beverage with others.

After time has passed, your cup is empty, your glass is wineless, and you’ve reached the bottom of the can.  What do you do at that point?

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Well, if you are at a restaurant, you ask for a refill!  If you are at home, you walk to the kitchen counter or refrigerator and pour yourself another glass!

What do we do in life when that happens?  

Are we as quick to realize when we are empty?  Do we have the wherewithal to recognize our depleted state as readily as when we see the bottom of the coffee mug?

“Yes, I need a refill.”  

Those words slip fluidly off our tongue when the server at the restaurant asks if there’s anything we need.  No hesitation.  No guilt.  We are not worried about what others think of our request.  We don’t analyze our need and feel “less than” for asking.

You’re on empty today.  Your cup is dry.

For you, it may have been dry for quite some time now.

The truth is, you CANNOT pour out if you’re on empty.

That is a fact!  Just ask anyone who has found themselves on the side of the road trying to catch a ride to the gas station.  It’s NOT a pleasant experience!  They KNOW there’s no way to operate when they’ve reached “E.”

Your family needs you to be filled.  Your friends and others around you need you to be full.  Why? Because you have amazing things to share with them.  Your ability to love, and give, and share life with others is completely dependant on your tank.  If it’s filled, you can pour out without any trouble at all.

However, when you need to give encouraging words or when someone around you needs prayer or help with their struggles, it’s MUCH easier when you have something to give!

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“You’re right.  I’m on empty.” you say.  “How do I fix it?”

You do what everyone does when they recognize their emptiness.

You ask for a refill. :)

Who are you asking, though?

You’re asking the ONLY one who can actually fill you.  You’re seeking the One who knows exactly how much fuel you need for EVERY day you’re here on this earth.

Your dad.  Your father.  Your source.

He desperately wants to fill you up.  He has seen you trying to pour out for SO LONG, and has been trying to get your attention!  He has seen you struggling to love those who need to be loved and care for those around you.  Your spouse, your children, your friends …

You give, and give, and give, but you forget the most KEY ELEMENT in the whole process!  

The FILL UP!

Here’s the secret.  It’s a DAILY need.  

You need Him to fill you DAILY!

Otherwise, you will find yourself back on the couch at night or lying in bed feeling as if the world has sucked every ounce of energy out of you … again.   Don’t live like that!

He wants you to live life to the FULLEST!  

That’s the key word!  FULL!  

There’s no way to live life to the fullest if you’re empty.  It’s a contradiction of terms.  It’s an oxymoron.

Don’t live an “oxymoron” life. :)  

He has a FULL life planned for you if you allow him to be your “filler.”  So, the remedy … sit with him each day.  Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, find the time of day when you hear Him best.  Discover the moments where you can physically feel him pouring life back into you.  He wants to do it.  You NEED Him to do it.  Let Him wrap His loving arms around you and fill you.

Believe me.  Your family members, friends, co workers … those you meet on the street or those you run into at the grocery store … they’ll notice.  You’ll notice.  There’s a HUGE difference between EMPTY and FULL.

Let Him fill you up today.

With Love,

Jeanna :)

 
Images:
Coffee: http://wanderer-onestep.blogspot.com/2010/05/going-coffee-crazy-today.html
Coke:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/steezandcrackers/878584444/
 
 

Bedtime Brilliance

Bedtime Brilliance

ImageAt what time of day do you get your most brilliant ideas?  

For me, it never fails that as I lay my head down to sleep, a million and one ideas pop into my head.  Ideas about projects I should work on, people I should connect with, new challenges I should attempt …  They ALL come rushing to the forefront of my mind the moment I am seeking peace and quiet and rest.

Why is that?

I’ve heard a few theories on this topic.  One is that as you lay down in bed, you get better circulation to your brain, which allows you to think more clearly and your creativity begins to flow.  One individual suggested that if you needed to come up with a new project, idea, invention, or solution, you should actually lie down on the floor (or couch if you want to be comfortable), and you will find you have more ideas than you had before.

It really is an interesting concept!

A second theory I came across, when venting to a friend about lack of sleep due to my creativity crisis, is that when laying in bed, your brain shifts into a different mode.  In this relaxed state, more of your subconscious thoughts rise to the surface.  All those intentional thoughts that were clouding your mind have been packed up in your “Deal With Tomorrow” suitcase, and your subconscious creativity comes out to play.

It’s actually quite amusing, I think!  Well, that is, until you are staring at the clock and wondering when Miss Creative will leave you alone long enough for you to drift off into dream land.

Here’s my theory, though.

I think the first two theories are quite valid.  I’m sure they’re both true in some way.  My theory, however, is that when we finally crawl our tired bodies into our warm and cozy bed at night, God finally gets a chance to chat with us once again.

Maybe we sat with Him in the morning and heard His thoughts on the day.  Maybe we threw a “Thank you, Lord!” or “Please help me, Jesus!” into the atmosphere a few times throughout our hectic afternoon.  But when we finally have decided that the day we are in has come to a close and we are ready to shift into delightful dreaming, God whispers to us, “Psst … my precious daughter … I just want to tell you how much I love you before this day is done.”  “Hey … my amazing son … I just want to let you know how proud I am of you today!”

Then, He slips in a few of HIS ideas into our minds, and THAT is when those beautiful moments of brilliance take place!

They are HIS ideas.  They are HIS creations and revelations that He’s been trying to get us to see all day long!  However, the busy nature of our lives tends to choke out His voice.

So, today … tonight … make sure you have a pen ready.  He has so much He wants to pour into you.  Don’t wait until bedtime to hear Him speak.  Don’t miss the sheer genius He is pouring into you and drawing out of you all day long.  Those thoughts and ideas He’s whispering to you can change your life!  They can point you in a new direction or help you through a crisis.  They can revitalize your business or rejuvenate your relationships!

Don’t miss His whispers.  Hear Him today.  He’s got some AMAZING things to share with you!

With Love,

Jeanna

Image:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en

Maxi Miracles

Maxi Miracles

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Are you believing God right now for something huge to happen in your life?  Have you been seeking Him, asking, and even pleading with him for certain prayers to be answered?

Maybe you’re praying for someone in your family to be cured from cancer, or to see a friend saved or delivered from her current circumstances.  Maybe you need a huge financial miracle or are seeking God to save your marriage.  Whatever it is, whatever that “Maxi Miracle” is that you’ve been seeking Him for, I just want you to know that He hears you.  He hears your cries.  He knows your thoughts.  He sees you where you are and has kept track of every tear that has fallen.  Those sleepless nights filled with worry are not something He ignores.

Now, you may be thinking …

“Well, if He is so good at knowing how much pain I’m in, and He hears my every prayer … why hasn’t he fixed it?  Why am I still in this mess?  My heart is hurting, and He has the remedy.  Why hasn’t he stepped in to stop my pain?”

I would say those are very valid questions.  I asked them myself many times.  I know this probably isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but I’d say the way to make it through the trial and the season of pain is to ask different questions.

What are You teaching me today?

How are my circumstances molding me into the person You’ve designed me to be?

What am I NOT seeing?

I am not trying to minimize the trials and tribulations we experience.  They are painful.  That is a fact.  However, sometimes the pain blinds us to the miracles that are happening EVERY DAY!

Oftentimes, we are so busy waiting for our MAXI MIRACLES that we completely ignore the MINI MIRACLES that surround us.

everyday_miracles

Believe me, God wants the best for you.  However, sometimes His “best” requires us to go through the fire.  It’s preparation.  I know it isn’t pleasant.  I know it isn’t all roses.  I’ve gone through many days where I thought God had put the mute button on my prayer requests and forgot I existed.

The thing is, He never forgets you exist.  

You’re on His mind ALL the time!  

So, today, as you are seeking God for your Maxi Miracles, don’t forget to look around you for all of the Mini Miracles He is giving you.  Don’t be blinded by your own prayers.  Don’t allow your painful circumstances to rob you of the joy each day can bring, even when your deepest desires are still just that.

He made today just for you.  He designed this day so that you could experience it with Him, step by step.  Take His hand and walk with Him today.  He knows your pain and sees your circumstances.  He’s working them out as you walk with Him.

Allow Him to do what He does best.  He knows your end from your beginning, and even when it doesn’t make ANY kind of sense, remember that it’s all working for your good, and your future is magnificent.

Your TODAY is your miracle.  

Whether you consider it to be Maxi or Mini … don’t miss it!

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Images:

Johnson, Ginger. “Miracles Happen.” Photo. SurvivorSpark.com 13 March 2014.

<http://survivorspark.com/make-your-own-miracles-part-2/&gt;

Greenburg, Mike. “Life is a Series of Miracles.” Photo. EverydayMiracles.net 13 March 2014.

<http://everyday-miracles.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/everyday_miracles.jpg&gt;

“Don’t Wait for Miracles.” Photo. MotivationBlog.org 13 March 2014.

<http://www.motivationblog.org/dont-wait-for-miracles-albert-einstein-quote/#&gt;

There’s No Place Like …

There’s No Place Like …

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There’s no place like Haiti.  There really isn’t.  I know most of you were expecting the ending of that sentence to look a bit different.  I would say that I agree that there’s no place like home, but after traveling to Haiti multiple times, I can say, without a doubt, that there really is no other place like it in the world.

I’ve traveled to a few other countries at this point in my life, and there’s just something about Haiti that gets me every time.  There’s just something about the people, the culture, the environment … there’s something about the children that draws me back over and over.

Many people have asked me the question,

“Why Haiti?”  “What made you decide to go?”

To be honest, the reason I chose to go to Haiti was because it was the only opportunity that presented itself at the time!  Jay & Jan Nielsen, who started Missions International of America, invited a group of teachers to take the trip.  I could pretend that the people of Haiti and the nation itself was on my heart for years, but really it was an open door that pretty much fell in my lap.

So, that explains my answer to the first question, but the answer to the second is what I find most interesting as I look back.

“What made me decide to go?”

Do you want the real answer?  It’s not as “fairytale” as most people would expect.  The major reason I went wasn’t because I wanted to help children at a school in the most impoverished nation in the western hemisphere.  Reason number one wasn’t to use my gifts and talents and resources to make the lives of other people better or different in some way.  I wasn’t thinking about the people who needed to hear the Gospel or needed to know that God loves them beyond measure.

Now, those things have become major reasons why I continue to travel back, but the main reason at the time was not quite so “pretty.”

At the time when Jan sent out the invitation, I was going through some really tough experiences in my life.  Things weren’t going as I had planned when I mapped out my “picture perfect future.”  The timeline I had set for getting married and having children and living my Disney princess movie was pretty much falling apart and then being put through the shredder.

So, when I got that email from Jan, I wasn’t thinking about the precious faces of Haitian children.  I was thinking about escape.  I wanted a way to escape from the pain and tears and overwhelming disappointment that I was feeling.  My own world was choking me.  I was consumed with my OWN problems, and I recognized that I needed out.

I needed to escape the world I was living in before it took over not only my present, but my future.

When Jan’s lifeline appeared in my inbox, I saw my chance to break free from the chains of my “now.”  Deep down I knew that it wasn’t healthy for me to be so consumed with the drama in my own life.  I knew that there was a “bigger picture” to behold.  I knew God had more for me than what I was seeing.  It was as if all the issues and problems hung in a massive curtain of darkness in front of my eyes, and no matter how much I pushed or pulled or clawed at it, it wouldn’t go away.

That’s when I knew I needed a shift in my perspective.  

I needed a new vantage point.

God knew it, too.  He threw me a rope and gave me a second chance.  He whispered to me, “I have so much more for you than this.  Trust me.  Follow me.  I know it seems scary and silly and out of your comfort zone, but that’s EXACTLY where I need you to be.  Right now you’re locked in this depression room.  I refuse to leave you here.  You were made for so much more, and I WILL NOT allow you to perish in this place.  Now, you are a strong woman, and you will endure it if you must.  However, I’m telling you that I’m giving you an “out.”  I’m giving you a “get out of jail free card.”  Take it and run with me.  Move with me into the future I have for you because it is more glorious than you could ever imagine!  Your present doesn’t have to be your reality.  Your now will soon be your “what used to be” as long as you take my hand and follow me.  I know the way.  Let’s go.

When he spoke those words to me, I knew that Haiti was my chance for the shift I needed.  I needed a shift in my mindset.  I needed a shift in my focus.  I needed to shift the way I viewed my life and what it was all about.  I am so thankful that He didn’t allow me to be consumed.

Haiti, in a sense, saved me.

Haiti saved me from a life of self-focus and a life of “everything’s about what I’m going through.”  Haiti helped me to see that ANY day of the week someone around the world would trade places with me in a heartbeat and would feel blessed beyond measure.  Haiti opened my eyes to the needs of people beyond the walls of my home, my job, my city, my nation.  I am so grateful.

So, I know that was a long answer to a short question.  However, questions about why we make major life decisions require us to dig deep to find the answers.  I don’t think I realized, until just recently, how much my current circumstances back in 2010 shaped almost everything I’m passionate about and everything I’m pursuing now.

God truly is a miracle worker, and my life is proof that He can be working miracles that we don’t even see until years down the road.  It’s when we look back and see how far we’ve come, how much we’ve grown, and how different our lives look at this point that we can see His hand guiding us every step of the way.

I’m amazed by God, and I’m so overwhelmingly thankful.  He knew what I needed when I had no clue.

My question to you is, what is your “Haiti”?  What is the circumstance or opportunity that God has placed at your feet to bring you out of the overwhelming places in your life?

Don’t let the lifeline pass you by.  Take His hand.  Let Him lead you out.  There’s more for you.  He’s got it all figured out, and the best part is that you just have to take it one step at a time.  After a while, you’ll look back and see that you’ve covered a lot of ground, and you’re not who you were before.  You’re so much more, and He’s so proud of you.

There’s no place like …  

The beautiful thing is that YOU get to finish that sentence.  I’m excited for you and all that God has planned for your life.

So, click those heels.  Your future is waiting.

Image from:

http://www.noplacelikehomepetsitting.org/home

Love & Hate: Revelations of a Marathon Runner in Training

Love & Hate

Revelations of a Marathon Runner in Training

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If they can do it…

I hate running!  I know it sounds a bit silly for someone who is training for a marathon to say that, but it’s true.  I really don’t like it.  The sweating, the heavy breathing, the burning legs and lungs…  It just isn’t pleasant!  It’s one of those activities that people participate in, and other people ask them the question “Why?  Why bother?”

I laughed the other day when I saw the image on Facebook that showed a bumper sticker with “0.0” on it, and then underneath it said “I don’t run.”  I would say that used to be me.  I would ask the question “Why bother?”  I would see people on a treadmill and think, “You know, back in the day, people would work on their farms and work in the fields to make a living and survive.  That was their exercise.  You never saw overweight farmers or construction workers.  Now, we’ve made life so easy for ourselves that we have to create physical work to do that really accomplishes nothing! :)

I know it’s an odd thought, but I would think those kinds of things when I saw people running.  You start in one spot … run around for a bit, and end up back in the same spot.  What’s the point?!

Well, I’ve started to discover a few “points” as I’ve begun this lovely experience called marathon training.  Now, you might be wondering why in the world I would sign up for a marathon when I hate running.  I wonder the same thing as I’m out on the road!  Here’s the reason…

This past year, many people ran the Glass City Marathon.  After the race, I saw pictures of people crossing the finish line, looking a little rough, but they made it!  I was proud of them.  Even though I didn’t really know them, I was proud of them.  Then, I began to think … “If they can do it … I can do it!”  I know we hear that phrase a lot, and I think it gets us into trouble sometimes!  However, I also think that phrase gets us off our rear end and challenges us to do things we never thought we could do before.

So, here I am.  I decided that I can do it.  I might be wrong about that, but I think we underestimate the power of our own beliefs.  If you had asked me a year or two ago if I could run a marathon, I would have told you “Heck no!  I can barely run three miles!”  The truth is I could not have run a marathon then.  Why?  Because I didn’t believe I could.

Now, this all might be a little premature since I haven’t actually run further than 15 miles at one time, but I believe that my belief is the key to my success.  We’ve probably all seen The Biggest Loser at one point or another.  If you had asked those contestants a year prior if they could lose over 100 pounds they would have laughed in your face as they were eating a whole pizza or scraping the bottom of a bucket of ice cream (I’ve done that a few times). :)  So, what’s the difference?

It’s that little voice in their head, not the creepy weird voices, but the little voice that says, “You know what?  Maybe I can be different.  Maybe I can do that.  Maybe it is possible.”  It sounds simple and silly, but it’s amazingly powerful.  The best part is that after you take a few steps toward your new goal and see some progress, the voice gets louder.  You start to hear yourself saying, “I AM doing this!  I WILL finish.  I WON’T quit!  It’s in me to do this thing.”  Now, if you’re yelling those phrases in the middle of a gym or in the middle of the Haagen Dazs ice cream isle, people might start to stare.  However, it’s a powerful thing to do!

So, my point in all of this is that we can do more than we think we can.  Well, actually, that’s not true.  We can ONLY do what we think we can.  I’ve changed my mind about me, and I believe I CAN run a marathon.  Yikes!  It’s still a bit weird for me to say that, but if you repeat something long enough, you really do start to believe it.

What’s your “I can…”?  What is that one thing you always said you could NEVER do?  What have you seen other people do and thought, “If they can do it, I can do it.”?

So do it. :)  Do what you have never done.  Be who you never thought you could be.  You’ve got one chance.  YOLO, right?  You won’t regret it.  Even if you fail.  Even if I drag myself across the finish line bleeding and half alive, I’m going to say “I did it!”  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to say that with a huge smile on your face.  You’ll look back over your life and be glad you did.

Many people have said, “It’s not the things you did that you’ll look back and regret, it’s the things that you didn’t do.”

So, what’s your thing?  Move towards it today.  Even if it’s a tiny step.  Even if it’s just listening to that little voice that’s saying, “It’s in you.”  Your tomorrow will be better because you did! :)

 

Feel free to follow me on my running journey!  I plan to post “Running Revelations” after some of my runs.  Please post comments about your own journey as well! :)


Image from: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sfILttH9DeY/UaQ2F7fhLdI/AAAAAAAACNY/g_-sRMJt_Ww/s400/How+to+choose+running+shoes.jpg

Birthday Reflections! :)

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Birthday Reflections

We all have one every year.  A birthday.  Some of us dread them and some of us, mostly children, start talking about our “day” six months in advance.  This day, 1 of 365, is always a bit different than other days.  Even if you’re a person who isn’t excited about your day, you can’t help but feel a difference.  It’s not ordinary.  You can’t pretend it’s a regular day.  Your birthday has a way of forcing you to evaluate.

Now, this evaluation, whether the duration is a few minutes or extends for a longer period of time, can cause a person to have multiple emotions almost simultaneously.  Joy, sadness, love, amusement, anger, happiness.  Indifference is also an option, but I would wager that most of us, after looking back over an entire year of our life, do not feel indifferent about it.  Looking back stirs up feelings of some kind.  In addition, I would say that you cannot look back over your last year of existence and have only one kind of emotion.  Ups and downs were a part of it.  Highs and lows, joy and pain were a part of it.  Moments beyond your expectations were littered throughout the year as well as moments that caused you more pain than you thought possible.  

Whether the majority of your feelings are positive or painful, one thing you can say for sure is that you made it!  You made it through an entire year, three hundred sixty five days.  Three hundred sixty five days.  That is a lot of time.  If you were waiting for the results of a test and the doctor or teacher told you, “I’ll get you your results.  I’ll drop them in the mail.  They will arrive in about three hundred sixty five days.”  You’d think, “Are you crazy!?  I can’t wait that long!”  However, somehow, you can and you do.  

We are stronger than we think.  We can endure more than we give ourselves credit for.  What’s interesting is that, most of the time, the person we believe in the least is ourselves.  Why is that?  Is it because we know ourselves better than others do?  Is it that we see the weak points and frailties that others miss when they look at us?  

What if what they see outweighs what we see.  What if those around us, those who truly love us and believe in us, what if they are right and we are wrong?  What if we changed our perspective?

As I look back over this last year on my birthday, I realize that my mindset is shifting.  My thought process is changing.  My outlook is different.  Over this last year, no matter what I went through, good or bad, it has helped me to reshape and remold my self-image.  It’s quite possible that it could have been a negative reimaging, but thankfully God has taken over this remolding process, and I am amazed by what He is revealing to me about me every day!  It really is quite exciting.  It’s like opening a present every so slowly.  You begin to glimpse a piece of what’s underneath, and as you peel the paper back more and more, the revelation of the gift inside is almost more than you can bear!

So, I am excited about discovering more of the “gift” that is me.  In this next year of my life, the next 365 days, I can only imagine that the discovery is going to become increasingly awe-inspiring.  Most of the awe is in the realization that God has made me so unique and so complex, so gifted.  It is Him, though, that I am amazed by, not me.  It’s Him in me that causes me to scoot to the edge of my seat waiting to see what He will do next and what He is going to reveal.

Even if today is not your birthday, I hope the same is true for you as well.  I hope and pray that you begin to discover the gift that is you.  Let God slowly peel back the wrapping paper and show you what has been in you all the time.  You will be amazed.  It will be hard to believe at times, but trust Him.  He knows what He’s doing. :)

I think the biggest disservice we can do to ourselves is miss what’s right in front of our eyes.  Don’t miss it.  Don’t let the fog you’ve allowed to settle in to cause you to miss what’s in you … who is in you.  

My challenge to you today is see what others see.  See what God sees.  See “you” through His eyes.  Your experiences look different in that light.  Your shortcomings, your issues, your frailties and faults all take on a different appearance when you view you through the eyes of a God who loves you beyond measure.  When a father looks lovingly at his child, he doesn’t see the cracks and weak points.  When a mother looks at her baby she isn’t picking out the issues.  God doesn’t do that either.

So, today I’m wishing YOU a happy birthday!  It’s a day where a new view of YOU is being born.  Mark it on your calendar.  Celebrate it!  The rest of your life is going to take on a whole new look starting today.  Happy birthday to you!  I am excited to see where the next 365 days will take you.

~ Jeanna :)

Image from: http://bit.ly/1b4wMon

Stealing the Pen

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Stealing the Pen

  “I am the author and finisher of your faith” God says.

“I knit you together in your mother’s womb” He says.

“All of your days were written in My book before a single one came to pass” He told me.

Why do we try telling versions of our own story instead of trusting the Author? Does He not know the best way to write the book? Is He not the most prolific writer to ever exist? Is He not the most eloquent, most skilled and most brilliant Penman in the universe?

Oftentimes, I find myself sitting down after a long day of frustrating circumstances, only to ask God why life isn’t working out the way I envisioned it. I ask Him why I feel like the hamster running the wheel. I ask Him why my attempts to get things to fall into place end up creating a bigger mess than what I had before.

After I finally finish rambling and quiet myself enough to let Him have his turn in the conversation (He’s always gracious enough to let me finish my ramblings first!), this is what I hear:

“Why do you insist on stealing the pen?”

“Don’t you trust me? Do you think I don’t have your best interest at heart … always?? Do you believe that as your Father I would want nothing less than the very best for you?”

“If you would allow Me to write your story, you would find out that giving Me permission to be your author allows you to be washed in a peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s easier Jeanna. It’s more pleasant, more fulfilling, more glorious than you could ever imagine! “ 

“Let me be your author. Let me have the pen.”

“Trust Me. Your story will turn out to be more beautiful than any fairy tale you have ever read. As I’ve told you before, it isn’t going to be free of struggles and strife, frustrations and failures, but believe when I tell you that it is going to be a story worth reading.”  

As I hear God speak to me, I know He’s right … as always!!  So, today I will ask for His help in prying my fingers from the pen.

However, letting go equals vulnerability. It means letting go of my tendency to be a control freak. Although, one thing I know for sure is that His story is better than mine any day. He’s better at this whole “authoring” thing than I am.

So, my question for you today is, will you give God the pen? Will you trust Him enough to let Him do what He does best?

Those who read your story will be glad you did.  And most of all, you will be, too!

~ Jeanna

 

Image from: anyiko.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/worthy-of-my-pen

Creating a Masterpiece

Image“Life is about the journey, not the destination.”  I have heard this statement, or others like it, many times throughout the course of my life.  However, truly grasping the concept is another matter altogether.  Posting that quote on Facebook, or making it our wallpaper on our laptop sounds lovely, but what does it really mean?

Recently, for me, it means “struggle” … It means “Oh, crap! That wasn’t supposed to happen!”  It means… “Why do I feel like I’m floundering around and have no clue what I’m doing?!?”

But that’s the journey.  That’s what it means to be “journeying.”  Most of the time I don’t like it.  Most of the time I feel like the finish line is much more appealing!  It looks prettier in my mind.  I’m smiling at the finish line.  I’m not smiling so much when I’m running up hill or trekking through the mud.   I’m not smiling so much when I get hit in the face with tree branches and my legs get scratched and scraped as I move through the brush.  It hurts.  I lose my breath.  It’s not glamorous!

So, when people spout off … “It’s not about the destination, Jeanna, it’s about the journey!” with a grin on their face and that look in their eye that says “You should be enjoying this!” I want to smack them.  However, smacking them will not change the reality.  We can’t avoid the journey.  Even if I decide to plop myself down on my couch and say “God, I’m not moving any further.  This whole ‘journey’ thing is NOT for me!” … I’m still on the journey!  I can’t escape it!  You can’t escape it!

So, what do we do?  How do we enjoy the journey when the journey is painful, and confusing, and rough, and there are highs and lows, and a lot of times the lows outnumber the highs!?  How do you enjoy it?  How do you see the good in ALL of it?  ALL is the key word because there is beauty in all of it.  It all works together for our good, so there must be good in every piece of the puzzle, in every brushstroke on the canvas, in every tile in the mosaic.

You wouldn’t be you, and I wouldn’t be me if pieces were missing.  The beauty about the mosaic is that up close it looks like a mess, but when you step back…  Oh, when you step back … that’s when it overwhelms you.  That’s when you see what it was really meant to be.  That’s when it hits you.  That ugly little black tile … that was necessary.  That jagged gray piece … that was required.  Those bright shinny colorful segments … those were essential.  It wouldn’t be the same without EVERY piece.

So, as I sit here today trying to embrace the journey, I’m challenging both you and myself to stop.  Stop analyzing each piece.  Stop trying to reshape or reshade or remove the tiles we don’t want or don’t like.  They’re needed.  They’re necessary.  Without them you’re incomplete.  Without them your life, your masterpiece, isn’t whole.

It’s a hard concept to grasp, and I think it requires daily reminders.  So, maybe I will put that quote on my refrigerator or cell phone wallpaper … but I’m going to see it differently.  Maybe it needs rephrasing.  “My masterpiece is unfolding.  I’m still in the studio.  I’m not finished yet.  Today is required, and every piece of it is a glorious element of who I’m becoming.  Just wait until you step back and see my life in its entirety.  It will take your breath away.”

I know my version is a bit longer than the original … but I like it. :)  What does your version of the quote sound like?  How will your view of “you” change today?  Are you a lump of clay or a dazzling vase?  Are you a heap of mangled metal or a stunning sculpture?  Are you a pile of rough, random tiles or an awe-inspiring mosaic?

It’s up to you.  It’s all in your perspective.  See today differently.  You won’t regret it.

~ Jeanna