Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Church

We all long to be part of a community.  To fit in somewhere.  Even if you're an introvert, you still need people in your corner to love on and encourage you and for those you can love on and encourage.  Just not as many or as often as us extroverts that often thrive on interaction with others.  On those days you're going against everything you believe in or proclaim to follow, having someone hold you accountable is a hard but beautiful thing.  The church isn't just a building, it's a community of believers.  We can find rest and rejuvenation there.  It's a place where heaven becomes real and we can praise God in corporate worship.  Even on the hard and trying days we have the honor of getting to do that because God is good and faithful on all days.  Church is a place where you hear truth and pour into the lives of others.  It's not where you just go to get, but you go to give of yourself.  We have the honor of serving and loving on people where they are because it's like other relationships.  "We love because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:19.  His love for us should drive our interactions with others.  I can say from first hand experience that I've been loved, encouraged, and even hurt by the church.  Rather, by people in the church.  Yes, I said people in the church have hurt me and if I'm honest, I've hurt them.  Each of us are flawed and we are going to make mistakes and royally screw up.  But that doesn't mean we stop talking to a person or freeze them out.  Granted, we shouldn't.  Please know I'm not referring to situations of abuse and the like but rather the instances we get mad or our feelings hurt and then use that as a reason to stop going to church all together.  I guess you could say it's like using God's grace as a license to sin.  Either way, it's an excuse.


Let's reinforce the above.  People aren't perfect.  No matter what kind of environment you grew up in, you learned that early on.  If you're still walking around expecting perfection from anyone you meet, you're in for a rude awakening and life is going to be much harder for you than most.  Anyway, I'm sure you know that's the case regardless as to if you've actually accepted it.  People are going to let you down.  We all come into this world as sinners.  There's no way around it.  I'll even give you an example.  Some good friends of mine had me over for dinner recently and to just spend time with them and their precious one year old daughter.  She's absolutely darling and a lot of fun to be around.  Her parents are making a point to speak to her primarily in Spanish while most everyone else speaks to her in English.  When you're telling her "goodbye," her parents make a point to have her say it back in Spanish or Italian even.  Oh and believe me, I'm in complete agreement that they're over achievers but if I'm honest, I love that they're doing that.  It will open up a lot of opportunities for the child down the road.  When she's telling me goodbye, she always makes a point to just say, "bye" instead of "adios" or "ciao."  She's a year old and purposefully disobeys.  See...we are all sinners and rather stubborn.  So since people aren't perfect, that means "church" isn't perfect.  Anywhere there are people, there will be sin.  Now, the plus side of that is that there will be grace, forgiveness, mercy, and joy on the other side of that sin.  We just have to walk in the obedience of repentance, apologizing, and etc.  Do the work there.  It's like any relationship, there's action required of all parties to have he communication continuing.  If you just expect the other person (or church) to meet your needs so you can do what you want, it's not going to work because you'll run out of reasons to "need" the other person (church).  It's a two way street.

Some mornings I'm so tired and really don't want to go anywhere but I've made a commitment to be part of the body. 

I know that a lot of what I said might have been a repeat but we need to grab hold of the fact that we are to walk in community with believers.  We weren't created to do this life alone.  You have a purpose.  Yes, YOU!  That purpose involves being part of a body or even bodies of believers where there is sound doctrine, unending grace, repentance, love, faithfulness, and accountability.  If you don't know where to look for a church, let me know and I would love to help you look for one and get plugged in. Remember, you have a purpose and you aren't in this alone.  God absolutely loves you, and is with you. In the mean time, check out the podcast link I listed below (click on COTH Podcast) so you can hear more on church and what it's purpose is.  My pastor, Eddie Taylor, is the man behind the mic and I'll go ahead and tell you that he deeply loves Jesus and others so well.  No church is perfect but it really can be like home. 

COTH Podcast      

Friday, February 17, 2017

Life Tip: Don't Be (Or Settle For) A Jerk.

It sounds simple, right?  Sadly, settling is something we all do on occasion and I hope you know before this is completed that you were made for more no matter whose shoes you stand in (settler or settlee).

Last night I had fallen asleep on my couch while watching Wheel of Fortune because I'm 80.  That's neither here nor there though.  I was awakened to the sound of a man yelling at his girlfriend/fiancĂ©/wife in my building.  I mean, completely berating her and cursing.  Don't get me wrong, I own up to having a foul mouth on occasion but there's never justification for that sort of arguing.  It continued for a few hours off and on.  At one point it even sound like he was shoving furniture around.  He would calm down for a bit and then get riled back up and get back to putting her down.  I finally left my TV on mute out of concern because I knew that 911 might need to intervene at some point but I didn't want to call too soon in case this was just how they argue.  You know, the couples that yell and scream at each other because God forbid you carry on a normal conversation about a disagreement or frustration.  I even followed them throughout the apartment to hear what was going on in case she needed help.  My concern became a reality when she told him, "Stop, you're hurting me.  Stop threatening me."  911 was quietly called because if I could hear them, I didn't want him hearing me and showing up at my door uninvited. 

Apparently there was a lot of activity going on because it was well over an hour before someone arrived to check on things.  At that point, I think the woman had gone to sleep because the yelling had ceased.  My heart was racing, stomach in knots, and voice shaking.  Mom wanted me to come home to stay out of precaution and a guy friend called to check on me in case I needed him to come over as we had been texting some during the evening.  Based on what I could hear, the man lied to the police because they congratulated him for something.  I'm fairly certain they just said they were investigating a noise complaint out of precaution.  As far as I know, things were back to normal this morning but my heart hurts on so many levels this afternoon.

Chances are, the guy has a natural temper or learned those behaviors growing up.  I don't know the statistics but I do know that it is no excuse.  Whether you're a man or woman you have no right to speak to another person like he was.  You certainly don't have the right to be verbally, emotional, or physically abusive to them.  Period.  EVER.  Even if your parents weren't in the picture or you didn't have a role model to exhibit healthy communication habits or even venting, you can make the choice to not be a jerk.  Your parents, or people who poured into your life over the years, want more for you.  If you didn't have someone pouring kindness, wisdom, counsel, or Jesus into your life, I'm so deeply sorry.  If those people had been in your life, they would have wanted so much more for you and would have taught you better.  You see, when you belittle another person and make them feel like they owe you or you're doing them a favor by being with them, you're not causing them to love you.  What you're doing is causing them to fear you.  Fear does NOT equal love.  If you're afraid they're going to leave you if you stop, let them.  Why stick with someone who doesn't want to stay.  Relationships are partnerships, not hostage situations.  Don't be a jerk to get your way.  It's time to grow up and realize that you're not going to always get your way.  If you love the person, live that out.  If you don't know how, there are so many resources available to help you navigate changing that behavior and sorting through your anger because the person(s) you're taking it out on aren't the root of it.  They deserve better and so do you.  If you need contact information for how to start, click here to start.

Now, if you're a person that is staying in a relationship out of fear and have experienced any of that kind of abuse, I am so sorry.  You do NOT have to stay with that person or in that environment.  They weren't created to define you or bring you worth.  If you often find yourself saying things like, "He didn't mean that, he loves me."  Or "I shouldn't have upset her - it's my fault."  I hope you know there are ways out.  There are so many places that offer help on the regular from counseling to shelters.  Domestic Violence Reseources Link.  Please know that you are worth so much more than abuse.  You don't deserve that treatment no matter what.  He/she needs help and so do you.  If you grew up in that environment, my heart breaks for you because it isn't the way life should be lived.  Know that there are people available to help.  Don't settle for a jerk. 

In closing, I am not blind to the fact that it won't be easy on either side of this equation.  Often times people get lost in a cycle and feel like it's their only option.  If you go back or continue treating someone that way, you can try again.  Please know that you aren't a lost cause.  I do want to add that there are churches that have open arms to welcome you, love on you, bring accountability, and ultimately to point you to Jesus. If you don't know who Jesus is or would like to know more, please reach out through this blog and I would love to talk with you. You were made for more than being or settling for a jerk and you are loved.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Settling....2.0.

Is Settling Really That Big of a Deal? In a word, yes. But who are we kidding? Of course I will answer this in more than one word. Maybe it is some sort of verbal sickness that causes me to ramble so much. Okay, back on topic. Settling is such an issue these days and sadly, it seems to be occurring more and more with each generation. We are in a microwave society and are so used to getting what we want, when we want it. Gosh, we are so spoiled!  We think that just because we want something, we should get it. We either deserve or are entitled to it. Oh and let us not forget, "They got it, why can't I?" I don't know about you but I'm thinking we just need to go ahead and get over ourselves.  It's not about us, or at least it shouldn't be.  I deal with people on a daily basis who just expect things to be done for them or provided to them "just because."  The main reason I don't tell them that life doesn't work that way is because being sassy doesn't pay my bills.


For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to get married and have kids.  That's what girls grow up to do, right? Maybe that idea came from too many Disney movies as a child but I just knew that God had things lined up to the way I wanted them.  You can stop laughing at my foolishness now.  If you're honest with yourself, there is probably at least one time in your life where your actions or thoughts reflected that same idea.  My senior prediction for my yearbook was something along the lines of, "In 10 years Jenny Godwin will be married to the man of her dreams teaching music..."  I let go of the teaching thing shortly after graduation but over the last several years, I wanted to settle with every fiber of my being.  I put myself on some sort of timeline or checklist and felt like a failure because I wasn't meeting the mark or checking enough off.  I have dated sporadically over the years. Some were great men that sincerely love Jesus and others were guys that made me feel good about myself in the fleeting moments we were together.  Some relationships glorified God and others broke my Creator's heart.  All that to say, I purposefully tried to settle on many occasions.  There all too often was a void that I tried to fill with food or men.  Regardless of what put the void there, it always ended up as the result of not pressing into Jesus enough.  Thankfully God protected me from myself here.


Had I settled on any of those given scenarios, I would not be where I am today.  Where am I?  Loving life in the Chattanooga and North Georgia area and striving to make the most of where God has me in the now.  :)  I'm in a job that is only by the grace and goodness of God be I'm "aunt Jen" to my sweet nieces but also to so many other kids that God has allowed me to love on over the years.  So while I am not a mom and may not become one, I see all of these precious kiddos as a gift and love them dearly.  Over just the last several years, I have been so privileged to get to know some phenomenal people that have been so instrumental in being here today. Getting plugged into a small group in Chattanooga brought continued accountability and uncontrollable laughter.  I've been so blessed to be involved with a church that is passionate about Jesus and a ministry that aims to encourage people to touch Heaven and change Earth while finding their completion and joy in Christ alone. 


Have I thrown some tantrums? Oh my goodness yes...several in various situations but if I stop and think about it, they were petty and selfish.  I can see now that God's grace protected me because He knew better.  His love for me saved me from myself and from the instant gratification I was seeking.  A pastor friend of mine said before, "God's wrath would be giving us everything we wanted. " I don't know about you but I am so thankful that He has been so gracious.  Settling is easy but it's not worth it.  It's like cheating on a diet.  In the moment it feels or tastes good but afterward you regret going against all of your hard work you've done so far.  It's not worth it.


What we need is Jesus.  He alone satisfies the deepest parts of our soul; He quenches EVERY thirst. He knows the good, bad, ugly and crazy parts of us and still pursues us passionately.  When we are desperate or willing to settle for something less than His best and His sincere goodness, we are robbing ourselves, and sometimes those around us, of the joy that only He can bring.

Psalm 63:1 - You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.