A New Thing {Freedom through Choices, Goals, and Change in 2015}

A New Thing {Freedom through Choices, Goals, and Change in 2015}

A new thing…

It’s a beautiful thought, the new things God has planned for the year ahead.

Perhaps especially in light of 2014’s shadows.

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 43:19

God wants to do something new… if you’ll let Him.

2015 might feel awfully similar to 2014 so far.

The chores still need to be done, the meals must be made, the children need you, and strangely enough, you’re as weary as you were before the turning of this new calendar page.

But you have no idea how different, how new and fresh this season of life could be on that “way in the wilderness” or along the “streams in the wasteland.”

Maybe you feel trapped.

But God offers you freedom through choices, goals, and change — a new thing — this year.

Join me at The Better Mom today…

 

feeling trapped

 

What to do with problems that won’t go away

What to do with problems that won’t go away

Taking a look inside: Life-coaching principles to help us live boldly in a broken world
Week #1

(If you’ll recall, I promised a four week series, moving from looking at ourselves all the way to thinking globally. True to form, I jumped into a monthly plan half-way through the month. Ha!

So this is a bonus week for you: we’ll deal with ourselves today and move right into marriage on Friday. Glad you’re here!)

What to do with problems

If you’re anything like me, or any of the people I know, you are currently praying for a problem to go away.

Financial trouble… difficulties with kids… marriage issues… health problems…

I’m no fool. I can quickly and accurately define all of those as bad.

For nine years I defined Haiti’s corruption as bad. It kept my husband and me from adopting our three Haitian kids the whole time we lived there. What’s good about leaving three kids behind in a country experiencing a coup? What’s good about losing thousands upon thousands of dollars to wicked, wealthy liars and politicians?

I don’t know. But in Romans 8:28, God promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Again and again, you and I fall for the lie that our lives here on Earth should be easy and fair.

Of course, our souls tell us we were made for glory, and we’re right. Man and woman were placed in a perfect Garden, and someday, because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, we’ll see Heaven.

But for a little while longer, we’re here. And Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

Things get even stickier when we read we should “always” be “giving thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:20).

Does that include our troubles?

James MacDonald, in his series “Lord, Change My Attitude” says he sees three basic levels of thankfulness:

Level One: When you aren’t really feeling it, but you want to be obedient anyway, so you offer up a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).

Level Two: When you’ve matured a little more and can give God thanks even during the hard times for who He is, His presence and help in your life: “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Level Three: When you’ve come to trust God so much that you can thank Him for everything including your problems, knowing that He’s working it all out for your good and His glory (Ephesians 5:20).

At the same time I was mulling over these truths, I heard James MacDonald in another sermon on my son’s radio:

“Stop asking God to take away your problems!”
(I wasn’t sure if I should turn the radio up or slap it off.)

“You keep asking God to take away this problem… take away this problem… Well, He’s not going to do it! Don’t you understand? That problem is the one thing making you desperate for God right now! Why would He take it away?”

It’s an echo of James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Trials of many kinds.

Sounds like James (both of them) may have peeked into my life lately.

What are we going to do with these problems that just don’t go away?

Keep begging for God to take them? Grow cynical? Lose faith? Let anger or envy consume us?

What if we both just stop right now?

What if we choose a level? Maybe it’s Level One. That’s okay. Maybe in faith, we’ll shoot for Level Three.

What if we just bow our heads and say, “Thank You; thank You for these problems that aren’t going away”?

And what if in this moment we just trust God… we tell Him we need perseverance… we need to be mature and complete?

I don’t think He’ll mind if you mention that you’d be grateful to get past this problem someday. I’m going to include that part too.

But let me tell you… when I look deep into my own heart, it doesn’t take me long to realize how desperately I need God to change me. Life directed by my own fleshly nature would take me down some pretty awful roads.

If I can recognize the lie that I deserve a life free from pain and problems and instead consider my trials pure joy, I just might become a little more like the mature and complete woman God intends me to be.

Will you say it with me?

Thank you, Jesus, for my trials. Don’t let me waste them. Change me.

*Friends in the midst of serious stuff… I pray that Jesus will meet you in a special way in the days ahead. I also long for you to find Christians friends and godly counselors to encourage your heart and bring you hope. Let me know if I can pray for you or help point you to someone who can be of help.

*Those of you on the frustrated level… let me know if you’re interested in life coaching. There are a lot of lies we fall for in life that lead to unhealthy attitudes and life patterns. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to talk about your current challenges and how you can rise above them, just let me know.

Thanks so much for joining me today!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Helping you live boldly in a broken world

Helping you live boldly in a broken world

Helping you live boldly

Ministry Evaluation

I’ve been thinking over here at jenniferebenhack.com.  And obviously it’s been some pretty quiet thinking — in other words, I realize you haven’t heard from me in a while.

Lately my thoughts have swirled around the theme of my blog and ministry:

Helping you live boldly in a broken world.

Is this what I’m really about? I’ve been asking myself if it’s an accurate portrayal of what I do and what I want to continue to do.

And I think it is.

Because brokenness is what we struggle with every day. I know I do.

How many times in the past week have I been at my wit’s end due to my own sinfulness, the impact of sin on my family, and the sorrowful effects sin bears on our world? I can’t even keep count.

But every time I get to the end of myself (which is frequently), I’m reminded to lift my head.

Where does my help come from?

And just typing that makes me want to shout Hallelujah!

A New Plan

So I’ve created a plan to share the boldness Christ offers us a little more frequently around here.

To start with, I want to draw our focus to the Lord:

Being as messed up as we are, there’s no other place to begin. I’ll share Scripture each Monday to lift up our eyes to the One who emboldens us.

Then we’ll take a look at ourselves:

The first Thursday of each month, we’ll take a look at life-coaching principles that help us understand who we are and most importantly, who God created us to be.

From ourselves, we’ll move on to our families:

The second Thursday of the month, we’ll talk about those most dear to us. I know how deeply sin and brokenness affects these relationships, so I’m looking forward to encouragement in this area.

Then we’ll reach out even further to our community:

We all struggle in our close circles from time-to-time, so the fourth week, we’ll talk about loneliness, friendship, listening well, church issues, etc.

And the final week of the month, we’ll think global:

These days we’re painfully aware of suffering around the world. How can we reach out with boldness as our brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted? How can we reach the lost?

Disclaimer

I’ve got to confess, I’m simply not a planner. Committing to a system goes entirely against my nature, so bear with me on this. I may indeed fail, but I’m going to um, boldly step out in spite of my brokenness!

Thank you

Thanks, faithful friend for being a part of this community. I’d love to reach and give you a hug! But since it’s not possible for us to connect face to face at the moment, would you drop me a line and just let me know how you’re doing? List a prayer request or a blog topic idea… anything! I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings,
Jennifer

The kind of life you really want

The kind of life you really want

If life to the fullest is possible, why are so few of us experiencing it?

We’ve heard about a life of joy, peace, abundance, and purpose. But honestly, for most people, it’s elusive. And they wonder if there’s some sort of conspiracy or trick, because so far it’s just been a mirage, disappearing the moment they think they’ve arrived.

And if that’s your story, you’re right. You’ve been misled by a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He’s been conspiring against men and women since the Garden of Eden. Trying to convince each of us that life to the full will only come to those who reach out and grab it for themselves.

Look around. The whole world is doing it — sprinting toward the mirage of abundance, so certain that true joy is just a few steps further.

But let’s not fall for it! True and abundant life is being offered…

(Click here to read more at The Better Mom)

Life to the fullest

(Need prayer? Have a question? Interested in Life Coaching? Leave a comment and let me know.)

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

 

What your “yes” and “no” reveal about you

What your “yes” and “no” reveal about you

 

What your yes and no reveal about you

The flip side and inescapable companion of yes is no.

Obvious? Well it wasn’t to me.

For years I’ve said yes under the assumption that I could do it all. At least a big piece of “all.” (You too?) But I’m learning that the flip side of the oh-so-agreeable yes is a big, fat, often ignored no.

My yes to answering the phone in the middle of the homeschool lesson turns into a “No, I can’t listen to the rest of your thought, son.”
My yes to serve on a committee is also a “No, I can’t be home on Thursday evening.”
My yes to quality time with each of my five kids is a “No, I’m not going to have a spotless house.”

I’ve been a yea-sayer for years. But in my make-everybody-happy world, I’ve also been inadvertently shouting noes left and right. And that’s fine — as long as I see it and choose each yes and no wisely.

The thing is, there’s something deeper, something that influences each toss of my yes-no coin, revealing more of the real me with every little decision… my core values.

Core values are what we operate from. The core of who we are, what’s truly non-negotiable to us.

How about you — can you list your top core values in life?

It might not be too hard to come up with good answers… faith, family, ministry, relationships…  Your values might sound pretty impressive. Mine did.

But when I stopped to think through how each yes and no lined up with my values… how my minutes, hours, and days were actually used up? Well, I’m not sure the careful observer would have come up with a matching list.

Stop for a second and think through your priorities. Not the ones you listed a second ago. The ones you really live by.

What do you spend your money on? What do you live for? What motivates you? Where does your spare time go?

Does your list suddenly look a little more like “Appearances, Comfort, and Pleasure?” Do your values conflict with one another?

Maybe the values you live by aren’t overtly evil, but a closer look reveals workaholism or a tendency to serve others at the expense of your own family. Maybe you have great values, but their rank and order is mixed up a bit — others before your spouse, your family before God.

What does it matter?

A careful look at my own values orchestrated significant change. A few years ago I taught music in order to afford private Christian education for my kids. And it made some sense: I’m musical, I had the time, and I wanted my kids to have a quality Christian education.

But it didn’t take long to discover that the yes to teaching was in fact a no to my kids. My energies and best hours of the day went to other people’s children, and my own family got weary, withered leftovers.

There are times when we feel things are just “off” in life. Sometimes we’re forced to push through for a season even though we know we’re not in the best place. But there’s also a day when it’s time to think through our values and make decisions to live according to what matters most. And when I did, it meant making a switch to homeschooling.

For you? Who knows! But it will be freeing.

So where are you right now? What are your yeses and noes adding up to? Do they accurately spell out what matters most to you? Is this who you want to be? How you want to spend your life?

Let me encourage you to look deep into your heart, find out what God created you for, and ask Him for the courage to live out that calling. After all, He delights in guiding His children. He came to give you life… life in abundance.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

So go ahead… I dare you. Take a look at each yes and no and the core values at the root of each one. Then ask God to help you sort out what’s been revealed. He’s given you this life. Don’t waste it.

And as always friend, if you need a listening ear or a little life-coaching on the journey (by the way, this is a taste of what life coaching is all about), I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Jennifer