Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

On this ultimate Thankful Thursday I would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. It is my hope that you have spent the last month focusing on all the blessings in your life, large and small.

We only have five more days for our month of thankfulness. Has it been an eye-opening journey for you? Has it been difficult or easy to find something each day for which you can be thankful? Looking around with an attitude of gratitude can make a huge difference in how we view the world around us. It is my desire that you carry your month of being thankful with you for many days beyond this particular November.

My prayer is that in looking at how rich your life is you will extend yourself toward others who do not live in the same abundance you do. You merely have to open your hearts and minds to the opportunities to help another. There are broken, hurting, lost, hungry and cold souls in your community, perhaps even in your neighborhoods. Look near and look far. Don't simply look and shake your head and think you cannot facilitate change. You can. One person can make a difference. As Max Lucado says, "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something".

As we step into the holiday season, keep your heart of thankfulness open to the possibilities of how you can make a difference in the life of someone else.

You are blessed --- pass it on.

In His Peace --

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Parents

Thankful Thursday is here again!

This morning as I blogged about my own struggles as a parent, I realized again how some of my choices, behaviors and attitudes must have been not always (ahem) pleasant for my parents. I have apologized and hopefully been forgiven.When my first child arrived in the world I had this sudden whoosh of realization, a revelation of sorts, of how much my parents loved me. It was an eye-opening experience.

So, on this Thankful Thursday I would like to officially be thankful for my parents. Aren't they cute? My mother is going to fuss about that picture, but it makes me smile.

I am thankful that I still have my parents, so many have already lost theirs.  I do wish that we lived closer and could spend more time together. I am thankful that my mother can operate a computer and we can send e-mails, IM for a quick chat or Skype and actually see each other. Now, if she'd just learn to text....  : )

I am happy the two of them have stuck together for so many years. I know it wasn't easy. I am happy they have each other and can golf, travel and enjoy their lives together.

I am thankful for the many hours they have spent on the road to come to Iowa to visit or driving to the airport to pick us up. I am thankful for the years of tear-drying, hand-holding and listening to me vent. Although I certainly wasn't thankful for it at the time, I am thankful for the discipline and boundaries, I know they were issued with love. I am thankful they put up with me and didn't just duct tape me into a closet until I quit being sassy. Hmmmm.... I suppose that means I would still be there!

I am thankful for the relationships my parents have worked to cultivate with my children even across the miles. My children love them dearly and that warms my heart.

Thank you, Mom and Dad,  for being who you are and loving me for who I am. ILYAM. XO. Me

You Lead... I follow?

"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. 

I had to laugh at the Family Circus cartoon -- this is so us with God. How often do you say you want to follow and desire to do his will and then turn around and do whatever you want? Probably more frequently than any of us would like to admit.

We are currently struggling with some behavior issues in our nine year-old son. He seems to be under the impression he can do what he pleases regardless of what we tell him he should be doing. I cannot even begin to explain the frustration and strife this is causing in our house. I am at a loss as to how to make this situation better because so far everything I have tried is making him just dig in his heels in defiance. Frankly, it makes me want to scream and tear out my hair. You would certainly not be wasting prayer if you were to pray for us. I am in great need of guidance, clarity and patience.

As I showed up for my quiet time this morning with my jaw clenched and my frustration level somewhere around Jupiter I wondered how often God feels that way about me. Does he shake his head and roll his eyes in frustration at my stubbornness and refusal to listen? I shudder to think of all the times I have dissappointed him. Certainly makes me ever more thankful for the Grace of God. He is so good.

How many times do you suppose my parents wanted to wring my little neck? I wonder if I should call them and apologize -- again. Sigh.....  Parenting is not for sissies. I am convinced it is the hardest job there is. We try to lead to the best of our abilities. There are days the children follow us in compliant obedience and others days are spent feeling like you are trying to put a leash on a tornado. I have been in a tornado situation for many days now, guess it is time for me to stop trying to lead and to give it up to the one who is really in charge: God..

Help me as a parent, Lord, with my weaknesses and imperfections. Give me strength and godly wisdom to raise my children. Please supply what I lack. Help me keep my tongue and my frustrations in check. Guide my children every day, protect them from evil. Help them to overcome the temptations in this world and the sin that would so easily entangle them. I desire for each of them to have a wonderful relationship with you that will endure for eternity. Please keep me from doing anything to stand in the way of that. Lead me every day, Lord, so I can parent them in a way that is pleasing to you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Emily

Today is my oldest daughter's golden birthday. Emily is sixteen today. I am not even sure how that happened. I must have blinked. They grow up so fast. I swear it was just yesterday we were dressing up and having tea parties with Pooh Bear.

I will admit I miss the simple times of Playdough and Barbies. No one warned me that MY life would get crazy when my daughter entered high school! It is a good crazy for the most part. I am happy she is involved in activities she enjoys. I am so amazed at the young woman she has become and I am anxious to see what her future will bring. All of the sudden her being all grown up and out of the house is not such a far off day in the future, but a day that will arrive far sooner than I am ready for. I almost can't stand the thought of it.

This morning I took a nice stroll down memory lane looking at pictures. Emily has another added bonus of being the firstborn -- there are a LOT more pictures of her than of her siblings. If you will indulge my mommy moment here and check out sixteen snapshots of a young woman who grew up in just a blink. So much more yet to come...

Happy Birthday, Emily! Wishing you nothing but wonderful things in your sixteenth year. Thank you for being such a blessing. Your Dad and I love you oodles and bunches!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Happy Veterans Day!

A couple hours ago as I spoke with my father-in-law, he was delighting in the free lunch he had today at Subway. I think Veterans Day has become his favorite day of the year. It is wonderful that Veterans are honored not only on Veterans Day but soldiers, sailors and airmen are generally respected and appreciated in this era. I feel horrible for the young men who returned from Vietnam and received nothing but disrespect from so many who hated the war and took it out on the wrong people. I pray that those men have found forgiveness for those who hurt them either in word or deed.

I am so thankful to be a citizen of the United States of America. It is such a blessing to live here. I am thankful for every man who has every fought to maintain the glory of this great country. I have ancestors who have fought in every war back to the War of Independence. I am honored that you would stand with all you have for all of us. Thank you to the families who spend countless days and hours without their loved ones near by. Thank you for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Please help me be a citizen worthy of that sacrifice.

I hesitated to do two video blogs in a row, but I love this song. I sit here with tears streaming down my face as I have listened to this song several times trying to find the right video mix for today. I almost had to post two! The only time I ever cried at a middle school concert was when a 8th grade special needs student got up and sang this song. The lyrics are always a killer, but this young man had such an amazing voice that I was a blithering idiot by the time he was finished. One of those moments that will not easily be forgotten.

Without further ado, Lee Greenwood with God Bless the USA:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Have you ever worked on a project with someone of the opposite gender?  I have noticed more and more that we can discuss a project and think we are absolutely clear and in agreement on how things are going to go...until the project starts. You can be a few minutes in or up to your eyeballs and realize that you two may have been saying the same words, but you were not at all meaning the same thing (much like the cartoon above, which made me laugh!).

If my recollections are correct, this phenomenon has occurred on every project my husband and I have worked together. Today I was working on an irrigation project with my father-in-law, Clair. We were discussing how we should lay out the lines to reach all the plants efficiently. We reached an agreement and started following our plan. However, when we got to one of our directional points, Clair says, "I thought we would go around the other way". Which was fine and totally doable, but not at all what we decided on when we were coming up with our plan. It just made me shake my head and chuckle considering I have had similar conversations with his son over the years. Perhaps it is genetic?

Do you suppose God shakes his head over us? If we are far apart from God and have lost our way only one of us has moved (hint: it is not God). I would think the conversation with God could go something like this:

"Dear child, we have covered this before, I thought you were clear on my instructions for your life. I left you all you needed to know written in the Bible. Have you read it lately?"
"Sorry, God. I thought I understood what you said, but then it seemed better to do it my way."
"How did that work out for you, child?"
"Well, everything started out smoothly, but then I got busy and quit reading my Bible, dropped out of Bible study and couldn't even find time to pray. Sleeping was way better than church on Sunday morning. But then everything in my life seemed to just fall apart! Now I don't know what to do!"
"I am glad you came back to me. I will always be here for you (Matthew 28:20). Fix your eyes on Me (Hebrews 12:2) and I will keep your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). Trust in me and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths (Proverbs 4:11).

I am grateful that the Jensen men I work with are good at talking things out and coming up with a compromise when we are trying to take different paths to the same destination. Men and women throughout time have communicated differently and we have learned to roll with the blips and bumps along the way.

We never have to worry if the meaning of our words are misunderstood by God. Romans 8:26 (NIV) promises the Holy Spirit will help us communicate even when we aren’t capable of speaking the words. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. “

I cannot even fathom how many times a day God must shake his head and wonder how long it is going to take me to figure out that MY way is not the right way! What amazes me more?  Even if I have done the same stupid thing repeatedly He will still be there waiting for me to figure it out and turn back to him. Waiting with open, loving arms, rejoicing at my return.  God is so good! Makes me just want to shout from the rooftops.

I pray that you will have a week filled with clear communication. If you don't, remember: God understands you and loves you even when no one else seems to.

In His Peace -

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life is but a breath

You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath.
(Psalms 39:5 NIV)

Look down at your hands. A handbreadth is the width of your hand, or about four inches. That is the comparison used in the verse above to measure our days of life here on earth. In the overall scheme of things our handbreadth of time allotted to life on this planet doesn't seem all that significant, but it is. We matter. What we do matters. How we treat others matters. We may not even see it in our lifetime, but choices we make and actions we take can create ripples of response through generations of folks we will never meet.

Our women's Bible study group is finishing up Kelly Minter's "Ruth" study. It has been a wonderful study and we have all really enjoyed it. Using Ruth as an example, she was foreigner with no position among the Israelites. Ruth was faithful and kind to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth's actions and noble character caught the eye of Boaz and eventually they marry. Ruth ultimately became King David's great grandmother and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. This humble woman with no status, no husband, no money and no hope persevered through some amazingly tough times. Her obedience and faithfulness to both God and Naomi created the line that birthed our Savior! She couldn't have known that at the time, just as we will never be sure what our short lives will create for future generations.

We are given such a short time here. Use it wisely- try not to fritter it away, squander it or take it for granted. Take time every day to love on your family - hug your kids and your spouse and give the dog and extra scratch behind the ears. Any day could be your last... or theirs. We are given a finite number of days here to make a difference, create a legacy of love and to leave memories that will last a lifetime. Bitterness, anger and indifference should not have control of our days. Life is too short to hold on to all the ugly stuff. Embrace joy, love, laughter, kindness and peace!

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)


This is currently one of my favorite songs. I would like to share with you. It is by the group Revive and it is called "Blink" and has some very powerful lyrics.  I hope you enjoy it. 

 In His Peace -  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mama is Running on Empty!

Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you are running all the time, but never getting anything accomplished? Wow,  am I having one of those weeks-- for like the third week in a row! I need a physical and mental break. I just feel like hollering "Calgon! Take me away!" (remember that commercial?)

Even my God time has been done in a rush. I hate that! Tomorrow our Women's Ministry Team is facilitating a Sweet Life Cafe' retreat. We have been prepping for this for many months and I am really looking forward to spending the day focused on God. I don't know about y'all, but I  NEEEEEDDDD a God day. I love attending a Christian event and leaving feeling like my batteries have been totally recharged.

It should almost be mandatory for women to take a God day once a month. Wouldn't that be nice? You could use it to attend a Women of Faith event (love them!) or some great speaker like Beth Moore (love her!) or Lysa TerKeurst (love her, too!). Simply take a day to spend  time surrounded by Christian sisters and get all your life wrinkles ironed out by the Word of God.

What if you are like me and have to travel a long way to attend a big event? Not fiscally prudent or responsible to spend large amounts of money to attend on a monthly basis. Why don't we make our own monthly or weekly mini retreat? Why don't we put an appointment with God in our date books and schedule ourselves an hour or a day off? I am seriously considering instituting this at our house just so I can stay sane.

I imagine a large poster with something on it like this: 

I hereby decree that mother needs some time to regroup. The best way to do this is to spend some quiet time with God. I am going to turn off my phone, turn on some worship music, take out my Bible and lock my door. Unless you are vomiting, bleeding or the house is on fire, please leave me be. I promise I will be a much better person when I come out. Love, Mom.

Do you think it will work for more than 30 seconds? I can try, right? I am thinking I can hole up in my room, but that doesn't mean it will be peaceful on the other side of the door!

How do you keep your cool when life gets crazy?

I pray you all have a wonderful, recharging weekend. For those of you attending our retreat this Saturday I pray you will be blessed. You won't find any big-name Bible teachers, but you will find five women with big hearts for God ready and willing to serve you.

In His Peace -

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday is upon us again! I would like to say thank you to all my friends who have risen to the Thankfulness Challenge for November. They have committed to use either Twitter or Facebook to post something they are thankful for each day of the month. It has been such a delight for me to watch the Thankfulness Challenge spread throughout my friends and their friends. If you have missed the challenge it is still early in the month - feel free to jump in. If you use Twitter, use the hashtag #Thanfulness to track the challenge. We have so much to be thankful for that we take for granted. I hope and pray this month of thankfulness opens your eyes to all you have and perhaps even opens your hands to help others who are not so blessed.

This week I would like to be thankful for the gift of color. Our world is so full of amazing colors in such a wild variety of hues - I don't think we could name them all if we tried. Yesterday morning I was taking my son to the bus and the sun was just peeking over the horizon. The sky was a lovely mix of pink, purple and gray. As I looked to the top of the hill I saw a strikingly fire-red Burning Bush (no, it didn't talk to me!). These are lovely in broad daylight, but it really stood out in the early morning colors and was stunning.

What about the brilliant red of the male Cardinal or the bright blues of the Blue Jay? Or the fantastic display of colors on the tail feathers of a Peacock? We could be here all day talking about the awe inspiring colors of birds alone. God did not skimp on providing visual gifts for us to enjoy every day. Isn't He awesome?

As you run errands or work outside during these lovely fall days we have been experiencing, take a minute to enjoy the beauty in the colors around you and be thankful for them.  

"You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."  (Revelation 4:11 NIV)

In His Peace -