Am I the Critic or the Worker?

Am I the Critic or the Worker?

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;  who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 

– Theodore Roosevelt

The hit TV reality show “American Idol” was in its prime during my high school years. Remember those days? I avidly watched this singing competition and my favorite judge was Simon Cowell. I felt sophisticated whenever my thoughts aligned with his, as if I were somehow superior to those on the stage.

In reality, I was just a girl sitting on the couch.

A Critic of More than just a TV Show

If I’m honest with myself, I can see that my critical nature goes beyond my thoughts toward televised talent competitions. I’ve been critical of others and of myself countless times. This critical spirit has kept me from taking leaps of faith, pursing dreams, and even serving others. Meanwhile, others are putting themselves out there, growing, and accomplishing. I greatly regret remarks I’ve said and thoughts I’ve had throughout my life.

As Teddy Roosevelt so eloquently put it, “It is not the critic who counts…” 

When I think about the days Jesus spent on earth walking alongside man, he had plenty of opportunities to be critical. He could have presented himself pompously and rebuked all who came to him. Jesus was perfect; He was God’s son, and our ways were with such error.  He didn’t hold his head high though, did he? Instead, he offered grace upon grace. He saw the ones who were downtrodden and raised them up. Yes, at times he did correct, but he did it out of love, while giving opportunity for repentance and change. As he traveled from place to place serving others, Jesus was willing to dirty his feet. Christ desired his church to be devoted to love and service, not criticism.

A Time for Criticism and a Time for Grace

There will be times for correction. Sometimes we will need to evaluate and address what’s stagnant. Other times will be times to call for change. How is our attitude toward each other through all of this?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3:12-14

So now we must ask ourselves, “How are we clothed?” Are our words dressed with complaints? Do our ideals hold back our noble actions, as we wait for perfection? Do we put others down, only seeing their rough spots?

I want to be dressed in the virtues of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These verses remind me to roll up my sleeves and get to work, whether under perfect or imperfect circumstances. As the old song goes, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.”

Kingdom Worker, Not Kingdom Critic

I’m thankful for the gracious words in 1 Peter 4:8: Love covers a multitude of sins. Because this love covers even my own sins, I can put down the self-criticism that often holds me back. None of us will be perfect. But if we dwell on our mistakes, we will never move forward. Kingdom work cannot be done by only a few. God calls all of us to labor. We need each other.

God calls us to be workers, not critics.

I’m so thankful for grace. It’s such a wonderful replacement for criticism. Don’t you agree?

 

 

 

Words Matter: The Storeroom of Our Hearts

Words Matter: The Storeroom of Our Hearts

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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Do you ever find yourself speaking before you think? I’m quite guilty of this habit, and it’s gotten me into trouble many times.

“I tell you that on that day of judgement people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”

 

Matthew 12:36

Our words matter. 

Just before this verse we read: “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34b).

Our words are meant to be a reflection of our hearts. How often are we careful to make sure that our words reflect who we are in Christ Jesus? Jesus offers us much wisdom in this message as he lets us in on the secret to speaking what is good. He tells us that a good person produces good from his storeroom of good while an evil person produces evil from his storeroom of evil (verse 35).

What’s in your storeroom? 

If I’m honest, my storeroom can easily be filled with Netflix binges and social media. I’ve noticed that when I’m engrossed in these things I’m usually moody and not as pleasant for my family. I become distracted from my priorities and ineffective for kingdom work. The truth is, though, that God lives in me! Am I allowing my life to show Him to others?

When I fill my mind with scripture, prayer, and uplifting Christian music and books, I feel so much better. When God’s goodness saturates my heart, it spills over into my life. In difficult situations, I have better reactions. I am much more secure in who I am as a child of the Living God. I’m able to see the the people around me and more ready to serve.

If we fill our hearts with God’s goodness, it will spill over into our words and deeds. It’s important to remember that our actions do not hold. saving power. Only the grace of God saves us. How shall we respond to God’s grace? Through our words and deeds, we will show the light of Christ to others.

Our words matter. 

I want to pay better attention to the things I say, making sure that my words are not careless but full of grace and love. I want to make sure they reflect who dwells in me! This means that I need to make sure I’m staying in touch with God. This passage in Matthew has encouraged me to spend time more wisely, to take in less of the bad and more of God’s goodness.

So I ask you again, “What’s in your storeroom?” Is it full of the junk of this world, or the richness God has to offer? Do your words reflect the one who dwells in you?

Prayer over our Hearts

Father God,

You are the maker of our earth and the giver of all that is good. Oh, that we might know you! May we fill our minds and our hearts with your goodness. May we embrace your spirit in us and be fruitful. Help us to shine the light of Christ near and far so that your kingdom might grow for your glory. 

In the name of Jesus, Amen 

 

 

 

 

The Hope in the Easter Story

The Hope in the Easter Story

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

The Easter Story is one of the grandest stories ever told.

Jesus hung on a cross to die an agonizing death which he did not deserve. Three days after his burial the ground shook and his grave was left empty. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! He came to his disciples over the course of forty days to speak about the kingdom of God, and he lavished them with grace and promises to give them hope for the future. I love the glimpse Paul gives us in John 21:25:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

It’s like a really good series that you never want to end. Maybe if the internet had been around in those days Paul would have found some people to start writing about those “many other things” Jesus did during that time. Surely with the internet, we’d have room!!

Eventually the disciples ran out of time with Jesus on earth, and they watched their friend, teacher, and Lord rise into the clouds.

They clung to hope that Christ would return (as he promised he would) and they devoted the rest of their lives to building His church.

john-21-25

It is a story of hope.

Hope is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a very hard thing. The people who were closest to Jesus had just experienced a whirlwind of emotions. They mourned his death, rejoiced in his rising, and then had to bid him farewell again. It could not have been easy to leave company yet again with this man they loved so much. But they had hope. Hope in his return. This hope filled them with joy. Joy that glorified God and gave birth to generations upon generations of believers.

Each year I pick a word to focus on. Last year, I had a difficult time choosing a word because I kept hearing God whisper “hope” but I didn’t want that word! I didn’t want to find myself in a situation needing hope. (Which is silly because we all need hope!) Reluctantly, I gave in and declared “hope” to be my word for 2016. Lo and behold, a couple of days later I found myself in a situation requiring hope. God is ever so merciful! He has showed me so much about hope in just a short few weeks.

So what does that mean and how does that relate to the resurrection story?

When troubling times come our way we can place our hope in many things. Mostly, I think it’s natural to put our hopes in our desired outcomes. We pray for these things in the hopes that God will give them to us. There is nothing wrong with those prayers either! Philippians 4:6 declares,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But is your hope in your desired outcome or in God?

Two lines from two favorite worship songs come to mind:

My hope is in you Lord, all the day long.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

What does it really mean to have our hope solely in Jesus?

When the disciples faced hardships while spreading the gospel, I’m sure they desired relief but their hope remained in Christ and his second coming. They knew there was a bigger picture than what they were going through.

As I face my current struggle, I’ve been able to stay pretty peaceful (not that I’m always glad about my circumstance, because I’m not) but I know that there is a bigger picture than what me and my family are going through.

This picture is the life of Christ! The Easter story!!

God won when sin wanted to overcome and God invited ME to claim his victory. My hope in that promise is what gets me through my trials. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small problem or something completely life changing, I know that I take part in God’s victory and that ultimately I will see Christ one day.

No matter what struggles I come upon in this life, I’ve already overcome the bigger and more important picture!! Are you with me? Do you understand this truth tucked inside the writings of the gospel?

He said to them, “Go unto all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15

Let me tell you, I believe!!! I believe that Jesus is who he says he is. With that confession I was baptized, and I claim my salvation that he offered to me. I claim God’s victory over sin and death.

The Easter story is about hope.

Hope in his promise that we can overcome through Him. Hope that when we claim God’s victory over sin as our own, no trial on this earth can defeat us.

Wherever you are in your life this Easter, may you take hope in this glorious promise.

Dear God, Are You Sure You Know What You’re Doing?

Dear God, Are You Sure You Know What You’re Doing?

Laura P

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

Dear God,

Lately I’ve been going through some challenges.  You know, growing older, raising children, constantly questioning my decisions, etc.  I understand that trials will be part of this life and that through those trials You teach us valuable lessons.  But sometimes I have small doubts about Your timing.  Sometimes, in my humble human brain I can’t piece together the exact reasoning You have about some of the things that happen in my life.

You’ve definitely proven to me over and over again that I am not in control of this life.  

I always thought that I would have a career that fulfilled me, and You brought me together with a man with very different ideas.  I always thought I’d stay home with my kids until they went to school and then I’d find a job.  Then You brought me into homeschooling.  I had decided that three children were plenty, and now You’ve gifted me a fourth.  It is quite obvious that You are in control.Dear God,

As I’ve grown older and grown in the word, I’ve slowly but surely been able to release my grasp on control; not for Your good but for my own.  As I’ve let go, I’ve gained such a feeling of contentment.  As I’ve let go, I’ve gained a freedom that I’ve never known before.  As I’ve let go, I’ve made time for other things that actually are my responsibility.

However, Lord, You still find ways to remind me to trust You.  

You find ways to send me messages like, “Your day will go smoother if you’d start it with Me,” or “Take care of your children, your husband, AND yourself.”  The latter seems like a long hard road that we’re now traveling down.  Years of neglecting myself has finally caught up with me and I have been physically forced to slow down.

However, Your goodness and love never fails me.  

You placed people in my life to support me during this time:  friends to bring meals and clean my kitchen, grandparents to watch the kids, and an amazingly compassionate husband to understand.  And through the rest, You revealed to me just how much I’d been neglecting myself.

I can’t help but wonder though, if You’re really sure You know what You’re doing?

I mean, through the pain and discussion of back surgery You brought into my womb a beautiful new life.  How wonderful!  But why now?  Why, when I was on a dangerous medication?  Why, when my baby was just barely 10 months old?  Why, when our house is already nearly stretched to its limit?

Please don’t misunderstand.  

I am incredibly grateful for this beautiful blessing.  I’ve seen the pain of a barren womb and I thank You for this miracle inside of me.  But Lord, was this really the best time?  Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Dear God,

Obviously, I haven’t given up as much control as I thought.  

If I had, I wouldn’t be questioning Your perfect timing.  I remember in those first days when I was in such pain that there was no sleep, no rest for my mind, body, or soul.  In those days I remember asking You fervently to reveal the lesson that You had for me in this trial.  As the pain lessened and I found my new normal, that plea slowly faded away.

I know that You aren’t done with me yet, and for that I’m grateful.

Perhaps You intend to teach me patience.  Perhaps it’s more about putting my faith in You and not in the hands of any surgeon.  Perhaps it’s about bringing glory to You in my time of weakness.  I have yet to discover Your perfect plan through all of this Lord, but I know that I can trust in You.  Through my struggles and my failures, You’ve always been by my side.  Please forgive me for questioning Your perfect plan and open my eyes to the many lessons I have yet to learn.  Thank you for Your goodness and Your love.

Sincerely,
Your humbled doubter

 

 

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

What does your morning look like? Do you jump out of bed, heading straight to the window? Or maybe you’re more like me and you press snooze several times before slowly dragging yourself to the coffee maker. You might be busy getting ready for work, meeting the needs of your family, or you might be in a season of life that offers a more relaxed approach. Regardless of how our mornings might look, there is one morning ritual we can all benefit from, and that is acknowledging God’s presence.

 

I am certainly not a natural morning person, but I do enjoy waking up early to have quiet time with God. I usually start my quiet time with a cup of coffee and a short verse before diving into my prayer journal and Bible study. A scripture beforehand helps me meet God, and remember who He is before I enjoy His presence.

But you don’t have to enter a long study with the Father to find encouragement from a short psalm in the morning. To be honest, I’m not always diligent about making time for morning devotion. I could pour out excuses about the distractions I face with motherhood, but the truth is that I found excuses before I became a mom too. The devil prowls around, wanting to pull us away from our Father however he can. All the more reason why we need to meet with Jesus as we start our day! 

 

With the new year, I have, like many others, set a goal to be more disciplined in my devotion and study time. It is always good to prioritize some quiet time with the Lord! Sometimes, though, we can get discouraged. When we don’t know how to shell out an hour we just give up. God is so much more merciful than we give Him credit for! Yes, He wants us to give him time. He wants us in his Word. That should be more important to us than anything, but there is power in His name. Simply taking a short moment to recognize His presence at the beginning of each day can give us so much power as we go forward. Power to live for him! A short psalm is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Father God.

 

I want to encourage you to make time every morning to acknowledge God. (I’m encouraging myself to remember this as well!) You don’t have to start out with a long study. Start simple, with a verse and a short prayer. Our little girl loves to see her daddy in the mornMaybe the morning isn’t a good time for you to focus, and you want to have quiet time later in the day. If so, that is awesome! There is still something so wonderful about taking a moment to meet God in the morning.  Our little girl loves to see her daddy in the morning. Her eyes get big and she grins from ear to ear as she runs toward him. My husband loves these greetings. I think that’s how our heavenly Father wants to meet us each day. 

So write these verses down or type them in your phone! Read one as you wait for your coffee to brew, dry your hair, nurse your baby, before you start your quiet time, or even before you hop out of bed. I pray they will encourage you as you begin your days!

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day  

Psalm 90:14     Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 46:5     God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Psalm 143:8     Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 23:5     My cup overflows with blessings. (NLT)

Psalm 139:18     And when I wake up, you are still with me! (NLT)

 

There are verses all over the Bible (not just from Psalms) that can offer encouragement in the morning! Which Bible verses do you enjoy waking up to?

 

 

 

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

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