What is that Smell? (Part 2)

Inhale. Exhale. 

A few weeks ago, I took one more opportunity to go to the beach before our summer is technically over. The beach… In my last blog post, I began writing about my recent experience at the ocean during the beginning of this summer. Oh, how I needed a refreshing after months of feeling just plain worn out. The atmosphere at the beach is perfect for a time of refreshing. The cool water, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of the powerful waves crashing upon the shore, the wonderful breeze, and the fragrance of the sea air – I was taking it all in as I sat at the edge of the water reading the first two chapters of the book of 2 Corinthians.

In chapter one, Paul is addressing a certain situation that has taken place within the body of believers and sharing his heart concerning that situation as well as the believer’s response to it. He is transparent with the people and lets them know that he is writing out of much affliction and anguish of heart, and with many tears. As Paul shares his own heart, many human emotions are mentioned in these short passages; trouble, tribulation, affliction, suffering, sorrow, anguish of heart, grief, tears, along with having no rest in one’s spirit. Paul states that he and his companions had even experienced burdens that were beyond measure and above strength, burdens so heavy to carry that they had moments when they despaired even life itself.

Any one of us can identify with a few or more of these experiences of the heart. As Christians, we should never pretend that our lives are free of these very human emotions. We should never act like our lives are so perfect that these kind of things never touch us. Paul didn’t pretend. He was real.

In the reading of these passages, we quickly transition into chapter two where we find these very powerful words, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” – verse 14

Yes. In all of these things: trouble, tribulation, heart ache, sorrow, grief, heavy burdens, and all of the above, He leads us to triumph. He always causes us to have victory! And if that isn’t enough, even in the midst of these kind of challenges in our lives, He chooses to use us to disperse His tangible presence, and His manifest power everywhere we go.

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life…” – verses 15-16

We are the fragrance of Christ. The Amplified Bible uses words like sweet, discernible, vital, living and fresh, to describe this fragrance. Take a look at this translation and note the question posed in verse 16.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. 15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things?

Now there is a question that needs answering! Who is even qualified to carry and spread such a fragrance?

When we are up under these kinds of trials and dealings within our very own emotions, we don’t always feel like we can do a good job of representing Christ. We don’t always feel very sufficient to represent Him well when we are walking through despair ourselves, but the real credentials for diffusing His fragrance is found in the next verse:

“For we are not, as so many peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity; but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”

Because of a heart that reeks with sincerity, His fragrance is diffused through us. And this sweet-smelling aroma has the potential to become even stronger in us and through us in the most challenging seasons of our lives. Remember that, my friends. Don’t be like the believer who is bent on projecting an image of themselves as having lives that are perfect, families that are perfect, children that are perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect – as if this is what will impact and witness to others. Be real. Be genuine, even in your struggles.

God chooses us, imperfect people who often are going through situations in our own lives that cause us to experience every one of the emotions Paul began to express within those beginning passages. He chooses us to represent Him to the world around us. He chooses us to be carriers of His presence. He anoints us to disperse the sweet fragrance of Christ. And He does it because we are sincere believers, yielded to His purposes in our lives, ready to be an instrument in His hands. -But make no mistake about it, this comes with responsibility.

The Message Bible puts it like this: “Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God.” – And verse 16 goes on to say, “This is a terrific responsibility.” 

Indeed, it is a great responsibility. People are watching our walk and they see how we respond to challenges and difficulties. They see our conduct and they listen to our speech. They catch more than a glimpse and even a scent.

Physically, I have a daily routine of cleansing myself. Like all of us, I rise up and shower. I wash my body, my hair and my face. I put on deordorant, fresh clean clothes. I brush my teeth. I do what I do to present myself each day in a way that I don’t stink. I don’t even think about it. I just do it. And when I have sweat all day long or gotten some dirt and mire on myself through this task or that situation, I will go through this same cleansing routine a second time within the same day. I can’t wait to get back in that shower or to change into fresh clothes. I like being fresh and clean! I like to smell nice too. We all do, but do we have a routine or daily habit when it comes to preparing ourselves spiritually so that what we are presenting as Christian people doesn’t stink? Do we make half the effort? What scent is upon us? Is it a sweet-smelling aroma?

What’s that smell? Oh. It’s a brother who is angry and he is telling another brother off.  What’s that smell? Oh. It’s a sister who didn’t get her way and is now displaying a bad attitude. She has been hurt or offended and she is now walking in an unforgiving spirit. She is noticeably bitter. What’s that smell? Oh. It is a believer who has decided to retaliate for wrong done to him, rather than leaving it in God’s hands. What’s that smell? Oh. It is sister so-and-so gossiping and slandering even the leaders who are pouring their lives out before her. What’s that smell? Hmm. It’s a believer with a critical spirit, speaking judgemental words…

We are to be the fragrance of Christ. And this is indeed a terrific responsibility.

Let’s prepare ourselves well to carry and disperse the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. Let’s spread the sweet fragrance of Christ no matter what trials strike our lives, no matter what emotions touch our hearts. Diffuse His aroma! Disseminate that vital, life-giving smell. And thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph.

 

Jennifer Rash

 

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What is that Smell? (Part 1)

Breathe!

I took a much-needed break at the very beginning of the summer and spent several days at Edisto Island. The weather was perfect. Perfect temperature. Perfect breeze.

There is just something about the ocean breeze, and the sound of the ocean. Oh, the sound of those crashing waves. In no time at all, I had dropped into a level of relaxation that I had almost forgot existed.  I experienced rest within every part of my being! And as I took a walk along the beach that very first day, I decided that I needed to immediately eliminate everything in my life that had been causing me stress.

There is something present at the ocean that is so relaxing, so peaceful, that it causes one to enter into a glorious rest that is both soothing and invigorating all at the same time. And once experienced, you are sure that you cannot live without it.

Ah, that special something about the beach… The warmth of the sun certainly felt good on my skin. The ocean breeze was surely delightful. The truth is that the sound and sight of the ocean always causes me to sense the absolute majesty of my God, my Creator.

Mesmerized, I watched as the tide came in and went back out. I watched and listened to the crashing of the waves upon the rocks and upon the shore. I watched as the waves displaced and moved the rocks and sand from one place to another, even delving out new places within the overall landscape. Everything they touched began to change. What power they have! What power He has! There at the ocean, I feel His presence. I sense His nearness. My heart has a fresh reverence and awe of Him in these moments. My sense of time seems to suddenly slow down. I am aware. Aware of Him. Aware of everything. And I am awake. I am fully awake.

There is also something else that I am distinctly aware of. I am aware of a fragrance. There is a distinct smell or aroma there at the ocean that I am very aware of.  I cannot exactly describe it. And I cannot pinpoint it either. It’s not the fragrance of my suntan lotion. It’s not the smell of the sand or the water. It is the sea air! And this glorious fragrance is part of the whole. It is part of this whole scene and this whole environment which causes me to be at this level of rest, peace, and calm delight! 

Again, I took a long, deep breath. And another one.  I was taking it all in as I sat there on the beach. I opened my Bible to where I had left off in my reading the day before, picking back up with 2 Corinthians chapter 2. And I began to read a passage that caused me to feel as though God had set me up. It was a passage that I meditated on for the rest of the weekend.

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life…”  – 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

We are the fragrance of Christ.

I wanted to park right there and continue to meditate on these scriptures. I pulled up the Amplified translation on my phone and read it again.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. 15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things? 

Yes. Christ, too, has a fragrance. It’s a fragrance that is distinct and discernible. It’s recognizable. It is an air that creates offense among those who are living in sin and rebellion. Yet to those who are seeking Him, those who need Him and are open to His working in their lives, it is an aroma that is refreshing and invigorating. It makes His very existence evident. It makes His presence irresistible and His power undeniable. It is a vital fragrance that brings life! And it is vital that you and I disseminate this fragrance everywhere we go!

The Message Bible says, “Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God.” – And it goes on to say that “this is a terrific responsibility.” – verse 16

Indeed, it is a great responsibility.

We have a great responsibility, a terrific responsibility, to disperse the aroma and fragrance of Christ. What is behind this fragrance is much like those powerful waves in that Christ has the power to move things and change things, rearrange things, uproot things and move them from one place to another, even making a way where there seems to be no way. Knowing and experiencing Christ has the potential to bring great rest, peace, and a delightful calm to a troubled soul. Moments in His presence can both soothe and invigorate the heart. His power has the ability to transform lives. Everything He touches no longer remains the same. It is Christ who brings new life. And once a person encounters Him, they will be sure that they cannot live a day without Him.

We come into contact with people daily, everywhere we go, who need what we already have. Those who are down trodden, those who have lost all hope, those who are lost and undone, and those who are bound. We know Christ and His transforming power in our own lives. We have experienced His faithfulness and His lovingkindness. We know this joy and this peace. What freedom we have because of Christ! We know Him. And if we have been abiding with Him, then we can be sure that we are carriers of this sweet- smelling aroma. His powerful, lingering fragrance is recognizable to those who we come into contact with. It’s recognizable to both those who know they need Him and those who don’t. Today, let’s become more keenly aware than ever before of the exquisite aroma of Christ. Let’s make sure that we are wearing His fragrance. And then let’s slow down enough for others to catch His scent. 

 

Jennifer Rash

 

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Rejoice! Winter is Over; Spring is Here

Rejoice! Winter is Over; Spring is Here

 

Get up, my dear friend, fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Look around you: Winter is over; the winter rains are over, gone! Spring flowers are in blossom all over. The whole world’s a choir—and singing! Spring warblers are filling the forest with sweet arpeggios. Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed, and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms. Oh, get up, dear friend, my fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Come, my shy and modest dove—leave your seclusion, come out in the open. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing.

– Song of Solomon 2:12-14

Has the bite of your winter season affected your level of joy and exuberance? If the answer is yes, then I must remind you today that the season has changed!  And in the same way that we put away our winter clothing and take out our spring garments, it’s time for you, my friend, to put away the things of your former season. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, springtime is here! The new season is not just coming. It is here. It’s here! The flowers are blooming and their fragrance is filling the air. The sun is shining. The birds are singing their songs. In just the last few days, I am seeing butterflies, beautiful butterflies! I love the spring. I love the longer days of day light. I love the new energy that I feel in this season. It’s a season to celebrate. In fact, our city will be celebrating spring with its annual Spring Fling festival that will fill the downtown streets all weekend long!

This week, our women’s Praise and Coffee group kicked off our spring meetings with a paint party. This was the masterpiece that we all painted.

Yes, the sound of the birds actively singing is a reminder that winter is over and springtime has come. Our paintings will serve to remind us to rejoice, and to rejoice not only in the springtime but in the winter seasons alike, for the great apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 that we are to rejoice always. And he reminds us not just once, but twice.

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.” 

We are to rejoice in good, bright, and fruitful times, and in the darker, dry, difficult times alike. We are to rejoice in the midst of struggles, challenges, and even trials. 1 Peter 4:12-13  (AMP) actually gives us a heads up about those unavoidable trials.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to “rejoice and be glad hearted continually.” Continually. The Message Bible uses the words, “rejoice and be glad hearted no matter what.”  How hard is that to do?

In these scriptures, we find the word chairō (rejoice) which translates to be full of cheer, to be full of joy, to be glad, and to be calmly happy. Can you be calmly happy even in the midst of trials?  I hope that you can. Listen to the words of the psalmist’s prayer as he struggled in this very area:

Psalm 36:1-4 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and distressed, needy and desiring. Preserve my life, for I am godly and dedicated; O my God, save Your servant, for I trust in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, without fear or doubt]. Be merciful and gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Make me, Your servant, to rejoice,  O Lord, for to You do I lift up my soul.

His prayer was that God would make him to rejoice. The word rejoice here is a different word for rejoice. It is the word śâmach, which translates to brighten up, cheer up, make glad or to make joyful.

“Make me, Your servant, to rejoice. O Lord, for to you do I lift up my soul.” Virtually, he was lifting up his soul; his mind, his will, and his emotions, to the Lord. He was asking the Lord to brighten up his thoughts, to cheer up his emotions, and to make glad his heart. Sometimes we need to ask the Lord to do that very thing for us. The truth is, however, that we have a lot to rejoice about.

Deuteronomy 12:7 says, “Rejoice in all your undertakings (in all that you put your hand to) the Lord your God has blessed you.”

No matter if the things you are giving yourself to and pouring yourself into actually look like they are going well, or not going well, brighten up! Be glad! Make a decision to rejoice no matter what, for truly God has blessed you. We are a blessed people. Make no mistake about that!

Look at Habakkuk 3:17-19:

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation1The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].

There are two words used in verse 18; I will rejoice in the Lord; and I will joy in the God of my salvation (KJV).  The first word rejoice is the original Hebrew word ‛âlaz and it translates to be joyful, and even jump for joy. It also means to exult and triumph. The second word joy (gı̂yl gûl ) translates to spin around under the influence of intense emotion, to be glad and to be joyful.  Imagine that; jumping and spinning in a time of rejoicing right in the midst of things seemingly not going well, in the midst of things not turning out the way you had hoped or imagined, in the midst of God Himself not answering your specific prayer the way that you wanted Him to. Jumping for joy. What’s that all about? How is that even possible?

The secret to being able to rejoice always, continually, and no matter what is found in verse 18:  “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

I will choose! It’s a decision. It’s a choice. We have to make up our minds that we WILL rejoice no matter what. And our rejoicing is not in the ever changing circumstances in our lives, but in the unchanging, victorious God of our salvation who causes us to also walk in victory.

Sure, we can cry out like David and say, “Lord, make me, your servant to rejoice,” He will hear that prayer and answer us, but the scriptures seem to indicate that when it comes to this rejoicing, the responsibility is far greater on our own part.

I like the way the Amplified Bible (Classic Edition) puts Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!”

Delight yourselves in the Lord. Gladden yourselves in Him. If we want to rejoice always as the scripture puts it, we have got to gladden ourselves and gladden ourselves in Him. Take pleasure in Him, in His word, in His presence, in His goodness, in His provisions, in His grace, in His lovingkindness, in who He is.

I believe that the Lord is wanting to say to some of us today, “Get up! Lift your head and lift your voice. Join in with all creation as it sings and rejoices in its Maker. Let me hear your voice. Come to Me. I love you. I love you. I love you! Cheer up. It’s time to exchange your sadness for gladness. Go ahead and celebrate for you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. Take heart! Gain strength! And rejoice.”

May the Lord anoint you with the oil of gladness today. In Jesus’ name.

 

Jennifer Rash

 

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Your Answers to Survey Questions

Survey 

Balancing My Busy Life

Your Answers to these Questions:

Question #1:  What are some of your greatest struggles when it comes to balancing everything that you are doing in and outside of your home?

“Trying to do everything,” and “energy to do both work and home activities,” were the most common struggles.

Question #2:  On a scale of 1 -10, how overwhelmed do you feel with your daily or even weekly activities and responsibilities?

The average number on the scale was an 8.  I am not surprised but this is a real good indicator that women everywhere are trying to do too much.

Question #3:  In what area or areas do you feel most overwhelmed when it comes to balance?

“Wearing so many hats and feeling like I never accomplish them all.” – This is a terrible feeling, isn’t it? When we have too much going on and we just feel like we cannot ever get it all done, it causes us to have a sense of failure. We are not failures, ladies! We simply have too many things on our plates. So, what are we going to do about that? I hope you will read my latest blog, Finding Balance in all that We are Doing Inside and Outside of our Homes.

Question #4:  Are there areas that you feel are suffering due to the lack of time available for you to direct attention and energy to them?

My favorite answer was this one: “What energy?!”

Some of you were concerned that quality time with your husband and children was suffering. The majority of you felt like keeping up with the housework was where you were failing. The things that needed to be done around the house were not getting done. Many of you admitted that there just wasn’t any time to simply take good care of yourself. And many were grieved that spending time with the Lord in consistent study of His word and prayer wasn’t happening frequently enough.

Question #5:  If you could change something in your busy, busy schedule, what might it be?

Most women simply wanted to spend more time at home. Others really wanted people in their lives to step up and take responsibility for themselves, so they wouldn’t feel obligated to do their part for them. A few working moms wanted desperately to come out of their jobs and become stay at home moms, but circumstances have not allowed for that.

Question #6:  What, if anything, have you found to be helpful when it comes to striking a healthy balance in all that you are doing?

Top Answers:  

  • “I don’t overwork myself anymore.”
  • “Taking care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally so I feel like getting up earlier and getting what needs to be done, done.”
  • “Prayer and spending time in the word.”
  • “When asked to do something, I ask myself ‘will this activity bring me closer to God and my family’ if the answer is “no” then my answer is “no.”

These are some GREAT answers and this is some very good advice that we can all benefit from!

I, myself have had to learn to say no, even when I really want to say yes. This is the big one for me. Many times, I have brought on my own stress by simply saying yes to too many things. By the way, we cannot please everyone, and we will wear ourselves out trying if we are not careful. Simplifying my life as much as I can has helped me tremendously. I am most content with less; less activity. Less is MORE! And having that quiet time with the Lord first, before I do anything else, makes a world of difference, not only in how my overall day goes even when it comes to productivity, but in my perspective, my thinking, in the steadiness of my heart no matter what is happening around me, and above all being able to tune into His voice so I can be led by His Spirit in all that I do. Breaking away from all the activity and the noise at different times during my day is a must for me. I must have down time. How about you? This leads us to our last very important question.

Question #6: Do you make time to do the things that cause you to feel the greatest amount of contentment, happiness, and peace? Why or why not? What is holding you back?

Most answers included “guilt.” It seems that when some of us do things for ourselves we feel that we really should be doing something more productive! Well, let me tell you that unless we take some time for ourselves and take good care of ourselves, we won’t be very productive. And we won’t be much good to anyone else in our lives. We cannot neglect ourselves.

Most women answered that they put this time off and, as a result it just didn’t happen. Others said that they take time only after they have first reached a breaking point.

Okay, ladies, we have a lot to pray about. We have some changes that we need to make, don’t we?

Leave me a comment and be sure to read my latest blog on this very topic. I hope this helps someone and I pray that we all learn to strike a healthy balance in all that we are doing inside and outside of our homes. 

 

Jennifer Rash

Finding Balance in all that We are Doing Inside and Outside of our Homes

B  a L  a  N  c  E.

How do we achieve it? It is certainly a constant struggle. And we can begin to feel quite miserable when we are out of balance for any length of time. Have you ever had way too much on your plate and felt completely overwhelmed? I have and I remember thinking, “I need to change something. I can’t keep going like this!” However, when I took a hard look at everything that I was doing, there didn’t seem to be anything that I could let go of. It ALL seemed very important. One thing was for sure though. I had to learn how to say the word no. And from that day forward I started practicing.

“No.”

“No, I’m sorry. I will not be able to do that.”

“No. I am afraid I can’t make it.”

“No. Thank you for thinking of me, but I really cannot take anything else on right now.” 

It felt good. I began to take back the hours of my life. Priorities became clearer and clearer. I was happier. My husband was happier. Everyone in my household was happier.

 

As women, we wear so many different hats. We do it all. And often we find that we are over extended, overburdened, and overwhelmed. Our greatest challenge sometimes seems to be finding a way to balance it all. In the midst of the balancing act, our families tend to get the worst of us, rather than the best of us. By the time we get home from our endless responsibilities and activities, we are played out. There is not much left of ourselves to give!

Women today are gifted, talented, sharp and intelligent. We have a lot to offer. We are the masters of multi-tasking and we know how to get it done! We are amazing women who are accomplishing all kinds of things in our homes and outside of our homes. The truth is, however, that our first and best work should be done within our own homes: the best of our time, the best of our energy, the best of our creativity and resourcefulness, and the best of our love. We may all be very busy women, but our chief usefulness and our first calling really is within the building of our own homes.

Psalm 128:3 says, “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house…”

In my book, The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife, I talk a lot about the many different aspects of our role as wives. One very important aspect of this role is that of being a home builder. We are the builders of our homes. What an important assignment we have been given! We tend to be the very ones that set the atmosphere in our homes. We want our homes to truly be a haven. And when instead they are a place of grouchy people and lots of stress, it’s an indication that something needs to change! And if we want happy, healthy marriages and homes, then our husbands need to know that they are a priority. Does your husband know that he is your priority or has he gotten lost in the shuffle?

 

 

The King James version of Psalm 128:3 uses the words, “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house.” This creates some beautiful imagery. In the East, it was a common custom of Jews to train a vine along the sides of a house. It actually had its roots within the house, but it would grow and spread along the sides of the house. This kind of vine would cleave to the side of the house and would bear fruit. It was pliable and grew where it was directed. There, on the side of the house, it grew, it thrives, and it flourished.

There were a number of purposes for training a vine to grow and spread along the sides of the house. The vine would provide shade and comfort from the heat. It would also let in winter sunlight and warmth. It could protect and defend the house against the forces of winds, rain, and even thieves. The vine had good exposure for fruit right where it was planted. It was also an ornament, beautifying the home.

Like the illustration of the fruitful, twining vine along the side of the house, a wife is called alongside her husband. She cleaves to him. He is her support. They are intertwined together as one and move forward in life together. She is also an individual with her own thoughts, feelings, desires, and interests, but her roots always remain within her home. As she walks in her role as his wife, she grows and bears fruit. Not only does she bear children who are like olive shoots around the table, but everything she puts her hands and heart to bears good fruit.

There are times when we must ask ourselves some important questions: Is my first and best work done in my home? Is it there that I give the best of my time, energy, creativity, resourcefulness, and love? In all of the many things I do outside my home, do my roots remain in the heart of my home?

In answering these questions, if we find ourselves saying no to any part of them, we need to do an evaluation of the things that consume our time and energy. We in no way want to crowd out the things that are of most importance to us. For many of us, it may be time to let go of some things, in order to have a healthy balance in our everyday lives. And if there is something that is compromising our very health and happiness, it has to go!

I encourage you all to pray and ask the Lord if there is anything you need to release. And for those who just can’t see how it is even possible to let anything go at this time, remember that God is a way maker! Ask Him to bring about the changes that you need to take place. In the meantime, I pray that He will lift the burden of everything that is presently bogging you down. Help us Lord, to find divine order and balance in every part of our lives!

 

Jennifer Rash

 

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Taken by Surprise: A look back at 2016

A Letter of Celebration

 

The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife was released on April 1, one full week earlier than it was scheduled to, which sent me running to catch up. And I’ve been running to catch up ever since! With the early release, and the official book launch party being scheduled for April 12, I wasn’t quite sure how in the world I would ever get those very important ratings that take place upon the first week (not the third week) of release. Don’t you just hate when things don’t go according to your well- thought-out plan?!?

To my surprise, the first week of April the book climbed the charts each day, finally making it to #3 on the New Release chart (with barely any advertising or promoting at all). I am still amazed by this as I look back. Thank you, Jesus! Then, the “official book release” and launch party took place on April 12.

The past eight months have been jammed pack with activity. We have managed to squeeze in two local book signing events, two radio interviews, and speaking engagements at four women’s conferences and women’s ministry events. In July, I released the eBook version on demand. Not only did the eBook make it to #1 on the New Release chart in its category that month, but over 1,600 copies were downloaded from all over the world within the first few weeks! Good eBooks featured the devotional book on their center page entitled New Releases, and the book took the number one spot on their Biblical Gold page of their website. In August, The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife was featured on eBook Christians website as the eBook of the day and I was featured as the author of the day as well.  It was so exciting to see these things unfold.

This fall, many churches began to take their women through this book as a group study. Several requests have been made for a teacher’s guide that would be available to those leading the group studies, and questions have been asked about a companion study for men. I am happy to say that I am working on the leader’s guide right now and it should be available after the first of the year.  And I am very excited to tell you that my husband is writing the companion men’s devotional book so husbands everywhere can begin to learn how to lead their homes and families, and love their wives as Christ loves the church. Who’s ready to put some good teaching in the hands of husbands, many of whom have never had any real examples or role models in their own lives?

I have been working hard on a couple projects over the past few months. I am currently putting together two online courses, one exposing common pitfalls that lead to the destruction of a marriage and the other focusing on the right building materials.  I will be sharing more information about these with you very soon! Online videos, personal testimonies from Proverbs 31 wives, and other good things are coming this new year. Stay tuned!

Jennifer Rash

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

 

Oh! There’s no place like home for the holidays,

‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,

When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,

For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home!

 

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,

‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,

If you want to be happy in a million ways,

For the holidays you can’t beat home, sweet home.

(lyrics by Al Stillman / Robert Allen)

 

Is your home ready for the holidays? Today, I spent the afternoon shopping for some fresh new holiday decorations to change how I have been decorating my fireplace mantel for the past (I don’t know how many) years. I was so excited to come home and get started on my decorating; lanterns, candles, garland, berries, pinecones… Decorating the Christmas tree will have to wait until the weekend because I also ordered a few new ornaments that should arrive by then. I have been putting the tree up in the dining room where we have our big family dinner together. Since the children are now grown, we open gifts right after we enjoy our meal. We clear the table, and one by one we watch each other open the gifts. Last year, I bought the most beautiful Christmas dinnerware. The table setting was more beautiful than I ever remember it. And the ornaments that I just ordered coordinate wonderfully with the pattern on the dinnerware. Now to plan the meal!

When the children were still young, we had a few Christmas traditions that we established over the years. Like our parents did, we allowed our children to open just one small gift on Christmas Eve. Then I fixed hot cocoa garnished with whipped cream and a candy cane. We sat by the fireplace, drinking our cocoa while Gary read the Christmas story to us straight from the Bible. One year, I bought a bunch of Christmas candy and behold, my husband came home Christmas Eve with a box of goodies from his mother which included… more Christmas candy and I mean to tell you it was a ton! When the boys went to bed and we were sure they were finally asleep, Gary pulled all the gifts out from their hiding places and arranged them under the tree. Suddenly, I had this bright idea to create a candy “trail” on the floor with this super abundance of Christmas candy. Beginning at the side of each sleeping child’s bed, leading to the packages under the tree, I made a spectacular trail for each of them. What a trail it was, taking them on an early morning adventure through a large part of the entire house! They loved it so much that they held me to doing it again and again for years to come. Whew!  “Mom, don’t forget to do the candy trail again this year.”

We have created some new traditions over the last couple years. After dinner and gifts, Gary and I lay hands on each of the boys along with our daughter-in-law, and impart a spoken blessing over them one by one, which we have both prepared beforehand. We then retire into the living room, eat lots of desserts and play a few games together. One year it was Heads Up Charades. Last year we took to the front yard for some archery.

Are these things of any real importance? To me they are in this way; the cozy atmosphere, the aroma of a great meal including Christmas baked goods, the heartwarming memories that we are making together as a family and the love that we feel for one another during these times together. These are the things that are most meaningful. These are the things that make a house a home. HOME for the holidays! What I am trying to say is that we, as women, know how to make a house a home. And we are very focused on that very thing during the holidays. We are all about creating special moments.

Today, I want to remind you that you are the builder of you home! According to Proverbs 14:1, a wise woman builds her house.  She makes her house a sweet sanctuary. She sets the atmosphere, not just during the holidays but all year long. Should we put any less thought and focus upon the atmosphere of our homes the rest of the year?

We may have a bit of down time to invest in and enjoy our families this time of year, but for many of us it will be back to the rat race after the first of the year. The holiday will be over; no more vacation time for a while. Our focus will shift to many other pressing responsibilities and commitments. And while home is where the heart is, it will once again become a challenge to balance everything that we are doing inside and outside of our homes. It is truly a continual balancing act, isn’t it?

For now, I want to wish you the kind of Christmas that “makes you happy in a million ways.” Enjoy your time with your family. Shower them with the best of your love. No matter what is going on all around you at this present time, make your house a home. Let it be a Christ-filled atmosphere. One of peace and joy; the kind that cannot be disturbed or disrupted. Create a few family traditions and make memories that will last forever!

Next month, I want to share some thoughts with you about the importance of striking a healthy balance in all that we do. I will be sending out a questionnaire soon for each of us to share what might be one of our greatest struggles when it comes to balance. Perhaps we can all offer up some strategies and encouragement to those who feel completely overwhelmed. So, keep watch and stay tuned.

Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May God richly bless you beyond measure!

 

Jennifer Rash

 

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Don’t Be That Woman

I Have Been One of Those Women

I have been married for twenty-eight years. My two oldest are soon to turn 27 and 25.  And the baby is 16. My husband and I decided to give our lives to the ministry when our oldest was one-year old. We have run hard for the last 26 years. Many of those years we were out of balance, putting the church, the ministry, and the people first even before our own home, our own kids, and our own selves. We willingly made lots of sacrifices. Some of them were stupid and hurt our own family in the long run.

I’m probably being a little too honest for some of you today. And no, I’m not bitter! I’m better and I’m wiser!

For the most part, I’ve done good at keeping the main thing the main thing. I have kept my husband and the raising of our kids first. I made the building of my home my priority. There is something noble about that. However, while taking care of everyone and everything else, I have not taken care of myself. I have been one of those women. I put myself last. I have neglected some pretty important things. I have ignored little things going on in my own body. And I have had a careless attitude of “I’m just fine. It’s nothing. I’m okay.” – And the truth is that there is really nothing at all noble about that.

I’ve been running and going for quite some time. Running and going. Running. Going. And I feel tired. A lot.

Oh, I’ve been eating right and exercising but that is mostly because I want to look nice. Pretty much.

The past five years were a roller coaster ride. Grief, sorrow, sadness, stress, some deep stabs in the back, and lots of losses that my emotional heart had to navigate through.  And while my emotional heart, my soul, was navigating through these things, I was experiencing some manifestations of the physical heart as well: flutters, vibrations, a few chest pains. – “I’m just fine. It’s nothing. I’m okay.” –

I have shared recently with many of you, from Spartanburg to Columbia, a message that the Lord downloaded in my spirit concerning a prospering soul and how the health of the soul is key to the health of the spirit and even the physical body (I’ll share more on that another time), but at the time I was experiencing these things in my body, I told no one what I was experiencing. I ignored it. I don’t even know why…except that I have just been one of those women.

Last week during a five day stay in the hospital, a doctor came into my room and let me have a piece of his mind. Last month I had another doctor do a thyroid test for me and through my answering a series of questions, I told her about the flutters, vibrations and irregular heart rhythms. It has been quite some time since I have experienced any of them. Well, she put it on my record. The doctor assigned to me last week saw it on my record and was not happy with me. “Why did you keep this from me? Why were you hiding this from me? I would have begun treating you differently if I had known this!” And he began to let me know that the worst thing that could happen to me wasn’t death. He began to explain to me just what takes place in the body when a person is experiencing heart flutters, vibrations and irregular beats and rhythms. He talked hard to me. He just about made me cry, but I appreciate the wake-up call, Doc.

I finally stopped pretending. I stopped pretending that it’s okay to ignore myself. I stopped pretending that there is anything noble about putting yourself last. And I want to tell every wife, every mom, every homemaker, every pastor or every pastor’s wife to stop it! Stop being that person.

Don't Be That Woman

A year ago, when I was coming up on my fiftieth birthday, I began thinking about all the things that I had been putting off and how I wasn’t getting any younger! It started to dawn on me then. I still had so many dreams in me. There were so many things in me that I wanted to do but continually put on the shelf. I kept telling myself it just wasn’t the right time. It just wasn’t my season. I put things on the back burner again and again. Something was always more important. That day, I found myself telling the Lord that I felt like I had been waiting my life away.  Immediately, I heard the Lord asking me, ‘What is it that you are waiting for?”

I began to realize that if I was waiting for everything to first line up perfectly in order to do all the things that were still in my heart to do, that was never going to happen. The releasing of my first book this past spring (I have started writing so many over the last 15 years) was about me giving myself permission to do something for me. It was the very first step. Did you hear me, women? I said that I had to give myself permission to do something for me. That may sound strange to some, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is where most of us have been for quite some time. Do you have a hard time giving yourself permission to do something for yourself, think about yourself, or put yourself first once in a while? I wonder how many of you even feel guilty when you buy something for yourself.

Today, I have a message for that woman. Stop telling yourself that it is not your season. I want you to know that every season is your season. Whether you are single and pursuing your career, a newlywed just beginning the married life, a mom of young children that absolutely take up much of your energy and focus, or a woman who is juggling all of these things plus a career, learn to embrace the season you are currently in! Stop waiting for another season. And for goodness’ sake, take care of yourself now with just as fierce a commitment as you take care of everything and everyone else. You are important. You are special. You are beautiful. You are one of a kind. You are a gift. Every part of everything that you are doing is entirely significant and you are needed.

Here is your wake-up call, from one woman to another. It’s time. It’s time to stop pretending that you don’t need to do anything for you. Take time today to be good to yourself. Take time every day just for you.

Jennifer Rash

 

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Be His Encourager!

Be His Encourager!

Be His Encourager!

Have you ever met someone who is a real downer? I bet we all have. This is the person you most likely avoid. Isn’t it? I must confess that there is one individual in my life who is that negative person…oh, so negative. And she creates such a negative atmosphere with her words.  A “fault finder” by nature, she tends to always get a few digs in each time we are together. She is full of criticism. Oh, I have learned to not take any of it personally because the truth is that this individual talks negatively about everyone and everything! And I certainly know that this is not someone in my life who will ever get excited for me about anything that I am excited about, or encourage me in any of the many things that I am doing. It’s Ok. I am able to laugh it off and joke a bit about it now…but it wasn’t always that way.

We all need encouragers in our lives. Just one encourager makes all the difference in the world sometimes. But there seems to be plenty of people who will readily put you down and a real shortage of people who will lift you up. Be the one who lifts up!

The truth is, many of us can’t handle very much criticism ourselves, but as women, we sure can dish it out…

As wives, we need to realize just how much we contribute to the atmosphere in our homes and marriages. Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.” In The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife, I talk a lot about how we as wives can build our homes, our marriages, and our men. One of the ways we can build our men is through our words.

We expect so much from our husbands but do we ever stop to think about the kind of encouragement that they might need to be the kind of men that we want and need them to be?

In order to walk in their role as our husbands, the leaders and high priests of our homes (along with many other things), they must possess the quality of mind and spirit that enables them to face tough challenges, difficulty, danger, fear, and pain. We had better not tear down our husband’s spirit. Mental and moral strength and confidence is vital if he is ever going to be the kind of man that you need him to be.

“She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.” Proverbs 31:12 AMP

Are you your husband’s encourager? The word encourage comes from the old French word encoragier, meaning to make strong and to hearten.

The word encourage in Proverbs 31:12 translates; to give support, confidence and hope to, uplift, cheer, promote, nurture, and strengthen.

We can be either a great source of encouragement or discouragement in our own homes. 

The word discourage means to “turn away” from courage. There are things that your husband will face that will cause him to want to give up, drop out, throw up his hands and quit. What words have you been speaking leading up to these times? What kind of confidence does he have because of the words that you have spoken to him?

She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. Proverbs 31:26 AMP

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say and she says it kindly. Proverbs 31:26 MSG

The Proverb 31 wife has developed a skill of knowing just what to say. She thinks before she speaks. Her words are wise words. Her tongue isn’t sharp. Her words aren’t cutting. They are kind. Her words have the power to comfort, soothe, and heal. Often her words reassure. Her words are a source of encouragement and strength. With her support, he can accomplish anything!

There are days when your husband needs you to be that comforting, encouraging voice that he comes home to. Is today that day?

Be his encourager.

 

Jennifer Rash

 

 

Take off His Pants

Take off His Pants

 

 

Have you ever heard the term “she wears the pants in that relationship,” or “she is the head of that household”? How about this one, “When she says, ‘Jump,’ he asks, “How high”? I’m sure that you have heard all of these terms used at one time or another. These are some of the things that people often say when they see a wife who is determined to be in charge and will not allow her husband to be the leader that God has created and called him to be.

This is a serious pitfall for a woman who is sincerely trying to walk in her role as a wife and genuinely desiring to have a loving, healthy and thriving marriage.  A pitfall is a hidden trap or stumbling block. It is unsuspected danger. A pitfall is difficulty that is not easily recognized. It is a problem that is not obvious at first. And I want to talk to you about this particular pitfall that many women step right into from the very beginning of their marriages and tell you just why it is a problem and how it is a stumbling block. This kind of controlling behavior undermines the divine structure and plan that God Himself gave to us.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (AMP) says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as [a service] to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the church, Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives should be subject to their husbands in everything [respecting both their position as protector and their responsibility to God as head of the house].”

God has placed the husband in a place of leadership in his home. This is his God-ordained role and responsibility. He is the head. God has given to him a position of authority and the wife is to place herself under that authority. Here is just one very important reason why:

Authority gives one the freedom to decide and the right to act without any hindrance. The concept of authority is to have the power, ability, or capability to complete an action.

So you see, it really is problematic for a woman to continually push and pull her husband in this direction and that direction in an attempt to always have her way. A woman who insists on being the one in charge is walking right into unsuspected danger and difficulty. And the woman who is in a habit of manipulating her husband to do what she wants him to do and  punishing him somehow when he doesn’t, ends up with a marriage that is in a certain condition.

I have heard these words many times: “I have to take charge because he won’t.” Here are a couple of problems with that. First of all, when a wife steps into her husband’s role, it is impossible for him to then walk in his God-ordained role, because she is occupying that place. As long as a wife is walking in the husband’s role, he cannot occupy it. A wife must allow her husband to walk in his role even if he is not doing it perfectly. She must allow him to make mistakes. The more he practices it, the more he will grow in it. He must have the opportunity to grow. How will your husband ever learn to make good, solid decisions for you and your family if you are always stepping in or interfering?

Is your husband a good leader? You may have contributed to that in ways that you have not even been aware of. Is your husband a poor leader? You may need to ask yourself if you have in some way contributed to that. If you continue to occupy his place as the leader in your marriage, you may find that he just gives up trying. He grows tired of the battle and the fight, so he complies in order to shut your fussing and complaining up and have some peace in his life. Is that what you really want? He may even become resentful and unfeeling. Girl, if you have fallen into this trap, it’s time to turn this thing around! Relinquish control. Take OFF his pants. Let him wear his own trousers in your relationship and home! STOP all the pushing and pulling. Allow him to lead unhindered. Acknowledge his headship and begin to honor him in a way that will lead to his reaching his full potential.

When you willingly submit to your husband, you free him up to accomplish everything God has called him to do without any hindrance. You contribute to his becoming all that God has created him to be and all that you need him to be.

 

Jennifer Rash

 

I have dedicated three chapters of The Path to Becoming a Proverbs 31 Wife: Walking in Your God-given Role to helping women understand just what submission really is all about and what God’s purpose for it is. Will you take the 31-day challenge?