Passing the Test

Since mid-January, I’ve been working towards a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. I took a class two nights a week for 16 weeks. I can’t even tell you how many hours I studied. I outlined over 900 pages of the study materials.  One night I even had a dream about trying to calculate yield ratios and the 4/5ths rule. I’m happy to report that I’m among the 53% of test takers who passed the first time. I’m so thankful to God for helping me. 

There are several things I learned about studying for and taking a major test. I realized this could be applied to my spiritual life. First of all, it takes commitment. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to just listen to the online classes and pass. Oh sure, it was fun sitting on my porch on those beautiful days in early spring. My dog sat there with me while I watched the instructor talk about Business Management and Strategy and the five other core competencies of HR. Once I took my first practice test (and failed with a 68) I realized what I was doing wasn’t enough. I had to dig in and do a lot more. I had to make some changes. That’s when I began to outline each book the old fashioned way -with pen and paper. My hand started cramping and hurting so bad one night I couldn’t write another letter. I told a friend how much my hand was hurting. She said, “Jennifer, with all the technology that you know about you mean to tell me that you can’t find a way that won’t hurt?” Challenge accepted! The next morning I upgraded my iPad, and bought the Apple Pencil. I had to drop the old way of doing things and find a new way. The latest iPad has a digitizer in the screen. With the Apple Pencil you can write notes directly on the screen with a much softer touch. I outlined four books without any major issues. We have to be willing to change what we’re doing. If what you’re doing isn’t working -change it. If what you’re doing is causing pain, STOP! Ask God for wisdom and He will give it to you. 

I’m so blessed because the company where I work paid for the course and the added expense of the test. Does that sound familiar? Jesus paid the ultimate price for us and He even won the victory. We have to accept His sacrifice. Even though He paid the price, we still face tests in life. It still costs us something. If I wanted to study the way I knew I needed to, I had to go out and spend some of my own money. iPads aren’t cheap! If we want to pass the tests we’re facing, it’s going to cost us. It’s going to cost time, money, and relationships. We have to change the way we’re doing things no matter the cost. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

I had several people praying for me. It was amazing and once again, I’m so blessed. I didn’t tell a lot of people exactly when I was testing. Honestly, I was scared of failing. I didn’t want everyone knowing if I failed. When I walked in that testing facility, I walked in with those prayers surrounding me. Yet, I still walked in alone. I had to prepare diligently for months before the test. I was the person who had to answer the questions. No one else could do it for me. You can have people praying for you, supporting you and encouraging you. Ultimately you’re the one who has prepare and you’re the one who has to take the test. 

Almost all of the support and encouragement I received was amazing. Sometimes people think they’re helping when in reality they’re not. They project their past experiences on you. I had someone say things like, “If you fail…you’re going to cry, you’ll be angry, etc.” I also received some bad advice but I knew in my heart what I needed to do. I couldn’t allow anyone else’s opinion or experiences affect the way I felt about myself. I couldn’t let it affect my belief that God was going to help me. Sometimes people have awful experiences in life. In their grief and anger they don’t always say the right things. Our job is to keep trusting God. Not everyone you come in contact with is always going to support you. We need to listen to those God puts in our life. We also need to have discernment.

In the testing facility, they make you put your belongings in a locker. I had to turn my pockets and bottom of my pant legs inside out. They used a metal detector to make sure I didn’t take anything in the room with me. I was handed a few pieces of paper and two pencils. The proctor walked me to my little cubicle and all of my hard work was about to be put into action. After a short tutorial on the testing process, the test began. The entire time, I kept thinking “I’m going to fail.” It was freezing cold in that room but I could feel the sweat forming on the back of my neck. I took some practice tests in preparation but I didn’t expect it to be that difficult. Evidently that’s a standard emotion during these particular tests. One HR blog I read said that some people even get up and walk out of the testing facility before they finish the exam. They’re so convinced that they are going to fail that they give up. Sure, there were a lot of answers I knew. I was SO relieved when I was certain of the answers. When I didn’t know the answer the fear of failure screamed in my ears. I remember I didn’t have a clue about one question in particular. I put my face in my hands and said, “God, I have no idea.” I was able to dissect the question and I believe I chose the correct answer. The enemy wants us to think we are failing. He wants us to quit in the middle of the test. He doesn’t want us to pass the test. My friends, no matter what, don’t you give up!

During the test I had to stay focused. There were people in the room taking all sorts of tests. Some of them were writing essays. The clicking of the computer keyboards was very loud. The facility had headphones available but I’m sorry, I wasn’t about to put those things on my head. God only knows how many people used them in between cleanings. Yuck! One poor young woman was sick with a nasty cold. Very few things gross me out more than phelgm. Let’s just say she had an over abundance and it was making me queasy. I’m assuming that the young man who threw the computer mouse failed his test. The protor had to come in the room and calm him down. I felt so sorry for him. No matter what is going on around you, you can’t lose your focus. You can’t let the experiences that other people have affect your faith in God. Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will help you pass the test.

Once I clicked the “end exam” button, my heart started pounding. I was certain that everyone around me could hear it. The next message on the computer screen informed me of a survey they wanted me to take regarding the testing facility. I screamed in my head, “Are you kidding me right now?” This was probably the most defining moment in my career and they wanted to know if the air conditioner was okay. I impatiently completed the survey. The screen went blank, my heart beat even faster. The next screen said they would mail me the final results. My heart sank. I knew they were supposed to inform me immediately of a pass or failure. I thought it meant I failed. Two seconds later the analysis was complete. I passed. I couldn’t believe it. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. As I fought back tears of joy, all I could say was, “Thank You God, thank You God, thank You God.” Even several days later when I think about it, I thank Him profusely for being with me and helping me.

I left the room and went to the proctors desk. As she waited to print and notarize my results she received a phone call. It was from one of her coworkers at a North Houston location. I was able to hear what happened. As she got a very puzzled look on her face, she said, “Wait, she did what? She ate six Kleenex?” A test goer at another location ate six Kleenex during her test. Think about that for a second. One of two things happened. Either she was extremely nervous or she was cheating. My friends, we can’t cheat our way through the tests we’re facing. We can’t take the easy way. In the end we’re only cheating ourselves. If she was that nervous, well Jesus is the only answer. Only He can give us the peace that passess all understanding. Only He can help us sleep well the night before such a major test. Only Jesus.

In the end, titles don’t matter. Sure, it’s a wonderful feeling seeing the PHR behind my name. I know what it took to get it. Only those who have studied for and taken this test know what it’s like. It’s going to help in my career path. I learned so much in the course of my study. It’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of and I’m so very grateful for it. We should pursue those things that will bless us in order for us to be a blessing to others. However, all I truly want, with all of my heart is for my Heavenly Father to look at me one day and say, “Well done daughter.” What else really matters?  

Miracles

Ponce-Church-nothing-is-impossible-with-God-beach-photo   Last night I got home around 10:30 and didn’t have any electricity due to a blown transformer.  Of course the work crews were  completely overloaded because of the severe storms we had earlier in the evening.   I had a very difficult time going to sleep but it had nothing to do with the lack air conditioning.  Everything about me was completely exhausted yet my spirit was so on fire with the thought of  miracles that I couldn’t sleep.  Memories of seeing and experiencing God’s miracle working power flooded over me. I’ve seen God do the impossible so many times.  How could I possibly have any doubt?  I know a lot of people who truly need a miracle.  I’ve written a few blogs about my friend Ann.  I thought about her last night.   I’m firmly convinced that I’m going to see her completely whole.  God is Faithful!  He started a good work in her and He’s Faithful to complete it.  I’m so convinced of her healing and restoration that each time I walk in her room I expect to see her sitting up and talking.  When I think about her, I don’t see her in her bed, I see her walking, talking and ministering to others.  I know it’s going to happen!  I have friends diagnosed with cancer, some of them have heartbreaking family situations, unsaved loved ones and the list goes on and on.  I grew up listening to testimonies from ministers such as R.W. Schambach, Norvel Hayes, T.L. Osborn and so many more.  My desire and faith for miracles was developed at a young age.  There’s something I need to say and you need to know.  My faith has nothing to do with me being such a great person.  It’s because He’s such an amazing, wonderful, faithful God!

We say phrases like “with all of my heart” to let the audience know how strongly we feel something.  I wish I could think of a stronger phrase.  Everything within me right now is crying out for you to grasp that we truly are in the midst of experiencing  the greatest miracles we’ve ever seen.  As it increases it will be unlike anything this world has ever known.  My friends, don’t be afraid to believe for your miracles.  It’s time!  I’ve never experienced what I’ve been feeling since last night.  It’s a fire and passion that knows now is the time.  The miracles I’ve imagined since I was a child are taking place.  It’s not about to happen, we aren’t on the edge of it, it’s now!  It’s also time to let go a past disappointments, regret, shame, anger and any other negativity regarding situations that didn’t turn out the way you thought they should.  You’ll never be able to move into the new season while holding on to the old and continually looking back.  I see it like a rubber band.  On one end of the rubber band are all of the old disappointments.  The other end is where you start believing God once again.  You have to let go or eventually  the stretching will cause the rubber band to snap and break.  Listen, you won’t snap and break if you start trusting God for the miraculous again.  You’ll move to a greater realm of His glory.

Chris Quilala from the worship band Jesus Culture wrote a song called Miracles.  I’ve been listening to it all day.  I copied the following from Chris’s Facebook page on how the song was written.  Miracles is a song about choosing to believe the truth that God is who He says He is. In December of 2014, my wife and I lost our baby boy, Jethro Dylan Quilala. As my wife labored in the hospital room we were praying and believing for God to do a miracle. We did not see our son Jethro come back to life, and as we held him in our arms we had a choice, to believe God is good all the time and no matter the outcome He is and will always be the God of miracles. Often times as believers we allow our circumstances to change our perceptions of God. The truth is that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The journey of faith is full of mystery. My wife and I could be stuck going around in circles asking God why we didn’t see the miracle we had hoped for. Instead of doubting God in the face of contrary circumstances we chose to move towards Him, to trust Him, and to hold on to Him even more tightly. If you need a miracle in your life don’t lose hope! Continue to believe and have faith to see impossibilities bow at His name. Our God is the God of miracles.

I Can’t Lose

  Saturday I wrote about my friend Ann who was just put in a nursing home.  I’m amazed at what God is already doing.  I’ve had two very special experiences within the last few days.  One Saturday and one yesterday .   I was walking my dog early Saturday  morning and I was also praying for Ann.  I said, “Jesus, would you please visit her right where she is.”  I’ve heard stories where Jesus visited people in the hospital and healed them.  In that moment a picture flashed in my mind.  It was a picture of me standing at Ann’s bed.  That image almost sent me straight to my knees. I felt woefully inadequate.  I know what the Word says in 1 John 4:17 as He is, so are we in the earth.  I know I’m not Jesus.  He lives within me though.  We’re called to do even greater works.  Seeing that picture in my mind made me want to visit Ann even more.  I don’t know why God is allowing me this unbelievable privilege.  I wouldn’t trade this time with her for anything in the world.  It truly is a great blessing.

The second special experience happened yesterday.   I got to see her again after church.  I took her a handkerchief that I had several people at church pray over.  The Bible says that special miracles were done through Paul.  Handkerchiefs that touched his skin were laid on the sick and oppressed and they were healed and delivered.  There’s nothing special about the cloth itself, it’s just a point on contact.  I began to tell Ann some of the testimonies of the people who prayed for her.  I reminded her how handkerchiefs were used in the Bible.   We’ve managed to work out a system where she can communicate with me.  It’s an alphabet chart.  It’s tedious but it works.  After I told her about all the people who prayed over the handkerchiefs for her, she communicated three words that I’ll never forget.  She said, “I can’t lose”.  With those three words Ann turned me into a pile of mush.  I burst into tears and said, “That’s right!  You can’t lose!”   The smile on her face was so big! She started laughing because I told her that she’s turning me into a big crybaby.  I told her “I Can’t Lose” is a great title for her first book.  Ann knows the power of prayer.  She knows the power of our God.  She can’t lose!  Here’s my friend, she’s 43 years old, she can only move her head and her eyes, she can’t talk (right now) but she communicated “I can’t lose.”  Wow!

When you’re discouraged or tempted to give up remember; you can’t lose.  The God of Angel Armies already won the victory!  I don’t care what the situation looks like.  I’m in no way moved by what’s going on in Ann’s physical body.  Jesus wasn’t moved by the fact that Lazurus’s body was decaying already.  God is God no matter what!  God is able regardless of anything!  I have a picture of Ann on a church retreat we went to in our early 20’s.  She was playing ping pong and having a blast.  I’m going to see her standing on her own two feet again.  I’m going to see her completely restored.  She loves horses.  I’m going to see her ride again.  I’m also going to see her stand and give our God ALL of the glory!  What situation are you facing today?  I wish I could take each one of you by the shoulders and say, “You can’t lose.”  Do you realize the Treasure that you have within you?  His name is Jesus Christ.  He’s the King of kings and the Lord of All! Our God reigns and we can’t lose!

The following song is called Hope’s Anthemn.

Your Story Doesn’t End Here

tumblr_mqk3pdFiIS1syjddxo1_500Thursday I received a phone call from the father of one of my very dear friends.  He called to let me know that he had to put my friend Ann in a nursing home.  Before I go any further I want to say that I can’t imagine what a difficult decision that was for her family.  Ann’s parents have been taking care of her but it was taking a toll on their health.  I am absolutely convinced that this was the best decision that they could have made.

I have two life long, best friends.  Nikki passed away in 2006.  Ann and I were in third grade together.   We were inseparable during the summers and went to Bible School together.   She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the late 90’s.  She gradually lost her ability to walk, drive her car and last year her ability to talk.  It’s been devastating for the entire family.  Through the years Ann and I would mostly email each other.  She could use a speech technology program on her computer so her hands wouldn’t become fatigued.  Eventually the computer could no longer recognize what she was trying to say.  Due to extenuating circumstances it wasn’t feasible for her to have visitors.

I was at work when Ann’s dad called me.  I immediately shut my office door and cried.  Memories of us riding our bikes through the neighborhood, swimming all summer and sitting at Wendy’s for hours came rushing through my mind.  I was with Ann at The Landing swimming pool when she first started diving.  She practiced her inward dives all the time.  Eventually she joined the diving team in high school.  At the age of 43 her parents made the gut wrenching decision to put her in a nursing home.  It broke my heart for them but mostly for Ann.  Even so, in my heart I know God is going to use it for their good.

I talked to a friend Thursday night on the phone and we prayed for Ann.  Out of my heart came the words “This isn’t where Ann’s story ends.”  Her story doesn’t end in a nursing home.  Through the years Ann stood and believed for her healing.  She has promises that God gave her specifically about this healing.  As the disease progressed she became discouraged and was afraid to keep believing.  I completely understand this.  There is no way I can comprehend what she has gone through and is going through at this moment.

Friday on my lunch break I went to visit her. It was the first time in about 11 years that I’ve been able to see her.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when she saw me in the doorway.  She was so happy.  Ann isn’t able to move anything other than her head.  She can’t make any sounds but she can still communicate.  As I stood there telling her how happy I was to see her, she was emphatically shaking her head yes.  Since my birthday is next week I told her that being able to see her is the best birthday present I’ve ever received.  I hate for people to see me cry but in that moment the ugly cry came over me.  She was crying too.   I believe hope began to flicker in her heart again.  I told her she’s going to get tired of me because I’m going to visit her so much. Several times I was able to make her laugh.  Seeing her laugh in that situation is one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced.

I visited Ann earlier today.  Once again I told her, “Ann, your story doesn’t end here.”  I haven’t been able to get that phrase out of my heart.  I began to remind her of various people in the Bible with what looked like impossible situations.  Abraham’s story didn’t end without an heir.   Joseph’s story didn’t end in the pit or in prison.  Esther’s story didn’t end with the devastation of the Jewish people.  Lazarus’s untimely death didn’t end in the depths of the tomb.  Jesus’s story didn’t end with Him dying on a cross.  The tomb is empty!  Whatever you’re facing, your story doesn’t end there.  Don’t let the magnitude of my next statement pass you by.  Our God is a God of miracles.  Your story doesn’t end here.

Some may think it’s foolish, crazy, stupid or all of the above for me to believe so deeply for a miracle for Ann.  Luke 18:8 (The Passion Translation) says, “God will give swift justice to those who don’t give up.  So be ever praying, ever expecting, just like the widow was with the judge.  Yet when the Son of Man comes back, will He find this kind of persistent faithfulness in His people?”  I want Him to find that same faithfulness in me. Don’t you?  In 2 Timothy 1:12 the Apostle Paul under the unction of the Holy Spirit said, ” The confidence of my calling enables me to overcome every difficulty, without shame, for I have an intimate revelation of this God.  And my faith in Him convinces me that He is more than able to keep all that I’ve placed in His hands safe and secure until the fullness of His appearing.”  I am firmly convinced that my God is more than able.  Ann’s healing was paid in full.  It’s time for it to manifest in her body.  Whatever you’re going through, it’s time for the manifestation of His promises.  It’s time for your children to come home. It’s time for your finances to be restored.  It’s time.

Travis Cottrell is one of my favorite worship leaders. That man can sing and he’s anointed.  He recently released a new CD titled All That is Within Me.  I added one of the songs to my list of favorites.  It’s called, You Will Redeem it All.  I included the YouTube link so you can listen.  I played it for Ann today.  The chorus says, “I have this hope as an anchor for my soul, You will redeem it all, redeem it all.  Out of the dust into something glorious, You will redeem it all, redeem it all.”  I’m so grateful that I get to be an eyewitness to the glorious display that’s going on in Ann’s life.  God is going to redeem it all for her!  I’m ever praying for her and ever expecting .  I gave Ann my word that I refuse to give up.  God is no respecter of persons.  He can redeem it all for you too!

My Beautiful Savior

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I recently shared the video of Priscilla Shirer’s the Attributes of God.  I can’t tell you how much it inspired and touched my heart.  A friend and I talked about longing to have the ability to share about God with such passion.  Since I was a child I’ve seen myself being able to minister in that way.  I’ve experienced it to some degree but I yearn for more.  I told my friend that I was going to write my own declaration about God.  I highly encourage you to do the same.  You may not consider yourself to be a writer but you can do this.  Write about the ways in which you know Him, what He’s brought you through and what He means to you.  As I set my pen to paper I realized that I had already written my declaration.  Only it was different.  I wrote mine as a love letter to Jesus.  I wrote it in March 2013 but I made a few changes today.

My Beautiful Savior,

From the time I was a small child You were my First love.  I’ve loved You for as long as I can remember but You loved me forever.  During the worst moments of my life You carried me and You never left me.  You walked with me down the darkest roads until I could see the light again.  Your hand was always there, guiding, protecting and leading me.  When I turned my back on You, You remained ever Faithful and True. Throughout my life you have been and continue to be my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Peace, my Father, my Provider and my very Best Friend.  Without You I am nothing. I continually marvel and stay amazed at the love You have for me.

I’m so grateful for the price You paid. The price for my sin, for the sin of humanity wasn’t Yours to pay.  You were the spotless Lamb of God.  Our debt was impossible to ever repay yet You paid it with Your own blood. Before this world’s foundation Love had a plan to redeem humanity.  You didn’t come as a conquering king clothed in robes of splendor.  Instead redemption’s plan delivered you in the arms of a precious virgin girl.  What was it like for the King of all eternity, the one and only God to be born as one of us?   What was it like for God to grow from a helpless baby to a man hanging on a cross?  You were born to bear the curse and sin of all mankind.  You left the glory and splendor of Your throne.  Your eyes saw beauty far beyond what we can imagine.  Those same eyes pierced through the brokenness of lost humanity and refused to look away.  Feet that once walked on purest gold were also once thick with the dust of this fallen earth.  With the purest of love You walked as one of us yet You are Creator of All.  You weren’t afraid to stretch out Your hands to soothe and heal the sin ravaged hearts of the multitudes.  With absolute faith and trust in Your Father You showed us what is possible; if we only believe.  You showed us what a life totally surrendered to the will of the Father looks like.   Love incarnate walked in our shoes.  You felt the crushing blow of grief and the agony of complete abandonment.

Betrayed for thirty pieces of silver

Beaten beyond recognition as a man

Bloodied by the scourge of Roman whips

Bruised by torturous blows of those You came to save

Such love is beyond anything I can comprehend.  You could have called the Heavenly Hosts to save You, yet you stayed on the cruel cross of Calvary.  The nails didn’t hold You there, it was pure love.  Love wouldn’t allow You to stop redemption’s plan.  You saw me in my desperate need. With every ounce of Your blood You said, “She’s worth it.”  You stayed even through the most heinous agony of all; when Your Father turned His back on You. Your perfect union with Him shattered as You became sin.  Forsaken by the One You loved the most; You endured. You suffered. You died.  As love incarnate You made Your choice.  You gave Your life for all.  As Your body lay in the tomb, what looked like defeat was the greatest victory of all time.  Victoriously You conquered Satan’s reign.  You are forever proclaiming “I am the Living One, I was dead and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of death and of hades.”  My precious Jesus, what You did for me, for humanity, words will never be enough.  Today the reality of what You did is far greater than when I was child.  Jesus, I am forever grateful for Your love and Your sacrifice.  I will spend my life and all of eternity praising You. Without You, without Your sacrifice I was destined for hell.  Because You gave Your life I am now destined to be like You and Heaven is my eternal home.  One day soon I will see You face to face.  How my heart yearns for that day.  I long for the day when I will lay my crown at Your feet.  Until that glorious moment, I make it my determined purpose to know You more and more.  With a heart flowing with gratitude I will love and minister to Your people.  I will proclaim the Gospel message for as long as I live.  Jesus, with all of my heart and my life, I thank You.  You are my Everything.

The Attributes of God

Friday night I had the privilege of going to a night of ministry led by Tony Evans, Anthony Evans and Priscilla Shirer.  I bought the tickets the day they went on sale several months ago.  It was a phenomenal evening and we had fantastic seats.     One of my favorite parts of the night was when they showed a media presentation before Priscilla Shirer ministered.  It was the type of presentation that made you want to jump up and shout.  Unfortunately the people in the section where my friend and I sat were a little less than enthusiastic.  Anthony Evans singing  It is Well acapella and Mercy Tree couldn’t get them out of their seats.  Anyway…when I got home that night found a slightly different version of the presentation on YouTube.  I included links below to the video presentation and to Priscilla’s blog which has the words.  It’s the best four minutes and 36 seconds you’ll spend today.   It’s so good and so powerful that I decided to listen to it once a day for 30 days. If you would like to join in, let me know.  I’ll be more than happy to email you a reminder daily.  This presentation is inspiring, motivating, and it’s the truth of the Word of God. This is our God, this is our Father.

 

 

http://http://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/who-do-you-belong/