Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Letters to Jesus

She wrote a letter to Jesus and she gave it to my husband. Maybe in her sweet little mind he was the closest thing to God since he is her Pastor. We held the letter for a little while wondering what was inside. If a little girl, all of seven, could write a letter to God, what would it say?

In a matter of minutes we would find out.

Part of me wanted to leave it unopened, like it was meant for His eyes alone. And yet I knew that somehow we had been included in this little girls love note to God.

This is what it said:

Dear God,

How do you think I look?

Do you think I’m pretty? I hope so.

I love you. Ok?


We laughed for a little while and then I said, “Well, that’s a woman in training for you.”

My husband chimed in, “Well, it would be if she asked the question five more times.”

With a dirty look thrown in his direction and a pain in my heart, I felt questions stirring in my heart.

What is it about our gender that craves beauty longing for acceptance? If we truly knew how God sees us…would we stop asking or looking for our value in the ones around us?

I wanted to take this little girl in my arms and give her the answer.

Sweet girl,

I think you are beautiful.

You can ask me a thousand times and my answer will be the same.

My child, you are lovely. You were created in My image.

Fashioned and formed, a workmanship that I delight in.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to hearts like yours.

I love you more.

Let God be your mirror. Let Him fill the deepest longings of your heart. You can ask of Him a thousand times and He will never grow tired of you asking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Largest Christmas Angel

They say that big things come in small packages, but I say sometimes extraordinary things come in overly large packages cleverly disguised as something else, something brilliant. And if we are not careful we could miss it entirely, looking only at the outward appearance and how the gift is wrapped. Terry was one of those cleverly disguised and overly large gifts. Terry had a smile that could light up the room, a contagious laugh, and the purest heart of a child that loved anyone and everyone. Towering over the other children, red hair, and glasses Terry was mentally handicapped, over six-foot tall, and two hundred pounds of childlike love trapped in the body of a thirty-one year old man.

Terry was in my Children’s church faithfully and I taught him just like I taught the other children. When we would exit the sanctuary after worship to attend “our church” all eyes were on the children. The children often held hands and Terry was right there with them carefully holding the hands of someone else’s baby. Finding an angel costume for our Christmas program was going to be somewhat challenging that year, even now I have no idea how we pulled it off, but the memory of that Christmas program will forever be etched in my mind as one of the greatest.

In Gods house there is a place for everyone and Terry belonged in Children’s church and all six foot of him belonged in an angels costume singing off key celebrating the birth of our Lord wrapped in flesh so that we might identify with the Christ-child. Teaching Terry was challenging at times and even though none of the children were intimidated by his size, I was at times. I couldn’t always understand him, so Terry would pull on my hand and I would go airborne! Terry gave me two gifts during those years, one was the privilege of seeing the purest childlike heart, the other was a Christmas present he had picked out for me by himself. Everyone in my Children’s church knew I wanted a silver PT Cruiser, at the time it was my dream car.

Terry came tromping up with a gift bag smiling ear to ear. His mother said, “He wants you to open it now. When he saw it in the store he just had to get it for you.” His eyes never left my face as I opened the gift, I giggled as I looked inside. In the bag was a silver, remote control PT Cruiser and I couldn’t believe he had remembered the exact car and color that I wanted. Terry loved my expression so he giggled with me and clapped his hands with so much joy. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received, seeing through the eyes of a child and the largest Christmas angel EVER.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Marveling at Mary

Can you imagine being young and betrothed, wide-eyed and hopeful of what is ahead, and then all of a sudden the world stops for one tender moment and you hear this:

“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women!”

She’s bewildered, confused, and frightened. What does all of this mean?

Once again she hears the words from the angel Gabriel, “You have found favor.”

He calms her troubled mind, tells her of her favor and worth, and then drops the bomb.

…And you are going to give birth to the Son of God.

Perhaps she had to remind herself to breathe as she asks, “How can this be?”

And the angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you;”

She takes it all in. He speaks again, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

The favored one chosen to carry the Son of God speaks, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

The angel departs. She decides to visit Elizabeth and she hears once again, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told from her Lord.”

Mary begins to sing and I have my answer to why she was chosen.

1.) Her responsive obedience was the very thing that made her highly favored and the one handpicked by God.

There was just something about her; sweet and unassuming as her song spills over from the depths of who she is.

2.) Mary was devoted to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

3.) Mary was humble: “For He has regarded my lowly estate.”

4.) Mary knew God and His character: “For He who is mighty has done great things.”

She speaks of His holiness, His mercy, His strength...and how He fills the hungry with good things.

I sit in wonder as I look at the life of Mary and how the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. Overshadowed is the same word used for the cloud from which the voice spoke at the Transfiguration. Both refer to the cloud that manifested the glory of God.

I identify with her questions and marvel at her responsive obedience. As I think about the things God has asked me to carry, I am reminded of all the times I have questioned him. How can this be?

But, my prayer is that I will take those questions and open my hands to give them over to the One who is higher than I. May I respond in obedience and sing a song of the faithfulness of God.

What has God asked you to carry?

Sweet friend, what He calls you to do He will equip you to do. May He overshadow you with His presence. Let’s press on together and light up this world!

(Inspired by Luke Chapter 1)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Wishes and Christmas loss

She would have been ten.

I just assume that I only make girls. Being a self-professed girly girl, I soak in all the sugar and spice. Fairy tales and make believe, chasing after dreams like clouds thinking if I jumped high enough I would hold them in my hand.

I haven’t thought about her in a while. But, for years thoughts of her consumed my waking moments and my dreams.

It was Christmas time; all was jolly and bright with the gentle mixture of fear. What would motherhood be like and would I be good at it? All I knew was that strong desire to mother was within and we would figure it out together. I would grow into motherhood with each breath she took.

Two days before Christmas something happened. I knew something was wrong, I began to miscarry a dream, and a fragile life. I spent a few hours in an ER room longing to hear a heartbeat that was never meant to beat.

I pulled myself together, packed our gifts in the car, and said goodbye to my mother. All I really wanted was to stay there with her, but there was more family to be seen with Christmas days away. I tried my hardest to celebrate the birth of the baby that changed everything for me. My Jesus.

A tiny cry that all of heaven celebrated, the God-child. Immanuel, God with us. And even as my heart broke and my questions spilled over, God was with me every step, unafraid of my questions. Never once did I feel Him condemning me. I just felt His all-consuming love.

I cradled the new life around me, and new additions to our family. Then I slipped upstairs to grieve without watching eyes. I crawled in bed, pulled the covers over my head, and fell apart.

My mother-in-love followed me upstairs, sat next to me, and cried with me.

“It was our baby too.”

I’ve never forgotten that moment or that feeling, but at times I have returned that same gift of just crying with those who are hurting.

I don’t know what you are experiencing right now, but I know so many of you are dealing with a loss of a loved one or maybe even a death of a dream. I pray that you find deep joy this season and know that God-child came wrapped in flesh so that we might identify with Him. His love caused Him to leave the comforts of heaven to die for our sins.

Because of the baby in a manger, I have great joy and hope.

Sitting on my mantle is a Christmas angel that says, “Believe in Miracles.” It brought me great comfort in a time of loss and waiting. God has answered me in the sweetest way and restored what was lost. But, I haven’t forgotten that Christmas filled with tears and how God met with me and cradled me through it all.

If you are experiencing loss, I just want you to know that I am thinking of you, of your pain, and if I could, I would sit beside you and carry that pain with you and just cry.

My prayers and thoughts are with you. May peace surround you and the arms of God cradle and comfort you! You are not forgotten.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


As I type my baby is talking to me trying her best not to fall asleep. It's way too late for a five-year-old to be up. But today is a day to throw the bedtime routine out the window and enjoy family. It's a time to enjoy the stories you've heard a million times, but still laugh at just as hard as when it first happened. It's a time to wear your sweat pants and not care about what you look like because you are with family. They have seen you at your best,they have seen you at your worst,and they still love you. Worn out and tired from a long trip and yet seeing the faces of the ones you love make it worth it.

To my mother-in-law I am a daughter-in-love, not an outsider although almost thirteen years ago I wondered how I would fit. Love has a way of making it fit. Don't you just love that?

My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude for many reasons.

I’m thankful for little hands that make big messes and sleepy voices that whisper, “I love you Mom,” just before they fall asleep.
I’m thankful for the way my Grandmother smells when I kiss her cheek.
I’m thankful for arms that were once empty who daily embrace fulfilled promises of God.
I’m thankful for loving so much that it hurts.
I’m thankful for laughing so hard that I cry.
I’m thankful for friends who share my crazy God-sized dreams.
I’m thankful for my husband and best friend who has made me better, stronger, and perhaps a bit smarter.
I'm thankful for a mother that still looks at me like I'm sixteen every time I get in a vehicle.

I'm thankful for “other mothers” who nurture and for hearts knit together by God in such a special way.

I'm thankful for the realization that even though I thought I was fine and had everything that I needed, God knew better and sent someone my way.

I'm thankful for a Savior and for a calling to live my life by giving it away. I'm thankful, Heavenly Father, for showing me at such a young age that You are real. You are a father to the fatherless, You are a finder of lost things, You a hovering God who wraps me up and warms me to my core. Oh, how I love You.

My heart is filled with gratitude.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Words to Embrace

Words are so powerful. When aptly spoken they bring nourishment to the aching soul. When spoken recklessly they have the power to change the course of someone’s future. Hurting hearts carry around those reckless words:

I wish you were never born.

If I could go back in time…I would.

You will never be good enough.

Words that cut leave invisible scars for the untrained eye, but not if God gives you the discernment to spot what a broken heart looks like.

A broken heart says, I’m not really sure how to accept your love so when you get close enough that it scares me; I’ll shut you out.

A broken heart says I’ll reject you first before you reject me, for I’m certain that is what is coming next.

A broken heart becomes a builder of walls to keep others locked outside, insulated by loneliness because the silence feels safer.

A former “broken girl” knows what a broken girl looks like. And as we reach our different levels of healing, peeling back the layers until we get to the surface of where it all started…we become free. But, I truly believe it’s not so that we can forget the broken girl that we used to be but to set the captives free by the power of our testimony. (Heb 1:3)

There has to be a time where you shut out the voices that cut knowing that those words are not from God. There has to be a time when you forgive the hurting person that ripped your heart in two. There has to be a time when you replace the reckless words with the truth. The truth that you are loved, that you are valuable, that you were never a mistake.

Embrace the words that are straight from the heart of God.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139:14)

You are the treasure of my heart, who every touches you touches the apple of my eye. (Zec 2:8)

You are worth dying for, so I sent my only Son just for you.


God simply adores you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Be Near

I was listening to one of my life’s song tonight, “Be Near” by Shane and Shane. I wanted to share it with you.

Sometimes we forget how big God is, we seat Him in heavenly places far from our needs when He is a God that longs to be near. He’s the God that stands at a door without a knob knocking loud enough for you to hear yet soft enough for you to drown out with the distractions of this world. There is but one way for Him to get in and you are that ticket in. You have to open the door to Him.

“Darkness is light to Him. The depths are height to Him. Far is near…but, Lord I need to hear from you. Be near.”

When all feels dark around you, He will be your light. When you revisit your dreaded time in the pit, just know He is the hand that pulls you out. When the world tells you that God alone is not enough to satisfy your thirsty soul, remember that He is the living water and your bread of life.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For indeed, those who are far from You perish, You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.

But, it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.” (Ps 73:25-28 NKJV)

Whatever you may be facing right now, just know that you have a God that longs to be near to you in your times of trouble. He is the God who restores the broken, who takes mourning and turns it into dancing and rejoicing. He is the God that loves you no matter what. Nothing can separate you from His love.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

He longs to carry you,
To lift you up with those strong, nail scarred hands.
Let Him.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Senorita Cranky-pants and Lattes

Where do I start? While everyone is counting down how many days until Christmas and breaking out their cute knee-high fashionable, Fall boots and talking about how happy they are that the Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back on the menu I’m feeling a less than jolly. It’s not that I don’t adore the fall colors. Nothing inspires me more. I don’t mind a little chill in the air and a big bulky sweater. I love all those things.

The change in the weather brings illness and I’m pretty much done with all of that. Colds, strep throat, tummy bugs…we experienced it all and it’s only early November! Perhaps that’s why I haven’t wanted to blog or do much of anything but be a big fat baby.

I long to be inspired to change some things around me. I must first start with my focus and perspective. I know I have been looking at things through clouded eyes. So I pray for wisdom knowing that I will always be praying the will of God when I ask for knowledge that comes from God alone.

I don’t understand why every October I find myself feeling a little blue. But, God always sees me through every step. Trust me, so many times I want a magic pill to make it all go away and yet I know that what I feel on the inside is so mild compared to what others face on a day to day basis.

I don’t want to be numb. I want to feel things deeply, whether it’s joy or pain. I want salty tears running down my face and sheer determination to pray without ceasing. I want to take God at His word and use it as a weapon to defeat that fool of a devil who messes with God’s children.

If it’s my frosty breath whispering a prayer while tears freeze on my face, I’m okay with that because I am His.

In my recent trip to Cranky-town, my heart has turned towards you. I don’t know what you may be facing or going through. But I just want to tell you something…

God adores you.

Every fiber and facet of who you are was by God’s design, fashioned and formed on purpose, with great purpose.

You are not alone.

He knows exactly where you are. He will shelter you in His shadows and there is no safer place than with the Almighty.

Are you like me, is it time for new perspective and a change in focus?

I have bid farewell to Senorita Cranky-pants. I’m dusting off my adorable boots and meeting some friends for chat session over…you guessed it, Pumpkin Spice lattes.

Love you guys like crazy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Little Hands, Big Jesus, & Signs

She said her heart was all warm and fuzzy now as I stare at her toothy grin from the rearview mirror.

“It’s my first good deed of the season,” She said in all her seven-year-old glory.

I glance at my red eyes for just a moment and see streaks of black mascara running down my face. As God begins to speak to my heart about my own calling assuring me that whatever He calls us to do, He is also calling my children to do, I begin to sob even harder.

I’ll go where You want me to go, Dear Lord.

I’ll stay when You want me to stay.

I’ll open my ears to hear their cries.

Help me to not be in such a hurry that I don’t stop in my tracks when Your Spirit is leading.

I’ve always had a heart for the homeless, you show me a broken person and my heart naturally gravitates towards them. Show me a broken girl, from a broken home, and I instantly long to mother her.

Today I was on a mission; time for a grocery trip that I was hoping could be quick with my five-year-old and seven-year-old. I was in “go mode” and I noticed their sign as they sat by the side of the road. I noticed their desperate faces and yet the light was green so I passed by with an ache in my heart.

Her little heart began to ache too and Whitley immediately began asking questions.

“Why the sign? Why don’t they have a home? Mom, don’t you think we can do something to help? Please turn around, Mom. Please.”

I turned around. How could I not? How could I ignore the tug on my heart for the second time? I dug in my wallet and pulled out some cash and then I gave it to her little, eager hands so willing to help. Her little hands could be the hands of Jesus reaching out to a world in need.

Her sweet hands held out the money as she smiled at the homeless man and said, "God bless you." Seeing her little hands brush up against his worn, calloused hands was the most beautiful sight.

I don’t know if I would have stopped if I hadn’t heard her little voice asking me to. I might have wondered if the little bit I had to give was enough. I might have just whispered a prayer and tried to ignore the tug on my heart.

There are so many people around us holding up invisible signs.

Do you see me?

Do you notice my pain?

Could you do something to help?

I will work for food.

I will do anything for love.

So many signs, do you see them?

When we have Jesus, we have everything to offer. Lord, help us to be Your hands and feet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hard to Swallow

When I was a little girl I had trouble swallowing pills. It was frustrating for my Mom and me. Mom knew I needed the medicine to get better. And as hard as I tried I just couldn't choke it down. After several tries and tears my Mom said, “Jennifer, I am going to pray and ask Jesus to help you swallow this medicine.”

Mom prayed and then I followed up the prayer with this, “...and Jesus could you please help my Mom to cut the pill in half.”

And that is exactly what my Mom did. She cut the pill in half making it so much easier to take down. Frustration and fear always cloud our problem solving.

I’m looking at the big picture and it seems so overwhelming, but what would happen if I cut it in half? Taking it scene by scene, the beginning, middle, and the end. So many things seem overwhelming and hard to swallow in life. It's easy to get frustrated and not know what to do. We approach so many different angles, wrestle with options, trying our best to make life fit.

Each dance starts with the first step as you build on the first by adding layers to each step until the final result is a routine that is seamless.

I have these dreams and goals for my life and I wanted to “arrive” last year. I want to accomplish these things, but I want to skip a few steps in my process of becoming. Knowing for a fact that the ones I admire so greatly had to pay a price for excellence, I have to throw away my expectations of just having something handed to me.

Right now I don’t know what my next step is supposed to look like, I just know I have to keep trying, to keep pressing on towards the prize and call of Heaven. I have to trust in the One who inspired the apostle to pen,

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6 NKJV)

At times my dance might look the “funky chicken.” At times it might look effortless and pristine with the fluid moments of a trained ballerina. And when I’m ticked off, which is pretty rare for me, it might look more like “krumping.” (Which for you white folk is hard-hitting, hip-hop street dance.)

So, if every step I take is ordered by the Lord. (Prov 37:23) I have to trust that even the most awkward, painful steps lead me one step closer to my God-dreams.

Let the dance begin!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Help for the Needy

For some reason I just can’t get away from the topic of neediness. So, instead of running from it or trying to cover it up like it doesn’t exist, I have decided to dig in the word of God and see what God might be trying to tell me in all of this.

So many of us have these seasons where we just feel so needy. We never hope to be that clingy girl, but with God…I’m thinking clingy might be a good thing. Because of the way that God loves us He has specific promises for the needy.

We seem so eager for God to fill us up and remove any traces of our neediness, but if we are honest, we know for a fact that we just travel back and forth from different states of neediness. It’s never ending. We were never meant to function apart from Him.

And yet, I’m the five-year-old saying, “I can do it myself.”

And after I have made myself cry from trying so hard, I come to Him with a tear-stained face asking for help with my clumsy hands.

What we can be sure of in our seasons of neediness is:

We have a God who will be our strength.

“For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm…” (Is 25:4)

He will lift you up!

“He raised the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with the princes-“ (Ps 113:7-8)

He will supply all your need.

“God shall supply all your need according to His riches and glory.” (Phil 4:8)

Lastly, He knows what you need.

“The Father knows the things you have need of before you ask.” (Matt 6:8)

He knows our needs before they even exist. He knows where we are and He longs to be all that we need. I’m thinking being needy isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I’m not really good at being needy.

I would rather not be.

I would like to have it all together and not need a thing.

But, I do.

God never seems to mind.

He simply beckons me to call,

Leading me gently into a place where I lack no good thing.

He opens His hands and satisfies every longing.

In the desert wasteland, He opens streams of living water where I can freely satisfy my thirsty soul.

He knows our needs before they even exist and He longs for us to look to Him first instead of exhausting all other resources before crying out to Him.

So, if you are anything like me…

Wanting to cover up your neediness, just know that you don’t have to.

My friend, in this place we are exactly where He wants us to be;

Completely dependant on Him.


We run to you. We acknowledge that we are needy before you and ask for more of your Spirit in our lives. Apart from You we are nothing. You long for us and woo us into your arms and hold us tight. Loving Father, you withhold no good thing from Your children so we rest in You.

We look to You.

We come before You needy people and we are so grateful that you don’t mind. Hover around us and take us deeper in You.

In You alone is everything we have need of.

In Jesus Name,


Friday, September 17, 2010

Imago Dei and Paris

This might be one of the things writers should never do: blog while having serious jet-lag. But, somehow I know if I don't take the time to write this now my words and thoughts might completely slip away into the dark Paris night.

This post might be full of errors, completely ADD and random. But, hopefully it won't bore you to tears. While most of you are trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, it's midnight here in beautiful Paris and I should be sleeping...

Today I was allowed the privilege of seeing many things I have always wanted to see. Being the romantic that I am, I find myself drawn to Europe and places that I have never been. Images captured in a photograph eluded to me, taking me on a journey as I tried to imagine the real thing. But, a picture can only tell you so much.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and other buildings designed by man that began with a vision and dreamers who wanted to display some sort of splendor inspires me on so many levels. When everyone else thought they were crazy, they were motivated by an image in their head that they couldn't let go of.

What if they had never dreamed or were too afraid that their dream was bigger than them?

It was like the voice of God saying look around you, drink it all in, the beauty, the splendor, and then look at the woman seated by herself on the Metro. Look at the floods of people hurried as they go from one destination to the next, they are the true display of my splendor.

Created in the very image of God, Imago Dei. The Eiffel Tower has nothing on them.

They are God's dream and His heartbeat. He fashioned us and formed us with great purpose, a display of His splendor and I want my life to be a reflection of God's glory. But, just like the dreamers in Paris long ago, it takes time to build up greatness and this is something that I can not do apart from God. This dreamer has to pay the price for greatness.

Today as I marked another thing off of my bucket list walking down from the Eiffel Tower a light rain began to fall softly around us. The sun was smiling upon us and just as we turned for one more glance upwards into the heavens we saw one more display of God's splendor, a rainbow.

He is a covenant God,faithful, gracious, and with me now in Paris.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Shadow Lands

There are moments in our lives when we feel like we are in the shadows. Maybe it’s the shadows of a family member, or a God-given role that consumes your time. Most of the time we become comfortable there with nothing enticing us to come out. It’s safe there; no one is looking at us or to us. We just remain hidden.

Most of the time the shadow land is just a season of becoming. A season to sharpen ourselves and ready ourselves to what is ahead of us. Consumed by an overwhelming need for God to continue to be my healer, I run to His strong arms.

Right now this is my season of abiding in the shadow of the Lord. Waiting for inspiration to strike and for my words to be empowered by God. The important thing to realize is that when we abide in His shadows and find ourselves strengthened by His presence, the Lord will then send us out as a powerful tool to be used by Him.

Last night God lead me to Psalm 91 and I knew exactly what God was saying to me.

Run to me.

Rest in me.

Dwell in my shadows.

And then go forth empowered from on high.

Don’t fear the things thrown at you by the enemy; I will be your shield.

Set your love on me and know I will deliver you!

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” (Ps 91:1-2)

Take the time to read all of Psalm 91 and continue to set your love on the Most High.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Faith that Moves Mountains

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23-24)

Sometimes the mountains seem larger than life, so we put on our hiking boots and determine to climb the rocky terrain. We look up at the mountain that is about to swallow us and something whispers in the wind, “You don’t have to climb this.”

We press on with the harsh wind in our face and brace ourselves for the climb of our lives. Feeling like a horrible episode of Man vs. Wild you imagine the worst and push yourself harder hoping to not end up as lunch for some hungry bear.

You hear the gentle voice again, “You weren’t meant to climb this.”

It’s time to set our gaze on the Mountain Mover and not the mountain.

He is bigger than our obstacles.

He is bigger than our fears and doubts.

And He longs to be big in you.

Right now you are facing something that is bigger than you, but it is not bigger than God. Instead of strapping on those ugly boots…find a place alone with God.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Author God

The other day we were driving by Dairy Queen and my niece said to her mom, “Are we going to Drama Queen?”

It made us laugh.

Girl, we have been camping out at Drama Queen for way too long.

I have found myself wrestling and fearful, yet I keep calling on Jesus knowing He is the only thing that satisfies my soul. Instead of giving way to fear and anxiety, I am searching the pages of God’s word. He is the author and the finisher of our faith.

Instead of inviting the world of worries and camping out at Drama Queen, I’m letting God write my story. He alone knows our beginning and our end.

Author God,

Pen me my purpose.

Write it with wonder.

Write me with praise that fills my lips.

Joy that overflows spilling onto those around me,

A heart filled with gratitude and love without limits.

I’m wide-eyed with wonder as I find God in the pages of His word. Oh, how real He is. Our very present help in time of need.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God.” (Ps 46:1-4)

Have your waters been a little troubled lately, does it feel like the mountain you have been standing on is about to crumble beneath you?

What can we fear when God is in our midst?

If God is for us, who is dumb enough to mess with us and try to be against us?

He is our peace and the One who holds our story in His hands.

“The God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Ps 46:7)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When God Waits

Often I find myself in a place so familiar, I used to linger here unwillingly, restlessly kicking against the invisible holding pattern that somehow encircled me.

Waiting on a promise.

Waiting on dreams that only God could place in my heart to unfold.

Waiting for doors to swing wide open, instead of pushing on a door that clearly said, “pull.”

Who are we to question His perfect timing, even when it feels so delayed?

I stumbled upon a word for you and me. We are not the only ones waiting, my sweet friend.

In fact, it’s the God of all creation waiting on us. Seeking to lavish upon us His divine favor. He alone knows we are not ready, and so we must wait.

We must wait knowing that God is good to those who wait on Him and to the soul who seeks Him. (Lam 3:25)

We must wait knowing that He will strengthen our hearts. (Ps 27:14)

How patient He must be watching us take two steps forward and one giant step back. Longing to dance with us as we take the lead stepping on the feet of the one who orders our steps.

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you,
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him. (Is 30:18 NKJV)

When God waits His desires overflow with graciousness towards you.

When God waits He opens His hands and provides nourishment to our soul in due season.

When God waits it’s because His ways are so much higher.

And when we are no longer in waiting we can rest assured that God will be exalted in our lives!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Peace Speaker

Can you imagine this? It’s the darkest night; all is peaceful and calm as you soak in the feeling of being perfectly safe. The waters are still around you. You’re headed somewhere, but you can’t see the shoreline in the distance. You just know that it’s there. And in the vastness of the night not the slightest hint of fear lingers inside of you because you know Jesus is in the boat.

Maybe you can hear Him breathing in and out, your mind races to the miracles He has done just hours before. He cleansed the leper with the touch of His mighty hand. You witnessed the need of the paralyzed servant and a centurion who pleaded his case, “Just speak the word and my servant will be healed.” And Jesus marveled at a faith like his.

He spoke and indeed the servant was healed that very hour.

In need of rest Jesus slumbers as you set sail. And suddenly a great tempest from out of nowhere covers the boat and overtakes you. As the wind beats against your frame you taste the salty air. In a matter of minutes your peaceful state of existence is no more and you are overwhelmed with fearfulness while the One you follow remains asleep.

You cry out, “Save us!” In great distress for your life, you shake the God of all creation and point to the waves that are about to overtake you.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Do you not remember what I can do?

He speaks. He rebukes the winds that woke Him, He speaks to the sea…and there was a great calm.

You marvel at the God that speaks and the wind and wave obey… and then you remember the man whose faith caused Jesus to marvel just hours before.

Oh, God give me faith like that. Faith that says, “Just speak and it’s a done deal.”

He is the God that will speak to your storm and release the sweetest calm. Jesus is still in your boat. His eyes are watching the tempest and He sees you. God does not slumber or feel threatened by your raging sea. The winds might be blowing forcefully, but they will not overtake you.

Take comfort, my friend, may God give you perfect peace!

(Inspired by Matthew 8. How cool is God’s word?!!!)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Beggar and The Bride

If I could paint a picture with my words and capture it fully on paper my life would look like so many things.

At times I’m the embrace you never want to let go of and the contagious laugh that makes you smile.

Sometimes I’m the empty cup in the beggar’s hands just waiting to be filled up. With trembling hands and a worn out sign I receive His bread of life and I’m satisfied.

I’m the funny story and the woman walking away with her skirt tucked into her undies. I’m the funniest home video that makes the top three, but never walks home with cash prize.

I’m the unscripted mystery my husband can’t figure out. I’m the hormonal hurricane with tears and hysteria that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Sometimes I’m the “keep out” and “closed for business” sign. Retreating within as God sifts out the areas of pride. He causes my defenses to crumble and becomes the wall of fire around me. He sweeps the floor of my heart and gives me in abundance everything that I have need of.

I’m the reinvented Martha busy in the kitchen just to prove a point to my mother-in-law that I’m not a total disgrace to housewives.

I’m the frozen noodles and a smirk as I fake my way to a delicious, edible meal. I’m the shrug of my shoulders giving up every idea of false perfection as I embrace the freedom of letting go.

I’m Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus taking up some carpet space as I sit wide-eyed and hopeful, hanging on every word.

I’m the woman wrapped up in infirmity stretching out my hand to reach the hem of Jesus’ garment with desperate faith knowing fully that if I touch the Master I will be healed.

I’m the lady in waiting with my lamp full of oil eagerly awaiting my bridegroom so much in love.

I’m the dried up tears and the joyful dance that just can’t be stopped!

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come…” (Song of Solomon 2: 10-11 NKJV)

Much love,

Jennifer Renee

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Put it on Mute

I have been wordless for a little while. It’s not that I have nothing of value to say. I just want to be in the right frame of mind when I say it. I have my moments when I embrace the silence soaking in the moment, taking it deep within I acknowledge it, and then surrender it to God.

Lord, help me to be slow to speak.

Help me to speak Your words and remove the things that are steeped in matters of opinion.

May my words bring life, not death.

May they lift others up instead of tearing them down.

Help me to know the difference between the “truth” as I see it and the truth that is absolute and founded in Your word.

And with Your help, my Lord, may I be quick to forgive.


“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and is religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

We’ve all had those moments and wasted words. If only we could rewind and put it on mute…

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:3-6)

I’m surrounded by intelligent people that would be better served if they said less and beheld the pure wisdom that flows when we select our words carefully or just say nothing at all. I believe in honesty, I believe in speaking up when it’s right, but I also know that words cut like a knife. They can never be taken back.

I have been affected deeply by the power of words. And heaven knows I have said things recklessly. Some words have taken me decades to get over. Some replay over and over as I purposely acknowledge God’s truth and reject the lies of the enemy.

If your words were the mold in which to shape a person, what kind of monster would you be creating?

Look, I would much rather embrace my role as “the encourager.” I truly believe in the beauty of who you are because you are God’s. Created in His likeness, you are His baby. Nothing can touch that, no mistake or reckless words, no sin can separate you from His love and your rightful place as His beloved.

I just have to ask you one question:

What have you been saying about God’s baby?

You are His beloved, He sings over you. Before for you beat yourself up and sell yourself short, or rip someone to shreds to make yourself feel better…put it on mute.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Trash Day

My heart has been a little heavy lately. I know God is up to something and I want to be right in the middle of it. If He is moving, I’ll move with Him. If He wants to rearrange my space, I am the empty box waiting to be filled up with things of value, things you can’t live without. I’m tired of the junk pile. I grow weary from the things that should be long forgotten, but somehow they remain hidden deep in the closet where no one can see.

God sees it. He knows our junk and He is unafraid to deal with it. Like a big, black plastic bag and strong arms He takes the mess that we have created and says, “Are you done with this?”

You have been holding onto this because you thought you had to. This has no value; this does not define you, the pain, and the baggage. It’s time to clean house, you hold the bag this time…and I’ll tell you what goes inside.

I look at Him timidly and hold the bag wide open and wonder if the bag is big enough to hold the mother-load of trash that has annoyingly cluttered my storehouse. I cringe at the thought of the messiness of me and ask the God that formed man out of dust if He might want to use some rubber gloves for this one.

And we have our moment:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.

Before you were born I sanctified you. I set you apart.

I ordained you. I am the God that appointed you as one who is called.

I do not make trash. But, I’ll help you clean it up. My beloved, this is what I want you to throw in the trash:

The voice that tells you that you can’t, the voice that tells you that you are not good enough and that you have nothing of value to offer.

I hope that today you have your Jeremiah 1:5 moment. I hope that you read about how the prophet questioned his call blaming his youth. In timidity and fear Jeremiah was completely unaware of how much the God of all creation wanted to take what he had to offer and be so big in him. In Jeremiah 1:8 it says, “Do not be afraid of their faces.”

Take your fears and doubt to the curb. His approval of you far outweighs your critics; believe what the word of God says about you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," Declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

It’s Monday and today is trash day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unconditional Love & A Mothering Heart

I am extremely affectionate. I have always been this way, but even more so now that I have little ones running around the house. There is nothing like kissing their little faces, it can brighten the darkest day for me. The minute I laid eyes on Miss Whitley I experienced a love that I had never known, complete, unreserved, all consuming unconditional love.

She was what my mothering heart was longing for, a daughter of my own. She was a tiny version of me; same lips, shaped eyes, nose, and a head full of dark hair. And she was mine. After battling infertility, losing two babies, and going through treatment to get healthy God answered my “Hannah’s prayer.” Whitley screamed her head off for four solid months, but never had I been any happier and more in love with this little thing that consumed my every moment and thought.

One night I was wrapped up in baby heaven just soaking her in, kissing those lips, and squeezing every roll of baby fat she had. I noticed Jonathan watching me, “Are you jealous?” I asked.

“Only of the way she looks at you,” he said.

I thought that maybe, just maybe, he was jealous of the way I looked at her. The bond was undeniable. Life was changing and unfolding as we took on new roles as mommy and daddy.

When Whitley was a year old and two months, we decided it was time for another baby. I knew that with my health I had only a small window and I desperately wanted another baby. I just had to experience life growing within one more time.
It happened so fast, baby number two on the way and a brand new role as lead pastors. We were thrilled and scared to death all at the same time.

Elise came into the world much differently than Whitley. Her birth was less stressful because of the planned c-section. I can remember hearing her little cry for the first time. I was laughing and crying at the same time. As the tears streamed down my face I felt the anesthesiologist wipe away my tears. I remember thinking, well isn’t that sweet of him, perhaps he was worth the big bucks were paying him.

And then they showed Elise Claire to me, all 9 lbs 14 oz of her. Black curly hair and the fattest cheeks I had ever seen on a newborn…it was amazing. Elise completely skipped newborn sizes. I remember thinking, this kid doesn’t need breast milk…she needs a hamburger. And once again the flood of unconditional love happened…just because she was mine. I couldn’t wait to figure her out and introduce her to Whitley.

The unconditional love that I have for my children cannot even touch the unconditional love that our Heavenly Father has for you and me. He is jealous for us, for all of us, every fiber and facet of who we are. I’m grateful for the joy of knowing a love like this and for the joy of being loved so much.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Daddy God vs. Daddy Issues

During the summer we have family staying with us for two months, which is wonderful with a tiny hint of difficult when you have a small place like ours. We will have four nights of normal with just the four of us this weekend, so I took full advantage of snuggling on the couch and watching a movie with my husband as soon as our two girls passed out from pure exhaustion. After he went to bed at 1:30 AM, I stayed up until 3:30 AM like a mad woman soaking in the quiet, a hot bubble bath by candlelight, and no little people jumping in with me or asking me for a million different things. It was perfection…until I woke up at 7:45 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to just tackle the day and nap later. I’m still waiting for that nap and a little on the cranky side.

This morning I read a blog of one of my ministry heroes. Her daughter had posted a blog dedicated to her father. I was completely moved to tears, thrilled for this sister in the faith, but ached on the inside as I read every moving word that described her adoration of her Daddy.

How is it possible that I can fast forward fifteen years and visualize my daughters having the same healthy, loving relationship with their father with the purest joy in my heart yet feel the dull ache inside at what I had and what I didn’t have? I chalk it up mainly to being exhausted. I’m a huge crybaby when I’m tired.

My mother always told me growing up that we “shouldn’t air our dirty laundry.” I’m pretty sure mom didn’t fathom in her wildest dreams that I was going to be a writer and verbalize the things people are too afraid to say out loud. Sorry Mom. I really hope you haven’t saved my blog to your “favorites.”

Not to be blatantly disobedient or anything, but I have a confession. Brace yourself.

I have Daddy issues. (Talk about waving your dirty garments in the air for all to see.) I have two dads, a real dad and a step-dad. One of them has my eyes and the other one loves me like I am his flesh and blood. One of them is nicer when he’s had a few drinks and the other one just needs a good caffeinated beverage to take the edge off and a quiet place to retreat. One of them is serving God; the other is running from him. One of them thinks that I am the funniest thing ever and the other one, in his better days, thought that he was the funniest thing ever. I don’t connect well with men. I don’t have any brothers. I don’t have sons. I have two Dads and I relate with them very differently. I love them differently. I have a three-decade rule when it comes to hugging men and only a trusted man (who is not a freak) gets a hug from me.

In the words of MC Hammer, one of my favorites from the eighties, “You can’t touch this.” I’m just saying.

Recently a friend of mine and I openly discussed our issues that stem way back to our childhood. I have no doubt in my heart that we are whole in Christ, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t respond differently to others because of the relationships in our lives that helped to shape, mold, or possibly warp our tender psyches. My ongoing joke is that I have been one floor away from the Psych Ward on many occasions. I am continually overwhelmed by the grace of God who restored what Satan meant for harm. I am no longer damaged goods. I’m a woman on a mission and a voice for the brokenhearted.

Let me just say that it is possible to be completely set free from captivity and chains of your past. BUT, it doesn’t mean that God gives you spiritual amnesia and erases your painful childhood or adulthood for that matter. It becomes your testimony, a reflection of the heart of the Father and restorer of broken things. He changes your destiny, gives you purpose, and then releases you to be a powerful witness for Christ. God can and will heal all of your hurts, trust me on this one.

If you need to cry about it, I’ll cry with you. If you need to let go, I know who can help you with that. If you need to hear about my pain to feel better about your own and to know that you are not alone, I will hold nothing back from you. Now is always the right time for healing. There are great books and Bible studies out there to help you. Run to our invisible God, our Abba Father.

“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug, look to Abraham you father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.

For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” (Isaiah 51:1-3)

Much Love!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Perpetual State of Waiting and a Flair for the Dramatic

Many months ago I wrote about the perpetual state of letting go. I wrote that piece with a pain in my heart and tears streaming down my face. Letting go was hard and I’ll admit that I wasn’t very good at it. But, it had to be done. I had to move on, turn the page, and start fresh. We get used to certain things remaining the same, certain people becoming permanent fixtures in our lives. Life becomes familiar and pleasant; we like the comfort of knowing what tomorrow might possibly look like. And then change happens. Life happens. And we have to deal.

I can’t believe that it was almost a year ago when I thought my heart would never heal. I know, what a complete drama queen, right? Somehow I know that I’m not the only one with a flair for dramatics, especially with two little miniature versions of myself running around my house in tutu’s and sparkly tiaras.

I would say that the season of “letting go” of the death grip I had on familiarity and the season of “waiting” rank pretty high on my hate list. Maybe hate is a strong word, so strike that and add in dislike. It just sounds nicer.

Wait: to remain until something expected happens, to be ready, to remain undone.

Waiting for what your heart longs for is one of the hardest things imaginable, but the desperation that comes from losing heart and giving up on a dream is shattering. When faith fades life becomes colorless and bland. I have been in that place of waiting for what seems like forever and I am certain that there is always deeply rooted purpose in that season of waiting. Like Jacob wrestling with God for a blessing and refusing to let go, like Hannah’s desperate prayer begging to experience life growing within, like Joseph the dreamer locked in cell, we remain undone and unfinished until He says so. We wait with purpose and we rest in God alone until we are ready. We must wait with hope rising up within instead of the bitterness that comes with losing heart.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lam 3:222-26)

Ps 104: 27 says, “These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season.”

Oh Lord, I remain hopefully undone until You say so. I would rather wait on You than find my own way. Your ways are so much higher, Your wisdom so much greater, Your love sustaining, all consuming and overwhelming.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Living Room Serenade & An Audience of One

It’s been a little quiet for me in “blog world.” It’s been a time of reflection for me…a time of soaking everything in and figuring things out. And somehow I’m trying to make since of doors beginning to open when they have been shut for so long.

I thought I was ready for this. But as the doors start to open and I hear the voice saying, “Go on, you were made for this.” I find myself more like the girl I used to know way back in the day.

The first time I ever sang in front of my mom and stepdad I was in the living room, around the age of seventeen, and horrible. When mom asked me to sing for them I immediately began to sweat. Being the obedient child that I was, I told her that I would.

I put the cassette tape in. (It was probably Sandi Patti or something like that. What good Christian girl didn’t have a Sandi Patti tape?)

Pushed play on my boom box and then I turned around so I wouldn’t have to look at them. I opened my mouth and sang my little heart out while they stared at each other…and my backside.

Mom told me later that Gary would whisper, “That’s not her.” While mom would and say, “Yes, it is. That’s her.”

They’re my parents, regardless of how horrible it was or wasn’t, they had to love me. It’s a parental requirement.

It was three minutes of pure musical torture for me. I turned around. Wiped the sweat off my palms, picked up my boom box and went into my room.

I can’t remember what I sang for them. I can’t tell you how it made them feel or if they cringed with every nervous note because I couldn’t look at them. They were too close for my comfort. All I know is what they heard from my living room serenade was a weak, wobbly version of a girl who hadn’t really found her sound yet.

At 34, I have finally found my sound, my voice, and I know who I really am in Christ. I’m the least likely to be used by God, but all I know is that He called me when I was a timid youth and His calling gave me a purpose.

I still want to turn around sometimes, I still want to hide so I can’t see whether or not people are moved to tears or sticking their fingers in their ears. I don’t long for the spotlight or for applause. I just want to please an audience of One, my first love, and perfect Abba Father.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Four Simple Words & Cute Shoes

So much resolve and restoration can happen with just four simple words.

“Will you forgive me?”

She really didn’t even have to ask for it because I had already let it go years ago.

Something had to happen recently, a mishap that sparked old memories to rise to the surface. I had no idea it would happen like that, but now I’m glad that it did. Everything always works out. Time really does heal all wounds, but only if you let it.

I’m not sure how old I was exactly. I was too young I suppose, yet discerning and sensitive enough to understand what broken looked like. I understood how it happened, why it happened, and that most of the time it was fear-based desperation driving them to not turn out like the ones who broke them.

It is possible to have so many wonderful memories woven together like the strongest thread. These cords and strands of my life came from so many people in my life, my mother, my pastor, my mentors, and my best friend. They are a part of me, they helped to shape me.

My cords and strands became my own personal journey woven tightly in the faith, grounded deeply in my moments of prayer, and a feisty determination that comes from my Mom who encouraged me to be better.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But, woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to lift him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc 4:9-12)

Four simple, yet powerful words were spoken. We cried and hugged in the shoe department and then she bought me the most adorable shoes. She needed to say it and feel my acceptance of it. She needed to free herself and explain her reasons behind pushing me so hard. She was the driving force in my life who just wanted to make sure I had the best life. Not just any life, a blessed life. She wanted to make me wake up from what she called my “Dream World.” But, my La La Land seemed a lot nicer at times and every now and then…I still visit there.

Much love!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Loving Big

I am reaping the benefits of God’s amazing joy that comes in the morning. Today has been a sweet day of ministry for me. I love it when that happens. It’s truly what I live for. I was invited into a counseling session and invited into a heart that needed to share her journey to the cross. I couldn’t help it, I just wept. God is so faithful to meet with us in our time of need, He is never late.

I want to be a person who loves big. I’m so thankful that I had two opportunities today to pour myself into the lives of two wonderful women and friends seeking after God. Everyone has a testimony and yet sometimes they feel so limited in what they reveal to the ones around them.

I’m so thankful to the author and the finisher of my faith who has re-written my story taking me from darkness to light!

Share your story with someone this week!

Much love!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ugly Cry and Trusted Friends

Yesterday I blogged about iron sharpening iron, little did I know that soon I would be experiencing some pretty heated sparks from a run in with someone I care so much about. Isn’t that just like life? I’m not really good at conflict. I typically pick up my skirt and run.

Just a few verses up from the verse about iron sharpening iron is this:
Wounds from a friend can be trusted or faithful are the wounds of a friend.(Prov 27: 6)

But, what if it is hard for you to completely offer that trust? Even worse, what if you are the one who wounded someone? Look, I have been one of the walking wounded. I’ve had my fair share of hurts, but who hasn’t? We are all just one haphazardly strung together verse away from a really bad, cry yourself to sleep, tear in your beer Country song.

True, tough love is better than hypocrisy but it still stings from whatever angle you are coming from. I know grownups still wrestling with their hurts from things that happened decades ago. Please believe me, if I shared all the things I have faced in life you would probably buy me a ticket to “The Dr. Phil Show” just so he could get a serious ratings boost from the “circus freak show” that I lovingly refer to as my childhood.

Some people hide behind a mask and allow you to see only one side of them. I used to be one of those people. I felt the need to be perfectly pleasing and sticky-sweet just so people would like me. But, it went much deeper than that. I wanted people to love me. Don’t get me wrong, I still want people to like me. But the girl who based her self-worth on how others responded to me had to grow up and put on her big girl pants or become eternally medicated to keep up with that exhausting and completely unproductive way of functioning.

God is still in the business of setting the captives free and I would be nothing without His love that caused Him to leave the comforts of heaven to bind up the broken heartedness in me. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Maybe you have had a day like mine. I’ve cried more than I care to. Put on a brave face when I didn’t want to and was faced with the realization that I’m still a stinking people pleaser who had her craw full. And when the going got tough…I did the ugly cry. You know what, I feel better already!

So to my sweet friend that has been crying all day and going through a major life change, I just want you to know that weeping may endure for a night, but hang on girl because joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30: 5)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Iron Sharpening Iron

We all have “people” and this is what I love about the people God has placed in my life. They simply care for us and love us in a way that makes them want to take action. I am extremely protective of the people I love. I was like that as a child with my little sister. I could pick on her and tease her, but heaven help the boy that tried to break her heart or the mean girl who gave her grief!

Loving people well requires action and meaning behind the words lest they become empty, flat words with no heart behind them and wasted air. I hear this phrase often in writing, “Show, don’t tell.” You paint a picture with your words allowing actions to speak louder than words.

So, I posted my last blog and got personal. I knew that it would evoke some sort of response and that was the point. I received comments, emails, a phone call, and a text. Most of my peeps responded in a protective way and here are some of my favorites:

One was a phone call from a friend who follows my blog… “Hey, um, you might want to clarify that Jonathan is taking steroids for his allergies, because I know this, but others reading might not.”

The other encounter happened Wednesday night. I was cornered in the bathroom by someone who has loved me from the very beginning of our ministry at BVAG. Let me just say...I love church ladies. If we ever move, I’m taking her with me. She finds me terribly funny and laughs at all the right moments appreciating my mad-skills with comedic timing. She prays with me and cries over me when I am hurting. And even though she thought I was just a trophy wife at first…she has gotten to know the real me…and she still loves me.

After giving me a huge hug she said, “Tell me. Who hurt you?”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. The blog.

Me: “I can’t tell you that! But, I promise we are SO over it.”

My favorite Church lady: “Just give me their initials.”

Church ladies don’t play. She wanted names.

Me: “They don’t attend our church.”

Earlier that day I received a text with promise to deliver reinforcement if needed, which made me smile. I love having back-up. I love feeling supported. But, I also truly appreciate a friend who sharpens me. When the wounds were still fresh I confided in someone who gave me a word of caution. She wanted me to remain soft, to not build up protective walls to keep others out, and backed up her thoughts and feelings with the word and her own personal experience.

Proverbs 27: 17 says that, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

The battle calls for sharp weapons, iron sharpening iron, to make the tools more effective and purposeful. Battles play out on the movie screen and there is always a preparation period before a battle. You see the army gathering to ready their equipment. Sparks begin to fly heatedly as the iron grinds against the iron.

The greatest weapon I have is the word hidden deep within my heart. I seek out the things of God. I wonder if God sees me as a warrior in over-sized armor and then places someone in my path to actually lead me, mentor me, and even correct me.
We have a personal, all-access God. He knows our needs for community and the deep desires that we have to belong and be understood. He uses others to pierce through the heart of me and when that happens I am better for it. I am lover not a fighter, but when I must… I want to fight knowing that the battle does not belong to me.

In the words of Elmer Fudd, “I need my spear and magic helmet.” But, I also need that trusted friend who sharpens me and makes me want to be a better person…even if a few sparks fly in the process.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rug Burn

Recently I had the rug jerked out from underneath my feet. I often try to think the best of others until they prove me wrong. I’m painfully optimistic about feeling like love is enough and that love covers a multitude of sins. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt and hope they will do the same for me. I am not easily offended or easily angered. It truly takes a lot to tick me off, but once I’m mad. I’m mad.

A week ago I felt like I had the worst rug burn ever from rejection. As if being knocked down isn’t bad enough…just go ahead and drag us across a sandpaper rug and leave us raw. The rejection wasn’t aimed at me. It was aimed at my man. So I took his offense as my own and carried it until the sting wore off. I went from grieving a loss of someone I dearly loved to anger in a matter of minutes. As confused tears began streaming down my face Jonathan explained the situation to me, background details, and did his best to help me process everything. He handled the hurt beautifully. I didn’t. I was ticked and I knew that with my husband I didn’t have to be guarded. I could just let the frustration spill out.

He said, “Jennifer, I’m okay with this.”

“Well, I’m not!” I wasn’t okay with it and I couldn’t fake it.

Later he came back into the room. I’m certain that I was still stewing. He hugged me and said, “Thank you for being offended for me.”

It was sweet. He needed to know that someone had his back and that person is me. I told him that I’m his biggest fan and even when we are experiencing a disconnect because of our crazy schedules and the fact that he is on steroids, easily angered, and has the appetite of three line backers…I still love him, I’m still on his side, and I’m the girl cheering the loudest for him. I just love him and even though he is wearing me out, I just keep on bringing him plates of food. (Wink)

Tonight I read Psalm 91. His word nourishes my thirsty soul. No one can love me like He does. I need a spiritual attitude adjustment, I’m painfully aware of that. I long to stay soft and moldable in the Potter’s Hands and yet sometimes it’s not His hands that I feel wrapped around my neck.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, In Him I will trust.” (Ps 91:1-2)

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” (vs 4)

In a time when I feel like my protective mode is in high gear and feel myself wanting to push people away instead of embracing them, I must lift my eyes to where my help comes from without question. My help comes from Him, the maker of the heavens and earth. He alone is my shield so I’m running to His secret place, seeking His shadow, not to just hide but to find rest.

Psalm 121 verses 1- 4 say “I will lift up my eyes to the hills- From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved, He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

So I will rest in the God that never slumbers or becomes weary from my petitions. What a great God!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Please Pray

I’m broken right now and need you to lift up a friend of mine and her family. She is a beautiful woman of God, wife, and mother of three boys. Her name is Daranda Golden and she has stage 4 melanoma cancer. She and I attended youth group together and went to High School together. She is dearly loved by so many and has a face that lights up a room. Please pray for her complete healing and for strength for her family.

Much love,


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Will the Fake Redhead Please Come Forward?

There is just something about the summer months that I absolutely adore; it brings something out in me that is completely carefree. I let go of any form of routine or schedule, I sleep in, stay up too late, and sport my flip-flops with pride. I relax on the mommy routine and welcome the chaos that comes with that.

Two years ago my husband and I went on a cruise with our best friends, Chresten and Bridgette. Bridgette and I have been the best of friends since college, she was in my wedding and I was in hers. I choked back the tears of having to share my best friend as I held her bouquet and looked out into huge sanctuary that held my future husband who would propose six days later. Bridgette has been with me through much heartache, countless joys in life, and many different shades of red hair as she remains the perfect, natural blonde with a few enhancements and highlights along the way. She brings out in me a side of crazy that is uninhibited because she knows me now and she knew me way back then. We laugh our heads off and delight in making our husbands nervous, and that is exactly how we prefer it.

Having a best friend with you is the perfect way to vacation in my opinion. That way, you can shop with someone who doesn’t roll their eyes at every stop and do girly things with while your husband has someone to talk shop with (in our case our boys talk about their latest sermon) as they pal around do manly things. Bridgette and I had always wanted to go parasailing and the boys were not interested at all, crazy huh? We made our plans and headed to find the boat that would be taking us on our little adventure without our husbands. We were the only ones to show up that day so we had the boat to ourselves, it was amazing.

There were two men leading the excursion, both curious about the two petite women. The first question is always, “Are you married?”

I think they said we didn’t look like married women or something strange. I mean really…what do married women look like? We were wearing our wedding rings, we both felt very married after ten years.



Thankfully they didn’t make any comments about that one like, yeah, I can see that with those birthing hips and such.

The next question that usually follows is, "What do you do for a living?" Bridgette and I always look at each other before we answer…we are Pastor’s wives, we stay at home, and yes, I’m pretty sure we are allowed to have fun.

After our brief interrogation and get to know you session, we strapped on our harnesses, life jackets, and most importantly, our big, fashionable sunglasses. All you have to say is sandy beaches and my bestie and I instantly relax. We were giddy and ready to do something we had never done before and scratch another thing off of our mental “Bucket List.”

With the wind in our hair and smiles on our faces, we sailed out into the most perfectly blue water ever. It was go time and the man leading the excursion said,

“Will the fake red-head please come forward?”

I laughed my head off, slightly impressed that a man could spot an impostor like me. Not the slightest hint of offended, I made my way to the back of the boat proud to be happiest fake redhead you could ever meet.

My husband says that you shouldn’t mess with perfection, but in the case of my hair color, I couldn’t disagree more…especially since he is a little shade blind. There are certain things we cannot change, but finding my happy shade of red and good friends to enjoy life with is priceless.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Woman to Woman, Wife to Wife, & Words from a Widowed Mother of Five

I want you to know that I had so much fun receiving your comments both on fb and my blog. Keep them coming, you are the reason why I’m doing this!

Some of you touched on a subject that is so dear to my heart, our marriages. Why did you open up to me? Because I went there, I put something down on paper that struck a chord with you and you identified with it. I’m asking a friend of mine to jump in on this one, her name is Cori Jett and I respect her in so many ways.

This is a beautiful woman of God, mother of five, yes five, and a widow. I’m not asking her to chime in because she had the perfect marriage, I’m asking her to speak up and lay it all out there because she had a GREAT marriage and had to say goodbye to the love of her life way before it was time. This is not what she wanted, like us she wanted a love to grow old with. And her man adored her.

I watched Scott and Cori hook up, fall in love, and then we were off to start our adventures as ministry teams and newlyweds. I’m telling you, they were the couple to watch. So cute, so in love, and so funny! They seriously could have had a show on TLC or something.

If they were anything like us, they were probably just as clueless as twenty-something’s running on love and trying to figure out how to do marriage, ministry, and later on the whole mom thing while trying to stay “in love”.

Most of the time we have everything out of whack, we want our man to adore us and love us. But, we have forgotten the girl he fell in love with, we lost on her the road somewhere between spoken vows, making babies, and then trying desperately to keep up with our ever-changing roles. We become tired as we pour ourselves into our children, and then the romance between the relationship that God himself used to show us his truest illustration of how He loves His church, our marriage, fizzles.

I asked Cori to share her heart with us, knowing that she has something to say. I want to encourage all of us to look our marriages, whatever stage you are in, and see through the eyes of a woman that would love to have one more day to love her man.

Heaven is a much sweeter place, I know. I love you Cori. THANKS for your words:

"One of the things that I have had to deal with is; God never said this life was going to be easy. He did promise us that he would never leave us or forsake us. The pace of our lives is so out of control. We are juggling so many aspects to our marriages and families.

Music Lessons
Doctors/dentist offices
Grocery shopping
One on one time with our kids

When we look at all of these things that we do on a daily basis (and so many more); we tend to forget and over look our time with our spouse. We so often give our kids priority over our lives that we neglect our spouse. We wonder why conversation is low. We don't understand why we don't have a sexual desire anymore.

Let me let you in on a little secret.... You/we have neglected to spend quality one on one with our spouse. We have lost sight of the relationship that needs the most care. We have viewed our kids as the "needy" ones when we need to change our focus. It needs to be on our MARRIAGES!!! It is the relationship that takes the most work, yet is the most rewarding. We take care of our children way before we take care of our man. Yet, our kids are not going to see a healthy marriage being first. They are going to see a healthy marriage when they know that mommy and daddy are willing to put each other above them. It is going to take effort on your part. I believe that we should be a servant to our spouse. I didn't say a slave. A servant is someone who chooses to serve. I believe that love is a choice not a feeling. In the same manor servant-hood is a choice. When we become a servant we take care of the one we are serving. This aspect goes for both men and women.

Going on about all of the things we need to do in a day, I purposely left out the most important thing. Our walk with the Lord HAS GOT TO BE NUMBER ONE!!!!!! We have got to make sure that we are spending time with Him. God has to be priority above all else. When He is first, all else will fall into place. He will give us the strength and patience that we need to get through every day.

Just thinking about all of the pressure we have just in a day, is overwhelming. Yet we do it day in and day out. It becomes routine and we don't think about it. I am saying that we need to think about what we are doing every day. Making sure that our relationship with the Lord is taken care of, and that our spouse's needs are met. Let me assure you that our children will not be neglected by putting God or our spouse ahead of them. They will benefit and profit from those relationships!!!

One story.... Before my husband died this is what he did every day. Any time he would leave the kids and me, he would kiss everyone and I was ALWAYS last. That meant if he was out to the car and a kid ran to get another kiss, he got out and came back inside to kiss me last. That may sound silly. But my kids knew that mommy was first in daddy's life. They remember him doing that to this day. It made an impression on them!!! They saw the security in our relationship.

Here is another one.... Anytime Scott would go into a gas station he would always bring me out my favorite chocolate candy. The kids were not allowed to have any of it. It was just for me from him. To this day if my kids go into a gas station, they bring me my favorite chocolate candy that no one can have but me. The watched their dad put me first! It taught them how to be a gentleman in the process.
Those things are now PRICELESS!!! You have to take care of what the Lord has given you!!! It is up to you to have the best marriage and family you can. You are in control of that. The Lord will bless you for those choices.

O what I wouldn't do to have this all again. I hope you cherish what you have!!!!"

Cori Jett


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Oh girls, have you ever written something that you just knew was God-ordained? Well, I just started the book I have always wanted to write and I’m a little terrified at just how personal I am getting. After all, so much of what we put on paper is more about what we don’t say or are too afraid to say.

Look, let’s be painfully real with one another. I don’t care what you posted as your facebook or tweet quip. You can write “I’ve had the best day with my perfect children and my perfect life,” while you cry into your half-eaten pop tart because your four-year-old told you that you’re the worst mom ever.

We only write things that make us look good, don’t we? Welp, I’m so not writing things that will just make you marvel at how I’m wise beyond my years because if you know me at all, then you know that I delight in being an abysmally, if not mildly entertaining, person. How I tackle most things in my life is with tears every now and then, a lot of prayer, and a gentle mix of humor and coca cola classic to take the edge off of bang-your-head-against-the-wall moments.

I guess that is why I am so excited about this new project because I deeply despise fake and made up perfection. If you see me on Sunday and you just think, “Wow, she must have ironed her pants (which is scandalous on Sunday mornings) and really made an effort.” Then I’m going to be a little disappointed because I want you to see the messiness of me and that it’s a complete miracle that I actually have a little curl in my hair and bags under my eyes that I worked really hard to cover up to no avail. I want you to see me as a real woman with a heart after God.

When I pray over friends that I deeply love in the altars that are trying with desperation to hold onto their marriage, I identify with their pain because I have yet to have the perfect marriage. Newsflash, none of us do but somewhere between falling in love and a deep commitment to ‘til death do us part’ or whatever I said almost twelve years ago, we remind ourselves that life is sweeter when we give love away even if we never get all that we have ever dreamed of in return…like the big, awesome Mother’s day gift we’ve always dreamed of, but your man will never think to buy you in advance even if you circle it on the magazine and practically draw him a map to the store.

The man I chose and God chose is stuck with me…sorry babe. I’ve started walking and jogging on the rare occasion that if he tries to leave me by foot, I will catch him, pounce on him, and wrestle him to the ground with my brute force. And that last statement alone is why I started writing fiction, but just can't break away from what I really want to share with you. BTW,Why can’t I be five-four and powerful?

(If you read this, use abysmal in your facebook post and then post something horribly lame that you did today and make a comment on my blog to give me a good laugh. Seriously, I need a GOOD LAUGH .)

I love you guys!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Surviving Mother's Day

On Mother’s Day 2002 a dear friend of mine pulled me close and said, “It’s your first, Happy Mother’s Day”. I quickly wiped away the tear that was flowing down my face and smiled as we kept our little secret between us. It wasn’t my first Mother’s Day, but I was hoping that it would be that last one that was sorrowful. I did have reason to hope that the baby growing inside would be safe and I might actually have what my heart longed for. This time had to be different; my heart simply couldn’t take another loss.

The previous year was unbearable for me as I watched the mothers surrounded by lovely flowers and adoring children. Huge pregnant bellies encircled me and mine was empty. I had just miscarried for the second time, leaving me grieving the loss of two lives that I so desperately wanted. I knew that motherhood would be the highest calling I would ever receive. I wanted to honor God and give my husband a baby, and yet my body wouldn’t allow it.

Mother’s Day had arrived and I desperately wanted to stay in bed, but that was not a luxury a young minister’s wife has. Sunday is a day of work for me. I was grieving for the whole congregation to see, I felt their pity on that day especially. My husband and I were quick to share our news when we found out we were pregnant. The loss of our babies quickly spread through the congregation as a much needed prayer request. In that place of deep pain, I found the comfort of being real and refused to wear the mask that most Christians feel like they have to wear: the mask of perfection. I felt in my early years of being a minister’s wife that I was trying to fit a certain mold that I was never meant to fit. I was trying to be all things to all people, eagerly striving for a perfection that did not exist and that was not required of me. What I felt was self-inflicted, unrealistic, and unspoken expectations and my heart needed a break.

While trying to survive Mother’s Day I went to the open arms of my mother, knowing that with her I could have the breakdown that I deserved. Going home to my parents’ farm has always been a refuge for my husband and me; it’s the most beautiful piece of countryside that I have ever seen. The hills and trees in every shade of green was just what my heart needed. A place to feel so small and know that there is a Creator. I needed to go away and hurt in a place where it was safe; I needed to be with my mom. I didn’t think God would mind me needing her so much since she is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I would always be her little girl in need of a mother’s touch and embrace.

As I walked through the door of the guest bedroom at my parents house I was overwhelmed by the love I felt in that little room. On the bed were presents for me and my husband placed there by my sister. On the nightstand was the most beautiful arrangement of lilies in an elegant vase with a purple ribbon placed beautifully around it. Tears began to flow and I had no choice but to let them, my mother quickly wrapped her arms around me wanting to take the pain for her own so I wouldn’t have to hurt. “I don’t want to live anymore, it hurts to breathe,” I said with hot tears streaming down my face. “Please don’t say that,” my mother replied as we wept together. I can’t imagine how that statement must have frightened her, but then again she knew me and my faith in God.

God was ever so near to my broken and contrite spirit just as He promised in His word. The lessons I learned during that time of waiting for what my heart longed for would free me in ways I could have never imagined. I was able to let go of the pain and the idea of perfection to embrace something truly greater; freedom in Christ. God was healing my body through a series of treatments and time allowing my body to be healthy enough to sustain life.

God asked us to step out in faith and move to a new town to minister, I was positive that God would bless us for being obedient. Six days after we moved to Bella Vista, I found out that I was pregnant for the third time. This pregnancy would actually give us our first little miracle. I gave birth to my first baby girl in February and twenty-two months later, another baby girl. They are the little mirrors showing me who I want to be and where I sometimes fall short. Every day I get the pure joy of kissing little miracles, trusting God that He alone will take care of them and lead me in such a way that they will come to the saving knowledge of the God that granted their Mother her deepest desire…to be their Mommy.