Teaching Our Daughters to Fight…

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Every single day I look her in the eyes. They are deep blue and filled with the wonder of what’s to come. I see something familiar inside them. She’s called to be bold and brave, stand on a platform and tell others they have worth. She’s only seven, but I already know her gifts, and I know deep down she does, too. As her mother, I worry she’ll lose the sparkle in her eyes emanating from her heart of joy. I’m worried she won’t know to guard that joy. Every heart runs the risk of allowing thieves inside.

The world in which we live is a crowded place. Everyone has something to say, do, and become. We reach for bigger, better, and more until we’re so caught up in our own dreams we don’t bother to look for one second into the deep blue of someone else’s.

When the person next to her becomes jealous of the qualities she was born to possess, the abilities she has to lead and do, I don’t want her repositioning herself to follow  just because that person is uncomfortable with her capability to lead. I want her to stand tall and strong for what she believes, shutting up the voices trying to steal joy. No one can steal our gifts. But our joy, well, it’s up for the taking when we forget why we own those gifts and what the Giver intends when entrusting us with them.

The question becomes, how do we teach our daughters to fight and still be kind? How do we say, “Be the leader you are!” and still expect humility? How do we keep them safe from joy robbers, some of which have no idea the damage they’re capable of doing in one’s life? How???

When my oldest son was a tiny infant, a woman at church said, “That baby is going to keep you on your knees.” It scared me so much that I never forgot her statement. I worried it was prophetic and maybe my son would have struggles. It didn’t mean what I thought it did. Those words only meant that a mother’s love draws her to pray for her children. A mother’s love is a powerful force, pulling her on already bruised knees in quiet desperation. We pray hope-filled pleas for healthy, peaceful, joy-filled lives full of love, while giving glory to the Savior.

All three of my children have gifts to offer. I know this because every last one of us are born with them. the Creator forgets no one. However, I tend to worry more about the protection of joy surrounding my daughter’s God-given qualities. I know she has a ministry, and even at age seven I see it simmering as Jesus prepares her heart for the future. Joy propels tiny bubbles waiting to overflow in kingdom work.

As a woman, I’ve had my gifts stepped on many times in life. In the middle of those experiences I usually forgot to defend joy. In fact, I still struggle to let it flow. Here’s the thing: permission is pivotal. Giving yourself permission to not only use your gifts, but to let joy propel them in the midst of the storm, is essential.

I believe we need to educate our daughters. We have a responsibility to communicate that no one can steal their gifts.  It’s only the absence of joy that hinders the flow of them. We have to give them permission to fight for joy so that one day they will give themselves permission. It’s not about flesh and blood, it’s about darkness and learning how to properly defend ourselves from it. We have to constantly remind them that It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it only matters what God says.

I’m in awe of childhood resilience. As adulthood occurs we’re usually not very pliable. Picking ourselves up isn’t as easy as it used to be. I liken it to my out of shape body after exercise. At the age of forty-three it’s much more difficult to recover than it was at twenty-three. It aches. Children roll with the punches. Adults… not so much. We tend to get stuck on the ground because sometimes getting back up hurts worse. But, when we educate our daughters and let them know it’s the getting back up that makes us better, and it’s okay to fight to do it, we can glorify God.

I’m a firm believer that when we commit our cause to Christ, He holds us up. He’s like the boxing coach in the corner of the ring giving instruction while taping up wounds. We love to think of Jesus as a sweet lamb rather than a roaring Lion, but I believe the Lion of the tribe of Judah wants us to stand our ground because He didn’t give those gifts for us to lose the fight. They are weapons in spiritual warfare! He intends us to live victoriously wrapped in His purpose! And, in case you don’t know, you have a mighty purpose!

It’s important we teach our children, and learn ourselves, that the gifts God gave us are ours for the keeping. Let’s learn to protect our joy. And, let us look to God to keep us humble in the process.

Who are we really fighting?

Remember the source of all enmity and stay the course with the name of Jesus on your hearts!

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

-Ephesians 6:12

Love,

Jennifer

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You’re Braver Than You Know

YoureBraverThanYouKnow

I’m convinced that each day people live amazing stories without realizing what’s unfolding around them. In every moment, ready or not, the crazy beautiful unfurls. It often spills out in the form of tears, lost dreams, and maybe even includes some cemetery dirt. To find the lovely we have to pursue it, chase after it, lose our breath digging through what no one else would ever wish. It takes knees bent to the ground, audacious enough to be honest about their fury, in order to unearth holy fire.

Almost twenty years ago, I buried a baby girl in a pink casket. It changed my life – mainly because I almost buried myself with her. However, it was through the grieving process I became whole. In my book, I told a story about fighting insanity which begged me to go dig her up in the middle of the night. For a very long time, I thought every dream I ever had was buried in that tiny, pink death box six feet under.

You’re braver than you know.

 The Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous; we have evidence of it in Joshua 1:9. Those words apply to all of us. When God spoke to Joshua, at the very same time, He was speaking to us. And, He was fully aware of it. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t yet been conceived, or hadn’t faced a fallen world with lots of hard quests to attempt conquering. He knew our names from the very beginning and when He believed in the patriarchs, He was believing in us at the same time. He spoke prophetically to a world full of humans He knew would one day exist.

Mind blowing, isn’t it?

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and if you know me, then you know that fifteen years of my life was wrapped up tight in sorrow from miscarriage, stillbirth, and secondary infertility. You probably know I began writing because suffering led me to find my dreams again. Actually, it led me to dreams I didn’t know I had.

You may have never suffered infertility or fetal death of any kind, your problems might be entirely different. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter. Suffering binds us close, and when it comes to the language of tears we are all fluent. What does matter is this: there is a God who believes in you and knows you have it in you to be strong and courageous. He knows you have the ability to not only win this battle, but the whole war. Why? Because He’s already claimed victory for you. Jesus died to seal you victoriously with His spirit. Abundant life in every form is waiting for you!

Listen, we get wrapped up in over-thinking problems and losing faith inside fear. It doesn’t have to be that way. You aren’t defined by infertility, death, or grief from any source. You are defined by a living God who says, “You can do ALL things.” (See Philippians 4:13)

We must learn to serve God in the midst of “even if not” Yes, He can deliver you, but even if not, He has a plan. Even if not, He loves you. Even if not, every foe will be defeated! He tends to answer in His way rather than ours. He doesn’t need our advice or help, only our prayers and trust. It was when I learned to trust God in the midst of the even if not, that I became free to believe in the mystery of what might be next. What we cannot see is always more beautiful than what we think we can see. Our vision is more hazy than most of us would like to admit.

To all of you who are hurting, I want to challenge you to believe in the even if not. Trust in what He wills, and believe in the God who has always believed in you! Be strong and courageous! And if you feel like it’s not in your power to be strong and courageous, then good. Because it’s only in His power. Friend, it’s the only way. He is the only way!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

-Joshua 1:9

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me…”

-John 14:6

Love,

Jennifer

If you would like to read my journey, you can learn more about my book by clicking here.

 

How Learning to be Faithful Leads to True Success…

You don't have to be the world's definition of successful, you only need to be God's definition of faithful.

I have a lot on my mind this morning as I sit down to share my heart with you. I’ve been away from this space longer than I planned. I’m working furiously on finishing a book that God put on my heart to write, and I can’t wait to place it in your hands. Would you remember me in prayer as I finish this process? I’m so grateful for you!

Writing a book can be lonely work, and there’s so much I want to convey. However, I want more than anything to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I place each word on the page. It’s a letter-by-letter process for me full of backspacing, deleting, and hot tears in prayer to Jesus as I work through my own healing in hopes the words, which are helping me to heal, might aid in healing someone else. More than anything, I pray these words will lead others to the Healer of everything.

I’ve learned that God usually calls us to the uncomfortable: tasks that situate us just outside our comfort zone and then requires an act of faith to succeed in following through.

“God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.”

– Mother Teresa

Those words by Mother Teresa work letter-by-letter to string together pure wisdom that leads me straight to the center of a spiritual reality. We have to be willing, obedient, faithful, constant, and committed to the cause of Christ. Success is not measured in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of God. His definition is so much different from ours. He has a plan we cannot see and is using us in ways we cannot imagine. God does a lot of behind the scenes work and our main job is to be willing and faithful in whatever way He plans to use us.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

-The Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:10)

You might not be writing a book, but I have no doubt you are called to work in a capacity much bigger than you can imagine. Right at this moment your gifts are being stirred up so that they are ready to pour out.

No matter where you find yourself today, God will use you in the place you are standing to influence someone else. The kindness of your character and the strength you hold in your situation will speak volumes to those around you. You don’t have to be the world’s definition of successful, you only need to be God’s definition of faithful.

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him…”

-1 Corinthians 2:9

 

You are loved and there are amazing tasks waiting that only you can accomplish. Step outside your comfort zone and trust Him in the place you stand today.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

-Ephesians 3:14-20

Love,

Jennifer

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Two Pieces of Wood…

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Lately, I’ve been traveling from point A to point B without knowing how I arrived there. The last couple months of my life have been insane.  The journey of seminary has been beautifully overwhelming and Lord knows this blog has been quieter than ever before, but through the mountains and valleys, I’m finding peace by learning how to manage chaos and embrace a new normal.

Good Friday would have been Dominic’s 60th birthday. As much as I wanted to share with you what God’s been doing, pressing my fingers to the keyboard to type just didn’t seem appropriate. Sometimes we need to be emptied out to fill back up. I’m full again.

Like most of us, I spent Good Friday feeling grateful for the work of the cross. I’m still amazed that two pieces from a tree were large enough to build a bridge to heaven. As I pondered the agony of my Savior, I was able to thank Him for making this world connect to the next.  Because of Jesus, death is never the end, it’s only the beginning.  Yet, even though I’m fully aware of the hope He suffered to give, I’m also aware that in the name of grief, the enemy tries to block hope. And the more I work to process this, the more I realize it’s because tragedy usually chases us to seek Jesus like never before. If grief keeps us away from Him, then hope slowly dies, but if we allow it to pull us closer, then hope becomes the great resuscitator. And, Lord knows, I often find myself in need of serious hope resuscitation!

I know it sounds strange, but losing those we hold dear awakens us to the eternal hope of what lies ahead. If we never faced adversity we might not ever experience dependence on Him, or desperation for Him. Listen, I firmly believe we need to need God through the best of times as well as the worst. And I believe many of us do praise Him in all seasons, but pain tends to show us how much deeper we can trust and how much stronger we can reemerge.  It doesn’t even have to be a major tragedy, one minor disturbance in life and the next thing we know our pull to faith and holiness is magnetic. We are quickly connected to the Father without any realization of how we got to Him so fast.

I was in the word constantly when Dominic was taken suddenly to heaven, and I still found myself gripped by the magnetic pull of seeking Jesus more than ever before. This leads me to believe that hope is found in the darkest of places, not just when things are better than ever and life is going our way. The very best parts of hope are found in the dirtiest, ugliest, and most unexpected places. Real hope is found in the grimy bits underneath the grossest garbage. And isn’t it something, that’s where treasure is found too!  Priceless finds are usually covered in dirt. Friend, when you choose hope, you choose life. When you hold hope, you hold everything!

Good Friday should have been a very bad day for my family. Instead, we rejoiced, each in our own way, because we believe firmly in the hope and magnetic pull of a God that says, “I want you closer, closer, closer still. “ Hello, Romans 8:28! And, in the middle of all my daily chaos and uncertainty surrounding how I’m making it from point A to point B within life’s responsibilities, I want to be overwhelmingly aware of what it is that leads me to my Savior.

Maybe today I can challenge you to do what I’m working hard to do myself. I never want to live one day void of hope, and because of that, even in tragedy, I’m learning to find my voice of praise. It seems to speak loudest inside dark places. Yours will too!  I’ve also been focusing on the vows I spoke to my husband so many years ago at our marriage ceremony.  I believe they should be what we think of when it comes to our commitment to Christ. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness in health, Dear Jesus, I do.

Never have I ever been so grateful for two pieces of wood.

How was your Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?

Love,

Jennifer

 

Our Connection to Esther

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When I was a little girl, I remember looking in adoration to singers, actors, and beautiful faces of the world. I really wish I would have known about Esther. Her story makes me proud to be a woman of God.

Though God isn’t mentioned even once by name in the book of Esther, there is no doubt He was working through and for her. His purpose in her life was to save the Jews. Can you even imagine? Esther was a beautiful, real woman with real challenges. Beginning very early in her life she knew what it was to endure struggle. She was an orphan, and no matter how well she was taken care of since the passing of her parents, we all know that great pain accompanies great loss, and I’m more than certain Esther knew grief intimately.  Because of this, we can immediately connect to who she was. Her early story is one of authenticity, and her circumstances prove tangible for many of us.

What’s interesting to me is that Esther was the first woman to compete for a “rose.” The television series The Bachelor has nothing on what her reality portrayed! If you don’t know her story, I highly recommend reading it all in one sitting. It’s only ten small chapters, and I think you’ll be moved at not only her courage, but God’s faithful provision.

Isn’t it awesome how His glory shines even when His name goes unmentioned?!?!

The reason I’m thinking so much about Esther today is because of the Jewish celebration of Purim, which is all about celebrating deliverance for God’s people through Esther.

We serve a God of deliverance. Do you need reminded of that today? I often need a reminder.

God did miraculous and amazing things through the life of Esther and, friend, God can and will do amazing and miraculous things through your life! Last week I wrote about miracles through the hands of Paul, and the same rule applies in the story of Esther. NOTHING is impossible with God!

I want you to know that your life matters, you have purpose, and there is a plan for you that is tailored specifically. IT IS GOOD! Why? Because we serve a good God! The plan might not always seem good. In fact, it might be completely unrecognizable, but your life is for such a time as this! However, there is something you must know: the plan requires a faith journey. It is about learning to trust Him, and sometimes the landscape of that journey is rough! But it’s still good!

Today, as I bear in mind the story of Esther, I want to take a moment to remind us of all God is working in our lives. He’s doing it for such a time as this! All He does leads us to the cross. Our faith journey consists of the cross front and center. It’s a bridge from this world to the world which is to come. We are marching onward toward the calling of Christ, washed in His blood, with the beauty of the Holy Spirit. By the way, the Holy spirit serves as the Guide leading us on the path. We are not alone.

Take hold of this:

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

-Isaiah 40:28-31

Let us wait, trust, and obey in faith so that we can run and not be weary, walk and not faint!

Love,

Jennifer

The Question I’m Asking This Holy Week…

Diem

Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of Holy week. It’s a beautiful time for reflection as we think of the cross and its power of grace in our lives. Jesus paid the price, and there is liberty in His wounds. I don’t deserve it, but I’m so very grateful for it.

Throughout this week, I’ve had one particular passage of scripture in mind:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

-John 10:10-11

Jesus, the good shepherd, gave His life for me that I might have an abundant life. And so I’m forced to reflect and ask myself this question:

What am I doing to live an abundant life?

For me, an abundant life doesn’t mean comfortable and prosperous. It means serving others and living abundantly in the purpose I’ve been given. On Sunday, my pastor said this in regards to the church the Lord has given him to shepherd:

“We are a movement of people who are radically involved in reaching beyond these walls with the great commission. Perhaps we can be the people God uses.”

-Pastor Russ Horne.

All week those words have been playing on repeat in my mind: Perhaps we can be the people God uses. And in being the people God uses, we will live abundantly within the beauty of His death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father.

If nothing else, I want to challenge you this holy week to think about your life, and ponder if you’re living abundantly within the freedom He died to give you. Listen, none of us can ever repay Him or do enough to equal what He did for us, but He doesn’t expect that. The Lord’s brother James, in his book, says, “But He gives more grace…” (See James 4:6)

Oh, friend, He’s always pouring out grace for us. The least we can do is trust Him, love others, and live abundantly within His beautiful promises.

  • He knew your name when He drew His final breath on the cross.
  • He knew your name when He arose in the tomb.
  • He knows your name now!

You’re enough for Him. Now go live abundantly in His name.

Love,

Jennifer

To read about the great commission, see Matthew 28:16-18

Your Hands Were Made for Unusual Miracles!

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul..._

I look down at my hands and see small calluses on my palms from years of using cleaning products without gloves. I see the story of sunshine and recall teenage summer days without the slightest consideration for sunscreen. I reminisce forty-three years worth of life on these hands, and I sit lost in thought wondering […]

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Changes Are Coming!

Praying Hands Heart photo

Hello friend! I’m so thankful for you, and I do not take for granted the time you spend visiting my online home. Life is busy; I get it! I’m always beyond blessed when I look at how many of you join me here. Thank you! Because I value your busy schedule, I want to know […]

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What Will You Choose?

What Will You Choose_

This morning, after sending my kids to school, I noticed I was out of coffee cream. Lord knows coffee helps set the tone of my day, and so at that moment I determined the only time it’s acceptable for me to leave the house with printed yoga pants and a shirt that doesn’t completely cover […]

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What It Means to Unpack…

BEST

A little more than a month ago, I returned home from a week long trip with my husband. I remember dreading the job of unpacking my suitcase, because I knew it meant laundry and putting away fun, summer clothing and flip-flops only to exchange them with over-sized sweaters and boots. Unpacking inside a beautiful hotel […]

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