Feeling the transition…

True StillnessWho loves to avoid difficult situations? By the way, I’m waving my hand wildly over here. Certain positions we find ourselves in are not always comfortable, and figuring out how to move to a place filled with peace despite our circumstances can be tricky.

It’s a one-day-at-a-time process. We have to allow ourselves to feel the transition even if it isn’t pleasant. It’s imperative that we look to Jesus and say, “It’s Yours. Even if I still feel it, even when it hurts. It’s not mine; it’s Yours.”

Casting our cares can be frustrating because we often think that when we submit our burden, breathing becomes easy. I hate to cut off the flow of oxygen, but it doesn’t work that way. Just like there is a Lover of your soul, there is also an enemy of it. And when we submit everything to the Lover, the enemy works round the clock to waver our trust in the One who frees us.

I want to encourage you with this: If you’ve given your burden and you know deep down that you are holding nothing back from your Savior, then just keep going. Keep walking, praying, and living your life out loud. Peace is found in knowing that even when it hurts, we are doing the right thing.

True stillness of the soul comes from trusting God regardless of how we feel. (Tweet that.)

God is on the throne. He always has been. He always will be.

Love,

Jennifer

Waiting for Change

For When Your Heart is Bursting for that which you do not knowHi, Friend! Just in case you haven’t noticed, I took a little blogging break over the last week and a half. We went on a family vacation where I desperately needed to recharge. It was wonderful. Thank you to those who reached out via email to ask if I was okay. It’s nice to know you care, and I appreciate you!

I’ve been praying about what to write. Sometimes, even after a week of relaxation, it’s difficult to find where to start again. To be truthful, I’m a little perplexed about how I’m feeling. There’s a restless type of determination to run hard after God knowing that He has something in store, but I don’t know what it is.

Have you ever felt that way? Like there is a change waiting in the current flow of life but you can’t exactly put your finger on what? I want to lace up my running shoes and just chase God until my heart is pounding and my lungs hurt. I know that isn’t necessarily the most appealing image, but I want nothing more than to feel alive in the presence of God in a brand new way. I need it. My soul is shouting at me from the inside out to go. Just run.

Here’s the problem: I don’t know where I’m supposed to be going, and if I begin running, I’m not sure what direction to move.

When I was away, I posted the following as my Facebook status:

Life isn’t black and white, and the road ahead isn’t always clear. Actually, right where we are standing isn’t exactly honest and open.


Some say it’s gray, but I don’t buy that either. Life is a palette of colors. They can be vibrant and bright or washed out and faded. If we’re not careful, the colors have a habit of running into one another and separating themselves from what’s intended. If not kept in focus, they can be chameleon-like and cause a divagation of thoughts.


Recently, I’ve been thinking about the blur of colors. Everyone has their own opinions and are taking it upon themselves to state what God’s opinion is. I’m not just discussing the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage. I’m talking about any struggle people are enduring and trying to fix themselves.


We seem to be people who are relentless at working to get things done our way. Maybe it’s a crack in our marriages, relationships with our children, friendships, or inability to see worth in our lives. We work to repair rather than prayerfully wait for redirection and spiritual rescue.


Right now, I’m sitting in a beach chair positioned in the sand. I’m looking around in wonder at the beauty God declared with His voice – thinking of how His breath bellows against the waters and controls the motion of the sea. I’m in awe that His palm is large enough to fit each struggle we face tightly inside. His grip is unfathomably strong.


From where I’m sitting, the sand is tan, the sea is turquoise, the sky is a brilliant shade of blue, and above it all there is One God on the throne watching. And, when I say watching, I don’t mean helplessly.


He’s breathing, living, in control, majestic and as mighty as He was the moment He spoke this beauty into existence. There is no separation or running together of the brilliance He declared.
Whatever your worries, whatever your circumstances might entail, The mighty color of His love is enough to cover it ALL.


Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (See Romans 8:38)


Those who overcome have been given a promise, and nothing has the power to steal it away.
Keep on serving, friend. Keep believing. Keep looking toward the brilliant colors of promise. It’s for you. He created it with you in mind. He loves you.

Today, as I reread the words I wrote a week ago, I’m reminded that His promises hold strong. They are beautiful and worth the restless pursuit of upcoming change. We might have a difficult time identifying it, but His mystery should be held with beautiful anticipation of what’s to come.

The ability to hold faith, trust, and hope in a supreme God who loves us can only be defined as tender mercy. His path is perfect, even if we aren’t sure where to step next.

I know I seem to be unloading a lot of thoughts on you today. Abigail Adams said, “My bursting heart must find vent at my pen.”

My heart is bursting with the hope of following hard after God in a brand new way. I wish you could hear the passion in my voice, but since we can’t meet face-to-face, I pray the passion of my heart cracks wide open and translates His hope to you.

Talk soon, friend.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

Your Broken Pieces Matter

broken piecesThere is often a misrepresentation of what is considered a “successful life.” We feel forced to post happy pictures and clever status updates. We need to be viewed as people who have it all together, but the problem is that many of us cannot define “it” and are working to make sense of what feels broken. Even worse, too many of us are trying to make the broken pieces reconnect all by ourselves. As if we have the answers.

From the inside out, every broken piece matters.

Every raw wound, gray hair, and wrinkle on your face that may have come from the grief of despair is valuable. It’s worth more than silver or gold. The tears you’ve cried have been collected in a bottle by the God who deems the broken whole and all life successful.

Your broken pieces have been designed to create the beautiful life you are meant to live. Every time you seek God through your difficulties, those broken pieces are filtered like the finest water and refined through a fire that renews the soul and transfers peace.

Your broken pieces are an offering.

Though you’ve been put through the fire, and even though you smell like smoke, there isn’t a mark on you. You’re okay. You are going to be okay. One day at a time, breath at a time, slow hot-to-the-cheek tear at a time, you’re figuring out that the broken pieces in your life are equivalent to the will of God for your soul, and you sing praise.

You offer precious gifts because they come in the form of a life well lived. One that isn’t easy, but one that causes your Creator to smile because of your fortitude to forge ahead for His glory.

Your broken pieces are beautiful, friend. They have worth. They work together for good, and make you whole on a level you would not know if they had never existed.

Blessed are the broken.

Take courage.

Take heart.

Your broken pieces matter.

Love,

Jennifer

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Rise and Stand

Rise and StandIn Acts 26, we hear the story of Paul’s conversion. After God knocked him to the ground, He gives a command.

“But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.”

Acts 26:16

For me, this verse is one of great promise. Let’s face it, sometimes we all need a good “kick in the pants.” We have to be told, “Rise and stand on your feet.”

Paul was commanded to get his act together and start doing what he was born to do: minister in the name of the One and Only King of Kings.

Not long ago, I communicated that we are all called to ministry. Each of us, in our own way, are called to minister in love, kindness, and compassion. We don’t have to go to third world countries, or be part of specific church ministry teams, in order to follow through with our mission here. For some of us, we are meant to open our homes and serve a meal, babysit for a friend so she has some time to herself, love someone that might be a little difficult to love.

We have ministries to fulfill in our very own homes that begin with the way we love our spouses and parent our children. God has something beautiful and rewarding for each of us. We usually don’t have to look very far to find it.

Today, I want to encourage you with this… Rise and stand on your feet.

Friends, those are beautifully spoken words straight from the mouth of Jesus. It only takes one act of obedience to begin our journey of love here on earth. You see, that’s what ministry really is, a journey of love in the name of Christ.

So, friend, rise and stand today. Just be willing and obedient.

My grandmother used to have a saying. After she told us something simple that needed done, she would say, “That’s it and that’s all!”

Rise and stand on your feet… that’s it and that’s all!

There are good things ahead for you! The promises of God are awaiting!

“If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land…”

Isaiah 1:19

Love,

Jennifer

 

I Told You Life Isn’t About Rainbows. I Was Wrong…

RedLetterWords Rainbow_nThere have been many instances when I’ve said that life isn’t about rainbows. Accepting Christ doesn’t mean everything is going to fall in place and morph into the fairytale we’ve dreamt about.

I was wrong.

On May 25th, I was sitting outside on my deck watching the twins play on their swing set. I grabbed my phone and decided to scroll through Facebook. The company RedLetterWords had just posted a picture. She photographed a rainbow behind her in the distance and used the side mirror of the car to capture the image. For some reason, words that all of us see every day, while driving, came alive to me. “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

In Biblical history, We first see the rainbow, and its meaning, in Genesis chapter nine. It’s the Noahic covenant, which is an agreement between God and mankind. He promises to never again flood the earth and to continually remember his promise to us with the sign of the rainbow.

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 9:13-17

If you pay close attention to the words all flesh in verse seventeen, you’ll see that the beauty inside this covenant is it stretches throughout all eternity for all flesh who choose to follow the will of God. The promise of the rainbow, and the covering which it provides, wasn’t just meant for Noah and his family, but for all future generations.

When I saw that facebook picture from RedLetterWords, it ignited something deeper in me. When I read the wording on the mirror, I couldn’t stop reeling about the fact that His promises are much closer than they appear.

In day-to-day life, we often look through the lens of whatever it is we are facing. I lost my stepfather, suddenly, last July to a heart attack, so for much of the past year I’ve been viewing life through a lens of grief. The colors in God’s promised rainbow seemed dull, if I could even see them at all. I felt defeated and destroyed.

And here is what the Holy Spirit has breathed deeply into me:

It says in the above passage, “I set My rainbow in the cloud… The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” You see, our ability to see the rainbow is a beautiful benefit, but God always sees it… even if we can’t.

I can’t speak for you, but in my own life I have had moments when I’ve thought that God had somehow forgotten about my small existence. Can you relate? However, the truth is, He won’t ever forget. He can’t. He sees the promise continually.

And here is the crazy, amazing part: I believe His promise to mankind is wrapped up in His glory.

In Ezekiel chapter one, the prophet Ezekiel describes his vision of God. Nearing the end of the chapter, he sees the throne and the glory of God. This is what he says:

And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

Ezekiel 1:26-28

In Revelation, John also sees the throne…

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

Ezekiel and John both mention a rainbow, which we know is a sign of God’s covenant to mankind. I love to think that His promises are wrapped in His glory right there at His throne causing the continual remembrance of His children.

We know that when God was leading Moses and the Children of Israel through the desert that His glory often came in the cloud. (See Exodus 16:10, Exodus 24:16, Exodus 40:34)

His rainbow is in the cloud, and, to me, that means His promises are wrapped up in His glory!

When we give Him glory with our lives, when we offer praise to Him and love to others with everything we do, when we make the goal of our time here on earth to give glory and honor to Him who sits on the throne, then He will cover us with His everlasting promise. The rainbow will shine bright over us and His glory will shine down. We don’t have to see it, we just have to believe it’s there.

In Revelation chapters two and three, Jesus is addressing the seven churches. Out of the seven churches only two were recognized without complaint. The other five were called out for their sins. However, all seven were given a promise. After each church is addressed, Jesus speaks a promise beginning with the words, “To him who overcomes…” One of my very favorite promises is given to the church of Laodicea, which most of us distinguish as the lukewarm church.

Jesus says the following in Revelation 3:21 – “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Let me explain why this touches my heart the way it does.

When I was a little girl, all the way into my thirties, my grandmother would rock me on her lap. I know it seems absurd that a married woman would visit her grandmother just to sit on her lap and be comforted, but the love I received through it was overwhelming.

My grandmother left this world to be with Jesus when I was thirty-four years old. Even when the cancer ravaged her body and she was too weak to bear my weight, she would reach for me to come close. In her hospital bed, I would wrap myself around her as much as I could while she spoke words that will never leave me, “Jennifer, I love you bushels and bushels full, and don’t you ever forget it.”

What I’ve come to realize is that God gives us beautiful gifts in the form of relationships that are pieces of Him and His love. He deserves the glory for all of it. My grandmother was one of those gifts in my life, and when I think of being wrapped in that kind of love by Jesus, it propels me to overcome all the obstacles I might face. I long to experience that kind of moment with my Savior.

I want to overcome and be granted to sit on the throne with Him, but in the most humble way possible. I picture myself to be rocked, cradled, and loved. I envision the rainbow of His glory covering me for all eternity.

Christ did the work on the cross so that we might have access to His throne. Is there anything more powerful than that? I think not.

From now on, when I look at a rainbow, I will remember that the glory of God is shining bright. It’s filled with promises for those who love Him. I will remember the gift of His Son and His longing to preserve mankind in a way that caused the shedding of holy blood in exchange for my future. And for your future, too!

I’m sorry if I ever said that life isn’t about rainbows, because, friend, life is ALL about rainbows. It is ONLY about rainbows.

When we sow seeds of overcoming, we will reap the promise of the glory surrounding His throne. We will reap life. Eternal life.

He knows your name, friend, and YOU are an overcomer!

To God be the glory.

love,

Jennifer

Fearfully Made (A Guest Post)

Rachel's guest post

Hello, friend! Today I am welcoming Rachel Shewmaker to my doorstep. She is talking about beauty from the perspective of a mother of three and the recognition of being fearfully made. Please welcome Rachel and visit her blog!


I watched her watching me. Her little, dimpled hand stroking my cheek, tracing the outline of my eyes and pinching my chin. She wasn’t judging me. She wasn’t critical of the wrinkles beginning to form around my mouth or the ever present lack of sleep bags under my eyes. She didn’t care that I had no makeup on or that my hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail. Our eyes met with love and tenderness and we both soaked in it for a while.

I never thought I would be nursing a two year old, yet there we sat, sprawled out over me enjoying her pre-breakfast snack, me fumbling for my coffee trying to free my arm from her crocheted and very loved blankie. The truth is, I was done with breastfeeding about six months ago, and I even told her that, but she had other plans. Who was I to argue?

She is baby #3 and probably our last. There are twelve and half years between the oldest and the youngest with a six year old right in the middle. I feel like I have been a mom for a long time. My body feels like it has been a mom for a long time.

Our oldest son, 14 ½ years old, is adopted, so while I can’t claim I carried him and delivered him into this world, I can claim part of my body belongs to him, many parts belong to him.  My hand holding his as we walked around the park, my arms that held him and rocked him when he just didn’t understand, my lap that he sat in while I read him all his Thomas the Train books, my knees that hit the ground every night as I prayed for his adoption to be final. So maybe I didn’t give birth to him but he has left his mark on my body.

Our middle son, 6 years old, has the honor of being my first pregnancy.  For nine months I watched my body change and felt it being overtaken by someone I hadn’t even met. Each week there was a “something new your baby is doing” blurb to read about – a new organ forming or growth spurt happening.  My pregnancy was textbook, I was grateful and actually enjoyed it.

There was still morning sickness, aches and pains, insomnia, heartburn and all the blood work and doctor’s appointments (ugh) but it was all manageable. Then we learned, about a month from our due date, that we needed a c-section. My dream of my body and mind working together to deliver this perfect baby was broken and at 39 weeks two days I underwent surgery in order to welcome our healthy baby boy.  Recovery was hard and painful, and I have a scar and phantom pains that still linger.

Our youngest and first daughter just turned two! My pregnancy and c-section were very similar to my experiences with her younger brother – maybe even a bit easier because it was the second time around.  My recovery was longer, being a mom of three at that point, there was little time for an actual recovery.  This girl, she has claimed ownership of everything that is me.  Co-sleeping, bathing, walking, nursing, peeing (I mean, let’s be honest), there is nothing I do that doesn’t belong to her.

As a mom, you are called to sacrifice part of who you are so you can help them become who He has designed them to be.  But just like your children, YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made, beautiful in His sight with a crown of beauty instead of ashes.  I struggle daily to find who I am apart from the three beauties that call me their mom.  I gently fight to reclaim my body.

Motherhood has molded me physically and emotionally, but I am more than a mom and I need to remember what that looks like.

My arms will still be here to hold and comfort them, my hands will still hold theirs, my ears will still listen, my eyes will still watch and my mouth will still tell them I love them. But, I will reclaim my body for me, and one day I will look at myself with joy and confidence because His “…works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
Rachel's headshot

Hi everyone! I’m Rachel and I am very excited to be a guest today! Jennifer’s series on women and  beauty spoke to my heart, and I am humbled and honored to share with you today.
A little about myself – I am a follower of Jesus, a wife to a very patient man and a mom to three delightful characters. Working full time inside and outside of the home I often struggle with balance, patience and purpose. I am on a constant search for the JOY in all the uncertainty that life brings. Check out my blog, 30 o’CLOCK, for some words of encouragement, laughter, faith, and a bit of crazy.

You Can Tell Your Story…

tell your story

Hi, friend! My blogging schedule has been a little off lately. I’m heavily involved in Vacation Bible School ministry right now, and the kids are home from school. Keeping up is challenging. In my little part of the world, we are experiencing thunderstorm after thunderstorm. Our power went out in the middle of the night […]

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Thoughts on Becoming Beautiful (A Guest Post)

Erin Salmon guest post

Hi, Friend! I love when I’m able to have a glimpse into someone’s heart journey. We’ve decided that the quest to find beautiful begins in the the deepest corners of our hearts, and, today, I’m welcoming Erin to my doorstep. She is going to share what her journey looks like. Please welcome her and take […]

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Finding Beauty on the Heart’s Journey

Jeans

The heart’s journey isn’t always a pleasant one. We often have to wade through the mire and muck of our lives to find the beautiful. It hurts. I find myself walking hills and valleys and none of it is easy, but I can say with an honest heart that it’s always of value. Leaning on […]

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Word For Your Weekend #5: When Beauty Becomes a Distraction

Word for your weekend option 2

Happy Friday! If you could have been in the room with me as I was taping this vlog you would have probably laughed your head off! (At my tantrum!) The first time I tried to record, my iPad quit working halfway through. I couldn’t use the computer because the internet was acting up, so I […]

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