I’m Choosing Trust…

HospitalIMG_5966I don’t know about you, but I am ever so thankful for new mercy this morning. Last week, I wrote a blog post entitled, “For When My Own Agenda Gets in the Way.” I talked about a statement I made during prayer: I’m excited to see what You’re going to do today, Lord.

I meant it. Every word.

The day after I wrote that was Dominic’s birthday. It was our first one without him, and I was an emotional mess. After a full day of tears I decided we should go to the Chinese buffet for dinner. I’m certain that if there is one in heaven, Dominic was in line celebrating. He LOVED a good Chinese buffet!

Meanwhile, all throughout that day, my oldest son (who is 22) kept telling me he wasn’t feeling well. He isn’t a complainer, so I knew something wasn’t right. To make a long story short, he ended up in the hospital with a diagnosis of appendicitis. I don’t care how old our children become, they will always be our babies and seeing them sick is awful. We spent the next couple days in the hospital. In the middle of all that, countless other things seemed to go wrong. To say the least, my excitement to see what the Lord was going to do was dwindling…

But in all this I know God is good., He is faithful, and His love is never ending.

I am choosing to be excited because we serve a God who never lets go. He has everything under control and even when life seems to flip upside down, we can rest knowing that He has something beautiful waiting for us.

With every difficult day comes the gift of brand new mercy. He breathes hope right into our lungs. We awaken each morning because He deems it. He has a purpose for us.

This is a holy week. The week we commemorate His death and resurrection. And friend, I’m thankful for what He is going to do, but I will never stop praising Him for what He has already done. He took the penalty for our sin.

Let’s walk through this new week fully aware of His mercy and love. Let’s believe Him for what He is going to do according to what He has already done. Don’t try to figure it all out, just trust that He’s working. He’s moving.

In the midst of every struggle you are facing, choose to trust Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

-Proverbs 3:5-6

Love,

Jennifer

My eBook Mercy Waits is FREE to new subscribers!

 

 

Today is His Birthday… (My Letter to Dominic)

PicMonkey CollageToday is his birthday. It’s hard to believe that last year when we all had cake together and laughed over the blowing out of candles that it would be our last one. His last one.

This isn’t easy. Saying goodbye never is. He wasn’t sick and there wasn’t any time to prepare. I don’t know if that makes our situation easier or harder, I just know it hurts. However, I’m choosing to look at today through eyes of joy and precious memories. Who knows? I might even have a piece of cake in his honor. He loved cake!

So here it goes… my letter to him.

Dear Dominic,

I miss you. The way you made me laugh and smile was true joy. You didn’t walk through the door of my life until I was eighteen years old and yet it seems that I knew you since birth. You were a father to me. You never showed me anything but love. And when I would get upset about something happening in the family you would just look at me and say, “It’s all going to be okay.”

You weren’t a man of many words, but you knew how to show love better than anyone I’ve ever met. It was quiet and strong, gentle and merciful, filled with joy and life.

I will never forget all the times you bought me Chinese food from the little take-out place I loved. No matter how large or small our order was, the lady on the phone would always say in her cute accent, “That will be thirty dollar.” And then there was the time I came home to visit from California. You positioned yourself, at the airport, alongside the limo drivers holding a big sign that said, “Thirty dollar.” I laughed the whole way down the escalator.

I won’t share the bowling story publicly because I’m sure you would just shake your head if I did, but I will never stop laughing at that moment. I don’t think anything funnier will ever happen again in this life.

I miss the way you loved my kids. The adoration in your eyes every time Pauly walked through the door was the most precious gift you could have given. All the times you took him to the toy store when he was little, to the movies, and to eat. And then when he grew you would listen to every song he wrote over and over again. It didn’t matter how many times you heard the same melodies, tears would still form in your eyes. You were proud of him and it showed.

The way you would draw treasure maps and hide loose change in the yard every time you babysat the twins are memories that will never leave them. The way you would yell, “Check my pockets!” when coming over the house and having them practically tackle you for the candy you overflowed them with.

The way you loved my mother… there are no words.

I’ve been thinking about how if I end up living to be old, I will see myself in the mirror wrinkly and gray-haired while you will always live young in my memory. fifty-eight was much too young to leave, but because of where you are now, I’m sure you are thinking that fifty-eight years was much too long to stay.

I know with my whole soul that Jesus is real and heaven is real ,and I know you are there. You are young and worry-free, playing with my babies, seeing all those who have gone on before us, and most importantly, worshipping the living God forever and ever.

I also know that it won’t be long until we are reunited. Time goes fast this side of heaven.

I haven’t’ found my true smile again yet. Since you left it’s been hidden. But I will. I know we have to keep going and that this life stops for nothing. I will think of you always. Every day for the rest of my life I will miss your love.

And through all of this, I’ve learned that one of the ways God shows love is by gifting us with others who can freely give it . We are created in His image and that means if we choose to accept Him, we will be able to give great love to others because He is love.

You loved Him and it showed in all the love you gave us. Thank you.

Happy birthday, Papa Dom. You were, and always will be, the best!

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

-A.A. Milne

 

I love you, pal.

Jennifer

 

For When My Own Agenda Gets in the Way…

Airplane cloudsSometimes our days run together. They just keep going. we have a million and one things to accomplish and we can think of nothing else but staying on track with our plans. But what about God’s plans? Are we taking time to concern ourselves with those, or are we just looking at our own agendas?

This morning on my way to take the kids to the bus stop, I did what I always do and prayed for each of them out loud. I don’t ever think beforehand about what I might say to God, I just let the words fly out. So as I was praying protection over my sweet little ones and praying for my own agenda, I just happened to say, “I’m excited to see what You’re going to do today, Lord.”

I didn’t mean to pray those words intentionally, but I think somewhere deep inside even in the middle of the mundane there is an inner hope in all of us that God is going to do something big. And I also can’t help but think that sometimes His biggest works are counted small in our own eyes because they don’t follow our agendas. They follow His.

I bet there are tasks He completes for us every single day that we don’t acknowledge. We give love we don’t always feel like giving. We shed tears for  lives we don’t know because of what we see on the news. We have strength to finish jobs we didn’t want to do in the first place. We give when we would rather receive. And I am willing to bet that we don’t count even one of those every day happenings as miracles.  But they are.  They are miracles taken from His agenda. It’s a much grander plan than we can fathom.

I want to open my eyes wide to the events He has in mind. What about you? I want to see His goodness and faithfulness in the smallest scenarios. I’m ready to welcome my day knowing He is at work.

Friend, no matter what you have going on in life, today is a gift. Unwrap it with wonder. He is at work. Always.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

-Romans 8:31

Love,

Jennifer

My eBook Mercy Waits is FREE to new subscribers!

 

Jumping Into Dreams…

BeachSandBar

Yesterday, Paul and I waded out to a sandbar. We stepped on top of it and decided to jump in the other side to deeper waters. We held hands, closed our eyes, counted to three, and yelled, “Jump!” Little did we know, the water wasn’t any deeper and we landed straight on our feet with the turquoise sea barely hitting our waistlines. We looked at each other and laughed until we cried. Before we jumped we could see the white sand at the bottom, but it gave the illusion of being deeper than it actually was.

How many times in life are we holding tight to a dream and are excited to jump into the unknown but it seems as if we can’t penetrate the same old ground? We know we are on the threshold of something new coming and can feel change in our bones, but we are forced to wait. If you can relate to this, I have some encouragement for you today…

The Lord says that if we are willing and obedient we will eat the good of the land. (See Isaiah 1:19) Dreams don’t cross the finish line of reality overnight. Most likely, we will jump thousands of times before we find ourselves saturated in the wholeness of where we know we are supposed to be. But blessing comes from being willing and obedient long before we get where we are going.

Sarah and Abraham waited for what seemed an eternity to welcome the birth of Isaac. Noah worked years to build the ark before the rain finally fell from the sky. And he waited even longer for the rainbow to show up in glorious color with an everlasting promise. Joseph sat in a prison cell before he became second to pharaoh and saved a nation from famine.

Nothing comes easy, friend, but if we choose to be willing and obedient, God will show Himself strong. In his own way. In His own time.

Follow what you know God has planted in your soul and take the leap. Continue diving in as many times as it takes. Sooner or later you’ll be saturated in the fruition of a beautiful dream come true.

Love,

Jennifer

My eBook Mercy Waits is FREE to new subscribers!

For When You Need a Respite From Reality

JenniferMexicoSunrise

I’m spending a week on the beach in Mexico. It’s my once a year trip with my husband and close friends. We take a break from the norm and spend our days catching up on each other’s lives. We laugh and eat and laugh and eat some more. And then we repeat the process.

It’s been a hard year, and initially I came here for a respite from reality, but something else has occurred to me…

When we live a life hard after God – following His ways and living under the shelter of His wings, He is our reality. I don’t ever want to escape Him. And the interesting thing is that I see Him here. I see Him in the smiles of people I’ve never met before and will probably never see again. I see Him in the beautiful turquoise sea and in the blue sky. I see Him in the laughter around me and the children running on the beach. His fingerprints are everywhere. They are unique and magnificent. And though I’m sure there are people here who haven’t committed their lives to Him, I know He is working. In every heart and every life He holds on and never lets go. He chases us and whispers in our ears every single day until we meet Him before the throne.

Yes, I’ve had a tremendously difficult year and I’m in a season of grief. But I know God is faithful in every season. He goes wherever I go and calls me to Him. His love is strong and stubborn. It won’t ever quit.

Regardless of your season, I want you to know that He can be your reality. Life is hard, but His love never fails. Even in the darkest moments He promises to stay with you. From now until forever He will be the space where you find breath. And it doesn’t matter where you are. If you look for Him, you’ll see Him.

Be blessed.

Love,

Jennifer

My eBook Mercy Waits is FREE to new subscribers!

For When You’re Tired of Chasing Dreams…

sam and grace cinderellaWhen you feel called to make a change in life or pursue a dream, do you follow through? Or, do you question yourself allowing fear to overtake you?

I’m a visual learner, and what I view either in real life, on a movie screen, or in a book can spark ideas and stir up expectation. Over the weekend, I took my kids to see the new Cinderella movie. As I sat there with popcorn in hand something captivated me.

In the famous scene where Cinderella begins to panic about returning home before the stroke of midnight, she has some quick parting words for the prince and then takes off as fast as she can to beat the clock. Naturally, the prince cannot make sense of what she speaks, but before chasing her, he stands there and smiles for a brief moment. The joy on the face of the prince struck me. He was excited to pursue that lovely girl. He was ready to chase the hope of what could be.

I was able to identify with the prince in that scene. I’ve often had the experience of standing and smiling after I feel God has whispered a dream to my soul. But here is where fairytale meets reality: After the initial excitement wears off , doubt and disappointment easily takes hold because the dream doesn’t always seem as if it will come to fruition. I’m a big dreamer, and I’ve learned that after God plants a dream, it takes patience and wisdom to pursue what He’s spoken. It’s not always a quick chase toward the prize. Often, it’s slow and steady steps. There are times we might walk backwards and maybe even find ourselves on the wrong path before figuring out where we are supposed to be. However, if we listen to the still, small voice and persevere, we will undoubtedly find our way. He is always right there leading us. We just can’t always see Him.

I am very familiar with the fairytale of Cinderella, so there shouldn’t have been any fear when I watched her turn back into a muddy mess wearing an old, ripped ball gown. However, I sat in anxious anticipation of what would become of her.

At that moment, all I could think about was how there are certain promises hidden in my heart that have been planted there by the living God, and I usually live full of anxiety and worry over what might happen. I want everything now. Wait. Let me rephrase that… I want everything yesterday! God almost never runs according to my schedule. Remind me to thank Him for that!

You see, in the middle of the questions, doubt, and fear, we need to remind ourselves that His dreams teach hope and His timing teaches patience. He is a God full of possibilities and life. When I was praying to become pregnant, I asked Him over and over again to take the desire from my heart because it just wasn’t happening. And, friend, the waiting hurt more than I can communicate in words. He never did take the desire. Why? Because He planted the dream and in his time He brought it to completion. He had a plan. My job was to trust.

Today, I want to encourage you to take slow and steady steps toward your dreams. Don’t give up. Follow whatever it is Christ has for you. Let Him teach you hope and patience. He is faithful and no matter how difficult the waiting is, He hasn’t forgotten about you. He loves you.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord.

-Jeremiah 17:7

Love,

Jennifer

My eBook Mercy Waits is FREE to new subscribers.

 

 

 

 

Rescue: A Book Review

Rescue Book

My husband and I have had the privilege of sharing a lot of time with teenagers. We have not only raised one ourselves, but have led a youth group for almost eleven years. Hundreds of teens have come through the door of our ministry. We’ve laughed, cried, and, at times, though I hate to admit […]

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To All the Seekers

Dear Seeker, I don’t know what it is you’re looking for. I’m not sure what the world looks like from where you’re standing. I just know you need something. There’s a stirring in your soul that won’t quiet, and a hope in your heart that won’t quit. And so you keep moving one small step […]

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It Takes Courage to Believe

When Paul and I were living the nightmare of infertility and pregnancy loss , I memorized Joshua 1:9. It’s one of my absolute favorite verses. 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 […]

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Faith is a Fight

faith

Faith is a fight. The battle to continue believing is prevalent amongst so many of us. Personally, I think one of the largest weapons the enemy holds against us is doubt. If we allow it, doubt has the ability to seep into our thoughts and shatter our dreams before we even know what hit us. […]

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