You Don’t Have to Be the Best!

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I’m sitting here this morning completely overwhelmed by tasks on my to-do lists. I decided to write to you, anyway, because I’m wondering what you’re doing and if you feel weighted down as well. Do you?  Also,  when I feel as if I’m drowning, I tend to procrastinate. Here’s what is swirling through my mind: I need to reposition myself in faith. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost faith in Christ, but my faith in what I’m able to accomplish, if I’m going to be honest, is dwindling. I guess I need a good solid reminder to remove myself from the equation and depend fully on Him. I can’t do it alone. No way; no how!

Lately, I’ve decided to strip some layers. Here’s what I mean by this: I need to follow where He leads and stop worrying about trying to be the best at every task He gives me. I need to pour myself into it, because He’s called me, but I’m desperate for Him to carry me. I cannot carry myself. It’s physically and emotionally impossible.

I’m finally okay with not being the best at everything. For three straight semesters, I’ve been studying, writing papers, and reading text books. I’ve yet to receive a 4.0 GPA. I started out with that goal but quickly was faced with a reality check. It came by way of  looking into four other faces with whom I share a residence. In this home I wear the title matriarch. Or, is it maid?  Believe it or not, these people get hungry, expect clean clothes, a clear path to walk through, and, occasionally, they expect me to be available for needs only I can meet. The nerve! (I’m just kidding, I love every minute of it! Well, most minutes of it.)

I’m an okay writer, a decent speaker, a so-so musician, and truthfully, I’m becoming accepting of all of this mediocrity. Why? Because here is what I thrive at being: I’m a daughter of the King, available to be used by Him, willing to do things I’m scared to death to do, and ready to go to battle in prayer for every woman who visits my blog or reads my books. I won’t sell out and be a pretender. I don’t care if the whole world knows me or only you who is reading right now knows who I am. You’re enough for me! I’m not going to try selling you everything, pull you into donating to tons of charities, and I’m not going to schmooze other writers. I’m me! If I promote something it’s because I feel God has led me to do so and that is it! If I connect with another writer it’s because I believe in their ministry. Bottom line.

Listen, I don’t know what your list entails or what you’re going though on a personal level, but I can tell you this. Jesus tells us nothing is impossible and that we can do all things. Will we be the best at everything? Nope. I hate to burst your bubble, but I’m a truth teller. However, if you’re called to do it, regardless of your skill level, He’s going to take you to places you never thought. Some welcome; some not. He’s going to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. That means sometimes you’ll have to work to make sense of the blessing because it’s wrapped in mud and hindsight is 20/20. I bet I’m your favorite encourager today, huh?

Also, God is willing to use your life.  it’s sort of His jam. Did I really just say that? Tell me this: Why in the world would we choose to sit dormant in our gifts when we could be used to erupt passion and purpose? And, by the way, God does nothing mediocre. We might, and He might use us, but He will accomplish greatness… no thanks to us.

If you’re anything like me then all this is a process and it takes time to arrive where I’m finding myself. Don’t be afraid to strip the layers of guilt or condemnation holding you back from doing everything it is He’s called you to accomplish. You might not be the best, but if you live with a heart bent toward Him, you’ll be His best. And, friend, that’s all that matters!

So, reposition your faith and take yourself out of the equation. All faith needs to be in Him. Yes, we all have work to do and we need to do the best we can, but when God calls us, He will also carry us.

And, in everything, be honest and give grace.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

I Didn’t Know What to Say…

I Didnt Know What to Say._

For two weeks I contemplated a Mother’s Day post. I desperately wanted to write something encouraging mothers to continue seeking Christ for their children. I needed to convey they can climb mountains steeper than the steepest on record. I think I felt stirred to say this because there’s a lot of writers out there trying to pound the following thought in our heads: We can do hard things. Yes, of course we can, but in all honesty, we don’t really have a choice, do we? We are often forced to face challenges we never thought possible. When I was newly married, I remember hearing sad stories about events that rocked the worlds of other people, but I never thought that level of suffering would ever touch my life. Until it did…

Paul and I have been through some tough stuff and we live to tell the story. That’s how I know there’s a God, by the way. There’s no way to endure the kind of grief capable of hollowing out the entire heart without Jesus. No one can change my mind. Jesus saves and He’s skilled at healing the hardest of hurts.

The reason Mother’s Day posts are always difficult for me to write is because when I was practically a baby myself, my husband and I welcomed our first baby, a healthy son. After that, we endured five miscarriages and stillborn baby girl. Obviously, my heart is bent towards women who suffer miscarriage and stillbirth. It’s not only the death of a baby, it’s the death of dreams and hopes for the future. It’s hard. However, Mother’s Day travels a course that covers quite a massive expanse of the heart. I have to be honest and say that even though I know what it is to suffer loss, and years of secondary infertility in between, because of the word secondary, I don’t fit in the traditional category of infertility. There are lots of women out there waiting to become a mother for the first time, and even though I know more than I like about loss, I really don’t understand their pain.

Many of you who read my blog are Jesus loving women who serve tirelessly, love wholly, and give more than you have to help others. Yeah, God sees it.  And because I know we’re on the front lines of ministry together, let me pass on something I’ve learned throughout the years… One of the first lessons we all need to comprehend as we begin ministering out of past grief is that it’s okay not to understand someone else’s pain.  And, guess what? it’s even more important to admit it. That’s when the real ministry begins.  Pretending we can identify won’t get us anywhere. Some of the wisest words to ever leave our lips are, “I don’t know; I don’t understand.”

Some of the wisest words to ever leave our lips are, “I don’t know; I don’t understand.” (Tweet that.)

Here’s the good news: God does know; He does understand.

The Bible tells us God is love. He actually is love. Crazy, right? And because God is love and we love Him, that means our willingness and obedience to minister to hurting hearts is enough for His love to bridge the gap between what we don’t understand and what someone else is living through.

For many, Mother’s Day isn’t all brunch and beautiful sentiments. Instead, it’s sorrow and suffering. Friend, if that’s you, then I’m sorry and if your pain comes from a place I cannot identify with, then I want to tell you this: I don’t know and I don’t understand, but God does and He wants to heal you. And if you’re wondering how and when? Again, I don’t know. But you have to believe. You have to. Really.

I don’t know if sharing this might help or not, but the other day I was talking with my oldest son, who is now twenty-three, and all I could think about during our conversation is that He’s my unsung miracle. We tout the twins as our miracles because of the fifteen years of pain that produced the story of their lives, but my oldest son lived in a womb that ended up to be anything but a safe place. After he was born, the babies conceived there didn’t stand a chance. My body rejected them. My oldest son is a true miracle.

What does this have to do with you? Well, regardless of the specifics of your battle and the emptiness you might be facing, I believe there is a miracle living and breathing around you that you don’t even recognize as such. We are often so focused on what we need that we forget to give thanks for what we have and would never want to live without.

Every care we have is being cared for by our Creator. Let us give thanks.

Yes, we can do hard things; we can climb the steepest mountains, but only because He gives us the strength to do so. There’s no other choice. We cannot give up; we have to fight. And we will. So whether you’re enduing something hard or ministering to someone who is, it’s okay not to have the answers. It’s okay not to understand, because we serve the One who does.

And sometimes, it’s okay for an encourager not to have words for her readers on Mother’s Day. Some of you are hurting, and I didn’t know. I just didn’t know what to say…

I love you,

Jennifer

 

 

For While You’re Waiting…

When You Arent Sure

I often sit down at my computer with a plan in my head of what I’m going to write, and how I’m going to craft it. Guess what? I almost never end up writing what I thought. I tend to be moved in a different direction and then wonder what in the world I was thinking after I post. Those are usually the words people connect with most. The Holy Spirit is amazing that way. He is our Guide.

This morning I was watching Good Morning America. They reported a story about a family who is dealing with a rare genetic disorder. Both of their daughters are suffering, and to date there is no known cure. At the end of the interview the question was posed, “Are you hoping for a miracle?” The father answered, “We are praying for one; counting on one.”

I instantly began to contemplate the weight of the second part of his answer. “Counting on one.” When you think about it, those are powerful words because we tend to hope and pray for what we need, but how often do we stand in faith to count on it? It isn’t easy; I know firsthand. I have some experience in praying for a miracle while losing just enough faith along the way to stop counting on it.

I don’t believe those are empty prayers, because I tend to think it’s okay to lose faith in the answer as long as we never lose faith in the One Capable of providing it. Sometimes, we get caught up in what we want rather than what He wants. And just to be clear, I believe in healing and that God wants healing for all. I don’t understand why some receive it while others don’t. Only God knows, and that’s the part where faith takes over. Faith helps us not lose sanity within the storm. I believe in praying and standing in faith for the desires of our hearts. Every last one of them should be fought for on our knees.

Some of us aren’t dealing with healing issues. Instead, we are dealing with lost dreams, broken hearts, you fill in the blank. However, we need to evaluate if it is God who actually placed those desires. When the word tells us He will give us the desires of our hearts, it means the desires He’s placed there. When the Holy Spirit is our Guide we are more apt to connect with those desires. Our story is rarely what we planned. We begin to want what He wants and then everything changes. His will be done.

Some of you stand today holding holy desires, counting on an answer, allowing the Holy Spirit to be your guide… still you wait wondering. Others aren’t sure anymore what the plan might be and are struggling to figure out the mystery – to figure out His mystery.

I want to encourage you to continue standing strong while counting on the One who provides everything we need and more. When you aren’t sure what the end holds, focus on the One who holds the end. Do everything possible to stop worrying about the end result and turn your eyes to the eternal result.

With humble hearts bent towards Him we cannot go wrong.

He will hold your hand through this!

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

-Isaiah 41:13

He is good and full of mercy for you.

The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.

-Psalm 145:9

He is faithful.

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

-Psalm 36:5

He meets every need.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

-Psalm37:4

Keep your eyes on Him.

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

-Hebrews 12:2

I’m praying for you today.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

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 […]

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Our Connection to Esther

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 […]

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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 […]

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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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