God and Ferguson…

I would have lost heart_nI don’t want to write the hard stuff. I just don’t. I don’t like writing about what is so upfront and in our faces. I’m not a fan of anything that might stir negative controversy. And yet there is something I need to share…

The decision came down from Ferguson last night. Unless you live under a rock, you know that already. Throughout all of this, one strong point continues to brew throughout my soul: This should be about people, not about politics. How is it, that as a society, we can forget about flesh and blood in the midst of violence?

We take sides when we’ve not been privy to detailed information and evidence. We take sides based on race. We take sides based on politics. We. Take. Sides.

What do you think God’s side is?

Let’s just be honest and say that none of us knows all the answers. But what we do know is that there are people hurting on every side. Michael Brown’s family, the family of the officer who shot him, and all the people who rallied in support around both. I can’t help but believe that God hurts for them all. that’s right, I said ALL.

Some might call me ignorant, naive, or maybe even uneducated when I say this, but we need to let hope rise from the ashes of pain on every side. Regardless of how you feel about this decision, there are no “winners.” A young man is dead and another will be hated for the rest of his life.

Can we just pray that all people find hope? Can we pray that all people turn to Jesus for comfort and salvation? Friends, can we just pray?

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

Love,

Jennifer

I Feel Like Screaming…

Broken and blessedIn this fast-paced world, we are unaccustomed to silence. Everything about our lives seem loud. Living inside a society that applauds “keeping up with the Jones'” has deemed it that way. We work hard at climbing the mountains to achieve what we want out of life. In fact, We work so hard that we can’t even turn our heads to see the beauty inside of where we are right now. We just keep struggling to move forward. We have our bucket lists and we expect to check every dream off as fast as possible.

For many of us, the only silence we understand is the silent tears that fall against our pillows at night. We don’t want to talk about our struggles, because we might be judged or pitied in some way. God forbid anyone know our real stories…

Since when does being broken mean we aren’t blessed? (Tweet that)

When I was trying to become pregnant, and enduring loss after loss, people who didn’t know our situation would ask if we were going to try to have another child. I would often lie and say that I didn’t want to go through waking up at all hours of the night again. I would give a speech on how I was content with my life. Deep down I was struggling to survive. For a very long time I stayed silent.

Sometimes, if someone else was enduring loss, I would decide to discuss my grief. But I would usually share on how I overcame it. In truth, I hadn’t yet overcome anything. For some reason, I was afraid to say that I wasn’t healed, because I felt it made me seem weak. I needed to be strong, and I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.

At the time, I didn’t understand that telling the truth of my story would have made me stronger. After a certain number of years, the silence actually began to weaken me.

I’m concerned too many of us are hiding our stories. And let me just say that your journey doesn’t have to be one of pregnancy loss for us to identify with each other. The hand of grief touches us all in some way.

In this world of blogging there are many days I want to scream, “Just be who you are! Stop hiding the you that God created!” Since I joined the masses of writers, I’ve watched, online, the personalities of women transform. The emulation of success is burying women. They are forgetting who God called them to be and have started on a quest to be like the blogger who received the book deal. (And by the way, I’m including myself in that category. I fight comparison every single day!)

What is so bothersome to me is that these women all have incredible stories that shine just as bright as the writer with thousands of subscribers. When you try to be like someone else, it becomes inevitable that your story will run like paint down a canvas blending into theirs. Your beautiful bright colors will be muted.

We must learn to paint our own pictures… (Tweet that)

And it’s not just in the blogging world; it’s every world. It seems to be the way of women. From the way we look, to our occupations, all the way to how our spouses and children are faring. We are facing an epidemic. It’s one of silencing the bad and Instagramming the great – we tend to silence our conditions to repress the shame. We only show what we think are the best moments.

I need to tell you something… Even if it doesn’t feel like it, all your moments are “the best moments” because you have an opportunity to hand each one to God and let Him work inside your situation. All those moments paint a glorious picture. It tells your story and frees your soul!

People don’t usually want to discuss the pain in life. They mask it. Now, I’m not saying that all situations should be broadcasted online or discussed on a large forum, but what I am saying is that’s it’s okay to admit we have struggles.

Somehow, we find ourselves wrapped up in the idea that if something bad happens to us, then we must have done something to cause it. That way of thinking is simply untrue.

I’ve been running a survey about pregnancy loss. It is research to help an upcoming book club project for Nothing to Hold but Hope. The goal is to start the process of healing by breaking the silence.

In the survey, I have a question that asks: Did you ever feel shame or guilt after losing your baby even though you did nothing to cause it? So far, more than 80% of women answered yes, and I think as more women take the survey that number is going to climb.

We all seem to feel shame over what we cannot control, and that shame causes us to hide our feelings and silence our stories. We dream of being anyone but who Christ designed us to be. It’s time to be who we were created to be and do what we were created to do.

I’m compiling some AMAZING stories of women who are ready to communicate them for the first time. I can’t wait to share them with you. If you are interested in taking part in this and breaking the silence of pregnancy loss, please fill out the survey, and I will contact you. (If you aren’t’ ready to share, but want to help with the research process, you can take the survey and remain anonymous.)

Friends, you have new mercy today. Allow it to cover your shame and pull you outside the silence that might be holding you back. Be you. You have worth because Christ is worthy!

We might be broken, but WE ARE BLESSED! (Tweet that to encourage someone!)

Love,

Jennifer

PS: To prep for the book club, if you want to purchase Nothing to Hold but Hope, there will be a sale on the Kindle version over Thanksgiving weekend! Stay tuned…

 

 

 

It’s Time to Take Notice…

My SupportToday, I’m taking part in Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung! The word prompt is notice, which works perfectly for what I’ve been talking about on the blog this week.


 

I’m the kind of person who keeps my feelings wrapped up. If I’m working through something you probably won’t notice. Sometimes, this is appropriate because I need to work through my emotions and allow God to deal with the tears of my soul before I bare them to everyone else.

However, there are other times when I recognize that what I’m dealing with has the potential to help someone. I spent 15 years of my life fighting a battle with miscarriage, stillbirth, and secondary infertility. At the beginning, though a few family members and close friends knew, I hid it from others.

it’s heartbreaking that so many women are living trapped inside the silence of pregnancy loss. I wrote a book entitled Nothing to Hold but Hope. It is my memoir and tells the story of my journey. I’m working on collecting information for a book club with the goal of helping other women to peel their layers of pain to not only promote healing in them, but also to communicate that no matter where they are in the process, they can help others to heal as well.

Every story is layered with beauty no matter how ugly it makes us feel. Choose to share hope! (Tweet that)

I’ve been sharing a survey that is helping me connect with other women who are ready to tell their stories regarding pregnancy loss. And even the women who aren’t ready to share are making their feelings known. If you have ever experienced pregnancy loss, would you be willing to answer some questions? If so, you can click here.

Beginning in the new year, we will be sharing our stories via, Vlogs, Podcast, and the written word. Together, we are going to break the silence and stomp all over the shame that has no place in our journeys!

Happy Friday, friends! May the Joy of the Lord be your strength today!

Love,

Jennifer

 

For When Your Hope Needs Stirred…

Blurry TreesWhen I study the Bible I usually have an agenda. I know exactly what I’m digging into and what I hope to gain from the text. However, I never know what I will actually walk away learning. He often surprises me. Sometimes, I find myself only a few verses in and have to stop because I need to “chew” on what I’ve just read. I had that experience this morning…

I’ve been reading the gospels and comparing the different accounts. Though I’ve read them countless times before, I’m looking at them with new eyes. This morning I was reading in John 5 about the man healed at the pool of Bethesda. I’ve read this story time and time again, but today, I couldn’t move past verse 4.

For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

John 5:4

I must have read the verse 10 times. An angel went down… An angel went down… He sent an angel down…

My heart wants to explode with hope over the angel stirring the water because all I can think about is this: if God sent an angel to stir that water for the people who needed healed at Bethesda that day, I wonder what he has angels stirring up for us right at this very moment.

Take a second to think about that…

My definition of hope is Jesus. Anything that I have a possibility of overcoming, having, or being freed from, is only because of His work in my life. And, for me, He is the only hope I need. Knowing that His power and command can send angels to stir up the still waters of my life brings me fresh expectation of a future filled with His hope – a future filled with Him and His will.

Friends, no matter what your circumstances are right now, wherever you are, just think about His love sending an angel to stir up your stagnant, still, waters. Think about the hope you have to be free from whatever it is that is holding you down. The same words we read today in the Bible are just as true as they were when Holy Spirit inspired those men to write their accounts down. He can, and will, do the same in our lives.

Hold onto hope today!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: If you’ve ever suffered any type of pregnancy loss, would you be willing to answer some questions for me? I’m compiling some information in hopes of working towards breaking the silence of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility. If so, just click here.

 

 

I Want a Breakthrough! (A new project and a survey)

handsHi Friends. For a while I’ve been praying about starting a Nothing to Hold but Hope book club. But here’s the thing, I really want this to reach beyond the average definition of a book club. I have it in my heart to work towards stirring a breakthrough in the lives of women who are suffering from current or past pregnancy loss. I want to dig in and study in a brand new way with women who are dealing with hurt from losing their precious babies.

Don’t you think it would be awesome to finally break the silence amongst women who have endured, and are working to push through, the pain of this particular type of grief? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk heart-to-heart and share our stories to not only help heal ourselves, but also someone else?

My book released in July, and within two weeks of the release date my world turned upside down from a different form of grief and loss. It’s been a very difficult time. All the plans I had to connect with you were swept under the rug. With the holidays approaching, I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer contemplating whether I’m even ready to begin putting the ideas that I planned to do months ago into action. I know that leading a study on grief will shake everything up inside. And, even still, I feel called…

This book club will be called The Nothing to Hold but Hope Healing Project. It will include interviews from other women just like you, (maybe you!) who will tell us their stories of loss. They will be featured one day a week on the blog for a period of 6-8 weeks. I will accomplish this through either showing a Vlog, (video blog with an interview) possibly featuring a podcast, or sharing an interview through the written word.

And this is where you come in!

I will be looking for women to not only participate in these interviews, but I will also be praying for women who might be interested in stepping up and leading a small group based on the book club. You can meet at home, in a church, a local coffee shop, or anywhere that works for you. It will be a time of prayer and open discussion about the book and interviews posted on the blog. We can finally break the silence of miscarriage, stillbirth, and even secondary infertility.

To make this work, I need to compile some research. And so I’ve included a survey along with today’s post. There are multiple choice questions to answer that will tell me some information I need to know. It won’t take long to complete. I do want to mention that this survey will only apply to women who have experienced pregnancy loss.

If you don’t want to be considered for an interview, then your survey can remain anonymous. If you feel led to share your story, you must share your name and email with me, but it will remain private. To take the survey, just click the link below. I really appreciate your time!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NothingtoHoldbutHopeHealingProjectSurvey

There will also be a private Facebook page for all participants to join. It will provide a place where we can connect with each other.

Thank you so much for your time, friends! I’m looking forward to reading your surveys and finding out if this is a possibility for us!

Love,

Jennifer

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

 

 

You, Yes You, Can Overcome!

overcomerHi Friends. I’ve been contemplating the new year. It’s full of hope. As a family, we are enduring some difficult circumstances concerning learning how to live without someone we love very much, but I know God is faithful and that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (See Romans 8:28) We love Him very much, so I see hope and victory in our lives. Sometimes the vision is a bit blurry through tears, but the battle is won.

In case you’ve forgotten, it’s been won for you as well!

With a new year travels hope and anticipation of what is to come. I’m waiting expectantly. My dreams consist of encouraging women on a deeper level. I want to know you, and I want you to know me. I have all sorts of ideas on how we can connect. Pretty soon, I’m going to be sending a survey out to ask some questions. I’m interested in knowing if you might want to participate in some research, videos, and interviews for a project that will go hand-in-hand with my book Nothing to Hold but Hope. Have you read it?

I know what grief looks like. Unfortunately, I can relate to it from many different perspectives. But grief can’t hold us back if we don’t let it. We can determine how much power it holds. How? Well, for starters, we serve the Victor! The Lord strong in battle! And He has given us the power to overcome. When we serve Jesus, we develop into overcomers. Amen and AMEN!!!!

You, yes you, reading this right now. You are an overcomer in Jesus name! (Tweet that to encourage someone!)

Today, I still lie in bed struggling with the cough leftover from bronchitis. I couldn’t attend church, so I decided to open up my Bible and have church all on my own…

In Luke chapter 4, Jesus stands up to read in the synagogue. He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah…

“And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord'”

-Luke 4:17-19

All of us has fallen into one of those categories at some time or another. We have been poor, (whether it be financially or spiritually) we have been brokenhearted, held captive by something, and in some way been blind or oppressed. But He came to give us freedom from all of that. In Him we have hope that He WILL make all things new. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah and died on the cross to free us all. It just never gets old for me. I’m marveling over that this morning…

He wants to free you! He wants to reach whatever part of you that is poor and needy, He wants to heal your brokenness and turn it to beauty, He wants set you free from whatever is holding you captive, give you sight (either physically or metaphorically) in every area you need wisdom, to lift you from oppression, and to proclaim the year of the Lord! He longs to make you new!

If you are struggling today, I want to give you hope. A new year is coming. Let’s praise the Victor for our victories!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

For When You’re Forced to Rest…

Rest_n

I’ve been fighting sickness for the last four weeks. On Thursday, I decided to finally see the doctor only to find out I have bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection. Antibiotics are a miracle to the person who needs them. I’m feeling so much better. Over the last weeks as I’ve struggled with the loss […]

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For All the Women Who Get Pulled Over in their 40s

flashing lights_n

This morning I decided there were too many distractions at my house to write, so I jumped in my minivan and headed to Panera Bread to curb my distractions. On the way, while listening to the modern hymn version of “It Is Well” I was pulled over for speeding. I cannot confidently say that all […]

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The Perception of New

fall road_n

Where I live the sun is shining and it’s supposed to hit 66 degrees today. Tomorrow, the temperatures will plummet. It might be our final day of warmth until after the long winter. With one warm day left, you might think I would take a long walk and enjoy what’s left of the sun’s smile. […]

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I’m Trusting the Artist

Hold fast, find grace

Some days I wake up with nothing to say. I’m completely dry of all words. And then there are moments like today when I can open up my laptop and never stop the heart flow. If there is anything that each one of us has in common, it’s that we are all in a season […]

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