I’m Looking at Things Through a Different Lens

"Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

This afternoon, I took my mother to the doctor. Sitting next to us in the waiting room was a young man who was conversing with a friend. He was telling the story of his mom. He described her as a raging alcoholic.

I’ve been pretty caught up in my own grief recently. But that moment in the doctor’s office today reminded me that everyone has something. And most “something’s” are painful.

We all have some sort of worry. This might seem strange to say, but knowing that brings me comfort. Why? Because this means we aren’t alone. Regardless of what type of grief or trouble we might be facing, someone else is facing it too. And there is something we can do for each other.

We can pray.

I’ve had so much prayer support over the last two weeks. There are moments when I can actually feel it. And even in the moments when I can’t, I trust that people are praying and it sets me at ease. God is at work.

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…

-Ephesians 3:20

I used to look at the above scripture and cling to it tightly in moments when I believed for my dreams to come true, or in times of thankfulness to God for all He had done in my life. But today, I’m looking at it through a much different lens.

To make it through the death of a loved one, or any kind of life-changing situation that seems negative, we need to trust He is working exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think inside our hearts. It isn’t necessarily about our God meeting materialistic or monetary needs in our lives. It isn’t about how successful we are or even all the good things He’s done thus far. (though He deserves glory for it all) It’s about Him working inside the precious places that make up our ministries- that make up the stories of our lives. We must believe that somehow, someway He is raining peace inside the storm. And when we sleep, we can find comfort in knowing that He will send angels to minister sweet songs of rest after the long, hard day. Tell me that isn’t working exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think…

The word of God is light and life. What it says is honest and true. And because I believe that, I believe He is working exceedingly and abundantly above all I ask or think deep inside every corner and crevice in this heart of mine. And He is doing the same inside of you as well.

I’m praying for you. You don’t have to have it all figured out. You aren’t alone and you never will be. Others are travelling a road similar to yours and even if they weren’t, even if I wasn’t, Jesus will always be there. He will carry you. He will do exceedingly and abundantly above all you could ask or think. Your heart is precious and He won’t let it go without a fight.

…to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:21

Love,

Jennifer

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I Said It, and Now I Have to Live It…

Daniel quote blog pictureDear Friends,

The last 12 days of my life have been saturated with tears. On this side of heaven, it’s hard to understand the Master’s master plan. I would like to say I’m done trying to figure it out, or done trying to figure Him out. However, this human heart has a lot to learn about the mysteries that make up the God of the universe. And questions are still circulating through this soul.

On July 10th, only 6 days before my family faced this tragedy, I wrote the following words in a blog post

“I have learned to regard trust as a safe place. I have had no choice but to trust so many times that when the water is smooth sailing, I almost feel a little out of place. I’m not saying I want storms to come my way, and I’m also not saying that I look for them.

What I am saying is that I’ve learned, and am still learning, to find beauty in trusting the things I cannot see. I’ve made a conscious decision to find peace despite the answers I will never know. I’m learning to surrender my questions into the hands of a God who knows all the answers. And most importantly, I’m learning to be content with His mystery.”

Guess what? Now I have to live it.

Once again, through another tragedy which feels like the worst one yet, I have to settle into the safe place of trust. I have to be content with His mystery.

And through it all, I know everything will be okay, because I’m learning that His mystery is what makes Him mighty. (Click to tweet)

I could never spend my life serving a God who didn’t show Himself strong. But my God does. He. Is. Strong. And through His Son He’s given us the ability to be strong as well. Joshua 1:9 is my life scripture…

“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

He is with me and He is with you. Right now in the middle of the hurt, in the middle of the tear-stained night when we sob quietly so that we don’t wake anyone, He is there. He will meet us right where we are. We need not be afraid.

Let’s trust the God of mystery and be content.  You can do this.

I can do this. But only because He WILL carry us.

Love,

Jennifer

I Know He Will…

Psalm 161For those of you who read this blog regularly, you’ve heard me speak of how my Bible serves as a journal of sorts. I write notes next to scriptures, especially when they come to life within present circumstances. I hope that someday my children, grandchildren, and maybe even great grandchildren will read of my faith in God and the Son He sent to save me.

On July 16th, when my wonderful stepfather went home, suddenly and unexpectedly, to heaven, I wrote some notes next to Psalm 16. Today, I decided to reread the Psalm. The first verse serves as the prayer of my life right now.

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

~Psalm 16:1

I need preserved and protected. And the one peace I have right now is that because I trust in God, I know He will do just that. He will preserve me.

He will always remain faithful to His word. He will be bold in how He works in our lives. He will show Himself strong on all occasions. From the brightest morning to the darkest night He will be there. I trust that He will.

Through my grieving heart I hope to be able to encourage yours. So today, I hope and pray you will trust. Trust Him in everything, with everything. His mercy is new today. Let’s allow Him to preserve us by trusting that He will.

He will.

I know He will.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: The Mercy Retreat Ticket Sale ends tonight.

Why I Didn’t Go to Church Today…

Make me hear joy photoDear Friends,

I’ve been thinking about a scripture that has spoken to my soul in many different ways. It’s one I mentioned in my book and have referenced several times on this blog.

Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.

~Psalm 51:8

This morning I went for a long walk. I couldn’t find it in myself to walk through the doors of church, because I didn’t feel like handing out hugs and putting on a fake smile. People are wonderful, but I really needed one more Sunday of isolation, so I put on my sneakers and away I went.

With worship music blasting and a heavy heart I walked for miles as I prayed and sought Jesus. And then, I allowed my heart to stay quiet so that I could hear if He chose to whisper softly to my soul. Psalm 51:8 is the whisper I heard. He almost always reminds me of His word. He engraves it in my heart so that I might have the strength to keep going.

Sometimes, we must ask the Lord to make us hear joy and gladness because grief can easily deafen the sound. And as I was walking, something else came to mind…

When He begins to heal the broken bones of grief, He binds them with beautiful colors. Those colors are meant to tell our stories. It gives us the ability to share what He has done and what He promises to continue doing. Those colors cause us to feel everything we’ve ever gone through, and yet, they allow us to give Him glory and shout His praise with joy in our hearts. It’s supernatural. If it wasn’t, we would never have the ability to feel joy in the wake of sorrow. But we do.

We were meant for joy. And true joy comes from knowing what sorrow feels like and allowing God to use brilliant colors to create beauty inside the lines of our stories. He does it with His love and it almost always happens while we are in the midst of pain.

I know that my tears will turn to joy again, because I serve a God who promises that through His Son I can have it freely. I can own joy. And the same applies for you. You can have joy again. You can own it.

I’m choosing Joy today, Friends. And I’m praying you will make the same choice.

Love,

Jennifer

The Mercy Retreat is having a sale on Tickets until tomorrow night. Did you get yours?

I’m Not Sure I Can… (And an Important Announcement about The Mercy Retreat)

Bible Study photoWill this be the end of me? No. But to be honest, there are seconds, minutes, hours, and even whole days when it feels as if it is.
When grief overwhelms it easily suppresses light from the soul. It succeeds in hiding the passions for which we were born. Throughout the last week, I’ve strongly considered giving in to those thieving emotions. Maybe I should  stop writing, stop teaching… Maybe I should just stop.
I don’t have the energy to promote my blog, book, or brand. How can I ever stand in front of a group of women and tell them that they will be okay when I’m not sure I’m going to be okay again? Ever.
And then the still small voice deep down inside whispers hope, grace, and mercy. I wish I could tell you those whispers submerge my soul in the peace and comfort I’m desperately trying to find. I can’t. But I can tell you that those whispers are just enough.
They are just enough to carry me from this second to the next until I make it to the minute mark, and then the hour, and eventually the next day. And then the process begins all over again. The process begins with me crying out the words,”Can I, Jesus?” And the acceptance of the still soft whisper which answers, “Yes, you can, but only because I WILL.” (Click to tweet.)
He will, friends. He will carry us.
I want to be honest and say that I’m not sure about The Mercy Retreat right now. Do I have the ability to stand up and shout His Glory, or will I weep on my knees in front of a room full of women? Should I still host this event? I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that regardless of my situation, all glory is His. It belongs to Him.
We still have tickets available, and if I’m going to continue this journey, then I could really use your support. Will you join me and some amazing women as we gather together to understand the mercy of Christ as it relates to healing of the heart, grief, and even fear and anxiety? Ticket sales are going to end very soon. If you purchase within the next 3 days, I am offering a discount and gift.
When you purchase between now and the end of Monday, July 28 , you will receive 20 dollars off your weekend conference pass, or 10 dollars off your Saturday only day pass. For those of you who purchase a weekend pass, you will also receive a free copy of my new book Nothing to hold but hope.
I believe God wrote The Mercy Retreat on my heart, so I’m pushing through the best I can and giving it all over to Him. It’s scary. I just published a book about grief and look what happened to me last week…

 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

-Hebrews 11:1

Be blessed today.
Love,
Jennifer

When All You Have is the “Stills”

Cast your burdenOver the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking about how to write this post. Still, I don’t have many words. My heart has nothing poetic to flow other than real, raw, emotion, and I’m not sure how much of that I’m ready to release.

Last Wednesday morning, my life changed forever when my beloved stepfather went home to be with the Lord from a sudden heart attack. He was only 58 years old. Right now is a time of deep, deep grieving. I know God has a plan, but I’m fighting with the question why and though I’ve been on the road of grief before, this time it looks much different. It’s much darker than ever before.

The only thing I can really say in this moment is that I know God is still for me, He still loves me, and He is still in control. He is no less faithful even in the face of this tragedy. I don’t know when my family will know joy again; I just know that it will be a process – one day at a time of learning how to live a new normal.

All I can think about right now is how this amazing man will no longer attend Christmas concerts. I can’t get over the fact that I won’t be able to buy him silly pajamas at Christmastime or buy him another cheesy flannel shirt that he will adore on his birthday. The sorrow of knowing he won’t be at any of my children’s weddings is forming a deep crevice into my heart.

Wednesday morning, I had a decision to make. Will I trust God again or not?

I will.

I will because I believe that there is a light in the darkness, and even though I don’t see it yet, I know without a doubt it is there. A couple weeks ago, Holley Gerth said in her blog, “I still believe there are good things ahead for me.”

Today, I’m choosing to trust and lean heavy in the “stills.”

I still believe…

Someday, I will write a tribute to my amazing stepfather who treated me as if I was his very own and loved me completely. Someday, I will have words again. But for now, I’m taking a break to heal. You will hear from me occasionally, but I need some time to rest and breathe. Please pray for my sweet mother and the rest of my family as we learn to survive without someone we love very much.

May you be blessed, and may you find hope inside the “stills” of whatever it is you are facing.

Love,

Jennifer

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What It Means to Lend Support…

My Support

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the word support. I’ve been contemplating the idea of what that word really means and how important it is to the survival of our spirits. To have someone who cares, who will champion a cause, and who will serve to help cushion the fall is a gift. One of the […]

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What Are You Writing on Your Heart?

Emerson photo

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson I connect with the above quote not because Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote it. He was an individual with a belief system far different, in many ways, from my own. But I love the words, “Write it […]

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Why it’s Okay to Question God…

Daniel quote blog picture

Yesterday, I was in Panera Bread with my kids. As I sat enticing them to finish their food, a conversation at the next table captured my attention. Sitting next to us were two young men in their 20s who were deciding what to teach at their next faith group. One of the young men was […]

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Hope on My Mind (And Four Winners Announced!)

As you know, hope has been on my mind. It’s a theme for me right now. Not just because of the book, but because sometimes to breathe deeply through tough situations and uncertainty takes hope. I need it. We all need it. Hope that everything will be okay. Hope that no matter what, God is […]

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