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

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

What It Means to Lend Support…

My SupportRecently, 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 definitions of support is to endure bravely or quietly: bear

And when I think of the word bear, I think of Galatians 6:2…

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

To bravely endure for one another is to fulfill the law of Christ. Yes, YES, and YES!!!!

Today, I’m praying that the Lord will provide support for you, but even more than that, I’m praying that you will provide support for someone else and fulfill the law of Christ in the process. There is blessing in obeying His word and being His hands and feet. I’ve learned that the best way to fill a need in my own life is to reach out and help someone else.

May you be blessed today simply by being a blessing.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: My book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, is available!

Did you purchase your ticket for The Mercy Retreat?

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m linking up with Holley Gerth to encourage you through Coffee for Your Heart. Speaking of support, Holley has been used of God to touch my life more than you’ll know. She even endorsed my book! Please show Holley some love and comment on her beautiful blog today!

 

What Are You Writing on Your Heart?

Sunrise_Hope_JenniferKostick

“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 on your heart.”  Unfortunately, I don’t always have the attitude that each day will, or even can, be my best. Sometimes, I become caught up in the realities of my circumstances and forget that my God is God of the impossible. (See Luke 1:37)

One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:3

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart…

There is so much about life that comes down to choice. What we write on our hearts will eventually help to remind us to keep going, even when we feel there is nowhere to go. Making the choice to write truth on our hearts every single day will engrave it there. And once something is engraved, it’s there to stay.

The truth is that our God makes all things new. He even makes us new! (See 2 Corinthians 5:17) When we make a decision to seek and serve Christ, He will work in our lives. However, we need to make the choice to write His promises on our hearts each day. How? By reading His word, declaring the truth we find there, and remembering that because we love Him, He will work all that seems dismal together for good. (See Romans 8:28)

When you are going through the process of enduring pain, it’s difficult to remember that He is working for you, but I want to encourage you to write His truth on your heart and remember that today has the potential to be the best in your year!

What have you been choosing to write on your heart?

 

Love,

Jennifer

My Book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, is available on Amazon!

Are you planning to attend The Mercy Retreat? Ticket sales will be coming to a close very soon!

Why it’s Okay to Question God…

Daniel quote blog pictureYesterday, 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 pouring out his heart to the other. He conveyed that he has so many unanswered questions about how God works, that it is difficult for him to answer the questions of the people he leads in the group. I thought, “Welcome to the club.”

I’ve had many questions myself, and there are gray areas I will never comprehend. I think the only difference between me and that questioning young man is life experience. I want to be careful not to say age, because there are 20-somethings and 30-somethings wiser than the 40-something typing these words. However, life experience shines bright light in dark areas.

In my 41 years on this earth, I’ve been through my share of valleys, I’ve climbed many mountains, and I’ve felt abandoned and alone. What my experience taught me is that though I may have felt alone, I never was.

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.

I can’t live my life continually asking why bad things happen to good people. I can’t question if God really exists every time there is a natural disaster or a precious child leaves this earth too soon. There are moments for that, but I can’t expect an answer. I can’t quit believing. I have to know when to say, “I will trust You anyway.”

I must choose to run to the safe haven of trust knowing that the One who expects me to reside there is working for my good. (Click to tweet.)

Daniel, while interpreting a dream, once said, “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets…” (See Daniel 2:28) And that is the God I trust in. The One who I have hope in to reveal what is meant for me to know and to shield me from what might be too painful for me to understand.

To continually walk in trust is learning to seek a God who longs for us to search every part of Him. And sometimes that means asking Him the hard questions. For those two young men to have questions and choose to try finding answers through seeking the word of God, and talking to each other, is beautiful.

But let me ask you this… If He gave us all the answers, what would propel us to continually search inside the Creator and to explore the beauty of His life and love? What would be the reason for us to seek a God who daily walks along side us hoping we will call His name?

We need to seek Him, we need to question Him, but we also need to know when to stop and find contentment in trusting that there are answers we will never know.

Today, I ask that you consider falling in love with the mysteries of God. If you are seeking in an attempt to figure Him out… you never will. But He loves you. He loves you through the searching, through the questions, and through the silence of no answers.

Run to the safe haven of trust.

Love,

Jennifer

My book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, is available!

Hope on My Mind (And Four Winners Announced!)

Nothing to Hold but HopeAs 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 for you.

Hope that each step we take is a step in the right direction.

I’m praying that today you will find the faith you need to hope again. I pray that you realize without any doubt that God loves you so much.

You don’t have to solve problems on your own. You don’t have to look in the mirror and think you aren’t enough, because, sister, you are. You. Are. Enough.

May the God of peace overtake you, and may you breathe in deep the breath of hope.

Love,

Jennifer

The four winners of the Nothing to Hold but Hope giveaway are…

Number one –Margie Mitcheltree

Number two – Barbie Swihart

Number three – Katie Reid

Number four – Statia Olson

Each of you will receive an email from me soon!

If you didn’t find your name above but still want a chance to win a copy of my new book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, you can visit my friend, Jen, over at her blog to enter another giveaway!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150Today, I’m linking up with Holley Gerth to encourage you through Coffee for Your Heart.

Letting GO (And My Book Release Party)

1551583_10202051945090535_6657378768018268624_nHello, friends! For those of you who don’t know, my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, released last Wednesday. In the final days before the book was finished, I was a stressed out mess. It took me some time to figure out why. And then I realized something…

Letting go, no matter what you’re letting go of, is difficult. For me, this book is made up from years of struggle and pain.

My struggle.

My pain.

Don’t get me wrong. There are feel good moments in there as well, but writing it was reliving it, and letting my story go out into the world for others to have the opportunity to judge… is rough.

Trust me when I tell you I understand that when God says, “Go!” especially when there is an exclamation point attached, I must. However, it is easy for fear to become a factor, and I believe it is what we choose to do with our fears that make a difference in the stories of our lives.

To run the other way is where fear will lead to sin. But turning to God inside of that fear and making the decision to go where He has called… well, that is what turns the scared into sacred and leads to blessing. Through my fear I made a decision to publish my story.

My advice: obey and be blessed.

I’m not saying obedience is easy, and I’m definitely not saying that once you’ve done the right thing life will become less painful. In fact, it will probably be the opposite. But God tends to bless in ways we don’t expect, and we may not recognize those blessings for a very long time afterwards.

I want to tell you that pain and waiting shouldn’t stop you from doing what you’re called to do. And it should never stop you from going where you’re led.

Keep going. Keep climbing. Turn the scared into sacred and run towards blessings! God’s got this, and He is all you need!

Is there something you are struggling to do through your fear?


On another note, my lovely friends gave me a semi-surprise book party. (I knew they were doing something, because I was told we were going to celebrate at my home. But I didn’t know what would happen there.) They made beautiful speeches and provided lanterns for us to release: one for each child living here and one for each baby living with Jesus. Oh, and there was a lot of dessert. And everybody shouts, “Amen!” No celebration is complete without dessert!

10502146_10202051331075185_8414036681114729462_n10409523_10204281290131684_4619977122349692863_n10514753_10204281292171735_8685072817327603200_n10462954_10204281293651772_2453920535172148621_n10301587_10204281292891753_256607105555622049_nIt was beautiful, and I am so grateful. I wish each of you could have been there!

If you haven’t purchased your copy of Nothing to Hold but Hope, you can do so here.

To see the book trailer, you can do that here.

AND… to enter the giveaway, (winner to be announced tomorrow) you can do that here!

Be blessed, friends!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Exhale

It’s Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and the prompt is Exhale. Wednesday was 18 years since we said both hello and goodbye to our daughter Courtney. It was bittersweet. If there is anything I’ve learned from life thus far, it is that the taste in my mouth is never consistent. However, learning to accept […]

{Continue reading…}

Nothing to Hold but Hope is HERE!!!! (Plus a Book and Jewelry Giveaway!)

Nothing to Hold but Hope book bundle photo

Well, friends, this has been a long time in the making. I’ve walked a road paved with equal parts of heartache and grace, but it was hope that led me each step of the way. Today, I launch my very first book, Nothing to Hold but Hope,  in both paperback and kindle form. It is […]

{Continue reading…}

How Hope Serves as an Umbrella…

hope umbrella

Most of us  know that at one time or another we will all have to face struggles in life. We will seek. We will pray. We will hope. And then we will repeat the process. Again and again we will pour out our hearts in the form of tears born from pain and frustration to […]

{Continue reading…}

How We Can “Stand In the Gap”

Stand in the Gap

Hello, Friends!  Today, I am very excited to share the words of my friend Christin Ditchfield. She is the author of, What Women Should Know About Facing Fear. I met Christin through a divine appointment at the Allume Conference last October. Since then, God has opened doors for her to be a Keynote speaker at […]

{Continue reading…}