What it Takes to Put One Foot in Front of the Other…

Gram_in_Creek_final_BWOne foot in front of the other: That’s what walking through the day looks like right now. I’m just taking one small step at a time until I make it unscathed into my bed at night. I know that might sound dismal. However, it’s anything but. It’s victory.

For me, to go another day trusting, obeying, and actively seeking the wisdom of Christ in the midst of grief is sweet victory. I will not allow my emotions to wear me thin and cause me to act angry and unkind. I will not allow myself to believe lies that the foundation I stand on is cracked. I know that no matter how hard the ground might shake, I stand on a solid rock.

Do you know that from the minute you were born the Father has been in pursuit of you? And He wants nothing more than for you to seek Him in return. He wants to pull you up from the mire and place you on a solid foundation.

The unbroken God of the universe longs to save you from a broken world – from a broken you. (Tweet that)

It’s very possible that our own grief is a culprit in destroying us – in breaking us so far apart that we cannot see past the divide to wholeness and life.

But we serve a God who stands whole, who never changes, and who cries life and love. We serve a God who pursues us. Not because of anything we’ve done to deserve it, but just because He loves us that much. He loves us enough to chase us until the final breath.

In Exodus chapter 34 God appears to Moses on top of Mount Sinai. It was there that He made a proclamation. This is what He said, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (See Exodus 34: 1-8)

Do you think God needed to remind Himself who He was? No, He did not. But He knew that if Moses was going to have the strength to continue leading the children of Israel, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, that he was going to need reminded about the God he served.

Today, I want you to remind yourself who God is. Remember all His goodness. Remember what He’s done for you. Remind yourself of the foundation you stand on, so that you can take a step forward… and another one, and another one after that. And at the end of the day when your head hits the pillow, remind yourself that when you awaken in the morning, mercy will be new. (See Lamentations 3)

I’m doing it, and you can too! How about this… we will do it together.

I’m praying for you today!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

What We Need to Know About the 2015 Mercy Retreat…

Mercy Retreat Table Decor photoHi, Friends! I’m writing this to go out on Saturday because it is more of a survey than a typical blog post. It has been one week since The Mercy Retreat, and we are already praying about next year. God did amazing work within the hearts and lives of those who attended. After the incredible weekend we shared, the retreat team is excited to begin planning for 2015.

This means I need your help! I have some questions for you. If you have time, please feel free to comment with answers on this blog, via email, or on social media. It will help us to serve you better!

  1. Would you be willing to attend The Mercy Retreat in 2015?
  2. If so, what price do you feel is reasonable to pay for a conference pass? (Just as a reminder, last year’s pricing was what it cost us to put on the event. We did NOT make money on the tickets. However, we have some ideas for how to cut pricing for next year.)
  3. If you are local to the Pittsburgh area, would you rather the retreat be held at a closer venue so that you have the option to sleep at home rather than at the conference center or hotel? This would cause the price of the conference pass to be less expensive.
  4. Would you rather meals be included in your conference pass, or would you prefer to break for lunch and dinner in order to make the ticket more cost effective? (You then have a choice to spend whatever is in your budget for meals at whatever restaurant you choose.)
  5. Would you rather have a Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning schedule? Or, would you prefer Friday night and all day Saturday (eliminating Sunday morning) so that you can attend your own local church on Sunday morning?
  6. We are looking at hosting the retreat in the month of October 2015 instead of September. Do you have any thoughts on that?
  7. If you attended The Mercy Retreat last weekend, would you please leave a word of encouragement for those who were unable to attend? Maybe you can share what you enjoyed most or what God did in your heart over the weekend. Why do you think it might be beneficial for other women to attend?
  8. If you chose NOT to attend The Mercy Retreat last weekend, would you be willing to share why?

Thank you so much for your time! I’m looking forward to serving you in the future. It is a privilege to minister The Word of God and spend time with each other seeking Him.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Love,

Jennifer

For When Your Agenda is Rewritten

blurry skyI had my own agenda for today, but God is rewriting it…

I wish I was the patient one: slow to speak, slow to anger, slow to the constant turning of this world. I’m learning, but I’m not there yet.

You see, I want to keep pressing onward. I want to move from one situation to the next. Actually, I should clarify. Before I move ahead, I want to edit my life: rewind the heartache, delete it completely, and then run far and fast.

And God says, “Wait.”

Sometimes, leaping into forward motion too quickly isn’t in His agenda. Often, the slow, still, moments that make one thoughtfully and prayerfully consider wisdom are what He requires. And I often want to do anything but play back the reality of my life like a movie through my mind. There is no delete button there…

I want to keep going so I don’t relive certain moments and memories. I’m tired of hot tears burning my face and rolling from my chin. I’m ready to fly.

And God says, “Just let me hold you.”

I don’t know why it’s so hard to stop. I guess because if I do then I might have to stare grief in the face. I shudder at the thought. But seriously, have I been able to look anywhere else? Right now, grief is the place where I reside. And, today, He wants me to embrace it with the knowing that He is there with me. He is inside it too. He never leaves me.

As I’m typing to you, I’m looking outside my window. The trees are bending in the wind. The breath of God is moving them. And I know He’ll move me too. It’s only a matter of time until the famous words which cry, “This too shall pass” will become a reality in my life. I won’t ever forget the pain of today, of the last eight weeks, but I will take a deep breath in knowing I live inside the moments which were designed uniquely for me by a creator whose work is priceless. And I’m not there alone. An artist never stays alone. He creates the work and then molds it until it’s beautiful. The two become one.

My life is art in the making, friend. And so is yours.

Rest in Him. If He says, “Wait,” Then wait. Obediently walk the path created for you. Listen for His voice. It whispers peace; it sends hope. And you’ll know. You will know when it’s time to move onward. Doors will open and you will walk through them – stronger because of where you’ve been, and beautifully brave because of the mark on your life. It’s not the mark of grief; you are marked only with love – molded like clay into a priceless work of art made to bring Him glory.

So do that. Bring Him glory.

Love,

Jennifer

Only God Knows Your Heart

HideSome days you just have to lay it all down. You have to stand firm in believing that God knows your heart. His opinion of you is ultimately the only one that matters. You can’t please everyone. God knows I can’t.

There is no way to escape trudging through life’s muck and mire. However, somehow, we have to learn to crawl out of it. People won’t always understand our methods – some of us, when dealing with hardship, will be silent. (That’s me.) Others will cry on shoulders. (I’m making my way into that phase.) Many of us will run and want nothing more than to hide.

It’s okay. Christ doesn’t mind if you hide, as long as you hide in Him. (See Colossians 3:3) (Click to Tweet.)

I’ve been listening to James when He says, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let Him ask of God.” (See James 1:5) I’ve been begging for it. My draw is to Jesus. I need Him to show me in His word where I’m to go. He often confirms through other sources, but He always shows me first and allows the Holy Spirit to make a way.

When you’re down, you expect those who love you to be patient, caring, kind, and willing. It doesn’t always work that way. So, today, I’m here to tell you that if you keep clean hands and a clean heart, God will bless you. I’m watching it happen for me. He says, “Jennifer, you won’t please everyone, just focus on pleasing Me. Have enough faith to know I will turn every tear to joy. Have faith in Me.”

The writer of Hebrews tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. (See Hebrews 11:6) So, I’m standing firm. I know that even though I can’t see the entire picture, He does. He painted it! He knows! My job is to trust Him. He will show me the correct path to walk.

For some who are close to me, I’ve been silent. I’ve been much better at writing to a world full of faces I can’t see, than dial a phone number. I’m sorry if you’re hurt, but God knows my heart. Grief is a process and this is mine…

I’m hiding in Christ, friends.

May you find joy in His presence. And may peace overtake you as you stand firm in faith believing that He alone knows your heart.

Love,

Jennifer

 

Because Your Purpose is Holy…

Mercy Retreat Table Decor photoWell, I am finally settling into the reality that The Mercy Retreat is over for this year, (Yep, I said for THIS year… stay tuned!) and I’m now preparing my fall calendar for speaking and serving in other settings.

It was so hard to continue planning the retreat after my stepfather passed away. I wanted to stop, but the Holy Spirit kept nudging me to keep going. I believe the Lord put the retreat on my heart because it was part of a larger purpose. His purpose. I found my strength in Him and kept moving forward. It’s amazing how God works when we are obedient.

Over the weekend I talked to the women about purpose. It is so important to recognize that we ALL have a holy purpose. Sometimes we look on our tasks as being small and insignificant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • When we feed our children in the morning and invest into their lives… that is a holy purpose.
  • When we choose to love and cherish our spouse even when we don’t feel like it… that is a holy purpose.
  • When we go to work every day and show kindness even when we feel mad at the world… that is a holy purpose.

Everything we do has the opportunity to impact someone in a positive way. We show Jesus through our attitudes, words, and actions. No matter what season of life we are in, God designed a holy purpose for us. It’s His purpose and it is for the glory of His kingdom.

If we all regarded our purposes as holy, we would make much better decisions in the middle of conflict as well as show kindness and love regardless of how we felt at any given moment.

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

-Francis of Assisi

Today, I just want to remind you that you too have a purpose. A holy purpose! No matter how small you think it is, nothing that God designed is insignificant. He created you with purpose. Go live it today! Your life is worth so much, because Christ is worthy and He created YOU!

Love,

Jennifer

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

For When You Question Your Purpose… (A Mercy Retreat Update)

Mercy Retreat Table Decor photoI’m writing to you with a full heart as I stand in complete awe of everything God did at The Mercy Retreat. It was an amazing time of worship, the Word, and sweet fellowship amongst women. Hearts were opened and changed, tears flowed, laughter echoed with true joy, and new bonds were formed.

When the Lord put it on my heart to begin the planning process of the retreat, I had no idea what to expect. I signed a retreat contract, put down a deposit, and waited for God to work. He did, and it was mighty!

Thank you to all who attended, sat on the planning committee, and prayed for us. He is faithful!

As I prayed for God to give me a word to speak at the retreat, I experienced a tragedy in my life. Through that process I felt as if I had lost my purpose, but He reminded me that my purpose hadn’t changed. Why? Because I serve an unchanging God. There might be pain inside my purpose, but it’s what keeps me growing and trusting in Him.

Today, I’ve decided to include just a 20 minute clip of my teaching entitled, For When You Question Your Purpose. It is actually the last 20 minutes of the first session, but it’s enough to give you the overview of the message. I hope it encourages you.

Have a beautiful Monday, friends!

Love,

Jennifer

A Book Review: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

What your heart needs for the hard days

Hello, Friends. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that the last seven weeks have been some of the hardest in my life. As I look back from July 16th until now, I’m seeing the beauty of God’s fingerprints all over the place. Usually, we have to look for those fingerprints. They can […]

{Continue reading…}

For When You Try to Give What You Don’t Own…

Setting sun blog pic

Seven weeks ago, when my world flipped and tears began to spill everywhere, I wanted to stop. Everything. I couldn’t imagine writing, speaking, or encouraging people to receive life from Christ when my bones felt dry. Yet, here I am. I kept going, pressing onward, pushing forward. I had to. After seven weeks, I still […]

{Continue reading…}

Stop Wishing… (You’ll NEVER Have It!)

Sailboat

Once again, I’ve been thinking a lot about comparison… It’s so widespread among women. The one everyone deems beautiful wants to look like the model in the magazine. She doesn’t see her beauty and has no idea of her worth. Meanwhile, the woman sitting next to her watches as she flips through a copy of […]

{Continue reading…}

And All the Parents Pray for Love…

First day of school photo

This morning, I walked into a classroom of kindergarteners on their first day of school. I stood with the other parents watching the little ones find their desks and glance at new faces. Some were timid while others were bold. As I looked at the other parents in the room, I knew we all had […]

{Continue reading…}