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

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!

 

For When We Insert the “I”

Hope and PraiseFor you who are dealing with suffering and blaming yourself, this is for you…

Have you ever wished you could end the suffering of your own heart? Have you wondered how your life might be different if you didn’t have to face it? The “what ifs” are the first kinds of questions on the minds of those who are walking a difficult path.

“What if I would have done this?”

“What if I could have done that?”

We have a tendency to insert the “I” inside everything. Before you know it, we make ourselves the problem and find ourselves in a downward spiral.

It’s a slippery slope– this trying to figure out why we suffer and how to fix it.

Guess what? I have good news! YOU don’t have to fix it. You can’t. Only Christ can fill the hollow of soul and renew the broken spirit. Only He can provide exactly what you need to make it through the difficult time you face. And He will.

But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.

Psalm 71:14

To hope in Him alone and praise Him for beauty unseen when you are still covered in the ashes is key in the healing process. I know it sounds crazy. You might wonder, “How can I praise in the midst of the ashes?” Job did…

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

Job 1:20

This comes right after Job finds out his children are dead and gone.

Learning to praise in the midst of  pain will aid in helping hope rise. (Tweet that)

You need hope. I need hope. We all need hope!

Today, I’m asking you to stop questioning what you may have done wrong and focus on a God who does everything right. He makes no mistakes. He created you, and He loves you very much. No matter what you are going through, make an effort to praise Him and allow hope to rise. You can make it, my friend!

Love,

Jennifer

My book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, releases one week from today!!!!

I’m linking up with Holley Gerth to encourage you through Coffee for Your Heart!

Do You Need a New Thing?

rainbow blog picAn old song keeps playing in my head today. The words are “Sing unto the Lord a new song.” There is something about the word new that causes me to crave what’s ahead. It’s the idea that I don’t have to hold onto the old, weary, discouragement and fear that brings a song to my heart. I can grasp tight to a God who continues to do new things and allows hope to rise.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us there is nothing new under the sun. This means human eyes have seen it all, human hands have done it all, and human hands continue to sin in the same way they always have. But here is the good news: God is the God of the fresh and new. What He can do in a heart and life is beyond what we can even think or imagine. He can fill the heart with new blessings mixed with grace and abundant joy unspeakable. It only takes one whisper from Him to turn on the lights and sweep away the old darkness.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t help but bring it up again….

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Genesis 1:1-3

Sometimes, our lives feel as if they are without form, and void. Darkness covers our bleak circumstances with fear and doubt. However, the spirit of God hovers. The original Hebrew word for Spirit as it is written in verse 2 is ruach. It means breath or wind. We know that without breath, speaking is impossible. The Spirit/breath of God was hovering, and with that breath He spoke, “Let there be light”; and there was light. It only takes one word from His mouth for the lights to turn on and for something brand new to form.

The breath of God brings hope in the middle of the dark. There is always the possibility of a new thing when we serve the Almighty.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

-Isaiah 43:19

 

If you are in the middle of the dark and waiting for something new, I want you to know and believe that you have a God who speaks hope, light, and life through new things each and every day. He wants to do a new thing inside you. Sometimes, waiting for the new thing can be discouraging, but He is right there hovering. His breath is hovering and when the time is right, He will speak and the light will turn on. When it does, you will see something new begin and hope will rise. Until then, sing unto the Lord a new song. Sing Him praise for what He is going to do in your life.

I’m praying new things for you!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I also have some new exciting news about The Mercy Retreat! We have worked out a Saturday only conference pass for those who would like to attend but cannot otherwise find the time or money to stay for the entire weekend. Tickets for the Saturday only conference pass will go on sale over the weekend! Details coming soon!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m linking up with the lovely Holley Gerth to encourage you through Coffee for Your Heart!

 

 

His Gentle Hand…

SamHand2Yesterday, I took the twins to the mall so they could play at the indoor park. There was a cute little boy playing close to where I was seated. My best guess is that he wasn’t quite three years old. He was beginning to flail his chubby little arms around and hit whatever was in sight. He thought his behavior was amusing. His mother… not so much.

She approached him calmly, held his little hands in hers, and said, “Use gentle hands. You must use gentle hands.” Those words echoed loudly in my heart. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we all knew when to be just a little more gentle- gentle with each other. Maybe even a little more gentle with ourselves.”

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

-Mathew 11:29

We serve a God who is slow to anger, filled with patience, and gentle to us in every way. His love is enough to cover all our pain. He heals our brokenness and promises us that within His gentle heart lies rest for us.

 

You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.

-Psalm 18:35

He will hold you up with His gentle hand. (You can tweet that to encourage!)

You might be feeling as if you can use a gentle hand right now. Maybe you feel misunderstood by your friends and family. Maybe you are in the midst of a battle concerning how you feel about yourself and your soul is weary from the fight.

Whatever it is, I want you to know this:

Our God has a strong and mighty hand that not only contains the power to hold you up, but also has the power to gently put your broken pieces back together. His grace is sufficient, friends.

It’s gentle.

It’s beautiful.

It’s life.

Press into Him today. His gentle hand will never fail you.

Love,

Jennifer

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

 

 

What You Will Always Have and Two Special Announcements!

Ocean and rock blog picHello, Friends! It has been a few days since I’ve written. I pray you are well.

Last weekend, I had the honor of speaking to a beautiful group of women at a M.O.P.S. conference. Speaking encouragement into hearts is something I love to do. It is a privilege.

My topic was about surviving grief. We discussed the breath of God and His ability to breathe new life into any situation. I shared a “light bulb moment” God gave me relating to Genesis chapter 1 where the word speaks of His Spirit hovering over the dark waters.

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

-Genesis 1:2

That word Spirit is translated from the Hebrew word Ruach, which means wind or breath. Think about that… the Breath of God was hovering over the waters.

When our life seems without form, and void, when darkness surrounds us and we cannot see any light in our situation, the breath of our God is hovering. And with that breath, He has the ability to do something amazing!

We know that it takes breath to speak. Let’s take a look at the next verse.

 

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

-Genesis 1:3

With His breath He spoke light and life into the dark. Regardless of what you are going through, God will never leave you. He is there. His breath is hovering and in an instant, He can speak light and life into your situation. Do you know what that represents? It represents hope!!!

No matter how dark your situation is, you always have hope! (Tweet that.)

I know that one of my callings is to share His hope. And, because of that, I have written a book entitled, Nothing to Hold but Hope. It is scheduled for release on July 2, which would have been my daughter Courtney’s 18th birthday. It serves as proof of healing in my life. And now my scars will shout His glory!

I also have something else I would like to share:

Over the course of the last month, I have received emails asking if we will be offering another ticket special for The Mercy Retreat. I’ve had women inquire about scholarships as well. Unfortunately, we do not have any scholarships available. However, my heart longs to help those who feel they cannot afford the ticket prices at the current rates.

After much prayer, and speaking to the members of the retreat team, we are going to run a 48 Hour Memorial Day Weekend special. Tickets will go on sale at a reduced price. It is the lowest price yet and it will only be available for two days: Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26.

The current prices are all inclusive and we are not making a profit. Extra funds go into providing gift bags, extra surprises, special décor, and covering the expenses of our keynote speakers. The reduced rate Memorial Day Special (also all inclusive) is the lowest prices we can offer. Actually, we will be taking a minimal loss on those tickets, but we feel called to do what we can to help you join us. The Mercy Retreat Team has been in prayer for each woman who will be attending and we want you to experience a beautiful weekend to be refreshed and rejuvenated.

All inclusive Ticket Sale prices will be as follows:

Triple Accommodations (per person) $185.00

Double Accommodations (per person) $205.00

Single Accommodations $ 265.00

For details on what your ticket includes, click here.

To learn about speakers, click here.

To meet the retreat team, click here.

Tickets are available through Eventbee.

I pray you will join us for a weekend together to talk about mercy and hope. I can’t wait to see you there!

You are enough, and there is hope for whatever it is you are enduring. You can do this. Go with God, my friends! He’s hovering over you! His breath of life is our promise!

Love,

Jennifer

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

The Day She Unfollwed Me…

Twitter Social Media photoShe looks through her list of followers trying to see who might have said goodbye. Who was it that regarded her words as unimportant and the pictures of her life not worthy enough to be viewed?

This type of social media says, “You can follow me, you can see me, but I might not care enough to see you. You might not matter enough. Your words, your heart, your soul cry, it isn’t important yet. Maybe when your ratio changes – when you have more followers and are following less, maybe then I will follow you back. Maybe then you’ll matter.”

Facebook Social Media photoShe counts her likes and looks at her “friends” list needing to see if she was accepted. Does anyone care about her life? She’s been unfriended and blocked before, which to her equals abandoned and abused.

This is the new world we live inside. The one which has wonderful possibilities and genius ideas muddled with hurt, disappointment, and skewed self worth.

A few months ago, I was having a day that left me feeling completely overwhelmed. Earlier in the morning while in the midst of total chaos, I received a text from twitter telling me that someone I highly respected, and had been following for quite some time, had decided to follow me back. I was excited. I hadn’t done anything to gain this person’s attention. I didn’t send any tweets or mention her name on my blog, but I read her work quite often and was excited at the possibility that maybe she had read mine.

I was in the middle of at least ten tasks when the text came through, so I couldn’t send a “thank you for following me” tweet back. When I returned home and finally logged on to twitter, I realized the person was no longer following me. I went to their feed only to find tweets explaining how she had been hacked and was only made aware because her twitter ratio shifted. This person was now following back many people who had been following her.  However, it was all a big mistake. As a result, she had been spending the day frantically deleting the people which were accidentally followed.

I understand. When it comes to twitter, it is used for marketing and networking more than anything else. I also have reasons for not following people back. If someone isn’t in my niche, or I don’t know them at all, then I usually don’t follow them back either. I wait and see. I will also admit that sometimes people slip through the cracks. I don’t even realize they’ve followed me. I’m not the girl who counts her likes and watches her followers regularly. From a blogging business perspective, maybe I should. Maybe I would be building a larger platform if I did. But at what expense? Or maybe I should ask, “At whose expense?”

Praying Hands Heart photoI’m not condemning this person or saying that ultimately her heart isn’t in the right place. Had I been hacked,  I would have probably done the same thing. I’m also not saying you should follow back or accept a friend request from someone you don’t know anything about. I realize there is much more to all of this. It’s complicated. However, what I am saying is that we must be careful.

What we say and how we say it, who we follow and unfollow, it all makes a difference in the heart of someone else. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. There is power in the way it is used. (Oh, and I’ve unfollowed people on twitter too. I’m not innocent, but I’m working to see the person and not just the avatar.)

Today, I need to tell you this:

Your value is NOT determined by the number of friends you have on Facebook.

The number of twitter followers you have, or who personally follows you, does NOT define your worth.

No matter how many people choose to follow you, or not, on Instagram, you ARE beautiful!

Behind the profile pictures, are real people with beating hearts who need and want to feel as if they have worth. They are wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, coworkers, church members, teachers, writers, missionaries, and beautiful souls all trying to do life. They would like to do it feeling as if they are part of community. They would love to feel loved. And they would prefer not be a deleted accident.

So, just in case you ever need reminded, I want you to realize that you are more than your Klout score! You have more influence than you realize! You are daughters of the King! You have worth, because Christ is worthy!

Love,

Jennifer

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

 

I’m also linking up with Bonnie Gray for White Space Thursday! http://www.faithbarista.com/category/whitespace-linkup/

 

It Is Time…

Hands #2 photoI had the opportunity to speak at a women’s retreat last weekend. The theme was renew. When I first arrived, I looked around the room with a smile on my face. The women laughed with one another in pure joy. It was easy to tell their hearts were woven tightly together. They were connected just as sisters should be.

Jesus renews our hearts. From the inside out He restores brokenness and refreshes our weary souls. Sometimes, He uses other women to help in the process. We serve each other through listening, laughing, and sharing our own stories of renewal. One of the women there told me, “I started attending my church because of these women. Women’s Bible study brought me to church on Sunday.”

The women in that group worked as the hands and feet of Christ as they ministered to her broken places and brought her into the fold. She attends church because of a faithful group of women who supported her. And now they take joy in watching her grow in Christ.

Last weekend was also the (In)Courage event entitled (In) Real Life. Through an online conference, women all over the world shared their stories and encouraged one another as they, together, watched footage of story tellers who shared the accounts of God’s unique plans for their lives. It was beautiful. And I hope it doesn’t stop there. I hope we all begin to share our stories for the purposes of building each other up.

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

-Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron. One heart at a time, one life at a time, one story at a time, we can encourage and help renew a broken place in the heart of another sister.

All too often, we become wrapped up in judgment. As women, we’ve become so used to others judging us that we assume the same role. We become the judges because we feel as if we must play defense. We think we have to defend ourselves against other women just like us. It is a sad truth. We forget there is room enough for us all. For. Us. ALL.

At one time or another, we have all allowed jealousy, fear, guilt, or anger, barricade our paths to knitting our souls together with other sisters. We’ve all found ourselves caught in the trap of feeling as if we aren’t enough. Insecurities such as weight, complexion, how far our educations stretch, and even financial statuses have plagued our relationships. And we’ve all hurt someone because of our own sin.

But do you know what? It doesn’t have to remain this way. We can change it. He can change it! Christ can renew us and regardless of our weaknesses, He can, and will, use us in the process of renewal in someone else’s life. Our God is a God of freedom, and He has the power to release each of us from every lie we’ve ever chosen to believe or even live out.

In case you’re wondering if this is supposed to be a RAH, RAH cheerleading sisterhood type post to make you feel better about relationships. It’s not.

I write today to remind you of the truth woven into the fabric of who God intended us to be. We are meant to live lives of love. And we are meant to not only love, but to love well. I don’t aim to stir your emotion; I aim to remind you of the truth we have in our Savior.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

-John 15:12

It is time to let fear dissipate and allow walls to fall down.

It is time to share our stories free from shame and guilt.

It is time to not only love, but to love well.

If you’ve grown up in the church, then you probably know that we’ve been trained to remember Jesus loves us. And, yet, we seem to forget that we are meant to take His love and give it away. So what do you say we start doing that?

Let’s give His love away. And let’s not only love, let’s love well. And, just maybe, we can become part of the renewal process in another sister’s life. Wouldn’t that be lovely?!?!

It is time!

Love,

Jennifer

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150Today I’m linking up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart!

 

 

 

 

Did You Come to Pray? I didn’t…

Praying Hands Heart photoToday, I’m at a local coffee shop writing. I should clarify: I’m supposed to be writing, but I’m distracted. My attention continues to be tangled up in the conversations of others. Most have been quite depressing. I find myself pretending to be reading or typing on my computer when all I’m really doing is praying for people.

Some days I wake up with a plan. Today was one of those days. I woke up, did some cleaning, made the twin’s breakfast and then hurried out the door to get us all to the dentist for our checkups and cleanings. After that, I dropped Sam and Grace off at my mother’s house for the day. I am determined to finish the new book I’m working on. I came here to write! But in actuality, I didn’t come here to write, I came here to pray.

Our best laid plans are often interrupted by a faithful God who wants us to intercede for another soul through prayer. Obviously, since I’m not here to write today, this is going to be a short post. However, I do want to communicate to you that wherever you are, you can make a difference in another life. You can pray for them.

I decided to quit fighting the distractions and take them as a cue from the Father. My purpose today is different than I intended, but anytime I can be used by God to do something He needs me to do, it’s a productive day.

So, I’m praying for those all around me. And as I write this, I’m praying for you too!

May you see the beauty of God today as you wrestle with whatever is thrown your way. May you recognize hope in every situation. May you give thanks for every blessing you have. And may every tear turn to joy. I pray that you will take a moment to pray for another. Maybe it’s the lady at the table next to you. Hey, maybe it’s me… (Hint, hint)

With folded hands and an open heart, we can each make a difference in another life.

God bless you today, friends!

Love,

Jennifer

Today, I’m linking up with Holley Gerth for encouragement through  Coffee for Your Heart.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

The Hope in Our Scars (And a Book Update!)

Our ScarsIf you know me at all, you know some of my story. You understand why I encourage from the place of a woman who has been through her share of sorrow. And if you don’t know me, then I should probably tell you that I experienced secondary infertility which transformed into a fifteen year battle accompanied by miscarriage and stillbirth.

Since I started this blog, not quite two years ago, I’ve shared about my upcoming book, Nothing to Hold but Hope. It has taken a long time to align all the details, but it is finally going to debut before summer begins! Over the course of the  last five years I have literally lived the definition of Romans 8:28.  Freedom and truth live deep inside it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

-Romans 8:28

Today, I want to communicate that no matter where you are on your journey, Christ loves you. He has crafted a beautiful design for your life. Throughout my struggles I’ve learned that the messy, imperfect, battered, and bruised pieces make me unique. It is the same for you.

Our scars are lines in a story that have opportunity to shout the beauty of our Savior. (Tweet that!)

We cannot expect to live a life free of suffering when Christ Himself could not escape it. However, we can learn there is a much larger plan than our eyes can see. We can hope, rest, and trust in it. Our hope is sure and built on a solid rock.

Today, I pray that everyone who reads my words on this tiny piece of the internet will think of the power in the word hope. I pray hope beckons you. I pray it calls your name so loudly that you will not be able to ignore or deny it.

Friends, if you feel like you’ve nothing else to hold on to, you always have hope.

Grip it tight!

Love,

Jennifer

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