:: stop this ride, I wanna get off ::

I don’t have a lot of memories prior to my family moving to Gadsden, but from Gadsden, I have loads of memories.  I was listening to a message this morning that brought back one of those memories.
John Mark and I had a blue Sit & Spin.  If you don’t know what that is, google it.  It was this little toy that sat on the floor, you’d sit around it and spin.  We would play on it for hours.  Rain and shine.  It stayed on our porch and brought us hours of entertainment. (We also put on poor dog on it from time to time.  RIP Scooter.)  Invariably, I would get so dizzy that I would fall off.   Sometimes it would take thirty or forty seconds to re-orient myself.  (In kid time, that’s like AN HOUR!)  But I kept getting on that dumb toy.  For a season, JM and I could fit on it together, but as we got bigger we had to take turns.
What triggered me from the message was reality that I’ve been on Sit & Spin’s my whole life.  I spin around and around and around, and time passes, but I don’t go anywhere.  And now I’m dizzy with nothing to show for it. 
I do this with my prayer life.
I do this with my love life.
I do this with … every. emotion. in. my. repertoire.
And then I get mad because I’m making no progress and I’m sick.
Oh the cost of spinning in circles and not trusting that God is moving FOR me.
I think real, deep, soul-wrecking love from the Father is the kind of love that gets (me) off of the Sit & Spin, stands me up, and holds my hands.  Let’s be real – I cannot and do not want to do anything without my heavenly father. Getting off the Sit & Spin for me means coming back to the promises of God – that HE is faithful, that HE loves me, that I have worth, that I am beautiful, that settling is the last thing HE wants me to do because I’m tired or frustrated or scared, that HE is enough.  Lord, help me also be a conduit to show others that love, even when I can’t see it for myself.  The real miracle in that is knowing that You can use me even and especially when I don’t.

Here’s to getting off this ride, getting my bearings and moving forward. 

Love like this – The Belonging Co.
You don’t leave me where you found.  You pull me up, out of the mess.
You don’t leave me brokenhearted. You never break your promises.
You keep giving second chances far above what I deserve, far above what I deserve
You keep telling me I’m worth it, not a love I have to earn.

wait. by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, He replied.
I pleaded, and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, “Child, you must wait.”
“Wait? You say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why.
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.
“My future, and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me ‘wait’?
I’m needing a ‘yes,’ or a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no,’ to which I can resign.
“And Lord, you have promised that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive. 
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking: I need a reply!”
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, “You must wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
And grumbled to God; “So I’m waiting, for what?”
He seemed then to kneel and His eyes met with mine
And He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, darken the sun,
Raise the dead, cause the mountains to run.
“All you see I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.
“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust, just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me,
When darkness and silence was all you could see.
“You would never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth and the beat of my heart.
“The glow of My comfort late in the night’
The faith that I give when you walk without sight;
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinate God who makes what you have last.
“And you never would know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’
Yes, your dreams for that loved one o’ernight could come true,
But the loss! if you lost what I’m doing in you.
“So be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft’ may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all…is still…wait.”

::sandpaper season::

For reasons that I don’t completely understand, I’m in this season where a lot of things seem contemptible.  Constant disagreements.  Frustration at breaking point levels. Tension that can be cut with a knife.
I hate these kinds of seasons.  I haven’t had one in a few years and while I’m thankful, I know they are necessary.  They’re the biblical sandpaper season.
Too bad I didn’t realize how badly I needed sandpaper, or how much God thought I needed sandpaper!
I have found that these sandpaper seasons are always accompanied by change and growth. Change really is inevitable and it is good.  Growth, while hard in the moment, is always good.  
I also know that this growth and change is directly correlated to a season of planting in my own life.  Where I thought that I was in the dark, but it was really where God had put seed in the ground of my life and now it’s breaking through.
Coincidentally, a lot of the sermons I’ve been listening to revolve around fighting battles that (I) may or may not have signed up for.  Trust me, I have ZERO desire to wage war.  But we also rarely wage war against flesh.  There is always a deeper meaning – a bigger battle.
A handful of battles I’m fighting revolve around others expectations of me.  While there is always a healthy level of what we should expect out of one another (maybe attempt to be a good human being?), the manipulative expectations are the ones that drive me bonkers.  I don’t have to _______.  Both for good reason and natural preservation, the more I’m presented with these, the less I want to be around the people who expect them out of me.  Mostly because it’s unrealistic and unhealthy!
I’ve been so grateful for a very close friend in this season who has listened to me, challenged me on my reactions (in the best way), loved me when I call her crying, and just been the best friend that I needed her to be.  
My hope and my prayer is that this season will pass quickly and what comes out of it is beautiful.
Here’s to celebrating sandpaper seasons with some grace.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ””
‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭20:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

walk around

My church is in the middle of 21 days of prayer. This morning during the prayer time, I noticed two small kids walking around. There is a strong chance that they were just doing what their parents were doing, but what struck me was the innocence of it. Instead of being inhibited, they just did it.

They walked.


it kind of messed me up this morning because as an adult, I’ve completely forgotten how to have that kind of faith. To have that kind of resolve. To just do. To be present in the moment and see God in the small and hugely significant. I have gotten so caught up in the big prayers

That I have failed to just do.
To just worship.

To just be.

Thank you Lord for the sweetest reminder.

2018. forty. 2019.

I’ve tried to write a birthday or a Turning Forty post for a few weeks and somehow haven’t been able to muster up either.
This current version of Word that I’m typing in coupled with dip polish is not helping my game here either, but I’m going to persevere… for my fans, of course.  (LOL.)
If I’d known what 2018 would bring, I honestly would have run into this new year wearing track shorts, knee socks and the prettiest shoes imaginable.  I truly thought that 2018 would be a quiet year, hopefully full of healing with a splash of joy.  By mid-year, I discovered that this year brought joy in the form of Niagara Falls because it kept gushing and I needed floaties!
In March, the Lord began to heal some deeply broken places.  I had to be brave (which is not my middle name, EVER) and push past levels of fear and discomfort.
In June, I had a moment with the Holy Spirit that was so deep and so soul-wrecking-ly beautiful that I got a tattoo to commemorate it.
The last six months of this year are so full of moments of grace and humility, of joy and hope, of fruition and promise, that I am still struggling with how to articulate it.
To cap it all off, I wound up having the most spectacular birthday and weekend with friends.  
There is a song by The Belonging Company that sums up my 2018 –
Beautiful Story
Chorus: You write a beautiful story, you write a beautiful story, from glory to glory I believe. You write a beautiful story, you write a beautiful story, beginning to ending and in between.
Bridge: All the while you keep saying, trust that I am orchestrating, everything for good.  All the while you keep saying, trust that I am custom making everything for good.  You work all things together for good, all things together for good, all things together for good, like You said You would.
That’s the fun part about the Lord: He writes the story.  I think we get lost in the noise that says to write our own narrative – to write our own story.  Instead, trusting Him means that He orchestrates our story, and it is a best seller instead of personal diary on a shelf.
This year, The Lord has written my story.  He is not finished yet and in true divine fashion, I keep trying to offer notes and suggestion and learn that I never know where this story is going but because He is faithful, this story is working for His glory and for my good.  My story is beautiful.
That also prompts my word for 2019 – which is surrender.  I have to surrender everything back to him.  My heart, my time, my love, my energy, my joy, my heartache, my life.  
It’s all His.

lucky number thirteen

Thirteen years.
Where I was:
Unemployed and broken from a job that sucked the joy out of me.
Heartbroken from a relationship that took a hit I was unprepared for.
My mother was two weeks post op from a fall where her arm was shattered into a thousand pieces and has since forever changed our family.
What happened:
On Monday, August 29th, I interviewed in Dalton.  The interview was terrible.  I didn’t apply for the job and STILL have no idea how they got my resume.  My mother was in the middle of surgery while I was interviewing and I was a basket case.  I left defeated.
I had been reading Andy Stanley’s book “The Best Question Ever”.  He uses the example of putting God in a proverbial box, praying hard, God not changing the situation and us being frustrated with God when WE put him in the box.  In the same season, several friends had moved to Nashville and I have no desire AT ALL to move to Nashville.  
That Tuesday night, I laid in the floor and repented for putting God in a box when I clearly had no idea what His plan was.  
On Wednesday morning, I went back to job hunting and the first job that popped up was in Brentwood, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.  It was 10:30am.  I applied for the job. (I actually laughed out loud with God!)  At 11:30, the recruiter called me and submitted me for the job.  At 3:20, the recruiter called me back and set up the interview for that Friday.
Friday morning, I left for Nashville, hot rollers in my hair rocking a navy power suit.  I miscalculated the time for the interview forgetting that Nashville was on Central time and I’d gained an hour.  I used that opportunity to put on make-up and make sure I knew how to get to all of the places that I needed to go.
While I was on the road making sure I knew where the interview was going to be held, I got a phone call.  
Long story short, all of the things I’d begged God for – HE.  SHOWED.  OUT.  After that phone call that ended with an offer and acceptance, I pulled into a parking lot and bawled.  I called my family, who were all sitting at in a waiting room while my mother was in her second surgery.  I was so hysterical, they thought I’d been in an accident. 
Over the last thirteen years:
I have told my Ninevah story as often as I can because my story had nothing to do with Nashville, it was solely about obedience.
I have seen God move in mighty ways that I don’t deserve.
He has moved on my behalf.
Every time I get to a place where I think God can’t do it and that my journey has ended, God messes me up.
I spent nine years in an office where God reshaped every facet of my life.
I’ve spent the last four years in another office where God shifted more things in my life than I can even begin to tell.
Growth.  Brokenness.  Pain.  Grief.  Joy.  Purpose.  Trust.  Love.  Hope.  
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!"
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
I'm so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.
Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace

Jesus you change everything.

This morning, I had my ear buds in and a particular song cranked up to 40 on my iPhone.  I was fully engaged in the moment when I had this thought:
Bravery rarely comes in the loud moments we proclaim it.  Bravery comes when we lay our heads down and declare that we will not be insomniacs to our fears, our anxieties, our trepidations, or the thoughts of others.  Bravery comes in the moment when we kind of say “screw it!” and run with abandon knowing that it could fail historically, but if God’s grace if even a smidge like we know it, then our foundation and our core tells us that being brave and walking tall is where HE gets all the glory and we get to see the magnitude of God.  
I think there are a lot of Christians who can easily throw their hands up on Sunday morning.  We worship wild.  We surrender.  We proclaim.  We go, on this spiritual high, to lunch and profess what God has done for us and how we will be free/better/different.  
And then {we} stay stuck for months and years because real bravery requires more than we are prepared to give.  
It requires more than I am prepared to give.  More than I am comfortable to sacrifice.

Last night, after a dinner I cooked for some friends, I overshared.  (Hi, my name is Jenn and my spiritual gift is gab and oversharing.) I had prefaced one of my guests with the following disclaimer in a text: “I’d rather tell you this story in person and I understand if you completely run for the hills afterward.”
The actuality is that the last thing I want this person to do is run for the hills.  I don’t want any of my friends to run for the hills because, HELLUR, that clearly defeats the purpose of friendship and accountability and love.  
But the strangest thing about last night was that after my friends left, I wasn’t scared that I overshared.  
I did not lay awake for hours wondering if last night was the last time I would have dinner with them, or be open and share, or laugh.
I did not have bad dreams about them abandoning me, saying horrible things about me, or thinking that I’m a completely deranged fruit loop that needs to get her life together and possibly therapy.    
I’m a realist, so generally these things are THE things that plague me -- that make me want to send (or actually send) some sort of corrective action text that is basically me begging for my friends to not abandon me and love me in my crazy.  I’ve been known to buy dinner for a friend out of that guilt and anguish because: PLEASE LOVE ME AND DON’T DITCH ME BECAUSE I SEEM EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE AND SAY ALLLL THE THINGS AND I NEED YOUR FRIENDSHIP.  
My twenties were an incredibly healthy time, can’t you tell?  Also, WHY am I not married?  These are the mysteries of the world. 
{insert head slap emoji}
I keep coming to the realization that I have spent far too long offering some kind of disclaimer about myself to others.  I come with more warning stickers than a mattress or a hairdryer.  I’m becoming fully aware of the shame that I cultivated in my own head and in my own heart that says I am not enough in nearly every facet of my life.
Because I have never been truly brave enough. 
The devil is a liar.

Jesus, you changed everything.