Once upon a time there was a father….

Once upon a time a there was a little girl who lived in a large kingdom. The kingdom was full of many exciting things and many beautiful people. And yet the little girl often felt scared, unsure, and hesitant. She was a very quiet little girl, surrounded by noise and chatter. Day after day she would watch the goings on of the kingdom with yearning.

“Will I ever feel unafraid?” she would ask her toy bears and dolls, the only creatures with whom she felt comfortable enough to converse. “Will I ever be brave?” she whispered, too afraid at times to speak up even to her friends made of cloth and stuffing.

As little girls are prone to do, this one dreamed big dreams and wished big wishes.

Yet, when dreams and wishes go unspoken they often float away like dandelion seeds.

This little girl had so many dreams, yet no voice with which to speak them. For talking did not come easily to her.

Yet, this particular little girl had a father, one of the wisest and kindest in the kingdom (who would often say that his wisdom and kindness came from his dear wife). And this father could see the dreams that lay just beyond his daughter’s voice, just out of her reach.

For he too knew the fleetingness of unspoken dreams.

And so he took a most special tool, one that he knew had the power to unlock his little girl’s hidden dreams. He held the tool most gently as he crafted a masterpiece for his young daughter.

“What do you think?” he asked his wife.

“I think you are wonderful,” she answered, praying that this would help their quiet little one.

“Where should I leave it?” the father asked.

His wife looked around their little cozy cottage. “There,” she said pointing to the pot used to make the morning coffee.

Smiles were exchanged and the masterpiece was left, right where they knew their daughter would find it the next morning.

As the morning sun chased away the lingering darkness, the little girl’s bare feet carried her to the kitchen. In search of her favorite bowl and cup, she was startled to find a sheet of paper propped up against the large coffee pot. Curiosity drove her gaze toward the white page. Her name was at the top. Bowl forgotten, she picked up the letter and began to read:

My sweet daughter, 
I know that speaking is hard for you, and so I have devised a way for us to converse.
I will write to you about my day and then you can write back about yours. I will share with you my thoughts and dreams, and then you can tell me yours. 

What do you think? 
If you like the idea then I shall begin with a dream I have for you:
My dream for you, my little one, is that you will always feel loved, and that that love will lead you to do brave and wonderful things. I pray that you will find great courage and compassion as you grow, and that you will find your voice and the strength to use it.
Now, what is a dream you have for yourself?
Anxious to hear back from you, 
Your loving father 

The little girl held the letter to her heart as she wiped tears from her large brown eyes. A strange and exciting feeling began building in her stomach. It climbed higher and higher, spreading all the way to her fingers. At once, as if moved by an unseen force, she ran to her room, rustling through three drawers until she found what she was looking for.

A pen.

She wrote. And she wrote. Trapped and silent no more, words poured forth from her heart. She shared her dreams. She shared her thoughts. She shared her fears.

That night, with their cozy cottage bathed in moonlight, two little bare feet scampered down the hallway, a letter clutched to a little girl’s chest. With the upmost care she deposited her treasure in the same way she had found the first, leaning against the coffee pot.

She ran back to her room lighter and more carefree than she had left. She hugged her bear as she laid in bed.

“Mr. Bear,” she whispered in her darkened room, “Maybe I can be brave after all.”


 

To all the daddy’s who make their little ones feel a little braver, who give their children strength to pursue their dreams, and whose love propels their children to love others…thank you and Happy Father’s Day!

And to my Daddy, my hero, my constant encourager….thank you for writing to me that first time and thus beginning our coffee pot chronicles. Thank you for giving me an outlet, a way to share my heart with you. And thank you for loving me with a fierce and protective love, a love that gave me strength, and courage, and a voice. There are not enough words in this world to express how I feel about you, so I will just say: I love you!

DSC03911 3

If only you would let others see what I get to see…

I followed the melody up the stairs and into my son’s room. With at least two guitars, a harmonic, and an old recorder in his room, I am often greeted by music when I enter. But this night was different. There was a sound I couldn’t place coming from his room. A whistle that, while familiar, was unidentifiable. I listened outside of his door, as the theme song from “Lord of the Rings” was strummed on a guitar and whistled on a….What was that thing? And how was he making both sounds at the same time?

I walked into his room, convinced I would find his dad or sister in there with him.

What I found instead was my son with his electric guitar in his hands, and a nose flute taped to his face!!!

download-3

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not that!
I was certainly not expecting to find my normally shy fourteen year old son sitting on his bed with a blue plastic nose contraption held to his face with masking tape, breathing out the tune to “Lord of the Rings” while strumming his white electric guitar.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Hard.

He tried to maintain his serious musician demeanor, but my laughter brought his own.

“What?” he finally asked, having caught his breath, “You don’t like my act? I’m practicing for America’s Got Talent!”

download-4

The hysterics started again at the image those words conjured up.

“Oh buddy,” I said, trying to catch my breath, “If only you would let others see what I get to see.

We laughed some more. He played “The Sound of Silence,” “Seven Years,” and “Amazing Grace” on his nose flute. We talked about the book he is reading. Prayed and I told him goodnight.

As I went in to brush my teeth, my own words fluttered back through my mind….”If only you would let others see what I get to see.”

You see my son, who is wickedly funny and absurdly silly at home, is guarded and quiet with most everyone else. Only a handful of people ever get to see the side of him that I get to see.

IMG_9293IMG_0480 2IMG_7287 2IMG_0019 2IMG_2160IMG_0678IMG_7458 2

I get to see his intelligence and curiosity.
I get to witness his antics and impersonations.
I get to laugh at his jokes and observations.
And I get to discuss his deep, mind-bending questions.

I adore what I see. I get excited about what I see. But convincing him to allow others to see it, is a whole other matter.

If only you would let others see what I get to see.….

The words swirl around my thoughts, stirring up images and memories from long ago:

A little girl hiding behind her daddy’s leg, afraid to talk to people. Yet talking non-stop at home, eager to share about her day.
A shy young girl, singing into a hairbrush in her room, dreaming of one day singing on a stage.
An awkward teenager so afraid of drawing attention to herself, yet longing to stand out for Jesus in some way.

nature-people-girl-forest-12165nature-sunset-person-womanpexels-photo-28773

I am reminded that I too was guarded. I too was scared. I too hid and tried to go unnoticed. And yet all along

God saw.
God noticed.
God delighted.

And He placed something in me that He longed for others to see.

A calling.
A light.
Himself.

How often do we hide who God has made us to be?

light-person-woman-fire

How often do we bury the calling He has placed on our lives.

We delight our Father. You delight your heavenly Father.

And yet, we live timid. Unsure. Afraid.

If only you would let others see what I get to see…..

What might God want us let others see? What has He called you to do that you are doing, but hiding in your room doing?

Maybe, just maybe, today would be the day that we are willing to take our nose flute-guitar act on the road and let others see what He sees….

Much love,
Jen

God may have called you, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna be easy….

I thought it would be a piece of cake. I honestly expected waters to miraculously part, doors to spontaneously open, and words to effortlessly flow. In fact, I not only expected it, but assumed it was part of the package deal. You know, the “God calls you and He’ll do it” special.

pexels-photo-380863

And truth be told, I even thought that if things became difficult then maybe that meant I shouldn’t be doing this.

I truly believed that my heavenly calling would exempt me from the hard work of doing.

pexels-photo-169523

(Apparently, I figured that all those stories in the Bible of people striving, working, waiting, failing and even suffering in their calling-aka Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul- didn’t apply to my calling. Um, hello…pride!)

The embarrassing truth is, I thought that because God had called me to do something (in my case write a book) everything would be easy.

Boy. Was. I. Wrong.

While there have been certain aspects which have come easily, others have been very difficult. I often feel out of my league. Overwhelmed. Afraid. Tired. Distracted. Frustrated.

 

 

pexels-photo-89820-1

At times those waters which I assumed would miraculously part before me have left me tossed and turned with their churning. The doors I assumed would be thrown open have felt nailed shut. And the words I believed would be poured out of me dripped out in a painfully slow trickle.

Yet, with each difficulty, with each labored step forward, God has shown me a clearer glimpse of His faithfulness.

pexels-photo-3pexels-photo-169654pexels-photo-132957field-summer-sun-meadow

A faithfulness which is not dependent on my performance.

A faithfulness which is not hindered by my lack.

A faithfulness which is not lessened by my fear.

And a faithfulness which is not diminished by my frustrated confusion.

The truth is, the more difficult the journey, the greater the opportunity to see God’s might and faithfulness.

And the rougher the road, the more painful the falls and rugged the terrain, the more opportunities to find ourselves surrounded and upheld by the arms of Love.

Sure, some callings lead to easy roads where the way is laid wide open before you.

pexels-photo-119651

But, other callings lead to winding roads, steep roads, uncharted roads full of unknown dangers and difficulties.

pexels-photo-340926pexels-photo-4pexels-photo-213172

Yet, our God never changes. And He who calls us is faithful.

He may not pave the road, but He promises to hold our hands as we traverse the way.

pexels-photo-236164

We have an enemy who loves nothing more than getting us off course, taunting us with the difficulties we face. Whispering lies that difficulties mean God is not with us.

Yet, testimonies drift from heavenly voices –

“God is with us while lion’s crouch before us.”
“God is with us when the fire rages around us.”
“God is with us, even in a jail cell.”
“God is with us when all others have turned away.”

God is faithful, no matter our circumstances or feelings. And if He has called us to do something, then He will accomplish it. Even if the way He does so, looks nothing like we thought it would.

And so….

I type. I edit. I rewrite.

I cry. I pray. I eat chocolate.

And….I trust. In a God who has proven over and over again that He is, and always will be,

Faithful.

dawn-sunset-person-woman

 

Much love,
Jen

When the only way to grow is to tear something down

Why must growth almost always necessitate the tearing down of something?

  • In order for muscles to grow, their small fibers must be torn down.
  • Forests often grow as a result of fire tearing down that which has been growing for years. The fire releasing needed nutrients from the forest floor, opening the canopy to sunlight, and releasing seeds from certain trees.
  • The seashore grows by the constant tearing down of shells and rock.
  • Buildings grow larger as walls are torn down and expanded.
  • People mature at the tearing down of self-righteous and destructive strongholds.

So often I find myself wishing that there was another way. If only we could grow without pain, grow without change, grow without having to experience the tearing down of something. And yet, I cannot think of any instances in my life when growth came as a result of maintaining the status-quo.

pexels-photo-54300

Yet, even knowing that growth requires a tearing down of sorts, I naturally resist the tearing down, often even becoming downright offended by the very mechanism which will ultimately lead to growth!

pexels-photo-185670

As I sat in our church worship center this morning memories wrapped around me like a comforting embrace. The room (which I keep reminding myself is just a room) holds a most special place in my heart. For it is the place where God has spoken to my heart countless times through His Word, through others sharing from His Word, through music, through testimonies, and through quiet times of prayer. It is the room where I first felt God’s whisper to write-for Him. It is the room where I had the honor of watching my two children take their first Lord’s Supper after trusting in the saving work of Jesus. It is the room where I am left in tearful wonder each Christmas as candles are raised to the chorus of Silent Night. It is the room where my husband was commissioned to be a deacon. It is the room where we have said painful earthly goodbyes to friends, as well as joyous welcomes to new life.

IMG_8545

IMG_9115

It is, of course, just a room. But it is a room full of memories, love, hope and the Presence of the Living God.

And it is a room that must now be torn down so that new growth may occur.

God continues to grow our church, our vision, our passion, and our calling. And with that call to growth, comes the practical need of a larger space. I know it is right. I know it is needed. I know it is a calling from the Lord. And yet…..

I hesitate.
A tear escapes my grasp for control.
I long to wrap my arms around the four walls and say “NO! Let’s find another way!”

As the powerful lyrics to “It is Well” drift through the room I love, I look at my son whose 6 foot frame now towers over my own. My arms ache with the memory of holding him, just 8 weeks old, during his first ever church service. I glance at his sister who reminds me daily that she is soon to be in double digits. Yet, I still remember the delight of watching the evidence of her moving and kicking to a worship song while safely snuggled inside my womb.

“There is no other way,” I hear the LORD whisper to my heart.

My kids smile at me (completely aware of their mama’s difficulty with letting things go.)

Change is hard. Growth is painful. Letting go can be excruciating.

download-2

But, God does not tear down for sport. And He is most gentle with us.

pexels-photo-393401

God is in the business of life and hope. And so if God tears down it is always so that new life can begin. 

pexels-photo-401213

And so, I take one last look around the room that has meant so much to me. I breathe in the familiar, soul-soothing scent. I thank God for bringing us to this place that has become like family. And I walk away….toward the future.

Toward growth.

Toward….new life.

pexels-photo-1

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Much love,
Jen

 

 

 

When we need to pray like a child

“Mama, can we pray?” my almost ten year old asked me as I checked on her before heading to bed myself. She had been tucked in two hours earlier, and I was surprised to find her awake.

“Sure baby,” I answered, snuggling myself into her twin bed. “Whatcha need to pray about?”

Her brow was furrowed, worry evident on her lightly freckled face. She chewed her bottom lip before answering, “Awards,” she whispered.

IMG_4701IMG_3177 3

Her blue eyes looked up at me, hoping that I would understand her one word answer.

I did.

I gave her a sympathetic smile—a smile that conveyed I knew exactly what she was talking about. I pulled her close and kissed her head.

“Do you want me to pray?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I think I need to, but will you pray after me?”

I nodded, wrapping my arms tightly around this little girl who (although she has her moments) can leave me breathless with her faith.

IMG_4585IMG_8545IMG_2279

“Dear Jesus,” she began, “Please help me not to be jealous this year when some of my friends get the special awards. I really want a trophy, but I don’t think I’m gonna get one, and I really don’t want to feel bad or mad or jealous. I just want to be happy for the people that do get them. But it’s so hard.” I opened my eyes to look at her. Her head was bowed, her eyes squeezed shut, her blond hair making a curtain around her serious, pleading face. I could only stare as she continued, “Jesus, help me be able to cheer for my friends and not be sad on award day.” She paused for a moment. “And if it’s ok with You, can I maybe get a trophy someday too?”

She squeezed my hand, informing me it was my turn to pray. But the words wouldn’t come.

“Mama,” she sighed, mild exasperation evident in her tone, “Why are you crying now?” (I may or may not have already cried that evening over a touching episode of The Goldberg’s, a #tbt photo of my babies as babies, and a friend’s emailed prayer request. Apparently, in my daughter’s mind, I had used up my allotted tears for the evening!)

I gave a half-hearted giggle, “Sorry, sweetie,” I said trying to put my thoughts into words, “I guess my tears are because God just used your prayer to teach me something.” I tried to force my emotions into submission.

She sat up against her white headboard. “How did God teach you something from my prayer?”

I thought about telling her how I struggle daily with comparison and jealousy. I thought about telling her that just that day I had received a call from a friend who wanted to share wonderful news, and I had to fight hard to suppress the jealousy that was striving to rear its ugly head, so that I could earnestly rejoice with her. I thought about confessing that every time I see a friend further along than myself in her goals, whether ministry, writing, fitness, home decorating, or financial, I must fight against comparison and jealousy. I debated telling her that praising God for His work in His other children’s lives does not come naturally for me, and is instead a constant willful practice.

But I didn’t.

“Because baby,” I said instead, pushing her wheat-colored hair behind her ear, “Awards and trophies come in all shapes and sizes for grown-ups. And grown-ups get jealous sometimes too.” Her eyes widened with this information. “Your prayer is something I need to remember to pray more often, because you’re right. God does want us to celebrate with others.” She snuggled back down under her dragonfly quilt. “And besides,” I added with a smile of realization, “Jesus is way better than a trophy, right?!”

Her sweet face tilted toward the right as she studied me. “Mama,” she said, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ear, “Do you want me to pray for you?” she offered.

IMG_0408

I nodded.

“Jesus,” she began again, “Please help mommy not to be jealous or sad if she doesn’t get a trophy, or whatever it is that grown-ups get. Help her to be happy for her friends who do, and help us both to see You as better than a trophy anyway. In Your Name, amen.”

DSC03944 2IMG_9172IMG_6517

Amen, indeed my wise little prayer warrior! (Now if I could only get you to put your clothes in the hamper!!!)

(The video is several years old, but it captures my girl perfectly! It was taken when she was in kindergarten. When her amazing teacher taught the entire class to recite Psalm 100!)

Much love,

Jen

The Breath of God

{This is a devotional I wrote for our church. Just wanted to share it here too.}

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Breath of God.

Have you ever thought of the Bible you hold in your hands, or set on your table, as being the very breath of God?

We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all of Scripture was breathed out by God. This means that when we hold our Bibles we are, in a way, holding the very breath of God. And when we open God’s Word, we are inviting Him to breathe onto us and into us.

Breath of God.

The same breath that spoke the earth and all its inhabitants into existence, then breathed life into Adam and Eve; the same breath that took on human form and dwelt among us and then breathed out “It is finished” from the cross; the same breath that called out Mary’s name that first Easter morning and then breathed out the Holy Spirit upon His people—that same breath, thousands of years ago, exhaled onto parchment paper, taking on the shape of letters and words so that we might have life and hope.

My very wise Grandmother once told me (just a few years before going home to be with her Savior), “Sugar, there are a right many books in this world, but God’s book is the only one you can’t live without.”

While small in stature, my Grandmother was mighty in faith and wisdom!

And while, of course she was right, I will confess that there have been times in my life when I have questioned her assessment. After all, as a first time mother, no matter how hard I searched God’s Word I could not find a chapter on sleep-training, or a verse about how to pick the right preschool. And I still haven’t found a section of Scripture that talks about when to get your child a cell phone, when to go back to work, or how to help your teen through Algebra!

Yet, while God may not answer every specific question we may ever have, He does something far better in His Word: He points us to Himself.

For it is in God, and through His Word, that we find strength to face difficult situations, comfort in trials and rest in seasons of anxiety. In His Word we find wisdom to know how to make decisions, and discernment to seek His will. In God’s Word we find joy, peace, life, hope and love; we find everything we need to live for Him, to teach others about Him, to identify sin, to turn from sin, and to grow in faith and righteousness. And in God’s Word we meet the life-changing—eternity changing—person of Jesus Christ.

And yet, if we do not read our Bibles, or apply the truths we find there, we will not reap the benefits of His Word. For we need to be in His Word daily, allowing it to transform us, so that we can breathe in His truth, His love, and His instruction.

Studying God’s Word on our own is an important part of the Christian walk, but so is studying His Word with others. Rich growth happens when we open the word together and allow God’s breath to exhale over us. Maybe even now God is drawing you to His Word. Maybe even now He is calling you to disciple someone or be discipled by someone. Don’t delay. Run to His Word.

For the fact is, my sweet Grandmother was right; the Bible is the one book that you truly can’t live without.

Breath of God

Relationship over religion

After attending a powerful women’s conference over the weekend, I have SO much I want to process and share here. But time is a valuable commodity these days as we fly at warp speed to the end of the school year, and so my thoughts will have to continue spinning around my head for a little while longer 😉

Instead, I would love to share with you a post I wrote for She Believes that highlights the importance of choosing a relationship with Jesus over the practice of religion.

You can find the post here:

The Most Important Relationship You Will Ever Have

Much love,
Jen

Relationship

This Man

Ah, the fairytale.

“I want a man like that,” young me would declare after watching a Disney movie, unconcerned with plot points such as a prince who falls in love with a fairy-dusted pretty face and an uncomfortable pair of shoes.

“I want a man like that,” teenage me would croon while dreaming of being whisked on stage by Jordan from New Kids on the Block.

“Oh to have a man like that,” newly married me would sigh, while turning the pages of a novel, where the highest titled duke inevitably falls for the poor, yet strong-willed and completely gorgeous country girl before promptly escorting her into society on his well muscled arm.

“If only my man was like that man (ahem, vampire),” new mom me would whisper while being swept away by the love story that was Bella and Edward (ok, that feels a little embarrassing to admit!)

Books, movies, commercials, ads, all point us to the “perfect” man. A man whose entire goal in life is to adore his woman while simultaneously working out constantly and somehow earning a fortune. (and of course overseeing his vampire and/or werewolf family!)

How many times have I allowed that “perfect” man image to distort reality?

How many times I have welcomed discontentment by putting out the welcome mat for the “perfect” man facade? 

The prince made Cinderella a queen (but did he even know her real name or favorite food?)

The rich duke catapulted his love interest into society’s most glittery balls. (But how did they spend a boring Tuesday night? Were society balls enough for her?)

And Edward (ah, Edward) how can any man compete with the kind-hearted, crazy rich, super-human self-sacrificing boy turned vampire man? (the idea of comparing Edward to any real man is well….absurd, completely absurd)

In my 19 years of marriage I have learned a few things:

  1. A real prince is a man who loves you even when your fairy godmother is nowhere to be found. A real prince holds your hair while you heave from morning sickness, ignores the spit-up stains covering your shirt, and tells you your beautiful when you feel anything but.
  2. Being whisked on stage is nothing compared to being held in the fortress of your man’s arms while your heart is broken from the pain of searing loss.
  3. Being escorted on the arm of a duke might be all well and good, but I would much rather link arms with a man who serves others in humility. A man who will pick up a hammer to repair a fence for a neighbor, take the dog out at 4am, or sit up all night with a sick child is far more attractive than any title could ever be.
  4. And vampires, werewolves, zombies, superheroes….they all belong right next to the other made-up characters like Pinocchio, Humpy Dumpty and Santa Claus. A real man—a human person who changes your tire in the rain, comes home from work to deal with an overflowing toilet and unloads the dishwasher before heading to a job he’s not loving at the moment, but goes to everyday in order to support his family and your dreams…that man far surpasses that of any fantasy!

So, on this my 19th wedding anniversary, I celebrate and thank God for this man:

test

My real life, perfect-for-me husband.

DSC02915

This man who loves his family more than his own comfort.

IMG_1030

IMG_3625

DSC04008

This man who supports my dreams, no matter how unobtainable they seem to me.

IMG_5246

DSC04133

This man who loves his children for who they are, as they are, while encouraging them to become all they can be.

IMG_4988IMG_5005IMG_3619IMG_0716

IMG_8011IMG_0268 2IMG_7386

This man who takes my car to get new tires so that I don’t have to deal with it on our anniversary.

IMG_3771

This man who holds me when I cry, laughs with me when I laugh and does all that he can to provide for our family.

DSC042929

DSC03626IMG_0173 2

This man who is my best friend, my confidant, my greatest supporter and the calm to my crazy.

IMG_9413

This man whom I love more than I could ever express, flaws, faults and human-ness (just as he loves me flaws, faults and human-ness)

Happy Anniversary baby! I love you and thank God for giving you to me.

When my daughter’s broken heart brought joy to my own

Tears streamed down her lightly freckled cheeks. Blue eyes swam in emotion—an emotion she couldn’t quite identify. As she read, she occasionally whispered his name, followed by the question “why?” She paused to wipe her eyes and then continued reading. As repulsed as she was riveted. Finally, from her stool at the kitchen counter, she looked over to where I was sitting at the table.

“Mama, did you know he did this?” she asked with breathless horror. “Did you know they did all of that to him?”

Seeing the tears in my little girl’s eyes made it difficult for me to speak. “Yes,” I whispered, nodding solemnly.

“But why? Why would they do that to him?” she demanded. “How could they do that to him?”

She looked down at the precious book open before her—to the pages containing words written in the color of the innocent blood that was shed.

“And how could he let them do that to him?” she asked, touching the pages she had just read.

“It was the only way we could be with him,” I answered, feeling the weight of the moment deep in my soul.

She knew the answer—had given the answer countless times. But this day was different. Something seismic had shifted in her young life.

This day, the truth which she had heard others speak of so many times—truth which had taken residence in her head—was now, as she read it for herself, being etched deep into her heart.

“He loves us that much,” she said, her words full of a new awareness.

Her nine-and-a-half year old hands caressed the pages of the Bible. Her head bowed in reverent acceptance of his gift.

“I love him so much,” she said, allowing her tears to flow freely—effectively releasing my own.

I went to her. We hugged each other and cried—cried for the pain and humiliation our Savior endured on our behalf. Cried tears of joy that because of his sacrifice we have Hope and a future. Cried because our tears are often the conduit which carries truth from head to heart.

My little girl had verbally trusted in Jesus many years before. She has known that he died for her, rose again, and is the only way to the Father for sometime. She has been his child since the day she cried over her sin—her awareness of her sin—and asked Jesus to take it away so she could be with Him. And yet the day she sat at the kitchen counter, the roots of her faith pushed their way into her heart.

For it was that moment, the moment when she read the words for herself—when she allowed Jesus to speak directly to her—that her faith became rooted in Him. Not a faith in my faith. Not a faith in a Sunday school lesson. But a faith deeply rooted in the person of Jesus. A relationship with the One who endured the cross for her.

Her faith became a relationship.

IMG_5007

A relationship with the same Savior who stands at each of our kitchen counters (or anywhere we are) and invites us in—into his family, into his arms, into a relationship with him. Can you hear him? Can you hear him whisper your name? Can you see the scars he bears—scars which testify to the depths he went to have a relationship with you?

Relationship.

That’s what Jesus longs to have with us. That is why he endured the cross. That is why he conquered sin and death. That is why the first words spoken on the newly risen Savior’s lips was a name.

“Mary,” he spoke softly, invitingly.

Her name serving as a place holder for my name. For your name.

Can you hear your name on his lips?

He calls even now.

The One who endured the cross on Friday is the same who triumphed over death on Sunday. All so He could have a relationship with us.

atthecross

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

Much love,
Jen

The Power of One

One.

The solitary number just never seems big enough, does it?

One potato chip? Hardly!!
One dollar? Barely enough to buy a soda anymore.
One day of vacation? You can’t even get fully relaxed!

I am so quick to dismiss one, often feeling as though it’s lack reflects my own. After all, in a culture of excess where worth is often measured in quantity, one hardly seems worth noticing.

And yet over and over again we see in the Bible, where God delighted in calling, in sending, in rescuing just one. 

With all the heartbreaking news recently, I have been so overwhelmed at what I could possibly do? I mean, who am I to help a country in crisis, half a world away? Who am I to offer assistance to those whose lives have been turned upside while worshipping on Palm Sunday? How can I affect any substantial change?

As I wrestled with these feelings over the past few weeks, God began whispering through the pages of His word. Over and over again I would hear the whisper of “one.” I would see Jesus ministering to one, I would read of God calling one. I would look around the world in which we live and see glimpses of lives forever changed by one.

For the truth is:

We might not be able to save the world, but we can make a difference in the life of one person!

One is powerful to the one whose life is changed.

One is important to the one affected.

One is valuable to the God who created that one.

Earthly awards and accolades may not be given to those who affect change in just one, but that doesn’t mean that touching the life of one is not notable or important. For not only is a life changed, but that changed life will most likely influence change another and another. And suddenly one becomes much larger.

And while crusades, sold-out concerts, and massive fundraising events are great–and while millions of views, thousands of followers and hundreds-of-thousands likes can affect great change, I believe the greatest change, the most lasting change, comes from one person connecting to another person and saying—whether through voice, post, or actions:

“You matter. You are seen. You are loved.”

As I try to wrap my brain around what I can do to help a broken world, and as I pursue a writing career, I can get so caught up in numbers – the numbers of people hurting as well as the lack of numbers indicating that I am affecting any kind of change. But what God is continually, and patiently, showing me, is that He delights just as much in one life changed as He does in thousands. For while Jesus taught and fed the 5,000, He also discipled twelve, and opened His arms to the “ones.” He took time to see an outcast Samaritan woman; He made time to counsel a confused Jewish leader; He reached out to a hated tax collector; and made Himself available to countless other “ones.”

So while I doubt that anything I do will solve the world’s problems, I will focus on asking God to help me make a difference in the life of just one.

For one is important and worthy.

One is beautiful.

One is powerful.

And one can be enough.

You might not be able to save the world, but you can make a difference in the life of one person!

Much love,
Jen