When I’m Just Not Feelin’ It

When Scotty McCreery released his summer theme song “Feelin’ It,” I was instantly hooked. Probably because deep down I’ll always be a beach-loving, flip-flop Florida girl at heart. But whereas I might always be feelin’ a beach day, sometimes I’m just not feelin’ it spiritually. And often, my lack of feelin’ it comes at odd times, like when it would seem that I would feel the closest to Him.

Isn’t it strange how a spiritual mountaintop can often feel more like a steep cliff whose edge you got too close to?

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I always want to linger on the mountain. Throw my arms out and go all Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music. But inevitably my raised arms start to flail and I plunge from the mountain to the valley below.

I want to bask and rejoice in God’s goodness, but find myself worrying and fretting about what’s next. I want to linger over His word, but scurry of to the next to-do. I want to keep the momentum going, but find myself hiding under my covers.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

The enemy’s taunts drown out truth’s whisper and I am down. Looking up at the mountain that now seems so far away.

So what changed?

Not God. Never God. He’s the same always.

Did I take my eyes off of Him? Did I get so wrapped up in the feelings of being on the mountain that I let my guard down? Does being on a mountain just make you a easy target?

I imagine the answer is yes to all of the above.

So what is the answer when we’re just not feelin’ it, spiritually?

Give up? Give in? Stop? Try again tomorrow? Pull the covers up a little higher? (that last one is my personal strategy of choice!)

No!

  • We say out loud that my faith is not a feeling! (Repeating as many times as necessary)
  • We pray – confessing our lack of feelin’ it and praising God that our faith is not our feelings. Faith is trust. Faith is belief. Faith is being sure of what we can’t see or feel. Faith is about who Jesus is – it’s not about me.
  • We reflect on the Who of Jesus – making a list, reviewing it out loud.
  • And then we get out God’s Word and we read it. Even if it’s just a verse or two. We claim truth. We stand on truth (even if we stand in the valley with arms sore from flailing).

Today, I’m just not feelin’ it. But I know it’s ok, because my faith is not based on my feelings, but on my constant Savior.

Much love,
Jen

Faith is NOT a feeling (1)

 

When you see the loaves and fishes multiplying before your very eyes….

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be in the crowd the day Jesus fed the 5,000?

fish-and-loaves

As your hungry belly reminds you that lunchtime has come and gone, your heart will not let you leave the presence of the man who speaks with an authority you can’t explain. You see a small boy approach Jesus. The crowd is so large that you have to crane your neck around the other onlookers, to see what Jesus is doing. You can’t hear what the disciples are whispering about, but they look confused. As you try to decipher their expressions, you hear Jesus cry out in a loud voice His thanksgiving to the Father. You see Him raise His arms toward heaven. In them, the little boy’s lunch. The crowd begins to murmur, the scene suddenly chaotic. Why? What has happened? The disciples stand, faces transfixed on Jesus. Their expressions a mix of fear, shock and excitement. The crowd begins moving forward. The disciples shake their heads, as if coming out of a fog. Something is being passed. Is it a basket? Yes. Some kind of large basket is making its way back to you. You see people reaching in and taking something out. What? Your stomach surges with the realization that it is food. Food! The sweet smell of bread mingles with the salty smell of fish. People greedily take what is offered. The basket is passed, and passed and passed. Hands pulling out all of its glorious contents. Your heart drops. There won’t be any left. Too many hands have taken from the basket. Your stomach tightens, hunger wraps around your belly. As always, you are too late, too far, too….passed over. As if taunting you, the basket continues its journey back through the crowd. You can no longer bring yourself to watch as the last pieces are taken. Where did the food come from? And will more ever come? With your gaze fixed on the grass beneath your feet, the basket is placed in your hands. Tempted to just pass the empty vessel to the next unfortunate soul, you decide to peak inside in hopes a crumb remains. You thrust your hand in, intending to scrape from the bottom. Yet your hand is stopped. Something is blocking the opening. Your hand opens, it touches… bread. You close your fist around the loaf. Your free hand takes another. The basket is taken from you, continuing it’s journey. Your mind is swirling with questions, just as another basket makes its way to you. With two loaves in one hand, you thrust your free one into this other basket. Fish. The basket is held for you as it travels. You quickly withdraw a few fish. Your hands now full, your mind reeling. How did that just happen? You saw the baskets. You saw people taking from them. They should have been empty. You should still be hungry. Yet, as you take bite after bite, you are full. Both stomach and soul. How? The question whispers through your mind the rest of the day. How? How?? As the sun makes its descendent toward the horizon, the crowd disperses. Open space now dots the once packed mountainside. You turn to face the water, still trying to process the abundance. Your gaze catches His. Jesus stands looking at you. A knowing smile on his lips. As if He somehow speaks the words without moving His mouth, you hear the phrase, “With God all things are possible.” They were words you have heard Him speak before. Beautiful words. Powerful words. But now they are more…the words became bread, they became fish, they became…..Him.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Over the past month and a half, I have experienced God’s provision of abundance in ways I can hardly comprehend. He has provided words to a story in six weeks, that I had previously worked on for 4 years! When He called me to Start Over I couldn’t see it. Couldn’t imagine it. There’s no way Lord. There won’t be enough time. There won’t be enough words. There just won’t be enough….

With God, all things are possible

But God knew. And He patiently and overwhelmingly showed me that He is more than enough. Yesterday I completed the content for my manuscript. According to my previous calculations (and going faster than I thought I even could) I should have been done in two more weeks.

But God’s timing is not ours and He knew. He knew what He had in store. I did not. Seeing Him work. Experiencing the multiplying of time, the outpouring of words, the “enough” of Jesus, has been life altering.

And just because He is God and He is all about abundance my final word count was 75,075. (although it will certainly change as the editing process begins.)

Being a bit of a nerd when it comes to the Biblical significance of things like numbers, I found myself looking up the significance of the numbers 7 and 5 (you know since there’s two of each in that number!)

Guess what?

7 means complete and 5….well, it’s the number for grace.

So as I typed the words the end

It was as if God spoke the words, “Complete Grace.”

I long to share with you over the next few weeks and months more about the book, the story behind the book and all the ways I have seen God’s hand in this process, but for now I just wanted to publicly acknowledge and praise the God of abundance who graces us with far more than we could ever ask for or possibly imagine!!!!

Much love,
Jen

The End

For the Battle Weary….

Lord, Your people are hurting. The fight is exhausting. We try to stand for you, yet continually find ourselves getting knocked down.

Standing in the light of Your love makes for an illuminated target. 

The enemy is relentless in his pursuit-a fact that makes our hearts soar with anticipation of what you must have in store, while at the same time trembling in fear of what lies around the bend. He has bruised us. We ache. We find it hard to lift our heads.

The armor you promise us is on, but Lord, today it feels so heavy. Our shields of faith drag the ground-the weight, at times, too much to bear.

Father, your people are tired. Just getting out of bed some mornings is all we can manage. Fears assail us from under the covers: can I do this? Is this the right thing? What will this day bring? The “what-ifs” taunt us: What if I fail? What if I succeed?  What if I’m not enough?

Sickness, grief, uncertainty, darkness abound. Draining us of our energy. The news plays in the the background: floods, war, hatred, protests, murder, abuse, terror. God, when will it ever stop?

Jesus, your people are wounded. This life hurts, yet sadly-tragically-some hurts are caused by those who bear Your Name. And those wounds seem to hurt more. We cry out to You in pain, in fear, in frustration. We cry out to you in anger and desperation.

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Jesus we need to see You, to feel You, to hear You. All we can see right now is pain, brokenness and darkness. We are weary from battle and we need You. Now.

I AM here.

Our hearts hear the whisper of Your voice. A glimmer of hope lifts our heads.

I AM with you.

We rise from our bed of worry and doubt.

I AM for you.

We stand up.

I AM your strength.

You take your place in front and behind us. You hem us in. You place Your shield of faith in our weary arms. Although, they no longer feel quite as weary. Remarkably, they have been infused with strength. Your strength. We are able to hold firm Your shield of faith. We look to our right, to our left. Others are standing up holding shields like ours. All linked together, forming an impenetrable wall.

I AM enough. 

We take a shaky step forward. Then another. And another. We are once again walking. Walking in the light of the goodness of God. Walking in Love and in truth. We are once an an illuminated target, but we are filled with Power and Strength.
An arrow flies and then another, but we do not fear for we are Yours and You are in us.

We walk, we run, we fight, we speak, we write, we drive, we go. We go in Your Name. We go in Your strength. We go in Your power.

Lord, your people need You. The battles get hard-You know that better than anyone. Yet, even when You were weary and hungry, broken and bleeding, You fought. You spoke truth. You loved perfectly. You sacrificed. You gave freely. And You defeated the enemy once and for all.

With but a bow of Your head You trampled sin and death. With an empty tomb and a pre-dawn greeting You broke every chain.

And one day. One glorious day, You will speak but a Word and silence hell once and for all.

We are battle weary, but the battle is not ours nor will it last forever. Help us today to remember that truth. It is Your battle and you call us to fight in Your strength.

We are weak today. Remind us that we have access to the full measure of true Power.

We are tired. Call us to find rest in the arms of Love.

We trust You and depend on You. We stand in Your presence. Filled with Your strength. We stand wrapped in Your love. Help us today precious Father. Help us shine Your light and love into this world. Trusting that You who are in us is greater than he who is in the world.

We love You Lord.

In the powerful and eternal Name of Jesus we pray, amen.

he-who-is-in-you-is-greater-than-he-who-is-in-the-world

You Are Not Alone

Working on the manuscript today (pretty much what I will be doing every day for the next month until it’s done!) I am writing a scene based on true events where I needed to reference the song “You’re Not Alone” by Meredith Andrews. I couldn’t remember the song, so I looked it up. What a powerful message for us all!

Do you feel alone today? Do you feel unseen? Unloved? Unheard? Uncared for?

Sweet one, the truth is….you are never alone! God is always there, waiting for us to turn to Him. Waiting for us to cry out to Him. Life is hard. Oftentimes life hurts. There may not be an easy fix for your circumstances. But there is Hope. There is One who can carry you through the pain. One who will wipe your tears and strengthen your heart. For right now….at this very moment you are seen. You are loved. You are heard. You are cared for. Cry out to Him. Turn to Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Read His Word….not just to check a box but to receive a glimpse of His heart. Cling to Hope…for He is there with you.

And my friend He is for you!!!
Much love,
Jen

The Peace Within

A little note about today’s post:
Yesterday was hard. Really hard. Things like sicknesses, a car accident, having to cancel a long anticipated vacation, and listening to too much news all swirled together to create one heck of an internal storm. Yet, the lesson I had been planning to teach to 3 year old’s today was that of Jesus calming the storm. And as I had to wave the white flag and let my co-teacher know I wouldn’t be able to teach today, I started to have a little pity party. Yet, God in His infinite goodness (after allowing me to wallow for an hour or two) began to whisper beautiful truth from the lesson I would have been teaching. “Peace, be still my child,” I heard echo through my heart, “For your peace lies within, where I AM with you…always.” 
And so, although not Valentines-y in nature, today’s post is in fact a love letter spoken from the voice of Love Himself. I hope it blesses you as much as it did me!

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:37-39

The disciples were afraid because of the storm wreaking havoc in their circumstances.

Waves tossing them to and fro. Water filling their boat.

And yet, they need not fear.

Why?

Not because Jesus would stand up and calm the storm. Not even because the wind and waves had to obey Him.

But because Peace Himself was within their vessel.

They didn’t need Jesus to calm the storm, they just needed to hold fast to Him.

He did in fact calm the storm. And He did indeed show them His awesome power. But they still would have been ok even if He hadn’t. Jesus didn’t have to change their circumstances for them to have peace. They already had it. For Peace was sleeping peacefully within their vessel.

The Prince of Peace was with them, just as He was with Daniel in the lion’s den. Just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire.

Just as He is with us today.

The storm is raging. Waves of uncertainty are tossing us to and fro. Water is breeching our walls of comfort and complacency. 

But, if we have trusted in Jesus. If we claim His Name and His righteousness, then Peace dwells within us, and we need not fear the storm.

Whether He rebukes the storm and says, “Peace, be still” over our circumstances, or whether He simply holds us tight in the midst of the storm, we can trust Him to be our anchor, our steadfast, unmoving anchor.

We, as God’s children, literally have Peace dwelling within the vessel of our heart.

What might happen if we truly lived that truth?

Are you facing a storm today?

Maybe, for just a moment, see Jesus resting within the vessel of your heart. See Him at peace within you and go to Him. Reach for Him. And allow Him to speak peace over your anxious heart. Trust Him to see you through this storm and to never, ever, let you go.

Peace. Be still my sweet friend.

Much love,
Jen

peace-be-still

Word Manna

Rewriting my manuscript has not been easy (Rewriting). But it has been transforming as each day I come empty handed before God and ask Him to pour His words through me. I keep thinking of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert collecting just enough manna for the day. No more, no less. Just enough.

That’s what I am asking God for. Just enough words for each day. His words. Divine words.

I run to open my computer each day and eagerly await the word manna He rains down from heaven. And He is so faithful to provide!

Are you in need of manna today?

How often do we seek and strive for things, for people, for ideas, for peace, for (fill in the blank).

When in reality God is simply waiting for us to look up so that He can rain down something far better. So that He can give us heaven’s bread.

What if for today, just for a moment, we sit and wait. We wait for the Lord to rain down His manna on us. And what if, even if just for today, we trust that His manna is enough. That it is better. That it is good. How might our day look and feel different?

Praying that you will look up today and find His manna is more than enough.

Much love,
Jen

word-manna-2

 

 

When God Asks You to Start Over (and you want to put your fingers in your ears and sing la-la-la!)

Recently, it occurred to me that I haven’t really posted much about my book or the writing process. Mostly, because I’ve been using every free second to write the book! But also because God has been using this process of book writing to prune some very deep parts of my heart. This process has exposed weaknesses I didn’t know I had. It has exposed fears and insecurities and doubts. Doubts of my ability, doubts of my calling, and sadly, even doubts of God’s provision. Will He do it? Will He provide? Will He enable me to do what He has called me to do?

From the very beginning of this journey my mantra has been that it is God’s story. And if you had asked me if I really believed that statement I would have shouted (ok, I’m way too much of an introvert to shout at you, so I would have said politely) “absolutely!”

But the truth is, I had been holding onto this story, this book, this writing process by my fingernails. I had been trusting in things I could control like having a long time to write it, building up a nice steady word count, being comfortable with story-telling. I had been (without even realizing it) trusting in myself.

But as God is a God who lovingly corrects, exposes and prunes His children,  He began to gently, one by one, pry my fingers off of my perceived control. How?

Well, this story I am writing encompasses many different lives and many different moments that were each touched in some way by a very special horse. Each story, worthy of sharing. But my job is to tell the story in the most succinct and interesting way possible. This has created some structural challenges. It has taken a team of people far more intelligent that myself to try and figure out the structure of this book and the perspective with which to tell it. I have had many stops and starts along the way. I have written and written, only to rewrite and rewrite, and then start the entire process over again. I need at least 60,000 words in my manuscript. I had a little party for myself a few weeks ago when I hit that mark!

And then…..

And then I had a conference call with the most amazing team of talented writers and publishers. (I cannot even begin to tell you how much I adore these women God is allowing me to work with!) They had been reviewing my chapters and the structure and realized that it wasn’t quite working as it was. After much discussion and prayer, they suggested some changes to the outline. And they are so right! It was as if God illuminated my computer screen that day and said, “Yes! Now, THIS is my story!”

I was both elated and discouraged. I could see it! I could clearly see that this was the right way to go. But my heart sunk at the thought of losing so much time and so many words. I started to console myself with the fact that I could surely use much of what I had already written. I could cut and paste and add and tweak!

Start over.

I felt the words in my soul.

What? No! Why? “Lord,” I whined like a toddler, “I’ve worked so hard. Why would You say that?”

Give it to Me and start over.

To say I was less than thrilled would be a serious understatement. The truth is, it took me four days of whining, moping, and wanting to put my fingers in my ears and sing “la-la-la!” before I agreed. But He was patient with me. And confirmed His calling in many hard-to-deny ways. Including having me teach the story of Abraham’s test of faith. In fact, I had to teach that same lesson twice in one week!

Give me your Isaac. Trust Me.

Lay down my manuscript? With less than two months to go before my deadline? Start over from scratch? Who does that Lord?!?!

You. Start over. 

And so after much prayer and consideration, I have started over. I am laying my manuscript on the altar and trusting that God will provide His story. One word at a time.

“Why would He ask this of me?” I still wonder.  Maybe it’s simply an act of faith. Maybe it’s a test of obedience. Or maybe it’s because each time I’ve written and rewritten I have learned more about writing and am now, finally, ready to tell the story He has given me; the way He wants me to. It’s probably a little bit of all those reasons, and many I’ll never understand. But it really doesn’t even matter. Because obedience feels good. Doing things God’s way is freeing.

For great freedom is found in surrendering to God’s will.

Every day I hold up empty hands and ask Him to fill them with His words. Every time I open my computer I look to the screen and trust that He will provide the words for that day.

Trusting God with your own “Isaac” is hard. It takes faith. Faith that you don’t think you have. But as you make even the tiniest effort to lay down that which you want to cling to; as you say “Lord, I don’t see how this is going to work, I don’t understand why You would even ask this, but I trust You;” as you whisper through your tears “I love You more; I will obey You and trust You no matter the cost,” then something incredible begins to happen! God begins to infuse His strength into you.

It is as if our surrender is the conduit through which His strength flows. 

And so, I keep writing – now from a place of worship and trust. It is hard, but it is so worth it!!

Do you have an “Isaac” you are clinging to? Maybe yours is a habit. Maybe a child. A spouse. A title. How you thought your life was going to be. Maybe it’s financial in nature. Or a dream. A desire.

Our Isaac’s can take many different shapes, forms, and faces. But may I encourage you today to trust God with it, even when you want to hold on by your fingernails! He is trustworthy. He is for you. And His hands are far more capable of holding onto it than yours.

Lay it down and let Him fill you up!

Much love,
Jen

our-surrender-is-the-conduit-through-which-his-strength-flows

For the Weary Writer

A blank screen taunts you: You can’t
A rejected proposal mocks you: You’re not
A non-existent platform ridicules you: No one cares
A deadline intimidates you: You’re just not good enough

But then…..

The Author of history. The Author of your story, and of every story, speaks. His words rise up from the ashes of your despair. His words bind your wounds and sooth your heart. His words wrap you in an embrace and quiet the storm churning in your weary heart.

I AM.

I AM the One who gives you strength.
I AM the One who gives you words.
I AM the One you write for.
I AM the One who is for you.
I AM your biggest fan.
I AM the source of your inspiration.
I AM here.

These words float like dust particles throughout your mind. They swirl like snowflakes around your soul.

You take a deep breath, filling your lungs with His words and then…..you begin again. You write a word. And then another.

You write for Him.
You write for you.
You write because you do not write alone.
You write because you must. For you have been given a divine task, a holy assignment.
You write unconcerned with the outcome. Likes, shares, and platforms all fade into the background, suddenly unimportant. Your vision clears and you see them as they truly are – tools at best, chains at worst. Chains to keep you enslaved to numbers. Chains that keep you from living free, from writing free.

You write, you speak, you do…..for Him and Him alone.

If you have been called to write, then write and let nothing stop you!

Write today.

Write for fun, write for healing, write to encourage.

But write, unafraid and unashamed.

And as you write, I pray these words (set to a old fashion hymn) will encourage you to press on:

have-thine-own-way-lord%e2%80%a8have-thine-own-way%e2%80%a8you-are-the-author%e2%80%a8lord-write-today%e2%80%a8write-through-my-fingers%e2%80%a8speak-through-the-keys%e2%80%a8lord-tell-your-story

 

Speeches, Manuscripts and Fears! Oh My!

My son had to give a speech today in his English class. A 3-5 minute memorized speech with proper inflection, gestures, and eye contact. To my introverted introvert this assignment has felt insurmountable. He has dreaded this day all month. I am so anxious to hear how it went, and yet, truth be told, the grade doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that he will have done it! What matters is that he did the hard work of memorizing it, of rehearsing it, of standing up to face his fear and of simply opening his mouth to begin! I am so proud of him because I know how hard this is for him. And whether he knocks it out of the park or fumbles and forgets his words, it doesn’t matter to me. Because he tried, he worked and he gave it his best. And I am proud.

Lately, I’ve been stuck on my manuscript. Writing has gotten hard. Complicated. I’ve felt in way over my head. The true story I am telling is multi-layered. It encompasses many people and many moments. Finding the right structure and perspective has been hard. Deciding which stories to include has been difficult. And staying focused on what I’m suppose to be doing on any given day has been a serious challenge.

I will confess to having many moments of believing that I just can’t do this. Of thinking that it’s too hard, that I’m not talented enough, and that surely any day now my publisher is going to realize that they made a horrible mistake.

This week has been hard.

But, in helping my son with his speech prep. In hearing him say things like:

I can’t do this.
It’s too hard.
I’m not good at this.
I’m gonna fail.

I heard God’s perfect words whisper through my imperfect ones:

You don’t have to do it alone. God is with you.

Sometimes the best things are the hardest things. But God is God over all and nothing is ever too hard for Him.

God does not call us to do something that He will not equip us to do. You have the power of the Holy Spirit living within you. You can do anything He calls you to do!

The results are not your concern. You prepare. You do the work. You try your best and then…you trust and rest. 

Yes, sometimes God asks us to do hard things. Really hard things. Sometimes He pushes us far past our own abilities, talents, and comfort zones. But He always provides. He always makes a way. And He always, always, stands with us.

And He doesn’t judge us by what others think of our effort. God cheers for us when we take even a baby step forward in obedience. He rejoices over us even when we tentatively stand up and say, “OK Lord, if You’re sure about this then I’m in.” And He smiles on us when we see Him as bigger than our fear and doubt.

We aren’t going to do everything perfectly. Let me say that again for myself: We aren’t going to do everything perfectly. We will mess up, we will fail, but we must try. We must hold onto the hand of the One who calls us and equips us and say, “I choose to walk with You and I choose to trust You. You are bigger than my fear. And You are for me.”

So whatever your hard thing is today. Whatever it is that leaves you frozen in fear and doubt. God is bigger. God is stronger. And He longs to take  you by the hand and help you SEE Him as He is – the Great I AM who is for you not against you.

god-is-greater

Holding onto Him with you and trusting Him to do this hard thing….

Much love,
Jen