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.

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

Much love,
Jen

Kind Like You

Today I had the overwhelming joy of watching my children sit on stage at school and lead other children in worship. Specifically, in a worship song that we wrote together.

There are so many miracles in those two sentences:

1) They did it! You see, my kids (like their mama and daddy) are introverts. Introverts who much prefer staying in the wings than standing on the stage (although, the youngest one is getting much more comfortable with being on stage;) Introverts who fear rejection, failure, and attention more than the plague. And introverts who really like our comfort zone. And yet, today they trusted God more than their fear. Today, they stood fear in the face and shouted, “I belong to the LORD and He is with me so shoo!”

2) I wrote a song with my kids!!! Granted, it’s a kids song and only has three chords, but still! Song writing of any kind is not something I thought I could do. But a need arose for a song about kindness. One that my daughter who has only been taking guitar for a few months could play. And so I began asking the Lord for inspiration, for a song if He should choose to give one. And He did! He provided the lyrics (with help from my kiddos), He provided the tune (with help from their guitar teacher), and He provided voices to sing it.

3) My son faced his greatest fear! He almost didn’t participate (that is a blog for another day however!) But at the last minute he agreed. And my heart is so full.

4) We made it on time! SO MANY THINGS WENT WRONG THIS MORNING!!! But God provided and we made it to school on time.

There is no feeling like watching your children walk in the power of the Holy Spirit to do something for the Lord. I am so incredibly grateful to our Great God and His unending kindness to us. And so here is “Kind Like You.”

(song sheet is linked below)

 

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Lord You are kind, You are good, You are true.
Lord You are kind. Help us be kind like You.
Many are hurting; many are in pain.
Lord, in Your kindness let us speak Your Name.
Many have wandered; many will fall.
Yet in Your kindness You gently call.
You call us back to You.
You call us back to You.
Your kindness saves us; Your kindness leads the way.
Your kindness is with us, each and every day.
Lord You are kind, You are good, You are true.
Lord You are kind. Help us be kind like You.
Where we see difference in color and race,
You see reflected your beautiful face.
We need Your kindness in word and in hand;
Help us spread Your kindness across this great land.
And lead us back to You.
Lord, lead us back to You.
Your kindness saves us; Your kindness leads the way.
Your kindness is with us, each and every day.
Lord You are kind, You are good, You are true.
Lord You are kind. Help us be kind like You.

A Noble Task

I have so many thoughts swirling around in my mind that I long to sort out here. I have so many glimpses of God’s extraordinary glory at work in my very mundane life that I can’t wait to share with you.

And yet….I also have a manuscript that is due in less than two months, two kids to care for (one of which turns 14 in two days!!! What?!?!), and a brand new puppy who needs to go out every 20 minutes! And so many of my wants are having to take a back seat right now. It’s hard, but it is life, right?

However, as God so graciously does, He provided a post for me to share today. I am honored to be writing over at SheBelieves.co as we spend the month walking through the small but mighty book of 1 Timothy.

You can find that post here:http://shebelieves.co/noble-task-day-4/

I will be back here posting just as soon as I can. And in the meantime I am praying that God will give us all spiritual eyes so that we can:

SEE Him as He truly is…
SEE us as He truly sees us….
and
SEE glimpses of His extraordinary presence in our ordinary lives.

Much love,
Jen

When the Feels are too Big

When my daughter was much younger she used the word feels instead of feelings:

“My feels are sad.”
“My feels are mad.”
“Him hurt my feels.”

One day, when she was about five and her brother had pushed her little buttons one too many times, I separated both to their respective rooms to have a talk with each one. After piecing through the events that led to her meltdown, I asked her if she was ready to leave her room and go play. She answered,

“My feels are still too big mama, I better stay in my room.” 

Great advice for us all, right?

Sometimes when your feels are too big,  you might need to stay put and reflect. 

My “feels” this Christmas season have been too big to put into words. And honestly, there are so many feelings that I still feel the need to hold closely to my heart and continue to reflect upon.

2016 was a year of dichotomies for our family (as well as so many others). We had high highs and low lows. It was a year of emotional whip-lash, so much so that I find myself apprehensive about the new year.

And yet, as I sat around my kitchen table this Christmas and looked at the faces of the family and friends (and new puppy!) gathered there, it occurred to me that I do not need to fear the new year because the same God who saw me through the last one will see me through this one and every one to come.

God tells us to “Fear not, for I AM with you” (Isaiah 41:10).

He doesn’t say, “Fear not for I will make everything ok,” or “Fear not for I will only give you happy things.”

No, He tells us that we need not fear the future because the Great I AM is with us. The One who formed us, who loves us, and is over all is within us.

So whatever this new year brings: deadlines, stretching, joys, sorrows, excitement, and heart break – God will be with me. He will be with us. He will hold our hands. He will lead and guide us. He will comfort and equip. He will dwell with His people and show us the way to go.

So I am determining this year, instead of fear I will:

I will hold fast to the hand of the One who saw me through my dad’s open heart surgery. 

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Every moment with this man feels like a gift from God. So thankful that those bypasses are doing their job!

I will rest in the embrace of the One who walked with our family through the loss of our precious golden retriever, Bailey. And who provided a precious new blessing through our new little Christmas puppy, Gracie Jade. 

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This precious little bundle of furry cuteness joined our family just before Christmas.

And I will place my trust in the One who has called me to write the story of hope He brought to me, and I will continue to thank Him for those who offer their support and encouragement in such sweet and practical ways!

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So grateful for these people!
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And for the constant laughter they bring!
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And for the godly examples they provide
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And for the constant reminders of God’s extraordinary grace!

Much love in the New Year!

Remember: God’s got this!!!

Love,
Jen