You Do You [A 6 Day Brave Moms – Strong Families Challenge]

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If you are the mom to a house full of noise, a grandmother investing in her family, the friend of a mom (we see you – helping us keep our cool), or an empty nest momma who is cheering for grown kids…you know that perfect never comes – but today is waiting right?

We’ve all been there, holding on for the “right time” to do ______________.

I’ve traveled the road called “maybe later” and have spoken the same things as you have, I’m sure!

I’ll get to it when I’m not sleep deprived.

I will work on that issue when I’m in the right mood.

Eventually, I will have the margin to parent better.

In a few weeks, I’ll have that hard conversation.

I’ll start taking care of myself when I’m not so stressed.

One day, I’ll be happy when I have deep friendships.

My marriage will strengthen when our kids are grown.

I’ll stop comfort eating ALL day when summer gets here!

Mercy HELP!

It’s all too much – but you know what? We can hang on to God’s truth and live today in a way that pleases Him and adds value to the family we’ve been entrusted with.

My blog friend Mari (and the very first person to let me guest post on her blog over 2 years ago), at Inspired By Family Magazine has invited me to be a part of a great challenge for Moms!

We are hoping to encourage y’all (while speaking to ourselves obviously) to live bravely with great passion and in truth as we walk in our mothering roles.

The two of us will be hosting a 6 day challenge to share insight, hope, courage, and the real stuff. We would love to have you stop in for some really great conversations!

You can also join our Brave Moms Strong Families Facebook Group by clicking HERE! You’ll find Mari and I sharing encouragement throughout the week, maybe even a video chat each week, with space for Q & A fun sprinkled throughout the 6 day challenge.

The Brave Moms Strong Families Schedule

Since we know summer can be a hectic we decided to spread the challenge out over 3 weeks!  Mari and I will take turns pulling up a chair and sharing words that are near to our hearts with y’all.

You can check back HERE to get the updated posts and links as they go live.

June 21st- Living Intentionally as we Understand Our Value

23rd- Living Hopeful in the Hard Stuff

28th- Living Authentically with What We’ve Been Given

30th- Living Joyful in the Messes

July 4th- Living Fearlessly from a Heart of Truth

July 7th- Living Calm in the Chaos

We can’t wait to walk alongside you guys and journey toward God in our passion, purpose, and potential to live brave today. Lets GO.

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Subscribe to our Brave Moms Strong Families Challenge today!

Pressing On When We Don’t Have All the Answers

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There are a couple of things that you’ll want to know about me. First, is that I hear God loud and clear in the mountains! Secondly, my favorite thing about taking a road trip is not the talking…it’s actually the not talking.

With the baby of the family strapped in the cars-seat and entertained by…not me, it is a recipe for a scenic glory with headphones, notebook, and favorite pen!

We returned home from the Cascade mountains last week and my jaw never came off the floor. Roads that I had not traveled before in my 41 years of living, had me holding my breath around all the windy turns.

Sitting in the back seat next to the napping toddler, we rounded a corner that showed off  a huge-normous mountain topped with jagged rocks that formed the peak.

Like they always do when I am struck by mountains, the tears streamed down my face. I quietly said, “Jesus what is it about this picture that has taken my breath away?” And He answered with one word.

“Mystery.”

That was IT. There was such a mystery about the elevation and hidden places at the top of this mountain that couldn’t stop the gaze. I continued the conversation, “Tell me more.”

He whispered these words to my heart.

“I want you to be about embracing the mystery of who I am – what I am doing and how I move around you.”

Clouded with the teary stream, I saw a picture…

of the unseen,

of the unfinished,

of the hidden mysteries that only God has authored.

I knew the mountain tops were there…but they were not visible. Instead they stood behind the hovering mist of cloud cover and fog. I knew the message He was telling me, and it was this:

We don’t get to know the things of God. The things hidden deep in His love, deep in His itinerary for our lives, in the way He has plans for this world. Sometimes He reveals and answers, other times He shows us beauty that is partially hidden – hoping that we will embrace and trust the mystery of who He is and what He is doing behind the scenery.

Instead – we as believers in Jesus Christ, get to live AMAZED and in AWE by it.

Oddly, I find a rich – unexplainable comfort in the mystery of God and His Spirit that leads me.

MYSTERY.  We aren’t Him and we don’t always get to know all of the answers. The pressure if off and we can choose to trust (way easier said)!

What I saw that afternoon was a picture of the power that lies within me from the Holy Spirit and a strength that inspires me to press on when I can’t see the entirety of the picture before me.

I can’t possibly re-count all the conversations in ministry over the years and within our own family, about why God doesn’t always reveal the full picture!

I believe He loves to see us step out and trust,

or slow down and wait,

or be risky and jump,

or find patience in praying.

Each opportunity a chance to grow our character and strengthen our faith.

So…that scene raised my blood pressure and shook my soul – but hang on…there was more.

The road followed the base of this mountain and while I was looking up we came around the side and strings of waterfalls poured out from the dead center.

WHUT? I mean it was not even real.

So now I am crying like someone just gave me the sweetest gift. There He was again.

“You can’t know all that I am doing for you and with your life – but BEHOLD springs of life will flow from your embracing my mystery.”

In this moment, I am talking in a loud whisper totally amazed at this whole situation, but He continues…

“Let my spirit be the absolute center of your life and breath. Do nothing without me as your source of everything.”

I thought I was doing that? But we never fully are right…because there’s that sin problem.

He leaves me with this blessing and its for you too.

“I will flourish and grow you and make your path beautiful. I am pouring my love over you. Look nowhere else. Listen to my voice. Go with me. Write it down. Tell my story in your life.”

Those things that we are pressing for an answer about, He is aware and never stops keeping watch over us.

Join me in welcoming His mystery and pressing on through the times of uncertainty with the joy that only He can give to us.

This Thing Called Motherhood And Why You Matter

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The second he closed his eyes, his tiny hand grew limp and let go of mine. I tip-toed out of his room, carefully avoiding freshly built train tracks, perfectly lined up hot wheels, and the pile of wet clothes from our sprinkler play.

I had to smile at how much I love being a mom. Honestly, even on the bad days – I’m crazy about it.

This thing called Motherhood is my whole life.

No matter what else I venture out to accomplish in my days – my children will always require encouragement, time, and heart.

I’ve been showing up to this gig for the past 17 years and have grown to respect my mission and the responsibility God graciously handed me.

After having tiny ones grow into men (insert a bathtub of tears).

After piles of papers and years of waiting to travel across the world to welcome a little one through adoption – and spending days on the phone with government offices.

After having four babies take up residence in my body for nearly 4 years of my life and remaining in an unending season of “uncomfortable”…and loved every minute of it.

After the sacrifice of sleep, of a clear mind, and the deprivation of hair cut appointments and lunch dates with friends.

After suffering the loss of miscarriage before our eyes had the joy of meeting, feeling confused, and hurting for answers (I wrote this for you).

After walking out some post baby depression that rocked my world (I am SO sorry if you’ve been in this place. I wrote this for you and this for those wanting to help).

After ALL of that history, our stories are packed with purpose.

You are a seen Momma.

I escaped to my chair outside near the rush of the river and the sun in full glory. God met me there and brought to mind the value of our roles as mothers and the true purpose behind our mission from conception to graduation and on into grown up years.

He reminded me that our assignment as mothers is to be present in the time we spend with our kids, parenting their hearts, guiding their steps, and trusting them to God.

We get to be the first, longest, loudest, and probably the most repetitive voice on earth in the life of our kids. They thrive with our cheering, correcting, and counting the days together like each one matters.

The homework (us pretending to get it).

The cooking (and how fast it is devoured vs. how long it took to make it).

The sports (all the practices, games, and capri suns).

The tears (all of the defeats).

The cracking-up (and how funny farts are always- why?).

The driving (how we slam the brakes from the passenger seat).

The friends (how we love the good ones like our own).

The heart breaks (how our hearts shatter with theirs).

The victories! (and how excited we get for those wins).

The souls (how we talk to God about them and pray for their whole life).

The stories (all the times we fell asleep in toddler beds).

The play mobile (and how we step on it).

The injuries (serenity now).

The pep-talks (when we cheer for them but really are speaking to ourselves).

The disagreements (when we can’t take another sentence and say things like, “no more words”).

The eye-rolling (when daughters try to take over).

The birthdays (the home-made cakes we attempt right before the party).

The driver’s license (how much of a basket case we are the first go-round).

The talking (talk to momma all day long…we just might not be 100% listening).

You guys…the world’s opinions on how we should mother or how pretty we portray our family life to friends, small groups or the online community, will not matter as we launch young adults into the world. 

None of it.

What matters is how we actually showed up in the lives of our kids day by day.

You are a valuable Momma.

All of the days I’ve completely failed my kids, Jesus picked up the pieces and rescued me (and them) from myself.

Raising up the next generation will impact for decades to come because we did the hard labor of serving others before ourselves.

Carry on beautifully this Mother’s Day,

you exhausted first, second, and third time moms,

you mother’s making cold de sacs cool,

you moms praying to see a heartbeat,

you moms of teens oozing life,

and you now empty nester moms (come over if you are missing the chaos!).

Your hard work carries deep meaning and should be compared to no one else.

You are a chosen Momma.

Enjoy your nap, your day off, your cute handmade cards and re-gifted presents from small daughters, the hugs from teenage sons, and the gift of doing all the normal stuff for those who call you Mom.

I am proud to be on this journey with y’all.

XO ~Jen

 

 

 

 

When Momma Misses Out On Easter

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The family was up early getting ready to celebrate Easter morning like usual.

Clothes laid out,

hair fixed a little more carefully,

and sifting through all the treats left out for five kids on the dining room table.

I was finding the fun in new white jeans, a bright blue shirt, and finally some sandals in Seattle (praise), while Jesus and I were having a chat about the way He emptied out that grave.

Looking into the bathroom mirror while shaking my head at the way He appeared to His people, I thought about how much I would have LOVED to be there! Can you even?

Don’t the holidays have a way of rolling in and catching our hearts by surprise?

I don’t know about you, but I usually bank on having my “moment” with Jesus at some point in the chaos of the seasons.

You’ve been there…

Like the Christmas you weren’t prepared for, that snuck up on you and you caught a fresh glimpse of God. Maybe because you were too busy to notice Him the entire season – but all of a sudden you were there standing in the delight of the baby Jesus in the manger.

Your heart soars with joy right?

Or maybe it could be the months and hours of planning out that first birthday party! The exciting ideas, dreaming of perfect themes, and drafting up the guest list is great fun.

It all keeps us so distracted, that we don’t feel the weight of our baby moving from tiny to toddler…until that first bite of cake.

This Easter was different from any other year to date.

In years past, I (and maybe you too) anticipate Easter Sunday like no other Sunday. God has a way of gut punching my spirit and waking me up to His resurrected reality – and I so look forward to THAT moment.

All of the heavy and hard stuff comes into view and Jesus removes the doubt and fear and replaces it all with a rich hope.

This particular morning He spoke powerful reminders to me.

I heard Him say, “Jenny – we have been walking out this reality for a solid year haven’t we? Aren’t you glad that today feels like a normal celebration for your heart?”

And then it hit…For the first time ever, I didn’t feel differently about Easter this year because I had been living in the power of Jesus of Nazareth EVERY single day.

For better or for worse – I had been walking with Him.

Maybe you have lived your entire life close to Jesus like it is Easter morning on replay… I definitely have not.

Easter didn’t feel different, because I had been practicing the presence of Jesus more constantly than all of my forty-one years on earth. 

The big brothers gathered the little ones, jumped into the mini van, and we headed towards Seattle.

Mountains,  jam-packed with towering trees shouted praises to King Jesus! Fog settled up in those forests adding mystery to His resurrection.

I was enjoying the drive, but my 2-year-old was sick with a nasty cough and relentless waterfall of a running nose. I had hopes of keeping him with me for the service – but we all know how that usually turns out…so I made my swift exit to the van.

Honestly – any other Easter I would have felt so heartsick that I missed my chance to really worship, to relive the words of scripture, to sing my heart out, and praise like I hadn’t all year-long.

I definitely made up for the singing as we drove back along the scenic route, and even detoured for ice cream. Win!

Even though the timing of sickness caused me to miss our first Easter at our new church,  it was a strong day of recognizing the actual power of Christ in my day-to-day living.

Jesus used these moments to lift my eyes and dial back to all the ways He has demonstrated His sacrifice and rising from the dead power this year.

We don’t have to wait for that perfect message, that favorite song, or the “just right” vibe to draw in to all that Jesus has for us.  

We get to offer Him our highest praise Monday through Sunday all year round. May we be the ones who don’t hold out for the big moments to enjoy His powerful presence.

The Ministry of the Slow Mom

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Re-heated coffee in hand and clean clothes in the other, I made the announcement to let the family know I was about to have an appointment with one of the basic human needs – clean.

“Guys – I need you to watch the baby please, I’m taking a shower…but I’ll be super quick!”

As soon as I got behind the door without all the voices (which I love but c’mon – Mom of any number of kids needs silent serenity) I looked into the mirror and asked myself, “Why does this need to be quick?”

Run to the store…real quick.

Jump in the shower…real quick.

Sit quietly…real quick.

Read a little…real quick.

Catch up with a friend…real quick.

Write down thoughts…real quick.

Do you ever find yourself trying to do slow things too fast? I do.

I took a deep breath, realizing that it had been a couple of days since a real shower that wasn’t 60 seconds in length.

I turned the water on and let it heat up longer than normal. I stood and let that hot water take away the “real quick” and took the time to finish thoughts.

At a snail’s pace, I washed the paint out of my hair, shaved BOTH legs without injury, and even lingered after I was finished.

“A spiritual discipline of regular rest from the constant drive to check items of a to-do list can be a powerful symbol of our trust in God’s sufficiency.” Christianity Today

Motherhood has been my full-time job 24/7 for nearly 18 years and sometimes we need to allow our busy, hustling, selves to feel cared for. To rest without guilt, pressure, or fear of getting behind!

Someone else can do our job for a time friends. I mean things might fall apart temporarily but its fine.

With much sacrifice we…

plan and make the dinner,

organize the clean up crews,

pick up toys,

listen to hearts,

help with school,

discipline the unruly,

encourage the disappointed,

nurse the sick,

read the stories,

adventure outside,

listen to lots of words,

disciple toward Jesus,

calm the tears,

and a whole host of love tasks.

The ratio of running ragged to real relief is so off-balance isn’t it? Sometimes because we don’t have a choice – other times because we don’t allow for the slow down.

“Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28

Maybe you get into Mom mode too. You rush through things that should be breaks.

I am learning that living in the slow moments is a ministry that God uses to clear our hearts and refresh our spirits…but we must give into it.

So as we step into Holy Week, one that is supposed to be

slow and reflective,

rich and repentant.

cheerful and celebratory – may we really find longer moments to sit and soak up all that has taken place and the joy set before us!

Take that lingering shower…somehow. Drive around the neighborhood one more time. Read the pages of scripture. Slower.

This is real life Mommas, and we must not become blurry in the hurry.

Slow down for Him, for you, and for them.

 

When We Are A Stressed Mess

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I was having one of those moments in the kitchen this week while getting ready for the day, in an effort to keep up with my toddler making a bee line for the front door.

As the coffee was brewing, I reached down to put my socks on and in this moment, a familiar stress met me and I thought to myself, “weird – it’s just socks”.

Then it hit, the months of motor home living and all the extreme heart work that took place, flashed before me.

Putting on socks meant that I was both cold and hurried in those days. Trying to keep the family above water with school, making meals, pep talk conversations, and literally chasing a two-year old all over the camp’s creation…was necessary but the post stress is real!

The blessing of a place to live – though tight, was a huge gift. The way God worked out his will for us during that time was not a vacation but absolutely a tool for refinement.

I would wake up with the little one and grab his cereal and drink, trying so hard not to wake up the other five sleeping just feet away (and carrying guilt for when it just didn’t work out).

I made sure my clothes were accessible the night before, with socks tucked in shoes – ready to  head out the door to get the day started.

This was the R.V. camping life of seven.

Satan used this time trying to dirty up my soul with his deception but the Spirit of the living God was with me and crushed those words.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

“Where is this church job you’ve been looking for?”

“There isn’t anything better for your family.”

“The suffering will continue.”

“Where is your Jesus …the one who Saves?”

Oh the echos of evil. They were in stereo and honestly each step of my day for three months was an actual unseen war. 

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” – Ephesians 6:11

Rather quickly, I realized that my stress was deeply rooted in the fear and lie that I wouldn’t ever see community or comfort.

I perfected the art of cleaning up breakfast, slipping on jeans, a hoodie, fleece, scarf, and gloves at record speed. There was no time (or room) for mirrors, make-up or hair fixing. My days became a survival game. Mostly we conquered victoriously, but there were moments where we drowned in defeat.

How in the world do we handle hard seasons that wear on us physically and emotionally?

In the middle of our hardest days in transition to our new job and state, we logged some exhausting hours. Many conversations did not go well and we struggled to be on the same page. Sound familiar?

We also lived in the glory of days filled with excitement and expectation, of belief, and of trusting the goodness of the God who called us to His greater story! So much good surrounded us. I combatted all the junk with truth. The truth of scripture, truth of worship, and truth of new voices speaking into my life.

Darkness despises light – so we claim His goodness, His providence, and His protection as the evil party busts up.

Don’t know what is going on in your life right now?

Aren’t sure how things are going to pan out?

Fearful that your hope and faith isn’t strong enough?

Worried that Jesus may not want to bless you?

Some of the things that carried me in the “make-me-wanna-throw-up”  times were:

  • Make a huge, fun deal about doing the little things. Be grateful for the small stuff.
  • Don’t worry about a big plan, just take the next best trust step. Be where you are..
  • Embrace your God-given passions and do those things. Be insightful.
  • For heavens sake get yo self outdoors…like now. Be adventurous.
  • Find scripture that speaks hope and pray those words over your day. Be faithful.

Inviting Jesus into all of these places friends – to the daily normality of tasks is how He demonstrates His love and power in the middle of our crazy stories.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? – Psalm 139:7

I took my time getting those socks and shoes on that morning… and we made it out the door just in time to catch the sun parting the clouds of Seattle.

I watched my kids enjoying the outdoors of our new home – and thanked God for promising to see us through.

The truth is y’all…He also wants to walk with you.

The Best Kind of Comfort

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Coffee mug in one hand and journal in the other, I skillfully tip toed my way – while trying to avoid the creaks in the old hardwood.

Please tell me you’ve snuck down the hallway past kids bedroom doors who are awake and waiting to jump-start the day? I do.

I like my mornings hush-hush with a large hot coffee and a side of calm.

No movement – only the Spirit Kind.

No breakfast prep – only the heart kind.

No voices – only the God kind.

Totally lost in each rapid and the rolling waves of our backyard river, the power in creation, and my duck friends flying up-stream, I began to share my thoughts with Jesus and the list was long.

“Jesus – Good Morning…Its me and I’m ready to hear you today. What do you want to say to me? I am listening…”

I say that prayer with ease, but then a brief panic sets in. Because when we ask, He delivers and usually – it isn’t all fresh flowers and dark chocolate. 

Those morning prayers can go many directions right?

There are some days  (a lot of days) where correction needs to happen.  It’s not my favorite way to start a conversation, but He sets my heart straight.

Gently, He corrects us when we give lies a seat at our tables and subscribe to things that He has not authored. 

Next, He encourages my spirit and speaks hope over me.  Always His voice is strong – yet affirming in love and truth.

He is in all of our details y’all, going ahead and working it out and forever making a perfectly prescribed way for us.

He pointed me to these words in Psalms, reminding me…

“Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the worlds “sure thing”, ignore what the world worships;

The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts.

Nothing and no one comes close to you!

I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words.

Neither numbers nor words account for you.” Psalm 40:4-5 MSG

I read this over and over again.

Oh the benefits of giving ourselves over to Him and turning from the world. Ignoring what it worships.

Recklessly, and without a second thought we worship all kinds of things even though we want to be all in with God – don’t we?

Maybe our world worship looks like:

  • a name we aspire to,
  • a super diet,
  • some mom platform,
  • that dream sitting still,
  • the picture perfect vacation,
  • all the trends,
  • a career goal,
  • the child longed for,
  • a perfect home interior,
  • party perfect planning,
  • the hard to choke addiction,
  • the promise of an exercise regime,
  • a government-run by man,

and the list continues and is different for each of us.

Obviously we were set on this earth to impact with eternal value, so we do that with our gifts. We find large amounts of honor serving Jesus in our work places, ministry spots, and families.

He allows us to be on mission for Him with every single breath and its so exciting, seasoned with heavy responsibility.

But heaven help us when we become more wrecked about pursuing world things (even seemingly good) than we about are chasing God’s heart.

At the end of the day , He is over all things reigning (and maybe over our striving). He spoke to me that morning about the reality of Him being all that I need.

On really amazing, smile filled days – He’s all that I need. On the hard to make it to lunch time days – He’s all that I need.

To allow Him to be my affirmation, my inspiration, and my one purpose on this earth…because actually friends, there are not enough numbers or words that can even account for Him. 

Breathing in the real life and feeling all the things both in laughter and tears…still doesn’t  even touch all that He has for us.

May we be the ones who give ourselves over to God.

The ones who run out of words, because there just aren’t enough.

Reaching more for His world and less of ours.

This week, we can be sure that nothing and no-one comes close to Him…and isn’t that the best kind of comfort?

 

 

The Post Adventure Exhale

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I woke up yesterday morning before sunrise with the toddler crying for Momma. Week two of teaching him the joys of sleeping in ones own bed has not been as awful as I anticipated it to be.

I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to transition babies from cribs to beds, or from mom’s bed to own bed, and I didn’t even read a book or google or blog search.

I just started sleeping in his bed because I am forty-one and that’s that. The End. It’s true that the fifth baby breaks all former family rules!

I crawled into his little wooden bed in the shape of a boat and took in his bedroom full of toys and the feeling of home it brought.

I was kept awake with the view of gigantic evergreen trees standing outside his window.

Do I really live here?

Did God honestly just call us out and position our family to do His work in such a beautiful location full of caring people?

After all that fussing, and broken-hearted cries for provision…He has delivered the hope we set out for, and with so much more than we could have mapped out. 

I know that this is not always the case. Sometimes in our faith journey, we don’t get to enjoy and see with our eyes the good in the hard times. I’ve been there too.

Some of you may be trusting and waiting without a clear answer. PRESS ON. Your waiting is for great purpose.

Day by day, my tired but happy soul is gaining strength from the road trip to here!

The farther I get away from the months of living on the edge of answers, the more I shake my head both in tears and laughter.

The highest of highs, the depth of low, and every trail in between has made up the script of our story.

I feel like I have completed an epic workout goal like marathon training…except I have not worked out in a year and I will not ever run a race that long. Mercy.

We did sleep like sardines, cook in a cute cubical kitchen, did school work with hearts missing home, and we lived in cramped quarters during a time when most families want space to hide out.

Tiny living is for tiny families – that’s my commercial for this trending movement, but God had a plan to join our family together in new ways using small spaces and unknown places.

Deep exhales are being released often around here.

Thanks is rising all around because God was faithful from beginning to end. The prayers I prayed were only answered on the watch of almighty God. Prayers like…

“Please Jesus keep all five of my kids, my husband and I, healthy and without sickness that requires medical insurance while we are without a job. Amen.”

He held us together in more ways than one and health was just a sliver of answered prayer.

Trusting in complete blindness tested my belief in the unseen world.

I am here to tell you that the spiritual realm is real, it is a place that we don’t give recognition too when life is on pace and we feel “good”.

“The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the ways which you have walked until you came to this place.” Deuteronomy 1:30-31

Active battle is taking place this very moment for you and I and ours…because we belong to the Prince of Peace and He has a real enemy.

Evil wants to destroy our joy,

heighten our anxiety levels,

ignite fear,

infuse lies,

and shut down the testimony of Jesus Christ winning in our lives.

As I sit here in our new home, watching a  river run in my back yard …I can testify that Jesus has done a mighty thing in our hearts and it was only by His Holy Spirit that we are here.

We are imperfect in our faith, weak in our joy at times, but believing stronger than ever that He is Lord over all things and nothing gets to us unless He allows it.

Your plans, dreams, hurts, wins and defeats, inhales and exhales all belong to Him friends.

How We Survived A Season Of Question Marks

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We took the turns carefully, as our motor home climbed up the windy mountain road. Taken by surprise at the next provision, but not really because we have been anticipating and watching God show His power all along.

Making the move to another RV park to be close to town, but only to last two nights because honestly God knew that our endurance had been exhausted!

“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.” Isaiah 40:29

Don’t you love it when you can recognize that His movement is at hand?

So often, we just live and don’t name His work in motion. I want to be a mom and wife who catches the Spirit moving in the moments.

Through a connection at the camp with a family at our new church, a beautiful temporary home had been made available to us as we await the closing on our own house in Washington.

At this point, I am in deep remembering mode. Thinking back to the moments during the journey where we were discouraged and down.

I said it over and over again during our wondering…

“Our kids should not be okay. They should be hating the waiting, blaming us, questioning God, and possibly running for home wherever that is.”

Have you ever been surprised by the amount of intense you can deal with when you are required to be strong?

It amazes me what we are capable of with God shining a light on the path.

It is in those intense weeks of surviving by just doing the next thing that helps us stay in the game. The list of normal daily routine is how I stayed above water.

Playing.

Hiking.

Cooking.

Naps.

Processing.

Reading.

Writing.

Connecting.

God openly revealed hope to us around every turn. Our hearts adjusted almost immediately to every single new possible job opportunity in so many different locations.

When you are doing the hard work of pushing through the fog into the clearing, you just do it the best you know how right?

There were times when our older boys questioned what on earth we were doing exactly. Afternoons where hearts were not well, but the Spirit went to battle on our behalf.

Our doubts were real at times but we were not without hope.

God will not leave you hanging when you believe His word…He will not. Our flesh is weak but He always wins.

This journey has taught me much, but high on the list is the truth that God will provide over and over again. It will never be on our watch but will faithfully come to pass on His.

He provides for our breath,

our warmth,

our nourishment,

our relationships,

our joy and broken,

and especially for our growth.

We unloaded three months of stuff from the motor home and into our new basement apartment SO full of awe.

What a feeling of provision as we moved in, spread out, and took deep soothing breaths. We passed each other in the hallway and didn’t have to hug the wall. Can I get an amen?

Over time, God has spoken to me about my need for consistency, comfort, and calm – like they are requirements for joy.

The very things that you “think” you must have, are the very things He might want you to go without. 

And so we did.

Goodbye to consistency.

So long comfort.

Peace out to calm.

Hello to growth from going without.

The road less traveled is full of risks and unknowns – scary to commit too and packed with blessing along the way for those willing to endure.

Our landing in Washington has been soft and welcomed by a new community. Our hearts are exploding with thanks!

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8″

Maybe God is calling you out in your small ordinary days, or asking  you to do something HUGE that makes no sense to most people. Both are valuable, useful, and needed for faith to grow.

Whatever challenge is ahead…if it is from Him – He will faithfully give you all you need to obey and endure for His fame.

Be careful in your comfort…He may ask you to step away for a season.

 

 

 

Finding Hope In Unlikely Places

 

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The morning was not panning out to be all that I hoped it would.

Frustrating conversations were being tossed around between four of our five kids and honestly my husband and I struggled to get on the same page. Long days and nights of living in the “between” phase was causing us all to be a little weary.

I know I’m not alone here friends…

My heart was mentally trying to prepare for a meeting that afternoon with a mom who was loosing her every loving mind – sound familiar?

I was so looking forward to hearing her story, and cheering her on in the struggle to walk out her daily mission…except I also needed that pep talk.

Heaven help us gals who love to be used to minister to others, but right before we step into a hard conversation or difficult meeting…our own lives falls apart.

This was one of those days where I felt like I had no hope to offer another human, and I was actually the one in need of the counseling.

God was not surprised that day when he orchestrated my sitting in the company of a gal who needed to share the hard and the ugly. I knew He was up to something really good when He called me into account just minutes before we sat down.

My well was completely dried up. There were no beaming eyes or an overflowing heart that I could even share with her. Nothing.

In my frustration and pride, I admitted that my connection with God was weak and in desperate need of refueling.

 When we try to live our lives ahead of God and His voice – we miss out. He so desperately wants to be in tight community with us, to be welcomed to the hard conversations and to be trusted with our struggling.

Somehow in the stress of living in a motor home with my family of seven (I know – crazy), and being jobless for four months had me in perfect position for my own major meltdown.

He spoke to me about my running and serving on empty.

“Jenny. This morning was rough because you set me aside. In all of your thinking and planning for leading someone else– you didn’t restore your own broken with me. I set this assignment up and you must tap into my hope, not rely on your own.”

We desire to serve Him fully and to use our own experiences to encourage…but sometimes our light is just too dim to have lasting impact.

I love the truth and wisdom offered in this Proverb…

“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”  – Proverbs 15:30

 As my friend began to unpack to harsh realities of raising two little ones with a husband who was away for months at a time – God did what He does best.

He started to whisper the truth that I needed, at the same time I was sadly attempting to add  value to this woman’s hard work.

Maybe it’s the same for you.

The moments that we devote to connecting with God, are the moments when He makes us new, and gives us freedom to be okay with where He is leading us.

 After an hour and a half had passed and our conversation hit all the tender spots, God used that time to remind me that I needed him. Like REALLY needed His grace, strength, and humility in my own life.

That day, hope appeared – but it wasn’t in my words of wisdom. As my friend unpacked her hardships, my own became doable.

How often do we reach out to another in need of a life line and our own perspective becomes clear and all the hardships grow into possibilities?

Thankfully, when we head out on our own strength, He chooses to guide us back into His wisdom, rest, and comfort…and what a sweet spot that is.

I love that connecting with God is not so much a future list of to – do’s but more of a list of right-now’s. His availability is not limited and He can handle all the overwhelming things.

Sometimes hope is found in the unlikely moments. The ones where we have nothing to offer but love and understanding of someone else in desperate need.