When Hard Times Harvest Hope [I’m A Guest Over at (in)courage Today!]

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It was the phone call we had been hoping for.

Two months of interviews with a church, and desperate cries for clarity had been the daily rhythm for our family of seven.

Just days before, two lead Pastors and their wives flew in to spend the day getting to know us. We were sure that God was connecting the dots for this job to be our new reality.

How is it possible to remain consistently hopeful for such an exhausting amount of time?

God was surely ahead of our story and I was right where He wanted me…finding Him consistently present in the unknown.

I have sought Him out in fresh ways and would never wish this season away, but I’m telling you that the stress seemed to dominate our days.

I am learning that the hard times harvest hope.

 When we sow seeds of trust, the Spirit gives us everything we need for living victorious one foot in front of the other.

 The dark days of waiting are where we practice being fully at peace with where God is taking us.

I am surely not amazing at this…you?

 Honestly…I was over all the hoping and trying to keep my family above water.

Well, lets just say that the morning was relaxing and off to a beautiful start.

My people were already playing in the pool and music from the jam box may have woke up all the neighbors earlier than they’d like.

Conversations were all over the map as our teens dreamed out loud about a possible move to Colorado, between cannon balls and sunscreen.

It was in that moment that our oldest noticed a missed call from the church we had been waiting for…..

To finish reading, hop on over to (in)courage today and join me! Hope to see y’all there.

You will want to sign up here to receive daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage right to your inbox! It’s a perfect way to start your day friends.

~Jen

 

It Turns Out You Don’t Have to Know Whats Next to Move On

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She was just a young teenager the summer we hit the Yukon River for an epic ten-day float trip in the middle of no-where. Literally out in the sticks and rivers with the bears and salmon.

No cell service, no bath houses, no grocery or restaurants. It was the perfect set up for full dependence on God and lots of uninterrupted time with each other.

Did I mention we were on rafts all day on a mile wide river and wilderness camping at night?

A bus full of float supplies, coolers of food, camp gear, and students quickly taught me the best life-giving lessons of any other student trip to date.

A new brave girl came along and happened to be in my tent for the week. She really had no idea what she was in for! Both the rooming with me and what God had waiting for her.

It was actually at some crazy hour in the morning (but in perfect day light – because Alaska) that we finally got our tents up and ready.

After digging holes for the bathroom facilities and then stumbling upon some animal bones (enter all the girls freaking out with who or what may be living on the island) I got them all tucked in for the night.

I couldn’t wait to get to know my new friend’s story and begin a relationship with her… and so in Jen fashion, I dove right in with “So tell me about yourself…”

Bless her heart… she didn’t get the tired leader.

Instead she got the leader who knows that the good heart stuff comes out after 1 a.m. always.

She began to tell me the surface details but then I gave her the…”No – not that stuff, the who are you really stuff” question.

That is when our friendship and trust took root and has remained for the past 17 years.

Sure there have been hard times in both of our stories.

Of course we haven’t kept in continuous touch. There have been wide spaces between our conversations and yet it didn’t even matter.

Fast forward to our family vacation to Chicago last week where I received a text from this precious soul saying she really wanted to talk and felt like God had her at an important crossroad.

I rushed back to our hotel in time to put the baby down for his nap, pulled up a chair next to the 19th story floor to ceiling window facing the city and dialed her number.

What happened next, is what God always does when we are looking for answers or courage.

He allows us to share our hope with another because He knows that our best moving forward trust moments come from looking behind to all the times He has been faithful.

When we shine a light on His faithfulness and provision in the life of another…He speaks to our own lack of faith. Always. 

We talked for nearly 2 hours bringing to the surface the truth of who we are, but mostly who God promises to be when we step out in obedience.

She said, “You know, we are in different but same seasons.”

I loved hearing an almost 30-year-old relate to my 40-year-old life (ha)…but even more than that, I loved hearing surrender in her voice.

That is something I have been lacking.

Surrender. I just want to know whats next. Why can’t I have that answer already?

She was right on – we were walking total faith journeys. Really, really, digging down deep to find courage and a way to trust without fear.

Our situations were very different, her needing to leave a current way of life on her own and me needing to leave a current way of life with a husband and 5 kids. The challenge is a little different but the required faith, the same.

I learned a critical lesson from my tent sister – now adult friend that afternoon.

Because we trust God for our eternity, we for sure can trust him for the next month or years right?

I honestly do not love not knowing what’s next. I don’t.

But in His sneaky Jesus way, I heard the solid and true voice of the One who has my back today and forever saying,

“It is time to move on without a set plan. It’s better for you. Allow me show you how to trust me and even better than that – let me teach you how to find joy out on the cliff.”

So together, my adorable friend and I are walking out on a cliff trusting Him for enough grace to see us through these next steps and enough compassion to hold us together when we maybe feel like crumbling.

I’m sure that if you are breathing, you have something that you need to trust God for.

Sometimes just sharing with another the truth you know about God in their life, will be the very thing that you needed to hear for your own.

It turns out friends, you don’t have to know what’s next to move on.

 

 

 

 

When You Are Tempted to Give In [My chat with God today]

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Phone in one hand and pushing the race car with the other, we went over to pet our neighbor’s cat – like we always do on the daily walk.

After being gone for nearly 10 days it feels so right to get back into a routine and have some space to spread out. At the same time, it caused some sadness because in 3 weeks we would be homeless…then what?

I could feel my throat tighten and my heart begin to race a little too fast for my standing still.

We continued around the loop and I found myself in some intense dialogue with God. It’s okay though, He can handle.

Actually He already knows my heart, my hurts, and my hopes, but part of trusting Him with it all – is actually speaking it like I believe He hears.

I believe He does.

“So now what?” I spit out.

“What do you mean now what?” He pushes back.

“I mean, how do I enjoy this time for much longer? I feel like if you would show us the plan…we could enjoy today so much better.”

I knew the second that came out. He was just looking at me like… seriously Jen?

“I’m TIRED and weary and honestly starting to get worried. Sometimes its tempting to give in.”

Oh boy…this was going to be challenged for sure.

He says gently…”Well – you could give in. But you get to choose not too because you surely will regret choosing fear over faith. I promise.”

“You’re right. Always, but this is not comfortable and I know we said we were okay being uncomfortable because we know it’s you stirring this desire for a new Pastoring position…but can we get on with the show?”

Sometimes don’t you just tell God that your annoyed? I do. Our conversations don’t always have to be picnics and popsicles. 

“The journey is part of the show.” He holds His ground… “I am weaving your story together and these weeks of waiting will prepare you for what I will give to you.”

“I get that…but how do I stay hopeful when provision is unknown?”

Shoot! There is that doubt again.

“So you are saying you don’t know me?” Spoken with authority.

“NO that’s not what I meant.” Spoken as a bratty child.

Now we are moving into the discipline of a Father I can feel it.

“When have I not delivered?” He called me into question.

“Ummm you have never failed me. So what do I need to do?”

“You remain faithful to me,

true to your belief in my plans,

shining a light on me and my promises that I will fulfill. 

That’s what you do. That is what you keep doing.”

How does He do it? In that moment of our conversation, I could feel the Spirit doing battle against the fears I was believing.

“You continue believing me by looking ahead, but not missing today Jenny.”

My driveway came back into view as my daughter pointed out 3 hawks circling overhead…the sign God has given me that He is near and very much at work.

I decided to enter into the rest of my day looking ahead and maybe you need a reset today too.

Don’t be afraid to talk to God as if He were walking around the neighborhood hearing your frustration and feeling your tiredness.

He is.

He will give you what you need, even when your faith is weakened and your light dim.

He shines brightly when we just can’t.

Carry on friends!

 

 

 

What On Earth

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Summer is moving on at its splashing pace as it always does. Our days are full of packing boxes and setting out suitcases and I keep asking myself…

“What on earth is about to happen?”

Have you said that on days where disbelief settles in?

The boys were taking apart the bunk bed yesterday and as they carried it down the stairs to take it to storage I couldn’t help but wonder what this crazy is all about.

At the same time as my questioning kind of wonder, came the other kind of stunned wonder.

The selling of our home that we LOVE.

The closing a 9 year chapter of ministry at a church that we LOVE.

The saying goodbyes to people that we LOVE.

WHAT ON EARTH?

It kinda feels like the birth of our last son Tillerman almost 2 years ago. Laying out on the operating table during a scheduled c-section, we hear our doctor say in her sweet yet confident way…

“Okay y’all its baby time!”

As she pulled out our baby boy my husband yelled, “IS THIS FOR REAL?!”…To which the nurse yelled back, “Yes Daddy its fo real! Now get over here and take your picture!”

Okay, just making sure because sometimes when you wait for something for sooo long it almost seems story-like.

Oh wait…kinda like right now.

There is so much good and so much hard all at the same time.

Buy a new home that we LOVE.

Begin a fresh chapter at a church that we LOVE.

Say hello to new friends that we will LOVE.

Although it feels like time is running out (enter house closing and finishing current job beginning of August accompanied by the deer in the headlight face), it really is because  closing dates are kindly approaching.

I’ve learned over time that you can’t rush the calendar of God. We can’t hurry Him purposefully working out details for our good. It’s not even worth trying…He will have His way and we know it!

Here’s the kicker…

God in His “you can’t make this stuff up” kind of way has made known to us another awesome job description. We don’t see many Family Pastor roles looking for what we desire.

Not only are we chasing this new-found lead… but unknown to us it happens to be in the SAME town my Sissy and her family are relocating too at the beginning of August.

I honestly had no clue where she was moving too. I knew the name of the big city, but not the suburb.

Same. Town?

Cray. Zee.

I know God works in ways we can not fathom.

He could simply  be opening our hearts to this new region.

He could be saying, “I see you.”

He could be placing us back with family after 9 years of living 3000 miles apart.

Heaven knows if this will become our reality.

We are happy to shift our mountain and adventure love to the east coast Smoky Mountains with ocean life nearby, should that be what on earth this is all about!

The hard truth is that this may not be it.

We will work through the process once again and just might not land there. We must hope in what we do not see until He gives us a new focus, and so we will.

Kris and I are reading through a book by John Ortberg called All the Places To Go where he talks in a chapter about the Isrealites coming to the Promised Land. They had to actually STEP into the Jordan River BEFORE God parted the water… I loved that picture.

“If they had waited for proof, they’d be standing on the banks still. Faith grows when God says to somebody, “Go,” and that person says yes.” -John Ortberg

This whole adventure reminds me once again of Abraham and his sold out obedience. I wonder how many times, even in his trusting for the outcome – he asked God, “WHAT ON EARTH is this about?”.

God showed Abe. He’ll show up and lead us once again.

Maybe there are unknowns in your day this week. Those test results, that friendship, your marriage, or a new direction. I get it – but even better, He gets you.

Lets not miss the journey.

Daily struggles of trust are where deep growth is birthed. It’s for real…so take the picture and live out His story for you today.

 

 

 

 

Even When [Still Searching]

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Within minutes of each other, two texts came through to my phone just as I was sitting down to job search during the most inspirational time of the day: NAP THIRTY.

All this toddler chasing has me crawling on hands and knees to my comfy chair for the ever-needed and very much required hour of power.

Wardrobe boxes were staring me down but I just could not.

Cup of coffee number two in hand and eyes glazed over (because 6:30 a.m. wake up call) I took a deep breath.

I had a momentary celebration just as our realtor gave us the news that our home would go back on the market just in case our buyer couldn’t get his loan.

Enter all the heart palpitations that come with the thought of getting our upside down home back into show worthy style. Something inside of me found my inner tiger and I was immediately up for the challenge.

But why God?

I love the passage in Romans that talks openly about patience and trust.

“We Continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.” Romans 5:3-4 MSG

So much passionate patience growing over here. It’s worth the trouble, really.

Does this ever happen to you? The moment God trusts you with a setback, He reveals a fresh possibility?

The next text message followed quickly from Kris saying that our next job lead was reviewing his submission and would be scheduling interviews soon.

We may or may not be considered, I have no clue – but I do know that we needed that forward motion and that Jesus continues to carry us in all the crazy.

Speaking of crazy, allow me to give you a screen-shot into our lives…

Boxes everywhere.

Suitcases for 7 packed.

Closets gutted.

Beds taken down.

Mattresses on floors.

Homeschool books sorted for fall (cause who knows where on earth we will be).

Weekend long yard sale complete.

Conversations about all the “what ifs”.

Updating our kids because they are not just along for the ride.

The guys have been working hardcore over here shuttling our life back and forth to storage while I keep the toddler playing in water and eating all forms of snacks.

Stuff is upside down and every where. But you know what? I’m all in. We are all in.

When you say “yes” to the spirit…you say “yes” to an adventure that you could not possibly map out. It’s just the most out of control feeling to not know anything!

The questions keep coming…

“Where are you moving?”

“Why are you moving?”

“When are you leaving?”

“Did you find a job?”

It’s so hard and so right all at the same time!

Those conversations don’t go very far when the answers to all the questions are “We have no idea! But we know God is leading us into something new somewhere else.”

After chasing down a lead in Colorado for the past two months, it all came to a close on Memorial Day. God spoke through it all like He always does and I will post about that later.

Kris continues to finish out his time at church strong and with his whole heart while trying to find the next landing spot. Not easy peasy.

I am doing my best to keep life rollin on the home front while trying to show our kids how to walk by faith…like completely. All while cooking, cleaning, keeping up with their summer schedules, and keeping a toddler happy, fed, and out of danger!

I get to watch Jesus develop the trust of my kids, expand their understanding of this call to ministry, and mature their hearts to what is next.

I. Would. Never. Trade. These. Days.

It feels wrong to complain that things aren’t moving quicker when you believe in a God who sovereignly weaves all things for His purpose.

For now we are pushing forward. Eyes are wide and hope is rebuilding as we search for other positions. Join us while we wait…holding onto the next verse in the passage:

“In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling short-changed. Quite the contrary-we can’t round-up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” Rom 5:5 MSG

Jen

 

 

Dear Moms Everywhere {Younger or Older-This is for You}

Howel family 146editOh Mommas out there… who have been to countless doctor visits to hear that precious heartbeat, to see how the baby measures, who have held their breath for ultrasounds, and have given up tubes and tubes of blood work to the lab.

There are SO many joy-filled days when you are caring for that little life inside of you.

Stepping on the scale is generally fun when a baby is coming right?

Stretchy pants abound and roundness of everything is welcomed pregnant.

Motherhood is full of anticipation.

Other times it’s not all happy-go-lucky.

The visits “just because” mean getting on the scale is nowhere near as exciting. Your pants are supposed to fit (and zip). Your roundness should be dissolved and your appointment, while important.. is just maintenance.

Some of us go as far to take off our shoes and sweater and empty our pockets, spit, go potty, and skip breakfast…those numbers are the enemy right?

Maybe the nurse had a scale malfunction? Bless her heart.

I’ve also been on the other side of happy OB visits with the news of loss in that first ultrasound. Oh the devastation. The visits where you cry and the nurse brings you tissue and sobs with you, are not forgotten.

Mothering can be heartbreaking.

The visits where your blood pressure is sky-high maybe because you sprinted up the stairs thinking that would help the scale but mostly because you are stressed out.

Today as I  sat filling out paperwork for my yearly exam, I quickly realized I was checking boxes I never had before. Have you been there?

Boxes like D & C after miscarriage, tubal ligation after the last baby, and even a third C-section were added to my history.

Motherhood requires care.

The years of waiting and expecting babies stared me down. All the appointments over the years for…

adoption,

pregnancy,

post partum,

and loss.

I had been in and out of doctor’s offices and meetings with social workers for sixteen years and in that moment, I gathered up all of the taking care of self and the giving my babies near and far my best – and felt overwhelmed.

Motherhood is a calling.

It is a job, a ministry, and especially a refining tool for our souls.

Somehow in His might, God used my young years, my fun years, and even my wrung out years to grow a family.

He established my heart for my kids before they were ever created and today I felt the weight of that honor.

Thank you annual exam…for helping me reflect on my life through the checking of boxes.

Five kids call me Mom and I feel called to each one in very specific ways.

Mothering is exhilarating and exhaustifying all in the same day.

Thoughtful life chats on the kitchen counter with a teenager while the elementary one is pushing all my mom buttons.

Sidewalk chalk with the toddler while the driving one is talking to me about car tires and future dreams.

Listening to the middle one give me the run down on his 12th birthday party, as pretend to be dialed in but really I block out everything he is saying and finish my coffee.

Boys jamming on drums and guitars and the whole house is jumping but I’m so in love with the music they are making.

Mommas, some days we are tired and teary and other days we are smiling and making memories.

One day isn’t better than the other – they both grow in us something different.

Mothering matters.

Whether you are an expecting mom, a broken mom, a mom of teen or toddlers, or an adoptive mom – each moment adds to the story of your family and stretches your heart.

This Mothers Day, remember that those early visits and appointments began with such intentionality and hope.

The very God who formed our kids is forming us  day in and day out and He always is faithful to finish what He started.

Mothering is a commitment.

We get to take a special seat in the lives of our grown up kids watching them find their purpose and then take steps to trust what is ahead.

That my friends is an amazing role!

The story doesn’t end after the six month check up at the clinic, or after high school graduation – that is really when the adventure takes off.

Celebrate your hard work and embrace the days ahead with the ones who call you Momma.

~Jen

 

That Holding Pattern Though

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I found a quiet corner at the convention center to gather my stuff and honestly didn’t know quite how to handle being away from my kids for the week!

Is this real? No one needs me? I’m allowed to close out my mothering tabs?

No questions to answer, no math problems or meals to prepare, a break from the everyday routines of breakfast to bath time?

What an unbelievable feeling to not be rushed or over scheduled for days!

I congratulated myself with my 4th cup of free coffee, ear buds in, and purposefully ignoring all the telling of time.

It had been for-ever since I could function on a free brain and we so needed that open space to spread out all our thoughts, dreams, fears, and questions before God.

Even sitting there in that freedom I was a loss for words… crazy talk.

The six-hour drive to Atlanta allowed conversations without interruption and precious hours to catch up with my husband and gather up our lives to this point.

So many hopes and turns just around the bend and we were doing our best to be right where He had us… needing Him.

I began to write about all God was showing me but those easily flowing sentences were not forming.

I sat there for a few minutes and then remembered that I was failing to ask the most important of questions.

Jesus – what do you want to say to me?

Just like that, the words poured across my notebook like a glass of tipped over milk at the dinner table.

He spoke straight into my heart in that exact minute as if He was waiting for me to ask…

“I’m still here holding you and you’ve not run away from me in your time of waiting.

See – I’m creating moments and opportunities while you grow and trust.

I am going nowhere. I’m showing up in your every day – all day – all night.

I’m stirring hearts at your next location.

I am making time to close this chapter you’ve loved so well.

I am ahead of you. My view is all the way into your eternity – so don’t bother with worry. Instead, be brave and smile at the path I am forming for you and your people.

I am parting waters even now as you sit and write these words.

Believe Jenny. Hold on. Don’t run! “

It was in that moment that Jesus taught me a lesson in simplicity of faith.

You see, in my quiet corner I didn’t necessarily have any new insights. What I had been given was the fresh realization that my day-to-day hope was alive and oh so real.

I am very much in a holding pattern, waiting on God to direct some serious traffic.

So. Much. Holding. On.

Holding on to hear from a job, for the house to sell, for our ministry time here to wrap up, and for our family to settle into our new landing-place.

What about you?

Because the truth is…

He is making a way for you.

He is ahead of your today and tomorrow.

He is showing up for you and is with you.

He parts water for you to walk through too…but you have to trust enough to do the walking.

Maybe you can gather up hope and ask the best question out there.

“Jesus – what do you want to say to me?”

If your habits are anything like mine have been…we do more telling than asking. This leaves no room to hear and we miss out.

In my not having anything epic to share, I heard Jesus speak clearly into my life. That is far more valuable than trying to force write a blog post.

So before we find ourselves discouraged about not having anything new…maybe we can be content with God at work behind the scenes making a way and desiring our trust.

Faith is more about the journey afer all… especially how we spend our time in the holding patterns.

 

Stepping Off the Cliff | Update From the Job Search Scene

IMG_1388It is crazy how aware I am as we have stepped over the edge. Maybe it’s because I’ve chosen to see God working day-to-day or maybe because He has chosen to reveal Himself to my heart in fresh ways.

In the middle of the jump, I am fully aware that God is working out each detail of home, job, move, and desire to expand our ministry.

He is so evident. I am so impatient.

The biggest known is that we don’t know!

Standing on the edge and falling into His grasp is such a safe place even though it feels dangerous. 

Moments of unknowns trumped by trust,

fears overtaken with joy,

and dreams unfolding into a destination,

make for some heart pounding and tear streaming adventure!

The weeks are rolling by and we are in full swing with house showings and job searching. All the technology is up and buzzing every night with our oldest boys church site stalking any available positions.

Yes, you better believe we are all over those social media channels learning as much as possible and trying to get a feel for the people and heart of new opportunities.

It’s the craziest feeling being known for so very long and then stepping out – but Jesus Has assured me that He will plant our feet on ground that is ready to embrace and be embraced.

I came across a job description two weeks ago that literally made my heart pound! It was the first one we had come across that was exactly what Kris has vision for.

It may or may not be the one but we are encouraged that it exists and inspired that God has called us to Pastor families in a strong way.

Y’all…let me tell you we have come across some kind of job description one liners along this journey. Some funny and others leaving us wide-eyed. The process of sifting through the possibilities can feel overwhelming…but we have no doubt God has this!

A church with some personality listed as a Children’s Pastor requirement…

“The candidate must have a strong love for the Broncos and an every growing disgust for the Raiders and the 49ers.” And they were serious. I do appreciate a staff who has culture and passion!

Another church listed, “This candidate must be willing to get along with the Senior Pastor.” That for sure is a great quality and something worth checking into…but the fact that you list it, suggests a maybe not-so pleasant situation?!

We’ve seen it all but know there is a spot waiting!

Jumping and trusting has shown us leads and has opened up new conversations, which is exciting.

We still feel strongly led to the mountains and believe our next assignment will be among a staff and congregation who will love our family well and is looking for all the ways God has equipped us to invest in theirs.

We value your prayers for clarity in applying, wisdom in conversations, and eyes to see God setting up the path before us.

I can not wait to share with you our landing-place once we know…for now take a deep breath (or hold your breath) and join us off the cliff.

It’s when we actually step off the cliff, that we see God honoring our trust.

~Jen

 

 

 

When We Ask for the Quick Fix

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A dark storm blew in this week. Those low rolling clouds raced just above the treetops and we were over worst part of the severe weather.

I love storm tracking…to keep safe yes, but also I just think weather systems are amazing.

I mean…snow flurries blowing in wind chill, downpours on warm summer days, thunder that cracks and shakes the house, and heaven forbid tornadic rotation!

After being cooped up in the house all day with a toddler we went out as soon as the lightning stopped and ran through every single puddle.

Joy was present but discouragement was close behind and I wanted it to go away.

We are professionals at asking for the quick fix aren’t we?

I’ve never asked God, “Please make this really hard, and raise my doubt meter, and while you’re at it, drag out the waiting as long as possible! Amen.”

No one prays that stuff for themselves. We may think that it’s a good prayer to pray for others who need a wake up call… but ourselves, no ma’am.

We may gently offer up a, “Jesus have your way and teach me to trust the process along the way.” but we really don’t hope for hard times do we?

Well, this particular day I rounded the corner with little Tillerman and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a hawk soaring and circling in the storm breeze.

If you haven’t read my hawk story of victory of over the snake, you can read it here

I took a second glance up to see it and even said out loud, “Naw…I don’t think that’s a hawk.” and just kept walking.

I quickly recognized the presence of my own mistrust.

I did get to experience critical moments with hawks circling over my porch this week during a talk with a mom friend and I no joke JUMPED out of my seat and yelled, “They are here!!!”

I then had to explain the story to her that may have sounded a little crazy – but hey, God has used much crazier encounters with creation to get the attention of His people!

Burning bushes,

sticks turned to snakes,

parted ocean waters,

water to wine,

multiplied fish and loaves,

flood waters,

manna from heaven,

plagues involving insects,

hovering clouds of smoke,

dead men raised,

elderly women having babies,

and even a dove coming down as the Spirit.

I love these true moments in history where God showed His might and gave signs to His people.

He still does that today for us. He speaks just like He did in the garden and makes His presence known to us in creation.

For some reason though – this one moment I was unsure about the legitimacy of this hawk sighting and my hope did not strengthen. How often we think we are strong and in step with the Spirit.

I had that sinking feeling.

Was I really questioning if God was showing up? I did not claim the reminder like I had every other time and it felt so wrong.

I want to be one who trusts during the waiting, don’t you?

I want to be alert enough to the Spirit to take notice of Him giving me glimpses of His promises. Awake enough to notice when storms come and go and celebrate BIG.

What we need is eyes to see the faithfulness of the storm passing through or the hawk soaring overhead.

That my friends is a choice we get make.

Waking up to the ways God is moving around us today and throughout the week ahead can be the difference in clinging to trust or allowing mistrust to get the best of us.

Here’s to trusting the One who knows what is ahead and promises to use what is behind us to grow and deepen our faith.

Whatever you are dealing with whether it be a job change, difficult relationship, health struggles, or discouragement – keep your eyes up because hope is already on the scene.

~Jen

 

 

 

 

“That” Kind of Woman

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It was nap thirty and y’all know what that means.

Mom is on a mission to find her margin and drink uninterrupted 3rd cups of coffee.

I spent much of my early mothering years not sure if it was okay to own nap time (and by “own” I mean – its mine).

No more chores, no prepping for a dinner, no mandatory problem solving via phone, email, texting, and absolutely no live talking unless we need to call an ambulance!

Of course there are occasional exceptions to the rule and many interruptions well worth my time and investment have taken a seat on my back porch to sort out life.

But for normal times…I guard those minutes.

The older I’ve grown and the smarter I’ve become along this mothering + ministry adventure…I know that without margin my light dims.

Something in me weakens when I only give and don’t take in. I don’t require mega maintience…even a mountain view fills me.

I know I’m not alone here right?

People try and talk to you when you long for silence and it feels like they have zapped the life out of you?

Maybe they ask you to do something for them that can wait …you feel frustrated.

If you know me…I LOVE PEOPLE.

I treasure relationships and will go the extra 10 miles to be available and invested. Its me and I was created to be in.

But I am not super-powered and have learned the value of boundary. Burn out is just around the bend if you don’t believe in boundaries. Eventually the over stretched Mom breaks.

I don’t believe the guilt lie anymore either.

With 5 kids who all who need me and a husband who always has something on the to – do list it can be easy to get pulled in… and although he doesn’t say how I should spend my 90 min of heaven, I still feel the tug to not exhale.

No one wins when we try to be that kind of woman. I’ve seen gals crash and burn trying to go crazy meeting needs and not stopping to care for self and soul.

So you get where I’m going with this. Yesterday my margin was not my own.

I was making my move to freedom with a stack of books, computer, headphones, pens, journal, bible, and cup of tea in tow. I was ready to settle in to my happy space when he came trailing behind me.

No he’s not…I spoke to myself. Is he coming to sit with me?

Sunglasses on and computer in hand. Oh Lord help me because I love being needed and wanted but I’m no good without breathing room.

Then came the words, “Where are you going?”

Don’t say something stupid, don’t say something stupid.

I shot out, “To the table to do my stuff.”

He reminded me, “I thought you wanted to be in this process and talk it out together.”

I reminded him, “Of course I do and I have been for weeks, actually months – but I know my time will get swallowed up sitting here unless you have something specific – then I’m SUPER excited to talk about it.”

Needless to say I pulled up the patio chair happily and we dove into sharing articles we have both read about new seasons of ministry, transitioning to a new church, and finishing strong where we are.

He shared some thoughts he was processing and I opened my journal and began to write down a list of what I was hearing him speak.

I loved hearing where he was. I loved adding feedback and truth. I would have regretted shutting down that opportunity but it honestly was not easy.

We finished up what he had on his heart and I felt like we moved to a fresh place for the week ahead when he said, “Go on and have your self time before Tills wakes.”

We ALL know how this ends right?

He was already awake.

I had to eat my disappointment and desire of what I thought was my time to meet with God and refuel for the week ahead. 

I gathered my game face and began to make lunch for the tribe of hungry people. It was in the kitchen mixing peanut butter cookie bars, where Jesus showed me that I was completely missing Him.

“Missing what, I questioned?”

Missing me showing you what you are asking for.

Missing me working out your hearts desire.

Missing me connecting you with your man.

“Ohhhhhhhh right. That is what I’m asking for.”

Feeling desperate for quiet and a tiny break to think (without falling asleep – because that’s the problem with margin at night right?) I found my bed and pillow and calmed my heart.

Sometimes we have our day so mapped out that we can’t let go of some personal space to allow Gods grace to actually work out the very things we are seeking Him about.

Right?

~Jen