August 28, 2014

So Long, Fear...


Dear Fear,

I'm writing to tell you that we're over.

We're done.

I'm breaking up with you.

I've broken up with you before, and I thought we were finished forever, but I was wrong.

I happily slammed the door in your face, bid you good riddance, and wiped my hands clean of you, but somehow, you weaseled in through the cracks and crevices and found your way back to my heart.

If I'm truly being honest, and I am, then I have to admit that I played a part in us getting back together. I cracked the door open ever so slightly, giving you space to crawl in. I listened to and entertained your whispers and lies, and I believed the things you said that weren't true but felt true… the what has been's, the what if's, and the what will be's.

I fell for you and I gave you ground, but now I'm taking it back.

Strangely somehow, your tempting and enticing lure, though false and debilitating and suffocating, is easier to give way to than truth. Truth requires trust and trust is so very vulnerable and risky. It calls for courage and strength beyond measure. It's jumping off a cliff blindly, unable to see the ground below, but believing that it's still there and you'll land safely on it. 

Trust is believing you'll be caught. 

Fear, on the other hand, is standing at the cliff, clinging tightly to the edge and to a false sense of safety and security. It doesn't require risk. It doesn't invite vulnerability. It never calls up courage. Fear stays small and refuses to jump, to give up control, to trust, and ultimately, to find life.

No more.

I'm done with clinging tightly to the edge.

I'm done with you, Fear.



Because I am a woman who listens to Love and not to fear. Who wants life in every way imaginable, regardless of whether it's safe, comfortable, or easy. I am a woman who risks, who trusts, who willingly jumps and takes the leap because she knows she'll be caught and she knows the One who catches her.

She knows him well.

And so that is why we are over.

Through and finished.

You and me.

For good.

For my good.

So long, Fear...



"Fear not, for I am with you."
~ Isaiah 41:10

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."
~ Isaiah 43:1

"What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?"
~ Unknown

"She took the leap and built her wings on the way down."
~ Unknown




August 5, 2014

Runner Girl


Though I like to run and I'm trying to get better at it, I'm not really a runner.

Not in the marathon sort of way, at least.

But when my blood starts pumping, and music's blasting in my ears, and my feet take on a rhythm and pace all their own, something shifts in me and I start acting like a runner.

I become a runner.




I run fast and hard and I wave to the other runners who pass me by. When they don't wave back because maybe they don't feel like it, or maybe they think waving isn't cool, I give them a little head nod that says, "Hey. How's it going? We got this thing. We can do this." And sometimes they look back at me like, "Really? Are you kidding? You're not part of the club." And I just smile and give them a look that says, "Oh…. yes I am. You just watch me." And then I take off…

I get a little feisty out there on that hot, steamy pavement. Something comes alive in me. Something wakens and stirs in my heart. The fog lifts. My mind is freed. I can think and feel and sense things clearly.

I do some of my best writing out there on those streets where the words flow freely while the sweat pours down my face and strength and perseverance and long suffering take deeper root in my heart.

God meets me there. He runs with me. He reminds me of who I am and what I'm capable of. He cheers me on and gives me the nod that says, "You've got this. You're part of the club. I see you and I'm proud of you, Runner Girl."

And to that, I throw up my arms, just like Rocky Balboa, and I run down those streets as fast as I can with everything I have and everything in me.

Unashamed.

Fierce.

Awake.

ALIVE.


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, 
let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. 
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
~ Hebrews 12:1


"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure."
~  Chariots of Fire


"Run like you stole something."
~ Unknown


"This girl is on fire..."
~ Alicia Keys



July 14, 2014

Remembering


I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember, the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great is your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over) He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.

Lamentations 3:21-25 MSG




I woke up this morning remembering. 

Or rather, choosing to remember.

Remembering what's true… 

Of God. 

Of me.

Of my journey with him. 

Oh, what a precious gift it is to remember! How it rescues my heart, time and again. How it brings life back into focus and ushers in such comfort and hope. And oh, how desperately my heart needs it!

"But there's one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope..."

YES.

Yes, we must hang on. We must hold fast. We must remember…

That his mercies are new every morning. He gives grace upon grace upon grace. He keeps no record of our faults, for he sees our beauty and not our sin. He calls us worthy and valuable. He calls us HIS. His love never fails, or runs dry and out. He's always faithful and so very good. He's with us and for us. He will never leave us, abandon us, or walk away. He's our refuge and strength… our strong tower. He rescues us. He saves us. He delights in us, and he even sings over us.

Don't forget. 

Remember.

Because by remembering, we keep a grip on hope. 


What truths are you remembering these days? What is God bringing to mind and etching on your heart? I'd love to hear…


June 24, 2014

Kissing Waves


"I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages."
~ Charles Spurgeon ~


A dear friend is battling cancer for the second time and having a pretty rough go of it. Another friend's marriage is falling apart, and in just the past few weeks, I've learned of two families who've recently lost children… swept from this world at too young of an age, with so much life yet to live. And I have my own struggles, my own unique stories of suffering and loss, and I know you have yours as well.

Where do we go when trials come and tragedy strikes, and we're certain our hearts will break from the weight of them? Where do we run when fear and anxiety and sorrow hover close and threaten to steal our very breath? What could possibly ease the empty, bottomless ache of our souls and bring us any measure of comfort and peace?

I have learned, and I am still learning, to allow the waves of pain and suffering to wash over me because ultimately they drive me deeper and deeper to the heart of God. That is my safe place, where the pain in my heart is eased and peace comes in like a flood. There, on the bottom of the sea, where all is quiet and still and at rest. Where Jesus meets me and I am changed in his presence.




Jesus warned us that in this world we would have suffering, but he also encouraged us to take heart, to be courageous, to even be of good cheer, because he'd already overcome the world. (John 16:33) He promised us he came so we would have life, a rich and satisfying life, and we'd have it to the full with everything we could possibly need. (John 10:10) How do we interpret his words and wrap our heads around their truth when our hearts are so deeply broken and lost? How do we cling to his promises when life looks far from full and rich and satisfying, and we're pretty sure we don't have everything we need?

I think it's all about perspective. That's where the secret lies. I believe Jesus meant that even in the midst of pain and suffering and loss and trials, we can still have life to the full. In abundance. Spilling over. More than enough. If we look for it and find it, simply in and through him.

He is enough. His joy is our strength. He loves us beyond anything we could ever imagine. He is so very faithful, present and good. He sees all, he knows all, he hears all, and he's working all things together for our good. He is life. In and of himself… HE IS LIFE.

If we could see with the eyes of our hearts this beautiful mystery, we might learn to kiss the waves of pain and loss and suffering because they drive us to life. They drive us to God… straight to his ever-loving, fathering heart. And that is where our every need is met and life in all its rich and wonderful abundance is found… spilling over and more than enough.


"Let go my soul and trust in him, the waves and wind still know his name…"




"It is Well" 

Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music



April 30, 2014

Steadfast and Firm


Hello friends…

It's been awhile since I've checked in here. Actually, I've checked in a bit and I can tell by my stats that you have as well… thank you for that, for reading and following along even when things grow quiet around here… but I haven't been writing much over the past few weeks for various reasons. My kids were out of school for spring break, so I took the week off to hang with them and enjoy the slower pace. Then, Easter came with hope and new life, but I got sick with a stubborn stomach bug that lasted over a week. And then, on top of that, life unraveled during those days in some ways that sent me scrambling for solid ground and looking to find my feet again.

Whew.

We never know what the days will hold, do we? We never know what's ahead, what's coming around the bend. We journey along and all seems smooth sailing until a fierce storm blows in and knocks us off course. I can't imagine my life without Jesus to guide me and lead me, to hold me steady when the winds howl and the ground shifts beneath me. He is my anchor, my one true constant.

Just days before Easter, before I got sick and life got super messy, Jesus gave me this verse… these beautiful, life-giving words that I've been clinging to and holding close ever since.


"I will have no fear of bad news; my heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."
~ Psalm 112:7


I say them out loud when I'm folding clothes, and on the treadmill, and when I'm driving in my car. I say them silently in my heart and pray them through my mind as I chat with a friend, or walk the grocery aisles. They keep me focused. They give me context. They keep my eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, and they're so very true of my deepest heart, the way I want to live.

There's great power in the spoken word, in claiming truth over our hearts and lives. It's good for my heart to remind myself of what's true… to dwell on it, simmer in it, speak it aloud, and hold it close. And it's also very good as well to remind the enemy of what's true. To say outloud… "This is what's true. This is what I believe. This is what I'm claiming. This is my heart, and I make no agreement with anything else, anything contrary to this truth."

We have to fight for the life we long for, the life we so desperately prize. We live in a world at war… there is good and there is evil. There is God and there is Satan. We have to stand firm, guard our hearts, and set our minds on truth. It makes such a difference in the way we live, in the way our days play out. It's so incredibly worth the fight. 

Whatever it is that you're facing, my friend, and we all face something... claim what is true. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Stand steadfast and firm, trusting in him. You have nothing to fear. He will come for you. He always does. Just watch and see...

"Jesus, I love you. I worship you and give my life over to you. Every bit. Every part. All of it. I will have no fear of bad news because my heart is steadfast, firmly rooted in you. Anchored. Nailed down. Safe and secure. I trust you with all of my heart, with all of my life. I am yours."




"Let it be Jesus" by Christy Nockels, Kari Jobe, and the Passion Band




This song is currently playing on repeat, often and always, around our house these days. It's lyrics are my heart and I sing them loud, though not well, and I hold them close and claim them as truth. What are you claiming as truth these days, friends? How is God speaking to you and coming for your heart? I would love to hear...



April 11, 2014

Stop with the Rules

I can be my own worst critic sometimes, and to be perfectly honest, no one is probably harder on me than I am on myself.

YUCK.

I hate even admitting that... to myself and to you, and realizing there's a lot of truth to it makes me sad. Jesus isn't even as hard on me as I am on myself. In fact, he's not hard on me at all. His heart towards me is mercy and grace and love... 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." 
~ Romans 8:1-2

His voice is never condemning or shaming or blaming. He never says, "Get your act together. Now." like I sometimes say to myself. He's kind and gracious and patient and forgiving. Constantly and continually. All the time. He doesn't demand things from me, and get frustrated when I don't follow through. He doesn't hand me a list every morning and say, "Do these things. Get this stuff done. Live this way… and you'll be good with me." 

Nope. 

He doesn't do that. 

Oh, but I do that to myself.

(Insert pause, deep exhale, and sigh)

And that is so very sad… so terribly flawed and wrong, and it keeps me from experiencing and living in the freedom that Jesus gave his life for, the freedom he longs for me to know and experience. It keeps me from resting in his love and knowing his delight, and it causes me to strive and arrange and perform, which looks only like bondage and absolutely nothing like "just being."

So...

Stop with the rules, Jenny.




Enough already. Stop handing yourself a mental list of, "If I do these things today and act this way and look this way and pray this way and live this way and parent this way and wife this way and all the other ways, then I will be happy and good with myself." God does not love and accept you based on how well you perform. He loves and accepts you just as you are. Not as you could be, would be, should be, or will be. Just as you are. Right here. Right now. Today. Simply because you are his. Stop with the rules and the lists, and love and accept yourself just as Jesus does. Kindly give yourself the grace to be and the room to become.


"Come Jesus... I lay down the rules and the crazy lists that make me crazy, and I repent of my striving and arranging and performing ways. I welcome your love and mercy and forgiveness and grace. Heal my heart and set me free in ways I have yet to know, so I can run with abandon the race you've set before me. Living freely and just being."



It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (…and that includes the mental list of rules that we heap on our own heads and hearts.)
~ Galatians 5:1




April 4, 2014

Making the Most

Spring is finally springing here in Northern Virginia and it's simply the most glorious thing!

I'm afraid we thought it would never come… that winter would never release it's strong, firm grip and we'd be shoveling snow, bundling up in coats, and turning up the heat forever.

But, alas, the warmer days are here, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing, and I'm so deeply grateful because WHEW… it was a long winter!

Unfortunately, though, along with this much awaited and hoped for season… with the budding of trees and the blooming of flowers… comes that powdery, sticky, yellow dust that lingers in the air and covers your car and causes headaches and scratchy throats and itchy eyes and lots of sneezing.

Lots and lots of sneezing.

Every time I blow my nose or get a sinus headache, I try and remember just how very happy and grateful I am that spring is here. I can handle the runny nose and the headaches and the itchy eyes, but I can't handle the cold, dreary days of winter any longer. Not even for one day. I am so completely done.

I don't think I've ever been so happy in all my life to see spring.





But spring's pollen is working hard to get the better of me and I woke up this morning with a raging headache. I took two Sudafed and two Advil to try and ward it off and while I stood at the dryer folding clothes and holding up my head, I remembered the verse from Ephesians that says "make the most of every opportunity." (5:16)

How could I make the most of this headache? How could I push through the pain and enjoy the day? I knew I was pretty worthless until it passed. I wouldn't be working out, folding more laundry, or cleaning up the breakfast dishes until I felt better. But I didn't want my day to get tanked... didn't want to waste it away waiting for the headache to pass, and so there were those words whispered to my heart by the One who knows me well, loves me dearly, and cares about all the little details of my life.

"Make the most of every opportunity…"

So for the last several hours, I've been doing just that…. making the most. I put on George Winston's "Winter to Spring" album, lit a "Spring Blossoms" candle, got comfy on the sofa, and started writing and reading and commenting and posting and texting and it's been such a rewarding, enjoyable morning. I've gotten so much done, and now that the pain is fading and manageable, I can move on to tackle the dishes, fold the laundry, and squeeze in a workout.

I love how Jesus is always so present with us. How he knows all the events of our days. How he sees and knows US. He whispers to our hearts the words we need to hear, and he guides us and leads us in all things… in every opportunity.

Making the most.

May I have the strength and grace to live that way each and every day.




"So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." 
~ Ephesians 5:15-16

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 4:19

"But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head."
~ Psalm 3:3



March 23, 2014

Weekend Words: Simple but Strong

Happy weekend, friends… 

I'm writing this morning from our living room sofa, in my jammies, snuggled up under a warm, cozy blanket, and savoring my second cup of coffee which Michael sweetly made for me before he left for an eight mile run. 

Goodness, I love that man. And not just because he makes me coffee on the weekends, but because he's good for my heart in more ways than I will probably ever know in this lifetime. How incredibly grateful I am for him. How very blessed I am to call him mine. I'll save all the warm, gushy love feelings though for another day, another post. I know you can hardly wait for that one! (smile)

On to what I wanted I share…

I came across these words on Pinterest this morning and my heart immediately let out a big YES! Such simple words they are, yet they're strong and powerful and pack a punch. 

I kind of lost my way over the past week for various different reasons… I threw my back out and didn't feel well for several days. I had a to-do list of things to do that I really didn't feel like doing. Errands. Housework. Stuff. Decisions to make, cliffs to jump… more ways God was asking me to be vulnerable. More and more and more.

Plus, we also put our girl on a bus and waved her goodbye to five days of road-tripping to Florida with her high school and living it up in Disney World. Though I really haven't worried about her and I'm thrilled she could have this experience, my heart has been stretched all those many miles to Florida and I feel her absence. She comes home today and we can hardly wait to hear all the fun details of her adventure. How wonderful it will be to have the sweet, little songbird back in our nest.

So these words…

With all this world and life throw at me, with all the ways the enemy tries to tie me up and keep me down, I desperately NEED my heart to be kind, my mind fierce, and my spirit brave. When I lose my way AND when I know my path. When my back goes out and I feel terrible AND when I'm feeling great and can run three miles. Whether my family is home safe and sound OR they're off adventuring in Florida or elsewhere. Whatever a week may hold. Whatever might come. Whatever may surface in my heart. However God may invite me to walk with him.

Kind heart.

Fierce mind.

Brave spirit.

What a simple but strong and powerful mantra to pray each and every day.

May it be true of me, Jesus. May it be true...


Photo Credits: Pinterest


A bloggy update… I have a new Facebook page where I'll be linking up my posts, sharing snippets from our life, verses, quotes, pictures, music, and more. If you're on Facebook and would like to follow along, just click the link to the right. I would love to connect with you there!



March 12, 2014

On Mornings and Choices

Morning came much too early today and I wasn't at all ready for its arrival. This time change always gets the better of me, without fail, every year. I'm really not very tired when I go to bed at night, and then I really don't sleep too well during the night, but once it's time to wake up in the morning, I can barely move.

My alarm went off at six and I finally pulled myself out of bed close to seven. I hit the snooze button more times than should be allowed, and at some point, I just had to firmly tell myself, "Jenny, get out of bed. Let's do this thing." 

I thought about the dog who needed to be fed and let out, and I thought about breakfast and lunches for my kids, and I remembered that I needed to get Jane Anne to school early. I also thought about the fact that I'm the adult, I'm the mom, and my people are counting on me.

So I stumbled out of bed and down the stairs and mindlessly, in a stupor, fed the dog, started the coffee, and prayed something out loud like, "Jesus… help me. Help me. Help me. Help me." 

I poured myself a strong cup of coffee and sat quietly and comfortably in a big cozy chair, and once the caffeine kicked in and my mind perked up, I thought about how life some days really is just an act of the will.




Though I would love to float through life on a whim, living by how I feel, and taking it as it comes, I know that would get me nowhere, and it would probably get me in a lot of trouble. Much of life, maybe most of life, is a conscious choice. An act of the will. Mind over matter.

And that's true when it comes to getting up in the morning, and that's also true when it comes to deeper matters of the heart…. Choosing joy over sorrow. Love over hate. Peace over fear. And so on, and so on...

The thousand little choices we make every day matter. They matter greatly. Sometimes those choices come easy, and other times, they take every ounce of strength we have. But the good news is that we don't have to make those choices alone and we don't have to rely on our own strength. We can lean back into the arms of Christ and draw our strength, our very life, from him. He wants nothing more than to come through for us. He cares about all the details of our lives, both big and small, and he cares about every choice we make, both big and small. He's everything we need and more and he hears our, "Help me. Help me. Help me," prayers and he's ready and willing to answer.

I like to think of it this way… I can and I will, because He can and He will.

And as I head to the kitchen to make another pot of coffee, I'm carrying that truth with me today.

Care to join me?


"How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none."
~ A. W. Tozer

"He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless."
~ Isaiah 40:29

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength."
~ Philippians 4:13


March 8, 2014

Weekend Words: Here and Now

As I get older, I'm realizing I might be a bit of a visionary. 

I know I'm definitely a dreamer. 

There are so many things I'm passionate about… things I long for, hope for, and can't wait to see happen. That is, if they even happen at all.

Some of those things are frivolous and superficial like maybe wishing for a long, lingering, exotic vacation traveling across Europe, or maybe an early retirement for my man, and enough cash in the bank to afford a massive sailboat in which to sail the world with him. Perpetual youthfulness would be nice too, as well as continued good health and the ability to maintain my figure, or even achieve a better one, as I get older.

But most of the things I'm passionate about are of a deeper nature, God-breathed and etched firmly in my heart… a longing for others to come to know the Jesus I love, for the Kingdom of God to grow and advance in ways we haven't yet seen, and to play a vital part in that would be pure bonus. A hope for the light of truth to open eyes and justify and shatter the darkness with its secrets and lies. A longing for more of Jesus and more of his beautiful life in and through me… more healing and strength and wisdom and grace. And as for my family, my husband and kids… there's no limit to the pages I could fill with the numerous things I long for and dream for each of them. 

But sometimes all these longings and hopes and passions and dreams get the better of me and I get antsy and anxious. I grow impatient and lose sight of what is here and now, and I get ahead of myself and ahead of God. I know I have this tendency, so I intentionally make a point to see… to really see what is right here and right now.


photo credit: Pinterest


I slow down and look around and take account of what's right in front of me, where God has me today, even this very moment, and I carefully gather the minutes of my life and live them.

Savoring...

Pondering...

Reflecting…

Enjoying.

I don't want to waste precious time pining away for what I hope may come and miss the here and now… Like the way the sun shines over our roof in the morning and brightens the trees behind our home, or the gentle hum of my husband's snore as he quietly sleeps beside me, or the way my daughter's hair smells so sweet when she curls up next to me and puts her head on my shoulder, or the life around our table when the four of us linger over a meal, laughing and sharing… and on and on and on.

There is so much life in this day. In this moment. Here and now, and I don't want to miss it.

So I dream and I long and I hope because I can't help it, because that's the way God has written himself on my heart, but at the same time, I carefully gather the minutes of my life and I live them.



 
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