August 31, 2013

Weekend Words: Grace

One more week has passed and here I am writing another "Weekend Words" post with no other posts to fill the space between.

I feel like I'm always apologizing to my blog for neglecting it and setting it aside to focus on other things.  I certainly have much to learn about the hard work and discipline that comes along with being a writer.  It's a process and I am in process.

Though I had every intention of posting this week... one, two, or maybe even three posts, the days got away from me, the last week of summer break stole my heart and attention and other things took precedence, much more important things, as in people... my children and family.

Each day is filled with thousands of choices of how I'll spend and invest my time and during this last week of summer vacation, it was much more important for me to spend time with my kids and enjoy the moments I have left with them before school starts back than to spend precious, valuable time writing.

The writing can wait.  Time with them cannot.  They are growing up so fast!

So I'm learning to hold myself to a standard of grace and not perfection.  Grace to set the writing aside and instead get ice cream with my kids or take them shopping one last time for back-to-school clothes.

Grace to find a balance in my days in the midst of all my responsibilities and the many things I juggle.

And grace to go easy on myself... to just be and keep being without demanding and insisting that I be everything.

Grace is the standard.

Perfection is not.

And next week?  When my kids are back in school and my days are quiet and the time to write, to focus on my thoughts and heart is abundant?  Grace will still be the standard.

In what areas of your life are you needing to be gracious to yourself?  In what ways are you expecting perfection?  I'd love to hear...


August 24, 2013

Weekend Words: See and Hear

I sometimes forget that God is always and only just a short breath away.



To call on him... to simply speak his name aloud... centers me and keeps me grounded and rooted in him.

It brings peace in the midst of struggle, joy in the middle of the mundane, and it reminds me of the larger story... his story... that is playing out all around me.

Perspective is everything.

He is present and listening and watching and waiting to show us great and mighty things that we have yet to know.

May we lean in to hear him answer.

Enjoy your weekend, friends...

How is God speaking to you?  What do you hear when you quietly lean in to listen?  I'd love for you to share in the comments below...


August 22, 2013

Let Your Light Shine

I was just cleaning up the kitchen... rinsing off the breakfast dishes, loading the dishwasher, and wiping the crumbs out of the toaster oven while simultaneously singing and dancing to "Roar" by Katy Perry, when I heard Jesus say with a kind and gently-coaxing smile on his face, "Put down the sponge, stop cleaning and get back to that writing."

He's after me... after this heart that has much to say and share of her life and journey and what she's come to know and love of her God.

He's calling me out, drawing me from the shadows, inviting me to "Let your light shine"...

It's time.

After many quiet years spent laying low and recovering from some very deep and life-altering wounds, God is calling me to come forward in ways I never have before.

I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm ready and I would wonder if we ever really think we're ready for the things God calls us to, but I do know that God says I'm ready and that's all that really matters.  With the most perfect and greatest of care, he has healed and trained this heart of mine, loved me in extravagant and generous ways, and set me free for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)  And though I'm not really certain what "this" looks like, I do want to lean into whatever God has for me, whatever he may bring, with all my heart.

the view from my kitchen window at dusk

In Matthew 5:16 it says...

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  

I especially love how The Message translates this verse...

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (verses 14-16)

What a powerful and inspiring invitation to life… to live life and to bring it.

So, to that end, I think I'll be getting back to "that writing"... to this "going public" and "light-bearing" thing and I would love for you to follow along on the journey.  If you'd like to subscribe to my blog and receive my posts via email, just follow the link on the right to sign up.  Also, I always welcome your response to my words and heart and would love to hear from you!  It's easy to leave a comment, so please don't hesitate.  I'd love to create more of a conversation in this place.  I look forward to hearing from you!

And in the meantime, shine on, my friends…

Shine on!


August 6, 2013

Fresh and New

God is always up to something fresh and new in my heart and journey... that I am fully confident of.

Without fail, whenever I think I've reached an impasse or a pause along the way, or whenever I'm beginning to grow comfortable and probably a bit complacent, God peels back another layer of my heart, breathes his beautiful life there, and reveals more of himself to me.  

And, in turn, I become more of myself.

As I continue to "be... and keep being," God continues to make me more and more of the woman he dreamed me to be.  Though I'm well into my forties now, I'm still discovering on a regular basis what it means and looks like to be me... to be "Jenny Barker"...and it feels really good and really right.

wildflowers I spotted while on an early morning run

Sometimes that looks like a new haircut and highlights (After a few years of being a blonde, I'm back to being a strong brunette) or a change in my clothing style (What I may have worn years ago just isn't me anymore, like that cute watermelon t-shirt I used to own), or how I furnish and decorate my home (Though they're lovely, I'm really not into teacups and doilies any longer. They're just not me.) 

And sometimes that looks like being quiet when before I would have spoken, or being strong where I would have been weak, or being naturally confident when in years past I would have falsely shrunk back.  

God continues to call me to be who I am, where I am, to be all there, and to be nothing else.  

It's really quite simple and how incredibly liberating it is to JUST BE.  

"Sometimes people are beautiful, not in looks, not in what they say, just in what they are."
~Marcus Zusak

"Wherever you are, be all there."
~Jim Elliott

"Be you... bravely."

"Know who you are and know it's enough."

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
~2 Corinthians 3:18

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