September 27, 2015

Sunday Soul Rest: Silence

"In the silence
You are speaking
In the quiet I can feel the fire
And it's burning, burning deeply
Burning all that it is that you desire to be silent, in me."

"In the Silence" by Jason Upton

It's Sunday morning and after heading to the kitchen for coffee, I'm back under the warm covers of our bed, snuggled in with the quiet and my laptop.  Some thoughts have been stirring in my heart this week on my need for silence, so before I start getting ready for church, before the day really gets off and running, I don't want to miss the chance to put them to paper so to speak.

It's peaceful here in our room, and the only sounds I hear are the birds singing their morning song out my window, and the plane that's passing over our home.  One of the many things I'm learning about myself, is how much my heart needs these still restful moments each day.  

"Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the Christian life and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention." 

 ~ Henri Nouwen 

Jesus himself withdrew from the crowds, he went to the hills to pray, to be alone with his father, and to hear and receive from him.  And he didn't live in the world we live in today with cell phones and the Internet and the constant bombardment of noise.  If he needed silence and solitude then, how much more we must need it now.

And so I'm making time, time to sit in the stillness without a phone in my hand, the television on, and the computer in front of me.  Time to be alone and just be present in the quiet, to listen for the stirrings in my heart, to pray as God guides and leads me, and to simply linger with him and enjoy his presence.

Five minutes turns to ten, and ten minutes turns to twenty, and I don't want to leave that peaceful, life-giving place.  But the day calls to me and I'm much more able to take it on, to stay calm in the midst of activity and noise, and to hold on to the quiet in my heart because I've made space for silence.

Whether it's in the morning, the afternoon, or even the early evening.  Whether it's once a day, or twice, or even more, I'm choosing with intention to make space for silence and solitude and I love the effect it's having on me.

Try it and see if it blesses and fills you too.  I promise God will show up just as he always does and you'll be refreshed and changed because you've spent time in the silence with him.

"And Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." 
And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm."  
~ Mark 4:39


September 24, 2015

In Season and Out

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

The glorious season of fall arrived this week and a cute, round, perfectly orange pumpkin joined the host of colorful happy mums on our back deck.  Oh how I adore this season!  Though I'm not very good at picking favorites since there are so many things I love, this season comes pretty close to taking the prize for being my favorite of all.

I'm not sure what it is exactly that captures me... the crisp cool air, the changing leaves, the holidays around the corner.  Maybe it's the coziness... the coats and scarves and blankets and extra snuggles to keep warm.  Maybe it's the shorter days and longer nights that bring more sleep and rest.  Or it's the hot coffee and spiced cider that warms in the mug in my hands, and the pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread and how when I bake them the house smells divine.  I'm not sure what it is exactly, but every year this season wins me, heart and soul.

Digging a little deeper, I think what draws me in is the hope and promise of unforeseen days and the wonder of what God has coming for me.  I don't mind packing away the long, lazy days of summer when I know there's more life ahead for me in the fall, and that's true of every season.  Change is good and it's nothing to fear when we set our hearts on Jesus and put our trust in him.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you 
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 1:6

God is always up to fresh new things in our lives, in season and out.  His beautiful work continues whether the leaves on the trees are bright green and full, or they're red and orange and fading fast.  He lovingly takes us from glory to glory and strength to strength as he brings more healing, growth and maturity to our lives.  And just as he expertly paints a fall tapestry of beautiful vibrant colors, he paints himself upon our lives with ever increasing beauty.  I don't want to look anything like I look now at the end of this gorgeous, ever-changing season.  When winter comes, I want to be stronger and braver and more myself, and I want to know Jesus more deeply and intimately than I do even now.  

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
~ 2 Corinthians 3:18

Though the seasons may change, God never does.  He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, and he promises his presence and love to carry us through all of our days.  He is faithful and sovereign and we can trust our hearts to him.  In season and out, he is a good father and he is good to us.

So welcome fall, and welcome change, and most importantly, welcome Jesus.  Have your beautiful way in my life and heart in this my favorite season.  I can't wait to see what you have in store!

What do you love about this stunning season of fall and what are you looking forward to as you walk with God in it?  I would love to hear.


September 20, 2015

Sunday Soul Rest: Entering In

"Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."

~ Psalm 116:7

I'm wrapped up in a big fluffy throw all cozy on the sofa listening to George Winston's Autumn as I breathe in the sweetness of an apple scented candle that's burning in the kitchen.  Outside, the wind bends the trees, the sun is shining bright, it's cooler and crisper than it was yesterday, and the promise of fall came with the morning.

Not every day begins like this, with this kind of quiet peaceful ambiance.  There's work and school and laundry and we ran out of coffee and there's chores to be done and raising kids can be hard sometimes and I woke up with a headache and all I can write is run on sentences and so forth.  Many mornings I wake to a glass that appears half empty and I'm faced with the choice to instead see it as half full.

God is after rest in my heart, a deep soulful rest that's not based on my circumstances but that comes from within.  The kind that simmers and grows and wells up and bubbles over, even on days that are painful and stressful and feel absent of hope. 

He invites me to rest, to enter into HIS rest, even as I go about my day.  It's not necessarily a rest FROM activity, but a rest that comes IN THE MIDST OF activity.  It's a condition of the heart that carries me through whatever may come.  It's the act of leaning in and letting go and trusting my heart to Jesus.  

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

~ Matthew 11:28-30

And so I pray...

"Jesus, what do you have for my heart today?   
How would you have me rest?  
What does that look like?  
What do I need?
What are you inviting me to?"  

And then I wait, and I listen for his answer, and I walk with him in it.  Today, it looks a little like this...

staying home from church
lingering in my jammies
quiet reflective prayer
joy, peace, hope
a walk around the pond
caring for my people
writing a few words
practicing gratitude
a bit of laundry
a quick grocery run
being creative in the kitchen
and so on...

I wonder, what does rest look like for you today?  How is God inviting you to lean in and let go and trust your heart to him?  I'm starting a new series here each week... "Sunday Soul Rest" and I would love for you to join me in finding rest for our souls, of taking Jesus up on his offer to come and find our rest in him. I think it will be really good for our hearts.

Blessings on your rest today, friends... 

May it be sweet and satisfying and just what your heart needs.


May 13, 2015

A Lost Egg, a Lost Heart, and an Ever Caring Father

I took our dog for a walk the other day around the pond near our home.  It's one of his favorite things to do, most likely because of the dozen or so geese that make their home there.  Being true to his nature as a lab and bird dog, he's quite taken with those feathery, flying creatures.

On this particular day, it would probably be more fitting to say that he took me for a walk around the pond, even though he's old and not nearly as fast as me.  I wasn't the feeling the best with the pollen and the change of season getting the best of me, but there was more I was struggling with than just the pesky yellow dust.  My heart was in a bit of a slump and sadness, discouragement, and disillusionment clouded my day.  I'd spent a good bit of the morning bringing my heart before Jesus in prayer, and standing against the lies and the negative emotions coming my way.  I was doing well, but I was weary and just in need of a good, strong, comforting hug from my God.

He never ceases to disappoint me. 

He always comes through.

As I turned a bend with Glory in the lead, I stepped back quickly and stopped to avoid stepping on a goose egg that lay in the middle of the path.  Somehow, the little egg had been taken from its home and its momma and had been left all alone.  I leaned over to take a peek at it thinking maybe I could help, but then I realized the shell was cracked and the baby goose inside had died.

I felt such sadness and compassion for the little one, its life cut short before it could even hatch, but right on the heels of those feelings, Jesus reminded me of this scripture...

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

~ Matthew 10: 29-31



There was the hug I so needed and craved, and following that warm, wonderful embrace were these words from Jesus...

"Jenny, just as I see this little lost goose, I see you.  Even more so.  Your days are in my hand and your heart is forever in my care.  You are worth more to me than you can possibly imagine.  You are precious.  Chosen and deeply loved." 

I smiled and my heart brightened as his words lifted a weight off my mind and spirit.  Of course.  Of course, Jesus sees me and calls me worthy and precious and holds my heart forever in his care.  I know, that I know, that I know, that that is true.  But just like the little egg got taken from its home, the truth of what I know deep in my heart had been taken from me.  Forgotten and lost and needing to be recovered.

God is so kind and so unbelievably personal with us.  He speaks in the most unique and intimate ways, just as we need to hear and as only he can say.  I'm so grateful for his touch on my life, his breath on my face, his words to my heart, and his good, strong, comforting hugs are unlike any other.

He is a good father, and he is good to me.


March 6, 2015

Keeping Score


It was once the number of people who followed me on Instagram and compared to others, to those who have hundreds and thousands of followers, it was a teeny tiny number.  Very teeny tiny, actually.  As in, I think I may have almost been invisible.

Though I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, at one time this little number had me quite discouraged, kind of sad and frustrated, and pretty disillusioned.

I wonder when it ever began to matter how many people like or follow or friend us or retweet our tweets and share our posts and leave us comments?  And how very crazy is that anyway?  What a weird culture we live in these days.  At what point did we begin to align our value and worth with something so trivial and silly and worldly?  To numbers for goodness sake?  And to a virtual life that in no way fully encompasses all that we are and all that we offer to this world?

Standing at the dryer folding clothes one day, I was feeling particularly invisible and discouraged about this very thing and I knew I needed to take it to Jesus.  Like really take it to Jesus.  Like lay it down and let it go and never pick it up again.  It bugged me that it bugged me, and it felt prideful and shameful and yuck, so I began to pray and invite Jesus into it.  I wanted to hear his thoughts and heart on my keeping score, and what I sensed so clearly, so sweetly in my spirit, was this...

These beautiful, life-giving words from Christ…

"Jenny, your value and worth have absolutely nothing to do with your number of followers.  You know this, but I'm making it a reality in your heart.  Right now, with just twenty-two followers, you are just as valuable and worthy and loved and seen as you would be if you had twenty-two hundred, or even twenty-two thousand followers.  And one day, if you have twenty-two hundred or twenty-two thousand followers, you will be no more valuable and worthy and loved and seen than you are right now, this very minute, with just twenty-two.  Your reach and sphere of influence may change, but your value and worth are forever sealed in Me.  They will never change,  fluctuate or vary.  They are steady, constant, and true.  Irreversible for all of time.  Receive it, believe it, rest in it, and let go of keeping score.  Live free as you trust in Me."

Those words rescued my heart that day.  They set me free from obsessing over numbers and getting lost, from posturing and arranging, and from doubting and questioning my value and worth.  They set me free from shame and pride, and from getting stuck and disillusioned.

Since that day, I've marveled as I've watched God grow my little space in His time and way, and it's both humbled and honored me.  The number of my followers has increased as He's called me up and out and widened my reach, but NOTHING has changed in terms of my value and worth.  Just as Jesus said, those things are final and finished and sealed forever in Him.  I'm deeply grateful for that truth, and ever so thankful to be free from counting and keeping score.

And that's something I'm holding fast to even still, day by day, as followers come and go, and as the numbers go up and down.  It continues to set me free.

Is this something you also wrestle with?  This keeping of score and believing that your value and worth are somehow determined by numbers, likes, and follows?  If so, know that all the words Jesus spoke to my heart are true for your heart as well.  You are seen and loved and valuable and worthy right now, today, regardless of a bunch of silly numbers.  Let go and live free.  XO


February 22, 2015


"Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful, 
slow to anger and abounding in love."

~ Joel 2:13

Returning… It's a practice I find the need to return to constantly, each and every day, sometimes moment by moment.  How prone I am to losing my way, to forgetting where I am and where I've been.  I get distracted by the world and all that swirls around me, pulled away by the tug of life's demands and my own restless heart.

Who am I again and who is God and what have I come to know and love of Him? What's the story He's writing with my life, and what's my part in the epic story He's writing for all mankind?  Where have I known healing and redemption and growth, and how has He rescued me time and again?  And do I even begin to remember and hold fast to how deeply He loves me and how He sees me as His very own?  His beautiful creation?  His daughter and love?

Oh how easily I forget and find myself wandering the field like a little lost sheep searching again for her Shepherd.  Gratefully though, Jesus is never far off.  Never.  He's always near, always present, calling me to His heart and inviting me to return.

He's gracious and merciful and slow to anger.  He's patient and loving and gentle with my heart.  He sees me and knows me and understands the depths of who I am.  He is safe and good, and He is good to me.

And so I return because how could I not?  How could I possibly resist and run from such love, the truest love I've ever known and the safest arms on earth?

He pulls me close and holds me tight and speaks the truth my soul so desperately needs to hear.  He blows away the fog and clears the sky and sets my feet firm.  I can see again and hear again and I'm sure of His love for me and my place in His story.  I'm sure of Him, and that alone is more than enough.

I've returned until the time I may wander again.  And when that happens and when I do, I will return again.  And there Jesus will be, calling me to His heart even still.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; 
bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."  

~ Proverbs 3:3

"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of  Egypt, 
and who rescued you from slavery."

~ Deuteronomy 6:12

"O to grace how great a debtor 
daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, 
bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
prone to leave the God I love; 
here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
seal it for thy courts above."

~ lyrics to "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"


January 30, 2015

An Invitation

Even though it's almost the end of January, it's still the start of a brand new year, filled with mystery and wonder. All month long, as I've eased back into routine after the Christmas holidays, I've been asking Jesus what he has for my heart in the weeks and months ahead. I've been pondering and praying and finding myself on my knees a lot, both literally and figuratively, and these are the words that keep spilling from my lips…

Jesus, come and dance on my heart.

Over the years, I've traveled far and wide and long and hard in my walk with this beautiful One who's etched himself forever on my heart. Healing and growth and life have come to this woman who has come to know that Jesus really is all that she needs and more than enough. 

I've learned to travel lightly as God has taken from me the things that weighed me down and held me back and slowed my pace. I confess that some of those things I didn't give up easily, many of them He had to pry from my tightly clenched fingers. "Let me have them. Let them go," he said. "These bags are too heavy for you. You were never intended to carry them. They're not yours to carry, but mine. Let me bear the weight of them. Travel lightly and stay close to me."

And so I listened and obeyed. I gave him those burdensome bags, in both relief and sorrow, sometimes though, I would ask for them back when I'd forget that life isn't up to me, I'm not on my own, and I don't have to be in control. Out of his great love and only for a bit, he'd let me carry those bags again just so I'd remember how heavy they were and how they weren't mine to carry.

In the year ahead, as I continue to travel lightly, walking closely beside the One who carries my burdens and loves me so well, I'm inviting him to dance on my heart. To grow and shape me, and take me deeper and higher, and to leave his beautiful footprints scattered and imprinted all over my life. I'm handing over more of the bags that weigh me down and slow my pace, and I'm walking light on my feet right beside him, sometimes even skipping as I go.

Trusting him. 

Loving him.

Embracing and delighting in his glorious dance.

As I drove my children to school this morning, light snow began to fall, and as I headed home after dropping them off, it began to fall in a frenzy. Lovely and light, tiny, white snowflakes danced in a flurry all around me, scattered here and there and everywhere, and I laughed and smiled because I knew Jesus was answering my prayer.

He was dancing on my heart.

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