HOT MESS but blessed

hot mess but blessed

I notice her with her walls up, trapped in a moment where she felt like she needed to pretend. She stood upright, but everything about her revealed to me that she was crumbling on the inside. With each fake, plastic smile she became more exhausted with the fine art of hiding behind a façade.

I placed my hands on her shoulders, “You don’t have to be okay right now. You don’t. Maybe if you give yourself a little space to fall apart, you might feel more together. A little more free.”

She wrestled; fighting inwardly and then the tears start to stream down her darling face. She melts into me and I hug her as tight as I can. I whisper, “I know what it’s like to go through the motions, just pretended to be okay when I really wasn’t.”

I know what it’s like to be a faker. Don’t we all?

As if one more coat of mascara is going to make our eyes sparkle again. Like the perfect under eye concealer is going to make us look like we actually rested instead tossing and turning, the replaying of events, the things we should have said. The things we shouldn’t have.

It’s possible to be surrounded by people and feel more alone than ever.

It’s possible to say I love you” every time you feel it and still feel unloved. It’s possible to have a smile splash across your face and not feel an ounce of happiness within.

It is possible to feel everything and nothing…and wonder what the heck is wrong with you. But, I know the power of walls coming down in the acknowledgment that I am a needy girl with a God who is big enough to handle it. I know the power of watching words set a heart free. Say them, love them with your words.

It’s okay.

You don’t have to be okay when you’re not.

You don’t have to hide or fake it. You can simply come wrecked and torn, just as you are and know that is enough.

Coming to church admitting that we are needy has become ridiculously taboo.  My last post, Female Kryptonite: The Shaming Chase for Perfection stirred up a group of women ready for healing. If you missed it…you should read it and share it! You can read it here.  

The rain comes, it always does, and we feel it soaking through the façade until we let go of this little thing called perfect. It happened to me in a tiny choir loft, running a fever and losing my first baby to early miscarriage. As a lady looked over at me, fully knowing what I was going through, she asked me how I was doing. I felt like she was asking me to smile and nod just like everyone else and I couldn’t. I had lost the will to fake it. True words came rolling out, my pain unmasked.

“I’m just here.”

That’s when I stopped pushing myself so hard while my body tried to keep up with the fast pace of pretending to be perfect. Pretending that I was stronger than the grief I was feeling inside. The walls came down and it was the most freeing and purposeful pain. I felt so small and it was okay. I asked those hard questions and even the useless one of “why.”

I let myself be small and frail. I let my mom hold me like she used when I was little. I found God in that broken space of loss and found myself at the same time. The one with angry poetry underneath my worn out Bible, the girl who knew that faith and questions could linger together in my sadness giving way to deeper, unshakeable roots in Christ. By admitting that I wasn’t okay I found room for real healing, the kind that takes time and can’t be rushed.

Whether your heartache has been recent or decades ago, I wish I could sit with you and hold your hand to let you know that it’s okay that you are not okay right now.

One day you will be.

You will be strong and steady, someone that others lean on. One day you might be holding chubby babies, or climbing the corporate ladder and finding joy in your “right now” moments.

I pray joy will return and God’s peace will surround you.

Much love and prayers, Jennifer Renee

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:3)

*All my friends are going nuts over this shirt…I have made one for us!! You can order by clicking here.

I’m Still Learning That ‘No’ Is Not a Swear Word

Girl Looking Out

I’m the girl who will stand on my soapbox and hold your hand while you cry tears of exhaustion to tell you that you are enough and that what you have to offer is enough. I wholeheartedly believe this. But, I’m tired and so are you. Am I right? While I was stress-walking this morning, my to-do list unfolded and instantly became longer. All my roles, projects, and my people that need me in the most needy of ways, seemed to be at war with each other.

I’m a tough girl, always have been, but one of the toughest things I do is remain softhearted. That. Is. Work. And work requires energy, physically and emotionally.

Truth bomb: I cannot be enough for all of these people and have enough sanity left over. And I don’t have to be. In the past I have been the girl saying yes to everyone thinking that would please God. I am by nature a people pleaser, so making everyone happy would have to make me happy. Right? I wasn’t even remotely in a two-mile radius of happy. I was stressed, depleted, and terribly unhappy, but no one knew it.

I was sacrificing my health in the name of being good at everything, even the things I hated doing.  

Something had to change. I had these gifts that God entrusted me with and I was trying to add all these things to those few gifts hoping that somehow I could be enough. Do enough. Minister in the place of enough. Mother in the place of enough. Love in a world where what I brought to the table was enough. Be the kind of wife who knew, even on my most sucky of days, that I was enough.

But, I am not enough.

When I pray and ask God to be more than enough in me; that’s when my messiness ushers in a real, gritty faith that is more useful to God. Because I’m meant to need Him, not be the girl faking my way through the lie that real, godly women are supposed to have it together, all the time. (If you do have it all together, all the time, I need you to adopt me and spend time with me.) 

The struggle is what makes us great. Saying, “I have no idea how I’m going to get all of this done,” is what makes us great because in our desperation we know who holds our world, and fragile pieces, in place.

We were meant to be needy of God, not needy of the approval of others. We mix those things up sometimes. God didn’t promise us that He wouldn’t put more on us than we could handle, whoever made that up needs to be spanked.

The Word tells us this: I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

Our peace comes from God, not on how awesome we are. He overcame the world so we would have a fighting chance.

If the enemy can’t get us to leave the faith and do all the big sins we think are worse than our little sins, he will distract us with the spinning wheels of “I am not enough”.  

We do not need to be enough to all of these people and look to them as the keeper of our worth. When I need to know that I can do all things through Christ, I have a really fat study Bible I flip through and I find a little soul nourishment that reminds me what my main things are. And you know what, having it all together isn’t one of them. I mean, read the Psalms, David was a hot-mess and his emotions were all over the place. David prayed the Imprecatory Psalms and then asked God to search his heart. So, it’s possible for a really flawed person to have a heart after God. This is good news for us.

I don’t have to be enough. I just have to be obedient. I don’t have to do all the little things that someone else thinks that I should be doing because my heart needs quiet space to listen to the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what I do when everything is flipped upside down and I’m a hot-mess and crying all the time.

I realize that something needs to change. My emotions and my health are screaming at me, “Something is out of balance, fix it”

I look at my list and plan my days with a little more breathing room. I use the word no more often, not because I don’t care. I care enough to be smart about what I can give my best to.

I look at the best example I know of, Jesus. The more the crowds pressed in on Jesus, the more he withdrew himself from the crowds. He took his smallest, inner circle with him. His need of seclusion didn’t exclude those that he trusted. Jesus was selective, he had the twelve, but on mountainsides and dodging the crowd, he had fewer.

My circles become smaller, not larger. I become more focused in knowing who is going to require more than I can give. If it’s work to be around them, I think about that by looking at my social calendar. I can always catch up with them later.

I have my person, that best friend who gets me and can speak truth to me. I listen to her when she offers words of caution. Friendships like this are gold; I hope you have this in your life.

I say the hard things and draw verbal boundary lines with my loved ones when I feel like I’ve been used like a doormat. Which, happens a lot for people who are “pleasers”. Gah.

I pray. I repent. I ask God to show me how to make my list shorter, not longer. I forget about perfection and just think about getting it done.

I stop talking about people to other people and talk to God about those people. I hand them over to God because it’s not my job to keep them in line. It’s my job to love them even when it’s hard work.

I say no without feeling like I’ve earned a ticket to hell. P.S. Today feels like Monday.

Much love,


Haven’t Figured Out Your Resolutions or One Word? Me either.

One Word?-4

I look down at my calendar noticing the white space, I jot down dates and obligations realizing that soon this fresh page will be filled with opportunities for ministry, connecting, and things I really don’t want to do.

It’s just eight days into the New Year, and everyone is making lists. Lists that will make them feel guilty. Lists that might make them feel a little more productive. Lists that will make them feel like this business of producing never, ever stops.

They even have their “one word” picked out for the year like rest or abundance.

I don’t have a list this year, but a charge of sorts for us to refuse the meaningless striving.

Instead of validation, may we seek to be available to God, to others, and whatever that may look like.

That we could look at our circle of influence differently, perhaps even make it smaller. That we could start in our homes, working outward to our jobs, churches, and community. And if by chance we can only manage one of those things in our circle; that we would know that one thing was enough.

That we would not seek the approval of others and waste time on that bottomless pit of people pleasing, but instead seek time to feel the loving, correcting hand of God in our lives.

That we would no longer throw out the words, “I don’t have the time.” And replace them with the knowledge that we make time for whatever is truly important to us.

No more measuring sticks, just measureless grace for others and for us.

No more dreading what may happen, just take it day-by-day, sometimes even minute-by-minute.

No more beating yourself up, or talking bad about people who might sin differently than you. Because we all have our things and we are all painfully aware of what we need to be working on.

No more records of wrongs for others. To quote from the great philosopher, T. Swift, we need to shake it off. Cuz haters are gonna hate.

We can cry, let go, and forgive repeating those steps as often as we need to.

My prayer is that grace will fill our lungs, hope will flood our hearts, and that we persistently trust in the unseen, mighty things of God. And because we never know what’s next for us, we will focus on taking one obedient footstep after the other.

May our focus remain on who we are becoming instead of what we produce.

Much love,


The Gift Our Daughters Really Need

Whitley,Flower child

I wish I could erase this pattern that cripples women, the one that starts as a preteen and follows us through life. This unhealthy space of not liking the way we look. I blink slowly trying to remember when this started, or why it started. Was it the images on television or the porn I found in someone’s house when I was a girl trying to figure out what being a woman was all about?

I remember thinking that day when I realized that people pay money for this trash- So, this is what you think of women?

Don’t you know that I will be one soon?

This is someone’s daughter and you are someone’s dad.

Is this all you think that we are? Painted and displayed and broken.

I felt sorry for her, the girl on the front cover bare.

I am bringing up girls now and I feel the weight of this enormous task that is laid out before me.

God, please help me to do this right.

My daughter asked if it was a good time to talk. When your preteen wants to talk to you, it’s always a good time to talk. This “shut the door, tell me everything you are feeling” stuff is starting to happen. God knows how much I want to be good at it.

I want to have the answers and play it cool when something throws me off guard; I want to have the words to ease her troubled mind.

And it starts.

I feel bad about my body.

I feel bad about my mind, like I’m not smart enough.

I decided to start with the “I wish I could change my body” talk first.

I tell her about the change that is happening, that right now her mind and her body are trying to catch up. I talked to her about comparison and how she just needs to be the healthy version of herself, that there is no weight limit or jean size that can be her guide for this. The hormones are invading her space and she is growing, developing, and morphing into a young woman right before my eyes.

This stretching out place happens both in our bodies and our mind, but somehow we need to carefully walk our daughters through this. They need to know that their bodies are a gift; that they are a gift.

So, I pulled out this scripture verse knowing that it takes a lifetime to really get this, but I quoted it anyway.

“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7 ESV)

Of course, men and women look at the outward appearance while God looks at our heart. But, all I saw sitting in front of me was a girl who looked just like me; and I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.

Something comes to me, a thought, a way that I could help her. I grab my soft middle, the part that I wish wasn’t there and say, “Is this what you notice when you look at me?”

She shakes her head and says ‘no’ softly.

“I didn’t always have this soft part of me. At times I wish it wasn’t there, but it gave me you.”

Bringing forth life changed my body, but more importantly, it changed my heart. So, I thank God for the stretchy middle and the miracle of giving birth. I thank Him for helping me when I was underweight, stressed to the max, ill, and unable to sustain a healthy pregnancy.

I knew that in moment I needed to give my daughter the gift of seeing her mother love her imperfections and show her what it looks like to honor and respect my body.

I am not measured by my soft middle, or the size of clothes that I wear. I am not my title, or the position I hold. My worth is based on the contents of my heart, that’s all.

If I can teach this to her at eleven and reinforce it over the years. If I can guard carefully the words that come out my mouth about my body image, I can make a lasting impact.  If I can do this and change the way she views womanhood, I could change a generation-the one that she will be leading.

But, I can’t do this without you doing the same thing for your girls.

Maybe if we link arms and allow our strength be larger than Kim Kardashian’s butt displayed all over the internet, we can be the women who not only teach about the power of a woman’s worth- we can be the women who live it loud enough to quiet our daughter’s insecurities.

So, as I sit here wrecked with a list of things I need to buy for my girls for Christmas, I know this is the most important gift I can give them, the gift of championing the worth of women. All the women, those on display and the ones starving and cutting themselves to dull the pain.

But I must start first with the miniature versions living in my house.

Are you with me?

Love you like crazy,

Jennifer Renee


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Give Yourself A Gift This Year

walking with my baby

My nine-year-old crawled in bed with me. Yes, she still does that and I love it. She’s the baby of the family and my little cling on. She wrapped her arms around me as I wrapped her up in my arms.

“Mom, I need you to pray for me.”

“Is something wrong?”

“I am having bad thoughts…like something bad might happen.” She whispers.

I began to pray, asking God to help her to not think those thoughts or worry and then prayed for a hedge of protection around my family. I asked God to help me with my thoughts and that I wouldn’t worry either.

Tears fall softly down my face as my daughter starts praying.

“Jesus, I just want to be the best me that I can be. Help me to do that. I want to be the best me I can be.”

She begins to tell Jesus how she falls short at this with words from a nine-year-old heart. It reminded me of how many women have basically said the same thing with bigger words laced with regret.

How many women feel like the worst version of themselves? Too many.

My tears fall on her as we say ‘amen’ while I search for words to tell her about how God sees her heart and would honor those sweet prayers of her. I find the words and remind her of the worth found deep inside of her and that maybe, just maybe, she’s being too hard on herself.

And my mind drifts to countless conversations and endless words from women I know doing the same thing, being ridiculously harsh and unkind to themselves.

I think that’s what we all want; to be the very best version of ourselves and every day we have a million opportunities to blow it. But, we press on knowing that God sees our hearts and searches all the deepest places within us.

Everyday we give our days like a gift to the God that formed us, and most days we wonder if it’s enough.

Years ago in a moment of mentoring I apologized to someone who became more like a sister and less like mentee. I told her how I wished that I had done more to help prepare her for the road ahead. She looked me in the eyes and said something that I’ll never forget.

“Jennifer, sometimes we learn more from Clark Kent than we do from Superman.”

Her words set me free; I hope they will set you free too.

In all this striving of trying to be the very best version of yourself, perhaps it’s time to look at yourself through the filter of “I am enough” and give yourself a big fat break.

Perhaps that could be your Christmas gift to yourself, to be a little nicer to the woman you look at in the mirror.

Much love,

Jennifer Renee


Limitations & Love Letters

God is within her. Ps 46:5

We walk into a room filled with people we don’t know very well. I see this wave of anxiety rush over my oldest daughter’s face.

“Oh Mom, I don’t like walking into a room where I don’t know people.”

Baby girl, I get it.

“Baby, half of the people in this room feel just like you do.”

You can do this.

She relaxes and within minutes she is talking with a girl a few years older than her with a smile on her face.

I smile and watch her in that stretching place and know that growth is painfully awkward and wonderful at the same time.

We have all been hard wired to function a certain way, I’m not sure when it starts but eventually we start thinking that the way we were designed is wrong. We forget that our weaknesses give way to a strength we can only find in God.

We fight against our God-given abilities and try hard to function like someone else.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Trying to be something that we are not is like wearing shoes that don’t fit, each step feels uncomfortable and eventually you aren’t walking at all. You are limping.

You were never meant to limp, you were meant to live life to the fullest. Each time we second-guess our Creator who designed us for a very special reason and role in the body of Christ, we lose some of the best parts of who we are. We minimize what God meant to showcase for His glory.

Why do we limit what God meant to illuminate?

Sometimes I wonder if all we see when we examine our lives are limitations. Maybe it’s not limitations; maybe it’s a love letter.

A love letter that says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

A love letter that says, “In your neediness you will find Me and you will find that I am more than enough.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (Matt 11:28 NIV)

Everyday we are faced with things that make us uncomfortable and in that stretching place we figure out what we are made of. We learn that shy girls can overcome those first feelings of panic and end up having the time of their lives.

We learn that the over-sharing extrovert feels the need to chat constantly because the silence makes her uncomfortable. But, eventually she learns how to listen like her loved ones need her to.

We learn how to depend on God in a world that teaches us being self-sufficient is the ultimate goal.

I think we should stretch, learn, and grow knowing that our moment of weakness provides us with an opportunity to see God’s power revealed in us.

We learn that His grace is sufficient even when we feel like a hot-mess. We learn that His grace covers all of our cracked, fragile place.

Pray, stretch, grow and repeat.

Much love,

Jennifer Renee

When It’s Hard To Have Faith

Whitley,Flower child

I am the girl who likes to see the preview for the next episode immediately after watching one of my favorite shows. I want that little teaser for what’s coming next so I have something to look forward to.

If I could make this happen with my life, I would opt for that. Just a little sneak peak of what is coming. But it never happens. All of us feel like God has given us specific promises and most of us remain in that tender place where we wait. The longer we have to wait, the more we lose hope and start thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was all in our heads.

I’ve been reading in Hebrews chapter 11 about faith in the unseen, that place were hope lingers and we have to go on faith, not on what is in front of our faces. For some of us this is extremely difficult because we want tangible proof, not the unlocked and unseen promise tucked in our hearts.

In this place we can only surrender to God and to the waiting and to the trusting of God’s promises. His timing is clearly not ours and so we ask for a faith that is bigger than the doubting side of us. And when that comes we begin to hope again like we did when we first received our promise. We beg God that we will not become weary in our well doing and working for Him.

Somehow the longer we pray for that one thing that we want the most, the further we walk the tightrope of doubt.

We stop expecting God to move, or change a heart, or possibly even change ours. And all of the sudden, we stop altogether hoping in the unseen.

Sometimes we even stop praying.

Or hoping.

Or waiting.

We just move on.

We are Peter sinking in the water with the cold currents about to pull us under. We are filled with doubt like Thomas asking to see the nail scars in the hands of our Savior.

We long for proof when He alone is the answer and the remedy for what makes us soul-sick.

In the past I’ve been the one to chase gifts instead of the gift-giver. I’ve looked and prayed for answers instead of seeking the One who holds my tomorrow. I’ve awakened in the night and wrestled with worry and just when I thought I couldn’t wrestle anymore, I gave my cares over to God. He always knows what to do with them.

We waste our days wishing for tomorrow and miss the blessings of today. I know with all my heart that waiting produces something profound inside of us, a tool to sharpen what we thought was important. To be stripped of all forms of self, vulnerable and bare, the neediness of who we are exposes us turning our hearts towards God.

To the woman who is wrestling to find her worth, let love wrap you up and remind you that what you do matters. I know you feel like everything looks the same and wonder how you can find the miraculous in the mundane, but it’s right there even when you can’t see it.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)

Purpose is unfolding inside of you each and every day.

We want so much for God to fulfill His purpose inside of us; we want the big things when the small things really are the big things. If it is done in obedience, it’s not at all small. It’s huge.

We want the desires of our heart and most of the time we are unwilling to wait on that, for that desire to be placed in our hearts by God because we have gotten our priorities all out of whack.

God has a timing that doesn’t make sense to any of us, but it is worth it. It is worth waiting for and throwing yourself down on the carpet to pray for it. Those unseen things are exactly where the plan of God and our faith collide. God is working on your behalf, even when you can’t see it.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1 KJV)

Much love,

Jennifer Renee