Wreckage

You know those train wrecks that cause you to turn your head and look? You know you shouldn’t stare so you peek through covered eyes trying to turn away yet your eyes fixate on the wreckage.

Maybe you feel like you are the train wreck.

Accidents happen while the world keeps spinning. Life tries its best to move right along when all you want to do is scream “stop.” I think we fix our eyes on the devastation because the hope is to see signs of life among the wreckage. We gasp holding our breath for a small glimmer of hope that says, “Yes, I’m broken and bruised…yet my heart is still beating.”

Where there is breath there is hope because love doesn’t leave you stranded. Love comes to you. It always does. Love refuses to leave you alone even when your heart needs a break and your attitude needs a spanking. We have a God who loves without limits and runs to us even when we are the train wreck. Truth be told, we’ve all been wrecked by something.

After surgery the doctor will often say, “You’ll feel much worse before you get better.” Yet after the pain medication fades to nothingness, you trace the scars that remain and remember his words wondering why he didn’t use a few more descriptive words. Because “worse” just doesn’t cut it.

You linger in a state infinitely greater than “worse” with scars that you feel will never fade.

I was one of those who tried to rush the healing process and often that landed me right back in the emergency room. My strength in spirit didn’t always reflect the way I felt physically and my body took a beating until I learned the fine art of waiting during the process of healing. I’ve learned to do the same thing with my heart.

You can’t rush the healing stages. The pain takes you back layer-by-layer to the scene where it all began. Your personal tragedy. The dust settles slowly and everything within fades out in slow motion. And God is the hand pulling you out of the wreckage placing you gently on the gurney. He straps you down, not to trap you but to protect you. For he knows exactly what you need and how to cushion you from further sustaining injuries.

Where there is breath hope remains because love doesn’t leave you stranded so don’t rush this thing called healing. Relax into it and put your feet up. Even if you’ve made a mess of everything and feel like you are not worthy of a life free from the wreckage. God has made a way for you to find Him and step into a place of blessing.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

When God sees you He doesn’t see a train wreck, or a prodigal. The Father sees His child coming home from the wreckage. All God really wants is you empty-handed. He runs to you so that your hands are no longer empty but wrapped up in the sweetest embrace that says, “You’ve made it home. Let’s have a party.”

You are not a mess; you are a masterpiece in the making!

Much love to you!

Jennifer

The Spotlight or the Crucified Backseat

Carved out in a rock worn out by rough waters is a place that fits my frame. It was made for me, or so I think. Here in this place I stand on the rock that is higher than I. Yet, I sit like a child small and frail. My heart feels the weight, I can’t carry the people God called me to minister to, but I can feed them.

The waterfall is only a trickle and yet I’ve seen it at its best and worst. Flooded and flowing with everything in its season, not questioning its place just surrendering to it. This process of becoming, you can’t rush this or it will wreck you. You simply abide. You wait even though you eagerly feel readiness propelling you forward. Trust me on this one; God opens doors that no man can shut. Yet when the door slams in your face and it feels like it’s over. It’s okay to cry and trust God anyway.

I’m not chasing after another persons position or calling, or chasing __________ ‘s shadow. But, I would love to serve them. Maybe hand them a bottle of water and a latte. And sit down with them face to face in hopes of learning how to pay the price for the greatness, striving for excellence in Christ not the out-of-reach perfectionism. We learn so much more learning to serve one another.

God didn’t call me into the spotlight. He called me to be the light. And that light compels me to servanthood, not to self-promotion. Do I want my name on the best sellers list? Of course. Do I expect it to be handed to me? No. Greatness and excellence costs you something. It is never handed to us. Yet, when it is we have to ask ourselves if we are hoarding and burying our talents and gifts…or are we spending them well and pouring ourselves out like a drink offering.

I just want my name written on the hearts of the ones I love. I wipe my fan clubs noses and tuck them in at night. I kiss his face and affirm him with words that feed him.

I could color my hair a different shade of ginger and sing my heart out. But, I’ll never be Adele. It’s her voice and sound, and it’s stunning. You could write every angry break-up song, have pillow fights, and look adorable even when your cheeky…but you’ll never be Taylor Swift. And they wouldn’t want you to be because they know what it is like to be compared to someone else. Be you because who you are in Christ is stunning and something to be proud of.

I could list several amazing ladies in leadership that I admire. In my twenties I coveted their calling and their voice. Yet, in my thirties I crave seeking first the Kingdom and His righteous. By seeking God first, I found my voice. And because of that I grew into my own calling, never have I been happier in this skin of mine. Whatever is added to me in the process of seeking Him first is bonus, like cake after dinner. It’s what I eat the green stuff for, the cake of life.

I worry about the bright eyes craving the spotlight. I’ve watched too many people who lost their sparkle trying to make it to the top, now they look with empty eyes wondering if selling out was worth it. It’s obvious to me that Jesus loved to use the least likely to succeed and rock their world as they stuttered and stammered over words until the Holy Spirit showed up. It’s okay if you trip over words as long as the Holy Spirit shows up and resides within.

If you want your name in lights, try Hollywood. If you want your name written on a shiny gold plate on the door of the church, try getting your hands dirty first. If you want to stand on the platform and have hundreds receive your message, start with cleaning the toilets and stacking chairs. But if you want to embody greatness, check your ego at the door. Be the least. Be the one who bites your tongue waiting for the Holy Spirit to show up and your flesh to take the crucified back seat. Nothing else matters in life except for pleasing God first and feeding His sheep.

I’ve been lost in this passage of scripture for quite some time, John 21:15-19. Jesus kept asking Simon Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times Jesus asked, even to the point of hurting his feelings. Do you love me? His threefold denial in the past needed a threefold answer to his calling and signing up for a life that would cost him something, even his death. Peter would answer with a pain in his heart, “Yes, you know that I love you.” Each time Peter said yes, Jesus answered back with tend to my sheep. Feed my sheep. And then Jesus tells Peter that loving Him well means taking care of His children, the feeding of souls. He asks us to follow Him, wherever that leads. In life and even in death we glorify the most High, as we take the crucified back seat as Jesus and the Holy Spirit as our GPS takes the lead.

Much love  to you!

Jennifer

(Here’s a picture of me without makeup, yikes, on my favorite rock that is normally covered by a waterfall. My family  picture was taken at the same place by: Chelsea Rustad, Imago Dei Photography.

Healed

I keep reading stories and hearing people share about the devastation of their divorce, the difficult years of healing that followed and how God sent them a new spouse who was wonderful. As if the culmination of their healing happened when they found a new husband or wife. I don’t want that to be my story. I want the culmination of my healing to be in knowing Christ. Of knowing who I am in Him. Of day in day out joy that comes from walking by faith with a loving God. I don’t want to believe that until I find and embrace a new relationship that I will be lacking in some way. 

Because, the truth is, I lack nothing as long as I have fellowship with Jesus. He is all I need. To tack “and then I met an amazing man” on the tail end of my testimony seems to cheapen the grace that God longs to lavishly pour out on me. Not that I believe a new relationship would be wrong or not worth celebrating. But should that be the goal? Isn’t the goal to hear Him say “well done”? To finish my race holding tight to Jesus’ hand? To find joy and peace and love in nothing more and nothing less than Christ? That is the healing I seek. 

I wrote that in my journal a few months after my husband left me. I never imagined it would ever come true. But it has. Y’all, it has!!! And I didn’t even realize it until today driving home from work with a smile on my face and joy in my heart and a deep contentment in my spirit. I’m telling you, if I had driven past a field of flowers I would have stopped to dance in it. Not walk through it, or sit beside it, or admire it from afar, but flat-out-crazy-white-girl-dance in it!

Is life perfect? No. Life is still hard. My house is currently out of control, balancing my budget takes lots of creativity and prayer, I still cry on a regular basis, I lose my temper in traffic, and sometimes I’m so lonely I could scream. But I’m good. Like really, really good. Because He is so good!

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planing of the Lord for the display of His splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double potion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. Isa. 61

His word is true. Not just in theory but real-life, in the middle of your mess, right where it hurts, true. For year I didn’t believe that. I believed His word was true, just maybe not true for me. Maybe He would bind up some of the brokenhearted, but not my broken heart. Maybe He would give a crown of beauty to someone, just probably not me. And maybe some people had everlasting joy, but not me, never me. I believed I would always be bound, always be depressed, always walk in darkness. As if His grace wasn’t enough for me.

Boy, was I wrong.

He is enough. His grace is enough. And here, on the backside of the dark valley, His faithfulness is so real and tangible that I can’t help but be filled with joy.

I don’t know where you are on your journey today, but wherever you are can I encourage you to hang in there? To keep clinging to Jesus and His promises. To not look to someone or something else to find whatever it is you think you need. I promise there is no substitute or shortcut to healing. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The day I wrote that journal entry I was so emotionally devastated and lost that I couldn’t even get out of bed and go to work. I thought the darkness would suffocate me and that I would never be okay again. But I am. My circumstances haven’t changed, but my heart has. It has been healed by a loving God. He longs to do the same for you.

Love~
Keri

 

 

 

Friends and Fans

“Her mom never taught her how to cook, but she did teach her how to risk.”- Erwin McManus, Unleashed.

Sitting with my best friend of seventeen years this weekend, soaking in different snapshots of time. How we were then and how we are now. I’m so stinking proud I could burst. We traveled in ministry together for nine weeks of sheer torture during our college years. Three boys, one who kept his meds in his dirty socks that could rock a human video to Carmen like nobody’s business. One who could play the piano and wow everyone, one who could play the bass and make all of us wish we weren’t so white…and two petite broads calling all the shots and figuring out how we fit while coveting each other’s giftings. I guess you could say we became friends and fans at the same exact time. 

At nineteen you don’t really know who you are or why you feel like such a weirdo. We are soaking in all the images of lovelies on the magazines, air brushed and just as insecure as we are. A snapshot is taken. Here is what you look like with some things shaved off and edited.Our eyes surveyed the women in our life while the younger version of ourselves felt inadequate, instead of inspired.

If all we see is what is imperfect and flawed, then we will train our minds to focus on those minor things instead of all the things that take your breath away.

We place an idea of perfection, unattainable and lofty and lie to ourselves by saying it’s possible to be and achieve it all without an IV drip of caffeine and a body double. We are convinced she really exists. The perfect woman.

If “she” really did exist…would you want to pummel her or applaud her?

Would you be her biggest fan?

Or would you feel threatened and at risk?

I could wish away my insecure days that lingered for years, but I wouldn’t be me without all those years of striving to be someone else. I’m amazed at how much time we spend trying to blend in when we were made to stand out. Being who you truly are is risky, but being someone else is a trap.

Stand out, you beautiful thing!

By standing out you give others the freedom to do the same.

And cheer on your sisters, both young and old, in this journey.

They need a friend and a fan.

Cheering loud for you,

Jennifer

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Phil 4:8-9 MSG)