Speed Dating Publishers & A Hot, Complicated Mess

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This weekend I did something ridiculous. For a girl who used to be afraid of her own shadow I completely made myself uncomfortable. I used to cry if a person looked at me wrong. Now I just let it roll right off my back because I have figured out that “not fitting in” is really the definition of “standing out”. Sometimes we are so afraid to just shine, so we stifle who we are based on the fear of rejection. We look our worst critic in the mirror every morning wondering if one more coat of mascara and heavy-duty under eye concealer will make us look less tired. I asked myself this question for seven years in hiding as an undercover storyteller who used to function out of this place of “I am not good enough.” Here’s the deal, I could never back that up in scriptures. Every lie had a stronger, more powerful truth. I figured out that I had believed lies spoken over me, but I still loved the ones who hurled lies. I learned the fine art of forgiveness and even though I might not forget the heartaches I’ve faced, God has removed the sting and I feel completely set free…without anxiety meds and a therapist on speed-dial.

Being real is scary sometimes. This world is looking for messy women who are not perfect, just available ones who are needy for a God who loves them just because. Simply embracing who God fashioned you to be, without hesitation, is so scary that it makes us want to projectile vomit. I asked my husband to spend money we didn’t have on a plane ticket, hotel room, and a little conference called “She Speaks”. He said yes three times and didn’t even say Dave Ramsey once. I booked the trip, freaked out, and wondered if I could back out. But I didn’t. I worked. I cried. I prayed till I felt peace and a release. I stayed up late. I got an ulcer. I found myself grieving my precious Grandma who has Alzheimer’s and is fading so fast that I wake up crying most nights. I’m moody and scattered. And I’m not in the best frame of mind and yet I knew in my heart it was time. I had every reason to back out, but more reasons why I couldn’t give up on this dream.

I went to the doctor and said, “I have an ulcer and only one week to get better.” He ran a few tests, blood work, and mashed on tender places on my abdomen. And then he wrote a prescription to treat my ulcer paused for a minute and said, “Do you need something for the anxiety?”

(Insert awkward silence here.)

“No, sir. But thank you, I’m really okay. If my grandmother was okay and still knew my name…I would be okay too.”

He nodded, “I still want to see you in three weeks.”

Flash forward to me taking risks and being extremely uncomfortable and alone. I scheduled my appointments, researching the people I was meeting with instead of their big, dreamy publishing companies. I was so clueless and unafraid to own that. I wanted to meet with three people. A wise woman who scared me to death, a man who most likely would tell me that my work was trash, and someone a little more my age who would understand me instantly: three different, but very important perspectives. And I really wanted to hear every single word they said, receiving it gracefully because I’m classy like that. (And crazy.)

My first appointment was the one that scared me the most. After the other girl bolted out of the room trying her best not to cry, I was kicking myself for not taking the anxiety meds. But I already really liked this woman and wanted to meet her. I pulled myself together, walked in, and instantly thought she was stunning and scary…and then I verbally freaked out. Awesome. I had fifteen minutes to sell a hot, complicated mess. She read my mail and said things to me that I had waited seven, long years to hear. Seven years of wrestling with the sloppy perfectionist within me trying to craft a compelling story, not a perfect one…just me bleeding on paper trying to love on the broken places in others that I know from firsthand experience. I was a complete mess and ugly-cried which was not my plan. At all. Yet, I walked out of that room wrecked and encouraged. I loved her more because she told me the truth and gave my dream stronger wings. Afterwards, I cried for maybe an hour give or take, washed my face, and put on fresh makeup. My only goal was to be strong enough to take whatever they said and learn from it while moving forward.

Then I met with the man. I was a question mark from the very beginning. He hated my title and gave me some best-selling titles of books written by men. He was so honest with me, brutal perhaps. And I’m really okay with being misunderstood by a man. I’ve been married for fifteen years; thinking the opposite sex is from a different planet is normal. He said something like, “I wouldn’t care about you at all because of your title, but rethink it and send it to me.” What? Why would he really want it? He said something else about me being “an interesting woman.” I smiled and took his information as a gift and bolted down the stairs to meet with an amazing, young thing that I could have coffee and girl-talk with for hours. I didn’t pitch my ideas; I just had a conversation with a dreamer just like me and clicked with her instantly. I had unlimited time for her to tell me how all of this would work after I sent my finished manuscript. Her time was gold to me. She knew what she was looking for and I communicated with more confidence because of my encounter with a stunning lady who scared me to death. The man just reinforced what I already knew. If my target audience is women…I should probably work closely with a woman because I’ll never, ever think like a man.

Three different point-of-views from three extremely wise people in the industry that I want to be apart of. I have so much to take in, but I still feel the need to just pray, work, love, and freak out when I need to. I have no idea what is going to happen next, but I just refuse to quiet the storyteller within. Years ago I wrote a story. It captivated me then and it still captivates me now. This has-been insecure dancer, who never felt good enough, danced for the first time on paper and it just felt like home.

Much love as you let go of perfect and dance,

Jennifer

“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matt 5:16 NLT)

P.S. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough. And if you want to grow, you better surround yourself with people who make you want to pee in your pants a little.

Selah

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I don’t know about you, but my life feels like I just move from one crisis to the next. Oh sure, some moments would probably better be defined as irritating interruptions to my schedule than a full on crisis. But still. It. Never. Stops.

So I pray for a break. Just one week where nothing goes wrong. Just one weekend in a cabin, in the woods, alone, with no alarm clock. Just one evening where I don’t have to cook dinner or drive anyone anywhere or clean up gold glitter fingernail polish off of every single surface in my bathroom (yes, I’m serious). It’s always something.

This week I’ve said at least a dozen times that all I want is a moment. Just a moment to breathe. A selah. A holy pause in the midst of all of the crazy. And guess what? Life was determined that I wouldn’t get my moment this week. But sometimes you just have to push back on life. Sometimes you just have to set responsibility to the side for a moment. Sometimes you just have to TAKE a break. Because if you wait for a break to be handed to you on a silver platter, well, I’m afraid you’ll be waiting an awfully long time.

Today I decided to stop. It’s raining. I love rain. It’s 72 degrees in July in Arkansas (that’s just crazy y’all). And I’ve done nothing but go full steam ahead this week. So I stopped. I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop next to the window. It’s distracting me. The rain forming rivers on the pane of glass. The leaves on the holly hedges drip, drip, dripping. The rain dancing in the puddle. I’ve paused at least a hundred times in the last hour as my attention has been drawn out the window. And each time I look outside I hear a gentle whisper “selah”. So I pause. I let myself enjoy the simple pleasure of rain in July. Then I hear a “ding” in my headphones and my attention is brought back to my laptop and the new email in my inbox.

Back and forth. Work, pause. Stare at the laptop, stare at the rain.

As I stare I whisper, not with words but with my heart, Father, rain on me. Refreshed my dry and parched soul. Send your living water to dance in me.

“Selah” is a musical term to denote a pause or an interruption in the music. It’s a holy hush before the next line of the song. A breath. A time where the baton in the conductor’s hands sits still and every eye rests upon him waiting for the signal to continue their song. Selah lasts just a moment. It is not the silence between songs. It is not the absence of song. It is the breath within the song. The musician’s eyes follows the music on the stand until the selah. Then she looks up and watches. Watches the hand that leads the song. Her eyes re-position. Her heart stills. Her hand waits on his direction. And as he lowers the baton, she continues her song.

Today, in the midst of emails and phone calls and kids who need my attention and grocery shopping and piles of laundry and, and, and…. Right here in the middle of it all I chose to pause and look at the One who’s orchestrating my life. I choose to fix my gaze on Him. I choose to lock eyes with Him and breathe.

Selah.

Keri

Wanna Hang Out?

Hey ladies!

It’s that time of the year. Summer is almost over (sorry). It’s almost time to brush off the sand, put up the sunscreen and start thinking back to school. And you know what that means… time to pull out the calendar and start filling in all those empty squares!

I know that technically the year begins in January, but for a mom with kids still at home the end of summer signals the start of a new year for me. You too?

So… as your planning your fall we’d love to come see you! Fall is the perfect time for a prayer retreat (cause the mosquitoes go away), or a women’s rally or conference. We love connecting with you here at Broken Girl, but not as much as we’d love to hug your neck and hear your story face to face.

We’ve recently updated our speaker’s page and would love for you to check it out and let us know if there’s an event coming up that we can help you with.

Praying for you!

Keri

A Pinkie Promise & Divine Wrestling

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I’m thinking of you this morning and wondering…how are you really? I hope you have a handful of friends who know enough about you to have you committed because then and only then will you be authentic and real and accountable. I hope you have true friends that know your junk and love you anyway. Friends that you must keep forever because they just know too much about you. They will go to the grave as the keeper of your secrets, a grownup pinkie promise and spit-handshake.

We must be available in the aching moments where they wrestle and war, wild like Jacob. Limping around as change seeps into their soul because receiving the blessings that we all long for takes us on a wounded journey till our name is changed. Availability doesn’t mean that we are the one responsible to fix or clean up messes we didn’t make. It means to simply stand guard, pray, and wait.

Sometimes we fix our gaze on the limp instead of the favor of God. In Genesis 32:22 we find the man who wrestles sending his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons over a brook while Jacob was left alone.

With two wives and eleven sons, I can’t imagine the noise level and madness that came from so many voices, so many needs, and only one of him. Lord knows that man needed some personal space. Jacob, whose name means “deceiver” needed to be all alone in the dark, away from all the noise to meet with God face-to-face.

It’s hard to watch the ones we love wrestle. Alone. In the dark. And yet, deeper purpose runs through us, transforming us, when we have been left alone to wrestle. Sometimes all we need to do is get out of the way and let God do His thing. We grasp aimlessly at the nothingness wanting a sword or a taser, whatever we can place in our hands to fight off the enemy of our souls, our destiny, and our name-change-moment.

Yet in Jacob’s moment, it was just him empty handed. Two strong hands against another’s in face-to-face combat.

“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (Vs 24)

And the Man could not prevail, this angel of The Lord, had to throw Jacob’s hip out of joint.

Angel: “Let me go, for the day breaks.”

Jacob: “I will not let You go until you bless me.”

He asks his name.

“My name is Deceiver.”

That’s not your name anymore, this is your name…

Israel; for you have wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed.

To be set free we must first admit that we are not. Jacob knew what his name meant. He wore it like a label, heavy like a bag of concrete thrown over his shoulder, dead weight. Yet God gave him a new name symbolic of a character transformation.

I’ve done my fair share wrestling till my heart limped and my spirit soared high in surrender. I’ve watched the ones I love wrestle and I had to be the one to cross over the brook provided for and blessed.

Whether you are the one wrestling, or the parent watching your offspring or your spouse or a dear friend wrestle needing a breakthrough and a character transformation moment…you have to take your hands out of the mess. You can’t be the one who throws their hip out of joint until they are free, you simply cross over the brook and pray until you see your beloved blessed and unlabeled.

I pinkie promise you this, you’re going to be okay and they are going to be okay. Those who limp fly higher than those who avoid divine wrestling matches. You can do this, baby girl. My God is waiting to change your name to “favored one” and “one who no longer worries.”

Much love,
Jennifer

Wounds of a Friend

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Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;

It is oil upon the head;

Do not let my head refuse it.

Psalm 141:5

 

We sat across the table from each other in silence; me with wounded pride, her with fear that she’d offended. In the silence I asked myself some hard questions. Questions like: is this truth or a lie? Is she saying this because she loves me or because she’s irritated with me? Is she righteous and trustworthy?  The words she said to me were truth. I couldn’t deny that. But they still stung. And the woman sitting across from me was a faithful, trustworthy friend. A friend who had walked dark valleys beside me and taken me to the feet of Jesus on many occasions. I knew it was the voice of kindness rebuking me.

In my twenties rebuke and correction sent me into a tailspin of defensiveness. When someone pointed out sin in my life I responded with anger. My pride would rear its ugly head and I’d instantly erect a wall to shut that person out. After all, how dare they judge me?

Thankfully in my thirties I began to believe the truth of the Word of God that says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6) And now, as my forties is quickly approaching, I’m so thankful for the men and women in my life who have permission to wound me with their words of truth.

The reality is I am often blind to my own sins. Other times I’m well aware of my depravity, I’m just unwilling to do anything about it. I’m perfectly content to continue in my comfortable cycle of disobedience. But when you’re confronted by a lovingly-harsh reality check you can no longer plead ignorance. At that point you have to make a choice.

It’s been the wounds of friends that have so often led me to sweet repentance. It’s when I let them get past my pride and when I give them access to confront the dirty places of my heart that I can finally see the light of healing. James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

Confession is good for the soul. And confession often follows confrontation. When it’s done right a loving rebuke brings a deeper intimacy to a relationship. After all, when someone sees your junk and still loves you enough to be willing to help you break free of it that’s a person worth having in your life.

When I think about where I am today in my walk with Christ, I know that I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the people God strategically placed in my path who loved me enough to reprove me. That doesn’t mean that I now welcome words of correction. No, they still hurt. Proverbs does say the wounds of a friend. It’s supposed to hurt. But I have gotten to the point where I’ll at least stop and consider their words before defending myself or getting angry or offended.

I wish I could just work out all my stuff in private with Jesus. But that’s not how the body of Christ was created to function. We were called by God to live in community with one another. We are called by God to sharpen one another. We are called by God to build friendships that love enough to speak truth, even when truth hurts. And to receive truth, even when truth wounds.

Today I’m praying that you will be brave enough to let people love you like this. And that you will be brave enough to love others this way too. After all, we could all use a little help from our friends.

Much love to you,

Keri

And, Jennifer, thanks for calling me on the carpet in the middle of Starbucks… and for being a friend who is faithful… and for not being afraid to get all-up-in-my-business when I’m acting a fool. ;o)

The Long, Painful Goodbye & Watching Silver Hair

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My husband and I have been pastors for a little over ten years now, he was twenty-eight when he was voted in. I’ll never forget it and I’ll never forget the moment I realized I couldn’t love another congregation more. I also remember saying that about the people we loved so much at our former church; we have heart-ties that will last a lifetime. We spend some our of time watching silver hair turn more silver and watching wisdom grow so much deeper as we watch beautiful hearts fade into eternity. And some cause a deep emotion in me, leaving me breathless as we say goodbye because I just love them so much.

Pat was beautiful with bright blue eyes and sincerely welcoming when we moved first moved. I was pregnant and scared because I had lost two babies to early miscarriages, and getting larger by the minute.

“Let me take you shopping and to lunch, this one is on my husband.” She would wink and lay down her credit card.

I would smile and think, “No woman feeling so very pregnant with cankles, due any moment, wants to shop.” But I went anyways. Lord, knows that woman was trying to get me to walk, or waddle that child out. But most of all she just wanted to connect with me. She would tell me stories about her five children and living life on a farm…and how she wasn’t afraid to pack heat making this classy lady familiar with handling a shotgun. My eyes would widen and I would laugh taking a mental note to never mess with a classy, southern belle who knew how to take care of business. With a shotgun. She told me about her first husband, the one of her youth, and how he died. And much later, I watched her fade out to join him while her second husband tried his best to keep her here. The last thing she whispered in my ear was “love.” She always told me she loved me and I would echo it back to her. But this time I whispered it back achingly.

“It’s ok, I’ll say it for you. I know you love me and I love you too.”

Later she was trapped in her own body, completely unable to speak, yet still coming to church. Her husband asked me to check on her in the bathroom. She was sick from medication and throwing up. I wet some paper towels and handed them to her and cared for her like I would my own. As I watched her look at her reflection in the mirror, it was as if she was looking at a beautiful stranger, trapped and tired, ready to go home. As I walked her out to her husband of her old age, I nodded to him as he said he would take her home. And then I went back in the bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and cried. Hard.

And now I’m doing the same thing with my beloved grandmother Margaret, yet it’s harder for me to remove myself from the situation and just have a good cry and then move on. Even though I’ve lived away from her for over fifteen years now, watching her fade grips me to the core. I’ll admit I have a hard time dealing with it because of what she means to me, even going to see her less frequently because I’m a total wreck in her presence and she has no idea why. No one should have to be trapped inside their own body with Alzheimer’s…especially her.

I’m pretty sure my mother was my first love and my grandma was a close second. Truth be told, she was my very favorite because of the way she spoiled me with so much love, backrubs, quality time, mash potatoes, and Little Debbie’s. She was such big part of my life from a chubby baby, to a scrawny child, and then as a crazy teenager who used to lock myself in her bathroom and color my hair as she knocked and laughed knowing that my sister and I were up to no good. Reflecting back on all my memories with her, I know why I’m such a good mom…because she left traces all over my heart. And even though she is fading and our family has to say a long, slow, painful goodbye; it’s okay that she’s forgotten so many things and might not be able to recognize me, or call me by name. Because I will never, ever forget the lady that shares my brown eyes and my heart. Such a love like that will never fade, I won’t let it.

I love you Grandma.

I’m not sure what you are having to say goodbye to, or what you may be facing, but I do know this. God is so much bigger than this dreadful disease, or cancer, or even painful goodbyes. We can trust Him with the people so dear to our hearts and we can trust Him in our painful goodbyes.

Much love & prayers,

Jennifer

In loving memory of Pat Doudy & my favorite preachers wife, Arretta Melvin.

undone & Unleashed…a book giveaway!!

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Keri and I have been writing like madwomen on a mission. I can’t tell you how excited I am about our individual projects and the Bible study that she and I will be writing together after we finish our projects without turning to emotional eating and insane amounts of caffeine. Oh, who am I kidding?! Lots of prayers, scattered tears, and delirious conversations over chips and salsa are going on regular basis. But most of all, it’s pure excitement about what God is unleashing in our hearts.

This is where we are living right now…I hope you will join us.

“I’m convinced of this one thing-the life you long to live is not waiting in the future; it is waiting in the inner recesses of your soul. You don’t need to go find faith; you need to unleash it. You don’t need to go find life; you need to unleash it. In fact, everything that is good or beautiful and true that you will spend your entire life searching for is simply waiting to be set free through a life that follows Christ with reckless abandon.” (Unleashed by Erwin McManus)

We are giving away seven copies of our devotional “undone” if you haven’t signed up on our website to receive updates sent directly to your email…please do so and leave a comment on our blog telling us what you are praying to be unleashed in your heart right now! We will be mailing out books this week!

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Much love to you all!!

Jennifer & Keri