When Your Baggage Becomes Your Platform

 

flickr.baggageYears ago when my daughters were so much smaller I started this little game. We could hear my husband pull into the garage and the minute that garage door started to open we would make a mad-dash to find a place to hide. Most of the time the three of us ended up in the same dark places, with smiles so big you could hear them with little traces of giggles and hushes to be quiet. I’ll never forget their faces as I placed them into that very first hiding place behind an oversized chair. Excitement lingered in the air. 

Come and find us. We want to be found by you.

It’s the game of hide and seek that we play as children and later in life we play it as adults without even knowing why.

We hide longing to be found and sometimes we hide longing to remain invisible because of fear. We hide behind a façade, a plastic smile; we hide out in the baggage that we have picked up over the years. Our baggage becomes our identity and safety net, it weighs us down and encumbers.

In 1 Samuel 10 we find an appointed king, appointed and set a part for God’s service.

“Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed him and said, I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.”

As the oil runs down his face he might have wondered why. “Why, among all the people, would the God of all creation choose me?” But, the oil runs down his face, not the person he deemed more suited for the job. 

Samuel gives him instructions: 

“At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.” (1 Sam 10:6)

And it happened, just as Samuel had said. He did prophesy as the people watched in amazement.

“God gave him a new heart.” (Vs. 9)

God placed a new heart within him; time to turn the page on what once was to walk in a path of destiny. It was time for this to become public knowledge as God reveals to his people that Saul was His choice for king. And as Saul was chosen to be king, he disappeared. The one who had received a new heart, the one who had prophesied for the first time, and the one who could still feel the oil running down his head, hid.

“…But, when they looked for him, he had disappeared.” (Vs. 21)

“So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?” And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” (Vs. 22)

Why do we do that? Why do we run and hide when God is asking us to come out and lead His “special possession.” Why do we pull the covers over our heads and hide in piles of baggage that should be thrown out? It’s because we are afraid and we don’t have to be afraid. When we open our mouths, we pray first that God would fill it. We put on the full armor of God, not a plastic bag that easily falls apart.

With the many God given symbols of who God had created Saul to be, he still hid… among baggage. This tall man meant to tower, cowered. And I have to ask you this:

Are you doing the same thing? 

Saul stood head and shoulders above everyone else. (Vs 23) He looked the part, but inside he didn’t feel like the rightful king. And even though he hid, scriptures record that, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!” (Vs. 24) 

I have been guilty of hiding among the baggage when I’ve heard the voice of God clearly telling me that I was meant for more. You were meant for more. We don’t have to hide out in the baggage claims any longer. The God that fashioned you is asking you to come out from hiding and assume the position that He assigned to you with a new heart and a new anointing. Your circumstances might look more like baggage, but the destiny God has in mind for you will blow your mind!

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

He is asking you to come out from among the baggage. I am living proof that God can take your baggage and turn it into a platform, you don’t have to hide out…share your story and watch God use it in ways you never thought possible!

Much love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

The Sacred Wrestle

20140221-130632.jpg

There is this sacred wrestle with knowing exactly where we fit, our roles, our place, our callings and it is constantly changing and evolving. Just when we have it figured out something changes. Each moment in time divinely orchestrated by God and yet we look at the days that turn into weeks as a mess, a warzone. And much of it is just that, a broken, beautiful mess. Our face is too close to the painting of our life and we are all too quickly the critic, chiseling, and tearing it down before the masterpiece emerges and we see something that takes our breath away as we feel at home in this skin of ours. Why do we always need to know the ending? Why can’t we just rest in the knowledge that God has good things in store for us and the sacred wrestle is apart of it?

Jacob in face-to-face combat wrestled and wouldn’t release the unknown until blessing followed. And I think that is where we are, in the divine wrestle, asking for a blessing that is distinctly ours. We want it handed to us, but sometimes the rolling around on the ground moment releases something deep within us, this desperation for more than what we have already experienced. The gnawing knowledge that we need a change in name, a change in character, and something more fueling our days flood our now. And so we become women who wrestle and for the very first time we get it. No more wrestling with comparison and the perfect woman, because she doesn’t exist. No more wrestling and beating ourselves up because we are flawed and needy.

The wrestle is the place of becoming, a place of surrender, a place of clinging, a place of asking, “God will you bless me?” And He will bless you, so don’t let go.

“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (Gen 32:24)

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.

I’ve done my fair share wrestling till my heart limped and my spirit soared high in surrender. Those who limp and wrestle fly higher than those who avoid divine wrestling matches. Don’t be afraid to wrestle, beautiful things happen when we refuse to let go of the blessings that are distinctly ours.

Much love to you. Wrestle it out, it’s worth it.

Jennifer

This is not a post….

I wish it was a post. My head is swimming with thoughts and “ah ha”s that I want to put down on paper so they will be concrete and real. But my life is interfering with my desire to sit and sip Chai tea and capture all the words and attach them to this screen. So for now… I miss you dear friends. God is so good. And I’m praying for you.

Hope to be back soon!

~Keri

SONY DSCPhoto U by Mr. Tickle. Licensed under CC by 2.0

 

Chasing Joy~ Coffee for Your Heart

Watson09-43

Last night I watched the sunset tangled up in an embrace with my daughter. As tears of joy fell softly her little voice whispered, “I love this.”

“Me too, baby.”

Truth be told, I had a massive amount of laundry to do and I had no idea what I was going to serve my family for dinner, yet in that sacred moment I chased after joy tangled up with my daughter.

That in sacred moment of joy, I absolutely picked the right thing. I made a decision to let go of all the things that might make me less of a disgrace to housewives and bask in a joy that far outweighs the idea of perfection.

That night we danced in the kitchen and my girls laughed and said, “Mom, you’re stuck in the 90’s!” I danced harder just to hear brilliant laughter. I chased after joy that day and found it.

What a beautiful thing to chase and be chased by joy.

I know what it’s like to wrestle with depression and I rejoice and thank God everyday that I am free from that, but what would happen if I stopped chasing joy? That dark cloud would follow me, so I dance the dance of joy in the kitchen and twirl with my daughters. I chase them around the house in a tickle war and I let the long list of things I should be doing go. Just for a little while I’m childlike and free, just like those little miniature versions of myself that call me Mommy.

Yes, we have so many things that we have to tackle as grownups, but I encourage you to chase after joy and dreams. Dance in the rain and make a mess…I think you’ll find a less messy, happier heart within.

Joy looks like so many things and we have a loving, Heavenly Father who longs to wrap you up in joy today, so let Him.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

I’m linking up with my sweet friend and encourager, Holley, today. Will you join us?

Love,

Jennifer

http://holleygerth.com/coffee-for-your-heart-love/}

The Waste of Worry

Mountain picI wonder how many hours we waste with our hearts tangled up in worry sifting through conversations, our day on replay, moments mingled with hurt from something that someone said? Something that happened that was out of your hands. A child who is having trouble in school and you want so badly to just make it easier for them. And then your mind fumbles over memories that built you and shaped you into who you are today, peace rushes in because you know that beautiful things happen in a heart that learns to wrestle.

The truth is, there will always be a mile-long list of things that we can worry about, but it doesn’t do us any good to go down that road of destruction. We can take our thoughts captive. We can wrestle it out in prayer. We can rest in the knowledge that God is completely aware and unafraid of our mess.

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. (Luke 21:14 NIV)

We don’t have to worry about how we will defend ourselves when it’s already been taken care of. Life is messy and relationships are messy. Just when you think you have it all figured out…you step back and realize that you are just as clueless as ever.

He is a God that carries us and just when we think we can’t walk in our mess any further; He carries us like a child because that’s what love does. It picks you up in your frailty and whispers that it won’t always be like this. There is a place on the other side of frailty where you will stand in strength and with refined faith.

There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. (Deut 1:31 NIV)

We don’t know what “this place” is.

It’s the unknown and it’s scary. It’s a place of becoming exactly who God intended you to be. All I know is that it’s going to be worth it.

Tears roll down my face as I think about all the times God has carried me through difficult things that I thought I would never get over, countless moments I was in complete shock and didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. There is a place waiting for you on the other side of this broken journey, so relax into His embrace and let Him carry you. He knows exactly where you are going.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. (Psalm 34:4-7 NIV)

Don’t worry, friend. Read these scriptures this week and let God carry you!

Much love,

Jennifer

Jesus is Better

heart

I’m learning that it’s a lot easier to believe something with your mind than with your heart.

For example, if you’re a single woman on Valentine’s week it’s really hard to make your heart believe that Jesus is better than any earthly man you could ever meet or fall in love with. At least that’s what my friend, Ramona, and I concluded this past Saturday night over a very long dinner.

Don’t worry, we’re fully convinced that Jesus is actually better… in our minds. We know logically that no one could ever come close to loving us, providing for us, or protecting us like He does. We say (and mean it) that if God never sends a man our way that we’re still blessed beyond belief and so incredibly happy with this life we have. And yet… we lay awake some nights thinking it sure would be nice to have someone to hold me. 

And there is the struggle… To figure out how to make the heart believe what the mind knows beyond doubt.

We wrestled with it for almost 2 hours at dinner then made our way to church. We had joked about going to go look for guys, but neither of us felt up for it; and we both knew our hearts could probably use a good dose of worship in His presence more than they could use a hunting expedition at Cabela’s or Best Buy (that is where single men hang out on Saturday nights right?)

We were a few minutes late to service so we quietly slipped in the back; and as we did the congregation started singing:

In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
In all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Than any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
More than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

And there it was; the wrestle.

Over and over again we sang it… First a declaration: Jesus is better. Followed by a cry for help: make my heart believe.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”   Psalm 73:26

Do I know Jesus is better? Sure. Do I wrestle with this knowledge? You better believe it. My flesh is weak. My heart fails. But God is the one who strengthens my heart. He is the only one who has the power to transform my head knowledge to heart knowledge.

Maybe you don’t know the wrestle of singleness. Maybe your wrestle is health, or job loss, or family dysfunction, or infertility, or the death of someone you love. Whatever the wrestle, whatever the longing, Jesus is better.

Lord, make our hearts believe!

~Keri

 

When You Are Not Okay

Band-aid pic

My daughter came to me wearing a frown as she carried her favorite stuffed animal, Chickie. When you love something hard it’s bound to fray, sometimes in the same place where the first wound originated. Chickie has required multiple surgeries and so have I. What I have been through physically is a drop in the bucket compared to dear friends who have wrestled with cancer and won. I started writing seriously seven years ago, before then I was just playing. Prayer journals and angry poetry placed at my bedside as I dealt with miscarriages, surgeries, and tests that hurt so badly that I would fold in the elevator only to stand when the door opened. I never wanted anyone to see me folded and weak. I always found a way to stand back up, sometimes only in my spirit. And sometimes I had to receive a hand and help to stand upright. Sometimes we just need help.

Six years ago I was recovering from an emergency surgery. I had two weeks to prepare beforehand and I was trying my best to figure out another option other than what my doctor strongly suggested.

“It’s now or later…how long do you want to suffer?” I would never recommend this surgery to a thirty-one-year-old unless it was needed.” I nodded; scared to death as he set the date and I emotionally ran away.

With several staged interventions of loved ones and friends, I folded again and surrendered to the cutting of surgery and process of healing afterwards. But I wasn’t ready for the fear that was surfacing and the nightmares that happened as I drifted off to sleep. This peaceful sleeper began to fight and scream with terrors. My husband would rush to my side and one time had to physically pick me up and put me back in the bed. We were both terrified and knew this was not normal for me; I was running scared even in my sleep. I had just finished my second novel and had found an editor in California that I was going to work with. But I was a rag doll who needed to be fixed with torn places no one could see, both on my heart and in body. I had started loosing weight yet looked like I was with child. What once brought death and miscarried dreams, brought forth life in abundance and my body was worn out from the aftermath. Something had to give.

So I stopped writing fiction all together because the first novel that I wrote awakened memories I wasn’t ready to deal with, so I put it down and declared it an ADD train wreck on paper. The surgery happened, I recovered slowly and ended up back in the hospital fighting an infection. I’ve always been the girl who never liked to slow down, especially if it was forced. Yet being forced to slow down was the best thing for my health and my heart. Now I make rest and taking care of myself a priority. I stopped running, I asked those really hard questions like…how old was I when my mom placed two brown-eyed-girls in a car and drove off to find the three of us a safe place? Where was our family in all of this? Where was God?

I acknowledged that what happened to her and to us was not okay as I forgave again and rejected bitterness. Again. God was always right there leading my mom, carrying her as she cried and fought for her girls. It seems like there has to be a good reason for running and hiding and pauses for healing both physically and spiritually. And so I did all of that really well and gave myself room to retrace broken places in my past. I kept a few people at arms length until I healed. I gave myself permission to not be okay until one day I really was okay and better than ever. And as I sit here with the sun on my face and joy in my heart, I can tell you with confidence that God heals your broken past and gives you a stronger, clearer voice with beautiful things to say if you let Him.

It’s okay to run from the things that hurt you, or the people, as long as you always find yourself running to God who makes forgiveness actually attainable instead of a nice thought. God can mend broken homes and hearts and sometimes He gives you an open door and a trusted friend to wrap their arms around you and help you cry a little, or a lot, as you come up for air before you lace up your running shoes.

Broken Girl,

Please don’t stay broken. Ask those hard questions, let God mend your torn places. Do it for your daughters, do it for your sons. Do it for you. I’m convinced that we travel back and forth from broken places and seasons, we are never really exempt from hard, tattered places…and so we run like rag dolls and let God do His surgery. We let Him unfold our fetal position posture and we stand stronger and there we find Him waiting with healing in His wings.

Praying over you today, we love you so much.

Unfolded and free,

Jennifer Renee

Mom,

Thanks for running away, because you were brave enough and always put us first…we have a pretty stellar life. You’re worth more than rubies to me and still a total fox. I love you. I plan on taking good care of you when you’re an old lady. It was always the three of us against the world, The Three Musketeers with cute hair and a God who never failed us. We are so blessed.

Love,

Your Firstborn