The Scary Beauty of Becoming

Whitley,Flower child

My tribe fist-pumps the air and says, “Go chase those dreams, girl.” They cheer via text and instant messages telling me that they see me and want this for me and for my daughters. They want this for all of us. The women juggling motherhood and life in our tiny village as we wrestle with mom-guilt and trying to have it all together for our families while falling completely apart…because it’s hard.

I’m just trying to do all the things and remember where I put all the things. And let me just say, the ‘things’ are falling through some really big cracks right now like appointments, event planning, social calendars, and church life. Right now I’m so tired that I think a real Sabbath is somewhere absent of people, lists of things I need to be doing, and such. My Sabbath is coming…it’s called a vacation and I can’t wait.

I never miss appointments. But, I do now. I rarely miss church. But, I do now. And you know what? God is not mad, because I go to church all the time because I love Jesus and our ministry and the people. My tribe is not mad. What we do makes them tired as they shake their heads wondering what it’s like to be on call all of the time. My husband/preacher man is not mad, you know why? Because he sees me doing the really hard, diligent work of faith, family, work, and then all the other really important things that I love. My family and my tribe sees that I am still the woman that keeps showing up for life, while checking out when needed, because I am the only one in charge of taking care of my body and heart. I know what it needs, this body and heart of mine, and I have to be smart enough to pull back and say ‘no’ without feeling horrible about it.

God whispers to all of us…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28 NIV)

He gives us rest, not lists.

And I just keep coming wrecked, tired, and somehow so unbelievably happy because I know I’m doing what He has called me to do. Even if my fuse is shorter and my days seem longer, He loves me just as I am. He is enough even when my two, really hardworking hands aren’t. Even when my mommy-brain is full and on the verge of shorting out, His grace is sufficient and enough for the ‘not enough’ in me.

I have at least ten thank you cards to fill out and sign, and I really want to send those this year before the moment passes and before I completely forget what I am thanking them for. I have all these lists and none of them say: Rest. Slow down, honey child, you don’t have to do all of this yourself.

But, it should.

Our list should say:

Mark as much as you can off.

The things you can’t get done; make those tiny people that look like you do some of them. It won’t kill them. You did chores and it didn’t kill you. Write their names next to some of the things they should be doing themselves. Like now.

I know you are a big girl and all, but let yourself cry when you hear your Momma’s voice. It helps. You’ll feel better by simply feeling small again, and like a train-wreck who still needs her Momma because she gets you. She’s been watching you freak out about things that matter to you for a really long time. So, it’s okay. She’ll tell you she’s praying, then pause to say, “I’ll take your kids while you are away? Will that help?”

And you’ll say, “Yes…just yes, that is what we all need. Please take these little people away and spoil them. That will make me feel better.”

The truth is ladies, you who dream big dreams; our vision is always bigger than us because it’s not just about you. It’s about all the tiny ones hanging on your leg and asking you for juice. It’s about that man who loves you so much and is just a tiny bit afraid of you right now. It’s about those cheering and texting and loving you in the ways they know how. A hug. A meal. A backrub. A kiss and a prayer and a slap on the tired, Momma booty saying, ‘Go get ‘em!’

This passion inside of us has always been there, that calling that happened before we said ‘I do’.

My call happened before motherhood and crying in the floor because I was pretty sure that nursing a hungry 9 lb. 14 oz. newborn baby was going to happen every hour-and-a-half for the rest of eternity, but it didn’t. I blinked and she was a year old eating stale Cheerios off the floor. And now she’s nine and you would never know she was ever that hungry. All. The. Time.

I blinked and my firstborn is eleven and in a training bra, but we don’t really know what she’s training for. And we are super freaked out because once they get, you know, boobs it is really, really awkward. And they start crying again. All. The. Time.

And all of a sudden you’re the Mom she wants to tell all the awkward things and cry to because you know her inside and out. You’ll be the one telling her how to do all the things and hug her when she doesn’t even know why she’s crying.

In that moment, all the chasing of dreams happens in a purple bedroom with dirty, preteen clothes on the floor and artwork and journals scattered about just like it was when you were eleven, awkward, and becoming something that you were so afraid of…a little lady who dreams scary, big dreams.

I really don’t want a list today, but I still have to make one. I really don’t even mind that I need rest and a long nap. I just want a day with these tiny ladies and messages from my posse reminding me that I can do life called and set apart and sometimes torn apart.

I can do all things through Christ, but sometimes I can’t remember all the things and that’s okay too. I have waited on the timing of God and the timing of life and motherhood. Waiting has been hard. Going for it is harder. Sometimes I’m killing it and on bad days, it’s killing me. But, to stop the pursuing of really big dreams would just be crazy. I’ve already lived in the land were people perish and dreams are silly to some and just a chasing and grasping for wind. I’ve been the girl with a blank stare and dormant heart, but when dreams wake up on purpose, for such a time as this, don’t you dare let anything stop you…especially not yourself. 

If your dream doesn’t scare you, be unafraid to ask God to breathe again into the depths of your heart. Let him teach you how to wait and how to be diligent…and how to go get em’ when it’s time. Don’t be afraid of the vision that is bigger than you, because it’s not just about you…it’s about all of the ones who get to ride along with you on the crazy ride.

I’ll be here cheering for you every step of the way!

Love you like crazy,

Jennifer Renee

Photo cred: The darling, Kylie Swank

 

Hair Pulling & Tired Hands

Photo credit: Debbie Thurmond

Photo credit: Debbie Thurmond

I read something on social media last week that had me fired up. It actually hurt one of my dear friends and shook her up. How she handled the criticism, which is unfortunately part of life, made me so unbelievably proud of her because she is on the frontlines of Women’s ministry, well known, and longs to see women set free to just be who God intended them to be. I get it, social media is a beast, you can either use it as a tool or it will use you. Either way, we have a choice to make on how we use our platform and how we honor Christ with our voice. We are all divinely fashioned by a God who created us to function uniquely in the body of Christ. And when you publicly bash someone or call them out…you are talking bad about God’s baby.

I have this community of blogger sisters and friends in leadership that I absolutely love and feel a connection with them because we are all in this together. I don’t feel anything remotely competitive with them because that’s not at all what this is about. It’s not about us; it’s about being the light and being good at that. We are much stronger and effective when we are united and isn’t that the point?

These sisters of mine are bleeding on paper and spilling their guts because deep inside of them is a fire shut up in their bones and a calling that scares the crap out of them. And it should. What God has asked us to do is walk uncharted territories and use our jacked up, broken stories to show others that God can use anyone to change this world one broken heart at a time. We are all painfully aware of our flaws and would rather not be on a pedestal. So, I rally around them, promote their books and what they are doing in life because I’m a fan. But most importantly, I am their over-protective sister. I fiercely want them to succeed and I will cry with them when the enemy hurls ugly darts at them. But what breaks my heart more than anything is when I see my sisters pulling each other’s hair and being ugly. We are better than this and the last time I checked, this is not Junior High. If ever there was a time to lock shields and hold hands in this bloody battle, it’s now. I watch the news and see a world that needs us to focus on what really matters instead of infighting and pointing fingers.

For those of you comparing each others gifts and feeling like you don’t measure up, please know that this a tactic of the enemy who loves to cause discord and disunity in the body. It’s his biggest trick and distraction because he knows if he can’t get you to swing on wrecking balls butt-naked and partying like it’s 1999…he can cripple you with comparison and criticism that is just as much of a time waster as a trip to the world of rebellion. What would happen if we stopped trying to fit a certain mold and went on a mission to do our part instead?

Our vision has to be bigger than we are and to make this happen we need each other. We need people that are stronger and wiser and we need to listen to them instead of phasing them out of service, the workplace, and church. If you want to know when I stopped being intimidated by women who are more successful and smarter than me…it was when I let some older women verbally spank me from time-to-time and mentor me. I needed what they had to offer and I still do. I’m nothing without them. If I’m completely honest with you, I would much rather hear from a 50-something, or older, who is killing it and more beautiful than she’s ever been because she knows what really matters in life, not someone afraid of aging squeezing into skinny jeans who is terrified that she’s no longer relevant and useful. Everyday is a battle and we are nothing without each other. Maybe it’s time to stop comparing and join forces.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (Ex 17:11-12 NIV)

Right now we are all tired from fighting and we need someone to help our hands remain steady till sunset. Life is about taking turns, the ebbs and flows of life and timing; it’s about knowing when to lead and when to follow. The worst thing we can do is covet another person’s role and calling. The second is to rip a person to shreds for doing what God has asked them to do and diminish and be jealous of their light. What would have happened if Joshua and Hur didn’t hold up the hands of their weary leader? What if they were too busy tearing Moses down instead of helping him? Those who are great at “holding their leaders hands up” will one day be entrusted with so much more.

What you have to offer is exactly what God wants to unleash revival in a world that desperately needs hope. Stop pulling hair and being ugly, that’s not who you are. You fit and you’re needed and useful. Use your platform and your voice; don’t let it use you.

Loving you fiercely,

Your over-protective sis~ Jennifer

The Messy Middle, When Life is Not Beautiful

shears

I’m reading in Ecclesiastes today because I’m desperate. How’s that for transparency? The writing life is not just about what ends up on paper, but all the things that I dare not type. It’s the sacred thread of a woman’s heart leaning wholeheartedly on God to do what I cannot. Fix things and hearts. My intense desire to nurture springs into play and I just want to kiss the hurts away and make things easier for the ones I love. But, that’s not what God is asking me to do. He leads us to cast our cares on Him, and it’s hard to cast something that we are so afraid to release. But, an unclenched hand is a sign of a surrendered heart and it’s dead weight to us if we try to carry it longer that we should.

The deep roots I have taken to find myself in Christ have only made me stronger, not weaker, because it hasn’t been easy. I had to work hard and learn the benefits from a little blood, sweat, and tears. In this place where I feel certain that I’m in transition and our ministry is in transition, I have to trust that when everything seems unwoven and uncertain…His purpose in all of this is for our good.

I turn to chapter 3 and I relax into the knowledge of timing for every purpose.

A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. 

It seems like the planting is much safer and more hopeful than the plucking of something that you hoped would grow, but it has to be done. Dirtiness happens in the uprooting of something that is not doing what it was designed to do. We do our planting and sowing until God asks us to pluck and uproot something in our hearts and lives that are not producing the kind of fruit He desires. How much time have we wasted watering something that died a long time ago?

A time to break down, and a time to build up…

It seems so tragic when all we see is a wrecking ball and the chaos that comes from the things we’ve spent a lot of time building being ruined in a heartbeat. We restore broken homes and broken dreams and sometimes we just need a clean slate and a restart. We are better at the clean slate than we are when everything is scattered and out of place. So we brace ourselves for the breakdown and catch our breath when we see the master builder rolling out a new design with a stronger foundation that will last and walls that are unshakeable.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor-it is the gift of God. (vs. 11-13)

God has made everything beautiful in its time and if it’s not beautiful…then maybe it’s not time. It’s the season of plucking and breaking down. It’s the season to refrain from embracing when all you want is to be held. But we can’t embrace when we are carrying things that stand in the way of true intimacy. And so we watch the things we love tare knowing that the mending and sewing that is coming will be with divine thread that doesn’t fray so easily. We weep and we mourn and then we laugh and we dance because life is such a sweet gift and we have so many things to rejoice about.

Life might not be beautiful right now, but it will be. Don’t be mad about the uprooting and the temporary breakage, God is so good to remove things in our life that are not fruitful and toxic in order to make way for the miraculous moments that are dance-worthy and joyful. We don’t know the beginning to the end, so we hang on with hope in the messy middle because He who has called us is faithful.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thes 5:24 NIV)

Much love & prayers in this messy middle season.

Jennifer

A Weekend with Grace, No More Labels

IMG_3058Sometimes life affords you the honor to stand before a group of broken girls who feel like they are just another statistic, labeled, left out, and scared to death that perhaps the numbers don’t lie and they will end up as just that…forever broken and a girl with no place to call home. The system failed them, even their families failed them, and then a woman comes alongside of them like Becky Shaffer and says, “Baby girl, let’s go defy the statistics and let God shine His light on the cracked places in you because I’ve been there too.”

Love takes you into a place like Saving Grace and there you find a home and deep hope that brings you past the victim label from a broken past and calls you “Sister and God’s Daughter” and for the first time you have a home and guidance to help you build a beautiful, unbroken life.

Last weekend Keri and I had the privilege of speaking and ministering to the Saving Grace girls, mentors, and staff. It was our second time to be with these girls in a camp setting and I can’t tell you how much we love being apart of something that is actually helping girls find lasting hope and life skills. God seems to always confirm our calling when we are with these girls and we can’t walk away from a weekend like this without shaking our heads in amazement at how much God can do in such a little time. A weekend really can change your life when God is in it.

When I’m with these girls it feels like home and this time I cried after everything was over because I didn’t want it to end. The beautiful thing about pouring your heart out is that it’s a love that stays with you forever. A moment of crazy laughter, a sweet embrace that is unhindered by fear, a mother who longs to “mother” you just as much as you long to be mothered, a sister by choice not by birth. It’s kingdom business and the heartbeat of God. It’s a love that kisses a wounded heart and holds your hand as you heal. A weekend really can change your life and one thing that I’ve heard Becky saying over and over again is “Be the one.” So, with tears streaming down my face in amazement at why on earth God chooses to use us to reach broken girls I say to you…whatever you have to give is not small when you love on the broken places in others. You can be the one. You can’t out-give God, when you pour out He pours back into you in such a way that lights your safe-little-world on fire.

More than anything I want my safe-little-world to be on fire, I want to be a light in a darkened world and when I see the transformation in these girls and watch joy unleashed in them…I know that the greatest thing that I could ever do is love fearlessly because I want to be the one. God is calling a bunch of orphan girls for such a time as this and He longs to adorn them with worth and value that the world can’t take away from them.  Life might have wrecked them up until this point, but because of places like Saving Grace, God is pulling them out of the wreckage and tending to the tattered places in these girls.

Saving Grace Girls,

When we are with you…it feels like home. It was a privilege to help you trash the victim label and replace it with the truth. We love you fiercely and feel so honored that you trusted us with your heart. 

All our love,

Jennifer & Keri~ your fearless speakers & former broken girls

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Link

Washing the feet of a little princess while a cancer survivor washed the feet of a beautiful girl in the fight of her life sat beside me.

Washing the feet of a little princess while a cancer survivor washed the feet of a beautiful girl in the fight of her life.

This weekend our church hosted an outreach called Samaritan’s Feet for children and teens in our community. My husband wanted our church to provide shoes for four hundred students with the understanding that twenty percent of the children who signed up would never walk through the doors to receive a new pair of shoes. We aimed higher hoping to reach at least four hundred who needed new shoes for the school year.

My job was to help assist the workers washing feet and fitting the children for shoes, I secretly hoped that I would get this station. I had some pretty incredible encounters with little people, but when I noticed a teenage boy walking towards me I wondered how he would respond to me or if we would connect. He sat down in front of me and I asked him if he was okay with me washing his feet or if he would prefer a man. Our youth pastor was right behind me and I knew I could recruit him if he was uncomfortable.

“I’m good with you doing this…ma’am, you really don’t want to wash my feet. I just got off work…”

He was worried that his feet were too dirty. I worried that mine weren’t dirty enough. I know how to work hard and I certainly remember what it’s like to live in a place of lack. But now I live in the land of more than enough and I long for a risky faith that reaches outside of comfortable Christianity and clean feet. I don’t want to just read the Word; I want to live it.

I smiled and looked down at his worn out shoes covered in grass and dirt.

“You mow lawns?”

“Yes, ma’am, I mow lawns to pay the bills. My brother and I work together.”

“I’m not worried about your dirty feet, I just want to serve you.”

He took off his shoes and socks as I asked a few questions about this man-child with sparkling blue eyes and dirty feet. He was fourteen, respectful, and working hard to pay bills. His mother came up in conversation two times and the third time he lovingly referred to her I wondered where his father was. Where was he and did he know that he should be beaming with pride?

I began washing his feet and my words spilled out, “I’m so proud of you and impressed by you.”

His eyes met mine filling up with tears as he lowered his head. I continued to speak softly as I finished drying his feet.

God is a father to the fatherless and advocates for the woman widowed by the one with a wondering heart. He fills in the gapped places and crevasses when daddy’s walk out. He stands in tattered places when daddies take their final breath and meet eternity leaving a void and emptied, priceless position.

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. (Psalm 68:5 NLT) 

This is our God, the defender and provider for those who walk in lack and worn out shoes. He lifts up the head of the lonely woman and makes her strong enough to do the job of two, working  hard to make up the difference for the absentee father. And He hears her cries in the night as she wrestles with guilt wondering if she’s doing right by her children.


He put on his brand new shoes and put his worn out shoes in a plastic bag. I wanted to give him so much more than new shoes. But I gave him love from on High and gave him my words to affirm him, applauding him for being someone who stepped up to the plate to honor his mother and help pay bills.

I asked him if I could pray with him, over his future and his home. And I did what comes so naturally to me; I mothered him. I took his arm that had the wristband with his name, age, and shoe size on it and prayed. And I cried as I asked our Daddy God to take my prayer and allow it to carry him through this tender transition from a loss of carefree boyish things to manhood as he shouldered responsibilities most boys his age couldn’t handle.

I wept for the fatherless gap so in awe at the human condition that takes a broken boy with empty pockets and makes him stand shoulders above the rest. This is a boy that could change the world. If he is our future we are in very capable, calloused hands. I want to be like that boy, bright-eyed and humble. I want to work just as hard as he does never expecting things to be handed to me.

I think we are barely scratching the surface of what we could do with our hands and feet extended to those in need, but I think we really tapped into something huge this weekend and I hope we continue to fill our church with families crying tears of gratitude over the way we loved on their children. I’ve always said that if you love my children, you are loving me…and I guess that is what Jesus was trying to tell the disciples

He asked him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was deeply hurt that he had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” So he told him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you!” Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17 NIV)

If you really love me, then you will love my people in a way that makes you uncomfortable at times. And when you get this, I’ll stop asking you to confirm it because your servant hood will prove it with actions that run so much deeper than what you think is above or beneath you.

In the end it’s all about obedience, not job requirements or comparing lesser, unglamorous roles to those we deem more important and make us feel like we are God’s gift to humanity. It’s not about “arriving” or seeing your name next to big, lofty titles and accolades. It’s about kingdom work and being the least and really being good at that.

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:26-28 NIV)

As I watched my church family serve and work so diligently, I fell in love with our congregation all over again. You made God proud and I just love you so much that I want to lock shields and continue to walk uncomfortable, uncharted places with you. I pray for dirty feet and diligent hands eager to tend to the tattered places in those who feel forgotten and orphaned. I really want to be good at being the least, never expecting life to be handed to me on a silver platter. I’ve learned the best way to get over brokenness is to tend to the broken. Today I just want dirty feet as I ask God to help me with the things that often distract me in this world, allowing them to grow strangely dim fading into starkness of selfish pride and ambition.

Much love to you,

Jennifer

Speed Dating Publishers & A Hot, Complicated Mess

ballerina by the water

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.