Category Archives: God

I have SO MUCH I need to write about. Like my crazy new job(s), my relationship status, all of the amazing people in my life, blessings…. etc. 

But I am scatter-brained right now and have about 10 pages of budget planning I need to do tonight so it’s ready for my FPU (Financial Peace University) class tomorrow immediately following my 9-hour work shift. 

But before I pay some bills, crunch some numbers, and hit the sack… I need to write about the awesome (literally, awesome) way God blessed my life tonight.

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My friend Sarah has some pretty adorable and incredible children that I got to spend some time worshipping with tonight at our Ash Wednesday service. The night was just so awesome and the kids got to color on big pieces of paper taped on the walls and draw pictures that God gave them. So beautiful.

I was sitting on the floor taking in the worship music and talking to God towards the end of the night. I had my eyes closed and was trying to be still in His presence. I just felt kind of blah, like I wasn’t really connecting. I sat there for some time in silence, eyes closed, and finally I just kind of said in my head, “I wish someone would come over and pray for me.”

Beat.

“Jenn, do you want me to pray for you?” said this little voice. 

Barely a moment had passed after I made this request in my head, when I heard this tiny little voice and opened my eyes to my friend Sarah’s daughter, Zacharee, kneeling on the floor in front of me.

Zacharee is 7 years old. She is in the first grade. 

She laid her hand on my shoulder and I felt God’s Holy Spirit come over my body as she prayed silently over me. 

God wanted to use this precious little girl to bless my life. Know what’s even cooler? That she was obedient to His call. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many first graders who could muster up the courage to walk up to adult and ask them point blank, “Do you want me to pray for you?”

I couldn’t help but just start smiling and laughing at how crazy the whole thing was. I almost didn’t even have time to process what was happening other than one moment I was feeling distant and the next my eyes were about to pop out of my head when God answered my request in real time.

I am so thankful for Zacharee and her sweet, gentle obedience to her Father. By her simply taking a step out in faith and responding, she greatly blessed my life tonight in a new way. 

This Lenten season I haven’t felt moved to “give up” or “do” anything at all. I was a little disheartened until Zacharee prayed for me tonight. I think this season God is calling me to be obedient to Him, like a little child looking to Him as my Father, trusting that His plan is good. To choose obedience each day, to seek His purpose for my life, and to step out in faith even when it’s hard. Even when it’s awkward. Even when it’s embarrassing. 

Choose obedience

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He put a new song in my mouth and a crown upon my head

… He gave me life forever more.

A worship leader in my church wrote a song to this piece of Scripture and earlier this week I shared it with another person as encouragement from God. It really spoke to them at the time and now as I sit to write about recent things God is doing in my life, it really speaks to me.

First, I want to say how good, and wonderful, and (duh) true truth is. A revelation, I know. It blows my mind that God gave us His TRUTH in this book called the Bible and it is never false. It is never out-of-date, and it is never irrelevant. The best part is that it could be read inside and out and serve a multitude of purposes one year, then be read the same way the next year and address a whole new series of things and continue to grow someone in their faith. Year after year after year. Amazing.

Second, Satan’s guilt is heavy. Not heavy enough to ever overcome God’s truth, but certainly heavy enough to cause plenty of destruction and put up a damn good fight.

Last night this was blatantly apparent. For the last two months I’ve had the privilege to be a part of a Truth study with the high school girls at my church. We’ve been going through the book Lies Young Women Believe… and the truth that sets them free. Initially I thought this book would be flaky or irrelevant to me. WRONG. God’s Truth is never irrelevant. Last night’s meeting was on the topic of guys and lies we believe about them (I can almost hear EVERY female reading this exhale a large sigh of understanding…!)

Lots of people shared their experiences and mistakes and we talked about God’s forgiveness. However one thing became quite apparent during ministry time with one another. We know that God forgives us, but we have to forgive ourselves!! It is not enough to know that God forgives us if we don’t truly feel forgiven. We have to take the next step and understand why we must forgive ourselves… because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. If we were fully able to wrap our minds around the reality of what that means we would not be able to hold ourselves in contempt.

I don’t think this situation could have been more true for me. I have  sexual brokenness that I am not even able to begin to write about. I’m just beginning my journey. Last night as I was receiving prayer I could feel the battle between light and darkness. The most beautiful and true part was that Jesus reminded me that He has cast my sin as far as the East is from the West. That HE no longer keeps count of it. It is erased in His eyes.

The ugly part was that because I am not yet able to forgive myself (although I do feel God has forgiven me), Satan was able to put a wrench in that little crack and fill it with guilt. Earlier that day I had painted my toes for the first time in months: a perfect baby doll pink. And as I looked down at my freshly painted girly toes, guilt came into mind:

“You don’t deserve to have sweet, innocent colors on your toes. You are not Daddy’s little girl. You are not Jesus’ little girl. You don’t deserve to feel like a beautiful princess.”

Someone wanna argue and say that was from the Lord? I think not. The Enemy took a seriously low blow and was playing on my guilt. On that crack that I still have. Which I believe many girls have.

But here’s the Good News… Jesus doesn’t want to just fill in our cracks. If we will let Him, He wants to open up our wounds that have healed up okay and clean them out. He wants to remove any trace of yuck that is preventing the wound from healing perfectly. Then He wants to seal the deal, leaving no scars, no trace of imperfection. He wants to make us new.

 That’s what He shared with me last night and I think it totally trumps Satan’s plan. He came to me sweetly and lovingly and said, “Jenn, I know this is going to hurt and I know you’re scared but I want you to trust me. I want to reopen this wound you’ve had for so long that never got cleaned out properly. It is not going to be easy and it might take much longer than you’d anticipated but it’s my plan for you and it’s going to be so good.”

There is a big difference between forgiveness and healing. God has forgiven my sin but that doesn’t mean it’s healed. I’m totally exhausted but I know it’s time to start the healing process. So today I have a new song in my mouth because He puts a crown upon my head even when I’m a sinner and feel undeserving. He loves me and treats me lavishly when the things I’ve done are hideous in His eyes. He gives me reason to sing, He crowns me a princess and His little girl, and He gives me LIFE forevermore.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Realizations

My name is Jenn and I am 21 years old.

I live in an apartment complex that advertises “Senior Discount” as a perk of living here.

I think they should advertise the fact that there are cockroaches that swarm the back lot every night and if they were larger we could say they were “guard animals.”

I used to stay up late and loved to go “out” and live a “glamorous” lifestyle.

Now my favorite part of the day is coming home to see my cat and taking my pants off.

I used to be really exciting, outgoing, and fun.

These days I’m pretty boring, and like to keep things low key.

Not long ago I thought I was moving to New York City to focus on myself and become a famous actress.

These days I find myself making the 30 minute drive almost daily to my hometown. I can’t seem to get away from it. Additionally, while I’m learning much about myself, I pray for a lifetime of humble service to others.

I used to have a lot of friends, and then I had no friends, and now I fall somewhere in between with a few great people I can almost always rely on.

I used to love big cities, nightlife,and crowds of people.

These days they overwhelm me and I enjoy weekend trips in the country.

I used to think I wouldn’t even get married until I was 30+ and would probably just marry a man for money.

Today is my 2.5 year dating anniversary with the love of my life and I can’t wait until we decide to make a life-long commitment to eachother.

I used to wake up hours early to shower, shave, exfoliate, apply full make up, and style my hair.

Sometimes I don’t remember when I last showered or washed my hair and consider it a “good day” when I don’t have to wear makeup!

I used to be in a really unhealthy dating relationship(s).

The boy I’m in love with does his best to love me like Jesus– with grace, forgiveness, and even gifts from the heart when I feel undeserving.

I used to love meat.

Now I’m a vegetarian.

I used to want to travel somewhere glamorous and romantic like France.

This past March I went to the Kingdom of Swaziland to serve HIV/AIDS orphans…. but I fell in love there too.

I used to think God was far off and distant.

Yesterday I saw myself dancing with Jesus in my mind’s eye.

I used to feel pretty alone even though I was surrounded by people and had lots of “friends.”

This summer I have been brought to tears by the community that surrounds me and the people who have invested in me.

I can’t wait for more realizations : )

Shoulda Seen It Comin’

Welp. I finally had a good Africa breakdown tonight, although I have an inkling that it won’t be the last. I guess it’s kind of expected when you spend, oh, a month avoiding talking to God about what you saw in a third-world country. Honestly, I could laugh at myself now for thinking maybe I could just carry on with my life and God would never get to me. Hardy har har.

Tonight at Joshua House, I was mid-worship in the song “Hosanna” uncomfortably keeping this nice little wall up between my heart and God, as I have been doing for the past month, when we came to the lyrics “Break my heart for what breaks Yours…” As soon as I sang them I felt my gut wrench and my breath caught in my throat. “Oh no,” I thought. Here it comes. For a moment I tried to close my eyes and hold it in. “I don’t have to ask, He’s already shown me and I can see it all vividly right now.” I quickly decided that in the past it’s been much worse (and probably very strange-looking for those around me) to fight God than to just let myself go. I didn’t have to think twice about those lyrics. I don’t have to ask because He’s already shown me. “I’ve seen what breaks His heart, I’ve held them in my arms.” A month ago He gave me a week-and-a-half-long insight into what breaks His heart in Nsoko, Swaziland.

Tears were streaming down my face as all of the first-hand images came flooding back into my mind. Pictures I’ve taken with my own two eyes of hundreds of children in Swaziland surfaced and each one crushed my heart a little bit more. I really felt like I couldn’t breathe. (Partially because there was snot literally hanging out of my nose like a string). I had to sit down because I was heaving so hard. {Praise God for extremely loud contemporary worship bands!}

I sat with my head lodged between my hands and the seat in front of me. I half-heartedly asked God to make it stop so I could stop crying and embarassing myself. But I knew that wasn’t what He really wanted. I couldn’t stop thinking about Tmbalithle and baby Anitah and Boss Lady and all the Muchos of Swaziland. My chest hurt so bad. My heart literally felt like it was being ripped in half. This is super awkward, but I was basically silent screaming. (My emotional sisters out there know what I’m talking about, right? Like when your heart literally hurts and you’re basically screaming but it’s silent? Someone please affirm me on this one haha) God was literally breaking my heart for what breaks His. Now I know God doesn’t give anyone more than they can’t handle, so it makes me wonder: If that moment felt excruciating for MY heart, I can’t even begin to fathom what God feels when His heart breaks for orphans… for His children.

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” ran through my head. “This is not what God intended for His children.” It’s not their fault and He’s not punishing them. Quite the contrary. I’ve never witnessed so much of God’s love as I did in Swaziland. His love is abundant, but so is sin from The Fall. It’s because of sin that these children have broken homes, that there’s abuse, that they are neglected and go without food or shelter. Some people might ask why, if my God is so mighty and loving then, doesn’t He save these children? The answer is because He’s God. Because I don’t really have the answer and no one does except for Him. Because if God made everything perfect here on Earth it wouldn’t be Earth, it would be Heaven. If all was right in the world, we wouldn’t need God. We wouldn’t seek Him out in times of trouble or despair. We wouldn’t cling to Him and worship Him for his majesty. We’re on this Earth to glorify God and to worship Him. We’re also called to be His disciples and that means that it’s OUR job to take care of His children. God sustains them in more ways than we’ll ever know, but in no way does He owe anyone anything. WE owe Him everything and as His followers WE are called to take care of His children….

“You’re right, Jenn. I didn’t intend for Tmbalithle’s mother to be consumed by alcoholism and abandon her with extended family. I didn’t intend for her to grow up without a mother and a father and to run around half-dressed.”

“No, Jenn, it is not what I want for Anitah or the other orphans at Eskalene to wander the countryside with little-to-no supervision collecting grasshoppers to tide them over for the day until their next meal.”

“No, it is not my intent for children to grow up in a home where the father has abandoned them and their mother; for their father to travel far away for work, to take another wife, or to die because of AIDS.”

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I guess I’m beginning the “processing-process”. More to come.

Simple, quiet, sunny.

No, this is not a description of my life or the weather today. The title of this blog was a blurb from a post I wrote four days before leaving for Swaziland. It’s interesting to read my thoughts pre-trip and now have real images to pair with those thoughts post-trip.

Before I left for Africa I had one random day of peace, simplicity, and sunshine. I remember blogging about it now. I wrote something to the extent of “Maybe this is a little glimpse of what is to come” referring to Africa. When I wrote that it seemed like a shot in the dark. Looking back, it was dead on.

Africa ended up being completely different from what I thought it would be. I thought it would look just like The Lion King and I thought people would be in despair like they might after some natural disaster. It wasn’t really like that at all. It felt a little more South American. It was more like here than I thought– but then again, not like here at all.

I’ve really been missing “simple, quiet, sunny.” Africa really was all of those things in a weird way. I keep thinking about that lately and I’d like to post some pictures. Apparently 3 weeks home and I’m still not ready to really write about my experiences yet. Go figure.

So the last picture was the one I wanted to post for simple, quiet, sunny. And then I started to notice a pattern with all of these pictures and their amazing skies! If you just blew through those pictures, I would encourage you to go back through and really study the detail in each of the skies. The colors, the rays of light breaking through the clouds. It’s funny at the time I didn’t think much of it, but looking back at these photos, the sky was pretty much out of this world whether it was sunning or storming. To me, I just see God in all of the sky pictures. I see Him painted up above the valley of Nsoko, spreading as far as you can see. He’s there with the orphans and the gogos and He’s watching over all of them. He’s the light breaking through the darkness in the storm pictures. I don’t know about you guys, but I really identify God with the sky and clouds. I wish I could say this in a non I’m-an-obnoxious-Jesus-freak-so-agree-with-me-please way, but I can’t. So…

Can you look at the sky in those pictures and tell me there’s not an amazing, incredible, complicated, and mighty God out there somewhere?

In between.

The title of this post pretty much sums up everything in my life right now, but I guess for length-of-post’s-sake I could elaborate a little.

I have been in my new apartment for about a week now and it’s finally starting to register. I’m in between being lonely and enjoying the solitude. The state of my apartment is in between since about 3/4 of it is finished being put away and decorated. However I have no living room furniture so I spend any free time laying on my floor looking out my balcony window.

My schedule and routine is all kinds of messed up and in between. If I would have moved before this quarter started this part could have just been classified “change,” but since I moved the 2nd week into the quarter, some things like classes stayed the same, but my commute has been slightly altered. I have to do everything about a half hour earlier and I’m in the in between of getting that schedule down. Same goes for my studying, but it’s in much worse of a state and for right now, I’d rather not talk about that.

I don’t have internet yet so anything (cough: homework, taxes, bills) that requires me some WiFi is also in an in between state. Bad news. I’m in between taking old routes relative to my old apartment and exploring the digs of my new one. I’m in between relationships with everyone. I have tons of things initiated and tons of catching up to do but no follow through… yet. Heavy emphasis on the large pile of thank-you’s that need written and sent out for all of my support money to Swaziland.

I’m in between social worlds. Part of me is still in Africa-mode: declaring rules to visitors in my apartment like “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” in an effort to save… what? My water supply and those in Africa who don’t have water…? Because that makes logical sense. I’m in between want and guilt when buying things that I “need” in my apartment but technically don’t need. Like a collander. Or a pizza cutter. I need it to drain my pasta, I need one to cut my pizza, but do I really NEED it? No. But….?

And I have certainly no idea how to handle social events yet. Last night I want to a concert with David and Marissa and was really confused about the whole “process” of it. Wearing a cute outfit, buying a new accessory, wearing MAKEUP AGAIN whhaaaat!, and just all the social drama in general. I felt a little bit like an imposter. Because let’s be honest, nothing about my appearance had an effect on my enjoyment of the concert. Rude attitudes about who’s standing in who’s spot are really just trivial and spread hate. Why can’t we just all hold hands and sing kumbiyah until the artist comes out anyways? We should give hugs instead of shoves! I guess I’m just having a hard time being entirely here and in the moment. For example, everyone around me last night seemed so focused on the concert, the beer, the drama, what’s going on in Columbus, OH.

All I could think about was how Veli, Cemphilo, Sanele, Simonga, Pundihle, and Mxolisi would have loved something like that. How badly I want to bring Pilo to America to hang out and show him around! I’m torn between trying to fit in here but not get lost in it all. Trying to maintain home and my experiences is difficult.

Most pressingly on the “In Between Scale” that is currently my life… is my relationship with God. SO in between. Mentally I’m craving time alone with Him and reading my Bible. Mentally I’m crying out for “more” in my life. Mentally I’m searching for His Kingdom here. I’m still mostly in my “Africa mentality.” In actuality….. I’m doing NOTHING to further any of this. I keep thinking I’m still on this kick, post-Africa, where I was getting up early and spending time in His Word before starting my day. But I’m not. I’m deceiving myself. I really haven’t opened my Bible once in the past week. I haven’t gotten up early. When selecting my reading material to take to campus for free time, numerous times this week I have picked up His Word and “thought better of it”– exchanging it for a  I know I’m behind in. I’ve literally said out loud, “Sorry, God, I promise I’ll get back to the Bible once I’m caught up on school….” Isn’t that how it always goes? The funny thing is, I’m the promise-breaker there. That’s always the beginning of my put-God-on-hold-until-I-forget-about-Him phase. I desperately don’t want to go there but it seems inevitable right now.

I know this phase of “in-between” is only temporary, and I’m assuming its cause is the move last week and trying to get aclimated to my new surroundings. You know that love-hate relationship with this phase? Agghhh. I hate it because everything is busy, mindless, and up in the air– and all I want to do is slow down, re-fuel, and focus. I don’t even have time to feel my human emotions. And yet, (sigh), you know coming out the other end of it all means change. For me, change is good. I enjoy it. It usually satisfies, entertains, or challenges me. I’m really looking forward to coming out of this particular phase because there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s growth at the other end. A lot more understanding, a lot more clarity, a lot more peace.

Until then I have to sit tight and keep up.

Solitude. (disclaimer–profanity)

Okay, let’s just be honest.

I’m scared SHITLESS to be alone.

Please pardon my language.

In the last three weeks I have not only flown to Africa with someone I didn’t know… to spend a week and a half with 9 other Americans/Canadians I didn’t know… to go share Jesus with hundreds of Swazi men, women, and children. I then flew back to the States leaving behind my “new family” in Swaziland to feel just as alone upon returning home. And just to shake things up a little more, I decided to move out of the house I’ve been living in for the last nine months and randomly move to a one-bedroom apartment pretty far from campus in what looks and smells like an old people’s home.

And like I said above. I really hate being alone. I crave being alone when I’m around people too much, and then when I’m alone for too long I  freak out. It scares the living daylights out of me and I have no idea why I keep putting myself (conscious or not) into that situation. I’m starting to think maybe it’s not entirely me pulling this “alone” plug. I feel like God really wants to chat with me about some stuff and He knows how distractable I am. He could very well be screaming at me and I would be staring off into the distance wrapped up in my own thoughts. I really suck at letting Him in.

The last 48 hours have been miserable. My apartment creeps me out. It smells weird. I don’t like the location. Everyone I know is far away from me. So is school. It’s too expensive. I called to put utilities in my name and get internet and Lord only knows what else I signed myself up for since I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. I guess we’ll find out when I get my bills!

I’m so used to being helpless and putting a cute smile on my face and getting other people to do things for me. That’s horrible and it’s time to grow up. Today I had to carry a microwave from my car, into the building, into the elevator, and up to my room. I was about to have a fit trying to balance holding that and getting my keys to open every stinking door. Once in the elevator I thought, “This is ridiculous and embarrassing. Who ARE you? You used to be so independent and did everything on your own. NOW look at you!”  

There’s a huge disconnect between my life now and my life about 3 years ago. Three years ago I was Miss Independent and, again pardon my language, but I got shit done. I wasn’t afraid of much, or so I thought, and I was pretty confident. But I also didn’t have Jesus in my life. Now, I have Jesus in my life, but I’ve pretty much lost everything else. To be honest I would rather live every day of my life walking and talking with Jesus and feeling broken, than being a cocky, 20something girl who is far from Him. Want to know the cool part, though? I don’t have to do either. This depression and solitude I’m going through right now is only temporary… and only because I asked for it!

I asked for God to make some serious changes in my life upon returning from Africa. I have asked Him to heal the brokeness from my past and make me new again. And He’s totally doing that… just not in the shiny package I had expected. He’s doing it in His way and on His own time. And let’s be honest, isn’t that probably the better route to go? I think yes. I’d rather have the Man Up Top guiding my every step, than have my anxious and uninformed self calling the shots. What a mess that is.

So. Solitude’s the main theme in my life for the next little while here whether I like it or not. Right now I don’t like it one bit, even thought it’s “what I thought I wanted.” But I have a sneaking suspiscion a year from now it will be the best decision I’ve made, not to mention all the change that will have happened within me if I let God do his thang.

My counselor told me living by myself would suck for a while. He said I’d be lonely, depressed, and that I’d cry. He told me I’d hate it, but if I wanted God’s healing in my life instead of a band-aid, I’d better hop to. He said he doesn’t really care if my life sucks for a little while because it’s better to go through it and come out changed, than to just try to cope and never experience the highs or lows. Thanks, Greg. Sometimes you’re an asshole but you’re completely right :-D.