The Greatest Adventure of All

Yesterday was rough y’all. I ain’t even gonna lie. (Yes, you should have read that with a bit of a country drawl or spin or whatever.)

But today? I rest.

Just after I write this……..

Okay, I quit my job. Like, just quit. No notice, no plan, no outlook – I just quit. Not many people agree with my decision. Let me just let you in on a secret – no one else lives my life. So, after some careful prayer, and some treacherous times mentally, it was best for myself and my family for me to jump ship – literally.

So, I am fully trusting God in all of this. Not that I don’t on a normal basis, it’s just this is HUGE. I have told many friends that I have for the first time in my life truly stepped out the boat, onto the ocean, in the middle of the storm, and am fully trusting in the Lord. Because I have no other choice.

Which leads me to yesterday……..

I am taking every opportunity given to me during this transition in my life. I am praying, seeking and believing that I will begin to fulfill Gods will and calling. That being said – I have begun training for the police officer training test.  Sit ups, push ups, lifting, jumping, running…… from a desk job to that. Yep. Right after I quit, I was almost bedridden with a back injury. It knocked a week and a half of conditioning off of my schedule. But I refused to give up. Yesterday, my back was hurting again, I didn’t hit my mileage, and I was physically tired……

And I was getting ready for a front desk interview……..

Like I said, I’m not going to miss an opportunity.

I’m at my parents house getting ready, when my amazing grandmother comes in the room. She is asking me questions and we are talking I am crying, ranting, sobbing about just wanting to be a part of my kids lives again and quit missing their talent shows, and field trips, and holidays, and wanting them to just be proud of me…….

She speaks and my heart is broken for the second time in two days by words……

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will ALWAYS  break my HEART…..

Not that she meant to – she would never mean to …. She will be so upset knowing it hurt me so. Sometimes hurt brings healing……

She said “Oh, Jenn….I wanted so much more for you. I wanted so much better for you. You are so smart! You could have so much more!”       I will tell the truth, I died for a moment. My soul died. I have never felt like I made anyone proud. Hearing those words, sealed my thoughts. It was true. And the funny thing is? Did any of the people who said things like that not think that I wanted better for myself as well?

Truth of the matter is, I do have better. I have the best.

I wanted to get married, have babies, and be a mommy. I wanted to to encourage each one of my babies to reach for the stars, travel, dream the greatest dreams. I wanted to teach them about Jesus and about singing. I wanted to show them how to suck honey suckles and build dams in a creek. I wanted to experience each season with them and help them see the miracle of each one. I wanted to show them how hard work accomplishes more than any kind of hand out man can give you. I may not own a home, have fancy clothes or shoes, I don’t have matching china, and you are lucky if you can find a pair of matching socks in my house……..but these kids right here? Man…….they are worth it all.

So, I will continue to pray. I believe God is revealing a path for me. It may not be the police force. It may not be a desk job. It may be serving . And if I have to waitress and serve the people who tore me down and made me hate myself in order for me to be able to see my daughter sing on stage or go to math competition with my youngest son or travel to an out of state football game with my oldest son – then so be it. I would rather serve with a healed heart, than miss out on the greatest adventure of my life —–

Photo Credits to mozingophotography.com (Amazing people, amazing photographers!)

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Listen to the Whisper . . .

I don’t know why, but this time of year brings back so many childhood memories. The breeze seems to carry the giggles of the little girl I once was. It whispers, as it passes, “Take your shoes off. Put your feet in the soil. Enjoy it’s coolness. Remember your freedom. Remember who you are and where your from.” Tears flood my eyes, and I just have this uncontrolable urge to run through a hayfield or find a freshly toiled potato patch to dig my feet into. I AM a country girl at heart. I have a heritage that is full of amazingly strong men and women. I yearn to learn how to quilt, how to sew, how to can. I want so badly to plant a seed and watch it grow into something of sustenance. THIS is my heritage. Men and women who worked and worked hard. They survived and flourished. They worked with their hands. Their skin was sunworn and their laugh lines ran deep. They had pride in who they were and what they did.

Today, I listened to the whisper. I took my shoes off and went on a barefoot walk. I walked through the mud, I walked through the field, and I let the sun soak into my skin. If I could have ran to Fairview, I would have. If I could paint, my house would be full of paintings of my childhood memories. The way the sun hit the top of the hay. The way the fog rested over the hayfield. Bikes parked in the garage, the tree swing swaying in the wind – waiting for us to climb on and be daring. Crickets lulling me to sleep, the dew resting precariously on hay and vegtables. The smell of my papaw’s morning routine, and the aroma of my granny’s cooking. Knowing that right at 5, I could run out to the end of the driveway and ride back to the house on the sidestep of a pickup truck. Learing the basics of driving on an old tractor. Raiding the cookie jar. The taste . . . of homemade vegtable beef soup. Fried squash, fish fries. Eggs over easy and bacon at 6 a.m. Watching out the back door as the leaves changed colors and drifted in the wind. Knowing it was time to get the sled run ready for the winter. Knowing the quilting square would soon be hung and we would soon be tying knots in beautiful, breathtaking quilts. The first snow gleaming in the moonlight. The grandfather clock ticking away but never growing old. Tinsel on the christmas tree, homemade ornaments the main attraction. Christmas lights galore and brand new, homemade Christmas dresses being sewn.

I can’t explain why today they are all so vivid. I feel like I could reach out and touch them, they seem that real. If I could, I would grab that little dark haired girl and tell her a few things. I would tell her to soak it in. Don’t waste a single breathe. Know that you are beautiful just as you are. Don’t cry over naps and play in the creek just a little longer. Jump higher, ride faster, dare to dream. Be confident, no matter what.

I was daring back then. If you dared me, I would do it (which is why in the 1st grade I cut all my eyelashes off of one eye – thanks a lot Lanny Thompson!). I was brave, I was strong. Age has worn some of those attributes down. Which is maybe why I feel this so strongly right now. I have to get back to that place. I HAVE to get back to my roots, to who I am. My kids need to know their heritage. They need to know how to survive without a microwave and a t.v. They NEED to know what cold, fresh toiled soil feels like. They NEED to experience picking up potatoes. They need to know so much. Maybe, together, we can learn and acheive this. Someday, soon, I will get back to that place. The place that makes my heart sing, the place that my dreams visit. I will get that free spirit back, that strong will to succeed. I will be there soon . . . I have to get there soon.

Just Breathe

I was listening to the song “Breathe” and I was just worshiping and I asked the Lord to speak to me. The chorus part came up, you know “and I am desperate for you. and I am lost without you.” And I heard the Lord say, “that’s me. I am desperate for YOU. I am lost without YOU. The same way you would be without your spouse, or your children, or your family. When you are not with me, I am desperate for you. When you are not with me, I am lost.” Wow. Now, I know some of you may analyze this and say, “God can’t be lost.” or ” God is almighty he’s with us everywhere.” But, it’s not that way. It’s just an example. He wants us to fellowship with him. He wants us to enter in to worship and prayer. Uninhibited. Unashamed. Because he desires us. All of us. We are his children and if we are not with him, in our actions, in our words, in our day to day life, who then are we with? I challenge everyone who reads this to step in deeper today. In your worship, in your prayer time. Just tell him you are there to spend time with him. Not to ask him for a favor, not to petition him, not to speak the whole time, but to listen to him and love on him.

Power of Love

How great is your love oh Lord,
How great is your love oh Lord,
It reaches so high,
It stretches so wide.
How great is your love.

I have been encountering awesome measures of love this past month or so, and I just happened to be sitting here when this song came to my heart. Unfailing, ever forgiving, unconditional love. That is the Lord’s love. So many times I forget what it truly is, what it truly means. I tell my kids so many times “I love you ttthhhhiiiisssss much” and stretch as wide as I can. How much more is God’s love for us? How awe inspiring is that? We so take for granted the love of God. He sent His only Son to die for us, for our sins. He was beaten for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. We should be rising up, jumping up, and shouting for all the world to hear about what an awesome, loving God we serve! I have just been pondering these things this morning.

Psalms 36 (The Message)

5-6 God’s love is meteoric,

his loyalty astronomic,

His purpose titanic,

his verdicts oceanic.

Yet in his largeness

nothing gets lost;

Not a man, not a mouse,

slips through the cracks.

7-9 How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.

So, when you’re feeling down, or unloved, or just gloomy, take a look at this verse. Close your eyes and imagine a spectacular love – a prolonged love. Imagine loyalty that is inconceivably large, purpose that is huge or colossal. His verdicts? They have no limits in range or scope. And then, in ALL of this HUGENESS, know that his eyes are watching over even the smallest of small beings. His heart knows each of us intimately. That should make your heart SOAR!

On a Winter’s Day, Nothing’s Sweeter Than Summertime!

One of my favorite smells is honeysuckle. I guess because it reminds me of my childhood in such a vivid way. I don’t know a lot, but I know some things for certain: honeysuckles, sweet pea flowers and the smell of hay and rain bring back memories that are etched forever on my heart. I also know that my awesome Heavenly Father put each of those things on this earth just for me. There is peace that sweeps over me that I can not explain. I take in a deep breath or I stop, just for a moment to look, and my soul lets out a big “aaaahhhhh”. I have talked before about how our God put each thing, each detail, on this earth just for us. If we were the only ones here, it would all still be amazing. But, honestly, I always processed that as through sight, not smell or taste. This hit me the other day as I was running/walking in the evening. It had been a long day. Okay, honestly, a long week. Even with Monday off, it just seemed as if I was getting overwhelmed. I was listening to Hillsong, and just trying to relax my mind when a big whiff of honeysuckle filled my nostrils. “Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh”. Then it hit me; that was just for me. He knew I would be in that place, in that state of mind, and in need of an “aaahhhh” moment. The road I traveled was FILLED with honeysuckle AND sweet peas. It was as if He was saying “I got this! Relax. BREATH. Enjoy.” I’m not saying all I’ll ever have to do to de-stress is inhale some honeysuckle or gaze upon some sweet pea. But I am saying that our God loves me (and you) SO much that, not only did He give His only son, but he places things in our lives to bring us joy and peace when and where we least expect it.

Emo Driven

I have heard it said, many times, that the type of worship I desire is led by the emotions of the people. This is often said in a demeaning manner. I have been pondering, lately, if that is really the truth and if it IS a bad thing. I decided to look some words up in the dictionary. Here’s what I found: Passion – An abandoned display of emotion. Worship – to show profound religious devotion and respect to; adore or venerate. Adore – to show profound religious devotion and respect to. Emotional – of more than usual emotion. Emotion – A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling. Spontaneously – These adjectives mean acting, reacting, or happening without apparent forethought or prompting. Spontaneous applies to what arises naturally rather than resulting from external constraint or stimulus.
Now, out of ALL these definitions, ALL of these explanations, I see NOTHING that would insinuate that worship led by emotion is bad, or even uncalled for. Quite the contrary. When we look through Psalms, where David (the song writer) penned so many of the words we use today in our worship songs, he was led by his emotions. He speaks of Gods wonders, he asks why, he speaks of revenge, he speaks of anger, he speaks of love, he speaks of beauty, he speaks of an awesome God. He calls out to the Lord, sometimes in despair, sometimes in such appreciation. Sometimes he dances, sometimes he bows to his knees. How can we NOT say he was driven by emotion?

Isaiah 2:13 says
13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men. [b]

14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”

15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the LORD,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”

16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,
“He did not make me”?
Can the pot say of the potter,
“He knows nothing”?

Wow. Then, there is

John 4:23
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Jesus is speaking)

So, I looked up “spirit”- A particular mood or an emotional state characterized by vigor and animation. Then, “truth” – Sincerity; integrity.

How can we sit and point fingers and call certain songs or styles unacceptable because they are emotion led? Spirit and truth. Emotionally sincere. Worship should be emotionally sincere. And, as we read previously, emotion arises spontaneously. Sincerity is “a quality of naturalness and simplicity”. So, as I answered my own questions, I opened up a truth to myself I had never thought of before. Well, I take that back, I had thought of it and this just confirms what I had believed. We should be NATURAL in our worship. If we cry, we cry. If we want to jump up and down, we should. If we want to shout, we should shout. If we want to sing something NOT written in the music, we should. We should be free, and sincere. Our heartfelt desire to give our Savior something beautiful and completely from us should fuel our worship. It should fuel and sustain it.

So, no. Emotional worship is NOT wrong. It is NOT uncalled for. It IS, however, what God longs for. What He desires of us. This shouldn’t be a challenge, it should be a desire.

Just a Whisper

Today I was listening to the song “Whisper His Name”. The words say:

Whisper His name

Whisper His name

Whisper His name

And He will answer you

Call out His name (Jesus)

Call out His name (Jesus)

Call out His name (Jesus)

And He will come to you

Shout out His name (Jesus)

Shout out His name (Jesus)

Shout out His name (Jesus)

And He will run to you

For when we lose our selfish pride

And when we fall down on our knees

For when we lift our hands

And say You’re all I need

Oh God we lose our selfish pride

Lord we fall down on our knees

We lift our hands to You

And say You’re all we need

You’re all we need

You’re all we need

You’re all we need

Glory to You in the highest place

Glory to You in the highest place

Glory to You in the highest place

So many times we have said “Run to Jesus. He is all you need. Run to him and he will rescue you.” But, this morning, it hit me (while listening to the song) that sometimes all we have to do is WHISPER His name. Yes, he wants us to seek after him, to run to him to pursue him. But he also knows that sometimes we are weak. Weak in body, spirit, or mind. He knows that sometimes it takes all our strength just to WHISPER. Luke 22:41-44 says “He (Jesus) pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.”

I have been there. I have been so weak that it took everything I had just to say “I can’t”. But, in that moment of weakness, when I called he CAME. This morning, for some reason, it just hit me. All he needs is a WHISPER and he will RUN to us. RUN. It made me think of the prodigal son. How the father came running to him. How the father hugged and kissed his wayward son. How much more will our heavenly father run to us? Hug us? Kiss us? Bring us to his feast? Give us the best robe?

So, even though we may be weak and weary, our SAVIOR will RUN to us, even if all we do is WHISPER his name.

This is just a thought from Jenni on New Years Eve.