Is it worth it? Where to turn when you’re ready to give up

Is it worth it? Where to turn when you’re ready to give up

There are days, seasons, that we seriously doubt it… that it will be worth it.

The struggle or even the pain of right now blinds us. And we’re tempted to give in to despair.

Are you there?

Cynical? Weary?

Can I share a few truths? Some glimpses of the hope and pure joy ahead?

It will be worth it.

This will all fade, and we will be awed at the honor our Savior pours out on us. On you. On me. 

We’ll be so grateful He deemed us worthy to suffer, that He empowered us to endure, that He used our unique stories and heartaches and obstacles and faithfulness to bring Him glory.

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

Read more at Club31Women…

Is it worth it

Blessings,

Jennifer

Cure Your Thirsty Soul

Cure Your Thirsty Soul

 

How to Recognize & Cure Your Thirsty Soul

There have been more days like that than I care to admit.

Oh, I’d really prefer for you to think of me as having it all together. Waking before dawn all these past thirty-some years to reset my focus on Christ. Drinking in His Word and His presence. Changed. Refreshed.

But no, there have been too many days that my parched soul has responded first to something else.

Exhaustion. Laziness. An urgent deadline. To-do lists. Family demands.

And I push the thirst aside, sure I can quench it later. Or some other way. Through ministry or some quick prayers and a serving of yesterday’s manna. Dry leftovers.

But too many of those days, and life tends to take a funny turn. It’s so gradual that I barely feel it. Maybe a little at first, but then I grow used to a dry mouth, and the show must go on.

The thing is, as it all goes on, circumstances weigh heavier and mountains rise higher.

Irritations morph into serious offenses. Setbacks are equivalent to failures. Discouragement turns to despair.

Before long, joy and hope are missing entirely.

And they’re signs. Signs that our souls thirst. That they’ve gone too long without Living Water. That the Word that once saturated us has evaporated. That we must drink daily.

The biggest indicator of them all?

This pervasive thought… that if we could change our circumstances, we could finally be happy. 

(Read more at Club31Women.com)

Trusting Him for Tomorrow’s Mountains {In a Sun-Scorched Land, Chapter 1}

Trusting Him for Tomorrow’s Mountains {In a Sun-Scorched Land, Chapter 1}

Trusting Him for Tomorrow's Mountains

This post is a part of a series based on my memoir, In a Sun-Scorched Land. Find your own copy here, and join me each week as I touch on another chapter, meditating on God’s faithfulness through life’s challenges.  

 

I closed my eyes and drifted off, blissfully unaware of an oft-spoken Creole proverb that would define the years ahead: Dèyè monn gen monnBeyond the mountains, more mountains. Had I known the shadows of those mountain pathsthe toll the steep hikes would take on our family, my faith, and my healthmy courage surely would have failed me. But by the grace of God, the God who can move mountains, I didn’t know, and I slept in peace. In a pool of sweat. But in peace nonetheless.

(p. 36, In a Sun-Scorched Land)

Had I known, my courage surely would have failed me.

True for us all, isn’t it?

And sometimes we’re caught up in wondering, What exactly does lie ahead? 

That first day Jarod and I spent in Haiti was too full, too action-packed for me to worry, but there’s been many a day since then that I’ve made time to not only wonder, but to fret:

  • How will we make ends meet?
  • How will this child ever get past this?
  • Will I ever feel normal again?
  • Will this fear ever leave?
  • What if God asks too much of me?

Our futures always stretch out in front of us, unknown, mysterious. To us.

But not to our Heavenly Father. He knows, and we don’t. That’s not an accident.

His sovereign, eternal mind can handle it all, and we can’t. He created us to have limits. Our bodies can only handle so much work, strain, and stress each day, and our minds are no different.

In His mercy, He allows us to see yesterdayto learn from its mistakes or successesas well as this moment right now.

The Creole proverb is right. Beyond mountains there are always more mountains. And as humans, in our weakness, we’re easily overwhelmed by their heights. Knowing the name of each mountain to come would surely immobilize us.

Yet when we look back, we can’t deny God’s presence, His strength, His grace. And the exhilaration we’ve known as we reached the peaks of life’s biggest challenges. I survived that, we remind ourselves. And it becomes a beautiful part of our testimony.

Would we have chosen it had we known ahead of time? Probably not. Our energy probably would have gone to praying against it, begging God for something elseanything else.

But it was there, that place of struggle designed especially for us, that we met God, that we saw Him work. We saw our lives transformed and learned that He is real, that He cares.

So why would tomorrow be any different?

Yes, there will be mountains. I won’t minimize that. Mountain climbing is painful, sometimes impossibly so. Sometimes God will move the mountains, and sometimes He won’t.

But there will always be help. Supernatural courage. Grace. Peace. Joy. God’s presence.

Whatever your future may hold, what you’re worried about today, I pray you’ll rest in Him. He held you together yesterday. And you’re in His hands right now. That’s never going to change.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Sunscorched book screen4

 

 

How to find rest this summer

How to find rest this summer

Hi friend!

Happy Summer!

While my ideal summer involves breezes at the beach, good books, blue skies, and refreshing drinks, that’s not really happening so far. I may get a few of those precious days before summer’s over, but my reality involves plenty of work and varying degrees of stress. You too?

That’s okay, though. Because true rest happens on the inside, no matter what’s going on outside.

I need rest, and so do you. But it’s not about sitting on a beach chair. Well, not all the time, anyway.

Join me at Club3Women for more on How to Keep Stress From Stealing Your Joy This Summer.

How to find rest this summer

Blessings,

Jennifer

Fearless of the Days to Come: 3 Surprising Lessons from Proverbs 31

Fearless of the Days to Come: 3 Surprising Lessons from Proverbs 31

 

It seems so strange, doesn’t it? This choice of words… laughing at the days ahead?

But there it is.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

My brow has been frequently furrowed as of late. How about yours?

But maybe that’s telling us something. That we’re human… yes. We’re made of dust and we are indeed weak and often fearful.

But I think there’s something else. I think we’re quick to focus on our problems… the world’s problems… and forget Who’s in control and what our responsibilities are.

There’s something to the laughter of the Proverbs 31 woman. Something we need pretty desperately today.

(Join me at Club31Women for more!)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Proverbs 31 Woman

 

 

Five Years Ago In Haiti: 5 Lessons I’ve learned since the earthquake

Five Years Ago In Haiti: 5 Lessons I’ve learned since the earthquake

Five years ago

Five years ago, my five kids and I spent our last day in Haiti.

After almost eight years of ministry, after nine years of attempting (unsucessfully) to adopt our three Haitian children, we faced the devastation of the Port-au-Prince earthquake, and we faced our own figurative parting of the Red Sea.

A sleepless night preceded this day — seven hours in a bus, traversing the mountains between Cap and Port. Another sleepless night awaited us — eight hours in Miami’s Immigration office.

This was the day we sat alongside Port-au-Prince’s runway, avoiding the structural damage inside the airport. The day Jarod shipped relief supplies from the Dominican Republic, praying we’d make the flight out. The day we conserved precious bottled water, ate hotdogs straight out of plastic packaging, waiting, waiting, waiting for our plane to the U.S. It was the one-way chartered flight that would take Justin, Jaden, and Daphne out of Haiti for the first time in their lives. The flight we almost missed despite all our waiting.

Honestly, it was one of the most grueling days of my life.

But God was faithful that day.

As He is today. To me… and to you.

This day, or this season, might be your hardest ever. If it is, I pray you find strength and encouragement from the lessons I’ve learned since that day five years ago.

Lesson 1:

Despite my cynicism, God is still able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”

(Ephesians 3:20).

Though we pleaded for adoption approval for nine years, our efforts were thwarted in every way imaginable… Until an earthquake cut through the 500 remaining steps.

He is able. If the answer you’re receiving today is a “no,” it’s not because God doesn’t care or can’t help.

When the time is right, He will work miraculously. He’ll out-do your wildest imaginations.

immeasurably more

Lesson 2:

Safety isn’t about location… it’s about being in God’s hands.

Robberies, coups, a special needs child, and cross-cultural stresses… it wasn’t “safe.” Furthermore, it led to adrenal fatigue. Panic. Anxiety.

But tempting as it was to believe the U.S. was my safe house, that flight out of Haiti didn’t erase my fear.

The truth is, God was and will always be my rock and my fortress… He protected me in Haiti in the face of overt physical danger, as well as in the U.S. where the fear came from within.

His mercies have been new every morning, regardless of my location. It’s not about where. It’s about Who.

Lesson 3:

My identity isn’t my occupation… it’s found in Christ.

Once my husband and I realized we would not be able to take our children back to Haiti, our titles changed. We’d assumed we’d been called to a lifetime of missions, but everything had changed. And in the deep corners of my heart, that hurt. My lifelong dream of missionary was no more. Now I was (forgive me) ordinary.

Jesus knew I needed to find myself and all that defined me in Him instead of some role of “honor.”

It was humbling. And it was for my good.

Lesson 4:

Being unknown is difficult… but increases my dependency on Christ.

We made a cross-country move after shifting around for a year and one-half. The familiarity of Kansas gave way to Florida shores where we were completely unknown. New jobs, new schools, a new church, a new calling.

Again I found myself low. No one here even knew that I used to be a missionary. No one knew our gifts, our passions, our history.

So I had to leave all of that with Jesus. He knew. And that was enough. Because it’s not about me anyway. It’s all about Him.

Lesson 5:

I might not understand God’s ways… but they are higher and better (Isaiah 55:9).

I still don’t know why God didn’t allow our kids to be adopted earlier. Why did we have to leave them in Haiti during the political coup… when we traveled to the U.S. for medical tests… when their little sister got to be a flower girl at a family wedding?

Why nine years? Why after the earthquake?

I don’t have all the answers.

I can speculate… maybe we’d have jumped ship too early if the adoptions had been done. Maybe we wouldn’t have stayed to minister. Maybe Jarod wouldn’t have been there to deliver relief supplies. Maybe something we did had an impact we still don’t know about.

Or maybe it was about God changing us, testing us, making us.

higher ways

I don’t know why. I don’t understand His ways.

But I can truthfully say I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the “hard.”

I’m grateful for the challenge… for the storms… for the pain.

Because I got to see Him.

He shines in the darkness. He protects when there’s danger. He heals when there is hurt. And He works miracles when all hope is gone.

My prayer for you today? That you would give thanks in all things. That you would trust Him. That your faith would grow right now on the most grueling day. That you would continue to stand on Christ, The Solid Rock.

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

 

A New Thing {Freedom through Choices, Goals, and Change in 2015}

A New Thing {Freedom through Choices, Goals, and Change in 2015}

A new thing…

It’s a beautiful thought, the new things God has planned for the year ahead.

Perhaps especially in light of 2014’s shadows.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  — Isaiah 43:19

God wants to do something new… if you’ll let Him.

2015 might feel awfully similar to 2014 so far.

The chores still need to be done, the meals must be made, the children need you, and strangely enough, you’re as weary as you were before the turning of this new calendar page.

But you have no idea how different, how new and fresh this season of life could be on that “way in the wilderness” or along the “streams in the wasteland.”

Maybe you feel trapped.

But God offers you freedom through choices, goals, and change — a new thing — this year.

Join me at The Better Mom today…

 

feeling trapped

 

Christ came for this {How Christmas changes everything for the broken}

Christ came for this {How Christmas changes everything for the broken}

Where are you as choruses of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” ring out again and again?

Where’s your heart? Doubled over in pain? A little cynical? Hardened or resistant?

I don’t blame you.

If you’re hurting, songs of snow and mistletoe won’t do much to ease the ache.

But if you’re broken, you’re in position to celebrate Christmas like never before.

This thing

This burden and pain…

This is why Christ came… and why He’s still with us.

More hope at The Better Mom

It's for this that Christ came

Praying the comfort of Emmanuel in your life today,

Jennifer