Take Heart.

“Some people say faith is a childish game. Play on, children, like it’s Christmas day. Sing me a song, sing me a melody. Sing out loud, you’re a symphony. I want you to live forever, underneath the sky so blue…Take courage when the road is long. Don’t ever forget you are never alone.”

Do you ever just go through the roughest spiritual dry patch & you have no idea when it’s going to end or what it’s going to take to spark something inside you again? I’m there. I’ve hit a brick wall, and it sort of feels like doors are slamming shut rather than opening. Now I know, something good is coming. Heck, good things are happening all around me. This is not an ungrateful post. It’s a “I’m so stuck in one place & my mind is moving so fast that it hurts” post. I’m at the most beautiful college in the entire world. I have the best job anyone could ever ask for. I have the most amazing people doing life with me & taking this walk with me. I have a God who has told me that there is nothing I can do that will make Him love me any more or any less.

My mind is moving at a million miles an hour & I’m ready to just shut it down for a few days (however, that would be a terrible, terrible idea). I’m discovering that it is becoming harder and harder to just BE. STILL. That is all I want, and I’m beginning to realize I have to set up my own boundaries to get to that place. Prayer is hard, and finding time in The Word is nearly impossible, but life is even harder without those things. I know these are so important. So so so important, and yet, I still struggle to find a balance. A balance of run-this-far and jump-this-high and cross-this-off and don’t-eat-that and make-time-for-this and just-one-more-coffee-date and pray-pray-pray and fall-to-your-knees and study-for-this and you-don’t-have-time-to-cry. It’s too much at once, and I haven’t figured out how to deal with it all yet.

I think what’s happened is I’ve been pouring out and not filling up. I’ve drained myself, and it’s time to find that living water again. He’s here. He is always here. So while I might think I’m going through a dry patch and I have these moments of why isn’t He listening to me? I know that He is there. A couple of weeks ago, while we were sitting in Adirondack chairs outside of Morgan-Deerfield and staring at the stars on a Sunday night, a dear friend reminded me that God answers prayer in 4 ways: yes, no, not right now, or I’m planning something so much better, so please, be patient. That was something I’ve been needing to hear, so desperately. I think I kept praying and eventually gave in because I just subconsciously thought, “Oh, well, I guess He doesn’t hear me. I’ll just keep on struggling with this and try to deal with it myself.” And that was so superficial of me. Why on earth would I think He didn’t hear me? Of course He hears me. He hears the things that just kind of skip through my mind that I don’t even spend that much time dwelling on, so He must hear the things that consume my mind. I know He does, and that is what will get me through this patch.

In the midst of this period of dryness, I’ve created a prayer wall in my room. Every day, I write down the things I’m struggling with or the things I’m grateful for or the things I’m surrendering to God on a note card and tape it up on the wall above my bed. It’s a wonderful reminder to be grateful for everything I have, even when it feels like the world around me won’t stop spinning.

I’m the kind of person who wants to do things on my own. Not only do I want to be independent, but I want others to be dependent on me. I crave that, and it’s another thing I’m learning about myself. Sometimes, this is a great thing, especially in ministry when you sometimes just need to be a presence to people without any words being said, or when people seek advice and you actually have the words to say. However, at other times, this is so bad. I had a teacher in high school tell me, “If you’re tired of people walking all over you, then get up off the floor.” So much truth. These are the words that I love to be reminded of. I want people to depend on me, but I need to take care of myself first. I need to make sure I have my stuff together before I try to help others.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” // John 16:33 ESV

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Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” // Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

I truly hope that you were able to identify with something in this. I know it might have been a bunch of me rambling and ranting (as per usual), but I hope you leave this knowing that He listens. The God of the universe listens to you & me, and He understands us. Every trial & tribulation that we face, He has been through it. He has lived it. He is answering us though, every single day, even when we think we hear nothing. He cherishes you & He loves you. He loves you with a love that is not corrupt or manipulative or pushy. He loves you despite your short-comings and sin and mistakes you make over and over again. Not only does He still love you, even after You question His will for your life, but He relentlessly pursues you & chases after you. He seeks you out & desires your heart. He delights in you. How loved does that make you feel? Take heart & rest in that today, for He has overcome the world.

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P.S. “The Lord delights in you as you are in this moment.” EA

Mercy like the sun.

Thank you, Lord, for moments in the morning with nothing but silence and stillness. 

“Constant One, endless is Your love. Like a river can’t be stopped, You’re faithful. Constant One, who is like You, God? Your mercy’s like the sun, always rising over us.”

I think this fall weather has me thinking in whimsical thoughts & endless (but not stressful) to-do lists & cutesy, romantic, fall things. Coffee dates over fall drinks (Nutella lattes are actually a thing, in case you were wondering). Flannels on chilly nights. Rocking chairs at the front of the student center. 24-hour prayer vigils in a log-cabinesque chapel. Big, comfy sweaters. The beach. Oh, the beach at Thanksgiving is such a beautiful thing. It’s really hard for me to put into words how much I love this weather. It’s the kind of weather that makes me want Mat Kearney & Ben Rector to compose the soundtrack to my life. It makes me about as happy as new pens & clean notebook paper do. Or fresh coffee in ceramic mugs. Or s’mores. Or bonfires. Or fresh flowers in mason jars…so very happy. So much joy.

I’m in a season of life where I’m learning to live with all of these new people & this new campus & I’m also learning how to live with myself. I feel like so so much has changed, and it’s changing so fast that if I don’t stop to look around every once in a while, I could miss something (thank you, Ferris Bueller, for that one). I’m in the constant cycle of learning new things about myself. Once I learn something new and finally get used to that part of me, something else comes along and blows my mind. It’s kind of hard to explain, but pretty awesome at the exact same time.

  1. The most important thing I’ve learned about myself & people in general: You will not always be able to please every person & it’s time to learn how to be okay with that. I hate this one right now, but I know that it is so incredibly true to the one hundredth degree. I think I’ve had to take myself out of so many situations lately and really ask myself if it holds importance. Will this affect the next four years of my life? Can I go on with my life without this person’s approval or respect? Yes? Alright, then let’s keep moving. I often have to remind myself why I’m here. I get so caught up in the mundane, everyday tasks and the stressful events and I forget to step back and realize why I have come this far. I want more for myself. I’m at Berry because I sought out opportunity & it answered. I want to push myself & go further than I have ever gone before, and that is exactly what I’m doing. I cannot be submissive to every person I meet, because of their feelings or what they want out of me. I can only control my actions & reactions, so that’s what’s important right now: learning how to dance through difficult situations and rest in the grace & stillness that follows.
  2. To go along with the whole “people-pleasing” aspect of my personality: my worth & identity lie in my Heavenly Father, not in earthly things. Preach preach preach. I think we all need to hear this on a daily basis (sometimes a few times a day). Why do you seek the approval of others when you already have the approval of something so much greater? God constantly reminds us that He is a hiding place, a place to seek refuge. We belong with Him, and that is why there is always a longing in our hearts for something greater.
  3. The Lord always provides. I mean, do you understand how much joy He has already presented to you? Are you willing to recognize that joy? Are you willing to let that joy permeate the hardest parts of your heart & really seep into every pore of your being? Your life will radically change when you have that encounter with the Holy Spirit. “I’ve tasted & seen of the sweetest of loves, where my heart becomes free & my shame is undone. It’s Your presence, Lord.” His presence is what our hearts long for, and when we pour into that & really seek out to understand that longing, that’s where the joy will be.
  4. Community. Community. Community. When you have people that fill you up & understand that joy & that relationship, you will rest a little easier. These people are what make life worth living. I know that many times recently, the Lord has kind of stopped me in my tracks & just made me think about where He has me & who He has placed around me. He knew about all of these special people who would help me on this crazy journey & new season. I have learned something from every relationship I have formed here at Berry, good or bad. I have met some of the most loving, God-fearing, carefree women than I ever thought possible. Jesus has really overwhelmed me with His ability to provide. Leaving Stonecreek & leaving home, I thought, “There’s no way it gets better than this,” and God seemed to laugh. And He has proven me so wrong. I’ve learned that my life isn’t formed by the image I present to people, but it’s more about my relationship with the Lord. Life isn’t about people-pleasing. Life is a culmination of love stories & adventures & terrifying decisions where you jump anyways, despite the consequences. Life is about dreaming & caring for others & holding on for dear life. Life is about unspeakable joy & Kairos moments & a grateful heart. Life is about loving others, and I thank God every single day for revealing that one thing to me through so many different people. As long as I am loving people & loving God, everything else will surely fall into place.

Now, it is very easy for me to reflect & write all of these things when I’m sitting all peacefully in a rocking chair with the fall breeze around me and a two-hour break in my day, but sometimes things go a little crazy. Like 2 AM study sessions for Spanish &  when all else fails, saying a prayer & going to bed because sleep is much more precious than irregular Spanish verbs. It’s okay though, because I love this. I love love love life right now.

Oh! And I’ve had Romans 8 stuck in my head for a couple weeks now, so do yourself a favor & let this rock your pretty fall day.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Have a good one, friends.

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Waffles & Steffany Gretzinger

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While I have felt like a crazy woman for the past two weeks, so much goodness has come out of each day. Jesus is too good to me.

Steffany Gretzinger has one of the most beautiful voices to ever grace this earth, and you should all listen to this song (and her entire new album, The Undoing). The beauty and the truth in these lyrics that a dear friend shared with me are just too beautiful to try and put into my own words. It will blow your mind. The greatest time I listened to this song was in an Explorer with a brand new, incredibly lovely friend, and I just listened to these words pour truth into my heart & I felt freedom & tears welled in my eyes. God’s truth has the capability to do that to you.

I’ll be your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea, and I will illuminate everything. No need to be frightened by intimacy. No, just throw off your fear and come running to me. Whoa, ’cause I loved you before you knew what was love. And I saw it all, still I chose the cross. And you were the one that I was thinking of when I rose from the grave. Now rid of the shackles. My victory’s yours. I tore the veil for you to come close. There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore. You’re not far from home…And oh, as you run, what hindered love will only become part of the story…Maybe, you’re almost home now. Please don’t quit now. You’re almost home to Me.

I have come to the conclusion that waffles from D-Hall (of the Lord), Steffany Gretzinger, and Jesus have the potential to completely transform your day. Completely turn rain into shine (however, I do love a good storm).

Today, I miss my best friend. I miss her sound advice & her beautiful words of wisdom & affirmation. That constant shoulder to cry on and person to give me six-pack abs from laughing so hard is no longer right by my side. No, she’s actually 800 miles away, and I miss her quite terribly. Do not get me wrong, I love a good challenge, but it’s very hard to take these challenges God places before me without my other half. I am slowly learning to navigate, and some days if I’m lucky, I can navigate with grace. Oh, Rinky. I miss you more than words. Your friendship is one I would never take for granted & I really do hope you know that. I think it’s time for you to move to Berry now (because I’m sorry, but I’m not coming to Texas). Come eat waffles & listen to Steffany Gretzinger with me. So as I sit in the very back corner of the library and tear up over these words and feel all nostalgic, know that every word you have said to me, I have stored away. I have saved it for a stormy day, when I need to hear words from you the most. Every note, every prayer in my box, every God-awful, embarrassing middle school picture has been saved. Thank you for listening to me rant & cry & blubber like a baby. You are such  beautiful person, inside & out, and I am so lucky to call you a sister in Christ. God knew exactly what He was doing when we met. Often times, I picture Him sitting back and being so satisfied with the course our friendship has taken. I know He looks down and thinks, “Wow. I’ve done them well.” And He sure has. He has outdone Himself & I will be forever grateful for that. I know this is all sappy & I’m feeling all sappy, but just know, I love doing life with you. Everyone deserves a friend like you.


And now that you’re probably done with the first song I posted, you should probably go ahead and turn this one on. It will spark something in your heart that you didn’t even realize was there. My friends are full of amazing song suggestions.

Specific prayers are the greatest. I feel like God gets really excited when I pray these prayers. When I went to Guatemala back in April, God answered specific prayers, and I have always been one for some vague prayers, for some reason I’m still not sure of. There was one little boy. Dubini. Oh, Dubini. This child changed my life, to put it lightly. I don’t think I have ever felt so much joy in my heart, and I certainly didn’t realize you could feel so much joy from someone you didn’t speak the same language as. I could understand some of what he said to me, but most of the time, I wasn’t able to respond very well. My Spanish was extremely rusty when we went. Well, because of his rambunctious little self, he wasn’t going to be able to participate the events we had planned for Friday. I was devastated, especially when he started crying. I thought I wouldn’t see him at all after Thursday night, so I bawled like a baby when we had to say goodbye that afternoon. We were going on house visits that night, and before we left, I prayed so hard. Jesus, please let me see him one more time. I need more time with my sweet Dubini. I need to see him again. I need more time with him. I did more pleading than anything else.

We left to go on visits, and we arrived at the house of Oralia and Alex. Oralia told us she wanted to show us where one of her friends from the ministry lived. We walked a little ways to another one of the homes. We were with a large group of people, and over the tops of heads, I saw this tin door open. Before I could understand what was going on, I saw those big brown eyes and the little smattering of freckles across his nose and I heard that laugh. Dubini. We hugged and he grabbed mine and my friend’s, Gracie’s, hand. He was so proud of his home. He wanted to show us everything and take us to do his chores. In those moments with Dubini, I just found myself continually thanking Jesus. This was not a coincidence.

I remember the ride back to the ministry and how I had told my youth minister that God had never granted me something that specific. He asked, “Well, have you ever prayed that specifically before?” I hadn’t. I hadn’t trusted Jesus like that before, and now a new part of my heart reflected the faith and trust I had put into Jesus’ will for my life. I surrendered.

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These specific prayers have come in handy lately. I find that the majority of my prayer time has been me asking Jesus to just challenge me. Jesus, push me to my limits and let me see how much I rely on You. Let me seek trust in You & renew my faith in You. I hate depending on others. I always want to do everything myself because I find comfort in knowing what I can and can’t do, not what others will and won’t do. However, I really began to stretch myself, and I finally came to a point when I said, “Jesus, this is not my own. I am not my own. These are not my circumstances. They are Yours. Please take them. Take me, and make me new. Create in me a clean heart.” And He told me I am worthy. Jenna, I will challenge you beyond what you ever thought possible because you are worth so much more. I am here. Lean into me. Your self worth is not defined by this world because you are Mine. You are a precious and holy child of God. I do see you. I listen. I challenge. You are more than you could ever imagine. You are capable of more than you give yourself credit for. You are beautiful & you should not succumb to this world. I will betroth you to me. I will always hold you. Search into the deepest parts of your heart, and you shall find me. I have been a Father for a very long time, so why don’t you trust Me? You are worthy. You are worthy. You are worthy.

There have been so many of these challenges lately. Challenges of stress and to-do lists and consuming thoughts and self-doubt. But He sets me secure on the heights, and for that I am grateful. He knows exactly what He’s doing, and in my heart, I know where my faith and dependency lies, and it will always be with Jesus.He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” (Psalm 18:33). He gets it.

Little tidbit of advice: “We can’t know everything, but I want to.” If we knew what would happen in every aspect of our lives, we wouldn’t have to have a daily dependence on God. My roommate is a very wise woman. We all have dreams. We (girls) all dream of magical weddings and our children’s names and who our future husbands will be and what our college majors will end up being and every turn our lives will take, especially the sharp ones, and which career path we will end up taking (even if we don’t care to admit all of these things). However, if we knew all of these things, that dependency on God is lost, and ultimately, our relationship with God would just be a dim light. How sad is that? But how adventurous is it knowing that every day when we rise, we must depend on God and stay faithful because He knows? He knows the entire trajectory of our lives. He knows everything about you, and He still loves you. Let that sink in today.

This week, I challenge you to wholeheartedly lean into Him because you will begin to understand how faithful He is. This requires daily surrender to Jesus, but great is His faithfulness. When you lean into Him, He will lean into you, and you will realize that your self-worth is defined only by your Heavenly Father. Your self-worth is not defined by academics or friends or how involved you are or your job or by what guys think of you or by what you have done or what you eat or what you think of yourself. Your self-worth comes from Jesus, and if that’s not a huge relief, then I don’t know what is.

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A lot.

I love my God & every challenge He brings before me. I am so incredibly undeserving & He is so unbelievably faithful.

I think when people say too much of something is never a good thing, they tend to sort of categorize those “too much” things. I think ample amounts of some things are always needed, especially some of the things I’ve had a lot of lately. A lot of guidance. A lot of care. A lot of love. A lot of gentleness. A lot of running. A lot of to-do lists. A lot of uplifting conversation. A lot of love from my Heavenly Father. A lot of patience. A lot of prayer. Definitely a lot of prayer. And while “a lot” may seem bland to you, it holds significance to me. There was a moment in the past week when a dear friend and I were ranting on and on about something, and she yelled, “A LOT!” at the top of her lungs. So now, when things get difficult or we’re feeling particularly stressed and overwhelmed and frazzled and confused, we just shout those two words at the top of our lungs in the middle of parking lots, out Jeep windows, and in dorm rooms. Sometimes we just feel “a lot” or too much at once. And that’s perfectly okay because it’s a sign from God that we are still alive and we are still capable of feeling. Hopefully that makes you look at pain & frustration in a new way.

This weekend has been one for the books (especially because it was 3 days of good weekend vibes). From hiking to girls’ movie night to dancing to coffee dates to being productive to bike rides to unwinding, everything about it was absolutely perfect. I’m just so happy, and I know that’s overused and cliché and yadda yadda yadda, but hear me when I say this: Every time I don’t think I could ever feel happier, God’s like, Hahaha I will prove you wrong again, Jenna! And I am loving every minute of that. I am so unbelievably happy. I always step back and think, “Wow. God really does have my best interests in mind. I can’t believe I am where I am, standing on the most beautiful campus in world watching His masterpiece unfold.” All of these beautiful things and He still calls me child, daughter, worthy, lovable. He loves me so much that it makes my heart want to beat out of my chest and I can feel tears brimming on my eye lashes. His love is overwhelming, really. Wow. It’s really mind-blowing if you think about it too hard and for too long.

With all of this being said and to whomever is reading this, I hope you have a truly amazing week & that you feel nothing but gratefulness. Grateful for the frazzled feelings, the butterflies in your stomach, the happiness from the simple things, the pain that will challenge you, and whatever other feeling is pressing into your heart. Remember that you are lovable & worthy of love from the King of the Universe. God wants your heart. He desires time with you, and He wants you to confide in Him. Lean into Him today & He will lean into you. Walk with the reassurance that you are never alone. He is always faithful. No matter how many times we run in the opposite direction or sin or go against what He wants for us, if we come running back, He is there. Just like the prodigal son.

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15:18-24 ESV

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“If we are faithless, He remains faithful.”

– 2 Timothy 2:13 ESV


And last thing! I found something on a friend’s blog that I thought was pretty nifty, so I’m going to try it out!

Currently I’m… #1

Loving: Journaling. I am obsessed. All of my thoughts just kind of stream out & I’m able to put my stresses and desires and distractions onto paper, and I let them go in the process. It’s incredibly freeing.

Learning: How to handle stress. It doesn’t come easily, but like I said, I’m still learning. This also fuels a newfound love for running. I love running. The other night I did 5.13 miles and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so great after a run and so excited about my muscles being sore. This is the greatest stress reliever I have found to date.

Reading: I am reading (still) One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp & I am also reading a lot out of Ephesians and Romans.

Eating: So much salad. The salad bar in our dining hall is fantastic & I love it. Salad, shredded carrots, black olives, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, grilled chicken, etc. It’s incredible.

Excited about: All of the unexpected challenges I am being faced with. That sounds so weird, usually people freak out at those things. I’m starting to learn how to get excited about them because I know my God has equipped me to deal with them. I’m resting in that a lot lately.

Needing: More than 24 hours in a day & impeccable memory to recall and write down all of these amazing memories and moments I’m living out & a back massage does sound nice.

Thinking about: Everything I have to get done tomorrow, and how grateful I am for where God has me. I live in a castle and get to watch the sunset over a field filled with deer every night. I’m not sure it gets much better than that from where I’m standing. I can’t stop thinking about how fortunate and mind-blown I am by where the Lord has picked me up and set me apart.

Thankful for: Everything. Being able to feel, love, and comprehend. I love to feel this overwhelming love & sense of comfort in an uncomfortable, new setting and season of life. However, I am especially thankful for Jesus’ never-ending love letter to me & coffee.

“You steady me. Slow and sweet, we sway. Take the lead, and I will follow. Finally ready now, to close my eyes and just believe that You won’t lead me where You don’t go. When my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost, You spin me round and round and remind me of that song, the one You wrote for me. And we dance.”

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