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Why attacking Planned Parenthood is a waste of time – and what we should do instead — July 16, 2015

Why attacking Planned Parenthood is a waste of time – and what we should do instead

I want to suggest something radical and I imagine at first, unpopular. I want to suggest that defunding Planned Parenthood is a waste of time. It won’t stop abortion. I want to suggest that there is no crime heinous enough to prevent a significant portion of the population from supporting the services provided by Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations.

When I first realized this, hope swelled. That means a different approach is necessary. A Christ-like approach. What Christ did was love people. Unborn people. Horrible people. Broken people. Poor people. Christian people and Catholic people and Muslim people and so on.

It became clear that something extreme must happen to make a difference. First, we must show love to the women and families and children who become pregnant and need care. Next, we must fund the centers that provide care. Care, defined by Google as the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.

Care must include a respect for the sanctity of all life. Care must allow that while a right to choose exists, there are eternal consequences for that choice. Care must provide choices that respect the most fundamental freedom of all—freedom to live.

This is the revolutionary part. I believe that we are capable of funding our crisis pregnancy care clinics beyond the level that our government funds Planned Parenthood. I believe we can raise $360 million to provide care. I believe we can find a way to help people—all people—live the lives they’ve been endowed with by their Creator.

This post is a statement of intent. I plan to actively pursue my funding goal by helping people who feel angry and hopeless do more than share on social media. I plan to raise 360 million dollars for crisis pregnancy care that does not include abortions.

Help me—help me organize and track our progress. Help me connect our community centers and our community resources. Share this post with every single person you know. I am not attacking Planned Parenthood, not shaming women who make and have made hard choices. I am asking for the opportunity to love and care for every human life, and I can’t imagine a better call to action.

With great hope and much prayer,

Jennifer

“If anyone then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 NIV

Wearing the yoga pants which reveal all imperfection (metaphorically speaking) — May 26, 2015

Wearing the yoga pants which reveal all imperfection (metaphorically speaking)

If you read “two simple things” and thought, “perhaps not so simple” – this post is a first suggestion on extravagant love.

I recently presented a women’s armor of God analogy to my Bible study ladies – in addition to the breastplate of righteousness and the sword of the Spirit and such (which are critical and worthy of due study) – I suggested, tongue in cheek, that we don the yoga pants which reveal our imperfections.


It’s no secret that wearing a form fitting pair of jersey knit pants may not be forgiving of our bottom half. I know they don’t flatter my stretched and sometimes bulging mother-and-proud body; some Christians believe they are immodest. I won’t settle that debate here, I know. But I do know that as humans generally and Christians specifically, we tend to try to cover up our flaws. Not I, you say? Well, run through this checklist and tell me you’ve never:

– stuffed clutter away when a guest unexpectedly comes to your home

– said “fine” when you feel not so

– posted a social media update that was cropped or exaggerated

There’s no shame in these things. There are a million little ways we posture to friends and strangers alike. When you find and become a true friend, that posturing can become a barrier to extravagant love.

Want to show that love to someone? Let them know it’s ok that their house/car/child isn’t tidy. Because sometimes, neither is yours.

Answer a question asked with sincerity. If you don’t feel fine, say so. Doing so invites your friend to respond in kind.

Post the truth. Reveal the honest afflictions of life. Let others see your light shine brightly, while seeing that perfection is neither expected nor attained in your life.

Be honest, be real.

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

And be the friend, the mother, the sister, the teacher, the wife, the girlfriend, the very person you want to know and be loved by.

Two simple things — May 25, 2015

Two simple things

Paul is a wonderfully encouraging correspondent. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, he pens these words:

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV

This little verse crept into my brain this week, while the Holy Spirit worked in my heart. Trying to nap with my tiny ones, I couldn’t rest as my mind wrestled with this concept. Paul says we should let our love increase and overflow. And he doesn’t say until when. This then, I told my dear friends, is what it looks like to me.

First:

2015-04-09 20.28.50

And then:2015-04-09 20.30.59What a terrific challenge. Find new ways to show effervescent, extravagant love to your beloveds. Seek extraordinary ways to show Jesus to your community. And then go out and love on strangers like they too belong to you, as they belong to the Father.

The song my heart is presently singing: — May 24, 2015
Peace Prayer — March 29, 2015
Precious & Honored in His Sight — March 20, 2015

Precious & Honored in His Sight

“I can’t tell you just how wonderful she is. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want anyone to know.”
-F.Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

I had a weird dream this week that prompted me to ask this question of someone close to me: Do you like me?

That’s a question that’s hard to ask. I did it on the phone but I felt more like doing a little George Strait “Check yes or no” note. I was especially sorry to have asked when I received an answer that was both unexpected and disappointing. “Yes,” she said. “But, even if I didn’t, I love you, and isn’t that better?”

“But even if I didn’t?” – Maybe it was strictly hypothetical; I doubt it. I understand love and when it exists without like it is more an obligation than anything. That’s not the answer I was hoping for. That’s not the love I was expecting.

I was predisposed to believe, in this case particularly, that the answer might not be an unequivocal yes. What I did expect was a kind lie. The brutal truth was harsh and cold, a slap to my sensitive face. I questioned how I could appeal as a friend to other people when my own family finds me unlikable.

This came after a particularly nasty exchange with an in law who called me names and was unkind – viciously so. I didn’t deserve their vitriol and I didn’t accept their characterization of me. I did worry though that others might. What if I’m kind of unlikable and this person makes it even easier for people to stop trying?

Then, I took a xanax and told myself that my anti-depressant dosage is changing and any adjustment to my meds is likely to magnify my insecurity.

I’d like to say that my “help came from the Lord” – and it did, if we consider that His perfect plan included my own version of mother’s little helper.

But once I’d settled down emotionally I spent some time reminding myself that my worth doesn’t come from my family. It doesn’t come from my friends, or even from a count of how many friends I have. The size of my community doesn’t represent my value. My worth comes from the Lord (I’ve been singing this to the tune of “Praise You in this Storm” for a week now). My worth is as a daughter of the King. I stumbled upon this post and I highly recommend it. It’s far more eloquent than my own with a much more visual illustration.

I also had a timely post from Ann Voskamp pop in my facebook feed today where she lovingly reminded me that God created me as a unique woman – that no one else can be me, no one else can fulfill my purpose. Being someone else is as being someone who does not exist at all. I will be uncomfortable and without purpose that way. He created me with all my awkward flaws and and my imperfect edges. And yet, He loves me with a perfect love. He surrounds me with people who are able to see that worth through my terrible jokes and inappropriate irreverence. He created F. Scott Fitzgerald to write “This Side of Paradise” and this line: “I can’t tell you just how wonderful she is. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want anyone to know.”

I want to be that woman. I don’t want anyone to see the work of my hands but Him. If my worth here on earth can’t be valued by humankind, that’s ok. I know my worth and I know my motive. And I know that He knows. So I need to stop dwelling in the place where the opinions of others influence my sense of worth. I need to stop assuming everyone waits for me to walk away before letting the fun begin. I need to recognize that I am perfectly me, which no one else is qualified to be.

And I can’t wait to be welcomed into Beulah with His open arms saying “I like you, very much, just as you are”. Because really, that’s what every woman wants to hear.

“You are precious and honored in my sight…” (Isaiah 43:4a, NIV)

image credit

My fleece, and how I’m testing God — March 16, 2015

My fleece, and how I’m testing God

I don’t usually struggle so much as I have this week. A sense of duty (to God and the Christian life, not necessarily to my nephew) led my husband and I to have our nephew stay with us this week. I drove him to school every day and my husband picked him up. After school I helped with homework – even common core math, which gave me some truly thrilling moments. I wrestled with remembering what it was like to be 12, to be in fifth grade. And even if I could remember that far back, my memories aren’t fraught with the conflicts and circumstances that are challenging my nephew today.

I wish I could say that I felt overwhelmed with love and found it easy to make the sacrifices, petty as they may seem, to care for my nephew. I’d be lying. It’s easy to make it sound magnanimous, which it isn’t, and to gloss over the heart changes I’m still trying to effect in myself. I know I didn’t spend enough time in prayer. I know Jesus is here with me and will give me the strength and patience that I need to be whoever it is I’m being called to be. And I know that God is at work – I am merely a resource He is using for His greater good. Yet, I’m so tired. I feel like I’m treading water, and moments when my head stays up are few and far between with this kid. He is moody and whiny, ungrateful and unresponsive. He’s also young and bright, too often unloved, too little cared for.

I shared with true friends today how my mind was whirring – believing that God is looking for someone to step up in his life. Knowing each day I’m hoping that when I make the offer to help, it will be rebuffed, because this is hard. Being absolutely real. I’m so grateful to them for the loving hug. Affection I receive freely. Affection I can’t seem to naturally extend to my nephew.

So then I read this article on legalism. My situation is the perfect example of one of the points about sin. I don’t want people to see the effort I am making and believe the good. It’s a mirage. My heart is struggling with this situation and I can’t say I’ve submitted to God’s will here. Outwardly I am doing what I think is right. But inside, where the heart suffers sins no one can see, I’m guilty. The article says:

“The point is that some people can and do have so many sins in their heart, even though they may not have many sins of the flesh. Sins of the heart are easy to hide. Sins of the flesh are not so easy to hide. Because of this those with sins of the heart normally don’t get a scarlet “A” on their shirt. And because of this, they feel as if they can draw attention to other people’s sins while ignoring their own. How much would the world change if we all walked around with all our sins printed on our shirt. At the very least, humility would abound.” – C.Michael Patton

And then quotes C.S.Lewis:

The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

I’m still praying. I’ve asked God to forgive me for asking him to wet the fleece, even as I prepare to wake and check it. I don’t know if I am strong enough to sustain my family with this challenge. I don’t know if I am prepared to submit to His perfect will. I know that when I do I will find the peace that is eluding me at present. I know God tells me his burden is light. I know that sharing the truth, pasting my sins on my shirt so to speak, may be the only way to salvage my humility and spiritual health. After all, who can speak truth to me if I hide my sin? Who can remind me of all the things I already know? Who can hold me accountable to the ravings of an exhausted, churning heart that wishes there was an easier way?

I’m praying that Jesus grabs hold of my heart and shines his light when I’m too weary. I’m praying that I accept the fleece, wet or dry, as the sign of God’s perfect will. I’m praying that my nephew will feel the love and acceptance of Jesus in my arms and in my home, no matter what comes tomorrow.

My very first freebie! — March 7, 2015

My very first freebie!

I am constantly creating. Most of the time what I create is for meeting a specific purpose and this printable is no exception. My ladies group has been requesting an updated prayer calendar and after some time pondering how best to go about making one, I came up with this “perpetual prayer calendar“. I took it a little farther for my girls, but I think this lavender delight will be a great way to plan out your prayer time with God.

There is a block for all 31 days – you simply start over at day 1 every month. Our ladies have it set so that every one is praying for someone different each day – and everyone is being prayed for each day. It’s a huge encouragement and it keeps us close throughout the week.

I’d love if you “like” my facebook page or “follow” my blog – but I hope no matter what that this content encourages you in the faith.

Here’s the link: Perpetual Prayer Calendar download

Thanks for reading!

Maverick’s disengaging! (spoiler alerts, circa 1986) — March 3, 2015

Maverick’s disengaging! (spoiler alerts, circa 1986)

I love Top Gun.  The movie became a recruitment tool for the US Navy – I seriously considered it as a career path myself. I hope not because of the movie but if we’re being honest, that’s probably it. Thank goodness I’m so terrible at calculus the navy took a pass on me.

Recent pop culture references to the movie, which are fantastic, have set me to reminiscing over the finer moments in the film. I remember after Goose dies (I warned you!) and Maverick has to get back in the air, he freezes and Iceman panics – shouting “Maverick’s disengaging!”.

As all fans of the movie, of course I identify as Maverick. I disengage all the time. Every time my phone rings, I have to talk myself into answering it. I get a text and spend so long pondering my answer that I forget and leave it delivered, read, and without a response. Don’t even get me started on my dysfunctional pattern of face to face interaction – with people I like! I’m wired to prefer solitude. I’m afraid of rejection and inferiority and gosh, politeness.

This year I resolved only two simple things, as outlined in Auld Lang Syne

1. Give more.

Give recklessly of time, money, love, friendship, and affection.

2. Have less.

Hang onto what matters. Let go of what doesn’t.

So, since these resolutions are based in my faith, and I’ve been working through a plan to completely read through the Bible in 90 days AND in a year, I get constant reinforcement of the notion of community. God made us to live in community and to love other people.

So what I need is Iceman, shouting out when I’m disengaging. Has anyone ever called the Holy Spirit “Iceman” before?

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 the Messsage

my beloveds — February 21, 2015

my beloveds

Nell means “bright, shining one” (English), but it is also the name of my dear great-grandmother and a number of generations before and after.

Michael is “Who is like God?” (Hebrew) and of course is the name of the archangel. It comes literally from “who is like El?”

since this post derives from a discussion on the historical importance of names, specifically as it relates to the names of God aka El, I can appreciate the significance of the names of my beloveds, of my wonderful children.

If I were to say that I named my children with their future in mind I’d be lying. I actually looked backwards for names I thought would give them an identity and a history. accidentally though it seems I stumbled upon a great purpose. what do I desire for my children except that they know God and become lights of the world? in that they are named perfectly. if Nell is a bright, shining one because of Christ then my every perfect hope for her is fulfilled. and if Michael can inspire people to seek the identity of God as his name requires, I shall be a very happy mama indeed. knowing what I do now about the significance of names, I wouldn’t feel right calling them anything else.