faith

Loving My Story

“I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
 – Psalms 9:1-2 NKJV

Does anyone ever feel like they are just faking their way through life?  If so, I can tell you that you are not alone.  I especially feel this way sometimes when it comes to matters of faith.  I often feel like it is so easy to tell the people around me things like: “oh just rely on God and He will see you through anything…” or “I can do all things through Christ…”

Of course, both of these statements are true, but I often times do not want to believe them for myself.  I sometimes sit back and think to myself, why is my walk with God so hard? And, why does serving Jesus come so naturally for others but not for me?

I feel like I know in my heart and my head the things I should be doing, but my old sinful nature wants to constantly drag me down.  I often times put bible verses, Christian song lyrics, and even movie quotes on my social media pages that express Jesus’ love for us and His forgiveness, but I fail so many times to apply this to my own life.

I struggle with my thoughts.  They are my biggest weakness.  I have had ungodly lustful desires, anger, bitterness, and hate.  Often times these sins have affected my marriage, family, friendships, and most importantly my walk with God.  There are things that I have thought to myself that I am (to be totally honest) downright ashamed to admit to anyone but to God in prayer.

And then there are other thoughts that plague my life…

I sometimes am envious of those that have the BIG GOD STORIES.  You know which ones I mean.  When people get up in church and say “God delivered me from drinking… I was addicted to drugs but then Jesus saved me…” These people, even though they had to go through so much, seem to have an even closer relationship with Christ than I do, a person who has never been addicted to drugs or alcohol.  I then get angry at myself and think, Jennifer how can you be so self absorbed?  God has protected you from those things so why are you envious of those people?

I have began to realize that maybe God does not have a BIG story for me, but rather a story of a person that can just love the Lord and by doing that, love others around me.  Even though my life is not plagued with scandal, I can still tell people what Christ does for me on a daily basis.  He helps me to realize that I don’t need to struggle with bad thoughts.  I don’t need to be envious of others.  I have a Great Big God who fights my battles for me.

God loves me.  He loves my story.  And He wants me to love others through my own struggles by showing what He does for me.

 

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family

Loving The Imperfect Family Portrait

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

– Colossians 3:14

With the holidays literally right around the corner the topic of “the family” has been on my mind.  I remember as a kid that the only thing I thought about on Thanksgiving was food and on Christmas was presents.  As I have gotten older I have come to realize that spending time with your family and being grateful of the gift of Jesus is what the holidays are really all about.

Now that being said,  family can be very difficult, especially around the holidays.  Honestly, for the past few years the holidays have made me sort of sad.  I am just going to be honest about something right now…my family and my husband’s family cannot and will not get along with one another.  I am not blaming one party or the other, but this is the situation I live in.  On a day-to-day basis this is not too much of an issue, but when it comes to holidays, birthdays, and special events, you almost have to brace for impact.  Not to mention other family dynamics that come into play, such as my siblings extended families too.  Now don’t get me wrong, our families love us very much, but it is just two different ways of thinking and just plain old stubbornness that get in the way of the “happy family” portrait that I want so desperately to have.

However, I know that I am partially to blame…

I know that deep down in my heart I have not truly always extended Jesus’ love to both mine and Ethan’s family.  I have been angry, bitter, and just downright selfish in the past.  I know that I have not led by example.  I have bought into the idea that holidays are about “me me me” and what makes me comfortable and happy, rather than putting aside selfish habits and having a heart for those that are closest to me.

Today I have decided that this is to be no more…

I refuse to allow my son to be raised in a home that he dreads holidays

I refuse to make my husband feel like he must choose between his birth family and the one he has created

I refuse to let selfish desires rule my home and let the enemy get a foothold

I know that I cannot help the path that others around me choose to take, but I can choose the path that I take…

I can choose to love the imperfect family that God has chosen for me.

Happy Thanksgiving

Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year!

love,
Jennifer

faith, family, motherhood

My Treasure

Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

– Psalms 127:3 KJV

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

– Proverbs 22:6 KJV

So I want to stop for a minute and really discuss the reason(s) why I started this blog to begin with.  My journey to motherhood was a very hard, emotional, and very blessed road.  My son is 20 months old today.  Where has the time gone?  It truly does seem just like yesterday that I found out that I was expecting him.

It is very true that while I was struggling to become pregnant,  I really was even more in a struggle with my faith.  I know that I did not rely on God and His perfect timing.  I wish I could take that back.  I wish I could say that my journey of becoming pregnant truly made me closer to God.  In some ways it did, but really it wasn’t until after I became pregnant that I truly sought out God’s will.  I guess it happens that way for a lot of people.  We often do not see the “big picture” until we get through a storm and realize that everything truly does happen for a reason.

It is funny how becoming a parent can change you if you allow it too.  I have began to realize that the choices I make in life do not affect just me.  I know I should have realized that earlier but hind sight is 20/20 right?  I really have began to realize that I have one shot in life to raise this tiny little human.  I want to be a Godly example of how he should live.  I want him to look back and say one day, “my mom may have went through some tough times, but her faith in Jesus never stopped.”

Now I know that we are all human.  We are not always going to say the right things.  We are not always going to make the right choices.  We are not always going to choose the right response when someone hurts us.  I know that it is tempting to want to hold onto anger and biterness when someone hurts us.  It almost feels like we hold the power when we do not forgive someone.  Truly, all it does is drain the life out of us.

I want my son to have a forgiving heart.  I want him to realize that making mistakes is what humans do, but it is by the Grace of God that He chooses to forgive us, and we should extend that forgiveness to others.

I guess I just really wanted to say that I love my son.  He is my treasure and a true gift from God.  I owe it to him to set a Godly example.  God gave my husband and I this true gift so we can give it right back to Him.

 

faith, family, marriage, Stress

Draw Me Near

Can I just stop and be honest for a second?  I love my family. All of them. Blood and the ones that I have chosen (or rather that God chose for me.) But family can be difficult and often times it can feel as though they drain you.

My parents, for instance are going through a tough time right now.  My dad’s health is not the greatest and the stress that it puts on my mother is heartbreaking.  I will not put much about that whole situation so I can protect their privacy, but those types of situations can take a toll on anyone.

My beautiful, awesome son is almost 2 years old and he brings me so much joy!  I cannot even imagine my life without him and I do not know how I made it all the years I did without knowing him. However, working both a full time job and going to college, along with taking care of him and my husband is EXHAUSTING!!!

And that brings me to the love of my life, the father of my child, and my best friend…My husband.  I love him so much and the closer I get to God the more I love him.  He brings me so much joy…

and also some pain.

If anyone has been reading my posts then they know that my marriage is far from perfect.  No marriage is.  Two imperfect people just trying to do the best that we can.  It is amazing how one minute your spouse can bring you so much joy and can make you feel on top of the world, and then the next minute you feel like you have been kicked in the chest and left laying in a ditch somewhere (hey just being honest!)

But one thing that I have come to realize is that while my husband may be very imperfect, can say hurtful words, or even just totally ignore me, I am also guilty of those very same things.  While my actions and words may look and sound a little different than his, they all point back to the one thing that most relationships (especially marriages) have in common…SELFISHNESS!

Even writing this post I started off sounding selfish.  I have been given so many blessing: parents, siblings, husband, child, and in-laws…and I take them for granted.  I tend to only think about what bothers me.  How they have hurt me. How they have neglected my feelings.  How much stress they put on me…and the list goes on and on.

Then God reminds me that all the relationships we have; parent-child, husband-wife; friend, co-worker…it is all meant to glorify HIM!  The storms that we go through are meant for us to draw nearer to HIM.  When we get into arguments with our spouse or they say or do something that hurts us, our response can either glorify God or completely shut HIM out and let the enemy in.

Yes life is hard!  Honestly, I am going through a storm right now in my own life.  But it is in these times that we can either choose to let the enemy get a foothold or we can let go and let God do what HE needs to do.

 

marriage, modesty, Uncategorized

A man’s heart plans his way

“Teach me to do Your Will,  for You are my God.  Your Spirit is good.  Lead me in the land of uprightness.”

– Psalms 143:10 (NKJV)

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

– Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

 

So I know it has been a really long time since I have written.  In some ways a lot has changed and in others not so much.  In my last post I had written about starting my modesty journey and switching to wearing dresses all the time.  At first this went great and I had no problem making the switch.  I felt good about myself and honestly thought that I looked pretty good.  I felt like things were going well and I really feel like I have been getting closer to God.

In anything that we do in life its a journey right?  I mean that is why I have titled this blog “journey of hope.”  Well sometimes journeys take a little longer than expected.

You see I need to start off by saying that I am NOT a perfect Christian.  If that were the case then I would not need Christ to begin with.  However, I know that I am not on the same spiritual level as my husband.  I do not mean to judge him or whatever relationship he has with God Almighty.  To be perfectly honest, I do not know if my husband is saved.  Yet again, I do not mean to judge him but his actions and words are what leads me to believe this.  Now to clarify, Ethan has not changed since I met him.  The problem is… I have!

You see when he and I first got together I was definitely a “Sunday morning Christian.”  I was most definitely saved but I listened to what my “heart told me to do.” I did and said things that I am not proud of and would later ask for God’s forgiveness.  I know that we should always ask for forgiveness when we do something wrong but we should also make an effort to change those bad habits and actions.  Now please know that I was not a drug addict (I have never even touched illegal drugs) or alcoholic, but I did things that morally I knew I should not.  So when Ethan and I got together I really only focused on things like:

  • he will go to church with me
  • he was a virgin
  • he did not cheat
  • he did not do drugs

I figured as long as he would at least go to church with me then it would be okay.  I am ashamed to say that I did not put much effort or concern into his personal relationship with the Lord.  Now after several years of being married and getting comfortable with one another…

I am uncomfortable!

Since I have began to grow spiritually I cannot ignore the differences between mine and Ethan’s spiritual inconsistencies.  I do not regret marrying him because I love him with my whole heart.  I think that God meant him for me.  I hope that through what God is doing in my life, then it will help Ethan with his relationship with God and ultimately begin a relationship with Christ (if he does not have one.)

So why do I bring up all this when talking about how I dress?  Well, as much as I think that we should instantly obey God when He calls us, I also think that God wants me to cool it a little on the dress thing.  You see, at first I thought Ethan liked the idea of me wearing dresses/skirts all the time, but that sort of changed.  I think I scared him a little into thinking that when you are a Christian you have to give up everything!  I have come to realize that I need to take things slowly with him!  This time instead of just diving head first, I want to truly seek God’s Will and follow His plan – not just do something for the sake of doing it.

I still plan on dressing modestly, feminine, and wearing dresses/skirts mainly, but I also know that I should focus on loving Ethan more diligently.  I need to honor him, not be so judgemental, and not so pushy!  Sometimes I feel like I rush into things without truly considering how Ethan feels about it.  Now I know that God expects us to put Him before anyone else and that is what I am trying to do.  I will not violate standards that I have set for myself just to please my husband.  Instead I want to focus on leading him to the Lord.  I believe when that happens (and I truly think it will) then Ethan will not only approve but encourage my wearing of dresses and skirts.

I know above all else that I need to pray.  Pray for God’s Will to be done, pray for Him to let me see Ethan through his eyes, and pray for God to soften my heart towards my husband when honestly sometimes I just want to give up.

So this is where I am.  I am not perfect.  I change my mind sometimes.  I fail sometimes.

I am also a child of God and He can and Will see me through anything.

Love,

Jennifer

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

– Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

 

modesty, Uncategorized

A little compliment goes a long way

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord; she shall be praised.”

– Proverbs 31:30 KJV

I should start off by saying I am a working mom.  Its is not fun to be away from my child or my home but I do the best I can.  I have been, however, able to work my schedule so that I have 3 days off every week and still have 40 hours (those other 4 days can be very long.)  I am usually off every Monday and about three weeks ago I decided it would be nice to surprise Ethan (my hubby) with a mocha frappe from Mcdonalds (it is like his favorite thing in the whole world lol!) I decided that I would try to make myself look pretty also.  I decided to put on some makeup, fix my hair in a simple yet nice updo, and then it came time to pick the outfit out.

Now I know it may sound strange to go to such great lengths just to bring my husband a drink, but we have been together for 11 years (7 married) and it doesn’t hurt to spice things up a bit.

I began to grab for that favorite pair of jeans when something just told me to look up.  At the very top shelf of my closet sat a bag that has been there for over a year.  In this bag, rested a nice below-the-knee length skirt that I had bought shortly after having Finley.  I bought this skirt with the intention to wear after I had lost the baby weight.  Well it has taken a little longer than expected to accomplish that and so the bag with the skirt went to the top of the closet and was basically fogotten about.  Well I am about ten pounds over my pre-baby weight and so I thought I would just see if it fit anyway. It did.  I carefully examined the rest of my closet to see if I could find a shirt that would match.  Once I finally got dressed I headed off to my destination.

Once I arrived at Ethan’s job, he told me something that has changed everything for me…”you look really nice.” Those four words struck a cord with me.  Now I don’t want to give the impression that my husband never compliments me because that is not the case.  What struck me was the way he said it and the look on his face as he did.  This was not the first time I had ever dressed up or wore a dress/skirt in general; but it was the first time that I truly felt nice-looking.

After I went home I began to examine the feelings that I was having.  Was it the skirt? Was it the makeup? What was making me feel so good about myself?  It finally clicked for me that it was the fact that I had impressed my husband!  After 11 years together,  I still could make him notice me.  I was not dressed ultra fancy or provocative.  I didn’t need to be.

It was then that I truly began to wonder what really mattered when it came to beauty.  I realized I needed to make some changes.  In my last post I had mentioned that I have come to learn about modesty.  I wanted to know what the Bible had to say about it, what God expected of me, and how I could please my husband.  I knew what I had to do.

I had made the decision that I was going to set a new standard for myself when it came to how I dressed.  I was going to wear modest clothing that honored God and my spouse. Like I have said before, I never considered myself an immodest dresser but when I started to look at what the Bible said, it just did not mix with what was in my closet.  I decided that I was no longer going to wear anything that came above my knees and nothing that showed cleavage.  I, at first, did still plan on wearing pants but I feel like God has even convicted me of that.  I do not think that it is wrong for a woman to wear pants, but the way I felt that day I wore the skirt, I wanted to feel like that all the time.  I also could not shake the verse:

Deuteronomy 22:5 KJV

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

 

Now I get that when this bible verse was written men and women really both wore “dresses.”  However, in this time we know that normally women wear dresses and men wear pants.  I felt as though God really wanted me to be modest and be feminine by wearing modest skirts/dresses all the time.  Now I will say that I still do wear pants to work because I work in horticulture.  I constantly have to bend over and I do not want anything showing that should not be.  Also the time has not come around to order new uniforms yet, but when they do I will be looking into what they have for skirts to see if it could be possible for me to wear them at work too.

Now before anyone may get to upset with this let me say this…I believe that the way a person dresses is matter between them and God.  Every woman in my family wears pants: Christian or not so I do not condemn those that do not choose to only wear dresses/skirts.  This was a personal choice for me.  Of course, Ethan liked me dressing more “girly” but he DID NOT encourage me to do this.  I knew this was a choice I had to make on my own.

Its has only been a few weeks…but I have never felt better about myself.

Uncategorized

The slap of honesty

Well it has been a couple of weeks since I have written.  Instead of talking directly about motherhood, this time I wanted to share another journey I have recently started.

For the past few weeks I have been on a search of what it means to be modest.  I have never considered myself a scandalous dresser, but I have recently come to the realization that I have not been what the Lord would consider to be modest.

I know that the world will tell you that what the Bible says about how a person should dress is old and outdated.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “back in those days things were different but times have changed.”  I have never liked that saying.  For me it seemed like a way to just keep on in your sin because people in biblical days did not live in the same world that we live in now.  Even though I disagreed with that statement I never thought about what it meant about how I was dressing.

Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a big fan of the Duggar family.  Now if you do not like this family or disagree with their beliefs then that is okay, but that is not the point of this post.  What stands out to me about this family is that, agree or not with them, you know what they believe in.  I have watched them for years and I found myself being envious of the kind of ways they displayed their faith.  The more and more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to make a change.

As I have shared before, I have been saved since I was 14 years old.  I was raised in a Christian home and so the Bible and living for Jesus was nothing new to me.  However, I have over the past couple of years have started to feel uncomfortable with my personal relationship with Jesus.  And by uncomfortable I mean that I was not happy that I felt more like a “Sunday morning Christian.”  I would try so hard to live for Christ on Sunday.  I would go to church, feel the Lord moving my heart, and then as soon as I walked out the door I was back to my old ways.

I was/am getting so tired of that kind of life.  The minute something started to go wrong I would usually wind up saying (I have a hard time with holding my tongue) or doing something I should not.  My husband, whom I feel like the Lord is still working on, even pointed it out one day.  I got angry with him about something and I cursed at him.  He then looked at me and said “oh look at you being so holy. You post bible verses on Facebook and now you are cursing me. ” Well if that wasn’t a smack in the face then I don’t know what is. Truthfully it was a well deserved and needed slap.  He was right!

After that I still knew I needed a change.  I had to learn to submit, which I will discuss on a later post, I had to learn to hold my tongue, and I had to start being accountable for the things I do and say.

That is really why I have started my modesty journey.  I go back to the Duggar family.  I have no doubt that they have their own faults and struggles, and having them played out on national television cannot be easy.  But I could not help but look at them and want what they had.  No, not the fame or money.  But the open submission to God’s Will.

I will post some more about this journey as it has just really started but I appreciate any prayers and encouragement that you might all can give.

love,

Jennifer