I must tell you I am so excited to have Jen here. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite people! She is one of those girls you just love. She is who she is, honest and pure. What a blessing to have her friendship bless my life. I also fell in love with Jen's blog. She writes with such a passion. You can feel her heart in her writing. You can see her love for the Lord in it as well. When you find a girl who carries such truth, only beauty can come from that. I am excited to share our chat with you. I know you will be blessed.
(Robin) Jennifer, tell me a little about yourself
(Jennifer) I’m a writer, wife, and mother living in Kansas City, MO. I was saved at a neighborhood Bible club at a young age, went through a rebellious period in my teens, then returned with full force in my twenties. I guess that was when I first heard the “call”, although I must admit, I’m still awaiting full details. I have a weekly marriage column on the Reflections in Hindsight website and am about to launch, with five other author’s, a literary website called, Clash of the Titles. I also review for Novel Journey Reviews and do a little freelance writing on the side.
(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Jennifer) Oh, wow. I think the better question would be, have there been times when you haven’t struggled with your faith. I’ve got the indecision and insecurities of Moses, the impetuous nature of Peter, the inner demons of Paul, and the doubts of Thomas. My constant battle is with my mind. It’s quick to go on a rampage, focusing on the bumps in front of me, forgetting the power of the God standing beside me. But to answer your question, the greatest, yet most liberating, struggle I had was when we went through a period of unemployment. This was a very dark time for me and it took a while for God to break through the darkness in my heart. It started with a move from Southern California to Louisiana motivated by my husband’s job change. I didn’t want to move. I was happy where we were at. We were part of a close-knit church and were surrounded by wonderful Christians. And what made it worse was the fact that God wasn’t sharing His plans with me. Every time I’d turn to Him in prayer, all I heard was “submit.” No, “Everything’s going to be okay.” or “I’ll watch over you and keep you.” No words of encouragement to give me that nice, fuzzy feeling that makes obedience easy.But I submitted anyway then waited for my red carpet experience. You know, like God was going to reward me with a blessed life on a golden platter. So when things didn’t turn out as I had expected, my world was shattered. A year after our move, my husband quit his job. Quit. We’d weathered a lot of storms together, but this one hit really hard because it wasn’t one that “happened” to us, it was one he brought on. And it just wasn’t fair. I was consumed with bitterness for a while, fueled by all the “well-intentioned” advice my friends threw my way. My favorite? “You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.” Basically, my friends were calling my husband lazy, and that cut deep. It isolated me. I found myself guarding my words, afraid that people were going to judge my husband. I may not have been happy with his choice, but I still loved him. And by this point, God was starting to show me His plan, and my husband’s unemployment definitely was a part of His plan. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to go into too many details except to say that the healing and growth that resulted in both of our hearts and in our marriage during this time was life-changing and well worth every tear.
(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Jennifer) That whole job-change, unemployment, shattered expectations changed how I see life and God. So much good, so much deep emotional healing, came from that very painful experience, I’ve learned to trust God even more. It’s easy to trust Him when everything’s rosy and He’s moving mountains and breaking down bars of iron. It’s much harder to trust Him when everything appears to be falling apart. But I’ve come to learn that He has a plan for everything. And He is still on the throne, whether we see His hand or not.
(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Jennifer) Wow, I have so many! Depending on what I’m going through. Right now I’m clinging to Acts 20:24: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” I have a tendency to get so distracted by the things of this world—how many viewers I have on my blog or how many articles I have published, that it clouds my vision. And it’s hard to see the road ahead when my eyes are foggy. I don’t know the full road yet, but I know my guide. And that’s all I need to know right now.
(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Jennifer) Authenticity. My view of friendship has changed over the years. Previously, before seeing all the sin in my own life, I had this list of expectations. But no one’s going to ever meet our standards. And I’m never going to meet anyone else’s standard. We’re sinful people living in a fallen world and my friends—even my husband—is going to let me down. Guaranteed. The only true friend I can count on is Jesus Christ. Not that I don’t have close relationships because I do. My husband is the best friend I’ve ever had. But ultimately, my friendship and fulfillment is in God alone because He is the only one who can truly meet my needs.
(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Jennifer) My all time favorite is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers because it is the gospel in a nutshell. We are unworthy of God’s love and turn our backs on Him again and again. And yet, He sees past our rebellion to the deep wounds within and supplies the only thing that will truly free us from those chains—His love. I also loved Francis Chan’s Crazy Love and Forgotten God. And there are about a zillion more, but those have been the most impactful.
(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Jennifer) I turn on some praise music, close my eyes, and let God hold me.
(Jennifer) Oh, my. Not sure. There’s so much I don’t admire that God is working on. One thing I’m grateful for is my past. I’ve never been a spiritual powerhouse. I’m selfish, fearful, sinful, with enough emotional baggage to fill a dumpster. Which colors the way I see others. Having struggled with my faith during times of trial, I understand what it’s like to falter. I always cringe when I hear people pop off with a quick, “Trust God. He’ll take care of that,” to a hurting or fearful friend because it demonstrates a lack of understanding. They’re friend’s know God’s promises. They’ve probably even got them written on three-by-five cards tucked in their back pockets and taped to their bathroom mirror. They don’t need rehearsed words. They need a shoulder to cry on. And to know you’re praying for them.
(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Jennifer) My husband is top on my list. He has truly been a blessing and a gift from God. Give me God, my husband, our daughter, and a nice little cabin tucked into the woods and I’d be happy.
(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Jennifer) Seeing people experience the life-changing love of God.
(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Jennifer) “Remain in me and I will remain in you,” given by my Savior. God has shown me again and again that my only job is to abide and obey. He’ll take care of the rest.
(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Jennifer) I hope that people who read my work will experience the love of God. I’ve heard it said that we’re all walking wounded. Everyone’s hurting. Everyone’s got some kind of emotional baggage weighing them down. And yet, God’s love frees us from all that, bit by bit, as He pours His love into our lives.
(Robin) What are you currently working on?
(Jennifer) Right now I’m working on book two my Life Behind the White Picket Fence series. It’s about real characters living real lives dependant on grace. I’m also completing a biblical studies degree and keeping my eyes and ears open for the direction God wants to take me.
(Robin) How do you define success?
(Jennnifer) Unhindered obedience and total surrender.
Jen, thank you for taking time to share your personal stories with us. I love it when the Lord moves through one and touches another. I struggle so much in my faith. I struggle with my flesh and sometimes it wins out. But, the Lord is bigger than any weakness we carry. He is stronger than any Goliath we will ever face and He will bring us through! Your words bring tears to my eyes each time I read over them. When we share in honesty others know they are not alone. So many times we feel that way. I am blessed by your friendship and by your beautiful talent in writing.
Go check out Jen's blogs today.