Posted in community, grace, New year, parenting, thankfulness, trusting God, Uncategorized

2018 Year-End Ebenezer Awards

My counselor often says–“take time to write that down, Jen.”

How can we so easily forget the beautiful provisions and lessons that are so life changing? We have amnesia of the moment.  Whatever is right in front of us gets our attention.

So, I am writing it down–“blogging it forth”–“setting the Ebenezer up” to remind me of moments of thankfulness this year.                                                   It has been a huge year in my heart–growth-a-palooza with a side of a long way to go.  

In NO particular order, the Ebenezers go to…

*A reentry back into writing.  My soul was missing the way that writing makes me dig and process.  For a 7 on the Enneagram (which tries to avoid all pain), you can see this is a healthy practice for me.  I can take myself WAY LESS SERIOUSLY than I did when I started this blog 11 years ago January 1.  

*517VADWLEqL._AC_UL160_514-Br1DhSL._AC_UL160_The Enneagram.  Seriously, I think in terms of these 9 numbers now.  If you are thinking…”oh yeah I took this cute little test on that,” Stop. Right. Now. and get “The Road Back to You” by Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron.  There are several good podcasts too! A test will not suffice.  This is a helpful tool for understanding and growth!

*The growth of new and seasoned Business Partners on the Rodan + Fields journey.  It has been exciting and such a joy to encourage and grow with these women and my team all over the country.  Even more than ever, I realize that God expanded ministry opportunities through RF instead of closing me R&F(1of1)-59off to them with the disbanding of Women’s Discipleship Concepts 4 years ago.  The highlight was a retreat for some of my directs in April. It ended up, through the Spirit’s leading, to be a time of rest in the Lord, an encouragement for souls on the journey, and time of forming a deep community.

*Puzzles:  I am so thankful that I got a “hankering” for a puzzle one day, and the rest is documented in a big pile of puzzle boxes in our downstairs bedroom.   I know I am a nerd.  Yep.It is a practice that makes me set aside time to just be.  That is sooo important for our hearts, mommas.  (and, PS, I am donating some to an assisted living–in case you think I need to add “puzzle hoarder” to my profile.)


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*The freedom and financial ability to do some fun trips with the boys AND do Boat Club as a family. A little Chattanooga trip to explore for Spring Break, A full-fledged vacation to the beach for a week (first legit vacation we have paid for), some Smokey Mountain fun for Fall Break at Dollywood, Season Passes to Dollywood…  I want presence, experiences, and adventure with my boys.  Who knew that everything would be so expensive???  This has been a HUGE blessing from my continued growth in my RF business.

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*A special trip with my Mom and Sister to go to my nephew’s wedding in Spokane, Washington.  What a beautiful part of the country.  I am so Thankful for time with family.

I loved the enriching conversations that this trip brought with strangers.  I am reminded that God wants us to engage the world with His Beauty and Truth, and we get so bogged down with what’s right in front of us that we miss out.

*My oldest son’s Kindergarten and 1st-grade year…I was so scared.  Sensory Processing Disorder is no joke, and we have worked so hard to help him build resiliency and coping skills. I am beyond thankful for our school, the wonderful teachers and community, our OT, ac6646139525ea749b261b878deb0577Mrs. Kathy, the children’s ministry at our church, and family friends that have encouraged our little guy so much.  He is a different kid than when we started this journey over four years ago.  The motto around our house is “you can do hard things!”  Including the parenting part for Greg and me.  There was a HUGE marker in this journey in December as we got to reflect on how much growth has come in our buddy–HUGE thankfulness to God!

*RF Convention in New Orleans.  It was a beautiful and fun week with 30 members of our team, countless dear friends that are sideline sisters, and friends from all over the country that I have made on this journey.   It was so fun to walk the stage and go to spectacular parties.  Dressing up is fun, and I rarely do that in life! However, It was a IMG_9351monumental week in my heart for none of those reasons.  God intricately brought restoration to so many parts of me, and I straight up was overwhelmed by His Fathering, His pursuit, and His deep love for me.    Someday I might tell the bigger story, but I do not feel released to yet.  I am reminded that He can use anything anywhere to do His work in us.  Hilariously, I had a worshipful time in a city known for its darkness reminding me that His light pierces through our darkness.

IMG_8481IMG_8484*Y’all…I did a scary thing that I dreamed about.  I got the opportunity and encouragement from my friend and business partner, Lindsey, and I pressed go LIVE on a training platform for 180,000 RF consultants. The topic in April was “Times I almost quit: Building the art of resilience,” and the topic in August was “Get Real Thursday: examining the posture you are taking toward business and life.”  I am amazed at the personal growth in public speaking I have gotten over the last year and a half, in particular.  Every time someone asked me to stretch to speak at something new, I thought 2 things:  1) that is not my strength–I don’t do this!  and 2) I don’t have anything special to say that anyone has not said (aka someone else could do it better!)          Here’s the truth…both of those statements are probably true, but we only grow when we stretch to new things.  It is uncomfortable, exhilarating, challenging, full of anxiety, and yet, if I had listened to my fears, I would have missed out in sad ways.        Note 1: Live videos always choose the greatest screenshots–eye roll here.  Note 2:  I also discovered the spray tan the 2nd time around. 

* The growth of my sweet, sassy, smart boys.  I am so thankful that Greg keeps a running list of their hilarious quotes.  Every day I think about the slipping time, and I am sobered by the responsibility and privilege of being their Momma (yep–over my dead body will they call me anything else!!).  Greg is an amazing Daddy–I need him for balance:). As I have read back over the earlier years of my blog, I remember that there was a time that I surrendered that they would not be here.  Maybe it’s my age, their preciousness, or my period of infertility, but I am so thankful for their lives and this opportunity.  

The truth is, as I reflect more, I will remember more.  Why?  I so easily forget the beauty of God’s hand in my life.  What about you?  What are your Ebenezers for the year?   

Posted in discipleship, God's word, grace, humility, New year, pride, self-absorption, the gospel, transformation by truth

A humble entrance

       As I looked toward this new year, I am overwhelmed.  Yes, we are having a baby (still sounds crazy to say), but that is not until June.  I am seemingly overwhelmed by every task and relationship I face even before the new year rolls.

        This Christmas season has been busy.  We traveled for a full week to Texas, and in our time there my heart was burdened for family and friends.  There was not an extended time to focus on Christ–to be in and savor His word.  I came back feeling empty and defeated.  I began thinking through next week and next semester and the things going on in girl’s lives that I disciple.  There is a lot to prepare for for the future child, but there is so much to be faithful in NOW. 

      As I walk with these 20-something young women, I see the battle is so fierce for their affections.  A day without truth poured in breeds so much falsehood, deception–spaces where the gospel truth is robbed and they fall back into self-reliance and/or guilt.       I reflect back on this fall.  I feel like I have failed these girls because of my complete lack of energy and the intense sickness that I had with pregnancy.  I guess the balancing act begins as I see the struggle between caring for a child (whether in my womb or out) and serving others in the body of Christ!  I want  to be purposeful in planning and taking advantage of this time before the little one enters the world.  I long to run well and faithful–pouring out His truth and honoring Him above all.    Pray for me that I prepare now to help these girls as my life transitions and I lead in ministry. 

       The good thing about the way I am feeling now is that it puts me in a posture of complete need as the new year commences.  Is there ever a time where I am not in need?  Is there ever a time that I can do any of this on my own?  No.  However, there is always a time when I think I can.  There are times when I walk in self-reliance, self-preservation, self-righteousness.  Unfortunately, those times come too often, and I forget that He superintends the growth–He is in charge.  I try to give myself honor instead of Him.  Or I tend to think it is all on my shoulders.  So, yet again, I am reminded that my hope is in the Gospel.  Jesus took the punishment for my self-reliance, self-preservation, and self-righteous pride.  It is finished.  I am to repent of my rebellious ways and cling to Him yet again.  There is such peace in that–such release.   And yet, everything within me fights that truth.   If there is anything I want and need to pass on to these girls, to our children, it is this beautiful way that Christ has made–the Gospel.

       If there is anything that this season of life has taught me, it is that my hope is not in circumstance or people.  My hope is in Christ.  In this time of joy and preparation for a child, it is so easy to get side-tracked from that hope.  Having babies has become like having a wedding.  We are tempted to plan for a nursery or ceremony more than a life and marriage.   More than nurseries or diapers, I have been thinking about the overwhelming task of discipling children, of teaching them a God-entranced worldview.  How do I do that from birth?  If there is anything I want to be faithful in, it is that.  He is so faithful to teach me through these girls that I meet with–to trust and  rest in Him, in His word.

      So, with all the swirling thoughts in my head entering this new year, I pray for a continued reliance on the beautiful Gospel of Grace.  The Lord is so good, and I am in such need.  In my feeble ways, I pray that this year, each day, I point others to the beauty of Christ, the truth of His gospel, and remember it myself.

Posted in discipleship, grace, New year, prayer, spiritual growth, the gospel, transformation by truth

I’m back…

     Well, I am not back in the exact frame of mind I was hoping for.  When I took the “break” for December I imagined coming back invigorated and refreshed to hit the ground running in 2009.  Funny how the best laid plans come up short.  I had slated a break from all things WDC for December, but because of some things with my lawyer, that did not happen.  I did give my brain a rest from study specifically for WDC for a few weeks, and we did have a good week in Texas with Greg’s family.  I tried to relax last week.  This past month has been challenging in a few ways with the consequence being loss of sleep.  For a stretch of days, I saw many more infomercials than I ever cared to see:).   (I am strangely drawn to the Sham-wow, for those of you who have seen that one.)

       As I was praying this morning, I was reminded that in literally EVERY area of my life, I desperately need to rely on and remain in God.  I know God is sovereign over all things…including my last month.  He has taught me and disciplined me with his love in the midst of sadness, frustration, bad moods, joys, traffic jams, consumerism, laughter, laziness, worry, and glory in his birth and death and resurrection.  I have to relearn his glorious gospel of grace everyday.  I also have to relearn that He is gracious on a scale that I cannot comprehend.  Always, I come to Him trying to make it up to him…pay penance or something, and always, I am reminded that he does not work that way because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  So, I start this day as I start this year…weak, needy, frustrated, and desperately seeking my Father.  Though painful at times, this is the best place to be.  For when I feel on top of things, I inevitably forget the very One for which I am made and redeemed to bring glory.  

      On a much lighter note, I have made one New Year’s resolution:  making my bed everyday.  I know that fits in with the developmental scale for a 3rd grader, but I missed that goal a long time ago.  I have done it 5 for 5, and I am proud.

Posted in New year, suffering in joy

New year…entering the blogosphere.

Well, here goes.  I have been pondering about this for awhile, and what  better day is there to start blogging than January 1?  I have an obsessive habit of reading blogs, and so I thought I would give back. I have many hopes for the new year, but they are mostly cloudy at the moment.  Yesterday, I drove to my hometown to have breakfast with two dear friends, and on the way, I drove in complete fog.  As I passed over the bridge on the Tennessee River, I could see a few feet in front of me.  Fog encapsulated the whole bridge…over, under, around.  I was reminded of my future.  I can see shadows of where God is leading, but there is no clear sunny path.  He is showing me what is directly in front of me for the day.  Yet, I am reminded deep inside that He is the foundation of the bridge–He is the foundation of everything.  Fear and anxiety can overtake me, and then I am reminded of how little I am and how big and faithful He is.  There were brief snippets of sun yesterday that illuminated the way, and then the fog came back around.  It was not an audible voice that spoke, but an impression that communicated…”I will show you where you need to go…I am here with you.”  I am reminded of conversations of the last few days with people around me…those whose bodies are battling cancer, those whose marriages are under fierce attack, those whose hearts are broken by loss.  My heart hurts and I pray on their behalf.  And, I reflect on the fact that Christ is LORD even when we lose our hair or job or way or our husband.  In times of complete loss of control, I have seen the truest glimpse of Jesus and experienced Him in the fullest.  I thank God for the troubles He has brought into my life this year–for sleepless nights, deep heartache, uncertainty.  Those things did not feel good, but they have driven my heart and soul and mind to Christ.  They are the very things that call me to the cross and his mercy and goodness.  They are the things that cause me to cry out for help.  And, in that time, my heart is transformed.  My circumstances may or may not change.  Or they may change at such a snail’s pace that if I was focused on them, I would truly be driven mad.  But, something happens when I go to God.  He draws me to himself and shows me the beauty of who He is.  I come to experience the joy of the Lord as my strength and not the counterfeit joy of ego strokes or new clothes or cars or good food or a baby or a job promotion.  All of those things are not bad in themselves, per say, but when I put my hope in them, I put my hope in things that are the false comforts of this world.  In comparison to the riches and fullness in Christ, they are dead.  They are treasure on earth.  We are called not to store up treasures on earth but treasures in heaven.My prayer for this year is that He continue to grow me deeply in Him.  That is my prayer for those around me, as well.  I pray that the true gift of fellowship with Him grow.  I realize soberly that that means hardship in this world.  I swallow down my fear knowing who holds me in His hand.  I would not trade these last few years for comfort because I would have gloried in the comfort and not my Lord.  I pray that we not be consumed with comfort but consumed with the all surpassing greatness of His name and His presence.2 Corinthians 4:16-18 English Standard Version’So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  for this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.’ Jen