Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

True Stories from a Busy Mama

This Five Minute Friday’s challenge word from Lisa-Jo Baker is True.  She’s asking women all over the globe to share their true stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 🙂

true stories

Sometimes I fail as a Mom; it’s true.  Like yesterday when I forgot to put in a load of laundry that happened to contain the soccer jersey my teenage son needed for his game last night.  Let’s just say it didn’t smell the best. 🙂

I felt so bad for him and so frustrated with myself for forgetting!

And then there are the times when I forget to sign my seven-year-old’s assignment book every night.  Or the times when field trip money is due.  How about the times when someone asks you to do something simple, and you agree, only to forget over and over again?!

The truth is that as a mama of four, my mind is occupied by so many different thoughts, needs, and schedules at one time that some things are bound to slip through the cracks.  It frustrates me because I used to be a very dependable person….before kids. 🙂

But then I remember something my aunt said on facebook a while back.  She told another relative dealing with mom-guilt that she was mothering well.  Why?  Because this mom teaches her children about the saving grace of Jesus.

And the truth is, that’s enough, isn’t it?!  If shoes go untied and beds go unmade and laundry goes unwashed or unfolded, but we remember to tell our children about Jesus, then we have done the most important thing of all!

Sharing truth, the most important truth in the universe, is the best way to be a “good” mom.

So, if like me you experience an epic fail in your motherhood this week, remember what’s true.

Superwoman is just a myth.

You teach your children about Jesus.

And that’s enough.

Jen 🙂

You may also find me linking-up with these lovely blogs.


The Day I Saw Red

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins...

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins…

Today I saw red.  I was so angry at the injustice that I burst into tears.  That’s my response, ya know, when the going gets so tough that all kinds of nastiness is about to spew forth from my lips.  But I know I’m held to a higher standard than the world; I know the tongue is sharper than any two-edged sword.  I know letting those words escape would be wrong.  So I gulp the words down and they rise up as tears instead.

You see, there was this insurance claim for a broken bone, which happened during our family vacation (see the story about Buttkill Falls).  And even though we followed every step that we should have, even though we did everything right according to the insurance company’s procedures, they still refuse to pay.

It’s really not just the fact that this month we’re already short, and the medical center has already removed money from our account.  I know Our Provider can handle dollars and cents.  It’s not even just that my tailbone still hurts and now I’m miserable with a cold (or maybe fall allergies), too.  It’s more the incredible injustice of knowing you did everything right, and still you suffer.

I saw red, and I was tempted to despair.  I asked the Lord, “Why? Hasn’t enough gone wrong already in the last few weeks?”  And the truth is that it really has been an incredibly crazy few weeks for us.  One trial after another.  When it rains it pours.  That kind of few weeks.  The kind of weeks that string into one long line of day after day of some new problem to cope with – problems with ministry, problems in the home, problems with old, leaky  pipes, problems with finances, problems with health. You cling to His promises and try to face each new challenge with a trusting heart.  But it all sort of piles up on you until you feel like you can’t breathe anymore and you want to beg for rescue, cry out for mercy.

It feels unfair.

And whenever I get to that point, the point when I’m telling the Lord He’s not being fair to me, He has only to say one word.


It wasn’t fair to Him, either.

He did everything right and nothing wrong, yet He suffered even unto death for my sin, my wrongdoing, my evil.

Oh, the shame!  The shame of having questioned.  The shame of telling myself my petty, short-term suffering is unbearable, that it shouldn’t be required of me.  The shame of my sinful pride.

And the perspective!  The perspective of realizing there are so many others suffering much, much worse evils around the world.  People struggling just to survive.  People dying for their faith.  People dying without any Hope.  The perspective of remembering Who is on my side – how could I forget?  Has He not proven Himself faithful time and time again?  And still I doubt, like Peter who saw the 5,000 fed, yet feared the wind and the waves, walking toward Christ, yet slowly sinking.

So, I saw red today.  My face turned red.  Tears fell.  I shouted angrily at the Lord, even if only in my mind.

And then He showed me red.

Red blood dripping from the sacrificial Lamb, the perfect Son of God who deserved only glory, not death.

My salvation and my forgiveness.

The One who understands true suffering.

Forgive me, Father, for my faith is weak and I sometimes doubt.

But You, You are good.

Even when I am not.

And You love me, even when I fail to love You.

Thanks for reminding me that I’m a work in progress, and that work is not yet complete.

I have Hope in You.

Jen 🙂

I’ll be linking this post to other blogs you can find listed under the Favorite Link-ups tab in my sidebar.

Okay, I’m pretty sure I bent the Five Minute Friday rules again today, and this is way more personal than what I’m comfortable sharing. In fact, I’m downright embarrassed and a little afraid.  But… when I sat down to write, this is what came out at the end of a long day, concluding a long week.  And I can’t hide it away as I would like to, or I wouldn’t be a truth-teller.  Sisters in Christ, we all have sinned. And we all doubt.   Even missionary kids.  Even ministers’ wives. Even faith bloggers.  🙂  If you’re struggling today, I want you to know that you’re not alone.  And that He loves you anyway.  Just listen to the words of the song below.

Read more encouraging words from another blogger who’s having “one of those days” here.


My Everyday Worship

my everyday worship

Earlier this week I wrote about When Church Becomes Worship and then Lisa-Jo went and made the Five Minute Friday word Worship! (If you want to know about Five Minute Fridays, click here.)  My minister husband will be thrilled.  Perhaps I should ask for a bonus. 🙂 So, you get another five minutes on worship this week.  You’re welcome. 🙂

Everyday Worship

It’s not about church or silence or lengthy prayer or calm quiet with Him.

It’s about living and loving and serving.

My everyday worship.

Like when I do the dishes with a song in my heart.  Or teach my preschoolers about patience.

Like when I fold laundry even though my eyes are sleepy, or listen to a kid-story that I’ve already heard a few times.

Like when I look up from my work and into their eyes.

Like stopping to hug my husband even if I’m in the middle of something.

My everyday worship.

It’s counting my blessings in the midst of real pain or confusion or doubt because the blessings are many.

It’s choosing to be purposeful in my parenting but still at peace.

It’s dancing in the car  with the Christian radio station turned up.  Little hands waving in the air to the beat and grins plastered on their faces.

It’s feeling conviction when that small voice asks, “Are you happy, Mommy?” when she knows I am not.  And choosing to let go and embrace real joy.

It’s planning family fun night even when I’d rather just relax.

It’s the heart-swell that comes from seeing something truly beautiful, be it a mountain or the ocean or a sunset.

My everyday worship.

It doesn’t just happen at church, folks.

Jen 🙂


Firsts Lead to Lasts

Due tomy recent injury at Buttkill Falls, I’ve had extra time to ponder life, and when that happens, I tend to get a bit nostalgic. 🙂  Maybe it’s because I’m currently medicated, or maybe it’s because I’m missing out on some family life lately.  For whatever reason, when I’m separated from my people, I tend to think about them more.  I miss them. I appreciate them.

As I’m resting and pondering, and thinking about how quickly the first day of school came this year, I realize that we’re about to enter a new season of life as parents.  We have just one more year left with littles at home, and one year before our oldest enters high school.  For thirteen years now, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, but what will I do when all of these firsts lead to lasts?

First smiles and first steps.  First days of school and first solo bike rides. First baby food and first big kid beds.  First instruments and first crushes. So many firsts that we’ve been blessed with.

kids blackandwhite

But these firsts lead to lasts, and what will a born-to-be-a-mama girl do when all of her children are at school for the day?  It seems like these lasts come oh-so-quickly.

Last days of kindergarten and last days of twin high chairs.  Last days of baby clothes and last days of soccer on Saturdays.  Last days of sweet toddler cheeks and last days of bedtime stories.

The truth is, the lasts stink.  I know I’ll miss them.  But those firsts that led to lasts will once again lead to firsts.  Firsts like driver’s licenses and shaving and so much more independence.

And while my children are enjoying a whole new world of lasts followed by firsts, I’ll be opening up to a whole new world of firsts, too.

Kids Bushkill1

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Jen 🙂

It’s Five Minute Friday again!  We gather together over at Lisa-Jo’s blog and free-write for five minutes on a single word prompt.  No planning, no editing, just writing.  It’s glorious freedom!  If you want to know more, join us at:


Like a Mustard Seed

Faith the size

It’s one of those paradoxes of Christianity, like “the first shall be last” and “you must first die to live.”  He chooses the small, the weak, the completely inadequate as vessels, rather the big, strong, and impressive.

It’s one of those things that I struggle with often, in spite of my work-in-progress mindset.  How can I possibly do these big things He’s asking of me?  Who am I, Lord, who am I to take on these giants of Life?

I’m so small.

I’m so flawed.

I’m not right for the job.

There are so many better equipped, stronger in faith, more Christ-like. Would not they be better for the job?

Like Moses, I doubt.  Like Jonah, I wish to run.  Like David, I plead for wisdom and I wait. But like Mary, I also say, “let it be done to me according to your word.” Like Isaiah I whisper, “Here am I. Send me.”

I may be small, but my God is not.

I may be flawed, but Christ was not.

I may not be perfect for the job, but I am a willing vessel.

Because when I am weak, then I am strong.

Only because of Christ.

With the faith as small as a mustard seed…

Jen 🙂

It’s Five Minute Friday, but I’m a day late thanks to recent events.  On Five Minute Fridays, bloggers from all over the globe write on a single word prompt for five minutes.  No planning, no editing, just raw and real writing.  Then we all share at .


Present (A Five Minute Friday post)

This week we’re on family vacation!! 🙂  So, I’m sharing  an older Five Minute Friday post that never saw the light of day.  As such, it is not a true 5 minute friday because I never finished it (for more information on FMF, see the end of the post).  So, it has been editted. 🙂


Present is…

a campfire glowing on a warm summer evening,

lightning bugs captive in a glass jar,

faces sticky with marshmallow.



Present is choosing to look when my littlest son says, “Look, Mom! I caught budderfwy,”

and laughing when I see that it’s really another lightning bug.

But he’s so proud and his smile is so wide that I haven’t the heart to tell him differently.

 Instead I exclaim over its beauty and his bravery.

And I choose to be present by putting the camera away.


Present is sometimes peace, sometimes chaos, but always worthwhile.

Present is a gift, not the kind that you open, but one that you give with your time, your attention,

your eye-contact, your helping hands and your listening heart.

It’s laughing at seven-year-old jokes that don’t make sense  and listening to four-year-old speak you can’t understand.

 It’s helping the teenager find a missing item and looking at your husband when he comes in the door, even if you’re busy.


Present is patient.  Present is loving. Present is giving.

Let’s choose to be present.

Jen 🙂

What reminds you to be present?

On Five Minute Fridays, we all write furiously for 5 minutes on a word-prompt given to us by Lisa-Jo Baker.  Come join us!


“Stori” PNG-style

It’s that time of week again – Five Minute Friday.  Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a one-word prompt and we write for five minutes without pressure, just for the joy of writing.  Why don’t you join us here?

This week’s word is Story.


Some words are like smells. They evoke memories from times past, some with smiles, some with sadness, and some a bittersweet mixture of the two.

Story is one such word for me.  It takes me back to that half-island home of Papua New Guinea (PNG), back to our bush house of woven bamboo up on stilts on the side of a clay mountain.  Nights of rain on a tin roof lulling us to sleep.  Chilly mornings of woodsmoke and toast made in the woodstove.  Because the word story is “stori” in tok pisin, the pidgin trade language of PNG.

But in tok pisin, the word stori carries with it various nuances.  It can mean a simple story, but it can also be used in the vernacular as somewhat of a verb (in my limited understanding).  You can stori with another person, communicate with them, swap information through the act of story-telling. So to my MK self, stori means more than just a tale; it’s sharing verbally with someone else either for the purpose of making friends or for the purpose of learning.

And I think I rather like the word stori better than our English word because that’s what stories are truly for.  They don’t exist merely for entertainment, although many are entertaining, but they exist for a purpose, to teach us something, to impart some new truth, to open our eyes to a new understanding.

So, I would rather stori with someone than story at them.  I don’t want my words to be things I just throw out there willy-nilly.  I want them to serve a purpose.

I’ve always been in love with words, with stories, with learning new truth.  And now, as a new blogger, I’m learning to be in love with stori, with sharing not just for the sake of sharing or telling for the sake of telling, but for the purpose of learning.

About others.

About self.

Even about the greatest Story-teller ever.

His story. My story. Together they become part of my stori with others.

Yes, I like this stori.

Jen 🙂

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It Was Ugly (A Five Minute Friday)

Five Minute Friday: Beautiful

It was ugly. There was a bee sting and disobedient children followed by a sudden realization that all was not well. Disappointment, frustration, harsh words, and fear all balled up into one, a wound ripped open in the midst of a beautiful day. It was the kind of deep wound that ruins any thought of fun or enjoyment. And the children were watching, and I felt stuck.

I didn’t want to go to the beach anymore. I didn’t want to spend another second within a five foot radius of him. I wanted to admit defeat, to go home and sob in my bed, alone. I wanted to rage against him and flail my fists and ask, “How could you??”

But the children were there, conspicuously quiet in their seats, and everyone was waiting for me. We could either go to the beach and hope for redemption or we could suffer in silence for hours on the drive home. I didn’t want to go, but I couldn’t leave either. A rock and a hard place. And the children were waiting in the backseats.
It was Ugly, how an argument threatened to ruin a beautiful day, how to recover when you feel stuck,  hope for redemption of a bad day

Silent tears fell, and an inward scream of, “It’s not fair!”  But it wasn’t fair for them, the innocents in the backseat, either.  And I knew he was sorry.  And I knew I should be sorry, too.

A war wages within, and I feel helpless to call a truce. Then a prayer, a pleading for mercy and forgiveness, a desperate cry for joy and peace rather than chaos.  Slowly, the tears dry up as peace floods my being.  He’s with us, our Comforter and Redeemer.  I’m ready now.

The walk to the beach is long, sandy dunes, and four year olds floundering in flip flops, and heavy bags filled with towels and clothing.  And I’m tempted to go back to the struggle, but I don’t.  Instead I focus on the prize, the joy that awaits on the other end, the fun I know we’ll have if we can just get there without falling to pieces.

The sun and the sand, the waves and the seagull calls, the laughter of children happy to be at peace, happy to run and dig and splash – they were all worth it, that sacrifice of giving in when I had the “right” to fight, that obedience to trust that He could bring joy in the midst of pain. He is powerful when we are helpless.


I pray that we won’t remember the ugly, that 15 minutes that threatened to ruin it all. I pray we’ll remember  instead the wild beauty of the dunes, the slippery feel of the clay on the lake bottom, the giant sandcastle that was bigger than any we’d ever built before, the laughter of buckets of water raining over unsuspecting heads, the rocks we collected, the look between just the two of us as we recognize our many blessings.

It was ugly.

And then it was beautiful.

Jen 🙂

Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday – where we write for five minutes on a word-prompt she gives us.  Stop by and check it out!

Also linking up at:


Into the In Between

Five Minute Friday: In Between

Remember that Old Testament story about Abram? The time when God told him to go “in between,” into the land of the unknown with no destination in sight? No idea where the road might lead.

Gen. 12:1 “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you…”

I believe my husband and I are facing one of those unknown in betweens.   It’s happened before; in fact, it happened as little as 2 years ago when the Lord began to speak to us individually.  His voice wasn’t clear at first, just a feeling that some big change was coming and we’d better be ready!

And a few months later my husband quit his job and took a position in full-time ministry.  And a year later, we finally sold our house and moved. And it’s been difficult, yet beautiful.

into the in between, Abram ventured into the unknown, when God calls you into the unknown

The in between can be scary – the kind of are you really going to ask me to leave all of my friends and family scary.  Do I need to sell my house scary.  How will my children react scary.  I don’t know if I’m strong enough for this scary. What exactly are you asking scary.

I’ve always been impressed by Abraham’s ability to go forth into the in-between with no ifs, ands, or buts.  No conditions on his obedience.  No bargaining. No pleading for more time.

Going into the in between without bartering for some sort of control is difficult.  But I know if our Savior is leading us there, then the in between will be a good place, perhaps difficult, but good.  The in between will be good for me, good for my husband, good for my family, good for my faith.

I know it.

I cling to it.

I wish the knowing lessened the feeling. 🙂  It’s true.  The fear is still there, that unknown in between that stretches beyond our human vision.  But like Abraham, we’ll venture forth into it, trusting and believing that although we have no idea where the road ends, He does.

What was Abraham’s reward?  A son.

No even more, a nation of sons.  The beginning of the Promise that would bring hope to all mankind, an abundant blessing he could not even have imagined when he first stepped into the in between.

We’ll listen for His voice.

We’ll go in between.

Jen 🙂

linking up at


Five Minute Friday: Rhythm



I often say that our youngest son, four years old, marches to the beat of a different drum.  He’s the baby of the family.  Born a mere minute after his twin sister, he remains somewhat of a mystery to me. He’s faced many trials in his young life already: a premature birth, an apnea monitor, an adverse reaction to immunizations resulting in a seizure disorder, a misshapen head requiring a corrective helmet, enlarged tonsils that interrupted sleep, removal of said tonsils that resulted in a brief hospitalization, and so on.

Despite said trials, he is my happy child, my cuddler, the one who pats my face gently, the one who seeks me out regularly just for a quick snuggle and then it’s back to playing.  He requires near constant physical touch.

And rhythm, oh does he have rhythm. I often wonder if he will be a conductor someday because the first body part to catch the beat is usually a hand.  He loves music, and he loves it loud.  His whole body is one with the cadence.

Out of all four children, he’s the one I have the least clue about.  Who will he grow up to be, this young boy? What drives him? When I think of him, I think of words like smile and touch and laughter.  He’s the son who gets crazy silly when he’s sleepy.  He’s the one who laughs at weird noises.  I once entertained him all the way through a grocery store trip by repeating a single phrase in a weird voice. “Do it again, mommy. Again!” And peals of laughter rang out all through the store.


To say I love him just isn’t sufficient. He’s oh-so-different, unique, precious to me. He doesn’t even have to do anything special to make me love him.  I just love him for who he is, even without completely understanding him, this boy who marches to the beat of a different drum. My love for him is overwhelming and fierce.  I would die for this boy.

And that’s how God feels about all of His children.

Jen 🙂

Five Minute Friday is a challenge, a free-writing exercise that takes place every friday over at  Join us! 🙂