Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Be Still

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

I’ve never liked being still. Most of my years I’ve moved quickly through school, activities, work life. But in recent years, now that I’m home with the kids, I’ve begun to slow down a bit. I’m an acts of service kind of person meaning that one of the ways I show love to others is by doing things for them – dishes, laundry, making lunches. But even just a few days after diagnosis, the mental toll is slowing me down. I see that this is God asking me to slow down. Today was a profound reminder of this. My friend Laura texted me Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

Yes! Not only do I need to remember to be still, to slow down in all this anxiety and uncertainty, but to also give all praise and glory to God. It is illogical, but I can still praise Him in this illness, these tests, this waiting, this cancer. He is still God and I’m glad I’m not!

As I went to read from my devotional Bible the next morning, the text was this exact Psalm.

God is reminding me that he is on the throne and he holds me in his hand. Nothing is too hard for him.

So, for now, I’m trying to be still as I wait, to not focus on the diagnosis, but focus on the One who holds me through all this.

31 Days

I don’t easily become emotional, but there are a few movies that get me every time. At the end of Night at the Museum, the director of the museum fires Larry the night guard and as he is walking him out and sees multitudes of patrons walking in, he silently hands Larry his keys and flashlight because he knows that it’s because of him that they are there.

Or when Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, is at the Emerald City watching the hot air balloon fly away without her and she is overcome. Glinda the good witch appears and tells her she always had the power to go home. She clicks her heels together and chants, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” It’s scenes like this that bring a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Times when the hero of the story knows that he or she has finally made it past their fears.

Today is that day for me. I have met my goal to write and post to my blog for 31 days in a row. I’m honored and humbled that you have gone with me on this journey and I’m grateful for all of the encouragement and comments you have shared. Writing everyday has been a long term goal and I was too mired in fear to believe that I could do it, but here I am! Praise God!

What’s next? I will continue to post here a few times a week, but it is time for me to write quietly for awhile, to come to terms with what is stirring in my soul. There is a book in there, I’m sure, but I don’t really know what that means or what it looks like.

Thank you all again for reading and I will be back here soon.

Blessings to all, Jennifer

Captivated By Child-Like Faith

I’ve been a bit down the last day or two. Overwhelmed by the impending holidays, the dark days ahead, the time change, and my over committed schedule. Times like this, make me wonder how I can make it through each day.

Today started out sunny orange, reflecting the last remaining fall colors so brilliantly. But as I drove my little Abby to school, the inky gray clouds had settled in promising rain. As we rounded the corner of our block, I noticed a row of trees that had just turned yellow red in the last couple of days. “Look at those pretty trees, Abby!” All she said to me is “Glory to God”. Yes, my sweet baby girl, of course. Glory to God for the beauty he gives daily if we just slow down enough to look. Then she started singing the song of the same name.

I need to remember to look at this world through her eyes, in child-like acceptance of what God so freely gives to us. This child inspires me daily and I can take no credit for her faith. It is a gift from God and for that, I am grateful.

Tempest Peace

camp waves (2)

A month ago, I was at a retreat up north along the shores of Lake Michigan. The weather was beautiful for this time of year, but the lake behaved as it normally does – surf constantly pounding, whitecaps as far as the eye can see. It was beautiful and wild and the sound of the crashing waves was always in my ears.

The first night, we went to the candle-lit prayer service. Even though the doors were closed, we could still hear the wild tempest water raging outside. By the soft glowing light we began singing, first everyone getting to know the music, melody unsure and rough. Repeating the song over and over so that by the fourth or fifth time, our discords shifted to perfect harmonies. So beautiful I was sure that angels had joined us without our knowing. Between songs were moments of silence with constant churning outside, never stopping, always reminding us of its raw power.

We prayed, we listened to sacred words, we sang more. And as I felt God’s presence washing over me, it seemed that this peace in the storm, despite the constant trails against us are how life is everyday. We take hold of God’s peace in the midst of the chaos and it returns us to our center and we can look around at the light in that darkness and know he is with us no matter what troubles are thrown against us.

When We Begin

This past weekend I was privileged to participate in a spiritual retreat – Good News Via de Cristo.  It was an amazing experience that I recommend to all Christians.  This poem was my response to one of the talks where God’s love for us was described so beautifully. 
When we begin, God is there.

Watching, loving, in wonder.

He holds our future in His hands.

He makes our plans and they are good, amazing,
incomprehensible, beyond our imagination.

In all things good and bad, close and far, his banner for us
is love…

Always love, love, love, love – a flag over us.

In baptism we begin our relationship.

We take His name – we, His beloved.

Our marriages and soul ties to family and close friends a
hazy glimpse of the mystery.

This life abundant – more than we can create or plan or

I’ve Been Waiting

This morning I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and the sound of a sweet baby voice saying, “Mama, mama?” The air was just cool enough, the birds chattering and singing their morning songs. I’ve been waiting for a morning like this – waiting for one that reminds me of why I’m here, what is important. The weeks of living in the constant hum of the air conditioning – with its artificial air, chilling temps, and muffled barrier between me and the real world has taken its toll. (Don’t get me wrong, air conditioning is a wonderful gift that I’m very thankful for – it has just run too long.) It has gotten to the point that I’m looking forward to fall just so we can have the windows open.

There is something about hearing the night sounds – crickets and the scurry of bugs and little animals, seeing the moon shining into an open window, smelling night fall and then waking up to the earth starting over again, birds singing, the smell of the dew, the sun streaming through an open window – the cool air floating into the house. The smell of morning – distinct from its nightly counterpart.

Here is where I am at peace – here is where a new day with mercies new begins and don’t I need it – don’t we all? I’m grateful that God in his wisdom made night for us to sleep – because wouldn’t we be in a bigger mess if He had not?

So today I’m listening to the chirps and the morning dove “who’s” and letting the sun shine on my face and shivering a bit in the damp, morning air, listening to the gentle melodic sound of the wind chimes and taking it all in. Breathing new life and a fresh start. Won’t you join me outside this morning?

Thankful During the Thankless Times

Last weekend was from all appearances a disaster. We attempted a road trip to visit my parents and on the way, little Abby threw up in the car. We thought it best to go home – and I believe it was the right thing to do. I started fighting waves of nausea later that evening and fought hard to keep from throwing up. (I can’t stand to vomit – I will do just about anything to keep it from happening.)

At about 2am, I just sat in the bathroom and prayed…the waves of nausea crashing into me – relentlessly. As I implored God to spare me, my prayer turned to praise. I began thanking him – the unthinkable in that moment – it just overflowed from me. I thanked him that I had not been sick, that we were home, that none of the other kids were sick, that they were sleeping peacefully. And strangely enough, I thanked him for being sick. I don’t remember the rest – I think that extreme fatigue set in at that point and after a period of nothing, I crawled back into bed.

I never did get sick and none of the rest of us did either, thank God. And as I lay in bed the next day – still fighting the after affects, I marveled at how this God could move me to praise him at one of my lowest moments. Surely His ways are above our ways and He always deserves our praise.

How has God moved you to praise him in unthinkable circumstances?