Kindness can be seen in so many ways, however it is the kindness towards children that I want to talk about today. Jesus taught us in Luke 17:2 saying, "It would be better for them (adults) to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble."
Jesus is teaching in this massage about his heart towards children and warning individuals to understand how serious God takes hurting children. A millstone in Jesus' time was a huge stone used to grind grain with, and Jesus is saying that it would be better off for a person to tie this around their neck and sink into the sea to die than to cause a child to be harmed.
I find it interesting as a counselor how many people who have been hurt as children at the hands of adults believe that God is okay with it or doesn't care. The joy they experience when they learn the truth frees them to find closure in their lives, and experience God's love for them. It is this love for children that drives me to advocate for those whom have been hurt. It brings me great joy to see God's kindness expressed towards children as we love on them as a family of God!
Since moving to Alaska we have learned of a great need. Children whom are taken into foster care after experiencing abuse and neglect do not have what they need to sleep their first night away from home. I was told the first stop after picking children up ages 0-3 years is to Walmart to buy the child's basic needs.
We at Legacy Church have started fundraising for this need and have already seen so many people contribute. It is this kindness that I know God loves and is proud of, and I am proud to be a part of myself. If you too would like to show God's kindness for children in foster care in the state of Alaska, you can help us with the items needed to give our first 100 back packs to the Office of Children's Services.
There are different ways you can help:
1. Purchase items from our Target gift registry at https://www.target.com/gift-registry/gift/pil-alaska
2. Purchase MGK coffee and your purchase will go towards purchasing items
3. Give to Legacy Church and memo "Kings Kids" in your donation to help us purchase the material needed to make the 100 blankets we are giving with each backpack at https://tithe.ly/give_new/www/#/tithely/give-one-time/4093285
Where are you planted? Where has God called you?
I was recently told about the aspen tree and how it grows. It was said that our calling is much like the aspen tree. You see when an aspen tree is planted, it grows in clusters. Then its roots are not only connected to each other but also to the next cluster of aspen trees, even if they are miles away.
As aspen trees can stretch across thousands of miles all inter connected to each other, we too as Christian's can do the same thing by following the aspen trees example. When we choose to be a part of the church God has called us to, and choose to plant ourselves and grow there. We are not only positively affecting the growth the immediate family of God we are in, but also impacting the thousands of other believers we are connected to.
The encouragement is short today, while simple and complex. The simple part is all we have to do is grow where we are called, and plant ourselves in the family of God around us. The complex part is up to God, for as we join in the strength of others, we together will reach a world that needs to experience God's love where ever God brings us. Remembering we are always connected to our source of life, God in each other!
As a Child of God, where is God carrying you today? Do you realize how precious you are to Him & how much He loves you? Our divine relationship with our Father God as His precious children is unique, as He reveals himself differently to us all!
God wants us to know how much He loves us and how special we are to Him. He reveals himself in ways that we receive His love. When we choose to trust God and follow His voice, He chooses to carry us, as He provides for our needs and even brings us joy in our sadness.
I have heard many testimonies of how God has provided for His children. I'm always amazed at how each person experiences God in the way they are capable of receiving His love. It reminds me of the 5 love languages and how each of us is created differently in how we give and receive love. It shouldn't surprise us then when God loves us through the very love languages He created us to experience His love.
Whether we have gone through a lonely time, and God wants to remind us of how important we are to Him. Or whether we are in need for Him to show up in a BIG way because we have accepted His call and can't fulfill it on our own. God promises us to always be with us. He encourages us to stand firm on His promise that He will not abandon us nor forsake us!
It tells us in God's Word three times that God will not leave us nor forsake us:
Be encouraged TODAY! God is with YOU! He wants you to know HE LOVES YOU and that you are PRECIOUS to Him, because you are HIS KID!
What does your family look like?
Every family looks different, but the one that should always look the same is the family of God. However, it seems like this concept of being a family that belongs to God as His children is hard for a lot of people to process.
Whatever our family looked like growing up, whether good or bad, is what we will automatically project onto God as our heavenly father, and onto others as brother's and sister's in Christ without realizing it. If we choose to, we can allow God to heal each of us from past pains caused by our earthly families. We can choose to love each other the way God has demonstrated to us in how our church family should look like.
Should we argue over things that cause division in the church? Over things that don't matter to building God's kingdom and not our own? Shouldn't we instead ask ourselves if we want to be a part of loving each other where they are at and being Christ to them through the process? Shouldn't we consider if we could be used to divide God's church instead of being a part of building the unity that Christ died for on the cross?
I understand it is hard to choose to love people at times. To choose to respond in love when you are being attacked. But it is by choosing to love and understanding that love is just that, a choice, that we lay our selfish desires aside and begin to be the body of Christ as His children.
My challenge to us all, including myself, is to chose to understand why a person may not be acting Christ like when expect it from them. To try and put ourselves in their shoes no matter how hard it is to lay ourselves aside. To be able to be used by God to speak healing and love to wounds that may come out when we least expect it. Because when we choose to love one another no matter what, we choose to be Christ to the family of God we are as His Children. Nothing more, nothing less!
Because remember, it is by our example that others will either choose to follow Christ or choose not to. Just something to consider.
The word of God tells us a lot about the wonders of God. In Micah 7:15 it says,
“As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.”
God wants us to be encouraged and trust Him for this promise in our lives. To not forget everything God brought Israel through, and to be encouraged by their stories that God promises to show His wonders to us as well.
I think about all of the wonderful things I have experienced in my life that I can only credit to God! Things that only He knew I needed or wanted that were given to me in His perfect timing. When I have experienced His supernatural presence and heard His still small voice. All of the same experiences Israel experienced with God over 2000 years ago with the same God we experience them with today!
What are you in need of? What things does God want you to remember about your journey with Him? Remembering those things, and learning to rest in Him are EXACTLY what God wants for us all. For it is through remembering His wonder, that we not only receive His peace and strength, but we get to know God better!
I encourage you to sit and meditate on this today!
God's provision comes in different ways. One of the reason's I love living in Alaska is watching God provide for His people through His creation. Some may need firewood to stock up to keep warm for winter, while others may need to fill their freezers with food to eat. And still others such as myself, may not see God's provision for our life in a different way, just like God's provision for others around the world looks different as well.
The one thing that remains the same, no matter what we need, is that God provides for us. When we ask God and trust Him to provide, He never fails to provide for us.
This is something I am reminded of as life changes present themselves that I was not expecting. When I want to follow God's voice and leading, but am fearful or overwhelmed. It is times like these I am reminded of God's provision in the past, and encouraged to step out in faith once again, believing and trusting God will provide along the way.
It is through God's provision God also reminds me He will never leave me. Reminding me I can do whatever He calls me to, because God is with me! It is this knowledge and belief I remember every time life presents something that feels too big for me to handle. It is then I am reminded I am not alone, and right where I need to be, in God's presence!
What do you fear or feel overwhelmed with? Remember all God has done to provide for you in the past to help remind you as well that He is in your presence now, to give to the strength to trust Him to move forward!
When I look at this picture, I think about God's presence! I think about sitting on this hillside, overlooking this beautiful valley and feeling the sun on my face. It makes me want to draw close to God, listen to what He wants to speak to me and learn something new from Him.
It is places like this that have kept my relationship with God growing over the years. Finding a place in nature to go to, with the specific goal in mind, to get to know God more! It is these places that have challenged me, brought me peace and consistency in my life no matter where I have lived.
One of my most fondest places like this was in Billings Montana. I would run to this spot on the trail each morning after dropping my daughter off at Preschool. I would get to this cliff that overlooked the city to sit in God's presence. It is here that I believe I entertained an angel.
I had met with God each morning for an entire year, and now I was moving to North Dakota to go to Bible College. It was my last day to sit in this spot and I wanted to capture it with a picture. I brought my camera and set it up from a distance. I tried frame after frame to catch myself in the shot, but time and time again I only caught me running into the frame, or not at all.
In discouragement I sat in my spot and said my good byes to God in this place, when a man's voice behind me asked if he could take the picture for me. I was startled by his presence to say the least, because I had not seen or heard him approach. I was sitting in a place that would allow me to see on-comers, but I had not seen him at all.
I accepted his gift and showed him where I wanted him to stand to catch the shot. Acting like he had no idea how to use the camera I showed him this as well and then went to sit for the picture. After taking the picture He gave me the camera and then walked away. As I sat down again for what seemed like a moment, I jumped to my feet to catch up with this man. I wanted to see if what I believed and felt in my heart was a reality, that this man was an angel that I had just entertained. Did I really hear God correctly, that I had just entertained an angel?!?!
So I ran to the place I had just watched his head disappear down a small hill and found no one in sight. I looked up and down the trail, over the cliff and up the other side, but no one in sight! I went back to my spot and sat down to talk to God. I couldn't believe that God had really showed up to take my picture. That God cared that dearly for me and my pursuit to cherish the place we had spent so much time together!
Where are you connecting with God? If you don't have a place, find it! God wants to meet you there!
Have you ever prayed for patience and then given the opportunity to give patience?
This reminds me of my husband Travis. When we were dating he told me he had prayed for patience. At the time I was running a daycare and unbeknownst to him, God knew he would learn this patience he prayed for by helping me care for the 18 children I was licensed for in my home.
I find it funny to think about now, because I have never seen my husband as someone who needs patience. He is a peace maker and brings that peace with him naturally everywhere he goes. When we worked together in daycare, I watched this level of peace and patience he carried grow into even more, and I was so grateful for it myself. Because of the prayer he prayed, his obedience to God's teaching has been shown to me through him time and time again through his patience.
So how do we have patience for the children God has given us to care for? For me I have learned to realize that kids are kids. They are not capable of being held to the same standards as adults, and they should not be either. A child is going to make mistakes, and through that process of learning from them we can become an encourager as we extend patience, or a discourager if we extend something else.
Kids need us to love them no matter what! Give them a hug when they ask for it, and show them they can mess up and still be loved. Someone once told me to not "cry over spilled milk". At first I had to think about this expression, because I didn't think I would cry over spilling milk myself. But the challenge was not for me to not cry, but to understand if I respond out of patience and understanding the child that spills the milk will not cry themselves. If my response is, "oh that's okay, let's clean it up together" as I extend patience to them, then they know that the mistake they just made is just that, a mistake and not a reflection of who they are.
Patience comes in all shapes and sizes, but extending patience to the children in our lives is an example of love to those that receive it. Remembering that life goes on; that this is not the end of the world; and that they can make mistakes too; are all messages that have helped me to remember to extend God's patience when I need to.
I hope this will encourage you to extend patience to the children in your life that God has entrusted to you. Because remember it is your relationship with them that demonstrates to them how they will in turn view God, and then extend patience to others.
How do you stay focused on God? What do you do to remember to spend time with God each day? My journey with God began by myself in a travel trailer in southern Texas when I first asked Jesus into my heart. But what I remember when I think about where God has brought me from usually goes back to living in Las Vegas NV, when I lived the farthest away from God I have ever been.
It is times like these when we look back and remember the life of sin we lived in before knowing God that brings us strength and gratitude. For me it was this time of my life when my three year old daughter had an imaginary friend named Jesus show up, who reminded me of the commitment I had made years prior all alone in that travel trailer in Texas.
When we choose to set time aside each day to spend with our Father God, we should remember where we have come from. We must take time to thank God for what He has done in our lives and what He still wants to do. It is through remembering that allows us the ability to accept whatever task God places in front of us, knowing that if He brought us through before, He will do it again.
It is with this confidence that we focus each day on God and remember. As we focus on God and remember as He commands us to, we are encouraged and uplifted. We are reminded that we are God's children, and He wants the best for us. We are reminded that Jesus is with us every step of the way to give us God's peace, protection, provision and guidance as we live out our lives.
With this focus, we are able to set aside the things that don't really matter. The things that cause us anxiety or depression can be gone as we are reminded that God is in control and we don't have to be. Focusing brings us hope and joy as we remember that we are only here for a time and that this earth is not our home! We are reminded how much God loves us and wants us to be His hands and feet to others until He brings us home!
So where are you when it comes to focusing daily on God in your life? Wherever you are, God wants you to know He loves you and there is always more for you if you only set aside time with Him for Him to show you. As you choose to focus on God, He will bless you and renew you in ways that are only possible through Him! Focusing on Him will bring you closer to Him and closer to the person He created you to be!
Be encouraged as you focus on God today!
Coffee with a Purpose...
When I finally gave my heart to God fully, He had me work in a coffee shop at first. One day I asked God why He had led me to work in the coffee shop and He spoke to me that day saying, "I want you to learn how to do this for me (God) and I (God) will show you the ministry it will pour into."
Years later God gave us a coffee shop of our own where we were able to create our own organic signature blend. When we later sold the business because God told us to go into full time ministry we were able to keep the coffee blend for ministry at cost. Since then God has shown us that the ministry He wants us to use the proceeds for is foster care.
Since moving to Alaska, we have learned that we are not only one of the highest in the nation with children in foster care, we are also in high demand to help these children get the things they need financially. We at Legacy Church want to be the bridge to raising the finances these children need through our coffee, and then using that money to purchase the needs each child has.
To begin this journey, God has partnered us with an amazing ministry called Operation Ignite Light that wants to donate the first 100 bags for ages 0-3 years. In each of these bags a child will have everything they need for their first night away from home. But these 100 bags are just the beginning!
Each time someone orders our coffee online, in person at Legacy Church on Sundays, or enjoys our coffee served each Sunday, ALL of the proceeds are going to buy more back packs and other items these children need. So each time you sip on MGK (Make God Known) Coffee, you can be rest assured you are investing in more than just yourself!
Be a part of helping us build God's Legacy TODAY, and purchase MGK Coffee!
Trust God's Voice...
I heard a testimony a few weeks ago I just had to share for others to be encouraged to always listen to God's voice NO MATTER HOW CRAZY IT MAY SOUND!
The story is true, and has been passed down to us through Dr. Carol Alexander from Trinity Bible College when she came to speak to us at the Alaska Ministry Network Conference.
There was a girl that one day heard God say to her to go into a laundry mat near by and do a hand stand in front of the vending machine. She was very confused by God's voice, and even questioned if it really was God she had heard. But as the day progressed she continued to feel God prompting her over and over again as God spoke to her the same thing over and over again. She explained that it became so burdening that she finally gave in to God's voice and said, "Okay God, I will do it, but I'm not doing it until right before the laundry mat closes and then I'm out of there".
As the time approached, she got up the courage to go into the laundry mat and do the handstand in front of the vending machine like God had directed her to do. As she finished and quickly headed for the door, the manager asked her to stop and come back to his office. She agreed, and as they came into his office she saw a gun laying on his desk. He broke down in tears and explained to her that he had told God that morning that unless a girl came in and did the craziest thing he could think of (a hand stand) in front of the vending machine by the end of that day, he was going to take his own life.
The girl was so filled with the Holy Spirit in that moment that she began to pray for the manager and led him into a relationship with Jesus as he asked Jesus into his life!
This man had been saved because this girl trusted the directive she got from God that day and was obedient to do whatever God asked of her! It is an encouragement to us to remember God knows all, and we can trust Him, when He asks us to do something. Even when it doesn't make any sense at all!
Trust the Process...
Be encouraged today that you are exactly where God wants you to be! I want to challenge you to trust the process you are in as part of the journey! This thought may be hard to believe at times, especially when things are hard in our lives. However, God promises us that he will use everything for His glory if we let Him. If we are believers God tells us in:
Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
So as a believer we can trust God and know that part of growing into the children of God that He created us to be, means the journey we are on is a process. A process that takes time. A process that has to take place for us to get to the destination God has for us.
Many times when we don't see the bad things going on in our lives as anything God is a part of, He shows us later how He was with us through the whole thing. God teaches us on our journey towards Him to follow His example, and by choosing to do so we allow ourselves and the others in our lives the opportunity to do the same. It is the sin we have all been born into that makes bad things happen in our lives. But it is the grace and mercy we show others with forgiveness and love that makes us stronger and shows God through us. It is this example of God in and through us that allows others to not only see God more clearly, but for God to use everything for good to bring hope and restoration.
So the next time you doubt the path you are on, first make sure you are choosing God's path, and then trust the process. Because through this process is where we find sanctification!
What does passion look like in a Godly marriage?
Passion... from most secular viewpoints is sex driven. It is what we see plastered up all around us through adds and marketing because it is taught that "sex sells". So when we step into a marriage as a Christian, we tend to bring this perspective into it, whether intentionally or unintentionally. So what does God teach us about the love that is shared between a husband and a wife?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 teaches us that "love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." So when we apply what love looks like from God's perspective we no longer will see our spouse as an object of desire or gratification. Instead we see them as an extension of ourselves, loving them as we would want to be loved. It is from this mindset that we begin to love passionately in a way that only can be experienced in a Godly marriage. It is here that I have seen as a counselor, God heal every part of individuals through the vary person God has brought into their lives, in ways that only could be done through a loving spouse that have their eyes on God.
God also teaches us in 1 John 4:8 that "anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." So beginning by asking the question if God has been in your passion, will help you to find the love that God gives us. It is here that we discover for ourselves the difference between love and lust, as we recognize whether or not if God is in our passion and desire.
So how have you loved? Are you in a relationship filled with God's love or are you lusting after someone? No matter what the answer may be, just know that God loves you and wants you to experience His love! He wants you to focus on Him first in your relationship and believe His words in acknowledging what love is, to experience a passion that only God can give you for your spouse. I personally have experienced both love and lust, and have learned that love is worth fighting for, and I hope you find that to be true for yourself as well. Because everyone deserves to be loved!
Listen to Love...
In most cases of marriage counseling, communication is something that needs to be worked on for both parties. When the couple is able and willing to apply this simple technique to how they communicate with each other, their intimacy and love for each other increases and changes the perspective they came into marriage counseling with.
I believe when we are in healthy relationships with our spouse, God uses each of us to heal and challenge each party to grow in areas we may never experience outside of marriage. As iron sharpens iron as it is stated in Proverbs 27:17, partners challenge each other to stretch, get out of our comfort zones, and grow in ways we never thought we needed or wanted to in the first place.
By learning to listen to our partner we are able to become a source of strength and love for our spouse. We learn to demonstrate a love that is selfless and compassionate, and a love based off of a choice to love and not a feeling. We then demonstrate love that is committed to seeing us through, to celebrate with us as we continue to grow into the person God has created in each of us to be.
So how to we listen to love?
When we are the listener, we are just that THE LISTENER, which requires NO WORDS on our part. Our job is to LISTEN to what the other person is saying from THEIR SHOES. It is NOT our time to wait to be able to rebuttal, it is our time to be SELFLESS and choose to understand why our spouse thinks and feels the way THEY do. When the speaker is done talking, it is then our job to ask, "so what I hear you saying is..." and then followed by "is that what you are saying?" If the answer is NO, from our spouse, then we have not listened well and it is their time again to repeat what they said for us to listen. Until your spouse FEELS HEARD, it is our job to ONLY LISTEN.
Now that your spouse has felt heard in what they have said, then they take on the role as the listener with the same guidelines. Your job as THE SPEAKER is to keep your statement BREIF. Do not go on and on or continue to repeat the same point in an effort to be heard. This may be the pattern of communication you have created in the past, but it is the pattern we are trying to replace with ACTIVE LISTENING. When you are the SPEAKER your job is also to communicate in ONLY "I" MESSAGES, and NOT "you" messages. As soon as someone uses a "you" message, the other party is immediately put on defense and is not going to listen to what you are saying without feeling threatened by you. If the other person is the source of your concern or contention within your statement you can say things like "I feel _____ because_____". This will help the listener be able to hear without feeling like they have to defend themselves, and will be able to focus on putting themselves in your shoes to understand and make you feel heard.
This may seem like a juvenile task, but it is only to be used as a tool to begin a better communication pattern, and only to be used until you are able to both feel heard. It is worth the effort, and the results will follow, you just have to do the work to begin with!
If you need further assistance and would like to schedule an appointment via telehealth with Pastor Jen you can do so here: Scheduling
Believe in You...
Self esteem is the belief system that we choose to believe about ourself! We can have low self esteems, or high self esteems, but the baseline for our belief system should be founded in God and what He thinks of us first!
I have not always had this God perspective for myself, and it was a lesson I had to learn over time as I took each thought captive and replaced my old ways of thinking with what God thought of me!
God showed me one day in prayer to see myself the way He sees me, as if looking through a set of glasses! What I imagined that day was a pair of glasses that were filthy and hard to see through from all of the false messages I was looking through about myself.
It took time to be able to see clearly, with each message of my belief system I compared to God and who He created me to be! These are some of the messages I learned along the way about my own belief system, what are beliefs about yourself that God wants you to change for yourself?
Would God really make junk?
Answer: No, God doesn't make junk.
Was I really created to be taken advantage of by men?
Answer: No, God wants me to be loved and cherished.
Was I really alone when I felt like I was?
Answer: No, God is always with me and pursuing me even when I don't feel Him
by my side.
Did I really need others approval in order to feel good about myself?
Answer: No, I am totally accepted by God and I no longer have to fear
rejection. (from Search for Significance)
Did I really have to meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself?
Answer: No, because I am completely forgiven by and fully pleasing to God, I no
longer have to fear failure. (from Search for Significance)
Did I really believe that those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and
deserve to be punished?
Answer: No, because I am deeply loved by God, I no longer have to fear
punishment or punish others. (from Search for Significance)
Did I really want to believe that I am what I am, I cannot change, I am hopeless?
Answer: No, because I have been made brand-new, complete in Christ, I no
longer need to experience the pain of shame. (from Search for Significance)
I'm sure if you are like most of us, you believe or have believed something similar to one or more of these false beliefs. Now the question is what do you do with it? Do you continue to choose to view yourself the way the world does, or do you choose to start to believe the truth about who God has made you and become unstoppable? The choice is yours!
It's all about the journey...
I have moved so many times I have stopped counting. Some have criticized me for moving over the years, and I understand where they are coming from as stability is important. But my stability I have found through this process has been in knowing that I have always done what I thought what was best for me at the time, and following Jesus's voice since being saved!
Since meeting Travis, we have only moved after hearing God's voice to do so, not always understanding the why behind it. We have moved for school, or for ministry, and all of those adventures have lead us to this one. I can see now how each ministry position gave us the training we needed to launch Legacy Church. I can see now how each time we said yes in faith without being able to see what we were saying yes to, has given us strength to say yes again knowing God has always provided! I can see now that each move was a part of getting us here, and I am really excited to finally be able to see that.
Last May we moved from Springfield MO, after hearing God tell us to move to Alaska to start Legacy Church. Through that process, we could only find one home available for us to rent, while we were living in the lower 48. After three other homes said yes to us and then backing out, we were blessed to find the beautiful home we just moved out of. It just so happened to be in the vary valley I heard God say while we were on vacation in Alaska two years prior, that we would live there.
Now, a year after moving here, we began to look for a place to live in Anchorage, as the home we had signed a lease for last April was in Eagle River and a 30-45 min drive from the part of Anchorage we have been led to plant Legacy Church. We knew being in the community God has called us would be beneficial, but we still were willing to stay in our home in Eagle River if we needed to.
However, in less than 48 hours we found out we were not going to have a place to live in less than a month. During this time, we had been looking at a home that the closer we got to moving in felt like God was telling us to not move forward. So we let them know that we felt like God wanted them to sell instead of lease to us to be a blessing to them. As soon as we had that conversation we found out the house we were in was being put on the market and we had to move by the end of the month.
We had been working with a realtor for months to find a new home, but we could not find one in Anchorage that was available with our two huskies. We prayed God would give us a home, and at the vary same time did not know someone else was praying God would send them someone to rent their home. I felt God leading me to reach out to a friend so I did. Through that process God showed us that we were the answer to our new landlords prayer, and they were the answer to ours. The vary week we had no home in sight, they were praying for God to show up themselves.
Within a few hours we were able to sign a lease and put down the deposit needed to secure the PERFECT home for hosting our new church family! I'm so blessed this morning thinking about our first Team Night we hosted last night in this new home. How everything about it is exactly what we needed for our family and for our new church!
It's all about the journey, and trusting God along the way to provide for the vary thing He wants you to trust Him with! It takes stepping out on a limb and knowing the only person to catch you is God Himself! Through our obedience, and yours, God brings us to the vary blessings He wants for us! What is it in your life that God wants you to trust Him with? Is it your finances, your relationships, your home, your job, your family? Whatever it is, God knows, and so do you if you really think about it. My encouragement to you today, is to trust the God of the universe to do what He has promised! And be excited as you wait in expectation to finally see what that looks like when you are on the other side of your faith! Because you trusted God through your obedience to say yes when you couldn't see!!!
What is Emotional Abuse?
5 Signs of Emotional Abuse...
These are only 5 signs of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is defined as verbal abuse: yelling at you, insulting you or swearing at you. Rejection: constantly rejecting your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Gaslighting: making you doubt your own feelings and thoughts, and even your sanity, by manipulating the truth.
When I meet someone as a counselor who is being emotionally abused, they usually have a low self esteem, doubt themselves, justify others actions and behaviors, take on all responsibilities in the relationship, believe they are responsible for others feelings and making them happy, have no personal boundaries for themselves, are afraid to implement boundaries to "keep the peace", and have lost sight of who THEY are, among others.
In one point in my life I had lost all sight of who I was, being known as "joyful Jen" in high school, I couldn't even remember the last time I had laughed. It is from this personal understanding that my passion to help others comes from. You may have answered yes to one or all of the the questions above. You may feel like there is no hope to have the fulfilling relationship you want with this person in your life. But I'm here to tell you, there is hope!
I have watched marriages and families heal from emotional abuse! It is not an easy undertaking, because it is not only admitting there is a problem and choosing to change it. There is a constant reapplying of new behaviors and beliefs to replace the old ways of communicating and thinking that take time to change. It starts with one person, with a conviction to choose to understand not only why you have allowed someone else to emotionally abuse you, but to also choose to understand why the other person in your life is operating this way themselves.
I have not met an emotional abuser that does not have the ability to change. The problem comes if they are not willing to, and in these situations it is in the best interest of the emotionally abused to leave the relationship. However, in my line of work, when I am able to help the emotional abuser see the "why" behind their own actions and beliefs, it is then when the relationship really begins to change for the better.
Most emotional abuse is a LEARNED response. Meaning, the emotional abuser was themselves emotionally abused, and has learned to cope themselves by doing the very things they hated done to themself. When an emotional abuser is enlightened by the ones they love to change with them, and learn a new way of communicating, accepting responsibility, being responsible for their own feelings, actions and beliefs, the relationship changes! As the two parties learn the "new", they both grow into the people they were created to be. They start to challenge each other to be who God has made them first, while focusing on Him, and as they do they find themselves falling more in love with each other.
I have seen this healing happen in between partners and parents and their children. Some of my most rewards clients have been watching God heal not only the family unit, but each individual involved as well through this process.
It starts with admitting there is a problem, and then choosing to do the work it takes! This can mean getting profession help so there is an outsiders perspective and mediator, reading books and talking about what you learn, and allowing God to be your guide through the process. One of my favorite books to help resource people to heal from emotional abuse is called Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Dr Gregory Jantz.
If you find yourself wanting to heal from emotional abuse, and be the catalyst of change in your relationships, I recommend beginning with this book and then seeking Christian Counseling. Remember everything you do, do it in love and with wisdom, while choosing to understand through the process. By doing these things, you will find your way with God as your guide, and will experience the love you desire through the relationships you love!
What do you think of when you hear the word Purity?
For me, it was the one area of my life I knew I was not living the way God wanted me to. At the time I was a single mother and believed the only way life would be okay was if I had a man in my life to provide, protect and love me and my daughter. What I also believed was the only way this would ever happen was if I was intimate with a man before marriage. Because I believed sex was love.
Now don't get me wrong, I was always known by others and teased as the "good girl", but that didn't mean I didn't put myself into situations that God wanted to protect me from because of this lie I was believing. I still believed I had to dress for sex in order to be noticed, and willing to do more than I really wanted to with a man in order for him to ever love and want to marry me.
However, one day all that changed! I had decided to go on a "honeymoon with God", deciding to put God first in my life as the man in my life. So I went alone to camp for the weekend to spend time with just me and God. While I was there God taught me many things about myself and about the love He had for me including that in my Purity was His strength. When I first heard God say this I was shocked, but over time I began to understand that being willing to stand pure in the choices I made with men and not choosing to believe that sex was love, but God was love, my perspective changed.
Now this didn't come easily for me, and I have to admit I literally yelled at God in disbelief. I didn't believe a man would actually want to wait to have sex with me, nor want to wait to kiss me before I got married as well. I still believed there was not a man on this earth that would wait to kiss me, and that this meant I would never get married.
Now was God really asking me to give Him my first kiss, and live a life of purity to only set me up to "fail" by never getting married? The answer of course is no. God was asking me to trust Him with this area of my life so He could give me something better than I had ever imagined or even believed existed. A love that was selfless, kind and willing to wait!
So I began to choose purity for myself, and for me it looked like NOT doing the things I thought I needed to do before in order to be loved. This included not dressing for sex, not drinking, and not going over to guys houses anymore. By choosing to NOT do these things anymore, I was choosing to give up the only ways I had been taught to "catch a man". I was choosing to now let God be in charge of whether or not a man would even come along, and above all else, I put God first in my life and NOT a man!
It was not long after finally surrendering to a life of purity God brought into my life examples of people who had chosen to also live a similar life of purity themselves. And then soon after, God introduced me to my husband Travis, whom I did not "see" until God had healed my heart through his friendship and love.
Now I know everyone's story is different, and I know not everyone is called to give up kissing until they are married. Nor am I saying that anyone should. I am here to ask instead, what is God asking you to give up in your life to be loved the way you are searching for. God has the answer for us all, and no matter what it looks like, we all are called to a life of purity! Meaning we are all called to live a life of purity the way God asks us to so we can have the love He designed for us.
So what is it in your life? Is is drinking, smoking, having sex outside of marriage, looking at porn, eating unhealthy, watching or listening to things that do not bring life into your life?... The list is endless, because it is specific to you and your walk with God. What area of your life are you not living with purity before God? What is He speaking to YOU about? Whatever it is, I would encourage you to surrender that area of your life over to God and choose instead a life of purity. Because by doing so you will finally receive the life God has designed you for!
Be encouraged friend, you can do this!!!
If you want to read more about how God changed my life through choosing purity, please order my book Pursued with Relentless Love on Amazon today!
Lead in Love...
What does it look like to Lead in Love?
BE God's LOVE to your spouse each day
and watch how God changes their heart and yours in the process!
Do you fear surrendering something in your life to God? I know I did. I knew at that time in my life there was one area I could not seem to let go of. One area I didn't believe God knew best. Yet this same area I knew continued to draw me away from Him!
That area was men, and for me I didn't believe giving this area to God would be something I would want if God was in charge of it. Honestly at this time in my life I was a single mother and believed the only way life would be complete and "okay" was if a man was in our life to take care of us. What I didn't realize at the time was God Himself wanted to be that person for me and my daughter as our provider and protector.
I honestly believed if I surrendered this part of my life to God He wouldn't send anyone in our lives. I believed God was asking me to become an "old maid". But one day as I drove home from work God's voice was so loud all I could do was surrender. It wasn't a quiet, gentle surrender to God like I have observed in so many others lives, it was instead a position of defeat before God.
My surrender felt at first like an argument I had just lost, but at that very moment God turned my feelings of defeat and despair into hope, love and His peace. It was this experience from God that made me know I could trust Him with this area of my life, and that no matter what it ended up looking like it already felt better knowing God would take care of it.
Looking back, I know it was this conversation with God where I finally surrendered in believing I knew what was best for me. I began to trust God in a whole new way, and in every area of my life! God knew I wasn't ready until then to believe He wouldn't hurt me and would give me the desires of my heart. God knew I needed to take it at my own pace and was waiting patiently for when I was ready.
What is in your life God has been asking you to surrender to Him? Are you in a place in life where you have never asked Jesus into your heart, and can't escape His voice like I couldn't because it just keeps getting louder and louder? Wherever you are on your journey with God, and whatever He is speaking to you to surrender, I encourage you to do so! Because when you do surrender to God in your life, He won't hurt you, He knows whats best for you, and He will never give up on you!
Figuring out the purpose God has created you for begins with the understanding that all of our purpose is to love God and love others! Out of this heart we begin to find the unique ways God has created us through our gifts, desires, passions and capacities to serve Him.
For me this began with hearing God say that I would become a mother of many not all of my own body, and that I had a ministering heart to minister to the needs of many from all I had come through. For the longest time my focus was on understanding what this calling looked like in order for me to pursue it. In the process God reminded me He was with me all along, and I could not miss out on fulfilling something I was created for, unless I choose to say no to that calling and purpose.
Out of my relationship with God I began to see in myself the things that God had spoken. Like a father sees in a child and encourages them until the child sees it themself. When I realized all I had to do to fulfill my purpose was to keep my eyes on Jesus and follow His voice and not mine or anyone else's, my purpose began to pursue me!
My gift that my husband likes to call "the baby whisperer", combined with my passion to love people, whether as a child or a grumpy old man launched me into just being God's love to others. This developed eventually into becoming a nannie, daycare provider, counselor, coach, pastor, writer and speaker. When I began loving the people God put in my path as I would want to be loved, I was only capable of loving a few, but over time God continues to stretch me into being capable of loving many!
Your calling is the same, to love God first, and then to love others! It is not a purpose that will puff you up or take away from you. It is a purpose that allows you to step into the body of Christ as the part of the body that God created for you to become. To fulfill something that only you can fulfill, and only with God's help. Trust Him in the process! Follow HIS voice! Be obedient to HIM! Then watch your purpose pursue you!
Stop the Abuse...
As a counselor, I have worked with clients for months before they are able to trust me enough to know that whatever they tell me I will not hurt them with. In most cases of abuse this is the case. When beginning a therapeutic relationship clients understand there are only a few times as a counselor that I have to disclose the information that is shared with me, and those times are if they are wanting to hurt themselves, hurt others or are being hurt by others.
EVERY TIME a woman (or children) discloses they are in danger or has been in danger at the hands of others they are ALWAYS fearful of what the repercussions towards them will be for telling the truth. You have to understand that it is this fear that the enemy uses to keep you trapped in abuse! I say this so that if you are also in an abusive relationship and are reading this, that you hear that having this fear is normal and that you are not alone in it. As a victim of abuse you are constantly living in survival mode which includes thinking about everything that may happen in order to protect yourself from more harm.
But what if I were to tell you that YOU have the power to take away the ability your husband has to hurt you, just by telling someone. By telling someone your husband no longer has the same power over you because he no longer can control you with his wrath! It does not mean the fear will go away immediately, as it will grow before it subsides. But when you expose light to darkness, darkness flees. Meaning, your telling someone and getting help makes your husband reap consequences for the choices HE HAS MADE, NOT YOU! And when this happens he no longer has the power to control you anymore!
The problem with being trapped is we don't see clearly! When we are locked into abuse we believe we are protecting ourselves and our children by not saying anything. Because when we stay silent we believe his wrath does not ensue and harm us. However, the reality is that the first time you are hit is the ONLY time you are NOT part of the problem. After that first time, if you don't choose to tell someone about what he has done and make sure it does not happen again, you become part of the cycle. It is this cycle that enables him to believe he can do it again to you and possibly to even your children. This cycle is very dangerous, because the only direction it takes you is down. It is at the bottom of this cycle that I don't want you to be, because at this point a person believes the only escape is death.
Many times when I have helped clients where children have been taken away from domestic violence, part of the process of healing is helping the woman understand how she was part of the problem by staying silent. Helping her to see that every time she didn't tell someone and allowed her children to be exposed to the same abuse she was, whether it be physical, verbal, sexual, spiritual or neglect, she was NOT PROTECTING them from it. And it is this point that governing bodies get involved by taking children into custody, to protect children from experiencing more abuse if the child's parents can not trusted to protect them from it themselves.
I understand there is so much more than can be talked about on this subject, but saying everything is NOT the point of this blog today. The point is if you are still reading and you are in danger, you need to tell someone TODAY by calling 911! You need to chose to be a part of protecting you and your children and not part of the cycle you are in! It's okay to say NO to someone that is hurting you!
I want to leave you with this thought from Jesus himself! Have you ever heard of the story Jesus told us in Mathew 18:6 MSG “But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do."
Jesus is encouraging us to first of all understand that we are HIS children and HE is warning anyone that hurts us or makes us sin is doomed. Jesus says it would be better off for them to put a huge rock that was used to grind grain around their neck and be dropped off into the middle of a lake and drown than what will happen to them for hurting you and your children!
Trust Jesus!!! HE WILL HELP YOU IF YOU ASK HIM TO!
YOU just need to call 911 and tell them EVERYTHING!!!
I would challenge us all that generosity is an act of selflessness whether or not it is being generous with our money, time or love. When we think of the word generosity, most of the time the first thing we think about is being generous with our money. Which is true that we are being generous when we give financially, but we are also choosing to be selfless by giving to someone or a vision that is outside of ourself. By giving financially we are investing in something outside of ourself and are leaving behind a legacy.
But what about when we choose to give our time? We all know there are only 24 hours in a day and every one of them can be filled. When we choose to stop to listen, spend time with someone, or serve in a capacity to help others we are giving what valuable time we have. This too is a selfless act of generosity that leaves a legacy!
When I think about being generous with our love though, I think about the 5 love languages and how someone gives or receives love. I find it interesting to know that two of those five love languages are given through the generosity of our Time or Gifts. I don't know about you, but every time someone is generous to me with their money, time or love it always makes me feel loved. But that feeling is even greater in myself when I give of my money, time or love to others! I think this is the very reason why God teaches us that it is greater to give than it is to receive. Because each time we choose to be generous we become closer to our heavenly father by giving the love He gave to us first, to others. The selfless act of generosity leaves a legacy of God's love!
I pray you experience God's generous love today!
Choose to Understand...
Choosing to listen to others and understand what they are saying from their perspective is an act of selfless love. It is choosing to listen without rebuttal or defense first to understand why the other person feels and thinks what they are thinking. When we love someone enough to put ourselves and our feelings aside to begin with; and choose instead to try and understand what the other person is saying; it shows them that we care about them more than ourselves and want to make it better. It doesn't say the other person is right and you are wrong. It says I hear you and I want to understand why you are upset. It says I want to make this right because I love you!
Most couples are not taught this skill and have to learn it. It is hard at the beginning to lay aside our defense mechanisms, and cycles of communication that may be unhealthy. It's hard to think about others before we think about how we feel and why we are hurting in the moment. But when each person tries to show the other person the love they need for themselves first, a new love is birthed between couples that allows for healing to begin.
Feeling heard by your spouse makes you know that you are not alone and you are loved. By choosing to understand what our spouse feels from THEIR perspective helps us to love THEM even more, because we choose to see them! It is a selfless act of love and a choice to do so. It is not based on feelings or selfishness. It is based on loving others as ourself and treating them first the way we need to be treated.
Have you ever heard God's voice tell you to do something you didn't understand? Not knowing can create a lot of anxiety if we don't understand and truly believe God has our best interests at heart and knows the path. Sometimes we can't see because God wants us to learn to trust Him knowing that we can't do ANYTHING apart from Him.
When God tells me to do something I don't understand, I often think of it like walking across stones stretched across water. In those moments of anxiety and fear to me it feels like the water is raging and can knock me off the rock I stand on at any moment. When I focus on the unknown I feel like I am alone, wet and cold with no one to save me and lead me to the other side.
BUT THEN I REMEMBER, that God holds the flashlight that is lighting the stone I stand on, and even when it feels like I am alone, I am not! I remember God is not only lighting the stone I am currently on, but the next stone I need to step onto to get safely to the other side. I remember God is going to protect me from danger! I remember God has provided for me before, and He will continue to give me what I need to make it to the other side safely.
I often think about that river until my eyes are set on Jesus and I experience His peace. There is where my fears disappear and the image turns into a peaceful stream with the sun shining on my face, while I sit in the palm of His hand as we cross the stream together. It is then I realize, that I have been there with Him all along and it was only my fears that made me picture the dark, wet and alone path that I thought I was standing on. It is here that I remember I am A CHILD OF GOD and His ways are better than my own, and that I can trust Him.
Knowing this gives me strength to say YES to whatever He is asking me to do!
Is this you?
.Do you want to know God more? Do you want someone to help you do so? Do you want someone to walk alongside you who has been in your shoes? Do you feel alone? Do you want to experience the healthier and happier you?