Jen… I want to send this text as a grateful friend and not as a client. I just finished reading your book and I am in tears right now. I am so grateful that God placed you into my life not by coincidence but by his perfect timing. I am grateful for your obedience, and I am grateful for your story. I could relate on So many levels. He is healing things inside me that I didn’t even know I need healing from. I know he has a ministry waiting for me. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but I know that because of you stepping out and praying for me that day things shifted for me. My heart is to come alongside the broken and love them until they can love themselves just like Jesus has done for me. He has opened my heart to receive his love in a way I never thought possible. I am overwhelmed in the best way thank you!
I grew up never knowing religion, or believing in God. I was, however, raised in a loving home. My parents always wanted what was best for me, and that was for me to figure life out myself and make my own choices. Not them forcing me towards anything in particular, let alone a Church. I do count myself lucky to not have some of the hard times that others have faced as youngsters. But I never even really knew what a pastor, father, priest or anything was - they just weren't a part of my childhood.
Fast forward many hard hearted years of self absorbed behavior, hurting people, alcohol, and being reckless with money. Things in my circle revolved around drinking to excess, recovering ... and doing it all over again, and with ill regard to others. The only times I went to church was to attend weddings, and each time, I had that guilt that I shouldn't be there. That should have been my first sign that absolutely I SHOULD have.
I met my wife Nicky and I ended up moving from England to the US, got married, bought a house etc. It was great, and felt right - I have zero regrets - but after a couple of years I started to feel alone. I had left everything and everybody I had ever known behind - I just hadn't really realized it. However, I do know that I was grateful to be out of that lifestyle.
I Remember being engaged in conversation with a family friend during a drive to go fishing on the Columbia River in Oregon ... he would keep pointing out some of God's glories - such as the beautiful skies, mountains, Rivers, the trees and the way the light hit certain places. It's like he was talking to me in a way I understood - as I love landscape photography. As we got deeper in conversation, he told me "If you can believe the first line of the Bible, you can believe any and all of it".
And so every time I picked up a camera, I remembered that conversation. His job was done. The seed planted and was growing within. It wasn't too long until I opened a bible - but I had no idea how to read it. There were strange words, phrases, and a whole bunch of numbers everywhere.
A year and a half later I actually got the courage to ask him - so, how DO you read the bible? It then took me almost 2 years to work through it - during which time our family grew, we moved states (a few times), and we started attending church more regularly.
My "coming to God" moment of getting to know the Lord wasn't an instant snap-of-the fingers moment, but more a slow drawn out process that I've only recently been piecing together and realizing. Looking back though, I really do believe the Lord had just plucked me out of that lifestyle of sin and moved me far away, providing me with new trials and tribulations as a husband, and a father.
All I can say is - you may not realize it at the time, but God is doing things for a purpose you may or may not ever know. But he is with you, and he is for you! Was I really ever lonely, or just looking in the wrong direction when He was sat right next to me all along?”
I was a hot mess. I walked in to Jens office and the first words out of my mouth were “I suck at relationships". I didn’t know until much unraveling that I was highly codependent. And the codependency was killing me and my marriage. And today I know that God was waiting patiently – waiting for me to let go of control and hand over the reigns to Him – always present. I now know a new freedom – the peace of God goes beyond my understanding. And instead of seeking validation and love from others, I turn to Him. And I can now share my story without fear or shame. Do I still struggle? Of course! But with open eyes, I know where to go for my peace. And others see His peace and love in me.
We were broken, individually and as a couple. We were both shells and our family was suffering for it. We didn’t see it, until our world was completely ripped apart. Marriage counseling, for us, was so much more than just learning better communication. We had to learn who we were in God before we could learn who we were as a couple. God took a terrible situation of dust and ashes, turning it into a beautiful story of growth, forgiveness, humbleness, and redemption. Satan threw everything he had at us, it seemed. This has been the hardest road we have traveled, and we are completely thankful for it. It’s hard to see the path through the rain. We were in the storm and couldn’t see where we were being led, but we were pushing through and doing the work. A year and a half of work and pursuing God when sometimes we didn’t know where we would end up. God has great plans for us, and is using this for HIS purpose and HIS glory. We are better individually, as spouses, a family and Christians. Counseling is a tool that God used for this change. Only with God.
As a small child God captured my heart with compassion to work with children and the elderly. I love their wonderful stories and wisdom that God has given to them and the innocents of children. I was saved at a really low point of my life surrounded by encouraging women.
I met my husband and was married for 32 years. We shared a ministry together in the intercity of Fort Worth Texas where we lived. God used it to open up our eyes and hearts for His people as we served them. We went through a lot of trials and tribulations, but God says that it is these times that draws us closer to Him.
Several years later my husband took his own life. I learned on Ps 23:4, "Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me and your rod and staff will comfort me."
With a lot of healing years later Jesus called me to go to the nations. He made a BIG difference in my heart. When I am used by God I can't believe what just happens!!! He is amazing !!! My life was changed and showed me what amount of Pure Love I had to give to others and the nations he was calling me too. It required waiting on the Lord and putting Him first while honoring Him to proclaim the Good News.
I dedicated myself to the Lord in missions and the plans God laid out for me to go to DTS in Kona, Hawaii. I was there for 3 months in addition to an outreach in Malaysia and other mission trips where we went to Panama, Costa Rica and The Dream Center in California.
I have a new zest for life and walk with the Lord with purpose and a glow in my heart because I have surrendered to Him, and now He has filled me with joy and peace.
Our Story - Written 9/30/2019
We both grew up in Christian households and started dating our senior year of high school. Through our first 2 years of college, God met us in ways we were not necessarily looking for but our faith in our heavenly Dad really became our own. We were both able to travel overseas for mission trips during this time as well. Our marriage struggled significantly for the first 5 years, mainly due to the fact that neither of us were living surrendered lives. God started the process of healing and restoration of our relationship in Alaska in the beginning of 2010 when Deb was finishing a 4 month physical therapy clinical. This is one of the main reason’s our hearts are drawn to marriage ministry. We love working with the brokenhearted and hopeless because we know and have experience the transformational power and love Christ has for marriage. We loved it in Alaska in the winter, as we both also grew up thriving in the snow and cold in Montana.
In March of 2016, Kent had a focus shifting experience with God and the love our heavenly Dad truly has for him. From that point forward, he has been falling into closer and deeper relationship and pursuit of Jesus’s heart!
In April of 2016, we were blessed by a conference where we were specifically seeking God for truth and wisdom. We were given a word about peacemaking, bridge building, marriage ministry and our children. One of the first visions God gave Kent was the next morning when he was asking God what that would look like. He showed him a picture of a sun with rays extended from a clock face center. Both hands where on the 12 and he felt God saying that God’s ministry in our lives would start in Choteau and Montana but would eventual move and/or grow beyond that.
In March of 2017, Kent had been feeling a call to pastoring and an opportunity arose in our local congregation where we were already deeply invested and loving all our church family and local community. We also felt a connection and call to unite the body and build bridges between generations and create a kingdom mentality.
In October 2017, we went through a very painful but purifying time where God blessed us with accelerated maturity and planted our hearts even deeper into his faithfulness, steadfastness, and amazing goodness. He taught us about true forgiveness, the gift of grace, and the absolute necessity of constant connection and relationship with him as our life sustaining all-in-all!
Through that winter, the Lord had sustained us by giving Kent the strength to cut and chop 25 cords of firewood and we lovingly called him Kent Bunyan. In May of 2018 we were driving and asking God what he wanted us to do with the transitions he was leading us through, where he wanted us, and what he wanted us doing with our lives and family. The kids were watching the cartoon of Paul Bunyan and Babe in the back of the car and during a lull in our prayers and conversation we heard the cartoon say, “But don’t you folks feel sorry for Paul and Babe, I hear they’re up Alaska way … and mighty happy”. Then the presence of the Lord fell so heavily in the car. We looked at each other in shock and knowing that this was the Lord speaking directly to us, we cried and laughed and praised him. Holy Spirit brought to Kent’s remembrance in that moment the vision of the sun clock with both hands on the 12 and he then understood what it meant. We were being called to the land of the midnight sun.
That May, we also began pursuing our licensing and mentorship/training with the conclusion and final exam on November 30th 2018 … the same day as the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. One of our amazing sisters in Christ had sent us a dream she had the Sunday prior. It was our family closely standing together in a white background. There were rings radiating out from us in the cadence of God’s heartbeat. When we saw this picture of the earthquake epicenter we knew it meant something significant. Now we see the epicenter of God’s heart for us in Alaska.
God has been so faithful to continue to give us reminders of his plan and purpose for us and our family. Small visions for Deb include holding a giant rainbow trout in her hands with the Lord saying she would be doing something she never had before but that he had created her for this. She has also had on her heart two other big requests of God. One was to find a position for a PT job in the school district to love on the children there as well as be more available to our kids during the seasons they are out of school. The other was to have people who would love on our kids like their own grandkids since we would be diminishing the close physical contact the kids have with their grandparents here in Montana.
We have been seeking the Lord on his timing, heart and future location for us in Alaska since May of 2018. We placed a map of Alaska on our living room wall and have been praying over it and asking where God would have us. Deb even let the Holy Spirit know he could encourage one of our kids to take a highlighter to the map and circle where he wants us, if that is how he’d like to reveal his plan. Come to find out, Houston is not even on our map so there was no way that scenario could have played out but it actually speaks so much deeper to our hearts. The pastor who spoke at our Credentialing ceremony was Bryan Jarrett who has started a “Water Tower Project” to resource and encourage the small town churches all across the US and emphasizes the importance of the forgotten people in forgotten places. The lord has been telling us that he wants us to reach out to the forgotten people, the ones that are not known. Those who are not on the map but God sees so clearly. We have been praying for the people of Alaska and God has been breaking our hearts for the people up there even though we really don’t know anyone. In our season of waiting to hear from the Lord, he has been so faithful to provide clear signs pointing us to somewhere in the Mat-Su valley. We had sold our camper to pay for our Bible School books and found out the camper was originally purchased in Palmer, AK. We also heard a story of an AG pastor who reached out to the gangs of New York and through that calling he started the first Teen Challenge. Kent’s heart has been to work with those struggling in addiction and we did some research and found out there is one right in Wasilla. While studying our school books one day on a picnic table in Great Falls, MT, we asked God for some confirmation that he was really calling us to Alaska and would love another clear sign. Just then a vehicle was approaching and had a rock in its tire making a clicking noise so we both looked up. It was a huge semi pulling a giant enclosed trailer with ALASKA in ten foot letters and covered in pictures of Alaska wildlife and scenery. We have known for quite some time that God was not only calling us to a small town but also that he was telling Kent not to sell his tools because he would most likely be pastoring a small church and continue to work construction part time. Our desire has also been to be near the Little Beaver Camp for the purpose of wilderness retreats. His love is so powerful! He had been watching the open church list and were hopeful to head up the summer of 2020, but still had not felt any clear direction from the Lord for a move but did feel him say that he would bless us in obedience to continue preparing in Montana for what he had through the next year. God has been showing Kent the number 9 1 1. He has been asking the Lord what he wants to show him and has been given some powerful scripture. We do see another strong connection in God’s timing of his revealed plan. It was 9 months 11 days since the earthquake and licensing exam to the day that God gave us clarity of direction and his call to Houston.
Then we were offered a position in Montana to pastor an open church September 7th. It was a very beautiful opportunity but we both knew that God has been telling us Alaska. When we settled in our hearts to continue in obedience to what he has said, the next day he started to reveal, in quick succession, clear signs into his plan for us after waiting for 16 months. We were again driving home and talking with the Lord (God meets us a lot in the car by his grace when we are all together as a family) when Kent said to check the Alaska open church list. The Hilltop position had only been posted on August 26th. Kent pursued phone calls the next day and Deb checked the listings again for any school PT positions in the Mat-Su area. There was a position open and it had been posted the same day as the church’s opening! Deb has always asked God for signs and at this point he was telling her to believe the signs that he was showing us! When Deb called about the position it was no longer available but she had made great contact with the school district and is hopeful that with repeat contact with the district in the spring there will be a position available for the 2020-2021 school year. It was beyond what we could ask for and he had had this in his mind all along. He knows our hearts desires and often will plant those desires within us. We have both grown up in rural Montana (towns of 2,000 or less) and we function so effectively in an intimate setting, living life with those around us. We also have a passion to see God’s kingdom grow and flourish and we are sold out to work without reservation for the fulfillment of his will.
Listen to 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!
I quieted the voice inside to help you bear my presence
Not knowing that the quietness would cover up my essence
My clumsiness and lack of know would put you in a rage
So I learned to suppress and walked gingerly back to my cage
Emotions were not okay to speak or feel or express
Unless the emotions helped you to ease your constant state of unrest
I tried with all my might to earn your love and affection
Not knowing that the goal was folly due to your affliction
Now I understand you couldn’t give what you didn't have
You did your best with the paradigm that you learned from your past
Now I know that love for myself is not a weakness but a strength
And I don't have to earn love from anyone or travel any length
For approval, worthiness, happiness, or justification to
Live on this Earth as God has intended me to
- Former Marriage Counseling Client and Life Coach Client
"When we met Jen she fit right in with our family and somehow gained the trust of our kids almost immediately. Because of her faith and gift of discernment she was able to point our entire family to Christ as the Great Healer of all. She addressed the issues we had without judgement and without labels. She treated the kids with loving respect and honesty, never sugar-coating their past experiences but always pointing them to the truth. She never rushed and always had time to answer our questions and give advice even throughout the week.
For a year, my daughter would not allow me to brush, let alone fix her hair. Jen began helped us with ways to help her cope with her anxiety. I will never forget the moment she proudly came to me after meeting with Jen with her hair fixed in beautiful rope-braids! She allowed Jen to show me how and fixing her hair has become one of my favorite things to do.
I see Jesus in Jen every time I am with her. Her enthusiasm and passion for families is contagious! Her experience is vast and she is incredibly wise. Her wisdom comes from God and because of that her judgement is sound. I feel very lucky to have found Jen who shares our family’s worldview and love for Jesus. She was and continues to be incredibly encouraging to me and I’m so grateful we made the call to meet with her. She is and always will be a part of our family and we love her very much."
T Family Adoption
Our Journey of Kinship Foster care and Adoption
Where to begin with our story?
1) We’re middle aged (not too old but old enough that we are starting over)
2) We didn’t plan on this situation becoming permanent
3) It’s a bittersweet victory
When we were asked to take over foster care, my husband and I had no hesitation and readily agreed. So with a lot of hope and a whole lot of naivety we jumped into being both foster parents. She was a whirlwind to say the least! She left destruction in her path and had absolutely NO boundaries. She didn’t know a stranger and honestly would have went to and with whoever showed her attention. It scared us tremendously. We often wondered what we had gotten ourselves into with taking her into our home and hearts.
We went to family support meetings every three months, we tried to be supportive like they taught us in our Foster Parent books and classes. We got our little one enrolled into Headstart when she was three and found out that it wasn’t just us that had troubles getting her to settle down and be still. She had to be held by her teachers in order to not interrupt her classmates, she had to be redirected numerous times during her half a day of learning, she did not do well with not interrupting when adults were talking and numerous other behavioral issues. Her school Counselor called us and informed us that they would like to have her evaluated by a child psychiatrist as well as a play therapist. We were willing to do whatever it took to help her in her mannerisms.
We went to the psychiatrist, as well as our little one started play therapy at school with “Miss Jen Jen”. It was amazing! We have always been a Christian family and to have someone who loves God as much as we did helping our little girl was the blessing that we didn’t know she or my husband and I needed! She worked very hard with our foster daughter and listened to us when times got really tough. And they got really really bad at times. All the while Jen was working with our little one with her behaviors. They had improved so much in the year and a half that she had been seeing her at that point. Jen was able to see beyond her little whirlwind thoughts and was able to figure out the things that triggered our little one to the point of hyper vigilance.
Jen was the angel (although she won’t say it and doesn’t see it that way) that our family desperately needed. There were many times in our journey that we wanted to give up. Fostering is difficult but kinship foster care is excruciating! We got to the point that we had to make a decision in the foster parenting process and that was if we would be willing to adopt this precious little girl who had done nothing wrong in her life. This little girl who had us head over heels for her. We had a long road ahead of us. Jen often heard our woes and trials as foster-parents soon to be adoptive as well as helping our little one discover why she behaved in the ways that she did and helping her understand her own feelings. Mind you at this point she’s only 4 years old.
During a break from court testimonies, Jen said a quick prayer that things would go smoothly. Because she is the person and therapist that she is we were able to prevail. She is such a God-send to us and Jen was placed in our lives. Thank you Miss Jen Jen for the love that you showed our daughter and our family with your support and continuing guidance! We love you and hope that our testimony will help other’s in their trials of life!
1) I began testing to donate my kidney for my sister
2) I began Alanon
3) I tested for certification of AIFD for floral design
4) I tested positive for breast cancer
All of these miracles confirmed that God was working very diligently in my life to bring me closer to him. To see his power over my life.
I learned throughout my 41 years at the time how to live very confidently and successfully in the chaos that always seemed to be around me and come out on top. My mother had taught me this.
I had been a christian and was baptized at 16 but really never fully relied on Christ to run my life until 2009 and the years that followed. I resigned myself to spending the remainder of my life on reaching full restoration as God intended me to be, happy, joyous and free in His loving arms, daily.
It has been the hardest journey, to be honest, to relinquish this control over to Him. But I believe now, if i didn't , I would not have survived the horror that was to come.
You see, I had believed that if I did all the "right things", everything would be good. For me and for my girls. The problem was, I am not that powerful, God is. This is His story, for me. I needed to surrender to his will for me and my girls.
I only need to trust Him and get out of His way and stop working against Him. I believed that I was smart enough and knew enough to prevent bad things from happening. But I only had part of the picture. God knew the whole story as it would unfold.
Through my 10 plus years in Alanon, I began to trust Jesus and relinquish control. What peace I found it.
1) Through testing for donation of my kidney (my first leaf of faith as i had no insurance, was sole breadwinner for my family), I found my cancer. They said it would have killed me before i found it if i hadn't been tested at that exact time.
2) Through Alanon, I learned how to trust God, which has helped me survive the devastation that was to come with my own daughters addiction and abuse.
3) I passed my certification, which later was key in me receiving a job offer that would provide for my family through my husbands stroke and raising the children of my daughter.
4) I beat the cancer. No, Jesus healed me. The same kind of cancer kills many, my own aunt, but i was spared, and I didn't miss a day of work through the surgeries, chemo and radiation.
I now know whatever curveball that gets thrown my way, God already knows the outcome, and i must trust it. I must. There are days i get tired, and really just want to go "home" to all the family i have lost and to my Jesus. But for some reason, I am still here. I will rest when i am told to rest, move when i am told to move, and never, ever ever give up hope.
There were years I felt cursed or even punished. God knew what was down the road and needed me to be ready for it. You see, my daughter was an addict. Beginning in her teens she became addicted to all forms of drugs which lead her to bondage, abuse, beatings, homelessness, prostitution, mental illness and many arrests. I mourned my living child for over 10 years. I wanted it over, her pain and mine. I had learned through support groups and therapy that God is her father and I had to stay out of His way so He could bring her home. I did not always do that but when I finally did, she found Jesus. Along the way I was given strength to raise her babies, work full time and find joy in this life. I had to learn to trust God when all the worldly elements told me to do otherwise. I had to remember that healing is promised, strength is promised, love is promised, and I could not lose faith. Without it I would not be here, and neither would my daughter.
My daughter is a changed person today. I never thought she would know Jesus or trust him. She fought very hard and the devil was surely in her ear. She did not learn who He was because of what influence I had, but by the desperation and people who came to her, through Him.
Today I am so very thankful. Because of God my daughter is now a believer, and my second husband who was an alcoholic is also healed and is a great partner in this adventure God has given us.
I have been reading this book called Pursued with Relentless Love by Jen Skavhaug. She was one of the staff at a program I was in and she had taught me that if I wanted to follow Christ, I should seriously stay pure and follow HIM with body mind and soul. I thought she was crazy 🙂 No one stays pure and out of a relationship. The concept was unreal to me. But as I continued to seek HIM and know HIS great love for me, I couldn't destroy the relationship I had with HIM by following the same patterns, so I listened to her and as the years have gone by, I saw her wisdom and even though sometimes I kick and scream and throw my baby tantrums, I know that HE put her in my life at the right time so that I would understand how to follow HIM. All of the people HE put in my life taught me how to follow Christ with all of me. They taught me so much. I am always grateful for the miracles and I believe each person at the Victory House and the church and my mentors and counselors and pastors were hand picked by God to show me this walk. As I started this out, I am reading her book and it has reminded me of who I am in Christ and what a renewed passion and add prayer service and the teachings that Pastor has been giving and this book I am reading about prayer (Draw the Circle) I am enlisting at a deeper level and I am getting the fire back and wanting to go forward. Thank you all for pushing and showing and loving and nurturing and listening to me as I walk this journey!!. I am going to get baptized again on Sunday!!! I love Jesus and no turning back!! I love you all. Thank you all and thank you Jesus!!
Thanks Jennifer for writing the book!!!
If you would like to read the book Pursued with Relentless Love by Jen Skavhaug, please find it on Amazon at:
About this blog.
In this blog, Jen shares testimonies from others who have been passionately PURSUED by God and His relentless love, Jen would like to invite YOU to share your testimony and be featured on the MGK Blog.