When You Don’t Think You’ll Make It Through the Week, the Day or the Next Five Minutes

IMG_3875#2594: Those days and weeks you know you will only make it with God. I scribbled the words in my Eucharisteo (aka:thanksgiving) journal early Monday morning. 

It’s the beginning of one of those weeks. You know the kind. A week that makes you feel a chill of panic up your spin as you see it creep closer and closer on the calendar.

My mom is having hip replacement surgery this week followed by six weeks of recovery. And while I’m happy for her and the relief from pain she will soon feel I keep having this pit of the stomach feeling that reminds me of how I felt growing up before piano recitals and summer camp.

The dread. The knots in my stomach. The intense desire to run away. 

With my mom out of commission and me on the frontlines of her recovery I’m afraid of what the next six weeks may look like. The care she’ll need. The meals for six people three times a day, the laundry, the groceries, the household chores all on top of my regular scheduled programming: my kids, my baby, my husband.

I mean, this is my mom. My mom!  The one who has always cared for me and kept the house running smoothly. She’s taken care of me, my sister, my dad and her siblings through surgeries, illnesses, and accidents. She’s been with all of my grandparents and one of my uncles when they slipped from this world into Heaven. She’s the one who is always the caregiver. How do you care for the woman who cares for everyone else?

I’m tempted (okay, I’m more than tempted, I’ve given in) to worry, doubt, fear, and dread. I’ve let myself get anxious and upset. 

So what made me write that line in my journal? What gave me the nerve to be thankful for this? Clear-eyed, heart-open thankful, even in this?

Psalm 23.

I know it’s a little cliché. The most popular psalm we hear at funerals and see on Hallmark cards. The psalm we’ve read so many times it seems to have lost its power. 

Not today. Today I read it, and it was fresh. Equipped with the truth I need to hear and the wisdom I need to practice.

Equipped with what I need to make it through the next six weeks. To get through life, quite actually.

The NLT translation says it like this:

“The Lord is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk

Through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

For you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

Protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me

In the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love

Will pursue me

All the days of my life,

And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

As I look back on the last three months I know God has prepared my heart for this. Through Belle’s arrival and an already upturned schedule, through myriad Jesus Calling entries that remind me over and over the importance of walking with Him, through the very sense of His presence, God is teaching me to live and walk through each day of my life moment by moment with Him. I don’t have to get through the next six weeks, I just have to get through this moment, this now, with Him. And with Him makes all the difference.

It’s the Psalm 23 way. 

The rest and the love. The protection, the provision. The goodness and the blessing. It’s not just for funerals and Hallmark cards, and it hasn’t lost its power. 

It’s for every moment of every day.

It’s for the good weeks and the bad.

It’s for those moments we know we can’t make it alone and all the moments we foolishly try to. Because whether we feel it or not every moment, every day, every week is a time when we need God. 

For life, for breath, for the beating of a heart. He is our Psalm 23 Savior and every day is a Psalm 23 day. 

The next few weeks will be hard. I’m not a nurse. I’m not my mom. I’m just one person in a house full of needs. 

But I’m also not alone.

I’m learning in these weeks I can’t get through…especially in these weeks I can’t get through…that no valley is too dark, no enemy is too great, no weariness too overwhelming for my Savior’s unfailing love.

The Lord is my shepherd I have all that I need…

All that I need in the crook of His arm. In the unwavering sureness of His path.

What to Do this Memorial Day: READ!

War BooksI closed the book and held it close to my chest. After three weeks immersed in the pages of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand I was both sad and happy for the story of Louie Zamperini to come to an end. 

When I started reading this book it wasn’t what I expected. For some reason I thought it was a fiction novel set in World War II. I realized right away this wasn’t the case. Rather than historical fiction, Unbroken is a very real account of an American POW, a biography of an American hero.

While I love historical fiction my typical reading preferences do not gravitate toward history books, particularly those that tell the gruesome details of war and the soldiers who fight them. That’s more my husband’s department, and for years I’ve been content to leave this difficult and heavy reading up to him.

But there was something about Louie, something about Unbroken that I couldn’t let go. This story, albeit hard to read, is the closest I’ll ever come to understanding the price that was paid for my freedom.

If an American hero like Louie was brave enough, resilient enough, strong enough to endure the story captured in this book, the very least I can do is take the time to read his-story. 

It is nothing short of scandalous. That I can sit on my couch, comfortable and cozy on a cold winter night, with food in my fridge and a roof over my head and read the story of a man who lost everything in order to protect my freedom.

Flag StatueBooks like Unbroken, movies like American Sniper are hard to read, hard to watch, but I think there is an importance to these stories all Americans should make room for in their hearts, their minds, their lives. How else do we avoid taking the truth of our history for granted? How else do we avoid forgetting? How else do we avoid turning a blind eye to what is still being done on our behalf to keep us safe, to keep us free?

If you’re like me, and war books/movies aren’t your thing, might I encourage you to check one out? Take the time to set aside your normal book of choice and engage in the stories of men and women who have given their lives so we can live our lives in safety and in freedom.

And when you’re done, I hope you’ll take that unlikely book on your reading list and hold it close to your chest. A little more grateful. A little more aware. A little more willing to thank the veteran you see at the grocery store next week.

A little more willing to keep on reading. Because these stories are more than stories.

They are relics of our history, bought with blood, too precious to be forgotten. They are links into the battle against evil, being fought for us right now, too real to  be taken for granted.

An Unlikely Reading List…

Night by Elie Wiesel

1776 by David McCullough

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

American Wife by Taya Kyle

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

A Warrior’s Faith by Robert Vera

~A Message From the Archives


The Art of Motherhood (Or How to Make this Day a Best Day)

Sunshine SmilesTaylor Swift has a song she wrote about her mother and while it’s not one of her mega hits it is one of my favorites. The chorus of the song says,

“I don’t know if Snow White’s house is near or far away but I know I had the best day with you today.” (The Best Day by Taylor Swift)

When I was in the sixth grade I remember a typical Monday afternoon in which my mom did something that was simple in nature but has lasted in my memory. As she picked me up from school on that Monday afternoon I remember her saying, “I feel like going to see a movie. Want to go?”

Did I want to go? Of course I wanted to go. Did she really need to ask?

Together we headed to the mall where we caught a matinee of Sense and Sensibility. It was my first brush with Jane Austen and it was completely and utterly magical.

Being there with my mom, no homework, no rush, no worries. The only care on our minds was whether or not Edward and Eleanor would end up together by the end of the movie.

Whenever Mother’s Day rolls around I think of this memory and sometimes I wonder, why this one? Of all the special things my mom did for me growing up why does this memory stick so soundly, so seemingly above and beyond the others?

I’m not sure I know the answer but I think it has something to do with the unexpected. It wasn’t my birthday or a holiday when expectations run high. It was a Monday. It was a surprise. It was simple and fun.

I think there was also something in seeing my mom being nothing but her beautiful self. She wasn’t cooking, cleaning or transporting me around. She wasn’t busy being a wife or even a mom. It was one of the rare times I could witness my mom relax. She was just Martie. I was just Jen. For that space in time we were somehow free to be perfectly ourselves enjoying something we both loved.

There was probably any number of reasons why we could have chosen and maybe should have chosen not to go to the movies that day. But I’m so glad we went. I’m so glad my mom chose to follow her heart that day. And I’m glad she took me with her.

Now I’m a mom raising three girls of my own and I’m continually inspired by this memory and what it means to me. In the midst of homemaking, homeschooling, writing, being a wife and everyday mothering I hope I can be the kind of mom that builds memories like this one into the lives of my girls. 

Memories that stick for a lifetime. Memories of days spent enjoying a good movie, a good book, a good walk in the park or a trip to Barnes & Nobles. Memories of days spent enjoying each other.

Because somewhere deep in my mama’s heart I do know why that day with my mom was so special. I know it was one of hundreds of days in which my mom modeled the art of motherhood. The art of turning ordinary days, sometimes even bad days, into the best days. 

When I listen to Taylor sing about her mom I cry every time. My heart feels like it could burst wide open with how much I want my mom to know this is how I feel about her. It’s also what I want to be for my girls. I want to give them the best days.

On this Mother’s Day I pray that both may be true.

I pray that the best days of our lives will forever be the ones we spent together. 

To listen to Taylor’s song The Best Day please follow this link and treat yourself to some Mother’s Day goodness: https://youtu.be/l4_6eQm7RTQ

How a Group of Friends Changed History

Jessie & Me

A few of my besties: (Jessie, my friend & co-founder of our awesome writing group)

I recently caught a few minutes of a TV program about castle mysteries and in this particular episode they told a story about Martin Luther.

According to this program, Martin Luther was on his way to face trial for translating and proclaiming the Gospel in ways that went against the grain of the Catholic Church. If convicted he would likely be put to death. On the way to his trial, a group of men dressed as guards captured Luther and took him to a remote castle on top of a mountain.

It was at first believed that this group of guards was sent by the Pope to seize Martin Luther, but instead this group was comprised of Luther’s friends who had come to his rescue.


(Sarah, the first friend I made when we moved to Charlotte, NC)

Upon capturing him, these friends secured Luther within the walls of the castle where he could be free to write in safety. It was here that Luther completed his translation of the Bible into German and made a way for common man to access and read the scriptures for themselves for the very first time.

And it was all because of this rescue.

As I sat and watched this story unfold, I thought to myself, Wow! What if? What if those friends hadn’t been brave or daring enough to stage such a rescue? What if they hadn’t believed in Luther enough to risk their lives for his work, his mission? What would or would not have happened? How might history have changed?

(I also thought, Wow! I wish I had a group of friends to come rescue me and lock me in a castle where all I could do is write…but that’s another story…)

Or is it?


(Beth, like a sister to both Chris and me)

In all reality, I do have a group of friends very much like this one. I have a writing group, and while they’ve never rescued me and locked me in a castle in order to save my life what they do for me is not much different.

They believe in me and my writing. They give of themselves and resources time and again to help me, encourage me, and spur me on. And our bi-weekly meetings, which come in the midst of daily life and heartfelt struggles, are their own sort of rescue.

Friends like these, and Martin Luther’s are priceless, and I think they are what God has in mind when it comes to friendship.

The Bible tells us “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)


(The Blum Family from our days in Virginia)

And while we often think of God as our Heavenly Father or our Great Shepard, I think we sometimes forget to consider that He is also our friend. By laying down His life for us on the cross Jesus modeled the greatest love. He modeled the greatest friendship.

And in order to experience this kind of friendship we must start by being this kind of friend.

Consider your closest friend. What is her dream, what is his passion? What is their vision and how can you play a part in helping it come true? How can you aid, support, and rescue?

Mel & Me

(Melanie, my sister and friend since the day I was born)

Consider the people God has put in your life? How can you lay your own life down to show them the love of Christ? How can you give your time, your energy, your resources to further His work, to enhance His kingdom, to show up as Christ with skin on and make a difference in the lives of others?

I know friendships aren’t easy. Friendship of this caliber is hard to come by and even harder to hold onto but it is possible. More than possible it’s the very essence of what Christ has designed for us to experience in relationship and community.

After all, in laying down our lives for our friends there is more than love built between us. There are bonds.

Bonds that mirror the Greatest Love. Bonds that can rescue and save a life.

Bonds that just might change the very course of history.