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I am currently in Muskegon at a women’s retreat hosted by a church from Rockford.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little uncertain about what to expect in terms of temperament, in terms of humor, in terms of level of friendliness.

I HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED BY THESE AMAZING WOMEN.

If I lived in Rockford, I would be attending this church.  If you are friends with me on Instagram or Facebook, I’ll be uploading pics to both sites throughout the weekend.  This retreat is full of amazing women who greeted us with unconditional love and understanding.  We arrived to a pretty huge room beautifully decorated, a great sound guy (HUGE BLESSING), and pretty excellent accommodations.  I don’t think I have ever stayed in a lodge this beautiful before, actually.  My “hotel” room is larger than most, and my hotel room table was wonderfully decorated with chocolates, lotions, cards, and then mints on my pillow.  There is free wifi, food, and accommodations.  My mentor and I unpacked and relaxed for a bit, and then headed downstairs where we found a number of women in a circle praying for us.  They then greeted us with hugs and sat us down and prayed over us.  That was definitely a first for me.  They continued the love fest and hugs into supper.

I am listing all of these things because, I find it incredible, and I would really like to dive into getting know some of these women this weekend.  As I finished my dinner, I got to chat with an 80-some year old grandmother who grew up in Detroit and missed the beauty and accessibility of Belle Isle.  I spoke with women about their decision of which church to attend and how it was influenced by the church’s youth program and support, and I listened as so many women just poured out their hearts and struggles to two complete strangers and didn’t expect anything in return.  They just wanted to share their heart and what the Lord has done.

The last story for the evening that I will share is about a woman whose husband passed away four years ago, and her grandchildren are a large focal point in her life.  As a person works third shift, she doesn’t go and do too many things over the weekends now, however, about three weeks ago, she decided to register to attend this women’s retreat. For some reason, that was the time that one of her children said, “your grandchildren are being baptized on Saturday, February 23rd.”  She was a bit saddened.  Her son said that they would tape-record the baptisms for her, however, this was not what she was hoping for. A short time later, she received a call.  It was a telephone call from both of her grandchildren.  They wanted to ask her a question.  Apparently, a pastor doesn’t have to baptize you; you can choose someone who is already baptized and has had a significant impact on your life.  Her grandchildren chose her.  At that moment, she began to cry.  She was afraid, fearful, not sure of how to respond to them, however, in that same moment the Holy Spirit came on her and spoke to her heart the words of Matthew 19:26 – “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Out of the Spirit the Lord put in her, she gratefully accepted the invitation for her to baptize her grandchildren.  I think our entire table was in tears at such a great honor.  She has decided to leave the retreat just for the afternoon to enjoy baptizing her grandchildren, however, I was just for some reason so moved by the entire story.  What a testimony.  Can you imagine? The most influential person in your life is your grandmother, and you want her to baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  I’ll be praying for her all day tomorrow and as she goes and as she steps out in faith that the Lord will carry her through and that she will enjoy these moments with her grandchildren.

This was just one woman sharing out of over 35+ women.  I have more stories, but we’ll save them until Saturday or Sunday.

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I was trying to do an “afternoon edition” of my blog, however, time got away from me (NAP!) and I ended up making it my regular night-time edition.  While I love to share about my experiences from the conference, I want to make it clear that I encourage everyone whether they are at a conference or just during their regular work week…to JOURNAL.  You cannot imagine what can be revealed to you by you and Lord when you look at old journal entries, or just get all of your emotions and reasonings on paper.  Just journal.  🙂

We were truly blessed by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding of Hillsong, and Kari Jobe sharing and giving of their gifts in worship this morning.  I am a strong advocate of keeping things simple.  Just having two guitars, a box drum, and three voices was just right to start the morning.  It was such a treat to be able to have them come and lead.  I have never seen them lead worship, but have been hearing about them for years now.  I decided to attend the workshop with WorshipTogether which featured Reubs, Ben, and Kari.  Perhaps at first it was just me wanting to be in the same room with them (haha – transparency!), however, I learned a great deal about not only their songwriting process, but the review process of their music.  Ben, Reuben, and Kari made it very clear the importance of accountability, feedback, wise counsel, and room for criticism when writing music.  If we don’t have that system of checks and balances, we can fail to see how one line of a song or maybe even a chorus may be misunderstood or be inapplicable to those hearing it and singing it.  Lastly and I think something that is extremely important to worship leaders at churches everywhere, is that we need to be in touch and in tune with the needs, the story, and the environment of our church.  If you have a very large church, one could understand that you wouldn’t know everything about everyone, however, know about the things going on within your team, your small group, or your bible study.  Know how you can pray and help them; write songs that encourage and build up your church body.  Be His hands and feet.  It literally means the world to them.

After a wonderful lunch of Chick-Fil-A (YEAH BABY!) I made my way to the Exhibition Hall to check out ‘All Sons and Daughters‘.  Not the ‘Sons and Daughters’ that later became ‘Watermark’, but Leslie Jordan and David Leonard who were recently signed to Integrity Music.  Permit me to be odd for a moment – their sound is like harmonies that were born to dance and be one together; it’s a marriage harmony.  Such beauty between those two with their words and their honest precious presence.  I have their EP and will be craving a listen when I return home.  They have such a beautifully warm aura.  After that, I proceeded to rest, ,reflect and take inventory of the week thus far and went back to my hotel for a bit.  I know that I missed some really exceptional workshops, however, I was glad that I rested for a bit.  There’s nothing like a bit of rest to reset your spirit and your mind.

I ended up coming back in time to experience Kari Jobe, Rebecca St. James (I KNOW!!), and Gungor.  To see Rebecca St. James again and to hear a bit of her story was excellent and I fully intend on listening to her new worship album that was released a few months back.  With a brand new husband of only three months, a new album, and a new desire to love and worship the Lord, Rebecca was all smiles and humility tonight and it was amazing to hear her songs and worship tonight; it was a blessing.

GUNGOR.  GUNGOR. GUNGOR. GUNGOR.  Did I mention that Gungor led us in worship tonight?  I have been wanting to experience their show for over a year!?! What?!!? It was just a refreshing night to see a group of musicians express their love and praise and worship for the Lord in a non-traditional way.  It was a great last night for me and now…I get to share the pictures with you.

For those I met at the conference this year – it has been such a joy getting to meet you and learn about your ministries at your churches.  Continue to treasure the Lord and be obedient to His mighty calling for you and your life.  He doesn’t waste a single thing.  He wasn’t wasting time when He created and made you; He was investing in you, FULLY.

REUBEN MORGAN, KARI JOBE, BEN FIELDING

REUBEN MORGAN

BEN FIELDING

MILES MCPHERSON

WORSHIPTOGETHER WORKSHOP

DAVID LEONARD OF ‘ALL SONS AND DAUGHTERS’

LESLIE JORDAN OF ‘ALL SONS AND DAUGHTERS’

KARI JOBE – EVENING SESSION

KARI JOBE – EVENING SESSION

KARI JOBE – ‘HOW HE LOVES’

REBECCA ST. JAMES

WHY YES, THAT IS GUNGOR SEEN FROM THE VERY BACK OF THE AUDITORIUM.

GUNGOR

GUNGOR

GUNGOR – BEAUTIFUL THINGS

MICHAEL, JENNY, LISA

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I would have to say that today….I was overwhelmed at the selection of workshops and opportunities to engage with God, meet and fellowship with His people, and just enjoy another day of life.  The start of the day was amazing as Tim Hughes led us in worship along with a good word from Dr. Leonard Sweet about making sure that we are responding to our current culture with the current language.  We need to learn to remember and reinforce that we are a culture that experiences itself in narratives and metaphors (narraphors).  The question is “can we come alive to the language of our culture, for the sake of the gospel, for the benefit and glory of Christ in God?”  Not only that, but we need to understand that man took the scriptures and broke them down into verses, however, the scriptures were originally grouped as stories, poems, and songs; a continuous, beautiful and attractive narrative.

As for the workshops, I have to admit that I almost didn’t go to the second one because I had so much information to process after my first workshop, I wanted to take some time and break it down by myself.  I pressed on and here is everything I attended today:

“How To Stay Motivated for Ministry” with Buddy Owens of Saddleback Church
“New Song Cafe – Love Divine – The Songs of Charles Welsey” with Kingsway, Brenton Brown, Tim Hughes, John Hartley, and Chris McClarney
“10,000 Reasons: Thoughts on Inspiration and Perspiration in Worship Songwriting” with Matt Redman

Buddy Owens is an extremely affective and passionate real teacher.  I have to say that these trips are a source for me to relax and renew myself.  When Buddy asked the first question of “What Is Your Motivation for Ministry”, I have to say that I really didn’t have my immediate answer as obvious as it was.  Perhaps I was THAT burnt out and unable to think for myself that I couldn’t form an answer.  As I sat there listening and responding in my heart to what the Lord’s spirit had put in Buddy, I found myself realizing that, no, I had not been spending time with the Object of my affection.  That my passion for ministry has slowly but surely been replaced with the feeling of obligation, cynicism, and pessimism.  Taking all that into account, I couldn’t imagine going to the next session after lunch.

I took a break.  I chilled out during my lunch time.  I found a friend in the hallway and chatted about the previous session and decided to check out the Charles Wesley workshop.  That was intended for me.  It was time for me to worship the Lord, not escape by wallowing; I needed Him to come and let me know that “He is too holy for me NOT to worship Him”.  As I did this, I was so grateful for the fellowship and the body of Christ.

As I gathered with others for worship tonight, I feel a weight lift as I raised my hands in worship tonight.  My hands couldn’t be lifted high enough, I couldn’t sing loud enough, I couldn’t express enough words to praise My God and Saviour.  When these actions fail me, the Spirit He placed in me takes over and grants me some amazing joy and contentment.  Those last few sentences totally remind me of Phil Wickham’s ‘Cielo’….check it out.

I am thankful for the Lord – I give thanks to the Lord – I worship the Lord – I Really Love The Lord.

Here are some images I captured of today’s experiences – may you be blessed.

TIM HUGHES

TIM HUGHES

DR. LEONARD SWEET

BUDDY OWENS

TIM HUGHES, CHRIS McCLARNEY & BAND

TIM HUGHES

CHRIS MCCLARNEY

JOHN HARTLEY & KATIE (HIS SISTER-IN-LAW)

BRENTON BROWN (BB)

MATT REDMAN

BRIAN JOHNSON

BRIAN & JENN JOHNSON

BRENTON BROWN

BRENTON BROWN

MATT REDMAN – 10,000 REASONS

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It’s that time of year! Time for the National Worship Leader Conference (NWLC) in Leawood, Kansas.  While avoiding the heat, I was able to enjoy the fellowship of several worship leaders and senior pastors from around the country while we heard from a number of speakers in various media-related positions at MediaCon – the NWLC’s pre-conference.  I have to admit, I wasn’t really sure what to expect this year as they had expanded the MediaCon workshop options and it took a bit of a time trying to figure out what I was really wanting to experience, however, I was convinced that I should be listening to Dr. Leonard Sweet.  It was very interesting that I found myself listening to his talks today as the story of his walk seemed to parallel a friends that I have been praying for, for some time.  I will continue to enjoy the times that Dr. Sweet speaks; he has a way of making the gospel’s mission speak to us amidst technological advance….pretty awesome.

Overall, the first day yielded some pretty personally amazing results for me, lots of quotes, and definite hope for the rest of the week.

The Lord is definitely reminding me why He has me where He has me.  Being amongst God’s people has certainly helped in getting me alone in His presence to ask me “Who do YOU SAY that I am, Jenny?”  There have been so many moments like that already today; so many challenges, and He provides the support for them all.

A few of my favorite quotes that were shared today:

“Media can diminish personal interaction/communication, but that does not mean that media is bad, it just has its limitations.” (Chuck Smith, Jr.)

“We don’t have a technology problem, we have a Jesus problem” (Dr. Leonard Sweet)

“Are our churches poised to receive people who are ravenous for real unvarnished, highly tarnished relationships?” (Dr. Leonard Sweet)

“Illustrate a point, animate an experience.” (Dr. Leonard Sweet)

“I’m not going to isolate you, I’m going to insulate you.” (Mother of Dr. Leonard Sweet)

Also – please enjoy some pictures of the day and the evening message and worship with Chuck Fromm, Phil Silas, Nicole C. Mullen, Buddy Owen, and Tommy Walker…look forward to Day 2 and sharing it with you 🙂

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Late Night Craving

It’s the true moments like these….I really long for Jesus. In every part, overwhelming me. In every relationship, overtaking it. In every facet, consuming it.

It’s the true moments like these…I realize that I don’t long for Jesus. It’s only a moment and it’s gone and I don’t know how to re-capture it; so I long for the past relationship. Then I find, I have lost touch with those around me because I keep looking behind me.

It’s the true moments like these….I really need to learn how to long for Jesus. In every part, overwhelming me. In every relationship, overtaking it. In every facet, please Jesus, please consume it.

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Would like to first wish everyone who is reading this a very happy and prosperous new year; whatever that means for you. I’m not being cynical, I am just not sure what it means to everyone. For this year, it means that I have the ability of creating a niche for myself in the musician world.  I finally decided to complete and release my album. With my goal set at mid-February this year, I am excited to see this baby birthed.  Most mothers wait 9 months for their baby; mine has been 14 months coming…oh the pain.  Perhaps I will actually lose some weight when it’s born! HAHA.

All joking aside (at least for this paragraph), I want to share about the main thing on my mind for the new year, figuring out who you can depend on in all things great and small.  For a very long time during my childhood, I wanted to be the one that was included and invited to everything that my friends had going on.  It did not occur to me that I could not be everywhere at once, I just wanted to be included; to make a decision on what I would be involved in.  When I wasn’t included in the things that I wanted to be, I felt like the world only wanted me to suffer, that my friends could care less about me, that nothing mattered because everyone was selfish, wrong, and not worthy. In a sense, a very bitter/harsh sense, I could say that this is true.  Since no person on earth could ever fulfill every wanton desire that you have, can meet every expectation, and make sure that you are included in every moment — no one will ever be worthy. While I suffer through this revelation, I also realize that it has been the same conclusion whenever someone fails me. I just keep thinking that there will be that one person that will never leave me out of anything. But, they don’t exist.

Create your own happiness? No. Shut the entire world out and never reveal your spirit? No. Grow a thicker skin holding everyone at arms length and never trusting anyone or letting them in? No.

Being honest with yourself about what hurts you and being honest with your friends about what hurts you? Yes. Finding the right and honest way to respond to people that fail you and not straying from letting them know it? Yes.

It has been a really long time since I last blogged about my life.  In that time, I believe I suffered my first emotional breakdown in late August/early September 2010. At first, I said in my mind that it was a culmination of some people in my life getting married, some people graduating and moving away, and some taking new jobs and leaving the state. The reality of it? I was in a relationship that meant more to me than I thought and when they had to move away, the relationship had to end because it was time for a new season of life to start. I didn’t eat for days, didn’t sleep, and couldn’t work.  I denied the importance of my relationship with this person, I denied the impact it had on my life, but I couldn’t hide the relationship from a few true friends.  Through many in-depth and uncomfortable conversations, my friends helped me to see that this relationship was probably the most meaningful earthly relationship in my life…and I was denying its importance.  This person included me in so many things in their life; there really weren’t too many things that I missed, and when it was time for them to go — I didn’t realize it was ending, and the ending was very abrupt for me.   This past holiday season, this friend disappointed me and it hurt. It was then I realized I was still letting their departure affect and somehow dictate my emotions. Them being in town revived me and gave me peace; I was happy and it was good to feel that way again but also very disturbing and troubling; how could I let someone do that in my life? While the event that occurred wasn’t earth shattering, my heart and mind let me believe something else. I had to come clean and be honest with myself that it wasn’t healthy and how it was supposed to be. Now, it’s time to commit to telling my friend the truth.

I cannot depend on anyone or anything.  I can only depend on the Creator…and even He specifically says “no” to me from time to time. It sucks and it pains me, but, they aren’t in His will–His plan; and I am astonishingly alright with that…..I must be getting older 🙂

(This is where I spout my challenge and my credibly finite wisdom): If it’s going to truly be a new year for you, take the time to be a little bit more true and honest to yourself and to other people.

 

It’s all about GROWTH here.

If you’re not growing, you’re fading. There is no in between. There is no stagnation. I think it’s only healthy that you communicate to your spirit as well as those in your life how things affect you. You really are deceiving them if you don’t let them know you, and you really are deceiving yourself if you think people can automatically read and perceive your thoughts/emotions without you saying something.

With that being said, my new year just got truer, and a little brighter.

 

 

HAPPY. NEW. YEAR.

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Valentine’s Day. I don’t know if I would want to put a happy in front of that. So, my best friend just called me on my cell, and I ignored the call; so she then proceeded to call the house phone. I had to answer that one. There is no reason why I have to be so grumpy today, but I still am. I really don’t want to hear anything about what day it is and the reminder that I am one of the many single masses. But yet, I am letting it hit me and it is really pissing me off today!!

A friend of mine who moved from Michigan to Florida was telling me that she was using this day to be reminded of how her love is for her Savior and that her Savior loves her. I applaud her for being able to look at it from this angle, however, I choose to furrow my brow and get to the verge of tears. When I tried to think about how the Savior loves me this morning, I got this skeptical look on my face. I couldn’t go to that place at that moment. And I am coming to the conclusion that this damn holiday is man-made; it’s a way to cater to those that take that time to devote to spending an ungodly amount of time wearing red, eating chocolate, going out to expensive dinners, and for some…to take the time to propose to their loves. Basically, I can’t reflect on the Savior’s love in a special way on this day, because it caters to physical love, physical meaning the relationship between two people in love without the spiritual Godly aspect of it.

Please forgive me. Please, please forgive me. I think because I just recently came to the conclusion that I am ready to date…not having a date on VD just seems to be pissing me off. But it’s for you to read and me to type.

(This blog may later be deleted – better read it while it’s hot!)

Crochet Pinwheel by JJ

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