5 Things To Do About #MeToo

5 Things To Do About #MeToo

Scrolling through my Facebook feed earlier this week, every other post resounded with #metoo. If you haven’t seen it, you may be asking, “Me too, what?”

There are now variations of the original post, but here is the gist:

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

Please copy/paste.”

I searched Facebook with the hashtag. Story after story after story broke my heart. I see the revelations and admissions of my friends, of strangers, some feeling guilty because they feel like their harassment was slight compared to the weight of the assault of others, some lamenting how their mistreatment greatly shifted the trajectory of their lives. For some, this was the first time they ever became public with their pain.

#Metoo is a wave of women joining voices together to make a world that routinely objectifies and demeans them notice. Hear. Pay attention.

Today, I added my own #metoo.

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When Numbers Usurp Your #1 Priority

When Numbers Usurp Your #1 Priority

We're talking about intentional living, living out our daily lives with the important things front and center. We've covered distractions and the prioritizing of the roles we play. But what do we do when there's a continual gap between what we want our priorities to be and how we structure our time?

I will be totally upfront and honest and tell you that I have struggled with this in the past in very big ways. Damaging ways. When our book came out in October 2014, I was consumed by marketing and book sales. It wasn't about the money. It was about my needing to prove my worth, my desire to please my publishing house, and my need to be esteemed by Amazon rankings.

Here I had a book about the importance of marriage and relationships and I spent all my emotional energy on my job. I took every single writing opportunity. Craig and I did every single radio event we were invited to. I talked in person or phone or Facebook Messenger that asked me questions or needed help. 

And then my kids would come home from school and I would have absolutely nothing to give them, except the bare minimum. I remember the day that I realized how backward my priorities were like it was yesterday. I was standing at the top of the stairs, my youngest daughter was in front of me, her eyes pleading for me to be able to meet her emotional needs, and I had absolutely nothing in the tank.

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The Roles You Play and the Priority You Assign Them

The Roles You Play and the Priority You Assign Them

We all have several roles that we play in this life. Are you husband, wife, employee, brother, sister, friend? Are you a caretaker, a housekeeper, a social planner for your family? Are you a child of God, a missionary, a volunteer? How do you manage all of these roles and how do they shape your priorities? 

And perhaps, the most important question is this: Is what you say is important backed by your actions? 

Here's an opportunity to take a few quiet moments, list out your roles, put them in order of importance, and then ask your spouse if your life is reflective of that same order of importance.

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The Distractions of Anxiety and Self-Doubt

The Distractions of Anxiety and Self-Doubt

I love things to run smoothly. I like life to fit in the tiny boxes on my calendar, for schedule activities to always take "x" amount of time, and for the weather to cooperate with my plans.

I love meeting agendas, productivity, grocery lists where things don't get left off. I love it when people respond to my emails in timely manners and when I don't forget to do the same.

I love order. I abhor chaos. I love calm and I don't function well in a frenzy.

I know many of you who are just like me and many of you who are not. But no matter how you're built, no matter what your personality leans towards, I think we all long for peace—a deep inner peace that is not contingent on the outside circumstances. A peace that is so embedded in us that we function like a mighty oak in a storm. Our leaves and branches will for sure sway, but our trunk, our foundation, is so deeply planted that we will never forget who we are and Whose we are.

I've been working hard with Jesus lately to practice this rooted way of living. My deepest desire is that when people interact with me I will no longer be the whirlwind of things to do, errands to run, and a plethora of needs and wants on my mind. I want to exude the same kind of atmosphere that my living room does—fresh, inviting, cozy, and safe.

If I'm continually distracted from what God has asked me to do, if I'm filling my life with tasks because I'm trying to prove worth, and if my state of mind is contingent on things going exactly as planned, I will not be safe. I will not be fresh. I will not be inviting. 

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Taming Distractions: My Break-up Letter to Beer

Taming Distractions: My Break-up Letter to Beer

Some of you are aware of the news about my health we received in July.  If you're not, before you assume the worst-case scenario, I’m fine.  It all started when I scheduled my annual physical this year in the hopes of getting a doctor’s note for our hot tub.  Yeah, feel free to laugh, but it saved us over $700 in taxes! 

I digress. 

The blood work came back with an elevated liver enzyme in the results.  After a retest and a sonogram, I was finally diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.  Think of it as a pre-pre diabetes.  Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled about it.  The good news was I could get rid of it by losing weight, which is something I’ve been playing around with for years.

Another tidbit about me is that I love to do research.  Seriously, I need to find a job in which I can do that full time.  Me, a library, and a problem to solve?  Heaven.  During my research, I came across the Ketogenic Diet.  What is it the Ketogenic diet?  Well, if you take the normal American diet, it consists of a high intake of carbohydrates, a medium intake of protein and a low to medium intake of fat (or high if you eat out a lot).  The Ketogenic diet consists of a high intake of fats (focusing on the “good fats”), a medium intake of protein and low intake of carbohydrates.  This diet puts your body in ketosis where you body seeks out fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. 

It’s pretty restrictive, but when looking at the foods that I could eat versus the foods I couldn’t eat on the diet, I was thrilled. All I had to do was cut out the sugary stuff and the carbs. As I continued to scan down the list of accepted and barred foods, I came to the alcohol portion of the list. 

And that is when it hit me. 

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Distractions {new video & short series}

Get distracted much? Us, too. These distractions keep us from our greatest goals and closest relationships. Craig’s opening up about how the distractions of negative self-talk hindered him in previous weight loss journeys and Jen reveals insight she just got this morning about how anxiety pulls her away from the One and the ones she loves. 

Our plan is to turn this into a series all centered around priorities: why we need them, how they get out of whack, and how we can refocus on them. We hope you'll join us.

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Please also join us in praying for Las Vegas. 

Waking up to bad news like the Las Vegas shootings feels like a sucker punch to the gut. I mourn for those who have just experienced incredible loss and heartbreak. It makes me want to gather my family together and become hermits. 

But, yet, that is not what we are called to do. As families, we are called to go out into the world and love. If those of us who have the capacity to love and love well all shut up in our homes, who would be the voice for goodness? Who would advocate for a way for peace, for wholeness, for freedom, for healing?

Our first job is to love our families well and to connect with Jesus daily. When we do this, we are filled, not with our own strength and love, but God's. And because He gives so fully, because His well never runs dry, we can be sure that we can afford to give as much love as possible that overflows out of us.

Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

And keep the faith.

Peace in the Process (a guest post)

Peace in the Process (a guest post)

On our fourteenth anniversary in the summer of 2016, Greg and I sat in a busy breakfast cafe on Hilton Head Island, taking advantage of extra adult hands to take care of our kids at the beach house our party of sixteen was occupying for the week. We ended up talking about how God has opened our eyes through adoption to the hurting moms in our small town and how He then provided the opportunity for me to volunteer at the local crisis pregnancy center. I struggled to articulate some thoughts and got frustrated, so much so I declared we needed to talk about something else. We talked about another less meaningful topic momentarily, but then we ended back on the harder stuff, thanks to the comforts of marriage.

I was grasping how adoption had changed me from the inside out. I knew God used adoption to build my faith while He was building my family, but I had a new perspective of what my story could do for others.

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Podcast on Purity (Part 2)

Picture from Carol Kent's new devotional, He Holds My Hand, releasing October 3!

Picture from Carol Kent's new devotional, He Holds My Hand, releasing October 3!

Last Tuesday, part 1 of our story aired on Power of Purity (if you missed it and are interested, click here). Part 2

Part 2 was released today and you can listen here.

Know that we are not unique. It's not because we're extra special that God brought healing. What He brings to our lives with His unconditional love and grace and forgiveness and patience, He longs to bring to you, too. It can be hard to see His work when it's dark and hopeless, but know that He is. He will never leave you or forsake you and He is trustworthy.

Marriage and Community: Shouldn't this be Private? (new video)

Marriage and Community: Shouldn't this be Private? (new video)

It's kind of like the R.E.M. song, "Everybody Hurts...Sometimes," except this one would be called, "Everybody Needs Help...Sometimes." 

We need help. 

And this video is just an honest reflection of that. We're talking about 3 different types of help that married couples might need when they are going through hard times. Right now, we don't need meals and we don't need professional counseling, but we do need encouragement because this journey through grief is hard. It weighs us down and some days, we feel like it's a fight for every step, for every positive engagement, for every smile. The things that were easy and mundane now seem to take effort. And it's not all doom and gloom, for sure. But when the waves come, boy, do they come.

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Podcast on Purity

Podcast on Purity

Craig and I have been publicly sharing our story for years. While there are many reasons, the two main ones are:

1) it really was awful going through porn addiction alone; and

2) it was really amazing to see how God used something so terrible to bring about something so lovely—true intimacy with God and with each other.

Okay, so there are really three reasons. 

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The Necessity of Undoing

The Necessity of Undoing

I'm guest posting today over at a friend's place. Here's a little teaser with a link at the end where you can finish reading.

This has been a summer worthy of its own hashtag.

If I had the time or the desire, I’d go back through each sad event between May 8th and the day I posted about Irma’s projected path (because at press time, she hasn’t made it to the U.S.) and tag it #thesummerfromhellcontinues.

As I talked to my mentor via FaceTime today, she said, “You have been through trauma.”

I bristled.

Trauma? It's not trauma. Trauma is what people are experiencing after Harvey. Trauma is sexual abuse or the loss of a child. This is not trauma, I thought to myself.

And this attitude of mine comes a few days after talking to two different women about two different things and me telling them that God wants them to know their pain is valid. Their wounds are valid. It is okay, I said, for them to lament and cry and point to all the broken pieces and be sad. I actually, this morning, told one of them to not compare her wounds with someone else’s.

Therefore, I know what I am telling myself is not the truth. Is it not easy to speak the truth and then shut one’s own ears?

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On Being a Rescuer

On Being a Rescuer

Today, my Facebook feed has been filled with images of ordinary people using ordinary boats to save ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. The catastrophe named Harvey has wrecked Houston and surrounding areas in the most unbelievable way. My father-in-law has been stuck in the hospital where he works as a chaplain (hopefully he's being rescued as I type), some of my friends have been evacuated, and I frequently check on my other friends to see if they've survived another night in a flood-threatening situation.

It's all terrible. 

But the rescuers. Praise God both for the people in uniform and the plain-clothes who are continually risking their lives to save people in danger of drowning and dying and despairing.

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Get on the Roof (new video)

We sat in church on Sunday and prayed for all those who were being terribly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The sermon happened to be on community and how we must be willing to admit that we don't have it all together. We thought about water rescues in Houston and the emotional/spiritual rescue that we all need from time to time. 

Here's the call: Do you need to get on the roof?

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The Power of Words in Marriage (from a 13 y/o's perspective) & Resources for your Walk with God

The Power of Words in Marriage (from a 13 y/o's perspective) & Resources for your Walk with God

Hi friends! My name is Abby and I’m the oldest daughter of Jen and Craig. I am so excited to be writing for all of y’all today. This week, I was just laying in bed when God talked to me about my parents. He gave me some questions to think about. But here was the big one:

How does my parents’ marriage affect me and my sister? 

You might think that your marriage affects only you and your spouse. If you think that, you’re wrong. If you don’t have children, there are other areas where your marriage can affect the people around you, but that’s for another week. 

Kids see and hear a lot more then you may think. If you’re showcasing a positive and healthy relationship when you know you’re around your kids, you think that they have the perfect vision of what married life may be like. What you don’t know, though, is that we kids are way more observant than you may think. You may be having a fight with your spouse, maybe even just with your body movement or facial expressions, and your kids can sense the tension. 

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Mindful Communication (New video!)

Mindful Communication (New video!)

That awkward silence when you walk up on a group. Eyes shifting to the ground. Whatever they were talking about, you weren't meant to hear, for whatever reason.

This is the scene in Mark 9. Jesus walks up, the disciples mouths close, their eyes downcast. They'd been caught doing something they weren't supposed to be doing—arguing about which one of them was the greatest, who had the most stature, who was the most gifted, the most right, the most _________. The content of their conversation was selfish, unfruitful, and led to division between them.

The guilt was written all over their faces and evidenced by their silence when Jesus asked them what they were talking about. They felt guilty. How do I know? I've felt the same way before. 

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What Do You Do with Despair?

What Do You Do with Despair?

I've been pondering what to say about the horribleness of what has happened in Charlottesville. I've been wondering about the potential nuclear threat of North Korea. And two more soldiers died in Iraq, the paper said.

"How long, O Lord?" I keep asking. How much longer do we have to deal with the injustice? With the hate? With the fear? With the arguing? The superiority complexes? How long are we going to live under divisiveness and when will the oppressed find freedom? I've caught myself often this summer asking Jesus if He could just come now and the only reason I find myself lamenting that He hasn't is because I know there are people who haven't gotten to know Him yet.

I've been reading through the Gospel of Mark. In chapter 9, I found that Jesus asked a question similar to my own . He's talking to the crowd gathered around Him, not to God, but He said, "Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?"

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If Things Look Hopeless

If Things Look Hopeless

A decade plus ago, I (Jen) could have made the choice to steer the car into oncoming traffic. The despair was that bad. The darkness was that overwhelming. By God's grace and intervention, I stayed in my lane.

After that moment, the way I began to view the world and God and Craig slowly changed. And now, here we are, speaking hope and light to marriages, even though at one point, we were bathed in darkness and depression.

You can be a Christian and still be assaulted by hopelessness. You can still be plagued by thoughts about how easy it could be to walk away. And yet, as we have found, it's worth it to persevere through the suffering. God promises to use all things for good. There is purpose to our pain.

If this is true for us, it is true for you, too.

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12 Questions to Ask Your Spouse at Least Once a Year (Free Printable!)

12 Questions to Ask Your Spouse at Least Once a Year (Free Printable!)

Years ago, my friend emailed me 10 questions for Craig and me to discuss while we were away for our anniversary. Though we have not answered them every year since then, nor reflected on our past answers each time, we pulled them out when we were in Wimberley last month. It was amazing to see both the progress we had made as individuals and as a couple since 2013 (WHOOPS) and the few areas where we still struggle a little bit (or a lot, but whatever).

Since we went away, we spent some time revamping and adding to these questions so they would enable us to focus both on where we've been and where we want to go. We thought that if these twelve questions would be helpful for us, they may be helpful for you, too. One thing we love the most about answering these questions is that it gives us an opportunity to both encourage each other about the progress we've made and affords us a way to potentially bring up some challenging facets about our marriage or personal health. We never want to stop growing.

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Getting Through Grief (new video)

Getting Through Grief (new video)

Grief sucks and for the past 3 months we've been inundated with it. Since our mission is to live authentically in this community, we're simply inviting you into how we've been living out (the good ways and the not-so-good ways) this process of grief recently. 

Here are 3 lessons learned:

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Are You Serving (Emotional) Leftovers?

Are You Serving (Emotional) Leftovers?

t's summer, my kids are often home, and I'm an introvert. As a family, we've endured intense grief recently with the loss of my grandmother and Craig's mom. My youngest daughter is trying out for dance company this year, so there is heightened anxiety in her. My friend's husband is dying and another friend's marriage is in crisis.

Daily, I feel my emotional capacity flows out of me and I long for space to recharge. Don't hear me wrong: I love helping my daughters process through hard things. I love helping my friends as well. But sometimes, when there is intense need with my girls and my friends, I can easily overdo. I can give more than I have and I end up living life out of some form of manufactured capacity.

Yesterday, Craig had a disappointing day at work. When he texted me that he was on his way home, I called him so he could process. His response? Can we talk about this when I get home?

I wanted to reply, No! I want to talk about it now so that I can be done talking for the day.

All I had left to give Craig were my emotional leftovers.

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