Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shelf Check: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty is a beautiful story of one couples journey in marriage, infertility, adoption, but mostly with God. Sara expounds on Proverb 27:7 and how that lived out in her own life. 

The first few chapters of the book were hard for me to get into. It felt to me a little choppy and at times hard to follow. I loved the subsequent chapters though! Reading Sara's story was also hard for me where our stories aligned in marriage, infertility, and our relationship with God. One of my favorite parts of this book were the correlating verses at the end of every chapter! I loved seeing how God worked in her adoptions and the relationships with her children. You could almost feel how they were all knit together. Sara's book asks you to take a deeper look into the hurts in your life and your relationship with God. In every situation we have the opportunity to be ruled by our circumstances or to adore our Creator. This book inspired me to continue to delve into what it means to adore God in every aspect of my life- no matter what. 

I would recommend this book to others. If it seems hard to get into at first- keep going it gets better!



*BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.*

Saturday, October 18, 2014

a walk in the clouds


Last week, we spent our days in Ecuador serving the Quichua people. Like most trips I wasn't sure what to expect. The men would be split into two groups; the pastors would be teaching the Quichua pastors and the rest of the men would do construction work. The women would try as best we could to minister to the Quichua women.

As long as Reaching & Teaching has been in Ecaudor there really hasn't been much opportunity to minister to the women. They've been really closed off. Thankfully, we watched God do something totally different this week. 

Our first day of ministry we did whatever we could to help. The ladies and I all had a decent knowledge of Spanish, but the Quichua women knew very little Spanish. Spanish was also their second language. They speak Quichua or as they refer to themselves, indigenous. We did whatever we could to help them through small increments of Spanish and a series of gestures. 

Everyday we helped the women make breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By the time breakfast was served, eaten, we ate, and cleaned up it was time to make lunch. By the time lunch was served, eaten, we ate, and it was cleaned up it was time to make dinner. By the time we made dinner, it was served, we ate, and we cleaned up it was time to leave. Everyday we worked side by side with these women. We peeled potatoes with knives, hand shucked corn piece by piece, cut up chickens and beef, chopped vegetables, peeled garlic, and washed dishes to name some. I also got to go up the mountain and help pick garlic and move around livestock. They even let us make lunch one day, which thankfully was edible.

Normally, you don't see Quichua women smile. We were able to see them smile many times throughout the week. We played catch with two of the women, Claudina and Maria, one day. We had them laughing so hard they were doubled over giggling uncontrollably. We were working with them enough to notice some needs like having a table they could sit at in the kitchen. Or that they needed their food storage cabinet raised up so it was their height and not on the floor. They grinned from ear to ear with each of them. It was something small, but it was for them. 

Each day we got to see them open up more and more. They shared their stories about their lives with us. Sometimes they just shared about their children like how many they had, their names, and ages. Other times it was real stuff like medical issues they faced, fears for their children, parents dying young, and more. One of them even asked if one of the ladies on our team had Jesus in her heart. By the end of the week they had stopped calling us gringas and started calling us hermanas or sisters. 

It was a week of really hard work out of our comfort zone, but we gained the friendship of these beautiful women. We spent a week with them walking in the clouds, literally.



Would you pray with me for them? There is a women's conference at the end of November for the Quichua women. Pray that the women would come and pray for the women that will be pouring into them! Thank you in advance!


In His Love, 
Jennis

Saturday, October 4, 2014

/ˈôrdnˌerē/


Ordinary- or·di·nar·y (adjective) With no special or distinctive features; normal. (noun) What is commonplace or standard. (synonyms) Common, usual, regular, normal, habitual, customary.

I've always heard people use the word ordinary. It's a funny word without much expectation. People use it a lot with their testimony of coming to Christ. "Oh, my story is so ordinary." 


Interesting...


My husband has a "shocking" testimony. He came into this world 3 months early and all of 2.8 lbs. No one thought he would make it the first day let alone the first week. He did though. Growing up he played sports. He lived in a small town where everyone knows everyone. Was dragged to church on Sunday's or paid to go. In high school he played football and was on the wrestling team. He did really well in wrestling.  He even made it into Sports Illustrated, got a scholarship upstate, and was fifth on the Olympic ladder. During his time in college he got heavily involved in drugs. Cocaine was the drug of choice. His addiction haunted him his whole life. When he was 25 his whole world collapsed in on him. We were freshly married with a 1 month old. He was on drug offender probation, working full time, and nursing a habit. We went to church every Sunday. "Pew potatoes", we went but never heard what was being preached. For sure we weren't living it out! He came home after a night out of using and I had my bags packed. I was done. After I left, he sat on the floor for the second time in his life and tried to commit suicide. Joe was Baker Acted and an ambulance came to bring him to the hospital so he could be put on suicide watch. During the drive the paramedic started to talking to Joe. Asked him what was going on. Joe told him.  At the end of their talk Joe told the driver that he wanted to know Christ he just didn't know how to do it. The paramedic pulled over the ambulance jumped into the back with him and my husband prayed to receive Christ right then. Everything was different about Joe after that. The way he walked and talked. Everything. Since then Joe has felt the call to ministry and was ordained as a pastor. He is in seminary and loves sharing the Gospel wherever he is. I don't say that to boast of Joe. Only what God has done in Joe. 

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

I don't think that any of our individual stories are more or less amazing to God. We are in awe of other people's stories, but not God. To Him they have to all be beautiful stories stitched together and laced with grace. From a parent's perspective, as our Heavenly Father, they must all be amazing. Especially knowing our hearts and all of our thoughts. Each one of our testimonies He uses for His glory. The weak moments, times we've had to peel our brokenness up off the floor, tears, joys, fears, pain-- it isn't for nothing. Share your story of His glory, even when you think it's ordinary. There is someone who can relate!


In His Love, 
Jennis

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shelf Check: Women of the Word


The title caught my attention scanning through a list of newly released books after we came back from Africa in August. I was a little behind on current events, books, and music. Playing catch up, I came across this book- Women of the Word. How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. The hearts and minds part got me. By nature, meaning because I'm a girl, I handle most things subjectively or with my heart. Logically, I want to build up my weaknesses.

In the first few pages of her book I was hooked. Statements like, "Women, in particular, are leaving the church in unprecedented numbers." Or, "When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected." Why? They weren't reading the Bible with their minds as well as their hearts. We have to have an equal balance of objective (truth) and subjective (feelings) in our relationship with God.

Throughout the next chapters Jen went through why Bible literacy is important, steps and questions to study your Bible, and how to pull it all together.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed with her process of studying the Bible. There was a general theme and smaller themes, 3 questions to ask yourself, and then five things that pertained to the text you were reading. Plus continually reading the same text over and over for a period of time.

However, as I got further into the book it made more sense. Imagine that! It was a new way for me to study the Bible. Things for me to look for that I may have never realized before.

Jen Wilkin challenged me to know God better and to be more Bible literate. Who doesn't want that? Consider any relationship you hold dear, is there anything you wouldn't do to build on that relationship? What if not knowing the most important person in your life well affected everyone else?  Is there anything you wouldn't do to know them better or love them more? The answer is no. It should be the same in our pursuit of God.

As a result, I have renewed perspective on my personal Bible study and quiet time. Right now, I'm going through Genesis 1-11 again. After that I plan on doing Genesis 12-50. Plus, I get the added bonus of sharing with my husband and daughter new truths as I learn them! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to study the Word deeper and know more about God.

You can buy your copy of Women of the Word here.


*Crossway provided me a complimentary copy of this book for my review.*

In His Love, 
Jennis




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Everything Else


Since my daughter turned 6 she has a new anthem. It goes something like this, "Mommy, when I get older will you help me/ teach me/ show me...", and then lists whatever she would like to know how to do. At the top of her list to date is learning how to make sandwiches, buying an Alaskan husky, finding a husband who loves Jesus, helping her build a house in my back yard, and teaching her to be a good mom.

Unconsciously, I always knew she was watching me. The way I always watched my mom. I could of sat in the bathroom for hours watching my mom put on her makeup, pick out an outfit, listening to her phone calls, or read her books. Mostly, I watched how she handled the situations that came with everyday life.

Now, it's my turn. I could say Kendall's requests are small, but really they aren't. Okay, the sandwich and the dog are small. The other ones are life changing. The only way to teach her those are with my life.

Sometimes, it's not pretty. The moments when your anger flares, you have word vomit, or patience is at a minimum. You start the day feeling like June Cleaver and in a few short seconds you have more in common with Cruella Deville. So, you're not skinning puppies but it certainly feels like it. You're probably nodding your head at this point. You know those moments. I feel like anybody can teach on the mountain top. When it's easy, care free, and somewhere Julie Andrews is singing. The days when everyone has model behavior, good manners, and the house smells like freshly baked treats. What about the valleys? The temper tantrums, personality clashes, stubbornness, and half a box of Fruit Loops is in the dog bowl. The days where your tempted to think they have more of your husband's personality and habits than your own. It's in my lowest parenting moments that I can show Kendall the most.

Where there's wrong, I can ask for forgiveness.

Where there's hurt, I can show kindness.

Where there's close-mindedness, I can give perspective.

When there's anger, I can show humility.

When there's pride, I can be humble.

Not to say I haven't or won't mess up. I pray that she remembers what I do after that, because I can't uphold an image of perfection. The cracks will show through eventually. Nor do I try. There was only one person who was perfect, and He died on a cross for the whole world.

I'm going to mess up, but in everything I do I can always show her Jesus. My part is to show her how to respond to real life situations from Jesus's perspective. Even if I'm using my worst examples. If I could attain perfection she may never realize her need for Jesus.

She doesn't need to see a facade. She needs me to be real, and in love with Jesus, her daddy, and others. In that order. 

I'll do my best. 


For everything else there's Jesus.


In His Love,
Jennis




Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rebuilt

I feel like I should preface this next statement by saying I am pretty emotional in my normal circumstances. Meaning at home in normal everyday I'm emotional. I've never cried more in my entire life than when I was in Africa. I felt like in three months I cried more than I have the rest of my days combined. Near the end of our trip I asked God what was up with all the crying? He responded that at one point I had asked Him to break my heart for what breaks His. He did.

We left for Africa broken from ministry and a recent miscarriage, but clinging to the hope that we have in Him. When we got there God told me there wouldn't be anyone to hold my hand through this experience- except Him. Be ready. 

Africa changed so many things for our family.


Our perspective was now skewed from our American culture. We learned a new and stronger dependence on God. As a family, we relied and leaned on each other more than ever without our normal cushion of family and friends. We watched our five year old share the Gospel and wash feet. We embraced a love for people greater than our comprehension. Spending time with people and just getting to know them with irrelevance to time was crucial. Showing them God's love and their importance and value to Him. While also learning that no matter where you go people are people. We are all just broken and in need of a Savior. The message we take is the same no matter where we go. 

We loved the people, the place, and the ministry. It truly is the dream job. We went to Africa thinking we were going to the field right after that. However, God called us home for the time being. We felt as a family that God wanted us to finish our commitment of Joe completing school, then we would go back to field, and finally returning home for Joe to be a senior pastor. Taking family mission trips every year so we don't get too comfortable until we go to the foreign mission field.

I was sad to come home- I won't lie. What I was sure of though, was that the same God that called me to Africa was the same One that was now calling me back home.  

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD." 
Isaiah 55:8

Going changed our ministry as a family. God rebuilt us in Africa. He redirected our focus. We couldn't be more excited about it. Not to mention what is still to come! 

Beauty from ashes. 

In His Amazing Love, 
Jennis


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

One

So, its been a month since we left Africa. Crazy, right? It's been great to be home but we miss being there.

Since we've been home there were things we had to get used to. Obviously, the time change was a killer! A/C froze us out after not having it for three months. Africa was dry so the Florida humidity is well, humid! Soda, seriously American soda is terrible. We don't drink it anymore. Being time oriented again instead of event oriented. I loved it because I was never late! 

More than anything God gave us this incredible love for the people that we got to minister to. 

Being a missionary is the dream job. We were blessed to do it for three months. 

In honor of that we're sharing the video we made for our time there. So here's a small peek into our time in Zambia! We hope you enjoy it! 

Please pray for missionaries around the world and the people they're reaching with the Gospel!

Thank you all for journeying with us! 


video

In His Amazing Love,
The Hennis Family