dear you (concerning facebook, netflix & ezekiel)

“we call out to dry bones, ‘come alive, come alive’; we call out to dead hearts, ‘come alive, come alive.’ up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise. we call out to dry bones, ‘come alive.'”

-lauren daigle, come alive

 

13 Reasons Why is an “American drama series” that was originally released on March 31, 2017. i didn’t really know a lot about it until last week or so. i had heard friends talk about it, i had seen random facebook posts about it, you know how it goes. but then last week i was scrolling through facebook and randomly happened across THIS ARTICLE (please go read it right now ok and then come back to me) written by the amazing Amanda Eileen Phillips and it blew. my. mind. i read it four times straight through and immediately shared it on my facebook page.

i prefaced sharing the article by saying this:

“i have not watched the show, but did read this article and thought it was really wise and well-written. definitely something to keep in mind as we expose ourselves to things we might be struggling with.”

i just looked and that post has SEVENTY-TWO comments on it now. seventy-two. granted, a lot of those are me responding to people, but still. that’s a lot of comments about one subject. and the majority of those comments are from people who didn’t fully agree with what i was saying or with what the article said. honestly, it doesn’t matter whether they agreed or not; the point is that me posting that stirred a huge reaction.

two days later i shared THIS ARTICLE. again, please go read it. this article only received 3 comments, which was totally fine by me, as I had said “another really amazing article on this topic. not really looking to get in any friendly debates this time (pleaasseee haha!) but just can’t NOT share this.”

a few days after these articles were posted, i read an article about Facebook live suicides. my heart dropped into my stomach as i read that teens and adults alike are using facebook live to broadcast their suicides. it made me think of something mom had said to me a few days before,

“we live in a culture that is obsessed with death.”

and it’s sadly true.

from facebook live suicides, to 13 reasons why, to every crime show and true crime podcast out there, to movies like Saw, The Killing Room, and Hostel… we entertain ourselves with death.

and that is incredibly disheartening to me, because death is not something that should be taken lightly. death is permanent. there is no taking it back. there is no rewinding, no reconsidering, no returning.

death is serious and it should be taken seriously. and yet, i can’t even claim innocence in this area, because up until about a month ago, i listened to true crime podcasts every day for the heck of it, and watched criminal minds as if it was the andy griffith show. it wasn’t for research purposes,  it was simply for sheer entertainment.

i am by no means saying that everyone who watched 13 reasons why did not realize that Hannah’s death was permanent, or that the poor people who have witnessed people kill themselves on a worldwide social media platform were entertained by it… BUT what i am saying is that we CANNOT pick and choose and we MUST be careful with what we entertain ourselves with. because if we enjoy watching Saw and then we post on facebook about how awful 13 reasons why is, we are destroying our platform. and that is terribly sad. we cannot, and should not, entertain ourselves with something that is so terribly serious.

i don’t think it’s a coincidence that as time goes on and on, we become more and more obsessed with and entertained by death. why? because of what Paul says to Timothy.

“but understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  for people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 timothy 3:1-5)

heartless. brutal. not loving good. reckless. lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God. that all sounds about right to me. because if we truly love good, and if our hearts were like the heart of the father, how could we be entertained by something he hates?

i think the struggle i have is that AS BELIEVERS, why are we as entertained by death as the lost? what fellowship does light have with darkness?

 “this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 john 1:5-7)

all of these different thoughts led me to thinking about the story in ezekiel about the dry bones. i’ve read through Ezekiel 4 times, and this story is one of my favorites.

basically, to simplify the story: God takes Ezekiel into a valley and has him walk around, and ezekiel sees a ton of bones on the floor of the valley. they were all dry. God says “can these bones live?” and Ezekiel says “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

“then he said to me, “prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! this is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

so ezekiel says what the Lord has told him to say, and as he does, the bones start rattling and they attach themselves together and they become covered in flesh and skin but they still had no breath in them. so God tells ezekiel to speak breath into the slain and ezekiel does and then the best part happens.

the bones come to life, they have breath in them and they became a vast army.

and that, friends, is what we as Christians should be doing.

we should be less entertained by death and more interested in speaking life. less interested in the darkness and more entertained by the light. because God is light. and we have no fellowship with the darkness if we are in him.

so let’s stop bickering over whether 13 reasons why is a good show or not, because that’s not the point. let’s speak life into some dry bones, and raise up an army of light-shiners.

 

love always,

jen

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dear you (concerning dreams, narnia, and the prince of peace)

 

i still remember it like it happened yesterday. i can hear his voice. “thanks for holding my hand in front of those people today.”

we had only been together for a little over a month and i was beginning to see that when he said “dating me will not be easy on you,” he wasn’t kidding. i don’t think anything really prepares you for that. the long, hard stares you get when walking downtown together. the whispers between people when you are in the grocery store. the frowns when people see you sitting in your swing, laughing together. the click of car doors locking when you walk through a parking lot. the extra tight squeeze on his hand when we would walk past a group of older white people who obviously disapproved, and how he wouldn’t kiss me goodnight in dark parking lots in case a cop saw and thought the worst.

it confused me. i mean, i knew racism still existed. but it was 2015 for goodness’ sake. interracial relationships should be totally normal and acceptable, right? and yet, there we were, with him thanking me, his girlfriend, for holding his hand in public. because it meant a lot to him that i didn’t care what other people thought, because i loved him.

shortly after K and i broke up, the Charleston shooting happened. 9 people killed, in the blink of an eye, only 1.5 hours from our hometown. i had been having nightmares for a while, but after Charleston, they intensified, coming at least once a week. always the same, always a little blurry, but clear enough for me to watch K get shot in front of me. each time, i woke up in a cold sweat, sometimes crying. sometimes i would wake up and stalk his social media to see when he was last active, hoping for some sign that he was okay. sometimes, i’d text him and tell him the nightmare had come again. i’d always get an “i’m fine. don’t worry about me.”

we talked last week and he asked about the nightmares. “i’ve been having the dream every time i fall asleep lately,” i told him. “tell me again what happens exactly?” “you get shot, right in front of me.” “so, just never come home, and we won’t have this problem,” he joked and i laughed, although it felt forced.

            

i don’t claim to be well educated. i don’t really know much of anything about government, or laws, or politics. so yes, i’ll admit that there is a lot i don’t know, and yes, i’m somewhat innocent and naive because i haven’t experienced a ton of life.

but i know what it’s like to be worried about my siblings being in nursery at church after the Sandy Hook shooting happened.

i know what it’s like to be a little uneasy in movie theaters after the Aurora shooting happened.

i know what it’s like to not ever walk to my car alone because i’m scared of being raped and no one caring or doing anything about it.

i know what it’s like to constantly be looking over your shoulder and keeping an eye on your back because you’ve had some guy stalking you and to have your guy friends tell you “don’t take the trash out by yourself.” “don’t walk downtown alone.” “don’t let your guard down.” “carry your pepper spray at all times.”

i know what it’s like to watch two guys in the middle of the street, beating the crap out of each other. i know what it’s like to hear gut-wrenching, heart stopping screaming from the other people witnessing the fight.

i know what it’s like to be afraid when home alone with my siblings after some break ins have happened in our smaller than small town.

i know what it’s like to be shown how to use a gun, just in case.

i know what it’s like to be concerned for my friends overseas with all the bombings that keep happening.

and i know what it’s like to be concerned for two of my friends who happen to be 20 something black guys.

     

when you’re first introduced to Narnia, in the Magician’s Nephew, it’s such a perfect place. it is good. no evil, no hurt, no violence. there is peace. contentment. happiness. everything is as it should be. but when you come back, the White Witch has come in and taken over, and suddenly, nothing is as it should be anymore. there is social prejudices, hate, violence, anger, bitterness, death. everyone longs for peace. for the world that they once knew. for home.

the difference between the creatures in Narnia and us is that they fully recognize what the answer to their problem is. we search for our peace in so many things. extra safety measures. more locks on doors. gun laws. more of this, less of that. in Narnia, they fully accept that all will be right when Aslan comes. because he is the prince of peace, and when he comes, there will be peace.

i will be the first to admit. i am afraid at times. but i know that this is to be expected. ‘we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ (ephesians 6:12) and friends, we can’t control those powers. enforcing gun control, taking away constitutional rights, making more laws, it doesn’t matter, none of it is going to have any power over the spiritual forces of evil.

if you truly believe that heaven is where you belong. if you truly believe that God is good. if you truly believe that the devil is real and that he is a liar and against us and our good and you truly believe that God will defeat him one day. if you truly believe that Jesus is our King and that he will make all things new… then you can say, just like they did in Narnia,

“when the prince of Peace comes, then we shall have peace.”

even so come, Lord Jesus.

love always,

jen

 

 

 

dear you (concerning me, california & weeds) 

‘transformation isn’t sweet and beautiful. it’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. an unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. a practice in facing your own created demons. a complete uprooting before becoming.’ 

– victoria erickson

about 3 months ago, give or take, i went to visit Chris in Aiken. on my way home, i was listening to 80’s rock, with the windows down. i randomly, last minute, decided to stop at my great grandparents’ grave. 
it was only the second time i’ve been there since grandmama’s funeral and, just like the other times, my chest got tight when i looked at the headstone. i refused to cry and instead knelt down in the rocks and pulled my hair up in a messy bun. i talked. i don’t know if i was talking to God or grandmama or the birds that were flying over. it didn’t seem to matter. all i remember saying was 

‘i need change. i need to run.’ 

i started to pull up the weeds that were around their headstone, but i stopped when i realized that some of them were embedded in a fire ant bed. it was easier to leave the weeds than to deal with the consequences of disturbing the fire ants’ quiet sunday afternoon. i stood, brushed off my knees, said “see you soon” and left the cemetary. 

i ran. or flew, rather. i got on a plane and left everything that is familiar to me and came to a place that i’ve never been, where nothing is familiar. i threw up the whole way to this new place, and when i got here, i found something i wasn’t looking for. 

i found me. the real jen. the one i never let anyone, not even myself, see. i was face to face with my secrets, face to face with my hurt and my loss and my anger. and this time, i couldn’t bury it in a 40 hour work week. i couldn’t ignore it by never being alone. 

it was there. and it demanded my attention. so i gave it my attention. 

i was disappointed. i was angry. i hated what i found. it’s always seemed easier to just ignore my weeds. but that just gives them the opportunity to become even more deeply rooted and it makes it so much harder to pull them out. 

i’ve been in california for 2 weeks. more often, i find myself staring into space. i’m trying to figure out who i am. more importantly, i’m trying to decide who i want to be. i’m working on uprooting before becoming. because i don’t want to become the new me, if the old me is still buried inside me somewhere. i don’t want to come back and find that same hurt and anger and pride. i don’t want to constantly have to run from myself. i don’t want to be creating demons and lying to myself. 

and so, daily, i’m reminding myself of a simple truth. 

‘he makes all things new.’

there is so much hope. the uprooting so that i can become is not stupid or pointless or a waste or my time. i am not doomed to misery and heartache. i do not have to always worry and be afraid. 

because he makes all things new. 
and that’s what i’m putting all my money on. because i didn’t like what i found, so i’m ready to be transformed. even though it’s messy and can be hard. even though it means forgiving people i don’t want to forgive. even though it means giving up my wants and what i think is best. 

because in the end, i ran away to california so i could ‘find myself’ and i didn’t like what i found. i sure as heck am not going to go home without changing. i have to live with me every day for the rest of my life. i want to be someone that i’m happy to wake up being. and i hope that for you as well. don’t settle, friends. uproot, so you can become. 

‘so, i don’t care if i sing off key, i found myself in my melodies. i sing for love, i sing for me…

 i shout it out like a bird set free.’ 

be a bird set free. 

love always. 

-jen

dear you (concerning me & my 21st birthday) 

hey you. 
you’re twenty one now. that’s crazy, bruh. you can legally do pretty much anything now. but really, let’s be honest, all you want is sleep. hours of sleep. 

this year was long. from the day you turned 20 to today, you’ve seen a lot, cried a lot, talked way too much, loved hard, felt all of the feelings, and learned some hard lessons. 

and it’s been good, man. 

  
i know that a lot happened this year that you didn’t plan to happen… things you never even dreamed of on your twentieth birthday. 

 you didn’t plan to get two piercings. you didn’t plan to go to boston for a week. you didn’t plan to not go back to slovakia.  

    
 
you didn’t plan to quit one job and start two new ones. you didn’t even plan to still be in beaufort. a big city or a country in europe was calling your name. 

   
    
 
you didn’t plan to fall in love. you also didn’t plan for it to end the way it did. you didn’t plan to not finish your novel. you didn’t plan to meet so many new friends and build such good relationships. you didn’t plan to be so loved by so many different people. 
   
    
    
 
you didn’t plan to be working at a coffee shop. you didn’t plan to not go to california. you didn’t plan to wear so much plaid. okay, maybe you did plan that. but you didn’t plan to think about money as much as you did. you didn’t plan to be such an adult. 

  
    
 
 
   
you didn’t plan to sing so little. you didn’t plan to still be teaching piano. you didn’t plan to lose so much muscle. you didn’t plan to have any panic attacks. you didn’t plan to cry so much. and you really didn’t plan to let so many of your friends see you cry. 

   
    
   
you didn’t plan to still be living at home right now. you also didn’t plan to be so emotional about this being your last birthday living at  home. (sorry moms). you didn’t plan to listen to so much good music. you didn’t plan to lose so much weight. 

   
  

 so much happened this year, jen. it was like three years worth of stuff that happened in one year. 

so much stuff you didn’t plan. 

and all of it, the great stuff, the laughs, the 2 am talks, the coffee, the smiles, the tears, the fights, the broken hearts… 

all of that stuff has helped you become the person you are today. right now, you’re the twenty one year old you because of everything that happened to twenty year old you. 
and it. is. good. because God works all things together for your good. all things. 

here’s to 21 year old you. make your dreams & your birthday wishes come true, kid. 

  

  

  

  
love, 

21 year old me

dear you (concerning humility, servanthood & obedience) 

hi. it’s been a long day. not necessarily because it was hard but just, it lasted forever. i got up around 9:30 and then took a nap at 12 haha. i taught piano and watched the princess bride. you know, the usual. 

we’ve been studying the book of philippians at church for the past few weeks and it’s been so stinking amazing. blowing. my. mind. and also making me cry. for reals, it’s getting embarrassing. a few weeks ago i said something to a friend about wearing waterproof mascara and they said “do you wear it every day? oh wait, never mind, it’s sunday. sunday’s make you cry.” just, yes. they know me way too well. 

anyway, we’ve been reading and studying how paul is talking tothe church and how he is trying to reassure them and encourage them. he says he is staying for their “progress & joy in the gospel” and that they should live in a manner worthy of the gospel. 
this sunday, we talked about philippians 2:1-11. 

“so if there is any encouragement in christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in christ jesus, who, though he was in the form of god, did not count equality with god a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. therefore god has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that jesus christ is lord, to the glory of god the father.”

william talked about how jesus set the perfect example for us. he showed us how to be humble, how to serve and how to be obedient. jesus never counted himself as more important than others. he served in his life and in his death. 

man. it hit hard. because i’m not humble. i don’t desire to be a servant. and often, i don’t even want to obey. because being humble, being a servant, being obedient… all of those things involve me putting someone else above myself. 

i don’t like doing that. i want to please myself. i want to be happy. i want to make sure i feel good and important and accepted. i don’t want to put others needs and wants and desires above my own. 

but that is exactly what jesus did. he did it so beautifully. he held little children. he drank water from the cup of a Samaritan woman. he fed and healed and touched and loved. he washed feet. he set an example of humility and service. 

he became obedient to the point of death. i know that most of us probably will not die because of an act of obedience but, let’s be honest, friend. sometimes, obeying jesus can make us feel dead on the inside. we can feel empty, cold, sad. alone. rejected. 

all of the things that jesus felt at some time, because he was obedient to the father. 

the one we love the most lived his life being a servant and putting others above himself. he was obedient to the father because he knew it was right to do HIS will. it should be our joy to imitate him. 

as you go through your day tomorrow my prayer for you is that you would have this attitude. an attitude of humility, service and obedience. 

because humility, service and obedience is never ever ever overlooked by the father. he sees. he sees. he sees. don’t think that you’re wasting your time. he will bless you. 

don’t lose heart. 

i’m praying for you, kid. 

much love,

jen

dear you (concerning work, hormones & sanctification)

hey there. how has your saturday been? mine wasn’t too rough. 

i got to sleep in til 9:30 today which was absolutely beautiful. i’m one of those ‘sleep until the very last minute & then rush around to get ready’ kind of people. i love sleep, what can i say? 

anyway work today was pretty good. i basically just worked with gelato all day. trust me, it’s harder than you’d think. also, it’s really freezing cold and so your hands can feel like bricks at times. but it’s all good because then you can sample the gelato as you work. (for the record, the peanut butter cup is my fave). and a really nice lady came in today and told me my glasses were cute and that i was adorable and a guy told me he liked my hair. i can deal. 

i’ve been all sorts of weepy and emotional the past two days. over everything and nothing at all if that makes sense. i blame it all on the progesterone cream i have to use. silly hormones. although, tears are good sometimes. don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. even jesus cried. 

today i thought a lot about God. about his character. about how he reveals himself to us. and about what he wants to remind me of. as i thought about that, i remembered 2 chronicles 7:14.

 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

i know i’m so guilty of thinking i can figure things out on my own. that somehow i can fix everything and make life perfect. but i can’t and unless i surrender control, God can’t either, because he gives us free will. and so i need to remember to lay it all down, turn to him, confess my sins and then allow him to heal and restore and work. sometimes that’s the hardest thing ever. but, just remember that when Abraham stepped out in faith is when God blessed him. surrender whatever you’re holding onto tonight and allow him to make things right for your good, his glory and your sanctification. sanctification means being more like jesus. and being more like jesus is what we should be striving for. 

even though jesus was perfect, his life wasn’t perfect. he endured rejection, hatred, pain, suffering… and he so understands. we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses. take it to him, friend, and he will go to the father on your behalf. 

it will all be okay. because jesus is good. 

i’m praying for you. 

much love,

jen

dear you.

hey. it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

i know, i know, i totally dropped the ball on my old blog. there were good reasons behind that, i promise. although a lot of it had to do with me being lazy, haha, and a lot of it had to do with me being undisciplined, a lot of it also had to do with life changing. with me changing. and i didn’t want to write on that blog anymore, because i’m not that person anymore. and the theme of that blog doesn’t fit me anymore.

see, that blog started out as a place to encourage girls in between the ages of 13-18 in their singleness and waiting. it was very much the typical “stay-at-home daughters” blog. and that was good, for a season. i loved that little blog and it was my very first time sharing my heart online and it’s special. i’ve met a lot of wonderful women through that blog. but i’m not that girl anymore and i don’t feel the need to write only about those things and so it was time to move on. you feel me?

so i decided to completely start over. and this time, i want to write to you. whoever you are. and i want to write about my life and what i’m learning and how good the burrito bowl i had for lunch was and what color my nails are and how work is going and i want to tell you about how good Jesus is. i just want to write to you and i want you to know my heart. maybe it’s a little cliche, but i’m okay with that.

the thing about writing letters is that the person has to respond, and i hope you’ll do that. if something i say hits you or you just want to say hi, please do. i would love that. we can be friends.

i’m excited to write here. and i’m excited to see what Jesus does in my life over the course of writing here. it’ll be great. i’m glad you’re coming along for the ride.

much love, you.

-jen