Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
Her room smells of sweetness. Fruit soap, from her shower. Citrus-sugar, from the pink candle, unlit, on her dresser. She is a tangled lump, a mound of cotton comforter and sheets.
The room is dark. I crack the shutters open. And still, just the beginning of sunlight, shy and rosy, peeks slow. I open the shutters wider. I invite light further in.
Clothes lie scattered on the floor. A stack of books and binders. Fabric halfway folded, scraps poking out from the sewing box my mother gave her last year.
I bend, soft and quick, kissing her cheek before she feels light’s tiptoe into the room. I want to be first—the first to wake her. Mostly because she still lets me be first.
Her bed is bigger now, with a linen-iron headboard. Dolls huddle on a chest in the corner, under a magnetic wall board decorated with Polaroids and Instagrams.
She is in the middle, here. My eleven year-old girl. We feel the push and pull of her growing up. Desire for safety and adventure both. Wanting to belong. Yet delighting in independence. It’s hard.
Mother and daughter know now–the sacred space beyond morning–beginning. Time is held here, the place where the Father bends to kiss his beloved. I am my daughter’s mother. And I am her sister too.
And it begins with the acceptance: we are God’s daughter.
For here, here is the sacred echo of lullaby we know, that we have always known. The trust of belonging before we knew words, before we knew birth. Daughter is before time—it is in it and beyond it—existing in moments and yet more than moments too.
Daughter—the creation of beauty creating itself through the knowing itself. Daughter knows who she is, and she lives out the truth of that claim.
I am yours, and you are mine.
My daughter’s eyes open after she first sighs. Legs stretch out, then arms. Her cheeks are exquisite, like the cheeks all mother’s know. Cheeks that still squish with the pressure of lips. Cheeks that smell of purity, the timelessness of birth, the innocence of what is true.
It is the sensation of her cheeks on my lips that reminds me. The name I forget when day drags light around, lassoing sun rays and pretending its boss. The name of beginning. The name of what light is. The name of hope. The name of True.
I want to awake True.
And the kiss of her cheek lets me claim it—for True is the name of daughter. True is the name of pure. True is the name of beginning. True is the name marked bold, tenacious, light, glory, color. True is tucked in fast and close, tucked into the crook of her Father’s arms.
God holds True like a mother. He holds her and kisses her cheeks. He awakes her further, whispering beauty, inviting her to stay always, and trust Him. For He never, despite any circumstances, goes away.
We are the daughter. The beloved. We claim our inheritance, and the claiming emboldens us. Our obedience shows us the Truest Us: His daughter, His beloved. True is now confidence. In love.
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3).
In the darkness, when the sun has yet to shine, we wait for light to come. In light, theFather dispels the distractions that lead to forgetfulness. Rather, He gives truth that sustains: we are his daughter.
Come mother us, God. The beginning of every day.
Our identity, as a daughter of God, can change everything–how we view our circumstances, how we approach struggles, how we cling to hope or experience joy. How often do you think about your identity as God’s daughter? How does this change you in practical ways?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com
She’s the wise, indefatigable friend you wished lived right next door. The friend who loves God. The friend who mentors and creates and serves. The friend whose favorite thing to do is work alongside Jesus. The friend who does all she can to equip you to be the person God made you to be.
As a life coach, speaker, teacher, and author, Elisa Pulliam works to equip women, and the generation to come, to live lives of authenticity and courage. Through writing and speaking, Elisa communicates the message of Christ in 2 Corinthians–wanting women and girls to know the beauty and brightness of a life fully surrendered and awake to God.
Since meeting Elisa years ago–sharing with one another the vulnerable stories that have made us who we are–I have wanted you to hear her voice–particularly her thoughts about imagination, faith, and listening to the voice of God.
Here is my interview with Elisa Pulliam:
Hands down, my most favorite thing to do with God is to spend time in His Word. In the last few months, He’s grown my appetite for Scripture in such a way that I want to read the Word, un-rushed and without commentary or a Bible study. I’m in awe at how the Lord speaks to our hearts and gives us fresh understanding of familiar Scripture, simply through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Fitting in this time is something I count as a privilege in this season and stage of life. As soon as the kiddos leave for school, I head straight for my time with the Lord before I start my work day. It’s a luxury to work from home! On the days I don’t have client appointments right away, I can linger long and spend extra time in prayer, journaling my longings and listening to the Lord, too.
The greatest obstacle is my desire to meet everyone’s needs and “getting everything done.” I’ll break my own boundaries, allowing appointments and deadlines to crowd out the un-rushed time with the Lord that I know I need. If my mission is to live from the overflow of God in my marriage, motherhood, and missional work, then I need to make time for the necessary “in-flow” from God. When I realize I’m caught in a cycle of over-commitment with no margin space, I look ahead at the calendar and block off time to reconnect with God and re-assess my boundaries.
I do believe we can all hear from God, if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and have received the Holy Spirit as promised in the Word. But I also think that hearing from God requires being in the Word consistently, under Godly teaching, and in biblically accountable relationships. And I believe we have to guard ourselves from the noise of the world, which will drown out the voice of God.
I am a super creative and visually-bent kind of gal, so my time with the Lord, and hearing Him throughout the day, tends to come in waves of metaphors and imagery. I see His lessons in the ordinary moments that take on some dual meaning and spiritual lesson.
My favorite two resources are quite dated, but timeless. Henry Blackaby wrote the Bible study, Experiencing God, which radically shaped how I see my purpose in joining God in His work daily. Anne Ortlund wrote Disciplines of A Beautiful Woman, which influenced my understanding of intentional discipleship and forged my concept of Biblical mentoring. That book also inspired a desire to create a plan for today’s woman to be as intentional and purposefully as Anne, which culminated in my book, Meet the New You: A 21-Day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change.
Elisa, thank you.
WIN A COPY OF MEET THE NEW YOU!
Want to win a free copy of Elisa’s book: Meet the New You? Leave a comment below, sharing what encouraged you most about Elisa’s words today. Your comment will enter you in a random drawing for this book. I will email the winner–and announce the winner here, on this post–on Wednesday, September 20.
So, go ahead, tell us in the comments . . . what resonated with you when you read Elisa’s interview with us here?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com
The uncomfortableness starts in my chest. A feeling unclear, but decided. I am lonely, in a room of women who for years, I call friends.
I am convinced there is opposition to connection–opposition to vulnerability, a digging in and asking God to lead, to show what He has.
But rather than do that–seek God, we get in our own way to freedom. We get in the way of a life that, while not immune to superficiality, insists on playing it safe.
We talk about summer adventures rather than adventures with God. We share stories of the kids’ first days of school rather than how we are desperate for God to scoop us up and lead the way Home.
But we mask it well.
We look put together here. Our hair blow-dried and tousled, our toenails painted, our legs crossed and our children’s initials stamped in metal around our wrists or necks. We sit with cool drinks and talk about God but not to God. We discuss challenges as frustrations, but not really.
It is tiring.
I am tired.
We don’t really share the hidden secrets of the heart. Perhaps we don’t even know what the word “secret” is.
But we live it.
I am paralyzed by normalcy, by mundanity. The beautiful truth–our desperation for God–has escaped us. We have forgotten, in the concern for status quo, to fight the fight for one another’s hearts, really fight. We have forgotten how to push into the places where we have not allowed God to come, to ask for His eyes in order to see what we cannot.
We have forgotten to ask Him to give us words to interpret what we have forgotten how to believe: we are daughters of a King–a King that doesn’t play it safe, a King who wants us to believe in the potential for a world, a life, that is so much more than what we see. More than safety. More than rules. More than fear. More than the tyranny of culture and expectations and routine.
Doing these things would be uncomfortable. But necessary. And important. And good.
I love these women. But I need community that pushes me, makes me feel uncomfortable in its encouragement of me to love God more.
Community is not about pretending–about playing by the rules our culture worships: success, productivity. It is not about Christians faking a heart for God. Community that does this isolates–not only making us feel divided from one another in our attempt to not be vulnerable, but separate from our own hearts.
We are suffocating here.
Let us be willing to ask God, in relationship with other women, to come and reveal to us where we are playing it safe, how we are not trusting Him, how we are not living in faith and idolizing the things of this world rather than worshipping Him.
I need women around me who push me toward Him, who love me by showing me how I am falling. Because falling is not so bad when I am doing it into my Savior’s arms.
It is the most terrible, isolating, lonely and death-inducing thing to fall, however, when you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
So to be in this type of community? God, give us courage.
Let us pray this: God, let true community, with the women you bring into my life, start with me.
Are you in a community of women (and this can be a single friend) who pushes you, encourages you, emboldens you to live a life of transparency and truth–a life that chases after God? What step can you take today to be this kind of friend?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com