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About Jennifer Camp

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.

Jennifer Camp

Jennifer Camp
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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.

when we feel weak and we’re running – how to believe we’re strong

“You are stronger than you know.”

She hears the words and wants to throw them back in his face. She wants to yell, spit, run.

“What do you know?” she thinks. “How can you tell me I am strong when I struggle to maintain a job, or look put together, or be the mother my kids need me to be?“

She can hardly believe the response, “What defines ‘success,’ my love?”

I do. I define success. My success” she tells him. And then she runs. She doesn’t want to hear him anymore.

when we feel weak and we’re running anyway - how to believe we are strong

So she runs far away, as far away as she can. Deep into the place where she’s convinced she can’t be seen. The place that is deeper and further away than any physical location on a map. It is the place in her heart, deep inside her, where she tucks herself away.

“No one. Not one person can find me here,” she insists. “Not unless I want to be found.”

And he hears her. But he doesn’t respond this time. Not in words.

Because he knows that when you’re falling you sometimes don’t want to be caught. Something in you wants to fall and feel the pain. Pain would be feeling something. Pain is what you think you deserve.

He knows.

And pain is what we feel when we hide.

We forget that God is in the business of catching us when we fall. We forget that God’s catching us doesn’t always look like we think it should.

So again, we run. We run from friendship, from encouragement, from getting help. We run from opportunities to be vulnerable, honest with people about our weakness, our inability to be strong on our own. Because that’s the real problem.when we feel weak and we’re running anyway - how to believe we are strong
When God tells us we are stronger than we know, we hear this: it is up to us to be stronger, smarter, prettier, faster, better. We struggle to accept that being strong means celebrating that we are weak. And that in us, it is God who is strong.

It is only when we surrender the lie that we need to be strong on our own that we can believe a word that Jesus says.

Jesus in us, the Holy Spirit in us, is how “we are stronger than we know.” And yes, this can be difficult for us to accept.

And God knows this. He knows we don’t like surrender.

God knows our wild, rebellious heart. He knows our prideful, stubborn tendencies.

He knows how we lean toward fighting for our own way rather than his. He knows it takes a dying to self to get us to begin again and live. Really live. He knows it is hard for us to want that—to want to die to self as the only path to receiving life.

God knows we’re not used to this upside-down, backwards kind of living. But it’s the only living that is real. It’s the life we are made for.

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If you’ve been gathering here with me for a while,  you know how I love thinking about this running of ours. I love how this is part of the story, our prayer. This running away, and to, and with God are all part of the conversation we have with Him. It is the story God loves.

Our running? It is the story God wants to be in the middle of, and redeem, and make beautiful.

when we feel weak and we’re running anyway - how to believe we are strong

What is God whispering to your heart? How are you running? Are you running with God or away from Him? How do you react when your Father whispers to you, arms open, “I am here. I am with you. I love you with a crazy all-in love. Your perceived weakness is how, in me, you are strong”?

Can you accept his promise, “You are stronger than you know?”

If you want to learn more about conversations with God–and join 40 other women in their raw, honest conversations with their Father, in the midst of running away from him, or to him, or with him, click right here.

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com


what it might look like to miss home

I am in the tension. I miss my home.

The smell of a burning candle. The creak of floorboards under bare feet. The windows opened wide in the morning. The bluejay in the primroses outside the kitchen.

The kitchen itself is torn up, the first place I would head to each morning. Tiptoeing to open the shutters, letting out the dog, waiting for the light to flood in while the house still sleeps.

miss home

My soup pot is tucked away in storage. My baking sheets in boxes with my spices and mixing spoons. I miss cooking. I miss baking. I miss the familiarity of simple things: walking our dog around our neighborhood, going across the street to get the mail each day, visiting Berta, my ninety-two-year-old neighbor, playing music through the speakers while I write and then make dinner, leaning on the counter while my kids eat a snack and tell me about their day.

Home not home

Our furniture is stacked in the middle of the family and living rooms, a mountain covered in plastic sheeting to protect it from dust and wood chips and paint. We walk through before picking up the kids from school–climb up onto the stair-less porch, visit each small room, shutters clapped tight.

I walk through to the back, where the writing studio is an open shed with a fixed roof now. Insulation will be installed soon. When we move back in we won’t be cold in the winter and hot in the summer when we sit at our desks and listen and write.

Home not homeHome not home

In the backyard I find the old metal watering can and grab the hose. There are still plants in the backyard that are green and need tending. It feels good to turn on the hose, let the water flood through and pour into the potted soil. I water lemon trees, and shrubs, and a climbing vine with purple flowers. (I have never known the name.)

Home not home

Things are a mess inside and out. Walls torn up to the studs. The wood floor covered in thick paper and tape. Dust layering everything. Our front and back grass are dead. There is a gray porta-potty by our front window, next to the fence.

Home not home

I miss my home.

But I mostly miss the rhythms, the privilege of taking care of it–cleaning and caring for the little bungalow He gave us nine years ago. I miss my family harbored inside, the familiar rhythms of waking and walking and listening and cleaning and working in it. Most of my writing has happened in these walls.

Maybe that is what I miss most–not only when the house is filled with voices and smells and warmth and movement–but also the stillness of the place when everyone is gone and it is just me in it. The moments with the house to myself when I sit at the kitchen counter, or on the floor, or walk around the neighborhood and I listen and I write.

Things feel unfamiliar now. We have been out of our home for three months now. And there are months more to go. My days are spent book marketing, and driving the kids to their schools back in our old neighborhood, and asking God to show me how to listen for Him, find Him, in this new space. I miss the simpleness of routine, of comfort, of familiarity. With this book launch, I am so out of my comfort zone. I don’t even know how to write about it here.

What to do when you miss home. Read more ->

And that is when I have to trust that I can do all things with my God. And that a place does not equip me for success. And familiarity can make me stagnant. And adventure and newness and uncomfortableness push me to lean on Him.

Father, remind us how you are our constant. You are our rock. You are our fuel and our guide and our solid path. We are not floundering. We are not forgotten. We have not lost our way.

What season are you in now, sister? How do you need reminding that God is steadfast, despite your circumstances?

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com


the first step to believing we are beloved

“I am unlovable.”

It’s the whisper that feels true, more true than anything else: How can I be loved, right now, like this? How can I be considered “beloved”?

beloved
Meet Aliza.

unlovable

Aliza is 25 years old. Works as a barista. Struggles to believe she has what it takes to make it in a world pushing achievement, salary, perfection. Cutting is her response. Digging into her skin—with anything she can find—the answer to her pain. How can she not try to do something to wake herself up, or do better, or at least inflict self-punishment—for her failing to not deserve love? 

God has something to say to her.
beloved

Meet Lea.

unlovableLea is 38 years old, not fully healed. Emotionally scarred from being neglected, not being seen by her family when she was a little girl. She left home for a while as a teenager. That’s when the battle in her heart surfaced physically. That’s when the anorexia began. She asks God, “Why can’t I be seen?” She fears she is not worth enough to be loved.

God has something to say to her.

beloved

Meet Bella.

unlovableBella, 16 years old, scrutinizes her appearance, her personality. She decides she isn’t cool enough, smart enough, witty enough. She studies the covers of magazines, scrolls beautiful Instagram feeds. She looks for her own face there—some conviction that she is worthy, beautiful, desired, interesting, too. She decides joy and freedom is fleeting when she struggles to accept her identity. She fears God can’t possibly like her if she doesn’t even like herself.

beloved

God has something to say to her.

There is a piece of us in each of these women—these girls-now-women who struggle to believe they are lovable.

And that’s why God has something to say to each of us, too.

We can be far from believing we are beloved. Yet there is something in us that makes us restless, that gives us a glimpse of hope that these crazy beliefs of ours might not actually be true. 

We can still believe, despite our past, our circumstances, that God might have a different way to view our life. 

Can we listen? Do we want to hear what He has to say?

Come closer. Let’s lean in, listening to heart of our Father.

Our story is here, written in his eyes, his hands. 

Come, Lord. You have begun the conversation. Help us enter in.

Sister, listen close.

Come.

How do you long to believe you are God’s beloved? What do you most hope God would say to you right now?

Do you want to join me–participate in 40 conversations God has with 40 different women? Do you want to join me in discovering our own story here, learning what God has to say to our hearts? Click here.

There are some awesome gifts for you, too

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com