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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.

The Messy Beautiful

the messy beautiful

Father, my mind cannot grasp your greatness. I read your Word, your many feats–how you advocate for us, and my mind, my self-absorption, my pride, makes me focus on myself–my small problems, my small worries and cares. Your ways are good. You see beyond what I can see. You pursue justice. You ask us what we will do–if we will stand with you or against you, if we will both appreciate the lives you’ve given us, the opportunities to love and do what is good, in your name, or if we will, instead, fight our own fight, for our own glory.

Lord, forgive me for how I forget you. It is horrible, and it is true. I am your daughter, the one you love. Yet, my ways are not your ways. And I surrender my ways now. I give you my heart again, with all of its stubbornness, feelings of entitlement, self-hatred, judgemental attitudes. 

Here I am, confident that, if you want me to, I can hear your voice, and yet how often do I ignore it? How often do you speak and I close my ears? How often do you open your arms and I run to comfort in other things? Productivity, achievement, food, things? How often do you weep at the injustice of this world and I close my eyes and heart to what is right in front of me? How often do you feel frustration and anger and yet love and love and love? 

You love me despite me. Your love has nothing to do with what I do, what I think. But it is your love that breaks open my heart. And my old self, the one who rails against you, dies at the foot of the cross. She cannot stand–this old self–at your feet, Jesus. In your presence, the false parts of her wither; all of the sin in her completely destroyed. Take her again, will you? Take this old self of mine. Take her and destroy her. Throw her into the fire and make her new. It is in death that new life comes. She needs your new life now. 

Jesus, you are tireless in your love. You are kind and good. I pick up your cross, my new self–strong and confident in you, and the cross does its work. Again and again, I am made brand new. In all good things, Jesus, you are present. 

Lord, be present in me now. I stand here, your beauty, your delight. I stand here, filled with love, capable of anything you have for me to do. You defeat all of my enemies. You crush my every foe. You pursue my heart, pointing out what gets in the way of me completely following you. You ask me–do you want all of me now? For this, right now, needs to go. 

And I say yes. Right here, right now. I say yes. I want all of you. Whatever it takes. Remove from me what is not of you and destroy it now. Right here. I am filled with your love. I am filled with your truth. You, Jesus, are the Word come down. You, Jesus, are the Beginning before the beginning. Begin again, in me. I begin again, with you.

Have you listened yet, to Rush, our new podcast? Here is the latest episode, “How to Make the Walls Come Down.” 

 

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com


Our Warring Hearts

You call my name, and I hear you. I am not pressed too hard, I am not overwhelmed and forgotten. You are here now, Jesus. I can see you. I can see you with my eyes closed. I can hear you from deep within me. This is where you pursue me. In the deepest place of my heart. I run there; I want to stay here, with you.

Last week, we wrestled, you and I. You know how I struggle with transitions. I want so much for spontaneity to be my attribute, yet, still, I prefer the certainty of things planned. But I trust in you. I trust that you see what I cannot. I trust that you are good. I trust that you love me. I trust that you have me. I trust that you never leave me. I trust that you fill me and equip me with your more and more and more.

Last week, as I put the women’s group we lead together on summer hiatus, you leaned in close. This was the wrestling the two of us did–my aching with fear that I was letting you down, and you pointing out how self-contempt was once again pressing in. No, you said, I am not a failure; no, you said, I am not disappointing you. You reminded me how you pursue me from a true place–and if I push to make things work because of pride or fear–I am not being true, I am not following your heart.

And Jesus, I want to follow nothing else but your heart.

You reminded me how true leadership comes from the overflow of relationship with you–and when I have to push and pull to make things work on my own strength, I must step back, lean in close to you. I must ask you to search my heart, seek your wisdom that I may give from being filled with you. What I give–that is good–comes only from you.

And then, when the loneliness came–the worry that the women might not come back in the fall, that I messed this all up by pausing what was just getting started–you came, arms open wide. I heard you: This is a season of healing, dear one. Your vulnerability is your strength. Your weakness is where I come to fill you. You will always need me. And there are some places in you where we still need to go. There is always more. Come, my darling. Come, I am right here.

So this summer, as my little girl heart seeks the healing of her Father, I step back from the group I just started and trust the outcome of the decision to Jesus. I bury my face in the folds of his arms. I look for his hand and hold it fast. I listen, and the words he speaks bring light and joy and peace.

I continue to speak the truth, not fear, to my warring heart:  In the turbulence of a world gone mad, Jesus, you are constant; you are sure. In the ache of the ones who feel forgotten, Jesus, you stand tall; you do not leave. Jesus, you know heartache; you know pain; you know sickness; you know grief. You know exhaustion; you know war.

So, it is where you go that I want to follow. You lead me, Jesus. You lead me deeper into the place where you beckon, you invite, you move. You know the plan. You have me. You are peace.

Is there a way your heart feels at war with Jesus? How is he inviting you to come closer to him–accept the good for you that he has?

Don’t miss the episode by Rush Podcast: Rescue from Self-Contempt.

 

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com


When Self-Contempt and Jesus Collide

I came back for you.”

I hear you say it, your hand at the small of my back, your arms holding me. For years it was my Father’s voice I recognized. Opening my imagination. Cracking open my heart. When I see me with him. When I hear his voice.

But I didn’t think I could hear yours. Or think I ever wanted to.

I let myself believe that you, underneath the almond tree, eyes filled with tears, stayed only because you couldn’t help it. You couldn’t not be there, loving me, despite me. Because you are Love. Because rescue is what you do. Because rescue is who you are.

I twisted your acts of love into an act of obligation. Not choice. Not beauty. Not treasure. Not freedom. Not life.

A part of my heart rejected you, held you off.

Save

I did this even though I knew your sacrifice, your surrender, your suffering, your death, was all a choice. Everything you did was what you chose to do. But I made you small. I warped the truth and said it didn’t apply to me.

Despite the truth. Despite how you came. Despite how you returned me to myself, restored my broken heart, turned darkness into light, and ransomed me.

I wanted to retain control, keep punishing myself by hating myself. But now you teach me this: When self-contempt defines a person, and generational wounds cut deep, kindness to self can feel like a mountain impossible to climb, a summit impossible to reach. But you smash through our self-hatred with a love that rattles heaven. 

“I came back for you.”

Yes, you did.

Yes, you do.

Save

We hear you.

We see you. We know your laughter.  We feel your breath against our cheek. Your strength upholds us. Your kindness fills us. We dance. And you help us each to stand.

We trust your steps. How you guide us forward, and then back. You invite us to let our arms fall to our sides and then lift them up. The air is sweet, grass lush and soft underneath our bare feet.

We hear your music. Feel it in us. Respond to it with hands open, our feet running now.

Waterfall pounds ahead. River wild rushing hard. We know it is okay to jump. You are here. You will catch us. You show us what we didn’t know before: we love to dance, yes. But we also love to race on rapids with you.

You are taking us deeper now. We see you. We will follow you where you go.

Be safely unpredictable, Jesus. Be extravagantly sure. You are the beautiful one. The brave one. You take us to places messy and wild. Show us more. Show us more. Make us ready to say yes, to wherever you call, and go.

It is easier for us, Jesus, to believe in our despicable nature than surrender, let ourselves be loved anyway, despite it being the last thing we deserve.

But, Jesus, life with you is just too goodyou are too good, to not trust you. Help us do whatever it takes, whatever it takes, for more, more of you.

Jesus, help us recognize our biggest struggle right now. Is it trusting you? Is it facing our fears? Is it letting you into the silent, darkest places of our hearts and trusting you to come and heal? Is it doing the hard work of dying to self? Is it following where you lead?

We thank you for how you come, how you are here, how you come back for us, rescuing us, again and again. Never stop. And help us go forward with you, in all that you have for us. In your name we pray, Amen.

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com