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When Everything is Lost
Jennifer Maggio
Parched Lips Cannot Sing
Anchored Voices
Conquering Complaining
Courtnaye Richard
When You Fear the Future
Christina Fox

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 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.

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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.

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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


WHEN IT'S TIME TO BE DONE

Jennifer at windowSave

People say it’s in the quiet where we can most easily find Him. Not because He is quiet. Not necessarily. Not because He is calm. Not consistently. But because the distractions come fierce and loud. And our hearts—fragile, on their own—need Him to pull us back to the beginning, the pure place, with Him.

And yes, I think this is true.

Jesus, we need you.

Grab hold of our hearts and bring us to You.

rush of traffic

We can more readily access the messages of our own hearts, and connect with Jesus’, when we practice silence, give space for our minds and hearts and imaginations to be present to God. When media blares and relationships demand and work pressures, our hearts become overwhelmed. And while silence, space with Jesus, restores us—reminding us what is true and what is not, there is another step we need to take:  We need to do more than petition the throne.

Because in our loneliness, we cry out. 

In our weariness, we cry out. 

In our desire for more—more love, more breakthrough, more healing, more hope, we cry out.

And in the midst of our petitioning, Jesus asks this simple question, “What are you willing to do, to get more of me?”

Are you willing to trust me with your relationships? Are you willing to walk away from what feels safe, if I ask you to? Are you willing to run toward the people I give you to love, even if it’s hard?

Are you willing to trust me with your talents? Are you willing to let me show you how I’ve made you and what is getting in the way of trusting me more?

Are you willing to let go of having the answers, let me search your heart, help you discern the reasons for your restlessness, your brooding, your hunger for more and more and more of me?

Laptop computer pillows

A guide for me on this journey, a man wise and disruptive in the best ways, tells me, “Give everything and everyone to Jesus.” Relinquish control. “Give Him everything as if you are done.As if I am done. As if I am . . . done.

Letting go of trying to control what we can’t, of what we shouldn’t, while contending for what is good—for more Jesus, more connection with Him—grants peace we will never find through the desire to strive and control.

86 sign

Being done means the end of striving. Being done means turning our backs on fear. Being done means intimacy with Jesus. Being done means living in wide-open space where life is more than what we see and hear and feel. Being done means stepping forward into the deeper place, a place where heaven comes down, we see God’s face, feel his touch, hear his voice.

Jesus, I am done. Let us be done.

For in being done we enter the beginning. A fresh way to live in a world that rages, that overwhelms, that is more than we are designed to bear.

We are given more, now, than we can bear on our own. Being done is owning Holy Spirit’s strength in us to do what our Father desires us to do. Being done is craving the Father’s desires. It is having our desires be his.

Being done means no separation from our heart and Jesus’.  It means more joy, more light, more capacity for love. When we are done with this life of striving and control we are ready for Jesus to fill our hearts and soul so there is room for nothing else.

I want to be done. 

I want to be done.

So, I seek His heart and I listen for His voice and I act. Give everything and everyone to Jesus as if you are done. 

And greater intimacy with our King and Savior is here. Right now.

Let’s be done.

Name your struggle to lay down control. What grips you? How do you want to be done?

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com


A NEW YEAR, AND GOD IN THE SNOW

Ski posts

It is cold the morning we climb. Strap snowshoes onto our boots. Head out while still dark. House quiet. Kids asleep.

The break has been needed. Away from home. The pace of running too fast, too long. I look up here. White aspens, bare fingers stretch to the most pale blue sky.

I am a Three on the Enneagram, which means slowing is counterintuitive. Going forward, doing what feels productive, is what feels comfortable. 

But this is not what is best for my soul.

It takes intention, this battle for the health of my heart.

Plants in the snow

This is the second time I climb the snow-packed hill. The first is on a whim. In a restful house full of friends and family hundreds of miles from home, days before New Year’s, I pull on boots and walk into approaching dusk.

To walk in beauty. To look for Father’s footsteps. To grasp Jesus’ hand. To listen for Holy Spirit’s voice.

It is a hard, steep climb, my feet not accustomed to the snowshoes’ width, legs tired from skiing most of the day. Half-way up, I have to start pausing to catch my breath. And then begin counting steps each time I stop. 80. 100. Keep going ‘til you get to that fence, then that tree.

At the top, my calves burning, I am quiet. My God is quiet too. I feel no pressure to find words. Whether I can feel Him or not, my heart knows He is here. I am confident He is close. I am a daughter who loses her way, a daughter He, over and over again, tucks in close and brings home.

He is with me, in the silence, in the waiting. And I want to remember His presence with me here. So I bend forward where I kneel, my knees crunched in snow. And I pick up a piece of wood, a smoothed, flattened nub of branch, a half-inch wide and two-inches long. It is tucked in the snow at the top of the hill. Here, I remember, is where I climbed, and waited, and anticipated the presence of God.

Ski Lift, Park City

It is quiet here. Darkness falling. And I don’t hear anything–not His voice, not a nudge, not a whisper. But I recognize His presence. I feel his breath, the cold air on my face. He is with me. That is enough. I stand, holding the stick in my right pocket. My left hand holding Jesus’ as I walk down.

* * * 

I want to climb the hill again.

It is early morning of New Year’s Day, two days after my afternoon walk, when Justin and I climb together. It is much easier this time—legs fresh, lungs determined. We speak little, listening to the crunch of snow under boots, the sound of our breath in our wool-covered ears. We watch the sky begin to turn. Deep blue. Slightly pink-gold. We reach the top and stand, holding hands, consecrating this moment, this morning, this day, this year to Him.

We pray, give our hearts again to our Father. God, what do you have to say?

And I hear Him this time. Justin prays aloud at this very beginning of the new year, his hand in mine, our boots in snow, the sun rising behind mountains, his voice speaking out thanksgiving, hope, promise, return. And I hear the voice of my Father, his voice in my heart, speaking over us: the promise of hope in the midst of trial, his presence equipping us to face challenges as we lean into Him, standing in his truth, fighting alongside Him.

And this standing with Him . . . begins with fighting for our own hearts.

Fighting for my own heart is something I have been neglecting to do for months now. Many months. What I love to do? What I am made to do? These things I have been ignoring. I have been chasing the satisfaction of the urgent rather than the important. And what is urgent is often a distraction from the important—a task, a request, a situation that, actually, ironically, can usually wait. For the important pulls me into deeper relationship with God. The important fuels what I need for the urgent. The important is both practical and romantic—a move, an action, a decision that leads to falling more deeply in love with my Father.

And above all else, I want to fall more deeply in love with God.

Park City, Utah landscape

Snow, Park City, Utah

He keeps speaking, the sun glistening on snow. And, while of course I know He knows I hear Him, I want to acknowledge my own hearing, I want to respond. He is asking me to stand. He is promising that I will stand. He is inviting me to trust Him and follow Him and stand.

And the sacred echoes of his voice continue, as I listen, and I wait, and I respond—my heart hungry to answer the call of the Father, the call of the important, not the urgent.

I learn that “stand,” in Hebrew, means to endure, to remain—to stand both in body and attitude.

Father, this is what I want to do: stand with You, in every way. My whole heart is Yours.

And Justin and I walk down.

What excites you about this new year? How is God inviting you to fall more deeply in love with Him?

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

 

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