Today, Jennifer speaks to us about finding peace in grief in this time of pandemic, her amazing cycling adventures, and focusing on gratitude.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a Christian home, with a father who is very passionate about Jesus and the message of Jesus. My childhood was split between growing up in Canada and partly in Poland; my father is from Warsaw. I was very lucky to see parts of the world, growing up. I grew up speaking French, and English and some Polish.
My father was an elite cyclist growing up, and he owned and cycled on a professional ultra endurance cycling team. I cycled on that team as a junior, and cycled across Canada at 16 years old. I began singing in church and grew up in choirs, which ultimately led me to choose to pursue music as my profession and calling in life. God finally led me to worship and that’s where I’ve been since.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Ephesians 1:18 – Where Paul is praying to the church of Ephesus saying to them, “I pray your eyes are focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers.”
My deepest prayer for everyone around me, especially now, is that the eyes of their heart can be clear and focused on what God has called them to do, how to serve.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: My spiritual growth at the moment would be a deep focus to be quiet and still in His presence daily, to gain deeper sense of His voice and strengthen my relationship with Jesus daily. I pray that I can continue to live inside God’s signs, miracles and wonders daily.
Profession: I work with kids; I am a caretaker, a tutor, and teacher to kids!
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? From Jazz to Jesus – a story of self-serving music, to a music of servitude.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? My earliest memory of knowing God’s existence goes back to when I was very young, 8 yrs old, and I was given one dollar to head to the candy store with my brother. when I arrived, the money [was not] in my pocket, and I started crying. When I got home, I was crying to my dad and saying I’m so sorry I lost the money. Shortly after that, I look over to where I was tying my shoe and there was the dollar bill. I fell to my knees, hands in the air proclaiming “GOD, THANK YOU; I knew you’d never let me down.” Ha! I just sort of always knew He was with me. And later in life, as I became more intentional the Lord would always show up in very distinguished ways. Undeniably, His presence. I’m very blessed.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I can say with confidence that my life is completely different after really and truly handing over the will of my life to Him. I spent a lot of time trying to control things, my life, my weight, my body, my career, my singleness, etc. After I really deeply handed over those things to Him, that’s when the peace of the Holy Spirit entered my life. I live walking in surrender now, knowing that I can’t control things, and God has a plan for me that is His best, plans to prosper me and a plan that works it all together for His good.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? After reading the book The Celebration of Discipline I began to dig deeper into disciplined spiritual practices that allowed my to feel free and deeply open to God. It helped me grow tremendously, spiritually. I led a women’s group through this book and it changed me. I have a daily practice of scripture study, meditation, gratitude journaling, affirmation and intention setting, as well as practices that revolve around connection and generosity, like Venmo’ing others little gifts for a coffee. Keeping this habits in place has grown my spiritually during this season.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Currently reading How to Worship a King by: Zach Neese, and I am loving this for growth in worship. This quote really struck me – “If something is foggy on the platform, it’s pitch black in the Pews.”
It launched me deeply into a self-reflective state about what is foggy in my own relationship with God. What areas have I not handed over to Him have I not quite surrendered? When we step onto the worship platform with our “foggy life” you can’t expect clarity in the pews, in the ones you are leading. It’s been a transformative book.
Top three essentials: Bible, gratitude, authentic, sharpening iron-on-iron friendships/wise counsel.
How did God speak to you recently? I lost someone I loved very deeply recently, during quarantine, he was 30yrs old and loved Jesus and taught me so much about faith. When he passed, I was devastated but deeply in tune with the Spirit and knew God would send me something to soothe me and cloak me in peace. Without going into too much, the Lord has been ever present, undeniably in this season of grief, and I feel Him closer now than ever.
“Without going into too much, the Lord has been ever present, undeniably in this season of grief, and I feel Him closer now than ever.”
Hobby: Surfing! Every weekend out at Long Beach, NY with the best coaches alive at Skudin Surf! Blessed to be a part of that family!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Same place, same time, everyday – Bible reflection– Quiet and still in His presence, gratitude and service through connecting to others.
Favorite person in scripture? David! One of my favourite moments is from 1 Samuel 30 where we see the tenderness of David as he comes across an abandoned slave from Egypt. He cares for this slave this unlikely character, who he so easily could have overlooked. I love David’s story and his life.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to learn how to lead with their life in a way that is so undeniable, that people are confused and can only point back to God. I pray that people who might look up to me or see me, are confused by why I love people well or generosity or anything that reflects and shines the love of Jesus, that they can only come up with the solution of, “Wow, that must be God”.
“I want people to learn how to lead with their life in a way that is so undeniable, that people are confused and can only point back to God.”
How do you engage with your community? I serve my local church, remain close to team members, in connect groups and engage in our Heart for Harlem outreach when we are active and on the ground serving!
Favorite holiday? Christmas and Easter. His birthday and His resurrection! The two best days to celebrate!
A goal you have? To launch my own platform to serve and speak on the topics I feel passionate about and have God use me in this way.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My father is from Poland, and I grew up having “Holy Bread” sent to us from family in Europe. Each holiday, we would break bread with family and wish others well for the year. It’s a beautiful tradition I will carry on to my children.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Why did our God design our brains and certain neuropathways to default to a negative disposition? I recently took an online class at Yale about how our brains are designed to default to miswanting. I’d love to know God’s design ideas behind that!
Thing you want to raise awareness about: True authentic empathy and same culture inside current contemporary Christian culture. I am passionate about people loving people properly. It’s a skill to be developed, not something that comes easily to most. Also, mental health and skin protection. (My family and I are affected by skin cancer).
“I am passionate about people loving people properly.”
What does your morning routine consist of? Wake up, pray in bed a thank you prayer to God for waking me up today. Make coffee, create a relaxing oasis with sound, read my Bible, meditate, journal gratitude, set goals for the day, reach out to family and friends, and begin accomplishing my goals!
What is on your nightstand? The current book I am reading, iPad w/ Bible app. water, iPhone, lip balm
Define Christianity in a sentence: Being the hands and feet of Jesus daily, walking out loving others, exactly as they are, sharing the good news and living a life of servitude.
For more Jennifer:
Until next time, keep witnessing!