Today, Jenn speaks to us about the fabulous books she is reading, finding identity, and a reminder of God’s faithfulness in dark times.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a loving church family, learning about God early, which is a huge blessing. I was always getting lost in books, creating, dreaming, and planning, usually wanting to be the best at whatever I tried (and devastated when I failed). Feeling out of place among peers, I looked to grown-ups for approval. It led to perfectionism and people-pleasing that usually translated into how I looked at God, too. In 7th grade, I got baptized and made Jesus Lord of my life, but struggled to understand the concept of grace for years.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Currently, I am meditating on Paul’s epistles, especially Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV – it’s our whole story in Christ. How, even when we were “dead in transgressions,” God loved us and sent Jesus to redeem us and raise us up. He shows us “incomparable riches of his grace,” reminds us we have nothing to boast about on our own, and yet he has purposed us to do good works for his glory.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Right now, “wild confidence” is a concept I keep going back to. Because when it’s about God and not about me, I’m free to be bold and audacious in the pursuit of his purpose for me. I don’t have to fear making mistakes when glorifying God is my goal. And I don’t have to go back to the old, insecure me – the one so afraid of failure, she didn’t even want to try.
Profession: I’m a writer and an at-home mom.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? The Guilty to Grace-filled Life. Or Shame-free Faith. It has turned my world around completely to come to understand the incomprehensible freedom of God’s grace.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? Growing up going to church always left me curious about God. When I was younger, I imagined Him as a prince coming to rescue me. (Probably the product of too many princess movies growing up!)
How would you describe Jesus? The best friend you could ever have. Fully God and fully human. He willingly gave up his rights so he could serve and save us.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? He has given purpose to the lowest times and biggest challenges of my life. More recently, as I’ve come to understand grace better, He has given me a beautiful identity I could never earn or live up to.
“He has given me a beautiful identity I could never earn or live up to.”
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? 2020 was probably the darkest time of my life. It started even before lockdowns and viruses, and only seemed to get worse. My anxiety hit a new high. My privilege and ignorance were exposed. Somewhere, in the midst of it all, God prompted me to read Isaiah. I was so blown away. God reminded me of how far He’s brought me, His faithfulness, and how He can transform any situation. He truly brought so much wisdom in one year, and took care of us in ways I didn’t realize until later.
“God reminded me of how far He’s brought me, His faithfulness, and how He can transform any situation.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? In this season, stepping out on faith and watching God through it feels so satisfying to me. I’m far less worried about what people think than I used to be. (It’s still a struggle, but it’s less.) Messy simple faith is my goal right now – trusting what he asks me to do, and not being anxious about what could happen or how I look.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Too many books at once, as usual. The Hard Good by Lisa Whittle has been a message to keep showing up and watching God bring good where it doesn’t feel like there is any. Everybody, Always by Bob Goff is perfect simple faith – following Jesus’s example and loving everyone around you, including those different from you. And just started Known by Aubrey Sampson – I love any book that reminds you of who you are in Christ.
Top three essentials: My phone, decaf coffee, and headphones.
How did God speak to you recently? God has been calling me back to repentance, and also reminding me that it’s refreshing when it comes from grace, instead of striving to be better.
Hobby: Reading, watching classic movies or my tried-and-true favorite shows, Pilates, getting outside
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Make sure you constantly hold up lies to what the Word says, even the ones just in your mind; start your day with worship (not headlines, social media, or emails); stay in tune to what the Spirit is prompting you to do – and do it!
Favorite person in scripture? Currently, Paul! I haven’t always seen eye to eye with him. He truly speaks to my striving self, encouraging anyone who will listen to embrace freedom in grace at its fullest. He pleads with people to remember all that God has done, all his rich blessings in grace, and to lay down our works before the God who isn’t measuring us.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I pray that I can help women experience freedom in Christ from shame and striving by pointing them back to the identity God gives them. I spent so long feeling crushed by those areas of my life, and have come to a place of so much joy and relief – I want everyone to find that.
How do you engage with your community? We chat a lot on social media. Even video content, which still feels intimidating to me! I love reaching out through email and am always honored when someone signs up for my emails or responds to a blog post. I still blog, even though some say it’s dead 😉
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving! I’m such a tradition-oriented person, and that’s when a lot of our family traditions happen. Also, the food. And the Christmas season officially begins.
A goal you have? One of my goals is to write a book that is traditionally published.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Our family likes to explore new places together! Either in nature, or visiting a new city, or going on a road trip. I cherish those times.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? So many questions! If I had to pick one, it would probably be: how am I connected to other people in ways I never knew? In lineage, or people I met more than once, or passed on the street sometime before I met them in real life, or some other way?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: God’s love answers all the questions we have about ourselves. Living loved enables us to live a life of love.
What does your morning routine consist of? Morning walks with worship music or just praying are my favorite way to start the day. Pilates next, then getting ready for the day and getting some work done. I like to read my Bible when I’m with my kids, so they can see me in the Word and know it’s important to me.
What is on your nightstand? Too many books, a cup for water, my blue light glasses, and a candle.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is living loved and wholehearted, and helping others do the same.
For more Jenn:
You can find me at:
@whatyoumakeitblog on FB, IG, and Pinterest
@whatyou_make_it on Twitter
Until next time, keep witnessing!