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Why American Sniper just called me out…

American Sniper.

To be honest, I had no (real) desire to see this film. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I’m unpatriotic. It’s not that I don’t respect our military. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate (and applaud) the efforts of Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, either. Not at all. It’s just that—well, I knew exactly how I would feel after seeing such a movie as this. I read the reviews, I saw the trailer and I knew the emotions I would struggle with, the anger that would creep up, as well as the sadness that would undoubtedly fill my heart upon viewing it. I was completely aware of the impact this film and the life of Chris Kyle would have on me, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure I could handle it.

But I went anyways.

My husband and I sat in a crowded theatre, popcorn in hand and we watched. For an hour and a half we remained silent as we saw this man’s life play out on screen. And even though I knew the gist of this story, as well as how it ended, this movie hit me hard. Real hard.

AMERICAN SNIPER

I wasn’t prepared for it. Not the opening scene. Nor the lump in my throat that appeared half way through the movie as war scenes unraveled. One of ‘em right after another. Not any of it, friends. But here is what I want to share…here are a few words that I think need to be said to those of us on the outside–civilians–like me, who (for the most part) have no idea what military life is like:

We are blessed.

Freedom isn’t free.

Our men and women in uniform (and their spouses) are heroes.

And as a nation (generally speaking), we take so very much for granted.

I know I have. I’ve taken my freedom(s) for granted more often than I can count.  Daily, in fact. I don’t honor the military–or our country–like I should…like they deserve.  Sure, I teach my boys to remove their hats and place their hands over their hearts when saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I tell my children to thank a veteran for their service come each and every Veteran’s Day. I parade a flag outside my home on national holidays. But is that really enough? After seeing a movie like American Sniper, the answer is a resounding “no.”

See, I’ve failed to truly appreciate my rights as an American citizen and the freedom(s) I’ve been born into and blessed by. Know what else? I’m not aware (not fully, at least) of the sacrifices being made for me and my family day in and day out. I guess I’ve grown so consumed with my own life, that it’s hard to focus on another’s. Especially the soldiers out there on the front line–those who are risking their lives to defend mine…ours. Defending our freedom of speech, our right to bear arms, our right to…everything. It’s so easy to do, right America?

But then you see a film like American Sniper. You watch a man risking everything for his country. You see him leave behind his family (four tours!), you see the battlefield he treads upon, the impossible choices he’s forced to make in the name of war, and you can’t help but cry. To weep. To feel a twinge of guilt, andimages yet overwhelming appreciation at the same time.

It’s true: I didn’t want to see American Sniper. Not really. But as I look back, I think the real reason I didn’t want to view this film was because of the discomfort—the emotions—I knew would surface…and the naivety I’d be forced to confront. Friends, you and I (or at least the majority of us)? We aren’t there on the battlefield, we have yet to experience the holidays away from our families, missed births, etc. We have no clue what it would be like to serve, to put our lives on the line for others. We have the pleasure of not seeing what they see.

But in American Sniper, we get a glimpse of it all, don’t we? A small glimpse. And it alters our thinking, doesn’t it? We exit those theatres different than when we came in. We’re more aware. Definitely more appreciative. Thankful for sure.

I dunno about you, but I left American Sniper…changed.

So what do we do now? How do we honor those in our military? How do we thank them for their heroics, and their sacrifices? How do we give back to men like Chris Kyle who’ve given so much? Who have given it all?

  1. Donate to The Wounded Warrior Project: I don’t care if it’s five bucks or five hundred. Any amount you can give to this amazing charity that helps our military men and women both medically and mentally (PTSD), is necessary. Donate if you can.
  2. Pray. There is so much power in prayer, friends. Pray for our military and their families. For protection…for strength.
  3. Do Your Part. Get involved in community efforts to send care packages, and cards, abroad. Find out what you can do to make the life of a serviceman (or woman) and their familes, easier…and appreciated.

 

The email that could change a life…

You’ve. Got. Mail.

Remember turning on your computer, signing into your email account and hearing this one phrase uttered through the speaker(s) of your PC? It was fun (at first), wasn’t it? Knowing that communication was at the click of a button. That you could use your mouse and keyboard to shoot instant emails back and forth between friends and loved ones. Awesome, right?

And now? Well, now we look at email as a nuisance for the most part. We search our inboxes only to find advertisements, spam, and one offer after another. These days our email accounts serve more as a distraction rather than the form of communication they once were. Yet another distraction in a sea of “busyness” we find ourselves consumed by.

But what if this could change? What if we could reclaim our accounts by sending an email that really matters…one that brings a message of hope. Friends, what if we could send an email that could change the life of a friend…a loved one…or even a neighbor.

Because each one of us? We know someone in need of the grace and freedom only found in a relationship with Jesus, right? We’re aware of this truth but sometimes we struggle when it comes to sharing it. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words, or even the right time to bring “Him” up in conversation. But what if we could use the very form of communication we’ve grown consumed by–email–to change all of this?  What if we could communicate (using modern-day technology) to alter the life of another with the message of Christ?

FTLOG-SALE-MED

For a VERY LIMITED TIME (as in “hurry”) you can purchase the Kindle version of For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace for just $2.99! Sent directly to the inbox (anonymously or otherwise) of someone who needs to hear this message most.

To send this super important and much-needed email, simply head here: bit.ly/youve-got-mail and click “Give As A Gift”.

Stand in the gap for your friend. Reach out right now and equip her with this guide–a book that can help her silence those doubts, answer her questions about faith, experience God’s grace, and breathe in the unconditional love she was always meant to know. Send an email that can literally transform the life of another…

In His name,

Jenny

One word…

2015.

Honestly, I have no idea how we’re already fifteen years into this century. Fifteen years, people! Time is funny like that though, isn’t it? Moving so fast we can hardly keep up. Preventing us from catching our breath, soaking in the moments, and enjoying each new day. Still, time can move sickeningly slow, days drag on, one of ‘em right after another as we pray for them to hurry by…and hurry up.

With each passing year (and right about this time), we start thinking about our lives and what we want to change, things we’d like to do differently, areas we want to grow in.; strengthen you could say. I’ve been doing quite a bit of it, too as of late. I’ve been focusing on the one word I want to make my mantra—my year’s motto—so to speak. One word that will sum up how I want 2015 to go down in the history books. One word to describe how I’m going to approach the coming year and all it has to offer. Good or bad. And here’s what I came up with:

Fearless.

You are now

Between you and me (and the rest of the Internet), I struggle with fear. It consumes me. It takes over my thoughts and won’t let go more often than I care to admit. And I hate it. I hate that at thirty-eight years of age, I live in fear over what may come. Even though I know better. Even though I’m fully aware of what the Scriptures state and what my God promises, fear still presses in and holds tight, claiming me as its victim over and over again.

And I’m tired. I’m annoyed. I’m straight fed-up with this way of doing things. So, it’s time. Time to rid myself of this fear, to develop a new mindset and new way of doing things. To tackle this life head-on. To truly trust in God. Because I’m not in control, and I need to accept His will, whatever that may be. I’ve got to learn to let go (cue Frozen song), and rely on Him as I’m called to.

See, this life I’ve been given? I no longer want to be the victim, I want to be the victor. And there’s a significant difference.

Gosh, each one of us has our own struggles, right? We all battle against something, Amen?  But 2015? It’s a new year, friends. And it’s time. It’s time to find that one word…one word that will define this fifteenth year. One word that will become our focus, our motivation, and our mantra. To kick out the old and ring in the new.

Tell me, what’s your one word?

When we forget how AMAZING Christmas really is…

The tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the presents are all wrapped. The cookies are baked, the house is decorated, and every item on my Christmas to-do list is done. Friends, the countdown to Christmas has officially begun. And the anticipation is mounting. I see it in my children’s faces. I hear the excitement in their voices. I watch as their sweet souls overflow with happiness and expectation over the upcoming holiday. This day where we celebrate the birth of Christ.  And here I am, typing away on this computer in an effort to express my thoughts on this season–on this magnificent time of year…attempting to soak it all in before it passes me by.

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Because I think we forget sometimes. I think we get so caught-up in the craziness of this festive holiday that we lose sight of the miracle that transpired all those years ago. The enormity of this one event. This prophecy fulfilled. This promise the Lord kept to His people. And this beautiful baby (Immanuel) who was sent to save us all.  This forgetfulness? It’s not intentional. Not at all. But it happens, doesn’t it? It happens because we grow so consumed with all that must get done during this busy time of year, that we lose the meaning of it all…the heart behind the holiday. We get caught up in lights and home decor, baking, and the purchasing of presents. We stress over the sending of season’s greetings, over holiday parties, and whether we failed to move the Elf on the Shelf from the previous day’s location. We fret over the smallest of things and it’s no wonder our excitement’s vanished. It’s no surprise our anticipation’s diminished. We’ve lost sight, haven’t we? Collectively, we’ve forgotten about what Christmas really means.

Sometimes we forget how amazing Christmas really is.

Tonight my daughter and I attended a local live nativity. It’s a tradition of sorts; an annual event I partake in as a way to get intentional about this beautiful day we celebrate…to help bring the Christmas spirit and the true meaning of this season back into focus. To help me remember. So as I sat on that bale of hay and ingested my Starbuck’s, I once again watched the story unfold. I saw the fear in Mary’s eyes over her swollen belly. I saw the anguish in Joseph’s face over his wife’s condition,  what others would undoubtedly think, as well as the judgement that would ensue. I saw the journey that took place and the delivery of this sweet babe in the humblest of beginnings, and I couldn’t help but to feel the uncertainty and fear those two must have felt during such a time, not to mention the faith they had in the Lord to protect and provide. And I get it. I pause. I exhale. I breathe in this sight.  I allow the story to envelop me.

It’s there in those images where I see the beauty–the miracle–where that night so long ago, becomes real. Not just a story I’ve heard from the time I was young, but real. Tangible. And it’s amazing. The birth of Christ and the events leading up to are miraculous. And yet we forget about the entirety of what transpired. When we’re in the midst of so much Christmas chaos–the presents, the last minute to-do’s, and the holiday menu–we lose sight of it all. But we need to get caught up in this story–we need to let this miracle consume us. We can’t let Christmas pass us by without realizing the absolute beauty to be found in it. Withourt realizing how special this day is. Not just because of the gifts we exchange, the meals we share, and the family and friends we surround ourselves with, but because of what this day–this gift–means for us all.

Merry Christmas, friends. Be intentional. Allow the miracle  of Christ to consume you these next few days. Allow Him to be at the forefront of your mind…

SOMETHING FREE & SOMETHING CHEAP

Hi Friends! So, I just noticed something on Amazon that I’ve never seen before (and I’m not quite sure how much longer it will last either), but Mommy Whispersmy first book–a children’s book titled, Mommy Whispers–is currently on sale for just $5.19! Um, that’s uber inexpensive.  Here’s a bit about this special keepsakes book:

“Mommy Whispers is a keepsake children’s book that depicts the special relationship between a mother and her daughter through each stage of their lives and ultimately, the power of prayer and faith in God through it all.”

Here’s the link to grab it: http://amzn.to/132vc7S

Oh! And how ’bout something FREE just in time for Christmas?

maybechristmas-whitewood-edit2wm-231x300See, I don’t know about you, but I have made a concerted effort not to get caught up in the hussle and bussle of the holiday season. Nope–not the shopping, the wrapping, or the decorating either–not this year. The consumption of baked goods, however? That’s a whole ‘nother story, but you get my point.

So, as a reminder to myself (and as a Christmas gift to you), here is a fun, free printable offering some perspective right about now. Just download, print, frame and enjoy.

And Merry (early) Christmas to all.

http://bit.ly/1s8ryVx

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