Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bittersweet Endings & New Beginnings

Have you ever been beyond excited about what's ahead but sad to leave parts of the present behind?    
As I type this, I'm anxiously awaiting tomorrow.  You see, it will be my last day with Cigna.  It's going to be a bittersweet day but I'm beyond excited about the days to come.  Looking back over the past 3+ years of my life, I have been incredibly blessed to have worked for a stellar company and with wonderful people.  Have there been bumps, bruises, increased stress levels and questions as to why I went there?  I'll keep this G Rated and just say, "absolutely."  That's the case for most, if not all, jobs though.  Change is tough and I'm still learning how to bend and adapt to it.
From being there, I learned so much more about true empathy, understanding where others are coming from and trying to love them right where they are.  I've gained a plethora of business and insurance knowledge and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  The best part about it was the people there.  There were times I sat and cried with members who just needed someone to talk to or who I could wholeheartedly relate to.  There were also times when people yelled and screamed and I didn’t necessarily respond with grace.  We'll just call those lessons learned.  :) 
Along the way there were friendships formed that I wouldn't trade for anything.  The people I've been privileged to work for and along side have been a strong team and taught me so much about what it is to be an independent woman who works hard for what she wants while knowing it's okay to ask questions or for guidance.  I've been fortunate for to experience interactions in "Corporate America" and to leave a company knowing I gave it my all and it was appreciated.  Leaving there will be most difficult because of the incredible encounters and bonds formed.
New mercies are refreshing and that's why new beginnings are so exciting.  I feel like I should be more terrified about starting anew but there's such peace with the excitement.  I'm done being afraid and excited about what's to come.  It's been confirmed countless times over the past two weeks that this was a God given opportunity and an answer to much prayer.  Hope for the future is never lost so here's to the next step on this indescribably journey that's pretty much just begun!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Needy & Settling

Lately I've found myself getting rather perturbed when I hear women talking about how devastated they are about their boyfriend or husband not doing what they want or putting their needs and wants above his own.  I know that women can't technically "grow a pair" and it is probably socially unacceptable to say, but that is what I have to choke back almost every time.  Oops?

Ladies, men can't read minds and many don't pick up on subtle hints so stop expecting them to do just that. If you have a sincere issue with something in your relationship, pray about it and if The Lord leads, speak up.  Don't be afraid that he will leave you for it.  If he does, chances are he is a punk that you shouldn't be with or he has some things he needs to work out with the Lord.  Again, pray about what is hurting or bothering you and ask God to show you if this is a selfishness of your flesh or a sincere problem.  Then present the issue in love and a calm manner because being hostile and whiny is flat out exhausting and annoying.  I recently wanted to tell co workers who were complaining about their husbands that when they do that, I don't feel sorry for them.  I feel sorry for their husband.  Please note, I know it's not always that simple and that there are times with extenuating circumstances but this is in the general sense.

Men, we don't need you to complete us.  At times, we probably think we do but that is not true.  There, you are off the hook. Feel better?  You should.  We have been unfair to you and I want to apologize for that.  To every man that I looked to for confirmation, affirmation or completion, I am sorry.  You can't offer that to anyone.  If you are currently trying, it will not work so stop it now.

Now, what would be marvelous is if you love and encourage us as yours sisters.  I will be honest, we do get the two confused at times But!!!! Be patient and be sincere with your intentions.

I will say, I have been so fortunate to have incredible men of God who encouraged me along the way.  They held doors open (building and car), paid for the occasional meal, prayed with me and just loved on me when life was tough.  They laughed with me at inappropriate or lame jokes and pushed me to be a better person.  Some sang with me at church, others went with me to weddings and some just hugged me after a tough day.  I am so thankful for the examples they set on how to not settle for less than what God has in store.  These were the guys I mentioned before that I can usually be found cutting up with.  I went on a date with a guy a few months back who was very sweet and handsome but definitely not someone I could see myself with.  Our senses of humor weren't in line and if you can't keep up, you've got to go.  I wasn't about to settle for just anyone. 

Is Settling Really That Big of a Deal? In a word, yes. But who are we kidding? Of course I will answer this in more than one word. Maybe it is some sort of verbal sickness that causes me to ramble so much. Okay, back on topic. Settling is such an issue these days and sadly, it seems to be occurring more and more with each generation. We are in a microwave society and are so used to getting what we want, when we want it. Gosh, we are so spoiled!  We think that just because we want something, we should get it. We either deserve or are entitled to it. Oh and let us not forget, "They got it, why can't I?" I don't know about you but I'm thinking we just need to go ahead and get over ourselves.  It's not about us, or at least it shouldn't be. 

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to get married and have kids.  That's what girls grow up to do, right? Maybe that idea came from too many Disney movies as a child but I just knew that God had things lined up to the way I wanted them.  You can stop laughing at my foolishness now.  If you're honest with yourself, there is probably at least one time in your life where your actions or thoughts reflected that same idea.  My senior prediction for my yearbook was something along the lines of, "In 10 years Jenny Godwin will be married to the man of her dreams teaching music..."  I let go of the teaching thing shortly after graduation but over the last several years, I wanted to settle with every fiber of my being.  I put myself on some sort of timeline or checklist and felt like a failure because I wasn't meeting the mark or checking enough off.  I have dated sporadically over the years. Some were great men that sincerely love Jesus and others were guys that made me feel good about myself in the fleeting moments we were together.  Some relationships glorified God and others broke my Creator's heart.  All that to say, I purposefully tried to settle on many occasions.  There all too often was a void that I tried to fill with food or men.  Regardless of what put the void there, it always ended up as the result of not pressing into Jesus enough.  Thankfully God protected me from myself here. 

Had I settled on any of those given scenarios, I would not be where I am today.  Where am I?  Loving life in the North Georgia/Southern Tennessee area and striving to make the most of where God has me in the now.  :)  I'm currently getting ready to end a great job that isn't at all what I had planned but God has used it to teach me empathy and to learn more about loving others where they are; and preparing to begin a new position that stemmed from the previously mentioned role.  I'm "aunt Jen" to my sweet nieces but also to so many other kids that God has allowed me to love on over the years.  So while I am not a mom and may not become one, I see all of these precious kiddos as a gift and love them dearly.  Over just the last three years, I have been so privileged to get to know some phenomenal people that have been so instrumental in being here today. Getting plugged into a small group in Chattanooga brought continued accountability and uncontrollable laughter.  Recently, I've been so blessed to be involved with a church that is passionate about Jesus and a ministry that aims to encourage college and career folks to find their completion and joy in Christ alone.  The community there wasn't what I thought it would be but better.

Have I thrown some tantrums? Oh my goodness yes...several in various situations but if I stop and think about it, they were petty and selfish.  I can see now that God's grace protected me because He knew better.  His love for me saved me from myself and from the instant gratification I was seeking.  A pastor friend recently said, "God's wrath would be giving us everything we wanted. " I don't know about you but I am so thankful that He has been so gracious.

What we need is Jesus.  He alone satisfies the deepest parts of our soul; He quenches EVERY thirst. He knows the good, bad, ugly and crazy parts of us and still pursues us passionately.  When we are desperate or willing to settle for something less than His best and His sincere goodness, we are robbing ourselves, and sometimes those around us, of the joy that only He can bring.

Psalm 63:1 - You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Thursday, October 24, 2013



You’ve probably seen the weekly posts and invites to Simple. What the heck is that? Another church service? Don’t you people get enough of those? I’ve heard it all at this point so here’s a little bit about what Simple is and why it even takes place.

It’s a time of a community.  We hang out, talk, laugh and cut up before it even gets started.  Getting to know people provides encouragement, accountability and a deeper understanding of what it means to be the body of Christ. It’s a time of worship.  Jared and the praise & worship team consistently bring us into the presence of God and it’s a time to just rest in Him and to give Him glory for what He’s done and is continuing to do in our lives.  It’s a time of soaking up the Word.  I’ve recently said that Albert brings truth in a fresh perspective and the goal here is to make Christ known.  Each week we are reminded that while Christ died for and delights in us, He wants more for us than what we have been settling for.  The intent behind these guys starting Simple was to be a form of encouragement and to bring truth to those in a stage of life that, in my opinion, often gets lost in the mix of many churches in today’s society.  It’s for people to understand and grasp truth so they can live out their faith beyond anything they ever expected.

I’ve said it before and will continue to do so, Thursday is my favorite day of the week because my affections for Christ are stirred as I am reminded of the fact that while God disciplines us, He pursues, restores, redeems and forgives us.  Thursdays are more than another day at the church.  They are a time of sincere community, grace, conviction and accountability.  It’s that “simple."

To sum it up....Join us tonight at Church On The Hill @ 7:15.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

Friday, August 23, 2013


I hate comparisons.  Yes, I'm aware that hate is a strong word but I mean it.  To give you even more insight as to just how deep my hatred is for comparisons, let's rank them with fever blisters.  If you don't already know, I have a deep hatred for those jokers.  Our society has done such a disservice to young men and women with placing such extreme expectations on them by comparing them to others.  Too many children hear things like, "why can't you be more like your sister?" Or "your brother never did that."  As adults we hear, "Gosh, I wish my wife looked like that."  "My ex was more of a man than you'll ever be."  Even if those words don't get spoken, they all too often get implied with actions or sadly, just assumed.

Everywhere we turn we have comparison thrown in our face.  As women, there are Victoria's Secret models, celebrities, friends, co workers and even complete strangers that we ashamedly compare ourselves to.  We fear that we aren't enough if we don't look, talk, laugh, sing or love like "her."  You may think it is foolish but it happens.  When the emotions that follow/comparisons hit, it eventually convicts me because it turns my completion and definition to something other than Christ.

I'm not a petite, soft spoken, gentle woman.  I'm a tall, blunt, vigorous woman who loves to make people laugh.  I'm competitive, and can usually be located in a room by my loud laugh or animated motions.  Normally my sarcasm fits with fellas better but I consider myself blessed to have multiple girl friends who share my twisted sense of humor and occasional foul mouth.  I have a promiscuous and lazy past that has been used to shape me but it no longer defines me.  I love my God and am thankful (most days) that this is who he created me to be.  

If I'm a believer, why did I just say most days?  Because I'm being honest.  There have been days when I wanted to have a different physical build, a more quiet spirit and a gentle tongue so guys could look at me and go, "wow, there is a sweet girl."   But hey, too much sugar causes cavities.  Don't get me wrong, I have a sweet side but it's not my only one and I'm good with that.

Most of the time, the downers we experience from comparisons are due to our own imaginations running wild on us.  Thinking we will never be enough for various reasons....believing lies.
I have mentioned Disney before.  I absolutely love Disney World and Disney movies.  In case you haven't figured it out, I'm still age five at heart.  Sad thing is, I set Disney like expectations for myself without realizing it and I know I'm not the only one guilty of this.  Young girls get it in their mind that they need a prince to rescue them and make their life better.  Young boys determine they need to rescue a fair maiden.  I'll address both here.  We don't need to be rescued or completed by a man.  Jesus took care of that on the cross and we need to be praising him more often for it!  That said, I do believe if we are called to be married that God uses couples in partnership to compliment one another and to glorify himself.  But again I say, it's not what completes us. 

I love hosting parties and get togethers with friends.  I find opening up my home rather enjoyable and wish I could do it more.  There was a time about a year and a half ago that it stressed me out.  I wanted my apartment to be perfectly spotless, the food and drinks to be ready and for everyone to have a lovely time.  I am ashamed to admit that I let the fear of an unsuccessful party make me sick with worry.  I wanted people to know that while I wasn't a wife or mother yet, I was going to make a heck of one someday.  Gosh, it comes across as so foolish and petty but I was comparing myself to others in this.  Do I still host?  Yes, when I have time.  Do I try and pull off perfection? Hahahaha.  That would be a no!  I was comparing myself to some false idea I had of what I need to be and of what I thought others wanted me to be and do.  To get to this place, I had to fast from hosting because it was providing a sense of validation and becoming an idol.  

Comparisons are dangerous.  We look for some sort of validation in them because we think that we are better or worse than the person or thing we're comparing ourselves to.  We allow those things to rob us of our joy while preventing ourselves from moving forward to glorify God with our lives.  John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  

I'm a bit of a talker/writer so in case you don't remember anything that you've read so far, remember this.  Christ died for you and every wretched thing you've ever done and will do.  His love is incredible and His forgiveness brings freedom like you've never imagined.  So instead of comparing yourselves to others and what they expect, look to the gospel to see what we're to reflect.  He is enough.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Embracing Life as a "Single Lady"

We live in such a crazy world with mixed signals thrown at us  We are told to be happy and content with where we are at each phase of life.  But on the other hand people are always asking, “Are you dating anyone?”  “When are you getting married?”  “WHAT?  No kids yet?!?!”  This post has been inspired by a joking comment from some people that had great intentions by their statement but it really struck a nerve.  I’m finally, finally, finally in a good “place” with where God has me and all that He has revealed  over the last several years so I can't help but laugh at comments like “You better hurry up and find a man because you’re not getting any younger.”  It was meant to be an encouragement I suppose but it struck a nerve.  That won't bring true joy.  It won't bring sincere happiness.  It won't "complete me."  So because I have to really sit & think before I speak sometimes, you get a blog.  Congratulations!

I absolutely LOVE Disney.  I think in part it’s because I’m still 4 at heart.  But despite my love of Disney and its movies, I hate the lessons that young girls are taught.  For example, “we need a man to save us, to complete us, to fulfill our every dream and etc.”  Can you hear the song from your favorite princess movie?  I can hear Giselle and Edward from “Enchanted” singing, “I’ve been dreaming of a true love’s kiss!”  No, we don’t need a man for that.  A wedding won’t bring us the most sincere and meaningful joy that we ever thought possible.  How do I know?  Because I have many married friends and that part of life is just as tough as this one.  It’s all about perspective and how hard you’re willing to work on something, in any stage or season.  That said, I will admit, I long to be married and it’s tough at times with it all around me but the thought of it doesn’t complete me.  I haven’t always seen it that way (& some days are still tough) but thankfully, I’m aware of that now.

At the age of 27 (28 in less than a month), there are so many people around me getting married.  Over the last 16 months I have been invited to at least 10 different weddings that I can think of at the moment (7 of those were from March 31 – August 11).  I honestly can’t even begin to tell you just how much it blessed me to attend most of those.  The opportunities to do hair and make up, read scripture, be a bridesmaid, and sing in others were such an honor and wonderful memories!   It just made me tired and broke.  Ha!  Now, some of those that got married are having babies.  While that is glorious and a blessing (I sincerely am happy for them), it’s not where God has me so stop pushing.  I’ll be the first to admit, there has been a time or two where I thought God was bringing me to that place but He isn’t…and I’m surprisingly thankful.  Even recently, I thought there were some big changes coming but alas, they are not and again, I’m at peace.  God is faithful.  God sustains.  God completes.  God is good. Not just story book good, I mean whole hearted, pure, sincere, and deeply overwhelming to the point of tears good!

My parents are incredible.  Not once have they ever pushed the marriage or grand kid card with me (or my sister).  They have always wanted us to obey God, be happy and complete in Him and to be married once-for keeps.

The last year has actually been a lot of fun!  I’ve had the opportunity & freedom to travel more and if I were married and “settled down” I wouldn’t have been able to do that on a whim.  For instance, Florida trips to visit friends that are serving at a church in Jacksonville, a few trips last summer to Nashville for bachelorette party weekends and etc.  I’m also getting ready to possibly go to Costa Rica with my family this summer for a mission trip and am ecstatic to share the love of Jesus to the girls at the home where we’ll be serving.  A lot of these wouldn’t have been possible if I were married and/or had kids. 

Is every day a bright and sun shining day in the life of singleness?  Nope.  Some days flat out suck and hurt but there are so many that are fun because I can come and go as I please and serve where I feel called without have to worry about how it will effect my husband/kids.  Is every night filled with a party downtown or drinks by the river?  Nope.  Most end in sweats and TV or a book.  Do I long to get married and have a family?  Absolutely!  I look forward to being and serving along side my future husband and raising a family together, in whatever fashion God has in store.   

Let me end with this.  Am I “owed” marriage and a family?  No stinkin way!  The only thing that any of us are “owed” is hell but by the grace of God we can be free.  Looking through scripture there are so many people that didn’t live an easy life or a life of what they expected but they knew that our God was faithful and true.  A new friend recently preached on how God wounds us for His glory and our good, like a surgeon.  I immediately thought of my neck surgery.  It hurt, the recovery was tough and the scars are still there (along with all the others from the accident) but they are a testament to just how mighty our Creator is.  I know that it won’t be easy and that some days will suck just as much as the gloomy single days but God is still faithful and completes me. 

I rambled and ranted some in this but most of it is just about where God has me and what He’s doing…so let me embrace being a “single lady” and where God has me.  I have let myself worry about the future for too long in the past and I’m done allowing that to define me or make me happy.
Now what?  Live life to the fullest.  Be thankful for the gifts that God has so graciously given time and time again: salvation, forgiveness, redemption, grace, restoration, family, friends, employment, health, happiness and joy that can only be found in Him.  The list goes on but you get the idea by now.  J