“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

The world around us just keeps looking more and more bleak doesn’t it? It feels like maybe Covid will end soon and we can return to normal. Oh wait, there’s another strain of the virus and here we go again. There’s racial tension, wars, earthquakes, snow storms, political unrest, gas prices sky-rocketing and it feels like the list just keeps growing. 

Maybe you’ve learned how to deal with everything being shut down from the pandemic, but then one more thing comes. A child gets sick and you don’t know what it is; you get a cancer diagnosis; your family is struggling to make ends meet; you have gone way too long without being able to be around people; or you’ve missed seeing/making friends. This is a new season of life for literally everyone, and it can take its toll on our minds. 

My husband spoke not too long ago from 2 Chron. 20:12  where it says, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you”. This reiterates everything God taught me throughout my cancer journey … both times! With cancer there’s literally nothing I could do except listen to the doctors and make the best game plan that worked to prayerfully keep me alive. Then it’s just a mind game from there on out. I learned that when I kept my eyes deadlocked on Jesus, it kept my mind from thinking about the worst-case scenario. But once the cancer journey “ended”, I’m left to pick up the pieces and try to have a normal life — although it never really returns to normal. That’s the phase our world is in right now — longing for normal. However, I’m not so sure we’ll ever return to the normal we once knew. But, here’s the good news. One thing that will never be taken away from us is our ability to change our focus — our perspective. When we don’t know what to do, if we choose to put our eyes on Jesus, we can’t lose! Because Jesus has ALREADY won. If you have asked Jesus to come take up residence inside of you then you already know that this is not our home. One day we will be able to live forever with our King! 

Back to the verse. Another cool thing about this passage is that not only did Jehoshaphat choose to keep his eyes on God Almighty, but he put the praise and worship team at the front of the army! You might be thinking wait, wait, wait, if I were on the praise and worship team I would NOT want to be at the front. But here’s why. They were going to praise their way through this battle! 

I watched a testimony on YouTube about the girl that wrote the song, Catch the Wind. This girl suffered from a chronic illness and she kept pleading for God to rid her of this pain. She very plainly heard God tell her, “I want you to sing your way out”. After hearing this a couple times, she finally started singing the words to Catch the Wind. And this is exactly what God wants you to do right now. He wants us to sing our way out. Singing didn’t completely heal this girl of her pain, but it changed her heart! Singing your way out won’t necessarily change the war going on in Ukraine, it might not fix your financial situation or rid you of cancer. But, it will change your heart/perspective to be fixed on Jesus. 

Maybe you’re thinking this all sounds great but how do I do this? I’m so glad you asked! Let me share what God told me while I was in the middle of depression. Take every thought captive. In other words, think about what you’re thinking about; and then, determine if it’s truth or not. Maybe it is truth, but there’s nothing you can do about it, such as the war in Ukraine. You’ve already donated, prayed, and anything else that is in your power to do. However, you keep thinking about all the people and all the pain and it keeps breaking your heart or making you angry. This thought needs to be taken captive. So start with prayer, “Jesus I’ve already done what I can, now help me to focus on my own family or the task at hand.” You do this with every thought that comes through your mind. If it’s not true, honorable, just, of good report, virtue or praise, replace it with something that is. I’ve heard it said that when you’re creating a new thought pattern it’s extra hard because you are literally making a new pathway in your brain. Because of the way we’re wired, we have the tendency to fall back into the thought patterns that has been more engrained. So, if you’re tired and you don’t know what else to replace a negative thought with and feel yourself slipping back to negative thought patterns, just say, “Jesus” and picture His pierced hands and feet. 

Now that we’ve discussed how to take a thought captive and replace it, let’s add another layer. Remember who Jesus is! Remember that He is the Creator of all, the Alpha and Omega, He is our Lord, our Savior, our King, the Lamb that became the sacrifice for us. As I was dwelling on this, I began to read through Job 38-41. As soon as I read the first few verses in chapter 38, the tears began to fall. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements — surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” Reading these verses put everything in perspective for me. It’s not about me! It doesn’t matter how hard I think my life is or how everything seems to be crumbling down around me, God sees and He knows. When I remember God’s Almighty power instead of just focusing on my little corner of the world, my spiritual eyes are opened and see things through God’s lense, not mine.

Does all of this change the circumstances going on around us? Probably not, but it does change us in our circumstances. Maybe you feel battered and bruised in this season of your life. I pray right now that you would feel Jesus’ warm embrace around you and then take a long look into the loving face of your Savior and remember that He has already been bruised, beaten and bloodied for YOU!

Abide, Cake, and a Recipe for Both!

In January I chose the word “Abide” to focus on for the year. Learning to live with this hormone treatment and dealing with a chemical inside my body has been a struggle. On a daily basis, I fight to keep from being overcome by the intense feelings of depression and thoughts of, “Do I really belong here anymore?” and, “Can God still use me?” Recently, I became desperate and decided to study the word “abide”. What does it really mean to abide?

I found an article by Desiring God that describes it this way: “To abide is believing, trusting, savoring, resting and receiving.” The words savoring and receiving really jumped out at me. I hadn’t ever considered those words as describing abide. Consider the scripture that says, “I am the vine, you are the branch.” Whatever comes through the vine goes directly to the branch. If we’re hungry, He feeds us (daily bread), if we’re thirsty, He gives us water (living water). Whatever our need, He provides and satisfies. 

So, how does this apply to depression? Or maybe for you it’s fear, anxiety … a life circumstance that seems like it’s winning and you’re losing. For me it means to sit in Jesus’ presence. Truthfully, I’ve been doing a lot of this lately; but, as I asked myself a few weeks back in the midst of depression, “why isn’t this bringing me joy?” What I realized is that I needed to sit in His presence anyway because I know He is my only hope. And in this persistence of sitting with Him, I felt Him speaking to my spirit about what abide meant – what it meant for me in my circumstance! He’s literally given me a recipe that I’m savoring!

Take every thought captive. This means those thoughts like “I don’t belong here anymore” need to be replaced with truths like “He who began a good work in you WILL see it through to completion.”

Dive deep into who Jesus is. Get my eyes off the waves (depression, fear, chemical imbalance, or other life circumstance). Listen to songs that only glorify God. Lift up Jesus’ name. Learn all the names of Jesus and what they mean. I’m currently reading The Power of Jesus’ Names by Tony Evans. Just learning the name “Immanuel” has been so powerful. The name means “God with us”. He was first named this in Isaiah when they were in captivity. Life was bleak, but Jesus promised He was with us. In the dark when it feels there is no hope, no way of escape, He is with us.

And finally, I can’t compare my healing time to someone else that has gone through a similar journey. No two people are exactly the same. So when I start to feel like I should be healed and better by now, I have to remember that this is no else’s journey but mine. 

I’m not out of the woods yet, but I know that I need to stay faithful with these practices, because Jesus is in the business of healing. And even though I’m not “healed” yet, my hope is in Jesus and Jesus alone. It’s not in the healing itself. Keep trusting, keep abiding, keep resting, keep receiving everything Jesus has to offer, keep believing and keep sitting in fellowship with Jesus.


I’m now coming back to write this several days after ending with that last paragraph, and I’m overjoyed to report to you that I feel as though God has given me a way of escape! After learning what it meant to abide and putting all the above ideas into practice, I decided to literally take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Anytime I would look at the waves around me, feel fear or my chest began to tighten, I would picture Jesus’ nail-driven hands or laying at His nail-driven feet. After a week of doing this, I feel so much freedom. I had begun to think my battle plan that’s always worked for every situation doesn’t apply to me because I have a chemical that’s taking over my mind; but, even with depression and a chemical messing with my mind, I asked God to give me the recipe to overcome this phase in my life so I could help other women through this, and this is what He gave me! I’m not saying I’ll never have fear again or look at the waves around me; but now, instead of feeling like there’s no hope, I know that NO MATTER your circumstances, keep your eyes on Jesus! He can overcome ANYTHING!! 

Abide! Fully trust, fully rest, fully savor, fully believe, actively receive and be in constant fellowship with Jesus. This is easier said than done, but my heart is crying out for you to understand the freedom that you can live in!

Abide means to fully trust. Trust that even when you don’t see how that life circumstance could possibly turn out good, “God works everything out for good to those who love Him.” It might not turn out exactly the way you wanted it to, but it will turn out for the good of God’s glory.

Abide means to fully rest. This means laying down EVERY care, EVERY fear, EVERY bit of anxiety. Lay down all the weight of everything that keeps you awake at night and picture yourself resting at Jesus’ feet.

Abide means to savor. Think about a piece of cake that was absolutely divine and you wanted to savor every bite. I’m thinking about a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that I just made last week … wowzers!! Or maybe a moment spent with a child or best friend and you wanted to savor every second spent with them because it was such a sweet time. Do you savor Jesus? Every ounce of love and grace that He has poured into you, do you savor every moment you sit with Him in sweet fellowship?

Abide is the act of receiving. Receive everything that Jesus has to offer. Remember the analogy of the vine and the branch. Everything that Jesus has to offer is right in your reach. It flows straight from Him to you if you are connected to His power source. All the power, love, truth, daily bread and living water that flows from Him, you have access to.

Abide means being in fellowship with Jesus. Yes, read your Bible and pray. But it’s more than that. Have constant communication with Him. Think about your best friend that you always want to share the good, bad and ugly with. Have that relationship with Jesus, but even closer. The second you wake up, are you reaching for your phone or do you feel like you’re picking up a conversation with Jesus that you left off from the night before? The second you have to make a tough decision at work or your kids just made a bad choice and you have to decide how to handle it, is your first thought to ask God, “What do I do?”

My heart feels as though it’s about to burst with love for our sweet Jesus. His goodness continues to astound me!

If there is something in your life that you are overwhelmed with, I hope you’ll reach out to me because I understand the feeling of hopelessness, and I don’t want another sister in Christ to struggle alone.
I love you friends! Abide with Jesus today! Keep your eyes fixated on Him and don’t look away! He is EVERYTHING you need!

Love, Jen

Happily Ever After?

I met Tim when I was 17 and he was 15. At first sight, brutally honest, I thought Tim was a dork. His hair was shellacked, and my Dad started singing “How Firm a Foundation” because of his size 14 shoes. The reason we met was because my sister and his brother got engaged and now a few members of the Hooper family came to our house to meet the soon-to-be in-laws. After spending time with their family, I grew to respect Tim for his gentlemanly attitude. I watched the way he treated his sisters and mom; and, I saw him as a good brother-in-law, but had no attraction to him. 

About a year later, Tim was about to head back to Germany (where his family served as missionaries). My family had just moved to a new church and because of the size of the church and the town, I felt like I would be single for the rest of my life (dramatic, I know). But, my only desire was to serve Jesus as a wife and mom. It was in that moment that I realized the only things I was not willing to give to God was staying single for the rest of my life and moving to China (because I have an aversion to the food). I immediately prayed and told God, with a completely surrendered heart, that I was willing to stay single and move to China if that was His will. Tim immediately came to my mind and I’m thinking, “where did that come from?” I told God, “If that was you, you’re going to have to take full control”. And BOY did He ever!! When Tim’s family came to our church about a week later, Tim and I walked around the corner at the same time and both of us new in that instant that God made us for each other.

But, the problem was Tim was going back to Germany and I lived in Iowa. Neither of us knew when or if we’d see each other again. BUT GOD, worked it all out and made it possible to talk to each other over the phone, and by a complete miracle, I was allowed to go with my sister and brother-in-law to Germany for 2 months to help them get settled. In that time, Tim and I were able to get to know each other and “fall in love”. It was heartbreaking to go back to the states, again not knowing when I would see him again.

Tim & me in the Bavarian Alps

As time went on, Tim called my Dad and told him we were getting to the point that he wanted to tell me he loved me, but didn’t feel he should without promising to marry me. My Dad gave him permission and Tim proposed to me over the phone. Soon after, Tim moved back to the states and proposed to me in person.

In March, Tim and I will have been married for 14 years. We’ve been through sickness and health, rich and poor, better and worse. We’ve seen the heartbreak of divorce, we’ve experienced the joy of children (4 actually), we’ve felt the burnout of serving, and through arguments, communication, getting raw, and having tough conversations – Tim and I are the best of friends. We look back and can see not only the miracle of us meeting, but also the miracle of 2 hearts, 2 different ways of thinking, 2 lives blending into one by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Chemo infusion during Breast Cancer journey

Marriage is hard, it’s not always a “happily ever after” story. Marriage is understanding the other person’s heart. When Tim and I have a disagreement, one of the biggest practices that have helped us, is to listen to the other person and understand their heart. This can actually apply to ANY relationship. If you understand their heart, it’s harder to nitpick their words. Speaking personally, it’s hard for me to get the words out just right (especially after chemo – “chemo brain” is REAL ya’ll). So, when you’re trying to look at things from their perspective, you’re less likely to get into a heated conversation.

Understanding each others’ personality (try taking the Enneagram test together) and love language (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman) has benefited us in understanding how each other’s brain works. 

No expectations! This is another aspect that has been vital to our marriage. Understanding that we are both human and WILL fail each other in one way or another is imperative. Our expectations should be on Jesus and Jesus only. When we narrow down the disagreements that happen, it usually has do with putting our expectations in the wrong place. Such as, assuming your spouse is going to bring you coffee in bed on your birthday or anniversary can start the whole day off on the wrong foot (if they don’t) all because your expectations were placed on a human being that may not have understood what your desire was. This is a small example, but we often put expectations on bigger areas as well, or maybe a bunch of little things that grow into something bigger.

One personal example. Tim was busy working a 9-5 job, on several occasions would work for another job on nights and weekends, worked on the bus Sunday mornings, was in school and splitting any time off he had between me and the kids. I was working as a seamstress from our home, we were visited by approximately a dozen people each week that needed alterations, I was homeschooling, and trying to keep up with the kids and house. Life was crazy! At the time, I had put the expectation on Tim to make me happy (give me my love language, etc.) One day he came home and I poured my heart out to him of how tired I was and needed to see him more. Well, he was so exhausted, he fell asleep while I was talking. This made me even more upset, until I heard that still, small voice saying, “Tim can’t fulfill what you need, but I can”. I got down on my knees and realized how much pressure I was putting on Tim instead of remembering that life is hard and as a human being, it’s impossible for Tim to fulfill my every need. BUT, JESUS can!! I realized that I didn’t need Tim to make me happy, Jesus was everything I needed. When I talked to Tim the next day, I wish you could’ve seen the wave of relief on his face. Without realizing it, it took off a HUGE weight Tim had also been carrying.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it takes work, patience, and a lot of understanding. I believe marriage is not 50/50. Instead, it’s giving YOUR 100%! Period. Then leaving your spouse in God’s hands. You may have seen the old visual of a triangle with God at the top, you at the bottom right corner and your husband at the left corner. As you both get closer to God, you’re getting closer to each other. This is such a beautiful image as each of you can be healthy and thriving on your own – complete in Christ! Imagine how much BETTER you can be TOGETHER!

What to do when you don’t feel peace?

2021 has been a doozy so far hasn’t it?! Phew! There is unrest everywhere you look. So how do you live in peace when it feels like everything around you is falling apart at the seams? The simple (not easy) answer is to keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the circumstances.

Personally, I’ve struggled with peace since Christmas. Chemo is done, my hair is growing back … I should be feeling excited, but I don’t. I feel depressed and anxious. Part of it is my hormone treatment I started taking right after Christmas. It really messed with my mind before it even had a chance to get fully into my system. I was walking on eggshells wondering what would happen if I got upset.

A little bit about the hormone treatment for those who may not know, is that it continues to help suppress the hormones that caused my cancer in the first place. Prayerfully, it will keep me from having a recurrence. The side effects can make you moody and have hot flashes (as if I were in menopause). I prayed about this carefully, researched and ultimately felt peace about taking this although I really didn’t want to.

Back to the matter at hand. Because of this hormone treatment, I was beginning to feel like everything has been stripped away from me. My hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and now my mental state. Basically I was having a pity party. I was diligently working through my battle plan of quiet time, worship music, speaking truth over myself, and talking to friends who were also speaking truth over me. It was while I was running the track a few miles from our house that it hit me … get active, then all the other things (listed below) started to flow. Without realizing it, God has been giving me the recipe for how to have peace for years. I’m always doing several of the things on this list, but if I’ve been neglecting some of them, I start to feel anxious. I tell myself I’m doing all the right things because I’m focusing on my battle plan; but then, I realize there are some other areas that also need attention. Such as, getting active or (cringe) releasing control.

Ultimately if we keep our eyes on Jesus, then we WILL feel His peace. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean things will go the way WE want, but we will feel peace in the midst of it. But listed below is my secret sauce, if you will – some practical ways you can make sure you’re staying healthy … mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Have you tried these things?

  • Pray

I know, we’ve heard this a thousand times. But, it’s true. How can you feel peace with out talking to the Prince of Peace?

  • Read your Bible

Again, yes I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times. But, try reading Psalm 139. It feels like a love story that God wrote to us individually. Make it personal as you read. It was written for YOU.

  • Get quiet with Jesus

Just sit in His presence without saying anything except “Jesus”. Invite Him into the silence of your mind.

  • Worship Jesus

Crank up the music that always makes you want to dance like David did before the Lord. Songs like Power of the Cross or You Are My All in All are my personal favorites. Look up at the sky, around at nature and stand amazed at His creation.

  • Get active

When I’m in a funk, if I go walk around our property or run at the track a few miles from our house, it always amazes me how it completely shifts my mood. Also, yoga is a great way to get active. I love to turn on my worship music and worship while I’m getting active. It’s a twofer.

  • Love on someone

One of the best ways to feel peace is to get outside of yourself and think about someone else. Try asking God to lay someone on your heart that you can text, tell them you love them and then take a moment to pray over them. Make cookies or a meal to take to someone that you know is struggling.

  • Switch gears

When you’re in the middle of something and you’re making silly mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make or your brain keeps freezing up and you can’t seem to focus, try switching gears. For example, when I was in the sewing business I might be sitting on 20 orders at one time and I would always start with the one that had the earliest deadline. But sometimes one of the projects was more difficult to figure out and I couldn’t seem to make any headway. I remembered hearing “when you don’t feel peace, switch gears” (I don’t remember where I heard it), so if I could feel my chest tighten and I was no longer enjoying what I was doing, then I purposed to lay down that one project and pick up another that I was excited about starting. It also needed to be done so I was still checking off my to-do list, but more times than not, as I was working on the fun project I would figure out the problem to the other project and it would all flow so much easier. Sometimes rather than picking up another project, I would step outside for some fresh air or get something to eat. Maybe even lay my head down for 10-15 minutes. Whatever that is for you, sometimes you need to stop forcing a fit and switch gears.

  • Clean/Organize

This one might sound a little weird, but if my house starts to get out of hand with clutter or whatnot, I start to feel anxious. It can help me mentally when I’ve given the house a good scrubbing or organizing.

  • Release

This is probably the hardest of all because we like to have control … am I right?! Seriously though, if we’re not feeling at peace, something needs to give and that is more than likely our grip.

So, which of these has been neglected? Tell me which of these you’re going to start implementing and how this list helps you. My prayer for you in 2021 is that even though the world seems to be falling apart, you are at peace in your heart. I love you friend!