Meet Jen… a Woman Who Shines for God {Learning from Job}

Suffering, pain, and trials in life are inevitable.  We live in a fallen world where the effects of original sin touch each of our lives.  The good news is that we have a loving God who is always in charge.  He can speak to us through pain and draw us close to Him for our eternal good and His own glorification.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know we’ve been studying from the book of Job.  Learning and studying is one thing, but living it out is quite another!  God laid a few very special, godly women on my heart during the writing of this study who face suffering, pain, and struggles on a daily basis.  I know I have a lot to learn from them, so I interviewed them and asked permission to share their stories here with you.

Meet Jen… a Woman Who Shines for God

{I met Jen through the HelloMornings ministry about a year ago.  She stood out to me in that online community because of her bold-for-Christ, gentle, helpful, loving spirit.  She truly does shine for the Lord!}

  • 1. Can you give your name and a few sentences that describe your current or past suffering or condition? 
My name is Jen and I shine. I have a genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or EDS for short. I did not know that I had this disorder nor that it ran in my family until I was in my 30s, had 4 kids and a husband and a job that was physically and mentally very taxing but that I adored. After the birth of my youngest son and my first obvious brush with my own mortality, I became very ill and never quite recovered. It took several years and far more doctors, tests and days of frustrated tears before I was finally diagnosed and that was just the beginning of my journey. I am in constant and considerable pain. My stomach doesn’t work. I dislocate or have frequent subluxations of my joints- most often my knees or hips. I have my spine fused. And recently, my heart decided to keep things exciting.

  • 2. In the book of Job, we are taught that one of the ways God speaks to mankind is through our pain. What would you say God has taught you through your pain?
 There was a time where I thought I knew what was important. I had my faith, a beautiful family, an education, a job I loved that paid well and more friends than I ever deserved- you know, the “important things”. Then, in a matter of months, I went from having the important things and being important to fighting to figure out who I was when it was all stripped away. I could no longer be the mother who played tag with her kids. I could no longer catch a flight and work 20 hour days and then jet back home just in time to make it to the next sporting event or class party. I was bed ridden, in agony and thinking I was a burden to those I loved. I was lost. I was miserable… and I am not even talking about physically. Spiritually, I had been tested. I had been tried and bruised, but I had never been broken. I was not just broken, I was shattered. Everything I had used to measure my success was gone. How was I to define myself? What could I do from my bed when I did not even have the strength to sit up? I cried out to God- HEAL ME OR RELEASE ME BECAUSE I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH. I am nothing.

  • 3. How has God spiritually refined you through your pain?
Only when I admitted to myself that I was not strong enough, that I was nothing, could I finally let God fully lead me on my journey. I had been stripped of all the things I thought were important and left the only thing that really was- my Walk of Faith. As I gained momentum in my Walk, in my releasing the things I was trying to control- my health, my schedule, my finances, my ability to be a good wife and mother- God filled in my gaps and made me so much more than I ever was when I thought I was whole. What I came to see was that the whole time I was healthy of body, I was hurtling toward this shattering. The whole time I was building my life, I was preparing myself to be torn down to my very foundation. Thankfully, my foundation in God was solid. Thankfully, my foundation of my marriage was solid. God has taught me that alone I am weak and shattered; however, He has also taught me that with Him I am pieced back together and He fills in all my gaps. Through my brokenness, I am able to shine His light. I understand there is no weakness in depending on those who love you and whom you love. I understand there is no weakness in needing to say no. The weakness is in the PRIDE that I for so long held on to instead of faith in those that God placed into my life.

Meet Jen: A Woman Who Shines for God, heartfeltreflections.wordpress.com
  • 4. The Bible teaches us that everything God allows in our lives is for our eternal good. How do you reconcile this fact with your situation? Have you seen His goodness in your suffering? Have you seen any good fruits come from your heartaches?
It really is hard when you first become chronically ill to not want to cry out “WHY GOD, WHY?”. OK, honestly- I still have those days when I just feel overwhelmed with it all. I think I probably always will because I am of the flesh and flesh is weak. That being said, I have taken a stance in my life to focus on the SHINE in things. If you were to really sit down and think about all of the amazing things that God does for us each day versus the trials that are placed before us, the good outweighs the bad so astronomically it is almost unbearable for me to think about my feeling sorry for myself (again, I do… I am weak and I fail miserably at something at least once a day.). For starters, you are reading this so you woke up today… that puts you ahead of about 155,000 today who did not get that opportunity. That is a biggie!
Then, I have a roof over my head. I have food in my home. I have a husband whom I adore and who kinda likes me right back, I have four amazing kids who bless my socks off. I was born in a land of amazing affluence. I was vaccinated as a child. I do not have malaria. I have cable television. My dog loves me. My parents are both still living. So, get the drift? I hurt… some days a lot more than others. Right now, I have a fractured left hip and fractured right rib (folks with EDS tend to break easily). I am on crutches (BOO!). I had the medical insurance and care to get me on the path to healing and in a couple of months, I will be almost as good as new (HOORAY). See where this is going? You have the option to focus on the negative or focus on what shines. Having so many things taken from me makes me all the more thankful for the things I do have.
One other thing, the whole time I was working I wanted to be at home with my children. It was where I felt I needed to be and where my heart really was (even though I really liked my job and felt like I was actually making the world a better place one small battle at a time). Getting sick and not being able to work meant that I was able to stay at home with my children. This is certainly not how I would have expected it to happen, nor is it how I pictured myself as a SAHM… it was much more Leave it to Beaver and Betty Crocker than House and Strange ER in my mind. Either way, I am able to be far more impactful in their lives even from my chair or bed than I was my office or a location in a distant city. That is the greatest fruit from this heartache and one that I constantly remind myself of on my very tough days.

  • 5. How has God shown you that you can trust and hope in the Lord?
God always provides. I think when people think of that, often times they relate hope and trust in monetary provision. And while we have seen time and time again that if your Walk of Faith is following God’s plans for you, provisions do arrive, they do not always come in the form of dollars. As we have continued our battle with this illness, God has moved so big in our lives. We have had a peace cover our family and have learned to be more open in discussion about not only the fears and the pain (emotional and physical) but also in Providence. We request prayer from one another, for one another and for our family and friends’ needs. We have seen a deepening in our children’s relationship with Christ and my husband and I have grown as a couple spiritually more profoundly than we had in our previous years of marriage. Knowing that our children see us following God’s plan and in turn are seeking that more diligently gives my Spirit so very much hope– because then, when we stumble and we have those days where our heart cries out WHY, we can prayerfully and spiritually support one another with HOPE & TRUST instead of anger and hurt. It’s not a perfect recipe because while our spirits are willing, our flesh is weak. But- it is hard not to have your spirit soar when your child approaches you and prays with you.

  • 6. Do you have a go-to verse when you’re hurting? Or To what verses do you cling to keep your mind focused on His love, healing, power, etc.?
Philippians 4:6- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

  • 7. Are you involved in ministry opportunities? How has your pain influenced how you reach out to the world around you? 
I am involved with HelloMornings and I work with several organizations who minster to disabled individuals through Outdoor Sports. I used to be quite organized and am a big picture thinker who loves to write and has the attitude “the worst thing that can happen is they will say no”. I write about inspiring people. I write to inspiring people. I help on my good days via the internet to organizations who want to encourage and empower youth and disabled individuals who might just need someone to tell them they CAN when the whole world is telling them they probably cannot.  I am an AC to a HelloMornings group and I do my best to encourage them even on my “bad” days. My pain has given me a platform to encourage others, to empower others, to go out and make good things happen for good people. It gives me something to focus on and think about when I am having a tough day- there is always someone out there who is having a tougher day and making better use of it… my excuses are not valid. Even when I cannot get out of bed, I can pray. And isn’t that the biggest ministry and biggest impact I could have even if I could get out of bed?

Okay, I told you she was amazing, didn’t I?!  Not only is Jen shining the light of Christ, but she’s also shining like gold!

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10, ESV)

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16, ESV)

Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing your story with us!  I know you’ve blessed and touched lives through your story and example!

Ali

How has Jen’s story encouraged you?

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Meet Jen… a Woman Who Shines for God {Learning from Job}

  1. What a fitting testimony to include as part of your study on Job, Ali!

    Jen, I did not know all of the details you have shared here, but I have watched you walk through your extremely challenging health issues for some time now, and have been continually amazed by your cheerful attitude and the strength of your faith. What a blessing you are, and a picture of God’s love and peace. Thank you so much for sharing your story. May God greatly bless your faithfulness!

  2. Pingback: Meet Susie… a Courageous Prayer Warrior {Learning from Job} | Heartfelt Reflections

  3. Clinging to the promises of God and recognizing how He has led in the past is a sure way to get through life’s trials.“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10, ESV) That is a promise that carrys us through!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s