June 25, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
3 Comments

The Way He Sees Me

The other day I was working at my favorite coffee shop. I was doing some editing, and I had worship music playing in the background. A song called Heavenly Places came on. It is a beautiful song about identity and I had heard it a hundred times. This time, however, Holy Spirit showed up. I sat there as the tenderness of God invaded my heart like a hurricane. It was as if the words to the song were scripted specifically for me, in the intensity of that moment. I saw Jesus standing behind me, resting His hands on my shoulders. It was as if He were whispering the words into my ears. I listened to the Truth about how God sees me and how much He loves me, and I was just undone. I started bawling, right there in the middle of the coffee shop. It must have been an interesting sight to behold, and I am surprised someone did not come check on me to see if I was okay. When I lifted my head from my folded arms to take a breath, I realized there was a puddle of tears. Literally. A puddle.

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Here is why I was so affected by what He was speaking over me. I am really hard on myself. I never let up. I constantly want to grow, change, and improve. This may sound noble, but it simply comes down to perfectionism. I see how I am. I see who I want to be. The discrepancy between the two seems unchangeable. I get so frustrated with myself when I see all of the ways I need to change. So much of my disappointment is stemmed in what I assume God thinks about me and my shortcomings. If I am so frustrated, I simply assumed that God must be frustrated as well. How could He not be? I have been a Christian for eight years now. Shouldn’t I have a stronger understanding of my identity? Shouldn’t I be less selfish? Shouldn’t I be more free from anxiety and fear?  Shouldn’t I have stopped worrying and obsessing about my future by now? Yeah, I probably should. But it doesn’t change the way He sees me. He sees someone so different when He looks at me.

If what really matters is what He sees, then everything else does not really matter.

The pressure I put on myself to perform or reach some level of spirituality melts away when the reality of who I am to Him sinks in.

There is not room for both inferiority and perfect love. One outweighs the other. I want love to win. His love.

Perfectionism loses its hold when I choose to walk in the acceptance of the Savior. He is not some harsh judge, keeping a list of all of the ways I do not measure up.

That is the law, not the gospel, and it is not what Jesus died for. He died to break the power of sin, and release grace over my life.

He is not a critic, He is a Father. A good one. I am seated next to Him in the Heavenly places. Right there, next to Jesus. And He has given me every spiritual blessing.

I am seeing that He does not see what I see. And I do not have to be ashamed of where I am, because I am exactly where He wants me to be. He has been preparing me for what is to come, and I am ready for all that Jesus wants to be for me. It is His thoughts toward me that matter. And He thinks I am pretty great.

p.s. You should really listen to that song :) Click here

 

 

 

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April 17, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
7 Comments

The Faith of a Friend

I hung out a with a sweet friend recently. Let me tell you, she is an absolute treasure, whom I adore. She has been an incredibly faithful friend as I have transitioned from being single to having a boyfriend. This girl is probably the most selfless person I have ever met, and she even brought me soup and cough drops this week while I was sick.

I told her a while ago that I had complete faith that God was going to bring her a husband. It was not in the slightest bit a worry or concern for me – just a matter of time. I had no idea what it meant to her, until on the way home she told me:

“I just thought it was really cool that someone, anyone, could have a faith for me personally that has nothing to do with them or their life, but resting in complete confidence of God. It gave me a freedom to not worry about having a husband, because I was leaning on your faith for me. And since you told me that it has been different.”

It brought me back to the time I went to church alone, a little over a year ago. I could not get through worship without crying because I was just so broken. I found a woman who had prayed for me over the years and I went to her with tears streaming down my face. I told her I was just completely out of faith and belief that God had someone for me, or that He would ever bring someone into my life…

“I have nothing. I am empty. I do not even have the strength to believe it.”

Oh, I wish I could explain to you the shame I felt in admitting my lack of faith. However, I had come to the end of myself, and I was searching for anyone, anything, to hold on to.

I was clawing my way out of the pit of disbelief. The words and prayer of this woman pulled me out.

She said to me:

“It is time for you to lean on the faith of the ones around you. If you do not believe it for yourself, then I will believe it for you. I believe God’s man for you is coming, and so is your season of joy.”

(Side note, I met Brian a few months later.)

Something changed in me that night. I wish I had more faith at the time to believe what I hoped God had for me. The truth is I simply did not. So I began to take her advice, and lean into the faith of those who believed for me. I can think of five people who stood by me, prayed for me, and reminded me of God’s faithfulness. I could not have gotten through that season without them.

It was in that time of weakness and lack of hope that I discovered the power of having people in my life who were willing to stand in the gaps of my faith.

It hit me tonight that God is using me to do the same for my friend, and I am so honored.

God has a way of bringing things full circle.

I know many of you reading this are not struggling with being single, but you may still be struggling to believe God for something. Can I just encourage you to lean into the faith those around you? You know, the ones who are incessantly positive that God is going to come through for you, and no matter how much you try to talk them out of it, they will not back down? Those are the ones you need to call when you are experiencing doubt. If you do not have someone like that in your life, send me a message, and I will be that person for you. I am serious. I have experienced firsthand the power of the faith of a friend, and no one should go through seasons of doubt alone.

This is what it means to be a part of the body – to carry each other burdens and spur each other on to victory.

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April 3, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
2 Comments

Little Giants

As some of you may know, I have been taking a Creative Writing class. I thought this class was going to be a breeze, full of delight and oozing with creative goodness. I have found it surprisingly challenging. Not in the sense of it being a lot of work, but rather from the struggle of opening up the wells of my imagination. I thought it would just flow out of me naturally, but I often find that is not the case. I am used to writing very literally, and creative writing is anything but that. The day my short fiction story was due, I was sitting in front of a blank laptop screen, with less than two hours before class started. I had written nothing. I told God, “Can You like, give me a vision or something? I have no idea what to write about.” I got distracted from writing, and ended up praying for some friends of mine. He did give me a vision, and I decided to write out what I saw and encourage them. I chose to use that as for inspiration for my story.

At workshop the writer reads his/her story out loud in front of a group of students who then get to dissect and analyze the piece of writing, while the writer sits in tormented silence, unable to explain and defend his/her work. It can be very intimidating. I was totally nervous for how my “story” would be interpreted. Much to my surprise, they loved it and wanted to give copies to their significant others and children to teach them about kindness. I was exceptionally happy, but not because they liked my story. I was happy because what they were drawn to in the story was simply Jesus. He is the source of true and selfless love. They were being witnessed to, and they did not even know it.

Here is my short story, Little Giants

Ben and Lacey were miniature people living in a world that was created for giants. Everything was bigger than them. Their house was humongous. Even getting out of bed proposed dangers unbeknownst to most people. They had to use a ladder to prevent from breaking any bones from dismounting a bed at such a height. The people around them were much bigger as well. In order to be heard, Ben and Lacey had to scream at the top of their lungs, causing them to get soar throats almost daily. Whatever they attempted to do required so much labor and effort that by the time the task was finished they were completely exhausted and incapacitated. This caused them to have little emotional capacity for each other, and was causing severe problems in their marriage.

Today, Lacey was just mad. The daily grind of functioning in a world that was simply too big for her little body had taken its toll. She had gotten little sleep the night before due to the ridiculously loud neighbors, whose voices carried like megaphones into her eardrums. Earplugs were no match for the diaphragms of such giants. In her pathetic attempt to make coffee, she dropped the coffee grounds all over the floor. She grunted in frustration as Ben came into the room to see what was wrong. He was halfway done shaving, and blood trailed down his cheek since he was using a razor that was far too big for his face. He grabbed the broom to help her clean up and she pushed him away, saying, “Don’t bother! I can do it.” He rolled his eyes in frustration as he once again felt like she ignored his efforts to help her. “Fine. I wont,” he responded angrily, and stomped out of the room.

Both of them went about their day in complete despondency about their difficult little lives. Ben had a horrible day at work as he fought the humiliation of his insignificance in comparison to his coworkers. Even though he had so many ideas, he did not share them because he knew they would not be able to hear him. Who would take him seriously, anyway? Lacey had an equally discouraging day. Simply going to the grocery left her looking like she had run a marathon. Lifting boxes of cereal and cartons of milk over her head just so she could place them in the cart was absolutely exhausting. She gave up, and decided she was not going to make dinner tonight. Ben walked in the door and found her lying on the couch. He could not believe that dinner was not hot and ready on the table. Didn’t she know the kind of day he had? He knew he had a choice to make. He could get mad at her, and complain about all of the things she had done wrong, or he could love her.

He sat by her on couch, and reached for her hand. She was staring vacantly into the mirror that was on the wall across from them. He was frustrated that she ignored his loving gesture, but grabbed her hand anyway. “Strange,” he thought to himself. “Her hand feels bigger than normal.” He was hurting from the way she treated him this morning, and he was dejected from his inability to perform at work. He wanted to lash out at her, but he knew that would only make it worse. Instead, he decided he was going to encourage her. “Thank you for going grocery shopping today,” he said. “I know you hate it, and it is a lot of work, but I really appreciate it.” Her hand miraculously grew in his, and so did her arm. He was so amazed by what was happening that he did not even hear her say, “Thank you for saying that. I know you work so hard. I am really proud of you.” She saw him grow taller as she looked at him in the mirror. They were both in awe of what was happening, and as they continued to speak kindly to one another, they realized it was the kindness of their words that was making them grow.

From that point on, they made a conscious effort to speak words of encouragement to each other, instead of acting on the frustration they had felt about their lives. Every time they wanted to act out of their negative emotions, they chose instead, to speak positively. As they did so, they grew bigger. They are no longer too small for their environment. They are bigger, taller, stronger, louder, than ever before. The secret to their growth was kindness, and they held the key to solving their problem all along.

 

 

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March 18, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
2 Comments

Creative Developments

I just painted for two hours.

I have not attempted to paint since I studied abroad in Paris. I tried so hard to tap into my creativity when I was living in my favorite city. After spending so much time in the Louvre, meandering Montmarte, and visiting Giverny, I was sure it would just spill out of me. I remember getting so frustrated at my lack of creative abilities. That was almost three years ago. Ever since then I sensed the Lord has been brewing creativity in me. I have even received prophetic words about it. I assumed it would manifest through writing, however, you may have noticed I have not written in a while.

I have a list of excuses for this lack of blogging regularity.

  1. The first is that I claim to have writer’s block, even though I think I am too young for that notion, and my Creative Writing professor swears it does not exist, I am putting that first on my list. Writer’s Block.
  2. I have at least ten blog posts that I started, but have not finished. I am a perfectionist, and it comes out in my writing. They just do not feel complete yet. I think they stem from lessons I am still in the middle of learning.
  3. I am simply out of the practice of blogging weekly, and have had a hard time getting into the routine again.
  4. God and I are really working through some things. Tough things. Things that take up most of my emotional and cognitive energy. Things that are deeply rooted, and frankly, feel too personal to display on the internet for the whole world to read.
  5. The last excuse I have is that I have been in a relationship that has delightfully taken up most of my freetime. (Sorry to throw you under the bus on that one, babe. ;-) )

So, I am basically writing to tell you why I have not been writing and let you know I am still alive.

Also to confess that I found painting to be more enjoyable. Shocker. I love writing. But writing requires too much thinking. Think about it. You cannot write without thinking about that which you are writing. At least I cannot. My mind goes a million miles an hour, 24 hours a day. (You can probably tell by how scattered this post is. It is also almost midnight.) My brain only stops when I am sleeping – and even my dreams are complex. To my great delight, I discovered that when I paint, I stop thinking. I put worship music on, lit a candle, and just painted. It was glorious.

The absence of thought is a beautiful thing.

I know it would be really cool if I had some creative masterpiece to prove to you that I actually painted. Guess what? Showing people what I painted feels waaaay more vulnerable than something I have written. Who knew? Instead of a pic of my artwork that I am too chicken to show you, I decided to offer you a pic of my pre-painting preperation. Notice the goldfish crackers (I call them fishies) and chocolate. I had to have my snacks.

Do yourself a favor this week and take twenty minutes to try something you have never done, but always wanted to do. Or give yourself a break and bask in the sun. Go for a walk. Jump on your bed. Dance in your room. Or paint. :)

photo 3 copy

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February 12, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
1 Comment

Announcing Grace

I am happy to announce that I am finally and officially an Auntie! My niece, Grace Kate Cornett was born on February 8th at 8:59pm weighing 7.9 lbs. She is simply beautiful. I wrote this for a Creative Writing assignment before she was born.

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Grace

Grace. Unborn, undiscovered, and yet to be known. You are the first of your kind, the first daughter, niece, and granddaughter of the LaBahn/Cornett family. We do not yet know the color of your eyes, or the color of your hair. We do not know what your smile looks like. The sound of your laughter has not yet been heard. Your cry for food, comfort, and shelter has yet to reach the ears of your exhausted mother. Your temperament has not yet been experienced.

Grace. You are loved, and have been loved since the moment of your conception.

I can teach you how to do your hair. I will help you write what is in your heart. I will impart to you the things that God has taught me about Himself. I will be a safe place for you. I will search for what is inside your heart, and show it to you.

Grace. Your name carries a message. Your life will be a book, read by many. Through smiles, joy, and laughter, you will deliver what many are desperate for.

Inside your realm of comfort, nutrients, and peace, you have been nurtured and sheltered. Soon, any day now, you will break out of your comfort zone. You will be surrounded by smiles, and you will be held with love. Soon, life will encompass chilling air, unfamiliar sounds, and curious surroundings.

Color will invade your world.

Your laughter will be like sunrays.

Your voice will be like a symphony.

Your face will reflect the majesty of your Creator.

And our world will be invaded by Grace.

 

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January 24, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
4 Comments

One Year Later…

A lot can change in a year.

This time last year I had barely made it through another holiday season of being single. I wrote about the struggle of making it through the holidays alone…How frustrating it was to go to a Christmas party solo…How much I wished I had someone with whom I could enjoy the festivities of the season.

This time last year I realized that I had to completely surrender my season of being single, and give it to God. It took about seven years of being frustrated and broken to figure out how to let it all go. But God’s hand was on me the whole time – through the brokenness, the countless shed tears, the loneliness, the dateless Saturday nights – even awkward Christmas parties. He was faithful. He was simply near.

This time last year I had just turned 27. It was the first birthday I did not wake up in tears. I woke up in joy, because I was finally surrendered. I was tired of wrestling and fighting with God about what He had or had not given me.

I was still broken. Lonely. Sad at times. But I was surrendered.

This time last year I wrote a post about my choice to let go of my desires, and let God have His way:

I have known many disappointing years, because I had set so much of my hope and affection on what I wanted, and not on what God had already given me. I am not going to pray for fulfillment this year. I am going to change my prayer. This year, I am going to pray for transformation. Transformation of my desires, of my life, of my soul. God knows my heart, and all of its desires. Maybe someday He will give them to me. This year, I want to set my desires aside, and set my face on His.

I wanted Jesus more than I wanted anything else. He was my focus.

One year later, I have a boyfriend.

He is amazing; I really did not know guys like him existed. The way he treats me reminds me of Jesus. He is kind, patient, sincere, transparent, loving, and selfless. He was certainly unexpected. I really did not see him coming. In fact, I had pretty much given up all hope that I would ever find someone that I actually wanted to be with. I do not think God ever wanted me to give up hope, but somewhere along the journey I did. God is using this man and this relationship to restore a hope I had lost years ago. The hope that God is restoring really has little to do with the fulfillment of my desires; it has everything to do with choosing to place my hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God. I love our story, and I will write about it soon. What I find so interesting about the timing of our relationship is that the very year I gave up my desires to God, He gave me what I desired.

I have grown, changed, and been challenged in many ways. I have faced my own flesh and selfishness. I am learning what it means to love selflessly, and think of someone before myself. This is not easy to do for anyone, but especially someone who has spent her entire adult life single. The lessons I am learning are invaluable, and once again, I am in awe of the way God uses every circumstance in our lives to prune, stretch, and grow us – whether it be in the context of singleness or a new relationship.

I thought the journey of surrender ended the day I finally surrendered being single.

I am realizing that life with Jesus essentially means a life of surrender… surrender of every season, desire, and ultimately my will.

I have discovered that God is incredibly involved and in tune with my heart. After so many years of crying out to God with seemingly no answer…no implication of the fact that He is actually hearing my heart’s cry, I can see now that He has indeed heard. He has seen. He has listened. He cares.

I do not want my perception of the faithfulness of God to be based on what He gives me. I know He is good – no matter what.

But this year, He has really given me something good. And my heart is full of gratitude.

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January 17, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
1 Comment

To my friend on her wedding day: Genisee

Genisee,

I remember the day I met you at Youth Venture in Santee. I was 20 and you were 18; we were so young and innocent…so passionate about God and serving in ministry…so bright eyed and full of hope and ideas about our futures. Some of those dreams have been fulfilled, and some have not. You and I have learned to communicate and have difficult conversations. We have learned to overcome offense and hurt feelings, in order to love and move forward in the friendship that I think we both would say is God-ordained. Our friendship has made it through ups and downs, different countries, and various seasons of life. We have encountered the depths of the heart of God together numerous times. We know each other’s pasts and stories. We stand by each other and claim the future God has promised us. Somehow, we just get each other. And I love that.

I am so incredibly thankful for you. You have been a source of encouragement, strength, and truth, in a very new and exciting season of my life. You have been so faithful to pray for me, even on a moment’s notice. I am pretty sure you were even praying for me on the week of your wedding. You are an incredible testament of loyalty and selflessness. Your heart is pure and beautiful. You long for the things of God, and strive to honor and please Him with your life. Gen, I truly believe you will make a wonderful wife to Sean. I see your heart to love, serve, and support him. You will do well, my friend. Very well.

When I prayed for you guys and asked the Lord for a word for the foundation of your marriage, I heard “sacrifice.” The greatest demonstration of sacrifice was when God gave His Son to die for our sin. He became sin, and conquered death so that we can have life. In your marriage, you will be called to sacrifice for each other. To truly love, you must daily lay down your life for the other person. To live is to die.  As you sacrifice your will, desires, and life for each other, God will bless your marriage. He understands sacrifice. He designed love, and He is the best Teacher. God wants to take you into a greater understanding of His love. Your relationship will be the catalyst for him to do so. He is going to teach the fullness of His affection for you through the daily practice of sacrificing your will for the betterment of your spouse. His continuance increases where authentic love is prominent. As you learn and practice sacrificial love, may your marriage be a resting place for His presence.

gen

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October 16, 2013
by Jenny LaBahn
14 Comments

Kingdom Eyes

Lately I have desired to be used by God, and challenged to be bolder in sharing my faith with other people.

I have been in college for over three years, and the longer I am in school, the more pointless it seems. I have been challenged with my attitude recently, and have concluded that God’s purpose for me in school is beyond the typical expectations of college students. God simply has a different lesson plan for me. I want to look beyond my own limitations and frustrations to see life through the lens of His eyes. I realize that the only way I will get through college is if I gain a broader perspective. I want to have Kingdom eyes when I walk on campus.

On the drive to school this morning I told God that I would pray for and/prophecy over someone everyday if He helped me get through school. I said it as more of a joke than a bargain, but I was sincere.

I walked into the lecture hall of my Developmental Psychology class and sat down. I recognized the girl sitting next to me from a class I ended up not getting into at the beginning of the semester. I knew right away that she was the one I was supposed to talk to. I really love and care about people, but I am a classic introvert. Approaching a stranger is not my favorite past-time. I was hoping God would tell me what I was supposed to say to her, even though that is not usually the way He has me do things. He prefers to utilize the “Just go and I will tell you after” approach.

After class was over, I asked what she was doing and if she could talk. She awkwardly consented, and I am sure it sounded random and crazy. I did my best to make small talk as I looked for a good place to go, and simultaneously asked God:

“What the heck am I supposed to say to this girl?!”

I got nothin.

We sat down in the sunshine and I still had no idea what to say, which I found annoying. I smiled big and simply asked if she believed in God. She said she did, so I said:

“Okay, if you feel comfortable, can you tell me where you are at in your relationship with Him?”

She said she had ups and downs, doubts about her future, and got confused about things He did, especially when people died.

I smiled and said, “Yeah. Me, too. I think God wants you to know how much He loves you. So much that those things won’t make you feel so up and down. He really is good, and He is a good Dad.”

She said, “I have been trying sooo hard.”

I said, “Stop trying. What He wants to show you is not about you trying; it is about letting Him love you. He wants to increase your faith.”

She said, “Wow this has never happened to me before. It is like you are a messenger giving me a message.” She cried.

I said, “Yup, He had something He wanted to tell you today. Can I pray for you?” She consented. I asked if I could put my hand on her shoulder, and she said, “Yeah…sure. What do I do? I have never done this before. Do I close my eyes? I am not sure what to do with my hands, but this is so cool!”

I laughed and said, “Do whatever you want. Just hang out. I am just going to ask God if He has anything to say to you, and ask Him to bless you. I am going to take a minute to be quiet and ask Him what He wants to do, okay? Then I will pray and we will just see what happens.”

I prayed a very basic prayer. I simply asked that God would implant peace in her heart and her mind. As I prayed I asked God if there was something He wanted to show her (a picture) or something He wanted to say to her. All I heard was the word “shifting.”

So, I prayed for a few minutes. I did not receive anything monumental, and I did not get a vision from God.

I ended, and asked her how she felt. She said as soon as I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed, she felt another hand on her other shoulder and the deepest peace she has ever felt in her life. She said, “Someone else was there!”

I could not hold my excitement as I spread my arms wide and exclaimed, “THAT WAS JESUS!!!” really loud. I am sure the people around us heard.

She laughed and said, “I think so, too!”

I told her I felt like something shifted in her… Like something was implanted and changed in her heart, and from this day forward, she would be different. She agreed and said, “That makes so much sense! It was like God wanted to talk to me!”

I said, “He sure did. You are a stranger; I know nothing about you, and did not even know that you believed in God. I just knew I was supposed to talk to you when you sat by me in class. Be encouraged. God wanted to reach out to you today and remind you that He loves you. He thinks about you. He takes notice of you, and wants you to be aware of Him the way that He is aware of you.”

She apologized for having questions and being inexperienced. I told her I am a patient person, and I could talk about God all day long. I felt the love of God for this girl and wanted to wrap her in my arms and hug her, but I did not want to freak her out. She thanked me repeatedly, and wished me luck studying for the test, and walked away.

As I drove home this morning, I was reminded of a word that someone had for me recently. It was about changing my eyes to see what God sees. I smiled as I realized that word was already coming to fruition.  Not only did this girl get a reminder from a sweet Father that she is loved, I got reminded that God is near and involved in my life as I continue to shift my eyes toward His Kingdom, and away from myself.

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