Welcome to my Mercy Ship Adventure.
Please feel free to read about my journey and post a comment!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

This Time Last Year

I was sitting at work today talking to my co-workers about what I was doing this time last year. This time last year I was 2 days away from heading out into the adventure of a lifetime. This time last year I had no idea what I was in store for, how my life would change inside and out. This time last year I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to get every last detail taken care of. This time last year I was 2 days away from heading off to Africa to serve with Mercy Ships.

So much has changed in the last 12 months. I cannot believe that much time has gone by. In some ways it feels like it was yesterday and in some ways it feels like that part of my life was a lifetime ago. One thing is for sure, I am a changed person. Thank God for that. Thank God that though circumstances change- He does not. Though life does not go at all like you think it will, most of the time, God is our refuge and strength. It doesn't always feel like it, but He is.

Tomorrow I get the wonderful gift of getting to go to San Francisco to visit some of my very favorite and cherished friends that I met while serving with Mercy Ships. I am flying out with my friend Wendy, "Tex" as we affectionately called her, and we are meeting up with Ruth (from England) and Grace (who is staying in San Fran right now). We are also going to get to see Tyrone (the chef) and his wife Stefanie (who is also a nurse). I cannot wait to see these lovely friends again.

Tonight I am sitting with my friend Kim, talking about life and struggle and pain and grief...and being shattered. But we're also talking about the beauty that there can be in pain. The beauty in seeing how God truly does work things out. How He really is working for our good. There is beauty in being shattered and there is beauty in pain and there is hope.

Last year this time I had no idea what was on the road in front of me. And thank God that we only get to see the next step in the journey, and not down the road. If we knew what was down the road I might not ever want to take the next step. But thanks be to God who gives us the courage and faith to take the step. I am better for every step I have taken and more alive than ever, simply for being on the journey.

Friday, February 6, 2009

So much love for the Southfield Christian Girls!!

Yesterday I had the AMAZING opportunity of getting to share my story with the high school girls at Southfield Christian Schools. Oh my goodness how I LOVED it and LOVED them!! Thank you girls for listening to my stories. Thank you girls for letting me share with you. Thank you girls for sharing some of your stories with me.

I hope I get to come back again soon. What a gift you ladies are!

I will write more later about what I shared. But for now, just wanted to share my great love for these high school young women!!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The View from the Valley

Recently on facebook I posted my status as, "Jenny is in a valley". A friend of mine typed back asking "how's the view?". At first I thought, "what a dumb question - there is no view". Sometimes because of where you are - you can't see anything but your current state of affairs. You cannot see the hope rising or the lessons learned - because you are in the midst of it. You don't have the vantage point of looking down on it to gain perspective.

Then I realized that wasn't entirely true. The truth is that there is a view from the valley. It might not be the million dollar view from the mountaintop, but there are still things to see and learn. Sometimes the view is priceless.

One thing I am learning is this - loss is extremely painful and changes things forever - but it is not completely unbearable. If I am willing to acknowledge it, I dare say there is even some good in it. I have never felt more loved and supported by so many friends and family members. I knew it before, but now I really know it - I am loved and I am not alone. There have been so many people willing to climb down into this valley and walk along side me. There have been so many who wish desperately that I didn't have to be in this valley at all.

Then there is the whole compassion thing. I have a whole new understanding of compassion for hurting people. For sure, none of us have the exact same experience or the exact same reaction to a situation. But, I certainly feel as though I have a much greater understanding for those who have endured loss. For anyone who has lost a dream, lost a person, lost hope or for anyone that has woken up one day to find that life is infinitely harder than they ever thought imaginable - I get it.

And then there is my dear mother. I love her more than ever. Over the past few months I have come to the startling realization that I am more like her than I ever cared to notice before. But the truth is, I am so glad to be like her. I am glad to have this shared experience with her. God has used this experience to bind us together like nothing else ever could. I want to be strong like her. I want to be tender like her. I want to find love like she found love. I want her to have that love again someday. I am thankful to be on this journey with her.

So, where am I in the valley? I am not sure. The truth is I started writing this post "View from the Valley" exactly one month ago. The past 30 days have been harder than I thought. I thought things would get easier and they have not. I thought things would hurt less, they hurt more. I thought I would have "moved on", I have perhaps set up camp. But, you know what? I am ok with that. I am tired of people wanting to make things better for me. I am tired of people telling me what to do to get out of the valley. I am tired of being tired.

The truth for me is this - the valley is not all bad. I firmly believe it is where I am suppose to be - for right now. I am not planning on being here forever. I am planning on turning my face towards God and letting Him do the healing. And, then I will put one foot in front of the other and at some point I will be on the other side of the valley.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is for the brokenhearted

Well, It's Christmas eve...and it is raining. Raining outside on the snow-covered earth and raining inside my heart these days. Christmas can be a funny time for me. Sometimes it is a hard season - the end of the year, time of reflection - am I who I want to be? Have I accomplished anything at all since last year at this time? And Christmas is a wonderful time too - filled with family and friends and warm memories and lights and trees and gifts. This year every minute my feelings about Christmas seem to change.
Today I was talking to a close friend about how I feel about Christmas these days and our plans for Christmas day came up. She invited me over, said she is having other people over that are brokenhearted too. I said, "oh you are having the Christmas for the brokenhearted this year". And that is when it hit me. Christmas is the greatest gift of love - specifically for the brokenhearted. Yes, Christmas is about presents, friends, family, food. It is about lights and songs, traditions. But, the precious reality of it all is that at the heart of it is God's gift to us. God's gift of hope and redemption amidst a broken world. It is light and joy and indescribable peace offered to all of us who endure moments of broken-heartedness. Merry Christmas - and may you all know the greatest gift given to you, Jesus Christ.
Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I am Grateful For...

(in no particular order)
1. That my dad is in heaven tonight and that his suffering has come to an end.
2. That God extends His grace so freely and lovingly to me - I am so undeserving it is ridiculous.
3. That Doug and Jordon were at my side today - loving me through the hardest day of my life so far.
4. For a family that has grown closer together in the last few months. Some days there is no one that can comfort you like your own mother.
5. For the opportunity to watch my brother love his family well. It has been a treasured gift to watch my brother care for my father at his bedside. To watch my brother comfort my father, encourage my father, do physical therapy with my father. And then for him to leave the hospital room and head to my mom's house to fix the snow blower, to hang Christmas lights, to helping me move furniture ;)
6. For a small group that have lived out "doing life together" in every way possible. For walking with me diligently at my side, for encouraging me, listening to me, for "lifting up my arms" when I was weary.
7. For my "family" of Kristin & Larry, Dan & Julie. For crying along side me, for praying with me when I had no words.
8. For the AMAZING nurses in the SICU at Troy Beaumont. I have never been more proud to be a nurse. They have come to be like family and they have loved my father like their own.
9. For my Mercy Ships family. We spent a summer taking care of Africa together, and from across the ocean you have taken care of me. I loved the flowers, the emails, the songs being sung on my voicemails.
10. For "my girls". Girls weekend 2008 was the greatest reprieve during this season of heartache. No where else can I let my hair down and act as crazy as when I am with you three. I am so glad God gave us each other so many years ago. There is a comfort with you Kristin, Kimmi K and Weez that is immeasurable and irreplaceable.
11. For everyone that has made a phone call to me, a facebook message, an email...a girl could not ask for better people to walk through life with. I am not alone and God has made that abundantly clear.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


And now for a quick update on where things are at in my journey back to Mercy Ships...

As everyone knows by now, my dad suffered a heart attack back in the beginning of October. The heart attack itself didn't cause too much damage, but my dad needed open heart surgery. Unfortunately, because of some complications and some of my dad's previous health history - the recovery from the surgery has been anything but smooth. It has been 2 1/2 months now and he is still in the ICU. There is some hope that he will be able to go to a long term critical care setting soon.

Because of all that is going on with my dad, I have put my plans for returning to Mercy Ships on hold. I certainly still plan to be back in Africa next year - but I am not exactly sure of the timing. A lot depends on my dad's recovery. I am grateful to God that all that has happened has occurred while I was here - and not 16 hours and 2 plane rides away.

In the meantime, I still am making some progress in getting back to serving with Mercy Ships. In the end of October I spoke at my church, Genesis, about my journey. Through some very generous contributions from the Genesis community - God is providing for my financial needs to get back to Africa. Also, through speaking at Genesis I have another opportunity to share my journey during a chapel time at Southfield Christian Schools coming up in January. I am so excited for this - I love high schools girls and I look forward to sharing with them.

I am still working on renting out my house...kind of on hold until after the holidays. Thank you to everyone who has offered me a place to stay. It is beautiful to watch how God provides for us through others!!!

So that is the quick update on how things are going. I still firmly believe God wants me to go, I just need to keep on trusting Him for the timing.

Victory is Ours

A few weeks ago in church my pastor was speaking about how the victory is already ours. He was talking about the fact that for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our savior- the victory over death is ours. Victory is ours in that Christ died for us on the cross - the ultimate battle has been won. However, the world we live in is far from what God intended for us in the beginning. From the moment sin first took place the battle began for all of us, and will continue on until the end. It sounds discouraging, but really it was one of the most encouraging reminders I have heard in awhile. The fact is that for those who believe- we have great cause to celebrate and rejoice - we know how the story ends! We know where we will spend eternity, we know there will come a day when good really will triumph over evil - once and for all. But... until that time - we daily wake up and face a battle of some sort. There are battles for us everywhere we turn: work, home, our minds, our hearts, how we spend our money, how we spend our time, what we think about, what we say...and it goes on and on.

Lately for me and my family it feels like a really long battle. I think my dad is trying to set a record for # of consecutive days spent in an ICU. This battle is one I am certain I don't have the strength for - and it brings me to my knees in surrender to the One who does have the strength for it - God Almighty.

Be encouraged my friends, for the battles may rage in us and around us - but victory will be ours.

I am grateful for this truth - that I have hope when it seems hopeless, I have peace that defies understanding, I have assurance when uncertainty is all around me.

1 John 5:3-5 (New International Version)
3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.