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Happy New Year, friends! Welcome back to The Messy Table—where life isn’t perfect, but God is at work in the mess.

Well, the table has finally turned. Some of my lovely (yet stubborn) friends have been hounding me to take a turn in the hot seat since the launch of this podcast, nearly ten months ago. So today—for the first episode of 2018—you get to hear a bit of my heart, passion, and imperfect story behind The Messy Table, as well as where we’re headed in the future.

Life is messy, but God is good.

 

The amazing LaTonya Pratt, who was my guinea pig for Episode #1, is calling the shots and getting a taste of sweet revenge in the hosting chair. So wherever you are—at a desk, on a treadmill, in the car, or at your kitchen sink—grab your coffee, pull up a chair, and join us!

CONVERSATION NOTES

Kids + families: Bible App for Kids | Jesus Storybook Bible | Superbook | Chronicles of Narnia

Apps/Websites/Podcasts: YouVersion Bible App | The Bible Project (videos) | A Life Worth FollowingLet My People Think Podcast | Risen Motherhood Podcast | Secret Church 17: Scripture and Authority in an Age of Skepticism | Life.Church

Quotes: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis

“There will come a day when we all see God face to face. This is when we will understand things fully. When God asks me to believe something that’s beyond belief, I decide if I will trust my five senses or have enough sense to believe in Him.” Justin Sullivan (see more of Justin’s story HERE)

Verses: Psalm 90:12 | 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 | John 11:25-26 | Luke 20:37-38 | Philippians 1:21-24 | Philippians 3:19 | Colossians 3:1-3 | Hebrews 13:14 | 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 | 2 Peter 3:8-9 | Deuteronomy 30:19-20 | Romans 10:9

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Christmastime is typically festive and cozy, merry and bright. But there’s a heavier side of the holidays that many people, unfortunately, know all too well. My guest for today’s episode at The Messy Table is the witty and bighearted Lindsay Torres—who’s bravely shedding some light on her #MeToo story, as well as sharing how she continues to find healing and forgiveness after sexual abuse.

“God takes a mess and makes a masterpiece.”

 

Lindsay is a mom of two boys, police officer’s wife, pharmaceutical rep, and just a down-to-earth, hilarious, she’ll-have-your-back-no-matter-what type of friend. I can’t imagine the pain she’s waded through over the years, but it’s an honor to witness the mysterious way in which “God takes a mess and makes a masterpiece.”

No matter your story or background, Lindsay’s imperfect journey will remind you who you are and shift your perspective toward the things of God. So grab your coffee, pull up a chair, and join us!

CONVERSATION NOTES

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Books: For Women OnlyArmor of God

‘Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.’ Revelation 12:10-11

Connect with Lindsay | Connect with Jenn

 

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Today marks the TWENTIETH episode at The Messy Table (insert allllll the praise-hand emojis)! I want to start by shouting a gigantic THANK YOU to all of my amazing guests who have bravely opened up their lives and souls on this little podcast, for the sake of encouraging others and reminding us just how faithful our God is—even in the messes of life. I also want to thank YOU for coming alongside of us on this adventure. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel, but I’m humbled and expectant for all that’s still to come.

So, thank you!

I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this milestone than by inviting some of my precious friends to join me in the celebration! Today’s conversation with Kristi Ivey, Lindsay McKee, Lacye Stewart, Ashley Clinesmith, and Kat Robinson (aka The Village) is rich! We chat about how to sustain friendships as adults and how to keep Jesus front and center during an otherwise commercial Christmas, as well as heavier topics like wading through foster care, infertility, and marriage struggles. There’s loads of wisdom and insight pouring from these women, which has been gained through various experiences in various seasons of life.

“We know that, at any moment, we could call each other up and be at each other’s doorsteps—which has happened.”

Since December officially kicks off tomorrow, we’re running into the Christmas season with a super fun GIVEAWAY! Two identical bundles to be exact. Each gal offered something they’re loving right now—three books (The Best Yes, Sacred Marriage, and A Meaningful Christmas devotional), one pair of buffalo plaid earrings (made by Kat), a holiday candle, and some scrumptious Mary Kay body wash! You could win it all, and maybe even share with a friend.

To enter, simply: 1) Head over to The Messy Table in iTunes and make sure you’re subscribed + leave a rating/review, and 2) help spread the word by tagging some friends or sharing on social media (or both)! Easy peasy. I will announce the winner next Tuesday, December 5th. Until then, grab your coffee, pull up a chair, and join us for Episode #20 with The Village!

CONVERSATION NOTES

Books: The Best Yes | Sacred Marriage | A Meaningful Christmas | 5 Gears | Present Over Perfect | StrengthsFinder

Podcasts: Success Magazine Podcast | Read Aloud Revival Podcast

Sermons: Craig Groeschel at Life.Church | Matt Chandler at The Village Church | Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church | Steven Furtick at Elevation Church

 

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This is a safe place, right? Well here’s the deal: I genuinely want to jump into Thanksgiving with an overflowing heart of gratefulness. I really do. But one friend just buried her brother, another got laid off three days before Thanksgiving, and another is facing an unwanted divorce. Not to mention, I HATE how certain family members won’t be joining us for turkey and pie yet again this year, because life is just too short.

Then there’s the Texas and Vegas shootings still lingering in my mind, as well as the high-strung political climate that’s saturating our nation (and the media). Even managing our own blessings can be embarrassingly overwhelming at times, with bottomless laundry, scattered schedules, and you know—life.

The truth is, we don’t always feel thankful.

 

But as Lysa Terkeurst says (and it’s always stuck with me), “Feelings are indicators, not dictators.” I recognize it would be straight ridiculous to trade a grateful-packed Thanksgiving for one of anxiousness, fear, and frustration. I’m no businesswoman, but that’s definitely not a good deal. And certainly not what God wants for us! So how do we dig up thankfulness when we don’t feel thankful? How do we cultivate a heart of gratitude without it being forged or forced?

Thankfulness is a choice, not a feeling.

 

Even if you don’t feel thankful at this very moment, good news: YOU CAN STILL BE THANKFUL. Thankfulness is a choice, not a feeling. Choosing to be grateful doesn’t mean we’re no longer hurting, confused, or worried. In fact, thankfulness is often found and praises usually offered in the confines of bittersweet spaces.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

All throughout history, God’s people have found a way to worship Him despite their circumstances. Offering praises to our Creator God isn’t contengient on good or bad days, fertility or infertility, job or no job, the stock market being up or down—not even life or death. The verses below were written by David, when he was stuck in the wilderness of Judah:

“Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the riches feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.” Psalms 63:3-5

We can be thankful because God is faithful, even when we are not. We can be thankful because of the unending mercy and grace He pours out on sinners, like me, who put their trust in Him. We can pause long enough to give thanks for the timeless and life-changing Word of God, as well as loving families, real friends, warm houses, tasty food, freedom to worship openly in our churches and homes, the future resurrection of our loved ones in Christ, the breath literally spiraling through our lungs at this very moment, amazing teachers/mentors, God’s provision, and the list goes on and on and on.

(I would encourage you to take five minutes and scribble down a list of at least twenty-five things you’re thankful for. I did this and was surprised by all that came to mind once I started writing. Also, listen to THIS.)

We don’t always feel thankful, but we can still be thankful.

 

We can surrender our hardships and disappointments over to God—the unshakable One—and choose to praise Him for who He is, despite our pain. Maybe even in our pain.

“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe.” Hebrews 12:28

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.

And as for me, I’m choosing thankfulness.

 

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