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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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My eight-year-old daughter, Hallie, still can’t wrap her arms even halfway around the giant oak in our yard. Our little farmhouse was built in 1930—the first in this square mile—many, many moons ago. She looks like a pint-sized ant standing by the tree’s trunk, peering up into the branches that triple the height of our home. “How did it grow so big?” she asks with a blend of curiosity and wonder. “Well. It happened a little bit at a time, every single day,” I answer. “We can plant an acorn and water it and make sure it’s positioned for sunlight, but it’s God who makes it grow.”

Growth happens a little bit at a time, every single day.

My five-year-old son, Jack, stands next to his daddy and looks up at his towering stature with a proud grin. He measures the top of his head to the middle of Dad’s ribcage and questions, “How can I grow like you?” Derek lifts Jack up on his shoulder and tosses him on the couch like a throw pillow. “A little bit at a time,” he tells him, “every single day.” “We can eat healthy food and make sure our bodies get lots of exercise, but it’s God who makes you grow.”

“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:7-9)

Even now—today—we’re all staring down the barrel at some kind of task: starting a project, remodeling a house, potty-training a toddler, teaching a classroom, learning the ways of God, leading an organization, breaking down walls in a less-than-ideal relationship. And we find ourselves asking, “How can this grow?” The truth is: progress happens a little bit at a time, every single day. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no quick fix or speedy drive-thru window. We can bring our best and implement different strategies and never give up, but it’s God who makes it grow.

We can bring our best and implement different strategies and never give up, but it’s God who makes it grow.

Sometimes we stand back and look at the heroes of our faith like Abraham and Moses, John and Paul—maybe even a parent, teacher, or mentor. And we wonder, “How can I grow to be spiritually mature, like them?” You know the answer by now: Growth happens a little bit at a time, every single day. But rarely does anything happen overnight (or by itself). Instead, our lives are built moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day—by planting, watering, and allowing God to do the deep, mysterious work. God’s plan all along was for us to be coheirs and coworkers with Jesus in the Kingdom of God.

Our lives are built moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day—by planting, watering, and allowing God to do the deep, mysterious work.

Jesus told many stories about the value of investing our time, talents, and treasures wisely. He didn’t create us as robots, but as living and breathing people with divine responsibility—not to earn our salvation (he already won that battle), but to continuously bring glory to His name.

God will do His part, I promise. But let’s not forget to do ours.

 

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I was picking weeds yesterday—knees in the dirt, earth under my fingernails. Grumbling to myself, I muttered something like, “Didn’t I just do this?”

Honestly, this isn’t an uncommon thought running wild through my brain. More like a broken record serenading my everyday life…

Didn’t I just scrub the dishes? Didn’t I just pay that bill? Didn’t I just correct my child? Didn’t I just meet a deadline? Didn’t I just workout? Didn’t I just return the forms/folders/emails/phone calls? Didn’t I just fill up with gas? Didn’t I just buy a fridge-worth of groceries? Didn’t I just charge my phone? Didn’t I just finish my to-do list? Didn’t I just meal-plan? Didn’t I just shave my legs? Didn’t I just pick up 4,000 Legos off the floor?

Didn’t I just…?

“Again” is the Daily Grind’s favorite song-on-repeat and, frankly, this annoys me. I don’t want to do it again. I want to do something ONE TIME and be good for all of eternity—or at least a solid week.

We the People love to create and to cultivate; make progress and make headlines.

 

It’s fun to start and fulfilling to finish. But maintenance? Checkups? Soul-keeping? Managing the unseen? Protecting what’s already there? Pulling weeds, cleaning out closets, digging through emotional/spiritual junk drawers that need to be dealt with and sorted into somewhat organized bins?

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH (plugs ears with index fingers). No thanks.

Let’s do something NEW and EXCITING and PRODUCTIVE and POSTWORTHY instead! Yes, let’s do that… and not the other thing.

Back in the day (the sixth to be exact), God gave Adam two commands about the garden that was his very world: (1) “Work it,” and (2) “Keep it.”

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

We often lump this phrase into one solitary instruction, which typically falls into the category of “do something awesome!” But there are actually TWO independent responsibilities laid out in this verse. God made a stark distinction between both verbs with one little conjunction: and. Work it and keep it. Create and maintain. Cultivate and protect. Working is not the same as keeping, nor the other way around.

The Hebrew word for work is Abad: to work, serve, till, cultivate, labour. 

The Hebrew word for keep is Shamar: to keep, guard, preserve, maintain, care for.

Work it baby, but don’t forget to keep it too.

Let’s get real here… Maintenance isn’t sparkly or glamourous. It’s changing the oil in your car, unloading/reloading the dishwasher a thousand times, and updating your computer with the latest software. It’s making space for date night, reading another bedtime story, and having that hard conversation. It’s cracking open the timeless Word of God, realigning your heart with His, and continuously shifting your perspective and position toward the things above.

Maintenance can feel boring and unsexy, but it’s vital nonetheless.

The majority of our lives are spent on maintenance—on “keeping it.” However, most of us, if we’re honest, would rather skip the upkeep and hurry on to moving and shaking and leaving our mark on the world. God knew we’d get prideful and cocky though, arrogantly assuming we could do it all on our own. So He devised a plan…

God built maintenance into His purposely-engineered and perfectly-executed design.

 

We were created to need God over and over again. Our utter desperation for the basics—to eat again, drink again, sleep again, breathe again—reminds us that we are not self-sufficient. We are not the kings and queens of our own fairyland. We need something (or Someone) outside of ourselves in order to survive.

Cue the reminders…

Remember when Jesus prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread”? Key word: daily. Not weekly or monthly or yearly. DAILY. Because we constantly need refilled in order to sustain the hard and important work of pouring ourselves out again. (See Matthew 6)

Remember when the Israelites were wandering around in the desert and God gave them unexpected miracle food called manna? He did not bless them with gobs of excess to put in storage and use as needed. In fact, if they gathered more than a day’s worth it would rot and stink. (See Exodus 16)

Why did He do this? Why did He make them depend on His faithfulness every day? Why didn’t He just give them a giant supply so they’d stay out of His hair for a while? (I mean, come on, they were clearly an exhausting bunch.) Why in the world did He design our bodies to hunger and thirst for food and water every few hours of every day?

Maybe it was to remind us that:

(1) We are helpless on our own.

(2) He is our source, provider, sustainer, and the heartbeat of our very existence.

 

What if God designed us to find Him in the ordinary—in the “keeping it”? What if He intended for us to feel our way to Him through the mundane, repetitive tasks that makeup the pieces of our lives?

You don’t just plant a tree; you water it too. You don’t just get married; you nurture that relationship. You don’t just start a career; you make it happen every day. You don’t just birth a baby; you love it and take care of it. You don’t just believe in Jesus; you follow Him day by day and step by step.

Working and keeping—a compatible dance. Similar to the one where we work hard on our ordinary days and also keep the Sabbath.

“Keeping it” is essential for anything to flourish. “Keeping it” is the sacred act of guarding, protecting, and preserving the precious treasure that has been entrusted to our very souls. “Keeping it” is the utmost level of endurance, perseverance, and long-term faithfulness. Not because of what we’ve done, but because of who He is.

So, work it baby. Do your thing. Move as many mountains as He allows.

But don’t forget to keep it too.

 

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Hello hello! It’s a great day to be at The Messy Table, y’all. So grab (or reheat) your coffee and pull up a chair. No matter what trenches you’re climbing out of today, know that you are welcome in this space.

It is my complete HONOR to introduce you to my guest for Episode #11. Cindy Beall is not only a one-of-a-kind woman and Jesus-follower and mentor and friend, but she’s also a legit author, speaker, pastor’s wife, homeschooling mama, and voice of hope to struggling marriages all over the globe. Even more, she loves with everything she has and is as real as they come.

Cindy knows what it’s like to rebuild—a house, after watching it burn to the ground; a marriage, after waking up to her worst nightmare. She and her husband, Chris, have bravely chosen to share their darkest hour with the world, knowing that God is a God who RESTORES. With Him as their rock, they have rebuilt a life on the foundation that never moves.

Whether you’ve already tied the knot or desire to have a godly marriage one day. Whether your relationship could use a tune-up or a complete renovation. THERE IS WISDOM AND REDEMPTION TO BE FOUND. I’m constantly in need of both and maybe you are too, so pop in those earbuds and join us!

CONVERSATION NOTES

*GIVEAWAY!* I have a FREE COPY of Cindy’s book, Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New, to give away! Simply share this episode on social media (tag me, so I’ll know) and you’ll be entered in a drawing. I’ll announce the winner next week!

Cindy’s books: Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken | Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New

Refine Us with Justin and Trisha Davis

Life, Money, and Hope with Chris Brown

Fearless Mom with Julie Richard

Robert Morris at Gateway Church

Ryan Dobson with Rebel Parenting

The Vow with Craig Groeschel at Life.Church

Connect with Cindy: Blog | Facebook | Instagram

Connect with Jenn: Blog | Podcast | Instagram

 

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