About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Jennifer, what a beautiful prayer the LORD placed on your heart for your young children. I left my childhood faith as a teenager, but not because I ever stopped believing in the existence of God, but because I had developed the mindset, due in part to things that happened in our home and things said to me at youth group, that I had to earn God’s grace and that His grace was conditional. My childhood faith was beautifully founded on a close relationship with God in prayer and on a personal understanding of Scripture. But then things happened to show me that the love and acceptance of God’s followers could be conditional and earnt by being good and doing well in life. That beautiful faith I had bent into one based on shame, guilt and fear because rather than it being built on God it was built on people. And so I fled it, seeking several different ways to numb the shame, guilt and rejection I felt.

    I came back to faith because my eyes and heart were opened to God’s overwhelming love and acceptance of me as I am and His powerful grace. And in this love and grace He is guiding me into a newfound faith firmly rooted in Him, His Word of Truth and Spirit of Life.

    • Now, with two children of my own, I am making a conscious effort to show them that Mummy is not perfect and that there is grace that meets that imperfection. I regularly apologize for things I do wrong in the hope it will show them that we don’t need to be perfect and in fact can’t be, but that God’s grace holds that imperfection and makes it whole in Him.

      • Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this, Anna. Sometimes the very people who call themselves Christians can do the most harm and I am so sorry that this occurred for you, but what an amazing testimony to all that He has done in your life since then and how you are ministering to your children in such a powerful way.

  2. Jen,
    Yes, I want to have a faith and I have always wanted my kids to have a faith that will withstand the hardest curveball that you described. I raised both of my children the same…in the church…on the Gospel…home filled with scripture and a servant’s heart attitude. One walks in His ways…the other (aged 22) does not. I agree with you that we have tried so hard to make church “relevant” to this generation that we have missed the hard hitting grace that comes from the Gospel message. Jacob wrestled with God and because he did, God gave him the name Israel. My prayer is that my son will wrestle with God and that his heart will be won by the amazing truth of Jesus’ love and the fact that He was willing to die for my son. That is the message that is still relevant today. Great post Jen!
    Bev xx

    • Dear Bev,

      I just wanted to encourage you that no matter how far your son seems from God, know that God has planted seeds through you into him as a child, seeds that God is able to turn into fruit in His beautiful timing to His glory.

      Know that my return to faith a year ago, as a 33 year old, has been an amazing experience, with God rooting my faith so much more strongly in Him through it all and giving me the opportunity to witness to those around me through living and telling of His goodness to me. But the little seeds of faith were first planted as a child, when I saw and experienced God in my home and my church. I fled for the above-noted reasons, but without really understanding it at the time. In coming back to faith, I am now much more able, through the wisdom God has been imparting, to understand why I fled and why so many have me have too. This understanding is a huge blessing because it has helped me understand the power and freedom of the Gospel that much more.

      I think the greatest gift we can give our lost sheep is to love and accept them as they are, gifting them with the presence of God through us and praying that God will open the eyes of their heart. Something both my parents did. And I see you doing that too. Trusting in God’s faithfulness for and grace in your son’s life. And big hugs to you. It is not easy.

      • Thanks Anna for your very encouraging words this morning!!

        • Yes, affirming what Anna as shared. WE love you so much, Bev and your Incourage sisters stand for you and with your family. xoxo

  3. In raising my son, I believe the foundation will be there always. If he should stray, and haven’t we all at some time, he knows his Lord and Saviour will never leave nor forsake him. More than prepare him, I try to reassure myself that he will always have a home to come back to. . .when he strays. Yet, I always discuss with him the beauty in making wise choices. . .as well as the consequences of poor ones. Esp. When cebrities have public failures. Perfect opportunity to discuss the choices that may have led to different,better outoutcomes. But I so agree, there is no straying from the true living word. It is the one thing on which we can rely will never change and we must honor and not cater to our selves. Great inspiration your words have been. Thank you. It gets scary seeing so many who profess Jesus trying to manipulate his words. Nothing compares to knowing Him for yourself and continually, personally growing and seeking Him.

  4. “Allow me to love them, chase after them and wrestle through topics without becoming defensive.” I’m about where you are in my parenting with 2 littles at the end. This is huge, not just their faith but when they wrestle and question and decide on their own how to handle certain issues in their faith. Can’t wait to read Part 2.

    • Thanks Lisa. We can journey this together since I have quite a few more years of this too. 🙂 xoxo

  5. Not by might (forceful argument or persuasion) nor by power( legislation or command) but by MY Spirit- It is God Who subdues the stubborn human spirit to become submissive to His will. Philippians 2:13. He is not willing that anyone should perish but that all should repent and confess Jesus as Lord.

  6. I like what you had to say here. I’ve been to a number of different kinds of churches, & the ones I like the most are the ones where they challenge you to keep walking on a straight path, with Jesus leading the way. I don’t like “Hell-fire & damnation” preaching, but I really don’t like churches who try to be all things to all people either. I know someone who goes to a Bible Believing Church, & they have overlooked Romans 1,& allowed “gay” people leadership in their church. I don’t judge these people, but I don’t think what the church is doing is right, either. One particular church used to try to relate to people of all faiths & beliefs. It was about positive thinking, which is good, in & of itself,but only one small portion of God’s word. We need to be convicted of our sin, in a loving way, & led to our loving Savior. No watered-down teachings for me.

  7. Thank you for the invitation to share where we wrestle: actually, this is where my daughters wrestle, but I seek help in how to wrestle for them. From the time they were little, I’ve read the Bible to them, cover to cover. Sometimes I question whether I should have skipped over some stories, as they have gotten very hung up over (what they see) as an unloving, cocky God, who demands perfect worship & obedience, or He’ll zap you & send you to Hell. Stories like Achan, who hid the lute under tent & the guys carrying the arc, who grabbed hold of the wrong place when it slipped. Do you have a response for them?

    • Kelly, I think it would help your daughters to realize that in Exodus 19 & 20 God called all the people to consecrate themselves and He would come to speak to them. He was establishing His holiness versus their sinfulness, so the people would recognize their need for a savior. Once He made it clear that He is Almighty God and what that means, His desire was to invite them all up the mountain into a personal relationship with Him like Moses had. The people however, rejected that invitation as they allowed themselves to be overcome by fear (Ex 20:18-21) and asked Moses to be their mediator instead. They were satisfied with a system of rules rather than a relationship. So, God gave them what they asked for and instituted a set of rules with consequences for obedience and disobedience. A just God must keep His end of the agreement, so when rules were broken consequences were swift. That was never God’s original desire for His children, so in the fullness of time He sent His own Son to extend once again the invitation to a personal relationship with the Father. Jesus fulfilled the Law with its system of rules and ushered in a New Covenant, the covenant of grace and truth as the book of Romans so eloquently describes. Today, believers in Christ receive forgiveness and love at the foot of the cross instead of harsh punishment set forth in the law. Hope that helps! 🙂

      • thank you; very good perspective!; that does help me so much; …so true! …I hope this will help them.

      • Thank you so much for giving such a great perspective on Kellly’s question, Melissa.

  8. Amen and amen! I see the church trying so hard to conform to what the world wants in order to bring everyone in. That is what we all want after all, we don’t want to leave anyone behind. But even Jesus face to face, had people who did not accept Him or His message. The gospel IS relevant, but we will never find away to make it acceptable to everyone. Nor should we, God needs no defender.

    • SO so true!! He needs no defender and it is not for us to try and make the narrow way broader to fit everyone. Thanks for sharing, Kathleen.

  9. Jen,

    I have really enjoyed your post and I’m still absorbing it, all of it including your son’s suggestion. So thank-you to you both.


    • You are so welcome, Penny. I still have to mull it over again and again myself.

  10. My heart resonated with this post and I am thankful you wrote and shared it.
    My 38year old son is like yours.
    Raising teens is dear to my heart and my life’s mission has been in nurturing hurting teens and teaching them about the love of God. 39 have lived with me for a year or two.
    God inspired me to copy out all the prayers in the New Testament except the Gospels and Acts and pray it over them. I utterly believe God is watching over HIS Word, faithfully to perform it, and that His Word does not return to Him void.
    gemmill.mary@gmail,com. email me if you would like a copy to help you in this vital work God has called YOU too.
    Iron sharpening iron is a favourite verse of mine too.
    Mary, New Zealand.