when you are lost and you need God’s response

“I am lost,” is what she says. But she is stronger than she knows.

She is beautiful but doesn’t believe it yet. Rather, she is convinced of a lie: there is no hope for her; she can never be found.

Who would look for her? Who would come for the daughter who flounders, doubting her role, her purpose? How can she find her way?

Who will hear the questions she whispers in the night?

Lost and needing God's responseI am restless, God. How do I get more of You?

Where are You when it is eight o’clock and my patience is gone and I’m wondering how to keep loving people while feeling completely spent?

How do I pray to You when I don’t know the words?

When did that lie come in, God—the lie that I’m not enough?

 

Lost and needing God's response

Lost and God's response

Lost and needing God's response

These are the questions of the women of Breathing Eden. Do you ask these questions, too?

Lost and the women of Breathing Eden blog imageCatherine is lostAre you like Catherine, hungry for more of God, for intimacy with him? Catherine wants more than reading books about God. Her head is filled with ideas and information about Him; but what she wants is a relationship, to know his heart and to experience his closeness. She fears she doesn’t know how to get close to Him. And God responds.

Johanna is lostCan you relate to Johanna, who has a heart for serving people but is nervous that she isn’t serving God? Johanna loves God, and she wants to please Him. But she wonders if she is missing something in her relationship with Him. She wants to know what more He has for her. She asks God if He is proud of her. She fears she needs to work harder to be loved. And God responds.

Claire is lostHow are you similar to Claire, worrying that you are missing something in your relationship with God? Claire feels she isn’t connecting with Him as closely as other people. She struggles with being vulnerable in community, not necessarily because she is nervous about being transparent, but because she is stuck in the fear of “getting it right.” She wonders what it is a Christian is supposed to look and sound like. She asks God, “Do You even want to talk to me, God?” She fears she can’t pray the right way to have a relationship with Him. And God responds.

Emily is lostOr maybe you resonant with Emily, and you are asking God to remind you how you are uniquely made—what it is you are made to do and love? Emily realizes how she is made to worship God—see Him and know Him and experience Him. And she fears that she has lost some of her true heart for worship. Emily has gotten distracted by caring more about pleasing others and succeeding than the experience of doing what she is made to do with God. She fears she can’t experience freedom anymore in doing what she loves. And God responds.

Perhaps we recognize ourselves in one of these women—or in each of them, in some way? In writing the book, Breathing Eden, I wrote stories that represent 40 different women and their heart cries to God. And for each story, I wrote down God’s response.

Are you eager to discover what God has to say to each woman? Are you eager to hear what He says to you?

Email me your Amazon receipt when you pre-order Breathing Eden, and I’ll send you the first five chapters—and the ebook, Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden—right away. *And for other free gifts, see the list of good stuff here.

We are made new when we heed God’s responses to our deepest questions, longings, and fears.

How do you feel lost and need to hear God? With what woman do you relate most? What questions are you asking when you pray?

the two best ways to fight fear

We feel it. Fear about the future. Anxiety about the present. Worry about the unknown.

It feels like the boat is rocking. Storm blowing hard. Waves pushing fast.

We wonder, “How can I move forward, when I can’t see?” We ask, “How do I go back, when I feel alone?”

We call out to God, asking for His help, “Where are You? Do You care? Do You see me? How will You help me not drown?”

It feels impossible to stop the cycle of fear, once it begins.

two ways to avoid fearIt pulls us under, an insidious tug on our hearts. We can no longer see clearly, or even hear the truth of God.

Do you know the secret to not sinking, not drowning? Do you know what to do when life is hard and we don’t know how to lift our heads?

The secret is remembering, first, who we are, how we are made. “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). We remember we are formed by the very hands of God. We remember our breath is breathed into us by our Father. We remember that this is where life is.  And that there is no life in fear.

The second step is remembering that when we call out to God for help, our prayer is just the beginning of a conversation. We remember God is with us, ready to listen, wanting to communicate to the daughter whom He loves. We remember God is our Father, our King, our Friend who actually loves conversing with us—in a manner unique to each of us.

two ways to avoid fearStorms can be excruciating, yes. But in the midst of them we can believe by whom we are made and how God wants to bring us light and joy and hope. In John 14:27 we hear Jesus reassure us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Jesus has peace for us. He desires a conversation with us. Will we listen? Do we want a conversation with Him? Do we want to heed what He has to say?

I am challenged by Jesus’ reminder in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” When we hear only our own voice crying out to Godwhen we don’t believe God is with us or we don’t wait on His response, fear is what drowns us. It feels impossible then to claim hope.

Yet there is more here for us, sisters. When our prayers with God are conversations—a sharing and a listening both, there is more life. More beauty. More joy. More peace. Perhaps it would help if we had examples of women who call out to God in the midst of their fears—women who call out to God for help and who listen for what He has to say back?

Fear and the women of Breathing Eden blog image

the fear of infertility

Hannah fearMeet Hannah. Hannah walks the beach day after day, crying out to God. Her heart is aching to have a child. She has gone to countless doctors for over five years, injecting herself with fertility drugs, trying to get her body to accept and carry a baby in her womb. She struggles with God, wondering whether this dream she holds is one that she is supposed to continue to fight for or surrender. She is confused and hurt, wondering why she has a desire—a desire that she believes God has given her—while the realization of the dream is yet unfulfilled. This gets her to question desire at all, and doubt her dreams, and wonder where God is in the midst of this pain.

Hannah is afraid to trust her heart with this desire to want a child. She fears she wants too much. Do you need God to whisper to your heart about a similar fear, too?

the fear of low finances

Tessa fearMeet Tessa. Tessa watches her husband steadfastly look for God’s goodness. Tessa wonders that if she practiced looking for God, even in the midst of difficult and stressful times, she could find Him, too. Tessa and her husband have lost their jobs, and their home. She wonders if she has enough faith to trust God now. She fears she is alone in this storm.

Tessahomeless and without a jobbegs for God’s wisdom, encouragement, and hope. Would you like to know what He says to her, in the midst of stress and uncertainty?

the fear of illness

Samantha fearMeet Samantha. Samantha is being treated for possible breast cancer. She grew up knowing God. Her grandmother modeled his love to her, and she grew strong in faith and in love for Him, trusting in his presence with her, especially when she was desperate for Him to come and rescue. She waits on results from the technician regarding her breast exam, wondering if God is there with her as she waits. She asks God if He is with her, in the midst of uncertainty. She fears she is not okay with what is coming—with life’s hardship and trials.

Samantha is facing unknown results about her health. How do you need God to speak to you about health problems you are facing?

Hannah, Tessa, and Samantha have particular fears that might be different from the ones you personally face. Yet I bet you can relate to them, somehow. What produces life change in these women—and in us—is when our prayers are not just one-sided pleas. They are conversations.

Want to learn more about how to have conversations with God, with me?

In what way are you now struggling with fear? How are you excited to begin a conversation with God about it?

If you want to learn more about how to go about having a conversation with God, pre-order your copy of Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things. I think this book is going to change you. When you pre-order it, let me know by emailing me an image of your Amazon receipt (jennifer@gatherministries.com), and I will send you the first five chapters of Breathing Eden, as well as the free ebook, Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden.

I made something for you

I am so grateful for your emails, friends. The ones where you have shared that yes, you are depressed. Yes, marriage is a struggle. Yes, it is a battle to surrender and lay down the urge to have control.

No, we are not alone here. I am so grateful for your vulnerability, your courage, your beautiful faith. You are such encouragement to me.

It made me want to respond, create something for you–us–that we can use when we feel stuck and we aren’t sure how to find the words to pray.

So, I sat down last Thursday afternoon, while the kids were at camp and Justin was on an air plane, and created a book for you. It’s called, Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden. It is an accompaniment, a layer of understanding and participation, for the readers of Breathing Eden.

a new special gift for you with arrow

Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden 3d image

So, if you pre-order Breathing Eden, you will not only receive the first five chapters, you will also receive a special full-color, watercolor-splashed ebook of prayers:

Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden collage image

If you’ve already pre-ordered and sent me your Amazon receipt, check your email. I am sending you the ebook today. If you haven’t yet pre-ordered, maybe it’s time to go for it? You can do it right here.

Breathing Eden Call to Action for Mailchimp

You will receive the introduction and the first five chapters of Breathing Eden (so you don’t have to wait!) and the full color ebook with prayers you can pray right now. Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden image snapshots

Just send me an email–jennifer@gatherministries.com–and include the image of your Amazon email receipt.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Love,
jennifer signature blue watercolor

 

 

 

Want to learn more about this book–Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things–is all about? Click right here.

“I want control”

There are things—and people—we just can’t change.

At least not on our own.

But we really, really want to. We want to control the situation, change this person, change ourselves.

We push and pull against God, asking Him to come, to fix this particular situation, change this person, transform us. We are frustrated, struggling to lay down our expectations to God. We desire freedom, surrender, hope. But we don’t know how to get there, live in that place of peace.

I know.

I want control

So we battle, mainly within ourselves, occasionally pleading with God for help.

We so need to hear what God’s take is on our situation. We are desperate to hear what He has to say.

We’re not alone. There are women, just like us, who struggle with this too.

Control Issues and the women of Breathing Eden blog image

I want controlMeet Elisabeth.

Elisabeth tries to keep it all together, battling with pride. She is resistant to confession, repentance, community. She asks God, “How do I be a better person?” She fears she is a mess and doesn’t know how to change.

I want controlMeet Clementine.

Clementine is mourning the loss of her mom who died of cancer. She has believed the lie that she needs to have it all together, be strong and perfect and good, as a way to help her mom when she was sick. She asks God, “Did I love well enough?” She fears she can’t be perfect, and this haunts her.

I want controlMeet Bree.

Bree is a mom of a teenager. She misses connection with her son, and she struggles with this new loss of control she feels in not being able to change the circumstances he faces or influence him the way she would like. She asks God, “What will I do next?” She fears she can’t be the mom her son needs her to be.


I see parts of myself in each of these women. Wow, yes, I struggle with surrendering control. The stories of Elisabeth, Clementine, and Bree are fictional, yet inspired by prayer. They are a few of the women of Breathing Eden, a book of conversations with God on light, fresh air, and new things.

I want control

Do you not want to wait to breathe Eden? Do you want to be encouraged by what God says to us when we struggle to surrender control? Pre-order Breathing Eden and respond right back to this email (jennifer@gatherministries.com). Include the image of your Amazon email receipt. I will send you the first five chapters of Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things, right away.

*And here is where you need to go to discover all the other free gifts from ordering more than one book!

Which woman sounds most like you? In what area of your life do you want to surrender control? I would love to know and pray with you.

“marriage is no fairy tale”

She wore ivory, the same dress her mother wore decades before her.

Her satin train melted onto the church aisle in ripples of lace delicate and sheer. She insisted her toenails be painted pale pink, her fingernails a lacquered shine. The flowers were shades of pink and coral—peony and ranunculus stems tied together with ivory ribbon layered over her grandfather’s cotton handkerchief with monogrammed pale blue trim.

He stood there at the end of the aisle, young and strong and willing to take on the world. He was her everything, the man she believed she would love until the end of her days. This was it. The beginning of her life, the beginning of all possibility. They were going to be a team, able to conquer any obstacle, steadfast and sure toward anything that got in their way.

Love conquers all, right? Love was certainly all they needed. Clearly, it would not fail.

And then it did.

She tells me she isn’t sure when the fairy tale ended. Or maybe it was never a fairy tale at all. But she loved him. And he loved her. Or I think she thought he did—and she believed she loved him too.

Nevertheless, those words, “I love you,” became words for her that meant only what the newly engaged couple, elated and blissful, whisper to each other over a candle light meal, a display of false, saccharine perfection displayed in Lifetime Channel movies on TV.

She asks now, could love, with a husband, be something that could last—that would be more than a fairytale, but reality, too?

Marriage is no fairytale. That’s for sure. Marriage is difficult, God.

She prays, “How did it get so hard to keep loving each other? Where did we go wrong? How can I find my way to him—toward You, God, toward love again?”

We ask these questions of God.

And married or not, we wonder about love.

We know we are made for love, that we are desperate for it. So, we turn our hearts to God, asking Him if we will find love, or if we can trust it, or if there is anything we can do to make it last.

We also ask God what to do when we think we had found love but the relationship is going downhill and it hardly feels worth it anymore to redeem it, to try.

What are the answers about love, about marriage, that we are so desperate to hear?

marriage is no fairy tale

In Breathing Eden, we hear the cry of sisters opening their hearts to God about love, about relationships, about marriage, about dreams. We listen to characters who are a lot like us, women who are in a relationship mess and are desperate to hear what God has to say about it.

Below are some of the women you will meet in the pages of Breathing Eden, and their questions:

marriage is no fairy taleThere is Laine. (Those of you who have sent me an image of your Amazon receipt and have pre-ordered the book have already received the first five chapters of the book from me and have met her.)  Laine is wistful, contemplating her marriage. She has been married long enough for the “honeymoon” to wear off. She asks God, “How can I trust my own heart?” She is disconnected from her husband. She fears something is missing, and she doesn’t know what it is.

marriage is no fair taleThere is Phoebe. She is a couple decades older than Laine. Phoebe married her high school sweetheart and now struggles to choose love and connect with her husband, a stranger now that the kids have moved out, after focusing on raising kids for so many years. She asks God, “Do I have what it takes to love my husband well?” She fears she is too broken to love him, that it is too late for a new start for her marriage, and that she has no love to give.

marriage is no fairy taleThere is Janie. She is newly separated from her husband, and they are heading toward divorce.  Janie struggles with disillusionment, facing the dying of dreams and expectations. She is angry at God, asking Him, “Where were you when my husband left?” She fears God was never there, in her marriage, and there is no way He could be here for her now, either. She also worries about the effect of this impending divorce on their kids.

Can you relate to these women? Are any of their questions yours?

If you hear your heart open wide for Laine, or for Phoebe, or for Janie–or if you have questions for God about love and marriage and relationships–perhaps you would want to hear what He says to them? Because for each story in Breathing Eden, for each woman’s cry out to God, there is a response.

And God’s response is surprising. Every time.

Do you want to hear, today, what God says in response to Laine . . . and to you?

Do you want to engage with the story in a deep way, attain resources, and be lead in searching your own heart, with God? Pre-order Breathing Eden.

BE button

Then forward to me the email you get back from Amazon, and I will send you the introduction and the first five chapters of Breathing Eden–which includes Laine’s story and God’s response–today. (My email address: jennifer@gatherministries.com.)

What struggles do you face in love, or in marriage?

Much love to you, sister,

jennifer signature blue watercolor

 

 

P.S. I was blown away by the 125 individual emails I received from you all in response to the previous post titled “I am depressed.” Oh, sisters, you are so not alone!

Your  response has made me wonder about how to get you all to get to know each other somehow. For your stories are hard, yes—but you are beautiful! And I believe you could be amazing encouragement to each other. I know Loop Prayer Sisters is one way we could begin as a way for you all to connect. But I wonder if we can do better? I wonder if we can think of other ways too? Would you like that? How should we do it?

Email me (jennifer@gatherministries.com) if you have an idea! Any ideas welcome!

“I am depressed”

We were on a walk when she told me.

How, in prior years, the darkness blanketed her. How, for months at a time, she was convinced it was swallowing her whole. My stoic, wise, and strong friend spent more than a year feeling trapped, stuck. One thing was certain to her. She could find no way out.

The self she used to know was distant—far from her now. The darkness was too thick, too heavy. She could not explain to her family, her friends, what she was thinking, feeling. She was sinking now, surely drowning in the heaviness of it all.

“Depression,” is how the counselor described it when she eventually sought help. But yet how can a word, a diagnosis, explain the dark covering of her mind, the despair of her heart?

Are you depressed, dear one?

Breathing Eden, women depressed

In Breathing Eden, there are women who share their stories of depression. None of these women have I ever met personally. The stories in Breathing Eden are fictional stories inspired by prayer. Yet the women are in a sense, real—the stories representing what, I hope, is true.  As writers do when they study the characters they write, I listened to these women’s stories. I wrote down what I saw, what I heard. Oh, how God loves them.

I wonder if one of these women is you.

Charlotte, depression and Breathing Eden

There is Charlotte, or My Charlie—as God affectionately calls her, who is shut in. She lacks hope and asks God the question, “Where is the girl you loved?” She fears she is alone, in a forgotten place.

Diane, depression and Breathing Eden

There is Diane. She is older than Charlotte. She is a single mom, with a poor self-image. She is an empty-nester, filled with sadness and regret over her parenting.  She asks God, “Am I beautiful? Am I alone?” She fears she is not lovable, that she is all alone.”

Melissa, depression and Breathing Eden

There is Melissa. Her husband struggles with depression after the recent loss of their home. Melissa asks God, “Why is life so hard?” She fears she is stuck and that God can’t be anywhere near.

If we stopped here, if we just listened to the stories of these women without hearing God’s response to their situation, yes, we would be surely stuck too. We, the reader, can’t stay here.
Depression and the women of Breathing EdenThere is value and beauty to hearing one another’s stories—and I pray you find yourself in the pages of Breathing Eden. But new life begins when we surrender our stories and ask God what His view is of them.

It is God’s perspective on our story that we need to hear most.

This is how life—Jesus—is breathed in.

Once a week, I’m going to send out more snapshots of women you will meet in the book. But I’d love to know if these tiny glimpses at Charlotte, Diane, and Melissa resonate with you.

How does your heart respond to the cry, “I am depressed, God”?

I want to breathe Eden together.

Do you want to breathe Eden with me? Do you want light, fresh air, and new things? Does your friend, or sister, or mother need this too? When you pre-order Breathing Eden—for yourself, or for a friend, email me the image of your Amazon receipt (jennifer@gatherministries.com). I’ll send you the first five chapters right away. And if you want to order multiple copies, there are even more treats for you. Click right here to check them out.

My New Book, Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]here are stories that have yet to be told, yet to be whispered, even in the dark when we believe no one could possibly hear. But we wonder yet if these words, hidden in secret places, could be gathered up. We wonder if there is a place for them. For the question is about more than words. It’s about the claiming of our stories, often the ones most difficult to speak out loud.

I know.

It’s hard to share. There is fear of rejection; we’re convinced that the person to whom we share will condemn us. There is shame, the cruel and twisted feelings of humiliation at having sinned. We want to keep the story secret. It’s a story too painful to tell. There is disbelief that sharing the story–even a story of beauty, or joy–will help. We think it surely can’t bring about any healing–for the person listening, or for us.

So we struggle, even, to open up our hearts to God.

And sometimes we don’t even know what the prayer is, until it is unearthed, the Spirit searching our heart and revealing to us the hidden, fragile places that need to be coaxed into the light.

I know.

It can feel impossible to discern, sometimes, how to pray. It can feel impossible that the beginning of prayer–sharing our heart with God–can even do any good. I know this from my own experience, and from leading women’s groups for years. And I’ve been wondering why we feel this way.

And I’ve also been wondering what it might be like to walk like Eve did, with God.

What would it be like for us right now, in our particular life situation, to hear God’s whispers?

Breathing Eden NYC SoHo
We can so easily feel overwhelmed and stuck because we have only considered our situation from our own perspective. We believe that our truth is the truth, the only truth. But, actually, there is more.

What would happen to our outlook on our situation if we listened to what God thinks about it. If God spoke into our struggle, our joy, our uncertainty, our pain, how would our lives be different? How would we view our situation if our prayers were conversations and we heard God’s answers back?

I bet we would awake to new life–God’s light, God’s fresh air, God’s new perspective on our situation. I bet we would be open to considering our situation, our story, our life, with new eyes.

This is breathing Eden, experiencing new life, intimacy, with God.

I decided I want this kind of life, this new outlook on my circumstances, right here, right now. So I started capturing women’s stories–the brutally vulnerable, the beautifully raw. Then I asked God what He thought of it all. And I wrote that down too.
Breathing Eden NYC

What what He said was never what I expected, but always what I hoped.

Breathing Eden is a book containing the stories of women whose raw, honest prayers needed to be heard.


The women of Breathing Eden

Some of the stories were inspired by real life women I’ve met. But many of the stories were of women I have yet to meet face to face. Similar to how I wrote Loop, I listened intently for God’s voice. I waited, I looked for Him. Who is she, Father? What is she doing? What do you see? How is she crying out to You?

What was different about writing Breathing Eden was that I asked God to show me a picture of a woman He wanted me to see. I would see an image of her, in a scene, a moment. These visuals, in my imagination, prompted the writing of each story. Even in the few stories inspired by women I know in real life, the words to their stories also began with an image in my mind. I prayed, as I wrote, to be able to listen to their stories clearly. I listened carefully to what they had to say.

Then, after I wrote down each woman’s prayer, I listened for what God wanted to say to her, making the prayer complete. And I wrote that down too.

I did this forty times.

Breathing Eden cover

It was difficult immersing myself in each woman’s story. It stretched me emotionally so much that I would feel it physically. Yet, in each conversation I found that, no matter our circumstance, God doesn’t want us to stay in the same place. He feels our pain; He binds our wounds. He rejoices with us when we celebrate. He knows that we ache to breathe Him in.

And He loves it when we do.

God wants to fill our life with light, fresh air, and new things.

This book is actually more than a set of forty conversations. It is particularly designed for the reader to engage in each story. Each conversation contains exercises for individual study or for small groups to dive in together.


The big news

On October 4, Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things, is releasing, through Zeal Books. Quarter-backed by Don Jacobson, Zeal has been amazing to work with; I couldn’t imagine a more gifted, supportive, and creative publishing team. But you know what is something to get excited about today? We can preorder Breathing Eden on Amazon right now and get additional resources that I hope will make your reading of the book even more impactful.

Breathing Eden blog header text pre-order green

Breathing Eden pre-order incentives (1)*To claim the pre-order gifts, email me (jennifer@gatherministries.com) a copy of the receipt with the subject line: Breathing Eden pre-order. Easy, right? And continue to check out the Breathing Eden book page, as more information is added.

Want to tell me what excites you about the book, or what questions you have?