2 0 1 6 - 2 0 1 7

Moments make up days. Days make up months. And months make up a year. 12 months filled with 30 - 31 days. Days filled with many moments. Moments waiting for us to live. Waiting for us to make a difference. Waiting for us to do something. Waiting for us to love and be and play and laugh and cry and scream and L I V E.

 After closing out 2015, I knew things could only go up. All I can say is that was one rough year. But the best part about New Year's is that can all be washed away at the strike of midnight. Is the past year really washed away? no. But for me and this crazy brain of mine, it feels that way. I knew something had to give in 2016. And it did. 

 2016 held some great memories but even more so lasting lessons from God. And for those I am forever grateful to 2016. I faced some fears. I went D E E P E R. My word for 2016 was deepen. God did so much in my life. In going deeper with God, I learned so much about Him, about myself, about others, and about life. Between friendships, work, seminary classes, ministry, and me, God deepened areas and my heart in ways I never imagined. 

The blog was kind of quiet this year, because those deeper moments were things that God impressed on me were intended to be deep for a reason. Moments between me and him. I some times wanted to share those things and realized that God meant those for me. Almost like love notes just for me. At the end of 2016, I feel God's love deeper than I ever have before. Praise God I was able to reach the goals I set for 2016 through Him and Him alone. I could go on for days about the ups and downs of 2016 but I'll sum it up with a few lessons I learned this past year:

L E S S O N S  F R O M  2 0 1 6:
1. Misplaced expectations will only lessen my joy and lead to disappointment. Appropriately-placed (on God) and Biblical expectations enable me to live my life full of joy, hope, contentment, and peace in the present. God is prepared for my expectations. I can expect Him to fulfill His promises. I can expect Him to love and accept me. I can expect Him to provide for me. I can expect Him to carry me through. I can expect Him to give me good gifts. I can expect Him to come through. 

2. Saying N O is the most valuable tool I have. And I have to say it if I want to maintain sanity and keep God at the forefront of my life. I cannot and will not be all things to all people. So saying  Y E S to everything was only killing me and stealing my joy. God gets my Y E S and I must follow Him from there not the world. 

3. Insecurities have no place in my relationships, conversations, etc. If I let insecurities dictate my response, I will not be liked nor will I be able to go deeper with people. Insecurities sabotage everything. Identifying when I'm being motivated from insecurities or when I'm seeing things from God's perspective is something that will continue on as a work in progress for a long time to come. But I'm thankful that I know now that this a default for me. 

4. Letting go of control, trusting God to provide, finding beauty and redemption in the waiting. All things God continues to teach me more and more each year. 

Now I allow 2016 to sink in as part of my story and look ahead to 2017 and all that I know God has in store. A new year has so much potential. So many unwritten moments. Two days in and I must admit that it already feels like a roller coaster. Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry. To be honest, I've already done a little of both. I expect God to do great things this year in and through me.

G O A L S  F O R  2 0 1 7:
1. Seek financial peace. 
Confession: I stink at being a good steward of the money that I only have because God has given me. It's a struggle. I know something has to change, and this year I commit to start small. Hold myself accountable for 31 days. I'm not gonna fix everything in one day or one month. But I'm gonna take one day at a time. I pray God teaches me responsibility with the resources He has given me. 

2. Be healthy.
Another confession: I stink at keeping my body healthy and finding a balance between glorifying God in what I put in my body and not follow legalistic rules that are unattainable for me. For whatever reason, this has been and always will be a thorn in my flesh. Something I have to surrender to the Lord on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. This year I just need to get my mind and body back on the same track. Taking those same little steps to trust the Lord even in this thorn. 

3. Be intentional with social media. 
I love social media for its wide reaching capabilities. I love that I can share anything at any time. But I want what I share to matter. I want what I share to impact people. But I only want what God wants. I want to be intentional with what I'm sharing but also seek the Lord for inspiration and not just what I want to say. I want to allow God to speak through me. 

4. Enjoy reading.
I want to read more in 2017. I want to read through the Bible chronologically again, because I love to see the big picture of the Bible with all the glorious small details in the order it happened. But I also want to read more for fun and for spiritual growth. I think reading other people's stories/journeys/experiences can allow me to see things in different perspectives. I want take this year to really dig into the Word and intentionally grow in my relationship with God. 

5. Cling to God in good times.
On New Year's Eve, I realized that my heart is so fickle. I saw that I was in desperate need of Jesus because in the midst of good times, I had slacked off in my quiet times. I have had so many hard moments and scary times that I seek the Lord with abandon, but then things start to look up and the sun is shining. And I stop seeing my desperate need for Jesus and His Word. This has to change. I want to be hungry for the Word in the G O O D and the B A D. And just as much in the G O O D as the B A D. 

I know these won't happen over night. I know these are gonna be hard. I know that I may not even reach all these goals, but I love a challenge. I always have. I love to feel this pressing in to God and trusting that He's gonna show up and show out. 

As I've done for the last couple years, I chose a word for 2 0 1 7: 

F U L F I L L E D. 

You'll have to stay tuned for another blog post on how I came to this word and what God has laid on my heart for this new year. I'm so excited to see where God leads.

Writing the Unwritten


So many words are unwritten. Unknown things. Things I have yet to pray. Things I have yet to hope for. Things I have yet to thank God for. Things I have yet to know. Things I have yet to love. Things I have yet to be.

Prayer journaling has been such a huge part of my life since I was 16 years old. A friend gave me a journal which in the past I had used for sermon notes. But something or rather God prompted me to start writing down my prayers. My 16 year old prayers were nothing special but they were the outpouring of my heart. In the midst of 16 year old craziness, it was the one place I could bare my heart and my soul with no judgement and no criticism.

As I started to see prayers answered, hurts healed, and miracles happen, I was overwhelmed by the value of my prayer journal. It became a daily part of my life. Prayer journaling taught me that there is power in prayer and that God hears me when I pray.

Naturally, my love for a new journal runs deep. Something I hold in my hands each and every night in order to meet with God and process my day. It is a safe place for me. And those old journals hold in them now my longings, my desires, my surrender, my hopes, my dreams, my heartaches, my prayers, my pleading, my begging, and my interceding.

So when I look at blank pages in my current prayer journal, I know there is so much unwritten. Not my story. God has written my story, but it's up to me to write my part. It's up to me to follow in obedience. To surrender my desires and dreams. To say yes. To say no. To listen. To speak. To pray. To intercede. To love. To become who God is shaping me to be.
Blank pages used to overwhelm me. But now I see them as an opportunity to jump into the life God has created for me. To run through open doors. To learn how to close doors for myself. To go big and love even bigger.

Hope spills over into my heart that I still have 4 more months of 2016 to make the most of my unwritten. To fill in the blanks that God has left for me to live life for His glory because I have chosen to surrender my all and live this life with abandon.

Let the unwritten inspire you to seek God. Go deeper in the things of God. Fill in those blanks with words of peace, hope, rest, love, joy, kindness, and action. Take heart and have courage, God is in your midst and He is calling you to follow. To trust Him and to write in the unwritten. You do have control over how you will respond. How you will react. And how you will love.

This is our challenge. Enjoy writing the unwritten God has given us.

When the Words Won't Come


It all swirls around in my head. Words about life. Words about adventure. Words about experiences. Words about devastation. Words about heartbreak. Words about injustice.

They are all just individual words with no course of action. I think I have a potential blog post, but when I open up the text field, nothing comes.


Silence is usually seen as a negative thing. Someone gives you the silent treatment. When someone is silent, we assume something is wrong. Silence makes us feel ignored. It provokes unwanted feelings and thoughts. Silence has a way of opening up the floodgates for all things bad. At least it does for me.

But at the same time, we crave silence. We long for the chaos in our own personal worlds to be quieted. Moms will go to great lengths to get some silence. Teachers will plead with their students for just a minute of silence.

We love it and hate it all at the same time. Silence. It's either exactly what we need or the last thing we wanted.

Silence is no easy concept. Seasons of silence from God are the hardest for me. Times in life where I'm so wrapped up in me that I continue on in my good endeavors without my great God. Times in life when God is teaching me, refining me, or testing me.

Silence hurts. In this season of life, I have prayed unceasingly for two very specific things.


No answer. No progress. No signs. No clarity.

So I wait. And I hope. I take the silence as a sign to keep pressing on. To keep reading God's Word. To keep loving the people God has put in my life. To keep praying even in the silence.

Silence is teaching me endurance and perseverance and patience. And a host of other things that I didn't even know I needed to work on. I'm also learning that maybe what I perceive as silence is just God inviting me deeper to find him in the smallest of life's moments.

God has never spoken more loudly in my silence than when I'm watching the sunset as I drive through New Orleans. Or when I'm swinging in the park watching the people walk around me. Or when that friend reaches out and asks how I'm doing. Or when the exact song I need to hear comes on the radio. Or when a passage of Scripture keeps coming back to mind. Or when God holds off the rain for you to move.

Even in silence God is all around us. God is in everything. God is here with us. He is here with me. Always.

Nothing. Nothing comes together like I expect it too, but everything comes together the way God had planned all along. Even this blog post.

So when the words won't come, I trust that God is teaching me something through the silence.

Have you ever felt like God was silent? Have you ever, like me, equated someone else's silence in your life or unanswered prayers with silence from God?

I pray that God speaks into all of our hearts today and every day even in what feels like silence.

Learning to Say No When You Want to Say Yes

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes, I would love to help you out. Yes, I will pet sit for you while you are on vacation. Yes, I will give you the shirt off my back. Yes, I will be all things to all people.

Because yes feels good. Yes makes me feel like a better person. Yes makes people like me.

At least this used to be true.

But then they weren't. Then saying yes didn't feel so good. Suddenly people started making comments, jokes even, about how much I say yes. I never thought about my saying yes as a problem. I always thought everyone liked that I said yes. All my yes(es) started to weigh on me. They started to make me wonder if this is really what God wants for me. 

I think there are different personality types when it comes to "yes" and "no." None of these are scientifically proven. Just my opinion. First, you have people like me who say yes to everything. Yes to this. Yes to that. Yes to everything. Second, you have people who say no to everything. And third of all, you have people who say maybe and are just flaky enough to never commit to a yes or a no.

But there's also a fourth personality type that I feel is largely lacking all around me. I want to be a best yes person. Thank you, Lysa Terkeurst, for the term/concept. {If you haven't read her book, The Best Yes, you must read it ASAP.} I want to find a balance, and I want to honor God with my yes and my no.

No makes me feel unfriendly, unloving, uncaring, and unkind. No makes me feel guilty. Being someone who feels the need to always say yes, this is incredibly difficult for me. I genuinely have never learned the ability to discern the difference between a yes, a best yes, and a no. It can be such a gray area which has to be taken directly to the Lord.

Maybe you're thinking what's so wrong with saying yes? There's nothing inherently wrong with it, but as I've grown up and began these oh so interesting adult years, I'm learning some valuable lessons about how saying yes can actually be harmful.

1. Burnout. When I say yes to everything, I leave no time or space for myself to recharge, to spend with the Lord, to do things that line up with my passions, gifts, and talents. Burnout makes me less effective for the kingdom and it makes it all the harder to keep going through difficult times.

2. Sin. Yep, you read that right. Please excuse this terrible illustration but yes for me is almost like a gateway drug. It feels so good to be somebody's person, somebody's yes. I want to save the day. Saving the day feels good. Saving the day makes me a hero. But all those yes(es) done "in the name of Jesus" quickly turn south. Burnout leads to bitterness, anger, bad attitude, lying, etc. Saying yes is not a sin, but in abundance leads to an abundance of sin that hides itself away in my heart. And what do we all know about the heart? Luke 6:45 says "For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." And Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (NIV).

3. Uselessness. I can no longer be a servant of the Lord when I am actively living in sin and failing to prioritize my daily quiet time, my friends, and my family. When I say yes to everybody, I lose my identity. I become useless. I'm doing things out of obligation to people and not obedience to God. I am so overloaded with the wrong yes that I am useless to do the best yes God has for me.

Yes is my default. This is who I am, but it is not who God has called me to be. Just because this is my nature does not mean that it is God's best for me. God challenges us, tests us, and pushes us. He knows us inside and out, up and down. Yes has served me well over the years. God used my yes personality to shape me into the woman I am today. He used it to break me out of my introvert shell, try new things, go on adventures, travel to foreign lands, and experience life to the fullest.

But now, God is teaching me that saying no does not change who I am. Saying no is a valuable tool that He has given me and wants to teach me how to use now according to his direction and will. There are so many good things. Good, Christian, Godly things I can do. But the question I have to ask myself is whether or not this is what God has for me. This is a process. One I will  not figure out overnight, but it's one that is going to be a pruning and refining process to draw me closer to God and to be more in sync with his will.

I want to give God my best yes and my best no. Anybody else out there need to surrender their yes or no personality to God? Or submit your yes and no to God's yes and no?

Abba, Father, use this season. Use this struggle. Teach my heart to stand firm on the yes and no that you have given me the ability to say equally. Give me discernment to differentiate between a best yes and a no. Show me how to say no with grace and without guilt. Lead me to surrender my people-pleasing ways to a higher calling of glorifying you and you alone. Pour over, in, and through me the peace to keep trusting your plan over mine. Grant me wisdom to know your yes and your no for each circumstance. Open my eyes to see you in the midst of it all. I lay down my yes and my no for your glory, honor, and praise.

What My Commitment Issues Really Mean

I don't have commitment issues. So I said.

But my actions and thoughts told a different story. 

When faced with the opportunity to move forward or take steps back, I retreated. I was scared. There was no trust. 

Commitment is not something to be taken lightly. It is something that requires vulnerability. And sacrifice. And most importantly, trust. 

Commitment meant bearing the deepest and darkest parts of me. Commitment meant there was a possibility that when things go past surface level and into the recesses of my heart, rejection could come. 

Better to run away than to be found not enough. To be deemed unworthy. To be labeled a fraud.  To be faced with flat out rejection. 

This was a real life situation for me. Where I subconsciously decided the commitment was not worth the price I might be required to pay. Fear won. 

But I haven't just done this with people in my life. How many times do I do this with Jesus? How many times do I keep him at arms length or worse resist Him drawing me deeper? Why? Why do I struggle to commit it all? To trust Him with every area of my life? 

Maybe its for fear that Jesus can't possibly love that part of me. He can't possibly know what I've done. He can't possibly know the ugly parts of my heart. 

Because if He did, there's no way He could look at me the same. That He could still desire a relationship with me. That His sacrifice could still be enough for me.

But the beauty of this time of year and the days even weeks following the celebration of Easter, I feel the depth and the breadth and the height and the width of God's love all the more.

Recognition comes. That thief on the cross next to him. Not a shiny good deed to his name. Not a single claim to fame in those last, dark moments of his life. I'm that thief. I'm the man on the cross next to Jesus. At least that's how I feel. I feel I have nothing to give. Nothing to offer. Except my heart. Except whatever moments I have left on this earth. Complete and total surrender. It's a crossroads. Do I believe Jesus' blood covers me or not?

Commitment is scary. But what's scarier is facing life alone. Without Jesus. Without the relationship that has wrecked my soul and given me eternal relationship with Himself. For now and forevermore.

And what I know to be true? God takes even what little I have to give. That minuscule offering of commitment I give. And He maximizes it for His glory. He reveals my weaknesses and uses them to draw others to His glory. His works. His strength. His ability. His worth.

-Travis Cottrell

God loves me just as I am. Commitment issues and all. And He loves you too. Whatever baggage you bring. Whatever hurt you carry. Whatever burden you shoulder. God's in the fixing business. We can't do it on our own. But God ... 

Let's take our all to Him today. Let's give up this fight. Let's tear down those walls we thought were protecting us yet were only hindering us from fully trusting Him. Anybody else ready? 

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Go Tell it on the Mountain.

You've heard those words. In fact, you've probably sang them a few times in your life.

Your thoughts might immediately go to that Christmas song, but that's not where the story ends.

That's only the beginning.

The Christmas story is about the baby. God sending His Son as a baby.  A tiny, human baby. His plan was to redeem the world through this little baby. Jesus was born in a manger. Jesus was rejected by God's own people. He grew up and performed signs and wonders that could only be attributed to God. People refused to believe. And then He did something no one expected. No one saw it coming. He, having lived a perfect life, laid down His life as a perfect sacrifice for us. You and me. Sinners. The Christmas story was more than a baby. The Christmas story was the beginning of our story. And the story didn't end on the cross. A clean, new beginning was given to us. It brought us life. It brought us a story that never ends. Because not only can we experience our Savior here on this earth, but He has gone to prepare a place for us in glory where we will spend eternity. He made a way for us both here and there. He paid the price to have a relationship with us. That's just how much loves us.

How can I keep this story to myself? How can I not go and tell those who haven't heard? How can I not run to the mountain tops to shout and share this Good News?

Isaiah 52:7//"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" (NIV)

Certainly, I will go tell it on the mountain. That's what it's all about. That's what I want to do.

& I cannot/will not allow money to keep from going to the mountains and proclaim the Good News of Jesus.

& so that brings me to why I'm writing this ... I would like your help. I would like to partner with you to take the Good News to the ends of the earth. To the mountains of the northeastern corner of East Asia. God has opened the door for me to go for an entire month this summer to serve alongside those who are already working there in East Asia.

 If you are able, I would love for you to buy a t-shirt.

They are comfort colors in Chalky Mint. I am selling them for $20 dollars XS-2XL. I am able/willing to deliver to central locations (New Orleans, along I-55, DeSoto County, Golden Triangle), but I can mail anywhere for $25. Payment options are the same as last year. Cash, check, or Paypal. If you have questions, please feel free to email me at jennamcmurphy@gmail.com. My plan is to have all orders and money by April 25th and pick them up Mother's Day weekend on May 8th, so I can coordinate deliveries following these dates.

If you can't help in this way, I just ask that you pray. Pray that God would use me and many others to take the Good News to the mountains to proclaim salvation. I believe in the power of prayer, and I also believe that God will provide in unimaginable ways.

God calls us all to pray, give, and go. Just in different ways. I want to be obedient in each of these areas. Thank you for your part you play in this.

Until the whole world hears,

From Dreams to Idols to Ashes


January 13, 2007. Sure, the dreams started long before then, but it wasn't until this day that my dreams took physical form. Letters, to be exact. Out of strictly pure motives, a letter was written. To whom you may ask? My future husband.  A letter filled with all of my hopes and dreams. One single letter filled with words that poured out of my heart and onto the paper. Sealed up. And not to be opened until the day of my wedding. And by none other than the man of my dreams. All of life was still rosy and brimming with hope of the future. All of my future dreams sealed in an envelope.


Between 2007 and 2011, close to 20 letters were written. All for different dreams. Dreams of anniversaries. Dreams of children. Dreams of the perfect ending and happy beginnings. When I was sad, I wrote a letter. When I was happy, I wrote a letter. When I was mad, I wrote a letter. Those dreams that were once innocent had quickly turned into a full-blown idol. Those letters were living, breathing, physical representations of all that I ever wanted. The guarantee of God giving me what I wanted and even believed I deserved. My hope was in the one day of giving those letters to the man who would become/be my husband. I clung to them as if my life depended on it. God could ask anything of me, but He could not have my letters. They were my letters.

Are you starting to see what I mean by idols? God started to warn me that I needed to let them go. He even placed the book, Lady in Waiting, in my life to open my eyes to the realities of my singleness. God has done so much work in my life since 2011. I stopped writing the letters. I started going to God for answers in my confusion, questioning, fears, and hurt. I finally understood that God owed me nothing. Marriage was not my right. God's plans for me were all that mattered. I started seeing my singleness through God's eyes instead of the world's. I've come a long way, but I hadn't let go. Those letters were hidden away. An old prayer journal for safe-keeping, I kept those letters. They were still mine. They were still a part of me. God could not ask me to give those up.


Fast forward. 2016. Exactly 9 years from the weekend it all began. I decided to let go. The flames rising between the logs of wood. One by one. Each letter had its turn in the flames. Crinkling. Burning. Falling. Ashes. It was done. As I read through each letter, each memory blazed through my mind. Knowing the state of my heart in those moments. Knowing that I trusted in my dreams/idols instead of God in those times. The burning set me free. The burning turned me toward Him. The one who wanted to care for my heart in those moments. I saved the first for last. As I held that letter, I knew God was holding me. I thought there would be tears. I thought there would be pain. But I could only smile at the work God had done in my heart. I could only marvel that it took me this long to let go of something that was destroying me.

Sometimes what we’re holding onto isn’t really an anchor for our soul —

but an idol for our destruction.

Sometimes when it feels like God’s breaking our anchor — 

He’s really breaking our idols —- 

what we were holding on to more than we were holding on to Him.

Sometimes God allows all our anchors to break —- 

so we know the only unbreakable anchor we have is Him.

-Ann Voskamp


I feel free. Who knew ashes would bring such freedom? I had no idea the weight I was carrying by holding onto those idols. I had chained myself down to those letters. I had committed my heart to an imaginary future/husband instead of God. I have been set free. Praise God. I have been set free.

It was in the ashes that God breathed new life and a new beginning into my heart and awakened my soul to the one true love I have had in Him all along.

Being Still in the New Year

Was something I didn't quite know how to go about.

If I picked one word to describe myself, it most definitely would not be still. Or silent. Or restful. Or tranquil. Or peaceful. Or any other synonym for still.

I'm not even gonna list the antonyms, because it does not paint me as a pretty picture. I'm always pretty transparent with what a hot mess I am. No point in hiding it.

I won't bore you with more details of how (un)still my life is. Not only am I a little fearful of being still, but I also have quite the aversion to the idea. Being still for me is something that brings with it emotion, thoughts, and analyzing. So much. If I'm still, everything feels wide open.

But I think that's what God is trying to teach me. Being wide open. Letting down my guard and letting God take all of me.

That happened tonight. Wasn't quite expecting for God to give me a lesson in being still so soon into the New Year, but He did.

Worshiping with my church family tonight at Level Ground, I felt it. The stillness. The music playing. The words speaking to my heart. It was clear to me.

Peace enveloped me. It overtook every fear, anxiety, worry. All of it. God knew exactly what I needed. He knew I needed Him. Not any person or any thing. Him.

It's gonna take me being still to fight off these things every day. Being still before the Lord. In whatever way I can find. Especially when the enemy is attacking. When the enemy is trying to get me to doubt God's character and subtly morph my view of God, something's gotta give.

And my answer. Be still. Be still before the Lord. That's a hard concept for me. But I'm trusting the Lord is gonna show me those moments to just stop. And be still.