Author Archives: Jen Chapman

About Jen Chapman

She is a wife to Shawn for 20 years and counting, and a mom to Noah, and together they live out their story in their tiny town of Barboursville, WV. She is a freelance writer and a blogger at Flowers, bookstores, and people are what make her smile. She has seen God’s grace redeem her big-time and wants everyone to know it and experience it for themselves. She wants more than anything to give praise and honor to Jesus, and point people to Him.

He Loves Us Through Our Failings


Image result for psalm 37:24


At exactly 7 minutes before the lovely bride was to walk down the aisle, I realized I should run to the restroom. It was a building I had never been to before, but as I turned around I saw the tiny bathroom sign toward the back of the open space, I told my people I would be right back.

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I placed my hand on the doorknob and opened it to see the entire selection of groomsmen on the other side of the door.

Many of you quick-witted friends of mine would know exactly what to say in such a scenario to make that a laughable experience. I, on the other hand, with eyes as big as saucers and mouth agape, stood there for approximately 0.5 seconds, said nothing then shoved the door closed and speed-walked back to my seat.

I  may have never moved so fast in all my life. Except those times I’ve shoved a direction from the Holy Spirit right out of my mind. I can do that pretty quickly.

A thousand times in my life I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to do something – send the card, make the phone call, set up the lunch date – and just as quickly as I turned around from that bathroom, the idea that just entered my mind will leave. The card doesn’t get sent, the call doesn’t get made, and there is no lunch. All my good intentions are blown away like a napkin from a picnic table, never to be seen again. I am not proud of this, but am hoping you will join me in this time of confession, letting me know I am not the only one.

This sort of thing will leave me feeling like a big, fat failure, and happens more times than I care to admit. Sometimes the feeling comes from following through with something I was pretty sure God has asked me to do, but somewhere along the way feeling certain this isn’t the thing He is asking of me right now. It leaves me wondering if I heard Him wrong to start with, or if that particular calling for my life was for a temporary season, or – worst of all – that I tried it but God must have decided I wasn’t good at it after all. I am gifted at being dramatic.

Sometimes my attitude is the problem. I will do whatever it is I am asked/called to do, but my attitude is clearly not of someone who is on a mission from God.

All of this will leave me briefly wondering if God looks at me as a disappointment. I know I am not alone in this, as a friend just told me last night that she feels this way right now.

It’s funny how I work super hard to find scripture and truth that can prove to others that these crummy feelings aren’t valid at all, but when it is myself feeling this way, I tend to wallow.

I’ve recently read through the book of Job, and learned some stuff about him that might help you as well. I had always credited him for going through hard things and never losing faith and staying strong through the whole thing. But I will challenge you to read the entire book if you haven’t. It was such a comfort to me to see this man who did not handle it perfectly, who complained, felt deserted, and cursed his very birth, still be used and blessed by God.

And what did God say about him? “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (1:8)

God, who knew how this was going to go, sees Job as blameless and upright. He sees him as a man who will stick it out, even when it is hard. A man who is going to get whiny beginning in chapter 3, who is going to feel forsaken, and who begins to question his very Maker – God has said there is no one on earth like him.

God knows we are going to mess up, but He is our Father who will guide us through it. It might require putting us in our place like it did for Job in chapters 38-41, but He will continue holding on to us, redirecting our failures and bad attitudes, and loving us through it all. He is a good Father.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24

Keep Your Eyes Open


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Written February 2018

What happened in Florida has broken my heart. The tears kept coming as I saw the faces and heard stories of those who died. The tears come as I think of the mom who made it her life’s mission to love and care for this boy who would ultimately end the lives of 17 innocent people. My heart breaks wondering why he did it. Wondering if there was anything at all that could have prevented it.

I have no idea what the right answer is. I felt helpless and fearful. Wednesday evening we were researching bulletproof backpacks, and it breaks my heart that that even has to be a thing. Thursday morning, I didn’t want to send my son to school and I am sure I am not the only one who was feeling this way.

I pray with my son every day on the way to school, and every night before bed, asking God to protect him, and protect his school, and his friends. I am also certain I am not the only one who does this, and I wonder which Parkland moms were praying that Wednesday morning as their kids left them, and wondering how those moms are making sense of all of this now.

It leaves me wanting heaven. Wanting the day when Jesus makes it all right again. But here we are.

While a good bunch of people will be talking to their representatives and leaders, asking for law changes and action, it can leave the rest of us just hoping something changes but feeling powerless to make it happen. There is something we can do though, and we can do it today.

Keep your eyes open. Look for people around you who are alone, who are different, who are hurting. Talk to them. Care about them as if they are your kid, your sister, your dad.
If you are a teenager, look around the room. You will see kids at school, at church, at practice, sitting alone quietly, not quite feeling included. Please talk to them. Not in a pity way (though even that is better than nothing) but in a way that Jesus would. In a way that wants to really know them and sees value in them. Everyone has value.

If you are an adult at church, look for that kid sitting alone. Ask about what he does for fun. What he wants to be when he grows up. Take a genuine interest in his life. Pray for him, and ask him for specifics on what he needs prayer for. Follow up the next time you see him, asking how his test was, or if he saw the latest episode of whatever his favorite show is. Love him like Jesus would. It might be weird at first, but it is so very valuable.
If you are a neighbor, get to know that girl who walks by your house. Intentionally be available to make conversation. Find a way to show her that you see her, and that God made her for a purpose.

And this doesn’t just apply to teenagers. Look for the lonely adults, the people your age, the ones older than you, anyone who could use someone to value them. I am preaching to myself here too, because sometimes I am lazy, and skip the conversations. We can do better.

I am not saying this will stop all, or even any of the shootings, or that I have the answer.

But I think it is a good place to start.

“Love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

The Hole


Kankelfritz is afraid of the vacuum cleaner. When he sees it coming, this grey kitten’s hazel eyes get as big as saucers, and panic sets in. He takes off running, typically to the inside of the hollow leg of our air hockey table. All you can see is his tail sticking out from underneath. He will stay there for hours, even occasionally skipping a meal. The dark, private, secluded space seems safer, so he stays.

So if you ever come to my house and my carpet isn’t freshly vacuumed, I’m not being lazy –  I’m doing it for the kittens. Whatever.

There have been times that I forget he is in there. Feeding time rolls around, and only his brother Stank will come running, and then it hits me that I haven’t seen Kankelfritz in a long time.
He was in his hole and I didn’t notice.
I was reading Scripture this morning, in the book of Jeremiah, and in chapter 38, things take a rough turn for Jeremiah. Prophets don’t always get the joy of delivering delightful news; occasionally they have to say some hard things. People got tired of hearing Jeremiah’s words of their upcoming punishment. A group of officials went to the king and explained that Jeremiah was being a bit of a Debbie Downer. He was bringing down the mood of the soldiers and everyone else, and it might be better if he were dead. The king wimped out and agreed to let them do what they needed to, so they put Jeremiah in a deep, muddy pit, and left him there to die.

But somebody noticed.

Ebed-Melech heard about Jeremiah in the hole, and decided he wouldn’t stand for it. He went to the king, and sought justice. He told the king that what happened to Jeremiah was unjust and wicked, and something must be done.

He went to bat for Jeremiah.

The king agreed to save him, and sent Ebed-Melech and 30 other men to do the hard work of getting him out. Thanks to this guy, Jeremiah’s life was saved.

I have been in a hole.

A friend and I were talking the other day and we agreed that sometimes we get comfortable in our holes and don’t want to come out. The blah-ness and isolation and melancholy can begin to feel comfortable, like a warm blanket.

Mine has lasted longer this time than it has in the past. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what shoved me in, but here I sit.

But a friend noticed.

She invited me out for breakfast. She forced me to be social. She knew it was for my own good. She encouraged me. She also reminded me that she has been in the pit before too, and had help getting out. That’s what we do.

I want to be more like my friend, and more like Ebed-Melech. I want to be the one who notices, and does something about it. Join me in praying God will make us more aware of the people around us who could use a hand, and for us to get on with a plan to help get them out.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galations 6:2

When You Feel Forgotten


Prison Cells 1

It puts me on edge whenever the nurse leaves the room at the doctor’s office and closes the door behind her. I would love to leave it cracked at least 6 inches – enough for the staff to see that a light is still on. I am certain no one will remember I am in there and everyone will go home.

That actually happened to my mom once. She had gone to the dentist and they said the dentist would be in to see her soon, only he wasn’t. And being unable to walk, she was kind of stuck up in her dental chair. She had only one option. She started yelling.

Sure enough, earlier the dentist had an emergency and had to leave, and the staff cancelled other appointments but forgot about the one in the back.

Thankfully, someone heard her and came running back just in time before they went home. It was hilarious then when she told me the story, and it’s still really funny. But it certainly doesn’t reassure me that I will always be remembered at my appointments.

I won’t lie – there are times I feel like God has forgotten me. It’s like He checked me in and sent me to the room to wait, and then got His keys and drove home. In my head I know this has not happened, but my heart needs some convincing.

Praying for specific things for days, then weeks, then months, and years – all the while seeing people with larger and smaller requests getting them answered left and right. I start to wonder if He remembers I’m here.

I think it might bring out a couple of unattractive qualities in me – my impatience and my doubt. I’m not proud of it, but we can only begin to heal when we get honest.

I felt a teensy bit less alone with this issue when I read up on John the Baptist in Scripture. In Matthew 11, he is struggling and in prison. A little background – John was filled with the Holy Spirit at birth in Luke chapter 1. He went around telling everyone about Jesus and baptizing them in Matthew chapter 3, and in the same chapter he baptizes Jesus himself.

And now he is sitting in prison, and sends this message to Jesus: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matthew 11: 3

John the Baptist had known who Jesus was. He publicly endorsed Him and said he wasn’t even worthy to tie Jesus’ shoes. He fully believed. Then he got in a crummy situation and started to question.

Jesus even went on to send a message to John about all the miracles that were happening while John was in prison. Blind people getting to see; people walking who couldn’t before; people who couldn’t hear, now know what birds sound like; even people who have died now have a heartbeat and lungs breathing in and out. He also tells John that the poor are receiving hope through His message.

He answered John’s question, but doesn’t get him out of his sticky situation. John was still in prison, but he gets reassurance that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. That the work of God is continuing outside of John’s prison walls.

And it turns out Jesus hadn’t forgotten him. In Matthew 11, Jesus told his crowd all about John. He even said, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” (v.7)

He used John and his story to continue preaching to the people. He wasn’t forgotten.

Why John’s life ended the way it did, I do not know. I am sure John had questions himself. Certainly, Jesus could have spoken the words and freed him from prison. But for some reason John didn’t know, and we don’t know yet, God had a different plan for him.

I have asked God for answers for people I love so much, and the answer seems to be no, all the while people around us are getting their yeses. It’s hard to understand. But it’s comforting to know that we aren’t alone in our doubts, and to know that Jesus can handle them. We can ask, “Are you out there?” And He will answer. Sometimes He answers by reminding me of prayers He has recently answered that I have forgotten about in my pity party. And He answers by showing me His love. He answers with Scripture. He always answers

He is out there and we are not forgotten.

“I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’ but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:18-19

He Has Been There


Mabye Jennifer Aniston and I could be pals if we ever came across each other in real life. She is delightful and I love her as an actress. Well, I love her in Friends, and she did a good job in Marley and Me.

*Side note- Marley and Me might have been a great movie, but it makes me have guilt as a parent every time I think about it. Apparently, you should research what a movie is about before taking your kid to see it. Don’t just check the rating. Like, for instance, if you see that a cute dog movie is playing, make sure you know that dog is still alive by the end of the movie, especially, let’s say, when your cat who has been alive your child’s entire life passed away 5 days earlier. Don’t judge me. I wasn’t the only one, okay? There were patches of crying children and comforting parents *all across the theater*  after the movie was over. Either the next showing started later, or the ushers left the popcorn and spilled Raisinettes on the floor, because we didn’t clear out of there quickly. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have spoiled the movie for you just now, but come on – that movie is more than a decade old. If you haven’t seen it by now, you aren’t going to)

**A side note to that side note- My young friend from church was moving to Florida a couple of years ago and we went to see a movie before the big move South, and I chose Inside Out. If you haven’t seen that one, you should because it’s great, but don’t watch it with anyone who is moving 15 hours away from all their friends. Sorry, Flynn. I should never pick movies for anyone ever. It is not my gift.

Back to Jen. I don’t love her quite as much in her commercials. I just don’t find them believable. I can’t picture her at the Walmart laying down her 10 bucks for Aveeno as her only means of keeping herself moisturized.

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I’m skeptical of famous people pushing their cheap products on commercials, trying to convince us we need it because it works so well for them. As if I believe that Sarah Jessica Parker really only spends $7 on Garnier hair dye and sits in her bathroom with her hair flipped over the tub, setting the egg timer for 20 minutes. And, Henry Winkler, I have a hard time believing the Fonz ever made the decision to do a reverse mortgage to bring in some cash.

I just don’t trust you if you are giving me advice without experience to back it up.

I heard a sermon by Britt Merrick who was talking about a person who was going to run a race. Who would that person go to for pointers and advice on the route? Someone who had merely looked at the route? Maybe someone who had helped plan the route? Someone who gave up halfway through a race? Someone who made a wrong turn? Or someone who completed it? While they all could have *some* good advice for sure, the best option is the person who made it all the way to the finish line.

God gave us Jesus. His sacrifice for us on the cross is for sure the best thing ever, but an added gift for us is the 33 years he lived on this planet. He walked like we do, had relationships like we do, learned like we do. He gets us.

He is able to know from personal experience the things that we go through.

Because of that, we can have an extra level of confidence in what He taught us. He wasn’t giving us empty words when He told us that we would be blessed if we are peacemakers. He meant it when He said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are persecuted because of righteousness. He wasn’t assuming it’s possible to love our enemies; He had enemies himself and gave his very life for them. He knew what it was like to want to find a way out of something, but to submit to the will of God instead. He experienced his own friends deserting him. He knew what it felt like to be alone. He knew how it felt to be hungry, to be tired, to be thirsty.

Friend, what you have been through, He has been through, in one form or another, and He made it to the finish line. While we will likely have times where we fail along the way, He is who we keep our eyes on to keep going. He picks us right back up and points the way.

So, lets not give up. When you are struggling, know you aren’t alone. We all go through the hard things. Life isn’t easy, and it won’t be this side of Heaven. Keep your eyes on Jesus. And don’t miss out on the people He has put in your life to help along the way. And while you are at it, keep your eyes on the lookout for your brothers and sisters who may be struggling as well, finding opportunities to help and encourage them as well.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16


Just Like Us


Writing for the newspaper at Marshall University was intimidating. I was an older student by the time I decided what I wanted to do with my life, so I already felt a bit out of place. My “beat” was religion, and I basically wrote about any religious groups on campus that were doing something – giving out hot dogs, hosting a seminar, etc. To ensure that we all got as much experience as we could, there were a few assignments that we had for the semester that had nothing to do with our category.

One of those was sports.

I was dreading that for most of the semester. I am not a sports person. I have a difficult time paying attention to what is going on in a game of any kind, and do not know the rules. I also use my own terminology to make it easier for me to understand. In football, “downs” are called “tries.” In baseball, “runs” are still “points” to me.

I tried to get around covering any kind of actual sports thing by doing a couple of sports-ish articles. One was on the Herd’s football chaplain at the time, Pastor Steve Harvey. He was delightful and told me a sweet story about one of his former players, C. J. Spillman, who had gone on to play for the San Diego Chargers.

After hearing him talk about this guy, I got this idea that just maybe I could find a way to get in touch with him.  I remembered something my professor had once said.

“You are a reporter.”

She said that we can call anywhere, contact anyone, or get permission to go anywhere that paid journalists can.

When she said this, it gave me so much more confidence than I would have had otherwise. I wasn’t just a student trying to get a passing grade, hoping to one day be a reporter at a real paper. I was a reporter writing news for readers, plain and simple.

That gave me the confidence to call up the San Diego Chargers media department and get clearance and an appointment to interview Mr. Spillman the following afternoon.

I don’t remember what the story was about or much of the seven minutes I was able to talk to him. But I can tell you that it increased my confidence, it increased the value that I saw in my work, and it increased my boldness for the next time I had a story idea.

I was thinking of this the other day and realized I need to duplicate this line of thinking in my prayer and my relationship with God.

I sometimes forget to pray big. To dream with God. To trust that He hears me and cares just as much for me as He cared for Moses, for David, for Elijah. I’m not trying to say that God should do everything I ask Him; I’m not that crazy. I am often like a toddler who thinks she knows what she wants but needs her Grownup to know what is really good for her. But I should have the assurance that He is listening.

In James chapter 5, James reminds us of when Elijah prayed confidently for rain to prove to the people that his God is the only God. The whole story is found in 1 Kings 18 and 19, and if you have a minute you should go there because it is awesome.

When James is telling us about it, he starts off with a key point.

“Elijah was a man just like us.” James 5:17a (NIV)

There isn’t anything extra about these people who we read about. They are flawed humans who believe in a big God. That’s us too.

When reading Scripture, remind yourself of this. See what God did for them and know He can do it for you too. Know He is hearing your words.

You are a child of God.

For me, this is a reminder to be more intentional in my prayers. It shouldn’t just be a routine, but an opportunity to talk and listen to the same God Moses and David and Elijah talked and listened to.

I challenge you to make a list of the first five times that come to mind when God showed up for you. Times you were confident He heard you.

If you are struggling with that, I want you to look through your Bible and find five times God came through for the people in those pages. Your God did that! And He can do it for you too. Let’s pray like we believe that.

When Our Faith has to Pick a Lane

pick a laneJesus had some busy days. 

He had just healed a man with leprosy, then a guy’s servant, then healed a bunch of other people from sickness and demon possession. There was a lot going on. This was all in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 8. Jesus had to be physically exhausted. He climbed into the boat and went right to sleep. Just after He and the disciples got on board, the storm started brewing. The wind was blowing, the rain pounding, and waves jumping over the boat. The disciples began to mildly freak out.  

Rushing to Jesus’ mattress, they scream for Him to save them from their impending doom. He was sleeping.  

Have you ever felt like Jesus was sleeping? Unaware of what you are going through? Your wind and water are all over the place, but it feels like He is silent 

Me too. 

It is a tricky place to be, a time when our faith 
has to pick a lane. Do we trust Him, or do we not?  

I have prayed for something specific for more than a year and a half now. Something easily answerable. 
Yet I feel like if I look across the boat, I will find Jesus still napping. 

It’s during this time I have to
 decide whether I believe He will do *what* needs to be done *when* He knows it needs to be done, or if I believe I have been forgotten.   

This isn’t easy, and it’s not fun, but sometimes it’s good and necessary for our faith to have to stand exposed
, so to speak, to see what we really believe. No false pretenses, no wishy-washy church words said without meaning. We get to this stormy place, and we decide if we trust Him as the One who can save us or if we don’t.  

The disciples knew w
ho to go to. They ran to Jesus, He got up and stopped the storm. But they had their doubts. Jesus knew it, and He told them as much, asking them why they were so afraid.  

I’m certain Jesus is asking me the same thing right now. “Jennifer, why are you so afraid?” The truth is, I don’t know. I have seen Jesus come through for me over and over again,
 and I have no reason at all to think He would take a break. There are some questions I need to ask myself to get my mind back where it needs to be.

  1. 1.Do I believe God *can* answer my prayer? Yes.  

  1. 2.Have I seen God answer prayers for me before? Yes. 

  1. 3.If this prayer is for our good, and God could be glorified through it, can I trust He will answer it? Yes 

  1. 4.If He chooses not to, can I trust that His reasons are bigger than what I can understand, but that it certainly is not because He fell asleep? Yes. 

If I believe all of
 these things, I can have peace, believing that God will work things out in His own way and His own timing. It might be something I have to realign my soul to every single day, until He works things out His way, but for the peace that comes with it, I will gladly confirm my yeses to these questions as often as I need to. 

Needless to say, Jesus calmed the disciples’ storm by simply speaking. He took care of it, and all was well, amazing these guys who had just seen Him heal a gazillion people right before this. Over and over He proves how He is the One we can trust, and somehow, we forget and then continue to be amazed when He comes through.  

He will take care of me. He will take care of you. 
Let’s trust Him. 

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3