Tag Archives: love

Trashy Jennifer

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(How cute is this Oscar the Grouch pin?! Available on Etsy by clicking on the picture…)

He is one of my favorite first-graders at church. Jayceon is smart, enthusiastic and completely endearing. For a glimpse of him, I’ll share his prayer last week over the snack: “Thank you for this food right in front of my face and thank you for our bodies.” He is precious.

Then this week, I was walking our small group to their snack time and he said something about Miss Jennifer. He can’t seem to ever remember which teacher is which, so I said, “Jacyeon, *I* am Miss Jennifer.” Then he said, “No, I mean *Doctor* Jennifer. You are Trashy Jennifer.” And then he kept walking.

I stood there in freezeframe, no doubt with my mouth hanging open.

Trashy Jennifer? It didn’t exactly sound like a compliment.

I then burst out laughing because I hadn’t expected that.

I’m reading my Bible from the beginning to end for the first time in all my decades of loving Jesus. It has taken more than a few years for me to do it, occasionally slacking off, occasionally skipping around. But the next day after learning my new title – Trashy Jennifer – I opened my Bible to the next chapter I was supposed to read in 1st Corinthians and smiled when I got toward the end of chapter 4. “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” (v. 11-13)

Refuse: noun, matter thrown away or rejected as worthless; trash. (Google Dictionary)

Paul was basically Trashy Paul.

And he wasn’t one bit sorry for it. He was writing to the church in Corinth, and a couple of verses before this he was letting them know that while things were looking pretty good for them, being a follower of Jesus sometimes means we have hard days. Paul and others participating in the ministry were working so hard to share Jesus and to encourage and mentor the churches, things were difficult, but they continued to show the love of Jesus regardless of how they are being treated. Some of their difficulties were from their efforts in serving, and others were because of people not taking it well. Satan undoubtedly had his hand in some of it too. But Paul knew that his “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Our comfort in this life is not our goal. I should get this tattooed somewhere as a reminder. I tend to go for comfort when possible. But instead of comfort, our goal should be sharing Jesus and living our lives in a way that best points to Him. Sometimes that means situations that aren’t easy.

Sometimes people, perhaps with good intentions, see prosperity as a benefit of serving Jesus, but Paul was a living example to the Corinthians that this is not how it always works. 

Serving Christ sometimes means hard things, sacrifices and the testing of our character. But it also means we are never alone, that we have the power of the Holy Spirit to get us through anything and that we have the contentment that comes with following the One who knows the way.

In light of this, and though I for sure am not worthy of it, I would be honored for someone one day to see me as Trashy Jennifer.

Know your audience


Jordan was my favorite. Of all of the New Kids on the Block, he is the one I swooned over. Their posters covered my walls. I listened to their tapes and watched their music videos and tried out their dance moves and envisioned one day being Mrs. Jordan Knight. You could say I was a fan.

Then, as an adult, I got the chance to see them in person. My sister and I made the trip to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and for an evening became 12 again. Or at least we did for a few minutes.

As NKOTB danced and sang the songs from the late ‘80s, we were giggly 7th graders all over again. But as some newer, sultrier songs began to play, a brood of scantily clad vipers slithered their way to the front of the stage doing some risque dance numbers with my Jordan and the rest of them. Not what I wanted to see.

How in the world did Jordan, Joe, Jon, Danny and Donnie, or their managers or choreographers or their bus driver or even these women decide that would be a good idea? Why would I, the former future Mrs. Jordan Knight, want to watch some other girl dancing with him?

C’mon, NKOTB – Know your audience!

It would have made sense that the team who makes these decisions would have imagined all the 30-something women in the audience and why they were there.

It’s important to see the faces of the people you are serving before you decide which direction to go.

It’s how Jesus did it.

In Mark 10, Jesus had just been teaching a group of people, and spending time with some kids, and as he was leaving, a guy came running up to Jesus asking how he could have the eternal life Jesus teaches of.

Jesus ran through the list of commandments, which, as Jesus knew, the guy had been on board with keeping. Then comes my favorite line in verse 21.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Jesus saw his face. I can just imagine Him looking into this guys eyes, and thinking of how He really does love this world so much and this man is one of the reasons He was here – to die for him, to spend forever with him in heaven.

He loved him.

Only after first seeing him and loving him, He tells him what He needs to do. He tells him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor, then go follow Him. He wanted his total commitment.

Jesus knew that was the part this man would need to deal with, the part that was holding him back. We all have had those things – our biggest struggles that threaten our obedience to God. Yours might be different from his, and mine might be different from yours. But we’ve all got ‘em.

While Scripture tells us this man went away sad, and kind of leaves it at that, I really hope that he was able fully commit himself to God at some point.

It is easy for Christians to feel they need to list all the sins, or at least the ones they don’t struggle with, on social media, while teaching, or in conversation. We do this without thinking of who we are talking to.

Once I was teaching middle school Sunday School class and, when talking about sin, I used an example of some “crazy, way far out there sin for middle schoolers” – drug use. I said it so flippantly, which made it come across as something these guys would never deal with, that’s just something really bad kids go through. I wish I hadn’t said it like that.

I didn’t know the all the backstories of each kid, and each of their family members. It’s very possible that I made some of them who could be battling this themselves, or who have people close to them who are, seem like a separate group of people from the rest of us. That’s not okay.

My sin and my struggles might be different than yours, but they don’t make me better, nor, thankfully, do they make me worse than you. We are all messed up humans who need the grace of God.

When speaking to someone about sin, whether writing, teaching, or in conversation, it’s so important to imagine who will be reading or listening – not to avoid teaching about what the Bible says, but to do it with love.

When saying or writing the words, if I can imagine it’s my sister or my son or my husband being the one struggling with this same thing, it will make a world of difference in how much love my words are covered with.

Instead of Jesus blasting the guy, calling him a money-focused, selfish jerk, he looked at him and loved him. Then He told him the truth he needed to hear, spoken from the face of his Teacher with eyes brimming with love.

Let’s follow His perfect example. If someone dear to us comes to us needing some direction from Scripture, we need to do it with love. If it’s someone we don’t know that well, we need to imagine that it is someone we love dearly. Then, and only then, we respond. Love first, speak second.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4:15

Hungry, tired, and thirsty in the desert


Other than Jesus, David is probably one of the most famous people from the Bible. We heard about him as little kids, watching how brave he was to be the good-looking, littlest brother of the family, going up against a giant with 5 small stones and a whole bunch of faith in his big God.

We read some of his psalms, heard about him chosen by God as king, also about some sin along the way, including adultery and murder. We even heard God call him a man after His own heart! How cool would that be to hear?

There was also a time in his life when David was being hunted down by his own son who wanted to kill him. In 2 Samuel, chapter 17, David is being chased by Absalom, and thankfully, God intervenes and David and his people are able to escape. Absalom hears they are headed one direction, but friends of David tell them to go another way, so David and his people head to Mahanaim.

Here is where I want us to focus. As they get to this town, three guys there start bringing them things – bedding, bowls, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, curds, sheep and cheese, “… For they said, ‘The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert,’” (verse 29).

How many times do we notice someone who is hungry, tired and thirsty in the desert? Maybe they aren’t literally running for their lives, but just worn out? Could be a friend in a ministry that is just exhausted from the expectations and disappointments. Maybe a friend who is literally worn-out from an illness.  Or a mom who is frazzled from trying to please everyone all the time.

You can probably think of someone now. Someone who lately just doesn’t seem themselves and could use some encouragement.

There are times when I notice someone seems discouraged, depressed or defeated. And if I notice, I for sure will have intentions of helping, but sometimes that’s as far as it goes. And that’s not okay. My good intentions mean nothing if I don’t put some action behind it.

David had people seeing his need and meeting it, simply because they noticed, they cared, and they followed through. I want to be like these guys. I’ve had people be like these guys to me.

I have received flowers from some dear friends when the thrill of pregnancy turned into the disappointment and grief of a miscarriage. And other sweet friends who have experienced the same heartbreak let me talk to them for hours about how I was feeling during that time.

During the death of my father-in-law, a friend offered to watch Noah, who was a toddler at the time, during the funeral.

Other friends have sent encouraging notes just when I need them.

I have friends, even now, who I know are feeling like David. They are hungry, tired, and thirsty in their deserts, and I’m sure you do too. It’s our job to make sure we can give them what they need. Think of your person today, and what you can do to help.

If you have any ideas of what we can do to be an encouragement to someone, please share! Maybe it will make those of us with good intentions put them into action. 🙂