Tag Archives: suffering

Trashy Jennifer

Oscar the grouch 1.25button image 0
(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.

Praying for our kids…the sequal


Sometimes things we want don’t always line up. I might want to lose 20 pounds, but I also want cupcakes and sprinkles. I want to get a bunch of stuff done in the evening, but I also want to sleep. I want to save money, but I also want to buy sparkly things.

If you read my post “Praying for our kids,” you know that Noah started his 7th grade school year this past Thursday. You also know I was committed to praying for him and had peace about it.

I spent the drive to school Thursday morning praying for Noah’s day, his teachers, him and his friends. I dropped him off, then walked 2 1/2 miles around the neighborhood surrounding his school, talking to God about this new school year. I prayed more detailed prayers for all of the teachers, counselors, bus drivers, cooks, secretaries, students, their families, and specifically for Noah and his friends, as well as the kids from my church who were starting school that day.

I felt pretty good the rest of the day, trusting it would be an awesome day. But it didn’t feel so awesome for Noah.

I’m hesitant to post this. Sometimes it’s a fine line between transparency and being a blabber mouth, especially when it involves people other than yourself. Having said that, I’m going to share.

While it could have been much worse, he had several crummy things happen – beginning with  me not remembering he needed $5 for locker rental and him having to carry his stuff, including his lunchbox, all day. Out of respect for him, I’ll skip the other details, but ultimately he rated his day, from 0, meaning the worst day ever, to 10, super awesome, at a 2. He had a bad day.

I was so bummed. I was sure with all my praying and confidence, his day would be better than that. And I was kind of frustrated with God. It seemed wrong even to say that, but God knows my heart. After all that praying and believing, I just felt it deserved better than a 2.

So I told God as much on Friday morning after I prayed with Noah again and dropped him off. I cried. I asked God why He didn’t give Noah a better first day when that’s the very thing I had asked for.

God wasn’t silent. He quickly reminded me of another prayer I had prayed.

Last year, I began praying for Noah to have a closer, more personal relationship with God. He has a great relationship with God, but the older he gets, I know it is important for him to continue to develop a faith that is entirely his own, not just what we have taught him. I want that for him.

While what I wanted for Noah was a #10 day with happy teachers and a slew of friends to choose from at lunchtime, those aren’t always the kinds of days that produce trust and faith in God.

But #2 days can do that.

In Job 36:15, Elihu, a counselor to Job, shared these words with him…

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.”

I’ve had a few #2 days before, and I can say for sure that those are the times I feel God closest to me. When I’m broken, desperate, and don’t know what to do, those are the times I look for Him the most. And the more days I have like that, the more I trust that God will be there for me again and again, because He has shown me all the times He has been before. God definitely speaks to me in my affliction, just like Elihu said. Right in the middle of it, I can hear His words, and that is what gets me through whatever it is.

If these are the kinds of days that will help Noah to be closer to God, to be the person He is creating him to be, bring them on. I will be right there with him, praying for him, loving him, and thanking God for knowing far better than I which prayer to answer.