Wednesday, June 5, 2013

it is well with my soul.

self portrait :: morning

this was going to be a much different post until I realized Jess had already said all I wanted to say. thanks for that. I can't tell you how greatly that little piece of writing touched and still touches me. like, dude. man. bro. "what they don't tell you about missing someone is that it's a verb."

so now what I want to say is a mix-match of things that all sort of have to do with each other (I think?). we'll see. have you ever heard that song by Horatio Spafford in the title? "it is well with my soul?" I'm guessing probably. I'm guessing you may have also heard the story behind it—that Horatio dear wrote it right after being hit by the great chicago fire, losing his business and finances and life's work in economic crisis, but even more devastatingly, all four of his daughters on a shipwreck soon afterward. and what does he pen as he crosses the ocean near the spot his children died? "it is well with my soul."

now I always thought this was a very touching story, super powerful and all that. but I also was kinda like duuude are you crazy? you just lost your children and you're saying that you're alright inside? whaaa? like sure God is good, but saying you are good...? I didn't get it. till the other day when I was driving home by myself at about eleven at night and thinking, "wow, life is really painful and unfair and hard and sucky" (I said that life and other things sucked about four times that day, and I really dislike using that word, so that says something). and then a funny thing after that happened, because I was just overwhelmed with this feeling of but God.

you see I believe that but God are two of the most powerful words in the Bible, and really in our lives. things seem desperate. but God. we're broken and hopeless. but God. I have no clue what to do or or how to fix things or where to go. but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

funny story, actually. that last sentence comes from Ephesians 2. I used to go to a church growing up where literally the whole time we were there the pastor did nothing but teach on Ephesians 2. you think I'm joking. he probably taught on that one chapter for several years. I grew really tired of it. but guess what—with a few years of hindsight, it's actually good stuff, whadaya know.

so sitting in my car driving home at eleven at night I was all of a sudden thinking, "wow life is really painful and unfair and hard and all these things but it's okay because I know God's got it." and then I suddenly thought of that song and how Horatio dear must have felt. because it's not like I feel all happy-go-lucky now, and it's not like difficult things are magically fixed just like (insert snap) that. but wow oh wow oh wow am I blessed or what to know that God steps in and holds it in his hand, and most importantly (and most encouragingly), that he's already won. and because of that, when I have peace like a river or when sorrows like sea billows roll, I can say, truthfully, that it is well with my soul.

and that pretty much blows my mind.

now we move on to talk to something that I thought was maybe going to be related but now I don't know, and that is social media (wut). mostly, there are a lot of distractions in my life. and a lot a lot a lot of things try to tell me, "nope Jenn, your soul isn't safe and well, and you have every reason to worry." there are a lot of lies that try to seep into my life. and quite frankly? I don't want them. there are some battles I don't have to fight because I already have the truth. so with that thought I give you a quote.
"one of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."
John Piper. what a jerk.

so yeah, social media. it's one of those distractions. let's be honest, guys. twitter makes me either really funny, really deep, or really negative. and lately it's been a lot of negative. ain't nobody got time for that. tumblr just lets me accomplish somehow socially acceptable subtweeting, and facebook, maybe save for pictures, is a waste of time.

so I'm taking a break. indefinitely. starting at the end of today. I'll still be on facebook sporadically because it's the only way I have to keep up with my siblings/some distant friends, but it'll be pretty much for the sake of checking messages and events and maybe sporadically uploading pictures. so I might be around here or there, but mostly? nope. twitter I'm giving up completely. that's going to be hardest for me (twitter's my favorite, guys). I'm logging out and disconnecting it from my phone and deleting my app. tumblr will survive without me, I think. I'll still be blogging, of course, because I feel it's something worthwhile. I'm doing my best to stay away from distractions and lies, but writing really honestly aids me in sorting through my thoughts and emotions in a really helpful way. but I don't want to spend my life pining away over social media. but God came in and ransomed me, literally picked me up out of my own self-created mess, loving me all the way, and he didn't save me to have the freedom to sit on a computer and subtweet. he did it to bring glory to himself.

and honestly that blows my mind too, that this little (okay, let's be real, huge) mess of me is somehow bringing glory to him.


and...that's all I have to say, really.
though satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control—
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate
and hath shed his own blood for my soul!
ps--this is not some valiant but weak blogger attempt to "simplify my online presence," whatever that means. this is stuff in the real life of Jenn where there are other things—eternal things, really—that I need to be and want to be focusing on. I'm writing it out to dedicate it to that end and to hold myself accountable. carry on.
pps--I'm going to have a lot of extra time to read and could use some titles to add to my summer reading list. I like classics best. book suggestions: go.


  1. I know you just said classics...but Immediately when I first saw your picture...I thought of this girl in these books I read. The Sierra Jensen Series by Robin Jones Gunn. It is about a 17 year old blonde, wildly curly headed girl (and she's a Christian). I couldn't put the books down. Now that may not tickle your fancy, But I just thought I'd let you know because that was one of the reasons I started following your blog...:)

    1. you followed my blog because I reminded you of a girl in a book? that is the most fantastic thing I've ever heard.

    2. and those pictures you took for mother's day....those were pretty boss.

  2. Jenn, wow. Incredible post. I had actually never heard his story before! What a coincidence about the social media because I'm taking a break from it too! I'm in the process of writing a post about my break and I keep trying not to come across as "simplifying my online presence" so it's nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks that way. And while my break hasn't just completely changed my life, man it frees up a lot of time and you actually have time to think and do! So it may be hard at first but you can do it :)

    1. so cool, right? and yaaay we can be buddies. :)

  3. I love posts that made me think, and this one did. (Also, it was long, which is kinda a bonus. :)
    And kudos for you for resisting the pull of Twitter! (Man, I could sit on there for hours...)
    Also, because I'm a total book nerd, lemme give you my list. ;)
    -The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
    -The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son ('s a series) by Lois Lowry
    -The Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. (Reminiscent of Lewis. <3)
    -White Fang by Jack London
    -The Shadow Things by Jennifer Freitag
    -Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
    -A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

    It's an odd mix of classics and newer books, but hey, I really enjoyed all of them so...:)

    1. The Black Arrow used to be one of my very favorite books! :)

    2. DON'T STOP I LOVE TWITTER TOO MUCH. #firstworldproblems
      and ooh A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is on my reading list. and I need to read me some more Dickens. thanks for the suggestions!

  4. I love that I can always relate to your posts Jenn. They make me think, and that's a good thing!
    I'm a book lover so here are a few (old and new) that I've enjoyed:
    -The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
    -The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
    -Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    -The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
    -God King by Joanne Williamson
    -Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski

    Hopefully these can help pass some time this summer! I know how hard it is missing someone and needing things to do with your time. You're a lovely person Jenn!

    Hugs, Abby

    1. just one thing: THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. uhm I love that book, amen.

  5. Good for you! Best of luck in your social media boycott! :)

    As far as books, here are some of my favorites (that I can pull off the top of my head at the moment...)

    Great Expectations - Dickens
    A Tale of Two Cities - Dickens
    Time and Again - Jack Finney
    The Bronze Bow - Elizabeth George Speare
    Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    The Shining Company - Rosemary Sutcliff

    ask me again later and I'm sure I could give you some more! :)

    1. duuuude. DUUUDE. did we ever talk about The Bronze Bow? cuz that was like...the first book I ever read twice. cried over it multiple times, and it will always be a favorite of mine. duuuude. I thought no one else knew about that book. duuuude.

    2. Hahaaa!!! No, we never talked about it! I loved it when I read it....but that was in like....6th grade. It's on my list of books to read (or rather to REread) this summer!!

      Man alive. I don't think we'll EVER run out of random similarities. :)

    3. Jenn, the Shining Company is so good...

  6. Can I just say that when you started talking about leaving the internet I got a little worried. ;) I love reading your posts - you're so full of life and it just makes me feel happy following along with your posts.

    And also, please read Watership Down by Richard Adams. It's one of my favourites. <3 Pride and Prejudice is a good one as well, although I'm sure you've already read it. Ummm...Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) was excellent as well...Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy, and Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw are favourites of mine as well. Also, any Agatha Christie.

    1. thaaank you, and nope, not leavin' ya'll quite yet. ;) hmm I need to read Watership Down, and I keep hearing about Agatha Christie so maybe I'll give that a shot. I loved Seven Daughters and Seven it years ago! and Jane Eyre & Austen--good taste, my friend. :)

  7. Love all these pictures + the backstory to the title of this post! SO inspiring!

  8. Good for you for making that decision! And wow: "...but God." so amazing and crazy and wonderful and what makes life beautiful!

    Books...are awesome. here's some favs:
    North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell (if you haven't already)
    Gentian Hill, by Elizabeth Goudge. simply beautiful.
    anything by GK Chesterton. (try ballad of the white horse)
    Lilith &/or Phantastes by George MacDonald
    Middlemarch by George Eliot
    this isn't a book, and I don't know if you've seen it before, but the Rabbit Room ( is awesome. like a new Inklings group.

    1. I need to read some Elizabeth Gaskell, man. didn't she do Wives & Daughters, too? I've seen the movies but not read the books, shame on me.

    2. yep, but Wives & Daughters is unfortunately incomplete...though still very good. fie on you, for shame! ;)

    3. oh another book i HIGHLY recommend is Island of the World, Michael O'Brien. it's deeply painful, but in a good way, and full of light and beauty and wisdom. so yea. good stuff.

  9. Yes to everything. I have always loved that song, but I had never really thought about it quite like you put it, so thanks so much for that. I really appreciate it.

  10. Tale of Two Cities by Dickens is absolutely amazing!!!!


  11. I'm currently reading The Great Gatsby and it's amazing so far. It's unlike any other classic I've ever read--the wording is impeccable. I don't know about the rest of the book, so proceed with caution, but so far it's really great. Let me know if you end up reading it! :)

    1. dude. dude. email me or something so we can gush about Gatsby together. I read it in three days, just finished it yesterday. you're so right, the way it is put together is just meticulous and beautiful. I felt like I was reading... art. SO good. you'll have to let me know what you think when you finish it!

  12. wow. wow. wow.

    1. i am unbelievably flattered by that first paragraph. jenn, dear, you are a gem. ♥
    2. i have always loved that hymn, but i never knew the background. i'm legitimately in awe, and will remember this every time i hear it from now on. what an amazing testimony to the goodness of the Lord!
    3. how to we somehow manage to be coming to the exact same realizations at the exact same time? i've been overwhelmed by that feeling of but God so much these past few months, it's not even funny. (it's like He's trying to teach me something. crazy.) i'm so happy that you are finding your independence in Him, and embracing life for the better and worse.
    4. honestly, i go through phases where i feel that way about social media, but i've only ever taken extended breaks from the computer. if i didn't have so many friends from other states to keep up with, it wouldn't be worth my time, but for now i find that it is. that being said, i'm proud of you for going with what the Lord is impressing on your heart (even though i will miss you to pieces on twitter!) and can't wait to keep watching you grow + share your heart here on your blog.

    that's all -- OH WAIT NO, BOOKS:
    - if you haven't already, you MUST read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by the Bronte sisters. three of my favorite classics ever.
    - Anything and everything by Cassandra Clare. (start with TID, then TMI.) i swear, one of the best authors whose books i have ever read.
    - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (yes, you hear about this one a lot. yes, there's a reason why.)
    - Extremely Loud and incredibly Close by Jonathon Foer. (just finished this one. cried three times. amazing.)
    - The Harbinger by Jonathon Khan
    - the Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith
    - The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. (Historical fiction, romance, adventure, humor -- EVERYTHING.)
    - Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson (girl falls in love with her childhood imaginary friend -- realistic and super sweet.)

    ... and that's enough for now. ;) email me if you need more!
    xoxoxo, J

    1. hi my name is Jenn, let's be friends. :) but seriously, yes, it's cool to find other people who have the same thoughts at the same time as you. gooood feeling. God is cool.
      aaand looks like I have some books I need to check out! except TFiOS, which I read already. sigh. SIGH. I knew someone would say it. that book makes me cranky.
      skype me and lets talk life and good books and all that great stuff, yes?

  13. I think this is one of my new favorite posts from you. Beautiful, Jenn. I remember doing almost the same thing a few months ago, with the mountains of stuff that's been crashing down on me and my family and school and health problems. I started having slight anxiety problems and just generally feeling horrible. But I realized, He has already won. My "suffering", though it does seem too much at times, is not going to hurt me, because He's already won. There is nothing the world can do to me that will keep me from Him, because he died, and rose and lives today. He beat death, and lucifer, and all sin for me. No matter what trials I go through, He'll never give me anything that's too much to handle, because He's already won. Once I realized that, I could truly say, it is well with my soul. God is so amazing.

    This isn't a classic but it's my favorite book ever: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Beautiful words that make my heart want to sing and cry. An amazing story and lovable characters... it's just beautiful.
    The Letters of Vincent van Gogh collected and edited by Mark Roskill. Vincent is my favorite painter and he was also a wonderful writer and his letter to his brother prove that.
    Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck (actually, anything by John Steinbeck. Good stuff.) He wrote about everything I love and dislike about America and wrote about his travels so well that I could almost feel like I was driving with him.
    The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. An adorable and slightly dark but very deep (and funny) little fantasy book. And I don't like fantasy.
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Not as horrific as the movies have played it out to be. Actually one of my favorite books now. It's interesting and thoughtful and heart wrenching like a good book should be.

    <3 I'll miss seeing your pretty face around the internet, but I completely understand and wish you the best and for amazing things to happen to you, sweet girl.

    xoxo Johanna

    1. thanks, love! yeah, dude, I've had so much freedom even since just like...a week ago, finally giving up control of some things and realizing that God has already won. it's so beautiful.
      hmm these sound like good suggestions! and yes--haha I read Frankenstein a number of years ago and it really is not anything like we picture in pop culture, is it? ;)

  14. good for you, jenn! <3

    oooh books. BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS. you asked a dangerous question, darling...

    ~ Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) - so long and so daunting, BUT OH MY SOUL. that's all.
    ~ The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Orczy) - so fun and adventurous. AND SIR PEEERRRCCCYYYYYY. :D
    ~ The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) - there's some language in it, but man this book is good. it took me a while to get past all the cruddiness of the storyline to appreciate its merits, but i have now and i heart it.
    ~ The Last Sin Eater (Francine Rivers) - not a classic, no, but it darn well should be. it is my favoritest book in the whole world forever and ever amen.
    ~ The Hidden Hand (E.D.E.N. Southworth) - so fun and so, so funny
    ~ Great Expectations (Charles Dickens) - because it's a classic worthy of the title, that's why
    ~ any of the Poirot mysteries by Agatha Christie; so good!
    ~ Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) - no, it's not anything like the movies. give it a try.
    ~ if you like suspense/thrillers, shoot me an email and i'll give you a list of my favourite books by Ted Dekker. i'm kind of obsessed with that man's books.

      Scarlet Pimpernel--only one of my favorites ever. have you read any of the sequels?
      just finished Gatsby. oh my word. it was one of the most beautiful things I've read in a long time.
      okay so I've heard that Great Expectations is actually a rather boring Dickens're saying no? hmmm I shall give it a shot someday.
      haha yes...Frankenstein is really nothing like we picture in pop culture, is it? I read it several years back and was like "whaaa?" hehe.
      dude feel free to email me book suggestions anytime! (I've read the Circle trilogy/not trilogy anymore and looooved the three until Green, haha. but still the original three were so good.) let's skype sometime, yo.

  15. so, I literally got rid of my instagram and twitter about two weeks ago for the exact same reasons and a few others. I've been right on the edge of getting rid of my facebook as well.... I feel no regret whatsoever. It's almost kind of relieving.
    I found myself falling into negativity, jealousy, envy, frustration, all stemming from my time on social media. God put this relentless calling on my heart to get rid of them and focus on Him; and I finally caved in and said. "Okay God, maybe you're right." and boy was He right!(imagine that)
    It seemed like such a big deal, at the time, to delete them....looking back now, it seems so petty; but hey, anything that strengthens our walks with God is ALWAYS a big deal. I'm proud of you and want you to know that you are not alone at all.

    p.s. It's starting to freak me out how like-minded we appear to be...yet it's absolutely wonderful. I feel like I've found a kindred spirit!

    Love this post and you!

    1. I texted you but I still feel like replying to this soooo who cares. let's be friends. :)

  16. oh wow. thank you for posting--this is really convicting + thought provoking. that John Piper quote. man oh man. this has encouraged me so much. "it is well with my soul" is one of my favorite hymns. Horatio Spafford had such a strong testimony. He brought glory to God in the midst of His trials. man.

    I have contemplated so many times on just deleting some social media sites i'm on. I mainly keep my facebook 'n such just to keep up with family and friends. one thing that drives me crazy about social media sites is the sin issues it can bring (at least in my life I have noticed) like jealousy or covetousness. social media definitely has its pros and cons. that's for sure.

    last year while I was on a mission trip I didn't get online at all or anything. I can't tell you how amazing it was. I enjoyed not worrying about any social media sites or feeling the need to log on. breaks are so good for the soul. this post has definitely encouraged me to not be online on social media sites so much. what you said - "he didn't save me to have the freedom to sit on a computer and subtweet". yes.
    thank you.

    also books :) -
    I am currently reading The Book Thief. It has been really good so far! ;) I also love The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. ah, Jane Eyre is one of my fave books, too:)
    and well charles dickens is always a great choice for books;) :)

    1. you're sweet, and I'm so glad to write something that makes people think. so, thank YOU. :) just a random thought (something I retweeted awhile ago...hey maybe twitter is good for something?): "when you give up something, replace it with something beautiful. removing weeds without planting something...only produces more weeds later." that to say...I've gone through social media breaks before when I'm not doing it with any real purpose or replacing it with something wholesome. so this time around, I wanted to do with with a reason. to focus on other things, not just waste my time in other ways, ya know? I feel like purposefulness is so important.
      ANYWAY. I've been on trips and stuff before with no media, and oh gosh yes, it's so freeing! it sounds pathetic, but I totally agree there.
      duuude for the life of me I can't remember if I've read The Book Thief--a sign I should re-read it if so, perhaps? thanks for the suggestions, dear!

    2. :)
      that quote--SAVING it. So good. Yes, I have tried breaks like that without purpose only to fail. thanks for sharing it.
      yes--read The Book Thief. I haven't been able to put it down. ah. probably one of the best books I have read so far. The story is just, woah. I still have a little left to read but I have a feeling the rest of the book will be great. :)I also heard that they are coming out with a movie next year(I think). if so, I'm pretty stinkin' excited for the movie! :)

  17. Kay, so I'm kind of late to the party, but "The Hidden Hand" by E. D. E. N. Southworth is one of my fav. books. evah. Like, you will NOT be able to put it down. Goodness, I don't want to give anything away, but you can go look it up if you want. I promise you will not be sorry. (You will laugh and cry (a lot.), and probably die a couple times too.)

    (Also, hey I've read your blog for months now but never bothered to comment. HEY. You're pretty awesome.;)

    1. hey, YOU'RE awesome. :) I've heard of that book, I'll have to check it out!


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