Today marks a date I’ll never forget!! June 12, 2005 was the day that I said “Yes” to grace and stopped trying to earn God’s love and approval through my own good works and effort. I grew up in church and had mental knowledge of the truth from the Bible. I had even said “a prayer” 100 times or two. 🙂 But something just wasn’t right in my life. And by age 25, God showed me what it was.
I came to the end of “Jenni.” I had tried so hard my whole life to be good, went on 8 missions trips, was a leader in my youth group, studied youth ministry in college, and even married a pastor for Pete’s sake! But at the end of the day, God lovingly showed me that He had NEVER asked me to DO any of those things. ALL He asked me to do was to receive His grace and believe that Jesus was enough. The equation of my life was Jesus + Jenni. Sure, I believed in Jesus, but His gift on the cross just wasn’t enough to make me right in God’s eyes…so I believed. I needed to add a little more effort and goodness to it.
I did all of this unknowingly and literally wore myself out trying to be perfect. What a freeing thing to finally realize, on June 12, 2005, that I didn’t have to be perfect after all! Jesus was perfect and if I just receive what he freely did for me and gave to me, that’s all God requires!
But I didn’t really want to write about me today. Rather, I wanted to write about someone who actually helped me get to this point in my life and who has continued, over and over, to push me deeper into my destiny.
My sister…Rebekah Joy. She is an amazing woman and I am truly the most blessed sister in the world. I’m a little sister so of course there are those moments where I’ve misinterpreted her love and care as motherly control. 🙂 But she is so amazing she even works with me through those moments!
Why am I thinking about Rebakah today on my Spiritual Birthday? Plain and simple, because I wouldn’t be where I am at today if it wasn’t for her. It began with her willingness to step out into what I call “more.” It’s hard to put a definition to what “more” is, but she came to a point in her life where what she was living and her experience with God was just not enough. She knew there had to be more. So she boldly stepped out to go after God. And she took me along with her.
Her step towards true life and freedom is what propelled me on a journey to find grace, rather than just religion that tried to take the place of true freedom and relationship with a living God. If it wasn’t for her boldness and fearlessness to face everything in her life that needed to go, I don’t know if I would have. We have both been on a radical journey of transformation over the past 6 years and I am forever grateful for her starting it! Neither of us are the same people as we were 6 years ago. And because of her catalyst, my family will reap something different now too! It’s amazing how one person can change so much in not just their life, but many lives around them simply by a CHOICE!
Most little sister’s probably look up to their big sister in some way and even want to be like them. I’m no different! I’ve always adored Rebekah, even when we used to play basketball together and I’d get so mad at her for blocking every single shot (without even jumping) because she was so much taller. But my big sister is someone that I think everyone would want to be like! I’ve never met a person quite like her, never been challenged by someone’s faith like hers, never seen such genuine generosity, total honesty, and a willingness to be thought wrong of if it means standing for the truth. Everything Rebekah stands for is Truth. And she is willing to go to lengths I’ve never known to make Truth known. She loves people till she hurts. Nathan, my kids, and I have been the recipient of that selfless love that she exudes and we are forever changed by it.
After Hosea died, Rebekah used to drive 12-13 hours at a time to come see us. She would go without sleep and do whatever it took to just get to us to help fold laundry or whisk our kids off when we were hit by an unexpected wave of grief. She was just a quiet presence there to help at any time! And not many months after this loss, when we lost two jobs in the span of 18 months, there she was again, at our house folding laundry! 🙂 Haha! I’m not sure what’s with laundry, but she sure knows what I needed! Point being, she has loved us wherever and however we needed over the years and given of herself to help us get back on our feet again. I am forever grateful for these tangible displays of love.
I can also point many of the blessings that have been recently poured into our lives back to things I’ve learned from watching my big sister, in faith, step out into first. She is an incredible leader, friend, confidant, business woman, and encourager. I kind of think of her as my own personal cattle prod. 🙂 She has lovingly “prodded” me into greatness!
So today, as I celebrate the new life Jesus has given me, free of striving and performance and full of His grace and goodness, I think of Rebekah, and how one life really can impact another forever! I will never be the same! Thanks sis!! I love you more than words can say!!