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I remember my first introduction to Jane Austen. It was 1996. I was 21, and studying abroad in Derbyshire. The guy I was dating took me to see Emma. The Gweneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam version, obviously. Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightly. Sigh. I loved him instantly. He was my favorite Austen man until I encountered Rupert Penry-Jones’s Captain Wentworth. But I digress….
That same semester my friends and I went to see Pride and Prejudice (in a play form). Who is this Jane Austen? I must check her out.
I remember hearing about Jane Austen’s life for the first time. Realizing she died young. No spouse. No kids. I thought to myself, how sad. This amazing woman left behind no descendants to carry on her legacy. To someone who is passionate about family tree research I was devastated on her behalf.
And honestly she lived the fate I feared.
I wanted to be an Austen heroine…like Anne Eliot who lands her soul mate Captain Wentworth. All the Austen heroines win the man of their particular dreams. The one that uniquely fits them.
With that perspective, I could never understand why Jane chose to be a spinster. To devote herself to writing and to being Cassandra’s (her sister) companion after her fiancée dies. She could have been married and still been a writer.
What I didn’t understand was that, she couldn’t have been the writer she became, had she chosen to keep her engagement. Not in the 1700’s.
When I read her books and watched the movies, I saw all the heroines finding the dream man, so they could get married and have children. How sad that she didn’t get that happily ever after she gave to her heroines. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I was really upset about it.
Growing up, all the women who influenced my life had between 2 and 12 children. My mom. My grandmothers. My aunts. Great aunts. Great Grandmothers. They were mothers first. Everything else in their lives came 2nd and beyond. So my dream as far back as I can remember was to be a wife & mother. I went to college planning on that life. I graduated from college planning that life. I waited for that life. For that dream to come true.
What I realized is that I wasn’t really upset about Jane’s life, she made her choices. What I was really afraid of was not having kids myself.
I turned 28. 32. 37. Then 42. At 42, the rubber hit the road, and I began to grieve. I began to grieve the death of the dream of having children. I grieved it like it truly died. I ugly cried. For months. I never told anyone or talked about it. But I felt it, I assure you. I battled the depression that accompanied this grief for months and months.
At this same time, God asked a friend of mine to pray for me. After a while, God invited her to approach me about it. She asked me how I was doing with the no kids thing. I sobbed again. She continued to pray. I am so grateful for my friends who cover me in prayer, they are gifts.
A few weeks before I turned 43, I had a stunning revelation…I never got what I didn’t want.
The truth is that I wanted children because I was raised in an environment where kids are loved and valued. So I love and value the kids in my life. You only have to know me about 15 minutes before you start hearing about my favorite people in the world, my nieces, nephews, and lil cousins. They are my people.
But I never actually wanted to have kids. I was stunned. I just grieved a dream to the point of depression…for a dream that wasn’t even my own? Really?
How does that happen? How do we acquire dreams that are actually someone else’s? Or someone else’s dream for us?
It happens with kids and sports or ivy league schools, parents living vicariously through their kids. Thinking they’re giving their kids what they never had, but maybe not asking if this is what the kid wants.
No one pushed this dream on me. My mom’s always believed I could be or do anything I wanted. She’s never put her will on me. Not ever.
This was on me.
I didn’t want to ask myself what I really wanted, because I was afraid. Afraid to know what the answer was…afraid to fail, afraid to succeed…because people would expect things of me. Afraid of leading, because what if no one followed.
So in truth, my not being married young, or having kiddos, was the protection of God. Because He knows me. Because He designed me.
“Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.” Psalm 139:1-6 TPT
God knows me better than I know me. Never have I ever been so grateful for ths fact.
I am designed for partnership with Jesus. I am designed for a partnership with a spouse. I am not designed to be a mother in the traditional sense.
My jaw dropped at this revelation. I processed this revelation for weeks and weeks. How is it possible that I don’t want kids?
Who doesn’t want kids? Isn’t that selfish? Abnormal?
How does a person leave a legacy without having kids?
Who will remember me when I’m gone if my family tree ends with me?
Then God showed me something that left me speechless for quite some time…You’re not designed to be an Austen heroine, you’re designed to be a Jane Austen.
No, I’m not declaring myself to be the new Jane Austen. I’m Jill not Jane.
But God used her life to show me there’s more than one way to have an impact on generations.
Jane was a brilliant author. She wrote stories that are still impacting generations. Maybe it was intentional on her part or maybe it is just how things worked out, but she stands forever as an example that being a wife and a mother is not the only way a woman can have purpose. In her time a woman had two options, marriage or poverty accompanied by shame. Women deserve the right to choose God’s best for them. She used her God given intelligence, wit, and humor to craft incredible stories. That was Jane’s purpose. It wasn’t motherhood.
Then it clicked! I finally got it.
A legacy of words…
That is my actual dream.
That is my actual heart.
That is the legacy I want!
I want to craft stories that people still want to read or watch in 200 years. I want to leave words that inspire. Words that give hope and encourage. Words that reveal the love of the Father, and the greatness of Jesus. Words that remind people that being human is the best there is in all of creation. We were created in God’s image! Nothing else in all of creation was given that honor. I could go on here, but that is not the point of today’s post.
The point is that like Jane, I am a story teller. I can’t help it. It is who I am. I am a scribe. A writer. A lover of words. My purpose is to create stories. I’m still trying to process all of this because I still am stunned by this revelation.
Stunned. But free. For the first time, really free.
I’m not quite sure what to do with all this as I’m still processing…but be assured that writing is my priority. My goal is to write something every day. Blog. Short story. Work on a chapter of one of my longer stories. Send encouraging texts.
We were all created with eternity in mind, and we all have a purpose. One isn’t better or worse. One isn’t greater or lesser. All the body of Christ is important and absolutely necessary. Embrace who God made you to be, and how you are wired. The world needs you to be your authentic self, not a copy of someone else.
“I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! – Ephesians 1:18 TPT
Point to ponder while you wander…
“Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” Ephesians 3:20 TPT
P.S. To all the parents out there…You have a tough job and I commend you for your consistency. I respect you for loving, disciplining, and raising those little humans day in and day out. It’s not easy. But they are worth it. You are a hero. Hang in there!!
God is love. And love is patient, kind and believes the best. (See 1 Corinthians 13)
And yet the majority of people I know, myself included, doubt that God is for us, and wonder if He has forgotten us and His promises to us.
Doubt creeps in on hard days and suddenly we are believing the lie that we are on our own and need to fight for ourselves. We doubt God’s love. We doubt God’s promises. We doubt God’s goodness.
So if today is one of those days of doubting, remember…
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
“What a wonderful God we have- He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the One who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“With the Lord a day is like a 1000 years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9
Point to ponder while you wander…
In the days of doubting remember you can invite Jesus to help you in your doubt. Jesus said “Everything is possible for one who believes.” in Mark 9:23, and immediately a doubting father asked for help to believe.
“‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” Mark 9:23-24
Rainbows. I love them. And I usually start singing Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog…or at a minimum just smile.
There are lots of things associated with rainbows…the most popular being pots of gold…of course. Who doesn’t want a pot of gold?
But the truth is that rainbows have a much deeper meaning beginning after the great flood as recorded in Genesis.
”Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.” Genesis 9:12-17
What a beautiful promise and covenant sign!
But to me, rainbows are reminders that God keeps His promises. All. Of. Them. Including the ones He’s given to me.
He is a good God who keeps His promises. But sometimes life gets to us and we begin to doubt. We doubt that His promises are true for us. But they are true. They are true for you. They are true for me!
About 3 weeks ago I saw a double full rainbow. It was incredible! I saw it happened in middle of a frustrating situation. Seeing it gave me peace, because it reminded me that I wasn’t forgotten.
Yesterday I saw another huge beautiful rainbow! And then another one this morning out my window at work. I am so thankful that God speaks to me in pictures when I’m struggling to hear His voice clearly.
And I have been frustrated and that’s causing me to struggle to hear Him. I have begun to doubt a particular promise He gave me (one of two promises that mean the most to my heart).
God didn’t try to convince me or argue with me. He simply reminded me with beauty that He is God. And that He keeps His promises. He is the best Daddy.
Point to ponder while you wander…He is good. All day. Every day. He is always speaking and encouraging us. We just need to keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to receive what He is trying to say.
What do You want from me God? Who am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to do? What’s my calling? What’s my purpose?
I’ve asked God (and sometimes screamed accusingly) these and many more questions. I just want to do what He made me to do. The simple general answer is found here: “What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8
Okay, so He wants us to do right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly WITH Him. What exactly does that mean? How do we do that? Let’s so some etymology with verse 8. I love me some etymology.
Good: (H2896 towb) This word can be translated into good, kind, upright, beautiful, fair, cheerful, bountiful, joyful, pleasant, precious, sweet, wealth, and favor.
Requires: (H1875 darash) This word is interesting…the root is to tread down with the feet, or to trample. What do you do when you tread down? You walk over something again and again and again. It is also used as the verb to study. Which also means you do something again and again until it is learned. It can also mean to seek out God in prayer.
Right: (H4941 mishpat) The root word for this is to judge. It is usually translated judge or justice, lawful or something along those lines. KJV translates it justice.
Love: (H157 ‘ahab) Love. To have affection for.
Mercy: (H2617 checed) Kindness, faithfulness, benevolence, and mercy.
Walk: (H1980 halak) To go, walk, traverse, to move, manner of life, and live.
Humbly: (H6800 tsana) To show humility, be modest, act submissively.
The first thing that stands out to me in this whole group of words is the definition for require. It’s not a hey…this one time I need you to do this. It’s an all day, everyday, repeat performance. Consistency comes to mind here.
Consistency. Yeah. I’m not the best at that.
The second thing that stands out to me is love mercy. To have affection for here sounds like to get enjoyment out of or to be thrilled. TO LOOOOOOVE! So to have affection for being kind. To enjoy being faithful. To be thrilled about granting mercy or seeing mercy being granted.
Yeah. I need some work here too.
Humbly walk with God… to live a life consistently submitted to God. Sounds like obedience with a good heart attitude. I’m pretty sure there’s a verse or two that equates loving God as being obedient to His word. Yep. That makes me 3 for 3! Wooohoo! Work all around!
So you may be thinking “Hey…this is in the Old Testament…what does Jesus have to say about this?” Well…ask and you shall receive…This is Mark 12:28-34 NLT
“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him,“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.“
Point to ponder while you wander…Life is a journey, folks. It doesn’t happen in one day. It happens daily and daily over the course of time. And in my experience, life with God boils down to this. Are you doing life WITH GOD? Have you allowed Him to love you and show you what His love is like? Pretty much everything starts there with that. Choosing to do life with God and choosing to let Him love you. Once that happens, you cannot help but to love other people.
Don’t beat yourself up with where you are or aren’t. Verses like these are the goal to work towards. In the meantime, let God love you and keep walking with Him. Being with Him and in His Word is what changes you. You just have to choose to show up consistently. Me, myself, I’m in the I’ve got God’s love now how in the world do I affect the world with it? phase right now.
The letting God love me part took 40 years. At this rate I will need the 120 years Moses had to really be effective. Haha. But seriously. Yeah. I really actually need those 120 years. And I need those 120 years to include divine health.
PS: Wondering about God’s will….Here you go.
”God’s love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.” Psalm 36:5-6 MSG
No one slips through the cracks, because His name is El Roi…the God who sees.
He received this Name from Hagar. She is most known for being Sarah’s Egyptian servant. But God saw Hagar independently of her title and position. He comforted her when she and Ishmael were cast out. Read Genesis 16 Genesis 21 from Hagar’s perspective, rather than Abraham or Sarah’s, to get a better understanding.
God called Gideon a mighty man of God, when Gideon was hiding. No seriously. Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press to hide it from the Midianites when God spoke to him about leading Israel against the Midianites. Read Judges 6 to see where Gideon’s story began.
In the middle of the so and so begat so and so for the tribe of Judah, we find this blurb about Jabez: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called him Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” I Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV
Jabez’s mother labled him because he was birthed in a whole lot of pain. A person’s name during this time and in this culture was a big deal, and he got saddled with Jabez. Jabez literally means sorrow or grief. But he didn’t want to be defined by that or have that be his legacy, so Jabez cried out to God, and God gave him what he asked for.
God saw Jabez.
God saw David too. His father put David in a back field with the sheep. But God saw his heart and heard his singing. And He annointed David king. Read I Samuel 16 to see the beginning of David’s story.
I love this verse…”But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him (David’s brother). The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7 NIV
I think that most of us get blinded by our own inadequacies and failures more often than we realize. We also tend define ourselves by what others have labled us.
But God sees differently. He has the ability to see who we are now, our character. He also sees where we are going and what we need to get there. And He is for us.
Think about the Apostle Paul. God saw him while he was Saul, a Pharasee of Pharasees. He was persecuting Christians at the time. He was anding out death warrants for people to be stoned. He held people’s coats while Stephen was stoned. But God saw who he could be, and literally blinded Saul with His light. Saul became Paul and wrote 2/3 of the New Testament.
When we seek Him like Jabez and David did, when we trust Him like Hagar and Gideon did, when we are willing to submit to course correction like Saul, God is able to take us where we could never go on our own.
Point to ponder while you wander…No matter how invisible you may feel in this life know that God sees you clearly! You are significant to Him. Jesus thinks you are worth giving His life for. You ARE loved. You ARE seen.
God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.” Psalm 18:30 NLT
Thankful today for His enduring patience and unconditional love for all the times I doubted the truth of this verse and wouldn’t trust Him.
King David wrote a good chunk of Psalms. He wrote in the desperate times, the good times, the perilous times, and basically every other time in his life.
Being a writer…I appreciate David’s vulnerability and his willingness to express it.
David would seek God when he was at the mercy of someone else’s choices (King Saul trying to kill him) and when his own choices caught up to him.
He never blamed God. He had a legit relationship with God, and understood who God is. God is merciful. God is ever present. He is persistent and consistent.
God never left David. Their relationship was permanent. God’s love unconditional.
When I’m struggling…I curl right up and live in Psalms. They remind me that the answer is always pray, trust God, and worship no matter what.
Why is that the answer? Because God is listening and loves me unconditionally, just like King David.
Point to ponder while you wander…
God is listening to you and will answer you…
“I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation.” Psalm 118:21 NKJV
“On the day I called, You answered me; And You made me bold and confident with [renewed] strength in my life.” Psalm 138:3 AMP