From the moment I met today’s guest writer, I knew I’d found a kindred. Denise speaks such profound insight in that gentle voice of hers, and when she’s sitting across the table telling you the glories of biscuits with chocolate gravy and all the sweetness of her relationship with the Lord, you can’t help but linger and listen. I’ve got a stack of her novels in my personal library and have even been blessed to get an insider’s peak at some excerpts of her first drafts, a priceless gift for me as I work on honing my own writing craft. I’ve cheered her on as God has allowed her to follow her dreams of writing non-fiction to minister to people with an ear for the Word. She is a dear friend and a beloved sister in Christ. And I even have the privilege of saying I’m related to her (even if distantly!). I know you’ll enjoy today’s story and giveaway from my lovely sister-in-law Sarah’s sister-in-law…author and speaker, Denise Hildreth Jones.
Running beneath a rain of birdseed, my husband opened the passenger door for me to climb inside as we started our life together. I grabbed the hem of my hand crocheted wedding dress that was over twenty years old and nestled myself into the seat. Laughter bounced through the air and love was almost touchable. My new groom climbed in beside me and in a moment a question came from the back seat. I looked back into the faces of five kiddos, who in one moment had all landed me in the new role of bonus-mom.
At the age of forty, having never had children of my own, I’d quickly come to discover that I had just entered a world as breathtaking as trying to drink water from a fire-hydrant.
I quickly delved into my new role of wife and bonus-mom. We didn’t have the kids all the time, so I still had time for ministry and writing responsibilities, but the new schedule of five kids all with activities, couponing (One trip to the grocery store gave me that revelation!), car-pooling and top chef, and it wasn’t long before I was weary. Bone weary.
A few years before I had found myself on the other side of a heartbreaking divorce. My heart was painfully shut down. I had shut down my voice. I had shut down my desires. I had shut down my dreams. I had shut down in fear, in anger, in disappointment, in performance. I had handed my heart over to a lie. And in the process, that beautiful, God-designed heart that had been created inside of me was a shut-down shell of the “abundant life” God had offered.
After that divorce I went on a desperate search for my heart. I reclaimed it in its deepest places. And then came my new family. The stress of navigating five hurting hearts. The new schedule. The old pains being pricked with the new intimacy that marriage inevitably brings. And a year and a half into bonus-momdom I had realized that I was on the verge of shutting down again in weariness if I didn’t grab a hold and do something different.
I was believing the lie of the weary heart that says, “God needs me.” God needs me to car pool these children. God needs me to coupon to save money, because to do anything else would be irresponsible. God needs me…and the list goes on.
And in that lie, I realized I was about to shut down all over again. But I heard God remind me, “Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” It was His yoke. He didn’t need me. He desired to use me, but He did not need me. And in that revelation I began to let go of a few things in order to give my kids the best of me. Something that might seem selfish actually ended up being selfless.
We can all shut down our hearts. In fact, some of us haven’t seen our real hearts in so long we wouldn’t even know what they looked like. Remember, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” But there is more to that Scripture, “But, I have come that you might have life and have it to the full!”
Friends, take heart. Yours. And do a heart check. Are you living life to the full? Or has living shut your heart down? God doesn’t need you. But oh how He desires to use you…
Denise Hildreth Jones is the author of “Reclaiming Your Heart: A Journey Back, to Laughing, Loving and Living” and its companion novel “Secrets Over Sweet Tea”. She is also the Founder and President of Reclaiming Hearts Ministries, where she writes, speaks and leads Bible studies, retreats and outreach events, all to help people live the abundant life God has for them.
And now for this week’s giveaway from Denise Hildreth Jones!
Simply comment below for the chance to win your own two book set: “Reclaiming Your Heart: A Journey Back to Laughing, Loving and Living” and “Secrets Over Sweet Tea,” the companion novel. For extra entries (include a separate comment here for each entry): 1. subscribe to Message in a Mason Jar via email or RSS feed, 2. like both Message in a Mason Jar and Denise Hildreth Jones on Facebook, 3. share this post on Twitter, 4. share on Facebook, 5. and/or share on Pinterest. This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, March 3.
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This week in our Take Heart series we’re talking about the quest for wholeness, whether physical challenges illness or emotional struggle. We’d love to hear how God has helped you take heart in in any of these areas. Link up with us at the bottom of Tuesday’s post. The link-up is open through Friday night. And don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win our giveaway from Denise at Reclaiming Hearts Ministries today!
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