Jennifer Dawn McLucas is a blogger that lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her prince of a husband and three wonderful children. Her blog is dedicated to sharing hope and encouraging women of all ages to apply the fairy tale truth of scripture to their real life circumstances. On her blog, Jennifer’s Life Between, she writes about the Bible studies, faith, and thankfulness that happen between once upon a time and happily ever after. Jennifer also loves to connect with new readers on Facebook so be sure to visit her there as well.
When we got the chance to interview her, we were delighted – we hope you enjoy our chat and her wonderful blog post following the interview as well.
OTN: Please take a moment to introduce yourself and to tell us about your family and how you started blogging.
JM: My name is Jennifer McLucas and I live in Washington State. I am married – been married for 13 years – and we have three children: two daughters ages 10 and 8, and a son, who will be 5 this coming September.
Blogging for me kind of started randomly; I had this vision for it forever ago and had no idea how I was going to make it work. I started reading an amazing book about blogging that I thought was really inspiring and I thought, “I have got to do that!” and that was in June of 2011 and I have been blogging ever since.
OTN: Random question: what three things in your purse can you not live without? How about the three things in your pantry that you can’t live without?
JM: I always have to have my phone and keys and my credit card. Everything else I can pretty much live without.
As for our pantry, in our house we have to have animal crackers at all times, and I like to keep a secret stash of dove dark chocolates. We do black beans a lot too, since we make a lot of spicy Mexican foods. I make a lot of soups with black beans too, I guess. That’s pretty much it.
OTN: What would a perfect day for you look like?
JM: I thought about this a lot – and it kind of depends on the day I am having. Ideally it would be a day when I could wake up when I was ready to wake up. It would be quiet. My family would be there – I love my family – but there would definitely be a lot of quiet down time. Quiet games together and a quiet dinner together. It would just be very relaxing and peaceful and… well, wonderful.
OTN: What are some songs on your iPod right now?
JM: I have so many! My top ones right now are:
- Ghost of Seaside – by Falling Up
- Fallen – by Delerium
- Pieces- by Red
- God of Wonders – by 3rd Day
- Set the World on Fire – by Britt Nicole (this one is my all-time favorite right now!)
OTN: What has been impacting or influencing your life recently?
JM: When I first started blogging, I was not sure what to expect, but I wanted it to be exciting and wonderful. It was not until the other week when I looked at my Facebook page and saw that I had gotten over 100 likes when it felt real. At first it seems like such a small number…but then I was like “I don’t talk to 100 people in a month! And here there are 100 people that know what I am saying when I write on the blog!” Then I just felt really intimidated and thought, “Wow – how is it that God is trusting me with that?” It’s just been a crazy ride.
For our family, we have been in the process of an adoption for about 28 months now. We are coming to the end of the process and it has been difficult because even now our case workers have been telling us that we are almost done, that it is definitely going to happen, that there is not that much longer to wait…and at the same time they are telling us that it is not final until it is final. That has been really hard. It is difficult trying to find a balance between holding on to hope and getting our hopes up too much.
My husband has also been in the process of changing jobs for the last few weeks; his last day at his current job was this past week, so we are excited but it is nerve wracking too.
OTN: How is this developing/growing you as a mom, wife, woman, and blogger – like iron sharpening iron?
JM: With all of these life changes has come a deeper growth in my walk with the Lord, which has brought some amazing and unexpected ministry opportunities too. We had some people over a while back who are not familiar with Christ as we know Him, and it was a really exciting opportunity to remember that it is not about me. They were watching me and how I lived and how I interacted with them and with my family, and I felt that what they were noticing about me was not authentic…like they were seeing something that I felt I had not yet attained in the least.
I kept thinking to myself, “But God, I feel like they are not getting the whole picture of who I am…” and then after they left it was as if God said to me, “What about you? They did not come to see you; they came to see who I am through you. This is about me and I am using you to show them something they need to see about me.” It was just humbling to see how, essentially, God is using our family as a witness for people who do not know Him yet.
So there have been a lot of great stretching opportunities lately and I am so grateful for the friends that God has given me because I think that I would be in an insane asylum if I did not have them to talk to now and then!
OTN: How do you find your True North, and how do you keep your life pointed there when life gets crazy?
JM: We have a lot going on and the community around us – friends and church family – plays a huge role in us being able to stand strong in the midst of turmoil and change. I know we have this incredible network of people that are praying for us and I try to send them updates when I can for what we need prayer for; we are so fortunate to have them all in our lives.
We also cling so much to God’s promise that for everything that happens, He is going to use it for good. When sometimes it starts to feel like it is spinning out of control, like – for example – the adoption is not going to happen, or other things, I know that God has a plan, and that is what I want more that what I want, if you know what I mean.
My husband is an amazing man of God – I am so fortunate to have married him. He blesses me continually. He is very well studied, so when I have questions, he will pull out something that Luther or CS Lewis or Paul said, and it is exactly what I needed to hear; he is my strength and I depend on him a lot. I tell him all the time that everything I know about God I learned from him. When I see how he treats me or when I see him with the kids, I know that I am seeing a reflection of the heart of God, and it is truly a blessing to me every day.
OTN: Do you have any advice for other moms that may be going through some of the same life things as you are?
JM: Depend on God and remember, “it is not about me.” We get so caught up in how we look or in what people may or may not think about us, but that is not who we really are. And that is so important to remember – not just with adoption or with blogging or with relationships…but with everything. We need to recognize that it is not just about us.
Early on in my marriage I put a lot of weight on my husband and expected him to fulfill me in ways that it was not his job to fulfill me in. I needed to recognize that it is not about my needs…it needs to be a picture of God and the church. Beyond that, it is not even really about this life. It is about eternity. Someone was talking to me today about how nice it would be if all the stress of what we are going through in the adoption process were all taken away from me…wouldn’t that be great? But even though I may want those stresses taken away, I have to remember that it is not about my comfort. The things that God is concerned about are eternal things. The things we go through in this life are what help lead us to the place where God wants us to be.
On another note, I have suffered from depression and anxiety a lot – in my 20’s I was kind of a mess. But Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It is through that prayer and that thanksgiving that I find that I am no longer anxious about what I do not have or about what is going on around me. When I really take a look at all I DO have, it brings me peace.
OTN: That’s a really good point. There are many moms out there that – while maybe they do not suffer from a clinically diagnosed anxiety condition – they still deal with worry on a daily basis. As moms we care so deeply for our families that worry and stress can really creep in to our lives if we are not careful. Is there anything else you want to share?
JM: Just be encouraged. Let the peace of that you find through what you and I and other women are trying to do fill you. My heart is that other women know how much they are valued and wanted, because sometimes we get so caught up in the loneliness of our world – in the housework and the endless list of to-dos – that we can forget where our value comes from. So if there is anyone out there that is feeling like they are not enough or that what they are doing does not matter, what you are doing is vital to your family and it is important to God. He sees you and is proud of what you do and He loves you.
OTN: Thanks so much, Jennifer, for sharing with us! It was a pleasure to get to know you a little better!
*Jennifer also took the time to write a special blog post for today; simply scroll down to begin reading. If you get the chance, be sure to visit her blog or Facebook page and let her know how much you appreciate her words of encouragement and love.
Waiting on God
Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You by walking on water.” Matthew 14:28
The story of Peter walking on water is one of my favorites. I love it. In fact, I think I must have read it at least a thousand times. The story begins just after Jesus has fed the 5,000. He tells the disciples to get into their boat and cross the lake while He dismisses the large crowd. Then Jesus goes off by Himself to pray. The boat is already quite a distance from shore by the time Jesus has finished praying. He had prayed a long time. It’s now the middle of the night. Jesus does the unimaginable. He walks out to the boat. Walking on the water. Naturally, when the disciples see Him they think what any of us would think if we saw someone walking on water: He must be a ghost. And they got scared. Jesus reassures them that it’s just Him, no need to be concerned. The disciples seem a little skeptical.
Peter responds “Lord, if it’s You tell me to come to You on the water.”
Jesus says “Come.” And Peter climbs out of the boat toward His friend and Savior, walking on the water, at least for a moment before his fear gets the best of him.
It’s a great story. One I’ll probably read at least another thousand times. Usually I’m struck by Peter’s boldness. Peter’s boldness frequently astounds me. Peter had tremendous faith, always believing that nothing is too big for God to accomplish. But Peter was also beautifully human, often going through moments of tremendous doubt after stepping out boldly in faith. I can so totally relate to Peter.
On this, the thousandth time I read this story, something different stood out to me. I’ve never really noticed Peter’s initial response before. Before moving in any direction, Peter calls out to Jesus.
“Lord, if it’s You tell me to come to You on the water.”
Wow! I need to learn from Peter. See, I tend to be a bit of a visionary. God gives me these little glimpses – foreshadows really – of where He’s taking me. Usually I kind of know what’s coming long before anyone else sees it on the horizon. My problem is that I start to get this idea of what God is doing and I immediately jump into action. I see Jesus standing on the water and start climbing out of the boat, without waiting to be called. Here in this story Peter shows me how it should be done. Peter believes he understands what Jesus is doing, but he doesn’t pretend to be certain. He tests his theory by saying if this is of You, then call me to action. Then he waited for the confirmation of the call.
This is where I am today. Now that I’m in the final stages of this adoption, I’m pretty certain of the future that is coming. But it’s been a process. It’s been a lot of seeing how God was moving but not being sure of my response. And so, with Peter as my example, I’ve spoken into the wind “If this is of You then call me.” And I’ve waited for the confirming call at each and every step. True, I’ve faltered a few times. But Jesus was there, holding out His hand to catch me.
Where are you in this story? Maybe you’re still in the boat waiting for God’s affirming call. I know that waiting in the boat can be a frustrating place to be. It’s never easy to wait. And yet we know that God’s timing is perfect and at the right time He will call you out of the boat. Sometimes the waiting is the most important part. For it is in the waiting that we commit ourselves to the knowledge that our movement must be done by His call and in His strength, rather than on our own.
Father in Heaven, Thank you for the lessons we can learn from Peter and other heroes of our faith. Thank you for giving us direction and a call. Help us Lord, regardless of where we are on our journey, to take a moment to be still and know You today.
In Jesus’ name,