Friday, February 27, 2009


This article in honor of Jessica Nelson's 26th Birthday. Surprise, Jessie!

I have orchestrated two surprise birthday parties for Kevin, and he found out about both of them beforehand, so I gave up. I told him it’s his turn to plan one for me. But I’m not holding my breath, since he’s not the party animal I am, and I may be waiting a long, long time!\

God, on the other hand, seems to delight in surprising us. I believe He gets His kicks by doing things in unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary ways, just to remind us that He is still in the miracle business, and we needn’t worry if our problems seem more impossible than the next guy’s. He can fix anything with one little surprise.

I’ll bet Daniel was surprised when those lions the king had thrown him in with went to sleep! And, don’t you think the disciples were surprised to see Jesus walking on the water in a squalling storm? How about when He raised a widow’s son from his coffin in the middle of the funeral procession? And, the surprise to clinch them all was when God resurrected Jesus after He’d been dead three days. Now, that’s something to party about!

God has given me a few notable surprises in my life. When I was seventeen and thought I had sinned far too much for Him to ever forgive me, I came across a verse in Hebrews 10:17 that told me, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” God was saying, “Surprise! I love you in spite of your failings! I do want you in my family!”

When my friend Brad told me that his friend, Kevin needed a wife, and I agreed to pray for him, God said, “Surprise!” Then He used me to answer my own prayer!

Eighteen years ago when my son and I were getting on the freeway in L.A. to go to the grocery store, we prayed that God would let us live in the country someday. By the time we got the call to come to Paris, I had forgotten that prayer. I wanted to stay put with my great friends, my prestigious job, and my 235 restaurants to choose from. But, God had not forgotten. Surprise! We are happier here than we have ever been.

When I get into a pickle, whether it be of my own making or someone else’s, I need to remind myself of God’s ability and willingness to surprise me. I need to keep I Corinthians 2:9 in the forefront of my mind: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has entered into the heart of mankind the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

He loves to jump out when you least expect Him, and turn impossible situations around. He
loves to change people’s hearts, heal incurable cases, rescue from prison, restore what’s broken, and fix the worst problems imaginable. The bigger the mess, the more fun He has surprising you when He steps in and unscrambles it. His resources are unlimited, and His ideas are the cleverest.

Next time you come up against a stubborn mountain that refuses to move out of your way, instead of saying with everyone else, “Well, you never know what’s gonna happen,” say “God, I’m ready for a surprise!”
--- Jen

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Chapter of my new Work in Progress

I have decided, with some encouragement from friends, and a lot of prodding from the Holy Spirit, to start a new book. Even though my first one is not published, I believe this one will be more marketable. I'm calling it "The Secret Life of a Reluctant Preacher's Wife" Of course, this is a rough draft of the first chapter, which is very short. It may end up being the intro instead. I'd love your feedback, as long as it's praise. Just kidding! Any feedback is welcome. _ Jen

Chapter One: The Reluctant Preacher’s Wife

When Kevin and I were dating, I imagined marriage to a preacher as one big Bible Study, with meals in between. I would come home from work at night and we’d sit for hours talking about the Lord, never disagreeing, blissfully discussing spiritual matters. If Kevin ever got discouraged about things at church, I’d build him up and send him back out to the battle with renewed self-confidence and determination. Give me a break; I was only five when we got married!

After thirty-four years of being a preacher’s wife, I admit we have done more battling than Bible studies. And I have needed as much or more encouragement as Kevin. But, more of that later in the book. You may want to hear the zany story of how a spunky L.A. redhead got together with a conservative preacher from Portland…

When in my first year of college, I was close friends with a young man named Brad. He had asked to accompany me home over Easter weekend to meet my parents. Encouraged by his interest in me, I agreed. Another friend of Brad’s, Kevin Levellie, lived in the same town as my parents. Kevin was pastoring a small church across town, his first ministry out of Bible College. Brad and I stopped by his house Sunday evening and visited for several hours. On the way back to school the next morning, Brad asked if we could pray for Kevin. Seems he was really lonesome, and Brad thought a wife would cure that.

“Sure!” I chirped, always willing to pray. Wanting to impress Brad, I launched into one the most heartfelt, if not dramatic prayers of my young life:
Dear Lord, please lead a woman into Kevin’s life who is just right for him; someone who will stand beside him in ministry and be an encouragement to him , who will help him pastor your sheep in a loving way and compliment him, bringing out the best in him.”

Shortly after my show-offy prayer, Brad lost interest in me for no apparent reason. Kevin and I started writing, and when I went home for the summer, we became the closest of friends. By the end of the summer, my ring finger was dancing in the Fresno sun, clad in a diamond bikini.

Do you ever wonder why God chooses some of the methods He does to answer our prayers? Although I am a fairly creative person, I did not have ME in mind when I asked God to send Kevin a wife! In fact, I had always said I would never marry a preacher, because I wanted a to be rich, and that definitely left preachers out! I wonder if God guffawed as He said “You asked for it!”

To make life more interesting, I am not your stereotypical preacher’s wife. I don’t play the piano. If I did, it would be too loud for most older people, and I’d make up my own rhythm. I have been known to argue with my husband in the middle of a sermon, shock everyone with my choice of Easter attire (more about this in a later chapter), and not keep my house very clean. I love to dance, I spoiled my kids, and I let weeds grow in my garden (not on purpose!).

I trust all of these facts give you hope for yourself. Because if God can turn me into a preacher’s wife and use me to change lives, He can do anything at all! Do you hear me? Anything!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


If you are blond, forgive me for sharing the following joke, but it made me laugh out loud:
A blond is standing in a parking lot, getting ready to get into her car after a shopping spree. A rough-looking dude walks up to her with a hammer in his hand and says, "I'm going to take this hammer to your car, and you are going to stand here and watch me do it." The blond meekly agrees. The mean man steps away from her and draws a circle on the pavement with some chalk. "Get over here and stand in this circle, and don't get out of it," he demands. Again, the defenseless blond complies. The dastardly dude walks back to her car and begins smashing the windshield, doors, hood and top of the car with the hammer. Each time he pounds anew, the blond giggles. By the time he has completely ruined her car, she is in hysterics. He's had enough, and stomps over to her. "What is so funny about me trashing your car with my hammer?" he screams. "Oh, that's not funny," she says, "but when you weren't looking, I stepped out of the circle!"
I need to laugh more; it's snowing today, and I could use some sunshine. Send me a few laughs, please.
Love, Jeanette

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gold from Mr. Goldsmith

I didn’t know much about Oliver Goldsmith until today. All I knew was that he wrote a famous book called The Vicar of Wakefield. On Wednesday evening, July 6, 1763, Goldsmith was in a conversation with Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, at the Mitre tavern. In many things Johnson was on the side of right, but when it came to politics he was immovably Torical (if I may create a new adjective describing one who is a Tory). In the face of Johnson’s defence of the arbitrary rule of King George III in which nothing the king did could be considered “wrong”, Goldsmith asserted, as recorded in Boswell’s Life of Johnson that “what was morally false could not be politically true.”

Need I say more?

- Kevin

Monday, February 16, 2009

Repentance is not a Four Letter Word

I have an acquaintance who is a believer, but is living in sin. I hurt for her, because she thinks she is okay, and can go on fellowshipping with God unhindered. Satan has deceived her.

Have you ever lived in willful sin? I have, and I wanted to die. I knew I was living a lie. I sang praises and prayed for others, I even read my Bible every day, but my heart was stained with guilt. I begged God to intervene, so I could be free. Finally, He (lovingly) slapped my face when a true friend told me I was sinning and I needed to STOP. What a relief to weep and repent at the Father’s knees. Although my tears were full of grief for the pain I had caused my Father, myself and others, I rejoiced in His freedom and the cleansing of Jesus' blood.

For days afterward I felt like I was soaring on a star. That was years ago, yet I still thank my Father for His grace and mercy and kindness. I pray my friend will find the same favor. If only she will realize she needs it, and seek the only One who can help...


Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Blessing of Busy

This last week the office supply/furniture store where I work during the day has been busier than a circus run by monkeys with polka dot pants. I know it's a blessing, and I'm very thankful, but...

Several people have needed help with choosing furniture, for which I feel very incompetent. Plus, all the time taken to help find fabric colors and wood grain choices and quote prices has eaten into time I normally spend doing my regular duties. PLUS, I am training a new employee!!! Yikes!!! Stop the circus and let me go home to eat chocolate and escape reality in a good novel!

For a couple of days my head was spinning and dancing, and I nearly panicked every time the phone rang or a customer walked through the door with yet another request that required me to use my already tied-in-knots brain.

Then this little thought occurred to me: What is the worst thing that could happen? I even wrote it down: we could lose an account (our biggest customer), or someone may be mad at me if I messed up and ordered the wrong item. Well, I thought, it would not be pleasant, but I could live with it. We could pick up another fifteen accounts to make up for the one lost. And, people have been mad at me before and I've survived, so...

This little exercise, along with oodles of prayer and reading/confessing Scriptures about grace and God's love, brought me out of my panicky state of mind. I am still horribly behind at work, I may never catch up, but at least I'm resting mentally and not wigging out as if I was not a dearly loved child of my Heavenly Father.

God is so wonderful!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Housework is a Man's Job

Inviting people over to eat is one way I force myself to clean house. I don’t really hate housework, I just save it for last. After I have finished reading, eating chocolate, writing, going shopping and eating chocolate--oh, I already said that.
If we are having company, however, the thought of someone seeing all the webs my family of cobs have created, forces me to take duster and mop in hand. People always say, “Oh, we didn’t come to see the house; we came to visit you.” I feel more relaxed, however, if my fridge is not trying to grow potatoes from the dirt on it’s roof. And please don’t tell me you clean the top of your fridge every week or two. I have no use for people like that.
I even read once—in a book by a male cleaning expert that housework is a man’s job. They are the ones God gifted with upper body muscles, so they can best handle vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, etc. Made sense to me!
Last weekend, while zooming along the ceiling with my multicolored cobweb killer, my heart swelled with pride. I was cleaning a whole week before my scheduled dinner party! How organized and efficient I was, how—OH, BOOGERS!!! I had dusted a tickle too close to my husband’s favorite Thomas Kincade collector’s plate, and was suddenly staring down at a pile of ceramic. Once a lovely painting of Christmas carolers on a sunset- washed hill, now it was nothing but slivers and shards of useless rock. I was so furious, I threw away the plate ‘holder’ that hadn’t.
Why had I been so careless? Why hadn’t I eaten some chocolate or written an article instead of dusting? Or put that housework book into practice and asked my husband to clean?
I’ve wondered many times if God has looked down upon the dozens of shards of my broken life. I had caused a pile of pain by things I did to myself, things I knew were stupid and foolish, . Now the picture He’d intended was ruined forever, worthless, good for only the trash can.
Or was it?
Enter God’s grace. That lovely quality of His Father’s heart that looks at a broken-beyond- repair life and says, “I still value you. I can do something with these pieces. Don’t let’s give up just yet.”
This is my favorite trait of God: His ability and willingness to redeem. Whatever mess we’ve made of ourselves, He is willing to kindly, painstakingly, lovingly fix. Even when there are too many pieces to fit together as in the original ‘painting,’ God will start fresh, exchanging our brokenness for His new life.
If you feel you’ve ruined your chance to ever be whole and lovely again, don’t despair. God will take your broken shards as a trade-in on a sweet new life. Just sweep them up and hand the pieces to Him. He knows how to fix you.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Promise

When our nine-year-old daughter attended camp for the first time, she worried about everything from making friends to what food they would serve. Especially ham. Because ham was one of the few foods Esther hated, she had a premonition they’d serve it.
“Don’t worry, Honey,” I reassured her, “most Christian camps cannot afford to buy expensive meats. I promise you, they will not serve ham.”
While helping Esther unpack her suitcase the following weekend, I asked Esther how she liked the food.
“Well, it was okay, except the first night, Mom.”
“Oh, what happened then?”
“They served us ham!”
I was horrified to realize I had broken Esther’s trust. Because I had promised her something I could not control, my promise was worthless. Although she readily forgave me, that was the last time I said “I promise” to her, over twenty years ago.
God does not have to worry about keeping His promises to us. He is eternal, so He can control the outcome of His word. When He says, “I promise,” He will come through every time.
Hebrews 10: 23 encourages us to “hold fast the confession of our faith, for He who promised is faithful.” (NASB) The Greek word ‘faithful’ in this verse means ‘steady.’ Solid. Dependable. Stable. We can count on God, even when others around us break their word, or make promises they cannot keep.
He is our faithful God, the only One who will never disappoint us.