My STORY

It all started right here just over three years ago.

Chances are good, that if you know me, you know me through my husband. You know me as “Pastor Jeff’s wife”, and while that’s not a bad thing, because I’m proud to be his wife, and happy to wear that title…what I mean is this; you know me through HIS story, HIS journey and HIS testimony. You know me through HIS pain and through HIS healing. Truth is, I could easily live my life hiding behind his story and most would never question it. But, what I’m getting at it this, before I became his wife, I had 30 years of ups and downs, good times and bad, trials and errors, successes and failures. 30 years of walking in the wrong direction, and trying to do this thing called life, all on my own.

To erase those 30 years and live as if I’d only ever been “Pastor Jeff’s wife” would miss tens, hundreds, possibly thousands of people whose life’s would be inspired by MY story. My story, to some, will be a bridge to Jesus, and if I never share ME, then those are opportunities missed and lives untouched. I’m here, simply, to write about what I love and to share what I love. I love Jesus, I love my husband, I love being a mom, I love my family and I love where God is taking me in this life… but, it wasn’t always this way…

 

Before I became a wife and mom, there were years of walls being built, years of distancing myself from people and the world, years of damage and years of loneliness. Years of allowing myself to be treated like trash, years of believing I wasn’t pretty enough, good enough or worth enough. It was hard for me to trust and I lived in this lie that no one really wanted a life with me. I got close to only a few; one was a cheater and one was abusive.  I spent years believing these lies and for 10 years I let myself get taken advantage of, lied to, and pushed around, until one day, I built a wall so high that I was convinced I’d die alone.

There I was, 29 years old, and afraid I’d ruined my life. I had moved up north, lost touch with almost everyone, found a job, bought a house and I had shut the world out; allowing my family the only access to my life – the only ones brave enough to love me, and although they did it well, something was always missing. I was less than a year from turning 30, and my biggest fear, in that season, was still being all alone when I did. I didn’t want to celebrate my 30th birthday by myself. During this time, I spent nights alone questioning my own existence and just when I thought it was too late, I felt it for the first time; I felt what I so often hear now as… “the NUDGE”.

Something told me to find a church.

Simply, get back into church.

So, since I had exhausted all other options – I listened. I tried a few churches and settled into a place I thought I could handle week to week. I showed up just before service and snuck out quickly after. I grew to love it and attended each week, even started to come on Wednesday’s. I never said much and I wasn’t involved. I simply showed up. A couple months passed and then I felt it again. This time, it told me “get involved”. At this point, I had no idea what my gifts or my talents were, so I didn’t know where to serve, but, I knew I had to serve somewhere. So, I signed up to help in the nursery once a month and I started going to a life group-bible study just to dip my toes in the water.

 

I stayed and I continued to serve, still shy, still quiet and reserved, but I did my best. Then, in February, probably the coldest February I’d ever experienced, my furnace quit working… I spent a day trying to get help, called in friends who called in favors, trying to make it a freebie fix. That led me to frozen pipes, bundled up in my living room, crying because this was the type of thing I was scared to do on my own; this is where it would be really nice to have a man and some know-how… I was overwhelmed. Finally, I caved and decided I’d just have to call in the professionals, empty the bank account, and get the new furnace. I called, and they’d be a little while; but, while I waited, something just felt very wrong.

My current furnace was working on and off, but I had this eerie feeling that I wasn’t safe. So, again, I listened, took my dog along for the ride, and went to get a new carbon monoxide detector. Thirty minutes later, I returned to my house, the pros had arrived and they had all doors and windows open, upstairs and down, they had searched every room for my dog, afraid they’d find him dead. The carbon monoxide levels were through the roof and, once again, that nudge, sending me to the store, dog by my side, saved my life that day. After all was fixed, I shared that story with a colleague of mine and he said one thing to me, one thing that changed my whole world, and to this day, I still remember that moment…

“Wow, Jen, God must not be done with you, yet.”

 

That was it, that was my “ah-ha” moment; God wasn’t done, He had only just begun. And, I wasn’t looking hard enough; I was still in my comfort zone. I learned, in that moment, that relationships can’t grow if you build inside your comfort zone. God consistently wants to grow us, expand us, and mold us into who He’s called us to be. So, you guessed it, I followed the nudge, one more time… I emailed the youth pastor and the kid’s pastor, still unsure of my place in ministry; I was determined to find my calling. The youth pastor, that’s right, “Pastor Jeff” (anyone know where this story is headed <3) got back to me pretty quickly. I expressed my desire to serve, still unsure of how and where, but open to options.

He and I went back and forth the rest of the day, and what can I say, not only did he find me a place, in ministry, that I enjoyed (social media), but, also…

First, comes love…

Then, comes marriage…

Then, comes baby in a baby carriage…

I know that’s a pretty quick explanation for our relationship, but honestly, that’s about how fast it felt. I knew with Jeffrey it was different; from the very beginning, I knew he was the one and everything I had been praying for was now standing right in front of me. I had been faithful to God’s nudge and God had been faithful in His promises to me. Often, after rough seasons, is a season full of blessing, and that’s what this season was. I had spent nearly 30 years wrestling with God, trying to do life on my own, live it my own way, make my own rules and create my own success. Finally, I surrendered, and when I did, God poured so much into my life I could hardly keep up! Jeffrey, Addie and Preston are a daily reminder of God’s love, faithfulness, promises kept, mercy, forgiveness and healing.

 

Each one of these paragraphs is a different chapter in my life. Each paragraph I could take and expound on even further, and perhaps, someday I will. But, this is 33 years, in a nutshell, of life lived, and lessons learned. This takes me to where I am now, in life and in my relationship with God. It’s been such an adventure learning how to be a wife, partner in ministry, co-parent and mom.

My story is a story of hope.

My story is a reminder that you’re never too far gone for God to step in a change your life.

My story is proof that God loves you, has a plan for you, will pursue you and as soon as you let go of the reins, will step in a SAVE YOU!

My story is a story of redemption.

And, it’s not over yet…this takes me to now; the newest chapter…

 

Enter, Greyson Reid.

Addie and Preston made me a mom, but Grey changed my name to mom. During the first couple months, I struggled with Grey; he was colicky and had reflux, breast-feeding was a nightmare, I had post-partum stress and anxiety, I cried, he cried – it was a mess. It was in THIS season, after three years of being faithful to serve and grow in my relationship, that I found my calling. Through these struggles with my newborn, and another season of wrestling with God, I found purpose and I found passion.

And, that’s where -Up North Momma- comes into my story.

From here, with God in the driver’s seat and my family by my side, I am no longer dipping my toes in the water; I am diving heart and head first into this ministry of encouraging and empowering women by being open, honest and completely vulnerable to the mess that is motherhood.  I am striving, daily, to set a positive example for my kids. I am learning to step outside of my comfort zone, chase dreams and embrace the growth that comes with it. That’s what my blog is about! It’s about our journey. We are a family that works hard and loves BIG. We are far from perfect. We are beautifully broken and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope that my stories in learning to be a wife, mother, co-parent, all while working full time, is an encouragement to you and/or someone you know!

Thank you for visiting!

3 thoughts on “My STORY”

  1. WOW! Your words expressed in heartfelt eloquence do not do justice to this story. Jen is simply one of the most wonderful caring mothersI have ever met. Her expressions here I know came with great struggle, but her purpose in this endeavor, drives her in the journey of helping others. Jen not only talks a good talk but she walks the talk. Her brutal honesty with herself, and vurnerbility to share from her heart is a calling card that any reader should feel comfortable opening up to and dialoguing without hesitation. Knowing Jen, and seeing the last several years he fleshed our has been one of my greatest joys. Like a momma bear sacrifices for her cubs, she loves Addie and Preston like they are her own, and with Greyson the picture is complete. She models with great care to love for Jeff and he loves and protects them like a Grizzly bear. Is she perfect? She would laugh out loud at the comment. No, not perfect, WHO IS? she is just forgiven and working hard to be the woman God wants her to be, honest, caring, loving, humble and teachable, and much more. In the end that’s what we all want in a friend.

    Friend, as you read this I admonish you to share your heart. Jen’s comments are real, genuine and from the heart and I made quite certain she isn’t alone in her journey. 33 years of ministry as a pastor attests to that knowledge. When I say she is one in a million and a priceless “Gem” to her family, you might expect that kind of comment, however, when it comes from her father-in-law, you’ve got to know it’s real.

    Kudos to you “daughter” of mine. Our connection began in the church parking lot a few years back with a look of terror on your face meeting us for the first time, but now it feels like we have known you all our lives. To call you an in-law is an assault and is offensive to my very soul. You are Gods perfect fit and gift to us all, and I know your ventures here and going to encourage so many who need the freedom and joy you have found. I pray they discover it through your gentle honestly.

    If you trust Jen with your heart here, you are ready trusting the God she serves and it won’t be long until she introduces you to Him in the gentle, sweet way that is Jen to those who know her. You have a friend in her, because she has a true friend in Jesus. I know you may not be ready to hear that part, but trust me when I say, in time you will, and life with utterly change.

    Carry on Up North Momma. You are a living example to everyone watching.

    We love you and are so proud of you in so many ways.

    -Papi (AKA, your other dad, the keeper of the ice cream traditions)

    p.s. Better get a another box of Klennex to wipe those tears of joy 🙂

  2. Totally loved this story. Sometimes our journey can be such a beacon of light for others. And it’s never too late with God

    1. Up North Momma

      Thank you, Jane! This was hard for me to write, but I’m so glad I did, and my prayer is that God will send the people who need this story to my site! I know He will!

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