Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Wednesday 23rd July 2014

#TellHisStory: How to Make the Grandest Entrance

So, I pull her aside in the lobby of a hotel in Arkansas.

I want to know what she knows. I want to know what makes her spirit sparkle like that. Sally Haukas

I want to know how someone can always track joy across the carpet every time she walks into a room. (But never once makes it all about her.)

And yeah, of course, the answer is Jesus. That’s the simple, obvious answer. But there’s something about how she responds to Jesus’ presence in her life.

That’s what makes all the difference.

I put a hand on my new friend’s shoulder in that hotel lobby. We’ve spent the weekend at a retreat together. And it’s that time when everyone’s saying their goodbyes. People walk by, pulling wheeled suitcases behind them.

And she doesn’t flinch when I ask her some questions.

Her name is Sally. Her hair is pulled into this tousled ponytail. And she is wise beyond her years when she answers.

“My dad,” she says, and she pauses, while this wide smile stretches across her face like a sunrise. “It was about the way Dad walked into a room.”

Sally tells me more.

Her dad taught her that when you walk into a room, you never say, “Here I am!”

Instead, you say, “There you are!”

You don’t actually have to say the words out loud, but you might. You can speak with your whole self.

You want to make a difference in the world? You want to spread joy? You want to let people know they matter?

It starts with how you walk into a room.

It starts with “There you are.”


That’s the essence of self-forgetfulness. That’s the spine of being other-referenced. That’s the heartbeat of serving our fellow man, putting someone else first, following the Golden Rule. It’s gospel humility. It’s not thinking less of yourself – but thinking of yourself less.

It’s the pulse of Jesus, who believed so much in the truth of “There You Are” … that He entered straight into it – not with some grand Red Carpet entrance, but with the humility of a barn-floor birth.

Jesus walked into the room. Into the mess. Into the middle.

Into the heart of things.

Into your life.

It’s fundamental to what we believe.

It’s all about how you walk into a room.

It’s also about how you walk into a mission field, into the dinner party, into your Facebook news feed, into your living room after a long day at work, into the church sanctuary, into your kids’ messy bedroom.

You can’t lose when you enter a room with a new view that’s less about you.

With a little less, “Here I am.”

And a bit more, “there you are.”

Leaving tracks of joy – and a generosity of spirit – wherever your feet may take you.

photo 1 photo 3 photo 2 photo 4.PNG


Photos from our recent retreat with the (in)courage contributors. Are you familiar with (in)courage? Sign up for their daily emails over here — a bit of sunshine in your inbox every morning!

So, what’s your Story?

A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!


  • I want to be like her. Thank you for sharing this, for causing me to pray that I can be less about me and more about others. You’re a blessing.

    • Thanks,s Elizabeth. Yeah. Sally is a gem.

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  • Not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself LESS. Goodness, help me to remember this when I walk into a room and may I say, “There you are!” This was so good…what a gift.

    • Yeah… That’s a Tim Keller quote. From the Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Have you read that slim little book? I return to it again and again. It was a sort of handbook for me while writing Love Idol.

      • Jennifer, I downloaded that little book to my Kindle last night and finished it this morning. I cried, literally, I cried through the entire thing. God knows what we need and between Love Idol and the many posts that have followed…He is working on me. I sent this post to my 22 year old son last night too…he read it and said how much he loved it when you tied in the birth of Jesus, His lowly birth. HIS entrance into everything. Our example. I am just overwhelmed still today by this simple, but profound thought, “There you are!” ♥

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  • What amazing advice from her Dad! Thanks for sharing this story, Jennifer. I’m going to remember “there you are” in all interactions. I love that you brought up trying this in every situation, even online. Love the pictures! It looks like you had a wonderful weekend :).

    • Yes, we had a lovely time. Lots of newbies on the team, and the long-time contributors were so welcoming and encouraging. Lots of exciting things ahead at incourage and Dayspring! Can’t wait to share more!

  • KristinHillTaylor

    What a simple yet life-changing perspective. Thanks for sharing this.

    • You are so welcome. Always a pleasure to see you here for #TellHisStory, Kristin. xo

  • Ok, I want to be like Sally when i grow up! Seriously good words, Jennifer and you’ve given me a lot to think about.

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  • The simplicity of this is breathtakingly beautiful… I am taking this one right into my heart and asking God to expand this truth in me… Thanks for sharing this sweet truth!!!!

    • Yes… So simple. I won’t soon forget this lesson from Sally.

  • Kim Hyland

    I’ve been on the receiving end of Sally’s “There you are!” and it felt wonderful! Thank you Sally and thank you Jennifer for asking and sharing. The difference between “Here I am” and “There you are” is life changing stuff!

    • Yeah. She’s one kind-hearted, other-referenced soul. Much to learn from Sally Haukas! Thanks for being here, Kim.

  • I love Sally. She has such a beautiful heart and way with people. What a special weekend this must have been. 🙂

    • She sure does, Kris. … And yes, it was a very special weekend. We spent some time at Dayspring HQ, which was also a real treat.

  • Wow – I love that! “There you are” – that gave me a lot to think about today!

  • I love, love, love Sally. She is true beauty – inside and out.

    • Indeed. She really is. You know, when we did those inRL tapings at Allume last year? She made me feel so at ease.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    Oh my goodness, I love this so much! As in introvert who has a bit of difficulty entering a crowded room… this – this will make all the difference!

    • Agreed! It takes the EMPHASIS off ourselves. … but also the pressure we PUT on ourselves to perform or “be” something other-than. It helps in those uncomfortable situations where I don’t know how to insert myself in a conversation. … Maybe that’s why Keller calls it the FREEDOM of self-forgetfulness.

  • I love that, walking into a room saying, “There you are!” I heard this morning someone say they pray a blast of love for each person she’ll meet before she goes there. Humility is vastly underrated! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this beautiful lady, Jennifer.

    • I like that … praying a blast of love. Cool!

  • Rita Sue Hanks

    This makes a deep impression on me! Thank you for sharing it!

    • You are very welcome, Rita Sue. Thanks for being here today.

  • This is spot on. Sally is a ray of sunshine and though I, like you, only visited with her over a couple days – I miss her. Crazy how that happens, huh? My word – she is everything you’ve said above and such a shining example to me of what I want to grow up to be like. She makes room for people to breathe.

    • I know another ray of sunshine… pssst — that’s YOU! 🙂

  • Janet

    Ta-Da! There you are! I’ve had a couple of special friends in my life like this ray-of-sunshine woman. They definitely glow. May we all leave tracks of joy and generosity of spirit wherever our feet lead us! Thank you for sharing the secret!

    • Being “other-referenced” is too rare a quality in our self-absorbed world. Much to learn from the likes of Sally Haukas.

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  • Michelle

    There You Are ~ puts a whole new light on it
    Thank you for sharing

  • AMEN!!! LOVE seeing Sally’s story here. She inspires and teaches Jesus in everything she does. It totally made my day to read this!

  • I could not love this more 🙂 And as much as I love Sally & her story, I love your heart to stop & ask her to share it.

    • Exactly! A double edged example.

  • soulstops

    Yes: 🙂 Thank you for sharing Sally’s father’s secret about focusing on another….love seeing all of your smiling faces 🙂

  • I just love this. I want to always be – there you are! I want Him to be more and me to be less.

  • bonnierose

    This was so so timely for me today… going to SHESPEAKS conference leaving tomorr morning.. and I”m in the speakers track and I’ve been preparing my 5 minute message to share with my group of women…. thank you for this! xo

  • Alia_Joy

    I could not love this more and I especially could not love Sally more. From the first time I met her she just lives like this, this tremendous care she takes with people’s souls. I always leave her presence richer. I’m blessed to know her and to know you as well. Such a gift.

  • Lisha Epperson

    You do that Jennifer. I remember meeting you at Allume last year. We talked about your book but you seemed to take me in with your whole body. I was intimidated as “all get out” in that hotel room but I felt seen by you. I won’t forget that. Love this post.

  • I love how you turn our eyes from her example to Jesus!

  • I can’t tell you what this post stirred deep in my heart. Thank you for inspiring some soulsearching and big asks of God. I want to be like Sally.

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  • Certain people come to mind, and this quality you describe is so captivating. I am adding this to my protocol! Being one who is often uncomfortable with entering a room and drawing attention, I always ask questions to keep things moving, but adding this whole joy element eliminates “uncomfortable” and breaks down walls at the start. Love it!

  • Loved this! So going to remember this. I so want to be a “there you are” person!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    That’s IT! So simple and yet so effective. Sally reminds me of a dear friend who graduated to heaven a number of years ago. Her example lives on in my heart, inspiring me to be interested in and caring toward others as she was. The ripple effect from such people, as they impact those around them, must be HUGE! Thank you, Jennifer, for introducing us to Sally.

  • Laurie Collett

    May His light & love shine through us! Thanks for the beautiful post & for hosting & God bless!

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  • Ava Sophie

    Thank you for sharing this great story! What a wise father she had! I haven’t thought about it like this before, thank you so much for widening my perspective! :0) God bless you and your writing. You have a gift to tell stories and to show new perspectives!
    -Ava Sophie

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@jenfulwiler You model this well, Jennifer. Loving Jesus and serving him boldly with your gifts.