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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 26th February 2014

#TellHisStory: If You are Hungry for Love (A Lenten Journey to Change Your Life)

I’ve never been very good at Lent.

Intentions? Yeah. I’ve been real good with those.

One year, I made it about five days without Diet Coke (that liquid gold) touching my lips. Another year, I gave up sweets for the ENTIRE 40 days of Lent. Cue the applause. 

So. Fewer Ghirardelli chocolate brownies probably changed my waist line. But did it really change my heart?

I think I missed the point. I think I missed Jesus.

Every year, we could miss the real point of Lent.

Every day, we could miss the real point of life. 

Every moment, we could miss the opportunity for real heart change.

I don’t want to miss my real life. I don’t want to miss the love I was made for — the love bleeding on Good Friday, then rising on Easter morning.


A Journey of the Soul: The Love Idol Movement

I’m about to embark on a journey of the soul, and I want you to come along. When I stand in the sanctuary on Easter morning, I want to know that my whole heart has been yielded to Christ. (Because it isn’t, always.)

Calvin calls the heart an idol factory. The heart has this troubling habit of churning out Love Idols.

Funny, how we can take God’s greatest gift — love — and turn it into an idol. Funny how we can twist our desire for approval, validation and significance into a false god.

I’m calling in Quality Control on my idol-factory heart. I am inviting the Holy Spirit in to pull the idols off the conveyor belts of my heart. I am delivering an eviction notice.

Lent, that symbolic journey toward Easter, begins a week from today. But this year, I’m not giving up Facebook or Diet Coke or chocolate.

I’m not giving up a food indulgence. I’m giving up a heart indulgence. 

I’m giving up my Love Idols for Lent, and I’m not taking them back. When I stand in the sanctuary on Easter morning, I want to look more like my rising Hope. I want my heartbeat to sound like this:

Jesus … Jesus … Jesus.


The Love Idol Movement

What if we came together for a heart-changing movement to evict the Love Idols in our lives, to make more room for Christ?

What if we did like Jesus did — spent time in the wilderness, willingly coming face to face with our enemy, in order to come closer to the heart of our Father?

What if we fell in love with God again?

I wrote a book called Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes. It comes out on April Fool’s Day, and the pages reveal the truth: I’ve been a fool.

I have  sought approval through my good performances, my insatiable appetite to succeed, and my desire to be “known.” But no two stories are alike. Love idols lurk in so many different areas of life. God wants us to get free from the grip of those idols, but first we’ll need to identify them, giving up on some of the lies we’ve been telling ourselves about ourselves.

What lies does your heart tell you? Whose approval do you seek? What love idols lurk in your precious soul?

Would you be willing to name it? Or him? Or her? Or them?

This is us, together, letting go of what (or whom) is claiming real-estate in our hearts — real estate that actually belongs to God.

This is about freedom coming.

Love Idol Movement Facebook Page

Join us here, at our Love Idol Movement page on Facebook.

We are asking ourselves: Where do the idols of approval and love lurk in our lives? How can I practically and prayerfully give those idols up – for good and for GOD? It’s going to look different for each one of us.

When you find it, name it, ask God to evict it, and mark it with the truth about who you are. You have nothing to prove. You’re already approved. In Christ, you’re preapproved!

mirror scale refrigerator biblepreapproved

Maybe you’ve sought approval with your appearance. Stick the truth on your mirror, your bathroom scale, your closet door. (Find our printables below).

Maybe you grew up in a legalistic church where Scriptures were twisted to make you feel UNloved and UNapproved. Well then … most definitely put that printable in your Bible, so you remember what He says about you!

Put a preapproved printable on your refrigerator, your wallet, your office cubicle, your front door, your family photo collage … whatever “place” reminds you of the love idols that will soon be a part of your PAST, no longer a part of your FUTURE.

God’s got this.

facebook wallet

Then, if you’re willing, tell us — and tell the world! — that you’re preapproved!

Tell us what God is telling you…  Tell us how you’re preapproved TODAY! #loveidol #preapproved

Then, NEXT WEEK, come back. I’ll tell you what Love Idols I’ll be giving up this year. Will you share yours then, too?

Our family is praying for freedom. We’re praying that we won’t take those idols back. Let’s get free.

[ Real Heart Change Ahead …. }


locker1 family

We are the Lee Family. And we are preapproved.

annapreapproved lydiapreapproved marriage






Click here to print the preapproved cutouts. Place these where ever your Love Idols have lurked!  LoveIdolPrintable_pink

A Preapproved printable: to frame, to put on your refrigerator, to give to a friend. Click here to print. My gift to you, brave soul!


(NOTE: I appreciate and value the denominational diversity of my blog readers. I understand that many of you don’t participate in Lent. I want to be clear: Lent is not a requirement for Jesus followers. We invite anyone to participate into the Love Idol movement. This is a year-round movement, not tied to the liturgical calendar.)


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here.

  • Rachael

    This is so good, Jennifer. Lent is a time of cleansing from the inside out and it often isn’t pretty. A battle will rage this lent but it is for our freedom, like you mentioned above. I am so looking forward to what God is going to do in the hearts of those who choose to dig deeper with you this lent. There is a song we sing in our church and the lyrics go like this, “It is gonna be wild, it is gonna be great, it’s gonna be full of Me.” Looking forward to this journey with other sisters desiring to fall in love with Christ all over again this year. Blessings!

  • I love this, Jennifer! What a refreshing, wonderful exercise for all of us to follow! Sometimes, I don’t even think we are aware that we have allowed something to become an idol…something that has come between our souls and Jesus. Springtime is known for cleaning out the cobwebs, dust bunnies, and clutter that has accumulated over the closed-in winter months, unbeknownst to us. What a wonderful idea to allow God to cleanse out the debris that is cluttering up our hearts…even the stuff we don’t know about or realize. I have often thought of how David asked God to search him and know his heart….we can’t trust ourselves to do the searching. We tend to overlook and make allowances for wrong in our lives. God is fair, and His ways are always perfect and honest. I loved your idea and appreciate this edifying post. 🙂 Love, Cheryl

  • Alia_Joy

    Oh yes, my idol factory, pumping out idols since 1978. I’m with you, searching for those ones that keep coming back over and over. Love Annie’s work on the cutouts and your precious girls holding them.

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  • Love, love, love this! I’m going to print off my printables now — some for me, some for my sweet girls. (Thanks for the awesome idea!) Thanks for your authenticity and passion, Jennifer!

  • Karrilee Aggett

    I am so excited about this! You know, the kind of excited that is mixed with a little scared too because who can KNOW what He will reveal – but I am all in with you, sweet friend! Let’s lean in and come clean together! Love you so!

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  • Lisha Epperson

    “I want to look more like my rising Hope.” so yeah, starting with that…I LOVE that line.
    At first I can never name a thing during exercises like this and then a few days or weeks pass and the revelation of truth comes pouring out. I want to know what He’ll show me so let’s do this thing. Love the printables. Printing them out for the whole family. I love it! #preapproved

  • Summer

    This is absolutely brilliant, and yes, I’m going on a pilgrimage with you through Lent!

    Looking so forward to this book!!! And yes, let me know how I can do my little bit to promote and encourage you and this message we all need to marinate in…

    • Oh bless you, girl! I am THRILLED that you’re along for the journey. Be sure to share what you’re discovering with us over on the Love Idol Movement Facebook page. We’ll be ministering to one another over there, and I’ll be linking out to your blog posts, posting your pictures, sharing your verses, and your encouragement. Can’t wait to do this with you!

      And yes, I’d be so happy if you could help share the message of the book, in whatever way feels natural and right for you. If the message in the book resonates, please do share with those whom you feel would be blessed. And if you think others might like to join the Love Idol movement, by all means, feel free to share the FB page.

      Love to you.

  • Sarah

    I’m excited for this journey, Jennifer! Thanks for leading the way.

    • I am thrilled that you’re along for the ride. I adore your heart.

  • So good, Jennifer. Thank you for being obedient to the message the LORD has given you – that we might be free to release the gifts we’ve been holding onto that we my cling to Christ alone. xox

    • I am so happy you’re on the journey, Patricia. I have been opening and reopening my hands, letting go of what I cling to, to take hold of what God already has for me. Love to you.

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  • I need this book! So excited to see the words God has blessed you with put in the pages of a book and to see where this journey leads each of us!

    • I have been fighting approval since I was a very little girl, and it wasn’t until my late 30s that I really started getting a handle on it. I pray that this journey … and the book … will be a blessing in your life, Stephanie.

  • Exciting things here. Keep pressing on, slaying idols, surrendering your heart to the One true God who demonstrated His love to us while we were still sinners. Glorious grace. Right there with you, Jennifer.

    • I am so glad you’re with us. This is an ecumenical movement, for those who “do” Lent and those who don’t. It doesn’t stop with Lent either. This is just a beginning, and we expect more women to join the movement in the coming months. Because truth is, idols continue to re-emerge, so we have to daily do battle. “I die daily,” Paul writes.

      A Catholic friend sent me an email this morning, and it made us both think of this community. She wrote: “This is a journey none of us should walk alone.” A-to-the-men.

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  • Holly Solomon Barrett

    Love love love this idea! I’ve been thinking about Lent and this has given me a new perspective on what God may say to me in this next week. Can’t wait to see what comes of praying over this. Thanks, Jennifer!

    • Holly…. Know that I am praying for you, along with some other friends across the country who are already signed on for the journey. We’ve been praying for many days, for each person who embarks on this journey. We look forward to hearing more about what God is showing you, if you’re willing to share it.

      Like my friend Amy Breitmann said this morning: “Link arms? It’s easier together.”

      • Holly Solomon Barrett

        It definitely is easier together! Thanks so much for the prayers. God’s timing is always so perfect. If you’d posted this any earlier and I’d read it before a major project was finished yesterday, I’d never have given it a second thought. But today, with a clearer schedule and a load off my mind and my plate, God is pulling me in.

  • This is a topic that is common to all of us, yes? May we all be addicted to belonging to Christ, letting go of the empty ways we try to fit in. You’ve started a revolution and its gonna be amazing.

  • This morning during quiet time, I feel like I’ve gotten closer to the name of this love idol. It’s going to be a HARD journey, friend, but I’m glad I’m in it with others.

    • KristinHillTaylor

      So proud of you, Jen. He makes the broken beautiful. You’re a treasure.

  • KristinHillTaylor

    This movement and your words inspire me. Thanks for laying your heart out there and bringing us along.

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  • This is good, good work, Jennifer. So proud of you. Smiling big over here.

  • LauraConnell.com

    Your post spoke to my heart today on the heels of an Oswald Chambers devotional that did the same. This morning I said a prayer to God that I am giving my teen daughter over to Him. I have become sick with worry over her spiritual condition and I just have to let that go. My worry is not going to bring her any closer to God. I have been made sick because I haven’t believed that Jesus can take care of this. Today I relinquished control and surrendered this to Him.

  • soulstops

    You nailed it: the heart ….although giving up chocolate may still be in order if it is what one goes for comfort instead of God…hmm…thinking of what Beth Moore said in her book, Breaking Free: “Wrong attachment means growing dependent on something other than God.”….I think that is what an idol is a “wrong attachment” because it takes the place of God in our hearts…Excited about what you are doing 🙂

  • Laura Risser Moss

    This is amazing, beautiful, soul-changing stuff. I am so grateful to have read this today…and so grateful for your big-hearted courage, Jennifer. So much of what you wrote here resonates within…can’t wait to read your book! Blessings!

  • So beautiful. printing off more of these RIGHT now 😉 XXOO

  • I love this, love this, love this!! Thank you for the printables I already have a few places that popped into my head where I could place them :). I’ve been thinking about Lent and how even though in the past I’ve given up something I didn’t feel like it led me any closer to the heart of God. I too, want to stand up on Easter morning and have my heart beat, Jesus…Jesus…Jesus.
    Can’t wait to read your heart, your book!! Congratulations on it by the way!

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  • This. Is. Fantastic. And tears in my eyes when I read

    “We are the Lee Family. And we are preapproved.
    Yes this is the goods, the wonder, the relief. I love this and you and I’m gonna print those out and put them on my scale and my mirror too. this is so so wonderful

  • Jennifer, this is so affirming. Thank you for sharing your words with us. I am so encouraged (and excited about your book!)

  • Helen Gaskins Washington

    This post makes me weep. It hits on so many Lent attempts to prove my ability to withhold for approval of God.Do I really think that God is shaking his finger at me? No. But I live and think this way. As I was reading, my question was…is this the same thing as always not feeling enough? Then I see that six-letter word on the printable. This movement is calling out to me. Thank you. Cannot wait to read your book.

  • Jeri@got2havefaith

    No truer words have been spoken. I think we are so used to an idol society that we don’t even realize we are idol worshiping. It’s how society is. We forget. I don’t do the Lent-thing but this love idol is an amazing reminder of Jesus’ great love and we are enough.

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  • lindalouise

    I did something like this last year Jennifer, and I am still in need of the very same thing. Thank you so much for this. Oh how I struggle with that approval “thing.” I couldn’t get the link to work for me so I’ll just add mine here:


  • Marvelous! Absolutely marvelous!

    I’m Ann Kroeker, and regardless of what the world tells me, memories, or my own insecure self, I’m preapproved!

  • Beth

    Oh sweet friend. I cannot wait to read this book of yours. I’m printing off these cards and placing them around my house. Just last week I finally decided it was time to let go of this eating disorder of mine (I’ve known it was time but I really believe I’m ready this time). I need to believe that I am “pre-approved” by Him. My love idol has been that scale and believing my worth is found in the number that appears on it. I’ve actually given up the scale…was shipped off to my husband. LOL. I’m joining you, friend! Grateful for you. <3

  • Jennifer…it’s like watching the metamorphous of a butterfly…you have found your wings…thanks for letting the Lord continue to clip those things that keep you from flying free…and calling others to fly free as well…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, preapproved …I love this…and I am going to share this with my daughter as well!!!

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  • Jerri Miller

    How awesome! For years and years I struggled to be “normal” having a dysfunctional life. I never could attain that June Cleaver perfection I so longed for. How great to know I’m already pre-approved!

    Thanks, Jennifer.

    – Jerralea

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  • Stringing Pearls with Wendie

    Jennifer!! This is awesome! I am so excited to be joining you on this Love Idol reprioritizing this Lent! Will be sharing with my ministry team and Bible studies!

  • this is so amazing. I cannot wait to print these out and put them in places where I need to remember, and maybe where others can remember too.

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  • pastordt

    Beautifully done, Jennifer. Thank you.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    I really get this, Jennifer. It’s been such a struggle to me. I have my own golden-calf curio shop, and finally got sick of dusting all the idols. The only way to deal with them is to smash them. I wrote about this in my book, and here are two quotes that I used, which I love: “We are naturally our own idols.” (Richard Baxter); “Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting.” (AW Tozer) I can’t wait to read your book, because I’m a slow learner, and I need all the idol-smashing help that I can get. Thank you for writing what I know will be a treasure worth keeping, because I know you will point us to the only One whom we must worship.

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  • I’ve lived my whole life longing for love, but I was convinced I would never measure up and never be good enough. I can relate to EVERY love idol, and I feel stuck on how to practically practice surrendering those idols to the Lord. I can attest that ever since I opened my heart to the love of God and believed that He really loves me as I am, the Holy Spirit has been taking over ground in my heart little by little. I just follow His cues. So I’m asking Him to show me what He wants me to do. I need a little help here. I’ve already failed every time I’ve ever tried to give something up, by every time was on my own strength and for the wrong motives. ‘If I give up sugar, I’ll lose a little weight’ has NOTHING to do with my heart. So, this time I want to give God ALL HEART, no bullshit. He gives me ALL HEART and I want to be like Him.

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  • Jennifer, what great thoughts in preparation for Easter (and for any time throughout the year) … I’m fairly new to your blog, and also this is my first time to link up here. So glad I came by … such tangible ideas to help us guard our hearts for Him, to keep Him as our First Love. Above all else. Thank you.

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  • staceythacker

    Love this Jennifer! Lent and real heart change go hand in hand and I’ve often thought with giving up “stuff” – so what? So what does it really change? What a challenging way to enter this holy season to open our hearts wide and let go of what is holding us back from His love really changing us. For real.

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  • Thank you, Jennifer, for your brave honesty and bold courage to throw off anything holding you back from fully taking hold of Jesus and the full life he has for you. Thank you for inviting us to journey with you. I’m in!

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  • Diane | AnExtraordinaryDay

    Jennifer…today is my first time to visit. I came by via Laura Boggess, PlayDates with God.
    Last year was the first time I, too, did a ‘real’ spiritual 40 day fast. In reality, I only fasted from sleep as I got up very early each day, but because I had so much more time with him each day, I had more energy for the day. It was a win-win. I’m looking forward to doing it again and to following along with you on this lenten journey.

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  • Elle A.

    Oh Jen, your writing is always so inspiring! While reading this, and this may seem like a very different course my mind has run onto from this topic but I got thinking I need to make myself a little sign to post on the dashboard of my car. I admit I get quite irritated with people who don’t follow the rules of the road/driving laws. I do my best to be a courteous driver and follow the rules but it makes me mad how others drive however they want, park however they want, etc. Especially because I live in a state where the majority denomination have the attitude that they ‘choose the right’ ALL the time. I’m going to make a sign for my car that reminds me that the sum of God’s law is love and I can’t do anything else about anyone else but love them…and pray they make it to their destinations safely. 😉

  • Bruce Barone

    Thank You for these wonderful words and the printouts!

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