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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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19

Monday 26th December 2016

If you want to give up before 2017 even starts

We waited, with hearts pumping in anticipation at the starting line. Then, the sound of a cannon boomed through the cloudless sky. It was our signal to start.

And we were off, feet pounding across the grass as music blasted through the speakers.  Anna and I joined hundreds of other girls in GirlsOnTheRun.org, a nonprofit girls empowerment program and running club.

For many of the girls on the course, this was their first 5K. The air was electric with excitement as we shot onto the course. Our stride was steady, swift and hopeful.

The course made a giant loop around the city park. Spectators cheered along the route, holding up signs and applauding the girls who had worked so hard all season for this moment.

After we neared the end of the loop, the people on the sidelines began encouraging us with words like, “You’re halfway there!” “Only one lap to go!”

All around me, I heard the surprised voices of crestfallen girls who thought that the 5K ended after one loop. In that moment, they found out that they still had another loop to go.

Suddenly, girls began to lose their stride. Some began to walk. The idea of having to make a second loop seemed like too much.

You’ve felt it, too, haven’t you?

At the starting line of marriage, your “I do” carries all of your best hopes. But months or years later, marriage isn’t all that you thought it would be. It’s hard work. 

You started a new job with great anticipation, but you are suddenly overwhelmed by the responsibility.  It’s hard work. 

You begin the process of writing a book, starting a mission, heading back to school to get that degree, but when you think you’re close to a breakthrough, you see a giant hill up ahead.  It’s hard work. 

Sometimes, you want to quit because it’s too hard.

But God has an answer for us. When our arms feel so weak to carry the load, He says he can carry it for us.

“The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you” (Isaiah 59:1).

What’s too hard for us, is not too hard for God.

God is saying to us: “Don’t give up just because it’s hard.” His Word tells us that He specializes in the impossible.

When hard times come in the new year, I might be tempted to quit. I will likely ask Him to take the hardest parts away. But deeper inside of my soul, where Jesus resides, I want more than an easier life: I want Him to prove Himself bigger than the struggle.

During our 5K, we refused to give up. We took the next step, and the one after that, while a great crowd of witnesses cheered us on.

We can do the same in the coming year. We can take the next step.

Take the next step. God’s arm is not too weak to save you.

Take the next step. A great crowd of witnesses is cheering you on.

Take the next step. When you step out with bravery you strengthen others who are struggling to take their next step. You’re showing them that it’s possible to do hard things.

Take the next step. Because Jesus will meet you in the middle of your hardest battles in 2017.

When I’m tempted to give up on the second loops of life, I remember that Jesus already did the Hardest Thing of all. He forfeited heaven and put skin onHe literally had skin in the game. He put skin on, because He wanted to make you strong, in Him. Even when it was hard, Jesus never once gave up.

That same power? Lives in you.

A Happier New Year Book Club

Join this book club! Do you want to make 2017 your happiest new year yet?

Join us in this brand new book club to explore what it means to live as your happiest, most faith-filled self.

This free book club will be hosted by yours truly! We’ll start January 3 with assigned readings, group discussions, an interactive journal experience, and more.

 

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Theresa Boedeker. She wrote a lovely piece on choosing to notice the gifts of grace all around us this holiday season. Find Theresa here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer


  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Hey, Jennifer, you, Paul, and Winston Churchill have it right. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Churchill said, ““Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” And this: “For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I can’t tell you the number I’ve times I’ve wanted to quit (and very recently). This post gives me hope, as do all I’ve just cited. If we but have Jesus and hope, we will continue. I love that you are continuing women to take the happiness dare straight into their futures. Don’t ever give up doing that! Happy 2017!
    Love
    Lynn

  • Paul says that life is like a race. We need to keep going. And going. Our pastor told the story of getting saved and being so excited, He told his grandmother, but she didn’t seem to impressed. So he asked her if she was excited. She said, “it is not how well you start the race, but how well you end the race. Many start, but few end strong. Let’s see in a few years if you are still in the race,” she told him. “And then I will start to get excited. And then let’s see how you end. For that is the key.”

  • That picture of you and the girls waving at the camera says it all!
    Thanks for this place for encouragement and mutual cheering and bravery boosters!

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  • Thanks for this encouragement to keep going and the reminder that God’s strength never fails, even when we feel weak. Blessings for 2017!

  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    Love this! This was one of my weak points I wrote about that I am going to work on this year. Avoiding hard things. Gulp! I feel like the little, blue engine that could….but as you said with Jesus I have a perfect load-carrier and shall rest in that truth. Love your fun photo too!!!

  • Happy 2017! Thank you for being one of the people who encourage others from the sidelines!

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  • Such a timely message for me, as I just lectured my girl on the value of hard work yesterday. How important it is to remember that what we can’t figure out or accomplish He can. Happy Wednesday!

  • Amy Jung

    I finished my first 5K with my daughter on Thanksgiving…what a great day that was! My pants may have been a little looser that day! Love that Jesus had skin in the game. Great line there! Have a blessed new year, Jennifer!

  • heather marshall

    Gosh… yes to all of this. I’ve been convicted this year that I’m a little afraid of hard… but I’m leaning in and learning that the things worth having, sometimes come harder than others so we can proclaim His glory even more. His power works best in our weakness after all…♥ Thanks for being such a great encourager Jennifer! And for hosting as always!

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  • Nancy Ruegg

    You’ve encouraged me, too, Jennifer, especially with these words: “Don’t give up just because it’s hard” — GOD. By the end of 2017, may we all have testimonies of the hard things God accomplished through us because we availed ourselves and wouldn’t quit!

  • Your encouragement is so appreciated!

  • The encouragement we need to start the year right. Happy 2017!

  • jennifer – this is late in the telling, but you did a wonderful job on lauren’s podcast – such an encouragement to her, personally, to all your listeners, and you spoke real words with meaning and humility and grace. I listened online from CA. Just wanted to let you know. ( :

  • Chrissy Kertscher

    This post encouraging! I hope I can encourage people the way you do with the new blog I’m starting. Icametoworship.com

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