About Me

July 18, 2008 | 12 comments

Hi kind friends,

My name is Jennifer Dukes Lee. I am a farmer’s wife. I’m the mama of two girls. And I’m an imperfect, flawed pilgrim who’s stumbling my way home.

I find hope in the rooted things: family, crops, a legacy of generations, words rooted in the Word … Root of David.

Along the way, I love to tell the story. (‘Twill be my theme in glory!)

These days, I tell the story here, in this place. You’ll also find me around the High Calling Blogs network, where I serve as a Contributing Editor for family blogs. Once a month, I write for Internet Cafe Devotions. You’ll also find me on Twitter @dukeslee.

I teach journalism at a small Christian college in northwest Iowa. I’m a former news reporter for The Des Moines Register, Omaha World-Herald and other news organizations.

I left the metropolitan news scene in 2002 to move to the Lee family farm in northwest Iowa. Our backyard is a cornfield. Our sunset view includes the steeple of our country church. We’re on a first-name basis with all our neighbors — and their parents and second-cousins and pet chickens. And, to top it all off, God is in the house.

I grew up learning about Jesus. But I was not a follower of Christ. I struggled with the basic questions of faith:

How can we trust the Bible?

How could Jesus have risen from a tomb?

If God is real, why do so many bad things happen in the world?

What is the meaning of life?

In the study notes of my Bible, it says that “silent doubts rarely find answers.” So I began to ask questions out loud. To God.

My first feeble prayers started like this: “God, if you’re there …”

I can’t report a single flash-of-light conversion experience. But over the years, God has rewarded that prayer with new faith in His Son.

Yes, I still ask questions. I wrestle with God. We Get Down. He has touched my hip socket, and I’m no longer the same. Jacob limped after his wrestling match with God. Spiritually, I’m limping along, too. I lean on Jesus to keep me steady.

I’ve still got a lot of questions, but this I know: When I Get Down with Jesus, I’m putting down roots that go deep.

What’s your story?

by | July 18, 2008 | 12 comments

12 Comments

  1. Jesse and Sarah

    Did the end of this say ‘What’s your story?’ LOL…

    First I’d like to start off by saying two things. One, I guess I misunderstood that you have only been blogging for a few months as I read now that this post was created in ’05. And two….shoot, I forgot what number two was….

    My story, in a brief nutshell, is that my father was strict Catholic, raging alcoholic abuser who my siblings and I feared daily. It took me over a decade to stop flenching anytime someone raised their arms because it was that much of a habit of mind to guard my face. He was a hypocrite in his daily beatings (once when I was 7 or so he picked me up solely by the hair on my head and raised me several feet in the air to prove a point to his other drunk buddies. I refused to cry though later I beat my pillow in angry tears.) and other forms of abuse yet spoke of how we MUST attend church and put on happy smiles while being there.

    Soon my mother (they were divorced when I was small) gained custody of just my sister Elizabeth and I, leaving Mary and John with my abusive, drunken dad. My mother was, still is, very mentally ill. She is a lesbian so from the time I was about 10 or so living in our small one room studio in California, I adopted a lot of her influences she placed on me. She hated men, therefore I hated men, she denounced God, therefore I wrote a letter and left it on the alter of a church mocking Christ. I stood proudly in the first Gay Pride Parade with my mom (not even realizing what I was doing), supporting everything she did. I loved her so, but sadly she was not fit to raise us. She slept
    99.9% of her days away, leaving us to fend for ourselves, make our own meals, make it to school on time, etc. She was in a constant state of depression and refused to have us kids awaken her. My siblings and I were so frightened to wake her that we often peed in the closet of our bedrooms rather than risk opening the door to loud. Later after my father was able to locate us we were kidnapped by him(which was no better than being with our mom) and we were one of the first to be entered in the newspaper titled as ‘Siblings kidnapped by dad. Is it really a kidnapping if it was their own father?’

    Today my mom is still depressed, unstable, and choses to live in isolation from the rest of her family. She has, one by one, disowned each of us which has been the hardest thing for me to overcome as an adult. She was the one person I bonded with the most as a little girl (even in her messed up state of mind) and now she wants nothing to do with me and I can’t figure out why.

    After all that, I also did not buy into the Christian hand outs that were given to me, but I was a nice girl and never threw them away until I was far from the one who gave it to me. I was angry, bitter, and didn’t understand God so I openly denied Him. It wasn’t until one night on a young adults Christian retreat that my friend invited me to that God showed Himself to me. I was sobbing alone in one of the bathrooms with the light off. The retreat was in a cabin log house so with the light off it was pitch black in there. I sobbed and sobbed out to someone/anyone at 2AM, asking and blaming God for so much. Then, out of nowhere a bright light showed up and filled the entire bathroom. I froze in shock and felt that it was Him, that He was there listening to me and comforting me. I knew I dare not test Him to repeat the light to show it was Him, but I did. I asked Him “Is that you? If so, do it again so I can know you are here?” Within 2 seconds the light filled the bathroom again, ever so bright and I continued to sob, but this time it was a sob of asking Him how I overcome and get through the many things I feel defeated over. How was such a chore possible??? Every since this encounter with Christ He has continued to manifest His ways to me in untraditional ways.

    I still am overcomming. My constant strength is my sister Mary, who somehow overcame through things a lot quicker than I have. She had always held her belief in Christ and keeps me on my toes with keeping my feet planted with Him. As I understand it depression is genetic so I fight daily to rebuke it. It’s a daily fight for me to allow Him to lead my day, because often times I fight feelings of unworthiness stemed from my childhood. But I know I am saved and I can’t wait for the glorious day He returns to take me home to be with Him. Yet, I’m also glad He is patient and waits before returning, so it gives a chance for my mother’s salvation (she still doesn’t believe in Christ), and for the many others who need to hear about His existance to become saved.

    Reply
  2. e-e baby

    My story isn’t my story at all… it relates to Ken Bushman, a reporter at the Daily that you might not have known. He was a real sweetheart, but kind of a drinker. He got arrested one night and came out of jail a changed man. He was a senior at the time and when he left ISU, he started writing me letters, which included tracts. One day, literally he was fun, wild crazy Ken. The next day he was writing me letters asking me if I had been saved.

    It is jarring and very hard to “lose” a friend to the Lord, especially when you yourself don’t feel particularly lost. So I am really curious about the part you skipped over here, which is HOW it really happened. There must have been something that turned the key.

    My mother-in-law has alot of unfinished business with her family, where she was abused, for example. So she finds escape and freedom from responsibility in her religious beliefs. She can continue to shun her pain and her family there.

    I don’t think all people who are “Gung-ho Jesus!” are hiding from childhood abuse, but I do wonder what made it happen for you? What was so bad about life as-is that you needed to give it all away?

    Just curious.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Dukes Lee

    Hey Elizabeth!

    I’m glad you stopped by. You’ve asked some good questions. It’s hard to boil down my faith walk in a few paragraphs, but I’ll give it my best shot.

    Some people arrive at Faith in Jesus after hitting rock-bottom. Sounds like that’s what happened with your friend Ken. Others come to faith because they’ve been hurt so badly, and they go searching for some meaning in the middle of the chaos.

    For me, faith came more quietly. As an adult, I had to decide: What am I going to do with the Jesus I grew up with? What did I really believe? Jesus is either the Son or God or he isn’t. He either died on the cross, or he didn’t. He either rose on the third day, or he didn’t. How was I going to respond?

    I began to ponder the big questions in life: Is there really a God? What happens when I die? Is there a purpose for my life? Do I matter? What on Earth am I here for?

    You ask a really good question here: “What was so bad about life as-is that you needed to give it all away?”

    I didn’t come to God as some do – because of a bunch of crap in my life. In fact, life was pretty good. Sure, there were bumps in the road: deaths, illnesses, relationship problems, and a bout of post-partum depression. But life really wasn’t so bad. Yet, I had a hole in my life, a yearning.

    I wish I could tell you that life’s circumstances suddenly eased up after I started living a surrendered life. But that’s not true either. I still deal with death, illness, relationship troubles and so on. But here’s the difference: Today, even in the midst of trial and suffering, I have peace.

    The cool thing is this: I haven’t lost a thing. I’ve gained a whole lot. I used to feel like a body, which perhaps had a soul. I now feel like a soul, who for a short time, happens to live inside this body.

    Thanks for your questions, Elizabeth. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve come to know the One who does.

    Stop by anytime. It’s good to “talk.”

    By the way, you’re still a great editor, Elizabeth. Here you are, making sure Reporter Dukes is answering all the questions, especially the “How.” 🙂

    Reply
  4. Peter

    Thanks for the transparency you write with – refreshing. I have walked with Christ my entire life, but I’ve struggled every step of the way. I pray the same, “help my unbelief!”

    Reply
  5. e-e baby

    Jen,
    I really enjoyed reading your response, most especially because it really shows how thoughtful a process it was for you. I think sometimes that is was seems to be missing in human-God relationships– alot of really good thought! For me, I think my burden is to remember that everyone is on their own journey, and not everyone’s journey needs to look like mine. I have trouble with that one! (-:

    I have had a couple good friends who were born-again, and I was always struck by the inner-calm it gave them… more than anyone else I knew, they were “certain” about that one thing in their life. That was really nice. My friend Angie Heck, in particular, was always a presence of peace for me. I loved her especially because even though Jesus was first in her life, she didn’t judge me for where I was on my journey. To me, that was a very Jesus-y way to be, (and, as I said, a quality I wish I had more of!)

    Thanks Jen… You are amazing.

    Reply
  6. Felicity

    Hi, Jennifer –

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! (Little coincidence: my husband grew up in Omaha and we still read the World Herald online.)

    I'm a Jesus baby – started church at three weeks old and I've hardly missed since. However, I have learned that God is often BEST seen outside the walls of the church. Through some personal trials (the loss of a daughter) I figured out that the Sunday-school faith, when tested, worked. I had always believed in God, but after that experience I felt more sure than ever that I had chosen well. Eternity is a lot more important to me know than it had been before Heaven held my baby girl.

    Nice blog. I like your approach here. I'm in northeast Missouri, also living in a cornfield, so we probably have a lot in common!

    Reply
  7. leslie leyland fields

    Jennifer, what a terrific blog!! I found it through Ann Voskamp, a good friend of mine. (She ran an interview with me on my recent book, "Parenting is Your Highest Calling . . .and and Eight Other Myths that Trap us in Worry and Guilt." I'm offering a copy of the book to any reviewers or bloggers who'd like to take a read and post their thoughts. It tackles 9 of the most pervasive myths of parenting, replacing them with awesome, stunning truths about God's true purposes in parenting. May I send you a copy??

    my website: http://www.leslie-leyland-fields.com)

    Thank you and may God continue to bless your words!

    Leslie Leyland Fields

    Reply
  8. Tamara B

    Nice to meet you here. I linked here through sincerely jenni solely because of your blog name. In the few posts I glanced through, I was encouraged to keep walking the walk and to memorize scripture. I suck at that and know I need to hide it on my heart, not just wear it on my sleeve and then let it get washed off.

    Of course I'm also a people person and reading about your daughter, I'm curious to hear more about her and why you had a slumber party at the hospital.

    tamara b

    Reply
  9. Suzanne

    Wow, Jennifer, I love your story. Mine is similar but we don't live on a farm although my husband and I would both love to (we think). If it's God's will, He'll work it out for us one day. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  10. Dina

    girl, I love your blog name! that alone is what spurred me to click over after seeing it on a link-roll @ holy experience! getting down with Jesus, with GOD in da house!! you speak my language and I think you might be able to rap it too! 😉 I love your recent post with vintage photographs of your husband's parents and the one where you shared about trading up your dreams. as a stay at home mother who homeschools I get asked this question alot, "what about your dreams?" sure, once upon a long time ago I had different dreams but now? by now I've traded those in for a better one, one only God could have dreamed up for me!

    Reply
  11. Suzanne

    I totally agree with Dina. I've also traded in my dreams for dreams much greater than I could have ever imagined – dreams that were perfect and from the Lord. And how great it is!

    Reply

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