#PreApproved Writer of the Week: Jen Sandbulte

November 4, 2014 | 2 comments

#PreApproved Sisterhood Series


Welcome to a new series, hosted here on the blog. Every Tuesday night, one of our PreApproved sisters will share her story on letting go of a love idol.

Together, we’re giving up our love idols, and we’re not taking them back.

We are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are #preapproved.

When you don’t have the perfect family…
Jen Sandbulte

As a little girl, I dreamed of having a family. I wanted to be a perfect wife with a handsome husband and children who were doted on by their grandparents and had cousins as best friends.

When I got married and moved to the Dutch community we live in, I was surrounded by people who “seemed” to have that life. Their perfect family, all getting along, casually enjoying Sunday dinner together and taking week long family vacations with the ENTIRE family each summer.

Hallmark makes movies out of this kind of thing. Seriously, it’s all a bit serendipitous.

And then there was my family. To say that I felt inadequate is an understatement. Let me preface by saying, I love my family. That being said, it is hard and complicated, and I’ve shed more tears than one might imagine over them. We tried family vacation. Once. It wasn’t such a great idea. And holiday’s, well, let’s not go there!

My desire to hold it all together and be like other families became something that consumed me. When my mom passed away in early 2014, I crumbled. To be honest, I was a mess. She had been my best friend, and was the glue that held my family together. Without her, our glaring differences and imperfections seemed insurmountable. When people would ask, “How is your dad doing?” I could only blink back tears and say “I don’t know – it’s complicated.” The blank stares that followed only pulled me further into guilt and shame. It’s hard to explain that sometimes you have to put up boundaries in order to protect yourself, but that’s exactly where I was at.

As I clung to my husband and tried to figure out what my new normal looked like, I was reminded of God’s instructions in Genesis. Although I am to honor my father and mother, I am one with my husband.

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

I don’t know what your family looks like. I don’t know if you walk on egg shells and hope that you don’t say the wrong thing. I don’t know if you feel like they don’t know who you really are, or that you’ll never be “good” enough. I’m guessing some of you feel like you are the only one that feels that way, or who has family with dysfunction.

As I let go of my #loveidol of having the #perfectfamily, I’m learning that it’s ok, and that I’m not alone. Satan would have me believe that everyone else has the Hallmark family. Truth is, many families struggle, and very few have it all together. I’ve had enough. Enough of the striving to gain my family’s approval, enough of trying to do the things together that other families seem to do and enjoy effortlessly. I’m #preapproved and loved by a heavenly Father.

It’s ok if my family isn’t perfect. Maybe our holidays look a bit more like an episode of ‘Days of our Lives’ rather than ‘Leave it to Beaver’. It’s ok. I am enough. Those things don’t define me.

And they don’t define you. As I continue to let go of this idol, I’ve discovered new grace. I’ve prayed that God would give me HIS heart toward my family, that I would see them through his eyes. Would you join me in praying the same for your family and letting go of your quest for the #perfectfamily?

About Jen Sanbulte: Described as genuine, Jen’s approach reflects snippets of a working mama sharing Jesus in the real world. She’s passionate about teaching Jesus lovers how to be real — at work, and home, and at church — and infusing real prayer techniques for our everyday lives.

Jen and her husband Tom have the joy of parenting three young kids and two adult children, and chasing Jesus in the process.  You can connect with her at www.jensandbulte.com


Click here to find out more about the Love Idol movement.

Click here to purchase the book that inspired the movement.

Click here to join us on Facebook as we lay down our Love Idols and declare our #preapproved status in Christ.



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

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

by | November 4, 2014 | 2 comments


  1. Kim Reisch Vander Poel

    Thank you Jennifer and Jen. Jen–your words touched my heart, especially the walking on egg shells. My.Life.Now. (Not just with family, but others who are important to me.) I’ve thought about you and prayed for you many times since your mom’s passing…thank you again for sharing! Blessings to you and your family.

  2. Jen Sandbulte

    Kim – Oh the eggshells…. Praying that God gives you words and a new boldness. Thanks for your faithful prayers. I often think of the basket you gave us at COMPEL and how that small act ministered to me in mighty ways in the weeks ahead. God knew…. and God knows!



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