Trading Heartache for Heartburn (A November to Remember — 11.12.2014)

November 11, 2014 | 44 comments

Today’s Scripture — 11.12.2014

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” ~ Luke 24:32

Trading Heartache for Heartburn

I had this huge smile on my face, big enough to hide an avalanche of pain underneath.

The smile was legit. I swear it. I still remember how happy I was to be making my inaugural journey to the Laity Lodge retreat center in Texas. My joy was genuine. I had forged friendships online with writers in Canada and Indiana and Nebraska and West Virginia, and now we’d be together for the first time ever. It was the fall of 2010.

When that picture was taken, we were driving in the river. Yes, in it. That’s the only way in to Laity Lodge — through the river.

And it was ridiculously fun.

So, yeah, my smile stretched wide and real.

But the smile didn’t tell the whole story.

Underneath, there were layers of heartache, loss, and stress. My smile cloaked grief, dangling from the architecture of my heart. The smile also didn’t reveal how a treasured friend had begun to drift, or how a conflict in ministry was causing us great heartache.

So I took both my heartache and my smile to Laity Lodge that year, but I took great care in which part I’d reveal.


But then Ashley started singing.

She sang hymns, smoky and soulful. This was the voice of a woman who’d felt pain and gone hunting for peace, to find it.

Her voice came at me like a freight train, or a freedom train — I didn’t know which yet. I sank deeper into the couch, while her songs opened me up. I felt raw, excavated, and vulnerable. I also felt a nearness to Jesus. In some way, I could see the hem of His garment, as he picked up the gazillion shattered pieces of my heart, like so many bread crumbs.

My reluctant heart went fluid, straight out my eyes. I came unhinged. It was messy, except for the fact that Jesus was in the room, so that made it beautiful. I could feel him close, like a fire inside of me. Like I’d been busted open by the Gospel.

Ashley sat down next to me on the couch after her last song. And she didn’t act like she knew what a happy wreck I was. Not at first. So I thought I’d gotten away with something. But then she turned toward me. Her eyes studied mine.

“Sorry,” I sniffled. “Can’t stop crying.”

“The Holy Spirit,” she said, unblinking and matter-of-fact, like she was a doctor delivering the best possible diagnosis.

I must have looked surprised.

“That’s what’s going on in you,” Ashley said. “It’s the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is thick in this place.”

I was never happier to be found out, to be affirmed in my vulnerability, and to hear confirming words that God was at work, even in me. I was a mess, but I was a holy mess. 

Later, we took a picture together, and when I look back, I see two things in my face:

1) A genuine smile.
2) Eyes that had been crying.

In that retreat center, I had experienced  a “Holy Heartburn moment.”

My heart had burned. I had let myself be true. I felt held. I felt attended to by Jesus.

Maybe it’s the way those travelers felt on their way to Emmaus. They were dejected and downtrodden, but then another traveler joined him. They didn’t know it yet, but that traveler was Jesus.

I had come to Jesus, by way of a river. They had come to Jesus, by way of a dusty road.

We both found the Holy Spirit when we got to where we were going.

Look — We’re all busted up. We’re all dealing with something. But He’s got a table, and a loaf, and a seat for you.

Put your hand against your chest, and feel it — your heart, beating.

We all have heartache. And Jesus wants to trade it for His heartburn.

He wants to walk with you, drive through the river, and break bread at the end of the road. You’ll look back on how far you’ve come, and then maybe you’ll turn to a friend to say it:

“Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way …”

That’s the kind of heartburn I want. Chronic, Holy Heartburn. I want a heart that beats like this:

Jesus … Jesus … Jesus.

Some of us have been walking a dusty road, and life has been plain hard.

Keep walking. Lift your eyes from the dusty path, to see Him walking with you. And on the inside, may you feel that burn. Your own Emmaus heartburn with Jesus…

Chronic. Fiery. Holy.

This post is part of our month-long series, “A November to Remember: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.

How You Can Be a Part of This Movement:

1 – Print out the Scripture sheets. (Click here for printable versions.) Each of the 30 daily Scriptures are quoted in Love Idol, and each one ties back in some way to our identity in Christ. (You don’t have to read the book to participate in this study. But of course, you’re welcome to! 


2 – Find the passage assigned for today’s date.

3 – Consider how God is speaking to you. How does the verse help you remember who you really are, outside of all the cultural noise?

4 – Visit us on the blog, or the Love Idol movement page on Facebook, to share what the verse means to you.

5 – Share your insights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog, to add more soul to your scroll. #MoreSoulLessScroll 

 Tag me, so I can find you. (Or feel free to follow along silently! No social-media presence required.)

I’ll post my own response here on the blog every morning at 5 a.m. Sometimes, you’ll find a story, maybe a few short words, maybe a series of photos. That will happen every day, for all of November, God-willing.

Follow Along

If you want to follow along, visit us here every day. Consider subscribing to my blog by clicking here to get these reflections in your email inbox.

The Printables
(Download for printing from Google Drive)

Let this be the November that we remember who we really are: Loved. Preapproved. His.

Find all the posts in the November to Remember series by clicking here.  


Have you come by for the #TellHisStory linkup? Find it here:

by | November 11, 2014 | 44 comments


  1. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    Your words stir a holy desire within me to experience a heart burn, a deeper connection with the Lord. This year will my first time of sojourning to Laity Lodge and I’m so looking forward it! See you there?

    • dukeslee

      I’m so excited to see you there, Caryn. Thrilled that you’re coming! See you soon!

  2. Prasanta Verma

    I love this! So much. Now this is the kind of heartburn I want to have!! Chronic, holy heartburn. Thank you for these words, they are just perfect, just what I needed.
    May there by some holy heartburn happenin’ down in Laity Lodge! That sounds awesome.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Prasanta! It would be a joy to have you join us some year!

  3. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I love this post, Jennifer! I know exactly how you can have such a beautiful, beaming, joyful smile on your face while your heart aches inside. It is the joy of the Lord in you! It is wonderful when our hearts can feel both utterly broken and yet full of His love and life. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. Today was a difficult day for me – one that broke my heart just a little. That being said, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and there was a comfort there beyond explanation. We serve a wonderful God!

    • dukeslee

      Hey Heather … I hope today is better. I’m just now going through these comments, and wanted you to know that I’m praying for you and your difficult day, and hoping that this day is better. xo

      • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

        Thank you so much, Jennifer, for caring and for praying for me. What a beautiful example you are of Christ in us! I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I’m pleased to report that my situation is not only resolved, but God was glorified in it. Thank you, again.

  4. Mary Bonner

    After I read the scripture passage for today and wrote in my journal, I could. not. wait. to get here and see what you wrote about the verse. A holy heartburn…yes! That is my desire and yet, sometimes I hold back and will not let go. This series? Some days I think it was designed just for me. Thank you, Jennifer for being faithful and writing it.

    • dukeslee

      I’m so glad to know you’re on this journey, Mary. Thank you xo

  5. Megan Willome

    I love this for so many reasons.

    • dukeslee

      Grateful for you, Megan. You will be greatly missed this year.

  6. Susan

    I couldn’t love this more.

  7. JViola79

    Jennifer, this is beautiful & spoke to me for several reasons. I don’t even know how to give the short reason 🙂 so I will just say this – I am so grateful our God trades heartache for heartburn. His love for us is so fierce that He does not leave us in our heartache. This morning, yeah, deeply grateful for some heartburn! And grateful for this post. Bless you!

    • dukeslee

      Chronic heartburn, baby! 🙂

  8. Jillie

    (First of all, Jennifer, thank you for including your online friends in CANADA! Now, I’m sure there’s more than 1, but I like to think I’m the one and only. 🙂 Makes me feel special.)
    These words: “I had come to Jesus, by way of a river. They had come to Jesus by way of a dusty road”, AND, “We’re all busted up. We’re all dealing with something. But He’s got a table, and a loaf, and a seat for you.” These words give me great hope and encouragement, as one who found Jesus on a dry, dusty road of my own making. Through this series, He IS making His Word “come alive” in me again and I pray it consumes me like a fire in my bones, like it did in the beginning. I am reminded of Jeremiah the Prophet, who said, “But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire, shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not…” (20:9)
    Thanks for baring your heart to my heart today, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      I love my Canadians friends. 🙂 … You’ll have to check back the week of Thanksgiving. I’m featuring a story about a Canadian man! Can’t wait for you to see it. 🙂

  9. Sandra Heska King

    Love this! And I’ve always, always loved that photo. I blubbered my way through that next, and my first, retreat. 😉

    • dukeslee

      The Holy Spirit got you too, eh?

      See you soon.

  10. Laura Boggess

    So beautiful, Jennifer. I’m grateful for the ways you share your vulnerability. And I’m grateful for your genuine smile! And I do believe I took that picture at the top of the page! I well remember that day, leaning out the window and smiling back at you. I love you, dear sister.

    • dukeslee

      You DID take that picture! It was a sweet moment. And the smile was real, my friend. How could it not be, with us sillies hanging our heads out the window? … 🙂 … But there was a lot of hurt underneath. Love you, too. See you soon.

  11. Dawn

    This touched a cord of remembering in my heart, of a retreat and a spirit filled room where women were bowed and tears of love poured out. Thank you for filling in those missing memories we forget about and the beauty that spills out in their passing. You have a beautiful smile, Jennifer. Blessings to you.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you so much, Dawn.

  12. ro elliott

    Oh… The sweet work of His Spirit!!!! I love the so g “multiplied ” by Needtobreath…. As I read this post … This line chorus came to mind…
    Your love is like radiant diamonds
    Bursting inside us we cannot contain
    Your love will surely come find us
    Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

    I am so glad… His love always comes finds us!!!!!

    • dukeslee

      I’ll check the song out. I love Needtobreathe. Thanks, Ro.

  13. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Jennifer, maybe next year in Zion? (or in Kerrville?) I’m determined to get there to hug you and my other invisible friends in person. Loved the balm of these words and the healing they shared. Love you.

    • dukeslee

      I would love that, Jody. I hope you can come. xo

  14. SimplyDarlene

    ahhh. things are tough around the ole ranchola in november, making it hard to be gone. i shall try not to covet. i shall try. AND i shall rejoice in the joy you all share in-person. pass around some hugs for me?


    • dukeslee

      How I wish you could join us. Hugs shall be passed! xo

  15. Karrilee Aggett

    I love you! I love the Holy Spirit and how He is just so smart and gentle in how He undoes us, only to hold us up and put us back together – sometimes in one swooping motion, other times in slow steady stitches. And the Road to Emmaus? One of my favorites… but I always say that, I know! I wrote a play and me and a team of ragamuffins led a Road to Emmaus weekend for a church up in the mountains in the mid 90s… my favorite part of that story – of that weekend, is when we realize that Jesus has been with us all the while!

    • dukeslee

      I love you, too, Karrilee. Also, I love Road to Emmaus weekends. Scott and I have been very involved with those here in our are, though by a different name.

  16. Lisa notes...

    “I was a mess, but I was a holy mess.” That’s a beautiful mess! Sacred moments…

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Lisa.

  17. Lisha Epperson

    I’ve felt that way Jennifer. A holy hot mess, slamming doors, screaming at heaven, hurting and heavy…and to the world – a smile. I love the people God sends to see through my act with simple words. Like the singer shared with you, “it’s the Holy Spirit”. Thank you for reminding me He’s in the middle of my mess. Always. Can’t wait to get to Laity Lodge next week.

    • dukeslee

      Looking forward to spending some time with you there, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. See you soon.

  18. David Rupert

    I remember that same weekend. I was there and hadn’t had a single day in over a year where I had not broken down. I was a mess . the shame of a wife who had taken the prodigals path and left me -/never to return. The hurt . the sorrow . the sadness. They bore down on me every single night. But Ashley had come from her own brokenness but she sang of a new life like I had never heard before. Yes. I was heartbroken. But here I am. Four years later. Burning.

    • dukeslee

      I remember well. I think a lot of us were pretty broken up on the inside that year. It was such a tender time, and this was the first time we’d all been together — or most of us, anyway. I thought of you, David, when I wrote this piece.

  19. Lynn Morrissey

    I had seen this photo on FB, but had not read the story behind the river or your smile. I had seen that right. You DID drive through a river, straight into baptism, straight into living water, straight into the depths of God! So beautiful, Jennifer. I hope I can go there someday. It just looks holy.

    • dukeslee

      I would love if you could come sometime, Lynn. It’s a High Calling retreat, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on the team. Many, many others come. Is it too late to book? 🙂

  20. pastordt

    Love this one, a lot. And yes, that’s the kind of heartburn I wouldn’t take a pill to prevent. 🙂

    • dukeslee


      Thanks, Diana. xo

  21. Elizabeth Stewart

    Your post touched my heart. You bless me with your honesty and transparency. (You’re the real deal, Jennifer!) As a pastor’s wife I’ve all too often put on a happy face over my pain. The Holy Spirit, however, hunts me down in His relentless love and healing.

  22. Kris Camealy

    Oh Jennifer. After talked yesterday I had to come find this post…*trembling* I’m aching for Jesus. I know this will be a blessed weekend.



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