MEET JENA

Jena is a writer and speaker with a passion for God’s Word and uses storytelling to share His faithfulness with others. In her double digit moves around the US and Canada, Jena has learned to trust God in the midst of uncertainty and change. She and her husband, Josh, recently celebrated 20 years of marriage. For the past three years, they’ve loved calling Gig Harbor, WA, home and enjoy exploring the PNW with their three adventure-loving daughters.

IF YOU REALLY, REALLY KNEW ME

We sat in a circle on the floor of the cabin after a day full of middle school summer camp craziness. As a camp leader I knew these cabin talk times were important, but going from water slides to deep conversations could be tricky, so we started off with an ice breaker, “If we really, really knew you we’d know ____________.”

It was up to each girl to fill in the blank with as serious or silly of an answer she felt like sharing with the group. When it comes to working with middle school students I love ice breaker questions because they offer a peek into lives that can often be hard to permeate. Overtime these small moments add up to greater understanding and stronger relationships.

After each girl shared her response I was prepared to move on with our discussion, but they demanded to know how I would fill in my blank. Before I could speak up with an answer my own 12-year old daughter, who sat among the circle spoke up on my behalf, “You’d know she loves to dance in the kitchen!” I laughed out loud because she was absolutely spot-on with her unexpected response. Those who know me best know my dance moves around the kitchen island are where I do my grooviest work. Turn up some 80’s or 90’s pop music and I’d win any kitchen dance-off competition.

I loved my daughter’s answer that day. I love it because it speaks to a deeper value I hope to live out and be known for — joy. I don’t expect to ever be known for my stellar dance moves, but I’m determined to let people see my joy. In that joy, I hope they see Jesus in me. I want my kids and people I encounter to know my faith and joy go hand-in-hand.

What about you? If we were sitting around a table and I posed that ice breaker question to you how would you fill in your blank? Like those middle schooler girls, you can pick an answer as silly or serious as you’d like, but know there’s always more to the story behind our responses. How would your best friend answer on your behalf? What about your coworkers, kids or husband? I encourage you to ask them! Their answers might surprise or even challenge you.

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about big picture or long term thinking of who we want to be in life. It removes a bit of the accountability for taking action today. Slipping into a false sense of permanency and forgetting that each day holds opportunities to live intentionally is all too easy. If we’re not paying attention, we wake up to busy schedules, and soar into the autopilot of productivity forgetting tomorrow is not guaranteed. Did we choose words of understanding in that tough conversation? Did I pause to look in her eyes when she showed me the “ouchie” for the fifth time that day? Did I hurry into my garage and not take time to ask my neighbor how her new job is going? Did I dance?

Some great news is even if you don’t like today’s answers to our ice breaker, you can start fresh right now.

Decide for yourself what’s most important. What do you want to be known for — today, this week, this season? Begin building new experiences today for who you want to be known for tomorrow.

If faith is an important part of your life, ask God who you are and invest what Scripture has to say about it. Read the book of John. What does Jesus say about you in John 15 and 17? Read Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” It’s the “we should walk in them” part that gets me.

Even beyond the wood floors of my kitchen, I hope the joy I have is obvious in more than just my dance moves. I should walk in this joy throughout my days making it evident in conversations, texts, parenting, art, mistakes, fears, and relationships.

After all, if you really, really knew me you’d know the truth is that the joy of my Lord and Savior most definitely is my greatest strength (adapted from Nehemiah 8:10).

Written by Jena Meyerpeter for The Anchor Journal

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