Freedom with Jennifer Watson
Both Jennifer and I know what it’s like to put up walls around our hearts in efforts to protect ourselves, but we also both know that healing can come when we take down those walls and open up ourselves to Jesus.
Breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs. Moving past brokenness can heal us. And when we become unstuck, we can often help others to do the same.
As Jennifer says, “I was circling the same issues for decades, even in ministry and as a leader. I realized that I had made really good friends with my baggage. I came from a broken home and issues from that lingered. I wasn’t seeking a breakthrough, not really, I was magnifying my brokenness and the pieces of my story I was refusing to get over.
Jennifer continues, “I had to surrender my story, even the parts I didn’t like to move forward. Believing that if I can gain ground and take back enemy territory, anyone can. My biggest turning point was when I realized that my brokenness from the past led me to my most fulfilling ministry. I ripped off the victim label I had been wearing. It’s okay to not be okay for a little while. But Jesus has a plan to see our scars become success stories that reflect his glory.”
I know you’ll be inspired by this week’s interview with Jennifer Watson.
Who is Jennifer Watson?
Jennifer Renee Watson is a blogger, speaker, youth minister, pastor’s wife, and mom. She co-founded Broken Girl Ministries in 2011 to help women find the same healing she found in Christ. She has spoken at churches and events, and she’s led prayer retreats centered on biblical teaching and prayer. Jennifer lives with her husband and two children in Northwest Arkansas.
You can order Freedom! The Gutsy Pursuit of Breakthrough and the Life Beyond It HERE.
About the Book:
Brokenness has become a buzzword. We wear it like a badge, proudly showing off the shattered pieces of our lives—while still fighting the same desperate battles. But brokenness was never meant to be the destination. Or your identity.
It was meant to be the catalyst for breakthrough.
Inspiring, vulnerable, and powerful, this new book from Jennifer Watson helps you take your eyes off the idol of brokenness and experience the God of breakthrough. Jennifer shows how breakthrough is really hope moving forward, even when life hurts. And she gives you practical, uncomplicated ways to:
- stop feeling shame and emptiness
- leave the victim mentality behind
- experience lasting restoration in your story and your soul
- and more
It’s okay to not be okay for a little while. But Jesus has a plan to see your scars become success stories that reflect his glory to the people around you.
Walk It Out Scripture
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 2:17
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The right to Teach Your Kids About Freedom is a gift and a responsibility for parents. We are fortunate to live in a country where we can share our faith and beliefs with our kids. I hope this post helps you to open up conversations about our freedom in America and our true freedom in Jesus Christ.
7 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Freedom
Every July we all become more aware of freedom. Yet July 4th is more than just watermelon, barbecues, sparklers and fireworks. Yes, we need to take time to celebrate freedom, but we also need to take time to teach it. As Ronald Reagan said,
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Big order, right? Thankfully we can do this in simple ways.
1. Explain what July 4th is all about.
It’s our country’s birthday. On July 4, 1776, our county’s founders declared independence from Great Britain. It was dangerous because they were going against one of the world’s strongest armies, yet they wanted to make their own laws and govern themselves. July 4th is a time to celebrate the bravery of our founding fathers. It’s a time to celebrate our country.
2. Celebrate the American flag.
Find a photo of an American flag and count the stars and stripes. What do they stand for? The 50 stars stand for the 50 states. The thirteen stripes stand for the original British colonies. The flag represents our country and is recognized by people around the world. Because of this we need to treat it with respect. Ask your kids what respect for the flag looks like.
3. Rejoice in our freedoms.
Something that makes the United States special is the freedom given to people who live here. We are allowed to meet with friends, write our opinions, gather in churches and pray. Some places around the world do not allow these things. These rights are written in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Take a moment to thank God for these freedoms.
4. Pray for our President, government leaders, civil servants, and military.
These people do their best and work hard to maintain our freedoms. They have hard jobs.
Think of different people you can pray for. Make this a part of your celebration.
5. Share your stories or your family’s stories about freedom.
Did you or a family member serve in the military? What does it mean for you to be free? When have you witnessed others struggling because they didn’t have the same types of freedom?
Take time to share stories. Freedom becomes special with these personal connections.
6. Remind them that our ultimate freedom is in Jesus Christ.
We live in a free country which is important. More importantly, we are freed from the rules and control of our enemy, the devil, when we believe in and accept Jesus as our personal Savior. If we believe in Jesus we now live by His rules, just as we live by the rules of the United States when living in this country. As Galatians 8:36 says,
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
7. Teach that because of our freedom it’s our job to love and serve others. Galatians 5:13 says,
This post originally appeared at tommynelson.com!
7 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Freedom
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I deserve death, but you give life. I was a slave to sin, but you freed me. Thank you for the gift of salvation and assurance that I am Yours. Through you, I AM FREE! May that truth transform my life each day and bring me closer to you. And may my life be an example for others and point them to you.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Why Zebra Socks Remind Me to Relax
I should have anticipated what life was going to be like on my wedding day when John revealed that instead of wearing the perfectly suitable black dress socks that came with his tux he was wearing very bold zebra stripped socks.
John should have anticipated, too, when I was horrified. Mortified! What if someone saw? How dare he. I’d worked so hard to get everything just so.
That pretty much summed things up. I tried to get everything “just so” and John added an element of fun. It used to make me mad. I was uptight and I wanted to look good to those around us. Didn’t he know his goofy ways just messed things up? Things I was trying to proudly display.
Thankfully, I’ve eased up over the years.
I’ve realized that life doesn’t revolve around looking good in other people’s eyes. In fact, when I tried to display my life with too much perfection I was unapproachable. (I’ve given up trying.) Why would anyone want to be around someone who has everything together?
Over the years I’ve learned to laugh, and I realized my home, my kids, my work aren’t an extension of me. I’ve found out what’s in my heart matters more than how I dress or if my kids are wearing name brand clothes and have their hair brushed. Or if my husband is wearing zebra socks.
When did the change happen? It wasn’t overnight.
Why did it change? Because I sought freedom from Christ. Freedom from sin and worry and feelings of insecurity. No, more accurately, because Jesus revealed Himself to me in quiet moments and whispered that freedom was possible.
I tried to make everything look good because I wanted to prove myself. For many years, I was ashamed of being a teen mom. Even though I was forgiven by God, I carried around my sins like a rotten sack of potatoes.
Through time in God’s Word and through prayer, Jesus showed me He saw me as whole and beautiful. When I let friends into my life, they reminded me they loved me just as I was–for me–not for my image or kids or home or work.
I learned to laugh and discovered it was nice and freeing. What a gift the laughter was, I’m thankful I’ve learned to appreciate it.
What a gift God’s Word is when I take the time to open it up daily and allow Jesus–the Word–to work in my heart.
As for the zebra socks … we still have them around and they are sure to bring a smile.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the memories that will make me smile for years to come. Thank you for lessons laced with laughter. Teach me to value what is in my heart and the hearts of those around me. Thank you for reminders to relax and experience the moment at hand.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Do you need freedom from past mistakes? I know I did. Read on for 4 Ways I found freedom from past mistakes:
Find Freedom from Past Mistakes
It’s not often you get a chance to re-write your story, but I did just that when I updated my book Life Interrupted: The Scoop On Being a Young Mom with the new version Teen Mom: You’re Stronger Than You Think. Life Interrupted released in 2004, and it helped a lot of young moms . . . but things have changed. With shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, teen pregnancy is more talked about. I also changed. God brought deeper healing in my own life. I found freedom some from of my past mistakes.
In Life Interrupted, I shared a little about mistakes such as abortion, teen pregnancy, and trying to overcome the bonds I had with old boyfriends due to sexual intimacy. Teen Mom goes deeper. I share more, mostly because I’ve found more healing. Going back to the past mentally, and allowing God to work emotionally and spiritually is never easy, but it’s important. Luke 5:18 says:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.
Jesus wants to release captives. He wants the blind to see and the oppressed to be set free. That’s what He came for. If you’re carrying around burdens, it’s time to drop them. If you feel as if your past mistakes are weighing you down, it’s time to find freedom. How?
How to Find Freedom From Your Past
1. Let yourself mourn. Our past mistakes hurt us in so many ways. Keeping a brave face is hard. Let yourself mourn what was lost—your innocence, your youth, your healthy relationships.
2. Go to Jesus with your pain. We try to hold everything in because we think Jesus will condemn us. Instead, he wants to comfort us. He mourns all you’ve lost too. If we look at Jesus in the Bible, those he spent the most time with were those the rest of society looks down upon. Nothing you’ve done shocks him. He’s waiting with open arms.
3. Take your past mistakes into the light.
I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare. Isaiah 49:9
What does this mean? For me this meant confessing my sins to someone who cared. I first confessed my abortion to a group of women at a post-abortion Bible study, and I could feel the weight lifted from my shoulders. Numerous times throughout the years I’ve also confessed to my husband and close friends. Past sin is still sin, but it doesn’t have the same power over you when put into the light.
4. Invite Jesus into the situation. Years ago I was struggling—really struggling—after being approached by an old boyfriend online. I loved my husband and was in a happy marriage, and I was shocked by how much I was drawn to my old boyfriend. Hearing from him stirred up a thousand memories and longings I’d stuffed deep inside.
A few days before my boyfriend had contacted me I’d prayed:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24
Within days God indeed showed me what was deep inside—what offended him. There was so much inside I needed to deal with, but I didn’t know how.
It was a daily battle to “take every thought captive for Christ” and not to let my mind take me back to my “first love” and that time during high school. I struggled for a few months until I gathered with friends and they prayed for me. That night, as I lay in bed, I went back there again, only this time I took Jesus. I walked through that relationship, and I saw Jesus standing there. He was weeping, mostly because I was trying to find love in all the wrong places—love He longed to give me.
The next morning I woke up with that burden lifted. I no longer saw that time with my old boyfriend as “romantic,” but I saw it as something that broke Jesus’ heart. Inviting Jesus into our past memories allows us to understand how He felt during that time. And He not only brought tears but also healing to my soul.
Download this printable: Four Ways to Find Freedom From Past Mistakes
It’s never easy to relive past mistakes, but Jesus came to bring healing and wholeness. He wants to give you freedom and peace. This month don’t let those burdens hold you back. Take them to the One who can do something about that. Take them to Jesus. He came to bring freedom in ways you never imagined. Trust me on that.
Has this encouraged you? Comment below.
There are two very different types of hope in this world. One is hoping for something, and the other is hoping in someone.
Eventually everything we hope for will disappoint us. Every circumstance, every situation that we’re hoping for is going to wear out, fall apart, melt down, and go away. When that happens, the question then is about your deeper hope, your foundational hope, your fallback hope when all your other hopes have disappointed.
All of Scripture points to one man, one God, not because he gives us everything we’re hoping for but because he is the One we put our hope in.
For the past year I’ve been working on a new book that I just released called Let Hope In. I knew from the beginning this book would fall short of helping people find life-changing transformation if all we do is identify the problems, challenges, and painful moments of your past. Identifying these memories from your past alone doesn’t help you. If all you do is remember the source of your pain, then something has gone horribly wrong. Why drudge up the past if you can’t find healing from the pain?
And for there to be real healing, for your past to really become your past, what needs to happen here is that you discover or discern the lie that your memory contains. This is fundamental to your healing.
It is important to understand that your past is not really the problem. The real problem is the lie you believed when an event happened in your past.
The truth is that memories don’t hurt us. It is what we believe about those memories that hurt us.
Trusting in the loving care of God regardless of what has happened in my past has been an ongoing process in my journey. And it’s only when we trust his loving care that we’re able to really begin to allow the hope of Christ to shine through us. Yes, hurt people do hurt people. But what’s equally true is that free people free people. And becoming free starts with being able to fully trust the loving care of God despite what we’ve possibly been through in our past.
Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2003. Over the course of 11 years, Cross Point has grown to reach more than 5,000 people each weekend through its four campuses located around the Nashville area, and online.
Pete is also an avid blogger (www.PeteWilson.tv); he enjoys the outdoors and Titans football. When he’s looking for rest, you can often find Pete working in his garden, hanging out with his wife, Brandi, or playing outside with their three boys.
Want to read Pete’s book?
Enter using the widget below! Pete is giving away a copy of Let Hope In to one lucky reader! Only those in the U.S. are eligible to win.