Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Janie's Email To 'Harry'

Janie wrote this email, under the 'push' of the Holy Spirit, to a college-student-friend of our family who was going through a rough patch and was facing a big decision. Who writes stuff like this anymore? I think it gives a really good picture of what Janie was really like...behind the delightful smile and chocolate chip cookies.

So special thanks to our friend, who's name I have changed to Harry, (and whose girlfriend's name I have changed to Sally) for allowing me to put this up here. Please enjoy this little taste of Janie at her best....even when she was just about feeling her worst.


Hi Harry,

I had breakfast with your Mom this morning - it was a great time of catching up.  She is sure proud of you and loves you more than you could possibly ever know!  We have been friends for a long time and there are not too many secrets between us.  She mentioned to me that
you have been struggling for a bit of time in different areas of life.  Right about now you’re probably wondering why I’m writing.  I’m sort of wondering that myself and the only thing I can say is that the Lord keeps gently saying to me “write to Harry”. 

So now I am sitting at the computer trying to think of brilliant and witty things to say that might be an encouragement to you.  Unfortunately I am neither brilliant nor witty this morning so we will have to rely on the best source of information, which doesn’t come from me, but from the Lord.  I have known my share of struggles, both physical and emotional.  Mostly what I want you to know is that everything is going to be all right.  We serve a great God who has everything under control.  Despite confusion, discouragement, heartache, stress, responsibilities, relationships, finances, and futures.  Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!

When I think of Harry, here’s what comes to mind:

Love for the Lord
A ready and bright smile
Tenacious loyalty and stick-to-it-iveness
Bright colors
Love for the Lord
Ministry and missions minded
People lover
Knowledge seeker
Love for the Lord
Adventure seeker
Hard worker
Loves conversations about the Lord and books and ideas
Puts others first
Did I mention Love for the Lord?
I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture.

So what follows are just some thoughts and ponderings and stuff I’m working on in my own life.  I’m preaching to myself.  I’m praying that something I say will be an encouragement to you!  Although I’ll warn you I have a problem with words – I tend to say too much! 

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn over the past 4 years is that God doesn’t need me - I just think He does! “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25. 

I’ve attached a devotional from Oswald Chambers from 2/21 that has spoken to my heart for years.  I love to do things for the Lord, but too often there are too many things to do and not enough time or help to do them.  It’s good to remind myself that “the issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself.”  I’m wondering if you are just plain burned-out.  You’re in your 4th year of college, and from what I can see, you have a tremendous load of responsibilities.  Just being head RA is enough to make anyone’s head spin.  Even if what you’re doing is what you want to be doing, it can lead to burnout.   I guess mostly I want to say if you’re feeling stressed… that’s NORMAL!  It’s ok!  Just don’t try to make any decisions or spend time thinking, thinking, thinking (a favorite fault of mine).

I read somewhere that you should H.A.L.T. when you have decisions or really important things to think about. You should never try to work through things when you are:


Eat, pray, call a friend, or get some rest but don’t just keep going and try to figure everything out when you’re feeling one (or more!) of the above.  It actually spells disaster!

Here’s another thing I go back to when I am depressed, melancholy, upset, etc.  When I don’t know what to do or am in an emotional funk I remember to pray  I-O-U-S

Incline my heart toward the statues of the Lord and not toward selfish gain (self-pity, even to the point of worrying about MY ministry for the Lord) Psalm 119:36

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Word.  Psalm 119:18

Unite my heart to fear Your name.  Psalm 86:11

Satisfy me in the morning with Your steadfast love that I may rejoice in Your unfailing love. Psalm 90:14

Which brings me to talk about emotions.  Feeling emotions is NORMAL.  Acting on them is deadly!  Fears and doubts are one of Satan’s greatest tools in turning our eyes OFF Jesus.  Let me say right from the start that relationships are hard work, especially romantic ones.  If in the midst of all your struggles you worry about you and Sally – good!  You’re NORMAL!  And healthy.  But don’t let doubt be the deciding factor.  Applying the “Doubt Theory” to help make decisions is very detrimental.  We often have doubt:  I don’t know if God wants me to take that job.  I’m doubting so God must be telling me “No.”  I don’t know what college to go to.  It’s really far and expensive and I’m doubting.  I guess God’s saying “No.” Should I buy that car?  Should I spend the summer in NYC?  If we always listened to our doubts and made decisions based on them we would be paralyzed.  “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”  Proverbs 11:14.  Ask the people around you who you trust and who love you unconditionally.  Do they give approval to this relationship and think it’s good for you and a positive step?  If so, then cast your fears aside.  “We demolish arguments and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5.

Also, I find it helpful to make lists.  Write down a list of what you would like in a godly wife.  Does Sally match up?  Why would God put a godly, beautiful, quiet, servant-hearted, patient young woman who wants to do God’s will in your path if He wasn’t presenting you with a wonderful gift (see Proverbs 31:30-31)?  Is she a hindrance or a help to your spiritual life?  Would your Dad test your love for him by tempting you with something good for you but asking you to choose between that good thing and him?  Not your Dad!  He loves you too much.  You know your heavenly Father loves you even more longs to give you good things.

One day, when you have spent much time with the Lord praying and seeking His face and you are joyful in your spirit, simply from spending time with Him, maybe try writing yourself a letter.  Not when you are downcast and melancholy and fretful, but when you are understanding what the Lord wants you to do.  Write yourself a letter and give yourself the advice you want yourself to know when you are feeling down.  David talked to himself.  His MIND had to speak to his HEART: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.”  Psalm 42:5.  The best person to give you encouraging words is someone who knows you best and that would be, um, you!  Encourage yourself and put it down on paper.  You’ll listen to you (especially when it’s written in a healthy frame of mind!)

By this time you’re probably saying (if you actually made it this far) will she ever stop talking!  I care about you Harry and am praying for you.  You are an amazing individual and work so hard for the Lord.  I’m guessing that if you’re not quite feeling yourself it’s really just a matter of being burned-out.  Too many pressures, rules, regulations, classes, ministries, people needing you, money, decisions, etc.  It’s okay!  This too shall pass!  “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” Christians are never in a no-win situation, but always in a no-lose situation, because even though we may not understand God’s reasons for whatever happens to us, we can know that He is accomplishing a Grand Plan that will ultimately glorify Him and benefit us.  This hope is never shaken, even through unpleasant circumstances. 

Psalm 37:23-24
Romans 8:28
Ephesians 1:11
Isaiah 46:10

Hope is a choice (I Peter 1:13) and a command.  On our fridge I have the word CHOOSE taped there.  God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.  At the end of the day I am often reduced to trying to grasp these verses:  “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18.  We could discuss theology all day and write papers and take classes but until I can conquer those three tiny verses I almost dare not go on to other things.  I also grapple with Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, . . .”  Surely God doesn’t possibly mean do not be anxious about ANYTHING!  What about my kids, and my health, and my . . . .oops…what does it say? ANYTHING?…Yup, ANYthing.  I guess He means ANYTHING.  I’m still working on that verse, too! I have two resources I want to send to you so look for them in the next week or two.  One is a DVD called How Great is Our God with a speaker called Louie Giglio.  We have shared it with a lot of people and hope you will share it with the guys in your dorm.  It is so encouraging!  The second is a little book entitled Come Away My Beloved by Frances Roberts.  I was just given this book several months ago and I can’t tell you the impact it’s had on me.  It’s a devotional written much of the time from God’s perspective.  You’ll see what I mean when you get it.  Hang in there!  Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.   

Love in Christ, 


  1. Before reading this I spent all morning being stressed and freaking out about my impending doom on my Microbio exam tomorrow. But i just got to the library and remembered Abby telling me to read this blog post sometime today and in the interest of procrastination i decided there is no time better than the present. First of all I would say that now I am standing in the Library feeling like that silly little girl on the you-tube video "I can do anything good! *clap*" Thanks Janie/Chris for the reminder that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and because of that I can rejoice in Christ at the library while studying parasites. yay! :)

  2. Oh, Becca H, I'm glad I could help you procrastinate....and glad I happened to post this today. Funny you mentioned of the things that Janie absolutely could not abide talking about...just the thought of them made her freak out!

    So glad there are special people like you to study them in depth so we can all live free of them.

  3. Thanks for sharing Chris! I am still amazed at the wisdom, compassion and understanding in one woman. What a privelage to know her!

  4. "Feeling emotions is NORMAL. Acting on them is deadly!" That's excellent! "Write yourself a letter and give yourself the advice you want yourself to know when you are feeling down." Even excellenter! Thanks for sharing, Chris.