Meet Kelsey

The truth is, I have never actually met Kelsey, but I hope some day we can meet in person and share a cup of coffee! Recently, she sent me a message on Instagram about how she wanted to order a Lion painting and how the "as you are" series had really impacted her life at a time she needed it most...

"...For some encouragement on your Monday. I bought a bracelet in 2016 that says “as you are” from the blog you were writing/organizing at that time. It was a super relevant message that God spoke to me through during that season of my life. So I just wanted to say thank you. I have worn the bracelet every single day since August 2016. And have even bought a few for my YoungLife girls I lead in Oregon."

Kelsey's message encouraged me to start posting these stories again, so I asked her to write the next "as you are" blog, in response to the question below –

"What does it mean to you that you are loved as you are, and how has that impacted your life?"

Meet Kelsey!

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“I am not enough”.

Since I was a young girl, this narrative has taunted me. I often get caught up believing I am not a “good enough” friend, pediatric nurse, Younglife leader, or just not a good enough overall.

So what has been my “fix”?

I strive. I please. I perform. I hide the real me.

For as long as I can remember, I have tried to find an antidote to this problem, or something I could do to fix the hole in my heart. I longed to feel known, loved and free, but instead I kept feeling like a total and complete hot mess.

Feel me?

Like a buoy in the middle of the ocean, I was tossed and thrown in any direction. My identity depended upon my circumstances and the voices of the people around me. I became really good at measuring my worth and identity by the wrong things – what others thought of me, how well I pleased others (any other people pleasers out there?), relationships, my appearance, and if I could put a smile on my face and act like everything was okay.

if I looked like I had it all together on the outside, then it would magically change how I felt on the inside, right?

It was like walking around with a mask on my face; never feeling truly known.

As far back as middle school, I recall singing Taylor Swift’s song “Forever and Always” at the top of my lungs in my room (usually with a hair brush microphone) because the lyrics struck a cord in me. I so badly wanted someone to come along and be my forever and always, never leave and tell me I was good enough. Maybe this would finally make me feel good enough?

Also, can I get an amen from all the TSwift fans out there?! 

As women today, we are bombarded with two opposing messages – We think we are good enough alone, or our self-esteem becomes inflated with false empowerment narratives.

BuT, in the long run, neither of these actually makes us feel complete.

“For in Christ all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” Colossians 2:9-10

I hate to break it to you sister, but you are not enough by yourself. When we are striving to be enough on our own we are denying our desperate need for grace and love. Only IN JESUS am I complete – I am enough in Him and because of Him.

Period.

God says, “I love you, exactly as you are, daughter. you are worthy and in me you are made complete.”

His view of us is the ONLY one that will never change. He is the ONLY one who will not let us down and defines who we are; no human can hold this responsibility.

We are limited, but He is limitless.

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We are not defined by our successes or failures, or by what we do or do not do. Paul reminds us in the Bible that our worth and position before God is not defined by our actions, but rather by what He did for us. We are chosen, accepted, and protected in Him.

Since our good behavior did not earn God’s acceptance, then our bad behavior cannot un-earn it.

God demonstrated his own love for us, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

So listen closely, love, this means that it is all about Jesus’ “doing” for us by dying on the cross. He did this because he’s so crazy about us he could not stay away. We can stop trying so stinkin’ hard and stop proving ourselves as a cover-up. 

The phrase “as you are” stuck with me ever since I heard it because, truth be told, I heard it at a time in my life when I didn’t feel very loved as I was. I felt more rejected, lost and well… not good enough. However, I have worn a bracelet around my wrist every single day for the past two years with “as you are” engraved on it because I need to be reminded every single day that I am loved as I am.

So here I am, in all my mess, reminding you – Jesus loves you as you are.

I encourage you to dig into what that means. Discovering who the Lord says you are is the best investment of you could ever make. As you grow in who you are in God, you will find purpose and freedom in the journey. Be patient with yourself. There is an unraveling process as we dig into our soul and let Jesus heal us from our past.

His grace is sufficient for you, sweet girl.

Most importantly, ask yourself: who is saying the thoughts that go through your head about who you are?

Bob Goff says, “Most of our decisions are driven by either love or fear. Figure out who’s doing the talking, then decide what you’ll do.

Figure out who is doing the talking in your head. Is it a statement derived from love or from fear? Don’t let the lies define who you are when there is a true identity waiting for you to take hold of it, and put it on.

So, sweet girl, you are so much more than “just enough”– you are an image bearer of Christ, treasured, forgiven, wonderfully made, hand picked and loved so much more than you’ll ever know.

Only Human

Rachel Carter Photography

Rachel Carter Photography

You could say for the last couple months "I hit a wall", and lately, I have been in recovery mode.

I am not a "slow down and rest" type of person. In fact, I have always been a very independent and achievement-oriented person, and someone who experiences significant shame when I can't figure things out or be who I think I need to be - at all times, for all people. Even on my wedding day, in his speech, my Dad said, "Jennie has always said she will 'figure it out', and she will figure you out..." 

However, within the last 7 months - I got engaged, planned a wedding, attempted to deal with lots of unanticipated hard stuff, married my best friend (BEST day of my life!), moved into a new home (with a BOY) and not to mention, changed my name – OH, while running a full-time business and traveling almost every weekend to paint weddings.

It has been a humbling season, to say the least. I will admit, it has been a lot, and I feel like I keep learning the same sobering lesson, over and over again –

Jennie, no matter how invincible you think you are, you cannot do it all. You cannot be it all. You cannot fix it all. You are only human.

It is the truth. As much as I do not want to admit it – I am only human.

By human, I mean a fragile, insecure, weak, feeble, broken, dependent creature who is also, somehow, made in the image of God Himself, and designed to be fully dependent on HIM.

So much to swallow, but take a big gulp - this is the good stuff...

Here's some raw truth about this season – I have experienced very intense anxiety, and some really dark and hard days. But, within those dark and heavy experiences, I truly believe God allowed me to be humbled and he is still slowly, gently chipping away at my propensity to trust myself more than I trust Him. 

Our millennial American culture teaches us that something is wrong if we find ourselves struggling, or if we get hurt. Little league teams give every child a trophy because they don't want to distinguish winners and losers, and if you are offended by something, you get all kinds of accolades in the media.

What if we, as a culture, started to value the hard stuff we experience, and praised our failures as a means of growth?

What if you and I began dinner conversations opening up about our struggles and weaknesses and how these experiences deepen our spiritual growth and produce character?

In celebration of the hard stuff, sometimes we have to look back and remember what we have endured to give us hope for the future. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4: 5-7
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

In 2014, I stumbled upon a talent I didn't really even know I had, so I started a business - Jennie Lou Art. By the grace of God, and so many encouraging and supportive people, I have been able to keep doing this job. See my Instagram (@jennielouart) for a glimpse of 10 favorite paintings from 2014-2018.

I keep telling myself to remember how the hardest things can be our greatest successes in life if we allow them to shape us, and lead us into growth. 

 

Lowndes Plantation

Taylor and Bennett's wedding could not have been more glamorous, and perfect! Gregory Blake Sams Event's did a spectacular job of incorporating a unique Art Deco theme, while keeping the style tasteful and pleasant. As an artist, painting this scene was an exciting challenge. I truly loved combining all the different rooms and colors, and several different scenes into one painting. Hope to see you again soon Charleston! xo, Jennie Lou

POOL PARTY WEDDING!!

What a memorable wedding!!

First of all, the bride's dress was her mother's and has been worn now by 6 family members... it was absolutely gorgeous! Fun fact: I painted Abby's twin sister's wedding last year too at the same home:)

Secondly, Texas summers can get really hot, and this wedding was no exception. It was 102 outside for this precious couple's outdoor ceremony at the bride's family home on Lake Travis. The guests were such troopers the whole time, until it just got to be too much - one person jumped in and the rest of the wedding guests followed, including the bride and groom!

I have to say, it takes a special bride and groom to embrace such a hilarious turn of events! Everyone was laughing and splashing around in the pool the rest of the afternoon. An unforgettable wedding, for sure! I wish I could have jumped in too...

The Astorian - Houston, Texas

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Last weekend I was in Houston, Texas painting at the lovely Astorian. The classy venue is tucked away in an unassuming industrial part of town, and has wonderful views of the city! I really enjoyed incorporating the buildings into the skyline, and doing my best to draw lots of straight lines for the windows! Austin and Mason are the loveliest couple, so genuine and sincere! I saw lots of Baylor friends, and enjoyed engaging with the crowd! Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Jolesch!! 

Austin Public Library - Austin, Texas

Live Wedding Painter

 

This was a first to paint on a balcony behind glass walls, where everyone can see you but you can’t hear them! I kept looking down to see people frantically waving at me, while “painter focus mode” tried to keep me on task. I’m sure they saw me dancing to the music up there – this band was amazing!!

These vendors know how to make a beautiful wedding happen - @brockandcoevents @jennydemarcoweddings @donnabrunsmakeup @steelcitypopsatx @davidkuriodesigns @jimmymcneal @azizzband @austinpubliclibrary @thecakeplate

Thank you to the most elegant, Mr. and Mrs. Maloney!! Your dance classes paid off, you two owned that sparkly dance floor.