Family Life: Jenni’s Story

“Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

“No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God!” 1 Samuel 2:2

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What a year it has been!  But it is not over yet.  No matter what season of life you are in, God is calling you to a place of deep and wholehearted relationship with Him.  We desire to see women empowered to live their Christian faith confidently with transformed minds and hearts.  Psalm 33:11 & 14–15 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.  From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.”

Our mission is helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and courageously on-mission for Him – one heart at a time.  One of the ways we do that is by sharing real-life stories of Christian women both past and present who have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in this way.  We will focus these next few weeks on how cultivating a fully surrendered heart affects the dynamics of family life in transformative ways.  We pray that each story told is used by God to fashion your individual heart, to know and experience Him even more deeply, and to joyfully do His will to His glory!       

Words can only describe a glimmer of the deep affection, awe and pride I (Beth) have for my sister, Jenni. She is a woman of godly wisdom and discernment, incredible compassion, and servant-leadership. Jenni has always been a source of strength as my big sister and has been an inspiration to follow as I’ve grown. In our adulthood, we have become even closer and share life in a truly God-given, blessed friendship and sisterhood.

Jenni and her husband Bryan are an incredibly upbeat, life-giving, other-centered couple who love the Lord and love each other. They recently walked through a tough journey of longing to become parents. I am so proud of the way Jenni has kept her heart steadfastly close to the Lord through some pretty intense ups and downs toward motherhood. After many years, God has fulfilled the desires of their hearts! This is Jenni’s story…

How have you experienced a season of waiting? How has God invited you to surrender to Him through this time?

In 2015, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant with great anticipation for the family God would give us.  But month after month turned into a year…and then another year. I had a variety of tests done and even went through outpatient surgeries to determine the reason we were not getting pregnant. I have been told my results, as well as those of my husband, are all what they should be.  We should be getting pregnant.  But it has not yet come to pass.  Needless to say, it has been quite a journey of the heart! In this unplanned season of waiting, we have had to walk with the Lord step-by-step, trust Him, seek Him, receive from Him, and live intimately what it truly means to sit at His feet.

Admittedly, many emotions have washed over my heart in this season, and my deepest desires have been tossed to and fro by winds of the unknown.  And yet, this is where I have experienced the joyful courage of Christ in a way that I can only say has been supernatural.  It couldn’t have been me.  On my own, grief would have stayed or bitterness taken root.  On my own, I would have had parts of my heart left unattended, and I would have easily begun leaning on my own understanding.

Yet in this season, God challenged me to draw close to, and receive from, HIM.  It was not my strength but true, supernatural joy and encouragement that God Himself ministered to my heart.  It was an ongoing process that involved stages of grief, intentional surrender, seeking support in my Christian community, and asking God to speak His truth to my hurting heart. His Word is living and active, and the Holy Spirit spoke through it in many intimately loving ways directly to my heart. God knows the beginning and the end.  He is my rock, my Shepherd, my guide, my comfort, and my God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ever ask or think to His glory (Ephesians 3:20-21).

How has God formed your family through your time of surrender to Him? How have you seen God’s faithfulness play out in your journey?

From the time Bryan and I began trying to get pregnant and entered the season of “waiting to be parents,” until now, the Lord has permeated our lives with His fragrance and so much kingdom fruit!  My sister and I led a women’s group that first year, began Wholehearted Woman Ministries shortly thereafter, and co-authored our book! Bryan and I were given opportunities to minister together to other married couples through relational discipleship at our church and in our small group.  We participated in a book study of “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby with a couple we had been praying for to grow deeper in the Lord, and the Lord used it mightily in our own lives, too!  I was also led by the Lord last year to go back to teaching part-time at a Christian school in Tulsa where I taught sixth grade geography.  God laid on my heart that my purpose there was to help those students have His heart for the world as He fashions each of their hearts individually for HIS kingdom purposes (Psalm 33:14-15).

Over two years ago, the Lord also laid on our hearts to take steps toward becoming an adoptive home through Oklahoma DHS.  We made the call, filled out paperwork, completed our home study, and participated in hours of required foster/adoptive parenting classes.  Then we waited. Month after month went by, and we were not contacted about any children.  When we excitedly and finally received information about a little girl months later, the Lord made it clear to us that we were not to proceed with meeting her and, instead, to continue to wait.  With so many waiting children, why were we still waiting to become adoptive parents…?  (Again, more posturing and processing of the heart at the feet of Jesus and following HIM and seeking HIS purposes no matter what!)

We waited some more, hoped, and kept it in the Lord’s hands, knowing that He knew what He was doing.  And then early last spring, I received a text from our adoption worker asking if we were willing to meet an 18 month old little boy.  That Friday, we met his caseworker at the DHS building.  We were escorted to a conference room, Bryan and I standing close to one another, and I was handed a bright-eyed, curly-haired little boy…

The rest is history.  Today, we are the parents to our wonderful son, Xander. He was officially adopted in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 outbreak (another work of the Lord!). I am now a stay-at-home mom. It still seems a little surreal and, yet, like this is how it has always been. The Lord fulfilled His promises to our hearts in His perfect timing and made them a reality because of who HE is, HIS purposes, and HIS faithfulness. We have been able to tell our story to so many people, saying, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3)!

The Lord has demonstrated His loving faithfulness so powerfully in bringing sweet Xander into our lives. When we share the details of how the Lord made us a family, people can hardly help but be in awe of God’s handiwork.  (We did not realize until later that the Lord put adoption on our hearts right after Xander was born!)  What a beautiful, fulfilled promise and calling!  And yet, it was like the Lord was also reminding me in that moment not to lose sight of what I had learned so deeply these past several years: that HE, my Lord and God, was still my purpose above all else.

Visit the link below to dive deeper into this topic and hear more from Jenni!

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Check out our book The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by sisters and co-authors, Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan.  With heartfelt messages that will challenge your faith, stories of other Wholehearted Women, and reflection questions to dive deeper, this is a great resource for personal devotion or small group study.

Now available through Barnes and NobleWestbow PressWalmart, and other bookstores.