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Serve Like You Mean It

Jennifer Napier



I was stuck. Trapped. A marooned whale flat on my back.

"Bed rest," the doctor insisted.

All because my body had gone into pre-term labor trying to birth my son who swam in an amniotic pool three times the size of the ones most other mommies give their babies. I’d been diagnosed with polyhydramneous, a condition in which there’s way too much amniotic fluid and in my case it pushed me into labor fourteen weeks too soon.

Only the day before had my husband and then fourteen-month-old daughter moved to the efficiency apartment above my parent’s garage. It contained only our bed. And me on that bed. All day. Every day.

It was Katy who came to the rescue. God had sent me a hero.

Out of the blue she called me up and asked if she could come over to help. She asked if I needed anything from the store. Good start.

I told her I was trying to eat well and would love some fruit.

My hero didn’t just bring me a banana. She had a beautiful basket brimming with all different types of fruit, yogurt, granola bars, and other healthful snacks. She also brought dinner for my family. But food was just the beginning.

Katy helped me by unpacking my dishes, organizing my clothes, and rearranging my things. In spite of the naturally awkward situation — me on my back instead of doing the work I’d intended — Katy kept up a light-hearted and cheerful conversation, as if rounding up someone else’s dust bunnies was her favorite hobby.

She’d ask questions and draw me out which kept me relaxed and didn’t allow me to focus on my helpless state. She acted as if we were long time friends or sisters. But we weren’t. Katy didn’t know me very well. When she arrived at my apartment we were practically acquaintances, but that day she became my friend. She came and served me. I felt so loved.

That day’s visit was just the beginning. She continued to offer help and support. I could count on Katy. It may or may not have been how she wanted to help, but she served me in the ways I needed.

Let me explain.

I’m prone to quickly volunteer help when it fits my agenda and my schedule. I tend to serve others when it’s easy, when it’s convenient, when it "works" for me. I rarely step out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t take me long to think of ways that I feel uncomfortable serving.

For instance, talking to strangers is a fair few blocks from my comfort zone. Definitely not something I’m quick to volunteer to do. But the Lord has convicted me of needing to push out of myself and my natural inclinations and serve in ways that are uncomfortable. Recently, I had the opportunity to do just this.

When a friend of mine was hospitalized, I was able to serve her by talking to the nurses for her. She needed me to talk to strangers so that’s what I did, even though it was uncomfortable for me. The point is to serve the other person and not simply feel like I’m serving. It’s wonderful to serve people and do what you can to be helpful, but pursue their true needs.

Katy’s example didn’t simply teach me about stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to serving others. I also learned the importance of asking for help. Katy showed me that others are willing to meet my needs if I’m willing to tell them what my needs are.

As someone who’s personally walked through extreme needs including grief, crisis, illness, and difficulty, I know how difficult it is to ask for help. It’s hard to tell others because either I don’t know what I need or I feel uncomfortable asking because I don’t know how far they’re willing to go in order to help.

But it’s during these times we’re in a place where we need help more than ever. Through those times of walking through need, I’ve learned there are ways in which you can step out of your comfort zone to serve more effectively. Let me share a couple with you.

Keep the person and their situation in mind. You might begin by asking what their needs are or by offering to help in a specific way. If they’ve already received a dozen meals maybe another meal isn’t what they need. Be thoughtful. If a person just moved and you’re bringing them a meal, bring some plastic cutlery and use disposable dishware. The last thing they need when they unpack is to remember to get your 9X13 pan back to you. Don’t serve solely on your own terms. What good is it for you to offer a new mother a meal that she has to pick up on the way home from the hospital?

Don’t over commit. Tell them what you’re willing to do for them. You can offer to watch their kids, make them a meal, clean their home, or simply visit them if they’re lonely. Maybe it’s taking care of their lawn if they’re unable or helping with home maintenance. I always feel blessed when I know people are willing to do what’s needed, whether it’s laundry, dishes, or playing with my kids. It helps when people ask thoughtfully and honestly, offering to do all they can.

Be sure though that you’re not committing to do something you can’t follow through on. Be aware of your limits. For example, say that you’ll visit them once a week, not every day of the week. Or tell them you’d love to babysit their kids, but you’re only available during these specific times. It’s dreadful being offered help and then the person not following through on it.

Get creative. Money’s a wonderful gift and helpful in certain contexts, but there are other ways you can bless others. A creative way people have served us in the past is by getting us gift cards for groceries or gas. Others have helped us by paying hospital parking fees. During a stressful point in our marriage, one couple gave us a gift card to a fancy restaurant so that we could have a night on the town. For those who couldn’t cook us meals, they’d order take-out for us. One family, in addition to bringing us dinner, brought us some muffins to be used as breakfast for the next day. Find out if there are any allergies or food preferences if you’re bringing a meal. Maybe make their favorite dessert. If you don’t know the person very well you can find out from those who do know them what would be a blessing.

Don’t be offended if their answer is "No!" Be gently persistent about your support and commitment to them. Know that ultimately you can serve them by praying for them and that’s loving them. There are times when help can be overwhelming. Don’t store up bitterness or resentment if they refuse your offer. In the midst of crisis, I’ve felt confused and overwhelmed and uncertain of what would help. At times, I’ve just needed to be alone. By bombarding the person or refusing "no" for an answer, or even holding it against them later, you’re not blessing them or serving them. Be committed to putting them first by letting it go when you’re not the one to serve.

We need to reach out to real people who have real needs, whether the need is grand or seemingly insignificant and be willing to step out of our comfort zone to do so. In this we fulfill the law of love.

1 John 3:16 says, "By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." God didn’t just tell us what the word agape means, but showed us in Christ being crucified for our sins. God’s calling us to be like Christ, who became the Servant of all, and laid down His life for us. Therefore, we’re to lay down our lives for others even when it’s uncomfortable.

And who knows, in the process, we may just make a friend.

JennifernapierbioJennifer is a full-time home and life manager (cook, dish-washer, diaper changer, personal assistant, launderer, maid, amateur medical professional, pharmacist, taxi driver, gardener, planner and organizer, nanny, boo-boo kisser, baker, barista, and home decorator). Her passion is Jesus Christ: knowing Him and making Him known. Married to her best friend, Mike, they live in Virginia with their four children, ages four and under. In her spare time she enjoys freelance writing, posting on her blog, Musings by Jennifer and embraces life through photography, writing, reading, knitting and mommying.

Jennifer Napier is a new resident of Norfolk, VA where she and her husband are part of growing a new church. Her recent decision to throw all caution to the wind and jump into home schooling all five of her precocious but precious children has left many alternately applauding her bravery and questioning her sanity. She is an avid reader and writer and enjoys long soaks in the tub and sweet iced tea. She can often be found with her children at the zoo, a thrift store or in a doctors office as she manages the special needs of her kids. Though a Christian since she was five Jennifer has continued to grow in a deeper understanding of God’s grace and love. She continues to proclaim God’s faithfulness in the midst of many years of trial, suffering, loss and grief. Her primary goal in life is to know God and make Him known. You can follow her adventures and thoughts on God, life, and motherhood at her blog, Musings by Jennifer


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Serve Like You Mean It

by Jennifer Napier time to read: 6 min