Jesus is (Still) Alive!

April 17th, 2014

I was helping out in my son’s Sunday School class last Sunday. I came as a volunteer, so they just ask you to show up and be an extra pair of hands and play with the kids – I didn’t have to prep or teach anything. As a consequence, I had no idea what the story was going to be that day, and I assumed it would be something about Palm Sunday because it was, well, Palm Sunday. But actually, they were already teaching about when Jesus had risen and was appearing to His disciples.

The teacher asked, “How did they know Jesus was really alive and not just a ghost or something?” and one of the boys said, “Because He could eat and had a body and stuff.” She said, “Right! So they knew He was alive. Is He still alive today?” and the kids all answered with that kind of blase assurance that Sunday School can give, “Yes.”

Pretty straightforward Sunday School lesson, right? But wait, it blew my mind. I was sitting there thinking, kids, have you really thought about that? Because Jesus died 2000 years ago. Two thousand years. No one lives two thousand years. No one live two hundred years! And yet He is still alive. Why? Because He beat death. He defeated it! Death no longer exists for Him – He will live forever.

It made me want to jump up and shout it – Jesus is still alive! This is not some trite answer we learn about something that happened thousands of years ago. It’s still relevant today, and why? Because Jesus didn’t defeat death so He could live forever – He already had that right. He defeated death so that we could live forever.

‚ÄúVery truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – Jesus (John 5:24).

This Holy Week, the time when we look at what Christ did on the cross, when we mourn His death, and praise Him for His humility and love and suffering on our behalf, and when we jump for joy on Easter Sunday because we know that death could not hold him, but He is risen from the dead, let’s not make this some historic thing that’s nice to remember. This is for now, this is for today. This is for you, and your life and your future, and He has defeated death forever!

That should never stop blowing our minds. Because Jesus is STILL alive!

Weekend with God in Amish country

April 14th, 2014

The view from our hotel room - can you say peace??

The parking lot. Loving the sign for buggy parking only.

You may or may not know that Ohio is actually the home to the largest population of Amish anywhere in the world. We live in Columbus, a city of about 2 million people right in the center of the state, and here, you would never know it, but if you drive a couple of hours north and east of here, you really have to start driving slowly because you will come around a bend and run a buggy off the road.

This past weekend I did a women’s conference in Walnut Creek, a very Amish town, and it was such a wonderful getaway with the Lord! It was hosted by Northampton Bible Church which is closer to the Cleveland area. My mom and I drove up and got there at just the time school was letting out, so we had to drive very carefully as there were buggies, walkers, and bicyclists everywhere! I love getting up there – it truly is so peaceful, and the food is outstanding. My kids go to camp very near here, and so we can tell you all our favorite bakeries. :)

I taught on learning to be yielded to God’s plan in your life. I love how God never stops teaching us, and that is one of the lessons I am most grateful for because I wouldn’t be doing any of what I’m doing today if He hadn’t taught me that. And it’s also a lesson I need to remember every single day and choose to follow. We had such a wonderful time getting to know the ladies, and look forward to getting to be back here soon!

Excited about a new partnership

April 9th, 2014

You know, over the years, the Lord has really clarified for me what the heartbeat of our ministry is. First and foremost, it is the Gospel. What we really want is to show people Jesus. If you haven’t met Him before, I’d like to introduce you. And if you know Him, I’d like to call you to follow Him more closely and live your life more fully for Him.

One of the ways God has allowed us to do that is through missions around the world, and in that process, God has really broken our hearts for children in poverty and slavery, and for families who are trying to make it work despite great odds stacked against them. We want to be the hands and feet of Christ and to love not just with words, but with actions and in truth!

We have made the exciting decision this week to start working with Compassion International. They share those same loves, the love for God and introducing people to Him, and the desire to help children and families in poverty live their lives to their greatest potential. We’ve sponsored a Compassion child in Tanzania named Kennedy for the last 7 years or so, and the more I learn about the organization, the more excited I am about what God is doing through them and how we can help. If you’d like to sponsor a Compassion Child and help release them from poverty, I’d love to hear from you! You can always contact us at info@jennifershaw.com – we’d love to connect you!

Week in Florida

April 8th, 2014

What we saw out our hotel room after making some tough decisions

My sweet kiddos taking a break - we spent a couple of hours checking out Gaylord Palms

Singing at one of the morning services at First Presbyterian in Bonita Springs

Presenting in the beautiful new sanctuary at Sanibel Community Church

My family and I just got back from a wonderful spring break in Florida. We really needed the time together, and we were so happy for the blessing of a break and some sun! It’s been the worst winter any of us can remember, and we were ready to get out of Dodge!

I had some ministry events at the end of the week, so we took the whole family and spent a few days beforehand in Orlando before heading down to Bonita Springs and Sanibel Island. I have mentioned the tough and emotional week we’d had making some ministry decisions, and it was so amazing that the day we had finally made our decision, I looked out of the hotel room and a skywriter wrote “Trust Jesus” right outside our window! God is so fun and so good. And it made me wonder how many people needed that same message as we all stared at the sky.

We headed down further south at the end of the week and got to see some very close family friends, the Lunds. They are almost like second parents to me and I’ve known them my whole life. It was especially precious time too, since Mr. Lund was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer. We are praying hard for them, and having the time with them was priceless.

Sunday morning I got to be with First Presbyterian Church in Bonita Springs again. They are a wonderful church, and I have really enjoyed connecting with their worship pastor, Jeff, and the senior pastor over the years. They have a pretty formal service, and they literally made me cry in their rehearsal as I listened to their 100 voice choir and amazing organ on “How Great Thou Art.” Our home church is very contemporary, and I was happy that my kids would get a chance to hear that – it was a blessing to me. I shared a little of our story and my song “Someday.” Pastor Doug had an inspiring sermon looking at Gethsemane, and it was a great morning all around for us.

That evening, I was back at Sanibel Community Church. This is such a great place – the people just obviously love the Lord with their whole hearts, and they have this amazing, laid-back island vibe. They had built a new sanctuary since I was there last, and I was so happy for them. It was a beautiful facility, and since their original sanctuary is historic, they hadn’t been allowed to add on and were just crammed in there for multiple services. We had a great night of ministry, and everyone from the church (especially you guys, Patrick and George – you know who you are!) were such a blessing to us all!

We drove about 4 hours after the concert, and then another 14 the next day to get home. That was crazy! And drove through one tornado warning in GA to boot. But it was such a great week with my family, and I’m so glad we were able to go!

Very difficult week

April 1st, 2014

This has been a very difficult week for us with all the news from World Vision. We have had a great partnership with them for many years, and the changes made were a complete shock to us. After much prayer, this is the statement we have given to the press. Please keep us and World Vision in your prayers. We will also keep you up to date on what we decide in terms of a partnership for poverty relief in the future – that is such a heartbeat of our ministry, and we know that God has a plan for that as well.

For those of you aware of the recent policy decision by World Vision US regarding same-sex marital couples and the subsequent reversal of that decision, we feel compelled as long-time ambassadors for World Vision to make a statement regarding our future involvement with the organization.

First, we were not informed ahead of time by World Vision of their policy changes. We found out when everyone else did, and we were shocked and saddened. Our ministry completely upholds the inerrancy of Scripture, and this policy did not reflect our beliefs, or World Vision’s own Statement of Faith. Second, while we appreciate the swift and contrite retraction of the policy more than we can say, and as Christians, we offer forgiveness, this situation has left us confused and uncertain about the future direction of the US leadership.

We still believe that World Vision is an organization that God is using tremendously in the lives of children and families. We have been blessed to see their work all around the world. We will personally continue to sponsor the children to whom our family has made a commitment and hope that other current sponsors will do the same.

As a ministry, we believe God has called us to continue to help the least among us. That we know for sure. What we do not know for certain is by what mechanism that should be. Our first and foremost concern is for the children around the globe who are in desperate need of support. While we seek God’s wisdom and His perfect will in this matter, we have made the heart-breaking decision to discontinue our involvement with World Vision as a ministry at this time. Please pray that God shows us the right path to take.

Women’s retreat and Men’s dinner

March 15th, 2014

A fifty eight year old tradition - the men's dinner in Fremont, OH

Just for funsies, my son as Milton Hershey

This past week has been quite a contrast. Spent last weekend with the Greater Ohio District of the Wesleyan Churches for the annual women’s retreat. I was with them last year too, and it was great to see so many of them again. Unfortunately, the organizer, Patti, had a bad fall on the ice just a few days before and got a concussion so she wasn’t able to be there. We missed her! But her team did a fabulous job, and we had a lot of fun together looking at the life of Peter. Apparently I forgot my camera for this event, but we did it again at the Embassy Suites in Columbus, and if you ignored the 27 hockey teams worth of screaming teenage boys there for a tournament, it was a great time. :)

Then, on Thursday I got to do a program for a fifty-eight year old tradition: the annual men’s dinner hosted by Lindsey United Methodist Church in Fremont. They had about 350 men there and the host for the event said he could remember coming with his grandfather and dad when he was little. So fun! It was a little different for me since I’m so used to doing women’s events and I don’t get to sing in a barn everyday, but we still had a great time.

And, just for fun, this week I’ve also been helping my son, Toby, with his famous person project for school. They had to learn about someone and then dress as that person and “visit” their class to tell them about their life. They were also required to have a prop. My son did Milton Hershey and as his prop he brought Hershey’s kisses for every kid and the teacher. When she saw that, she said, “Well, for that, Toby, you get an A!” It was pretty funny. And he looks so good in a fake mustache, don’t you think?

Amazing weekend in the Carolinas

March 4th, 2014

At Unity Presbyterian Church in Charlotte

Doing the women's retreat at Crossgate in Seneca

Susan, Donna, and I hanging out on our free night

Sunset over the water at Susan and Myron's

Seldom do you get truly happy surprises. Even less do you get several of them in a row, and that was what happened on our lovely weekend in the Carolinas this past weekend.

On Friday, my scheduling coordinator, Donna, and I flew out to Charlotte, NC. We were so grateful that we were between weather – there was a pretty bad storm before we left and another while we were gone, but we got into Charlotte with no trouble. Donna came with me this weekend because my first show was very near a dear friend of hers, so we wanted to have them get to visit! One of the perks of the job. :) It’s fun for me too to get to spend some time with Donna, we had a blast.

We got in, got thoroughly lost in all the new roads around the airport, and after not listening to the GPS and not listening to googlemaps for a bit, we finally found our way out and towards the church in Denver, NC up near Lake Norman. We got to spend a couple of hours with Donna’s friend, Susan, and her husband Myron, who I now claim as friends of my own too, so they were the first happy surprise.

Then we went to Unity Presbyterian for an evening women’s event. This is the first time I’ve been here and they were hoping for 100 women, but the second happy surprise was that they had over 200! We had a wonderful time together doing a concert and storytelling and then there was a beautiful catered reception afterward. This church was just marvelous to us and their team was so welcoming and friendly! We had to take off quickly, though, because we still needed to drive 3 hours to Seneca, SC that night for a very early morning and a one-day retreat.

Donna and I got on the road, but we were much later than we had hoped. We felt badly too because we were actually being hosted at someone’s home. I had felt rude enough telling them at the beginning that we would get there around 11:30, but now we knew we’d be well after midnight which felt terrible. We let them know and they were so kind, and then Donna spent 3 hours trying to keep me awake as I drove.

When we got to the homestay, we knew that they lived on a lake and that there was water off to our right, but it was so pitch black, we had no idea where. When we finally found the house number, we realized the driveway literally fell off the side of the road. The next morning in the light we saw it was really between 45 and 60 degrees – so steep that you could barely see the roof of the house from the road! In the darkness, it was truly terrifying. I couldn’t even see the road because the headlights were so far above it, and I didn’t know if I took the leap if we would drive right into the water or hit the house. I also knew there was no way I could back up once I got down there, and had no idea if I could turn around or not. So there we were, paralyzed at the top of the drive, totally slap happy after midnight and not wanting to call and wake them up to say, “Um, is there a house down there? Will we die if we drive on your driveway?” and giggling hysterically. We finally realized that Tom, our host, had seen our headlights for a long time, realized our dilemma, and came to our rescue yelling, “There really is a drive, trust me!” It scared me even in the daylight. We asked them what they did if there was ice and they said, “Well, you just plan to be home that day.” Lol. But happy surprise numbers three and four were that Tom and Linda were wonderful and fabulous and their house was beautiful with a gorgeous view of the lake!

The next morning, we went to Crossgate Church and had happy surprise number 5. I’d been to this church before and knew they had an amazing heart for missions – they really touched me here – but they are not a large church and were really hoping for 40-50 women. They had nearly 100! I was so happy for them. We had a marvelous time with the life of Esther and so many women said to me, “We even know this story, and you still have us on the edge of our seats – we can’t wait to hear what happens next!”

That night we had happy surprise number six when we got to have dinner with the entire women’s ministry team at Tom and Linda’s house, and we laughed so hard! It’s always a little picture of heaven when you realize that we all have the Lord in common, and someday we’ll have all of eternity to get to know all these awesome people who belong to the family of God.

The next morning I was back at Crossgate to do about a half an hour on their service. Their pastor, a different Tom, gave one of the best messages I’ve heard in a long time. They are so blessed in their leadership. Then Donna and I headed back to her friends’ house in Charlotte to spend a little time there and fly out in the morning.

While I was at Crossgate, one of my suitcases finally bit the dust. I carry all my merchandise in carry-on bags so I can roll them, and this suitcase had probably done 500 shows with me. It had been good and faithful, but it literally fell apart. Since we were flying the next day, I had no idea what to do, so on our way to Susan’s we finally found a K-mart and I went in to buy a new bag. After a crazy incident I won’t tell you about trying to just purchase a bag (this should not be this hard!!) I realized that a whole group of people in the front were staring at me. I was pretty confused, thinking, “I don’t think I lost my cool, I’ve been patient, just trying to buy this, etc…” and so I just went to walk out when one of them approached me and said, “would you sign this please?” What?! We realized they all thought I was Tina Fey. Ha!

Spent the evening with Susan and Myron and just loved getting to know them. It was a good thing too because there was a huge storm that night and we got stuck an extra day in Charlotte. This was our last happy surprise because it was just a God thing that we would have such a wonderful place to stay and couple to spend time with. We ended up shopping which I normally hate and bought clothes that I desperately needed (did I mention I hate shopping?) and it wasn’t even terrible because I had fun people to do it with. :)

Donna and I flew back out early the next morning with no problems, and just kept saying to each other what an amazing weekend we’d had. Thank you so much to everyone! You were a blessing to us.

Community Wesleyan and a new video

February 19th, 2014

At Community Wesleyan's women's event

Last night I had a great time with the women at Community Wesleyan Church in Newark, OH, but it sure didn’t look like it would go down like that! When we got there, we started the sound check and nothing was working. I mean, nothing. That is very unusual, and I don’t usually worry too much about it for the first hour, because it pretty much always gets worked out (we usually allow 2 hours before the start of an event for the sound check). However, after an hour, I was getting nervous. They tried all our backup files, nothing. Then they brought in another tech person, nothing. Then they tried another computer thinking theirs had finally died. We had video then, but no sound. No sound is not good for a concert. So at that point, I was rewriting my whole presentation in my head, thinking through what I could do if I went from an hour of music and speaking to just an hour of speaking. The meal started and about 10 minutes before I went on, the tech came down and told me they had gotten everything working on a third computer. Crazy! By the time I went on, I don’t think the women had any idea any of it had happened. And we had such a great night of ministry! God is such the Redeemer of every situation.

Also just wanted to post a new video we put together. This is edited from one of my live shows, our famous Kenyan baby clothes story! Hope you enjoy it – you can check it out here.

More 4 Orphans, Women, and 500 kids!

February 9th, 2014

Back at Cypress Wesleyan teaching Esther

Leading worship at the More 4 Orphans Summit at Vineyard Columbus

With Renee Swope and George Dennehy at the conference

Audio Adrenaline did a concert Friday night

This is sort of a catch up post, but it’s been so fun to watch God working lately!

Started a week and a half ago with two women’s events. First on Friday night, I did a women’s event for New Albany Presbyterian. It was their annual fellowship event and it was essentially a large house concert with amazing food. :) We had a great time together, and it was fun to reconnect with so many Young Life people there. My family has always been heavily involved in that ministry (my dad, Dave Chilcoat, started it in Columbus and my brother Mike is now the metro director here), and I couldn’t believe how many people we knew there from that ministry!

Then the next morning I got up early, and went back to Cypress Wesleyan to do a one day retreat on the life of Esther. They were as wonderful as they had been several weeks ago when I gave my concert there, and again, the tech was fantastic so they made it so fun to sing! We had a great time with them all. My husband ended up coming as well to film it, and since that left my son, Toby, all alone, he also ended up attending his first women’s retreat. :) Couldn’t believe how much of it he was telling me about on the way home – guess he was listening! He was a little embarrassed to be a boy there, but when I pointed out that half of the tech booth were men and he was with his dad, he got over it.

That week I had a big rehearsal with the band I’m bringing with me to do worship for the More 4 Orphans Conference at Vineyard Columbus. It’s so fun to play with a band again (I’m often solo), but it’s also more complicated as we had to all get on the same page – more planning for me.

Thursday we found out that a big article about our getting 500 kids sponsored with World Vision came out in several publications – that was really cool. You can see one of them here.

Then Friday morning we were soundchecking at 7:30 am to start the conference which lasted all day Friday and then Saturday until 2. It was so disappointing because the weather was just terrible again. So many school districts cancelled or were on late start that many people couldn’t come. It was a great conference though – the organizers had so much great stuff packed in – and we still had an inspiring time talking about all the ways we can help and influence people on behalf of orphans everywhere. I was doing worship and also presented a couple of breakout sessions on sponsorship as well as special needs parenting, and then I also got to feature a few of my songs and videos. They had a domestic and international track, and all sorts of amazing speakers and musicians including Renee Swope from Proverbs 31, George Dennehy, Audio Adrenaline, Bishop Martin, and so many others. Truly an inspiring weekend even if I was ready to drop in a pile when it was over. :)

This has been an unusually busy spring, and I’m so happy to have two weeks off to catch up on everything!

Women’s ministry in a snow emergency

January 27th, 2014

Mostly empty first service during a Level Two Snow Emergency

Well, there’s a first time for everything, and this weekend was the first time I’ve ever tried to do a full weekend of ministry in the middle of a Level Two snow emergency.

Now, for those of you down south who may not know about this whole snow thing, a Level One means “try to stay of the roads, now, it’s getting slick!” Level Two = “stay off the roads unless you have a darn good reason for needing to be out there and call your boss and make sure they’re going to make you come in.” Level Three means “the police will arrest you if you’re out in this unless you are trying to get to the hospital because you’re missing a limb or something.” I may be paraphrasing. But they really will arrest you at Level 3 – no joke.

So, this past weekend I drove out to St. Clairsville, OH on Friday. I was going to be back with the Evangelical Friends Church there, a wonderful church I was with last year as well. It’s on the far east side of the state, next stop, WV, and that is where all the lovely Appalachian mountains start which also means hills and turns and lots of drop-offs next to the roadsides. Friday was completely clear. I did a sound check and headed to the hotel. We had a bright and early start the next day when I would be doing a full three-session retreat for the women and then speaking and leading worship on the Saturday night worship service. Sunday I was doing the sermon and some special music on all three worship services.

Well, we knew it was supposed to start snowing so we gave ourselves extra time to drive back to the church. Boy did we need it. It was crazy when we woke up. We got to the church and about 1/3 of the women registered were there – the rest simply couldn’t get in and I couldn’t blame them. We went on with it anyway, and it snowed all day long. The church is full of windows and I felt like we were in a snow globe. By about 2, we were at a Level 2 snow emergency, and they were debating a 3. We finished the women’s event, and then the big question was whether they would still have Saturday night’s service. In the end, they cancelled, for which I was truly grateful. If it had turned into a 3 while we were there, we were all sleeping on the floor at the church, and I was so happy to drive those unfamiliar roads back to the hotel in the daylight!

It took us about 45 minutes to drive 5 miles to the hotel. We parked, walked across the street to have dinner and went to bed early so we could make sure to be back at church in the morning before it was over. This church normally has about 600 people at each of their three services every Sunday. At the first service I think we had 40 or 50. I couldn’t believe we got there ourselves!

In the end, I was so glad to be back at this church which has such an amazing heart for the Lord, and they were so kind to me. Even if we didn’t have many people, God’s Word still went out and we know that never returns void! But I will be super happy for spring to come – this has been a crazy winter!!