With a love for people and a heart to serve God, Jennifer wants nothing more than to point people toward the One who has changed everything in her own life. Both a special needs and adoptive mom, Jennifer is also a Telly Award-winning speaker, Amazon best-selling author, and five-time Billboard Top 40 singer/songwriter who never thought she'd be doing what she's doing now.
Through devastating and unexpected circumstances, Jennifer's picture-perfect life came crashing down around her with a series of events that she refers to as her “refining fire.” Jennifer and her husband, Nathan, had two beautiful girls and she was working at her dream jobs, being a professor of music and singing with the Columbus Symphony. On the side, she was also serving as the Music Director for a local church. When she and her husband wanted to add another baby to their little family, though, Jennifer suffered a miscarriage that very nearly took her life. While in recovery, her beloved father was diagnosed with ALS, a fatal and progressive neurodegenerative disease without a cure. Then, in the midst of her father’s illness, Jennifer gave birth to her son, Toby, but as he grew older, it quickly became apparent that all forms of touch were painful for Toby, and something was very wrong. Knowing she was losing her father, and unable to find answers for her son, Jennifer's life seemed to be spinning out of control.
It was during this time that Jennifer began writing contemporary songs from the Scriptures she was finding comfort in. She produced her first album as a Christmas gift for her father, but never expected anyone else to hear it. However, people started sending it to local radio stations, and Jennifer was shocked when it then went national, and finally global. She began pouring the lessons God was teaching her into heartfelt lyrics and music. Her quick radio success solidified her career as a touring Christian artist, garnering a #3 hit on the national charts with the album Love Broke Through. Her self-penned songs on her now five albums have made her a repeat Top 40 Billboard artist, and have been used in various choir and chorale musical projects by Lifeway Christian Resources and many others.
Jennifer was also launched into the world of special needs parenting after Toby was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Her book, Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed My Faith and My Song, describes her family’s experience and Toby’s miraculous recovery. She began speaking at outreach and women's events around the world, bringing her message of hope in difficult times and God's absolute faithfulness to audiences everywhere. Always passionate about the needs of vulnerable children, Jennifer also partnered with Compassion International, finding sponsors to release thousands of children from poverty. This work also profoundly affected Jenifer’s personal life, as her interactions with orphaned children around the world led her and her husband to adoption.
Their son, Noah, joined the Shaw family when he was 9 years old in 2016 from China, and almost immediately underwent major surgery to repair a severe congenital heart defect. Their youngest son, Ethan, and youngest daughter, Anna, joined the family the following year when they were 8 and 6 years old, respectively. Although the challenges of older child adoption and medical needs were significant, Jennifer’s commitment to Christ has only strengthened. In 2021, Jennifer and her eldest daughter, Rinnah Shaw, co-created a children’s book, Dumplings Mean Family, to share how food and culture can draw a family together. She is currently sharing this story with libraries and elementary schools around the country!
Although Jennifer’s new reality has been touched by trauma and grief, it also serves as a constant reminder of the immense beauty that can be found in following God’s direction. "Through it all,” Jennifer says, “I learned that God is amazingly powerful, and that He will use all things to the good of those who love Him, even when we can't see how that could be possible in the moment. He's never left me or forsaken me, and He's made me braver each day. He’s given me a front-row seat to redemption. I want everyone to know this Jesus who’s changed everything in my life."