About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

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  1. Jen,

    thank you so much for putting into words all the yearnings of being real with others.

    Love it!!
    Barb

  2. Some friends and I had a “real” and painful conversation this past weekend. There is such blessing in having trusting places to share – really share – our pains and frustrations. Being real allows us to grow closer to each other and share Christ’s love… Thank you for the encouragement to keep up with truth, not appearances.

  3. I recently went through breast cancer treatments. Praise God I am coming back. But during that time I was very open about how I felt daily. Some days I was strong and doing good. Others I was a ball of depressed tears. Some days I was even angry at God for this. My friends/family all saw me cry and laugh through all this. And I am a crier. I am one of those that cries at commercials. I felt embarrassed at times when I would sit and just ball through the entire church service. But I knew it was who I was and it was my time to let God heal me through the tears. One Sunday all was said and done and a lady in the church came to me and hugged me and said she appreciated how real I had been through this so she knows now how others feel as they go through the same experience. Then a husband of one of my friends says he just loves to watch me ‘worship’ through the church service. My face just shows how God is affecting me in that moment. And even after all I have been through. It was God letting me know being authentic is what He wants from me to reach others for Him. I am not embarrassed anymore about my tears.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Amy. I can’t even begin to imagine all that you have been going through, but you are so right, and the Lord wants to hear our heart. It doesn’t take Him by surprise and He welcomes it.

      Are you finished with your treatment?

      • Yes I am a month and a half out. And doing well. So far so good. Counting those blessings!!!

  4. I love being honest. I got a real dose of honesty and reality when I had my first baby. Motherhood was NOTHING like I thought it would be. It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. The sugarcoating I had gotten from other women dissolved real quick. Between postpartum depression and my first baby having a lot of developmental delays I was a mess. It’s been a couple of years but I’ve been able to turn it around to be honest with other moms. A couple of moms who are expecting their second babies have asked me how we got through that transition, and I’m honest. It was really hard at first. Sleep deprivation and nursing plus taking care of a two year old who was getting his molars and therefor crying and drooling all the time??? Yikes! Most days ended with me in tears. BUT. It was a relatively short period of time. It DOES get better. As the baby gets older and their older sibling begins to see “Oh, this is a little person, not just a blob that poops and cries and takes all Mommy’s attention”, things get better. Sweet moments happen more and more often. Things get fun. And that love you felt when you had your first baby, when it felt like your heart was just going to explode? It happens all over again. Times two. And you wonder how you can possibly stay inside your skin when you look at these two little people running around your house because you love them SO MUCH. 🙂 That’s honesty for ya.

  5. Love this. Authenticity is so rare and finally seeing my own, is what led me into Life Coaching and writing.

    LET YOUR GLOW SHOW! is what I say.

    Blessings,

    Ruthie Lewis

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Very timely post. I recently had a dear friend come into the chaos of my home to offer advice and help with repair, remodeling, and general cleaning. It was not easy to humble myself, especially since my husband was very angry about it. I believe it was a gift from God, as this friend has been helpful in so many ways. Most importantly, as a buffer between my husband and I as we navigate this difficult, for many reasons, journey. This friend is actually my husbands best friend, and they cooked up the idea of his helping us…..my husband just didn’t realize how humbling it would be. I had prayed for help, so when the idea came I took the leap; despite my main fear of somehow harming their friendship. It has done the opposite and brought us all closer. It will be a long journey, but filled with blessings and hope.

  7. My whole life has turned over because for the first time in my life I wanted to be completely honest and authentic. I held my tongue too many times, let too many things slide by and became emotionally dead inside. I was exhausted, apathetic and sick. I’d had enough. I told my husband I needed to separate. He was looking to me for all the answers instead of Jesus and I couldn’t be his all in all. I severed ties with a cousin who couldn’t or wouldn’t be honest with me and I am in the process of moving. I feel like for the first time I am looking to what God wants me to be instead of what everybody else wants me to be. It’s scary but God keeps reminding me that I did the right thing.

    Me and my husband are working towards reconciliation with direction from God. I refuse to live in fear any longer. I’ve questioned my sanity several times but I know God is refining me. I hope it can give courage to other women in my position. We are not called to be superwoman. God does what we can’t. We need to set our boundaries and stick to them. I would HIGHLY recommend the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s biblically based and is a must for the overachiever. I pray you all become authentically you.

    Blessings,
    Jeanine

    • Jeanine,

      Praying for your marriage to be restored.

      Lord

      Please help Jeanine and her husband restore their marriage. Shower them with your love, grace & mercy. Help them to resolve any issues and find the love they once had.

      AMEN!

  8. What a good idea, put the laundry on a couch. Family members can find stuff they need. I fold laundry on my bed so it has to be off if I want to sleep sometime. During our VBS week I had 3 laundry baskets lined up in my bedroom. Each day some got put away but more was added again at the end of each day.

  9. This is awesome. And yes, I smiled at your laundry picture, only because I have a pile that looks just like that. only it’s on the table in my “formal” dining room.
    Thank-you for being honest.

  10. I love your laundry pile! And I love your “unpinnable” comment. Most of my life is that way–and it’s so nice to know others are there with me. In fact, my guess is most of us are there together!

    Miss you, sweet lady!!

  11. Your words always speak to me — as do the pictures of your bedlam. I loved when Jon Acuff said, “Jesus doesn’t want to make you better, He wants to make you new!” I am putting in my order for the new Sarah to be punctual, organized, and a clean freak. We’ll see… 🙂 I like you, too — and it’s always been your honesty.

  12. Hello there~
    Can I just tell you that I have a dear friend who has said the very same things about you? She’s an old/new friend from college and we’ve recently reconnected. You guys used to attend the same church in Greensboro as she shared with me recently that you are the kind of person who actually prays for folks. That you ask the hard questions, remember the responses, and then actually pray. She finds you quite amazing.
    And so do I.
    Thank you for your nudge towards authenticity and thank you for living out what you write.

  13. Jen,

    Just love your authenticity. It is refreshing to be real in this day & age of pinterest, photoshop, etc.

    Our women’s Bible study has talked about this very subject. We all need to be open & honest–especially when attending church. No more everything’s ok, when it’s not. Talk to me & tell me of your problems & concerns I want to pray for you!

    Thanks Jen!

  14. With my husband tonight I cried as I told him, “I’m afraid you are going to hurt me too.” All my life has been filled with rejection, abandonment, and betrayal. I’ve been through several years of this occuring more and more as I’ve pursued God’s calling to Pastor the church we are planting. I put a wall up with him recently too. I guess my honesty is I’m scared. I’m facing the fear, but it’s a struggle. He has been faithful and loving even through my Chronic illness, so supportive of the calling on my life, and doesn’t deserve my guarded heart. Although promises of God are coming to fruition the promised land can be brutal. I chose this morning to open up the Love Dare again. I found the honesty allowed the wall to come down, and led to greater intimacy between us. Lets start a “Let’s be real revolution!”

  15. this so wonderful to read. being able to put this into practice is the challenge and you seem to be doing this. there will always be those people that would appear to have their houses in perfect order and involved in every good thing in church, children’s activities (sports, music, dance ETC) They would never be able to show a photo of anything like your laundry photo. I so far would never have to show and tell with that photo because I really enjoy the smells and the orderly results of nicely stacked towels and other linens, nicely lined up clothing organized by color in our closets. It feels really accomplished. BUT the paper tiger in my home would completely drive others crazy (me too by the way)There is just a constant flow of it and the FEAR of not having something when I need it. I do all those things one would think would have it under control. plus unfortunately being the sort that needs to see things to keep other systems flowing like appointments, bill paying and out of sight out of mind is truly the huge challenge at this home. throw in a husband that wants to see nothing but also remembers nothing so what can I tell you. you are right he would be happy to neglect all those things he is willing to stash someplace just so he cannot be bothered by seeing it out in the open. STOP I am sure this is more honesty than anyone wanted to read in the first place.
    **curious to know more about how you are handling the need for more modesty in the church. hope you will share much more on this in the future.

  16. Jen,

    I have been reading your blog for a couple of years but this one really hit home. I am fairly organized or so I thought until I saw the picture of your laundry piles and it made me laugh as I looked at mine just as high as yours. But boy did that laugh feel good. Like Brenda commented above, I enjoy orderliness but sometimes I have to take a breath and quit striving for perfection. Maybe it was because the last couple of weeks have just made my soul weary with all the activity. I was so tired of laundry, the news, the “I don’t care attitude” by so many people, oh my gosh it just seemed to be everywhere. So much so, that I refused to answer the phone, avoided the laundry and just wanted to curl up and waste time on nothing. Your blog and all of the comments just made me laugh and shifted my attitude back into its rightful place. Thank you for that.