Today we celebrate the gift of Jenn Lewis! Jenn is a newbie in care group leadership–she and Cliff have taken over for the Buntings’ Sola group now that they have been sent to the Pastors’ College. She’s coming into this new role with all smiles:) Doug and I are so grateful for her faith to give her time to encourage and counsel the young adult ladies in our church. She’s an example of joy and faith in a way that is contagious. Enjoy getting to know more about this daughter of Christ.
Tell us a bit of your background and how you got to Crossway Church.
I grew up in Scranton/Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania going to a Pentecostal church. A lot of my family went there, too—mom and step-dad, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc. I met Cliff there when I was barely 8, and immediately fell in love.
Being raised in a theologically-light Christian home, it took a long time for me to realize what the gospel really was. I didn’t actually know that Jesus died to save me from God’s wrath, and that my sin was a worse enemy than the devil.
When I was 14, Cliff and I officially became best friends, partly a result of the lack of other kids our age at church. We were both secretly sure we wanted to get married some day, too. God managed, miraculously, to sustain our friendship, and help us keep our emotions tucked away until the proper time (which happened to be the fall of 2006).
At some point Cliff started getting interested in theology, and reading Christian books. I followed my best friend’s lead, and got my hands on The Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney. Ever heard of it?
Eventually we decided that when it came time to pick a college, we’d better pick one near a good local church, like a Sovereign Grace church, so we picked Millersville. How lucky we were that it wasn’t just any ol’ Sovereign Grace church, but that it was Crossway Church? It’s only been 6 years, but Crossway feels like my home.
Cliff and I started dating in the fall of 2006, he proposed to me on Thanksgiving 2007, and we got married in June 2008. Then at some point we decided “wouldn’t it be fun to have a baby, since we love each other?” Then Jack Augustine was born in July 2010, after 3 days of labor and an emergency C-section. Ouch!
God has been so faithful. He used every situation in my life to draw me closer to Himself, and to make me love him more. When I look at this story, I see God’s kindness in light of my sin. It’s only because of Jesus Christ and his awesome-ly glorious gospel.
In being married for a few years and a mother of a one-year old, where have you seen your weaknesses the most?
Hmm…Do I really have to narrow this down? I feel so helpless in so many areas. One weakness that seems to invade a lot of other areas is my tendency toward laziness. I can be slow to do my daily household duties, or I can go through a day where I only passively engage my little boy. Laziness affects my home, my child, my husband, and my relationship with God. That said, I think this is the area where I’ve seen the most growth since getting married (hopefully my husband agrees…). God has shown me a lot of ways to combat this tendency, first and foremost by helping me see it for what it is.
It’s obvious that you have a deep love and respect for your husband. How has God cultivated this in your heart? How would you counsel a woman who is struggling in this area?
I think part of this, for me, is that I’ve known Cliff for a long time. I’ve seen him change so much over the years, and God has used him so strongly in my life to help me understand God’s word and God’s love.
There are many times that I only see what I want to see—“oh, Cliff’s terrible at such and such.” My perspective is completely different, however, if I take time to remember what Cliff’s many redeeming qualities are. It’s been especially helpful when I’m talking to other people. I love to tell people how great my husband is and all the things he’s good at. When I do that, it’s like intentionally building up in myself a reservoir of respect for those times when I’m tempted otherwise. And as an added bonus, sometimes it might just come back to him, and give him some unexpected encouragement.
Jack has had hearing difficulties since he was born. Tell us about that. How has that affected you as his mom?
When Jack was born, we found out he had some hearing loss in both ears. We still don’t know the cause, but it’s probably genetic. I feel like I have a lot of varying emotions about this, and will continue to as I see how Jack grows with it. Sometimes I don’t feel like it’s a big deal, because there are so many more challenging disabilities that he could have been born with. I’m thankful that it’s only hearing loss that Jack is dealing with, and that hearing aids bring his hearing to a normal level.
Sometimes I feel sad that he’s not “perfect,” that he’s not starting out with exactly the same advantages as everyone else. I think, what if he wants to play music, but can’t because of his hearing? Or, what if he’s embarrassed about wearing hearing aids? Sometimes I feel frustrated that we don’t know the cause of it—and I think, what if our other children are born with hearing loss? It’s almost like I can forget for a minute that the world is fallen, and characterized by futility. I could remember that and feel overwhelmed and depressed.
But then I remember Jesus. That he came to redefine our futility, and gave us himself, his name and his life. Whoa! My hope and prayer for Jack is that God will use his “defect” to make him see God as that much bigger and greater and more glorious. Not only does God use the weak, He uses their weaknesses to glorify himself. I know Jack’s biggest problem in life won’t be his ears, but his sin. I just hope and pray with all my heart that God will save Jack from his sin, and then use Jack’s ears to teach him about himself. Jack’s hearing loss in light of the Gospel can amount to something very good in Jack’s life—I hope that God speaks to Jack that much louder because of it.
Finally, here’s what Cliff wrote to honor his wife.
It should be easy for me to write about Jenn—I am, after all, her biggest fan. (Jack would contend this point, but I knew her first. So there.) The truth is it’s hard to know where to begin listing all of the ways that Jenn has been a blessing to me. She makes life joyful and light in our house. Her presence has a magical way of making food taste better and jokes sound funnier. She loves Jack and cares for him with a studied, attentive understanding of precisely what makes him tick—which is exactly what she’s done for me since well before we got hitched three years ago. Those are just some of the reasons that I love Jenn. But, best of all, she bears that grace and peace that always stamp a true gift from God’s hand.