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. Praise the LORD that you found him!!!!!!! There are really just no words in response to this story….to the horror of all the ghastly “what-ifs”, the absolute terror…..then to the way in which God used His Word to speak such amazing peace into the hearts of you and your sister, in the midst of such unfathomable darkness….and then to hearing that he had been found–just no words for it all! I marvel at your determination to trust God and praise Him no matter what–you are truly an inspiration!! Praise to the LORD that you have him back safe and sound!!!! I just read a bit about Eddie’s story on your “Balancing Beauty and Bedlam” and am just overwhelmed with the story–what an amazing blessing Edison is, and how marvelous that your family answered the call to bring him into your lives and homes–what a precious boy!! Truly, all praise to God for his rescue and safe return!! Thank you so much for sharing these remarkable stories, and many blessings!

  2. … oh if we ever encounter God in all His raw awesomeness and power it’s at the crossroads of crisis. I praise Him for the rescue of your sweet baby boy … and for the lessons He taught you which you share with us today.

    you will never be the same again.

  3. Oh Thank God he was found! I just wanted to share something I learned last summer as our beloved pastor of many years was dying of cancer. As the what if’s rocked our close church family , another pastor shared the thought “God is not in the “what ifs” he is in the EVEN IF….EVEN if this terrible thing happens he is STILL THE SAME GOD…he is still our strength, our hope, our comfort and our savior.” Such a powerful truth that spoke to me everyday during that terrible time. Your story brought home that truth again!!

    • Jen, thank you for your transparency in sharing your fears and temptations for doubt as well as your revelation of His love! So glad that Eddie was found and it just came to me that although to you he was missing, Eddie had a Father who knew where he was the whole time. I must remind myself almost daily that God is not only sustaining me, but also the lives of my children in the midst of what I lack. I have a 4 year old son who was born at 29 weeks due to severe preeclampsia. As a result of complications he lives with some life threatening complications. Time and time again we have seen Light shine thru situations that were pretty dark. I swore I would never have more children because of the risk of repeat preeclampsia and preterm birth, but here I am with a planned pregnancy at 25 weeks :). My blood pressure is beginning to slowly climb, and it’s nice to be reminded (thank you, Carrie K) that He’s not just the God of “what if’s” but the God of “EVEN IF’S”! Thank you, ladies & bless you!

  4. Jen, I am in tears! Happy tears of joy, that he was found and safely returned to the family who loves him so much, and happy tears that he has been and still is such a shining symbol of hope in such a dark world! Such a precious blessing to so many, I can tell by his sweet smile in the other posts you’ve written about him! So glad you shared this story so that those of us who had not yet read it could rejoice with you and get to know little Edison!

  5. God is sovereign; He reigns. Regardless of the outcome. You’re right, though, sometimes it’s not the outcome we desire. I love that He was found as you began praising Him and recognizing that He loves Eddie even more than you all do. That’s a good place for us to get to with regard to those we love…as much as we love them, God loves them even more!

  6. Thank you for sharing. Praise God he was found!!! I am in the “what if” and trying to listen for His guidance. I would love prayer.

  7. I am between the “What If’s” and “If Only’s” in my marriage. Please pray for a miracle.

  8. I am in the middle of a doozy. I am in so much pain and confusion and feel like i’m crying out to an unhearing God. I know that is not so, but that is how it feels. I am terrified and yet helpless to do anything. Please, God listens to you clearly, so please pray that He will see me through this as I try desperately to believe it too.

    • Karen, I hear the raw cry of your heart. I’m sorry that you find yourself in such painful circumstances. Are you able to close your eyes and just focus on a picture of Jesus before you? Just picture him standing there? He is holding His arms out to you; He longs to hold you so tight and so close …. to be your comfort and your strength. Karen, he loves you so, so, so very much. Will pray that your ears might be able to hear His voice of Love above the other noises in your head. He *will* see you through this, but it might not be in the way that you envision. Be open, place yourself in His capable, loving hands, and listen for His voice. His voice will be the one that speaks words of peace and forgiveness, not condemnation. His voice will be the one that whispers to your broken spirit words of love, of gentle truth and of healing.

      God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
      (Ps. 34:18)

  9. Wow! That story really touched my heart and was very powerful. My husband and I are rasing two teenagers, 15 and 17 and they are my heart and soul. We are having problems with our 17 year old – rebellion – not in the criminal bad sense – he’s a straight A student, honor roll, ROTC. all that. But being rebellious in that he has turned from God. He says that he’s an atheist and doesn’t believe that there is a God and hates the fact that we make him go to church. He’s stated that when he turns 18 he’s not going to church – well, my husband has told him that as long as he is living in our house, he’s going to church, whether he’s 18 or 24! He will turn 18 in January and graduate from high school in June of 2013. We don’t have much time to change his mind although I don’t know if it can be changed…. I am just asking for prayers. I’ve not been involved with the church and God as I should have been all these years, but my husband and I have changed churches and feel that God has led us to a larger church were God can work in us. Please pray for us and more importantly for my son, David.
    Thank you all for letting me vent and get this out. God bless you.

    • Michelle – as a mom of three high school boys/young men, I can empathize with your pain and know the momma hurt that you are going through. There’s nothing quite like it when our desire is for our children to understand real truth. I will be praying for you and your son.
      I’ll also for your acclimation to church again. Reach out to the staff there, and other parents in your life stage. I pray that you will be able to connect in this new church and be surrounded by a support team that will continue to point your family to the Lord.

  10. no huge words, just thank you for the reminder today that God IS in the middle of everything even when we take our eyes off of Him.

    give that sweet baby a hug for me and one to his beautiful mama…I thank God for giving them more time to love.

  11. What a mighty God we serve, your heart moving story is so true to Who He is!

    Have had a few of those Big God moments that leave you changed for ever and assured of His always presence with us, and a smaller one a few days ago when someone ran my husband and I off the road in our car, and thank goodness that part of the highway didn’t have a concrete barrier like most of where we had been driving, Randy was able to run off the road to save us from getting hit. I commented, I guess we were in that driver’s “blind spot” and they didn’t make the effort to check the lane, and then I thought, God doesn’t have any “blind spots!” He always knows right where we are. Even in those deep, deep woods when a little boy is lost.

  12. What an awesome testimony! So glad to hear that he is safe!

    I had one of those moments almost 24 years ago when God blessed me with a brain-injured child. A lot of what if and if only questions that still crop up from time to time. What if we had done something different during labor? What if I hadn’t been a naive first-time parent? The dreams of what could have been were instantly and irrevocably replaced with an entirely different reality. Although the road has not easy, looking back I can see His hand in everything. He is good and I realize that it was all part of His plan.

  13. God is amazing and always on time! I have experienced a few “horrifying” situations and I am a living testimony that God is a Rescuer. Only HE, has the power to deliver. I give praise, continuously, knowing that He will always stand by my side. I only need to extend my hand to Him. Blessings!

  14. Wow Jen an amazing story. Is it easier to have the perspective of positivity since he was found? I shed tears of sadness almost daily when I see lost children on the news. I’m truly glad your nephew was found.

    • Absolutely. I am on the other side and our story ends by hugging our loved one, but even in the midst of it, when we really didn’t think he’d be found alive, His Words spoke such truth into us, and quieted our hearts with His assurance.

      Now, my sister in law died at 34 of breast cancer leaving three small children. That ‘If Only” didn’t end positively, but even though it was so heartbreaking, we still know that is plan for her was better than our plan. We still don’t have the answers of our “Why’s” and know some day we will.

  15. So very glad that there was a good ending to your story – Thank you Lord!!
    I will remember Psalm 77!

  16. What a sweet reminder of God’s goodness. Our family is in the middle of the fight – and it IS a fight – to bring home our two boys in Colombia. Yourencouragement was so needed today!

  17. I praise God for the “what if… he dies”… of having my dad diagnosed with esophageal cancer a few years ago. The prognosis for this type of cancer is pretty dim. However, my dad is a living testimony to God’s healing power!!! So thankful my dad is around to share in the lives of my children. πŸ™‚ So hard to have friends struggling with the “if only” scenario right now. (I wrote about that very thing today!)

    Blessings

  18. My younger son is in the Air Force. My older son has been looking for a job with the Railroad for years and has not gotten a bite from the places he wants to go. My younger son signed up for 6 years. My older son is at the “What if” and “If only” stage in his life as far as a job. He was thinking about the Reserves and that fell flat, so now he is considering the Air Force. My younger son made his decision quickly, but my older son is not a quick decision maker. He has to think about it long and hard and pray and he is scared spitless. I am so happy your story about your nephew came out positively. That is definitely an answer to prayer. Please pray for my older son, Tyler that he may find God’s will and if it is in the Air Force. He is confused and hurt. He wants Christian fellowship and friends and there doesn’t seem to be any at the many churches he has visited in this area. He is lonely and wants a full time job and is upset that his little brother is moved out and has graduated TEch. School and is going to his full time job in June. Tyler is happy for his brother but just thought he would be the first one out of the house and with a job since he has been job hunting for over 5 years. We all would appreciate any prayers that you might have for Tyler. Thank you!!!

    • Father I come to your presence by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, and I lift up Nelda’s precious son, Tyler. Father you know every longing and desire of his heart and it does not go unnoticed by you. I pray for wisdom concerning the path that Tyler is to take and that you would guide and direct his steps. Thank you Lord for your your direction and your hand on his life. Father please also send like minded believers in his path and fill his heart with genuine fellowship.

      In Jesus Name, Amen

  19. Praise the Lord that little Edison was found and admiration for you in your steadfast trust in God not knowing what the ultimate outcome would be.

    I quickly want to share a story of my own. On a very rainy night in 1980 my eldest brother was out late at night and he wanted to go home earlier as he had to go to the Buffalo Bills game early the next day. He did not have a drive home due to the fact that his friend wanted to stay. My brother and a neighbor accepted a ride home with two friends. I was out that night as well, but on my way home a very strong feeling came over me that someone or something was terribly wrong. God was letting me know that a terrible “spiritual storm” was going to take place. I stared at the dashboard feeling as if my life was passing before me; however, at this time my brother and friends were involved in a deadly car accident. The driver was declared dead at the scene and the other female passenger passed on shortly after arrival at the ER. Our neighbor was receiving his last rights at a different hospital. My brother was transported to the trauma unit at the county hospital. I arrived home when the phone call came……my mother answered it and started screaming. The news was very grim–multiple injuries that led to a minute to minute survival rate. We all prayed and the prognosis became 15 to 15 minutes of survival. As time passed, small increments of survival time passed until they had stabilized my brother as much as they could. My other brother and I were sent home but I never stopped praying accept for the small time I had slept. I was awoken by my cousin saying that I needed to get back to the hospital–Bobby’s artery by his kidneys had burstand he was literally bleeding to death. In the end, he did not have a drop of his own blood in his system (thank you to all blood donors!) and his surgeon explained that his heart would have to run a marathon every second for him to survive. He was 18 at the time and had a strong heart–we prayed and prayed and prayed. Social networking wasn’t available at the time but news spread quickly and many prayers were prayed to our Holy Father. He had answered by saving Bobby’s life! Praise be to God! Bobby fell in love, married and he and his wife were expecting a child thirteen years later when he started breaking out in little known infections. Unfortunately,he was diagnosed as having full blown AIDS due to the tainted blood he received but his wife and daughter were not infected (thanks be to God). I thank God for the 16 years that God gave Bobby to live (the last three years he was quite ill) but I knew that God gave him the precious years to live and love. At the moment of his death, I was rubbing his arm and telling him that it was time to go to Jesus. Within two minutes, he was healed once again by going home to our Heavenly Father. I praise God for my eldest brother who was such a blessing in my life. I thank Him for healing Bobby twice and know that he is in heaven where he can never hurt again. thank you Lord Almighty!

  20. Im at the if only part. We thought we were financially sound for once in our life. If only I hadn’t gone negative in our checking account so many times. My spouse blames me for it all. If only I had never been an addict I wouldn’t have to worry about where the 150$ would come from forum next dr appt. my addictionogist is expensive and it saves our lives. If only I could trust God enough to be enough.

  21. How amazing this should come to my e-mail today. My entire life, I’ve ached for the acceptance and approval of my father. Two years ago, God put us together in an amazing way- the friendship has been growing. Day before yesterday, he had a stroke- and because I’m nearest, was able to be there to help him. I have no idea what the future holds, but am praising God for the time to learn and grow a base for healing. Part of me says No! not yet! another reminds me its not up to me…thank you for helping me to know I am not an island in the sea of what if’s…

  22. This is very timely – we are right in the middle of the “what ifs”, and battling against worry. Briefly – my dad had surgery 6 weeks ago and is on call this weekend for another surgery to re-open the incision and clean out the infection he’s been battling for the past 5 weeks. Thinking the worst tends to run in my family, but I’m trying so hard to trust God and give my dad over to him and NOT worry or fret over the “what ifs”.

  23. I am so glad your nephew is SAFE!

    I would love your prayers for my mother in law and family as she battles a newly discovered and aggressive cancer.

    • Lord, please wrap hippie4ever, her mother-in-law and their family together in Your arms of love, and enable them all to feel Your loving presence and warm embrace in the midst of this devastating news! Please wrap her mother-in-law in Your healing light….lift her into Your rays of healing, and work complete healing within her body, mind, and spirit, and bring her to a full recovery! And please bless the entire family….grant them all the ability to uphold and support one another through this difficult time, and help them to cling to You, Lord, their Rock of security! Please bless them all with knowledge of Your peace and Your presence! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

  24. I love this post…so much truth here…I am sitting in the what if God never blesses us with children and its hard to understand. Thank you for your prayers.

  25. Jeremiah 29:11 … a verse of great strength in my life! I love this post, Jennifer! I have lived ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ … with an abusive mother who seems like a lovely lady to everyone else. Her abuse was very often private between her and me … and it would be sometimes in front of company, which might seem ‘mild’ to some, but only I knew the depth of the dig, degradation, humiliation because of what she did to me in private.

    For years I struggled to love my mother into loving me. It didn’t work. But while I tried, I’d be like, ‘What if I tried this? What if I tried that?’ And then I’d also, ‘If only she saw ME! If only she could just love me back!’ No matter how I questioned, the answer never came until one day, that just happened to be my then-4 year old’s birthday party where my mother deliberately humiliated me in front of friends. I was devastated. Embarrassed. Her work at shaming me in public happened yet again. After everyone left, my husband flipped out and I broke down in tears saying to him, “What did I ever do to make her treat me like this??!!” The answer eluded me. And then I heard it! Dare I say, I heard God say to me, “There is nothing you can ever do or say that will ever make her love you.” And then I really sobbed. But it was also true.

    This was the day I started the two month deliberation of whether it was healthy or not to have this woman in my life (yes, it really was that bad.) I mourned the loss of a healthy mother-daughter relationship for those two months because I knew that nothing was ever going to change. And after that two months, crying one morning … again … God gave me a vision and to tell you the short version, He told me He loved me more than I could fathom. He told me He’d never leave me – ever! EVER! He told me that He would be all the mother and father I would ever need. He has been. My mother hasn’t been in my life now for 12 years. I am no longer at all the empty shell person she made of me all those years ago.

    I was a pretty accommodating daughter. I did what I was told because to disobey was construed as disrespect growing up – and disrespecting a parent was a no-no. Even a difference of opinion from her was frowned upon. I even cleaned her house and did laundry every Saturday (while my sister, her favourite, got to hang with her friends.) I did a lot for my mother because I was taught by my mother that love was earned … so I did all these things to earn her love, but it turns out that none of it was ever enough. Ever.

    Jeremiah 29:11 … “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord …” And He does and His plan for my life erected over the past two years or so. I have been able to offer encouragement and support to other women who’ve had mothers like mine. Women who thought they were the only ones who had such a mother. Women who thought they were flawed. Women who were taught that they were not loveable – and yet, God showed them they WERE! The Lord brought me out from this abuse, and led me to Christian parenting courses to show me what healthy parenting looks like. The Lord brought me through something so painful – but yet He made up for my loss. He made me whole. He made me a better mother and wife, a better woman really. And all this I can offer to other hurting women … and all I can say is that it makes me feel so useful, so helpful, to be able to offer comfort and encouragement to women when I, myself, felt so utterly alone when no one else understood this kind of abuse I endured, which is surreptitious and very insidious.

    We can go through a lot of crappy things in our life – and God was there for me, with me, through it all. Evil happens all around us – we will never be rid of it. So how effective is it when God can be with us through it, He can heal us, restore us … that we might be a strong anchor for someone else who has encountered a like evil?? I think its amazing!! And to think the God chose me to be such a vessel … for Him. I am awed! And my love for Him is ever increasing and deepening.

    His plans for me did not involve harming me when someone else did, and to give me hope for a better outcome … (and my addition here would be …) that I might aid in the healing of another hurting soul … and how it pleases me to serve the Lord this way … His joy overflows, spewing everywhere. It’s beautiful.

    From ashes to beauty.

  26. What a wonderful story, I am so glad for his safe return. Praise God! Our family is battling many emotions right now with a stance our church is making that we don’t know what to do with. We are heavily involved in many places, but feel very uneasy lately. We feel there are things being kept from the congregation as to not bring the truth to light. This is disturbing for us and when we have questioned an incident that we were made privy to in the past by a person involved, we were told it was not our concern. We are very concerned for what is right and this is affecting us deeply. We don’t know how to respond or what exactly to do, as we are new to church and this is our first church we’ve ever been in. We dont know how other churches handle these types of things, so we don’t have any ideas what the right thing to do is. We need prayer, for our family, for our church leaders, for our church congregation, and for the people involved in this situation that is causing some friction within the church. We are struggling with, do we stay? do we go? what do we say? do we say anything? what does God want us to do in this? Desperately needing answers for the next step. Thank you all, your sister in Christ

  27. Wow! Wonderful story of praise to God who helped you find the lost one!!

    I am in the middle of a “what if/if only” situation. If only I had listened to my parents and taken a different route in high school & if only I had listened to my very smart hubby and not gone into medicine (medical assistant). In both of these cases I might have a better job–one that I enjoy and don’t dread going to daily.

    I know that He is in control of this great big universe and He has plans for me…plans to prosper me and not to harm me. I am praying that He can turn mistakes into bliss.

    Praying for you and your family! Thanks for wonderful, open post!