Inspired Blogger: Jolene Underwood
I met Jolene when she began linking up to The Weekend Brew. Immediately I knew she was a woman with a big heart. I have enjoyed getting to know Jolene over the last few months and know that you will grow to love her just as much as I do.
Without further adieu, please welcome Jolene Underwood!
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My life is nothing like I thought it would be. I never thought I’d live to get married, let alone have kids. Now, I call myself “mama to many” due to being a mom to bio, step, foster, homeless and our babies in heaven.
I met my husband as a single mom of two boys. He was a single dad of one. We began our marriage with the joy of Christ, but early on legalism entered. We tried to make control a venue for providing structure. We embraced the world of “how you should be” or “what you should think”.
Over the last few years God’s grace has been breaking us free. In 2012 we moved to the country to live as foster parents on land owned by our agency. We faced an incredible number of physical, emotional and spiritual battles. I have never been so exhausted and overwhelmed, or so moved in my heart and soul. On the last day of school in 2013 we moved home. By then we’d cared for 13 foster children in addition to our other four. By now I was probably dealing with PTSD and couldn’t keep going like I was. This last year has been one of healing & rest.
How long have you been blogging and how/why did you start?
I started my first blog, JavaJo at Home, many years ago, but did virtually nothing with it. It was going to be a homemaking, herbal, gardening, DIY blog. Eventually I realized that those weren’t really the things that drove my writing. In 2013, I started His Not So Perfect Housewife. It was my way of telling others that I fall and fail too. Still, it wasn’t capturing the heart of me.
In January of this year, 2014, a vision for my writing became clearer. I started Joleneunderwood.com with the tagline and social media handle of @FaithEyes. I am learning to trust that He sees all things, and I cannot. In believing that God is good and trustworthy to lead us, we can walk without fear.
What is the purpose of your blog?
To share faith journeys filled with grace.
I’m not a blogger who will tell you “10 ways to fix something”. I may, however, share ten ways I’ve made mistakes and how God spoke to my heart through them. Personally, I’m tired of reading all the “answers to good living”. God is our ultimate source for living well, and living well doesn’t equate with perfect children, perfect marriages or perfect faith. I’ve seen Christians hurt themselves & each other by refusing to talk about anything seen as negative. I’d rather recognize the reality of suffering, trials, anxiety & fears, then walk through them with the Creator of all things. So, I share journeys that have grown my faith. I also seek to encourage others to find freedom & courage to live by faith.
What do you most enjoy about blogging?
I’m learning the craft of writing and having a great time with it. For many years, writing was put on hold. Now, the words are filling up in my mind & I am freed up to take this journey. As I write, healing takes place, the Lord ministers to my own heart and I provide a place to connect with others.
What are you passionate about?
When God opens our eyes to the need which is all around us, we cannot shut it out. My eyes have been opened. I am forever changed by my experiences, especially as a foster mom. I’m compelled to bring awareness to the foster care needs right here in America.
I love to encourage encouragement & connection. God has designed us to be in community and the enemy continually tries to draw us into isolation. We are also often blinded to the cries of hearts right in our midst. Let’s learn how to listen well & love well.
I’m a bit passionate about my hobbies and can get distracted easily. But, I’m working to find balance. I love gardening organically, natural living and herbs. Currently, I have plans to become a certified facilitator for the Kendall Life Language Profiles, with more life coach training to follow. My husband and I found it to be an extremely eye opening and helpful tool.
Who or what inspires you?
Music can really ignite my heart and rejuvenate my soul. I love Matt Maher, Hillsong, Matt Redman, Jadon Lavik, David Nevue, Meredith Andrews & Third Day.
Tchividjian’s messages on grace and suffering have been powerful agents of change and healing for me.
Chip Ingram & Paul Tripp minister the messages of my heart and Jason Johnson with All In Orphan Care writes the posts for fostering & the gospel that I haven’t been able to write. Listening, reading, and studying set my mind ablaze with ideas and words to write.
Tell us something random about yourself.
Growing up I was in softball, volleyball, cheerleading, basketball, canoe racing, gymnastics, ballet, tap, jazz, swimming & dancing. I don’t like sports. I would have rather been in drama but I was too afraid of rejection to try. For more, 25 Random Things About Me.
Will you share with us one of your favorite posts and what you love about it?
“A Restless Wrestling”. This post was written for a linkup on Jennie Allen’s site. Circumstances around going to her book launch were significant for me. This piece started from a place in my heart where confidence was growing. It turned into something that really is far too long for a “good” blog post, but I still love it.