Thursday, August 31, 2017

Changing Hearts, Not Circumstances by Jenna Victoria

Please welcome Jenna Victoria to Seriously Write today. She saved my bacon by filling in at the last moment and today Jenna is sharing her thoughts on her life hymn, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart. Take it away Jenna!
As background, the text of this hymn was written by Anglican Minister George Croly, born in 1780 and who successfully ministered to churches in the slums of London for fifty-odd years. He wrote many similar compositions and published a collection in 1854 entitled Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship but almost every copy of that book burned in a London fire.
The hymn survived, thankfully, and calls for us to love God fully, something only achieved by asking Him to change our hearts, not our circumstances.
I’ve been a Christian since adolescence and I lovingly jumped into a “Jesus & me” relationship with both feet. Through the death of a four year old sibling, my parent’s divorce, dementia of a prayer warrior grandmother and ordinary life hardships – my saving relationship with Jesus did bring me strength and comfort.
My faith, though, was a baby faith. I never committed to studying God’s word and rarely prayed asking His spirit to descend upon my heart.

I had plenty of basic “head”  knowledge and I was saved and redeemed and it was enough. I thought.
My first breast cancer diagnosis, at Stage III,  in 2012 meant chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
When my cancer quickly returned and spread to Stage IV after supposed “successful” treatment my faith did not waiver but I discovered it was a “head” faith, not a full-on “heart” faith. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a form of super aggressive cancer found in 18-20% of patients and typically turns metastatic and affects other organs quickly. I started to feel uncertainty and anxiety.
The Bible promises that if we draw nearer to God, He will draw near to us. I took that promise literally and began to listen to Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart on repeat on my iPod. Croly’s words brought home the truth that seeking God through the cross is the pathway to finding God’s presence. In other words, we find God especially close to us when we partake in suffering as Jesus suffered.
The song also encourages us in times of unanswered prayer. Faith is not found in days filled with chocolates and roses. It is found in days of desolation. Despite my incurable diagnosis and the medical necessity of ongoing IV chemotherapy every 21 days indefinitely – my “head” faith slowly, over time, changed into a “head & heart” faith.
I realized one morning I consistently experience joy and contentment within my situation – the type of peace described in Philippians 4:7.
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (KJV)
I am in awe at God’s love and faithfulness. I know the unceasing prayers of Christian authors, family and friends helped, but Croly, too, explains this transformation in his last stanza:  “Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, One holy passion filling all my frame; The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.” (Public Domain).
Despite the lack of “feeling” I kept drawing near to God. I prayed consistently for Him to “teach me” to love Him as the angels love. I downloaded & listened to dozens of sermon podcasts and fed my faith meat, not milk. Faith isn’t a feeling, it is sustained belief when circumstances are dark and emotions are dry.
In my recent release, Love Among the Lilacs, a sweet romance, the heroine Mollie learns that amidst tough times “life needs forgiveness to bloom.”
When we concentrate on Godly heart changes such as love, forgiveness and gratefulness – the Spirit of God *will* descend upon us. He’s promised it.
I thank God for my diagnosis every day. Without it, I would never have experienced this peace that surpasses understanding and a spirit of joy despite my trials.
I pray the same peace for you.

Book Blurb:
Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?

Jenna Victoria Bio: Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked.

Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.

Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation, reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books that give Him glory.

Connect with Jenna on social media and her blogs:
Amazon Author Page
Blog – Bookish By Design
Book Review Blog

This post first appeared on Faith Writes, Musical Wednesdays


  1. So sorry to hear of your troubles, Jenna. Glad you're better now. Your words ring true. We may not like the troubles that come our way but they can be winding roads that lead us closer to our Lord. Thank you for sharing this. I love to hear the story behind the song! Great post!

  2. "Faith is not found in days filled with chocolates and roses. It is found in days of desolation." So true, Jenna. Your faith through your circumstances is incredibly encouraging! <3

    1. Sandra - I take no credit as it's all from God who enables me 😊 I'd fall flat on my face in my own strength. I'm so pleased you found my post encouraging. That encourages *me.*

  3. Gail, thank you for stopping by. There is so much wisdom built under classic hymnology.

  4. Wow Jenna - your post stopped me in my tracks today. It touched my heart and raised some hard questions. Thanks so much for your honesty and insight.

  5. Thank you, Jenna. I needed this today.

  6. Loves to Read - what kind words! Thank you. May your day be blessed.

  7. Jean - such a blessing to read your comment- thank you 😊

  8. "Faith is not a feeling"...thank you, Jenna, for this beautiful reminder and your testimony. You truly amaze me-and put me to shame-knowing just some of the things you do for FHL, your writing, social media presence, etc. and yet, all the while you're walking such a difficult journey. You are truly an example of faith in action.

    1. Linda, thank you SO MUCH for encouraging me with your post here. All comments are a gift ~ and your compliments were an added layer of glittering wrapping paper and a huge bow 🎁

  9. What a lovely heart of faith you have. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. Robin,
    I appreciate your taking a moment to read about my circumstances and posting 😊 Have a blessed day.

  11. Jenna, thanks for filling in today. I'm looking forward to reading Love Among the Lilacs.

    Your post was beautiful and thought provoking. Really has me thinking. You, my friend, are an amazing woman.

  12. Terri, what a fabulous reply post to write for me 🤗 Thank you!!


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