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JFH Staff Blog | March 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

“Raising a Monument” by Jenna Badeker of Wild Harbors

Almost two years ago now, I felt stuck.

My husband Chris and I had worked hard to carve out freedom for our life. We were out of debt, we lived in an apartment that had become a month-to-month lease, and we didn’t have children yet. We had jobs that supported a modest lifestyle. With nothing major to hold us down, we could make any changes we wanted to.

We could move to a new city. We could buy a house. We could try to start having children. We could change jobs. We could do anything... And honestly, having so many possibilities available paralyzed me. It was so much to think about that I did nothing about it. I just kept waking up and following the same old routines.

Questions and nudges would come up from time to time. I knew when I had started my job eleven years ago that it wasn’t what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life. Over the years, one or two invitations to try something else presented themselves, and I overthought and hemmed and hawed until the decision eventually faded from my mind. Fear of the unknown and how all the variables would work together tricked me into thinking that not deciding was an escape route, when in fact, it was a decision of its own - a decision not to act and not to trust God in his invitations.

Meanwhile, our music career was slowly growing. We kept getting invitations to perform, and we kept saying yes. We wrote songs more frequently. When it came time to make a new record, we started exploring our options while juggling our other careers and commitments.

We learned that Andrew Osenga was willing to produce the project, and for that to happen, we would need to spend a month in Nashville - eleven hours away from our home in Maryland. My job did not allow for that kind of flexibility. Faced with leaving behind the safety and security of a salaried career, I confessed to Chris that I couldn't come up with the justification needed to do so. It felt crazy. All I could think of were reasons not to do it. Amazed, he asked if I remembered how I had turned to him in so many electric, God-filled moments of our last tour and literally said, "This is why we do this." Conversations with listeners, connections between their lives and our songs, holy moments of the show… I stared back at him, and half-laughed and said, “No.” There were plenty of reasons to try, plenty of moments when God had spoken and made His purposes clear to us. But when I was looking at fear and the unknown of the future, those moments were the furthest thing from my mind.

When we shared this conversation with a friend, she said, "That's why the Israelites built monuments. They were a forgetful people, and they needed physical reminders of what God had done so they could return and remember." Chris looked at me and whispered, "THAT'S the song we need to write. Let's get home."

Our friend was right, of course. In Joshua 4, God has just led his people across the Jordan River on dry ground - just as he did at the Red Sea. This is miraculous! Can you imagine witnessing such a sight?? Feeling the dry riverbed under your feet? Hearing the water rush to the Dead Sea that had been blocking your path? In the moment, it would feel like something you could never forget. And yet, God said, “2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’” Joshua understood and commanded the men to do so, saying, “6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

We know the continuation of the story. We know that the Israelites were headed into the promised land, but that it needed to be conquered. It would be hard. They would forget God. They would stray from the promises they made and beg for earthly kings to rule them instead of a God they could not see. God knew the character of his people, and He helped them continue the process of making monuments to physically, visibly remember the places He moved and spoke. They named places to memorialize what happened there so that they and their children could look back to the signposts along the way. He invited them to use these monuments to fix their eyes upon Him and rehearse his faithfulness to draw them back to Himself.

In the end, we chose to trust God and follow where He was leading. I left my job, we made the record, and I started life as a full-time independent musician. Parts of it have been amazing. And honestly, parts of it have been really lonely and discouraging.

As the journey has gotten longer and harder, Chris and I desperately need the reminder to stake a claim on the moments when we are certain, moments when the cloud of doubt lifts. We pick up stones from significant walks with God. We take pictures of places we’ve seen Him move. We record Spirit-filled conversations and encouragements in our journals or on post-its on the wall. We screenshot texts and posts we never would have dreamed of getting two years ago. Chris even designed a necklace that I wear and that we offer to others who need reminders like I do. We do this because it is clear that if we don’t, we will forget all of it when we get scared. When that happens, we are in danger of straying from the path set before us. We need a tangible, visible way back to those places to remember what God has said and done.

We need to raise monuments, and we will work hard to do so. We hope you’ll do the same.


Said goodbye to house and home

Set off for the great unknown

Didn't we hear that voice

That sent our spirits reeling

Trembling before the choice

but couldn't shake the feeling

This is the moment when everything's clear

We know who we are, we know why we're here

Before all we have are feathers caught in the wind

We'll raise a monument


Mountaintops that called our name

looming closer day by day

Didn't they seem so small

when standing at a distance?

Looking back I can't recall

A path of worse resistance


One day we say we've come alive

The next we think we've lost our minds

Are we crazy, are we doing well?

It's getting harder and harder and harder to tell

It's getting harder and harder and harder to tell

It's getting harder and harder and harder to tell


Write it all down in stone

I know this won't last long