February 29, 2012

Evil Eyes

I've always known my eyes were pretty. It's a compliment that I've heard my entire life. Along with being musically inclined, crazy beautiful eyes run in the genes too. Seriously, you should see my cousins and my dad and my Poppy. My eyes are the one thing I've always received compliments on. And other than my nose that I somewhat admire, it's one of the few physical features I really do like about myself. Because as women, isn't it harder to find things we really enjoy or love about our physical bodies rather than our inner selves and who we are at our core?

Yesterday was a day though where my eyes caught a man's attention - a stranger, and a slightly vulgar one at that. This man ended up telling me that I had "evil eyes." And he followed that up by saying "I was all kinds of trouble."Now I've heard a lot of things over the years about my eyes, but someone referring to them as being "evil" was a first. His comment sent me reeling and I felt myself spin there for the remainder of the day. It dug up places inside of me where I feel dangerous and where I've created trouble in the past. And places where the darker parts of me feel fear.

It's interesting how a single comment can get your mind racing and cause so much unsettledness. The words that man gave to me yesterday weren't true of me and I know that in my head. Yet I hate where it felt disrupting in my heart and the things it left me having to look at for myself yet again. Maybe there will always be pieces of my story and my heart that need examining on a regular basis.

February 27, 2012


I'm a feeler. I always have been. When I was younger though, it was labeled as being "over-sensitive" or even "dramatic." But over time I've learned to accept that maybe I am just the kind of person who feels things deeply. I was created this way - with a heart of tenderness and a deep capacity to feel.

I have this theory that it's because I am a creative and musical individual and maybe we are just wired a certain way. Musicians, poets, writers, sculptors, painters, singers - all artists of any art - we feel things on a deeper level. And from what I've observed, the best form of creativity springs from a feeling. The greatest works of art or moving pieces of music or the loveliest of poems are based off of someones experience and feelings.

One of my favorite pieces of music in the history of the world is from the Opera Turandot. I'm sure you've heard the song Nessun Dorma in a movie if you've never seen the opera. Luciano Pavarotti made it famous.

There is something about the way the strings in the orchestra seems to shake and the tympani rumbles and it ends with the resounding notes declaring, "I will win! I will win!" There is no way that piece of music wasn't composed without deep feeling behind it. And I know it because of what it physically does to me anytime I listen to it. How it makes my breath short and my heart beat fast and want to shout and rejoice and cry all at the same time.

It seems as the more my heart has experienced healing and redemption, the more I feel and the richer those feelings are. I feel more of God's presence in my life. I feel more compassion and tenderness for others. I feel more anger and long for more justice. I feel losses as they come. I feel joy and excitement with bold exuberance and elation. I guess if I was always a feeler, I've become a mega-feeler now.

Not all of knowing God is about doctrine or belief or study. Though that is vitally important to one's faith and should be a continual part of any relationship with Jesus, the places I have really experienced God have been in moments of feeling. In sorrow or joy and in desperation or celebration. I don't just believe in Jesus because of what the Bible says or because it was how I was raised or what I've been taught to memorize.

I believe in Jesus because I have encountered Him, because I have felt His pursuit of my heart, because I have seen Him move in my life and my heart. Because I have been transformed and because I continue to be. The most tangible proof I have that God is real is based off of my own experience. Others may refute the legitimacy of the Bible or the existence of God, but no one can tell me what I have experienced hasn't been real. My story is something that can never be taken away from me.

What kind of Love is writing my story till the end with Mercy’s pen?
Only You.

All this to say, I heard THIS song yesterday and it touched the parts in me that deeply feel. The parts that have been touched by the healing hand of God. It's called "Alive" and Natalie Grant sings it. I find myself curious about the writers of this song and what they felt as they wrote these words.

The author of all history, the answer to all mysteries
The Lamb of God who rolled away, the stone in front of every grave
Alive! Alive! Look what mercy's overcome
Death has lost and love has won!

I am so glad God created me to be a feeler. I would be missing out on so much of life and so much of Him if I wasn't.

February 25, 2012

Owning it

I saw a quote on Pinterest the other day from Lord Byron. It said, "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad."

That feels true for me. Especially on the days where I want to just sit in front of my computer screen and type whatever it is that comes to mind. To release something, to get something out, to empty myself. And also, to create and do something that feels natural to me. To do something that maybe I was created to do.

A friend, whose writing I have deep respect and admiration for, left me a comment a couple of weeks ago that said, "You are a writer Jenn. I know it when I see it. Own it." Those words caused an earthquake in my soul and left me overflowing with hope.

So maybe that's what I've been doing. Trying to "own it."

Writing has felt more familiar and easy to me as of late. I have found that in my spare time, I've used more of it to just sit down and write than anything else. I started carrying a journal around with me to jot down thoughts or memories that come to mind. Or some blurb that just comes to me in the middle of the day that I want to remember. It feels somewhat silly to be sitting in the middle of a restaurant or the parking lot of a grocery store just to pause and write something down, but it also feels like a starting point. Because right now I don't know what I want to write, just that simply, I want to.

Grabbing coffee with a friend last weekend, I also heard about a "writer's forum" that meets at a non-Starbucksy coffee house on Monday nights. My friend said to me, "You're a writer. You should go to this." She said it fluidly. As if to say, "You're a mom," or "You're a bookkeeper." It was so matter-of-fact. My friend thinks I'm a writer. It felt weird and right at the same time.

The bookmark I snagged for the writer's forum is still in my wallet. And though my current excuse for not attending is that I have Journey Groups on Monday nights, I'm also glad that I have something else occupying my time that night until May, in hopes that I can work up the guts to go and sit with other writers. What they do there - I don't know. I just know it sounds like something I want to be a part of.

And I'm already wondering if I'll stand out or if I belong in that setting because, what makes me a writer? Should I even go? And then I hear the words, "Own it" in my head again, and I know that I probably do belong there and I probably should go.

Days like today though, I feel like Lord Byron's quote. If I don't write to empty my mind, I might go mad. Writing helps me bring order to the chaos of the things I try to contain inside of myself. It grounds me. It's a healthy outlet - like working out is for the physical body.

So here I am. Writing about writing. And maybe in doing so, I'm owning it just a little bit more.

February 24, 2012

The Last Friday

For two weeks now, I've referred to this very Friday as my last Friday of freedom. Next week I will start working until 1. Even though it's not a full day, I'm still not home with Tommy and today especially I'm finding myself sad and weepy over what feels like a loss for me.

Because today is the last Friday I can sleep in my bed until Tommy is awake rather than to the sound of my alarm.

Because today is the last Friday I can enjoy my coffee in a mug rather than my travel cup.

Because today is the last Friday I can watch Sesame Street and make waffles for Tommy.

Because today is the last Friday we can show up to Todd's work just to say hi and surprise him with lunch.

Because today is the last Friday I can spend the day running errands and doing laundry and reading a book while Tommy naps.

Because today is the last Friday I will get to see Sarah and her boys for our usual every-other-week visits.

Because today is the last Friday....for an indeterminable amount of time.

Another season of change is upon me.

Change is like that. It doesn't ask our permission or wait for us to be ready - it just comes.

I'll be working more and at home less and there will be more on my plate than I might choose. Inevitably, I'll be missing out on pieces of Tommy's childhood and pieces of being a mom.

And still, I feel torn between enjoyment and guilt. The enjoyment of being a working mom - something that surprised me to know about myself. That I want it this way. That I'm happier and more balanced. And the guilt which is mostly about not being like everyone else. Not being the stay-at-home-mommy that other bloggers and church friends seem to be so content in. Most of my guilt comes from wondering what's wrong with me that I wouldn't want to stay home 24/7 and be a mom even if our finances allowed for that. Why am I different?

I'm aware too of where my son is so independent of me now. He needs less and less of my nurturing and kissing away of boo-boos. Though I am still invited to play, it's a rare event when he wants to snuggle on my lap unless he's sick or is being read to. He's potty trained and can get his own juice box out of the fridge and he can sit at the table and paint with watercolors without knocking over the glass of water.

Though he doesn't need less of my love, he does need me to do less for him. He's learning how to hold his own already - which that in itself is a weird experience. To watch this baby I had, morph into a little boy with a mind of his own.

This little boy who won't look at the camera to smile and take a picture for anything in the world.
It's been over two years since I've had to go to work on a Friday. Perhaps, next week will be the adjustment of the century for me. I'm off to do my usual Friday things, but this time, accompanied by a few tears.

February 22, 2012


I have many a love affair with shoes, yet I prefer to be barefoot most of the time.

I got a new keyboard for our computer at home because I didn't like the way the other one sounded when I typed.

I considered participating in the Lenten season just because everyone else was doing it.

I don't know what to do with the feeling I feel when the words I have spoken to someone else has had impact. It feels good and then it feels bad that it feels good.

I sometimes go through the McDonald's drive-thru by my office for an Egg McMuffin just to hear the man at the window tell me,"You look lovely today."

I am totally wearing things from my spring wardrobe already because we have had no winter and it is officially too warm to be sporting a scarf or any kind of closed-in shoe. Also, I am using the term spring wardrobe very lightly.

I believe that most hot fudge sundaes are not proportionate. At the very least they should be equal parts of hot fudge to ice-cream.

I realized I had a "Smart Phone" almost two months after I got it. I thought it had to be an i-something-or-other to be considered smart.

I have had a nearly life-long crush on Bruce Willis.

I am impeccably organized at work. Rarely so at home.

I am a bookkeeper and handle company finances on a daily basis - yet Todd is the one to file our taxes every year. I won't touch them.

I love writing with red pens and mechanical pencils the most. And I hate anything "fine point."

I would like to thank my Superfantastic friend Lori for inspiring this list of semi-revealing things about myself.

Also...it sometimes drives me crazy to let my blog go for a day during the week and write absolutely nothing. And this is why I sometimes write nonsense and randomness. Because I can appreciate a good measure of nonsense now and again.

You're welcome.

February 21, 2012


Twenty-seven years ago, my life was changed by the birth of my brother, A.J. With his entrance into the world came ten years of hospital stays and doctor visits. Ten years of confusion, chaos, laughter, typical sibling rivalry and my own share of pain.I have written little about my brother since the time I started keeping a blog. There is still much of me that looks at his short life with a great measure of contempt for what his childhood meant to my own. Maybe because our stories are so intertwined and because of much of my wounding occurred during those ten years as he received all of the affections and attentions of my mother while I was left with none.

And because after his death, the things that I had hoped for, completely fell apart.

I associate the memory of A.J. with pain and sadness and I'm afraid that if I dig into my heart, I will discover that I not only didn't love my brother, but that even now, I am still incapable of finding any real love for him. And I question too, am I supposed to love him? Does it even matter? I've recently discovered that some of the greatest shame in my childhood is tied to the relief and even gladness I felt when he died. And where I beat myself up and did violence to myself because those feelings were true for me and I was too scared to utter them out loud to anyone.

Much of me feels afraid of the anger I feel inside about him, about those years, about the things I was robbed of. It's a place I am still reluctant to sit in and allow myself to feel. And now, almost seventeen years after his death, I am feeling the tug on my heart to be more curious about the things I have stuffed deep down in my heart.

It's almost as if I've been experiencing healing in layers. And the story of my brother is and was underneath some of the other pieces of my story that I have more peace about than I once did. Perhaps it's time to peel back this layer too.

Today would have been A.J.'s 27th birthday. I can't even imagine my brother as a man - and I don't think I'm supposed to. He is forever ten and obnoxious and wearing cowboy boots with shorts and playing drums on Lego buckets. He is forever barging into my room begging me to play and heard crying through hospital walls as doctors try to draw blood or find a vein for him to get the treatments he needs through an IV.

I remember my story beginning with the birth of a sibling born with life-threatening defects. This brother I never really got to enjoy or know the way that other brothers and sisters might know each other. My hope is to keep telling my story, to keep writing it out. And to go back and look at the things that need revisiting with the perspective as a now grown woman, more redeemed and whole with each passing day.

February 20, 2012


I am grateful that today is President's Day - and even though I'm working, I didn't have to drive in traffic. And that just flat out makes me happy.

I'm grateful that Tommy has somehow learned to "hold it" during both nap-time and bedtime which means we are not only done with diapers, but pull-ups too.

I'm grateful for coffee. Hot, fresh and welcoming.

I'm grateful for friends who still take time to connect with you even though they've moved thousands of miles away.

I'm grateful for my awesome friend Mal who will be filling in the gap and caring well for Tommy while I work more.

I'm grateful for music and how I feel it move the deepest parts of me. For being created to experience and enjoy it the way that I do.

I am grateful for the kinds of friends who meet you for coffee and you can be frank and honest and open. The friends that when you leave their presence, you feel like you're less alone and less crazy just because they are walking the hard places in your journey with you.

I am grateful for long Sunday naps followed by long Sunday walks.

I am grateful for the new places I am experiencing God where I haven't before.

I am grateful for sore muscles and the evidence seen from hard work and consistency.

I am grateful for honesty and openness in marriage.

I am grateful for the days I wake up with gratitude pouring out of my heart.

February 18, 2012

Sun Interruptions

There is this moment that inevitably happens after any long
rain shower.

When the sun first peeks through the clouds after two days of
gray, teary skies. When the ground is drenched and you drive through puddles of
water that splash onto sidewalks. The sky suddenly surrenders to the light of
the sun, highlighting the remnant clouds and it makes you squint and it's hard
to see because you've been so used to the gloomy around you. Where bright meets
dreary and it's unsettling and disrupting. The storm passes and the rest of the
day promises to be light.

There is something about that particular moment that stirs my
soul. It irritates and disappoints me and I get angry at that first shot of
sunshine. It feels like an interruption. Something about it feels unnerving.
Like I'm not ready for it. Like I just want more of the storm and the gray and
the overcast.

I want the sun to be tucked away and get lost back in the
clouds and come back quietly the next morning. It's soft light coming in slowly
through my windows and inviting me to its warmth. When it doesn't feel

I want more of the rain hitting my windows, bundled up in
blankets lost in Jane Austen plots and eating chocolate slowly. The dark, soggy
days invite my tears and my heart to feel things I've been holding on to that
need letting go. Rainy days do something for my soul that the sun just can't.

February 17, 2012

My Messy Home

As good as it feels to have a clean, organized, tidy, everything-in-it's place kind of home, mine rarely ever is. In the past year I've learned to be more okay with that. It used to be, that if by the end of any weekend, if every load of laundry wasn't washed and put away and all the dishes weren't in the cupboards and my living room wasn't freshly dusted, I would beat myself up about what a bad job I'm doing as a housewife.

How pathetic I must be that I can't work AND be mommy AND make dinner AND stay on top of all my chores. I'm a failure at this like I have been at everything else in my life, I would say. And what an ugly thing to say to myself too. Yikes.

There are days still that I wish I could be super-woman and find a way to stay on top of it all so that my life and my home look pristine and perfect and put-together. But that's just not REAL life. And ya'll know - I am all about being real.

These days, I apologize less to my friends when they come over and see toys strewn about or groceries sitting on the coffee table because Tommy has decided to go "shopping" in the pantry again.
The evenings that I come home from work and the dishes are all done with the exception of a couple of things that need to be washed by hand, I just smile and feel relieved. Because I have a gracious husband who helps and doesn't leave it all for me to do.
Also, I hate, loathe and have great disdain for dishes. They are, and always will be, my household nemesis.

Inevitably, piles stack up. Piles of randomness from leftover crafty projects or lessons being worked on, half-made grocery lists, and bills that need paying. Life just accumulates somehow.
Maybe that's what happens when you're really living. There will always be things that remain undone or not put away in their place because you've been too busy reading Dr. Seuss books and crashing trucks into walls because you love to make your son laugh. Or because you are taking five minutes all to yourself just to breathe and sit in front of your blog and write to your heart's content because there are few other things in the world that you would rather be doing.
Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I've decided not to let the mess that often happens around me, define my worth or value as a wife or homemaker. I'm not being graded and I've let myself off the hook.

Next week marks the beginning of a new work schedule for me. Work has changed a lot in the last year for me too as I've been gradually asked to take on more hours and more responsibility. I'm grateful for a job and employment - I love where I work and who I work for. The company is growing, and in this economy, that's kind of a big deal.

But at the same time, I've been kind of mourning the things I will be missing too. Mostly time with Tommy and the extra time just for me that I've been thoroughly enjoying. Working part-time created the space for me just to learn how to be and to learn what it is that I need in order to take care of myself. It's hard not to be fearful that working full-time again is going to morph me back into the person I was before. The frazzled, exhausted and numbed-out woman who did everything half-assed and just survived and existed day in and day out.

Something in me tells me though that it won't be like last time. I'm different. I know how to take care of myself. I know what I need. I know how to ask for help. I know how to make changes. I feel at peace - like I know I'm gonna be alright.

One thing is for sure though - my house will be just as messy. I'm sure that clothes still won't make it into the hampers and I will still trip over motorcycles on my way to brush my teeth every night.
And you know what?

It's OKAY.

February 15, 2012

The More

Lately, I have found myself with this deep, indescribable longing for more. As if I'm longing to return to somewhere I've never been. And this longing goes beyond discontentment because it's not that I'm unhappy with the things I have or even where I am in life - it's just this yearning in my soul that feels disrupted and undone as I wait and live and expect.

I want more sunny days.

And I want more gray, rainy days too.

More cool breezes and more warm sunshine.

I want more winter, spring and summer.

More autumns that pass by slowly.

More holiday merry-making.

I want more swept off my feet moments.

More time.

More laughter.

More sleep.

I want more passion.

I want more money and believe it or not, I want more shoes.

I want to create more beauty.

More dancing and more reasons to dance.

More face-time with my family and friends.

More days to do nothing but be in pajamas and watch movies and read.

More snuggles with my every-growing boy.

More adventure, more surprises, more romance.

More kissing and more Saturday morning cuddling in bed.

I want more in my relationships that I have - more depth, more realness, more love, more honesty, more truth, more words. Just more of everything.

More life and more living it well.

Some days I feel like I might burst open with all of the more that I'm longing for. And I feel that within myself today. Like I need to somehow calm down the more that I so deeply long for because it makes me jittery and anxious and unsettled in my very soul. And I don't want to silence or quiet it, but just allow for the space to feel what it is I'm wanting more of and take it God. After all, He is the One who is the maker and keeper of the more I am seeking....

February 14, 2012

Tastes Like Heart

For me, Valentine's Day is just another excuse to spoil my little boy with things he doesn't really need. Like candy and bubbles and toys that will get lost under the couch. But I do it anyway - because I always want him to know he is loved and special and remembered.

Tommy thought it was his birthday and asked where his cake was.
Favorite quote of the morning, "This lollipop tastes like heart!"
My silly valentine!
I attempted to make heart shaped pancakes. Not an epic fail....
But not an epic success either. But it's heart-ish.
I'm not sure if they tasted like heart, but they were made with love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 10, 2012


There was a moment in my yesterday that I experienced the feeling of desperate fear.

I had to go to work and Todd was home with Tommy who had been running a fever. After he woke up from a late morning nap, it had spiked to 103.9. Todd immediately put him in a cool bath, called our doctor and then me.

For about ten minutes I was planning on spending the afternoon in the Emergency Room and doing what I do when I worry - imagining the worst. I sat there helplessly in front of my computer at work, letting my tears fall and wishing I was home to do something. As if I had the cure just because I'm the mama.

Thankfully his fever immediately went down to 101.1 after the bath and he was given some fever reducing medicine. Our personal friend and pediatrician got us an appointment to see another doctor at the office since she wasn't in that day. I was finally able to relax a little bit, but for those ten minutes as I was imagining hospital stays and various diseases and fever-caused brain damage and a thousand other scenarios, nothing else in my world mattered but getting care for my little boy.
The look of utter misery reads all over his face. He ended up being diagnosed with the flu. This marks the first real big bug he has ever had. A couple of minor ear infections and one cough as a baby - but this is his first major sickness. The flu is no small thing.

All evening, he sat in my lap. Between that and the Tami-flu, I was hoping that I could snuggle him back to health.
This morning he woke up demanding food and water. I felt relieved at the return of his appetite and willingness to drink. He is driving his motorcycle around the house and talking up a storm. Even though he is sick, he is acting more like the Tommy we all know.

The fear I felt inside of me yesterday...that gripping realization where you know someone else's life is completely out of your hands - because you can only snuggle and administer medicine and watch for symptoms. That fear showed me where I still struggle with trusting God with the things I hold closest to me. Today I'm feeling emotionally spent after working myself into a tizzy yesterday. I'm grateful for a quiet, restful day where the only thing on my agenda is to take care of my little guy.

As I wrap up this post, Tommy is playing in our bed and I heard him praying just now, hands folded and eyes open....

"Dear Jesus, thank you for taking naps and mama and daddy and I don't feel sick an-more. And I'm hungry Aaaaaamen."


February 8, 2012

Awaken the Dreamer

Some days when I get lost in numbers and papers that need filing and accounting puzzles that need figuring out, I pause and think, "How did I get here?"

The week after next I'll be working full-time again. The first time since the start of 2010. I'm ambivalent about being in this place. Mostly, I feel tired thinking about keeping up with life while working 40+ hours a week.

Sometimes it seems weird to think that I'm a bookkeeper for a living. I help two small business keep track of all of their important financial information. I pay their bills and file taxes and run payroll and formulate commission spreadsheets and dozens of other little things that might fall under my job description. I'm self-taught and I'm pretty good at what I do. Bookkeeping was something that came easily for me.

I enjoy how this kind of work stretches me. How I can be presented with challenges and things to figure out and somehow I always do even if it takes a little help. There are things about it that make me feel good about myself. How it confirms that I'm not an idiot just because I don't have a college degree to show for myself. I think sometimes I need that reminder because I spend way too much time second guessing myself.

But sometimes my job just feels draining and wearing. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming or feeling bored. Somewhere inside of me, I know that I was made for more than just this. And at times I just feel lost. Recognizing where God brought me here and feeling grateful for the kind of job that helps to support us financially. And longing for something more too. Something that gets my creative juices flowing and makes me feel like I'm just doing that big thing that I was created for. Whatever that thing is.

Perhaps God is finally awakening something new in my heart. The ability to dream.

And so, here I am. Seated behind a desk most days - using lunch hours and free time to write or gain inspiration for how I want to make my home more beautiful or what my next party to plan might be. Thinking about a job outside of bookkeeping terminology and office work. Just dreaming.

I don't know if God's plan for my life will ever take me down any other avenues than where I currently find myself. I don't know if my occupation will ever be something other than this.

But I'm starting to think....yes.

February 7, 2012

What I would say

My smile is large. I'm having fun with my friends on a youth group scavenger hunt. I'm also wearing two different knee high socks with my black Keds (Remember when those were all the rage? That was the '90s version of Toms perhaps). Something about my big smile and my mismatched socks makes it easy for me to find kindness for my 14 year old self. I wish I liked myself more back then. I really was quite fun as a girl. Maybe it's just part of being a teenager though and maybe you never really like yourself at that age. Are any teenage girls really self-aware and comfortable in their skin and mature enough to accept who they are as lovely and wonderful?

Yeah, probably not. Because I'm almost thirty-one and there are still parts of me that I don't like.

I was thinking about what I might tell her. What did I not know then? What did she need to hear?

Because if I had the chance to talk to her, I wouldn't tell her about all of the things that were about to happen in her world - no one could handle that. But I would want her to know a few things that I didn't know. Things I had never heard or that might have been useful for me at 14.

This picture was before my own version of normal fell apart. Before my brother died, before the divorce. Before everything rattled my world and changed that girl's big smile forever.

You are beautiful Jenn. Seriously, you are a beautiful.
Don't believe anything different.

Your smile is contagious.

You are fun and bold and cheerful.

You are not too much.

Always be YOU even if that means mismatched knee high socks.
(Besides, you totally rock that look!)

Don't worry about not having a boyfriend. You will have them later. And yes, you will get married someday to a really kind, wonderful and incredibly good-looking man.

Don't hate yourself. There is nothing there to hate. God doesn't hate anything about you - even the things you might feel ashamed of.

You are not alone. Remember that. Whatever you struggle with or you hold inside and are convinced that you're the only one....you're not. You are never alone.

You aren't like everyone else. So, don't try to be someone else - just be you.
God created you just the way you are.

Keep singing.

Remember - mistakes don't make you an idiot. They make you human.
It's okay to make a few thousand.

Write more.

Sometimes life comes with really hard challenges Jenn - they will come. And you might think that you won't be okay, that you won't survive it or that your circumstances are bigger than you. Those things might feel true, but you will be okay. You will be more than okay.

There will be people in your life that you can trust, that are safe and will listen to your heart.

Be a good friend to Sarah.
She sticks around for a very, very long time.

Feel your feelings - don't stuff them, don't eat them, don't hide them. Feel them, write about them, scream them out, talk about them. They are just feelings.

Give your mom some more grace. Hug her a little more often even if she feels distant. She LOVES you!

People who have to go to counseling aren't crazy and it doesn't mean something is wrong with them. We all need a little a help sometimes. Don't be so judgemental. And maybe consider going for yourself too. It will be good for you, I promise.

Your body is special and sacred. It should be treated with kindness and tenderness - by you and anyone that you deem worthy enough to share it with.

A lot of things in life are more gray rather than black and white.
You don't always have to be one or the other.

Enjoy sleeping in while you can. You won't always get to do that!

You have a story. Someday you will share it.

You are lovely, you matter, you are loved by God and you are precious.

My teenage self needed to hear those things. Maybe, I still do.

I'm curious....what might you say to your teenage self?
What did you need to hear?

February 6, 2012

Life Snapshots

It has been cold and rainy here. After feeling warm and spring-like for weeks, winter's chill has felt especially abrupt and cold.

Todd's grandmother passed away on Saturday. And before they took off for North Dakota, I saw his dad cry for only the third time since I have known him.

The weekend was both long and short. Long because the days were full - more than full. And short because it passed by quickly and I feel like I'm going into the week unprepared and without any rest.

We celebrated my Grammy's birthday yesterday. Our family gathering felt sweet and laughter-filled.

I sang the song "Your Great Name" as a special solo in church and I had tears and cried through parts of it. That song has deeply moved me and though I was hoping to sing it with clarity and without tears, I couldn't hold it together. It felt hard to not sing something to my best ability vocally, but the responses I received from my congregation yesterday as a result of the tears that I shared from stage, were overwhelming and glorious. Perhaps that's how God meant it to be shared with others.

In two weeks I will no longer be working on a part-time basis, but full-time. When I think about it, I feel overwhelmed and tired and I'm feeling a little scared about what life is going to look like with that kind of schedule.

It's a possibility that Todd might start a new job in about six weeks. Nothing is for sure, but it's hard not to feel anxious when he could be leaving the place of employment that he has been at for twenty-five years.

It's raining again. And I'm wishing I were at home in my warm pajamas watching something Jane Austenish and eating some hot tomato-basil soup.

It's Monday and it definitely feels like one.

February 2, 2012

Dawn's Early Light

The house is still and quiet. Morning light seeps through window shades, but in a soft way that eases me into the day. It's softer, subtle, inviting.I move with quietness hoping my little one can sleep just for just a bit longer. I run the water and scoop coffee grounds and make my cup of cozy. I love the whirring, steaming, pouring sounds of coffee being made. It sounds like morning. And it smells like my mom wearing her plaid fleece robe standing in the kitchen when I am ten, greeting me with her lovely makeupless smile. I love how smells take you back to the people you can't see in real life anymore. And how they are still kind of with you if you stop and take notice in those moments.

Breakfast can wait, but the quiet can't. I sit in my favorite spot and turn the light on next to me. Pulling out my books and my journal and a pen. I take sips of my coffee and read some. Sometimes I pray or cry. Or I just sit and allow myself just to be.

The last couple of years have grown me to realize my need to meet with God in the stillness before the rest of the day comes at me and hits me with full force. And maybe it only lasts for half an hour before my boy awakes or before I head off to work, but it's just enough time. It's enough time to get me through the day where I have to answer a toddler's 10,000 questions and have to pay bills and wait in line at the store or reconcile bank accounts at work. It's enough to nourish the parts of my soul that need something deeper, something more.Maybe after all these years, I've become something I never thought I would become.

A morning person.

P. M. S.

I know my hormones are raging when all I can think about is chocolate cake and I cry when someone cuts me off on the highway.

Yesterday was one of those days. Sadly, my search for a friend to meet me at the nearest Chili's for some margaritas, chips and salsa and what I might call a "bitch-about-life-session" turned up with no one able to go.

Not that I called anyone - I just looked through my phone and made up reasons why so-and-so wouldn't be able to go with me. Mostly, I didn't think I could emotionally handle being told no without taking it personally and landing in the pit of "Everybody hates me, nobody likes me, my life sucks!"

Oh man, being a woman is hard sometimes people.

I ended up eating with Todd and Tommy at a local restaurant - the two people in my life who can definitely not say no. I vented to him about my not-so-very-awful day that felt very awful because PMS just has a way of making a regular day with mild irritations seem like the world is ending.

After dinner we stopped for ice cream and I basically just ate the hot fudge out of my sundae and left the ice-cream, because hello. Chocolate.

The day ended with a semi-vigorous workout and I suddenly felt about 87 times better than I had before. I saw a quote recently that said, "A good mood is only a workout away." I found this to be true as I went to bed with a clearer head, a satisfied chocolate craving, and some much needed endorphins.

Apparently the cure for my horrible PMSish symptoms are a healthy dose of chocolately goodness followed by some exercise. After almost 19 years of being a "woman" I finally know what my body needs.

Seriously. Being a woman and being attacked by uncontrollable hormones morphs me into this crazy person sometimes.

Does anyone else have a cure for the crazy PMS monster?

February 1, 2012


There's no doubt I'm a sentimental person. For years, I've kept small things as a reminder of a person or a place or some precious memory that I want to somehow keep with me for always. I have an entire box of sentimental trinkets specifically from my childhood and very young adult years - things I have purposed to save.

From time to time I go through this box. It contains pieces of my childhood and carefully preserved memories, mostly so I never forget that I was once 9 or 14. Now that I'm nearing 31, those years feel further away than they used to. And for some reason, yesterday felt like a good day to sift through some memories.
I saved a lot of seemingly random things from my childhood. Trinkets, small sheets of paper with meaningful sayings. Movie stubs, dried flowers now falling apart, cards and letters. Friendship bracelets and newspaper clippings. Pictures of my parents when they were married and looked like they were in love.
There are a few snapshots of the boys I used to have crushes on. Some of them make me smile and some make me groan or sigh.
Every little thing saved has a meaning behind it - and some of these valuables I can remember distinctly why I saved them and some of them leave me with questions like, "What on earth is this for?"

And for the record, the "Kiss Me" conversation heart is from 1994 and it was given to me shortly before my very first kiss ever by a boy named Brennan. I've never been able to part with it. And apparently, conversation hearts withstand the test of time as it's never fallen apart. Perhaps you should think about that before eating them.
Some things make me smile and remind me that not everything in my past was sad or sorrowful. Just because my brother was sick and my parents divorced doesn't make it all bad. Maybe for a long time I believed that and lived that way. But, there was camp and fun friends in high school and choir and times of uncontrollable laughter and silliness. I'm thankful for the brighter moments to look back on and know that there were parts of me that really did live back then.
I cut this outside of a magazine once and could never part with it either. I've clung to the word "sometimes" for years. Because yes, SOMETIMES, dreams really do come true.
The box contains writings and stories from my younger self. My favorite story ever about the girl who had dog ears. Epic story actually.
The first song I ever wrote was in college. It was about my relationship with God and when He started becoming real because I started making grown up, adult decisions and experiencing Him and His grace outside of Sunday school lessons and sermons.
There is a gift that my sister had made for me the Christmas before I got married - a "Scrapbook" of sorts. Her sentiments about mom here are sweet: "Then we have lovely mother here who sadly died December 28, 1999. On her brother's birthday! We are gratefull that she is in haven. Good thing we have Robin! I love Jennifer. YOU ROCK OUT LOUD."
I love that she saw what a gift it was to have Robin. Where she knew she wouldn't be void of a mother in her life. Those words feel innocent and youthful and true. Perhaps I love most though, that to Laura at age 11, I apparently rocked out loud.

There are stacks of papers to prove that maybe I really am a writer. Maybe it's not too late to go after a dream that's always just been a dream. After all, isn't it true that SOMETIMES our dreams come true?
My most prize possession of the box though has to be this. The letter my mom wrote to me March 30, 1996.

The letter that I have as tangible proof that she loved me. That she was sorry, that she wanted more, that she was hurting. That she was proud of me. It helps for me to read it sometimes, especially when I want to believe that those things aren't really true. And for when I just miss her and wish she were here to talk to.

It's been a long time since I've held on to a scrap of paper or a conversation heart or words clipped out of magazines. Maybe because now I have a blog and Pinterest and a digital camera. It feels easier in this day in age to hold on to things that you want to remember in ways that don't take up as much space or need a box like these things do.

I suppose though I will always have sentiments. I will always have things to hold on to and memories I want to cling to and hold dear. The ability to touch pieces of my story with my 30-something year old hands feels like a gift. Somehow, it helps me stay in touch with who I used to be and how it has all brought me to being the woman I am now. The wife, the mom, the bookkeeper, the wanna-be-writer, the singer.

The memory keeper.