May 30, 2012



I am ready and wanting for change.  Wanting to feel unstuck.

Wishing for less and for more.

Feeling blessed and I see the abundance I've been given.  Yet, I'm discontent at the same time.  How can this be?

I'm thankful for the eyes I've been given to see the real, the hidden, the unspoken.  It's both a burden and a gift.

Being seen allowed me to see.  It brought me to life.  It called me to more.
It stirred the places in my heart that I thought had been lost forever.

Ideas, passion, calling, inspiration, more.
I hear these groanings of my true self trying to get out, break free, and be.
The writer, the artist, the singer, the creator, the beauty-maker.

All of who I could have been - she is still there. 

Dreams.  They feel like foolish, silly, pointless dreams.
I pause, I hesitate.  I stop.
Fear keeps me from dreaming. 

Any dream I was ever brave enough to dream has stayed merely that.  A dream.
Could they ever be anything that becomes? 

And dreams....they feel like a pathway to failure.
I'm scared of failure.  Of being defined by it.

I am left with questions.  Haunted by regrets.  Taunted by my past.
Those are the things that make me lose sight of Him.  Of who I really am.
Who He created me to be.

I seem to be always standing still.  Watching everything go by while I remain motionless.  I see where I want to go, but I can never seem to get going or get there.  All of it feels so out of reach.

And then there's joy.  It comes, it's always there underneath everything I keep striving for.  It takes me by surprise.  It comes from somewhere deep in my heart where I keep holding on to hope.

The hope that made me see.
The hope that invites me to dream.
The hope that brought forth joy.

Joy springs out of me and there is always enough.
There is joy in my longing.  In my deep yearning for more.
The joy is my strength and my song.  It gets me through these restless days.

I've seen the dawn.  I've seen the promise of more on my horizon.
I know it's coming and it has been coming.  I've felt it.

But still.  I am restless.

And waiting.  Always waiting.

May 29, 2012


Maybe we all parent out of our own woundedness.  I know I do.  My heart remembers all that I didn't have and wished that I did.  Most of my fears about being a mom come from wondering how or when I will hurt my child with my words or neglect or carelessness.  

These seemingly insignificant, small moments of my childhood were the ones that ended up being the most defining moments of my story.  They are these small snapshots of life.  Brief encounters, barely memorable to anyone except for me.  I have several scenes that looked like this as a girl.  And I remember them and the lies that followed.

Since becoming a mom myself, my hope has been to minimize these scenes for my own child.  To be thoughtful with my words and actions, to be present, to see and notice.  Because I didn't always feel seen and noticed, especially by my mom.

The long weekend provided plenty of time with my little boy.  There was coloring and swimming and book reading and ramming trucks into the wall - because that's just how we play at our house.  But by the time Monday rolled around and I had a glorious day off of work, I was desperate to steal some time away to myself.

That was the day I officially decided it was okay to say no.

I realized something.  I can't accept every invitation that Tommy offers me to come and play.  I can't say yes to every game, every opportunity and every thing he wants me to do with him.  And I've put a certain amount of pressure on myself (and Todd for that matter) to not miss it.  To not miss the moments of his childhood that we'll someday wish we had back.

This touches a tender place in my heart.  While I have countless memories of playtime with my dad, I only have one memory of a time like that with my mother.  I remember it with such clarity, as if it happened yesterday.  It's this perfect, golden memory that I've treasured for always.  And I show up as this mom who wants her own children, to have more than one single memory of being played with and enjoyed.

Maybe I even say "yes" to Tommy because I get something out of it.  It ends up being more about me than him.  And well, that's just gross.

I decided though to let myself off the hook.  There is a time to play and enjoy and accept his sweet invitations.  And there is a time to say no too.  There is a time for him to occupy himself and do things on his own.  It's okay to not always say yes. 

He will know disappointment and experience that from me.  I will let him down and make him sad.  I think I've been trying to keep that from happening somehow.  But once again, it's all about me - where I'm wanting to feel good about myself for how I show up.

It's funny how we are supposed to be teaching our kids things at this age - yet I always feel like the one being taught.  And maybe, just maybe, that's what parenthood is all about. 

May 28, 2012

"Making Lemonade"

"When life hands you lemons....make lemonade."

You know that familiar saying, right?

And of course there are several spins on that nod to optimism.  Like, my personal favorite:  "Unless, life also hands you sugar and water, your lemonade is gonna taste like crap."

I don't consider myself an optimist.  I'd love to say that by nature I am a happy-go-lucky, sees life with a glass-half-full kind of person, but that's simply not true.  My natural tendency is to see things through a negative lens.  To feel discontent, to find what's wrong and to wallow in self-pity.  

But living this way gets to be miserable.  I've been learning that when I dwell on all that I don't have or has gone wrong, it leads me down the path of regret.  It's a well-worn path for me.  One I tire traveling down.  I torture myself with the what-if's of life and obsess over my own share of shoulda-woulda-coulda's.

Todd and I had a conversation over the weekend about this.  About regret and wishing for do-overs in life with the knowledge we have as our current selves.  And though we can't change our past, we do get to decide what the now looks like.  I told him that I didn't want to look back on year six of us, on this season of our lives where things looked exactly as they do, and wish that we would have done things differently.  I wanted to minimize the regret and try to enjoy where we are - even though there is much we would like to change.

I don't know if it's even possible to minimize regret.  Is it?  Can we?  I've decided to give it a try.

Because I have seen where I am still not living fully and I want that to change.  I want to be more than my negative, glass half-empty self.  And while I don't have control over everything, I can choose my attitude and my posture.

Our weekend was going to be quiet.  We attempted to reach out to some friends and find some fun things to do, but others seemed busy or gone or just not interested.  We felt the familiar sting of loneliness.  We let ourselves feel that - we need to, we must.  But, instead of wallowing in self-pity and allowing that to dictate what our day was going to look like....we decided to "make lemonade."

When all else fails - there is Walmart.  We had to get a few things we needed anyway and decided we could afford a dinky pool we could put in the backyard.  Before we left, Tommy reminded me that we had enough time to stop and wonder at the goldfish.  The sweet lady who worked in that department even let him feed the fish and it quite literally made his day.
We came home and I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  Tommy helped dump all of the ingredients in to the bowl and discovered that the best part of making chocolate chip cookies was eating the chocolate chips.  (Just wait until he's old enough to discover that the real truth to this, is that the best part is getting to eat the DOUGH!)
Yesterday was our mini-pool party day.  We turned on some music, brought some snacks outside and enjoyed a family day of "swimming."  Or sitting in eight inches of water.  Either way, it was fun.  I think we even made some memories.
We may miss many more opportunities along the way.  And year six of us might still be full of things we wish we would have done differently.  That is still quite possible.
However, this weekend wasn't one of them.  This was the weekend we "made lemonade."  And it was perfectly, perfectly sweet.

May 25, 2012

Sumping Special

"I wanna do sumping special with mama," he told Todd this morning when he woke up.

Oh my heart.

The two days that Todd takes him to home daycare twice a week, I try to either not be there by the time he gets him up to leave.  Or, I pretend I'm not there at all and hide in my bedroom until they're gone.  And maybe that sounds harsh or immature - maybe it is.  Even though I should be a working mom veteran by now, it's still hard to leave Tommy and to be gone as much as I am. 

Honestly, it is still hard and I suspect it might always be.  I'm still searching for balance while trying to do it all and have it all and maintain it all.  And "all" is simply not possible.

There will come a day when he's not going to want to spend his days with me.  He will have outgrown special times with mama.  My time will have expired in the ways that any mom takes care of and loves and nurtures small children.  And that's okay - it's how it should be.  Little boys grow up to be big boys and men, and I don't want him to cling to me like that for always. 

But I do want to enjoy it while it's here now.  Even though I have to work, I don't want to miss out. I want to run towards the opportunities and the invitations he extends to me now.  He won't always want me in his room to play.  He won't always want me to take him somewhere and be with me.  But he does now - and that's what I don't want to look back on and wish I would have done differently.

It's a shorter day for me and I keep wondering what it is that I could take him to do that would feel special.  I suppose that at his age - anything other than being at home feels like an adventure.  At this point, I'm not sure where we will go or what to do....
But, I do know that it will be sumping special.

Happy Friday.

May 24, 2012

We are back

No marriage is perfect.  I thought that for a long time though.  I idealized others and thought they had it all figured out and we were just missing something.  I was even on a mission to find that missing piece.  To do marriage better than my parents did or my friends do.  As if its a competition or something to be mastered.  

Needless to say, God and marriage and everything that unfolded in the last year between Todd and I was humbling. I'm grateful for it.  I desperately needed to be broken there - we both did.

Since I wrote my "Story of Us" posts, there has been a shift with us.  In many ways it feels like we're back to being the us that I loved. Being able to recognize this has brought comfort to my heart in the places where evil still whispers that we won't make it forever and ever like we vowed.

But one thing is true for this moment and this season.  We are back. We are back to the us that works, that loves, that is meant to be together.

We are back to sending sweet text messages during the day like:

Him:  Guess what?
Me:  What????
Him:  I think you're wonderful (followed by a kissy face)

We are back to holding hands on the couch while watching Star Wars movies.

We are back on all of the same pages together again.  We're saving money and being more thoughtful with our finances. We're considerate and helpful - like how he helps with the dishes because he knows how much I hate doing them.  And I do the laundry and he never has to worry about having clean socks.  

We our back to our familiar, comfortable rhythm where there is give and take and just the right amounts of conflict and affection.

We are back to talking about the crap as it happens rather than letting it build up.

We are back to family dinners around the table and talking about our days and disappointments and hopes together.  

We are back to dreaming about expanding our family and praying about what God might have in store for us there.  The hardest and most painful place to dream, yet to even be here feels like we've already birthed some great thing.

We are back to being us.
Just in time to celebrate six years of marriage in two short weeks.  It's good to be back.

May 22, 2012

Summer Bucket List

1) Have a picnic in the park

2) Visit Tiffany in Ft. Worth for a weekend

3) Try a new recipe

4) Make puppets out of paper bags with Tommy

5) Start and finish summer book club

6) Celebrate SIX years of marriage

7) Drive to Hunt, TX and check out Crider's rodeo and dance with Todd

8) Have a water balloon fight

9) Make a yarn wreath for my friend's girly nursery

10) Host an ice-cream sundae and Wii dance party

11) Go to Enchanted Rock

12) Take Tommy to the zoo

13) Watch fireworks on July 4th

14) Swim

15) Work on making a new Christmas tree skirt

16) Go bowling with Todd for date night

17) The beach - get there

18) Write at least two chapters in my book

19) Getaway with Todd to Marble Falls for a weekend

20) Go out to breakfast one weekend morning with my boys

21) Fit into a size 18/20 by Labor Day

22) Visit George and Paula

23) Spend a day at "The Island" with my friend Lori

24) Play in the rain

25) Go tubing in New Braunfels

26) Send off gifts and goodies to my Auntie in Africa

27) Have another girls night with Robin, Chelsea and Laura

28) Give Tommy an awesome monster truck birthday party

29) Print pictures and organize into albums

30) Kiss, laugh, cry, rest, fight, work hard, enjoy, play, reach out, wait, hope, love, live.

What's on your summer bucket list?

May 21, 2012

.....and Stories

Five years of blogging.

Five years of finding my inner writer.

Five years of figuring out what should and shouldn't be written down for the "world" to read.  

Five years of figuring out what I do and don't want to write about.  

Five years to find confidence and the belief in myself to see that I have my own style, my own perspective, and my own talents that are unique to me.

It's taken five years, but I've finally found my unique voice in the blogosphere.

I'm not sure if anyone noticed the slight name change and "about me" that I made a couple of weeks ago.  The thought came to me in the shower, as most brilliant thoughts do.

In 2011, I made a huge change.  I closed the chapter on all I had written on Simply Jenn-Sational and began There is a Season.  I contemplated the change for several months well before I went public with it.

I think at the end of the day, I felt more grown up than when I had first started writing.  For a long time, I tried to write like other writers I enjoyed reading rather than writing my own words. I wanted to start crispy and fresh because so much inside of me was feeling new.  And whether or not anyone else thinks so, most of my writing since then has been reflective of that.

Plain and simple, I write from my heart.  And that wasn't always the case.

In the past year since I've been writing here, I've noticed that my passion involves stories. I am a story-teller. Seasons and Stories feels fitting for how I write and where my passion for story lies. I love to read them, tell them, and listen to them.  I could sit for hours listening to men and women share their stories and hearts with me.

Just two weeks ago, I began gathering pieces of my own story that I've written over the years.  Even hitting copy and paste made me feel anxious because I feel like I'm doing something that I was meant to do and it's nothing short of terrifying.  Announcing anything on a blog makes things feel official in a way that instills fear in me rather than courage or motivation.

But I've started piecing together my book - my story.  The parts I want to write down and share with the world.  I've officially begun the process.

I don't know where it will take me or what will ever become of it.  I just know that I need to do it.

And I know that it only took five years to finally feel brave enough to begin.

May 20, 2012

Family Fun

One of the things I hope to gift my son with are happy family memories.  Times where we did things together.  Where we laughed and sought adventure and enjoyed each other's company.  As much as I love to be home since I'm away from it so much during the week, I realize where Tommy needs to get out - see the world, and experience new things outside our little nest.

Yesterday afternoon we headed to New Braunfels.  A short drive from our house considering we are on the outskirts of San Antonio as it is.  We went to a popular park there full of river, playgrounds, and shady trees.

And we made a few happy family memories together.
May has been mild so far.  It was 90 and breezy, and in the shade it was divinity.  Music was playing at a party a ways down from where we were and Ray Charles' famous song, "What a Wonderful World" came on.

It was in that moment, I was able to forget how just days ago I felt like my joy had been sucked out of me. Weariness had set in and I had felt down for days.  But at that moment, I let myself relax and enjoy the moment I found myself in.  Where my husband's arm was around me.  Where my son - healthy, happy, thriving - was pretending to steer the wheel of a fire truck.  Where summer didn't feel oppressive and where my heart just felt at ease.
Those moments seem fleeting don't they?  They can never last long enough.  When I find myself caught in those little snippets of life where things feel close to whatever perfect could even look like, I try to memorize everything around me.  The smells, the sounds, the scenery.  I've done that for as long as I remember.  Perhaps that's why my memories are easily accessible in my mind.  I'm a memory-keeper.
At the end of our day together in the park, we took a train ride.  Tommy squealed with delight and had a million questions about everything he saw.  
The weekend has provided time for refreshment and rejuvenation for my spirit.  I skipped church today - I hate going alone and I would have had to go by myself today.  Todd picked up a shift at work that will provide enough over-time that makes up for what I didn't make while I was serving on jury duty. It is so like God to come through for us - always enough, always in time.

I've been able to read and rest and sleep.  Watch movies, kiss my husband, cook meals, clean my home and catch up on chores.  Even start some fun wreath-making projects.

This late Sunday afternoon I'm simply thankful for my little family of three.  For the times we are able to have fun and enjoy life together.  And I'm thankful for just enough space to be me.

May 19, 2012

Journey Back #4 - When Death Comes

May 19, 1995

One of the things that I remember most about this day was the amount of food on the dining room table. The people that flooded our house that day came bearing meat trays and brownies and sad faces.  It's interesting how when death comes, we bring food.  It's like we don't know what to say or do, but we can make casseroles and pie and maybe that will convey everything we don't know how to say.

I was hugged a lot that day.  I heard, "I'm so sorry Jennifer."  I was asked how I was doing and I remember not knowing how to respond to that.  Mostly because I wasn't sure how I felt but I knew then that it wasn't all sorrow, there was also hope. Everyone's "I'm sorry's" hit me like a sharp arrow and I wondered if I would be caught for how I really felt and what I really thought.  The truth was, I was ready to move on and let go. This journey, his life, had felt long for me.  I was looking forward to the relief his passing would be.  And still to this day, I feel guilt for that longing.

My mom stayed at my brother's side all day long.  I remember keeping a distance - like usual, but I wouldn't even go near her.  Her tears never stopped.  I wondered if she would have had that many tears if it were me.  If it was me that was dying instead of him. 

At one point, I remember wishing it was me.  Only because I wanted my mother to love on me like that.  Stroke my hair, feel her tears fall on my own cheek because she was holding me so closely, feel the warmth of her body because she was embracing me.  I never knew those touches.  He did.  He always had.

A.J's mattress had been moved into the living room.  He laid there on his race car sheets going in and out of consciousness while friends and family and pastors and nurses and perhaps anyone who ever knew him, came in to say their goodbyes.  They hugged us and bore witness of the remarkable child that he had always been.  Stories were told about him, of the things he said and did.

And that was true, he was rather remarkable.  That was one of the reasons I envied him.  It was as if he had been wired with some special connection to spiritual things that made him not just special needs, but genuinely special.  He seemed to be very in tune with God.  He never complained about being sick or about having to be in the hospital so much.  Sometimes I wonder if he knew he was only going to get to live for ten years.

That morning he told my mom he was going to heaven soon.  He asked her if she thought there might be a mommy there that needed a little boy to love.  Still to this day, I wonder what kind of child thinks to ask this kind of beautiful question. 

I remember feeling scared that he might die while everyone was there and I kept wondering what we would do if that happened.  I watched his chest all day, making sure he was still breathing.  I was convinced that if I kept my eyes on him I could keep him from taking his very last breath.  Watching him gave me a sense of control and purpose.  And I was scared I might see that - his death, his departure from this earth, his very last breath.  Something about that terrified me.

By the end of the day, the visitors had come and gone.  All that was left was family.  I hadn't cried all day long.  I had eaten salami and cake and chips.  I hid some in my room because I didn't know how to answer questions.  I spent some time outside.  I tried my best to detach and numb out.  But as we sat there and the clock ticked by, as we waited for the inevitable, I knew it was coming.  Death was coming for my brother.

He was asleep - there on his mattress on the living room floor, my mother still sitting by his side stroking his hair.  His coloring had faded..  His skin was both gray and yellow, his eyes closed but dark and already lifeless.  I knew in that moment I wouldn't see his eyes open ever again.  I wouldn't hear his laugh.  I wouldn't have to yell at him for not barging into my room without knocking.  I wouldn't have to go to any more doctor's appointments or hospital visits.  I wouldn't have to watch my mom give him all of her attention. 

Life as I knew it was about to radically change.   I just didn't know that night, exactly how.

But May 19, 1995 was the very last day I ever had a brother named A.J.

May 16, 2012

In the kitchen

It was the kitchen that made me fall in love with our house when we first looked at it.  It was open and spacious and had all of the counterspace I could ever dream of.  It was easy to imagine the pie crusts that I would roll out on its surfaces and the room for cookies to sit and cool, fresh out of the oven.  It was easy to imagine the parties and family gatherings where everyone would congregate there and share laughter and stories - because the kitchen is simply where you do those things.

At times when I've hosted fun get-togethers in my home, my friends will sit down on the kitchen floor, while the little boys play with tupperware and pots and cook us make-believe macaroni and cheese.  Those are the moments that warm my heart the most because life seems to be shared to its fullest in my kitchen.

My kitchen is full of evidence of life being lived.  There are remnants of Mother's Day and sweet words received at the end of another semester of Journey Group.  A newly framed photo of my smiling boy.  A book I'm reading and will be going through with some ladies this summer in my home.
There is work brought home to get caught up on.
Play-time things put away.  My son keeps my heart and my mind young and curious.  And painting watercolors and making spaghetti noodles out of Playdough are my most favorite parts of any day.
The kitchen is a place where we make memories.  And where I keep some of my most precious ones displayed.  It's fitting that my favorite picture of my mom and I sits on top of my refrigerator.  Some of the best and only memories I have with my mom were made in the kitchen.  
It can be a bit messy and chaotic.  If I were honest, I would say that I often wish my kitchen could look like something right out of a magazine or some beautiful room you might see on HGTV - where things are clean and put away and styled ever so perfectly.  But then again, life is messy and out of order and I really wouldn't have it any other way.
The kitchen is where we give Tommy sandwich hugs.  It's the place he asks for "offles."  It's where Todd gives me his first kiss when he gets home from work.  It's where he wraps his arms around me as I cook a meal for us. The kitchen is where I sit on the floor with my son and spell out words with letter magnets on the refrigerator.  It's where Tommy hides in his "spaceship" (the pantry or the bottom cabinets he is able to crawl into).  It's where I make my coffee and often times make a whole pot because I'll be sharing it with a friend.  The kitchen is where I bake and cook and delicious smells begin.  It's the place where we unload and set everything down after walking in after a long day.  It holds much of our lives.  It's the hub of our home.
And I'm not sure exactly why I'm sitting here feeling inspired by my somewhat messy kitchen.  I guess after a week and a half of jury duty and barely being home because life had been disrupted and merely survived through, I simply don't want to miss it.  Life and beauty around me - in the chaos, in the mess, in the disorderly.

Because it's right there in front of me when I stop and look.....

Where is the place you most often share life with others?

May 15, 2012

Worth it

For eight days I served on a jury.

For eight days I couldn't watch the news, see a newspaper, or look at our local news online.

For eight days I had to keep secrets.

For eight days I had to contain a vast amount of information and facts and evidence.

For eight days I felt full, overwhelmed and weighed down.

For eight days I carried around a heavy burden with me.  That in my hands was the life of someone else - and what I decided as being part of a jury, was going to have a forever impact on that person.

For eight days I contemplated punishment and grace and mercy.

For eight days I had questions for God about His goodness, His plans, the things that He allows that I just don't understand.

For eight days I had little left in me - to write, to cook, to get things done around the house, to exercise.  I was spent in every way.

For eight days I felt a lot of feelings - many things triggered for me in my own story.

For eight days I cried at some point - every single day.

For eight days I went to bed exhausted and drained both physically and mentally.

For eight days I was forced to see things from different perspectives.

For eight days I did my duty to my country and to society as a whole as being a citizen of the United States of America.

Someone sent me a message today and asked me if it was worth my time.  Did I feel like my precious time had been wasted or was I glad that I could be part of it?  And if that person would have asked me eight days ago, I would have said no.  It wasn't going to be worth my time.  How could I give up an unknown amount of days from life to step away from work - where I make my income and help to provide for my family - to go unpaid (except for the small amount the county pays to you) ?  My time was indeed precious, and I was convinced that the week or weeks this was going to take would indeed be a complete waste.

But eight days later, I don't feel that way anymore.  As hard as it was - on me, my family, our pocketbook, and my heart - it was worth it.  It was an honor to be chosen.  It was a privilege to play a part in the way that I was chosen to do so.  And I served alongside fellow jurors who were full of integrity and character and conviction. 

It would be unkind to write about the case or what it involved, and I simply won't out of respect to everyone involved in it.  But I will say that my heart is forever touched and moved by this experience, by the stories shared, by the facts and evidence that were put before me.

All of it left me broken-hearted, humbled, moved and changed.  And more than any other thing, I am left feeling overwhelmingly full of gratitude.

I am grateful for my freedoms in this country - one of them being that I have the right - we all do - to a fair trial.  I am grateful for my story - how my life experiences and how God has shaped my heart, plays a factor in how I make decisions and think of others.  I am grateful that I have this firm assurance deep in my soul, that ultimately my hope is in the cross of Jesus and what He did for me. I am grateful for where Love has seen me.

Gratitude.  Eight days ago, that's the last thing I would have expected to feel on the other end of this.

May 13, 2012

What I learned from my mother

I learned most of what I know about cooking and baking from my mother.  She taught me that measurements were crucial for baking, but not as much when I was cooking a meal.  To trust my gut when adding seasonings to a dish and how to substitute ingredients.  Mistakes aren't as easily noticed in a meal and most things can be fixed.  But baking isn't very forgiving and it needs carefulness. 

I learned how to wear make-up by watching how she applied her own.  She showed me how to wear just the right amount to highlight what was already beautiful. 

I learned that the best mornings were the ones where she could put on her flannel robe and drink coffee and watch Regis and Kathi Lee.

I learned how to sing from deep in my core.  She taught me how to project my voice.  And I always wanted to sing like her because simply, she was a power-house.   

I learned how to make holidays special and magical.  The house always lit up with wonder after she was done.

I learned that the best hot cocoa was made slowly on the stove.  It felt like a wonderful surprise to come home from school to find her making some for me.  The handful of times that she did that made me know what feeling truly special and cared for was all about.

I learned that I didn't want a marriage like hers.  I wanted more than what she had.

I learned that my body was the only thing of value to men.  She taught me this on a regular basis and it has had far-reaching impact on my story.

I learned what it felt like to be loved conditionally.  

I learned that if I ever had more than one child, I didn't want to have a favorite. 

I learned how to obsess over my body, how to diet and that my looks were the most important thing.

I learned that it's possible to be wounded by so many things in your life, that it can actually be the death of you.

I've learned that it's still hard to look for Mother's Day cards when your mom is no longer alive.  And it's better to take Todd because he can be there to hold me when I break down and cry.

I've learned that I still wake up with the same ache of both wishing she were here and being glad that she isn't.

I've learned that becoming a mom myself has taken some of the sting out of this day for me.  Not all of it, but some.  This day may always feel bittersweet and that it's okay for it to.  Death adds bitterness sometimes.

I've learned that I am so much like her.  But I'm stronger than she was and she would be so very proud of that.  I like to think she sees me from heaven and she's my biggest cheerleader.  When I imagine her face for me, it's brimming with pride and she says things like, "Go baby, go!  You can do this!  You are so brave!" 

I've learned that I'm still learning what it's like to be motherless.  What it's like to be a mom as my son grows a little more every day.  I'm learning that grief is a forever process.  I'm learning how to live with loss and longing, both because of her presence in my life and her absence from it.

Happy Mother's Day,  mom.  I miss you.

May 10, 2012

The death of a hobby

Have you ever grown out of a hobby?   Maybe it's just age or circumstance, but at some point, the things you enjoy doing begin to change.  Time becomes more precious and how you find yourself spending it looks different than it did before.

I feel that way now.  When I do have spare time (and that feels somewhat rare these days) I find myself spending that time doing different things.  I write more.  I play with Tommy - because how many invitations do I really have left for going into his room to play trucks and build tents?  I read or exercise or bake.

For a long time though, I enjoyed scrapbooking.  I feel at home in my skin when I'm cutting paper and using glue and finding the perfect trinkets and ribbons to give one single moment in time the glory I feel it deserves.  I find pleasure and enjoyment out of embellishing these memories that I've made.  And I consider myself a creative and artistic person - scrapbooking always felt like it was my thing.

It's been years since I've had the time to do any scrapbooking though.  The pictures I've posted here are from 2007.  And when I do have time to be crafty, I'd rather make wreaths or something for my house instead.  As much as I've wanted to hold on to all of this stuff I've collected for a hobby that's basically no longer existent, I've decided I need to let it go.  And that letting it go is okay.

For the past few months I've been in de-clutter and simplify mode.  Figuring out what I can live without, what is practical and makes sense.  And what things I'm holding on to and why.

For my scrapbooking things, I think I've been holding on to it because I've been convinced that life will drastically change and I will suddenly have all the time in the world to sit with mounds of paper and stickers and what-nots and perfectly album all of it. And when I was honest with myself, I realized that even if life did provide the kind of time that scrapbooking takes, I would rather be spending that time doing something else.

So I'm boxing it up.  Keeping a few essentials for future crafty projects.  And the rest of it will go to the highest bidder on Craigslist.

As for the magnitude of pictures in my possession, I'm thinking of just putting them in regular photo albums.  And as time permits, making some special notes on the back of certain photos.  That feels realistic.  That, I have time for.

And I'm not exactly sure why, but realizing that I've grown out of a hobby - this one especially, where I carefully and beautifully have preserved some of the memories I've made - makes me feel a little sad.

May 9, 2012


It's May in Texas.  Ordinarily, the temperatures are in the high 90's and our five month streak of heat induced misery begins.  However, the last two days have been gray, rainy and cool.  It's my most favorite weather because I feel the most like me.  But the rain itself has felt like a gift.

Sometimes I wonder why God sends it.  Why does He choose to send us water to drink, to nourish and strengthen our lands, and to give us relief from the hot sun?  Why does He bless us? What did we do to deserve it?

The rains have passed for now and the sun is shining today.   It's a beautiful morning and I feel His call on my heart to enjoy it's beauty rather than be stuck inside with responsibility and obligation and duty.  Perhaps the day will allow for a walk and a few precious moments to steal away just for myself.

But the rain, the sunshine in all of it's glory, the unexpected May breeze - makes me feel profoundly thankful for grace today.  Grace - being given something that we don't deserve.  Grace - a completely unmerited gift.  And where would we be without it? 
For me, it's easy to think of those who have known and loved me well over the years who have extended to me measure upon measure of grace. Their faces come to mind and my eyes brim with tears for how they have shown grace and how it has impacted my story.

A second chance.  A third chance.  A forty-seventh chance. Tears of sorrow instead of anger.  Understanding eyes in place of judgemental, condescending ones.  Lavish gifts in the midst of my mess.  Life instead of death.

Grace has changed my life.

I've been thinking about where grace feels hard though.  Where it doesn't want to fit.  When I've been slow to extend it and find it in my heart for someone else.  Grace has never been my natural inclination.  Maybe we aren't born with the ability to give it to others.  Perhaps it has to be learned because someone had to show it to us. 

It seems as though when you've experienced much of grace, slowly over time it becomes a part of who you are.  How you live and love others, how you speak, what your relationships look like, how you make decisions. 

And this grace - invented, authored, and thought up by God Himself - it is forever woven in to my story.  All that I've been shown and given, not just by God, but by through others who have chosen to love me well, enables me to impact someone else's life and story too.

My hope is that grace can come with more ease. My hope is that I will reach for grace when I am hurt or wounded or even disappointed by someone.  My hope is that someone can experience God's love, the hope of Christ because I have shown them grace.

I so deeply desire to be a woman full of grace. 

May 7, 2012

Jury Duty

I have jury duty today.  

I am mostly not excited about this because I have a job and I quite seriously can't afford to be off of work for more than a day.  However, that's not a reason to be exempt from such a thing.  

And maybe it's an honor and it's my civic duty and blah, blah, blah.  But I just have a horrible attitude about it entirely.

 So, when it's Monday morning and you're in a cold jury room praying they don't call your number, you need something to make you smile.

That being said, my weekend rocked:

There was date night with my husband where we ate some fabulous Italian food.

The Avengers.  


I most definitely don't regret going on opening night, paying an extra $2.50 convenience fee for advance tickets, or getting to the theater an hour and fifteen minutes early to guarantee a great seat.  Totally and completely worth it.

There was even time to read, play on Pinterest, do laundry and clean my bathroom.  Time for me and a little time to be productive too.

A Skype baby shower for my friend in Alaska and conversation with the sweetest of friends that I don't often get to see.

My giggly boy in his new plastic pool sporting his very own sunglasses.  (And I managed to NOT get a picture of this?!).  And yes, it's already hot enough to swim here.

Hello 97 degrees in May!

Todd's steak fresh off the grill.  Perfection.

My somewhat successful fake, at-home spray tan. Because my legs were pasty white and needed something.

And I say somewhat because my feet got a little over-sprayed and least now I know how not to spray them now.

An unexpected and much welcome thunderstorm.

We had a lovely time of worship at church and conversation with new friends.

A hug from Anna, newly returned from D.C.

Long overdue phone date with B.   

So, I hope your weekend was full of hugs and fake spray tans and plastic pools and yummy steaks and stuff.  Because all of it really was quite grand.

And now it's not just a Monday.  But jury duty Monday.

May 4, 2012

I want to be like that

I want to be like the man I saw this morning, tap dancing at the bus stop.  He was happy and he wanted to dance.  So he did. 

I want to be like my almost three year old son.  Who lives wildly and loudly, seeking adventure and questioning everything.

I want to be like my step-sister Chelsea.  She knows what family really means and how to embrace and invite others into her heart with grace and ease. 

I want to be like my husband - how he puts much thought into his words before he speaks them and gives them to others.  

I want to be like the young woman I met at a seminar the other day.  She walked in and greeted every stranger with a smile, shook their hand and asked for their name.  She was kind and warm and lovely.

I want to be like Kristie.  She lives and breathes and writes from her heart and it takes courage and guts to do that.  I want to have more courage and guts.

I want to be like my Poppy and how he rises early every morning just to read and talk to God because he wants to do that with the whole of who he is.

I want to be like my cousin Anna.  Because she buys Starbucks for our military servicemen and women because she appreciates them and what they do for us and our country.

I want to be the kind of person who uses every crayon in the box.  Not just my favorites or the familiar ones.

I wonder if anyone else noticed the tap dancing man at the bus stop this morning.  I wonder if others thought he looked stupid or foolish.  I loved that he clearly didn't care.

I want to be like that.

I want to be that alive.

May 2, 2012


You'll have to excuse me.  Because I spent the entire day at an HR seminar listening to this lady with amazingly awesome hair talk about things like FMLA and reasonable accommodation and exempt versus non-exempt employees.  It was thrilling.

Actually, it wasn't all that bad.  However, my brain is mushy and I'm sitting here spending this Wednesday night syncing old CD's to my...


So, I didn't even have one until a few weeks ago.  True story.  My awesome friend Mal saw on a previous blog entry that I didn't have an iPod, and this fact somewhat horrified her.  So much so, that she decided to gift me with her old one, and when she did, I almost cried.  Because I've wanted one forever and I've been surviving on Pandora for the past three years.

I feel that it's also important to note that upon gifting me with my little hot-pink gateway to better musicness, Mal named my iPod "Jenn's Wonderpod."  Because she is awesome and she so gets me.

Going through some of the CD's I've collected over the past years made me ask questions, like, "I spent 13.99 on this?  WTF?"   But it also made me remember some of the music I've horribly neglected. 

Like No Doubt.  For real, Tragic Kingdom was like the best No Doubt ever.  Don't Speak is my favorite.  And I can sing just like Gwen Stefani when I try really hard and strain my voice to the point of almost breaking my vocal chords.  I'm pretty awesome at that actually.


Oh and remember when Ryan Cabrera was like, all the rage?  Oh wait, was that just me that liked him and his incredibly bleach-blonde spiked hair?

And Creed!  How could I forget Creed?!  Their music takes me back to the semester at college where I wore a lot of black and spiked-studded belts and had spikey-ish hair.  I believe that's when I was in the middle of trying to figure out who I wasn't.  But Creed - their tunes were most definitely who I was.  

But, what's with their funky CD covers?  They're pretty bad maybe.

Oh and if you don't know me very well yet, than you might not know about my crazy obsession with Christmas music.  I start listening to it in October every year.  But, I love it and I buy almost every album that ever comes out.  Including this one.  

Don't judge me.  That girl can seriously sing Silent Night like nobody's business.

And then I found this and I was all, "Who the heck is Good Charlotte?  And why can't I remember any of their songs?"  Sorry Charlotte dudes.  Apparently, you are not memorable.

And with that, me and my little Wonderpod are off to the gym.  Because working out with music is way more fun.

To my epic friend Mal....this post is entirely dedicated to you my friend.  Without you, this semi-exciting post could have never been written.

May 1, 2012

When life comes all at once

I'm settling into my new groove again.  Working more hours and where time is tighter and I feel more stretched.  Where plans have to be scheduled in advance and where the meals I make are easy and quick, or made ahead so I don't have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen after work every day.  Laundry gets done when it gets done and the house is a bit messier too.

All of that is what it is.  I've relaxed there though and I'm used to things being chaos.  It's not a reflection of who I am as a woman and where I drop the ball.  It's just a reflection of what life looks like and it's neither good or bad.  It just is.

Though parts of it feel hard, and I miss a more relaxed schedule and all of the "me" time I had, I also see where God gives me the strength to do what I have to do too.

Just last week, our offices moved in to a new building.  Even though the work that I did was mostly behind the scenes, it feels good to look back and see the work of something that I helped to build.

The month of April produced only pound of weight loss.  Yet that in itself feels like victory, because I am aware where the things that I was feeling would have made me gain weight instead.  It feels good to see where my eating has been more normal and exercise is still part of my routine.  The numbers may be quite slow in coming, but there is change and it is coming.

I got summoned for Jury Duty next Monday.  And it's my third time to be called and I simply don't have time to be away from work for more than a day and I'm hoping I won't be chosen for an actual trial.  And I know that sounds so "complainy," it's just one of those things that makes me feel overwhelmed.

Why does life always come all at once?

Another semester of Journey Groups is coming to a close.  This time around has been especially sweet for me.  I have deeply enjoyed connecting with women in my own church body and I am beginning to see the start of some new, deep friendships.

Tommy starts a new home daycare twice a week starting tomorrow.  And I feel nervous and that familiar ache is there just as it has always been.  I'm thankful that Todd takes drop-off duty because he knows my heart can't handle it.

Right now, I go all of Monday without seeing Tommy.  And he is still asleep when I leave for work on Tuesday mornings.  It's hard on my mommy heart and I often wonder what messages he is getting from my being gone.  Because the reason I am gone all day and all night on Mondays is to be a part of a ministry I feel passionate about and called to and that's at the expense of missing out on him for an entire day.  Kids interpret things in their own way and I often wonder what he think about this in his young, formative mind.

Before I left today, I left him a message on the refrigerator.  I hope that even in my absence, he knows how dearly he is loved.  That I do the things I do to help provide and care for him. To show him that ministry and other people are important.  That my heart is with him and for him even though I have to be gone so much.

Even though it's only Tuesday, I am very much looking forward to the weekend.  An afternoon on Friday to spend with my boy.  An Avenger-style date night with Todd.  A web baby-shower for my sweet friend in Alaska.  And the return of a very much missed cousin-friend from Washington DC.

Sometimes it's good to have things to look forward to when life comes all at once and rest is few and far between.