Sunday, December 6, 2009

Not Good to Good

As I was falling backward towards the garage floor, my first thought was not "this is gonna be good." In fact, as I attempted to bounce right back up and keep going, I came face to face with the sudden realization, "this is not good." It wasn't. Eight weeks later, I can still see the bruises and the potential scar on my back and arm. Eight weeks later, I still sleep on ice and my back still tires quickly and tenses up doing something as simple as folding laundry. So, no.... not good.

But... eight weeks later, with weekly visits to my chiropractor, I think my posture is better than it ever has been. "Shoulders back" comes much more easily and feels much better than it used to. Adjustments and stretches are definitely working to my advantage, and I'm working to keep it that way. (With a family history of back problems, that's definitely a good thing!) Eight weeks later, I feel better about my overall health and am spending time each day doing things that are good for my body -- even adding a jog to my morning routine. Eight weeks later I have more appreciation for my chiropractor than I've ever had for a healthcare provider (except maybe the midwife who assisted my homebirths). Eight weeks later, I also consider this member of my church family a closer friend and am grateful for that. Eight weeks later, I'm guessing he's appreciative of my insurance company! Ha! So, really.... eight weeks later -- "Good." Pretty much all the way around.

So, yes, as I was headed towards that garage floor, the thought "Not good!" was fairly accurate. But it wasn't entirely accurate. Yes, it hurt. But in the long-term-- the long-term that I couldn't yet see -- there was "good." And I think the long-term good is going to far outweigh the short-term "not good." Funny how that works....
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

I just wish I could remember that more often. I have to admit that I forget it way too easily....


Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby Steps

Baby steps. I hate them. Have since birth, I think. My parents tell me I didn't even crawl -- just took off running one day. Maybe it has something to do with my perfectionism.

If I don't have the time to clean the room to my standards, I'd rather not even start. I know that it doesn't make sense, because then I end up in a real mess.... But I just don't like doing something half-way. It's all-or-nothing..... I think I see the same thing in my daughter. The thought of cleaning up her room overwhelms her... and I think she inherited it from me. We just hate the baby steps it takes to get there. If we're going to do it, we should do it perfectly... and, ummm... NOW. :) And if we can't... then... why bother? Which... brings me to a journal entry from seven years ago....
Seven years ago I wrote in my journal that walking along a gravel path had woken the desire to run.  Yeah.  Right.  It had been over 20 years since I ran cross-country.  I was significantly older, heavier, and more out of shape than I was in high school.  The only thing I could do now was walk.  I did walk that evening as I waited for my daughter's soccer practice to end.  I set out at a brisk enough pace and put enough work into it that after awhile I felt my muscles go into that stage where only the repetition and the consistent stride keep you going (break stride and you're a goner!).  It actually felt good.  But I wanted to RUN!  I wanted to take off with a ground-eating stride like the 16 year-old kid I once was, not the middle-aged overweight woman I'd become.  But I just didn't want to take those baby steps.  It was overwhelming.  It seemed impossible to get there from here.  I couldn't run... so... in the end... I didn't even walk.

So here I am seven years later.  In basically the same shape.  :(   I took kind of a nasty fall a few weeks ago (running through the garage of all things!).   The damage I did to myself has had me at my chiropractor's office fairly regularly since then.  We're getting there.  And he's been showing me new stretches to help.  Honestly, it's felt good to be doing something good for my body.  And as I've stretched those long-forgotten muscles, the thought has occurred that I want to keep this up -- I want to keep doing good for my body and getting in better shape.  A few days ago Dr. Hoffman added another stretch... a calf stretch.  And suddenly....  as I stretched... there it was again -- the desire to run.  But... just like last time... the voices in my head shout "Impossible! No way!  The most you could do is walk and that's just pitiful."  Sigh.  Baby steps.  I still hate them.  I want to be able to just jump in and go.  (side note:  and I want to be able to do it where no one is watching!  LOL!). 

So... I've been thinking about baby steps and beginnings a lot in the last few days....  And in my somewhat introspective mood I've wondered...  where else in my life is my need for perfectionism and my reluctance to do the "baby steps" causing me to stand still?  Several years ago I realized why I let housework pile up (don't have time to finish, so I won't start).  It took me quite awhile to figure that out, though.  And so now I really wonder where else I'm standing still that I don't even realize.  What other baby steps are holding me back?  And... if I manage to figure that out... just what do I do about it?  


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tails of Two Dogs (What I've learned from my dogs)

There's a new boy in my life... with 4 legs and a tail. Our other greyhound, Ava, isn't so sure she likes the change to our household. She probably has good reason. Ava and Star are two very different dogs. They both love people (something greyhounds are known for), but... they love in completely different ways.

Ava is almost cat-like at times. She craves and needs attention.  She runs to greet you at the door and does so with great love and enthusiasm.   But a lot of the time she wants you to come to her... on her terms... do what she wants. Sometimes she wants you, I think, for what she can get. Scratching her ears results in her rolling over and asking for a belly rub. Instead of just dropping your hand to her head, you've got to bend down to her level.

Enter Star. He reminds me a lot of Crook, the greyhound we lost to cancer in 2008.  Crook was a very special boy and very loved.  I think it had something to do with the way he loved.  Even in his last days when he was in such pain, Crook wouldn't stay on his bed if it meant being apart from me. If I left the room -- even for a second -- he got up to follow me. Eyes filled with pain, chest heaving with effort, but with a loyal adoration/devotion that would not let him remain apart from me -- no matter what the cost.  I have to admit that I cried at the show of devotion in those last days, knowing what it cost him.

Star, too, follows me -- even lying down on the cold, hard tile when I'm in the kitchen.  Greys, with little body fat and bony bodies, really need someplace soft to lie.  I know, then, that he is there simply because I am there.

So now there is Star, his head against my leg wherever I go, just content to be with me, to touch me in any way. And there is Ava, who glares from across the room, rolls over and says "Come over here and love on me."  They are just two entirely different dogs.

And it makes me think... what kind of "dog" am I? How do I love?  Am I an Ava who goes to my heavenly Father (or even my fellow human beings) with a "Come here and love me" or am I a Star? Do I have that simple adoration? Do I just bask in His presence?

I'm afraid I'm more of an Ava at times. But I want to be a Star. I want to be the little black dog in the poem that I had tucked into my Bible as a child:

The Little Black Dog
I wonder if Christ had a little black dog, 
 All curly and wooly like mine 
With two long silky ears and a nose, round and wet, 
And two eyes, brown and tender, that shine. 
I am sure, if He had, that that little black dog 
Knew, right from the first, He was God 
That he needed no proof that Christ was divine, 
And just worshipped the ground where he trod. 
I'm afraid that He hadn't, because I have read 
How he prayed in the garden, alone 
For all of His friends and disciples had fled 
Even Peter, the one called a stone. 
And, oh, I am sure that the little black dog, 
With a heart so tender and warm, 
Would never have left him to suffer alone, 
 But, creeping right under his arm, 
Would have licked the dear fingers, in agony clasped, 
And, counting all favors but loss, 
When they took him away, would have trotted behind 
And Followed Him quite to the Cross.
(Author Unknown)

Yeah... I want to be a little black dog.... I want to be a Star....


Friday, September 25, 2009


Forty-something. Not that I'm avoiding disclosing my exact age, but I honestly just don't remember. I always have to stop and do the math (and I'm not that quick at it most of the time). The numbers just aren't that important to me. I have trouble enough remembering how old my kids are... and somehow at this stage of my life that seems more important. :)

Anyway... 40-something... with three kids. And yet... in the past 24 hours I've come to realize that I'm not so sure I accept the word "no" any better than my children. Sure, on the outside I said "no problem." And I guess in a way maybe I'm handling it better than my kids... I'm not arguing, after all... or throwing a temper-tantrum... screaming that it's not fair. But inside... somewhere... there still, evidently, resides a teenager. I've unexpectedly found myself wanting to sulk... things didn't go my way... and I'm just not happy about it.

It kind of surprised me, really. I thought I was a little more "mature" than that. But I'm finding that evidently I've still not figured out how to express dissatisfaction in a healthy manner. Maybe part of it is... as a 40-some year old mother of three I don't often get told "no" (by someone other than myself, anyway). Most of the time when "no" comes up, it's my decision -- whether it's my answer to my children or my own decision to forego something myself (in favor of something else -- usually my children!). Ummm, yeah... "my answer..." and "my decision...." Yes, I'm seeing a pattern here. A good friend told me a few years ago that I can be... umm... well... a
little bit of a control freak. That's not exactly how he put it, but the truth was there. :)

So... I'm trying hard not to be the control freak. To accept the "no." And I think I'm doing a fairly good job on the outside. I'm maybe a little more subdued, but nothing that's all that noticeable (I don't think).... But... on the inside... on the inside I'm retreating... licking my wounds. "No" wasn't easy to hear. In part because I wanted what I wanted. But in part, too, because, whether it was true or not, it felt like "no" meant that I wasn't good enough. Or... actually... worse yet... that someone else didn't think I was good enough... that there was something about me that warranted the "no." That may not be the real reason for the "no." I'd say there's probably a good chance that it's not. But... like I said... somewhere deep inside this 40-some year old woman is a teenager. Yikes. I so did not want to see that... let alone admit it.

But... I am realizing... maybe I needed this "no." Maybe I needed to learn to grapple with it a little... to learn to accept not being in control... to grapple with humility and acceptance.... and maybe I needed a little bit of a reminder... to see just how my teenagers -- the ones living in my house, not buried inside me -- can see and feel "no."

Hmmph. Yeah... I can see it. But I still don't like it... sigh... I think I still have some work to do....


Friday, May 22, 2009

Today's Sabbath

I did absolutely nothing today. Well... pretty much absolutely nothing anyway. I did get up, showered and dressed. :) I did wander out to the kitchen and make myself a cup of hot chai. I did feed the dog (eventually). But the dishes didn't get done until after the kids got home from school. I didn't do any laundry or cook or clean. I didn't edit photos or do church work. It all needed to be done. But I did... nothing.

I admired the view out my window (even as a squirrel was making off with the remains of a tomato from my ravaged tomato plant). I finished reading a book (for fun). I picked up my guitar and worshiped through song for a little while. I spent some time in Bible study... and some time on facebook... and some time browsing the internet for hairstyles and swimsuits (ugh -- maybe that DOES qualify as work! ;)) Really, though... just totally non-work. Nothing.

I didn't set out to do "nothing" today. But somehow it just sort of happened. Part of me feels extremely guilty. Carl will come home to a messy house -- and he's been working hard 7 days a week. And I'll have to work twice as hard tomorrow (we've got guests coming the day after!). But... part of me feels... rested. A little less frazzled. A little more "centered." And late this afternoon I remembered something I'd read earlier in the week... and it all started to make sense.

In two different books I've been reading recently, I've run into chapters about the Sabbath (a day of rest)... and how
important it really is in our lives. It struck me as a little more than coincidental Monday morning when I realized I was reading about the "day of rest." My Facebook status the day before had listed just how nuts my Sunday was... and questioned, "This is the 'Sabbath?!'" Hmmm....

So... as I was reading on Monday, I was (and still am) full of questions. It made sense that we need that day of rest... that resting could even make us more productive (I do feel like I could accomplish more now, after a few hours of nothing!). But when do you do this? Sunday, for me, is filled with serving at the church, community group, and -- quite honestly -- feels nothing like rest for the most part. Don't get me wrong -- I love it. But I fall into bed tired, not rested. Saturdays... are usually filled with soccer games, or basketball games, or birthday parties, or.... Again, I enjoy watching my kids in their various activities... but at the end of the day (or even before the end of the day) I'm exhausted... not rested....

So... I've been wondering... just how DO we pull off a REAL day of rest? I think I had kind of a mini-sabbath today (I did eventually go to the grocery and load the dishwasher and will attend my daughter's band banquet tonight). It wasn't planned, though. And... like I said... part of me feels guilty. But I also feel... rested... centered... less frazzled... and more ready to take on the world. I needed those few hours of nothing. It's altogether too rare for me, even as a stay-at-home, self-employed mom.

So how do any of us manage a real Sabbath in today's society? Especially on a weekly basis?

Thoughts? Please share them in the comments section!


Friday, May 8, 2009

When is Faith not Enough?

I read something a couple of days ago that really challenged me:
And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Now... I've read that a thousand times before... okay, so I'm a little prone to exaggeration. :) The point is, the verse wasn't really anything new to me. But then I read the Expositor's Commentary on it:

Notice that the author lays it down with the greatest of emphasis that faith is absolutely necessary. He does not say simply that without faith it is difficult to please God; he says that without faith it is impossible to please him! There is no substitute for faith. He goes on to lay down two things required in the worshiper.... First, he must believe that God exists. This is basic. Without it there is no possibility of faith at all.
But it is not enough of itself.  After all, the demons can know that sort of faith (James 2:19). There must also be a conviction about God's moral character, belief "that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." ...We must believe, not only that God exists, but also that God cares. Without that deep conviction, faith in the biblical sense is not a possibility. (emphasis is mine)
Wow. I guess I never really thought about the 2nd part of that verse... to realize... faith that God exists is not enough. I mean... I knew there was more to it than that... but to have this last part thrown in my face... that we must believe that "he rewards those who earnestly seek him..." to believe "not only that God exists, but that God cares..." really gave me something to think about.

If you asked me if I believed God cares and rewards those who earnestly seek Him, I'd probably say "Sure I do!" But... does my life really reflect that? What about the times I "hope" He answers a prayer the way I want it answered... and maybe fear just a little that He won't? Does that not reflect a deeply hidden belief that I must know better than God... or... since I say I believe He is all-knowing... that I don't really believe He wants what's best for me? If I believed He cared, wouldn't I have a bit more trust at times? Would I be as likely to go my own way those times that His answer isn't what I wanted to hear? (I'm not the only one that occasionally does that, am I?)

Don't those kinds of reactions show just a little bit of a lack of faith??? Don't they show just a little bit of disbelief that He cares??? Don't they hint that while I believe He exists, maybe I don't entirely believe my welfare is at the center of His heart? To be honest, I struggle with that at times. Some events several years ago make it easy for me to believe that sometimes the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. In my head, I know that's a fallacy... but in my heart? I'm not so sure my life always reflects that I really believe what God wants for me is the best for me. Otherwise... why would I kick and scream and drag my feet at times?

And without that kind of faith... 

"Without that deep conviction... in the biblical sense is not a possibility."

Without faith... it is impossible to please God.

Wow. Eye-opener. That one's worth some thought!


Friday, May 1, 2009

Singing for Daddy

Did you ever stop and think...
...about how much God must love to hear us sing ?

Think about it... we were we were created to have a relationship with Him. If you are looking for a relationship, you're usually looking for someone that has similar interests, right? So I'd assume, if He was looking for relationship with us, that He just might want us to have similar interests.... :)

We are also told we were created in His image... and we know God is the one who created us with an appreciation for music. So think how much He must enjoy it. If we, in our imperfect image, can appreciate it, then surely He -- as the perfect original -- must love it!

But this is what really made me think: Consider how much joy a parent gets from his child's singing... no matter how off-key or wavering the voice may be. Especially when the child sings something that the parent's heart can appreciate. I have to admit, that as much as I enjoy hearing my kids now, as their voices and skills are maturing... I think I loved it even more when they were little. I can remember hearing their little voices singing out "So Good to Me" -- without the CD even -- and it just touched my heart :-). There were times my eyes would literally well up with tears. The innocent adoration got me every time. I loved it!

Anyway... I'm rambling... but the point is: the God who created us to love music must love music Himself. And we, as His children singing to Him, must surely touch His heart in a very special way!

So as you're preparing for your worship service this weekend... or even as you're driving down the road singing to your favorite CD (or your kid's favorite CD)... Smile! ---- Share the Joy! ----- Prepare to touch Daddy's heart.... and feel the warmth of His smile! :-)

P.S. I have to admit... In the picture above... Dani really wasn't singing "Hallelujah" like I'd like to imagine... she and a friend were just trying to see who could scream the loudest! LOL! :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I was in my closet when I felt a sharp pain in the bottom of my toe. I glanced down, but there was nothing there. I moved on and everything seemed fine. A few minutes later, there it was again -- a sudden, sharp stab of pain. This time I lifted my foot and ran my finger over the offending area. Owww! My finger brushed something, but the sudden return of pain made me pull my hand back before I isolated it. I glanced down again, but still couldn't see anything. I told Carl I must have something like a small splinter in my toe and I headed into a better lit room. I sat down on the floor under the light and looked closely. I STILL couldn't see anything. I called Carl. He couldn't see anything, either. We used a high-power flashlight, moving my toe every direction. Still nothing. He put his finger over it... OWWW! Yes, he felt it, but he couldn't see it. For just a second, with his finger resting lightly on it, I thought I saw a flash of something.... but then it was gone. No, not gone -- it was still there, causing pain when touched (and only when touched)... but there was no visible sign of anything there. Hmmm....

How do you remove something you can't even see?

Carl then went out to get a lit, magnifying visor (imagine a jeweler). We kept the flashlight trained on the spot... and twisted my toe every direction to get just a glimpse of a glare off of what we were now assuming was a tiny sliver of glass. Finally... Finally he saw it and he reached for the tweezers. I have to admit I questioned him. How on earth would tweezers work on something that he could hardly see (and I couldn't see at all!). He said nothing, simply moved into position... slowly squeezed the tweezers shut... and pulled. I felt something... then, very cautiously running my finger over the area, I discovered whatever HAD been there... was gone - no more pain. :) With the visor still on, Carl held the tweezers over the palm of his hand and looked at them. I couldn't believe it, but we STILL couldn't see the offending sliver. It was so tiny we couldn't even see it when removed. But for something so incredibly tiny, it sure made its presence known!

So... the million-dollar question? Where did it come from? Okay, so now I have to admit that last week was not a good week in my kitchen... Wednesday I broke a Corelle bowl. It takes a lot to break one of those, but dropping it on tile does produce quite an impressive shatter. It was Thursday when I dropped a glass cake dome. That, too, shattered quite nicely when it hit the tile... with quite a nice spread pattern. We started the cleanup with the broom and dustpan. Then Carl pulled out the shop vac and went over the kitchen several times with it. We thought we had the mess cleaned up. But somehow, somewhere... one teeny, tiny shard of glass... so tiny we couldn't see it... escaped. And much later... when it worked its way into just the right spot... it hurt!

So.. I have to tell you -- my closet is a long way from the kitchen. From the kitchen you go through the living room, a short hallway of sorts, through my bedroom, all the way across my bathroom and finally into the closet. I have no idea how that tiny irritant ended up in my closet. It was far removed from the original scene. If we hadn't caught, for just a moment, the gleam of the glass shard, we would have never known what was causing the pain. Without the physical evidence I would have never connected my kitchen experience with my later closet experience. So now I wonder....

How often do we work to clean up the messes of our lives... so sure we've got it all under control again... only to much, much later... in a much different place, even... suddenly feel a stab of pain that we have no idea where it came from?

I'll admit that every once in awhile something causes a reaction in me that seems unmatched to the actual circumstances. Sometimes, I'll turn just the right way and something penetrates... a sight, maybe even a scent, a word or thought, sometimes I won't even know what caused it... but something gets a reaction. Could it be a shard from a mess I thought we had cleaned up? And how do you fix something you can't even see? Hmmm...

Thoughts? Leave a comment and share them! :)


Saturday, April 25, 2009


Our family took a trip around the western US last summer and one of our stops was at the Grand Tetons. I hadn't been there since I was on a family vacation with my parents and sister as a kid. The Tetons made an impression on me then. They did again last summer.

I love the Rockies… but there’s just something about the rugged beauty of the Tetons that makes them my favorite mountain range to view. They continued to take my breath away all day. Around every bend, every new perspective, it seemed my heart would just stop. I spent the entire day in awe and wonder at creation... and the Creator.

Many of the sights we saw last summer only served to confirm my belief that God didn’t just create us and leave the scene... and He doesn’t just sit from on high somewhere. Think about it--
the beauty and majesty of these mountains would be completely lost from the heavensyet look at what He created…. He had to have seen it from our perspective or why bother…???

Actually... I believe that He sees it through our eyes each and every day....


P.S. The blog of our 2008 vacation can be found here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Abandoned -- Not

It was Good Friday... The message in our evening service was based on the seven statements of Jesus during his crucifixion. One struck my heart like never before...
Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:34)
Abandoned. In everything he'd faced, he'd felt his Father's presence there with him. It was the most intimate relationship he had. An ongoing conversation and source of love, support, strength, even approval ("This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."). Now it was gone. All of it. He was... for the first time in all eternity... alone... Abandoned. The physical pain he accepted. He commented he was thirsty, but we have no record of complaint regarding his pain. This emotional pain, however, was intense enough it provoked a response: a heart-wrenching cry of "why?" Christ, in that moment, experienced something he had never felt before: Separation from his Father.

And... in that moment... Christ experienced something I have never felt. Something I will never have to. Abandoned -- not. Even in those times when I may feel far from the God who loves me... even in those times I may feel alone... abandoned... I will never, ever, truly feel that deep black hole of total abandonment. I will never know what that truly feels like. Because of Jesus, God doesn't have to turn away from me. Because of Jesus, He can fix his gaze on me and never look away. Even before I chose Him, He was there, waiting. Even when I turn away from Him, He has his gaze fixed on me. He's there. Every second of every day. I can choose not to listen, I can choose not to look, but I will never experience abandonment. Never. Jesus did. It was the one thing which made him cry out. And if Christ, knowing what was coming, still cried out at the separation... how could I have ever faced it?

Eloi, Eloi, thank Eloi, I will never be abandoned....


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Something to Say

I bought this CD by Matthew West after I heard "The Motions" on the radio. "The Motions" challenged me... pushed me... I wanted the passion back... to not just be going through the motions of Christianity. But the title track, "Something to Say," has also been working on me....
You got something to say
If you’re livin’, if you’re breathin’
You got something to say
And you know if your heart is beatin’
You got something to say
And no one can say it like you do
God is love and love speaks through you
You got it, you got it
You got something to say
As the song started tugging on me, I wrote on my Facebook status:
Jenn is wondering... if she's got something to say... why doesn't she have the faintest clue what it is?
And the more time I've spent at His feet... the more that song keeps coming back at me... I hear it when it's not playing... I feel it resonating inside me... Sitting in a Dave Ramsey lesson which concentrated on finding your strengths and what God made you for... I thought I heard... uh huh... "something to say...?"

Yes, I think I'm feeling God's hand... but I'm not at all sure what it all means yet. What DO I have to say? I don't know. I know I feel totally unqualified to say much of anything. I don't have the imagination or creativity for a novel. I don't have the education or maturity for non-fiction. So... here I am blogging... trying to find... My Something to Say.
Listen up, I got a question here
Would anybody miss you if you disappeared?
Well your life is the song that you sing
And the whole wide world is listening
Well the answer to the question is
You were created, your life is a gift and
The lights are shining on you today, ‘cause
You got something to say