Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Spring

A month and a half ago I went to the beach for a few days to let God heal me.

He did.

One of the things He did was show me a vision of Jesus on the cross. It was messy and bloody, and He was exhausted from pain and the effort of breathing. I was standing there transfixed by the enormity of the whole scene, and Jesus looked down at me and said, "Jenni."

It has always been a huge block for me to feel loved personally by God. I have watched Him individually move in the lives of so many people I know; I have seen the wonderful effects of His love, and I have always believed in it. But it has always been very difficult to believe in it for me. I suppose it is my own shame, my own need to be perfect, my own tendency to listen to the words of accusation that so easily play themselves over and over again in my head.

But in my vision (without my conjuring it up or expecting it), on the cross, Jesus said my name. His words cost Him a great deal there because breathing took so much concentration. And He noticed me. And He said my name. And it made all the difference in the world.

It's hard for me to write things when I am afraid that people won't get them (I so want to be relevant), and this is one of those things that people on both sides of the coin (Christians and non) might not be able to grasp - just because its occurrence and its effect were both so incredibly personal. But its meaning to me has been profound, and that one moment did and has continued to change me.

God is Love. The rest, when you really come down to it (and I too rarely do), is just rubbish.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Seven Random Facts and Seven Friends (if I have them)

This is way overdue.

My cousin Kelley tagged me like 6 years ago to write 7 random facts about myself in a blog. I don't know why it's taken so long. I love this kind of stuff.

Maybe the problem is that I have blogged very little and therefore pretty much only know two other bloggers, and Kelley is one of them, so there is really no one to tag. (I think I will totally tag 7 random people whose blogs I happen upon who have no idea who I am.)

So here goes...

1) I love tweezers. LOVE them. I tweeze things that ought not be tweezed. My favorite thing to tweeze is leg hairs. And there is one particular length - when the leg hair has just started to peep out - that is particularly satisfying. I think it is because for some reason, when I tweeze that length, I nearly always get that gummy, ugly root out. Do you know what I'm talking about? SOOOO satisfying. Have you ever tweezed an in-grown hair? They are also particularly satisfying to conquer. In college when I roomed with Megan, we used to sit on our beds on opposite sides of the room and tweeze our leg hairs while we chatted about life. Good memories.

2) I have simultaneous yearnings to be different and to be the same. This creates quite a quandary for me when both yearnings expose themselves at the same time.

3) Once I worked as a house parent at a home for troubled teens. It changed my life.

4) I used to have glow-in-the-dark nail polish. It rocked. I could put it on, and you couldn't see it unless you turned the lights out, and then my nails just glowed. This, for some reason, made me happy.

5) I have a good memory. When I was in first grade, my teacher (Mrs. Price) would always instruct us to get in line by saying our names in alphabetical order by last name. I heard our class in alphabetical order by last name so many times that year that now, like 25 years later, I still have the list memorized. No, I am not kidding. Katie, Christi, Brooke, Natalie, Nikikia, Timmy, Jimmy, Derek, Mandy, Alicia, Ben, Russell, Jason, Evan, Mara, John, Marie, Michael, Dana, Wendy, Jenni, Brandi, Shauna. I know... creepy.

6) I both think and feel very deeply. As a result, I am frequently experiencing angst. I often portray myself as flaky or carefree. I think I do this because I don't know a lot of people who are comfortable with deep thoughts and feelings, so it helps me make it socially. But beneath the surface, I am forever contemplating myself and God and relationships and life and meaning. I really long for God and relationships and meaning.

7) I have never been able to turn a cartwheel. I know... creepy.

Okay, now I will tag 7 random people.

I will start with Heather. I do know her.
Oh, and there is Aunt Pat. I know her, too.
I met Amanda on etsy, and she is cool.
This person appears to have a birthday the same day as my big brother (which was yesterday - you should comment to her and tell her happy birthday - I'm going to!). Cause for tagging.
Shaniqua likes The 10th Kingdom, which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time, so I am tagging her.
I happened across Erin and think she looks nice, so I'll tag her.
This person seems creative and deep, so they get my last tag.

Thanks, Kell! :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm smarter than my nephew.

My brother Matt has a son who might as well be his clone. Every time I walk into a room and this kid is there, I have flashbacks of being a child myself and playing with my brother because he is the spitting image of Matt at age 4.

But these two are similar in far more areas than looks. Both are smart. Both are imaginative. And most of all, both are highly, highly competitive.

My brother, for example, is not (in my opinion) the most delightful person to play a game with - never has been. He will insist there are still granules in the top of the hourglass in Taboo when his teammate finally guesses his word and everyone else says it has been long empty... or that he DID TOO shout out that answer in Outburst (even though he had the loudest voice and NOBODY else heard it) or that you canNOT use the Wild card to turn things green in Uno because of some long-forgotten rule that takes into account the way the cards were dealt 3 games ago or that you rolled the dice the wrong way in Parcheesi when you landed your last man in the winning place... fun, perhaps, for the rest of the lawyers in my family who probably enjoy arguing the points but utterly exhausting for me; I am not nearly as into (or as good at) arguing.

When we were little children, Matt came up to me and said, "Me and Daddy are boys." I saw no need for a response to such an obvious statement, so I continued sucking my fingers. He said it again... no response again. He said it again. Okay, I really don't know how many times he actually said it because I only know this story from my mother telling it, but apparently he said it at least three times - possibly more - and by the last time, he was in my face shouting it like he was angry and I was out of line in one way or another, so I calmly pulled my fingers out of my mouth and said, "Me and Mommy are durls." So goes life with Matt. He IS an incredibly likable guy, but he has an incessant NEED to win, so if there is no competition, he promptly makes one up (and - shocker - he usually wins the ones he makes up).

So now he has bred, and we have Jacob. And Jacob's need to win is every bit as intense as his father's. A few weeks ago Jacob and I were throwing a ball back and forth. Jacob said, "I caught the ball. I win!" So when I caught the ball, I told him that I won too. He said no, I didn't win. He did. I said that if he won because he caught the ball, then I had to win because I also caught the ball. He thought for a moment (he's 4 - it takes a little time still) and said, "No. You have to do a GOOD JOB catching the ball. And you're not doing a good job. So you lose." Apparently whenever he thinks Matt and Kelly are arguing, he does them the service of determining for them who is right and who is wrong ("Daddy, you lose. Mommy, you win!") Last week I was eating chicken with him, and he looked at me and said, "I finished my chicken first. I win." I told him okay, but I finished my potatoes first, so I won. He said, "No, people who finish their potatoes first don't win. People who finish their potatoes second win. So I win." So I threw him onto the couch and tickled him until he said, "Aunt Jenni never loses." Then as soon as I let him go, he smiled, yelled, "Aunt Jenni loses!" and ran to the other room so I could chase him and do it all over again (a good game for us, incidentally - we both won).

So anyway, I was at my brother's house a week ago using the computer, and competitive Jacob walked into the room and asked me for the super glue. Considering that it is not my house and I have never gone over there with the intent of using super glue, I had no idea where it was. But considering that I'm the best aunt in the world (and clearly NOT competitive like my brother and nephew), I told him I'd help him look for it. So I opened a few drawers to no avail, and he stood for a moment watching me and then said in a quiet but determined voice, "Well, Daddy knows where it is."

Now at this point in my life, I have lived through 30 years of the "Me and Daddy are boys," "There ARE TOO some granules in the hourglass," and "You didn't roll the dice right" conversations, so when it comes to sensing a conversation heading in the "you lose" direction, I am definitely a winner. So I decided to just head him off at the pass, and I said, "Well, Jacob, that's because Daddy's smarter than I am."

It didn't work.

What I forgot is that the Matts and Jacobs of this world are never satisfied with easy wins. A 15-1 volleyball win just doesn't hit the spot for them. They're looking more for a 19-17 kind of win... more satisfaction, of course. In other words, Jacob had only just begun. He looked at me in a calculated sort of way, as if he were deciding whether or not he could get away with what he wanted to say. And apparently he decided he could.

"Well, I'M smarter than you."

I thought this was the funniest flipping thing I had heard in a long time. I mean, who considers this type of thing at age 4? Who in the world would compare their smarts with their father's sister's smarts?!? Well evidently - if it meant he had the chance to win something - Jacob would. So I turned around and said, "Now Jacob, how do you know that?"

"I just do. I'm smarter."

"I don't know about that. I'm not sure you are."

"Yes. I am." Then he left the room while I continued to look for the super glue, returned a moment later, and said in that same calculated voice, "Mommy says I'm smarter than you."

At that point Kelly's voice came from the other room - "I did NOT say that, Jacob! I said you were smart!"

And Jacob turned around and yelled back, "Shh! Mommy! You're not supposed to be listening!"

I left shortly thereafter. And Jacob seemed satisfied enough when I did, which means he clearly thinks that we have settled that he is smarter. Unfortunately for him, however, I weigh a lot more than he does, so I have the distinct tickle advantage. And let's face it - a kid can only be tickled for so long before being coerced into saying anything the tickler wants him to say. In my case, it will remain, "Aunt Jenni never loses."

And that, my friends, is very, very smart.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tomato Soup

I love Progresso hearty tomato soup. I LOVE it. I could eat it daily (sometimes I do). I think everyone should try it. Sometimes I like to slice some colby jack cheese into it and also throw some seasoned croutons in for crunch.

I just wanted to tell everyone that.

What do you love to eat?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Words I've Liked This Week

Colluding: I just learned this word today. It means, "to act together in a secret understanding." I am obsessed with the whole Casey Anthony case and have been watching updates via Nancy Grace on YouTube every day, and today her guest psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall (who is my favorite of all her psychoanalysts) used this word several times. I LOVE to learn new words.

Bethany Marshall also used this word today, and I realized that I think it is a fantastic word. (I think I like Bethany Marshall partly because she uses fantastic words.)

My friend Claire used this in a blog she wrote ages ago, and when I read it, I realized that I just like the sound of it. Now whenever I think about pleasant-sounding words, I want to say it, which is probably ironic because its meaning is not necessarily pleasant.

It struck me this week that when I use the word fabulous, I automatically feel more confident.

I love this word. It is so appropriate to use in conversations whenever you have an aside. And incidentally, I'm pretty sure I over-use it.

One of my fellow etsy artisans used it today, and it made me laugh. My brother used to use this word all the time, so it is froth with memories. (Incidentally, her shop is, and she makes beautiful pottery with candles.) :-)

What words do you like this week?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How I Discovered My Fascination with Doll Clothes

I am enamored with a web store that sells doll clothes. I know… it’s strange. I don’t have a doll. I don’t have a daughter. I don’t even dress my dog in people clothes! There is no reason for me to be enamored with doll clothes, yet I have been completely taken in since the moment I happened upon this store.

Before I say anything else about this, I should introduce you to the store. It’s You MUST click on it. Aren’t they AMAZING? I LOVE these clothes. I love them so much that, realizing that the absence of a doll, a daughter, or even a dog with people clothes makes it a bit strange to buy these treasures, I started forwarding the link. I forwarded it to Cathy, who I work with and who loves American Girl dolls. I forwarded it to my mother, who has three granddaughters. I forwarded it to my sister-in-law, who birthed two of my mother’s granddaughters and to my cousin, who birthed the other one. I felt it was absolutely NECESSARY that SOMEBODY else see the intrinsic value in this store AND that that somebody would be somebody who could do something about it!

Then I sat at my computer agonizing (because that is what I do with unresolved situations, even when they are minute – I agonize), thinking that there had to be MORE people to tell about this, MORE people to drive business to this woman’s store so that she would do well and continue to make these amazing clothes, and I could continue to be enamored. These doll clothes stirred so much longing in me that I even considered buying my own doll – I kid you not. Then somewhere, in the midst of my agonizing, the obvious question hit me:

So… uh… considering that you don’t have a doll or a daughter and that you refuse to dress Dora in people clothes, WHY are you enamored with doll clothes?

Good question.

It is so good, in fact, that I have spent several days considering it. It isn’t because I want a doll. (I have never in my adult life considered getting a doll until I saw this store.) It isn’t because I want a daughter. (I’m sure I’d love a daughter like crazy if I had one, but I am very happy right now and genuinely don’t feel that empty ache of childlessness.) It isn’t because my grandmother made me clothes for my cabbage patch dolls when I was a child. (She did do that, and I absolutely loved them, but she and I weren’t very close.) It isn’t because… well, you get the picture. So have my considerations gone until finally the answer hit me. Do you want to know why it is? Of course you do! It’s because I like changing dolls’ clothes, and I always have.

I think that when I look at this adorable shop and see these adorable clothes, I have this weird longing to dress a doll so that I can live vicariously through it. No, stick with me; this really does make sense! You see, I never feel put together. My house is never clean. My clothes are never ironed. I don’t blow dry or curl my hair. I don’t paint my nails or put on make-up most of the time. And as much as I try to come off as a natural hippie girl, I don’t think that is really the deepest reason for any of this. I think the deepest reason is that I just don’t feel like I can put things together well.

My cousin Bek has three children that she homeschools plus she runs a business out of her home, and at any random moment you could lick the floor in her house without so much as getting a smidgen of dust on your tongue. I don’t understand that. I can spend an entire half hour on one square of tile, and it still isn’t clean! My friend Cheryl has a wonderful knack for looking fresh. Her hair, her make-up, and her clothes are always impeccable; I’ve never seen her looking “off.” I don’t understand that, either. I feel fortunate lately if I can find a matching outfit that is actually laundered! And it isn’t that my house has never been clean or that I’ve never looked cute; it’s just that those things seem to take so much effort and energy for me – sort of like being on time, getting through my to-do list, getting the recycling out on the right night…

But oh… give me a doll, five minutes, and a cute outfit from Doll Closet, and you will see a cutie ready for a picnic at the park… or an angel waiting for her bedtime story and a glass of milk… or an excited mind anticipating a wonderful day of learning… or my personal favorite: an at-ease life looking forward to a really good time with the people she loves. Give me a doll, five minutes, and a cute outfit from Doll Closet, and for a moment, I will feel that it is okay to not be put together because something else IS, and in that moment, that will be enough.

(Incidentally, I think the parts of Christianity that really appeal to me appeal to me for the same reasons that this shop appeals to me. It calls to the parts of me that feel consistently not put together. It tells me it’s okay. It tells me that Someone else IS put together, and it tells me that that is enough.)

Friday, July 13, 2007


profane: adj.; marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred

We live in a world where not much is special. I started thinking about this today because I got an email forward entitled “Sights You May Not See in a Lifetime,” and it contained pictures of things like a killer whale nosing up to a boat where a dog was looking over the side, a leopard sitting on top of a woman’s car, an African man lying beside a baby elephant inside of a tent… I don’t know if any of these pictures were photoshopped, but I do know that I scrolled down quickly, not taking the time to look at any of them with wonder. I didn’t need to. After all, if I decide that I want to see an African man lying beside a baby elephant inside of a tent, all I have to do is find that email and scroll to that picture. And if I erase the email, a few keystrokes and clicks on Google should do the trick. The same thing is true of falling stars, rainbows, woodpeckers, romance… a click on the Internet, a drive to Blockbuster, or a subscription to National Geographic can completely alleviate my imagination’s longing to stand in awe and to wonder. I have access to everything, and that can make the most sacred things profane. But I don’t want to shut down that part of myself.

When everything is accessible, it’s hard to find anything sacred. Profanity is prevalent.

My point is not to rip on wealth or technology. My point is to acknowledge my need to intentionally separate the shadows from what they represent, to make myself stop when I see sacred things, to allow myself to have my breath taken away and my mind cleared of the schedule it tries so hard to keep. I have a fantastic picture of Manuel Antonio National Park on my computer, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the actual beauty I have seen there. I love books and movies like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Ever After and The Sound of Music, but they can never compare to the actual beauty, agony, and mystery of my real-life love, if I will just take the time to be aware of it. I have access to endless stories of courage and truth that give me goose-bumps because they’re so grand, but they are nothing compared to the actual feelings I have (good and bad) when I am faced with a choice that requires courage or truth. I don’t want to live life in these shadows. I want to be at the place where they don’t satisfy me but where they do just the opposite: awaken in me longings for real things – real beauty, real romance, and real life.

I would like profanity to slowly seep out of my life. I would like to find the wonder that my world has never much encouraged me to have. I would like to be taken in by raindrops and ladybugs and hugs, and I would like to live in that kind of sacredness every day.