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Ask the Right Question

decisionsWhat are we going to do? How do I decide? Which college should I choose? Should we have another baby?

These are important questions that most of us face at some point in life. We may pray about it and seek Godly counsel but still feel pressured and stressed to be ready with an answer, when, often we don’t really need to. Sometimes the best thing to do is to step back, look at the issue from a distance, and ask:

Does the decision have to be made today?

If not, put it aside until the day it is to be made.  Your subconscious can continue to work on it, and you can still pray and seek guidance from other wise people, resting in the knowledge that God will not keep it from you. One day the crystal clear answer just might fall on you like rain, or will be so obvious you cannot even remember struggling with it. You know it’s right, and it’s right when you needed it.

Get Off the Monkey Bars

TimeFor years my life was incredibly busy. I won’t bore you with the details, but I call that period of my life living monkey bar to monkey bar; as your hand is leaving a bar the other one is firmly grasping onto the next, with little thought of where you have been or where you are headed. The whole point was not to fall.

This worked for several years, I would make time for someone by dropping something else and I was always running late, once I had squeezed out all possible down time with busyness, all good stuff, I realized I had zero margin. I would drop into bed at night and sleep without moving until morning, only to go hard at it again.

I don’t think I could have stopped myself, so God moved us to another state. I’m not saying that God moved us because I was too busy, but I do believe it was a contributing factor. I have spent the last few years doing about 20% of the activities of my previous life and it has been wonderful. I have known that it was a season, but I have really enjoyed it.

Lately I have been putting more on the calendar and committing my time to people and organizations, and I want to remember this feeling of having the luxury of time.

Time to invest in myself and others.

Time to be creative.

Time to be what my family needs.

I want to chuck the monkey bars for good, to be present in the moment and to know where I’m headed.

Summertime Popsicles

IMG_456845458My friend Kristy gave me a book that I am loving, it’s called People’s Pops, and it’s written by three guys who started a Popsicle Shop in New York. They share some of their best selling popsicles, and I pan to make them all over the next month or so!I really like having something sweet in the freezer to offer my kids and their friends anytime, and I am using fresh fruits so I know exactly what is in them. Here are my first two attempts:

Strawberries and Cream Popsicles

4 c strawberries, hulled (freshest you can find)

3/4 c plus 2 T simple syrup (7 oz)

1/4 c heavy cream

1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Puree the strawberries in a food processor, producing abut 2 c of puree. Transfer to a pourable bowl and add the simple syrup and lemon juice, stirring well to combine. Add the cream and mix to your taste (I barely mix it in, I like to see it). Pour the mixture into your popsicle molds, leaving a little room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze at least 4 hours, 8 is best. Unmold and store in plastic bags in the freezer.


Blueberries and Cream Popsicles

4 c blueberries

1/2 c simple syrup (4 oz)

1/4 c heavy cream

2 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Puree the blueberries in a food processor, producing about 21/3 c of puree. Transfer to a pourable bowl and add the simple syrup and lemon juice, stirring well to combine. Add the cream and mix to your taste (I barely mix it in, I like to see it). Pour he mixture into your popsicle molds, leaving a little room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze at least 4 hours, 8 is best. Unmold and store in plastic bags in the freezer.

Benefit of the Doubt

fearsIt was Super Bowl Sunday a few years back, we were at a friend’s house for the game. The men and the food were downstairs with the big screen and the women and drinks were upstairs with a smaller television and lots of space to chat. A perfect party. Until one of my friends emerged from the basement with a plate of food and announced,”Your guy says you need to lose weight.” What? She said that they were talking together just now, she mentioned that she shouldn’t eat much and he agreed, that I shouldn’t either. What?? I was devastated. Angry.  This was particularly hurtful to me because in all our years together, my guy has never said anything negative about my weight, or indicated that he wanted wanted anything different than who I was. And the conversation in question was had with a beautiful woman who does not need to watch her weight. It didn’t match up, so it was very confusing.

The perfect party became a perfect storm, and on the way home from the game I cried and repeated what I had been told. My guy had that wild look in his eyes, the one that is searching to understand, but very sure he will not. After carefully listening to me, he recounted his version of what had been said, the whole time, completely confounded. He said that he and my friend were standing at the full table of food together, and she remarked that she should be careful with how much food she took, she didn’t want to gain weight from a Super Bowl party. He said he had no idea what to say in response, that he would never comment on her size or intake, so he said something like, “I’m sure Jen would say exactly the same thing.” and walked away. That was it.

In my head, he had pulled her aside and confessed that he really hoped I would see the light and shed a few pounds, or that he had announced to the room full of friends that I needed to pay more attention, or, or….

He asked me to believe him, and I did immediately, but he was also asking me to believe in us; that in the future when I hear something about my guy that doesn’t line up, to give him the benefit of the doubt, weigh it against what I know of him, his heart and his intentions and to ask him before jumping to conclusions. Since then, there have been misunderstandings over the years, but I know that my guy is on my team, always in my corner, truly wanting the best for me and it is my responsibility to this relationship to assume the best first, and go from there.

the semicolon project


This is such an important topic, I talked with four moms whose teen children are clinically depressed last week. We cannot afford to to ignore it.

Originally posted on hpwritesblogs:

FullSizeRender-1FullSizeRender Today I went to a tattoo artist, and for $60 I let a man with a giant Jesus-tattoo on his head ink a semi-colon onto my wrist where it will stay until the day I die. By now, enough people have started asking questions that it made sense for me to start talking, and talking about things that aren’t particularly easy.

We’ll start here: a semi-colon is a place in a sentence where the author has the decision to stop with a period, but chooses not to. A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going. 

In April I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. By the beginning of May I was popping anti-depressents every morning with a breakfast I could barely stomach. In June, I had to leave a job I’d wanted since I first set foot on this campus as an incoming freshmen because of my mental…

View original 1,331 more words


natureOur daughter is working at camp this summer, taking a team of leaders with her in a camp van and traveling to a small town, bringing a camp experience to children who cannot attend the full site for the week. This is such a great job for her, because she was a counselor on site last year, learning the ropes and songs and traditions, and this year she is sharing it with others. Yesterday my girl called me and filled me in on how the week is going.

“I’ve got a group of twelve kids ranging from 4th to 6th grade, and they started out SASSY. One boy in particular is very intelligent and creative, and he noticed that beyond the churchyard is a hedge, with a tree line and then a deep forest beyond that. He asked if we could go into the forest earlier this week. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I said yes and Mom, we found a whole different world in that forest! Over the last several days we have spent so much time as a group there, the kids work hard to build a community with jobs for each person, they’ve even created their own language! We do all the things that we need to do at the church, with the promise to go into ‘The Outback’ and they are so motivated to listen and obey!”

I asked my girl the typical Mom questions; is it safe? No Mom, it really isn’t. Has anyone gotten hurt? Not so far! Why are they letting you do this? It’s up to me, Mom. I’m in charge. Why do you think the kids love this so much?  She didn’t realize it, but her answer brought a stream of tears down my face as I listened. She answered,”I think it’s because it’s not safe. They feel like they are doing something important and they appreciate the fact that I am listening to them and letting them have an adventure. They know that the few rules we have are there for their safety, and I will listen to them if they don’t agree with one, and if they can think of a better way, we do that. Every kid has told me they want to go another week, or said that they don’t want to go home at the end of the day!”

My daughter was reminding me of what it is that we all want in life: a dangerous adventure with someone like-minded, the feeling that what we are doing matters, respect from those who make the rules, and the ability to have a say in those rules that govern them. Our young adult children are on the cusp of this very thing, choosing danger over safety and a living a life that makes a difference. Sometimes their parents need to be reminded of the importance of giving them permission to venture out into the woods. I’m tempted to drive the three hours to that forest in the backyard of a church somewhere, and join in the adventure!


Watch Your Language

eyeBecause of the work that I do, I get to research the subjects of marriage, love, sex and the Christian church. Almost two years ago I ran across a study done by Dr. John Gottman, who claims to be able to predict the success of a marriage with 80% accuracy based on one thing: subtle body language.

This was intriguing to me; could I learn what to look for and also be able to predict if a couple will stay together or not? This could be valuable knowledge. I read that one of the biggest cues is eye-rolling, apparently a response to your spouse in this fashion indicates contempt. Contempt. I quickly read on to learn about more factors, thinking smugly that I was glad I didn’t do this.

Until I did.

My guy made a comment about something I didn’t agree with, I let him know how I felt and realized that he was not going to change his stance, so I rolled my eyes as I walked away from him. Contempt? I didn’t think so. But it doesn’t really matter what I thought, what mattered was the lack of respect I was showing my husband in dismissing him and his opinion.

I started to notice every time I rolled my eyes, not just at my guy, but also at strangers and my family members and immediately was struck each time with the word: contempt. I forced myself to stop and think about what I was feeling towards the person and often came up with emotions like frustration, confusion, apathy and anger but not contempt. And yet that is exactly what I was conveying.

How about you, does your body language line up with the way you are feeling? I had to stop this behavior, and replace it with sharing my true feelings for the person if we were in relationship, and just letting go of emotions around people I didn’t know. We have a choice, to use our subtle cues to encourage or to tear down, and it may take some practice, but I think it’s worth it to be intentional with our language.


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