28 February 2011


There are dill pickles, sweet pickles, pickle relish, a glass pickle ornament that goes on my tree every year, gherkins, a former co-worker whose nickname was pickles, and then there are Jennie pickles. The pickles I get myself into. And boy do I know how to get myself into some good ones! Most often my pickles are self-created by not choosing my words wisely, letting them tumble out of my mouth with no filter, without stepping into the receiving end to see how they feel. Whoever came up with the phrase, "Stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." is a big fat stinking liar! Words cause some of the most terrific damage.

Little over two years ago I got myself into one of the grandest pickles yet. Sadly, it nearly destroyed one of my longest dearest friendships. Despite the mess I made of things, with grace, forgiveness and tenacity, we have trudged forward. Cautious and scared of hurting one another again, it was uncomfortable, awkward and felt pretty much horrible. It would have been so much easier to let contact peter out, become only Christmas card friends, and blame the distance on other life changes - a move to the country, changes in social circles, life situations. But 16 years of friendship was too valuable to lose. We chose, mutually, to fight for restoration. Friday night we got together for dinner, I fed her stew that was much too spicy for her liking but was packaged up for the husband to enjoy. Chatting, sharing, laughing we had a delightful time. I asked a hard question, she took the answer a different direction. I asked the question again later. Long pause. "The short answer we tell everyone is..., but what is really going on is..." Previous hesitation made sense, she wasn't sure it was safe to share with me, would she be hurt by my careless words yet again? But she did share, opening her tender heart to me, to share her true self. My response was unfiltered, unchecked - but one of compassion and empathy, assurance. With the establishment of safety, more could be shared, hearts opened. Friendship healing, wounds no longer raw - or at least not quite as raw.
26. I'm thankful for a friendship that spans that last 18 years. That has weathered severe storms and continues forward to repair the broken parts of relationship, and reflect God's healing powers.

I routinely get into pickles with my brother. It would be a monumental challenge to find two people more different - other than the parents. Between the four of us we have all four compass points of a personality map covered. It makes for some interesting family dynamics, and those between Chris and I tend to be explosive. While he can give it out better than anyone I know, he can't take it. Especially from me. He can rip me to pieces and be slightly mean about it, but what he says is so funny that I'm crying with laughter. I make one sarcastic remark to him and I get the silent treatment for months. Sunday I made up a batch of cookies, Momofuku chocolate chip cornflake marshmallow cookies, he had asked me to figure out a recipe for them as a Christmas gift for his girlfriend. They are very tasty! I sent him a text with a picture of the cookies from yesterday cooling on the sheet with the message: "Curse you for introducing me to these devilish things!" His response was his address. On my lunch break today I sent him a box of cookies.
27. Despite how many times we wound each other, we are still family, we still make it right; I still love him like crazy, even when he drives me there. Hope that a day will come when we have a good relationship.

I got myself into a minor pickle just yesterday, perhaps a gherkin. I was trying to tease a friend in an email, but she took me literally. Opps. Didn't she see the smiley face? Didn't she know I was joking? Guess not... another learning opportunity for me to choose words carefully.
28. Large and small, big deals and small deals, misunderstandings and deep wounds - all provide the opportunity to grow, be refined, learn to show and receive grace and mercy, to gain new insight into what it means to have godly character and a chance to practice it, practice humility.

Not all my pickles involve other people. I manage to get myself into pickles with myself. (That sounds weird, like I'm taking a bath in pickles.) I had to do something for professional development at work. Since my job is becoming much more project oriented, I enjoy working on projects, and it seems to fit with my skills, I decided to sign up for a project management class. I am in over my head. The class is geared for someone with significant experience leading projects. That is not me - yet. It may never be if I don't pass this class. Due to my amazing powers of procrastination and over-committing, I have had to start cramming to get it done. The stress has been weighty as other responsibilities have been neglected to study, cookies have been made instead of studying, and the stress increases - to the point that I was about to cry from sheer frustration last night with my mediocre grade on quiz 3.
29. Even when I can't seem to learn a lesson for the umpteenth time, God is gracious to me. Knowing I just may crack from the stress this time, He provided a pressure valve release - a six month extension to finish the course. Thank you!! (Now all of you, hold me accountable to get the class finished by mid-May, otherwise I'm going to be back in this same situation in September.)

27 February 2011

Justice Conference - Part 1: : Ken Wytsma : : Why Justice

A couple weekends ago the roommate and I trudged over to Bend for The Justice Conference sponsored by World Relief. It was an inaugural event, so I'll admit that my expectations were fairly low. I recognized a few names on the roster of speakers but not most. The pre-conference breakout sessions were interesting but sitting all day listening to speakers in my sleep deprived state was a challenge. I loaded up on caffeine to make it through the evening; the official start of the conference. But I was so enthralled with the two speakers that evening I think I would have managed to stay awake without any chemical help. The conference as a whole knocked my socks off and sent them to orbit, it was so good. I'm still mulling over what was said, processing the insights gained; as an aide in doing so I want to post the key thoughts I picked up on from each speaker and the video. I would gladly welcome dialoguing and hearing your views on any of the topics.

First up, to kick off the conference, was Ken Wytsma, the pastor of Antioch Church in Bend. His title was "Why Justice." Below is the video of his session.
Here are some of the key thoughts I picked up on during his talk:
  • Justice is mercy. 
  • We can't fix the world, but we can change the world.
  • Choosing to intervene and fight for justice is messy, you lose out on the benefits of a just society and have to pour your life into the mess of injustice.
  • There are three reasons for justice:
    • Biblical: the sense that we ought to, but guilt holds us back.
    • Religious: we should fight for justice because of love, but the cost will often stop us.
    • Personal: God has given us a calling, but confusion and/or fear keeps us immobile.
  • Empathy comes before action, concern is part of our love.
  • Service is love in work clothes - action through which love is manifest
  • It is so much better to invest your life for justice, than to spend it improving your golf game. 
  •  If we give our life to God and spend it on justice, we gain our life.

Ken Wytsma :: Why Justice? from The Justice Conference on Vimeo

25 February 2011

Freakazoid Friday

Friday nights are traditionally date night. I would not know about this, but that is what I've learned from media. I guess you could say I have a date tonight, my friend Kim is coming over for dinner. Does that count? No. As much as I love Kim, she doesn't count.

I am still hopeful that this ridiculous online dating may end my long run of dateless Friday nights. But it will not be with this one dude that surfaced this week. This is a borrowed story, but completely true. Let me tell you about "Dwight" (name changed to protect me from legal action) - Dwight the dweeb. He has quite the list of what he is looking for in a potential spouse. Having a list of key aspects that are critically important is good. Chances are you know yourself and know what will compliment you, what will drive you insane, which values you must agree on, etc. But Dwight has taken it to a whole new level. Some of his points are okay, but most of his criteria is absurd and would make for good folly all on its own. The real topper is that this dude had the audacity to send a message to my friend, not to get to know her or ask her out, but to ask if any of her friends would meet his requirements, he may want to date them if so. The guy is an idiot! Am I being too harsh? No, not at all. Read his list and you'll agree:
  • An athlete and has lived a disciplined lifestyle. 
  • Loves the commands of God and God-ordained roles for marriage. She is not afraid of submission to the Lord or her husband. If so, please grow spiritually first so that you don't set your marriage up for failure or great difficulty. Marriage is difficult enough without one or both people not being spiritually mature. 
  • She is a college grad and probably between 28-38 and doesn't have any major baggage. 
  • Someone who has saved herself for marriage, thus no kids, no STD's ever (all should be tested prior to any seriousness in a relationship if you don't trust they are truly a virgin). 
  • Someone who isn't a musician/artist/singer/theater type of person nor a pentecostal, charistmatic, or catholic or any denomination close to them.
  • I am attracted to the slender/toned types, not the overweight types, which includes being significantly overweight at any time in the past. 
  • Someone who doesn't wear eyewear. 
  • I don't want any pets and I'm open to 0-2 kids, not more. 
  • She not only has to be debt-free but have at least 10's of thousands saved up already to show her frugality and her financial preparedness NOW and in the past for godly marriage. Sadly, most have failed in this area. And finances are the biggest problems in a marriage so be smart, live simple now and invest now for your marriage. 
  • I don't drink alcohol or coffee. I'm not a sweets person, either. I'd like to eat more healthy than I do, so that is something I'd look for as well, but not a health nut, either. 
  • I'm not interested in women who have piercings in places other than their ears. I'm not into jewelry so it doesn't impress me to see it on others, just as I'm not materialistic, so I don't care for someone who loves to dress up or wear expensive clothes, shoes, etc. Money should be saved and invested for important things in life, not on immediate gratification, which is materialism. Immediate gratification is a sign of spiritual immaturity. 
  • As I mentioned, I'm looking for a spiritually mature, athletic woman.
With a list like this I am thinking he is the one with serious major baggage issues, which is why he doesn't want a wife with baggage. He doesn't want someone who is ever going to grow old, because eventually everyone needs glasses. Dwight needs his partner to have lots of money so that he can mooch off of her. I'm amused that he groups pets and children together as if they are nearly one in the same. He wants someone who is spiritually mature to make up for his immaturity, selfishness and vanity, but if they are mature, they should also be wise enough to run as fast as they can away from him.

I make no apologies for today's bashing. He actually makes me irate and I only try to laugh at him to keep from blowing a gasket. I've known Dwights and they are dangerous people - manipulative, controlling, abusive, people. I've been witness to the havoc they can wreck in a person's life; and the wake of destruction they leave in their path is horribly messy. But don't take it from me, a girl who would not have an ounce of credibility in the eyes of Dwight, take it from Mark Driscoll - a godly man's man. He tells it like it is in this sermon:

22 February 2011


I just have to share this amazing story. My Bible study leader had not been feeling well but she ignored it. Figuring it was just kidney stones she didn't mention it to her husband; he had enough on his plate preparing to lead a missions trip to India. A day or two after he left for regions half way around the world she went to the doctor. No, it wasn't kidney stones. More tests were run. Tests that revealed a large mass. The dreaded word was spoken: cancer. The husband was finally told and was sent home early from the trip. Plans were made and the surgery explained, although scheduled for several weeks out. She came to Bible study last week and with a choked up voice told us the news and asked us to pray for an earlier surgery date of March 6th. But more than that, that God would use her in this circumstance to reach her neighbors. She is just that kind of person, surrendered. Tonight - a week later - all of the women at Bible study let out a whoop and holler when it was announced that she had had surgery today (there had been a cancellation) and the astonishing part - the doctors couldn't find a trace of cancer or a mass or anything abnormal. The mass and the cancer had vanished!! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! God is great!!!

Multitude Monday - Enough

The questions below from Ann Voskamp's post today gave me pause.  In my western consumerism mindset, where I'm planning and budgeting for the next home improvement project, a little jealous of the new car I passed today while mine rattles and talks to me, my eyes linger over a shirt that I tell myself is too expensive in a newly arrived catalog, could I tell myself - "Enough. I have enough. God has provided all that I need." At church last night I was distracted and read ahead in the chapter, Matthew 6. Pastor wasn't speaking from verses 19-34 last night, but that is what ministered to me in the midst of the service. How appropriate of a follow-up is Ann's post today. 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures that rust and rot... Trust in your LORD to provide for your needs today. He takes care of the birds and the flowers of the fields, you who are so much more precious, will surely be taken care of too.' (Jenn's paraphrased version) 

What if we believe we have everything we need?
What if we really believe we have everything we need?
What if thanks in all things actually could be easy — because we believe that God always gives us the thing we exactly need?
What if gratitude was as natural as breathing, because we knew in our bones that the air we breathe is grace? 

Thank you Lord for the ways you have provided for me today, for all the ways I have enough...
16. I have been blessed immeasurably.
17. A momma who laughs at my silliness and jokes; validating my funny bone.
18. For a heart that is still tender, able to be unguarded and love with abandon. My precious boys.
19. A conscience that can be pricked, and will yield to your chisel of grace.
20. A desire for justice that is enough to overcome the fear.
21. Timely words from a friend.
22. Friends that are dear as family, and family I would choose as friends.
23. A home that is warm and cozy, filled with hand-me-down furniture that all works together.
24. Songs from years long gone that come back to remind me of your truth. And the new verse you taught me, "Oh, be careful little heart what you love, for the Father up above is jealous for your love, oh be careful little heart who you love."
25. Delight in small and silly things that brighten a dull day - the sound of my whistling "Father Abraham" in the ladies bathroom at work.

18 February 2011

Wading into Murky Waters

A couple months ago Sarah and I decided to give online dating a whirl... again. While neither one of us have had much (or any) success in the past, we have had several friends who are married with the help of an online service. What did we have to lose? Maybe we meet someone nice, have a date, maybe even meet a mate, but at the very least we have a good story. One of the best parts of online dating services is the entertainment value; the profiles alone are entertaining. Sarah and I have been taking advantage of trial days and free "communication events" so it hasn't even cost us a dime; of course you get what you pay for. Recently I was sent a match that surpassed anything I had seen before and is now the epitome of what not to put on your profile. It's just too good not to share. (And if you're thinking of making a profile, heed my advice.)

First off, for the question of "What are you most passionate about?" Even if you are a total techno-geek, it is not advisable to list your favorite TV shows, especially if it includes the Cartoon Network, and all your favorite genres of movies. And it's even worse when you follow it with "Xbox" and a list of your favorite games. But the topper is when he repeats this list under "What I can't live without." Yes, apparently this guy can't live without his Xbox, the History & Sci-Fi Channel, and FNC - I'm guessing another TV channel. All together it portrays you as a couch potato/TV junkie - and for the vast majority of women, all the women I know, that is not attractive. It's a total turn-off. I'm all for being honest, and if that really is what you are most passionate about, best wishes for finding that rare anomaly of a women who also enjoys that lifestyle and those past-times.

Here is another tip - learn how to wordsmith and put a positive spin on traits that you feel you need to share in your profile that may not be desirable. Remember, you are trying to put your best foot forward and make a good impression with your profile. Admittedly it feels awkward, like you are marketing yourself, but that is exactly what you are doing. Just like you present your best self in your resume and in an interview for a job; in dating you need to present your best self. Here is an example of what not to say: 'I'm socially awkward and don't like small groups of people... I am often thought of as pretentious." I suppose he should get points for being blatantly honest but combined with the Cartoon Network and Xbox fascination, this guy is acing himself out of the dating scene. I'm sure he is a nice, decent, good guy who is lonely and truly wants to have a relationship, but he isn't painting a good picture of himself. And in the online virtual word, you are judged and measured solely on your written description of yourself and photos; there is no context to help shape interpretation. Being a freebie user I can't see pictures, so in this instance it's only the words that count.

I'm feeling quite ungenerous to this poor fella that I've just ripped apart - and I could go on with other examples from his profile. So what would I suggest to him? First off, don't list your favorite TV shows, movie genres and video games in what you are most passionate about. If you feel it's necessary to list specifics, do so under the question of how you typically spend your leisure time. And if you can, move all references to TV and video games to that section. It may be how you spend the bulk of your leisure time, but is it really what you are most passionate about? Elsewhere he talks very highly of his family, that would be a great thing to put under the passionate category - "I am passionate about maintaining strong family relationships and investing time and myself into building up my mother and sister, being there for them." Now, that would be attractive. As for the socially awkward comment, that's a tough nut to crack, especially without knowing how it manifests. Maybe something like... "Small group settings are not my forte; I prefer larger groups where I can be more of an observer." Or, "I prefer being one-on-one where I can really open up and share." Highlight was does work for you, not what doesn't. Really. Is it any wonder that Sarah and I are still single?

Those are my online dating tips of the week. I hope you have enjoyed them and find them useful - for entertainment purposes. I've got more to come, lots more, so stay tuned. Sarah and I are out there to bring back the best to you!

15 February 2011

Is romance in the air? Or just the fumes of gasoline?

A few weeks ago I made a comment on Facebook that the dating lives of my roommate and I should be made into a reality TV show; that I find it extremely amusing. The comment was met with enthusiastic responses. While I may not be able to pull together a TV show, I can post the occasionally blog with the more entertaining escapades. Valentine's Day seemed like the perfect time to start. So with no more introduction...

Okay, maybe a little more introduction... a refresher. I have an admirer. I call him Manuel. I'm not entirely sure that is his name, but that is what is etched on his name tag. He works at the Chevron station just down the street from my home. I wrote about him previously in "Manuel, Applicant for Boyfriend." I know you're overjoyed that there is another installment.

A dark evening last week (when is it not dark in the evening this time of year?) I needed gas for my car and was low enough that I needed to go to the station nearest my house. Slowly pulling into the gas station I stare down the attendant to see if it is my grande amor, Manuel. I don't recognize the fellow and was a mixture of relief and disappointment - he is entertaining afterall. Stepping out of the car I walk over to the island and grab the window-washer-scrubber-squeegee thing and start scrubbing my front window. My whole car needed to be washed. Badly. But until I could get that done, cleaning off the windows so that I could see would have to suffice. Just after starting on the drivers side of the windshield I hear a voice beside me with a Latin inflection, "What are you doing?" Turning to the voice I am greeted with the sight of my favorite gas station attendant. Had he been there when I drove up? Did I not recognize my best admirer? "I'm washing the window." I answered wondering if I could just stop and dash back into my car for protection. "Do you want to work here?" he asked with a chuckle. I pass him my debit card and ask him to fill it up with regular.

As he fitted the nozzle into the tank he told me it was his birthday. After a long pause during which I debated internally whether to wish him a happy birthday in Spanish or not (would I botch it? would he be offended?) I wished him "Happy birthday!" (in English). By now I had started working on cleaning the back window and Manuel was standing behind my car so I tried to make small talk, "So how old are you?" "What? Why do you ask?" "Because you said it was your birthday." "Why do you want to know?"  "I was just asking." I began to suspect that maybe it wasn't his birthday, but then again, maybe it was and he was unwilling to admit his age.

To avoid talking about his age, Manuel asked "Are you new here? You have not been here before." Oh! How shocking! My heartthrob didn't remember me! It was like a stab in the heart. Okay, not really. It had been many, many months since I had seen him so it wasn't that surprising he didn't remember me, the one he previously had claimed to love. With such a large gap of time since I had seen him, I actually wondered if he had been deported. But here he was standing in front of me trying to get out of me where I live and asking me to come join him for a birthday drink of tequila after he got off work.

Alas, my windows were washed and the tank filled, it was time to say good-bye. But not without a hug! Service at the Chevron is affectionate. Before I knew what was happening I was being squeezed tightly, his stubble painfully feeling like a porcupine against my cheek. "Only because it's your birthday!" I said as I wiggled out of his grip. He said he would see me later for tequila. I got back into my car and as I drove off returned his wave with a smile. Still smelling his cologne as I took off my coat to hang on the hook in the garage I chuckled. Oh, Manuel, you are just so amusing, but I think you have been inhaling the gasoline fumes too long.

14 February 2011

Monday's Thankful list - How God loves me!

I am thankful for how God loves me through...
8.) A Momma who still gives me Valentine's Day gifts and treats even though I'm 37 and should have outgrown it long ago (I hope I never outgrow it though.).
9.) The treat being a yummy chocolate raspberry heart shaped cake and sharing it with my delightful roomie.
10.) Pops cleaning out my car while we switched this weekend.
11.) A cousin willing to step into the gap if needed.
12.) My warm, cozy, soft & squishy bed to envelope me in my sleep deprived state.
13.) Texts to my roomie from someone special.
14.) A sparkly pink box with treats and a Veggie Tales valentine tapped to the front left on my doorstep this morning by a friend.
15.) Friendship with and love of my Micah boys!

07 February 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

I've been inspired by Ann Voskamp at www.aholyexperience.com  to start my own "1000 Gifts of Thanks" - so here it goes:
1) Being able to start the day with a hot shower and hot coffee.
2) For a roommate to help bring perspective and wisdom in how to word a tricky response.
3) How can I not be thankful for Jon each and every business day, my occupational partner who keeps me laughing, who makes the days enjoyable.
4) That even though my heart is smarting a bit with the pain of unexplained rejection, I am loved and cherished by my Father.
5) I am so thankful for our new office, that I am now near a window, and one with a view. No longer relegated to a cave unaware of the world outside. I can watch the majesty of the sun breaking around a storm cloud.
6) For shared laughter with my roommate as we eat dinner and enjoy the folly of the Bachelor.
7) A big gift of thanks for two six year old girls who came over for a sleepover this weekend and covered my fridge with their artwork and filled my heart with joy.

A Well of Words

The last month and a half has been a roller coaster. Days filled with heartache over a friend's home-going. Days of laughter too. Days filled with the ho-hum doldrums of routine work and fast-paced new and exciting work as well. Days of reunion of far-away friends, and making new friends. Days full of learning new things, being reminded of  truths forgotten. Days filled with so much activity it has led to utter-exhaustion.
The days have been full, too full to take the time to write, and without having an outlet of expression and the time to process some of the recent events my insides feel like someone has dropped a handful of Mentos into soda and put a cap on it all.

Words are a funny thing. I like to say that words are not my native tongue as explanation for my hearing issues. In conversations with people, I'm often at a lack for words. My roommate is starting to learn that she needs to give me ample time to process, so that I can find the words to express my opinion and thoughts.Yet, without the ability to process and express myself with written words I am all out of sorts.

Words are important, but the Word of God is the most important of all. And for months now I have been given reminders from varied sources, both subtle and blatant like a sledge hammer, of how critical it is to hide God's Word in my heart. While memorization is incredibly difficult for me, I am determined to make it a habit. A daunting task. I'm starting with re-committing to memory Psalm 100. And once I have it down again, move on, maybe starting with chapter 1, verse 1 and memorize an entire book of the Bible. It feels impossible, but absolutely necessary. To live with and dwell of God's Word, letting it transform, renew, mold my heart and mind. To have a resource built in of life giving words, truth to ruminate on, words of strength for the battle, is a treasure worth the hard work required to build such a repository. With every scripture that I etch in my mind, the deeper the well of words to draw from. Encouragement and help is welcome. And so I start:

Psalm 100
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
 2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his;
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.