to a revelry. {a love story of two of the best people i will ever know.}

I witnessed the most beautiful thing recently. It was a Saturday afternoon in September, overlooking a river that runs through our beloved hometown, where two people promised forever and meant it. It was a day that we’d all been talking about for a long time, and it turned out better than I ever could have dreamed or imagined. The words that these two wrote and recited had everyone’s hearts enamored and assured that this was real, and 100% from the Lord. They lit candles and held hands and looked incredible. They finally shared the same last name and their hearts finally beat as one in front of so many friends and family who’s love for them poured out in the smiles on their faces and the streams of tears running down their cheeks. We walked down a tree lined path to a revelry, a celebration of this union that lasted well into the night. One of the most vivid memories I have from this night was taking a moment to stop in the middle of a conversation, looking to my right and seeing that newly married couple, walk down that same tree lined path that we’d all just traveled down… just the two of them, fingers intertwined, and looking at one another, so in love and so in tune to all that had just taken place in their lives. This was the start of something beautiful. We ate and drank and danced and smiled and rest assured that this couple is truly united forever. It was magical, captivating, exciting and such a blessing to be a part of. The spectacle often plays back in my mind, like an old movie reel, calling you back to those scenes and to that place, that exact place on that hill overlooking the banks of the river where the most beautiful picture of love was painted. There was so much joy in that day, and redemption, and satisfaction knowing that God’s promises are true, and He is the author of transforming stories that take not only your breath away, but every ounce of doubt right along with it. Yes, I’d been to many other weddings before, but none as poetic and emotional and truly honoring to the love of our Lord who is so good and so sweet to bring us moments like this to remind us who He really is. He is love, and He is so good.

So here’s to Sarah and Andy. Thank you for seeking after our Father to find one another. It is only by His hand that the story of your lives can be written in the way that it is today, so in love with each other and in love with a God who is the writer of all beautiful love stories. Your lives are so special to me, and I am so blessed to have walked quite a long way in life with each of you separately, and I can’t wait for that journey to continue with the both of you, together. Forever.

I love you both so much. Always have, always will.

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beautiful collision.

i noticed the lines on the roof last night. how their angles so high above me pointed towards the sky. and to be honest, it was probably the first time i’d actually looked up in a while.

the pressure of my foot on the gas pedal in my car couldn’t get me to where i was going fast enough. the window rolled down and the breeze blowing through my hair couldn’t get in my lungs quick enough. and the lights that were guiding me home didn’t shine bright enough last night, yet i still knew my way.

the words dancing from the speakers in my car into my ears were resonating with my heart in ways that i hadn’t experienced in a while, and before i knew it, it was a beautiful collision of the realness and rawness of this life. we meander through it and don’t always stop to notice the things that call us back to who we truly are.

and in those moments where you forget, remember, that no matter what, there are lights that shine and guide your way home.

“the true definition of courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” -brene brown

your whole heart. whole. not half. whole. this life is your story. live it that way. notice the small things. breathe in the breadth of it all.

soak up every moment like its the only one you have, because it is.

get to.

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i work at a church.

(those are 5 words i didn’t think i would ever hear come out of my mouth.)

i work at my church.

(5 more words i didn’t think i would ever EVER hear come out of my mouth. ever.)

in the morning when i get up, i never once think: “man, i have to go to work today.”

never once.

my thought is always: “man, i GET to go to work today.”

i get to.

i get to go work at a church.

i get to go work at my church.

it’s been 6 months. and let me tell you, it’s had it’s fair share of trials and ups and downs and smiles and tears and hard times and great times. it’s tested me, it’s changed me, it’s challenged me and it’s brought me to a place in my life where i never thought i would be. and it’s a good thing. i get to do this.

this whole thought came about when i got an email in my inbox from another person on staff who was asking ministry leaders and staff at the church to park in the big open field behind our church when we come on a saturday night or a sunday morning in order to make room in our parking lot. my first thought was excitement, and not inconvenience. because you know what, i get to park in a mulch covered field on a saturday night or a sunday so that someone else can have a parking spot in the front or on the side of our building.

i get to do that.

i get to.

while on our high school retreat with 140 high schoolers that i get to work with, do life with, and grow up with, one of the leaders who is in college stood up to share what was on his heart on the morning right before we were getting ready to pack up and head home. the passion in his voice when he shared and the look in his eyes as he connected with every person in that room is something that will always stay with me. he shared Malachi 3:10 which says:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. “Test me in this” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.”

that was all she wrote for me, folks. with tears in my eyes and more understanding in my heart than i had been able to find the past 6 months, those words from the book of Malachi changed it all for me.

test me in this, said the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour of so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

SO MUCH BLESSING. are you serious? this is what my life looks like right now. i get to go to work. i get to go work at my church. i get to park in a mulch covered field because i have tested the Lord and He is pouring out those blessings much more quickly than I could ever have room to store them. He’s given me this gift, and it’s something that i get to do, not that i have to do.

so much blessing. i cannot believe that i get to do this. everyday. in the tough times and the good. i get to do this. so much blessing.

 

overwhelmingly beautiful.

there’s a song that wrecks me every time it’s melody finds its way into my ears.

who am i kidding? there are LOTS of songs that leave me with tears streaming down my face, with a heart that sometimes has more questions than answers, and a mind that wanders down paths of what could have been, or what might never be, or hope for the future.

sometimes its thoughts about love. sometimes those choruses take me right back to a moment in time where i felt something i never wanted to forget, and the goodness that comes with being able to breathe in that moment is so overwhelmingly beautiful, that i can’t help but be overcome with emotion.

i listened to one of those songs that used to do all of those things to me. but today, it was different. it was raining outside, and it was dark in my office and the candle was lit on my desk and every aspect of the environment around me should have triggered the tears to flow down my face.

but they never came.

part of me wonders if its because my heart has from moved on from places that it used to dwell. part of me wonders if it was because i’ve heard the words, and have felt the feelings so many times that i just don’t react to it in the same way that i used to.

i think its because my heart has moved.

and i’m glad i’m not dwelling in places that aren’t necessarily meant to hold my heart.

or at least i wasn’t today.

a letter to 2012.

Dear Two Thousand and Twelve,

As years tend to do, you came in strong, lolly gagged around in the middle and are now leaving as I find myself thinking, “Where in the world did 2012 go?” There were many ups and downs, good times and hard times that came and passed while you were present in my life. I have some incredibly fond memories of this year, and some moments that I am glad are over and done with. As the chapter officially closes on you this evening, I wanted to thank you for all that you taught me this year.

You taught me patience. You taught me how to see things from the other perspective, even when it doesn’t always match what I think is best, or even right. You taught me to be open to whatever God has for me, in the hard times and in the blessings. You taught me that true happiness is always right in front of me, even when I’m too blind to see it. You taught me to remember moments, because they are special, and wonderful, and while they might linger back into your head later on, nothing means more than being present right then and there when it’s actually happening. You taught me that crying is healthy, healing and something that happens often in response to being happy, being upset, or just simply a response to the fact that life is so beautiful. You taught me that friendship and community doesn’t always come easy, that it’s often hard to let people in, but that once you do, it can be so, so good. You taught me to trust in the Lord, and that even if you can’t see how everything is going to come together, it’s a good thing that He orchestrates it all and that you don’t . You taught me that heartache doesn’t last forever. You taught me that anxiety comes and might take up space in your heart for a while, but if you keep breathing and refocus your thoughts and your heart on what is stronger than all of that, you’ll eventually be okay and at peace again. You taught me that change isn’t always easy, but it’s constant, and even greater than that, God is constant and so good. You taught me that all things must come to an end, and while swallowing that pill and accepting that truth might be hard, there’s always a new beginning on the horizon. Always.

 

So, Two Thousand and Twelve, here’s to you. Thanks for the good times, and the hard times. Thanks for the laughter and tears and the time we were able to spend together. I’m grateful for all that you taught me, and for the way you helped prepare me for Two Thousand and Thirteen. Out with the old, in with the new. A new chapter. An inhale, and an exhale. An ending and a beginning.

Love,
Jenn

jump from my heart.

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Today is one of those days that I’d love to be formulating beautiful sentences on a typewriter.

I think the pushing of the buttons and the sound of the stamp hitting the paper would be comforting. I think it would take me to a place that I long to be sometimes… a place where I can be creative and let words flow out of me as if they were meant to jump from my heart onto paper.

And I’m not sure why I feel like a typewriter would help me accomplish that. Maybe it’s not just the typewriter I’m seeking. Maybe it’s that whole feeling of wanting to just let the words come out of me which I don’t often feel like I allow them to. I want to light a candle, and sit in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and some calming music. I need a retreat… a get away of sorts to just collect my thoughts, and just write.

Maybe one of these days I’ll find the feeling, and the words, and the typewriter.

faintly strumming.

the steam from my coffee cup rises and fades quickly into the cold, dark room. faintly, i hear the strumming of a guitar behind me and the yellow on my sweater is a bright light in this otherwise dreary morning. a candle flickers beside me as my fingers dance across the lettered keys in front of me and even though i have a headache, my heart is full and happy.

these are the days of my life, and sometimes they take forever to pass and sometimes they fly by way too fast. i’m thankful for the ins and outs and ups and downs and for all that this crazy life brings. and even in the days where i wish i had a door to close when i’m working, i’m thankful for headphones and for a beautiful melody that plays in my ears and serenades my heart.

what would we sing for if it wasn’t for His grace? could i feel the smile on my face if i didn’t know the reason behind it being there?

we are crushed and created, we are melted and made,
we are broken and built up in the very same way.
what i thought i could handle, what i thought i could take,
what i thought i would destroy me,
leaves me stronger in its wake.

so much good.

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This morning, I left my house without making my bed. I don’t know why this strikes me as odd… I’m not one to always make my bed. It’s just never really been something that I’ve made a priority in the morning. Of course I’ll make it if guests are coming over, but over all, its never really bothered me before. Maybe because a bed that’s made wouldn’t really count for anything when there’s laundry piled up on the floor, and shoes that are not in their rightful home in my closet. Welcome to the life of a girl who’s really only at home to sleep… in an unmade bed.

And my unmade bed kind of looks like what my heart has been feeling lately.

Uninviting. Wrinkled. Somewhat lonely.

Life is beautiful. It really is. I am so thankful for fall, and the colors on the trees, and the reminder that change is constant. And while it’s a good thing, it can also leave your heart kind of feeling like an unmade bed.

Uninviting. Wrinkled. Somewhat lonely.

But, I’m never alone. And life is so good. And so beautiful.

And at the end of the day, if I come home and my bed is unmade, it’s okay. There’s always tomorrow… a new day to wake up and make my bed, and make my heart feel something more than uninviting, wrinkled and somewhat lonely. And remind my heart that there’s so much good in this world, and to be open to the things that make me stronger, and that make me love better.

And if I find myself in the morning, waking up excited about the day before me, I’ll make my bed, go throughout that day with that same smile on my face, and go to bed at night knowing that peace finds its way back to my heart if I seek it out, that joy comes in the little things and that life is beautiful and so worth loving.

sometimes i can’t believe this life is mine.

i just finished making a cup of coffee at 5:15 pm for someone in a meeting in our office trailer of sorts. i walked into that meeting barefoot to deliver that cup of coffee. and it didn’t matter.

my ikea desk, that i got to pick out, already has file folders, to-do lists, and tasks that i’m responsible for. and it feels like home. because it is.

the shadows that are casting themselves on the walls of this room are reminders that the sun always sets. its sets on the good days, and the bad. it sets on the days that aren’t long enough, and that are too long at the same time. chapters close and new ones begin. sunrise and sunset.

and this is right where i belong. in this chair, at this desk, in this building, at this place, at this time.

sometimes i can’t believe this life is mine.

 

Mrs. Karen taught me how to cry.

We could always be found running in the halls of the church I grew up in . The smelly, dingy 2nd floor was a place that I spent many a Wednesday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night growing up. The carpet was coarse under my feet, the air was hot and thick, the chairs squeaked, and the tables weighed 139 pounds if you had to move them. Prayer requests were written on a white board in front of us, a map of the world was tacked to the wall next to us, and it was in our youth room that Mrs. Karen taught me how to cry.

It used to be a joke… how far could we get into an Acteens meeting or “Sunday Night Alive” before Mrs. Karen would shed a tear, or a whole bucket of them. Sometimes, we’d go the whole night. Sometimes, we’d make it approximately 4 minutes. Either way, Mrs. Karen cried beautifully… and it never meant anything to me until here recently.

You see, Mrs. Karen is someone I think of fondly and often. Back in those awkward Middle School years, and those trying times in High School, Mrs. Karen was always there to offer a good word, some solid encouragment, and yes, tears.

Now that I’m older and I’m volunteering with a Youth Group of my own, I can look back and realize why she cried. She cried because life is beautiful, and she gave her heart to us as though it was all she had to give. She got down on her knees for us and went to battle for us in the heavenly realms so that we too would know the God that she personally loved. She was happy for us when life gave us all good reasons to be, and she cried with us (and for us) when it was all so much to bear.

Mrs. Karen taught me how to cry. And being a Mrs. Karen crying prodegy is perfectly fine with me.

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. Sometimes things don’t go the way we expect them to, and then sometimes they do. In either of these instances, you can probably find me crying my way through it. I cry when life is hard. I cry when life is beautiful. I cry because I can, and I cry because it’s healthy. I cry when I have a headache (and then sometimes I get a headache because I’m crying). I cry when I hear song lyrics that touch my heart. I cry when Grey’s Anatomy gives me a reason to… (okay, in that instance, I’m usually sobbing.)

I’ve cried a lot lately because my heart hurts for people. People in my life that are going through some really tough things. I’ve cried because I’m happy for these youth that I’ve grown to love in this past year who are moving to college to start a new adventure. This makes me feel the closest to Mrs. Karen, because I know she cried the same tears for me in my big moments in life.

I’ve cried a lot this week. Good tears and happy tears, sad tears and hard tears. And it’s all healthy. It’s an expression of what I’m feeling in my heart at that very moment.

As I ate brunch with one of the best people in my life, I had to wipe away some tears because he was speaking some incredible truth and wisdom into my life that I really needed to hear. I’m thankful for those moments where people let me be who I am, whether it’s a strong-willed lover of life, or a sappy mess of a girl.   (Thank you.)

Mrs. Karen taught me how to cry… and that’s a gift I will always be grateful for.

“She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.” – Brian Andreas