Tuesday, June 14

Bringing it all together

I have been keeping several blogs with different themes, but have decided to bring it all together at simplemoments.org.  Please join me there.

Thursday, June 9

Finding "the one"

Three times I thought I had found "the one."

I was engaged to my college sweetheart when I realized that his temper was too unpredictable.  After much thought and prayer I went to his apartment and broke our engagement.  I asked him to take the ring of my finger.  I hadn't taken it off since he had put it on my finger months earlier.  He refused.  I placed the ring on his coffee table and left.

As I neared 30 I was scared that I would never find "the one."  I was a great girl with a great job, a great family, good friends, a masters degree and a home that I owned.  Everything in my life was in place, but "the one."  I started to panic. This was not how my life was supposed to be and I took matters into my own hands.

I speed dated.  I went to bars.  I joined online dating sites.  I met an amazing man through a Christian online dating site.  He was handsome, successful, a hard worker, loved his family, loved his God, and treated me better than I have ever been treated by anyone before.  We dated long distance for a few months and married eight months after we met.

Seven months into our marriage I found out that he lied to me about his degrees, his business and even his religion.  I found out that he served time for armed robbery and, at that time, was being investigated for corporate embezzlement, which he later was imprisoned for.  The only thing that I found to be true about him was his name.

I removed myself from the situation immediately and we were officially divorced seven months later.

At 30 few people are divorced.  I had one friend from college who I knew was also divorced.  I reached out to him because I needed to talk with someone who understood where I was in life.  We had kept in touch, although not regularly.  We hadn't seen each other in 10 years and decided to get together for lunch.  Lunch lasted four hours and, although we lived in different cities, we began to spend time together when we could.

He represented everything my ex-husband didn't.  This was a man I had known for almost 15 years.  We knew each other "back when."  There were no secrets.  We had many shared experiences and our backgrounds were very much alike.  He was a wonderful friend to me.

We fell in love and dated, albeit long distance.  After a year of weekends on the road I told him that something was going to have to change.  Either we going to have to quit seeing each other or we needed to get married.  I loved him and loved spending time with him, but all the time on the road was too much for me.

We decided to get married.  It was wonderful to be together, but the reality and severity of his OCD and depression and the impact those things had on our life was completely unexpected.  I asked him to seek counseling less than a month after we were married.  It wasn't until eight months into our marriage that he did start counseling.  I went along to support him.

A couple months later I found out I was pregnant.  We were thrilled.  It made a difference for a short while.  We made plans and moved forward a little bit, but the progress didn't last long.

The counselor he was seeing at the time refused to see him any more because it was clear that he was not willing to do the work necessary to manage his OCD.

Our son was born and he got more depressed and he was not managing his OCD at all.  Once again we sought counseling but, again, after some time the counselor told him that there was no use for us to continue if he wasn't willing to do the work necessary to make counseling successful.

I loved him, but he was unwilling to get help.  I could not raise my son in the environment that our family was in.  My son was four months old when we moved out and nine months old when our divorce became final.

I was 34.  I had one broken engagement and two divorces under my belt.  I was the single mom to a 9 month old.  I was dealing with my own brokenness, embarrassment, and shame.  I had little to no self-worth.

Through much prayer and work on my part I finally realized and accepted that God is as much a part of me as the blood that pumps through my body.  Not only is God all around me, God resides within me.  I realized that I cannot love God without loving myself.  The journey of learning to love myself was not fun or easy and is not yet complete, but the journey has been and continues to be life changing.

Three times I thought I had found "the one" in other people.  Three times I was wrong, but through Him I have finally found "The One" in me.

*This post was written in response to a prompt at Faith Barista:  Finding "The One."  I realize that my story is unique and has probably left you with a lot of questions.  My prayer is that my experience can help others and I am happy to share any part of my journey, so please don't hesitate to ask.

Thursday, June 2

Wake Up Call

The clock said 4:59 and the alarm was set to go off in one minute.  I had already started to rouse, but I heard a noise that sounded like my son opening his bedroom door.

I jumped out of bed and quickly turned off my alarm.  I knew if my alarm was going off and my son heard it that I would never get him to go back to sleep.

I tip-toed into the hallway to see if he was, in fact, up.  I found his door shut.

For just a moment I wondered what the noise I had heard was, but knew in my heart it was a nudge from God.  "Get up, Jenni.  Your son won't be up for at least another hour.  Use this time.  It is a gift."

I went directly to my computer and started writing.  A very personal story.  A story that I hadn't put on paper until this morning.  A story that I will soon share.

God knew I had this experience ahead of me, but only if I chose to seize the opportunity.

God speaks to us in a multitude of ways through a variety of experiences.  This is how God spoke directly to me today.  How has God spoken to you today?

Tuesday, May 31

He Loves Me, He REALLY Loves Me

Last night I took my cousins to dinner to celebrate their respective graduations - two different high schools, one college.  My son stayed with his grandfather.  He stood at the door waving good-bye, super excited about the guys night ahead with Papa.  As I pulled out of the driveway and watched him standing with his Papa at the door, I couldn't help but wonder how much he really needs me.

When my son is with his dad or other family members, I always take a back seat so that my son can spend as much time as possible with the people he doesn't get to see all the time.  I try not to interfere.  Because of this few people even see me active in my role as a mom.

As a single mom, I don't get reassurance from other people that I am doing the right thing as a mom.  No one sees what I am doing on a daily basis.  No one sees how we interact with one another.

This is where my faith in God is key.  Everyday I pray that God helps make me the best mother I can be and I ask Him to let me know that I am doing a good job.

Last night when I got home my son was already in bed.  I went to my room to change clothes and when I came out he was out of bed standing in his doorway.  As soon as he saw me he opened his arms wide and bounced on his toes without saying a word.  I went to him and picked him up.  He wrapped his arms around me tightly, squeezed hard and buried his face in my neck whispering, "Mama!"

Yes, he loves me.  He needs me.

It is by the grace of God that I am who I am as a mother and I am so thankful that God works through my son to let me know that I am doing a good job.

Monday, May 30

Jesus Didn't Have TV

I do have a TV.  I bought it earlier this year before we had, what we call in these parts, "Snow Week."  Yes, the entire city was snowed/iced in for a week.  With an almost two year old as my only companion, I wanted to be able to watch the local news and see what was going on.

I got rid of my last TV in 2008.  Purchased this one in 2011.  I am glad I had it for "Snow Week," but I haven't turned it on since.

I don't have cable and, because I live in a valley, I don't get great reception.  The real reason I haven't turned it on is that there isn't anything I want to see.

Most people are shocked and amazed that we don't watch TV.  People ask a lot of questions.  Here are the most frequently asked:

What about your son?

My son has watched TV before and loves to go to his grandparents so he can watch Sesame Street.  Every once in a blue moon my son will see the TV and say, "Turn on TV," which is when I explain to him that we don't watch TV at our house.  He doesn't ask again and continues on with his business.

What do you do with your time?

Admittedly, I spend too much time online, but I limit that to when my son is sleeping.  We read.  We play.  We go on walks.  We spend time outside.  We spend time just hanging out.  We go to bed early.  My son is in bed by eight and I am usually in bed by nine.

Is it hard not having the TV as a babysitter?

I don't know what it is like to have the TV as a babysitter.  I will say that, especially as a single mom, I would love for someone/something else to occupy my son's attention every once in a while, but, thankfully, he is pretty good at entertaining himself.  There are times when I *have* to get things done and my son is super clingy and needy for whatever reason.  I have to stop and give him my full and undivided attention regardless of what *has* to be done.  That is not always an easy thing to do, but worth it both in the short term and long term.

How do you get ready?  How do you make dinner?  How do you get laundry done?  How do you do fill-in-the-blank?

My son just plays in my room while I get a shower and get ready.  When the weather is nice my son plays outside on the patio by himself (gasp!) while I get dinner together.  If the weather is not good he just plays either in the kitchen or in his playroom.  I have a front load washer and dryer and so my son is able to help me with the laundry.  It doesn't matter what I am doing, my son is either participating in it somehow or playing nearby.

Don't you ever want down time?

I need down time every day and I usually get it between the time my son goes to bed and the time that I go to bed.  I love to read and always find time to read before I go to bed.  I love to write both online and in my personal journals.  I have time then to do both.

How do you keep up with what is going on in the world?

Honestly, I am not great at keeping up with what is going on in the world.  I sometimes listen to NPR.  I listen to what folks are talking about in the faculty lounge.  If something major is going on we always pray about it at the start of the school day.  (A blessing of working in a Catholic school.)  I get the email updates from the AJC, our local paper.

I am okay living in our little bubble.  I know this is a source of much controversy, but my philosophy is that it is my responsibility to make my little corner of the world a better place.  I am going to keep doing that regardless of what is happening in the world at large.

Don't you ever want to watch TV?

Yes.  There are times when I would like to just sit and watch TV.  Once a year or so I have to opportunity to watch TV usually at a friend or relatives house.  It is great for a while, but I am always so happy to return to the calm and peacefulness of our home.

What about when your son gets older?

I don't have an answer to that.  We will see how that plays out as he gets older.

On one hand I don't want it to become a part of our lives, but on the other hand, I want him to become a conscious consumer.  I feel that watching TV with him will be important so that he can learn to critically evaluate media.  Of course, that can be done through the Internet and magazines as well.  I just don't have an answer.

I know he will watch TV as he gets older.  He will watch it at his grandparents', at friends' houses.  He will go to movies.  I am not trying to keep TV out of his life completely.

So, what about the title of this post - Jesus Didn't Have TV?

Jesus didn't have TV.  Yes, it was a different time back then.  If he lived in today's world, would he have TV?  Probably.  Yes, he would probably even have his own TV show, but I can't imagine Jesus sitting on the couch just watching.  I can't imagine that he would have the TV on as background noise.  He would be spending time with people.

Spending time with people is what I feel I am called to do to be more like Jesus.  During the day my time is spent with teachers, students and parents.  At night mt time is spent with my son.  Without TV I feel like I have more time, energy and attention to give to people.

*Please know, not watching TV is purely my personal choice.  This post is not to make you feel bad about watching TV or to try to get you to get rid of your TV.  The purpose of this post is to let you know why I have made the decisions I have made in regard to TV.

Thursday, May 19


A friend of mine recently pointed out that there is a yin and yang between giving and receiving.  Giving and receiving are interconnected and interdependant.  You can't have one without the other.  In relation to breathe, giving is the exhale, while receiving is the inhale.  You can't fully give of yourself without receiving in the same proportions.

Most of us are very good at giving, but are we really giving all that we can if we aren't consciously recharging through receiving?

As I started to think about this in my own life, I struggled because so many ways that we traditionally think of as ways to recharge cost money - a massage, dinner with friends, a pedicure, shopping.  While these can be great experiences, these aren't really great options for me for several reasons.

Logistically I have a limited budget and these experiences aren't in my budget.  For me these are also flash in the pan experiences.  They are great while they last, but they are over so quickly.  Personally the experience doesn't have the lasting effect that is needed for me to fully recharge.

Since these traditional ideas don't work for me, I began to think about ways that I was recharging and realized that I am doing things that help me recharge.

Each morning on the walk to school my son and I pray and, when I can, I go to morning Mass at school after dropping my son off at day care.  Each night I read a devotion, write in my prayer journal and spend time in prayer.  These are wonderful ways that I am able to bookend my day with God.  It is about thirty minutes in the morning and at least thirty minutes at night that I spend in conversation with God in one way or another.

I have been doing these things for some time, but recently realized that I wasn't doing these things as consciously as I could be.

It then occurred to me that I haven't been living my day to day life as consciously as I should be.  I am sure that there are other moments that occur throughout the day that help me recharge, but I haven't been paying attention to them.  Because I have not been paying attention to these moments I haven't been enjoying them as much as I could be.

So, I started paying attention to the moments throughout the day that I was fully enjoying - simple moments.

Simple Moments.
Moments that doesn't cost money.
Moments when I am fully engaged and appreciating the life God has gifted me with at this one particular time.
Moments when I find the JOY in the enjoyment.

My goal is to notice at least one simple moment a day.  I want to record these moments for myself so that I not only have a record of these moments, but also so I become more aware of what is happening that it helping me recharge.

There are a million different mediums, but for now I am using Twitter.  I added my Twitter feed on the sidebar, so that you can see the simple moments I am appreciating in my life.  (They are on the sidebar, so that you don't have to follow.)

Please share your thoughts or ideas about simple moments and/or let me know if you will join me and how.

Tuesday, May 10

The Tractor Arrived at the Perfect Time

My son’s nails were much too long and I have a scratch on my face to prove it – my own special Mother’s Day gift. For three days now we have been struggling with one another about cutting his nails. He was having none of it and I am not fond of wielding a sharp object around a flailing toddler.

This morning I knew I couldn’t drop him off at school again with nails as sharp as razor blades. It is one thing for him to scratch me. It is another thing completely for him to scratch a teacher or another child. Please know, he doesn’t scratch on purpose. His nails were just that long.

I tried to cut his nails at home. No luck. I tried once I got him in the stroller, but before we left for school. No luck. I was going to try again before we crossed the street, but the light was in our favor and we didn’t have to stop this morning.

We arrived on campus and I knew we needed to stop before we got too close to the ELC (Early Learning Center), but far enough that he had settled into the ride. Once we arrived on the final stretch of sidewalk, I knew it was time.

I put the brake on the stroller, pulled out the clippers and told my son, “It is time to cut your nails.” He shook his head no and squeezed his fists tight. I tried to pry a finger out of his grip, but with no luck. Then I noticed that something caught his eye.

I looked and saw the large riding mower cutting the grass on the field right across the street from where the stroller was parked. I asked my son, “Do you want to watch the tractor?” He nodded his head yes. I told him, “If you want to watch the tractor, I have to cut your nails.” Without taking his eyes off the tractor he gave me his hand.

I cut the nails on one hand and then cut the nails on his other hand. He didn’t take his eyes off the tractor.

Just as I was cutting his last nail the tractor drove down the field out of sight. My son said good-bye to the tractor and we headed off to the ELC.

As a single mom I don’t always have other people in my life to directly help me with my son, but I always am thankful for God’s presence in moments such as this one this morning. God put that tractor in the perfect time and place to help me when I needed it.

Thank you, Lord, for tractors and for always assisting me in unique ways.

Monday, May 2

From Gripe Session to God Sessions

Last night as I went to bed I had the following prayer/question for God on my heart.
Lord, what do you do when you feel like you really need to talk to someone, but you are afraid your conversation will turn into a gripe session?
I constantly go to God in prayer.  I keep a prayer journal and I write a lot, but there are times when I just need to talk.  I am a talker.  Talking through things is how I process them.  When something really big happens I always feel better when I am able to verbally process the situation with someone else.

I want to process things through conversation.  I don't want my conversation to become negative.  I don't want to talk about people.  I don't want to lay blame.  I don't want to contribute to gossip.

Before I even finished writing the question in my prayer journal, God made the answer clear:
You focus on you - not on other people.  You talk about what you are feeling - not what other people are doing to make you feel that way.  You talk about what you can do to help the situation.  You spend time looking for the silver lining.  You look for the ways that I am working through the situation.
Thank you, Lord, for your answer.  Help me to always have productive conversations and keep You as the center of all my conversations.

The Armor of God

This morning I am focusing on Ephesians 6:10-20.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

People will try to hurt me, but wearing the full armor of God I will be protected.  

The first line of the prayer at the end of the Proverbs 31 devotion today says it best:  Dear Lord, I pray that I will recognize Your voice above all others.

Sunday, May 1

A Test of Faith

Today has been a hard day.  It has been hard in so many ways that I can't express here.  Today is a day my faith has been tested.

Usually I am a very positive person.  I can always find the silver lining in a situation.

Usually I can get knocked down and I get right back up.  I always look to the future, remembering that this is just one moment and that God's plans are for me than I could ever imagine.

Usually I am steady and stable.  I am the one people come to in times of need.

Today I have been rocked in ways that I never expected and I am not sure what the final outcome of it all will be.

What I really want to do is collapse into someone's arms, cry, and tell them all about it, but I don't have anyone to turn to.

What I really want to do is make snide comments about situations that have occurred, but I know I am better than that.  Being ugly doesn't help the situation but only tears me away from God.

Tonight I am working on holding back the tears and hanging on tight to the following quote from Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning:
The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future.
I am also holding on to the following two blog posts:  The Scenic Route, I wasn't going to blog today, and Get of the Boat, Big.  Both has helped me a ton today.  Thank you, ladies!

There is no doubt that God is in all of this.  I know that tomorrow will be better - things always look better in the morning.  Now it is time to focus on the blessings in my life and hold fast to my faith - He has a plan.

Friday, April 1

Opposite situation. Blessed just the same.

At a recent Bible study at work a question was addressed to the two of us in the room with younger children, "How do you manage to bear the cross of having younger children at home?"

My colleague and I looked at one another to see who would speak first.  My colleague hesitantly began to speak.

He didn't speak of the cross he had to bear with three young children at home.  He began to talk about how blessed he is.  He spoke about his supportive wife.  He spoke about how his parents live around the corner and how his wife's parents also live close by.

I was blown away, not by what he was saying exactly, but that he was expressing the same feelings of being blessed that I would have expressed had I been the first to speak.

But what is most remarkable is that our situations could not be any more different.

I am a single mom.  I don't have family that lives close by or even in town.  I don't have the stability or the same support system he does, but I am just as blessed.  I could relate exactly to what he was saying about being blessed because I experience that same blessed feeling every single day.

Being blessed by God has nothing to do with our individual situations, but everything to do with our relationship with God and how we allow Him to work in our lives.

And this is the beginning of the story behind my six word story.

Please visit She Reads for information about the She Speaks Conference scholarship.  She Speaks is a conference for women who want to share with others their experiences with God through the written word, the spoken word, or through leadership in their community.


I recently had eye surgery.  I looked at this as not only a physical change, but a symbolic change as well.  I felt that I could outwardly express the change that has occurred in my spiritual life over the past few years through physically correcting my vision.
Over the past few years I have removed barriers that I had placed between God and me.  The removal of these barriers has allowed me to continue to develop my relationship with God and has, in turn, made life much simpler.  

This change has taken place and continues to take place in my heart over and over again, but I have longed to physically feel and experience this change.  I was sure that eye surgery would be the physical experience I have been longing for.

Unfortunately, although the surgery went well, the healing process has not gone as smoothly.  My vision is worse than it was before the surgery and does not seem to be improving.  My ultimate prognosis is unknown.

So, in fact, this surgery has turned out to be symbolic as well as physical, just in a different way than I expected.

Joshua 3:4 says, "...you have not passed this way before."  No, I have definitely not passed this way before.  I don't know what my future holds - in regard to my sight or in any regard - but I continue to turn it over to Him and know that He will be with me through it all.  

This experience continues to be a true test of faith.  I know that this experience, although I may not understand it now, is a valuable part of my story of how God is working in my life.  

I will continue to follow the regime that the doctor has prescribed, but it is ultimately in God's hands.

Please go to A Holy Experience and find out more about the She Speaks Conference scholarship.  She Speaks is a conference for women who want to share with others their experiences with God through the written word, the spoken word, or through leadership in their community.  

I know that attending the She Speaks is in my future.  I just don't know if God has it in my future for this year.  In this, as in all things, I am doing my part, but I am ultimately turning it over to Him.