Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Family Hike

Today we walked away from it all. The piles of laundry, unwashed dishes, shoes scattered across the mud room floor, and the business phone- we just walked away.

It was glorious.

For 1.5 hours, we hiked a nearby pasture. Up the hills and down the draws, my husband, kids and I walked the deer paths. High up in a tree herons were nesting. The wild turkeys and owls made their presence known.

Paying special attention to avoid the honey locust trees, we found a grove of walnuts. The kids collected turkey feathers. The big prize would have been deer antler sheds, but we didn’t find any.

Crossing the creek multiple times, we either walked a natural log jam or found a fallen tree to place across the shallow water. I can firmly say that none of us will be tightrope stars.

My phone came out once to take one picture. Neither my husband or kids know I took a snapshot of this moment. It was a joyous reprieve from connectivity. No service meant no intrusions into our family time.

Be still and know. Nature has a way of cleansing the mind and opening the soul.


Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Little Einsteins

Presto! Allegro!

The notes of Franz Schubert mixed with the smell of mixed berry muffins are how I’ve started my morning.

School is closed today for a deep disinfection. Yes, on a Tuesday, the illness numbers were just too high yesterday. The approximately 850 kids in our district will get a respite from the onslaught of influenza and stomach flu and respiratory viruses.

We received the word about 5:30pm yesterday. Pre-kids-Jen would have started mentally planning the day. Two-kids-later-Jen acknowledges that whatever I plan is likely to get wrecked, so we’ll set a couple loose goals and wing it.


For instance, pre-kids-Jen and husband thought this would be our “adult bathroom.” We have another bathroom, so this one should be toyless, right?

Pre-kids-Jen enjoyed playing the notes of Schubert on the piano for relaxation. Two-kids-later-Jen gets her classical music via Little Einsteins on Disney Jr.

Honestly, there are some things I miss about pre-kids-Jen. She had time flexibility to go for a run and sleep when sick. Her non-work schedule consisted of weekends away for weddings, friends and spontaneous trips with her husband. She wore heels, matched purses to her outfits, and accessorized with trendy jewelry.

As I sit here smelling muffins baking and listening to cartoons, I realize how much my priorities have changed. I love these two little individuals.


I’m not Mary Poppins. Of course, the process has been frustrating and exhausting! I have not handled all of it selflessly or with grace. If you live near me, you may have heard me loudly telling my kids (ummmm…. yelling) to get in the car. Or perhaps you’ve pulled out of the parking lot and seen me with my head resting on the steering wheel?


It is like being in a rock tumbler. I haven’t lost my identity. Life has tumbled and changed it. I’ve rubbed off some of the sharp spots and my more positive traits are being polished. Slow and steady, one pair of footie jammies and Little Einstein episode at a time, I’m becoming more patient, compassionate, and understanding how deep love can be.

Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized


Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”


He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.


He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.


I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Faith · Love · Perspective

Anxious & Ichthus

Yesterday morning my anxiety was running high, like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai high.

daily mail burj khalifa
Photo Credit:

After getting the kids around for school and on the bus, I told my husband that I was going for a quick 10 minute run. That was all I had time to squeeze in. He didn’t argue. I know he could sense my anxiety.

On top of our normal parent – work schedule, this week includes a lot of extras and one long car trip to a specialist. But I think the thing that really unnerved me was something our guest evangelist at church said yesterday.

His message was that God’s love is PERSONAL to each of us. (Heavy faith talk to follow)

Matthew 5:13-16 New International Version (NIV)

Salt and Light
13 Jen – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 Jen – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light” – Jen- ” shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I thought this was all very uplifting. Not giving myself any credit, but this is humbly encouraging to do good works in whatever way possible for the glory of my Heavenly Father.

He closed his message by declaring that the signs for the Lord’s return are visible and increasing just as the old and new testament’s discuss. While we aren’t able to discern all those signs and know not the timing, each moment of time here is a moment gone and one closer to the next. The part that caught me is when he said we should all be looking toward this with joy.

I’m being very raw and honest here — I’m mixed with joy and worry when I think about this. As I internally debated these feelings for the past few days, it occurred to me that if I’m conflicted in my feelings it must partially be because I’m still holding God at arm’s length in some parts of my life. More internal reflection is currently focused on exactly where.

Absolutely I look forward to no more illness, sadness, injuries, and no more gut-wrenching evil. I desire more of that amazing joy and peace that I occasionally feel pass over me for all eternity. Have you ever felt that? It is truly hard to put into words – warm, not just happy but deeper than that – joy, light, peace, complete love. I don’t feel it with my family or friends, although I do feel deep love and comfort with them. It is much Much MUCH deeper than that.

My worry is about how bad it has to get. Am I equipped to handle it? Not alone, I’m sure. What about my children? What will their relationships look like? I know I went through a period of time in high school and college where I did things that I hoped God would just overlook. Pay no attention to the person behind the curtain (me) doing these things that I want to experience, but know are bad news… Not earned, not deserved and yet I asked and am graciously forgiven. Saved thru Grace not works.


What about my high school acquaintance who proclaims himself an atheist, but rails angrily against God on social media? He curses against the God he declares not to exist. He is so wounded by his current situation it is hard for me to fathom. What about those who are so cushy and comfortable in their own situations that they are oblivious to the emotionally, spiritually, or physically poor and needy next door? What about the people being led astray by the glitz, glamour and empty promises of success?

I just finished a life application study of the book of Acts. I know that people will hear the message and choose not to believe in God or the Gospel. In these situations, Paul had to shake off his garments and walk away. He still cared for all people, but realized that his mission was to present the message and pray for the people who heard it. He couldn’t work in the hearts of the people. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

As I write this, my anxiety diminishes. My job is to love the people and give them the message that God is real. He loves you regardless of your previous or future choices. We’re fallible, breakable humans. God is not the hypocritical religious leader or megachurch preacher asking for your money while ignoring the needy. He is love. His Spirit flows in the hands and feet of those serving others humbly. I suspect that almost everyone on this planet has encountered the love of God regardless of if they’ve recognized it as such.

Upon returning from my run yesterday morning, this was laying in my yard by my sidewalk. Keep your head up and your eyes open. God’s love is everywhere. Be the good and give that glory to Whom it belongs.



Family · Parenting · Perspective


Just a thought to ponder.

We tell our children that we love them. Multiple times. Every single day. Hundreds if not thousands of times a month.

When was the last time you told your child that he or she is important? That sweet young person or grown adult- that he or she matters to you?

Shouldn’t these two phrases be simultaneous?

I told my son this a few weeks ago. Actually I asked if he knew that he was important to me.

His answer crushed me- NO.

Maybe it was just the language. He is very literal, no abstract clumping or assuming in that child.

I proceeded to tell him- “You are important to me. You matter. Your choices, ideas, laughter, happiness. It is all important to us.”

It made him smile sleepily. I hugged him and continued our bedtime rituals.

When was the last time you told a loved one that they are important?  Tell them. ❤



Family · Love · Parenting

Morning Glimpse

It isn’t a great picture. I was trying to be covert.

Aside from the obvious imperfections in my photography skills, I love this picture. It illustrates the love between a little girl and her father. Hugs are given each morning before she or he leaves for school or work.

daddy and M (2).jpg

The bond between father and daughter is truly a special quality.

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective



It’s centers and numbers, letters and games, grass grinders in PE and primary colors in Art. Musical songs about shapes are a regular concert at our house in the evenings.

She is flourishing and loves it. M thinks it is easy, fun, and doesn’t want to miss a single minute!

Five mornings a week, she bounces out the door to the bus. She’s gotten dressed, brushed hair and teeth, eaten breakfast, filled her water bottle and hugged her father and I. She puts on her pink backpack that is absolutely as big as she is, hops down the steps after her brother, crosses the lawn, and takes enormous steps up onto the yellow bus.


At the end of the day, she takes those enormous steps back down off the bus to my office, her freckled cheeks flushed, bobbed strawberry hair wild, and lasts about 3 minutes before breaking down.

My sugar bean is tired. Naps were 1hr plus, 5/7 days a week before the school year started. She is young for her class, borderline to the point that we discussed holding her back just due to her age. Both her preschool teacher and my mom, an early Ed teacher, discouraged that. She’s bright, eager, and not having any behavioral issues, so she moved on.


She would have been LIVID if we’d kept her back to half days in preschool. She does rest during “rest time” on her lime green towel. However, she made it very clear to us that she doesn’t HAVE to sleep then.

I took all this in consideration last night when our home was deep in the throes of a meltdown by 6pm. Sweet girl was asked to pick up 8 books and a retro (mine from the 80’s) My Little Pony stable in her room. Both kids are required to do one chore an evening – only one simple thing to help the family – i.e. pick up shoes, put away kitchen towels, pick up toys, sweep under the table, water flowers…

It. Was. Impossible. Tears sprung forth. Her body crumpled on the kitchen floor.

10 minutes in and the rest of us carrying on about life around her (this usually works), the waterworks weren’t letting up. Oh precious worn out little girl. I helped her get her dress off and pajamas on. I carried her to her room where she continued to sob.

I laid her on a pillow with a blanket and a snuggly stuffed animal. Sob. I told her she could rest there and gain control. Hugs. Sob. You need to pick up those books and pony stable before you can come out.

10 more minutes – I was in and out the door grilling. My husband and son were outside playing catch. It got quiet. I peeked in at her and saw that she was cleaning up her few items as asked.

She came out with her pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal and laid on the couch until dinner.

I’m not mother-of-the-year by any means. I’ve yelled and overreacted. However, this time it was obvious that compassion and patience were the keys to this sad situation.

No yelling. No time outs. No anger. Just compassion for a worn out little soul.

Aren’t we all feeling like this sometimes? Just too tired to take on anything else? We don’t always end up in a heap on the kitchen floor, but bless you if you have. Sometimes we just need a minute or thirty to compose and make sense of the task at hand.


Hugs — Jen

**She was asleep shortly after 8pm. 🙂