On the First Day of _____ Grade

As the water flows, bumping over rocks and logs, careening around curves, and gliding through unencumbered paths, my heart sighs.

I long to be enveloped by it…..

My soul longs to feel it; to let it embrace my skin, the coolness permeate my nerves, it’s constant movement reminding me of its presence…….

As early as I can remember, I have been drawn to water. The saying goes that I “was born in March, and was in the water by June”. Even now, at 39, when I drive by the river, I ache to be in the water. I can feel in my soul the calming effect it has on me …..

Just watching the cascade entrances me…..

I can remember the way the water felt as our boat cut through the glassiness of the lake when I was a child. My young self, bathing suit on, life jacket zipped, with my hand held over the side of our boat….. Even though at times it stung, the color was beautiful and I could not focus my attention anywhere else. I was lost in those emerald green waters….

Today, as I drove around, completing my weekend chores, my window was down and the late summer air flowed through my car. I stretched my arm out of the window, and let the wind take my mind back to my childhood.

Isn’t it coincidental that the flowing air reels me back the same way the water does?

Oh, but it is not. My childhood was infused with creeks, lakes, and oceans. . . The scent of warm hay, summer nights, and fall evenings. . . Warm air blowing through long brown hair, cooler air coming through the windows of my daddy’s truck during after school errands, and freezing air making my cheeks red as we sled down the old logging road. . .

As my fingers play in the flowing air, I reach for those memories.

I smile, and sigh. Oh, to be young again!To tell my little self to hold onto every moment like it was my last….. Now, as a mom of three marvelous kids, I tell older self this very advice.

So, tomorrow, as I – and many other fabulous mom and dads – send their kids off to their first day of school (be it kindergarten or their senior year), listen to this advice :

Take just a moment. Hug them, smell their hair, cup their face in your hands, and tell them “Be good, be kind, be smart”.

Because these are the days that we get to pour into their hearts and souls. We get to encourage them, direct them, and fill their memory banks with amazing memories. . .

Teach them to hold onto the wind, embrace the water, and climb every mountain…….

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Moments….

This morning I am taking just a little time for myself…..before the liveliness of life begins….

We are in the beginning stages of football season. This is the time when my family is engrossed in plays, strategies, and trying to find matching socks. (We don’t use socks in the summer, thank you very much!) Although we have had spring and summer work outs, camps, and many practices, it is now game time. The ante has been upped, and we are all in! We will have late night dinners from fast food restaurants, lunches where nothing but football is discussed, and we will eat breakfast in the car. Every analogy I use will be football related. My wardrobe is strictly red, black, and gray. I will dress in layers to accommodate the late summer/early fall weather. There will be at least two bags packed in my car at all times, with clothes, equipment, and just in case items…..

My house will not be decorated in fall florals. I will not be seen weeding my poor flower garden, or making a burn pile. As a matter of fact, my grass might get pretty darn high…

maybe I could use that as a decoration!

Oooohhhh! Scary abandoned house…..

In all seriousness, every bit of this is truth. The hubs and I work full time jobs. We are blessed that he has a schedule that allows him to get everyone to practice, and that my schedule allows me to get everyone to the games! We are busy…..we will forget to call you back, we will forget we have plans with you, and we will inundate your social media feeds with our kiddos.

As I relax and am writing this, I am laughing at myself. We are not alone. Many parents are in the boat with us! They understand the struggle, the mentality, and the joys that come with this marvelous season …..

Then there are those who don’t.

I have been asked, numerous times, why we do this. So here is the “Jenni, the extended version” answer:

When Zeb was sick with meningitis, we didn’t know if he’d ever play again. The joy that he has now, just by putting on that jersey, melts my heart. As he stands on the sidelines, or runs out for a play, he is being watched by tiny future football players….. They wave at him, give him thumbs ups, and ask for pictures with him at the end of the game. He doesn’t give up. When we spoke about it last night he said “If I give up, what am I teaching the boys?” At 17, he has wisdom some men can’t comprehend. I’m not saying football, alone, is what taught him that. However, growing up playing every year, facing challenges, over coming obstacles, and being part of a brotherhood, has taught him to know he is more than the stats on a piece of paper. . .

Judah? At the age of 5 his helmet was bigger than he was. He was full of tenacity, and longed to be like his big brother. Now? At the age of 11, he is taller than me and is still full of that same tenacity. He gains wisdom from his brother, who tells him on a daily basis “I want you to be better than me.” The bonding between brothers brings me to tears, and as Zeb helps coach Judah’s team, they become a force to be reckoned with. Conversations regarding attitude, gratitude, and diligence fill our home. They are brothers, they are friends, they are a team. . .

So, I – we – do this for the moments. The moments of anger and tears where we – as parents – teach our boys how to process what they feel. The moments of joy and celebration where we savor every smile, every hug, every congratulatory word. Moments that are here and gone, just like our breath.

Judge me if you’d like…..frown when I show up late or seem a little frazzled…..roll your eyes as I, once again, show you highlights of my weekend….

I don’t care. . .

Because, you see, this mommas heart walks out onto the field every Friday and Saturday night. I’m a football mom, loud and proud! This season will be over just as quickly as it started, and I’ll never get back those moments. As my senior takes the field every Friday night, I will breathe in the air, listen to the crowd, and yell until my voice goes out. Then, I’ll wake up on Saturday, and as my baby takes the field…..I’ll do it again…….

This is Me – Jenni D.

The sky was on fire tonight and the warm breeze reminded me of the beach. There were clouds that were dark yet strikingly gorgeous as the setting sun cast a glow around them. There was a woman in the grocery store that was wearing a perfume that a former coworker wore. Why does that throw me into a swarm?

Why I am so keenly aware of every scent, every color, every sound, every feeling that I come in contact with? My mind whirls in a constant state of cognizance. It is never a simple task, my daily living. Each sense registers a deposit on my memory bank. It is hypervigilance in overdrive. There is never a still, quiet, unaromatic moment. At times, I feel like a prisoner at a county fair, unable to escape the persistent overbearing environment.

Even in loneliness I swim the waters of overdrive. My mind pushes itself unwillingly into an ocean of words, thoughts, what if’s, what should have, what may be…..Conversations I should have, but haven’t – things I need to do, should do, want to do – why am I like this? – why can’t I be normal? – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?

It never ends.

When peace surrounds my being, my soul rests – but not my thoughts. They tramp through the serenity like soldiers on a mission. The spears of fear and insecurity slice through the blank pristine space of peace, leaving open wounds that are too numerous for me to cover quickly. Words, words, words ….. memories, sights, sounds, odors……why didn’t I, who didn’t I, what didn’t I …… Tranquillity wanes and the tornado picks me up – once again.

Explain what you are feeling, they say. What is on your mind, they ask. How can we help you, they pry.

You can’t. I can’t. God will ….. eventually.

Or maybe he won’t.

“He made me this way!”, I scream to myself; convincing the dead to live takes power. Power my loud voice – my over dramatic voice – my commanding voice – has not the depths of. “He knit me together! My name is written on His palm! I am an heir to the throne!” Every scripture, every perfect Christian proclamation, every thing my momma and daddy ever spoke over me – can’t muscle through the swamp of timidity.

I cry out “God! Where are you?” Once again, I’m keenly aware of the silence and the way it sounds……

It’s not a voice I hear, it’s not a aroma, it’s not a sweetness on my tongue that pulls me out – or back in ….. it is simply a feeling. Warmth that is intrinsic to my soul. It starts in my feet, and soon my face is flushed. I know you, Holy Spirit. I know you.

I once said the Holy Spirit dances over me, around me, with me. Now, it simply sustains me. It is my constant. Unwavering, as I spin in my own self inflicted – in my own matrix. The Holy Spirit simply is.

There is no peace in my mind. There is no complete and total relaxation. Which means, there will not be stagnancy.

Yes, I talk a lot. Yes, I have a story about anything and everything you could throw at me. Yes, I see shadows, and shapes in the clouds, and the colors of the woods, and the insane way that river water makes even the ugliest pebbles beautiful…….. Yes. That is simply who I am. One day, I will be confident enough to say “love me or leave me. I am who I am because He is the great I AM”, and I will stand unwavering in that proclamation. Until then, this is me. Jenni D.

After the Fog

We walk a path every day, for life is nothing but a journey.

I am forever seeing life lessons in nature. I truly believe this is God given, so that I can constantly be aware of His presence. So it is only fitting that He would speak to me about where I had been and where I am at now on my drive home.

It was the spider webs that caught my attention. There were hundreds of them, hanging like old lace between the power lines. Shuddering was inevitable….I despise spiders. Some of them I think are beautiful to look at

BUT

the thought of something being able to physically be on me without me knowing it gives me the heebie-geebies!

Those webs had been there all night. I had driven home and never seen them. It took a heavy fog and the warming sun to reveal them. It was then He spoke.

My life walk has been a rough one as of late. Being true to my word, I will be honest in this blog. Being called out of the boat to walk on water was amazing. . . not being able to see God at times, not so much. If I am completely honest, I will admit that I do not believe I took my eyes off of Him.

There was a fog that set in on my life that made clarity impossible.

This fog was thick, laden with doubt and regret. It carried the screaming voices of those who were still in the boat – deafening them to whispers that fell heavy on my soul. The clothing of my life became drenched in the constant droplets of defeat. Every part of me felt heavy; each step seemed nothing more than a shuffle.

Shuffling is still moving forward, I would tell my heart.

Then, the sun began to burn away the fog. I could feel it dissipating. I looked up (not that I sank, but my eyes were not focused upward!) and there was a peace that flooded the very core of my being. There is no other way to explain the contentment I felt than to help you imagine warm clothes fresh out of the dryer. One warm piece of clothing can warm your whole body. That was exactly what I felt.

Now that the sun is shining in, I am walking hand in hand with my Papa. He directs my thoughts to small things that are appearing in my life that needed – and still need – to be addressed. I couldn’t see them before. They were hidden by night, invisible in the sunlight, but hanging all in the lines of my mind and heart.

Just like the webs hanging on the power lines…..

It is truth that words and actions of people – ourselves included – can sneak into our core. We may never notice the spinning that has happened. Maybe we never realized there was something crawling in (or on) our lines of life.

Sometimes, it takes a fog to settle and lift before we can see the sticky, intricate webs that catch hold of little things. Those little things that should have flown right through our thoughts, our dreams, our hopes…..they get stuck and reverberate in our soul, causing tremors of fear and doubt.

When the fog lifts, and we allow the sun to shine, it becomes clear…….It is time to clean.

I saw the fog as the most horrible part of my shuffle, but it was necessary so that my being can soar.

If you are walking (or shuffling!) through a fog that seems endless and drenching, I hope that this gives you hope. That truly, He will use all things for His glory – even the fog. Don’t forget to look up, and remember that when it finally lifts,

He will be there for the cleanup. **Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

The Greatest Adventure of All

Yesterday was rough y’all. I ain’t even gonna lie. (Yes, you should have read that with a bit of a country drawl or spin or whatever.)

But today? I rest.

Just after I write this……..

Okay, I quit my job. Like, just quit. No notice, no plan, no outlook – I just quit. Not many people agree with my decision. Let me just let you in on a secret – no one else lives my life. So, after some careful prayer, and some treacherous times mentally, it was best for myself and my family for me to jump ship – literally.

So, I am fully trusting God in all of this. Not that I don’t on a normal basis, it’s just this is HUGE. I have told many friends that I have for the first time in my life truly stepped out the boat, onto the ocean, in the middle of the storm, and am fully trusting in the Lord. Because I have no other choice.

Which leads me to yesterday……..

I am taking every opportunity given to me during this transition in my life. I am praying, seeking and believing that I will begin to fulfill Gods will and calling. That being said – I have begun training for the police officer training test.  Sit ups, push ups, lifting, jumping, running…… from a desk job to that. Yep. Right after I quit, I was almost bedridden with a back injury. It knocked a week and a half of conditioning off of my schedule. But I refused to give up. Yesterday, my back was hurting again, I didn’t hit my mileage, and I was physically tired……

And I was getting ready for a front desk interview……..

Like I said, I’m not going to miss an opportunity.

I’m at my parents house getting ready, when my amazing grandmother comes in the room. She is asking me questions and we are talking I am crying, ranting, sobbing about just wanting to be a part of my kids lives again and quit missing their talent shows, and field trips, and holidays, and wanting them to just be proud of me…….

She speaks and my heart is broken for the second time in two days by words……

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will ALWAYS  break my HEART…..

Not that she meant to – she would never mean to …. She will be so upset knowing it hurt me so. Sometimes hurt brings healing……

She said “Oh, Jenn….I wanted so much more for you. I wanted so much better for you. You are so smart! You could have so much more!”       I will tell the truth, I died for a moment. My soul died. I have never felt like I made anyone proud. Hearing those words, sealed my thoughts. It was true. And the funny thing is? Did any of the people who said things like that not think that I wanted better for myself as well?

Truth of the matter is, I do have better. I have the best.

I wanted to get married, have babies, and be a mommy. I wanted to to encourage each one of my babies to reach for the stars, travel, dream the greatest dreams. I wanted to teach them about Jesus and about singing. I wanted to show them how to suck honey suckles and build dams in a creek. I wanted to experience each season with them and help them see the miracle of each one. I wanted to show them how hard work accomplishes more than any kind of hand out man can give you. I may not own a home, have fancy clothes or shoes, I don’t have matching china, and you are lucky if you can find a pair of matching socks in my house……..but these kids right here? Man…….they are worth it all.

So, I will continue to pray. I believe God is revealing a path for me. It may not be the police force. It may not be a desk job. It may be serving . And if I have to waitress and serve the people who tore me down and made me hate myself in order for me to be able to see my daughter sing on stage or go to math competition with my youngest son or travel to an out of state football game with my oldest son – then so be it. I would rather serve with a healed heart, than miss out on the greatest adventure of my life —–

Photo Credits to mozingophotography.com (Amazing people, amazing photographers!)

Storm Surge

As I sit on my air matress, snuggled in my warm blanket, the rain steadily falls on my tent. This rain is the end of the big storm that is currently blowing through out campsite. It began as a dark, creeping cloud – with the wind pushing it towards us and the distant thunder warning of its inevitable arrival. . . 

Most people would say this rain ruined the trip, or ruined the day, or just put a damper on things. . . Me? I am thankful for it. Sure, we had to come in off of the water. We scrambled as the wind tore through our sites and our tents and tarps were at its mercy. We laughed as we all pulled together to make sure everyone was safe and dry. Then …….. we moved on. Some went to their tents, some hung out with the food, others played in the rain….. but we were all safe. 

So here I am, listening – with my soul …..

Water is my favorite. It calms me – in an unexplainable way. Even as a child, I was fascinated by it. I was mesmerized by the way it curved up around our boat as we cruised through it. I studied the way it careened around rocks while we played in the creek. I watched many storms come through as we sat on our porch – each rain drop bringing life to so many things. . . 

Water transforms and each transformation is a revelation. 

As I get older, and listen with my soul, I see – and hear – the lessons of water. Today’s lesson?

The storm brings rain, and rain brings life. 

I have been in a life storm, as of late. I was hurried in from my relaxed state into a mind set of preparation by the thunderous voice of negativity and the terrifying winds of self doubt. As I reached for strong lines to tie down my protective coverings, I was practically blown away as the storm progressed closer in to my inner being. I yelled for help, which fell as whispers, due to the overwhelming noise of failure swirling around. When I took a moment to evaluate my surroundings, the desire to leave camp and run was overpowering. 


Then, it came……clarity. 

I called for help again, this time the wind carried it. Even as a whisper, it fell on loving ears. Soon I was surrounded by those who were willing to stand the storm with me. We stood, against the raging negativity and the pouring sadness. Together, we waited it out. When I was weak, they were strong. 

Now, as this present day weather storm is tapering off, I feel this nasty “life storm” tapering off as well. I am surrounded in both storms by family and friends who have fought the winds and stinging rain with me – and loved me through it all. 

Now, comes the life. 

This rain that fell today will carry seeds, will water seedlings, will nourish growning crops, and will replenish dry wells. 

And my storm water? My rain?

It will do the very same – 


John 4:‭l3-14

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 A Pretty Coffin

I have seen many of my loved ones “laid to rest”. Some were old, some were young.

Today the pastor spoke of death, and how it is part of life. It is the only part of life we all will experience, yet few of us have actually witnessed the transition.

I have not been so lucky. I have been present, bedside, of two very dear persons as they have passed. I have also held the lifeless body of an infant. These are all moments that stick in my mind like honey in a honeycomb.

As an aesthetic person sights, smells, and sounds permeate my memory bank. I am a creature drawn to beauty, in every aspect that it may inhabit. You may be thinking I am crazy right now…….how can death be beautiful?

I stood, crying, as my 40 year old uncle died in the hospital of organ failure. I have used his story often as I speak of sin and addiction. An alcoholic druggie, his life was not easy. Yet, we loved him. We prayed for him numerous times as he stared death in the face. He was actually clean when he passed. Yet, the damage he had induced on his organs was irrevocable…….My grandmother stood, as the matriarch of our family, believing Gods will would be done. As he took his last breath, I looked out of the window of the hospital room. It was a warm day, with no winds. Yet at that moment, the wind blew – trees bowed – and I knew. I knew that the peace that passes all understanding was there, and my uncle – with all his fears and all his failures – was standing in the presence of the most forgiving God…..

Years later, I was standing with my husband in a Hospice center, loving on our Mamaw. I say OUR because what is mine is his and what is his is mine. She loved me like I was her own. I adored her. I quote her often when I am making gravy …… “It is easier to add than to take away…..add the flour slowly, mixing constantly, don’t give up on it. You will know when it’s ready.” It was her time though. She was ready……had been for years. She was saved, loved her family, and had lived a long life. As she passed, and we cried, once again there was a wind. . . This time though, there were singing birds. She loved nature – it was a fitting welcoming………

My saddest death experience, however, was the infant I held in my arms. As a mom of three, I still struggle with this. My best friend since second grade – she was practically my sister. . . A late term death by cord strangulation……I prayed, my family prayed – even my addict uncles, for a miracle. No one should ever have to go through this kind of loss. Yet, there we sat in the waiting room. There were many families there as well, awaiting the arrival of a new family member. We sat, praying it was a mistake. Praying that as soon as she was examined, all would be well, the baby would be fine. One by one, we were called back. The baby had been delivered, and we had the opportunity to visit with the new parents…….The new parents who would, days later, bury the tiny baby that I would soon be holding. He was perfect. He had his daddy’s nose and his momma’s lips. But the longer we had him with us, the more he decomposed. I burned the shirt that I had worn that night. It is a smell I will never forget…….

At the funeral of this tiny babe, a friend broke down and asked the mourning mother how she could be so calm, so at peace. Her answer is one I will never forget….

[This child} is the greatest gift I could ever give to Christ. In his short lifespan, he caused so many to fall to their knees and cry out to God. How awesome is that? For a child who never breathed air to cause that? He served a purpose, and now he is with God, and I am okay with that.”

SHOULDN’T ALL OF OUR LIVES SHOUT THAT?

Our LIVES should be beautiful coffins. Only containing a shell that brought joy, beauty, and Jesus to the world. Just like sea shellls, what we leave behind should make people smile, and search for more ……. more joy, more peace, more GOD………..

So today as you celebrate Easter………..

REMEBER ——

LIVE YOUR LIFE AS IF IT IS THE LAST THING THOSE WHO ENCOUTER YOU WILL SEE YOU IN.


The empty tomb

24 Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. 5 The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Human One[a] must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.