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.

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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.”

Just For You 

It is just a normal morning. I’m tired, as usual. The kids have been dropped off and I’m driving to work. Normally I talk to the hubs for a few, but today he’s at home – gearing himself up for an appointment that may mean life or death for his dad. 

I have been in a pretty bad spot lately. It sounds so selfish when I say that, because there are so many others in my family who are facing sickness, disappointment, and hard times. I wrestle with sounding selfish. I don’t mean to, it’s just I’m at a breaking point today. 

My mind is like a tangled bunch of yarn. There is no beginning or end, no rhyme or reason, just thought after thought after thought. It is so bad that I have to preoccupy my brain with music or an audiobook just to get it to stop. 

This morning, as I was listening to my designated “before I get to work and put on a happy face and attitude so that no one sees me falling apart” music, my brain was in high mode. A friends blog post was foremost in my thoughts, as she has been very honest about some of her inner battles. I thought about how she stated how loving her spouse was and how understanding he was. It made me sad for my own hubs, who just wants to fix it. There is no fixing, I thought. Why? Why do I battle, still? 

I just need a touch from God

I cry out, I pray, I surround myself with every positive verse and song I can find –

And still. Still I drag myself out of the bed every morning to play a role everyday. I hide my pain well, but it is becoming overwhelming…..

Then, while tears streamed down my face as I am pulling down the exit ramp – sweet peas. 

I love sweet pea flowers. Sweet peas and honey suckle make my day. Okay, all flowers, but these two wild flowers just sweep me back to my childhood. Where times were simple. Because even if my cousins were mean to me, or I didn’t get a toy I wanted, my life was soaked in beautiful things. Hayfields, creeks, wild flowers …….and summer breezes. 

Here was a patch. Out of no where. Literally in the middle of green – just one sprig. 

Just for you.”  I heard Papa say. 

Now, I’m not saying my day is gonna be fabulous, or that all will be well with my soul just because there were wild flowers on the exit ramp. What I am saying, is that, I will smile a little more honestly today. He still loves me, in all my nastiness, in all my undoneness, in all my ugliness – He still adores me. Even if this whole world destroys me today, I will go down thinking of those flowers. . . 

 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.

 

Nostalia

I recently turned 38, I find my memory is not as fabulous as it used to be. It seems that, at times, my brain doesn’t have room for the old stuff, because there is so much new stuff being added.  It’s as if my memory bank has run out of room.

Names escape me, faces are familiar – yet distant, dates get mixed up ………..

Then, there is a moment where it seems as if every wonderful memory comes flooding back. Usually, the flow begins with something familiar. Something nostalgic.

Tonight ……… it was the air.

As I was trying to meet my daily step goal (much harder now that I feel old), my earbuds were in, the music was cranked, and I was determined. Working in a busy medical office, my walking is my relief – my diffuser. I put on my music and suddenly – I am a character in Footloose! (It really does take an insane amount of self control for me to not bust out in a dance!) I am sweating away the craziness of the day, taking in nature, and  not thinking about one. single. serious. issue.

Then …… without warning…….. a breeze. It was warm, and steady. Suddenly, I was transported back to the beach. I closed my eyes and just relished the feeling. It was as if my soul was being washed, the same way I feel when I walk the beach at night. Every care, very concern, every negative feeling sloughed off by air and whirled off into oblivion. I am not going to lie. It was fabulous.

Once I regained myself, the push was on – once again. I came down into “the dip” of our drive and – BAM! Dense, cold air permeated me. I giggled. Seriously. It was that night time mountain air. The air, that as I child, I ran through until my cheeks burned with cold. There was the faint scent of grass and water and soil. Giggles again. Oh! How I ADORE that feeling! My childhood was amazing. I WISH my kiddos knew those scents, and had memories that entangled themselves in them. Hayfields, gardens, the woods, fresh mowed grass sticking to your legs, freezing creek water, Kool Aid, and naps on hand made quilts…… like roots of a tree, these memories snake through my brain and pulse in my heart with that crisp, cool, damp air. 

Then, without prompting, music.

“This is the air I breathe

This is the air I breathe

Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread

Your very word spoken to me
And I, I’m desperate for you

And I, I’m lost without you……”

Truthfully, truthfully, I know what those words mean. God is all we need. Air. Bread. Life.

Yet today, there was new meaning.

He is our warm breeze, our cold air……. washing over us, swirling away our depression, calming our fears, envigorating our soul, wrapping around our hearts, envoking life. He is our aesthetic. He is our dreams. Our memories. Our visions. And HE IS GOOD.

HE is our nostalgia. Our past. 

Even better – He is our eternity.

 

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””

‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬