And so it goes…..

I made up my mind when I started writing again that I would be honest. 

So here I am…..devastated. 

I wanted something. REALLY wanted this. REALLY needed this. All of my hopes, all of my heart, was dedicated to this. one. thing. I prayed for it. I spoke in faith over it. I did everything I was supposed to do. 


I have cried. I have yelled. I have been angry at everyone – myself, the people involved, GOD. I have been miserable today. I just do not understand why. WHY????? This would change my life. It would change my family’s lives. It would be a TRUE answer to prayers. And it didn’t happen. Those who know the situation tell me everything I have told others – “we only see a sliver of the picture – there’s a reason”, “trust there is something better coming”, “God has a plan, trust it”…… 

So I sit, and cry. And write. Then…..This:

When I was little, I would tell everyone I met I wanted to be a truck driver. Just like my daddy. I loved those HUGE trucks, and my daddy was amazing at driving them. As a matter of fact, I still love seeing them at night, all lit up, sitting high above everything…….

But my daddy would tell me “Jennifer, you need to get an education. Be more than I am. Be your own boss….”

It was my dream, and my daddy thought it wasn’t good enough for me…..

He knew it wasn’t good enough for me. 

And if my earthly daddy loves me this much, how much more does my Heavenly Daddy love me? 

Heartbroken I sit. My eyes hurt from crying. My head hurts from thinking. My heart – just hurts. But – BUT – I love my daddy. Even more so, I love my Papa. My momma told me today to be the light. I am only a flicker, He is the flame. 

And as much as it hurts, as the tears still come, as the thoughts still invade – I will stand. I will dream again. I will triumph……..Eventually……

(Side note: I do know it is not grammatically correct to begin a sentence with “and”. Sometimes, life is messy – writing can be as well!)

Roses, Fairies, and Papa

It’s the rose bush that the gardner has pruned, that blooms the fullest…….

Or, so I think. 

This summer I began walking at lunch. It became my therapy time – it was 20-30 minutes to escape and breathe. The day I noticed the rose garden, it was not due to the sheer abundance of roses, but the aroma that was wafting through the air. As I hustled over to the small (yet massive) garden, my spirits lifted. Oh! How I adore roses. The garden had been planted by the adjoining church for the Hope Chest – a center for cancer patients. (Which, on a side note, is an amazing center that does tremendous acts of kindness for those affected by cancer. Look it up!) 

So began my obsession. I believe I took pictures of the roses everyday. Each one was different, reminding me of little things (like fairies) or bigger things (like Papa’s love for me). If it was not raining, I was taking pictures. 

One day I finally met the gardner. It just so happens that he was my pediatrician, as well as my children’s! I spoke to him about how beautiful they were, and how each type of rose was amazing in it’s own way. He and another gardner teased me about the pictures, but this soon paid off. At the end of the season, when the concern of frost was just too great, the gardner  began to prune. My luck (providence) was that I was walking just at that moment! I was given my own beautiful bouquet of ornate roses. . . 

I still walk when it is not too cold or nasty out. Today was gorgeous, so I slipped out at lunch to soak up some sun. As I came down the small hill, I saw the garden – bare – just long prickly sticks jutting from the earth. I could not help but walk to it. I was drawn by a need to remember. To remember the joy the blooms brought to me, the way the scent warmed me, the way my mind and eyes converted tangible beauty into soul satisfying truth……

Then, I saw it. Not just a little green, but an overwhelming amount of strong, green stems coming to life. I pulled out my phone and began to snap pictures. That is when it happened. It was as if He was standing right beside me, as I heard Papa say ” The gardner pruned these lovelies, now look at the new growth. Remind you of anything?” I sighed. I knew what life lesson I was learning. . .

It has been rough these past few weeks. Truthfully, the last few years have been horrid. Recently, however, I have felt the sting of disappointment more so than usual. Everyday I say “I just want something good to happen today”. People and items have been removed mentally and physically from me and from my family. I struggle with the war that rages in my mind. I struggle with insecurity, unrest, health issues, and above all else – people. People who I trusted, people who I cared for, people I thought I needed. Today though, I saw why I have endured some pain. The pruning that is being done is to allow for a regrowth. A …… revitalization of sorts. 

I still cried tonight. I still ache with anticipation for good news, good days, and happy nights. Yet…… When I laid in the bathtub – sobbing as the worship music played – Papa reminded me of those precious rose bushes. He reminded me that He is the Gardner of my life. He has planted me, fed me, watered me, admired me….and pruned me. Each step, each season, each calculated snip is His plan, His desire, and ultimately HIS gain. Because, my Papa? He loves to see me grow and bloom!


It is unnervingly quiet in my home this morning.  The kids spent the night at other homes last night, and my mister is out working hard. Currently, the only sounds are the dogs wrestling, and my sausage patty cooking.

I woke up in the middle of the night, which is not uncommon, however this time I did not have my audio book playing. See, I do not do well with silence. Silence allows my mind to think. About everything. In my life, at this moment, there is an abundance of “everything”. So, it took a while for me to fall back to sleep. In that amount of time, as my thoughts were running amuck, I started to pray. 

Now, let me just say, I am honest with God. He already knows my thoughts, so why hold back? If that offends you, I am not sorry. He’s my poppa. If I can’t be real with him, I do not have a true relationship. So, I told Him I was mad. I am facing a HUGE Goliath in my life right now – HUGE. Why do I ALWAYS have to be a David? Why can I not be a pretty princess – just this once – and have Him sweep in, cut the head off of the giant, while I sit and clap – shouting “That’s my Poppa!”? In my soul I heard “you are a warrior”. NO. No – I do not WANT to be a warrior. I am TIRED. My mind is tired, my heart is tired, my body is tired. I feel like a walk in a state of exhaustion. Then I heard “David did not wear armor when he faced Goliath. Take off the armor of others that you have put on.” You gotta be kidding me! (Okay, so I did get a little irritated here.) I had not put on ANY “armor”. I was just doing my best to follow wisdom from others, I had researched, emailed, and spoken to so many people –  oh………

My heart stilled. I understood. I was convinced that I was depending on God for wisdom on how to slay my Goliath. But in truth, all I needed was one stone, one slingshot, and David’s eyes.  David’s vision. 

David KNEW what Goliath was. He knew how many others had tried to defeat him. He knew that Saul’s armor would get in his way. He did not see Goliath as everyone else did. He saw Goliath the way God did. Defeated.  

I know David’s story so well. I envision him standing there, looking at Goliath, almost smirking. Goliath is spitting out insults, and the crowd is scoffing at David. Now though, after last night, I can see David’s eyes. I can imagine this look of victory (you  know that look that as a kid, you would give your sibling when you knew they were getting ready to get in trouble for hurting you). I think he probably looked Goliath right in the eyes, with this piercing stare. Maybe Goliath already knew he was defeated when the stone came out of the slingshot……..

I ended my prayer last night asking for David’s vision. He set his sights on the Lord, and the Lord’s victory. He was honest with God – even at times praying that his enemy would be murdered! He was imperfect, but he never quit. He was driven. As a warrior, as a musician, as a king – his vision was set. I want that. I need that. 

Fellow travelers, I hope that you will see my heart in this. I covet your prayers – as I am still facing my Goliath. I pray that when your Goliath comes, that you will find your eyes set – like Davids!

Re-Entry Fee

So, on this journey of “finding myself”, I have also been on a cleanse. As in, a body cleanse. Ten days of no sugar, no flour, no alcohol, no fried food –  just lean protein, veggies, fruit, and good ol’ water.  I have been taking some awesome supplements to help me get my insides back to a good place (love my Advocare!), and I am part of an amazing team of people who encourage me everyday.

Part of this body work has included me getting back to exercise. Not that I had really stopped exercising, I just wasn’t really diligent with it. However!!! That had to change. As a full time employee at an 8 – 5 job, with three kids involved in sports and social activities, my exercise time is limited. Unless I want to be the walking during my work day due to getting up at the crack of dawn (which, if you do – I aplaud you), I have to be creative with my exercise time.

As I was trotting (okay power walking) around the high school the other night – in the dark, at 7:30 pm – a sign caught my eye. Now, please know, as a football/cheer mom I have seen this sign numerous times. This time, though, I stopped and took a picture of it. I heard a voice say to me “That only applies to the field, not your life”. Here’s my sign:

Now, dieting is not easy. Exercise is not easy. LIFE is not easy. But we are a blessed people! We can make a decision any day, at any time to make a life change. We can change the way we eat, the way we move, the way we live…….The best part???? We are not penilized.  Sure, we can be hard on ourselves. Having a moment of weakness and eating a bowl (or carton) of ice cream does not have to ruin weeks of healthy living. Skipping a workout, or not meeting our daily step goal, does not negate weeks (or even days) of exercise. Do we have to work a little harder? Sure! But there is no charge to start again.

That voice I heard? It was my Poppa. He was reminding me that He paid the price, the only price ever needed, for me. If I leave, fall away, drift off, or have a moment of weakness, I can “re-enter” a fabulous life. His grace, His mercy, His love is all I need. There is no payment needed! There is no judgement, only His loving arms! This is a hard lesson for me. I would love to tell you that as easily as I write this, that I live it. The truth is, I struggle with it. The thought that my sins are not held against me, that my mistakes are are all forgotten, and that who I am is more than enough…….Yeah, my mind wrestles with that. I am learning to embrace that knowledge, though. Hence, the amplified version…….

Listen, we are all sinners. We are all overindulgers – in something. We are lazy – about something. We fail – at some aspect of life. BUT! There is not a re-entry free. Christ died for our sins – all of them. He loves us as we are, and desires the closest relationship possible with us. We can overcome addiction, laziness, and failure – if we set our eyes on the goal and walk in faith. Walk in faith, holding Poppa Gods hand. (That way we can feel Him jerk us away from that ice cream! Just kidding….not really!)

Journey on, peeps! Walk an amplified life!

Tell Us A Little

About yourself…..This should be an easy prompt. “Tell us a little about yourself”…. we see this prompt on our social media accounts, on job applications, and even hear it in interviews. The world believes that each and every one of us should be able and willing to express a response to this simple prompt. So why is it so hard for me to give a response right now?

Maybe it is not that I can not answer the prompt. Maybe it the fear that what I say will hurt. It will hurt me, and or others. Maybe it is due to the “undoing” of what I once believed I was, what I dreamed of being, what I needed to be. Maybe, just maybe the realization that I am not who or what I said I was, and being honest about it, will cause more pain than hope.

Let me just be honest: If  I “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” to this prompt, there will be some of you who walk away. Or, maybe not. So, since I feel like I have lost my adventurousness, I’m just going to go with it…….

Let me “tell you a little about” myself. In the past four years I have lost everything I once thought I was, including a writer. I have let the influences of others over-ride my inner being. You know, the inner being that helps you dream? The one that tells you that you ARE different, and that is good…..the one that tells you to get up after being knocked down…..the one that sounds a LOT like your mom telling you that you are a warrior – oh wait, maybe just MY mom said that!

There are those of us who have lost ourselves. We have been trudging through  life in a cloud of others expectations and calling it life. We hear words of discouragement, judgement, ridicule, and lies and call it music – because it is all we hear. There are those of us who revel in accolades from our enemies and call it love. We need to be awoken. We need to know what life, love, music, beauty, and joy truly is……

The hard truth is that so many who are trudging in that cloud, once knew the true life, the true love, the true joy. They were once dreamers, singers, artists, lovers……Who will reach out to them – to us?

Let be clear: this is not a “woe is me” blog. I am simply stating a fact – there are so many who live a false life, just hanging on and searching for just ONE GOOD THING to happen. . . So can you be that one thing for someone today? Or tomorrow?

I am going on a journey, starting right now. I am going to find myself again. The road will most likely be hard, and at times almost unbearable, but I have to do this. I HAVE to get out of this nasty, stinch filled cloud. I hope you will join me. If not out of pure inquisitiveness, but maybe to help yourself or someone you love.

“Finding Jenni – The Amplified Version” begins……….

Jenni – The Amplified Version

Came across this today, and what a wonderful reminder it was for me . . .


My full Christian name is Jennifer Sabrina Dayton. Before I got married it was Jennifer Sabrina Merrill. My daddy named me. The world has meanings for my name. Jennifer is a derivative of Guinevere. It means “a white wave, fair, white phantom, fair and beautiful”. Sabrina is said to mean “royal, a princess”. It is said that girls with my name tend to be passionate, compassionate, intuitive, romantic and have magnetic personalities. They are usually humanitarians, broadminded and generous and tend to follow professions where they can serve humanity. Because they are so affectionate and giving, they may be imposed on. They are romantic and easily fall in love, but may be easily hurt and are sometimes quick tempered.

My daddy always said to remember who I was representing anytime I went out. So, in a way, he was saying, “remember your name represents who we raised you to be:…

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Just Me and Him

I love music. Period. I can hear a song and it sets off memories of years long gone. There are songs that mark specific times in my life. I literally feel like I could make a soundtrack for my life as it has been so far.
My daddy was certainly instrumental in my love for music. My momma loved music too, however, it was daddy who played it loud. We had multiple genres at our house. Daddy liked them all. I remember dancing with daddy as we listened to Alabama and Bob Seger. As I got older, he and I would listen to the music on the radio. Some of it he liked. Some of it he didn’t. When I went through my phases of pop, rap, country and rock he listened with me. Shaking his head sometimes and other times just smiling. He introduced me to Bruce Springsteen and Prince. Along with Huey Lewis and Def Leopard. Thinking about it makes me laugh. So many different styles, yet it was something we both loved. Now a days, he is Internet savvy. It never fails that he has a song for me to hear when I come over. Lately, it has been older Christian artists. “Think you could sing this?” he asks. “Listen to this next part. Are you listening? . . . You should hear the story behind this song.”
I am grown, raising children of my own, but each day I ask myself if my daddy would be proud of me. When we listen to music and connect, I know that’s when he most certainly is. He and momma always encouraged us to sing. Though I’m not exclusively his little girl anymore, when we are enjoying a song together it just seems that way. That’s our time. Our moment. Our connection.
Recently I have been in a whirlwind of change. I started school for the first time ever. We moved. I have a new job. We started attending a new church. This last move was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. We new God was in it. We knew we were being called. So that sealed the deal.
After six months of simply being fed and filled, I reached out to be part of the worship team. This was not a new process for me, just a new place and new people. Sunday was the first time I participated on stage with the team. Oh, how God showed up!!! As we were singing “It’s just you and me here now. It’s only you and me here now . . .” I felt the arms of my Poppa wrap around me. It was our time. I was lost but found all at the same time. I was lost to reality but found in the glory if his presence. At that moment he whispered “Thank you for dancing with me.” My heart soared! Just like my earthly daddy yearns for that connection, my heavenly Poppa yearns for a connection. A connection where nothing else matters. Just me and him.
Life never slows down. Ever. Three kids, a husband, school, work, church, family . . . I’m not sure if I will be able to catch a break anytime soon. But, I know this to be certain: no matter how busy my life is, just like my daddy waits to share a song with me, my Poppa has time to dance with me. And he is waiting, smiling, ready to sweep me (and you!) off our feet!!

You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my Lord and my God. (Psalms 30:11, 12 CEV)