12.30.2013

love in grief

A woman in our church died yesterday. I worked closely with her to build our children's ministry. She was always helpful, self-less, and only thought of others. I'm not even sure if she'd seen her 40th birthday yet. I don't sob often, and I certainly do not cry when other people are around. But I cried instantly when I heard the news. That loud kind that makes people uncomfortable.

The news hit me like truck. See, I lost one of my uncles earlier this month and another uncle last summer. I know I got married last May, but this year sorta blows. I saw more loss than I'd ever seen before in a 365 consecutive day period. The end of the year usually calls us to reflect, but it's been hard to see the good stuff this time.

This morning I sought solace in meditation. In the quiet, I recalled the story of Lazarus. See, even Jesus grieved when His friend Lazarus died. He shed a tear knowing full and well that He'd raise Lazarus up in a matter of moments. It helps me see that there's no shame in mourning. Even when we get all Christian-y about things, talking about Heaven, joy, and seeing someone again, it's perfectly natural to grieve. Someone was here, and now they're not. More often than not, it feels way too soon. That's worth a cry that bellows up from the inner depths of sorrow.

With all of this, I notice something miraculous at the same time. If you're curious who people really are, watch what they do and say when someone dies. I saw and continue to see such an outpouring of grace and support. Gifts, food, comfort, phone calls, cards just to say they were thinking of the bereaved. When I came back to Virginia after my second uncle's funeral, I was met at my church with hugs before I even walked in the door. People care. They love... big time in a big way. When I collect every kind word, I am overwhelmed at the capacity to which we can care for each other on this earth.

So, in the end, when I really look back on 2013 and see all tears and heavy hearts, I also see love. So much love. Somehow it's all good, and I manage to look ahead with wonder and hopeful curiousity of what the new year has in store.

~jennifer.

12.28.2013

unlikely ramblings on the idea of babies, maternal instincts, and theconcept of time

Thinking I'd never get married went hand-in-hand with ditching the motherhood idea. Especially with the resounding echo of medical wisdom on fertility, I figured I'd never even make it to the altar in time to have a baby any way. It helped that I've never had much of a maternal instinct. I've never been the girl who asks to hold a baby. To me, it's like walking into your house and asking to eat a steak off your fine china--awkward, kind of presumptuous, and you just know I'm gonna drop it.

So, I was just as surprised as anyone when my biological clock went off. 

It wasn't sudden. It was like those alarms that start off soft then progressively get louder. It's just an awareness that comes from within. Now, before I start, I know all about social constructs, psychological cues, etc.. Much like when all your friends are married and you're single, you want to get married. But this is different. It's internal. Biological. Primal, almost. It can barely be articulated into words. Your body just suddenly says, "It's time," and your mind, despite all its logic and reasoning, cannot rationalize it.

The circumstances could be better. I'm turning 36 next year. I'm smack in the middle of my doctoral studies. I'm a full-time student, and my husband wants to go into the ministry; ergo, we aren't exactly in consideration for Forbes' 500 list. By the time we'd be truly settled in our careers, baby-making is even less ideal than it is now.

But I hear the call... or rather, the clock. I look at my husband and see every day what a great father he'd make, especially to a pair of sons. I can't help thinking about all the things that I'd teach someone if I had them from scratch. How to love God even when the journey gets rough. How to be good to yourself and how to seek out the good in others. That and a simultaneous appreciation for the Beatles and the Stones... this kid would be set.

~jennifer. 

12.26.2013

opening the journal: page one... again

Well... this is awkward.



Three years passed faster than I expected. As I read over this old blog, I feel like it doesn't belong to me, yet is vaguely familiar. Like a former life. Or I'm hearing about someone who I would really love to be... until I realize I was her. I threw dinner parties, made fabulous food, and was far too witty for my own good.

I think that girl would recognize me, but it would take more than a sweeping glance. In three years, I've lost a lot of my culinary skills and a bit of my palette. I know my new neighborhood played a role near the beginning of 2011. I came to a part of town thriving with great restaurants, and bumping around in my tiny kitchen seemed less tasty than walking down the street to the bistro.

Little did I know, a year later, I'd made the absurd leap into a doctoral program. Yes, I'm getting a PhD, and it's just as hard as you've heard it is. I can't say it's all-consuming, but Lord knows, I simply stopped having the energy to pour over a filet mignon or kneading out pasta dough for 15 minutes. Don't get me wrong. I still cook, but not nearly at the level that I used to. Most of my mental and emotional energy is tied up in grounded theory rather than ground beef.

Some things stayed the same. I still run. In fact, after that half marathon, I ran two more half marathons and a full marathon. Those Brooks shoes that I showed you finally ran their last mile a few months ago and I got the Ghost 6. They stomp up and down my neighborhood streets regularly. Running is my go-to exercise. It helped me lose a ton of weight that I gained in 2011 and 2012. It still helps me clear my mind. It still makes me feel strong, more than anything else ever has.

The biggest change that the 2010 me would never have guessed... I got married. Yeah, me. The girl who once called herself the funny friend in someone else's romantic comedy became the star of her own. Never thought it would happen to me. Seriously. But miracles happen, my friends. One day he wasn't there and the next day he was. What felt like an impossibility happened very organically.

So, getting to the point, why start this up all over again?

I miss it, truthfully. I haven't blogged on any site for a year and a half. Reading over these old posts, I forgot that I, on occasion, have something to say. Whether anybody wants to hear it or not is debatable. I'd like to return to my corner of the world and share from my heart.

I think I feel the call again to look for good, to point it out, and show it off. This was my place to do that. Back then, what was good was food. It's where I thrived. Now, things are different, and I'm trying to find out where I thrive again. Perhaps, it will be here. We'll see.

~jennifer.
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