Tag Archives: serenity now


You know those days where your dogs dig up the backyard, but its so early in the morning that its too dark for you to see they did and when you let them inside all your white carpet gets covered in mud?  Or when you arrive home after a Target trip and realize they charged you twice for something, so you get in the car to head back to have it fixed only to back over the scooters your kids left in the driveway (while pedestrians happen to be crossing your sidewalk)?  Or when you’re upstairs with five children and you come downstairs to find your dog has burst through the screen door and bitten someone? Or when your job is draining you more than it once did? Or when your toddler hangs on your legs and cries while you make dinner?  Or when your friends leave you out?  Or when you clean up the kitchen for the thousandth time in one hour?  Or when you try all day to be a better helpmate to your spouse but fail miserably with one nasty remark?  Or when you forget all FIVE pre-story steps before telling the children’s story at BSF?  Or when someone runs a red light and hits your car with children in it (disturbing nap time besides)?  Or when that surprise bill comes in just as you thought you were all caught up? Or when your child decides to cut up their bedsheets and bedskirt with scissors and write all over things in his room with permanent marker?

I say all this (half) jokingly- I know others have much harder trials to walk through than me.  But I do believe life is hard for everyone is some way.  When everything just seems so overwhelming and you sit and stare at the wall trying to hold back tears (like I am currently).

My heart feels dark and gloomy.

But I KNOW God is faithful, and is the same and unchanging- regardless if I’m having a bad day or a good day.

I am studying Genesis this year, and even in just a couple months I have learned so much.  In Genesis 1 (creation of the world) the Hebrew word for God is Elohim- it describes God’s power and authority.  But in chapter 2 (creation of man) the Hebrew word used is Yahweh Elohim- it describes God as a person and His personal revelation of Himself to humanity.   I LOVE this.  Though I’m in such a gloomy season in my  heart and emotions right now, my faith is stronger than ever, and I yearn to know Him more deeply each day.  “Satisfaction and joy must be found in our Creator and His purpose for our lives.” (P.S…..All of this was from Bible Study Fellowship, study of Genesis)

So, I trust Yahweh Elohim, Lord God.  I know that not every day is going to be ideal. But I know the Lord never leaves me to do it on my own.



The Great Scott Hodge says: “Change of Pace + Change of Place= Change of Perspective.”

I have to agree.

Recently I was gifted a [rare] day of relaxation-at the spa-with no children. :)  I was so excited for the time of pampering, but if I’m going to be honest, most of all a day free from whining, tattle telling, and baby butt wiping.  I arrived at the spa the minute it opened and stayed to closing.  I brought my journal and Bible and was eager to soak up some time alone and time with God.  I climbed into the pool and stared up at the sky and something unfamiliar happened- it was still and quiet. It felt odd!

This is what I journaled:   “I’m sitting here in the pool- there is no splashing, no whining- no one needing my help… This is how it will be 20 years from now…to forever.   Don’t wish these hard stages away.  They are temporary.”  I sat and pondered that for a while.  So often (very often) I rush through the day just to check things off my list.  How often do I talk with my children, not just talk at them?  How often do I think “if only they were a few years older, then ____ would be so much easier”….(hello grocery shopping and fine dining!)

It was convicting.  I was so thankful for my time away to be rejuvenated, but God helped me appreciate the chaotic little voices in my normal day to day life much more.  This stage of life is hard, and I don’t want to pretend that it is not, but I AM going to be more intentional about being present in the chaos- not five steps ahead in the future.

I kept looking at the sky at the clouds and watched them move (I HAD TIME TO WATCH THE CLOUDS MOVE- perhaps I was overly zealous with my newly found “me” time) :) and I pondered them.  And I noticed, clouds don’t just collide, they absorb each other.  So I thought about that more…How do I let God absorb me or where do I collide with Him?  How do I let Michael absorb me? My kids?  My ministry?  I wrote: “Yes, I need to replenish myself with time alone with God, food and sleep.  But other than that, I need to be willing to sacrifice myself wherever there is a selfish desire- I need to give myself away. ”

I still am going to seek time away from Michael and my children, still going to watch Netflix at night and still share with my girlfriends how the mundane wife/mother duties make me want to punch someone at times.  But, this cherished time by myself gave me new perspective.  This stage is hard, but every stage is hard and every season is a new opportunity for growth and to know my God in a deeper way. I’m going to try and pay attention to the small moments each day, and be less focused on the bullet points that get me to the next milestone.

Change of Pace + Change of Place= Change of Perspective.

Swollen Meninges

Just as the boys and I were boarding the plane on December 26th I thought, “Wow, that was relatively painless!  What will I ever blog about if I don’t have a crazy airport story to tell?”

Apparently, God took me seriously and gave me an even bigger story to tell.

I delivered my three cherubs to my parents and Aunt Elli in San Antonio before I jetted to Austin.  I had the honor of staying with Christina and Tyler for the week as Super Aunt.  I got to help take care of my sweet 2 week old nephew Cayden, and help Chritina and Tyler in any way I could.  It was wonderful.  I got to cuddle all day with the sweet little jellyBin, but not have to do any nighttime feedings. :)  It was bliss!  I had so much fun being on the other side of the newborn care= not the weepy new mom. :)  Christina was a pro right from the beginning though- she far surpassed me in my first days as a mom.  She is easygoing and worry free, none of which describe me.

Towards the end of my stay I woke up in the middle of the night with a throbbing headache. Like a bowling ball was sitting on top of my head.  All day I tried different kinds of medicine, but nothing would even touch it.  I thought maybe I was having a migraine and I just needed to sleep it off.  But when the pain continued into the next day, I was getting nervous.  Christina and I drove back to San Antonio on New Years Eve.  When we arrived at my parents’ house I still didn’t feel right. Then the vomiting started.  I was in so much pain and very fearful.  My mom convinced me I needed to go to the hospital (I was still worried they would just laugh at me because it was just a migraine).  The car ride was terrible and I could barely make it in the front doors.

When they got me in the stretcher and pumped Morphine and Zofran through my IV it was bliss.  Finally some relief!  The Doctor said she wanted to do a CT scan of my brain to check for tumors or an aneurysm.  Not sure if it was the drugs or my emotional heart, but I was convinced I was on my death bed.  I started pouring out tearful soliloquies to my mom about life lessons I’ve learned.  When I got to the part about how I wanted her to make sure my boys always remember me and how much I love them, she took my head in her hands and said something to the effect of , “Jen, you are not dying.  God is not finished with you yet-your boys need you still and the Lord knows that.  But I promise you, whatever happens, I will make sure everyday that your boys know how much you love them.”

After the CT scan the Doctor came in and said my sinus cavities were inflamed.  I told my mom to please not tell that to Michael yet- I didn’t want him to get the expensive ER bill because I had a sinus infection!  I felt so dumb that I went to the emergency room for a sinus infection.  The Doctor said she was going to do a spinal tap because of my neck pain, but it was probably nothing because of the sinus infection.  I remember her exact words, “I guess I’ll go ahead and do the spinal tap to be on the safe side, but I wouldn’t get too worried.”

After the spinal tap, (which, ladies, if you have had an epidural- you can do a spinal tap relatively painlessly) my mom and I talked about what we were going to do when we got home.  It was nearly 3 am, and we knew Simon would be up in two hours, so we discussed who would get up with him, etc.  We had to wait an hour for the results, but thought they’d be clear and we would be heading home.  My tears were gone, I was embarrassed I just had a boring sinus infection that ruined New Years Eve.

At 4 am the Doctor walked in and said, “Well I’m so glad I did the spinal tap because you tested positive for meningitis.”

Well, back to my death bed.  Hysterical tears ensued. I had only heard of (bacterial) meningitis- the one you can get in college dorms that you die from. “I was just with my two week old nephew all week, and I have 3 young boys- what do we do to keep them safe?  Do they need to come in?  Are they going to survive?”  I really was not worried about me- I had made my peace with death a few hours earlier.  I was only concerned about Cayden, Trevor, Elliott, and Simon.

Immediately they put a mask on me and whisked me on my stretcher to the third floor.  It felt very Grey’s Anatomy.  Everyone that came into my room had to wear a mask, gown and gloves.  Definitely added to the frightfulness of this deadly disease I thought I was dying from.

A new Doctor, my favorite the whole stay, came in and asked me if I had questions.  My tears increased and I said all I wanted to know was if my two week old nephew was going to be okay.  She bent down near my face and looked me in my eyes.  I will not forget her compassion.  She explained to me that there are two kinds of meningitis- viral and bacterial.  She said my cultures were presenting as viral.  She told me 98% of my cells were the viral kind, with only 2% of the dangerous bacterial kind.  She said viral meningitis was not contagious, so all 4 boys would be fine.  I felt a flood of relief when I heard those words.  She even said worse case scenario, if my cultures started to say bacterial, that everyone I came in contact with would get antibiotics and would be fine. It was now 4 am and I was feeling a little less on my death bed, but more uncomfortable.  With some fresh morphine and zofran I was able to rest.

That was 25 days ago.  I didn’t even know what meninges were before this excitement.  Now I feel well educated on all things brain and spine.  Viral Meningitis can last 7-10 days for some, 3-4 months for others.  Two of my friends that have had told me it took months to feel like themselves again.  Sometimes I say, Lord- meningitis, seriously?!  Seriously.

I’m not good at resting.  I’m not good at letting other people care for me.  I’m not good at not being in control.  But I know God has purpose in everything.  I must be that stubborn that I had to get meningitis to learn to REST.

Lamentations 2:5

My Lord has become like an enemy.
He devoured Israel;
he devoured all her palaces; he made ruins of her city walls.
In Daughter Judah
he multiplied mourning
along with more mourning!

“Notice that God started to be like Israel’s enemy. The writer knows that, in fact, God wants the best for his people. He does not say, “My Lord has become an enemy,” but “My Lord has become like an enemy.” Thus, Lamentations 2:5 models, on the one hand, the kind of stunning bluntness that we have already seen in this biblical book. Yet, on the other hand, this verse gives evidence of faith, embattled faith, struggling faith, but faith that God is not really the enemy. Most Christians will go through seasons of life when God feels like anything but a friend. Perhaps we’ll wonder if God has simply turned his back on us. Maybe we’ll suffer so much that we’ll begin to feel as if God were our enemy. Lamentations urges us not to hide these feelings or pretend that they don’t exist. At the same time, this book encourages us to hang onto the truth about God, to trust that he is who he has revealed himself to be, even if we can’t make sense of his actions or inactions.”  -Mark Roberts

I refuse to give up.  I refuse to let these circumstances swallow me up.  My hope is in the Lord, and I trust Him even in my sickness. I am thankful for the rest (that I usually fight), and all the people that have surrounded us with prayer, meals, groceries, cards, childcare, and encouragement. I am learning what it is to be part of the body of Christ, and to truly carry one another’s heavy load in life. So here I am lying in my bed, which I’m pretty certain is not my death bed, trying to soak in all these lessons.  I get it Lord, thank you for the meningitis, but I’m ready for you to take it away now. :)

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalm 100:1-5


As the boys continue to talk more and more and have conversations with each other, Michael and I find ourselves laughing hysterically several times a day.  I love hearing children talk- listening to them try to put together correct phrasing and explain what they are thinking.  They’re so innocent and not yet hardened by life.  I have so much to learn from them…

Here are some of my favorites as of late:


(Taking a rock out of his coat pocket and pausing to look at it and squeeze it)

“What’s that?”

“It’s a rock I picked up from the ground where Dr. Chuck was buried.”

He keeps it with him in his pocket.



(Praying at lunch)  “God.  Thank you for drinks, and people, and Simon.  Amen.”

(Riding in the car looking out the window) “Grandma Julie and Grandpa Bob are coming next time.  All the Texas guys are coming next time.”

(Staring at me in the rearview mirror)  “Mommy, you’re beautiful when you take me to the park.”

So sweet.

And then this happens…

Trevor:  “Mommy, do you have another baby?  You’re fat.”

Elliott:  “Yeah, you’re fat!”  (While they both poke my belly…)

And then the moments you can’t help but laugh because they make no sense at all…

Elliott:  “Daddy, when you drive it feels like there is a bug on me.”

Hahaha, love these boys.  They make my heart full. :)


Don’t mess with Texas

As a pretty last minute surprise, we decided to fly down to Texas for my dad’s 51st birthday.  We were so thankful for the change of scenery- it was a refreshing visit and we loved spending the time with family: Birkeneders (+ Hobbs) and Musfeldts (+ Walkers ) :)

We also reconnected with a couple of our friends, Jessica and Shelby.  Shelby and one of my boys (we are thinking Trevor after this trip) have an arranged marriage.

One little glitch to the trip was that all 9 days somebody had the stomach flu.  It was lovely of course. :)

And drumroll please….flying was a breeze!  It was the perfect confidence boost for me to take on airports and planes yet again!!

Check out Trevor "wishing" really hard before he throws his coin in this fountain :)

This was on one of the lovely vomit days

The Death of me

Apparently, I do not do well flying by myself with the boys.  Remember this post?


When people are along for the ride with me I never have any problems.  But there is a curse that follows me and plagues me when I am alone with 2 preschoolers in tow.

Flying out of Bozeman, Montana is a treat.  It is hard to get a direct flight, and trying to do it after a holiday is even more fun.  We had to fly from Bozeman to Salt Lake City, from Salt Lake City to Denver, then Denver to Chicago.  Originally this was planned out very well.  All of us were flying to Salt Lake City, then Christina and Tyler were going to accompany the boys and I to Denver to Chicago while Elli and my parents flew on to San Antonio.

Well.  That was all planned very nicely, but of course didn’t happen that way.  Once in Salt Lake City, our flight to Denver was delayed for 2 hours.  We boarded the plane and sat ON it for over an hour due to computer malfunction and had to wait for the computer to be replaced.  We arrived in Denver after the last flight had taken off for the night- our flight to Chicago which we missed by 40 minutes.

Nobody could find our luggage because the nice lady in Bozeman didn’t tag our luggage appropriately.  They couldn’t re-book our flights to Chicago until 2 days later because all flights were full.  Christina and Tyler would therefore miss their flight from Chicago to San Antonio, so they decided to re-route and had to fly to LAX in the morning, then on to San Antonio.  So, to recap, here I am, stuck in Denver, Colorado, all by myself with a 2 year old and 4 year old by my side.

At about 1 am, they told me they weren’t sure if I could get on a flight the following night because it was overbooked so to come to the airport the next day to try to get on standby.  We shuttled to a hotel 30 minutes away.  Once in our room I remember sitting on the bed just staring at the wall with a pit in my stomach.  I really wished Michael was with me!  I prayed for God to give me strength because I knew I was close to falling apart.

The next morning we just stayed in the room until check out time.  Remember, we didn’t have any luggage, I was out of diapers, and had no booked flight to get home.  At 1 p.m. we shuttled back to the airport.  The flight I was on standby for wasn’t until 8:30 p.m., so yes, at least 7 hours to kill at the Denver airport, which honestly I would be fine with if I was a single female traveling by myself for leisure.  Not with two energetic little boys to entertain…

I don’t remember much of that day.  There are no pictures.  There are no stories I wish to re-live as comedy on my blog. :)  I remember riding the moving walkway from Gate 2 to Gate 100 about 300 times.  I remember buying five diapers for $25 at the gift shop.  I remember standing in line after line pleading for someone to help us get home.  At about 5 p.m. I was at the end of me…

Then Jesus smiled on me.  I knew Chuck and Linda were arriving soon to connect to their flight to San Antonio.  I found their Gate number on the arrival screen and just as I was walking up to it, I saw them getting off the plane and the tears came a flooding.  The boys ran into Nana Nu’s arms and I hugged Dr. Chuck and said, “Help.”

Thanks to their little black card :), the boys and I got to hang out in the “fancy secret airport place” (I’m sure the other guests were thrilled I brought the boys in there!), and we got SEATS on a flight home to Chicago for that night.  No more stand by!  The boys ran around and played games with Linda (she even taught Trevor addition and subtraction! :) ) And I found solace in having adult conversation with Dr. Chuck.  The Musfeldts even gave up their flight for a later flight so they could stay with us until we took off.  They were so unbelievably kind to us, I am forever grateful!

At 9 p.m. (of course it was delayed), we were buckled in our seats heading home to Michael.  The minute we left the ground, the boys fell fast asleep, the pit in my stomach was gone, and I took a deep breath and said, “Never again.”

Did I fly alone since then?  Because I’m truly insane, yes.  You’ll have to wait for another blog to see how that went…

Dust off, Move on

Woah, I’ve been on a blogging drought it seems!  Hmmm, where to start…

We lost the house.  Yes, the house we put an offer on May 16th.  The bank oh so kindly responded to us on September 22nd with an unrealistic counter for us, so we had to let the house go.

It was hard, but at the same time we are thankful for closure.  We can pick up, dust ourselves off, and move on.

My mom sent me this forward email that gave me a good laugh and is spot on in dealing with these darn banks.  I’m going to share it with you.   :)

of rebuilding New
Orleans caused residents
often to be challenged
With the task of tracing home titles back
potentially hundreds of years.
With a community rich with history
stretching back over two centuries,
houses have been passed along through generations of family, sometimes
making it quite difficult to
establish ownership.
Here’s a great letter an attorney wrote to the
FHA  on behalf of a

You have to love this lawyer
A New
Orleans lawyer sought an
loan for a client. He was told the
loan would be granted if he could
prove satisfactory title to a parcel of
property being offered as
collateral. The title to the property dated
back to 1803, which took
the lawyer three months to track down.  After
information to the FHA, he received the following

(Actual reply from FHA):

“Upon review of your
letter adjoining your client’s loan application,
note that the
request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While
compliment the able manner in
which you have prepared and presented the
application, we must point
out that you
have only cleared title to the proposed collateral
property back to 1803.
Before final approval can be accorded, it will
be necessary to clear the
title back to its

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as

(Actual response):

“Your letter regarding title
in Case No.189156 has been received. I note
that you wish to have title
extended further than the 194 years covered
by the present application.
I was unaware that any educated person in this
country, particularly
those working in the property area, would not know
that Louisiana was purchased
by the United
States from France , in 1803
the year of origin
identified in our application.  For the
edification of
FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership
from France, which had

acquired it by Right of Conquest from
Spain. The
land came into the
possession of Spain by Right of
Discovery made in
year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who
granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the
Queen Isabella. The good Queen Isabella, being a
pious woman and almost as
Careful about titles as the FHA, took the
precaution of securing the
blessing of
the Pope before she sold her
jewels to finance Columbus ‘s
expedition…Now the Pope,
as I’m sure you may know, is the emissary of
Jesus Christ, the Son of
God, and God, it is commonly accepted,
Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume
that God also made that part
Of the world called Louisiana. God,
therefore, would
be the
owner of origin and His origins date back to before the
beginning of
time, the world as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you
find God’s original
to be satisfactory.

Now, may we
have our damn loan?”

The loan was
immediately approved.

Being Thankful

“I’m learning to welcome pain, and not to dodge it.  It’s one of the most valuable of lessons.  Pain has a refining work to do in us, if we welcome it.  It teaches us what is temporal, what is superficial, and what is abiding and deep.  I’m trying to let pain do its work in me.” (Luci Shaw, June 1986)

“New studies on the brain show that thankfulness and fear cannot exist simultaneously in the brain…There have been times in my life, especially after my husband died, when all I could say was “Help me, God.” That is a form of thankfulness, because it recognizes God’s sovereignty.  And when I did that, I found that fear was pushed back, because my soul was recognizing that while I did not understand why,  I was still turning to God, still falling into His arms.” (Dee Brestin, Ecclesiastes: A Woman of Contentment)

This has really helped me lately.  I am trying to list off the things I am thankful for because then it overshadows the things that are going wrong, and ultimately I have a better attitude and I continue to hope.  Though we might not be in our home yet,  I am thankful for family that has opened their home to us, and I enjoy the big family nights in their house.  Though my patience is tested hourly by two preschoolers, how thankful I am that I have my two children to laugh with and cuddle!  Though I get frustrated with all the mundane tasks to my stay at home job, I am SO thankful that I have a husband who is alive and well, who works hard so I can stay home, and genuinely loves and cares for me and our children.  See, I already feel better this morning! :)

My wise sister sent me this verse this morning and I loved it…

“When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4