Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The fairest of them all...edit.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?


I went to my other blog today, I don't visit much anymore, but I still try to pop in and say hello.

I used to be "friends" with someone on there who is basically blind, stinking, ridiculously over the top, loaded beyond words... RICH.

I met him through another friend, we'll call her Sarah.
Sarah died two years ago from cancer. She was 25. Her family was a royal mess, but it was big and loud and they loved her. The family was molded rather than made. Two women who were friends from their childhood years stayed together through thick and thin. One was happily married with a few kids. One flitted around the world then had a fling with a married man and left him behind after some summer fun and marriage wrecking.
She didn't know for about 6 months that she was pregnant and was completely shocked to be told she was going to be a mother. She came flying home and was grabbed into her best friend's arms and it was there that she found her place. Sarah grew up with 2 mothers, one father and 2 sets of grandparents and brothers and sisters all intertwined line a vine. No beginning, no end, just lots of love in the long, winding, loving story. 
When Sarah was in university, her "brother", (the un-related kids in the clan referred to each other as siblings their entire lives) died of cancer, and it devastated her whole, huge clan.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Sarah was diagnosed with cancer. It was all over the place. They nuked her and fried her and the doctors did everything possible to save her. She went through that TWICE.
Then was given the all clear and went back to university.

Then she got chicken pox and was in the hospital for a month.
Her birth mother came to her bedside, took one look at her ONLY CHILD and said "I can't deal with this."
And left.
For 6 weeks.
She went sailing in Greece.

Poor sweet Sarah. She was diagnosed with cancer again.
I poured my heart into that girl, as did quite a few others from the blog site. Her touchable and virtual friends loved her long and hard from all across the world.

She was friends with the rich boy, who jetted all over the world, chasing cancer treatments and surgeries and receiving all kinds of cutting edge treatments that were far beyond the reach of Sarah. This young kid also faught HARD to stay alive, but he DID have an edge.
A really impressive,expensive edge.

Don't tell me that he didn't.
Don't tell me they had the same chance.
Don't tell me Sarah wasn't angry.
She was.
She told me so.
More than once.

One day, I got an email from her telling me she'd been declared cancer free, but was still in the hospital.

She was a nanny for a posh family in Europe and missed the kids very much while she was in treatment. Her doctors gave her permisson to take the kids to a movie while on an evening pass from the hospital. They went in late. She was bald and weak and they were aided by the kind theatre staff who sat them in the back row.

She felt tired after the movie and went to bed in her hospital room. That night, after sharing a fun evening with the kids, she had a massive stroke. Her heart failed the next day, and she died.

Her body was spent.
The cancer was gone, and so was her strength.
She had literally died of exhaustion.


I saw today's post from the young man.
He had some kind of surgery and since his infection was gone, he and his wife went to Europe. 
Yes, it appears he is still sick.
I KNOW that.
But his bills are taken care of by his wealthy family.

The demon of financial worry does not haunt him. It doesn't keep him from seeking treatment. The burden of selling their house to keep him alive doesn't cloud which drugs he takes for pain.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why my dad struggles each day with pain.
Why my biological father walked away from 3 children.
I do not understand why my friend has a chronic, painful condition that has wiped her out for months.
I do not understand why me and half my female friends are on some kind of anti-depressant.

Understand this, pay attention, listen to me...if I did not take my meds, my life would NOT be what it is now.

And yes, I sure did pray about it.

One's level of faith DOES NOT EQUATE HIS OR HER STATION IN LIFE!!!!!

Why do some people have everything and others have nothing?
Why does that kid from the blog have the resources to keep fighting and win, when others have nothing?

The thing is.
None of us deserve anything.
Neither good, not bad, none of us DESERVE one sweet thing in this world.

God GIVES us HIS grace.
He gives us His love.

Which is good.
Because I cannot afford to buy what it takes to please God. Because nothing *I* can DO can impress Him.
It is what I can accept FROM Him!
It's what HE gives ME!!!!

How cool is that?

He gives me His love, His grace and His mercy.
And He takes my life and makes it His.

I can only give it back to Him.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My life in pictures. Plus free edit!!





I sent my proposal and sample chapters in yesterday.This is how it felt last night.









This is how I felt all day.










This is how I felt late this afternoon when I got two emails from two different people within 6 minutes of each other.








I called my husband at his office. I love him. He let me be me.







Then I emailed some of my peeps.

I said...

"Yo. Sup? I feel awful."

They said...

"What are we? We're..."






YEAH BABY!!!!







Another one said...


"How are you doing?"

I said I wanted a party.





It was a short one.





I love my not-legally-adopted-yet big brother.
I should inform my had-him-for-my-whole-life brother that he isn't alone anymore.





So? How do I feel now?? Now that my husband and my peeps have cheered me up?

I went back and read the emails. REALLY looked at what they said.
I let their words of wisdom sink in.
Learning is all about rolling with the hard stuff and wrestling it back into submission.
So?


That saddle is empty. It's time to get back in!!








Why?




My King is why.

*

And four words sung out to me...

"Your writing is brilliant".

How's THAT for encouragement???







Monday, September 24, 2012

Words of a martyred pastor.

This poem was read by a young missionary friend in church yesterday. It was written by a Zimbabwean pastor prior to his martyrdom.



I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
 I have the Holy Spirit power. 
The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. 
The decision has been made--I'm a disciple of His. 
I won't look back, letup, slow down, back away, or be still.
 My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.
 I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.

 I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.
 I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.


My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my roads narrow, my way rough, my companions are few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

 I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed.
 I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ.
 I am a disciple of Jesus.
 I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. 

And, when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me...my banner will be clear!




    Friday, September 21, 2012

    A few verses from the Book of Jennifer.


    Happy Friday to you!!

    I hope your week went well.

    It's been up and down for me, but it's Friday!!!

    I've enjoyed visiting Jenny Hale at jenniferkhale.com for her Bright Side Blog Bash. She and Lacie Nezbeth at lacienezbeth.blogspot.ca, hosted a great week for those of us writers who didn't make it to ACFW in Dallas.


    Since being asked for a proposal and samples, I've begun planning my life as I think it should play out.



    These are my commandments, thus sayeth me and these shall come to pass.....

    First, my husband will shave his AWFUL beard.
    No, it has nothing to do with writing, but I hate the beard.

    Second, I'll be BEGGED for a full manuscript from all the Big Houses and a bidding war will ensue. My agent, who also begged to be near me, will call me in a lather and announce that I've set a record for debut novels and I can go ahead and plan that new bathroom reno AND hire an architect to make our house a dream home.A-N-D the skunks will move into my sister's house. Which is roughly 3000 miles from here. The skunks can go on United Airlines.

    Third-my little town will re-name itself, "Jenniferland". How cool is that?

    Fourth-I will magically lose 50 pounds and wake up making the Duchess of Cambridge want to be more like me.

    Fifth-JK Rowling and I do lunch and talk shop.


    I might add some maps too.




    Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd then I wake up and realize that my hair is giving directions to the pillow and school stars in an hour!!

    The glamour! The thrills! The laundry!!!!

    Let's look at what the Lord says in Jeremiah 29:11, shall we?


    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."



     It seems that His plans offer us hope and a future. His hope. His future. His idea of prosperity. But it doesn't mention wealth, does it? For some of the people I love, life itself is enough.

    It sure is nice to know He has it all figured out.







    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    BIG NEWS!!!!!



    Because of a comment on a blog, I've been asked to send a proposal and sample chapters to an acquisitions editor at a small publishing house...

    Breathe.
    Just.
    Breathe.

    And THEN scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Dust Bunnies!





    In 2009, I went on my second trip to Bolivia. Most of the team was from my church. 

    Now, most teenage girls like to have an older female friend, who isn't their mother, to talk with, confide in, pal around with and generally be friends with, without the mother /daughter vibe going on.

    Two girls in my church seem to think I'm cool. Probably only two, but I digress.
    And the best thing, is that both of their Moms are very good friends of mine, so they trust me with their daughters.

    At the time this photo was taken, my own daughter was deep, deep, DEEP in rebellion towards my husband and I.
    As my daughter was fading away, these two came alongside me and loved me down a lonely road. 


    That was three years ago. The one in the middle, Shannon, is off to college. I miss her alot! The one on the end, Melissa, just got back from a mission trip to Israel and Slovakia. She's also been to Nepal and Bolivia. Shannon has been to Bolivia and Haiti. They've done more mission work than 90% of the adults I know!!

    Prior to this photo being taken, we drove from a town deep in the mountains and the ride down took several hours and one guy stopped counting switchbacks at 72. Or maybe there was 72, anyway, it was LONG and twisty!

    The dust there is like brown icing sugar. We were utterly filthy!!



    I called us the Dust Bunnies.

    I sat alone in church this morning, which was perfectly fine, not a problem at all. But after a few minutes, I saw a very clean version of Melissa sit down next to me. She was all smiles and happy to see me. I was quite happy to see her too.


    I love these girls like they were my own.


    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Te amo Bolivia!!!

    Our director Alex Muir, his son Greg Muir who is a missionary with the Quechua Indians, and a lovely Quechua lady we met. Greg is about 5'9.


    Waiting in a small village for their radio. It was about 100F. There were about 300 people who came.


    My dear brother Hector Mamani Albino. One of the finest people I've ever known. EVER. He has the heart of a lion. And he never stops smiling.


    Brenda Swann Phinney. She knit all of these sweaters. You see the love? I was there. Those kids were stunned beyond words that a gringa gave them such treasures.


    This dear man stayed for the entire time we were there, in the village of Tusquina. On crutches. In serious heat. Just because we were there. 


    Woody Scott, from New England.
    Those boys stood around until Woody smiled and asked for their help. He's a trained, professional Grandfather. That one touch on that boy's shoulder, that "well done" sent him to the moon. I'm not sure if he came back.
      

    A goat trail from Mojon Khasa to the road. It went 1000 feet UP. At 15,000 feet, the oxygen level in the air was 40% less than we were used to. It was a lung burning, brain frying, leg killing hike. My heart was POUNDING. Then we saw a Quechua man carry our generator up the trail on his back.

    How we travel in-country.



    And why prayer is EXTREMELY important!!


    Like, REALLY important!!






    Just love them. That's all. Oh, and jump rope at 15,5000 feet and not die.





    This is Willian. Yes, with an N. He has cerebral palsy. Ian's brother is autistic. Ian LOVED that little boy and that showed the entire village that we meant what we said.


    But if you think Ian loved him? Kelsey literally cried for DAYS when we said good bye to him.




    Te amo Boliva.







    I'll see you in FIVE WEEKS!!!!









    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    This is the day...

    That the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Yes, I know what today is. I know the events that made a sea change in American history toward a more frightening place.

    I've heard some people talking about the End Times and earthquakes and famine and on and on. Any day now, Jesus will come back.

    Or will He?

    End times? Wars without end?

    The thing is, why not go back to 1930's Germany. All was quiet and then a new Chancellor came to power and before they knew it, by 1945, 6 million Jews were dead. Thousands upon thousands of people tried to hide their Jewish friends. Some succeeded, some died alongside them. Gypsies were killed. Poles were killed. Communists were killed.
    Children and adults with Down's Syndrome were killed.
    Deaf people were killed.
    Blind people were killed.
    Anyone who wasn't perfect, was killed.
    Betsie ten Boom was killed.
    Deitrich Bonhoeffer was killed.

    Stalin's record was even worse. He killed at least 20 million of his own people. Gulags. Pogroms. Death upon miserable death.

    Wars without end?

    Uganda
    Rwanda.
    Somalia.
    Chechnya.
    Bosnia.
    Northern Ireland.
    El Salvador.
    Guatemala.
    Argentina.
    East Timor.
    Laos.
    Viet Nam.
    Cambodia.
    North Korea.
    Iraq.
    Afghanistan.


    Seeing a pattern?

    God sees the pattern.

    It looks like this.














    Lord I come
    Lord I thank you
    For your love
    For this grace divine
    Love and mercy
    Undeserving
    You gave it all
    The greatest sacrifice

    You were wounded
    For my sin
    And You were bruised
    For all my shame
    You were broken
    For my healing
    Only by the cross
    I'm saved

    You're the mender of the broken
    To every outcast
    A friend and comforter

    I come boldly to your presence
    Lord I bow before your throne
    You're my healer
    My redeemer
    You're my hope, my life, my all

    You hear the cry of the broken
    You hear the cry of the broken
    You hear the cry of the broken


    You answer the cry of the broken
    You answer the cry of the broken
    You answer the cry of the broken


    I do not pretend to have any answers for anyone.
    I just know Jesus has them.
    He may not tell you the answers you want or need, but He's got everything else covered. Including YOU.



    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Just for Heather Gilbert!!

    Tip of the day?

    Turn ON the lights when shooting a video.
    Then you won't look like you just ate 5 pounds of blueberries.

    And brush your hair.
    And teeth.
    And back up.

    Friday, September 7, 2012

    The WHAT??




    You know, some days you come across a person and you think "Wouldn't she be a great friend? She just looks...nice. And the nose ring kinda tells me she avoids polyester blazers and beige pumps."

    Now that we live in a cut/copy/paste/download/instant society, meeting new people is ridiculously easy.
    But that connection still is old school. The "do you like me? I like you. Wanna be friends?" voice we heard when we were 8 still sings in our heads.

    When I started serioulsy spending time finding bloggers that spoke to me... who could say "you spelled seriously wrong" without offending me...I came across an interesting name.

    Becky Doughty.
    Hmmmm.
    She sounds like a person...with a name.

    So I lurked on her blog.
    I'd follow her comments.
    I hired a detective to case out her house...okay, not really.

    Over time, we became friends on Facebook and then moved into a more serious level.
    We exchanged....emails!
    I know, right?!?!?

    Soon the emails began to fly and each time I'd read her blog, I thought, when I grow up, I want to be just like Becky.
    Okay, not quite, but I learned alot. I mean I LEARNED from her blog, from her wisdom, but mostly?

    I learned from her transparent heart for Christ. The hunger that comes from tasting pure joy and wanting more.

    Imagine my total newbie blogger/writer SHOCK when she nominated ME(???) for The Beautiful Blogger Award.
    What a shock and awe moment!!!

    Thank you, my dear friend, who I ALMOST met this past summer.

    What an honour and blessing this was for me.

    You can meet her at www.beckydoughty.com.


    God will make a way Becky, someday we will meet. Maybe at ACFW next year?

    So....here’s how this award works: Someone nominates me, I do the task required to receive the award, then I pass it on by nominating other bloggers. For the Beautiful Blogger Award, I am to tell you seven interesting things about me.



    1- I love and adore Earl Grey Tea.
    I want to marry it and settle down somewhere.
    It is BEST with light cream and a family sized platter of milk chocolate chip cookies.
    What? Like you've never eaten 8 at a sitting?

    2-I have wandered down paths laden with fire ants and moisture loaded palm fronds in the Amazon Jungle.
    I have seen tree pythons getting out the cultery and calling the kids for dinner at the sight of stupid humans standing near trees. I'd be FINE if I never ever went back to the jungle.
    Two words: "heat" and "rash".
    But the best part???

    I swam in the Amazon River.
    Uh huh.
    Me.

    THE AMAZON!!!!


    3-I have seen "Last of the Mohicans" approximately 50 times. Each and every time I see it, I wish Magua would get some anger management and let those nice Monroe sisters go home. I love the soundtrack and play the music to the point I could sing it!!
    There is no such thing as ugly when a man is in a posh uniform. Or leather. Or a good tan...well, is it warm in here or what?!

    4- I am absolutely TERRIFIED OF HYDRO DAMS!!!!!!!!!!

    5-I can't do a somersault. I spent my entire childhood thinking they'd break my neck. I still freak out when I see kids doing them.

    6-I always wanted to play the violin. And the guitar. I play air guitar really well. No one will ever see that.

    7-There are four separate problems in my feet. Plantar fashee-eye-tus. Athritis. EXTREMELY severe nerve damage. Flat feety-itus.
    Oh, and the back has nerve damage.
    I live in pain.
    But it could be worse.
    A whole lot worse.

    God has given me a huge amount of relief from the pain, and I am grateful.




    So?
    Who do I nominate???
    Two other women who have taught me alot, encouraged me and gone above and beyond the call of fellow bloggeryness and answered my questions when I needed help. We've become friends and I bet the Christmas packages I get from them will be HUGE!!!
    Okay, not really....

    I hope you check their blogs out.

    Here they are in reverse alphabetical order....

    Lindsay Harrel.
    You can meet Lindsay at www.lindsayharrel.blogspot.com

    I got to meet Lindsay at a secret location (Starbucks) in Phoenix, Arizona this past July.
    If you think she's smart, witty and has the voice of an angel on her blog, you are right!!
    Oh, and she's taller than I thought she'd be.

    This writing gig is such a roller coaster. I asked Lindsay so many newbie questions, and each time, she answered and encouraged me. What a kind and giving heart!!
    And SMART! Whoa, I think someday I'll be one of those people who puls a Lindsay Harrel book off the shelf and holds it up in the air and yells "I know her!!!"

    Here's the "about me" on her blog...

    I'm an author/editor from Phoenix who writes inspirational women's fiction. My desire is to honor God in all I do and to help draw others closer to Him by planting seeds of hope in their hearts. "I planted the seed...but God made it grow." (1 Corinthians 3:6)

    Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.A. in English. She has written and published feature stories for two college newspapers, advertising copy for several websites, and health- and beauty-related articles for consumers. In her current day job as a curriculum editor for a local university, Lindsay helps others improve their work and hones her skills for her night job—writing inspirational women’s fiction with romantic elements.

    A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, Lindsay posts regularly at her blog and has been published on the Power to Change website, in the online CronkiteZine, and in The Arizona Republic. Her creative essay “Snapshots of My Mother” will be published in Donna Goodrich’s mother/grandmother anthology this summer.


    I also want to nominate Heather Day Gilbert.
    You can meet "HDG" at www.heatherdaygilbert.blogspot.com

    Aside from looking, you know, 15, Heather is a mom and wife who knows how to cook dinner outside during a massive power outage. A heart as big as the sky and a smile that's even bigger. Heather was one of the very first bloggers I fell in like with.
    Early on in our friendship, Heather would help and encourage and gently tell me where I needed to up my game. Her faith shows in everything she does and I'm SO glad to know her.

    Here's her "about me"...
     I'm a West Virginia-born gal who married the sweetest Yankee in the world. I'm a Christian, and I write stories of authentic love after marriage. I homeschool my children. And I love big dogs, MacGyver, coffee, tulips, and wasting time on video games.

    I started this blog to share some of my first completed novel, Otherworld, with readers. The first thirteen chapters are up on this blogspot. It was paranormal fiction and I loved it, but it was too short. I'd completed it in a month for a NaNo challenge. Someday that book will find its way to print (even if I have to self-pub!), or I have people who are going to hunt me down and beat the ending out of me!

    My second novel, God's Daughter, is indeed the proper length at 80,000 words. It's historical fiction, based on the Icelandic sagas, and it's about one of my favorite Viking heroines, Gudrid. She should be in every history book!   



    Each thing I said about one of theses two women can easily be said about the other.
    Grace, kindness, faith, strength and the desire to be the best that God intended them to be.

    We were never meant to walk alone, and I'm honoured and humbled to share the writer's road with Heather and Lindsay. Go say hello to them, and wave when you get there.  

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Stay in the game.



    I am not having the best day.

    Not.
    At.
    All.

    But? Isn't Jennifer usually in a good mood?

    Yes. And the sky is usually blue, but kids, clouds do roll. And so does thunder.

    I told my husband of my mood. Then he started grinning like a gameshow host.

    He grinned as big and fakey perfect as he could and said "See, I'm SMILING!"

    I might keep him around, he knows when to make me smile. And he let me tell him exactly what was wrong. He understands. He gets it. He understands me. Which is awesome, especially when I want to hide in a corner.


    Then I emailed a friend and vented. Again.
    Hey, who doesn't want a chorus of "You are awesome" when you feel like the most un-awesomely, ickky blob around?

    You know what I mean, right? There are those friends that you KNOW will listen and let you vent and get all "you tell 'em!!" and then do what needs to be done.

    My friend also gave me the advice that I needed and the understanding that I wanted. Then he said something that was so simple, but knocked me sideways. Four words that slayed me. BAM! Just like that.

    He said ...

    "Stay in the game."

    He didn't go on and on about life and God wants you to be happy and look at all your blessings and you should be thankful and blahblahblah.

    He knew that a simple statement was all I needed. God gives us words from people we know and love, and this was four of  them.



    STAY IN THE GAME.

    Thank you, my friend.

    And back at you.