Wednesday, November 25, 2015


There’s five pounds of possum in my headlights tonight.

Sometimes life is messy.

Often life is messy.

When I lived in Louisiana a coworker explained to me the culinary philosophy of the region, in particular regarding roadkill.

“If it’s not moving, eat it. If it’s moving, try to kill it and eat it.”


Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish back in the day used to promote eating of nutria. Nutria aren’t usually roadkill … they tend to stick to the canals. They’re overgrown river rats, for those not familiar. The Audubon Zoo had a nutria tasting once upon a time. I did not partake.


I fully support hunting. I think it’s great. Fill the freezer. I just personally, other than a little poultry, don’t eat a lot of meat. More for all y’all. And when there’s more vermin going to a good cause, there’s less dashing in front of my car when I’m flying down a country road.

Tastes like chicken. Check out this Bean Boys classic. Honestly, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the mando player cluck the bridge.

Inorganic roadkill.

“Some stories take a little longer to unfold.”

I heard that in a Hallmark Christmas movie the other day. “Merry Matrimony” was the title, if you want to look it up. I remember it only because I wrote it down at the time. I vaguely recall the plot at this point, but you can be assured it goes something like … boy meets girl … boy and girl make googly eyes at each other for a while … conflict ensues about an hour and twenty-four minutes in … conflict is resolved twenty minutes later … followed by gratuitous closing wedding scene.

Sigh. That was lovely.

And so unlike real life. Hallmark is an unguilty form of escapism at my house.

Sometimes things aren’t wrapped up in a nice, neat package in a couple of hours. Or a couple of decades even.

Sometimes your calling looks very different from a made-for-tv movie.

Sometimes you become roadkill. Metaphorically at least. Sometimes you just feel like it.

Great green gobs of greasy, grimy hedgeapple guts …
Oooohh. Someone got that one good.

Sometimes you don’t get to cross into the Promised Land. Moses didn’t get to. And he was so epic that Charleton Heston played him in the movie.

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
~ Deuteronomy 34:10-12

And yet no one asks if Moses’ life was for naught. Hello, the ten commandments. The Red Sea. The Exodus. That pharaoh dude.

You may not feel like you’re all that, and indeed who of us really is. But God likes you anyway.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~ Romans 5:8

And – although don’t miss the fact that faith and “being” are far, far more important than “doing” – he has things for all of us to do.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

~ Ephesians 2:4-10

You may not feel like anything you do is epic. You may feel invisible. You may not feel capable of much. I don’t know that every little occurrence is hugely significant. I think it’s probably not. But isn’t all work for the kingdom, even the small stuff, epic in a way?

We are all pieces of the story. And some stories take longer to unfold.

Future roadkill. Some stories take longer to unfold.

Roadkill? I don’t know, it came to me in an epiphany. All photos in this post are from recent autumn walks around my neighborhood. Shout out to The Bean Boys for keeping everyone entertained with songs about roadkill and occasionally letting me be an honorary Bean Girl.

For more on roadkill from my writing partners, see Sue Bowles at and Leisa Herren at

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Let It Go

It’s Disney week here at the blog. Not really, but I did watch “Frozen” last night in search of inspiration.

Honestly I’m not feeling very magical or inspired at the moment. It’s not just the usual schtuff of life or trying to fight off a sinus thing like everyone seems to be doing. I got blindsided. That enemy is a sly one.

But you should let it go, Jenn.

Yeah, I’m trying.

And now what do I do. We’re coming up on the holiday season. The most magical time of the year, right? Bah humbug. There, I said it. The older I get the less interested I am in the obligations and the expectations and the extra work. I am weary. I’m not really a Scrooge. I love all the holidays. I love Christmas. I love Jesus. I love tradition. I just … I don’t know. I don’t know what I need. Sunday school answer alert … Jesus is all I need. Yeah, but.

But you should let it go, Jenn.

Yeah, I’m trying.

I might need a pedicure, the ocean, and copious amounts of hot tea. Those all sound delightful on this blustery November day. Not sure about the ocean here in Ohio. Maybe I can scrounge up some coconut scented lotion. And turn on my white noise app – “Ocean Waves Crashing” is my go to sound.

At least the temperature is mild, and I’m wearing shorts and flip flips. Okay, I needed a jacket, too. But it’s warm enough I could let go of shoes for the day.

I have quite a few friends who are actively trying to let it go. Hurts that are old, new, and in between. Control of things we really can’t control. Fear and anxiety. It’s easier said than done. We’re human. It’s a daily active choice, sometimes hourly, sometimes by the minute.

And then there are those who seem unaware that they should let it go. Oy vey, I might need a social media break for a couple days. Hat tip to my writer/pastor friend for the excessive posting of kittens and coffee. This is probably the only time you will ever find me in favor of excessive kitten memes on the friendbook. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

I ventured out today to run a couple errands and then sit for a spell at Panera to finish writing this post. With some chicken noodle soup and an iced tea. I might have sulked over the complete lack of my favorite sweetener (I asked), but I think I’m on the line between sulkiness and snarkiness so I shut up and drank my tea straight up. The place was semi-peaceful. Peaceful enough. I had the earbuds in and was about to launch into another point when it happened.

The Invasion of the Shrieky Lady.


She had one of those piercing voices that cut right through the music in my ears. Her speech was mildly profane, a nice little accent on the annoyingness of the situation. Clearly she thought she was special. And of all the tables, in all the soup and sandwich joints, in all the towns, in all the world … she and her dining companion walked up and sat next to mine. In an uncrowded restaurant. In a row of about six tables occupied by only me up to that point. It was so close I felt like they were practically sitting on top of me. She definitely needed to let go of some things. And now I am letting her go.

Let it go, let it go … bye-bye, Shrieky Lady …

God bless her.

P.S. Watch out, Belize. Her husband just booked a weeklong vacay at Christmastime. You have been warned.

As I was going to say before all that … I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. I’m far from perfect at the recovering part, but life and maybe years of being a project manager have taught me to pick the important things, the essential things, and let the rest fall into place. There is perfection in imperfection.

Much like a recovering alcoholic is often the most qualified to recognize another alcoholic, I know my people. Maybe I should develop a 12-step recovery program. I think it would be in high demand. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. J

I’m gonna pop the earbuds back in and let it all go now.

Be the light in the cracks
Be the one that's mending the camel’s back
Slow to anger and quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attack

Be the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that's coming back
Leave the past right where it's at
Be more heart and less attack

The more you take, the less you have
‘Cause it’s you in the mirror that's starin’ back
Quick to let go, slow to react
Be more heart and less attack

Ever growing, steadfast
And if need be, the one that's in the gap
Be the never turning back
Twice the heart any man could have

Be the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that's coming back
Leave the past right where it's at
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack

I stuck my hat out
I caught the rain drops
I drank the water
I felt my veins pop
I’m nearly sanctified
I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river, I’m nearly open
I’m down the river, to where I’m going

~ Needtobreathe’s “More Heart, Less Attack”

This week's theme came from an online convo amongst a number of retreat friends. Oh how we all need to let it go. Please accept my apologies for not including an interpretive dance element as suggested. For Sue Bowles’ version of "Let it Go" see Leisa Herren offers her perspective at

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Run Wild with the Hope

My photo but not my artwork. I'm told it looks like Fruity Pebbles.

I have long said you can do pretty much anything as long as you have hope.

And these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

And indeed I’m a fan of looooove. Who isn’t. But hope is right up there in the top three.

The phrase “run wild with the hope” is a song lyric. I looked up the entire song and found scripture references that included a favorite verse:

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
~ Psalm 65:5

Past bible study participants of mine may recall that I’ve always wanted to interject the word “dude” in the middle of that verse.

“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior. Dude.”
~ Psalm 65:5 (Jenn Modern Slang Translation)

It helps if you channel Jeff Spicoli while you recite that. Awesome. Righteous.

Perhaps I digress.

A quick search of the NIV includes 180 uses of “hope”, 458 of “faith”, and 686 of “love”. Not believing in numerology, astrology, or a whole lot of other ologies … I’m not sure those statistics are deeply meaningful, but perhaps someone better versed in the ologies can fill me in. And maybe “love is a verb” has some significance.

 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
~ 1 Peter 3:15-16 (emphasis added)

Really it comes down to the Sunday School answer. Jesus.

Not familiar with the term “Sunday School answer”? When in doubt, when in Sunday School, the answer to the question – any question – is always “Jesus”. It’s like choosing “B” on a multiple choice test. Legend says that “B” occurs most often, although really that depends on the test. But you stand at least some chance of being correct by choosing something.

Those aforementioned numbers add up to 1324, by the way. Still doesn’t mean anything? Okay, just checking.

When the weather and pollen and such cooperate I like to get out in nature as much as possible. Go for a walk. Soak up a little vitamin D. Appreciate the artwork of the creator.

It tends to restore my hope.

Not that my hope truly needs restoring that often. Maybe maintaining my hope is a better way to put it. But I seriously cannot get enough of the sky these days. And trees. It’s fall right now, with the usual spectacular array of colors. But even cold, dead trees in winter look like they’re reaching toward heaven. I guess it’s more obvious when they’re stripped of their leaves. No decoration. No pretention. Just … well, Jesus.

Keeping my mind on things above.

The hope of the trees in winter leads to the blooming of the trees in spring.

So here’s the question.

I see so many people plodding through life on autopilot. Many devoid of hope (or at least needing a serious tune-up) but afraid to let anybody see it because God forbid we don’t project happy happy joy joy at all times.

“How are you doing?”

There’s a Sunday School answer for you right there.

How is your hope doing?

Do you hold on to a shred of hope as a way just to get by, or do you


What does running wild with the hope look like to you?

Is wild even a good thing?

A friend likes to ask, “What is God teaching you these days?” For me it’s been to trust and obey and wait. Wait. Grrrrr! But in the midst there is hope. Always hope. And sometimes a dose of “help me with my unbelief”.

And then. And then. There are those moments when he shakes me forward and shakes me free.

Who’s got their running shoes on?


Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob's stairs
Yeah, they danced on Jacob's stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant's wings
And there's fury in a pheasant's wings
It tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I've seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever 'til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope

The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
And I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name

~ Rich Mullins' "Calling Out Your Name"
Psalms 19:1-6Psalms 65:5-13 

This week’s prompt was born out of a conversation at Denny’s in which the word “hope” flew out of my mouth. I was told it was the magic word. Not sure how long we will continue to write on the same theme, but for Sue Bowles’ take on “Run Wild with the Hope” see And we're excited that newcomer Leisa Herren is joining the party at

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sometimes You’re the Chocolate Pudding, Sometimes You’re the Floor

Chocolate pudding. I like mine sugar free with a vanilla swirl.

I went on a retreat again.

A year ago I set out on a three-and-a-half hour drive to a place in the mountains of western Pennsylvania that would become sacred ground. I didn’t know anyone who was attending this retreat. Many of the forty or fifty participants had introduced themselves in a private Facebook group, but that’s about all I had to go on. I met up with Sue, who lives twenty minutes from me, at a truck stop so we could caravan over together. Ask us sometime about the best way to get to Camp Christian.

That afternoon we had some free time to read, write, reflect, do whatever with the story of the prodigal son. I was feeling over-prodigaled, though. And I’m not so much into rules. A couple days prior I had pulled my “travel bible” off the shelf while starting to pack. I typically rely on my YouVersion app, but I wanted a paper version for the trip. As I pulled the bible off the shelf, the business card of a missionary friend fell out and onto the floor. It had been marking the beginning of Ecclesiastes. (It still is.) Chills went up my spine. I didn’t know what it was a sign of, but I knew it was a sign. I just knew.

So I blew off the prodigal son (sorry not sorry, Schultzie) and read Ecclesiastes instead and wrote in my journal while listening to Switchfoot’s Stars on repeat all while sitting outside on a rock. This is a highly recommended prescription for anyone who feels like they’re having a bit of an existential crisis.

I told that story at the campfire later that night. Perhaps somewhat teary eyed. With all my new ragamuffin friends gathered round.

I made it through the rest of the weekend in a less emotional fashion. Instead of heading home, I headed east to Fairfax to spend the evening with the girl. Then onward to Mount Vernon for a few hours – also sacred ground (raises hand toward heaven) – and then to Virginia Beach. Hotwire and off-season rates make for a lovely, quiet solo vacation for a few days.

God often speaks to me at the beach. Usually it’s more along the lines of non-specific reassurance. This time, though.

Wow. You are out of your mind.

I was looking for direction. Where should I be. What should I do. Perhaps a day job. Maybe a new ministry opportunity. Something. I’m at a crossroads here and I feel a change coming, but could we talk about something that makes sense?

I really heard only one word from the big guy, and it was different enough from what I would have said that I knew it came from him.

But the doubts.

And the expectation that anyone hearing this story would think I require psychological help.

But God.

I acted on that one word a couple weeks later. Ever so cautiously. Little teeny baby steps. Maybe all he means is … and I would be okay with that.

I didn’t tell anyone the whole story for four plus months. My apologies if you were a recipient of one of my non-answer answers. I’m still not telling all y’all the whole shebang.

Much to my pleasant surprise, my crazy story was met with excitement. But then.

Oh. The. Doubts.

Things did not go how I expected. Maybe God didn’t mean what I thought he might mean. It wouldn’t be the first time I misunderstood. More like the infinity-eth time.

Okay. X isn’t working. Let’s try Y. Y didn’t work either. I metaphorically threw my hands in the air and said, “I give up. If this is what you want, make it happen. I’m tired of trying.”

And oh the doubts.

But God.

I threw myself into concert promotion and filmmaking adventures. Still having no idea what I was doing in life. But feeling those adventures were what I was supposed to be doing in the moment. And I got my sign along the way. And some good things happened.

But the doubts.

But God.

I went on this year’s retreat last weekend. In southern Ohio this time. Slightly different subject matter, mostly the same leaders, a mix of new and repeat participants. I wasn’t quite the teary-eyed pile of mush like last year, which is really quite okay with me. Dave Mullins still always manages to say something that blows my mind or makes me think about things in a new way.

I was having a nice experience. Nice. Oh that’s nice. So very nice. Nice reminders to keep hanging in there. Whatever.

And despite still hearing that same soundtrack from God, I went in with doubts about what he said, and I was still having doubts. Thanks to the doubts and mostly some other random craziness, I did have a small group of prayer warriors on the job for the weekend. You-all are awesome.

The retreat was over. The car was packed. Goodbyes were being said amongst the last six or eight stragglers. And then something seemingly small grabbed my attention and removed about a year’s worth of doubts.

Okay, fine, I’ve got it. Praise the father, son, and holy ghost. Even if I think you are out of your mind. Minds. Whichever.

One of the video clips used during the weekend included a scene where an obnoxious student throws a container of chocolate pudding on the floor in the school hallway. He does it specifically to give the elderly janitor more work to do. I’ll avoid spoiling the rest of the story, but one of the small group discussion questions was, “Who are you in this story?” And we weren’t allowed to be the pudding.

Really. Watch me. J

I like chocolate pudding. Not sure I want to be chocolate pudding, but at last year’s retreat that’s kind of how I felt. Pile. Of. Mush. Or chocolate pudding. This year I’m closer to being the floor. Not sure if that’s something to aspire to or not, but I’m closer to being solid and sure.

I’ll leave you with a song that was on repeat on my drive home:

The smoldering wick will not be quenched
Nothing can snuff the flame
You’ve been promised a stone with a new name
Within you there’s a glowing treasure
Like flowers of pastures green
The darkest shadows can’t cover up its gleam
Come back to your heart
Come back to your soul
Come back to your heart
Come back home

~ Mitch McVicker’s Come Back to Your Heart

Note: In the course of last weekend's discussions, Sue Bowles and I agreed to keep each other accountable to post more often on our blogs. And thus the great chocolate pudding challenge was born. You can find Sue's writing at