Monday, February 23, 2009

my name is Jen and I am a coffee addict.

On Sunday morning at 7 a.m. I was on my way to church and stopped at Dominican Joe to get my Sunday morning coffee. I love my Sunday mornings, and that's just part of the routine, part of the magic...a big cup of coffee. I pulled into a parking space and went to grab my wallet out of my bag so I didn't have to carry the whole bag in, only to find out that my wallet wasn't there...

Thought #1: How am I going to get my coffee!?
Thought #2: Surely I can scrounge up enough change in this car to buy a small cup.
Thought #3: Hey, there's that guy that plays bass. He doesn't know me, but he'd probably recognize me and then if I told him I was friends with Emily I bet he'd buy me a cup of coffee.
Thought #4: Can I write a check for coffee?
Thought #5: Maybe if I find a homeless person who has enough change I can write them a check but then they probably wouldn't have a bank account to deposit the...wait a second...where's my wallet?

Okay, so I hadn't actually considered #5 but my brain train was definitely through #4and on its way there. I feel like this is evidence of 1 of 2 possible problems. Either my caffeine addiction is out of control or I rely too heavily on my routine. I might need to work on that...

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Y'all are too independent these days..."

Alright friends, where do I begin.

Let me start by saying that lately my life has been surrounded by discussions of singleness and marriage, in large part because that's what our sermon series at church has been about for the past few weeks. And while I've loved every talk I've heard, especially Jennifer Lewis', what always gets me is the assumption that if you're single, you hate it. Every talk is prefaced with the Biblical truth that singleness is a gift and so you shouldn't wallow in self-pity, but instead enjoy it. I completely agree with that and believe it, but I always sit through the first 15 minutes of those sermons wondering why they're approached from the assumption that most people are unhappy that way because what ends up happening is that we spend half the sermon about why you shouldn't be unhappy and the next half telling you why you should be happy. But we never quite get to really living the single life and what that looks like. And, to be fair, many women are actively waiting for that relationship status to change and seek that encouragement as they wait. Many women have a God-given desire to be married and have children at this point in their lives. I totally appreciate those people and I admire them unbelievably. And sometimes I feel a little silly because I don't happen to be one of those people...yet. The desire will probably come. But for today, it would take one heck of a guy to make me give up my single life.

This morning I had plans to meet my dear sweet friend Cristina at Starbucks at 8:00, a meeting that has become a Friday standard and an amazing time of laughter and sharing about what God has been up to in our lives. I was so looking forward to it this morning and couldn't wait to jump into conversation. When I pulled into the Starbucks parking lot, I stepped out of the car to a fairly loud hissing sound. I rolled my eyes knowing that while it was a possibility that it was just something around me, or from someone else's car, it was much more likely that it was in fact somehow coming from my car. For those of you that don't know, my vehicle has become Satan's playground. See this post. I got out, circled around the car and realized that my passenger side rear tire was letting out air...and not slowly. In fact as I was standing there looking at it, the tire was flattening before my very eyes. I couldn't find a hole on it anywhere and it didn't really matter if I could have because it was going out at such a rapid rate that I wouldn't have been able to fix it anyway. I had already texted Charlotte once to tell her that I had a dream that I had been attacked by a wolf and since we know that when I have no clue what to do about something I just ask her, I went ahead and texted her again to tell her that my tire was flattening out right before my eyes. She told me she knew how to change a tire, but I assumed that I didn't have a spare so I said I would just call AAA and have them tow it to a shop.

The ridiculousness of standing and watching my tire lose air had pretty much exhausted me on wanting to deal with it at all so I decided to just go in and get something to drink and figure out what to do once Cristina got there. But, I did go ahead and check and found out that in fact I did have a spare tire in my trunk. I ordered my drink and plopped down at a table near the counter. As I'm sitting there a random guy plops down at the chair across from me. I looked up, thinking that he must have already laid claim to that table and said, "I'm sorry sir, I didn't realize someone was sitting here." He laughed and said very sweetly, "Oh I wasn't! I just thought I'd sit here and wait for my drink as well. Is that okay?"

"Um, sure!"

So we sat and waited together, not saying anything, just waiting, so I went ahead and texted Char and told her I had a spare. Long story short, she said she'd come up and work on it as soon as she could. My next phone call was to my boss to let her know that I was going to be late if I was going to make it at all. The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: "Hey, I'm going to be late today. I have a flat tire."
My boss: "Well are you gonna get it fixed?"
Me: "Um, yeah, I was planning on it. I suppose I don't really have any choice."
My boss: "Guurrrll...this is why you need a man."
Me: (chuckling) "Well thank you for that encouragement friend. I don't know what I'd do without you. But let me remind you that it's not like I have much control over that."
My boss: (Laughing) "Girl, I'm just sayin'."
Me: "Okay, you're done now. I'll talk to you later."

Cristina and I went ahead with our conversation, drinking coffee and laughing about how married people assume that single people have any control at all over their relationship status. Before too long Char walked through the door and came and asked me for my keys. I offered to go help (not that I could do anything) and she sweetly told me to just stay where I was, doing what I was doing. She walked out the door and I looked at Cristina and said, "See...this is why I don't need a man. A man would have walked in here and said, 'Get out here. You need to know how to do this so you can do it yourself next time.' But your girlfriends just come in, get you taken care of and let you enjoy your morning." We laughed and after a couple minutes decided that despite our helplessness we could at least move our conversation outside so Charlotte wouldn't be by herself.

We picked up our bags and our overpriced cups of caffeinated goodness and went and plopped down outside by my car, chatting and watching Char, flat on her back in the parking lot. A number of people walked by and almost every one of them offered to help. God bless Texas. But then, a middle-aged man in a plaid pageboy cap walked by.

"You girls need any help?"

I said, "No sir, we've got it all taken care of." (Yes, I was sitting on my rear sipping my non-fat, no whip, hazelnut mocha.)

"Are you sure?"

"Uh, yes sir."

He chuckled, shook his head, started to walk away, stopped, looked back at me and said, "Y'all are way too independent these days."



Cristina and I pretty much lost it and Char just kept jacking up the car.

It's such and interesting thing, gender roles in society these days. Clearly men are still crying out to help women. They're created to. They're made to rescue, to fix, to serve. I love that! I truly do. But when you don't have a boyfriend or a husband to jump at your every my-car-is-falling-apart-the-drain-is-dripping type need, you just learn how to get by on your own. And yes I acknowledge that I squashed that dude's manhood first thing in the morning and I did it while I was sitting on my butt sipping a mocha. Fair enough. There was a part of me that felt bad. But there was another part of me that realized I've got someone I trust with my life, much less my car, fixing my tire. Why on earth would I ask her to stop and turn it over to a stranger who I refuse to assume can fix it properly just because he's a man. Where exactly is the balance between embracing the femininity that God gave us and being able to survive when your guy just hasn't arrived?

Our friend went in and got his warm beverage of choice and walked out just in time to hear another very friendly gentleman say, "You ladies need any help with that?"

"No sir, we're doing just fine."

Mr. Pageboy caught the eye of the other one and they chuckled and shook their heads. I don't blame them. I know what they were thinking. But the fact of the matter is, that tire got changed in about 20 minutes, I drove on a spare to go tutor my middle schoolers that I see every Friday, and then I drove to the shop and got a new tire. And so yes, for better or worse, too independent or not, us single ladies, really are doing just fine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh. My. Word...

Very few things fill my heart like white Christians rapping...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Important addition to the 25 random things...

Okay so I just remembered one of the very most random events in my life and I don't know how I could have possibly forgotten to put it on the list because it seriously ranks way up there. Despite all the randomness that occurs in my life, even this left me a bit speechless. So:

#26. During my senior year of highschool I got sent to the principal's office for singing in choir.

And no, you're not missing anything. There's no hidden joke or inside story. I was sent to the principal's office for singing during choir. My mom can attest to the validity.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another little gem...

Seriously these absolutely make me lose my business. The guy that makes these is either a genius or totally cracked out.

Read this...

One of the funniest things I have ever read.

Seriously!?...who says, "faithtastical spidey sense." I have so much to learn...

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Random Things about Jen...

1. I swore I wasn’t going to do this and it took a few people telling me I’m a “creative genius” to get me to. So random fact #1…if you ever need me to do anything, give me a little ego boost, even if it's a total lie. Or a dollar. I ended up as one of the only freshman with a speaking role in our highschool musical because Sarah Kelley said she’d give me a dollar if I’d audition for the British tourist in “Crazy For You.” I accidentally got the part.

2. I won tickets to see Wicked in the front row on Broadway. I got to see nearly the entire original Broadway cast, except Idina who was out sick. Instead I saw Eden Espinosa who was better in my opinion. It was one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever had and I barely remember it because I was in shock the whole time.

3. Nearly everyone whose opinion I asked for about what to put on this list told me that I had to put that I have a fascination with nuns. That’s not really random anymore because most people know about it. That being said, I think nuns are amazing and for that reason the Vatican City is like heaven on earth for me.

4. This past Christmas my white friend Emily and I played nuns in a black adaptation of A Christmas Carol. We were the only white girls. Oh, and we performed the “Joyful, Joyful” rap from Sister Act 2 while wearing our instant nun kits…numerous times.

5. The motto of my life is “These Things Don’t Happen to Normal People” and my friends tell me this all the time. Apparently strange things always happen to me, like the time I accidentally caused a squirrel to trip, fall and scrape its knee, but I didn’t know these things didn’t happen to everyone until about a year ago when Sarah pointed it out to me.

6. I can’t swim despite the fact that when I was a kid we had a boat and I was a little tubing beast. When I worked at camp two summers ago I wasn’t allowed in the lake because I refused to take the swim test.

7. I saw my favorite singer in an airport and recognized her by her perfume. Later in the year when my best friend surprised me with a ticket to one of her concerts, her pianist told me I was a stalkerazzi.

8. It used to make my mom crazy that I was one of the least affectionate kids she knew but I’ve become insanely cuddly and sometimes have to remind myself to give people physical space because not everyone is a snuggler. One of my favorite things to do is teach people how to hug. (Side hugs are not hugs.)

9. I’ve been bitten by a snake and chased with an armadillo. Snakes terrify me, but strangely being bitten by one isn’t nearly as scary as being chased with an armadillo. And for being terrified of snakes, I’ve had numerous encounters. In high school I once went to my best friend’s house and found her and her mom screaming and standing on their couch because there was a snake in their living room…I had to get it out, and to this day Sarah’s mom tells people of my very courageous rescue.

10. I get really anxious around large animals, even when they’re caged. Things like T-Rex displays at science centers and museums make me really uncomfortable. And I mean that in all seriousness.

11. I played soccer year-round for years and played varsity my freshman year. But I quit so I could be in show choir.

12. I love parallel parking, airport layovers and doing laundry.

13. When I moved to Switzerland I thought I was going to be living in a convent. I ended up in an apartment in the Red Light District.

14. I’ll pretty much participate in anything if it’ll make for a good blog story.

15. I’m an only child and I’m left handed and don’t understand why people are fascinated by either. Lots of people ask what it’s like to be left handed and what it’s like to be an only child and while I definitely don’t mind the questions, I don’t really know how to answer them.

16. Someone is named after me.

17. I’ve had three dreams that have maintained consistent for nearly my entire life: to write a book, to learn how to play the piano and to own my own coffee shop/bookstore.

18. I worked for a photographer for a few years and it was one of the best and most missed experiences of my life. He taught me a lot. I was going to get a photography minor in college (which would have been a great compliment to a media communications degree) but I took one photography class and realized that studying it made it lose its magic for me.

19. Before I could really talk I told my mom, “The King is coming.”

20. I used to direct children’s theatre and that opportunity taught me more than probably any other single experience in my life.

21. I’m okay at a number of things but have never been the best at anything. I’ve learned to really embrace that and enjoy it and sometimes wonder if I don’t subconsciously put myself in that position. See #11.

22. I was nominated for (but didn’t win, see #21) a St. Louis Arts for Life Award for my 6 line role as a scrubwoman in How to Succeed…

23. My best friend in high school and I spent a summer telemarketing for the company my mom worked for. Some of my most amazing random stories come from that summer including some of the games we made up like “Synchronized Mexican Restaurant Calling.”

24. My senior year of high school I competed in our local Jr. Miss “Scholarship Program” (Pageant) and actually had a ton of fun. See #14.

25. I love being around old people and find something really comforting about it. It’s one of the things I’ve missed the most since moving to Austin.

If this doesn't make you laugh out loud...

Check your pulse. Seriously. I really don't know how people can watch stuff like this and not just pee their pants.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009's still letting me on...

And I know that I'm only testing my limits by continuing to post. I may end up being the sole reason no one is ever allowed to access their blog again, but hey, I always say, "For the sake of the blog." ...But I really hope I don't lose my job for the sake of the blog.

That being said, on to posting, while I can. One of my favorite blogs to read is Stuff Christians Like. It's one of the most popular Christian blogs because this dude is hilarious, calling Christians out on all of our quirky trends, mannerisms, habits, etc. It's really entertaining and being a Christian himself, he always has a fun perspective on it.

This morning's post was really good. It's #486 on the Stuff Christians Like list and the post is titled "Finding God in nature." I loved it. I loved every word of it. Because while it's funny that we do this, I think there's a reason for it and a lot of validity in it.
When I think about my time in the mountains in North Carolina, I literally feel physical heartache for it. Most of the time it passes quickly but lately it's a fairly consistent feeling. The majesty in that place can't be described in words, nor can the magic found in the tiny little artistic communities and the people who reside in them. We used to call it a Fairy Land. While it's not a place where there's a lot of work to be done missionally, it's a great place of healing and peace, a place to let your heart rest. It's a mere hint of Glory here on earth and once you've experienced it, it's hard to want to be anywhere else. I suppose that's the point. :)

But, that being said, Jon, the author of Stuff Christians Like makes a really good point and rather than summarize it myself, I'll just let his words speak. Especially since he's hilarious...

#486. Finding God in nature.
A few months ago, while driving up to Nashville I crossed over a lake in the middle of a majestic mountain range and the sun was setting and the water was shimmering like a thousand diamonds in a rapper's grill and I didn't even care that the whole experience would one day be captured in an impossibly long run on sentence because I felt like God had created that scene just for me.

I love finding God in nature like that. That is fun and special and something I look forward to when I go to beautiful places. But there's a challenge.

We don’t all live in the mountains. Few of us live close enough to see the rise and fall of the tide for a God reminder. Most of us spend most of our days in gray walled cubicles, under florescent lights in corporate America. No mountain vista, no deep ocean divinity, no soaring eagle of sovereignty is found on the average Tuesday in an average week.

I think that in addition to finding God in extraordinary places, we need to look for Him in ordinary places. We need to make sure we don’t miss domestic miracles and mysteries. I remember once reading about the burning bush incident with Moses. I was blown away by the idea that in Exodus 3:3 it says, “So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight-why this bush does not burn up.” I started praying, “God give me strange sights in my own life. Please give me mysteries to explore.”

I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe some sort of massive mystery, with a map and a cool eye patch and at least one incident where I had to swing over a pit of snakes. Or maybe the sky would open and from the heavens I would see all of God’s nature reveal His majesty because I had requested a strange sight to explore like Moses.

Instead, I felt like God reminded me, “You want to explore a mystery? Your wife is a mystery. You don’t understand her. There’s your mystery. Get to know her better.”

I laughed. I had to laugh. I wanted the mountain top experience. I wanted to find God in nature like a burning bush or a safari trip where staring at something odd like a zebra forces me to deal with the creative mind of our Savior. Instead, in my small living room in my small ordinary house in Alpharetta, GA, God reminded me I was already engaged with a deep mystery. My wife.

Keep going to the ocean. Keep going to the mountains. Keep having your breath snatched away when you find a cross in nature. But don’t miss the domestic miracles and mysteries God brings across your path whether you’re married or single. They happen more than you think and are closer than you might have ever guessed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Geez Louise...I'm still allowed on here...

Don't know how long it will last. That being said, I've found a number of things written by other people lately that I've wanted to post but couldn't. And if only given a moment to post, I'd rather put something by other people because they have far better things to say than I do!

I subscribe to a youth ministry blog and this morning I got this article which was taken out of a book that I actually purchased not too long ago but haven't had the chance to read yet. The article is written for teenagers but I love reading articles like this one. They often make everything seem so simple, pointing out normal, everyday truths about our faith and how we should be living when I know I at least tend to make things harder than they need to be. This article really struck me this morning for a lot of reasons, speaking truth in ways I needed to hear and responding to a lot of thoughts I've had lately, while creating lots more questions, so I thought I'd share it. I don't know that I agree with absolutely everything that's said, but it's worth reading...


What if you commissioned an artist to paint a picture of your life, and he returned to you a boring black-and-white picture with no creativity or color? Not one of those artistic, well-done black-and-white drawings...a boring, uninspired work. You'd probably look at the drawing and say, "Man, that drawing is worthless. It doesn't represent my life at all. My life isn't that boring, that colorless."

And the truth is, it's not. God made you with color and creativity. The paint and brush God uses on you was used for no one else. And your color, your personality, is the one your church and school need. It's the unique shade your family and friends need.

And because you were painted with color, to influence the world, your quest should not stop with "Hmmm, I wonder what my personality is?" It should continue on to asking what God wants you to do with the personality he's given you. Ask yourself why you have the sense of humor you do. Why do you process information the way you do? Why do you lead in the way you do? Your personality isn't an accident; it's in you to be used to glorify the Artist who painted you the color that he did.

What if you could use your personality to change the world? What if your personality is God's desire in you to change and influence situations for his glory? What if God wants you to understand your personality better so you can be a more focused influencer for his kingdom? Consider using your personality to...


Some people think the situations they encounter in life are just random happenings, things they just stumbled across accidentally. They couldn't be more wrong. Every situation we find ourselves in at home or at school is something God wants us in. I've seen this in my own life--where God has led me to someone, and I've been convinced I was the person God needed me to be for that person. God has placed you in a particular place, at a particular time, because there's something about you that will make a difference in that moment. If that's true (and I really think it is) then our personality is God's gift to that moment, to shape the moment for his glory. The teacher who's feeling stressed might be the person who needs the part of your personality that is nurturing. The moment you discover your best friend just lost her grandfather is the moment God wants to use your compassion and committed friendship. The tense moment between your parents, the struggle of your pregnant friend, the hurt your sister is feeling--it doesn't matter what the situation is, your personality is God's tool. Let him use it.


Everything is supposed to be questioned. Everything. I've got days when I doubt and question and scrutinize everything. I'm sure you've got them too. I hear the guitar in my favorite song, and think I could play it better. I listen to a speaker and think I could say it better. I've got one of those personalities that criticizes much of what I see. I guess I can be pretty annoying to be around sometimes, but I think that questioning spirit can be a good thing. Too much of our world is closed to critique and opinion. Unfortunately most systems, programs, businesses, policies, and plans are set up by a handful of people who rarely ask for outside input. Too few organizations really value and use different ideas as they create and develop. Sadly, I find the church to be the institution that often seems most closed to thinking in new ways. Our world needs rethinkers, people who will dare to use the personalities God has given them. Our world needs people who will boldly enter the world, and use who they are to change it and make it better. Be one of those people.


Most people spend most of their lives without ever really opening themselves up to being challenged. They're happiest that way because it means absolutely no disruption in what they're most comfortable with--their neatly set up, overly systematized lives. But sometimes another person steps into their lives and helps them see everything just a bit differently--and it's like adding red food coloring to plain water. Sparks go off. Maybe they get defensive about the possibility of really thinking through how they live, or maybe they open up to your thinking and they change. Either way, they're challenged. But without you there, offering your idea, they would have never been led into a new way of considering their life. When we unleash our personalities into the lives of others, we become God's well-placed tool, challenging those he leads us to, bringing about change for his glory.

Leonardo da Vinci began painting his most famous work, "The Mona Lisa", in 1502. He worked on it for four years consistently, but it still wasn't complete. When da Vinci moved from Italy to France in 1516, the painting still wasn't done. But art scholars say he worked on it for three more years there, and completed it just before his death in 1519. Do the math...that's 17 years one guy worked on his work of art. I imagine da Vinci probably got frustrated and stopped several times during those years. He allowed others to see the incomplete painting and took it on his travels (like when he took the unfinished painting with him on a visit to the French king in 1516). In all those years, he must have been influenced by countless things he noticed around him. As he took breaks from his work, new ideas for colors must have crossed his mind. Any work-in-progress is open to new influences on the author and the creation.

In the same way, God takes the unique personality he gave to each of us and shapes it through our families, friendships, and other life experiences. It takes time to make us who we are, and the changing world of our family and friends is the primary context in which God begins to paint the picture of us. It's in these relationships that we discover our personalities, who we really are.

But the art doesn't stop there. God didn't create the art-that-is-us to leave us in a closet. God wants us to take our unique personalities and life experiences--all that we are--and use them to change the world. So the question we need to ask ourselves isn't just, "Golly, how did God make me?" The question is, "How can God best use what he's made?"

And here's the cool thing about that question. We don't get to choose how God made us. But we do get to choose how we're used. We get to submit ourselves to the wind of his Spirit. We get to experience the places he leads us to. We get to share in the impact on his kingdom. So search out how God made you and what he made you to be, but don't stop there. Seek out opportunities to use what he's created, so his work can be displayed for everyone to see.

~Tim Baker