April 10, 2014

Coffee Anyone?

If I were to set the scene for this conversation, we would be sitting in Starbucks and I would have a mug in front of me with a non-fat Chai Tea Latte....2 pumps.  You might possibly be rolling your eyes because your coffee drinking status has been elevated to new standards and you only buy coffee at trendy cafes where they pick their own beans, roast them, and create a flavor palate customized just for you while a poet hones his craft in the corner.  

Or you have some frothy drink piled up with whip cream and I kinda hate you because you can drink that stuff and not have to immediately take a nap.

Whatever your beverage of choice, I would take a sip of my tea and then sigh deeply before smiling at you and launching into the telling of the latest instalment of the Jenkins Family Adventures.

2014 clearly decided to engage in a fist fight with Scot and me.  It has been ugly......lots of bruises, scrapes and some scars but we are still standing.  Barely.  I promised in my last post to not be depressing....and I could SOOOO wallow right now.....but this is going to be upbeat.

Another sip of my tea.  Oh, how I love thee Chai Tea Latte.

We knew before Christmas that we would be leaving Singapore this summer.  The kicker?  We had no idea where we were going.  Luckily, enough other stuff was being thrown our way that being crazy worried about our next destination wasn't high on my list of stuff to worry about.  I figured God had this and when we needed to know, we would know.

For a while it looked like we might move to Denver.  Then it was Houston.  Neither one felt exactly right for us.  When Scot was offered a job that would move us to Chicago we sat back and contemplated the idea of moving to the Midwest.

Deep dish pizza, all 4 seasons, new adventures.....and it's close to Wisconsin!!  That last one didn't actually factor into anything except we know people in Wisconsin so it's kind of exciting since we don't know a single solitary soul in Chicago.  Well, except our realtor and loan officer but I am pretty sure they didn't intend to sell us a house and be our new besties.

I went with Scot to check out the area and we felt strongly that it was where we were supposed to go.  Soooooo......this family of 4 that has lived in Texas, Florida, and Singapore is now moving to Chicago where it snows.  We will be the only fools on the block running around with our tongues sticking out during the first snowfall and within 3 weeks we'll be sitting under sun lamps rocking back and forth muttering to ourselves about that big round orange thing that used to be in the sky.

I think we're going to be super popular there.

Another sip; although I'm sad that all the frothy milk is gone.

Our boys are thrilled about the move.  We have clearly instilled a healthy sense of adventure into them so something new is right up their alley.  I have one boy that is beside himself that we will have over an acre of land with trees which means he will be outside every possible moment in sun or snow.  The other one will spend as much time as he can in the big city.  They are excited to be going to Chicago but swear they will never be Cubs fans.

Scot would leave tomorrow if he could.  He is anxious to begin a new chapter and I am very proud of him for getting a great job that is going to be challenging and very interesting.  He will be travelling internationally so our frequent flier status is in zero danger of changing anytime soon.

As for me?

Another sip of tea while I figure out how to put my feelings into words.

I am looking forward to moving somewhere new.  I am confident it is the right thing for our family.  But there is going to be a mourning period as I rip up roots here and move somewhere to start all over again.  There are people here in Singapore that I love dearly that won't be a quick plane ride away.  I don't think I could even put into words the ways this place has seeped into the nooks and crannies of my heart and mind.  Asia has changed me in the last four years and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I know that God doesn't move you away from one thing without moving you towards another.  I look forward to finding out what is in store for me on the other side of the sad days.

We are already starting to see some "lasts" and have a good two months to wrap up the bucket list before the boys and I take our one way tickets and step onto the plane bound for Chicago.  It will be good to live in our home country again.  It will be REALLY good to have my own car!  Oh, and Target just happens to be right outside our new neighbourhood.  That is God's special little treat just for me.

I tip back my mug and drain the rest of my tea.

I am rambling....it's what I do when there are excess words floating around in my brain with no purpose.  It's time to get up and let someone else have our table until the next time we meet again.

I raise my empty mug to new adventures and deep dish pizza.  I raise my empty mug to our new hometown of Chicago!



January 27, 2014

Four Letter Words

I initially started this blog post using a well placed four letter word to describe this last month.  I didn't even flinch when I used it because the word so perfectly described the last several weeks of our lives.  However, I happen to have two teenage boys who get a kick out of reading this blog and I have a strict no cussing rule in my house so I need to be a good example....blah, blah, blah.

It is with very mixed emotions that I share that June is going to be the end of our time living in Singapore.  We have known since November and while I understand the career related reasons for this, my heart is struggling a bit with the reality that we will be saying good-bye to this small island that we have called home for almost four years.  I can hardly write that without being reduced to a puddle of tears. We will be saying goodbye to people that we dearly love knowing the odds are against us being back anytime soon. 

In the midst of grappling with all that moving means for us, we had to say good-bye to Scot's dad who died suddenly from a heart attack.  I watched as my husband looked like a nine ton weight was dropped onto his shoulders as he raced home to be with his father.  We were separated half a world away as death rocked his small family to the core and I felt completely helpless.  

If I had to describe life right now, I would say that I feel a lot like Peter that day he found himself in a boat being tossed around by a storm.  I recognize my Savior and the miraculous power he has to walk on water.  I look for Him among the storm  and my desire to be near Him gets me out of the boat.  I can sense Him beckoning to me and cheering me on as I take those uncertain steps onto chaotic water.  I look into eyes that are full of love and the noise in my head quiets as it bows to His authority.  

I then start to notice the absolute insanity of emotion that is all around me and I lose focus.  What is Scot's mom going to do?  Where are we going to live?  How do I say good-bye?  How do I start all over again?  I start to sink as I grab at things to keep me afloat but they all slip through my fingers.  

Then the strong and mighty hands of my Savior lift me up again and He reminds me that I can do this.  All the trials that have come before have been training for this day.  He has proven His character to be true and trustworthy and my job is to keep my eyes on Him.  My job is to journey through all of this with grace.

I write this knowing that in months....or maybe years from now......I will be able to look back on this and see God's plan clearly at work in our lives.  

I write this because for some strange reason it makes me feel better and less inclined to use the four letter words that would get my boys in trouble.  

I write this hoping that someday VERY soon I can write something that is actually light hearted and funny.  

January 10, 2014

One Word

I gave up on New Year resolutions a long time ago.  I tend to beat myself up pretty badly over failure and I ALWAYS failed at the whole resolution thing.  I never even made it out of the month of January before failing miserably so I decided resolutions were not for me.  Unless my resolution was to be consistently inconsistent in which case I was overwhelmingly successful.

A few years back when the trend began to pick One Word to take into the New Year, I halfheartedly participated.  I think I picked Love as my first word knowing that chances were pretty good I was going to Love someone at some point for most of the year.  Therefore, I was officially a girl who totally rocked the One Word New Year challenge.  Put it on a necklace and call it success.  

I have enjoyed reading everyone's One Word in the last week or so.  It seems that people are now feeling challenged to pick the One Word that no one else is using.  Love, Hope, Faith, Patience....all great words - all have been used before.  How about Indefatigability?  Or Pertinacity?  Or Staunch?  That's a good one.  Staunch.  

"What is your word for 2014?"

"Staunch.  It so beautifully describes who I want to be this year.  Not to be confused with Paunch which is a whole other issue to be dealt with this year."

Needless to say, I don't have a word for 2014.  At least not one that is inspiring in any way.  Right now my word would be Uncertain or Apathetic or Irritated.

There is some big stuff going on in my little family right now.  Details will have to wait until a more appropriate time but suffice it to say, my world is being shaken up a bit and I am pouting.

I know that God is in control.  I know that His will is perfect.  He has proven over and over again that He knows best how to take care of us.  

I know all of that but at the same time I have been struggling these last couple of months with feeling very spiritually dried up.  Almost like I'm in a stand off with God.  One of us is going to have to cave, admit some hard stuff and submit.  Chances are pretty good that it's going to be me.  

The kicker is that I don't have the luxury of pulling up a chair to a pity party for one.  I have a husband that needs my love and support and I have children who watch how we handle every little thing.  I have a leadership role at church that requires me to be very plugged in to God's will and loads of people that I need to do a good job of loving.  All of those things hinge on me being spiritually healthy.

How do I sum all of that up into a nice One Word for 2014?  I don't.  Frankly, it's going to take every single word in the book this year.  

Authenticity is a word that I love and value greatly and maybe that is the word I am embracing today.  

Surrender is another word.....maybe for tomorrow.  

Strength is a good one that I need to strive for every day.

Sugar.....ok, maybe not that one.  

Excitement pops its head up here and there.  

Determination is lurking in there somewhere.  I think it's hiding under Surrender.  

Integrity, love, forgiveness, peace, perseverance.....I will take them all, thank you very much.

Jesus....a word, a name, power...all wrapped up in one.  I need that one every single second.

At this point, I'll even take Staunch. I can't afford to leave any of the good words out of my New Year.
Well, except for Paunch.  I am going to actively try to rid myself of that one once and for all.

December 03, 2013

Short and Sweet

So....um, yeah.

You know all those times you swear off sugar or reality TV and before you know it you are eating an enormous bowl of ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser?

The last time I posted it was a declaration of intent to move on from my personal blog.  That actually lasted more than 7 months which is a heck of a lot longer than any of the 893 times I've sworn off sugar.

The reality is that I miss this.  I didn't think I would, but I do.  I miss being able to document what is happening in our world.  I miss how cathartic it is to fight with a keyboard to make sense of the noisy jumbled mess of thoughts in my head.

As for the project I was moving on to devote myself to?  I'm at a loss for how to proceed with it.  My fear of failing has given way to a whimpering acceptance that maybe I wasn't cut out to be the person that could accomplish turning a fantastic vision into reality.  Shortcomings are always so hard to swallow.

So here I am.  Back in a space that feels familiar and inviting.

Right this moment I am nestled into my favorite corner position on our couch.  Our Christmas tree sparkles with lights and ornaments that hold zero sentimental meaning.  I must admit I miss hanging up ornaments that catapult me back in time to when glue and construction paper were staples in our house and I could trace a little boy's hand and it was still cute.

At this point, that hand would be traced and then take up half the tree to display.

Today my firstborn turns 15 and only a few weeks ago my baby turned 13.  How in the world did that happen so quickly?  Life is short and so incredibly unpredictable.  I feel like there are pivotal chapters in my family's story that are being written right this moment and I don't want to forget a single sentence.

I have no idea how I'm supposed to wrap up a post such as this.  Nothing inspiring or even interesting.....just me on the other side of finishing up a big 'ol piece of humble pie.

I think it's time to move on!

March 26, 2013

A Graceful Exit

Throughout the entire planning process for our Spring Break trip to New Zealand, bungy jumping has been high on the list of  "must dos".  All along I have promised to jump with my husband and sons because I am always looking for ways to be a cool mom. I fail miserably in that department as evidenced by rolling eyes when I try to use phrases that are hip and cool.

The fact that I just used the words "hip" and "cool" are evidence to my plight.  Hence, the bungy jumping.  

In the days leading up to the fateful jump, I imagined myself in a graceful swan dive off the platform while my husband captured photo after photo of my fearlessness and gracefulness.  I was going to suck in my stomach and point my toes and fix a serene expression on my face.  

I had even started writing a blog post in my head to go along with the picture.  About taking a leap of faith and falling into the unknown with total security of knowing God holds us in His hands.

We arrived at the site of the jump and my boys ran ahead in nervous excitement.  I was all business checking us in for our jump as screens overhead played out the action on the bridge of people jumping.  

I can totally do this.  Pointed toes.  Serene expression.  Mom bonus points.  I'm all over this!

I wasn't even totally sidetracked by the fact that I had to step on a scale.  Not once, but twice!  I thought maybe she couldn't believe that first number could possibly be correct so she had me do it again....turns out that's protocol in case you're trying to cheat the scale.  

Let me just interrupt my story here for a moment.  If a person is about to jump off a bridge with nothing but a rope tied around your ankles and complete honesty about your weight can make a difference in whether you live or die??  That is not the time to hang your heels off the end to save a few pounds.  Not that I've ever done that or anything.....

She then proceeded to take out a big blue marker and write my weight in big numbers on my hand.  I have never been more thankful to be wearing long sleeves than I was at that moment.  The boys were having fun comparing their weight with their Dad and Granddad.  I had my long sleeves stretched over my hand and practically to my ankle.  No way was I playing that game.

We all marched outside and up onto the bridge.  I was excited.  There was a whole crowd of spectators and I knew they would all be rendered speechless by the display of grace and beauty I was about to give them.

Both of my boys went first and then my 75 year old father-in-law.  They showed no fear.  They soared liked eagles.  They didn't utter a sound as they became one with nature.

It was finally my turn.  I got strapped in and stood up.  I adjusted my shirt and pants so I was picture perfect.  I was asked to hop out onto the ledge.

That is when I looked down.  Really, really, really far down.  All of a sudden I wasn't ready and I couldn't have cared less about a blog post detailing the ins and outs of leaps of faith.  Leaping anywhere seemed like a very bad idea at that moment.  I'll let someone else write about that.  I'm outta here.  I was just about to turn around to cling to the ledge and start crying out for my mom....or Jesus....or both.


3...2....1

All of a sudden I'm airborne thanks to a guy on the platform that had a scheduled lunch break and no time for a middle aged indecisive swan wannabe.  I fell off the platform and remember that horrifying feeling of just falling.  Apparently I was flapping my arms as if at any second I would take flight.  It was anything but graceful and my face was far from serene as it twisted into whimpering half screams.


So here I am writing a blog post.  I don't have my beautiful picture to use as a launching point for a discussion on leaps of faith. I have a picture of being pushed off a ledge and an almost fetal position as I fall.  

I have to laugh because those pictures are a more accurate pictorial of my life than a graceful swan dive ever could be.  I am that girl that stand on a ledge as God beckons me out into the unknown.  I am that girl that can be overcome by fear and insecurity and would easily be swayed to turn and walk off that ledge if something didn't nudge me out into thin air.  I am that girl who flaps her arms and tries to fly as fear threatens to steal my last breath.

I am also that girl that survives.  

And then I climb back onto the ledge again because being scared flying through the air is so much more rewarding than watching from the sidelines.

The last three years I have spent in Singapore have felt like one leap of faith after another.  One would think I would have my swan dive perfected but I am still whimpering out on that ledge needing a gently shove to take that leap.  

This past Christmas, I was asked to be a part of starting a new website that we eventually named Woven in Asia.   It is a little scary for me as my primary responsibility is to write posts about all kinds of different things.  I don't feel qualified, I don't feel worthy, I don't feel like I can do justice to the vision my pastor's wife has.  I'm flapping my arms and trying to fly as I free fall into something very unknown to me.  But I also know without a doubt that this is what I am supposed to be doing.  We recently found out that we will be staying in Singapore and that was the final confirmation that I needed to jump feet first into the Woven in Asia project.

For now, Woven is going to be my new blogging home.  Please come and visit me there.  I have loved the sense of community this blog has given me.....even with how sporadic I am in writing.  I will miss that, but feel like I am being asked to give my full and complete attention to the new thing God has given me to do!

So long Doing Life......I am walking away for a time so I can, well......Do Life!  

XOXO

December 27, 2012

Lost and Found

As I sit at the computer, both of my boys are playing a new video game punctuated with cheers and laughter.  An occasional argument and accusations of cheating will erupt requiring a simple threat to turn off the game to restore order to that side of the room.  My man is in his office trying to finish some last minute expense reports so his picture is not the one hanging in the accountant's office being used as target practice.

Our tree is blinking but is bare underneath.  There are random gifts scattered, leftovers in the refrigerator, and a pile of dirty stretchy pants in my room.  All signs of the Christmas season coming to an end.

It has been a day of responding to neglected emails and wrapping up other loose ends before the end of the year.  I feel the need to somehow document this holiday season but have been putting it off for fear that my quest for joy in the last few months will be a journey I would rather forget.

Three days ago I sat in a pew during Christmas Eve service and wished I was anywhere else but there.  Singing rang out all around me and I went from complete disdain to a puddle of tears in a matter of minutes.

Somehow, somewhere, I had lost my joy.

I don't think I realized how bad it was until a month ago when I was standing in the kitchen with my sister after a great day.  We were chatting when suddenly I looked at her and told her that I felt happy.  True and complete happiness and it was so out of the blue, and definitely outside of what had become normal for me, that I had to give voice to it.

There is no one event to blame.  There is no one person to blame.  Life has just been more challenging and my suit of armour has been hanging in my closet gathering dust.

I am a girl in need of a new beginning.  A girl who needs Joy in her life once again.  A girl that needs to desperately seek her Messiah every single day.

A girl who is remembering that all those things were promised long ago when a Babe was born.

Merry Christmas to me.

November 07, 2012

You're Not The Boss of Me

I remember thinking when the boys were really little that I couldn't wait for the day when they were older and had a healthy respect for my authority.

Parental innocence is darling, isn't it?

It wasn't long ago that I went toe to toe with Nathan over an issue and he looked me right in the eye and declared that I was not the boss of him.  It was all I could do not to laugh and then run straight for the phone to call my mom to let her know that yes, indeed, it was payback time.

Growing up I was strong willed and defiant.  I don't think I had many normal conversations with my parents because it didn't matter what they said, I knew they were wrong.  About everything.  They had very high hopes that I would take my incredible and well practiced talent for arguing and become a lawyer.

I would have so rocked a pencil skirt.

I didn't like being told "no" and it infuriated me when my Dad would remain so calm while I yelled and carried on.  I can't even mention the word "Algebra" and he goes pale remembering those horrid study sessions where I took out all my mathematical angst on him.

There was the time I ran away because I didn't want to do my chores.  I actually climbed out my window and made it as far as the front door before I took my big bad self back inside.  I even remember the fake fur coat I was wearing.  It was gray.  And I think it might have possibly been made out of some sort of material that would have instantly combusted anywhere near an open flame.

Or the time I thought selling emergency panic buttons to elderly people was going to make me my first million.  I was in my early 20's and told my parents to get ready for retirement because I was fixing to make it big.  They were worried.  They warned.  They tried to be logical.  I would have none of it because it was what I wanted and no one was going to tell me otherwise.

I clearly wasn't the pleasant, compliant, meek person that I am today.
(let's pause while Scot regains his composure)

Recently I have been on my knees about a lot of issues.  More than normal.  Gut wrenching, tear my hair out, hide under the covers kind of stuff.  Stuff about me, my family and some very dear friends that are having everything pulled out from under them.

Honestly, I feel like God is moving very slowly or not at all.  I want to pitch a royal fit.  Or better yet, run away in a synthetic fur coat.  He is not doing things the way I want them to be done.

"You're not the boss of me!"

How badly I have wanted to tell Him that.  Maybe even yell it.  It is so very tempting to just take matters into my own hands.  I'll rant and rave and lose all self-control because it makes me feel better.  Manipulate situations so it turns out the way I want it to.  I'll let loose on some anger issues I've been having.  I'll walk away from women's ministry.  I'll do whatever I want to do.  I, I, I....me, me, me.

And when I am finally quiet enough for His still, small voice to get through the madness in my head, I can hear Him tell me that He is moving.  He does see.  He does care.  He does love.  He does listen.  He does speak.  He does know everything.

This relationship between God and myself is not one that was forced upon me.  It is one that I chose.  That I still choose.  It means I don't get to walk away just because things aren't going the way I want them to.  It means I press in harder and get to know Him better and take comfort in his sovereignty. It means that He is giving me time to strengthen my faith.  A faith that wains when life is too easy.

Then I wait.  And I honor Him by not losing all control and walking away.  I ask for a glimpse, however small, into the work that He is doing in and around me and I wait.

I looked at Nathan that day and told him that yes, I was the boss of him.  Not because I want to make his life miserable, but because I love him and sometimes a bigger perspective trumps his pride.  I told him that he needed to trust me.

Hmmm......maybe parents aren't so stupid after all.
 

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