Sunday, September 4, 2016

Healing Moments

Hi everyone!

As my summer break came to a close, so many life events started unfolding at once.  Always one to see how many mountains I can move at once, the past several weeks taught me some very important things.

Don’t wait to get your life in order before you start living life because in the blink of an eye everything can change.  If you don’t take time to stop and smell the roses, or in my case the incredible scented candles in my cottage, then your body WILL make you stop one way or the other.  You WILL have to slow down.

Now having sickness hit at the most inopportune time is never a good thing, but through it so many things were brought into focus for me.  It’s so true, it isn’t who we have with us when we reach the top of the mountain, but who are the people in our lives that have been helping us climb all along.  

A dear friend of mine recently told me that when she was near me Ruth always came to mind and tonight I received the most beautiful and precious God wink.  I took some time to go out to my cottage and when I looked up from writing Ruth’s words seemed to light up my cottage brighter than the candles that illuminated the space.

“Wherever you go I will go & wherever you stay I will stay.” ~ Ruth 1:16

Sometimes the Lord just wants us to rest, to stay where we are because He is working on our road map and before He wants us to continue on our journey He has to align everything so that it fits into His will for our lives.  Yes, sometimes we wait due to illness or natural disaster or divorce or death or various and other assorted ways.  

The key though is that no matter how long it takes, we must wait and hold on to our faith, even if that faith is only the size of a mustard seed, because the storms of life while pass, the sun will shine again.  But while we wait, we need to hold on to those who bring sunshine into our lives, even on rainy and somewhat stormy days.  

Accept their unconditional love like a fresh cut bouquet of flowers – forget nothing about these times, both the good and the bad moments, because it is both the good and the not so good times in our lives that mold us into the “one of a kind” gifts that God created us to be. 

Take time for what you love and for who you love – trust me, it is THE best medicine ever!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Finding My Voice

Hi everyone,

Wow, the summer seems to be flying by and with the passage of time I am also finding other areas of my life beginning to take flight.  It’s amazing how often times dreams that we once held dear, dreams that we once thought were lost can suddenly appear on the horizon.  

The impact can be just as breathtaking as a rainbow after a storm, just as calming as the sound of mourning doves in the morning.  The last time I wrote it was about crying out to the Lord, but time and again I have found throughout life that He so often answers prayers that maybe we only acknowledged within our souls and never to anyone else.  This timing for this post is a perfect example of that. 

Many, many moons ago I use to sing in choir and at choral competitions.  I also had a Minnie Pearl skit that I would perform for functions as well.  But time and life got in the way and after college this was an area of my life that I never thought I would revisit. However, God’s plans and timing are often so very different from our own. 

I have felt for several years that I wanted to sing again; that I was meant to do something with my voice.  So one Wednesday night after church I asked Octavia, who is our Worship Leader at church and a PHENOMINAL artist, if she would listen to me.  It had been over 30 years, maybe the internal nudging for me to sing was nothing more than a 50 year old woman trying to reclaim her youth or maybe this was something that my internal GPS was on course with.

So in a little room, on a summer evening, I sang Amazing Grace.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start.  And it was in that moment, when Octavia suggested that I take some voice lessons to polish up what I had put aside for so many years, that I realized I was finally finding my voice.  Octavia suggested Laine Miller, an INCREDIBLE voice teacher, performer & director of musical theater. 

My voice lessons have become such an outlet for me.  And an added God Wink was when Laine gave me the piece New Life from Jekyll & Hyde to sing.  It is so fitting for this time in my life.  

Preparing to sing this song takes patience, perseverance, and practice.  These same elements are also very important in my writing and really when I create anything.  However, when I am patient, when I persevere, and when I practice the task that I am working on then I will find my voice, either in song or on paper. 

We all have a voice that we can use in some way.  We all have some gift or gifts that God has given us and when we use them we are then letting the world see the beauty that He has placed in all of us.  We are using our voice, whether spoken or through our actions to show the world Him through us.

And in a world that is turned upside down; in a world that seems to have lost the song in its heart, maybe it is time we all look within to find the beautiful voice that He has given us and sing to bring comfort to this heartbroken world.  May each of us use this week to seek the voice that He has placed inside of us to help comfort those around us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cry Out

Hi everyone!

For the past several days when I have first woken up Third Days’ song Cry Out to Jesus has been on my heart.  When this first happened I thought about it – in the stillness of the morning I cried out.  I have friends who are sick, some with lift threatening illness; friends who have lost loved ones; friends who are lost; and children trying to see where God is leading them.  The list doesn’t even begin to address my prayers and petitions.

Then in the quiet of my morning, with the only sound being that of the animals He created, I cried out.  In that moment, it was like time stood still, like He stopped everything just to sit and listen.  I couldn’t help but smile because one of my best friends in the world will do the very same thing.  When I need to cry out, he will stop whatever he is doing and simply listen.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he is a god, what I am saying is that if I have a friend on earth that is that attentive, that if he is willing to stop everything in the middle of his busy day and listen, then how much more willing is out Heavenly Father to stop and sit and listen. 

We know from the Bible that “Jesus wept.” He hurts when we hurt.  He cries when we cry.  Yes sometimes life gets messy and complicated, but He is there to help us with the mess.  He is there to mend out broken hearts.  He is there to give us direction.  He can make what seems impossible, possible.

Several months back I heard a sermon where it talked about if we weren’t careful Satan could take even the most precious desires of our heart and use them to entrap us.  The sermon came when I was finishing up my cottage.  A cottage that I created for writing, but as the process of putting it together continued I knew it was meant to be my War Room.  It is no accident that in that sermon the preacher warned that as we get closer to what God has for us Satan will use whatever He can to distract us and throw us off course.  It is no accident that my best friend is sick and that it has caused me to slow down and cry out. 

We have become a society that lives at such a fast pace, grabbing a few seconds with Jesus through apps on our cell phones, that the idea of stepping away from technology and spending time with Him, crying out to Him, seems foreign to us.  My best friend and I recently bought one of the new journaling bibles that have artwork that you can color.  I think coloring in my new bible, while not artwork for me to put on display, has helped me to slow down and reflect on His Word and my life.  The youthful illustrations that I color help me to quiet my surrounds, examine the weight on my shoulders and cry out.  It brings calm to the chaos associated with life.  It doesn’t mean I have all the answers or know where life s going after I cry out; it simply means that I have taken time out of my day to give it all to Him.  He knows what He is doing.  He knows where He wants to take me.  He knows the desires and promises He has placed in my heart. 

Crying out helps me to stop and remind myself that He knows what He is doing.  His timing is ALWAYS perfect.  It helps me put my trust back in Him and to stop trying to make life happen on my own.  If I have learned nothing else from this life, it’s that if we get ahead of God’s plan, life can go terribly wrong.  By quieting our minds, hearts, and souls for just a portion of our day we are able to truly breath, relax, and let THE one who created us take the wheel. 

Wishing you the best!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Waiting on Santa in the Summer

 Hi everyone!

As I welcome in this beautiful evening I can't help but reflect on how drastically my life has changed in the past year. 

Years ago I dreamed of having a cottage in my little woods where I could create. Months ago I wrote about it, thinking it would take years to come to fruition and then out of the blue, God had a change of plans. What I thought would take years only took a couple of months.

It was a gently reminder of His perfect timing because my vision, while beautiful, so paled in comparison to what He actually had in store for me.

Isn't it funny how that happens? Isn't it funny how no matter how many trials He brings us through, no matter how many God winks & modern day miracles we see Him perform in our lives, if we aren't careful we find ourselves clinging to our mustard seed and loosing heart when it comes to the promises that are so close to our heart.

So what do we do when that happens? Well since I am in the middle of this journey what I have chosen to do is surround myself with 3 of THE most precious friends a girl could ask for. 

And music - music just makes everything better!! Hey, my neighbor's haven't complained about me serenading them yet!!

I don't know what is more beautiful, watching the stars come out one by one or watching the light bugs begin their evening dance one little light at a time.  Yes, at times I have to remind myself or my friends gently remind me, that if God can make the stars, if He can give a tiny bug the ability to light up the sky, then God has not forgotten about the desires of my heart.  

Sometimes I just have to slow down, take a deep breath, look around at the incredible blessings He has right in front of me and trust Him with the rest.

If He could help me turn what was once a plain little building into my own little magical retreat, just think about what He may have in store for me next??!!  It’s like waiting for Santa in the middle of the summer!!!  Until next time...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Just a Girl & Her Son

Hi everyone!

With Spring Break now here I can play and create for a week.  As my break started I found that I was overcome with waves of emotions.  

Good Friday fell on my mom’s birthday this year and oh how I miss her terribly.  So instead of the family crawfish boil, I cooked for my daughter & her husband as they settle in with their new edition to the family.  

As I rocked this precious child Friday I couldn’t help but cry – cry because I wish my mom was here to see him – cry because I realize that the our kids grow up in the blink of an eye – cry because I am so very proud of Sarah & Jacob and I am so proud of the incredible father Jacob is and as a mom, to me the care, love, and support he gives my baby girl is worth more than anything on this earth.

I am pretty much known for listening to music and singing from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep, with a million ideas of what I want to create next bouncing through my head.  So yesterday morning the song on my heart was Brandon Heath’s song, Just a Girl.  Traditionally this is a Christmas song, but for me, as a mom it took on a different meaning.

As I rocked my precious grandson and then let my baby drive me home I was reminded of how time flies.  As I listened to this song, as a mom I could not help to feel that gut wrenching agony Mary must have been feeling.  

I have three children, she had one…one child that she watched endure bullying far beyond what we watch our own children experience today.  She watched them do unspeakable things to her baby, and yes, though he was a man, no matter how old our children get they are always ours babies. 

So think about it, God used an ordinary woman, like me or you or your mom and He knew that He was sending this child into the world to carry our burdens, to die for our sins, not any sins that he himself committed.  And through this all, Mary had to sit back, watch and trust that God knew what He was doing.  How many moms, how many helicopter parents could sit back and do this today?  How many of us would want to see out children die so that others could be saved? 

Mary was an ordinary woman.  Think about all of the other people in our present time who have had an incredible impact on this world that had just “plain Jane” moms.  My point is this, God can use ALL of us, the “plain Janes” or in my case “Jennifer Jane” to do incredible things in His name.  

It is not about where we attend church, it is about us knowing and listening to Him, watching for the God winks and in this fast paced, often crazy world letting people see Him work through us.  Maybe it is in reaching out to those that are hurting to offer help; maybe our stories provide hope to the hopeless; maybe it is just giving someone a hug so that for a minute in time they can feel the burdens of the world lifted off of their shoulders.  What this looks like will be different to each and every one of us, but make no mistake about it, we ALL can take the unique gifts and talents that He has given us and use them for good in this world.

Mary was just a girl who did not have all of the conveniences of today, who didn’t have a crazy mom and step mom to help her welcome her son into this world.  She was an ordinary mom who gave birth to an extraordinary son who died to save me & you.  That is more precious than a chocolate bunny in an Easter basket. 

So this morning when my boys went with me to church to sing and praise with their crazy momma, I hugged them a little tighter.  To watch my almost grown boys praise and worship the Lord, unashamed – I just have to tell you that is such a precious gift to me.  

I thank God for using me, an ordinary plain “Jennifer Jane” mom to teach them what an incredible relationship they can have with Him.  I have has always tried to teach my children to listen for God’s voice because going where He leads will provide them with a life that provides more fulfillment than a paycheck can ever give them.

Yes, Mary was just a girl who watched her son die for me and you.  What a completely humbling thought that is on this Easter Sunday! 

Happy Easter everyone!  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Soup on a Sunny Day

Hi everyone!

Over the past several days, though life has had me slow down a bit to deal with this cold, I have found that the result has been a wave of new material for my books.  It is exciting, yet a tad bit overwhelming at times.  

I have come to the conclusion that often times writers aren’t born, life just makes us that way.  

Literally during some of the most unpleasant times in my life I have had friends like Sarah Bernard tell me, “WAIT, WAIT – like I know what you are going through is really horrible, but I can only think about your books.  YOU HAVE TO WRITE THIS DOWN!!  I’m sorry, but when I talk to you I just always think of how you need to put this into your books.  Your life is like this tragic comedy, but you have to write it down because no matter what you go through, you always come out okay.”  

Yes, there have been times when we have laughed through the tears and the pain that I have reminded her, “BELIEVE me – I WILL NOT FORGET THESE DETAILS!”
So I guess not only do I now have a creative tribe of friends, but I also have an incredible group of friends that have become by surrogate family tribe as well.  My friend Kathy has been rock and has walked with me through one of the scariest times in my life.  Yet we filled notebook after notebook with the tails of this unfortunate adventure, because some things are so unbelievable I just can’t make them up.  My Cajun friend Kim has spent many years on this journey with me and she knows me better than almost anyone.  The list could go on and on and I don’t want to leave anyone out, but that really isn’t my point tonight.

As I made tortellini soup, a favorite at my house when we aren’t feeling well, I couldn’t help but think of how much our lives are like the things we cook.  Sometimes we have to put things that might not seem appetizing at first into our recipes, but when we are done we have created a culinary master piece.

Aren’t our lives like that too?  Sometimes we have to go through times that may seem wonderful at first, yet turn into a disaster, or unpleasant at first - may be hot to the touch, or cold in terms of how we are treated, but isn’t it this combination of hot and cold, sour and sweet, that in the end can lead to the most delectable of creations that becomes out life?

Yes, sometimes life has us slow down a bit so that we can celebrate the aroma of what is around us and what we have been given.  So we can tell what needs to be added to our life and what we need to take away, so that in the end, like food, we feel, warm, comforted, and loved.

Until tomorrow…. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

We Put the FUN is Dysfunction

Hi everyone!
I decided this morning to listen to my doctor and go home and rest after class, but by the time I finished the things I had to get done my morning turned into 2:30 PM.  Oh well…such is life.  One of the items on my agenda was going by to check on my stepfather.  I promised mom 4 ½ years ago I would take care of him and though at times he plucks my last nerve, I have honored her request.  But leaving there this afternoon several things seemed to hit me at once. 

For as long as I can remember I have always been more emotional than normal when I didn’t feel well.  And since I am the Queen of the Hallmark channel and when commercials come on my kids will say, “Now mom, it’s just a commercial, don’t cry,” it’s been a pretty draining afternoon.  My mom use to say that no matter how old we got, when we were sick we just wanted our momma.  Yes, that is true and thus it makes the grief kind of run over me like a Mac truck today.  It’s funny, no matter how old we get, when we don’t feel well we just want mom.  So to deal with the grief I write. 

Raising kids is tough, but taking care of our family members when we are older is not something anyone ever told us about when we were in our 20s.  Why do I do it?  Why do I take care of a stepfather that really never had to accept me as his own?  Well I do it because he did just that.  He stepped in and became the dad that I didn’t have and that I needed.  None of us who are parents are perfect.  We all make mistakes; all wish we could do things over; but we do the best we can with the cards life gives us at the time.

If I got nothing else from my crazy teenage years in this blended family I did get my sense of adventure.  And many of you who went through this time in my life with me also got a taste of Jane & Clyde’s Big Adventures as well.  Some of you are reading this, shaking your heads saying, “I can’t believe we did that!!”  I did get my ability to learn to put the fun in dysfunction from these times.  After all, there isn’t a family around that doesn’t have some level of dysfunction.  It’s how you choose to handle it that makes all the difference in the world.

In college I worked for International Paper here in town and the men under him would always ask me, “Does he smile at home.”  I guess not letting his sometimes gruff nature get to me prepared me to deal with many gruff people in my life.  It also taught me that under every gruff exterior there is a teddy bear that just needs a hug – I was saying “Whatever” through my actions long before the teens of today put it into words.

So on days when I don’t feel well and I am missing my mom; on days when he is plucking my last nerve; I smile through the tears and simply say, “Whatever” because I hope and pray that one day when I am plucking on one of my kids last nerves that they too will be there to look after their momma. 

I hope that I have taught them to always chase the sun and to always look for the fun in the dysfunction.  Most of all, I just hope they always know that their momma will always be here to give them a hug whenever they need it and when my time here on this earth is through that they will feel my hugs from heaven like I feel my mom’s.

Until tomorrow…  

Creative Chaos

Hi everyone!

Yes, at 1:20 AM I should soooo be asleep since I have so much to accomplish in a few hours, but this is what happens when a doctor gives you 2 shots at 3 PM to try and help you get well.  I had said earlier on Facebook that I knew this would mean lots of writing for me and wow has that been the truth.

As I sat here trying to fall asleep, without much success, I couldn’t help but think of all of my different projects.  Creatives are often known for taking on too much and finishing very little.  On more than one occasion I have had people ask me how I juggle the many hats that I wear and I think I have found the answer.

I have always been a multitasker, hey I was an Army wife for 18 years – I was taught this from the moment I stepped of the plane in Germany.  You hear me say over and over how blessed I am, but I have an amazing career that lets me teach young adults how they CAN come to like and even LOVE computers because we can use them to make incredible things and literally change the world.  I have a friend that for 14 years has laughed and said, “Do you still love your job?”  And I can honestly tell her yes.  There aren’t many people that can do this.

So over the weekend I embroidered; today I was writing; and tonight I posted a picture of my Garden Glitter.  How do I decide what I want to do?  How do I get it done? 

In July we celebrate Independence Day and for me July 2015 was not only a real life Independence Day, but it also marked a time in my life when God opened doors for me I never thought I would have the chance to walk through again.  It was literally like the butterfly finally getting free from the cocoon and being told, it’s all yours - go for it – it’s time. 

So I did, I swam with the Sharks and went back to school.  I wrote research and chapters for my books at a feverish pace.  And then the funniest thing happen, then I started to see pieces of the puzzle of my life that I only dreamed of in my writings take shape.  The girl/The woman who had been told her whole life she had a bad habit of not finishing things was doing it with every ounce of her being.  I dreamed, planned, and brought to fruition THE Curiosity Cottage that had always been in my heart, but now was a place I could show the world.  One by one, person by person, and detail by detail God let it all fall into place – in a way that I had only dreamed of.  But once again it so beautifully illustrated that His timing is ALWAYS better than ours and when He is behind it the results are truly breath taking.

So now what, how do I keep this constructive creative journey going since my life is now free from chaos?  Well it starts by first becoming comfortable enough with me, finally after 50 years, that I realize I love to do things and explore – after all from the very beginning I have said Curiosity Cottage was “a place to explore my curiosity of life” – and if I am not comfortable exploring the world in my own little space, then how could I possible do this anywhere else?  Yes it is time to simplify and get rid of things that I don’t need.  That will come over the next several months.  With each new step; with each new accomplishment; and each time that I try out these new wings, I will get there.

I have come to the conclusion that it is okay if I embroidery sometimes, and write sometimes.  There is nothing wrong with making Garden Glitter in the spring so people can put it in their gardens, but lamps in the summer out of tea pots when people don’t want to go outside.  It’s OK to learn new things and go on new adventures. 

In other words, there is no right or wrong way to be a creative.  We don’t have to pick one certain craft, hobby, or passion and do that forever.  For me personally I would die of boredom. 

When our community started Maker Mornings with Todd Henry as the first speaker, I don’t think anyone fully realized the impact that this was going to have.  Just yesterday someone in our Maker Morning Tribe commented on how we are not competing with each other.  Instead, our creative energy is actually having a snowball effect.  I was being an accidental creative before I ever heard about the book.  I wanted to die empty before anyone every told me I should.  And I was combing art with technology before I ever knew that LSU was turning this into a whole degree program.  I just thought I was out in left field, never knowing there was actually a tribe out there doing this same thing.

Being a creative can often be a lonely life.  Often times some of the people closest to us just don’t get us.  If we aren’t careful they can inadvertently crush out spirit.  But having a group of like minded creatives – well I think there are a lot more butterflies in Central Louisiana finding their way out of their cocoons than any of us could even imagine just yet!

Until tomorrow or later today…


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