Photoblog

Experiencing Loneliness in the Fullness of Motherhood

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January 17, 2018

Raising and homeschooling three chatty daughters means our home is rarely (read: never) quiet. Opinions and ideas are thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Even with their constant noise all around, my heart began to experience something new and unfamiliar: deep loneliness…Read the full article HERE

(Article originally appeared on Kindredmom.com HERE)

Remembering Spring

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January 17, 2018

I grew up watching my grandma fuss over her summer annuals. Her daily routine required a walk outside before the Missouri heat settled in to check on the flowerbeds dispersed throughout her country yard. She’d step across the dewy lawn to purge wilting petunia heads while cooing over that day’s latest blooms. The thicket of tiger lilies were my personal favorite; growing wild yet sophisticated to my 8 year old mind.

My grandma and I still chat about those summer strolls through her yard fondly. What stands out to me after nearly three decades aren’t the lessons in horticulture I gained from traipsing through the yard by her side, but the joy she expressed over something so temporary and fragile. She looked at the blooms and saw last month’s seedling and last week’s spouting bud. I looked at them and saw a plant I dared not trample in a rambuncious game of hide-n-seek: fragile. I saw lunch for wild, twitchy nose rabbits (grandma called them pests) I found so adorable: temporary.

Experience has a way of training our eyes to see in new ways. My definition of temporary and fragile hasn’t changed, but how I value experiences allowing me to express an eternal joy over the temporary and fragile reality of life certainly has.

A freshly fallen, perfectly formed snowflake before it melts

Nerves over our teenager learning to drive

Jellyfish navigating around boats and docks in the harbor

Rainbows

Grandpa’s dementia-free stories

Mountaintop view out of the airplane window

Snuggles from an aging cat

Hands up high on the rollercoaster

Laughing with the person I married 18 years ago

 

This past year we moved our family across the country to the Pacific Northwest where giant evergreens replaced Midwest fields of wheat and cattle. In the middle of a season of change I found joy in an all familiar place, a garden. The NW coastal areas are home to breathtaking public gardens where forests of rhododendrons flourish and cherry blossoms crown aisles of rich clover. Once again, I’m looking around reacquainting myself with joy found in the temporary and fragile. Since joy and gratitude go hand-in-hand, I’m thankful for opportunities to trade grief over what ‘was’ into joy over what ‘is’ and rejoice in the hope for all things eternal.

Psalm 103: 13-17

The LORD is like a father to his children,

tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

For he knows how weak we are;

he remembers we are only dust.

Our days on earth are like grass;

like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

The wind blows, and we are gone—

as though we had never been here.

But the love of the LORD remains forever

with those who fear him.

What’s Your Family’s Rest Plan?

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January 17, 2018

“The days are long, but the years are short,” I heard a wise parent say, but there’s something about the endless calling of parenthood that both blesses beyond measure and exhausts beyond means. Parents are emotionally and physically invested in this occupation of preparing people to be the next generation of life-givers. In order to give our best, we need to be our best, and that requires something that isn’t given enough credit in our overly-caffeinated, deadline-driven, production-measuring society: rest.

Click HERE for more on establishing a family rest plan.

Snowfall in Stanley Park

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November 20, 2017
Snowfall in Stanley Park, Dec 2016

Snow didn’t fall across Vancouver, it dumped like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Friends had warned us not to expect snow in the lower mainland, so when reality exceeded our expectations we bundled up like all good Midwest natives know how to do, and trekked into the heavy powder. Gripping my matte black umbrella high overhead to shield my exposed camera, I walked the paths of Stanley Park snapping photographs of Vancouver’s winter wonderland.

Out of the Fog

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November 20, 2017

 

Out of the Fog, Vancouver 2017 J. Meyerpeter

I turned down the sidewalk leading to seawall just beyond our ground floor townhouse tucked under the 40 story tower. The morning sun yawned under the blanket of fog. I knew my fingers would get cold resting on the camera dials (gloves would’ve been wise) but the ever-changing characters of fog and light are impatient subjects to capture. Each step toward the water drew my eyes further across the rippling waves until visions of sailboats and yachts formed out of the fog; sleeping figures off the shore. 

A Priceless Work of Art

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March 16, 2017

 

Museum, Art, Kansas City, Nelson Atkins Museum
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

One of my favorite places in all of Kansas City is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. As a preschooler in the ’80s I walked those gray marble halls to my first art class in the museum’s lower level and still, to this day, wonder whether that waxy security guard just might be real. A trip to the museum isn’t complete until I stand face to canvas before my favorite painting, Claude Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines (1873-74). It depicts a city view of wintry Paris…(continue reading HERE)

 

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Claude Monet, 1873 Boulevard de Capucines

Words and Spices of Autumn

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September 16, 2016

The crock pot is set to low and your house will smell like roasting potatoes and butternut squash soup in a matter of hours (none of which your kids will eat likely eat, but you don’t even care because Fall and Pinterest trump chicken nuggets tonight). Last year’s pumpkin spice candle glows on the kitchen counter, and you’re cozied up on the couch in your favorite oversized sweatshirt, a steaming mug of tea warming your chilled fingertips and your favorite new book open on your blanket covered lap. Autumn is upon us, friends. Unplan accordingly.

The above description is dreamy, isn’t it? It’s Friday and our forecast here in the PNW is calling for colored leaves and cool air. I hope your (and my) weekending goals are at least punctuated with rest and recharge. To get us all started off here’s a little inspiration from my autumn loving heart to yours…

Crock Pot Goals start right here, friends. Don’t even tell me you don’t like butternut squash because I won’t believe you. It only tells me you lack squash cooking creativity.

1466104837027This is the book you’ll want with your tea this fall. Have you preordered this book yet? Yes? I can’t wait to hear what you think of Shannan’s courageous story of faith and surrender. No? Go order it quick because it officially releases on Tuesday the 20th, so there’s still time to grab up the freebies offered HERE. You’ll want to have a copy to underline every other sentence and lend out to friends so you can chat about the heart changes God is doing in you because of Shannan’s journey.

harvest-blend-teaFinally, I leave you with my favorite autumn tea. Since we don’t have a Trader Joe’s up here I urge you to enjoy it on my behalf. I can almost smell the spicy brew from here…

Happy Weekending to you all! May your crock pots be bubbly and book pages turning this fall. Let me know if there’s a tea up here in Canada you think I need to try out! I’m always up for new suggestions 🙂

~ Jena

When Words Don’t Fit

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September 13, 2016

The city library five blocks from our house has a huge neon sign out front lighting up the corner of a bustling intersection in downtown Vancouver. It reads, “The Words Don’t Fit the Picture”. Tonight I’m sitting at a Starbucks counter enjoying my first PSL of the season (decaf) with that very sign in view over my shoulder outside. These days new experiences are coming faster than my words. I daydream of writing projects and goals, but real life is loud here, so professional pursuits simmer at a low heat on the back burner. Homeschooling three kids is a full-time gig (did I mention one of them is taking geometry?? One word: proofs. Feel my pain). Setting up a new life in an unfamiliar city takes extra focus and energy. One day last week we went (tried) to go to the grocery store. Twice. Only to return with zero food (long story short, don’t drive in an urban core and expect parking spots at rush hour and always bring your wallet with you when you grocery shop). Takeout sushi. Again.

I’d love to sit down and write a book about how I’ve seen God at work this past year. How He’s faithful to grow new life through our brokenness, and I how know that to be true more today than ever before. I’d love to compose chapters about how God is more complex, loving, and grace giving than we can ever wrap our minds around, and how Jesus invites us, His broken and bruised children, to shine out of dark places. Finally, I’d love to tell you a word story about home. How our hearts long for a home that isn’t here, and every disappointment is a grace moment to point us away from the temporary and into eternity.

But I have 18 minutes left until I need to pick up my 13 year old from a new youth group gathering. She walked into a crowded room of unknown peers with courageous nerves tonight. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of her than I was tonight watching her introduce herself to strangers as I turned to walk away leaving God to shine right through her broken places too.

I’ll keep writing when I’m graced with time, but for now let me leave you with a few of my favorite views from the beautiful British Columbia…

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The Bridge (Revisited)

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August 24, 2016

Nearly a year and a half ago in April of 2015 I couldn’t sleep, so I sat up in bed, grabbed my laptop and wrote with only the glow of the screen lighting my dark bedroom. What I wrote then was a belief, an image in my mind of a journey and the faith it takes to step into the unknown. Fast forward to July 2016 where I stood waiting my turn to cross this bridge dangling hundreds of feet above a rainforest floor 2000 miles away from home and all things familiar. I had no idea the fiction piece I wrote back in 2015 for an audience of amazing women would be my factual life today. Truth? I’m mid-bridge. It’s swaying. My knuckles are white from holding on for dear life, but I’m moving forward one faith step at a time and I’m constantly praying, ‘Lord, help me run.’  (Read the original post below)

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Best pic I could grab on a swaying crowded bridge
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Blurry pic because the bridge is swaying!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2015
The Bridge

One more step and I’d be on the bridge. Am I ready? Glancing over my shoulder at the well-worn dirt path behind me I notice for the first time how wide and sure it was. Back on that smooth terrain I even ran for a time feeling swift and empowered. I saw God’s glory in the sunsets and budding daisies. I heard His creation cries in the dove’s song and sensed his presence in the cool breeze. Not long ago, a friendly traveler handed me a trail map just to make my travels easier. He’d mentioned not wanting me to have to think too much, and pointed out an easier path, but it seemed to go in circles and it proved to always take me where I didn’t want to go so I threw it aside. Today the path began to wind higher and higher as I sensed God calling me forward with every uphill stride. I couldn’t run anymore and my legs grew weary from the climb, but when I reached the top of the mountain and looked across the expanse I knew there is so much more to this journey than I had ever dared to dream. The only way to get there was by crossing the bridge. Dare I admit I don’t like heights? There, just within sight at the far end of the bridge was an illuminated path. It was narrower than the one I’d previously traveled, but its beauty was indescribably inviting. Somehow I knew it was meant for me, and I was meant to have faith in its unseen destination. I just had to cross the bridge to get there.
Taken in with the inviting splendor of this newfound journey I step forward and hear the creaking of aged wood under my feet. Noticing for the first time how high the bridge suspends over the valley and how feeble the planks are sitting on the age-old ropes, I quickly retreat back onto solid ground. The pounding of my heart quieting as I glance behind me at the old familiar comforts of the known path. I was happy enough back there, for a time. Should I just turn around and walk back down the mountain? Familiarity entices and soothes my fears. God blessed me on that journey once, I’m sure he’ll do it again. Right? My heart knew the answer before I even turned to face the bridge again. My goal isn’t to be the lifelong recipient of good gifts. Somewhere along that path my heart tasted freedom and now it wants more…more than what meets the eye. The unknown depth of my soul’s longing is to experience this journey fully surrendered to God’s wild frontier. To stop clinging to my perceived control and get on the bridge.
So I step forward, trembling inch by inch. The bridge sways in the wind and sounds of falling boards ricochet and crack in the blackened valley below. Fear calls from the depths of my soul urging me to retreat to safety. Should I go back? The answer explodes from a newly awakened space in my heart and mind. Never. I grip the rail as tight as I can and run, tripping on loose boards, hands burning from holding on so tightly, fear warning me to stop, but running…and all the way laughing for the joy of finally living.
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Following Jesus is a journey. At unexpected moments, He calls us out farther and deeper than we ever imagined going, but with Him all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23). Believing He is with us, his peace guarding our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:13) as we surrender every moment, even our most paralyzing fears, to Him who pours out his love for us (Romans 5:5) is our greatest adventure.
Where do you see yourself on your journey? Where do you see God? What fears lie beneath your bridge keeping you from experiencing the freedom of fully surrendering to Jesus? Where has God’s love been so evident to you along the way?