I’m not sure what I had in mind exactly for the future; I guess more time at the same jobs we’ve loved for years. It was out of my hands, though, as much of life is. Next year, my work will look a little different than it does now.
When we make life decisions, we have to live with them, but sometimes it’s even more difficult when life makes a huge turn, having zero to do with our choices. We are left a little lost and bewildered, wondering something along the lines of…
What did I do to deserve this? (And for me…during my birthday week?)
But after the shock lessens, it ends up having more to do with what we actually do with what happens to us. When things are out of our control, it can feel terribly lonely. Fear creeps in, and there are more questions than answers. Hope? Well, it feels impossibly far away. Trusting God has a plan, roller coaster-like as it may be, brings me some peace even when what’s happening makes zero sense. I’m learning when I feel worried and anxious about exactly what next year will look like, I have to say out loud, “Okay, God, I know you got this.” I am not an expert at it, but I’m finding more and more, um, opportunities to practice it. Hearing myself helps me believe it when time stops at the top of the roller coaster. It’s there, when my eyes are closed, and I’m edging closer to the next breath-stealing, hurtling ride into the unknown.
So, at first, this change felt like a deep, dark question, but it has become instead a big, bright possibility. I don’t know how it all will work; I have no idea. But, I realized something else as peace replaced my initial fear. Somewhere deep down, I have longed for time to pursue some other things but expected that would only happen at retirement (in a million years). Don’t get me wrong; I love my job as it is now, but here it is, this surprising gift placed in my open hands.
This is my birthday week (because one day is just not enough).
While I was sifting through birthday wishes on the main day, I ran across something I’d posted barely over 5 years ago on Facebook. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about some of these things!
I guess, sometimes, whatever is happening right now seems to take over the past. But then, going back a few years is a profound reminder of where you’ve been, and that is worth celebrating.
My updates, now that I’m older and wiser in some ways, are in bold.
25 Random Things About Me
January 24, 2009 at 6:39pm
1. I am a book junkie. I have a pile of books in my closet that are calling my name. Now, a new pile is on my bedside table.
2. When I was 18, I won over a $100 from a radio station.
3. Among other interesting happenings during traveling, I have eaten cow tongue in Moscow, hiked…um, walked in the Swiss Alps, and have ridden a highly sought-after camel in Niger (well, it took a couple steps). I long for more travel experience, as I have been deeply touched by all I have seen and learned in the world. Ireland… check. Greece… check. Now where?
4. I hate slugs and slime of all kinds so much that I put sandwich bags on my hands when trimming fat from chicken. Brian once chased me around the house while waving chicken fat my way. Apparently, I have matured in this department. I made White Chicken Chili and cut the chicken fat with my bare hands. just. this. week.
5. An um…interesting neighbor once asked me if I wanted to see his prosthetic leg. I stumbled over my words, completely horrified that he might pull down his pants to show me, but the leg was in his trunk (equally bizarre).
6. I plan to writemy story one day and have it published in some form or another. I’m on my way.
7. I like to peel skin after a sunburn–gross, I know, but I love it! I also like to remove loose chunks of hair off my dogs (I call them hair plugs :).
8. I struggle with forgiving the unthinkable on an almost daily basis. It’s a process that takes time and healing and courage. Wow. Read here. Now, I usually struggle with forgiving the everyday things.
9. I owned a Toyota Camry for one week–complete with license plate.
10. Repeated finger-tapping, lip-smacking, and gum-popping makes me cringe. Working with elementary school students year after year has not solved this problem.
11. One Easter, I asked for two bars of cream cheese for my Easter basket. Strange, I know.
12. I lived on Jennifer Drive for a couple years.
13. I love deep-down, belly-hurting laughs and hearing children giggle. Ah, exercise for the soul.
14. I have read and watched Anne of Green Gables as a child and teenager. I’m watching it again as an adult.
15. I have learned “All You Need is Love” is a farce. You also need persistence, trust, honesty, courage, patience, space, forgiveness and humor to make a marriage work. Oh, and admitting I am wrong is challenging, but I am learning.
16. I love to play board games and prefer to win. For some reason, my brother-in-law warned his fiancee’ about my competitive tendency (not sure what’s that about).
17. I have learned more about myself over the past 6 years than the previous twenty-something. I am stronger and braver and wiser than I ever thought possible. I am proof of the possibility of change and the power of resilience. Love, love, love that I wrote this five years ago and feel even stronger about it today. Life does that if you let it.
18. I have a long list of funny names for my two dogsand my husband and can come up with more at any moment.
19. Music touches me to the core. Just listen to 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.
20. I hated my name as a child because there were Jennifers everywhere. So, in 6th grade I changed my name to Jenny. I changed it back to Jennifer in the 7th grade, and only my best friends have called me Jenni (i not y) since later that same year. I have always had a strong aversion to strangers shortening my name in any way. I’ve made it easy these days. Just call me Jen.
21. I have learned that family is what I make it–the people I choose to surround myself with who love and support me. Thank God for my family, real and chosen.
22. I have volunteered with Kids on the Block (KOTB not NKOTB 🙂 as an educational puppeteer. My favorite puppet was Brenda, who taught kids about bullying and being persistent when asking for an adult’s help.
23. I feel warm and tingly when I think about my future as a school counselor. I have always loved helping kids find their own way. And still do.
24. If I ever need a Plan B, I could write peppy jingles or become a professional organizer.