Monthly Archives: April 2007

Countdown to freedom

As I sit here trying to think of something to write about, I am at somewhat of a loss. It’s not because I am trying to be profound or funny or smart (definitely not smart), but at this moment, this world o’ mine is a tad dull.

And I mean that in the nicest way.

I am in my last week of my first year of graduate school. Basically this means I have about 8 days until I will be free. The papers, projects, and hours of classes are coming to a close. It’s bittersweet, without the bitter, if you know what I mean.

So the fact is, my days consist of waking up, going to class, daydreaming about my summer days with My Boys, the beach, and all the other summer gifts sent straight from Heaven like free time and family. And by the time I arrive home at night from watching TV at Meg’s…I mean, studying…I am fresh out of inspirational anything. I am just ready to live up the rest of this week here and head home for the summer. Oh, what a joyous sentence! I still can’t believe the year passed so quickly.

Once I get back to where a large part of my heart resides, I feel confident the stories will overflow. I can’t wait to write about my Daddy’s performance in his play. Or about all the “tee-ents” I am going to be building. Not to mention road trips and visits to some of my favorite people.

So, I hope what ever your next week or so holds, that it will be filled with love, laughter and funny stories from where your heart resides.

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Merrywood Girls

My last year of college (aka last year) I lived in a house with a 5 other girls. We called it Merrywood, and though it was an old house, it was absolutely perfect for us. I also lived in it the year before with a different batch of girls totalling 4 in all, and when a couple of them graduated, my roommate Kara and I could not wait until the Fall when Lindsay and Bri (our other 2 best friends) were moving in. Then we threw in a couple other great girls because we’re sweet like that and because rent split 6 ways is like living for free.

I don’t really remember how we even found this little house the year before. It was one of those gifts you never see coming, but you just praise the good and mighty Lord in Heaven who dropped it in your path and whispered, “here you go sweet girls, have the time of your lives.” It was a memory-making warehouse perfectly suited for extremely loud and frequent laughter and the most random conversations you could ever think of having.

The house was one-story but still quite nice in size. It had a built-on “mother-in-law” suite in the back that was so large walking from one end to the other got me breathing hard. My best friend, Lindsay, and I shared that room. We would yell across the room at night as we lay in our beds and talk about everything and nothing, and laugh at just about anything. We still do that now–but not from our beds because we live in different towns and even I am not that loud.

My favorite feature of the house was the front porch and most importantly the swing and rocking chair that had residence there. Many a deep conversation was had on that porch. The kind of conversations you leave knowing that with each passing one your bond is forged deeper, you become a little bit closer to the God you share, and you grow up just a little bit more.

I know sometimes we look back on life and regret not making the best of the time we had with those we love. I am so thankful to say I have no regrets from our time at Merrywood. I feel like we took up every opportunity to enjoy one another–even in the midst of school, boyfriends, huge stacks of dishes in the sink, family issues, and all the other facts of life. We never fought or had petty arguments. Each of our personalities is distinctly different, but we all blend together perfectly. And we all understood the prize we had been given in each other as well as how rare and precious it truly was.

I laughed so hard, cried so many tears of joy and sadness, played so many games of Mario cart, and ate so many home-cooked meals (compliments of Bri) during all our college years together, and especially when we all lived under the same roof. I put off more homework assignments than every before, but I learned more than I ever thought possible just by being in the presence of 3 crazy and amazing girls. We saw each other through accomplishments, disappointments, exciting times, everyday life, and sad moments. We bonded with each other in a way I had not before, and our I know our friendships will continue to grow and deepen as we experience all that God has in store. I look forward to a future full of marriages, trips, babies, growing old, and many more random conversations–and everything in between and after.

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Thursday

You would think, on the whole, it would be a great day. The “Best All Around” of weekdays, if you will. I mean, we’re on the downward slide to the weekend and we already have 3 whole days of good work behind us. We don’t have to deal with the delirium that Fridays can cause quite yet, and we can now start really planning for the weekend–without that underlying knowledge that it’s still only Monday, and we have mountains to climb before our plans come to fruition. And, as if that wasn’t enough to make someone love Thursday–Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy, anyone?

So, fast forward to my now second semester of my Social Work masters program. Or as I like to call it, “Will It Ever End, 2007 edition.”

It is a requirement of this program that in the second semester, students are assigned to an Internship. Students are supervised by professionals and work 2 days a week when not in class. On Wednesdays I visit patients, and on Thursdays I work in the office with my supervisor. The purpose of this, of course, is to gain knowledge in the different areas of social work, learn vital professional skills, get hands-on experience, and put into practice all the concepts and strategies learned in the first semester of classes.

It all sounds very exciting and professional, I know.

For my intership, I was assigned to a Hospice agency. For those who may not know, Hospice is a service given to terminally ill individuals that includes obtaining everyday “comfort care” from doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers, and many more. It is really an awesome concept and can be so beneficial for families during a very difficult time. That’s what they teach us to say about it anyway, but I actually do believe it to be true 🙂

There are so many uplifting and heart-warming stories I could tell about my experience with hospice patients and families. And I am sure I will, a lot, in the future.

But, I would like at this time to tell you how interning has ruined Thursday. That way, in the future when I am typing through tears about amazing moments I have had and all the wonderful people I have met, you will really know the complete story and know my heart fully. The good with the bad. The happy tears with the frustrated ones.

The drama all started the first day when I met the woman who I now know is my complete opposite in every way. I wish I could tell you that the woman I am referring to is just someone who works in the office. Someone I pass in the hallway and give a friendly smile, only to see her walk past me and hear her as she lets loose a few of her characteristic patronizing comments to some innocent bystander. But no. The woman I am referring to is not just some co-worker, but my supervisor. And the innocent bystander at the brunt of all the mean remarks is me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not an overly sensitive person. I stick well to my laid-back guns, and I really do try to see the good in everyone just like every little social worker should.

But, this woman has broken me. I dread Thursdays when I become her right-hand girl and am subject to all her non-constructive criticism and craziness. Let’s just say, homegirl seems to have her panties in a wad most of the time. Why? I don’t really know. And for this laughy, light-hearted, perspective-seeking gal, the negativity causes a bit of failure-to-thrive. I have walked away many days discouraged, disappointed, and downhearted.

My soul does not fair well with such conflicting emotions and so much pressure. Thursday. It is a Long Day. Dreadfully Long.

If I was not so Southern and well-mannered, I might tell Crazy Lady what I think of her at times. I am sure you can probably think of a lot of phrases I might choose to bestow upon her. But, I would never do that because 1) it’s just not in me and 2) as crazy as she is, God has used her to teach some very valuable lessons for this road o’ life.

Lo and behold, I actually learned something through all that negativity! I like to call this portion of the experience “Miracles Do Exist, 2007 edition.”

Yes, Crazy Lady wore me down a wee bit. She was indeed the topic of conversation for several vent sessions with trusted friends, and I feel I will never truly understand her ways. But, somewhere along this path, I realized something I’m sure God has been trying to tell me the whole time—IT’S NOT ABOUT HER.

It’s about Him. It’s about me. It’s about Him helping me find my way into the woman I was created to be and for whom He has amazing plans. It’s about how I am using whatever situation (good or bad) that He has placed me in to learn and grow. It’s about how I respond to harsh words and criticism–not by becoming frustrated and offended, but as an opportunity to seek His wisdom and ask for His guidance. It’s about making the very best out of every single minute because each one wasted for fleshly concerns could have been used to give Him glory.

Good gracious, I wish I had remembered all of that sooner. I could have saved myself a bit of heartache these last few months–not to mention throwing Thursdays under the bus for no good reason! Don’t misunderstand, it is still hard. She is still crazy despite my moment of clarity, and the whole process is still a challenge. And sometimes I still cry.

But thankfuly, now most of my tears are those joyful ones I mentioned earlier. The ones brought on by the sweet stories and moments with my patients that I will treasure all of my days. I can’t wait to share with ya’ll what God has shown me through those experiences.

But, I am going to have end there for now. I’ve got to rest up for tomorrow–it’s time for another Thursday. 🙂

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Making plans

Here is a conversation Megan (my best new friend) and I had yesterday in class as we passed notes back and forth like all the smart and dedicated grad students do. It is probably only funny to us. Keep in mind we were delirious at the time as we were nearing the 2nd full hour of being crammed in a desk watching videos about cultural diversity.

It’s brutal on the education front, people.

Yet, we must find humor and joy in the small, important things in life. Like, you know…TV.

Meg: Bachelor tonight at our house??
Jenna: That would be good, but I really need to go home and get a bunch of homework and stuff done.

(I show Meg my color-coded to-do list, her eyes automatically roll).

Meg: I know, me too. But I am planning on going home after this and working so I can be done and watch TV tonight.

(I smile, proud that my friend understands the only reason to rush home and do homework is so she can give her full attention to her #1 priority later that night).

Later…
(After more note correspondence, the plan has now transformed into Meg’s husband cooking us dinner before one of the most immoral/entertaining shows the big TV people have ever come up with.)

Meg: So maybe we can time dinner to be ready right as the The Bachelor is about to come on at 9:30.
Jen: Yeah, but that is getting pretty late….OR! I can come over at 8 and we can eat and watch Dancing with the Stars and THEN the Bachelor.
Meg: Ok, but make it 7:45. You know, so we can get our food and get situated in our seats before it starts.
Jen: Wow. And I’ll make sure to bring over my large black marker so we can write L.O.S.E.R across our foreheads.

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At first sight

It was outside Longhorn Steakhouse where I first experienced love at first sight. I was walking in, he was being carried out. And not because he had enjoyed a long night o’ partying at the bar. Which we all know is so attractive. Ahem. I am also not referring to something a hungry customer was holding in the form of takeout, like say, free bread (which, by the way, was the greatest idea of all, ever).

At the time, he was with another girl. A cute blonde who instantly starting chatting with me as our paths crossed on that brisk November night. As it turned out, she was looking for someone to keep an eye on her man a few nights a week. Those eyes? That giggle? Those edible little fat rolls on those sugar-ridden legs? I honestly could not get the word yes out fast enough.

And so, our love affair began. I call him Little Boy, and there was a slight age difference. You know, with him being 3 months old and me being 21 and all. But it didn’t matter to us. And, as an added bonus, he had a cute big brother, too!

For the last year, Little Boy, brother Big Boy, and I have spent countless hours together. I have watched them both grow and learn. I have watched them celebrate birthdays, learn to walk, and learn to negotiate with the best of ’em. I have watched them march their little selves to time-out and have listened to them tell me “I sorry. I follow directions betta next time.” And my personal favorite–I have watched their eyes light up when they see me and their arms reach out for me to hold them. You can bet your bottom dollar that we have played, watched movies, gone to the beach, built “tee-ents” in the living room, snuggled, gone on many bear hunts, told eachother “I sure have been missing you” and “I love you sooo much.” We have sung loudly in the car and in the tub, danced in the kitchen, rocked to sleep, cried and comforted, punished and apologized, been silly and serious, and so much more.

I honestly believe I could only love My Boys more if they were my own children. Being given the opportunity to be a part of their lives was an unexpected and deeply treasured gift that I happily accept and covet.

They breathe life into me that was not previously there.

They have added so much color to this world of mine.

And they have made me love God more just for making them so unique and adorable, so hilarious and sweet.

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