Rev Your N-Jenns

You guys. I’ve been wanting to entitle a blogpost that since about 2009. This blog didn’t even exist yet.

That was when I had this idea that I might someday be ordained as a minister of the gospel (when the title “Reverend” is conveyed), but maybe I wasn’t thinking about it particularly seriously–or concretely at least. Nevertheless, I was fully invested in the pun. (If you’re new here, my screen name everywhere has long been Jennwith2ns. “N-Jenns.” No, it’s not a stretch.)

Then I stopped thinking that that would happen, but that was okay, because instead I was becoming a chaplain and a spiritual director. It was kind of sad to give up the pun, but I had resigned myself to it.

Then suddenly, in January, I became the pastor of a small church. I’m still those other things. But guess what? On Sunday, God willing and congregational vote going well, I will be “solemnly and publicly set apart and ordained to the work of the gospel ministry” in my brand new (really old) church. Suddenly this role is way more real than I ever imagined, and I love it and respect it and am grateful for and honored by the call and the responsibility.

And also really really happy that I can finally use the pun.

photographer unknown

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All Choked Up

You know how sometimes you read a book and it’s so well-written, or the characters are so wonderful, or the story is so moving, you get “something in your eye” or have a little trouble swallowing or something?

Is it too far beyond tacky to tell you that I get that way when I read Favored One (which I’m doing one last time before finalizing the file for publication)? It probably is, huh…?

I couldn’t tell you for which reason. But I’m not lying, and you know I don’t just talk about stuff I write or do like this. I’m pretty sure it’s actually a good book!

Soon you’ll be able to get your own copy and see for yourself.

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Starting from the Back

Who knew that even publishing for oneself could be such a drawn out process? Probably good that the book release party for Favored One is in September and not any earlier, but we have a cover! And this is the back of it.

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What the Readers Thought

 

11159926_10152681955161148_3334331578608788631_oThe Distinguished Professor of New Testament who gushed so unabashedly on Facebook over Trees in the Pavement in 2008, has written a review of my forthcoming book, Favored One, which you will find, when you buy it and open it up, inside the front cover. There are some other reviews in there which you might also find interesting.

I will share those here one day, but today, here’s what other people said about Trees, which is still available, by the way:

“Probably the best compliment I can give is that I forgot I was reading something written by a friend and was just reading it for the sheer pleasure of it. 🙂BH

I loved this book. I read it in 2 days. I knew you wrote it. Didn’t matter. It was great—Debbie Amaral

Now, my religious views are my business and we are all entitled to our own beliefs; so I decided that I would only review Trees in the Pavement if the novel’s focus was neither overtly “preachy”, nor so couched in religious dogma that it would be inaccessible to a wide audience. What I found was an insightful book . . . In fact, I think it should be on a general curriculum reading list for Secondary schools, so that they can discuss these very important topics.—Dina Ross

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I’m…Ba-ack?

We should probably not get our hopes up. And you might not even be here anymore. But back when this blog was newer (and I was actually writing it), we used to talk about this book I had going that I wanted to publish, and guess what? I’m about to publish it!

Actually, the Pilgrimage and the Sanctuary at Woodville are going to publish it together. We are really excited about it and I will be sharing more information over the next couple of months, but for now I want to give a little love to my first book, Trees in the Pavement.

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They were cutting the branches off the trees again.

When Zari first arrived in East London, she had wondered about the trees. She had never seen any fields and farms in London, like there were at home in Kosovo. But there were more trees. Or at least you noticed them here. In Kosovo, there were entire forests, but no one thought about them because they were, well, just there.

In London, the trees look uncomfortable growing out of the pavement – as if they were refugees in a foreign country, too.

Zari’s story takes you from the fighting in Kosovo to the concrete streets of the city of London – but there is conflict here too. You can’t leave problems behind just because you leave your country as a refugee in the back of a lorry full of cheese! Making friends is a minefield in itself – and the secrets she discovers in the family just add to the trouble.

War, peace, faith, and nationality – everything is changing in Zari’s life.

It’s not just the trees that are feeling uncomfortable.

Trees was published by Christian Focus Publications in 2008, just shy of 11 years ago. Pick up a copy here!

There was a book signing in 2008. The book sold out. There will be a book signing/launch event for the new book, too. Stay tuned!

Snow Story

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It’s snowing in New England

And a few other places. One of my favorite snow stories I ever lived through and still love to tell is the one where my friend the Vampire and I raced Denver’s biggest blizzard since 1913, through the Rockies from one end of Colorado to the other and actually got to Denver first…in a Corolla. With no snow tires. And only one driver. (Me. The Vampire was from California and wasn’t used to driving in this stuff.)

Stay safe out there!

 

Crickets

You guys! Uncle Phil–known off the Jenn Stories as Phil Madeira, who has been pretty busy with some other awesome musical projects since I last regularly blogged here–you should google–is coming out with an instrumental CD. Sounds pretty good so far! Like…not crickets. You might want to be a part of it:

 

Haircuts and Anniversaries

I have a haircut coming up with Bledi-with-Scizzors. Bledi has been my hairstylist for at least fourteen years now, which is ridiculous. By now he owns the salon, and I’ve had three jobs since we met at Starbucks. Also by now we’re comfortable enough with each other that sometimes he will tell me what he thinks I should have done to my hair, and I will tell him I don’t care what he thinks or if it’s stylish, I just want long hair. But sometimes I get bored with the long hair (recently, I just haven’t had the patience to dry it–or the time, because we moved and my commute in the morning is 15 minutes longer). And so, when contemplating my upcoming haircut, I thought, “I think it’s time to get my occasional bob.”

Also because it’s October. If I ever get a bob haircut, it’s in October. There are two reasons for this: 1) By October it’s cold enough here I don’t feel the need to pull my hair off my neck in a ponytail; while I like to braid my hair in the summer. 2) October (appropriately, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had my hair cut in a bob to take an incremental psychological step toward readiness for shaving my head for chemo. Then I didn’t end up needing chemo, but sometimes I still get my hair lopped off in October.

2008 cancer haircut

I was thinking about this the other week, which is why I suddenly remembered that today is the tenth–tenth–anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I don’t often talk about my cancer because honestly, most of the time I feel like a “fake” cancer survivor, since, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really that bad for me. I had surgery and radiation, but no chemo. I had to take a hormone suppressant which gave me migraines with which I still struggle. I went back and read the relevant blogposts from my Original Blog and discovered that at the time, I really was pretty freaked out and it was a tough process emotionally–but it also was a pretty quick one, relatively speaking, and I had some amazing support around me.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who’s still trying to recover after a year of harrowing treatment, and another friend who has had cancers of various types at least 11 times. (I’ve probably lost count, I’m ashamed to say. It may have been more, at this point–but I hope not.) Also another friend was diagnosed within the last year; her diagnosis sounded really similar to mine, but she does need chemo, and she has a husband and two little boys and the chemo is doing a number on her. Stories like these brave women’s make me sad, and also make me uncomfortable about publicly celebrating the fact that I have basically been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and officially so for five years now.

On the other hand–I’ve been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and that’s ten years. And while I don’t understand why the above, and other, friends of mine haven’t gotten through their diagnoses as easily as I was able to get through mine, and while it would be ungracious of me (particularly since I had nothing to do with it) to brag about it, it would also be ungrateful of me not to note and celebrate it. I don’t take my cancer-freedom for granted. I know I could get it again. But I haven’t yet, and I’m deeply thankful. And so, in honor of my diagnosis and celebration of my current freedom from it, I’ll be pampering myself next Friday–and getting a haircut.

Who Knew The Last Day of July Was So Momentous?

According to Facebook Memories, a lot of things happen (to or around me, anyway) on this day of the year. Observe:

Last year I was in Minnesota.
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Visit walkerart.org. Or just visit the sculpture garden.

Three years ago I completed my first of four units of CPE.
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And ten years ago, evidently, I took a nap. Which I probably need to do again from the sound of things.

Proof That Emojis Are More Ancient Than You Think!

People think that emojis are this new thing, but I have a hunch they’ve been around for a while. It’s just that maybe they used to be a little more physical. For example, one year, at Previous Church’s annual Holiday Fair, someone donated this antique emoji-transmitting device:

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At first glance, it just looks like some sort of oddly proportioned babydoll. But don’t be deceived. Take this baby for a spin and…

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…it might fall asleep on you.

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Did you find that upsetting? Sorry. I find it pretty creepy, too.

But this is not the only evidence of the age of emojis. A few weeks ago, while beach-combing on Cape Cod, I discovered a rare artifact. I haven’t gotten this appraised or anything, but I think I might have found an emoji device from the Stone Age. I call it the Emojistone. (Harry Potter’s life would have turned out so differently if he had been looking for one of these instead of the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone.) Behold.

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Here we have what looks to be a cheery, if rushed, or maybe overly enthusiastic, little rock-character. But (also by spinning) he can also express anger/outrage (how relevant he is!):

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…and sad/upset/despairing/Edvard Munch:

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I’m pretty excited about this discovery. Imagine if people had to express emotions in some other, more complicated, intimate way–like with our faces…

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For the genuinely curious, evidently those holes in the rock are created by mollusks called “piddocks“–and indeed, there were tiny little mollusks inside this stone when I first found it.