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.


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!


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:


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…


…it might fall asleep on you.


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.


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!):


…and sad/upset/despairing/Edvard Munch:


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…


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. 


Just When You Thought…

Actually, you probably forgot all about Jenn stories by now. This may be just as well, because although I sometimes still post little snippets on the page on Facebook, I don’t have any plans to post any more Jenn stories any time soon.

However, I did just move the-pilgrimage.org from another host over to WordPress, mostly for ease of blogging. Which must mean I plan on blogging again, at least a little bit. So far there’s just one post, so you should totally be able to catch up. Peruse, explore, enjoy. I’d love to hear from you again!

The Time Is Coming and Is Now Here

…when I will be commuting this blog to The Pilgrimage website. I’ve been posting identical posts on both sites for a little while at this point, and although it’s perfectly possible that there will be some more “Jenn Story” anecdotes which I will continue to write here for laughs or shout outs (like the story of my visit to a genuinely hospitable hotel last week), I think most of what I’m writing lends itself to Pilgrimagey kinds of musings, and has kind of changed the tenor of this blog for some time now.

I migrated a blog before in 2011, which turned out to be appropriate–little did I know it in the moment–because I ended up meeting my husband that year, and so the types of stories I was writing shifted a bit then, too. Even though Jenn stories are likely to continue occurring–I’m still me, after all–I’m not entirely sure how often I’ll be inclined to write them. So if you want to stay up to date on what I am thinking and writing, I invite you to join me over at The Pilgrimage and subscribe. Thanks for hanging out with me here! I look forward to seeing you on the road.


The Pilgrimage is funded by your generosity. Recurring or special tax deductible donations may be sent to: Missions Door, 2530 Washington St, Denver CO 80205 or visit www.the-pilgrimage.org and click “Donate.”

So Long, Farewell

I had a really hard time adjusting to being a nanny. The kid was an infant, and had the worst case of reflux I’ve ever experienced or heard about, so all he did was scream and poop and puke. At least once, he did all three of those things at the same time, and added a sneeze and a whizz. He was not wearing a diaper at the time. It was at that point that I burst out laughing, decided that if this were the worst of it, I could stop being bitter that I was no longer at college and was not caring for older children with whom I had more experience, and start to try to love this baby. By the time I was nearly done being a nanny, the child and I had bonded to such an extent that even though he was just two, we could talk about Jesus and give each other lots of hugs and kisses, and he could make up poems about cats while we sat together on the front steps.

When I started to explain to him that I was going to leave because I needed to go help people in London, he began getting up from his naps and turning his back to me when I came into his room. “Not like Jenn,” he would say emphatically and sulkily. (People think that small children and domestic animals don’t know what they’re talking about, but I contend that if the relationship is close enough, they can at least get the basic gist.) I knew that that simply meant this small child did like me–and he was angry at me for leaving. Even though I still knew it the day I left for the last time and he wouldn’t even say goodbye to me, his refusal kind of hurt. But it kind of meant a lot, too, that a little child cared whether I was there or not. It also made me feel like I should probably never work with children again because saying goodbye was too wrenching.

We can see how that turned out.

I guess saying goodbye to my little charge in the 90’s (who, by the way, is the same age as my stepdaughter who is now halfway through college) might have been when I figured out that people, and maybe especially younger people, have ways of saying goodbye and that they’re going to miss you, without actually saying it. Girls might be better at using the actual words. The Fashionable Nine-Year-Old, who updates me on the minutiae of her life every Sunday and occasionally draws me pictures, gave me a hug the day my resignation was announced and said glumly, “I’m going to miss you.” A couple of the teenage girls bought me a gift bag full of trinkets which somehow perfectly captured their senses of humour, their senses of spirituality, and our teen/leader relationship. But in the card one of them wrote how much she’d miss me, and the other made puns, and both were equally indicative of our youth-group-forged bond.

But the boys can indicate sadness at goodbyes, too. One of them said when I got just the faintest bit teary, “Don’t you cry, Miss Jenn! Just don’t do it! You’re gonna make me … !” And another said, “Are you ever going to come back?” And the last one said seriously, “I hope you’ve made the right decision.” Which I’m pretty sure means he’s going to miss me, too.

I have one Sunday left at Now Church, and on it, some of these kids will be getting confirmed. Confirmed already, confirmed that day, or not confirmed at all, I will give them a hug and I will bless them. What is confirmed is our regard for each other. And that I will miss them a whole lot.

That's a Jenn Story

“Miss Jenn” by the Fashionable Nine-Year-Old (when she was eight) at last year’s Confirmation service.


Let me say right now that I do not know how (even though I believe He did it) Jesus managed not to cave into any temptation even once in his physical life as a human being on earth. Because in the 40 days of Lent that just happened, commemorating His 40 days and not-giving-into-temptation in the desert, I have had a very hard time giving up what I decided to give up for Lent. By which I mean it was impossible.

Riviere, "The temptation in the wilderness," 1898. (Thanks to my cousin Dave for making me aware of this painting's existence.)

Riviere, “The temptation in the wilderness,” 1898. (Thanks to my cousin Dave for making me aware of this painting’s existence.)

Let’s be honest here. Most of the time, if I’m giving up something for Lent, I pick something that doesn’t actually matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Giving up coffee while working at Starbucks? Is kind of a drag, but it’s almost more like a dare than a spiritual discipline, and if I got up at 3.45 a.m. for an opening shift and sucked down a tall Pike Place one morning, well, I might be miffed at myself for not accomplishing what I’d set out to do, but I’d also know that God was going to forgive me for this lapse of coffee, and so I could forgive myself.

It’s when you pick something that’s actually about real character formation (or, as may happen, it picks you) and you actually fail–multiple times and somewhat glaringly–and not only that, but it happens while you’re in the process of imagining a nonprofit where you’re going to help people deepen their connexion to God (or you really hope you are) … Well, that’s at least one of the times when you find out if you really believe all that stuff you say about your own self being a sinner and Jesus dying for your sins and those sins actually being annihilated by His perfection being strung up on that cross.

I don’t think I could actually be more specific about this if I tried, and anyway, it doesn’t really matter what I was trying unsuccessfully to accomplish during this intense spiritual workout of a Lent. The point is, after the dust cleared of mostly having failed, I realised that maybe that failure–much as I hate ever to admit to having failed at anything–makes the message of Lent, of the Crucifixion, and ultimately of Easter, all the more poignant and all the more essential–as if to let go of it would be to give up on life. The discipline I chose (or which chose me) was not something I could accomplish. I just couldn’t. And it was important. It was about who I am–in relation to God, to God’s people, to myself. But the message of Lent, of the Crucifixion, and ultimately of Easter is that of course I couldn’t. And of course I can’t. That’s the whole reason I need this spiritual character formation in the first place–but I can’t change myself.

Thing is, God can. And God does. And He came down here that Friday those millennia ago, and hoisted my failures and rebellions on His back, and died for them. And then He kicked Death to the curb and sent His Holy Spirit to work with me on the transformation.

There’s probably not too much about this post that makes any sense. I guess I’m just saying I’m grateful for what Jesus did on that cross today, because I needed it, much as it hurts my pride to admit it. And it’s enough, and more than enough, to get me moving into tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, knowing that He wants to make me better–and He will.

Thought Number Two

Then Jeff said,

Thought #2: The retreat-supplemented by some sort of online community-building is a fascinating idea. It strikes me as analogous to the online courses that are popping up everywhere: you meet in the flesh maybe once a month and online interact much more frequently. This seems to like an interesting niche/middle ground between attending a major one time event and a weekly church service. Promise keepers/woman of faith/catalysst type things can be so isolated from our every day experiences. Weekly church services and small groups can be so routine.

He seems to have cottoned onto the fact that there really is an “online course” aspect to the project I’m trying to figure out how to start. This model has, in fact, been suggested to me, but since I haven’t actually taken any such courses (except for the ones I’ve been finishing up from Seminary, which are, in fact, a little different), I’m not entirely sure how to set this up. Maybe that is really the only question I am asking about this hypothetical nonprofit I would like to start, but Jeff is correct that there are other questions and observations to be made in the wake of it.

Less obvious to me than the class aspect was his observation about the middle ground between major conference-type event and weekly church service. I might be as intrigued by this as he is, simply because I hadn’t noticed it before and it is an unusual way to think about practicing and developing the communal relationship with God. I’m not sure that once a month retreats would really be sustainable, though. If my Paul and I were able, at this moment, to pick ourselves up and buy a farm in the Granite State, from which we could host retreats on our own property, that might be more of an option, but in our current pleasant but tiny digs, it really just isn’t. I wonder what the minimum number of retreats would be in order to create this middle ground Jeff describes, and I wonder what the ultimate goal of said middle ground would be. What do you think?

I was thinking this picture I drew as a college student on vacation might illustrate what I mean about hosting retreats, but it looks even tinier than our current house, and there isn't enough granite. So really, it doesn't illustrate much of anything. But I needed a graphic.

I was thinking this picture I drew as a college student on vacation might illustrate what I mean about hosting retreats, but it looks even tinier than our current house, and there isn’t enough granite. So really, it doesn’t illustrate much of anything. But I needed a graphic.

Pivot Points

Seminary final today: doctrinal defense. Cue suspenseful music…for the next six hours.

I’ll let you know what happens, if anyone’s still here…

Believers gotta stop freaking out

Ohmyword this post is AWESOME.

Chris Martin Writes

This was my Facebook status earlier today.

Why should it truly matter if people say Xmas or Happy Holidays? If we’re fighting that, it just reveals that we are moved by what people do or say. Stop shouting “Keep Christ in Christmas” and “He is the reason for the season.” If we’re saying those things while judging others, our witness is a big fat zero. Live a life that demonstrates God is on the throne of your heart. Walk in love.

As believers, we get so caught up in what this world is doing, that we tend to forget about why we’re actually in the world.

In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the end of the world, the last days. Verse 12 says,

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

I’ve always assumed that verse is talking about people who aren’t saved.

What if He’s…

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More about School

The Tuesday Reblog
King Midget’s got it right. Listen up, kids.

KingMidget's Ramblings

I though of this analogy yesterday while sitting in classes seeing all these kids who didn’t seem to care.  It’s like a football game and they think the game hasn’t started yet.  They think the game starts later.  When they get to college.  When they get a job.  When they get married.  When they have a baby.  I’m not sure when exactly, but they think the game hasn’t started yet for them.  They’re in their pre-game routine.  Or they’re waiting for somebody to tell them in which direction to run.

The only problem is that the game has started and they’re falling behind.  They’re in the first quarter.  Score early, do the hard work now, and your chance of success is greater.  Fall behind early, due to lack of preparation or effort, and your chance of success is less.  The game has started, kiddoes, it’s time for a little effort…

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