And the First Review Award Goes too…

Long-time blog- and real-life-friend, Jeff, currently doing some great work over at the Faith-ing Project. He’s got some books on Amazon, too, so it was really nice of him to take the time to go over to the Favored One page and say this:

Also, even longer-time friend, and I guess you could say international, friend, Jayne Bazeley, messaged me over the weekend and said,

Hi Jenn! I just finished Favored One. I saved it until I got back from Summer Camp so that I could really enjoy it. Which I did, very much. Using the proper Hebrew names for people and places helped to see the familiar story with fresh eyes. C.S.Lewis would have approved
Really really good. Thank you.

Thank you, Jayne.

You can also help with the reviews. And if you’re anywhere close to local, I hope you’ll come to the Sanctuary at Woodville on 28 September for my book launch/signing. Excerpts, Q&A, and books. With me writing my name in them. Christmas is coming, and a book about Mary the mother of Jesus might be just the right gift.

Looking forward to seeing you!


Back in the day, before we all forgot how to write by hand at all, it was common to hear a person laughing at their inability to read their own handwriting. Now almost no one can read almost anyone’s handwriting, but it rarely matters because we all type all the time.

I say, it rarely matters, because last week I put an item “to do” this week in my to-do list app on my phone, and while I can read the actual words just fine, I have no idea what it means.

Something’s not getting done today, folks.

Celebrate with Me!

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Approximately eleven years ago, my first book, Trees in the Pavement, was released to the world, courtesy of Christian Focus Publications. Today, even though the book itself has been written for almost as long, Favored One hit the websites. This time, though, Notes on Pilgrimage, the new publishing imprint of the Sanctuary at Woodville, is the publisher. You can order a copy directly from us if you contact me here. (Yes, we’re not currently set up for one-click sales, so you will actually have to interact with me, but there’s so little interpersonal contact when shopping these days, don’t you think this is better?) If you like one-click minus interpersonal, though, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the other usual suspects are also carrying it.

There are some things to be said both for and against “self-publishing” and versus traditional publishing–some of which I have said, for better or worse, many years ago on this very blog. I might regret some of what I said, but not all of it. I myself have read some self-published works which are quite dismal–but also some others that are frankly astonishingly good. I think that publishing is a pretty goal-consistent initiative for the Pilgrimage, so I hope this one won’t be our only book. It will probably help if lots of people buy and read and review and like it, too, by the way. Hope you enjoy it! I’d love to hear from you.





Favored One is available for pre-order!


It publishes a week from tomorrow. You should probably get on that.

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Don’t forget to come to the book launch in September, too!

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



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!

While Away

Wordy Wednesday

If you thought I had abandoned all Jenn stories completely the last few months, you obviously haven’t yet “liked” the That’s a Jenn Story Facebook page. Some of you are cleverly in the know already, but in the event you haven’t been to that page yet, and just so that you don’t feel you missed out on too much (because that would indeed be a shame!), I shall here post the highlights.

Actually, I’ve been sort of quiet there recently, too, to be honest. But it’s still much easier to write a sentence or two than set up a whole blog post, and Jenn stories do keep happening.

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Over the winter I tried my hand at creating some memes.

Some were parodies of memes you might recognise . . . kind of . . .

The Most Important Woman in the World

The Most Important Woman in the World

I also made some original Oscars.





They’re always about food. All two of them. Somehow neither one has gone viral yet.

My Paul and I have also started this game we call #Overheard, where we pretend we’re going to post something that we further pretend we overheard, but which really one or the other of us says that sounds bizarre, and even more bizarre totally out of context.

"Mi driftwood es su driftwood." #overheard

“Mi driftwood es su driftwood.” #overheard

We keep waiting for someone to chime in with their own, or to figure out that we haven’t actually #overheard these things, but . . . now you know.

I’ve been thinking and writing and dreaming an awful lot about C.S. Lewis lately, on account of a class I was taking.

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There has also been a strange new foray into fitness, and some beginnings of a new kind of Bible study. But those are other stories for another time. In the meantime, I’d be delighted for you to jump on over there and see what else has been happening. You are very welcome both here and there. Because mi Jenn story es su Jenn story. Or something like that.



Guided Learning

Theology Thursday

One of the best things about The Seminary is their “head, heart and hands” model. The idea is that, particularly in theological education probably, it’s no good simply to fill the head with knowledge, it’s less than effective if all you do is focus on the inner spiritual world, and it’s even an empty exercise simply to train in practical good works which aren’t grounded in anything. The recognition is that each one of these components is vital to the others, in a life of living faith, and so the professors intentionally build things into each course to help foster growth intellectually, spiritually and practically.

However, in certain classes, we the students are also called on to incorporate each of these elements in our learning, and so each have two mentors with whom we meet on a frequent and regular basis (mine are awesome) and we draw up a plan for a “Guided Learning Experience” (GLE) on which we will work throughout the course. I am one of these complicated people who hates to be told what to do, but also needs some kind of structure in order to function effectively, and so this construct fits me just perfectly. I appreciate accountability–if I’m the one who gets to discern for what I get to be accountable. Otherwise I get kind of defensive. Maybe one of these days I should do a Guided Learning Experience regarding defensiveness . . .

Maybe this isn't that new of a concept . . .

Maybe this isn’t that new of a concept . . .

The basic process of the GLE goes like this:

  1. You draw up your own plan for your Experience, which includes the Learning Need you have discerned for yourself, a Learning Objective, and some Learning Activities in which to engage so that ideally your reach the Objective. The activities must represent each of five categories: Scriptural, Cognitive, Experiential, Interactive, and Integrative.
  2. You show your write-up to your mentors and they approve it or not. Once it’s approved, you turn it in to the professor.
  3. You work through the activities that you have set for yourself, checking in with your mentors at mutually agreed-upon points.
  4. At the end of the term, you write up a report on what you did and what you learned, get your mentors’ feedback on whether they think the Objective was accomplished, and turn it in.

If you’re someone who likes to be intentional about your faith, as I do, and you sometimes  feel like there’s an aspect of your life God is poking at because He wants to help you work through it or something, this GLE thing is a really helpful way to focus on that thing. I feel like I’m probably going to keep doing these even after I graduate, if I can keep on finding people to mentor me. I also feel like I would like to help mentor others in this same process. In fact, I’m really starting to think I want to learn more about becoming a Christian “spiritual director,” and I feel like the GLE would be a great tool in the arsenal of spiritual direction.

But anyway, for now I just wanted to tell you about it–because I like them, and because classes start up again next week and once again I will lack time to blog. So I wanted to explain that next week I will post my most recent GLE plan, and the week after that, I will post the report I wrote up at the end of it. And in the weeks following, I will post some mini-papers I wrote for my Old Testament survey class last term. That way, at least there will be something to read around here on Thursdays. It’s just most likely all to be very theological . . . Here’s hoping that’s in the best sense of the term.