Man oh man do I have the travel bug right now! I blame the #STARTexp and #SS peeps. They all live all around the world and that makes me want to visit all of them! People say a lot of stuff about how horrible facebook can be but, honestly, I’ve found more community in that group than I have in some other areas of my life. They’re a great group of super supportive people who only wan to be uplifting, encouraging, compassionate, silly, and sarcastic with one another. It’s loads of fun!
But I’m soooo bummed that I can’t travel to see them all. I already have a friend who lives in Atlanta who I want to visit so there’s the whole “I want to go to Atlanta” bit. Then, there’s the allure of the white sand beaches and the crystal clear water of Florida that makes me wanna fly there and visit real bad! Seriously, I would go to Florida tomorrow if I had $700 for my plane ticket and transportation money and money to stay in a hostel. Hint hint…my birthday is coming up soon after all. Want to fund a trip to Florida for me?
And then there’s Nashville, TN!!!! Oh to be in the land of soooo much amazing music and talented musicians and rich culture. Not to mention the whole Start Conference going on this weekend. But I wouldn’t even care if I couldn’t go…I just want to be in that city!!! Granted, my musical talent is no where near the caliber of all those musicians but I would love to try and hang with them and catch some concerts.
And Colorado…oh how you tempt me with all your beauty. Portland, OR is always going to be my go-to city to visit because I love oh so much!!!! And hello…I would get to meet Genevieve West there and see Xavier and get some more tattoos! Dude…Portland is me just without the beach (which I would miss like I miss now but obviously I got used to being so far away).
And, as boring as it may seem, I really want to visit the midwest. I’d like to go back to Dayton, OH and see where I lived for a year. That year held so much pain and so many trials but I really want to see the good in it and not just remember all the pain.
I want to go to Texas so I can visit my original #STARTexp partner, Sarah! She’s awesome and I want to get to know her in real life.
There’s a million other places I would like to visit (Thailand, Belfast, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, South Africa, etc) but I’ll have to be content with just going to San Francisco in less than a month. I am really looking forward to going. I can’t wait to see my BFF Bethany and, hopefully getting to meet a few STARTers.
If you don’t know what the #STARTexp is, you should google it and look into how to get in on this awesome ride! And read #allthebooks by Jon Acuff too! It’s really changed my life and I can see a little bit more of what God has in store for me in the future. I’ve gotten bolder and stronger in my faith and I feel God’s presence more than ever before.
I love it and I love all of the my #SS friends! Hopefully we will get to be 3D friends sometime soon!
PS Here’s a link for the song I put on YouTube. There isn’t a picture, it’s just black with audio because all I’m working with is an iPhone. 😉
At least, not in the way that most people think.
I just had a really good day with God. I discovered some awesome new worship music courtesy of my #StartSingle friends and Bethel Music. Bethel’s new album, Tides, is one of my favorite albums of the year! The song “I Can Feel You” pretty much speaks exactly how I feel. It really put me in touch with how wonderful God is and how in love I am with Him.
That love I was feeling all day totally shined through in my worship leading. The ladies at Acton Rehab were so amazing tonight! I played a new song and they loved it and were able to sing along! I was so worried they wouldn’t follow but they’re all so encouraging and eager to worship and praise God that they just blew me away! Before worship started I even got to share my testimony with two of them. I forgot how it even started but all of a sudden, there I was, telling them how I was totally lost and had hit rock bottom and God swooped into my life and saved me. I also explained how that first rock bottom wasn’t enough and it wasn’t until I hit my second rock bottom low that I finally surrendered all of myself, body, heart, soul, and future to God and how amazing it’s been since.
Yes, it’s been hard. It’s actually been extremely hard and lonely at times and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve cried over stupid things that I wanted even though I knew they were wrong. But there’s been a whole lot of good too! I mean, how many times can you say that you’ve been in love with someone you know for certain loves you back, absolutely unconditionally? I can’t say I know many people who do that. Just God. Today, all I felt was the overwhelming love of God and just how lucky I am.
I’ve felt love before…I was in love with a man who I almost married. But that love was tainted with his lies, manipulation, and abuse so it doesn’t feel real. It never really felt totally secure. I mostly felt like a prisoner.
God’s love feels different. I don’t have to second guess it. I don’t have to ask any “what if” questions. I don’t have to do absolutely anything but receive it. We love because He first loved us. God is pure, perfect love. And I’m in love.
Here’s the video link for the song by Bethel Music in case you want to listen to it. BEWARE!!! It might change your life.
To say that I’m scared would be an understatement. Here’s my reasons why I’m not looking forward to being 30:
1. I’m no longer going to be in my twenties and saying I’m “in my thirties” sounds really old to me. I don’t feel like a 30 year old.
2. I’m single. Like, really single! I don’t even have any prospects for a potential guy I could realistically be interested in or start a relationship with. There are literally no more single guys in my church! And forget online dating. That’s a complete bust when the only guys who seem interested in me are only interested in sex. Le Sigh…
3. I’m stuck. I feel as though I’m in a rut and I have been for a while. I feel as though I wasted a lot of my early twenties on stupid things and people who only hurt me. I try hard to live without regrets but, even though I learned some really good lessons, I have regrets. Regrets totally suck!
4. There’s a chance that I will never be able to have children with each passing year. I really want to be a mom but that takes having a husband. I know there are other options available but I really want to experience creating life. Does that make me selfish? Maybe it does. Or maybe I’m just human and it’s a natural thing to want?
5. I’m not doing what I’m passionate about and I can’t really fully decide what that passion is. There’s a lot of things that I love and a lot of things I really want to do. I really want to be a better worship leader and all around musician. I really want to be a missionary and serve God on a global capacity. And I really, really love reading. Is there any way I can combine all of those things into a job that allows me to survive? Because that would be just super fantastic!
I’m really trying to be optimistic though. As young as I feel and look, I guess the fact that I am thirty won’t mean all that much. Maybe I can get away without telling anyone my age and they can just assume that I’m in my early twenties? Yeah…it might get out anyway.
I am looking forward to a new decade of possibly not making the same mistakes I made in the past.
A) I now know what I don’t want and what I would like to have in a significant other.
B) I am stronger in my faith than I have been before and I have more knowledge of the character of who God is and who He isn’t.
C) I have better priorities and I actually do what I want to do and not only what others want me to do.
D) I have a good support system in place in the shape of a great online community (StartSingles) and a great real life, 3D community.
E) I have a church that I love and that loves me back.
F) I’m closer to my mom and have a better relationship with her than I’ve ever had before in my entire life! This is probably the best thing that’s happened in the past few years. I’m so lucky to have her and to have had a chance to be closer to her.
G) I have all these friends who live all around the world which opens the doors up to more possibilities than I’ve ever had before.
H) I’m learning how to punch fear in the face on a daily basis! Whether I’m afraid of looking stupid, being vulnerable, being a failure, or being successful. I guess this means people might one day be able to read a book I’m writing or listen to music I’m making?
I) The future is wide open…
Okay, that last one might be a little too optimistic, even for me, but I feel like I need to throw that in there for my own good. After talking with some friends recently, I have had some mini revelations about what’s to come in the next few months and what I need to do starting right now to reach the goals I want to reach. That’s pretty exciting to me!
So maybe when I turn thirty I won’t have a husband with a house of our own and children playing in the yard. Maybe I won’t have my dream job and maybe I won’t have everything all figured out. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be one more day closer to doing all that and fulfilling whatever purpose there is for my life.
You know how it is when you want something so bad that you know you’re just trying to hard and that’s why it’s not happening?
That’s happening to me now.
At least I had fun taking selfies after I played guitar for an hour and a half! The dogs are not impressed though. I don’t think they’re big fans of guitar playing. The big one (who’s ironically named Chico) tends to start barking at me when I play songs open and in the Key of D or G. Go figure!
Photo bomb time!!!!
Sometimes having an “adult” job really sucks -or- In retrospect, getting laid off can be a good thing (83)
I work in Payroll and today was the first day that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with my job. Up until now, I didn’t really personally know anyone who got “termed” but today I did. I don’t really know the person super well but we had hung out outside of work. So we weren’t super close but I could still say we’re friends. It was awkward and sad to have the knowledge that they weren’t going to have a job at the company anymore and I knew about it before they did. But I knew this was part of the job and I also knew that this was going to be the most difficult part of my job for me.
I’ve never been fired before but I have been downsized. It came at me and all my coworkers from left field. We were working hard and our branch was doing well when, all of a sudden, the regional manager comes in, talks to the manager for a few minutes, our manager comes out of his office and calls a meeting, and the regional manager says.
“I’m going to keep this short and sweet. As of right now, this branch is closed. You have 5 minutes to pack up your desk and leave. Your final check will be sent to you through the mail.”
And that was it. It was at a crazy bad time of my life for that to happen too. I had just signed a one year lease on an apartment that I loved and I was living 2,000 miles away from all my friends and family and in a really bad relationship with a guy who just got fired – on the same day that I got laid off! Luckily, my mom came out to visit for my birthday a week later and she kind of rescued me and told me I could move back home to Cali and start over. So I did.
I guess, in retrospect, getting laid off was the best thing ever to happen to me. It was the catalyst that set in motion some really good things that would happen a few years down the road. It still sucked for a really long time (like 2 years) after but it happened and now it’s in the past so…there ya go. God used it for good and I ultimately was able to get out of that relationship which I probably would be miserable in right now had that not occurred.
But back to my current job. I really love the people I work with and the “family” like atmosphere we have. But the downside, which I know clearly see, is that, when you’re that comfortable with people, it’s hard to see them leave.
So my bestie forwarded me an email about punching fear in the face and joining a revolution of people who are setting a goal and working towards achieving that goal, no matter how scary it might be or how crazy it may seem.
So naturally, I decided to face my biggest fear and challenge myself to write songs. Only three songs though since three doesn’t seem super intimidating to me. I can’t decide whether or not to just make them all worship songs or what kind of music I actually want to write. I know I want it to be of the indie folk-rock kinda scene-ish persuasion but we’ll see how it comes out.
Here’s the scariest part…once I’m done writing the songs, I’m going to play them for people! Eeeeeek!!! At least I have some poetry to kinda fall back on and work into songs. The hardest part so far seems to be coming up with strumming patterns that don’t sound like other songs I know. Maybe that’s why so many worship songs sound similar? We worship leaders get used to playing other people’s music and then write stuff that sounds the same-ish?
Idunno. But anyways I’ve now publicly announced to my partner and to everyone who reads my blog that this is my goal. So you might be able to expect some non professional sorta crummy demos to be posted in about a month and a half or so.
Now it’s time for bed. I feel like an old person. I got home after work and was so tired, I feel asleep before 9pm! Oops. Now I’m up and I need to try to sleep instead of staying up reading and watching Back to the Future.
I love leading worship in Acton rehab. It’s not like anything else I’ve ever experienced. I guess the closest thing I can relate it to would be if I were a rock star on stage in front of a huge crowd and the crowd was singing louder than I was. It’s awesome. And it’s awesome not because they’re singing and then clapping for me, but because they’re singing with me and praising God together and, when they clap when we’re done, I know it’s because they feel the same joy that I’m feeling.
I used to be so afraid to sing in front of others. Well, that’s not entirely true. Back before I started dating the guy I thought I was going to marry, I would sing all the time around anyone and anywhere I wanted. Random people would tell me I had a good voice. In fact, I remember in 5th grade, this guy I had a huuuuge crush on was the first guy to ever tell me he loved my voice. I was flying higher than the moon with that compliment and I actually believed the strangers who told me they liked my voice.
Then I started dating my ex-fiancé. At first he was nice about my singing but he later turned really mean. He would tell me how horrible I sounded and would say that I should just be quiet. Or, if he was feeling nice-ish and passive aggressive, he would just turn the volume up high so he couldn’t hear me. Because of who he was to me – the supposed love of my life – and because of how persistent he was, I actually believed him and eventually stopped singing around people.
Fast forward 6 years and you’d find me single again and wanting to sing again but still insecure. But I had an awesome best friend who was really supportive and another friend who was really encouraging and together, they convinced me to audition for choir at another church. I made it into the choir, gained some confidence and heard clearly from God that I was meant to be on stage leading worship.
A year later, I bought my first guitar and, 8 months after that, I played a worship song in front of my favorite worship leader at church and she became my mentor. She is one of the most talented and amazing worship leaders I’ve ever met and I respected her opinion so, when she encouraged me to lead worship with her at Acton Rehab, I said I’d give it a shot.
It was sooooo scary!!!! I’d played in front of my friends at small group when I first started out but I know I wasn’t very good at playing. I’m still not amazing or great but I’m sufficient. Then, one day, she told me that I was ready to start leading worship in Acton all by myself. Man, that was scary!!! But I slowly started gaining more confidence and became more comfortable leading worship. Eventually I got to a level of comfortability where I could enjoy leading worship and not stress so much about playing the songs right. It was awesome!
I have been leading worship in Acton on an almost weekly basis for about a year and a half now and leading worship for the College Group for about a year as well and the two groups couldn’t be more different! The ladies in Acton Rehab have such a passion and desire to worship that almost all of them are on their feet during worship and usually singing so loud that I can’t even hear myself sing! It’s super personal; I stand in front of them in a small room and play my acoustic guitar without a mic or an amp. At College Group, I’m on a stage above everyone else and there’s all these lights on me and I’m plugged in and singing into a mic. The group reacts to worship differently too. Usually the majority of people at college group are sitting down and I can’t hear any of them singing with me. It’s not necessarily a bad experience; I love leading worship anywhere I can get the chance to worship, but it’s different.
Acton’s been the best thing ever because it’s where I learned how to lead worship while being surrounded by ladies who are supportive and loving and genuinely excited. It’s been the worst ever because it’s spoiled all other experiences for me. I’ll always want to hear a chorus of voices singing praise along with me because it makes it about God and not about me at all. Acton has taught me how to screw up royally while playing a song and still be able to laugh about it. It’s pushed me to be better and learn and grow and, most importantly, it’s where I learned how to trust that this leading worship thing is something that God truly wants me to do. And that’s a wonderful thing.
My best friend’s niece is awesome. Well, all three of her sister’s kids are awesome but this one in particular. She was the first baby I ever held (when she was 1) and she took one look at me and started screaming for her mom. It traumatized me a bit. Now, she loves me and she’s one of my favorite people on the planet.
A little back story, in case you don’t know already; Brandi is my best friend and her family is pretty much my adopted family. They’ve been there for me since forever and I love all of them to pieces. If anything, God forbid, ever happens to my mom, I’m fortunate enough to have them in my life and know they will be there for me. So, her nieces are almost like my nieces and, since I don’t have kids of my own, they’re kinda the most amazing kids on the planet.
Her middle niece and her oldest niece both love playing with my hair but her middle niece is always the one to start with the “Jenn, let me brush your hair” and then proceeds to pretend to cut it or will put it up. Sometimes she will pretend to put makeup on me. She almost always asks me why I don’t grow my hair long (believe me, I wish I could make it a foot longer right now!). I always let them do it because it seems to bring them so much joy that I can’t see denying them that fun especially when it doesn’t hurt me.
She asks a million questions and cracks me up! Last night she was eating chips and asking questions when Brandi asked her why she is eating chips. Instead of answering, she just takes a bite of her chip and throws the other half back in the bowl and then runs away. It was so hilarious! I don’t know if she realizes just how funny she is but she is always doing something cute or funny to make me laugh. She has told me before that she wants a lip piercing like me and her aunt (my bestie) so I can totally tell that she’d be one of my friends if she were older. She’s just way too awesome for a little kid.
Same with her oldest niece. She’s like a mini teenager already. She crazy and silly and super fun to hang out with. She’s only six but she’s got an amazing talent for dancing and entertaining. She stayed up last night with us watching So You Think You Can Dance and outlasted her mom and her grandma and her younger sister. I didn’t see much of her when she was a baby but it’s been so cool to see her grow up from a toddler into this little kid/person with all these thoughts and a cute, quirky personality!
Her youngest niece is still a baby – she just turned one year old a few months ago – and I had the awesome privilege of getting to hold her when she was only a couple of hours old. She was so tiny and precious and she gripped my finger and almost made me weep because she was so tiny and awesome. She too went through her phase where she didn’t like me (at least I feel like she didn’t) but now she’s starting to not just stare at me like I’m an alien. She actually let me pick her up and she didn’t scream or cry! It was a mini miracle. Haha. I love her to pieces though. It’s so cool to have held her when she was new to the world and it blows my mind every time I see her walking around and hear her talking. I’m sure it’s worse for parents but I feel like they’re growing up too fast! They need to stay my little friends forever!
I felt bad for a while after I broke up with my ex fiancé because I lost my chance to have kids. Time has taught me that it wasn’t right for me to be with him and I wouldn’t have been happy and it wouldn’t have been good to bring kids into our relationship but I still have a desire to be a mom at some point in my life. When I was feeling my worst about it, I was doing a women’s bible study by Beth Moore and she talked about how God doesn’t always give us exactly what we want but He will always provide and, one way He does this is with kids. She said that she knew a woman who couldn’t have kids of her own but she was able to work in children’s ministry in her church and she got to be a part of those kid’s lives every week and it was like a replacement for having kids of her own.
I’m aware that it’s not the same thing at all; a mom has a lot more responsibility than a babysitter would have. However, I kind of get what she means. God knew that it wasn’t and still isn’t the right time for me to have my own kids so He gave me this awesome opportunity to have a friendship with my best friend’s nieces. I get to have fun playing and hanging out with them and buying them cool things without the responsibility of raising them. I get the joy that comes from knowing a little person and watching them grow and seeing them develop a personality! Even though they’re not related to me by blood, I feel like they’re a part of my family and would do anything to protect them. They’re literally some of the coolest people I know and some of my favorite people on the planet. Im blessed to know them and blessed to have their family as part of my adopted family.