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I’m choosing to tell my story

I wholeheartedly believe in the power of our words, stories, and pictures. While I have been regaining my energy and moving forward from a difficult time in my life, I have been thinking about my story and the story of my family. The past month I have been praying and dreaming about the chapters of my story that are left to be written.

I specifically have prayed about whether to continue telling my story through this blog. I committed several months ago to not making an impulsive decision and to really have a peace before moving forward either way.

While my blog reading has been very scarce, I have read these three posts that have spoken volumes to me. And, yes, I do believe they were placed in order of how I needed to hear them.

First, I read this post from Breakfast From Strangers when they interviewed Susie Davis.

Her quote, “I try to live my eulogy today. If you want people to say nice things about you at your funeral you need to be living that way now.”

After facing scary health issues over the past decade, I found myself tasting salty tears of joy and hope as I read the entire post. Her words simply reminded me that I am responsible for the energy that I bring in to the room, whether that be my home, workplace, or local breakfast shop. I am responsible for my choices and responses to my circumstances, no matter how many days or years God promises me.

Then through instagram I read this post from Hayley. I was sitting in the preschool parking lot and wanted to roll down my window and tell everyone of those young moms, “Read this!” I thought that might be construed as over the top, so I just clapped out loud to myself in my mom vehicle.

You see I have this desire to want to do it all and do it well. I know that is impossible and impractical, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from trying or at least secretly yearning for that desire.

So when Hayley wrote,

“That means I’d have to admit that I’m not good at everything and I can’t do it all. And that stings.”

Oh, could I relate. I forwarded the post to Jeff and this was his email message back to me.

“Hey – This reminds me of a friend of mine who isn’t writing, even though she has a gift. She doesn’t have the energy she once had to bake cupcakes, scrapbook, entertain, and exercise due to some (crappy) circumstances. She will again, just not now since this isn’t the season for it. But since she can’t do it all and do it well, she pushes her other gift of writing aside. I wish that girl would realize that standard of having it all together is just not going to happen. Life would be boring if it were that perfect. Maybe you could relay the message to her? Love you.”

I relayed the message to that friend. She listened.

And finally, I read this last week from Anne at Modern Mrs Darcy, after she attended the Killer Tribes Conference.

She shared this quote from speaker Ben Arment who said, “Frustration, sorrow, and heartache are unbelievable motivators. Frustration is a gift. My prayer for you is that great frustration would befall your life.”

But when Anne wrote this the tears fiercely welled up in my throat…

“And you better believe I’ll be dreaming about how those negative things (frustration, sorrow, and heartache) can be turned into something beautiful.”

I realized that my silence with blogging was directly related to fear. My fear of inadequacy. My fear of illness and death. My fear of not having it all together. My fear of giving you all the energy that I have, and it just not being enough.

So today I am choosing to step out of the fear and into the light. Today I am choosing to tell my story again. Today I am moving forward just as I am, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

Blessings sweet friends,

This picture is of a street in my neighborhood that I purposefully include along my walking/running route. Never hurts to be surrounded by positive people, thoughts, or street signs.


I have several posts ready for you this morning, but felt a nudge on my heart to lay my words at your feet.
Just two days after I wrote this post, I took Samantha to her sweet little soccer game. I was feeling a bit frazzled as I was rushing to get the kids to their practices, when selfishly I wanted to stay curled up in my warm sheets. As I was getting out of the car, I whispered to God, “Lord, I’m depleted. I need your encouragement and energy. I feel so inadequate. Why am I supposed to be here today?”

As I was setting up my chair, a dear friend hugged me and said, “I hope you don’t mind me telling you this but you were on my mind all day yesterday. I got your email about your two new blog posts”… and that’s when the lump in her throat became obvious. “Well, I just love it when you are real, raw, and well, just you. You see, a while back I had to stop reading your blog because it made me feel inadequate. You seemed to have it all together and doing all these things while working and having four kids.” And that’s when the lump in my throat formed and the tears started flowing. (more…)

Lesson Learned: My Dad and President Bill Clinton

Growing up my father led by example. He was a Colonel in the Air Force, a devout christian, and a registered Democrat. Although I didn’t even know he was a Democrat until my early 20s, as my dad never discussed which party he belonged to or which Presidential candidates he was voting for. My dad merely discussed the importance of character and social responsibility and then lived it.

This is one of my favorite pictures that hangs in my dad’s office. President Clinton had come to visit Patrick Air Force Base and my dad had the pleasure of meeting his Commander in Chief. President Clinton visited in June 1996 to attend the memorial service for the 19 Airman that were killed when a gasoline truck exploded outside the Khobar Towers housing area on King Abdul Aziz Air Base in Saudi Arabia. I remember my dad calling me in Tucson to tell me how the President was personable, compassionate, and very engaging, just as he came across on my 19″ color TV during his speeches.

What is interesting to me about this picture 16 years later is that my dad did not vote for President Clinton, yet he has an enormous amount of respect for him. This picture is treasured and hangs just above his desk. My father never said a foul word about him or any other elected official (or candidate) to my recollection.

I called my dad and asked him to send me this picture. I then asked him about the elections and if he had any wise words for me. He stated, “My advice has not changed. I still believe in respecting our President and Presidential candidates and their families. I genuinely desire our elected officials to succeed, even if I didn’t vote for them, because that is what is best for our family and country. I will also continue to encourage you and others to never miss an opportunity to vote.” Yes.

I have nothing to add. My dad said it all.

Today I will vote. And despite the outcome, President Obama or Governor Romney, you have my full support. Our country needs you to succeed.

So get out and vote and then have a terrific day!

Blessings sweet friends,

Redefining Full


“Don’t worry, you can always have another child.” – said the neighbor to a young 22 year old who just miscarried her first child.

“Don’t worry, there are so many other fish in the sea. You just have to get back up on the horse.” – said the bible study leader to the 25 year old single mom whose husband left her for another woman.

“Don’t worry dear. God never gives you more than you can handle. You must be one of the strongest people in His eyes.” - said an observer to a 38 year old mom of 4 who had been served some heavy challenges as of late.

You know those phrases.

We have all been guilty of using them at some point in our journey.

I’m calling for a moratorium on phrases that only bring comfort to the messenger. I suppose it’s this inherent need for us to say something to our friends and acquaintances who are going through difficult times. Unfortunately, our words sometimes cause more pain than if we just were silent and offered a loving glance or hug. I know this as I’ve been guilty of using some of these phrases and have been on the receiving end of them more than once.

These words are often said with the best intentions but cause the recipient to question if their grief is appropriate, warranted, or worse, if they have done something to deserve the pain that life naturally brings to our doorsteps.

“God never gives you more than you can handle.”

I’m calling hogwash on this one. I’ve heard this phrase uttered a million times with the most syrup sweet of intentions. I’ve even seen this cross stitched and hanging above an elder’s fireplace mantel. And yes, I realize this is biblical. I just think it has been twisted into a cute catch phrase instead of being used in the context God meant for it to be delivered.

The past several months have been full of life and the joys and challenges that it brings with it. Transitions, heart break, and joy that can only come from answered prayers from Him.

During my break from writing on this blog I have grown. And with growth, comes molding, changing, challenging the purpose to it, shaking my fists, growing pains, acceptance, and finally gratitude.

I have really embraced 2 things.

First, God often gives me more than I can handle. I was made in His image and to trust in Him. However, I am a stubborn soul and fiercely independent and often think I can do it all. I was reminded gently and harshly this summer that I desperately need the comfort and counsel that can only come from Him. It surely can’t be fulfilled by a cute e-card phrase or quote on Pinterest or Facebook.

I came to God completely empty and void of energy and He welcomed me. I completely felt a sense of Him saying be quiet and be still.

I know you write Jenny, but now I want you to be silent.

Second, God is really redefining my definition of Full. This could very well be my word for 2013. My blog was designed to remind me to live my life to the fullest and accomplish my life list that was formed when I had cancer. And I love my life list. But lately, I feel God saying that those small, ordinary moments in life fill me up as much as the big items like dancing in Washington D.C.


I still plan on being intentional about living my life. But I’m realizing while checking items off my life list might be the width of my life, the height of living a full life might be playing an intense game of UNO cards with my 3 year old daughter, teaching my new high school freshman the joys of highlighters (from a nerdy perspective), or throwing the football around with my 10 year old son.

Thank you for allowing me a quick hiatus from this blog. My precious family is getting settled into our new home and have embarked on many new adventures that I can’t wait to share with you. We have no kitchen table or couch, but I have a project life table and a cupcake pan that is ready to be christened in our new kitchen.

And speaking of living life to the fullest, I love how Ben was completely uninhibited. I wish this childlike joy and energy could be bottled.

Glad to be back. I’ve missed you.

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

Outside and Inside

I’m still in Oregon at Your Story Retreat and digging deep into the stories I want to tell. The stories are pouring out which is interesting as I felt as if I had nothing to say over the past month. At least not the easy stories.

But here’s the catch with me. I want real. Real writing. Real friends. Real relationships. Real everything. I’m at the point in my life that I’m in a good place.

Yes, there are things I want to change and improve on. Yes, there are things that I want to learn, do, and grow with. And yes, I still long for a house. But I’m starting to love where I am at in the present more than ever. I’m not waiting for tomorrow. I’m not waiting to be a size 4. I’m not waiting for when I have a new home. I’m not waiting until that person calls me to go to the movies. I’m choosing to love myself and my present just as it is while working on what needs to be changed.

Here’s an exercise that I had to write this morning. My first draft. I will probably edit, add, subtract – but I wanted you to see my first draft. Perhaps I’m sharing too much, but again… I’m promising you real. My heart just as it is.

Please know that I’m truly in a great place and in no need of rescue. That’s the thing about life. The good, the bad, the ugly, and then the moving forward. It’s all necessary and it’s all good. Life is good.

Outside and Inside

Outside my hair has thinned and is often found on my pillow or broad shoulders. Signs of recovery and aging.
Inside I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.

Outside I see the reddened scars and cellulite streaks from years of surgery, chemotherapy, and steroids.
Inside I feel luscious and eternally delicious from one simple glance from Jeff.

Outside I see acquaintances who are shallow, self consumed, and too busy for relationships. I smile and bake them cupcakes anyways.
Inside I’m thirsty for substance. I’m desperate for connection with real women who want to share life, laughter, and struggle together.

Outside I’ve been married and loved two men.
Inside I’ve been only truly loved and made love to by one man. Praising God that round two of sex doesn’t only exist on General Hospital as I thought during my first marriage.

Outside I’m sick of the surface shit.
Inside I’m yearning for depth and revelation.

Outside I’m wearing comfortable denim in a size 14.
Inside I still feel like that national level swimmer with lean legs, strong shoulders, and one who walked with a confident stride. I’m finally confident that my inside is going to merge with my outside once again in the near future.

Outside I’m living life intentionally with a grateful spirit.
Inside I’m living life intentionally with a grateful spirit.

I suppose I’m on the right track.

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

If you are new to my site, welcome! I would love for you to follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog at the top of this post and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

The only original thing on the internet is your story

You know when I have a long post, that it often includes a story and something I am passionate about. And this post fits into that precise category. I believe wholeheartedly that the only truly original things anymore are people and their stories…

When I met Jeff he was graduating from college and playing professional golf. Jeff played golf 4 to 8 hours a day. He would often jump in with other men and women who had planned tee times. He would come home and I would ask, “Did you play with anyone nice today? What were their names? What do they do?”

Jeff would look at me with this blank stare and say, “I have no idea. I was just playing golf.” Jeff could tell me what kind of swing adjustments they needed or could tell me the clubs and balls they used, but couldn’t tell me any details to save his life. I was driven a little mad at times because I yearned for the details and the stories. (more…)

I Am Mom Enough and So Are You

By now, many of you have seen this cover of the May Edition of Time Magazine. This article is about a popular parenting philosophy known as attachment parenting and it’s founder, 72 year old Dr. William Sears.

Instead of featuring Dr. Sears on the cover, Time Magazine instead chose to feature 26 year old mommy blogger and attachment parenting supporter, Jamie Lynn Grumet. Time Magazine has a job to attract readers to their magazines and how better to do that than to anger moms with a polarizing topic. My twitter feed almost blew up yesterday with rants about how long is too long to breast feed, whether attachment parenting oppresses women, and even everyone’s two cents as to what makes a good mother. Oy.



The picture didn’t appall me like it did to others. The title of the article however made me sick to my stomach. The media has caught on to the fact that they can get attention by getting women to argue with one another. It has been dubbed The Mommy Wars.

As moms we are trying our best to navigate this journey towards raising healthy, well adjusted children. And there are MANY paths that can lead to the same destination.

Are you Mom Enough? Yes you are. And so am I.

I am Mom Enough at night when my toddler has a bad dream and needs to snuggle in close to me.

I am Mom Enough even though I’ve worked outside the home as a nurse while raising four children.

I am Mom Enough to know that I need a date with my husband every week.

I am Mom Enough to know that my children are not perfect but more than enough.

I am Mom Enough to know that my children need to learn how to work through failures in the safety of our home.

I am Mom Enough to know when “No” is necessary.

I am Mom Enough to put my cell phone down when my children desire my company.

I am Mom Enough to know that I can’t do it all.

I am Mom Enough to my 2 year old even though I don’t have breasts anymore.

I am Mom Enough to know that I am not perfect but that I give it my best.

I am Mom Enough to know that I am immeasurably blessed.

Let’s build one another up and stop this alarming trend of shaming one another. Maybe then TIME magazine won’t use us to sell their magazines.

Instead, in the spirit of Mother’s Day weekend…consider picking up the phone and telling your friend who is struggling that she is enough.

Consider writing a letter and leaving a care package to your friend who is a single mom trying her best to raise children on her own.

Consider humbling yourself to someone you have judged for her parenting choices and apologize.

Consider looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “I am more than Mom Enough.”

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

If you are new to my site, welcome! Like what you see? I would love for you to follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog through the subscription box at the top of the page and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back?

As I sat on the pool deck at Phoenix Swim Club watching the older group swim, this thought kept coming back to me. Over and over. Jenny, What is holding you back?

There is a drill in which resistance bands are used. A belt is placed around your waist and the other end is strapped onto the starting block. The swimmer takes off only to be held back or tethered by this resistance band.


It’s hard work. It makes you have to focus on additional measures to get you through the water – better technique, harder pulling, harding kicking. As if swimming wasn’t hard enough already. (more…)

Fostering Community

Exciting things are happening here at Learn with Jenny. Lot’s of behind the scenes work is coming together thanks to you and this community that has grown over the past several months. Last week I asked for your feedback about this blog. I was overwhelmed with the responses and emails that I received.

I came away inspired by this community. I knew you were great, but oh my some of these emails just pierced my soul.

This was one of my favorite excerpts from an email I received:

“I come to your site every morning not only for you but for the comments left by your lovelies. Your lovelies are people who are searching to be better people and want to be surrounded by other lovelies who want to make their lives and the lives of others better. Please don’t stop writing, Jenny. You and your lovelies inspire me to be the best person possible. After 35 years, I realize that I can make a difference in the lives of my family, friends, and strangers. I have been sitting on the sidelines for my entire life watching others live their dreams. You and your lovelies make me feel it’s possible to have that for myself. I have read every post and every comment and it’s real and refreshing – not just your voice, but their voices too.”

Ok, first of all I have been referring to you as lovelies all weekend long. The thought makes me smile. One person can make a difference, but there is such power when many of us work together. Something is building in this community of readers that is making me bubble with excitement. I think this community is far greater and more powerful than I realized! Real, authentic people who want to make their families, neighborhoods, and this world a better place.



So thank you. Thank you for taking the time to encourage me and others with your comments and emails. And please comment. I treasure them, but it is clear that other readers treasure them more than I ever realized was possible.

I want to see this community grow. That is big step for me. You see, I wasn’t certain that’s originally what I desired. But now, because of your encouragement and some fervent prayer, I have no doubt that what I’m being called to do. And it’s going to happen friends. So tell your friends who are positive to come here. And tell your friends that are negative to come here – we all need encouragement, right?

So many great things are happening but I won’t overload you today.

After the great response to Sam’s story yesterday, I am going to start a series where I share your stories every Sunday. I think there is tremendous power and encouragement that can come when we make ourselves vulnerable to show others how we are overcoming obstacles and trying to live a full and meaningful life. If you would like to submit your story, please email me your post at Please have the story be limited to 800 words and include at least one, preferably two pictures to fit with your post. I’m so excited about this! I have other exciting things in the works and will share those very soon.

Yes, I am excited about accomplishing items off my life list. I’m more energized than ever. But I’m more excited seeing others inspired to finally get off the bleachers, starting living life, and doing so with a spirit of gratitude. Do you see the blessings that are coming full circle?

Let’s encourage one another. You lovelies are indeed a blessing to me.

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

If you are new to my site, welcome! Like what you see? I would love for you follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

What is normal?

After my journey as a divorced, single mother I remember praying, “God, I just want to be normal again.”

After our journey with cancer, I remember Jeff and I praying for life to just return to normal.

What is it about the word normal that has me searching to live a life just like the people around me? Is that what I truly want? And more importantly, is that what God wants for me?



I received an email from a reader who is experiencing a fear of the unknown after a life with cancer and a husband who chose to walk away. Body image issues can be a difficult struggle for those who haven’t had cancer, so multiply that exponentially with cancer. I shared this story and she thought it would help others. It’s just taken me a bit to get to the point where I could hit publish on this post.

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