My first mammogram….

Yesterday I joined the ranks of many women who have gone before me as I had my first mammogram. And all I can say is:

How is it, that in the year 2017, the best the medical community can offer women for mammography is a glorified Panini press?!?!

Y’all, I had NO idea! None.

I didn’t even know that I was going to be squished and pressed like a panini yesterday. It all happened while experiencing the other joy of womanhood—the well-woman exam.

As if laying there on the table in your paper gown in all your glory while trying to pay attention to the doctor’s idle chit-chat isn’t bad enough (I mean seriously doc no amount of chit-chat is going to make this experience feel normal!) Then the doctor casually mentions that women over the age of 40 really need to start having mammograms and that, conveniently enough, they now offer them right down the hall.

I get dressed and follow the signs to the mammography suite (yep, cause calling it a suite makes it all better!)

I am warmly greeted and welcomed to the “club.” There’s lovely music playing and the color pink is everywhere.

“Sugar,” a kind older woman calls out to me, “We can take you back now.”

She leads me to a small dressing room and points to a basket, “The gown opens in the front. Then just head through that door when you’re ready.”

I open the “gown” only to discover that it’s a vest. A short—only to the waist—paper vest.

Why is this a problem??

Because I’m wearing a dress!!!

You see, I have this neurotic fear of a doctor walking in the room while I am in a state of partial dress. Yes, I know the doctor is soon to see me in a much less, but for some reason I have this need to undress as quickly as possible to avoid the dreaded walk-in. And so I wear dresses to these kind of appointments. Easy on, easy off.

But now I stand here, holding a paper vest, feeling the blood drain from my head.

Maybe it looks longer on, I rationalize.

It doesn’t.

So now I stand in a pink paper vest and my underwear, weighing my options.

I try pulling my dress on like a skirt (stupid small neck line) I try wrapping the dress around my waist like a sarong (it’s too short) I try creating shorts out of another paper vest (sadly, I now look like I’m wearing a pink paper diaper!!!)

My neck is covered with purple splotches. Surely this is not happening. Surely I am not going to have to leave this (un)dressing room in my underwear!

“Jennifer? Honey? You ok in there?” the woman calls.

“Um….I don’t have pants,” I reply in a hysterical yelp.

“It’s ok,” she chuckled. “Just come on out.”

Dear Lord, has it really come to this?

I peak through the door like a mouse assessing its surroundings.

Just the one woman.

Deep breath. And walk.

“Bad day to wear a dress huh?” I hear myself say.

“Go ahead and step over here,” I am told. “Step right to the machine and I’ll position you.”

Oh dear Lord! She does. And with all the gentleness of a mover trying to shove a sofa through a narrow doorway. I am not well-endowed and so I think she was having to pull all the available skin from my entire torso to have something to put on the machine! She pulled and tugged and yanked (all while I stand pant-less). And then just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, she says, “Ok, lots of pressure coming,” and she closes the panini press, giving it one last tug!

Are you kidding me??? This is the best we can do for women???

“Just breathe,” I am told.

I’d really rather not, cause passing out sounds really good right now. Not only will I be oblivious to this…event, but I won’t fall because my boob and all the skin from my neck and abdomen is literally stuck in a panini press!!

I am told to stop breathing for a moment while she takes the image.

Way ahead of you lady!!

We repeat the process on the other side.

It is done. Thank you God!

I turn to leave.

“Oh wait, sugar, we have to do it from the side now…”

Wait…what?

Yep, let’s turn the press on its side and squeeze the panini vertically!

Y’all…really?

Finally, we are done. The tech says words. I don’t know what they are. I make my way back to the dressing room, feeling like my once small chest is now hanging down to my knees.

I throw the paper vest away and put my stupid dress back on. I walk out of the room, avoiding eye contact with everyone. Do I need to check out? I don’t care. I exit the waiting room, confident they will send a bill or something.

As I flee from the “suite” a woman is entering. She looks wide-eyed, unsure, and around 40, She’s wearing a dress. Oh, poor thing….

I sit in the car for 5 whole minutes trying to process what just happened. And then I start hysterically laughing.

For you see, a few days ago I confided to my husband that one of my biggest fears with this whole book publishing thing is that pride might creep into my heart. I asked him to pray with me that in all things and at all times I will point to Jesus and remain humble in my heart.

You guys, be careful what you pray for! Because God might just give you a “humility moment” to reflect back on…a humility moment in the form of a pink paper vest, underwear and a panini press!!

(Disclaimer: although the experience was less than awesome, I am so grateful that mammogram detection has saved countless lives! So, go get your mammograms. After all, if I can do it, you can do it. Just do yourself a favor and wear pants!!!) 

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When the storm just won’t quit

“Peace. Be still.”

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The storm was raging. Their boat was filling. They were panicking.

But Jesus? He was sleeping.

Don’t you wish you could sleep through the storm today? Curl up, pull the covers over your ponding head and retreat into a blissful state of unconsciousness?

Do you long for the wind to stop blowing? The waves to stop ponding? Your boat to stop filling?

Is it starting to feel like the storm will never stop?

Do you long for Jesus to say, “Peace. Be still,” to your storm? Maybe you are even growing weary, thinking that He will never calm your storm. Or feeling hurt that He seems to speak Peace into other’s storms, but not your own?

If so, would you take just a moment to consider the familiar passage from Mark 4 in a different light?

Had the disciples not awakened Jesus, He would have continued to sleep.

He only rebuked the storm because His disciples were freaking out, and He chose to use that moment to demonstrate another aspect of His character to them—that He had power over even the wind and seas.

Yet, prior to the disciples terrified wake up call, Jesus was sound asleep.

He was at peace, in the storm…with them!

He was soaked, just as they were soaked!

And yet, He did not fear the storm. He knew that they would not perish. He knew that He was in complete control. He knew there was purpose in the storm. He knew that those He loved were safe with Him. And so…He slept.

It is natural to want the storms to stop. Storms are uncomfortable and scary.

But if your storm feels relentless today, know that you are not alone in that boat. The One who made you, loves you and has a plan for you is with you. And though you may feel frustrated that He seems to be asleep in the stern, know that—trust that—He is fully aware of what is going on. He is fully with you and for you.

I wonder….what would have happened if the disciples had chosen to lay down beside Him that day? To see His restful state as an example to follow during the storm?

Today, as the storm rages around you, would you snuggle up beside Jesus and let Him speak peace to your heart.

For there you will find rest in the middle of the storm.

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Much love,
Jen

Simple acts in complicated times

Sad.

I have spent four days trying to think of a more intelligent sounding word—a more descriptive adjective—to describe my overall melancholy. I’m a writer. Surely I can write a more profound word than sad.

But I cannot.

For at the core of my being I am most definitely and unequivocally sad.

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Frustrated? Yes.

Angry? Absolutely.

Surprised? Well, no, not really….

I’ve wanted to write about recent abhorrent events, not because I feel I have anything earth-shaking to add, but because 1) writing is how I process things and 2) remaining silent seems wrong.

However, forming words, thoughts and sentences has been a challenge for me.

For how do you process the incomprehensible? And what do you say when there are so many saying so much?

And so I pondered, I prayed and I waited.

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I waited to hear God’s voice more than my own thoughts.

I pondered how such evil can seem to go unchecked; how some people can hate their fellow humans for no reason other than the level of pigmentation found in a bunch of epidermal cells; how people consumed with hate and evil can dare to bring the Name of Jesus into their supposed “cause”; and what on earth we (those who love and cling to the real Jesus and seek to follow Him) can do in response to such hate and evil.

And I prayed for wisdom, for self-control, for understanding. I prayed to love others more and to have the courage to show that love. And I prayed for an action-item—something tangible to do, a way to stand up for good and to fight against evil.

I asked God to reveal to me a glimpse of Jesus in this mess.

Now, not to try and bring back certain bracelet movement that swept the country during my high school years or anything, but I found myself asking, “Jesus, what would you be doing if you once again took on flesh and walked among our streets today?”

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The answer I heard whispered to my heart over and over again was, “Be kind.”

As profound as the word sad, right?

I will confess to wanting to hear something more.

More specific…

More engaging….

More tweet-able….

But over and over again I heard “Be kind.”

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And as I thought about it….I realized, “Well, what else would Jesus be doing?” In fact, couldn’t His entire earthly ministry be described as His demonstrating kindness to broken, lost, hate-filled people?

His presence on this earth – kind.

His willingness to touch the untouchable, to love the unlovable, to speak to the rejected, to heal the broken, to shine the light of truth to those trapped in darkness – kind.

His willingness to give up His life for ours – kind.

His victory over death – kind.

Yes, maybe kindness is an action item. And maybe kindness holds a key to overcoming this melancholy in which I feel trapped.

So today I want to be on the lookout for opportunities to be kind.

I want to be intentional with my pursuit of kindness, which means I need to be in a constant state of prayer, asking God to reveal who needs kindness and what that kindness will look like in that moment.

But I can easily fall into my comfortable, hermit-like routine, and so the pursuit of kindness is going to take effort.

But I just have to do something! Don’t you?

Even if that something is as small as letting someone else go first in line; giving a smile to one who looks down; as big as sharing the Gospel if the Spirit leads; or something in-between, like offering to help carry a bag; or showing grace when I want to complain…..

I want to show this world what Jesus looks like—as imperfect and skewed of an image as that will unfortunately will be.

But I think He will be pleased by His children trying to show His kindness to a world in chaos.

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And I think He will take our little and make it much.

So, while we wait for the more profound words and the more lasting change, let’s find one person and show them the kindness of Christ. And maybe, just maybe, we will begin affecting the more profound…

Much love,
Jen

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When it’s time to spread your wings and…trust

I have wanted to post here for some time, however, I have been hard at work cleaning, purging and painting my house (things I had been putting off while writing my manuscript; things I now can’t stop doing as I wait to hear if its been accepted!) Yet, God provided (as He always does) by literally dropping a post in my inbox 😉 

Today’s post was written by one of my best friends, who also happens to be my aunt. Her name is Judy and she is amazing! I would need an entire post to properly introduce her to you, but here are the highlights: 

– She’s incredibly generous  
– She loves Southern Gospel, Jimmy Buffet, country music and 60’s rock. 
– She’s the youngest of 4 (and the only girl…which meant she often volunteered her dolls to    be used as target practice just so she could play with her brothers!) 
– She loves Jesus, and a good glass of wine!
– And on August 7th, 2003 she was hit (indirectly) by lightening and survived! (ironically the  strike occurred just days after she prayed and asked God to put a spark in her for Him and  set her heart of fire once again for Him…careful what you pray for!!)

Oh, and she LOVES butterflies! So much so that my daughter has nicknamed her the “butterfly queen.” And so….here is today’s post, written by Aunt Judy: 

THE BUTTERFLY AND GOD

For those of you who don’t know me, I love dolphins, pelicans and butterflies.  Even though I would love to raise dolphins and pelicans, I can’t, so I raise butterflies.

To keep the butterflies from being a meal for the many lizards around here, I keep them in a mesh cage with plenty of milkweed.

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They spend their days and nights eating and sleeping.  So, from the time I take the small caterpillars off the plants outside, bring them into the safety of the mesh cage, the only thing I need to do is make sure they have plenty of milkweed.  And, boy do they eat a lot of milkweed.

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Once they reach their full size at the caterpillar stage, they begin a journey up the side of the cage.  This is where they change into a chrysalis.  They go from a black and orange caterpillar to a pretty green chrysalis with a gold band around the top.

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Anyone who says there is no God has never watched the life of a  butterfly.  Back to my original thought — They stay this pretty green for a week or so and then turn black.  In the next day or two, the miracle happens and this beautiful monarch butterfly emerges.

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I tell you all this to paint a picture of what happened next.  When the butterfly is ready to be released, I will reach inside the cage and this beautiful creature will crawl onto my finger.  I will then move him or her out of the cage and watch it fly away.

Two days ago the butterfly was ready to be released.  He crawled onto my finger and as I was removing him, he flew off and went back to the side of the cage.  This happened two more times.  Then he grabbed hold of my finger and let me remove him to the freedom he was really wanting.

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Right then it occurred to me.  How many times are we just like this butterfly?  How many times does God reach down to us, to remove us from our cage and we let go of His hand and “fly” back to the side of our mesh cage?  I had such a feeling that God was telling me to let go and take hold of His hand.

My prayer is that when I feel a change in my “mesh cage” that I will reach out and hold on to God’s hand.  I hope and pray that you too will let go of your mesh cage.

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Love you,
Judy