I hate the Internet

I know today is about love. I get that. I also (obviously) don’t really hate the Internet…I’m being dramatic. I’m a girl on Valentine’s Day, totally to be expected.

But, at the very least, I’m not very happy with parts of the Internet at them moment. And, like most of the times when I’m angry or hateful, it’s myself that I’m actually mad at and not the person/thing/website.

And here’s the deep dark secret: My name is Jen and I’m a Comparison Addict. (“Hi, Jen,” say the disembodied voices in my head) It’s horrible. I can go to the darkest hole of pity and self loathing with the snap of your fingers. And the biggest obstacle is the fact that I spend a (much too) big portion of my life looking at other people’s lives on a screen.


I think I would have done better in a life before the Internet. Granted, I wouldn’t have traveled beyond my street because my sense of direction without a GPS can be equated to that of toddler who was just spinning in circles for 18 minutes straight. But, I yearn for a time when I didn’t have filtered, perfect smiles mocking me and my unwashed hair. I need to be able to get through a day without someone having a thought that makes me question my own existence. And the cheesy couple posts…ugh don’t get me started. If it’s possible, I couldn’t loathe/love anything more.

Case in point: My husband sent me roses today. Now, I believe that my husband is the most perfect person in the world and, if I didn’t have Jesus in my life, my love for my husband borderline idolatry. But did I thank him as soon as I said good-bye to the delivery man? No, the first thing I did after receiving this beautiful gift: I took and posted a picture of it. I needed people to see what had happened. I needed to be noticed. I needed to prove to myself that I was important enough to be included in the blizzard of heartfelt pictures and declarations of love happening on Facebook today. (I did eventually thank my husband.)

And this happens more than on holidays. There are times I can find myself hours deep into looking at someone’s vacation pictures from 4 years ago because I need to convince myself that, in some way, it wasn’t perfect. Or that my thighs look smaller than that woman’s profile picture from 2011.

It’s bad for me. I know it’s bad for me.Sometimes I state out loud in my empty office how bad it is for me while I click the next link. But it is so easy to get caught up in. And its so hard to stop.

It feels a lot like being a child and screaming for your mom to look at you. Over and over and over and over until you get her attention. And why? So that she can praise you or smile and nod. So that she can love you and accept you and so that you can be known.

Listen to Me Sign Person Tries to Get Attention in Crowd

See where I’m going with this yet?

Someone is watching. He’s always watching. Even when I’m not selfie worthy and even when I’m down the rabbit hole of hating myself while studying the most minute detail of someone else’s profile, God is watching. And He’s loving me. And I am known to Him.

And He is sad that I don’t realize that. That I am beating up what I consider to be unworthy in myself. That I am tearing down His child.

And with His help, I’m working on it. I don’t have all the answers. Heck, I don’t have any of the answers. But my tactic of praying my way through the darkness, is getting me closer.

So, I’m praying for you, couple who just announced their pregnancy. And you, person who ate a really pretty looking salad last Tuesday. And, most of all, I’m praying for you, unsure little girl inside of me who is longing for attention. We’ll get through this.

PS How pretty are those roses?!




Jesus is taunting me…again

In one of my two offices for my (paid) jobs, there is a bookshelf that I pace in front of. I’m a telephone pacer, a bored pacer and an “I need to get my steps in without leaving this office” pacer. And while I pace sometimes I look over and every time I am guaranteed to see the cover of this book.img_2724

I don’t know why it surprises me every time…I never move it. I never even pick it up. I just look at it and feel the Lord taunting me.

Ok…I guess taunting is a bad word. Testing? Checking in? Reminding? Throwing pebbles at my head à la Romeo and Juliet?

He’s trying to get me attention.

And I give it to Him. But,usually just long enough to think: “Ha, right! I’ll think of loving you and, Jesus, you can go ahead and catch up on my laundry, plan these five events, get the baby to sleep through the night and get me to lose an undisclosed number of pounds that are hanging out around my waist. Nice try, buddy. I’m not falling for that.”

Today, though, I stopped and tried not to be sassy with our Lord and Savior. I thought about what the cover is really asking of me, what it really means to love Jesus, why He wants me to do it more than anything else.

A quote attributed to St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Is that what we call her now? In our house, she’s still Momma T.) comes to mind:

“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

With Valentine’s Day being right around the corner, its easy to equate “love” with the cheesy cards, gifts and movies that are attacking all of our senses right now. The good feelings and pretty hearts and happily ever afters aren’t what book-cover-Jesus and actual Jesus want from me.

He wants me to serve: my family, the people of my ministries, the people I forget to pray for, the people the world forgets. He wants me to think of myself less and of them more. He wants me to open my eyes and my heart to the suffering around me and offer to help in my own small way. He wants me to stop complaining about things that don’t matter and work to change things that do. (OK…that half of that might be more what I want. I’m getting really annoyed by my own complaining lately. And you know its bad when you are annoyed by yourself.) He wants me to trust that He will take care of me, and everything else for that matter, even when I spend half my life worrying about the outcome.

Ok, book-cover-Jesus, you win. Today, I will let you think of everything and I will think of loving you. And I will continue to learn what that love means for me.


I’m surviving

That’s a lot of what it feels like lately. No thriving here. Day by day, moment by moment, I am getting through. A large portion of it is lack of sleep, for sure. Another part, though, I think is feeling disconnected from who I was and who I thought I would be. The cliched phrase is something along the lines of God laughing at our plans and, while I love keeping God jolly, I kind of wish He’d let me in on the joke every once and a while.

And, unfortunately but not unpredictably, right now the focus of my “I wishes” is revolving around my physical appearance. Still got the baby tummy, still got the stretch marks, still not the gorgeous, twig who can confidently do anything she wants and has a perfect heart of gold. And, like most bad feelings I find myself in, I don’t shake them away easily. I’m defining myself by the way others define me and/or how I look at any given moment. Not the precious child of God who has a unique place in this world. Thank goodness I have a baby girl, who is thankfully the spitting image of her daddy, to distract from the fact that I don’t love myself the way that I should because of some ill-conceived notions in my head. So, I’ll love her, and her daddy, the very best that I can and hope that along the way, I will learn to use some of that unconditional love on myself as well.


I ache, too

I just got pulled into one of many of the articles that pop up on my newsfeed. This one started with the phrase “I long for normal…” and I was hooked. That’s the exact wording I have been feeling this week but couldn’t put into words. Well, that’s not true, I didn’t want to put it into words. Saying that out loud, and even thinking it, feels selfish and petty and wrong. But that doesn’t mean the feeling goes away.

Now, the woman writing the article was talking about her daughter who has a disorder that makes the family of four’s life more and more difficult. The more I read, the guiltier I felt. No one in my life is suffering this way and in no way is my life affected to the extent that her’s is…but I still ache. And every time I think about it, the guilt grows.

I should explain. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for a month now and nothing in the world has made me happier. He is truly one of the biggest blessings in my life. But we haven’t had the newlywed experience that most do. Sure, our week spent in Jamaica after the wedding was fantastic and a honeymoon I will never forget. But, after that week we returned to our beautiful home…and our girls. Matt and I have no children of our own yet, but our house is filled with movement, excitement and noise because we have, as of Sunday, five young women living with us who I adore but who also make our life anything but normal.

Before we were married, my husband (who is truly a saint in many ways…but that is a reflection in and of itself for a later time) had founded and led an intentional Catholic living community which, in it’s two years of existence, provided the world with graces that continue to be discovered. Unfortunately, that time came to a close and left some of the younger members without a place to go because of bad family lives or other unsafe conditions. So, when we purchased our house, we were looking for more than enough bedrooms. And when we closed on our house last summer, we moved in with 3 housemates. Over the year, we have hosted a number of others for short or longer periods of time for a variety of reasons and, in the past month, have added bunk beds to our future nursery for our newest two additions. Our house now holds the seven of us pretty comfortably.

As you can see, though, we are far from normal and sometimes I get exhausted just explaining that to people who never really understand our situation…sometimes I wonder if I do! And not all days are happy Brady Bunch-inspired scenes. I get tired and frustrated a lot more than I should. I need time outs to compose myself. I need to remember the good. But my husband shines through in these instances. His heart is much bigger than mine a lot of the time and he carries the joys and burdens of others with such grace that I am in awe of him every day (ugh…I said I wasn’t going to gush. But he’s just so great!)

Yesterday, was one of those days where I came home from work and errands and just wanted to collapse in the clean and quiet house that I had left in the morning…but that wasn’t going to happen easily. I wanted to throw up my hands and run far, far away from everything not 5 minutes after walking into the chaos. Not an option. So instead, I poured a glass of wine and cooked dinner. And that’s where the miracles start. Dinner brought people to our table and the meal I was planning for Matt and I turned into a dinner for 5 (thankfully with just enough food). And though it still wasn’t a traditional family dinner, I could feel the love surrounding me, even in my tired and broken state. I saw the face of Christ through the haze of my frustration and my ache for normal. “Normal” life, though, would have never given me that grace. I am blessed with the gift of an abnormal life and when I forget that, I have scripture to remind me to love and be joyful in my abnormality:

“Above all, let your love for another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

I have many gifts. And 5 of them happen to be living under our roof with us. So much for normal…and good riddance.


Here we go again

Almost three years away from blogging seems like a pretty good break, don’t you think?

I’m not even going to pretend that I can recap my last three years and I’m not going to try. But my level of life reflection has been at an all time high lately and I need to write again. So, I will.

Our wedding is 9 days away and counting…and I feel like I’ve been counting all my life to this day. With this saint of a man. We’ve been prepping songs and seating charts and ceremony programs but there is something that is really hitting me at the moment: our vows. We haven chosen to memorize the standard Catholic vows for August 1st and, while I go over and over them in my head, I’m trying to see if I actually mean every. single. word. I’m in this forever, I need to make sure I’m holding up my end of the bargain.

And I’m having a hard time with the word “honor”. I love my fiance with every ounce of my being. I love him to the moon and back. I love him with all of my heart. I love him in every cliched way imaginable, and then, some but I’ve never thought about honoring him. Is that a default word that just goes with love or is it something more?

When I think of honor, I think of the Army or the commandment about being nice to my parents, but never really living out honor in any practical way. Maybe that’s a missing piece. Maybe honor is the forgotten vow that requires the effort of not only putting him before me always but respecting him, even when I disagree, or holding him in the highest esteem, even when he breaks me down. I’m going to work on my honoring, I think it needs a tune-up.

(Originally posted 7/22/2015)