We are 19 days into this series, 31 Days of My People. Probably about 8 of you are still hanging in there, and for that I am thankful. I am tired, folks! But the thing that keeps me going is that I have more of My lovely People to share with you. Y’all have had nothing but kind and wonderful things to say about them so far, (I told ya you’d love them) so let’s keep the good vibes going and DO this thing.
I have all these Jennifers in my life. They are all awesome in their very own ways. This one is my Jen. (Or JP to my husband, who gives them all his own nicknames so he can keep the Jennifers straight)
I’m just going to start with the obvious: Jen is beautiful. I mean, gorgeous beautiful. If you’ve ever met her in person, you know this is one instance where I am not exaggerating one tiny ounce.
I kind of have this aversion to very long hair on women over 40. (forgive me, ladies. It’s just an issue I have) I personally think you’ve gotta have some seriously special, uber-healthy hair to pull off a long, flowing mane after you leave your thirties. But Jen is my #1 exception to that rule. She just broke into her 40’s not too long ago and still has the most incredible, healthy, full-of-body hair that will give any twentysomething head of hair a run for its money. It’s kind of embarrassing to be around her, just sitting over here with my regular hair.
But it’s so worth it, because Jen is one of those people who I’d love to spend more time with. We talk regularly and see each other a couple of times a month, at least. But if I had my way, she’d be hanging out on my back porch drinking some wine every other night. She’d be putting up with me asking her a million questions and writing down every single thing she says. She’s got a lot of wisdom, this one, but for some reason she would never agree with that statement. She probably just can’t hear me under all that hair.
My husband and I met Jen and her husband Brian over a decade ago when we started coming to the church, which happens to be pastored by Brian’s dad. Our first memory connected to their family was when my germaphobe husband and I were teaching the 4 & 5 year-old Kids’ Ministry class together. Jen & Brian’s oldest son Jason was in our class, and apparently had some sinus issues. Little 4-year old Jason sneezed, Todd wretched, and my blood started to boil. I watched this little guy’s confused face, having just blown a good amount of snot all over his chin, waiting there for a capable adult to help him out. My 6’1”, 260lb husband was paralyzed, his face twisted in horror at the sight of preschooler snot. HELP HIM! I yelled from under the pile of the other 15 preschoolers. Todd grabbed a tissue and threw it at Jason, saying “blow your nose!” which was super helpful because as we know, a 4 year old nose-blow only results in the sound “fffffffff” coming out of their mouth. Needless to say, I had to disturb the pile of preschoolers to go rescue this poor child from his own snot bubble fiasco, and that was the last time Todd “helped” in the Kids’ Ministry classes.
That story is one that Jen & Brian didn’t hear about until after it was over. (We might have even waited several years to tell them that story, just to make sure they loved us enough not to disown us when they realized Todd was the one who had traumatized their kiddo)
Some time since then we all became part of the same home group, meeting several times a month together. Jen is part of our group of Divas. All of us look up to her as a role model of sorts. We all agree that she’s got a lot of wisdom we’d love to benefit from.
She’s got four kids, all of which are awesome in their own unique ways. I absolutely love how she and her husband parent…with a nice mix of freedom and firmness, coupled with a huge dose of reality.
Out of the 10 of us, she and I are the only Divas so far who have raised kids all the way through teenage-hood and lived to tell about it (yay us!) I think that makes us have some sort of special crazy-person bond. I’m pretty sure we both think we’ve messed our kids up a little along the way, but it turns out they are real live contributing-to-society people now, so we had to do at least a couple of things right. The struggle is real, moms. You can do this. Just keep going.
I don’t really know how we hit it off. She’s quiet and demure and I’m typically the loudest one around. She says we connected because my husband and I were “so freakin’ normal” which I definitely take as a compliment. There’s nothing I’d rather be thought of than normal, and as she puts it, “solid and straightforward.”
I thought the same of her. She and Brian both are the kind of people who aren’t always the first or the loudest to speak. But when one of them leans in to say something, you want to be sure you hear it. Just the first few times this happened, I knew they were both Our People.
And then… we went halfway around the world together. We took a trip to India with some other folks, all visiting our sponsored children and looking forward to spending time with the amazing people of Cornerstone Ministries.
You guys, just going on vacation with someone gives you a special little bank of memories you’ll cherish for a long time. But when you travel to the other side of the Earth with a bigger purpose… to look into little brown eyes and reach across culture and language just to somehow say to them, you’re loved, that’s a whole different thing.
When you make memories like bouncing beach balls and blowing bubbles with a swirl of happy little faces round you, and your ears full of giggles you just want to bottle up and hide in your carry-on, you’ll have something to talk about for life. When you’ve walked past trash heaps where little boys and old men and mangy dogs are all digging through side-by-side for food, and you shoot each other that look that can’t even be backed up by words, that’s something. When you stand next to one another and awkwardly try to bless a person with leprosy with a small gift, all the while knowing you are the one really getting the blessing, that’s going down in your history. When you board that plane back to your half of the planet, and your mind is full of the beautiful faces of folks who spend Lord knows how much time and money to host you for dinner in their homes, that’s an amazing feeling. Knowing you have a friend who understands all the feelings and thoughts you have about all these experiences, that person is Your People forever.
Sometimes I wonder if Jen got stuck with a little more than she bargained for when she took on this “straightforward” friend. Because that girl has been on the receiving end of some of my serious junk. She knows all the crazy, and so far she hasn’t taken a step in the other direction. I love that we’ve lived through some hard and beautiful things together, and the hard stuff is a tiny bit less hard when you have someone who can just be there and say, I know.
I love you, Jen! I’m so thankful you’re My People! Stick around, would you? I think our very best years are yet to come.