“everything fits” or “Christmas in July” :)

Maybe because they were so close in age, my husband and I referred to our three as “the babies” and the affectionate term stayed. Now that they are 18 and 19 and 19, well, they are are still “the babies” – I guess they always will be!

When the babies first started helping in the kitchen, we started what we called “family dinner” once a week.  For “family dinner”, everyone made whatever their own favorite dish or dessert was at the time, or the most recent item they had learned to cook.  No rules – everyone added the ingredients they needed for their contribution to the grocery list, and we all cooked together.  Got to admit it – we had some weird combinations at those “mini-potluck” meals!  (Maybe this explains why you’ve never seen a picture of my dinner posted on Facebook, LOL! I would have gotten some raised eyebrows at the answer to the “what’s for dinner?” question if anyone outside of my 5 asked!). Maybe they were combos that one wouldn’t see at a restaurant, there was no “theme” to the meal, but we loved it.  The theme, I guess if you need one, was “things we loved”.  Remembering how picky the twins were in those days, it honestly worked out well – everyone cleaned their plate at the “family dinner”!

(p.s. this is NOT a picture of “family dinner” at my house, LOL!)

Had to smile when someone at church asked me today what was for Christmas lunch at our house… Want to know?  Michael and I had white chicken chili, and the babies had chicken alfredo (with angel hair pasta instead of alfredo noodles, naturally). When the garlic toast went in the oven, Jacob asked if he could make “pigs in a blanket” to go along with lunch.  Of course, he can!  What else would go along with a lunch of chili and alfredo if not “pigs in a blanket”? 😉 So, that was Christmas lunch – everyone had their favorite, and we loved it.

It’s a silly tradition, but it brought an unexpected lesson: we all have gifts to share.    We didn’t put “rules” on their offering, we just let it be. (Sometimes, the meal was brownies, crescent hot dogs, green bean casserole, and bacon. Weird, but we rolled with it and we enjoyed it. Maybe I could have done without the “beanies weenies and clam chowder” night, TBH 😉 ).  What we learned (completely by accident) is that all of our offerings are valuable. When we share those gifts, they all fit together somehow. Just like our gifts in the body of Christ – here’s what Paul wrote:

So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. (1 Cor. 14:26 MSG)

You might be asking yourself: What is my gift?  What is my talent? Where do I fit in? My advice: just get started!  Do what you can with what you have.  You’ll see that God will bless it.  He will grow you and He will grow your gift and He will bless others around you with your gift.  You might think it’s silly, but you never know who might just need it…… Just like we needed Jacob’s “pigs in a blanket” to go along with our chicken alfredo 🙂

Realizing you have a gift to share, and recognizing the opportunity to share it?  That’s a treasure, and I’m praying that you find a place where your gift fits today! (hint: it very nearly fits anywhere!)

Jennifer ❤


Back in February 1997….

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom…. it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…..

Charles Dickens’ opening line in “A Tale of Two Cities” described the moments perfectly, though  in my world, those moments don’t necessarily happen simultaneously.  On this day, the “worst”, the “darkness”, the “despair”, the “nothing” was all together – the return of my symmetry with the “best”, the “light”, the “hope”, the “everything” would come a few months later.

In February 1997, I was about four months pregnant and loving it. Pregnancy agreed with me.  I had a miracle inside, and even though it wasn’t a secret, it felt like it in a way.  All mine, for now – I would share the baby later – but today, it was all mine and I felt a smile inside all the time. Best, light, hope, everything before us. No words express it all, really.

One Saturday night, I started bleeding.  Panicked, I woke my husband.  We called the doctor, who advised me to stay in bed and call first thing in the morning. We called first thing in the morning, Sunday morning. Doctor said for me to stay in bed all day, and come to the office first thing Monday. I was frantic and I was sad.  Worst, darkness, despair, nothing before us. Really, I had no idea what this event might mean, but “for this child I had prayed” (1 Samuel 1:27), and nothing escaped the Lord’s notice.  He was forming this baby in the womb and He KNEW this baby, even now (Jeremiah 1:5).  I went to the Lord and to His word for comfort.

I’m not a “random” person – I’ve heard the same stories you have about the Bible falling open to the right page at the right moment to the right verse.  I believe those stories – it just isn’t how the Lord deals with me.  He knows my type-A-ness and He parents me in a way specifically suited for me.  On this night, though, I couldn’t hear and I couldn’t see through my tears, I just held my Bible, and opened it.

I saw Isaiah 44:3 and the following verses immediately.  When I read that the Lord said that He “will pour My Spirit on your descendants And My blessing on your offspring”, I felt an immediate peace.  I accepted this promise, leapt off the page, as mine, and went back to bed.  I can’t remember how I slept, but I know the Lord gave me sleep that night (that’s a promise too – Psalm 127:2).  We went straight to the doctor, first thing in the morning.  She listened for a heartbeat, and we were listening too, barely able to concentrate for the sound of our own rushed heartbeats, Michael’s and mine. Oh relief! She found it – can you hear that, there it is, the baby’s heartbeat and it’s strong!  Mercifully, the baby was fine.  Thank You, Jesus, the baby was fine!  Once again: best, light, hope, everything before us!  The symmetry I long for restored.

In February 1997, we only knew about one baby.  Back in the dark ages, doctor’s offices didn’t always have their own ultrasound machines.  In March we’d be sent to the hospital for the one ultrasound our insurance would cover.  Hopefully we’d be able to find out the gender while the technician counted fingers and toes and measured limbs.  Imagine our surprise: it wasn’t only one baby, but two!  Two boys! I forgot all about the scary weekend last month – I had two boys!

Some weeks after the twins were born, I was grabbing minutes (or seconds) here and there to pray and get into the Bible. One morning, I remembered that verse that had given me peace – what was it again?  I remembered Isaiah, and I remembered that I had written “baby 2/97” beside it. Flipping pages and finding it, I read it again and took the whole passage in:

“One will say, I am the Lord’s; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob”.  It still takes my breath away  to read it, and let me tell you why: Baby A (the firstborn) is Tyler, and Baby B (the second) – his name is Jacob.  Reading it right off the page, I realized: on that evening, comforting me, the Lord didn’t only know the child that I knew about – He knew that there were two of them, and He even knew their names.  How precious.  How humbling.

Later, the doctor would explain to me why she had me stay home instead coming to her right away: she “knew” that the baby was already lost she said, and she wanted to give me one more night’s sleep before breaking my heart with the worst possible news. Funny, how we humans explain things.  She was giving me one more night.  Really, it was God who was giving me one more night – one more opportunity to hear His voice and experience His peace.  He knew that this memory would sustain and encourage for years to come.  It was His gift, and it continues even still.

To know His voice, you must know His Word – He never contradicts Himself.  Read the Word on the good days, so you can remember the Word on the hard days. I can look back at this and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is real and alive and present and invested in me.  Can I tell you one more thing about the Lord before we close today?  He’s “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).  That means that He loves everyone the same and shows no partiality.  He doesn’t only speak to me through His Word – He speaks to all of us.

Knowing how He speaks and being able to receive His comfort at just the right time is a treasure – and being able to remember it and understand it better the second time is beyond expression. Praying that you find a treasure in His Word today –

Jennifer ❤