Jeneric Jeneralities ~ by JenIG
February 18th, 2008
A Birthday Gift For Me


I have a story for you.  Some of you may have already heard it, but none-the-less…

Nineteen years ago I was a mess.  Really… *quite* the mess.  I was too dumb to form a particular philosophy, but had I ever given it any thought, I could have seen my philosophy lived out in my flatly pig-like existence.  I simply snorted and rooted around looking for basic pleasures and day to day happiness and needs.  There was no thought for the future.  None.  And then, all of a sudden on February 19th, Coie fell out of the sky and landed right in my lap.

Sadly, for Coie, even the event of having her around could not induce my brain to work properly.  It could not be bent in a way to reveal my own utter self obsessed rampages.  Her first three years were very tumultuous.  She lived with her grandma, she lived with her aunt, or she survived thru days with whomever I happened to be living with.

So when she turned three, another life changing event happened in my life.  Several things happened, actually, but the one thing that really jolted me, was she began to speak in complete sentences.  Before that, she was more like a cute little monkey I carted around on my hip.  But now, she would look at me and say things.  And then all of a sudden it dawned on me that this little miniature was human and that one of these days it was going to grow up and form opinions about its mother.

That scared me.  As selfish and stupid as I was, the one thing I could not endure was having my child see what an absolute loser I was.  But the trouble was I had no idea what to do about it.  Once one figures out they are a loser, it is certainly a step in the right direction, but I was still stuck.  How do you teach a brick to turn itself into clay?  It’s impossible.  My very nature was one of the sewage variety.     

So I started crying out to God.  I just started begging Him to make me unstupid.  And I begged all of the time.  I would kneel at the end of my bed and just beg and beg and plead.  I didn’t even know what to beg for except: “…You have to change me.  I can’t be this person.  Please turn me into somebody different”.  

At the same time, I would look at my little three year old human (who had ceased to be a monkey) and promise her that I would find her a perfect daddy and we would have a happy family.

And then I met Geoff and he became my friend.  He was not a gang member, he was not a criminal, he was not a high school drop out, he was not a drug addict or an alcoholic; he did not take advantage of girls, beat them up, or treat them as subhuman.  He was this sort of nerdy Christian guy who loved God in an extreme way that was very odd to me.  And he was willing to be my friend.  I hung out with him and his preppy, college-attending, friends, and instead of having all night ragers or go club hopping, they would sit around in Geoff’s living room and play Taboo and eat gummy bears.  It was SO weird.  

After about two months of this I thought I was going crazy.  And I thought Geoff had a crush on me — which creeped me out – but then later I found out that HE thought *I* had a crush him and it creeped him out, so that was fixed.  But still, I was always discombobulated with my new nerdy friends.  And I would think about ditching them and calling up my old party friends… but then I would remember how hard I had been praying for a new life, and I would look at Coie and know that we would both be destroyed if I went back to what ‘felt normal’ to me.

Long story short… Me and Geoff ended up getting together (on accident) and I got saved – in the sense that now I not only acknowledged my sin, but I determined to turn away from it.  Ours was never a passionate, desperate, Romeo / Juliet affair.  In my former life I had only known passionate, volatile, desperate relationships, and they had always ended fatally amiss.  I was determined to make this one work no matter how ‘abnormal’ it seemed.  I would no longer be driven by emotion, but instead, by rationality and wise choices.  And nobody in the world was as good a man, as true, faithful and dedicated to God, than Geoff.   And nobody in the world could have been a better father and husband than he has been these last 14 years.

So what’s my point?  My point is that God loves me so much.  He really does.  I don’t know why, because there is no reason to, but He does.  Maybe it’s for the same reason He loved the apostle Paul (1 Timothy chapter 1): “God saved me, the chief of sinners, so that He could display His unlimited patience and mercy as an example” …so that others may realize there’s hope for literally anybody.  But anyways, those of us who are His, He brings us to Himself in different ways.  And the primary motivating factor for me to even want to change was my daughter, Coie.  God used her as the first step in drawing me to Himself.  

My little daughter – born to me, thus doomed to a life of welfare checks, and surrounded by criminal friends, drug addicts and losers – was the very object that God used to save both of us.   His ways make no sense to me, but I love Him desperately for saving us out of that pit. And I will never cease to praise Him for turning me into a completely different person.  And I mean that in its ‘present’ tense, because He is still ever changing me.

I tell my kids very plainly of my past life.  I want them to know His grace and mercy.  He is the only one who can turn a brick into clay.  He alone.  I do not want them to have a false idea of the world.  I do not want them shunning the dying.  I want them to have compassion for them — for their mother was once one of those dying multitudes. I want them to love God and love others, even those who seem unlovable.  

So, today, as I think about my beautiful little girl, I cannot stop the tears as I remember how God sent her….to me.  She was a gift, and a testament of His amazing grace, love and infinite power to change lives.  I am in awe of the adult she has become (despite me) and of her understanding, knowledge and personal devotion to our Lord.  God has used her more in these last 19 years than I think she can ever truly understand.   

Happy Birthday Coie, you are an immensely valued treasure.

February 18th, 2008 - Posted in Uncategorized | | 0 Comments

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  1. SmallWorld said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 9:40 am

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    beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

  2. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 10:00 am

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  3. ClagettsFLStyle said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Beautiful post

    Beauty out of ashes!!!

    loved it! And what a better and great mom you are for being so honest and humble!

    Love yoU!

  4. mamasmurf said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 10:49 am

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    Can't say anything that anybody hasn't already said, "Beautiful!!"

    What a story of transformation and love!


  5. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 11:01 am

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  6. diamondsintherough said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 11:03 am

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    I know someone who is that miry clay, with a precious baby girl, as we speak. I wish she could meet you and see that there is more than just hope — there are miracles. Thanks for this testimony. I am going to print it out and give it to her and PRAY and wait for another miracle.


  7. said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 11:12 am

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    Very beautiful and well said.

  8. short said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 11:16 am

    thank you

    this was very special, it brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. Happy Birthday Coie.

  9. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Happy Birthday Coie

    I have read your blog for a few years now, and your posts always cheer me and inspire me. I just had to comment on this one – it is such a beautiful testimony to God's Amazing Grace and Love and Mercy. You are truly a living example of II Cor. 5:17.



  10. arajbrown said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Beautiful …

    the pictures you've painted of Grace and Mercy are overwhelming! Thank you for sharing that glimpse of Him with us!

  11. onfire said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 12:57 pm


    you canna fool me…that was your most beautiful love story wrapped in a way only the jennifur igarasheesh can.

    love it.

  12. KarenW said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

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    Thank you for sharing from your heart! And happy birthday to Coie.

  13. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 1:09 pm

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    Simply beautiful! Do you know the song, "Wonderful story of love, tell it to me again…"? I was thinking of that while reading this wonderful story of love.


  14. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 2:09 pm


    Dear Jen,

    I quietly read here all the time but how can I not comment on this one?!! What an absolutely beautiful story of redemption and grace – thank you for your humility in sharing it. The Lord used the birth of our son this very month 11 years ago to draw us to Himself as well. Happy Birthday Coie!


    Dawn (remember me, the one who reminds you of Debbie Reynolds 😉 )

  15. AussieinAmerica said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    What a beautiful story…

    It is wonderul to hear the story of a changed life…of someone who had the courage to turn it around.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    And Happy Birthday Coie,


  16. foxvalleyfamily said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

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    Oh Jen…you made me cry!

    I grew up on the other end of the scale. (My mom was the lost sheep who returned to her Shepherd.) Let me tell you from first hand experience…I'll bet that your daughter rejoices every bit as much as you, that her mom found the Lord!

    I remember those hard years…I really do, and they made the 'good' years all the sweeter. Your daughter is truly blessed to have you for a mom!

    Happy Birthday Coie!!!


  17. CaliCarolina said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 7:24 pm

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    Thank you for sharing your testimony of grace and love. What an amazing story. Happy Birthday to your Coie. 🙂

  18. hsmomof3blessings said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 8:55 pm


    I so appreciate your transparency and honesty. You are a beautiful example of what God has done, and I pray you can see yourself as the amazing lady you are!

    God bless,

    Margaret Gregorczyk

  19. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Just wanted to say…

    I have been a lurker for a while. I enjoy reading your great humour (I'm from Canada…explaining the 'our' part of that word) and love your honest & upfront nature!

    What an amazing testimony you have! How great that you freely share it with your children so that they can learn from it and hopefully avoid those entanglements in the world. That takes real humility on your part. I am so glad to see what the Lord has done in you. I didn't know where you had come from, but just wanted to comment after reading. I have several nieces and nephews who I would love to hear your story. They are in similar places in life, and need to learn the lessons you learned and beg the Lord to change them.

    May the Lord continue to bless you & your precious daughter Coie (Happy Birthday, Coie!)…oh, and the rest of your family too 🙂 !


  20. UndertheSky said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 11:14 pm


    That was so beautiful, Jen–just so beautiful. Thank you so much for being the person you are; for loving the way you do, and for allowing God to work in your life. You are such a dear dear treasure!

    And Coie, you are a dear and precious treasure too. May God bless your whole family.

    You are all such an encouragment to me!!!

    With love,


  21. Anonymous said,

    on February 18th, 2008 at 11:26 pm

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    thank you, i needed to hear that story right now, to remind me why since my husband filed for divorce, i really need to let him go and step out of that horrible life and make a much better one for myself and my children — his leaving is a blessing, though a very painful one

  22. HSmom0f4 said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 12:03 am



    that was breathtaking…

    Happy Birthday Coie!

  23. wardssward said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 12:16 am

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    Thanks for sharing your story, Jen. It is truly amazing what God can do.


  24. ByHisGraceInColorado said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 12:22 am

    You've still got it 🙂

    Been missin' your "straight from the heart" writing. From one who was also pulled out of the miry clay to another, Jen, you said it all.

    God bless you my friend. Isn't God GOOD!!!?? I am so thankful that He loved us just as we were….but loved us so much he didn't leave us there to rot.

    Love to you and the gang, and Happy Birthday Coie!

    Mrs. B.

  25. deedeeuk said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 3:32 am


    Wish I was close enough to give you a hug! Happy Birthday to Coie!

  26. Testimony said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 1:41 pm


    How beautiful a story of God's grace, mercy, and unfailing love. Yes, I have heard this testimony, but it is worth repeating. It is Rev. 12:11. It is your testimony.

    Happy Birthday, Coie!



  27. blessingsundreamtof said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 1:50 pm

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    Yep, there by the grace of God go MANY of us!!! I praise Him for His love that washes us white as snow no matter how muddy we've been.



  28. jess4him said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

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    Story time.

    I remember vividly the first and only time Richard (my step-dad) whipped my hiney. It was when we (mom, him and me) had Coie for the weekend and she and I were playing in our entryway. As we played, I remembered that when I was her age (a whole whopping 3 years earlier) my favorite thing was when someone lifted me up high and put me on their shoulders. Well, trying to be the fun older aunt, I tried to do the same thing with Coie, only, i dropped her. on her head. where there was lenoleum instead of carpet. and she cried. loudly. Richard (who loved Coie more than life itself), came unglued after rushing to the scene and scooping up Coie to comfort her. that was the first spanking in a long, LONG history of getting in trouble because of that kid.

    Happy Birthday to Coie! Even though she got me in trouble (and I happily returned the favor plenty of times as we got older), I still think she's the coolest, sweetest, most godly and wonderful girl on the planet.

  29. Mariel said,

    on February 19th, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Hello, Mrs. Igarashi!

    I absolutely LOVE your posts! (But you knew that) I extend the happiest and blessed returns of the day to Coie!

    I'm extremely sorry, but I'm afraid that MY dad (and Mommy's husband) is THE VERY BEST MAN in the world! Ahem, and I know father's are slightly rarer than husbands but I want MY future spouse to be just like my dad! (How about 'stupendous'?) Plus, he's a handyman, homorous, and handsome. I rest my case.

    I LOVE your family, think they're sublime, and miss you to the point where my energy is drained! Keep up your inspiring and positively hilarious entries!

    By His Grace,


    P.S. We can always pray for McCain. Better him than,*her*, and God can influence him to make the right decisions, just like He did with countless Bible kings. God guide you, yet for me, I think that if we don't vote, we are saying we don't care. God Help Our Country!

    P.P.S. Please tell Ryann and Coie that I miss and love them!

  30. said,

    on February 20th, 2008 at 12:10 am

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    what a great post for her birthday!

    she does seem like a pretty awesome woman.

  31. CrossView said,

    on February 20th, 2008 at 7:40 am

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    What a beautiful post! =D

  32. JenIG said,

    on February 20th, 2008 at 9:25 am

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    thanks everybody for such happy regards and lovely wishes. we had a fun birthay with coie… showed up at home depot with a bunch of balloons and made a scene.

    and hiya dawn / debbie reynolds! i've missed you! we need to conspire against Julie Austin and get her to invite us over for another party. it's the only time i ever get to see you! … and now i've got "i'm siiiiiiiiinging in the raaaain" running thru my head

  33. Kelley said,

    on February 20th, 2008 at 11:50 am

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    I think this is just beautiful and there isn't that much more to say about it.

    I like what you said about how you figured out Coie was like…a little person.

  34. Jess H. said,

    on February 21st, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Happy Birthday Coie!

    and Jen what a beautiful post. I so relate, Kahli is also truly the instrument God used to save me. It still blows my mind looking at her, listening to her, watching her live a life so focused on God that she is my daughter. And like you, the fact that I have an incredible husband who loves the Lord with ALL his heart blows my mind. God is truly awesome! His faithfulness and mercy go beyond all comprehension or measure.

    Jess H.

  35. Anonymous said,

    on February 21st, 2008 at 3:26 pm

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    Yes, let's get to work on Julie! Sounds like fun!


  36. Jul said,

    on February 21st, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Where were you the last time?

    Well Jen, at the last party we had here there was only ONE family with cast members in: The Hound of the Baskervilles:

    …which did not attend the grand premiere. —Do you recall which family that was? …and Debbie "Dawn" Reynolds was here in person that evening! You probably could have even gotten her autograph that night!

  37. Jul said,

    on February 21st, 2008 at 7:59 pm


    Happy Birthday to Coie and Ryann.

    Here's a party idea, let me know what you think.

    We were considering doing the Februarian birthday barn dance this year like you did last year, but to save money we could just have it in an actual barn and let the animals be the guests… the hay is already there and that saves money. We could dress the little goats and sheep up in Civil War outfits.

    Do you think the sheep should wear blue or gray?

    We know some great fiddlers who could come.

    How about Debbie "Dawn" Reynold's little guys… cute-o-rama!

  38. JenIG said,

    on February 21st, 2008 at 9:42 pm

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    name the barn, and we'll be there, jul!

  39. Prodoceo said,

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 8:02 am

    What an amazing story….

    How beautiful. We worked for 18 years with "screwed up" young adults at a ministry in New Hampshire. Your story rings so familiar. And the stories ALWAYS make me cry and say thanks to the Lord who is in the business of giving us beauty for ashes!! Thanks SO much for sharing it. It made my day!

  40. suffgrace said,

    on February 22nd, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    what a beautiful birthday blog

    Thanks for sharing so honestly and openly. Coie is a beautiful young lady and praise the Lord that He used her to draw you to himself!

  41. Anonymous said,

    on February 24th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you so much…

    for sharing this testimony. Children are indeed a gift of God and even tools in His hands towards our sanctification!

    Recently, a man who has been married for two years argued against having children by telling James (my husband), "You only have two or three special moments a day with a child."

    James replied, "It depends on what you define as special. I consider just holding my toddler to be a special moment."

    I'm glad that God doesn't judge our worth based on "special moments" that He has with us.

    Even as a Christian, having wide open childish eyes watching me is a spur in the pursuit of holiness. I don't want to be a stumbling block to the treasures that God has shared with me.


  42. hansmom said,

    on February 24th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Grace and mercy

    It's great when God redeems us from a life of sin and shows us love and mercy and grace, but what about when the sin is while you are already saved and the fruit of your sin will join you in about six more months? What's the next step after repentance?

  43. JenIG said,

    on February 24th, 2008 at 8:42 pm

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    The only thing one can do at that point is to confess and repent and then make the best/wise choices from that point on. God can use anything… yes, even our bad choices, and even our sin… to bring about beautiful things that will honor Him and bless others. We are all chained to sin — we will always deal with 'sin' in our lives even after we are saved. That is just the way it is. Some sins *seem* more grievous than others, and some sins have more painful consequences than others, but here is something that is true… We know we will sin while we're 'trapped' in our flesh. We try not to sin with all of our might — and this is what we should continually strive for, but it is not necessarily a question of whether we will or will not sin …l. the question is this: What will we do after we have sinned? Will we make it worse? Commit other sins in an attempt to 'hide' it? Or will we truly trust that God is powerful and kind enough to help us out of the pit we tripped (or jumped headlong) into? Will we repent and love Him and trust Him? God does not confine His grace and mercy to us only when we are not yet saved… He is all the more gracious and merciful when we come to him repentant and humbled at the pitiable state we are in. This is the very reason why Christ died — if you are truly His, then He is able to make your sins as white as snow. Past sins, present sins and even future sins. This is what He says in His word, and He is not a liar (read 1John ). 🙂 There is nothing anybody can do to put themselves out of the reach of His grace and mercy. That is what the prodigal son illustrates so well. Remember, in the story, the son was already 'a son', and the father had been his father for probably 18 or more years. He is a gracious and loving father.

  44. HeartnSoul said,

    on February 28th, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Untitled Comment

    What a beautiful tribute and testimony. I have a very similar one, without "hitting the bottom" there would have been no need for a savior.



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