Jeneric Jeneralities ~ by JenIG
December 1st, 2008
95% Smart Aleck Free


I know I should never ever ever drink coffee after 4 PM.  But did I listen to myself?  No, not at all.  And so now, here it is well past my bedtime, and I can’t sleep a wink.  Serves me right.  But anyways, I’ve had some things on my mind I’ve wanted to put down, so I guess this is a good time.


This whole week I’ve been dumbstruck with thankfulness.  It’s a pity that being thankful comes so easy and heartfelt when everything in the world seems right.  But it does, doesn’t it?  And as the year wraps up, I can’t help thinking over the contrast between 08 and 07.  And I cannot help reflecting on the gifts (of all sorts) that have rained down on us this year.  There are too many to list.  But I want to talk about one.  I’ll save it for last.


A while back one of my friends ended her email by commenting that God seems to be pouring out His overwhelming blessings on us the same way He did for Job.  While I’m no Job (except the parts where he whines and stuff) there are some similarities.


In 07 my family suffered devastating losses and experienced other heinous trials.  That is not an overstatement.  I aged considerably in 07.  And yet, thru out the hellish circumstances that piled up month after month, I knew God was ever present.  At least in my head I knew that.  I couldn’t count on my feelings worth a hoot, tho, on a lot of those days.


And yet it wasn’t all bad. Most notably, I had a major life-changing reconciliation with my sister.  This was no small thing.  I also had a major reconciliation and began a new relationship with my dad.  This was a balm to my soul during that awful year.  I don’t really like that overworked phrase, but it actually sums it up pretty well. Soul Balm.  Anyways, it was nothing short of miraculous. 


We also saw friendships develop and deepen.  Our faith was constantly renewed as we saw God working thru His people.  I found friends that I didn’t realize I had, and they upheld us while we went thru some life changing events.


So where am I going with this?  There are a couple things, I guess, that have really been on my mind. 


God is able to use very bad things to make our lives better.  It almost sounds callous to say such a thing, don’t you think?  When I’ve read Job in the past I’ve thought, “Sure, maybe God ended up giving him lots of stuff and blessed him tons afterwards, but that doesn’t erase the agonizing pain when he lost everything to begin with”.  Does it make any sense if I say that agonizing pain creates a stark contrast which enables one to feel the real indescribable joy on a deeper level when it comes later?  It makes sense to me now.


If I paint a white cloud on a white piece of paper, it pretty much looks blasé and unimpressive.  But if I paint a white cloud on a black piece of paper… striking.  Pain and suffering is the background that makes true joy pop off the page.


And if we are able to measure this joy in a human, temporary way, how will it be possible to contain the living joy that will explode like a nuclear blast when our Hope is finally realized when we see Him face to face?  That is awesome in the literal sense.


Yes, God has poured out His love, mercy and grace in my life in 08.  But He laid the groundwork for it in 07.  And even if we didn’t have a spectacular 08 – the truth is, joy comes from the living hope in His promises.  It is about what He has done, and is doing now, and will do later on.  It’s not about what God is doing for me now.  There’s a much bigger picture than that!  And that is where the joy is.


Wow, this is getting long.  I will try and wrap things up.  So that has been on my mind, but here’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about…


When Jess was a little kid and lived with me and Geoff (after our mom died when she was 11) she used to drive me utterly mad.  Good heavens she made me crazy.  And that made me feel guilty.  And it should have made me guilty, because even way back then I knew she got the message, loud and clear, that she irritated me. 


I knew she was going to grow up.  I knew she would.  And I had enough insight to realize that someday she’d turn into a human.  And I would lay in bed at night and stress about the fact she might grow up and I’d want to be her friend, but by then she would not want to have anything to do with me because I wasn’t as kind, or patient, or loving as I should have been.


I could only assume I would want a relationship some day because, after all, I didn’t act *anything* like I did when I was eleven, so logic dictated she probably wouldn’t either.  And there was a good possibility I was blowing my chances for that future friendship. 


And sure enough, I was right.


I had no idea how amazing she would turn out. It’s shocking, really. She is so funny, and so loving, and generous, kind hearted, cheerful, truly caring, fun, interesting, and so very very godly.  In short, she is the absolute best choice for a best friend I’ve ever met. 


And this is where the real miracle is.  Despite me being “me” for so many years, instead of being bitter or resentful, she has eagerly jumped forward with no holds barred.  I knew someday I would probably want to be friends, but I had no idea she would (or could) become my best friend.  That’s a major thing to think about. It makes my head swim. 


My kids will become adults someday, too.  Am I investing enough now so they will want to be around when I want them as ‘grown up’ friends?  Or will they say, “No. You had no time for me when I was little and boring and now I have no time for you when you are old and boring.”  I hope I am investing wisely; and I think I am.  I will continue to try harder, that’s for sure.  But anyways, my main point is that I am so grateful for grace. And so thankful for Jess.  What an unbelievably undeserved gift. 


 I am thankful.

December 1st, 2008 - Posted in Uncategorized | | 29 Comments

29 Responses to ' 95% Smart Aleck Free '

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  1. jess said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 2:21 am

    You are the best sister anyone could ever wish for. I’m humbled and blessed and choked up after reading this. I know I drove you nuts when I was a kid. But what I remember more are so many things that you and Geoff did to make life fun and meaningful for me and the other kids in the house… I’ve learned more from you over the years than from anyone. ANYone. Between your admonishment and training when I was under your roof, and your example over the years of a woman who is fearlessly in love with God and her family, I couldn’t ask for a better sister. I love you! Wouldya hurry up and move to Alaska already? I need someone to watch a Christmas Story with.

  2. chickadee said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 2:56 am

    awesome post. you should drink coffee after 4 more often. makes you think clearly and articulate well. i’m so happy for all that you’ve been blessed with this year.

  3. Annemarie said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 5:14 am

    I agree with Chickadee and Jess. This made me sniffle. I love the white on black illustration….such a vivid image of pain and joy.


  4. Moi said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 5:57 am

    You struck a cord in my heart in a tremendous way today! God Bless!

  5. Latte said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Ya know, last night while I lay awake (soda) I was thinking I don’t know why people make such a big deal about being thankful around Thanksgiving when I feel so thankful all year long.-Don’t get me wrong I realize why we celebrate thanksgiving and all that jazz…it just seems forced for me to say EXTRA thanks when my heart pours it out so much already. Then after reading your post…I gotta say putting a year end thanks to a wonderful year is just precious!

    Thanks for sharing a personal and triumphant year with us. It gives me a new perspective on Thanksgiving.


  6. on December 1st, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Thank you, Jen.

  7. on December 1st, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I agree with chickadee – you *should* drink coffee after 4 more often. LOL Having heard thru the grapevine (sing it with me now) about a few of the things that went on, I’m amazed at how calm and professional you’ve remained. You serve as an example to me, my friend.

    As for the “they’ll grow up someday” issue – you hit that one on the nose too. I see this happening with my own child and I have to keep reminding myself. It’s so hard to stay calm when they make you wanna tear your hair out. LOL But the faster I see them grow, the more I’m reminded that it’s going to be done and they’ll be gone, and I’ll be quietly weeping in a corner about all the ways I messed up and was cranky. (Yes, that would be a boot in my rear. ha)

    One last thing about trials: a certain someone (you know who he is) has a habit of whining about what a hard life he’s had. And yet, it’s really “nothing” in comparison to what he’s put other people thru over and over again, with no remorse or admission of guilt. He can’t understand why he doesn’t “enjoy life”. On the flip side, there are those of us who have had lives most people are aghast at, and they say they can’t figure out how we’ve made it. Plain and simple – our Father knows what we can handle, even if we don’t. We find our strengths in ways we would rather not, but when we look back we recognize how we grew and yes, the many blessings that have come from it and those that have been heaped upon us. It makes me wonder if it just makes us that much more ready to accept help and gifts of all kinds when they are presented, rather than allowing us to be “uppity” and unwilling to bow our heads, then stand up and open our hands, hearts, and minds.

    Wow. Maybe I should drink coffee, because as I re-read that it ain’t nowhere near as purty as you said it. ;-P

  8. Melissa said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for sharing about God’s great goodness to you. You caused me to think on some of God’s blessings to me after difficult times.

    When you read this comment, will you pray that God would help me to have a good relationship with each of my kids? Thanks!

  9. Maria said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I am so blessed to know you in real life. This post was truly beautiful, like you! I am thankful that I have had the pleasure to meet Jess, she is a very special young lady.
    Can’t you get her to move here?

    Love you my friend,

  10. Emily said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Don’t you dare move to Alaska….it’s too cold. Make Jess move to YOU. 🙂

    What a nice rambling post. You have a nice way about you Jenefer.

  11. Kim Wolf said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    You’re so random and I love you for it. By the way, the way you described Jess are the things we all see in YOU! 🙂

    So now you need to know…you’ve been tagged. Go to my blog to see. 😉

    Blessings from Ohio…

  12. Shalana said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    What a beautiful story of hope and reconciliation. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Michelle said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    That is so awesome that you have reconciled your relationship. (It almost makes me sad that I’m an only child – lol!)
    And…now that she’s going to be a mommy, too…I’ll bet your relationship gets even stronger! 😉

    God Bless (and Happy Belated Thanksgiving!)


  14. Liberty said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    This is so good! Thank you for writing it. It definitely makes me evaluate how I am spending my days and I should make more time for my children. Here I am so blessed to be able to stay at home and homeschool my children and I don’t spend enough time with them.

  15. Joanne said,

    on December 1st, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    What wonderful reflections on your last 2 years! Thank you for baring your life so that we can learn from it. Please forgive my rambling comment. It makes me reflect through the pain and agony that we suffered the last 5 years (not all 5 years, but a lot of it). I had cancer, and through it all we saw God’s presence and His amazing development of our character into who we are today. I learned to mine my sufferings, learn through them and to not set them aside. I don’t wnat to miss a moment of my children’s company because I learned that none of us know how long we will live. I don’t want to waste my years but to live them, every moment of them, for God. I often tell my children that I love their company, and I often pray with them thanksgiving to God that I get to homeschool them and be with them everyday. I hope that since I enjoy being with them now, they will want to be with me later. I so appreciate your heart, Jen. You are a blessing to us all.

  16. on December 1st, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    You’ve had a year of growth in the Christian life, and while you will not want to repeat any of the circumstances, you have been wise in letting those circumstances help you grow.

  17. on December 1st, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    What a beautiful, heartfelt post, Jen. I, too, was struck by your cloud illustration. Such a perfect one.

    Our year was 04, and I have to say, that our following years have ALL been appreciated all the more because of it.

    So grateful for your sweet relationship with your sister. My sister lived with us for the summers after I got married too. She thought I hung the moon, I thought she was annoying…same thing…and now we have an amazing relationship.

    We have a BUNCH in common, girl. Next time we are in the great state of TN we are definitely hooking up so we can chat for hours, K?

  18. Kathy P said,

    on December 2nd, 2008 at 1:26 am

    I am up late as well – with my stomach issues . . . . nightly ones that is. . .

    Anyhoo, I really liked this article. I especially liked what you said about investing in our kids now while they are young and (seemingly boring, but not really) – and how they treat us when we are old and boring. We as parents are laying the groundwork now. These past few months have made me wonder if the Lord were to take me now have I taught my children enough of his grace and mercy and enough of what I want them to know when they grow up? Funny how life changes make us think. I love that.

  19. on December 2nd, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Beautiful post, Jen. Your cloud illustration is fantastic.

  20. Stacey said,

    on December 2nd, 2008 at 11:00 am

    What an insightful and edifying post. Makes me think of that old song, “Cat’s in the Cradle.” God bless you.

  21. Crystal said,

    on December 2nd, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Ah, I needed to read that. Not going through anything close to heinous, but it has been a taxing couple of months. So grateful to come over and read a reminder about the Lord and His promises. Love your white cloud/white paper analogy. Very, very true my friend. So thankful that He has given you such a blessing in your sister. I’m also so thankful for the friendship I have with mine. I, too, didn’t treat her well as kids, nor give her a good example. I shudder at the thought of what I showed her. But today, we’re best pals and she too is expecting her first. Yay Aunthood! And thanks for posting about treating our kids in a way that they’ll WANT to hang out with us when they can actually choose NOT to. Many hugs to you.

  22. Julie said,

    on December 2nd, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    How unbelievably beautiful! I can SO relate. God totally healed a completely broken relationship between my sister and I, too. It’s really a miracle, but that’s the kind of God he is. Our relationship is restored better than I could ever have imagined. It’s whole. Amazing. Thank you for sharing this! It made me appreciate my sister all over again.

    God bless you ~ Julie

  23. Your Sister said,

    on December 2nd, 2008 at 3:26 pm


    Hey, email me back wouldya? I’m bored out of my mind.

  24. Karen said,

    on December 2nd, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    *sniff, sniff* I love a good, sappy post!

  25. EEEEMommy said,

    on December 3rd, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I love you when you’re 95% Smart Aleck, and I adore you when you’re 95% Smart Aleck Free! 🙂
    Fabulous post! God is so good!

  26. on December 3rd, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Oh, this made me cry. God is so good to us–even when we don’t deserve it.

    Hugs to you. I miss you much.

  27. Ruth said,

    on December 4th, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Thank you for this awesome post and reminder that even through the dark times our Lord is here right besides us and He will guide us and comfort us.
    I am so glad that you and Jess are reunited. Needless to say I’m about bawling here. Gotta go.

  28. Melissa said,

    on December 8th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. My family’s challenging, awful year is and has happened this year. It was so wonderful to read your wise God given words. It has given me hope for our future.

    Blessings to your family,

  29. Marsha said,

    on December 14th, 2008 at 1:38 am

    What a beautiful post, Jen. Yup, your sister is pretty spectacular– I am uber excited about a little Jess or Charley running around in the very near future. I do hope that they move closer to y’all!

    What you said about contrast… difficult trials making blessings more noticeable? Yup, I totally get that.

    Love you, my friend!

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