About Jenster

I was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma which had spread to my lymph nodes when I was 39. My daughter was 10 and my son turn 13 three days after my diagnosis. Less than two weeks after a left mastectomy my husband had to move to another state for a new job making my kids the primary care givers throughout my treatment. To say it was a difficult year would be an understatement, but my children grew in ways they never would have otherwise. I'm happy to call myself a three year survivor and it's my wish to give hope to any newly diagnosed moms out there who may have older dependent children.

So Much Love

So Much Love

Last Friday, only a few hours after I posted I Wait, my father peacefully took his last breath. My mother and one sister were there with him and there was no struggle, no suffering, just a calm passing from this life to the next.

The response to my post was astounding. So many people expressed sympathy and prayers and a shared mourning. I could feel the love of friends and family through the computer screen.

Between my two sisters and myself, we gave Dad nine grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. After his passing the grandkids with social media posted beautiful tributes to him, setting to words the legacy he passed on.

Their words not only honored him, they blessed my mother, my sisters and me, and glorified God. The responses to their posts were again full of sympathy, prayers and a unified grieving. Again, the warmth and caring that came through was astonishing.

My dad was a great man and together, he and my mother forged lifelong friendships and the respect and admiration of so many people. We, as a family, have been comforted and gladdened by the outpouring of love.

While this time is a sad time, there’s a complete joy and comfort in knowing where he is, a pleasure in our entire family being together, and an overwhelming peace that can only come from God.

All that love is overwhelming.

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I Wait

As I write this I’m waiting to hear from New Mexico that my father has passed away. He stopped swallowing the other day and was struggling to breathe yesterday. This is the natural progression of advanced dementia and it feels merciless to me.

I am sad. My mom is sad. My sisters are sad. We’re all sad. But at the same time, relief is just a last breath away. We’ve watched him suffer and mourned his loss for the last several years and, while we will always mourn for him, our desire is for him to be Earl again. For his mind to be whole, for his voice to be clear, for his legs to be strong. For him to know nothing but pure delight in the presence of his Jesus. This thought changes sad tears to overwhelming tears of joy.

I will not be there when he takes his final breath and I’m okay with that. Or maybe I’m just convincing myself that I’m okay with that. But my family is nothing if not pragmatic – maybe even to a fault. In my heart I’ve already said goodbye. And I don’t believe my presence will make any difference to him. Don’t get me wrong. If I was closer I would be there with my mom and sister, but logistically, it’s not realistic to think I can be there in time.

So I wait. I wait to make my flight arrangements. I wait to figure out when to make flight arrangements for Todd and Taylor. Katie is in the final weeks of her junior year of college and she cannot afford to miss school. So I wait to see when the service will be and if it will be possible for her to join us.

And when the waiting is over I will rejoice. I will rejoice in being with my family, no matter the situation. I will rejoice that my precious daddy is no longer suffering. And I will especially rejoice because I am confident in his final destination.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4

Papa Collage

Tea and Quilts

Today was a lovely day for me and The Girl. She goes back to school on Sunday and we decided to finally make our way to the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, a place she’s wanted to visit since we moved here nearly ten years ago. Turns out, however, the museum is closed on Mondays.

Undaunted, we still made our way into the city, managed to find a decent parking spot and met The Boy for a cheap, delicious and way too large lunch. Philadelphia is known for its murals and, in fact, there are more than 3,000 of the colorful works of art scattered throughout the city. I’m always awed by their vibrant beauty so I grabbed these pics with my phone. (I made the conscious decision to leave my camera at home. *sigh*)

Mural 2

After we ate lunch The Boy went back to work and The Girl and I walked four blocks to Miel Patisserie, a divine French pastry shop, so we could finally experience French macarons. They’re quite as colorful as the murals and look like the little cookies on the time wasting game, Cookie Jam, on my iPad.

Macarons 2 Tea and Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also had really good tea. My tea was caramel toffee flavored and Katie’s was called Noel and was flavored with cinnamon and cardamom.

We enjoyed our sweet refreshments and walked back the four blocks to the car with about 15 minutes to spare before the meter ran out.

On our way home we made a stop at IKEA because IKEA. It’s like Disneyland. It even has flags at the entrance to the parking lot. The Girl bought a plant and named her Mabel, while I bought a $5.00 cheese grater. I spare no expense for my cheese preparations.

When we got home Mr. Jenster was off bowling so we made more tea to go with the macarons we brought with us and watched a few episodes of “Call the Midwife”.

Even though our original plans were dashed, it was an absolutely delightful day.

And as for quilts, it’s my day over at Grace & Such.

They Won’t Stay In My Head

It has been confirmed beyond a doubt that I am a visual learner. The news was on TV as I was preparing dinner last night and I could hear the anchor reporting on the day’s events, but I wasn’t actually watching the broadcast.

What he said: 17 miners were trapped in an elevator shaft in a rural New York salt mine.

What I heard: 17 minors were trapped in an elevator shaft in a rural New York salt mine.

What my head said: Why in the world were those kids in a mine shaft? Where were their parents? How old were these minors? Was it a field trip, maybe? This rosemary smells so good.

What you’re thinking: I can’t believe Jenster is admitting this in public. She could have kept it to herself and no one would be the wiser.

You’re right. I shouldn’t have said anything.

It’s not like the time at work when a coworker said “Crisis averted!” and what I heard was, “Chris is perverted!” I asked who Chris was and what had he done to be considered perverted. There was no getting around that one as the entire office heard my questions.

But the minor/miner thing was in my head. I didn’t have to tell.

I mean, I can keep these things to myself. I didn’t tell you how I kept waving my hand under the paper towel dispenser at the restaurant today, completely frustrated that the sensor wasn’t sensing. I mean, come on. It only has one job. But then I realized there was no sensor and all I had to do was pull the paper towel out.

Dang.

I just told you that, too.

Jazz Hot, Baby

So another year has come and gone. While some are making their resolutions for 2016, I’m cleaning the kitchen and listening to Spotify. I found this new-to-me group called The Hot Sardines and they’re fabulous. It’s Bourbon Street Jazz at its finest and it makes me ever so happy.

There’s a little bit of melancholy nostalgia with it as well. My father would have adored this group once upon a time. I can see him in my mind’s eye, stogie in one hand, fingers of the other hand snapping to the beat while his feet tapped out the rhythm. Embarrassing to a young teenage daughter at Disneyland, and yet I can’t deny the pleasure of watching him enjoy something so much. As I do practically the same in my kitchen (minus the cigar, of course) I understand the inability to stand still with the swinging tempo.

“Your Feets Too Big” by Fats Waller came on and I sang it proudly and giggled in turns.

Funny aside here – when I was little I thought my mom was singing, “My dear Mr. Shane”, but the song just came on and it’s actually “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”. You learn something new every day!

I have decided to break with tradition and actually make a New Year’s resolution. I resolve to listen to more jazz in 2016. I’m pretty sure I can make good on this one.

Yeah – It Happened

She Said What

Last night was our MomsConnect Christmas event. There were a lot of games and food and laughing and everything you need for a fun evening. I gave a short devo and may or may not have said the following:

I left my goat in my other pants.

They got jiggy with it.

My baby daddy…

Drops mic.

Sometimes I get going and things just kind of pop out and I’m not sure where they come from.

And now I may or may not be invited back.

Advent 12-01-15: Wait

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

I’ve never heard anyone say waiting is easy.

Sometimes the waiting is full of dread: Waiting for test results; waiting to start therapies; waiting outside the principal’s office…

Sometimes the waiting is frustrating: Waiting in traffic; waiting through commercials; waiting for a break in the rain…

But sometimes the waiting is full of hope and excitement: Waiting for vacation; waiting for the big party; waiting for the coffee to brew…

Wait

… or waiting for the Messiah to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

Advent 11-30-15: Prepare

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight–indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:1

2015 is the year of being prepared for Christmas. Not just that I have nearly all my shopping done. Or the fact that I have the tree up (nothing else at the moment). Or even the fact that I’ve calendared all my holiday shenanigans on my iPhone.

I am prepared to fully experience the holiness of Christmas.

Prepare - Feature

Every night I put effort into preparing for bed. First I put on my pajamas and my warm slippers to insulate the soles of my feet from the cold bathroom tile. Then I wash my face, brush my teeth, and apply lip balm and hand cream. One that’s done, I put my phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode and settle in for a good night’s sleep. I could easily go to bed without the rituals, but it would be noticed. I wouldn’t sleep as well because something would be missing.

I’m seeing this holy season as kind of the same thing. I can just wing it and show up on Christmas day, but something would be missing. Instead I’m intentionally preparing myself for the event by reading specific scriptures, praying specific prayers, and listening for God. Already Christmas is feeling more reverent than it has in years past.

Advent 11-29-15: Hope

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”
Jeremiah 33:14-16

This past Sunday I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to go to church. The last couple of months have been sort of crazy – I was traveling a lot in October and into November – and frankly, I just kind of got out of the habit.

While I don’t believe church should be a chore (if it is then there are some weighty issues to be considered), for me it needs to be a Sunday priority and when it drops on the importance scale I feel it in my soul. So I bucked up and got ready and off Todd and I went.

And I was blessed. I spent the majority of the service with tears streaming down my face. Not sad tears, mind you, but tears that flow from a Spirit-shattered heart. It all started with child dedication and when I, as part of the congregation, verbally vowed to help raise these children in the faith, I choked up.

What always moves me, no exceptions, is when we sing. When we pour out our hearts and souls in worshipful song. Some days are more powerful than others, and this Sunday was close to epic. Todd reached over and offered me his sleeve because, let me tell you, I was a hot mess.

“How Great Thou Art” is one of those hymns that thaw out my numbed and frozen spirit and it certainly did that on Sunday. But even more provoking was “Scandal of Grace”. Those lyrics always speak to me. Always.

Hope

Just as Jesus was the hope Jeremiah spoke of, he’s still and forever our hope.

Advent Season 2015

Advent Season 2015

I like the holidays. Not as much as some, more than others. But I always find the lack of Christ in Christmas disturbing. It seems no matter how hard I’ve tried over the last several years, the Christmas season has been more secular than holy. I get sucked into the business of decorating, cooking, purchasing, and whatnot, with very little celebration of Jesus’ birth and what that means to me as a Christian.

Every year it’s the same and by the time the presents have been opened I feel a little deflated because, no matter how much I say, “Christmas isn’t about the gifts and the food or even the family,” that’s exactly what it’s about.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly (and obviously) not against all the frivolities of the season. I actually enjoy cooking the special meal and pretty trees and decor make me happy and being together with family? Well, that’s just the best. But there’s so much more to it.

This year is different. I’m not working  and I don’t have little kids. That goes a long way towards my ability to study and ponder and really consider this advent season.

My friend, Julie, knows how much I like to take pictures and she directed me to Alive Now, a resource of The Upper Room. Alive Now is sponsoring an Advent Photo-a-Day challenge. Each day I receive an email with the advent word of the day and several scriptures and other tools to guide my reflections towards the coming birth of Christ. I then take a picture that represents that word and post it to Instagram.

There are only so many words you can type in Instagram so I’m going to post them here at Jenster’s Musings as well. And maybe, if you’re sucked into the business of the season, you’ll find a little holy in the secular.