Bookish: My Theological Journey

A couple days ago Robbie and I had a discussion about our theological journeys through the years. I asked him what book defined his first few years of being interested in God, personal faith, theology, etc. and what book or author would define him now.

Interestingly (or maybe not?) we both said Blue Like Jazz was our “starter” book. I’ll let him tell you his current book, if he wants, but for me I couldn’t think of a single book or author.

For me, my “faith journey” has actually become less about books and learning about God and more about experiencing God. And not in big ways, rather in small everyday ways.

When I think back on my “early years” (2009-2015ish) as a Christian they’re defined by big feelings, deep thoughts, and a depth of exploration.

If I’m being honest, the books I read when I was starting to become more interested in ministry and vocation, as well as theology and faith, were more about arming myself with knowledge, which isn’t inherently a poor pursuit. I was excited about my faith, and many of the books I read helped encourage that excitement! But, they were also a great way to show off to other christians!

In 2015 I was introduced to Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus (the namesake of our daughter!!), this book helped me pivot from ostentatious reading to reading as soul care.

It was really when I met Robbie, also in 2015, and I was introduced to Mockingbird Ministries that I began to care less about books, but also feel more cared for.

I hope I don’t have to say this, but God doesn’t care about your books or your theological journey. He cares about you.

These days you’ll find me reading the occasional book about faith, but mostly I read my Bible in short increments daily-ish and I read Paul Walker’s Almost Daily Devotional every morning.

I’ll listen to the odd podcast about theology, and I’ll do a little reading if I know it’ll help me leading Bible studies. On the whole though, I find that I’ve much come to prefer relational and devotional small groups vs Bible Studies.

As Henri Nouwen writes in In the Name of Jesus

“The Question is not how many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish?… But: Are you in love with Jesus?… In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out, and wants to heal.

Knowing God’s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every fear, isolation, or despair begins to invade the human soul, this is not something that comes from God… Very few people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits.

In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen, Chapter I

Let me again say concretely, God loves you, completely. Christ was crucified for you; through His sacrifice we have been justified.

Now get out there read* whatever you want!

XOXO

Jen

*ps. Look for my summer reading list very soon 🙂

Mommy Blogger

Two weeks ago yesterday we welcomed our daughter Etta into the world! Born May 12th, 2022!

After many highs and lows we’ve settled into a happy rhythm.

Going to church for the first time!

I’ve filled most of my free time washing bottles, reading yet another Bill Bryson book (A Sunburnt Country), watching Raising Hope (perfect postpartum viewing!), and trying to keep up on laundry. Having family around has been so helpful. And having friends come around has been such a treat.

Out to a brewery with out newborn!

We’re so thankful for how easy she’s been, and for our hospital experience! Breastfeeding was the only hoop we really struggled with and we’ve happily moved to “team formula” and it’s made us all pleased as punch.

Currently…..

Listening to: Harry’s House

Viewing: World of Stonehenge

More to come!

xo

Jen

Devotional Zine & iPhone Wallpaper {downloads}

Happy Due Date to me!!

This morning, as a small mini celebration I took myself on a nice relaxing coffee date to Petite Marie Bette. I enjoyed some journaling, reading my Bible, and listening to The Pastcast Podcast.

Latte + almond croissant, can’t say how elated I am to have a REAL mug!

I’ve been finding lots of joy in designing superfluous graphics in Canva recently.

Yesterday I shared my new cookbook, today I want to share a phone wallpaper and a Devotional Zine!

First up is the wallpaper. Yesterday I read this verse in Colossians and it really stood out to me. I’ve found myself praying for strength and patience lots in the last days and weeks. I also love the imagery of “Saints in the Light.”

Iphone wallpaper
Simple graphic
As seen on my iPhone!

I’m also thrilled to share a new zine I’ve been working on. I’ve made a couple of these before, mostly to use in my college Bible Studies, but this one is for my own use!

I took the liturgy from the Devotionals for Individuals and Families out of the Book of Common Prayer and made it to fit inside an 8-page zine.

If you’ve never used a zine before here’s a guide to how to cut and fold it, it’s super simple once you’ve done it once or twice. –> Lunch Lady Magazine | How to Fold a Zine (On a side note, I LOVE Lunch Lady Magazine!)


I’m hoping to use this Devo Zine in a myriad of ways. If I’m in a rush I can quickly read the provided readings for the hours (morning, noon, evening, night), or I can use the handy QR code on the back to find the Daily Office Readings for that day if I have more time on my hands.

Mostly I like that it’s a small little thing that I can slip into my journal or Bible, and if it gets old and worn out (or coffee gets spilled on it, let’s be real!) I can easily print a new one!


Enjoy these little goodies, and say a prayer for us today! I would really love a punctual little human!

Love,

Jen


Simple Supper: a short cookbook/guide

I love to cook! I love to try new ingredients, I enjoy pushing myself with new techniques and methods, I enjoy buying fancy kitchen equipment!

Robbie, on the hand, does not. He’s given cooking a couple of tries in the time we’ve been together and just hasn’t quite found the joy in it like I have.

However, he has found that, the more basic and simple the recipe or meal, the more joy he tends to gain from the cooking process. And I have to agree! There’s something so satisfying about taking just a handful of simple staples and using salt, fat, acid, and heat to turn it into something delectable!

So, in preparation for this new phase of life (my due date is tomorrow!) I’ve created a recipe guide book for Robbie, in hopes to help him navigate the kitchen and to find joy in creating some simple suppers.

And, because I have too much time on my hands I decided to make it a “real” booklet and to share it with you folks!


May I present: Simple Supper; Easy, Nourishing Meals

Ripening

At church a few weeks ago Billy, a UVA student, taught me a new word. Or, rather, a new utilization of the word “rotting.”

Rotting; To just do absolutely nothing, for hours, presumably coinciding with alcohol consumption.

I’ve felt as if I was rotting (sans alcohol) for many weeks and days now. Having finished up most of my work duties, completed the nursery, and wrapped up all travel I’m now just in a holding pattern until the baby arrives.

I mentioned my “rotting” state to Robbie this morning and he was kind to remind me that I’m not rotting, but ripening.

These last few lethargic, and often hormonally tinged, days before the baby arrives may be driving me crazy, but they do serve a purpose.

Etta’s adding on fat deposits and preparing herself for a healthy life outside my womb.

Instead of being bitter and resentful that I’m miserable and not sleeping well, I’m trying to practice gratitude with everything I’m able to do now. For the walks I can take, quick trips to the market, reading for hours uninterrupted, quiet baths at the end of the day.

Soon many of these things will become more complicated (not impossible, I hope!) and so I’ve been trying to be extra present and mindful during my transition to matrescence. Taking photos has helped me take a moment to be thankful for this time.

Self timer selfie in a UVA pavilion garden
Making fun dinners on a whim! | Falafel from Bon Appetit
Reading in our front garden, trying to identify birds
An afternoon popsicle!

We’re 6 days away from her due date, I’m thinking I’ll go into labor a couple days after May 4th but who knows. For now I’m just going to enjoy this phase and maybe have another popsicle!

Love

Jen

This One’s for the Girls

Writer Marlee Grace included this IG post in her most recent newsletter Monday Monday and it instantly sent me into a country music spiral. Especially women of country!

Maybe it’s all the extra hormones coursing through my veins but these powerful songs from some of the greatest women in country music have just been hitting the spot!


I’m still feeling on cloud 9 from our trip out west! It’s given me a taste of summer and now I am very very excited about the promise of swimming in my future. I love to swim year around inside, but nothing is better than an outdoor pool on a blisteringly hot day.

Warm days also make me think of cold & chilled desserts, and in particular, banana pudding! My grandma always used the same recipe, and so of course I have a special place in my heart for that recipe; however, this year for Easter I am going to make a banana pudding using Alison Roman’s Coconut Banana Cream Pudding.

On the horizon I’m working on a couple special zine projects to fill my time and distract from how much I feel like a stuffed crust pizza! I hope to share both of those next week! Hint: one’s baby related and the other food related!

I hope your weekend is sweet as pie! Happy Easter!

Jen

Imbibing California

We got home from an amazing week in Orange Country yesterday! Since I’m 36 37 weeks pregnant pretty much all I wanted to do was eat, drink, swim and sit; thankfully we’re in a great place to do just that.

It was a truly magical trip. It felt like such a treat because up until about a week before the trip I wasn’t sure I would get to go, making everything feel extra special while I was there. We loved getting to celebrate the wedding of two close friends in such a gorgeous place!

Here’s a photo dump of the many things we ate, drank, and enjoyed during our stay.

Mint Mojito at Philz!
Wine selection at Hopper & Burr.
Beer at Bottle Logic!
Natty Wine at Windsor Bottle Shop
Aliso Creek Beach
Turkado from Board & Brew!! ON the beach!!
Wedding antics with Robbie!
The Ecosystems exhibit at the California Science Center was awesome!
Rose Garden in Expo Park!

Now that we’re back in Virginia I’m full on ready for baby! Still three weeks out from due date, but emotionally I think I’m ready to go.

Working on a new playlist to share with you all in the next couple days, but this is it for now! Going to go sit outside and enjoy the sun!

xoxo

Jen

Nesting

A common complaint I hear from Robbie these days is that I’ve made our bedroom “too cozy.” Making it very difficult for him to get out of bed for his very early a.m. workouts

Until about 6 weeks ago our bedroom was very utilitarian. We have a lovely furniture set, plus nice bedding and two big European pillows, but the rest of the room was tough to love. To upgrade the room I added curtain sheers, plus brass curtain pullbacks. I gave us additional (and functional) storage around the room by way of hooks; I love the brass accordion hooks I added above our bedside tables. (from Target & currently on sale!)

We also recently acquired a robin’s egg blue La-Z-boy recliner for the room and have better organized our closets. All together this means our room feels much more grown up and a space that “sparks joy.”

Next, if time allows, before or after arrival of baby, I’d love to give our bathrooms some much needed TLC. And then the laundry area of the basement!


Other than home decor nesting, I am in full stock the freezer mind-set. We bought a chest freezer and I have begun the process of stocking it up.

The freezer doesn’t look wonderful in our pantry (aka weird room off the galley kitchen,) but it’s functional and I think we’ll appreciate having lots of easy to prepare meals within reach in the postpartum days.

So far I have a baked ziti and 14 burritos inside.

The ziti is Alison Roman’s recipe and the burritos are a dupe of our favorite burritos from Greenberry’s Coffee in Charlottesville, the Daybreak.

My goal for the next few weeks is to basically double every recipe I make; one to eat, one to freeze.

Some I’m really looking forward to are:


Happy Sunday everyone, I hope it’s lovely wherever you are!

xoxo

Jen

Blue Sky

“You’re my blue sky, you’re my sunny day

Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way”

Blue Sky, Allman Brothers Band
Baby Sap “Baby-cue!”

What a week we’ve had! A week of mountaintops and valleys.

Having both my parents and Robbie’s parents in town was a joy, but wore me plum out! They say the first trimester exhaustion comes back in the third trimester and I think I’ve been feeling some of that too. Yesterday I woke up at 7am and then put myself back in bed around 9am and slept until noon!

Robbie has been such a brick all week, a steady stream of encouragement and positivity when I needed it! Blue Sky from the Allman Brothers says it better than me!


I want to gush for a minute about our amazing friends and community that threw us the most amazing “baby-cue” on Friday the 18th. We felt so loved at this party. It was just perfect, truly. A hot dog cookout by the lake surrounded by friends and family. Picture perfect!


Now that we’ve had our shower and the nursery is set up, we are ready for the arrival of baby Sap! I’m having an ultrasound next Wednesday to monitor baby’s size, she’d measuring big, but nothing of concern.

I’ll try to take some nice photos of the nursery soon, I’m really happy with how it all came together.

For now, I’ll leave you with my “Warm Days” playlist, which I’ve added to. Get outside and enjoy the sun, touch some grass today!

Love,
Jen

Warm Days

Rosetta Stone

This is an exciting week in our home. My parents are here from Texas to help us prepare our house and nursery for the arrival of baby Etta!

To make things really exciting I decided to take a trip to the ER & the labor and delivery unit!


Tuesday morning started out like a normal morning. Coffee, a little breakfast, making plans with my parents. Then, right after Robbie leaves for work, I suddenly get an intense backache.

After hours of excruciating pain and being admitted into the labor and delivery unit it was determined that I had a kidney stone. (The second in my lifetime!)

The next few hours were a blur of heavy medication and Robbie taking such great care of me!

Finally, around 11pm I passed the stone and felt tremendously better.

We stayed overnight in the hospital for monitoring but were discharged around 8 this morning.


Robbie and I had been really wanting to take a tour of our hospital but current Covid restrictions prohibited visits – well, turns out we got a tour anyways. A dress rehearsal for the arrival of Etta.

And, in case you’re curious about this posts title, my dad keeps referring to this ordeal as the “Etta Stone,” as in RosETTA Stone.


We’re both so grateful it wasn’t anything horribly scary or putting Etta at risk; her vitals were fantastic the entire time.

We’re also so grateful for friends who have prayed for us and provided support in many other ways.


Here’s a little scrapbook of photos I took during our stay.

The bedding and linens were surprising lovely
Cookies delivered from my sister and bro-in-law!
Constant fetal monitoring was slightly annoying but also wonderful to know she wasn’t bothered in the slightest by my pain
My hero Robbie took care of everything! And was calm, cool, and collected the entire time!

I’m looking forward to our return to this wing of the hospital in just about 7 weeks! Very exciting!

xoxo

Jen