Monday, November 27, 2006

45 Random Things About Me

1. I hate seafood. It literally makes me gag.
2. I once saved my sister Elly from drowning (we won't mention that it was sorta my fault she fell in the lake in the first place.)
3. I hate the color purple.
4. One job I had was in a costume shop in a theatre. It was super fun building costumes.
5. I threw up for the first five months of my pregnancies. Yes. Both of them. I was always thinner AFTER I had kids.
6. I had the same Bible study group all the way through junior high and high school. Our names were: Jennie, Joy, Janna, Jenah, and... Elizabeth. I still keep in touch with Jennie and Joy. We have been friends since the 3rd grade.
7. I love to sing and have been a back up singer on an album. Here is the address... you can hear me singing! Listen:
8. Charlotte Church used to make me cry. Not sure why.
9. I am in love with Culver's. I can't get enough.
10. I was born in 1979 in MN. Funny how you end up back where you started out.
11. I am a humanitarian.
12. We only have one car and prefer not to use it if we can. (It happens to be a VW Passat, though, and it rocks.)
13. I am an environmentalist and I feel it is my responsibilty to be that way as a follower of Christ. (Hence, #12.)
14. I dislike being called a Christian. I love being called a follwer of Jesus or a Student of Jesus.
15. We have 2 kids and there we'll stay.
16. I am totally proud of my Pastor Dude and he kicks butt at what he does.
17. I lived in inner city Chicago for almost 5 years. They were some of the best years of my life.
18. One of my best friends is Fran, and incidentally, that is the middle name of my daughter.
19. I am extremely stubborn.
20. I love to run.
21. I love to take pictures.
22. I lived in Italy for a summer doing my internship and took a trip around Europe with the aforementioned Fran. It was awesome.
23. I graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a BA in Urban Ministries in '01.
24. I am completely in love with my sister who almost drowned because of me... I think she is one of the coolest people I know.
25. My other sister is a chef. Isn't that awesome??
26. I am the oldest.
27. I can speak Swedish. Språka svenska?
28. I love to cook. I am always making new things.
29. I don't like fruit but I love veggies.
30. I am completely obsessed with my body image, yes, I admit it.
31. We are "flexitarians" which means basically that we don't eat a lot of meat. But not opposed to eating it now and again. I have to have a burger every once and a while... c'mon.
32. I donated my hair to Locks of Love.
33. I looooove to write our Christmas letter. In fact, I start thinking about it for the next year shortly after I write the one for the current year.
34. I am learning to be a barista.
35. My son looks creepily just like me.
36. Lots of people tell me I look like Julia Roberts.
37. On the first day of kidergarten, a boy had his foot over the first seat on the bus and I wanted to sit there. I told him to "Move it or loose it." He moved.
38. I was once arrested in Chicago and taken to Cook County in a paddy wagon. It sucked. I was never charged.
39. I broke my arm when I was 8 and it went unnoticed for long enough that I didn't get a cast. When I finally went in to get an x-ray a week later, it had started healing perfectly and never needed a cast.
40. Our house was built in 1882.
41. My first date ever was a Cub's game. It was with my husband.
42. I attended my first year of college in my senior year of high school.
43. I mentored a little girl in inner city Chicago while living there. Her name was No-No.
44. I love to watch MTV and VH1.
45. I am terribly afraid of riding in a car with more that 4 adults in it.

Friday, September 08, 2006


And here they are...
Sonja voted yes. (She also wanted to know what the heck IS Locks of Love? I could describe it but here is the site, Sonja:
AJ and Jonathan said to go for it.
Peter had no opinion.
Teresa said CHOP IT. (Those were her exact words.)
Craig, of course, said keep it.

So, I got rid of it. This is a big change, but I know someone else will be happier with my hair than I was.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Should I or shouldn't I? That is my question. I have been getting a little sick of my long hair and I was thinking that maybe I should donate it to Locks of Love. Here are some examples of what my hair looks like now:

And here is a link to what I want it to end up looking like (my apologies to the fact that it is a teeny bopper... just like the haircut.)here it is, you'll have to cut and paste (I"M SORRY!):
So, here's the deal. I am pretty sure that I have never done this before, but I am going to take a survey. Please tell me what you think I should do by emailing me at: and tell me if I should keep it or donate it! I will post the results in a few days. Thanks for the input!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

this morning at breakfast our conversation went something like this:

franny: the ferris wheel is the FAIREST wheel.
me: oh really? what was your favorite ride at the MOA?
franny: the merry go round!
me: what? i thought you liked the log ride the best?
franny: no, i was scared i was gonna fall out!
me: but you didn't though, and that is half the fun, being scared.
gus: i didn't go on the log ride, i was to thcary.
franny: gus, you're too little to go on the log ride
gus: no i'n not, i'n a big boy now.

yes gus, yes you are.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

haloween costumes?

today aiden took an insole from a shoe, put his foot on it and said, "look! i'm an insole!"

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

a sad day for my le sport sac

i got this super cute bag from fran (not to be confused with franNY, and don't ever call fran "franny." you've been warned. i am not liable for the travesties that may befall you from this point on.) anyway, fran and i had a wonderful time frolicking throughout europe, but we did however, spend a lot of time in airports being that our main method of getting from here to there was ryan air (stop the limerick jokes, now.) anyway, we would occasionally pick up a fashion or gissip mag and one apparently had a large spread devoted to le sport sac bags. i commented on how i wanted one really bad and we then flew off to bratislava or dublin or somewhere.

for christmas, craig's family really gets into the gift giving thing and good lord almighty if you don't have an explicit list of everything you could possibly want in all price ranges. this goes for both his dad and step mom (from whom i have received dvd players, computer scanners, big buck gift certificates, etc. this, however, is NOTHING compared to what my sister receives from her in laws. i am pretty sure new cars and trips to europe come into the picture now and then.) anyway, craig's mom is no exception to the gift giving glee. for my list to her, i remember putting an $80 le sport sac on my list. but when she went to buy it, all of them had been given good homes because of their sheer cuteness. she felt bad that she missed the small window of opportunity and i ended up getting a lot of cash from her instead.

after fran and i returned to the states, i had the feeling that fran might not want to see me ever again (at the end of two weeks together, we were a little on edge and something sent us over said edge. it had to do with a ride back from o' hare, a few english £'s, some chips, and a monster truck driver named george with a mohawk to rival travis barker's, any day.) she was not mad for too long though, just busy being that between thanksgiving and christmas eddie bauer on michigan ave tends to get a little swamped. anyway, we were not able to see each other at christmas but one of our friends from chicago came to visit craig. he brought with him "uh, something fran sent, maybe a christmas present or something." it was a shopping bag from nordstrom's that he handed over. THERE IT WAS. MY LE SPORT SAC. i called her immediately and gushed gratitude. "oh yeah," she said. "don't you remember in that gossip mag? the one with the tell all about posh and becks? well, yeah, there was an ad in there and you said you wanted one."

now i remember why you are my best friend, fran.

so here is where the story gets sad. i have been having issues with my le sport sac for a while now. some of the seams are ripping out and i have been avoiding sending it in because i love using it so much and i literally get one or two comments about how cute it is.. EVERYTIME I TAKE IT OUT. it is kind of like that commercial where the lady comments about "how cute they are" (referring to this other lady's twins) and she is like "oh yeah, i have them in lime green, too" (referring to her shoes.) but it happens to me in reverse.

check-out girl at target: whoa. soo cute!

me: i know, it is weird how much she looks like her dad...

check-out girl at target: no i mean the bag? where'd you get it!?!?!!

and i swear that this purse has caused about 5 other people to run immediately to the store to purchase one. my other best friend, ingrid, keeps asking me if i don't mind that she and her twin "copied" me. my friend, lindsay "just found one" laying around. never has one fashionable item caused such a wave in among my circle of friends. (the debate over gaucho pants, however, did cause a considerable stir.)

anyway, i have to send it in for repairs and i am not sure what i am going to do without it. so, here's to you, le sporty, i will miss you while you are gone. i guess i'll just stuff everything in a target bag till you get back.

Monday, August 21, 2006

from corn rows to rows of corn...

today i went to walmart. (yeah, i know. and can i say that walmart must feel no remorse for a lack concern for the environment or humanity itself?) anyway, i went to walmart and i saw a group of amish women.


the first few months here in se mn were really, really hard. it was cold, über cold in the middle of that january. we suddenly went from a cozy one bedroom apartment to a big, drafty house. i had a newborn who screamed every time she moved more than .5 mm away from my boob and a husband who fled everytime he perceived this scenario would take place. i felt really alone. my sister was thousands of miles away in sweden and my best friend fran was in chicago. all normalities were gone. i kept rreferring to the "iga" as "jewel" or "dominicks" and i was having 24 hour walgreen's withdrawal. what the heck do people do when they need hemorrhoid cream at 3am?!? if my car wouldn't start, how would i get somewhere without the 'el'? at least i could walk to the "jewel" on a sidewalk. but i was a long way from chicago.
i remember grocery shopping once in the first few alienating months in this little town and seeing an amish couple at country market (iga.) i was so shocked, i mean you see a lot of crazy stuff in chicago, but nothing like this! the dude had a straw hat! the chic was wearing a bonnet! if anyone remembers this story from the first christmas letter i sent out chronicling our first year here i related said event. i exclaimed something like, "i have gone from thugs to bugs, corn rows to rows of corn, and pop! pop! to whoa, nelly!"

*flashback from the flashback?*

so here, almost five years later, i am at walmart looking at the "crabs" (lobster) with franny and gus and i see this pack of amish with their plum colored dresses held together with tiny stitches and straight pins, clad in black bonnets. they were carefully eyeing boxes of cereal and containers of soda, checking and rechecking their lists. i kinda of stood there, quiet for a minute (my kids were enthralled with the crabs, i had a second) and reminisced about the last 4.7 years here, how much i had grown and what i have been through, and most of all how much i miss that wonderful city. all those feelings of being in a strange place came back to me.

this story goes a little deeper though, because a few days ago, a friend of mine from our old church in chicago put one of his movies out for its debut on myspace. this friend will always hold a special place in my heart because he was one of the kids in the youth group we worked with and honestly, he was one of my favorites. i loved his heart and i knew he would do a lot with his life someday. when i saw his movie for the first time, i was floored because i felt like there was so much i had missed out on. he grew up. he wasn't a kid anymore, he had grown into a man. i was so proud of him.
the other thing that struck me was how i had almost forgotten about the culture of chicago. i still miss my friends and the rhythm of the city. i still get annoyed that our town is so "white bread." but for now, i guess i will have to prefer the sound of a freight train to that of the "el" rumbling by.

oh, and if you would like to see the movie i am referring to, cut and paste:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

what a week

you know, sometimes i just want to walk away. well, actually everyday i want to walk away at some point in time. or drive away. just get in my car and drive and keep going. this week was one of those weeks. i often wonder if i have chosen a life that is more stressful than other lives, or if i am just a big baby and i need to grow a pair. i flip flop between the two options, sometimes thinking that my life could be a lot easier if i would have married, oh say, a doctor or an computer genius like my high school crush. they make a lot of money for you and your biggest decision that day is whether to wear paper, denim & cloth jeans with the jimmy choos or skip the jeans altogether and wear the newest betsey johnson frock. (i know that not all doctors wives or geek wives act like this... i am just using these sometimes lucrative professions as an example, people!)
or do i just complain to much? i mean, lots of people's husbands have to leave their wive's birthday dinners early because of suicide calls. or well, tons of ladies walk into church every sunday with a new rumor swirling around about them. don't you stay up till 2 am with the latest college romance break-up casualty, too?
anyway, this week has been particularly stressful. you know it is going to be bad when your son who never ever pukes (i have seen this kid vomit a total of 2 times his whole life) walks into my room and starts whimpering and barfing on my carpet. i still can't figure out what the deal was; he was perfectly fine the rest of the day but he claimed he ate chicken that was sitting out since the night before. (it was impossible but pretty funny that he chose that as his alibi.) we finally made it down to breakfast and at 8am i hear a knock on the door. it happened to be the little neighbor waif (you all have one, i know) and she walked in my front door and stated that she did not have to be home until 9pm! she was here to babysit!
the day got progressively worse as she stole money from my 4 year old's piggy bank, shoplifted at the grocery store, told my kids to lie to me, said she had a twin sister who died 5 weeks ago from cancer, and the worst thing ever, ate those hostess snowball cupcake things IN FRANNY'S BED. i have never seen so many crumbs in my life, and remember, i live with craig and 2 preschoolers. i think i have vacuumed that carpet more times since that incident than i ever have since we moved in here 4.5 years ago. i fed this girl 2 meals and was complaining that she was not the best influence on my kids to craig. he kept telling me that she was just troubled and needed attention. stop complaining, jenah! here's your opportunity, you humanitarian! wasn't he that kid 20 years ago? when craig came home at lunch, however, and saw the "lying in action" he promptly kicked her out.
i bet this girl has asked to come into my house more than a dozen times since that morning (remember, it was only 2 days ago.)
here is my conundrum. what do i do with this kid? if i did not have 2 impressionable angel-lambs soaking up every word this sk8tr grl utters, i would take her in in an instant. she does need attention. she says she is in 7th grade but doesn't look a day older than 11. she's dirty. she wears shirts that say "bratty brunette" and "spoiled rotten" and i see her constantly wandering around with no supervision at all. i have seen this so many times living in inner city chicago. a little attention from me could help this girl out in ways i may never see but would always mean something to her. but what of my own kids? i don't trust her as far as i can throw her and the fact that she took a couple quarters out of a piggy bank doesn't speak much of her moral character.
so here i am, caught. caught between a little girl who needs someone, anyone, and my own kids who are watching my every move. what will it say to them if i let a shady little punk into my house? but will it speak more to them that i wouldn't give her the time of day? believe me, she is NOT babysitting my kids. not now or ever. but what if i let her come over once a week to bake cookies with me or something? i am constantly on the "people matter" bandwagon and i feel like it has come back to kick me in the face. what now, pastor's wife?
i decide to pray. i guess it sounds really cliché, but i love my kids too much to have them hurt by my own "good deeds." i want to help this girl, but i also want my home to be a place of love and safety for my children. i really never thought the ministry would make me choose between needy neighborhood kids and my own kids. so, malin and aiden, i hope that someday you read this blog and realize that your mom did not have it all together and i struggle to know what is best for you. sometimes i don't know how to relate to the world around me. so maybe my life is as stressful as other people's lives. i guess not only pastor's wives struggle in how to relate to the world around them.

Friday, July 21, 2006


so here is my first piece of published material, ever. hope you like. it is on the topic of "what is god doing in your life right now?"

So what has God been teaching me lately? I could say something trite and totally made up about how when you’re bummed out and depressed that we should look to the imagery of the eagle and soar, soar above the storm and use it to move us higher and higher, almost like you are soaring to heaven! Yeah, right. My dark, tortured soul has yet to believe that is true. I was struck while watching the Nooma about “Trees” where Bell states that even though there is a beginning and an end to creation, those being the two major “landmarks” of our world, God is doing things in our life RIGHT NOW. So again, what is he teaching me right now, at this moment, in my own world around me?
There are actually a million things that are going on in my mind. I am a thinker and have always been one. I have recently been struck by the fact that what we think is the right way to do things is not necessarily the right way. I remember growing up in a very conservative Christian home believing that every decision I made was either In God’s Will or Apart From God’s WIll. I have recently discovered that God doesn’t really care what kind of toothpaste I use. (What freedom!) I have also learned that my faith looks very different from my mom’s. It looks different than my best friend Fran’s, who serves in the inner city or my friend Aaron’s, a missionary in Africa. I have learned that you can be a liberal, a feminist, a democrat, a humanitarian, and a follower of Jesus. (Gasp!) But the biggest thing God is teaching me right now isn’t even about me. You see, I think the biggest thing that God has taught me lately isn’t about myself, it is about the world around me and how I relate to it.
I think it is really awesome how God works in your life. There are little things around us that he uses to shape our thoughts and even our actions. Let me explain. I was watching MTV or VH1 the other day. They were doing a special about how they were sending movie stars and rock stars to AIDS ravaged areas of Africa. This particular episode featured Ashley Judd and India.Arie. As these two women explored the travesties that have befallen this continent of people, I cried. If you know me, you know I don’t cry, well, hardly ever. Huge, baby-like tears were falling down my face. I watched as a 14 year old girl related her story of loosing her mom to AIDS. India.Arie wanted to do something for this young lady and learned that she needed a backpack for school. When they gave her the gift, she acted like she was the Sole Survivor and had won a million dollars. She was jumping up and down and squealing. A backpack? That was the amount of kindness it took to make her day? Her entire year? At this point I think I may have looked a little like Alice Cooper because my mascara had run and formed two inverted triangles under my eyes. Why on earth was I just sitting here not caring that thousands of people are dying and hurting from a disease totally preventable? Why is it that MTV has to send ambassadors to other countries to help? Is it because we are too busy working out mission statements and fighting over if this is God’s punishment on a people who have turned their backs on God? What happened to “they’ll know we are Christians by our love?”
I think the answer is really simple. Our faith should not be about us. It should be about those around us. The evidence of our love for Christ should be apparent in how we treat those who are hurting. Jesus said it himself, when he was talking about how to love others, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me--you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40, The Message, Remix) We have turned a blind eye. I am not talking about having pity on people, not the, “Oh, I’m sorry for you,” attitude, but to really see ourselves as servants to others. That is the paradigm shift. Jesus puts it this way, “That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served--and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” (Mark 10:45) If I am really striving to be like Jesus, for him to be my teacher in every aspect of my life, some things have to change. When I started to see my faith as it relates those around me, I started to see other people as the ones who play more important role in my faith than my own petty wants and desires. I don’t want to serve the downtrodden because I am commanded to, but because they deserving of my service. I started to feel passionately about humanity, not because MTV says it is cool to act like that, but because Jesus cares about humanity. I realized that for me, as a Christian, I cannot follow Jesus and not be a humanitarian. I can’t sit back and and say, “Oh that’s too bad.” I want to be the type of Christian who radiates love, not condemnation, so that everyone around me can see how Jesus changed my life. I don’t want to sit back and watch as people around me are hurting and without hope. Jesus didn’t do that, and I won’t either.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Day One: London Through the Clouds (of no sleep, that is)

Fran and I left O'Hare airport at approximately 5.30 pm on Halloween. It kinda creeped me out a little bit that we were putting our lives in the hands of someone else on a holiday marked by secrets and death. But oh well, we were livin' it up no matter what. That and the fact that we saved a ton of dough leaving on a Monday night.
I had taken an online course that my bra-in-law told me to take, too. It helped me to get over my fears of sitting in a tin can, flying at unnatural speeds, being strapped into a flimsy seat with a little tiny belt that is inserted into the buckle like this, all while being, oh, approximately 28,000 feet above the COLD HARD EARTH. I really did feel much better knowing all the ins and outs of air travel and I really am convinced that even though the stakes are just a tiny bit higher (no pun intended) flying really is safer than driving.
We reasoned that if we left at 5.30 pm, we would get on the plane, chill a little bit and drift into an airborne slumber above the clouds. Let me refresh your mind a little bit about trying to sleep on an airplane unless you forgot. You are sitting in an upright postition (which to me seems as though I am leaning forward just a little too far, is it just me?) and you have about as much width to sprawl out in as you might on say a emigrant ship from Scandinavia in the year 1889. There is always a creepy guy sitting in the aisle seat who seems to have no problem sleeping at all, especially when you need to use the restroom NOW (Except George whom I will explain later. He was the coolest person to ever grace the aisle seat.) The air on airplanes is also dryer than the air in the Sahara where the humidity is like at 40% or something where as British Air Flight 296 is at 10%. The extreme danger of your eyes being permanently glued shut caused a little anxiety for me. Needless to say I maybe slept about 30 minutes on the whole flight. Who cares, right? I will be in London in approximately 3.5 hours! Whoo-hoo!
The really cool part about flying British Air (among many other things) is the fact that you get this really cool little bag full of freebies. These are better than any of the crap you stuff in your suitcase after staying at the Days Inn. They have a little pair of socks, eye cover, toothbrush and paste and some other stuff. Before we landed, I had the thrill of actually seeing the London Eye from the plane. I thought I was gonna die. Where we really doing this??!?!
We landed, made a quick stop to use our new toothbrushes and toothpaste, and went through customs. We grabbed our stuff and were on our way!
Fran and I were really not too sure where to go or really which direction Paddington Station was, so I explained to Fran that if you use your "cute" just a little bit, it can get you a loooong way. We went up to the ticket counter at the Underground and Fran was freaking out a little bit about where we needed to go and how to ask for it. "Fran, Fran, Fran. It is like this, 'Excuse me, I have never been to London before and I need to get to Paddington Station. Could you tell me the best way to get there?'" The the best way to get there part is crucial, especially when dealing with a male because frankly, the need to show off their mad skillz will totally take over the urge to send the two stupid Americans in the absolulte wrong direction. I believe that most people are pretty cool and if you are nice to them, they will be nice back. It worked. We didn't get any free ride or anything, but we did get to where we needed to go and quite easily. (I thing the guy at the booth referred to me as "love" which totally made the experience all the more rich.)
We took the Tube all the way to Paddington Station where we hauled our stuff to a little hotel where we got a room that was about 2 feet bigger than the bed itself. They just don't have the time or the space to spend on needless things like elbow room in London. We decided that because it was about 10am London time and about 4am our time, we really would not be in the frame of mind to really take in the sights and culture of London. So what should we do to keep our spirits up and alive? Go shopping, of course! We hit all the hot spots, Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters... all of it. I really don't remember too much other than feeling like I was still flying at 28,000 feet and that this tshirt costs 25£!?!? That's like $50! We forced ourselves to enjoy the bliss of acutally shopping in the mecca that is London. Now, at the end of our shopping experience, we decided that we should get a little something to eat. A chippy? Some Indian or Thai takeaway, perhaps? Wait... McDonalds? Burger King? Subway? Pizza Hut? KFC?!?!?! What is this place? We found a pizza place that delivered a very tiny pizza to our very tiny room and ate it practically in our sleep. I took a much needed shower in the "World's Smallest Bathroom" and Fran was already asleep when I finished. As I drifted off I wondered, what would the rest of London be like? Would we see all we needed to in 1 day? Would we make it in time for our breakfast the next morning?

Up Next: Day Two: London Through the Nose (and how we combated the extreme cost of nearly EVERYTHING.)