Your Happy People Can Be Silently Sad

Jennie's Snippets, Live

It’s no surprise to those who know me that I can be, most of the time, full of joy. A lot of times I hear from past acquaintances, new strangers, and long-time friends the following words:

” I love your energy!”

“You are just so happy!”

“You brighten the room when you walk in.”

And, I promise, this is not me bragging on myself. There are several people in the world who have this contagious energy they naturally exude. The first celebrity I could think of, as an example that everyone knows, is Robin Williams.

He brightened any one’s room when he was present. Even when thinking of him we easily smile – he was a comedian.

Sadly, in 2014, Robin Williams died by way of suicide.

I remember this event bringing light to an issue that was kept in the dark for some time – noticing the struggles of a individual, and potential signs of depression/disease/struggle, that exist outside of the outward facing appearance.

Many people saw this death as a surprise because Robin Williams rarely, if ever, showed signs of struggle to the outward facing public.

But, being who I am, I can closely relate to him, and what happened. I’m sure many of the happiest people in your life feel similarly.

Being labeled the “joyful,” “happy,” “brighten the room” person comes with a weight no one realizes.

The world can be a dark and dim place, and if we, the happy people, can bring some form of light into it, to show the world that light exists, then we are going to do just that. Especially as a follower of Christ.

And, if we struggle, we normally don’t expose it because many people rely on us to brighten even the darkest of days.

When Robin Williams died I was 20 years old. I was struggling with keeping up this happy façade when I wasn’t actually very happy. I wasn’t depressed or suicidal, at all, but I felt like I had to put my “happy” face on 24/7.

That’s when this very young children’s pastor came up to me, just a few days after the death of Robin Williams, and asked me, “Are you okay?”

My initial response was, “Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”

It’s not like I ever showed him my sad or struggling side!

He went on to explain that I appeared the same way as Robin Williams. I’m always happy and never truly exposing a sad or struggling side. He wanted to check on me, and make sure that I wasn’t secretly struggling with anything.

Let me tell you – I was taken aback. BUT, I also appreciated it so much because no one ever asked me if I was okay. I always supported every one else, loved on every one else, and cared for every one else that I never checked on MYSELF.

When that conversation ended I was moved to build relationships that I could trust and lean on for myself.

I wouldn’t put up this façade, but be real and broken in front of these selected people so that I wouldn’t fall victim to isolation.

Doing this completely changed how I opened up to my now husband, Bruce, and long-time friends. I have a place to be open with people, and to struggle without fear of judgment in front of them. I didn’t have to cry alone.

Today, at 26 years old, I am in a healthy place. I have friendships that are now coming up on their 8,9, and 10 year anniversaries. I struggle in front of Bruce and I’m honest when I’m feeling at my lowest.

I don’t hide any more.

And, in doing so, I’m even brighter and happier than I have ever been. It’s beautiful.

I’m telling you this story because, in the midst of this pandemic, many of your happy people can be secretly struggling. I want you to go out there and ask them, again and again and again and again, “are you okay?”

And if you are the happy person reading this then I want you to seek out those people you can trust, and expose how you feel. Let it out. It’s okay to be open and honest about where you are.

Take off that happy façade, that plastered face, and release yourself from the expectation of 24/7 happiness.

Because 24/7 happiness does not exist.

In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

In the end, I’d rather you be here on earth and not in the dirt.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

Dear Dad.

Jennie's Snippets, Love

Was.

The past indicative of “be.”

As of late, I have grown quite ill of this word. I am unable to utter it’s existence in a string of words to form the sentence, “My father w__ an incredible father figure.”

To use it means to give it power and life to the reality that an unforeseeable end has been met.

To let it pass my lips means to agree that the life of a man well-loved will no longer appear in the formation of new memories.

The weight of “was” is unbearably deafening.

I’d rather swallow a stone, for it already feels as such to let the word sit on my tongue.

Truth be told – there is no such thing as “was.”

Although someone may no longer be present in their flesh and bone their essence still rest within us. They are not lost, for they become amplified within our memory.

We finally see who they always are. There is no “was,” but always will be.

Jennie L. R. Hayes

Despite the challenges faced by my family, and the many hardships we have endured due my to dad’s insufferable disease of alcohol addiction – I am unable to recover a single bad memory.

When I look back over the last 7 years of hospital visitations (or just 26 years of being a daughter) all I can muster to my frontal lobe are the conversations, the laughter, the hugs, the birthdays, the father’s days, the summer days, the holidays, and all the beautiful days in between.

Hardship allows for us to draw closer to the familial ties that bond us – if we allow it.

Hardship can easily cause a blackened stain of regret – a disease of unwavering rage and hatred toward the last few years of a person’s physical existence. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because, I want to stay in the “is” and not the “was.”

We have to remember the beauty of recognizing the core of someone’s “is.” Not the result of hardship and pain. What do we remember as the core of the person we love? What defines them and makes them who they are?

Who really “is” this person?

Who my dad naturally is, is amplified in my mind. He is not lost and he does not lose the qualities that define him.

He IS what I see.

He IS what I feel.

He IS my dad and that does not change. Therefore, “was” is not a word to be used.

Because now, he is solidified in existence as the man I will never forget – forever etched in my memory.

No one has to tell me, or remind me, that my dad w__ a good man.

My dad IS a good man.

And I will always love him.

Dear Dad,

I love you. I hate to say this, but i’m selfish. If I had a magic lamp I would wish you back into existence. But, not the shell you were living in.

I know you were in pain. I know you were suffering. I wish I could have taken it away. But, please know, I never saw you as weak. I never saw you as “less than.” I never looked at you differently because of your struggle.

I saw you. All of you. The whole you. The beautiful you.

We all did.

My love for you is blinding. I did not see you in your hospital bed. I did not see your drunken days. I did not see your broken and cracked skin. I saw your struggle. I saw your pain. I saw your misery. I saw how much you desperately wanted to alter the reality you lived in, but had to hide the pain behind the treacherous golden waterfall.

I was never afraid to touch you. I always wanted to be close to you. I never let go. I still can’t and I won’t.

I’m not Rose. If the ship were to sink then my grip only tightened. Although you saw some distance between us I can promise you that I lived on a life boat ready to paddle back to you whenever you needed me.

My love for you is stronger than it ever has been, and it will only grow stronger as I tell our stories to the grandchildren you so desperately wanted.

The memory of you will never fade. You have left yourself, in pieces, among us as details of the lineage we will carry forward.

I see you in Sarah’s eyes – deep green and wide.

I see you in Kellie’s personality – temper and all.

I see you on the surface of the lake – your presence thick as our nostrils breathe in sunlight, air, and peace that only the calmness of a still lake can bring.

I see you in the gardens you have planted in the back yard. The love you had for farming and growing your own food sparked a new passion inside me.

I smell you at every mechanic shop – grease, motor oil, and dirt. It smells like you – an honest, humbling, and laborious earning.

I hear you through the lips of friends and strangers who share the memories of you. I learn more and more about you through people I have never met. And, I love it.

Regardless of where we are today, I am surprised by the community you had that you may not have realized. It’s so big. You were so loved. You had so many in your corner. You still do.

And, we love you. We can’t wait to see you again.

My greatest lesson from this experience is this:

I understand it now. When I was young I never understood why people thought living to 100 was so bad. I thought, “Man, life is beautiful, I want to live to 120! I want to live the longest.”

I now disagree.

Life is made up of the people you call home – people you love and cherish. As they slowly pass on, and into heaven, you wish to be with them. It’s difficult to replace those relationships (you can’t), and their loss leaves a longing in you to see them again.

When my time comes I want to be able to run to Christ, run to YOU, run to Memaw, and run to Pappy. To move on and see them again. Life on earth is not to be lived out for lengthy periods of time. The pain of loss is too much to bear, and the need to reunite grows stronger with every passing day.

I am so happy you finally get to see your mom again. I am so happy that you finally get to meet your dad. I am so happy you finally get to meet our little brother/little sister. I am so happy you get to reunite with your first love that you lost so long ago.

Although my time is not yet here I understand now that I will embrace it. I will happily run to my place in heaven knowing that our family reunion awaits my return.

I will love you forever and always, dad. No one will ever rob me of that.

Love,

Jennie Laureen ROBINSON Hayes

Learn to say “i’m sorry” in your marriage.

Jennie's Snippets, Love

I can be a bit of a prideful person.

Admitting that I am wrong is something I rarely do, and something that I clearly need to work on. I’ve always been the person in my family to argue over the fact that “I am correct” ever since I was small.

If you asked my mom today, she would tell you that I was known to always get the last word. I wanted to feel triumphant because I won the battle. I wanted to speak the last few utterances to prove that I was the ultimate winner.

But man…..what a waste of energy.

If I was arguing with my family I would let an argument continue for hours after it started because I STILL did not get the last word. My whole day would be spent feeling frustrated, getting angrier, and losing patience.

The worst part of it all was that these days almost always coincided with an adventure: swimming at the lake, going to the park, going shopping, etc.

These days were supposed to be fun! Instead, I can only remember arguing.

For example, one time my little sister, Kellie, got on my nerves so much while we were visiting a theme park (Kings Dominion) that I “half-way” punched her in the face. It wasn’t hard. I swung very slowly and tapped her face with my fist. I did that because she wouldn’t be quiet – she wanted to make sure that I didn’t get the last word, and so I tried to shut her up so I could.

I was 12.

How ridiculous I feel telling that story.

It’s a funny memory now because I was a kid who couldn’t control her temper, but I also know that I missed out on the memories I could’ve made if I wasn’t so busy “keeping my pride.”

I mean….what’s pride if you make a fool of yourself, no longer have fun, and miss the opportunity to create memories?

It’s stupid.

Sticking up for your pride is not worth it if all you do is destroy the relationships in front of you.

The same rule applies in marriage. We have to let our pride go.

Being married to someone means you know your spouse in an intimate way. You know their successes, and their downfalls. You know their quirks, and their habits. You know how to love, and how to hate. We even know how to hurt them in an argument.

And what a shame it would be to do that.

We argue because sometimes we are baffled that our spouse thinks we are wrong and say “I can’t believe you aren’t on my side on this – you’re my husband/wife – you’re supposed to be on my side.”

But, it’s not about choosing sides. It’s about growing. At times, my husband will tell me things that I can improve on like: cleaning the dishes, or remembering to switch the laundry from the washer to dryer (which I forget often). He isn’t trying to be mean – he’s trying to make me better. But, my ears can fall short.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

I don’t want to hear it, and my response can be…well….bad. Sometimes, I can respond so bad to correction, or an opinion not similar to mine, that I can get kind of mean. Maybe not in a blunt way, but I don’t act super nice.

Because of how I respond I slowly destroy everything I have built with my husband. I react, rather than wait in patience for the right words to say.

Why am I destroying what I love? Because I care that my pride might be hurt?

Am I married to my pride? No.

I’m married to Bruce.

We all get into arguments. It’s inevitable. Arguing is a part of marriage. The difference between a healthy marriage, and an unhealthy marriage, is how you handle these arguments.

I refuse to go to bed angry. I will muster up all the courage that I have so that I can apologize to my husband for anything I have said or done in an argument EVEN IF I think i’m right.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about choosing who we love most over our own self.

My pride does not matter if I have hurt Bruce. I vowed to love this man with all that I had until the day I died. And, I will.

Regardless of my stance in an argument I will come to my husband and say “i’m sorry.” I will apologize for anything I have said or done, and mean it.

It’s not a ritual. I can’t just say “i’m sorry” and let the day keep going. That doesn’t have meaning. I have to admit that I am wrong, point out why I was wrong, and show him how much I love him when I say “i’m sorry.”

It can be awkward to swallow our pride and apologize, but it’s always worth it in the end.

Choosing our spouse over ourselves will always prove rewarding.

It will deepen your relationship with one another, and build a foundation of trust that cannot be broken. Over time, you will learn to see eye-to-eye and understand the why behind actions, and work through every obstacle you face together.

And that all steams from coming forward, losing your pride, and saying “i’m sorry.”

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Dear Beautiful Bride, you do not have to follow all those pesky wedding rules.

Jennie's Snippets, Lies, Live

Let me guess…you are about to get MARRIED? Congratulations! Before I dive in let me first start with this – aren’t you tired of people asking you when the big day is, especially if you are freshly engaged?

LAWD, I can’t tell you how many times people asked Bruce and I. My first response (in my head) was always “dude…I don’t know…I just found out I was getting married! So, I definitely don’t have a date yet.” LOL, It always made me giggle!

And that’s okay that people ask – they are excited FOR you! I mean, it is a natural question to ask when you get engaged. So, just smile and respond, and enjoy the fact that for only 12 months (more or less) people are curious about your wedding! I mean…it only happens once…right? (or we hope it does).

groom beside bride holding bouquet flowers

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Right now, I am a bride myself. And I have learned A LOT. A lot more about myself than anything. You know, my whole life I pictured planning this extravagant wedding (like in the movies), and as soon as I got engaged I quickly discovered that I don’t care about those things.

You see, I am marrying the love of my life. I am a sentimental person. I want things to hold true and lasting value. So, when I do things for the wedding it has NOTHING to do with what other brides typically do. I don’t care about the colors, or the cake, or the music, or even the dang traditions.

This is me and Bruce at our favorite downtown Raleigh coffee shop!
  1. I care that my dad walks me down the aisle (because I wasn’t sure at one point in my life that he would be there for it).
  2. I care that I wear my grandmother’s wedding ring because I always pictured her at my wedding. I NEVER thought she would die before I got married so it’s important that she is there with me somehow.
  3. I care that I wear my mother’s dress (that I have tried on so many times before because it’s beautiful and I want to showcase my mom somehow.
  4. I care that both of my sisters were my “maid of honor” because they have been my rock and consistent friend, when others failed to pull through, my entire life.
  5. I care that I see my handsome (and quite sexy) man at the other end of the aisle because we have spent 8 amazing years together and this is to celebrate US – not to please everyone with an opinion.
  6. I care that my bridesmaids feel beautiful on my wedding day so they got to pick whatever dress they wanted (same color and length because Bruce likes things to go together).
  7. I care that I write my vows and say them to him because he means too much to me to repeat some vows someone else wrote (which BTW isn’t a bad thing – it’s just not my style).

My thing to ask you as you prepare for this big day is – what do you care about?

person tying white ribbon on blonde-haired woman

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

You see, Bruce and I play off each other’s strengths. I LOVE managing my finances. So, the budget for the wedding is my job. Everything else? Well, that’s him. Haha. I am not the least bit creative. I am better at making sure someone else’s dream can come true based on their financial situation. So, Bruce did all of this:

  1. Picked the colors
  2. Picked the decor
  3. Picked out the food
  4. Had a huge hand in picking the venue.
  5. Picked out the outfits.
  6. Picked out the bridesmaids dresses – yep. I was SO scared I was going to get the color wrong that I couldn’t dress shop without him. (phew).

He did those things because he cares about those things! He is “stylistic.” So, that was his job!

white flower lot
Basically, our wedding scheme.
Photo by mariana acevedo on Unsplash

You want to know what we don’t care about?

  1. We don’t care whether we have the wedding in the church or somewhere else. The church is the PEOPLE – not a building. So, we have our ceremony/reception in the same place, and it’s not a church. Plus, it makes it easier on everyone! Does anyone else hate driving to the reception site after the ceremony, or is it just me?
  2. We don’t care about the cake. And we still haven’t figured that part out yet because we don’t want cake. We don’t like sweets so we are kind of lost on that part.
  3. We don’t care about having a D.J. So, we are going to plug in a phone and have a BLAST!!
  4. We don’t care about “save the dates” because it’s such a waste of paper. We are only doing invitations.
  5. And for me – I DON’T care about a veil and will not be wearing one no matter how many people try to pressure me into one ❤

Your wedding should be about you and your husband. No one else. It took me a little while at the beginning, but I finally got it down.

Another one of us. Gosh, isn’t he cute?

One last piece of advise before I go because it became a problem – people inviting themselves.

We have a lot of people who automatically assume they are invited because we have a history with them. But, we have to consider our budget and our venue space. There are so many people that we WISH we could invite, but can’t. Therefore, we are going to have to say no to many many people. Not because we don’t love them or don’t want them there, but we care about our financial future and don’t wish to break the bank trying to please everyone. Our families (which are pretty big) and immediate friends are the only ones invited.

So, enjoy your wedding, break some traditions, and make it something truly yours! ❤

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

Finding my lost identity.

Jennie's Snippets

I went on a mission trip to Kenya back in April of this year. I went with an excited and expectant heart to minister to every woman, every girl, and every child that my eyes laid on. I had a heart full of love to pour out onto any soul who stumbled along my path.

I prepared, I fasted, and I prayed to see God move in remarkable ways in the lives of those who had little to cling to. I was ready.

What I did not prepare for was what it would be like to return home.

I went with a team of other women who are just remarkable at children’s ministry. Our hearts were aligned with one mission in sight. Together, we held a children’s ministry conference for over 100 girls with over 40 dedicating their lives to Christ admitting that Christ’s love is powerful enough to forgive them and lead them, we visited and loved on babies at an abandoned baby home, and we did ministry at an orphanage with girls and boys aging from 2 to 18.

We were living and breathing the mission field. I mean, we do every day no matter where we are, but we got to do the dirtier work of it all.

The thing is… I have been out of the country doing mission work before and came home, sad, but nothing like this.

Ever since I was a little girl, sitting at the Pilgrimage Conference, God spoke to me. He TOLD me that my life was not meant to be lived lavishly. That my feet will one day wander into something bigger than my body could handle. That my feet would land in Africa and a child residing there would become my own.

Sounds crazy to you. But for me my heart has clung to it wondering when it would happen. Praying, hoping, expecting – waiting.

When Pam, our conference girls director, invited me to go on this trip I was absolutely terrified. I had let fear of war, famine and disease infiltrate my mind that I almost said no.

But Pam didn’t know the desire of my heart and the promise that God made me. In my decision, I was more fearful that I wouldn’t allow his promise to become a reality.  Before I lost my courage I quickly told Pam……YES!

Christ was powerful. He worked in all those kids lives, but most importantly He worked in mine.

I was not prepared for the amount of emptiness I would feel once I got home. I felt AT home in Kenya. I could have stayed my whole life – right there. I wouldn’t miss a single thing that America called a “comfortable” lifestyle.

I don’t need a fancy car, I don’t need a large home, I don’t need a big paycheck, I don’t need designer clothes, or a protected life. I’m simply joyful with being alive.

I just wish I could have given more and stayed longer there.


It has taken me a long time to write this because I wasn’t sure of who I was when I got back. It was difficult for me to write something so sensitive. I felt so lost because all I wanted to do was get back on a plane to Africa.

When I got to my apartment, the night of my arrival to America, I went straight to my bed and cried myself to sleep.

I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be there.

Today is much different than that first night back. During a prayer night at Elevation Raleigh my pastor called for a night of prayer rather than a teaching.  He had no idea how much I needed it.

God knew what I was struggling with, and behold, an older woman who had been in similar shoes prayed with me and helped me understand that I wasn’t alone in my loss and suffering.

I was finally able to breathe again, but I had to decide who I was, and what God’s plan was going to be for me that moment onward. What did HE want for me?

Ministry is at the heart of who I am and all that I am. I can’t breathe unless I am being a servant for Christ. I am no one unless Christ gives me his commands to do his work. The mission trip REMINDED me of my mission (both here and there – local and international).

I wasn’t giving enough while I was serving in America. And, I am desperate to serve more with every opportunity God gives me.

My heart is full and expectant – I have so much for me to pour out.

And God’s promise for me will prevail. He only gave me a taste with my visit. Kenya, currently, does not allow for international adoption, but one day one of those children at THAT orphanage (which will remain unnamed) will call me mommy <3.

Jennie Laureen

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

Finding myself in the nothingness.

Jennie's Snippets

I ponder a thought of the day I am still.

Where the world I am caught in ceases to move.

The irregardless lectures my mind yells at me suddenly stops.

And I lie alone lost in my own motionless.

My lids close firmly shut.

My breathing goes deep and lasts long.

And my ears hear nothing but the whisper of wind.

My senses are muted and for a short while, I am nothing to the world.

 

My discussion is not a reflection on the loss of life.

But rather a beautiful non-existence.

The world no longer cries for my attention.

My energy no longer becomes expelled in meaningless squabbles.

I’m routinely lost in a cycle of silence.

My mind is eased and my heart is calm.

 

I will only live in this for a moment.

But I’ll return to this peace again.

When my chaotic world must halt so that I can bear it, again. And again. And again.


Finding peace is something our world troubles to find. But, I need to find those moments where I am at full peace from the chaos I am thrown in. I don’t want the partial peace that people find in a quick walk or a breath of fresh air outside of the office.

This peace is separating myself from every point of contact and I am suddenly still and motionless knowing that in the next few moments the world no longer needs me.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Mindless praying isn’t praying.

Jennie's Snippets, Live

How many of us have just PRAYED so diligently for something to happen whether it be big or small? Yep.

I can even remember times where I prayed over and over again for something that I THOUGHT I wanted. For instance, I prayed that God would just open doors (so generic – right?). I had no idea what door, but I wanted A door, any door to open. At the time, I got laid off so I wanted some form of a future ready for me. I know I prayed that prayer well over 50 times every day for weeks on end.

I look back and I laugh at myself because it got answered – just not in the proportion I wanted it to happen, or the way I wanted it to happen.

Sometimes when we pray we have this image of what our answered prayer will look like in our head. But, who says God is going to make your prayer look like the one in your head?

Because the outcome can be so different than what we pictured, and we end up believing that our prayer really wasn’t answered and that God isn’t really listening.

Other times we feel that God answered too many prayers and we can’t handle the change in our life fast enough.

And yet, in other instances, we feel that God didn’t answer a prayer at all because He answered it in a form unrecognizable to us.

But let me tell you something. God hears every word you speak because he made your voice unique to your soul so that he can specifically tune into your words and listen to your cries.

But many times we pray without the end in mind. We are “meal-minded” (thank you Pastor Steven Furtick). We pray and hope for the “next thing” that doesn’t really fill us up, rather than our calling/purpose.

It’s like we pray for toys. When we were kids, at Christmas, we would ask for the best toy on the market. I really wanted baking kits and stuffed animals. And each year the toys kept piling up. By the time I decided to move out of my parent’s house I had so much JUNK. I was lost in a sea of items I didn’t need. I had to shuffle through everything to decide what I wanted to keep – not much of it BTW.

BUT, what if I asked mom early on in life for things I would NEED when I got older? What if, I asked for a savings account to make moving out easier? What if, I asked for pots and pans at 15, a couch at 16, and cleaning supplies at 17? I wouldn’t have junk – I would have what I NEEDED. I would be thinking of the “end” in mind.

Rather than standing in a flood – I’d be floating down the river because I would be smart enough to ask for a boat.

Good thing our God knows our needs. But when we pray let’s be honest about our prayers and not just “pray to pray,” or to pray for the next best thing we think we need. Let’s pray with purpose.

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

The small town I left.

Jennie's Snippets

I am from this small town called Henderson, NC. And no, this is not Hendersonville, NC…as so many people have confused us with. I left, not because I hated it, but realized that I was not meant to be confined to a town where my potential had a ceiling.

There is only so far you can reach when the town only holds a few major businesses, and most of them are restaurant chains.

My entire life i’ve been pushed to look beyond what my eyes could see. To close my eyes and imagine where I wanted to be. To dream up the world I wanted to see.

I once had a small town mind. I thought, for sure, I was going to be a woman who worked in a small business, attend a small town church till I died, would soon be married (by 21 years old), and be having a baby at 23. Well…ladies and gentlemen…I am not married, and I am turning 23 this May with an empty womb.

But…God called me to leave – to a different life than what I originally thought up, and it took me awhile to grasp that He wanted me to leave. Because, at first, I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay in my little happy bubble so I could buy a house on the same road my parents lived on, raise my kids near them, and be happy. I refused, my entire life, to give into the bigger dreams I saw in my head and hoped God would change his mind and settle with my plan – haha, yeah right.

But, at a very young age, you know when you hear God’s voice calling you to dive deep and follow the command He has for your life. Especially if that command is much larger than you could ever imagine. And, I know when God has pushed me.

Although I lived in this small town for 20 years of my life…I can look back and see where each push would lead me to leave. I was prepared to leave home and go where I am called to go. Have you ever felt that? I know some of you have. Have you been scared to admit  it? I once was.

There are so many people who hate the little town they came from. I once did. But, I don’t believe that any more. Because I cannot forget my roots.

The small town I left built me, grew me, developed me, and pushed me. Without my small town, I would have never had the courage to leave it. It’s always nice to go back and visit because it brings a flood of memories back of where I once was to where I am now.

The idea isn’t to forget my small town, but to remember it. I am not who I am without it.

I am glad God has placed a much larger responsibility on my shoulders than I ever thought possible. My small town made me ready.

Thank you Henderson for all of that.

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Larry Tseng on Unsplash

You can’t forget a mom like mine.

Jennie's Snippets

So, my mom is quite the character. Seriously. You will never meet another woman like her – impossible. The one thing I love about my mom is her knack to make you laugh – even when you don’t want to. 

You see, she has this laugh that she will use to make you laugh. She will tell you “I bet I can make you laugh,” and the first thought that will go through your head is “yeah right.” I know what you’re thinking “she is going to tell me a corny joke which isn’t going to make me laugh.” WRONG! 

This woman will start with a low rolling laugh and as she continues to belt out her tunes, her pitch will climb and it eventually becomes this screech that sounds like a witch waiting to put you in her “boiling trouble.”  She will continue until you laugh, and inevitably, you will! Because it isn’t what you are expecting. Soon, your belly begins to cramp and you forget everything else in the world and replay that laugh for hours on end. 

I love my mom. 

My mom has been through the trenches of hell but has come out with arms of steel and a chest of iron – skin bruised but not burnt. In my mind, she is the image of wonder woman – a strong and courageous character. I look up to her! She has taught me to fight the battles, stay calm in the storm, and remember that today may be hard but tomorrow is a fresh start. She taught me that I can’t control everything in this world – no matter how much I want to – and that I must rely on God for it or the world will swallow me up. 

You see, I also learned this from my Memaw, who I adored with all my heart, and my mom is becoming Memaw every day. BTW – Memaw is my mom’s mom (if you didn’t catch that). It’s crazy to watch my mom become Memaw. I know when I finally have children my kids will have a childhood just as amazing as mine was. 

I recently looked at my mom a few weeks ago and noticed she had let all of her hair grow out – it’s all grey. It’s beautiful! It shocked me at first because she had always dyed her hair blonde! And I literally burst into tears in front of my mom because it was the first time that I realized that my mom is aging. 

As a kid, I never counted her age. She was always in her 30s! She never grew old to me. But now, as an adult, I realize that the years I have with her are numbered. I hate to think of what life will be like without her because she is quite literally my rock. 

I used to suffer from anxiety – often. My anxiety would swallow me up and I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t see tomorrow – I was stuck. It kept me up all night long. The only thing that could comfort me was crawling into bed with my mom. As long as she held me I could go to sleep. I felt safe! There is nothing in the world like it. 

Therefore, I conclude this post in saying that I love you, mom! Every single day. I don’t forget how much I love you. I love having you as my mom. You taught me so much that I hope to teach my kids. And I can’t wait for my kids to meet you!! You are such an inspiration to me and so many others. I am proud to look like you, I am proud to have been given your amazing features, and I am proud to have a character like yours. 

Thank you for loving me all these years. Through every happy and joyful moment and through every pain and disappointment. 

Happy Birthday to a courageous warrior! I love you!! 

Jennie Laureen

 

Photo by Sue Zeng on Unsplash

 

Dear twin sister.

Jennie's Snippets

Dear Sarah,

There are so many things that I want to tell you, but my stubbornness has always gotten in the way. You see…I want to make sure you know that I love living life with you. Not many people get to experience life like we have.

We have been together since we were formed in the womb. Growing up and experiencing the same trials and successes – from heartbreak to love –  from failing to succeeding.

I want to tell you that I never regret a single moment that I have had with you. I KNOW I can be a total jerk, and there are no excuses for that. It’s so easy to fight with you because I have always known you. When have I never known you?

You are an amazing woman. I am so proud to know who you are, and what you have become through every trial you have faced.

When we were growing up you acted like the older, bossy sister (even though I was the oldest). I stood behind you if I was afraid, I stood next to you if you needed my support, and I will always stand in front of you to protect you from any and all blows any one wishes to throw at you.

I do miss doing everything together. I mean….we had EVERY class together, and even had our first job together. I LOVED it – even though I may not have shown it very well. I never had to worry about not knowing someone in class – you were there.

I do attribute a lot of my success to having you as my twin- mainly because we competed so much with each other! You gave me a drive to always try and beat you that I now have a drive to outdo myself in the real world.

Sarah…I don’t want you to ever forget how much I love you. You have no idea how much I care for you and your well-being. Ask Kellie. Have you ever seen me get mad if someone talks trash about you? I am boiling lava hot and Kellie has to calm me down before I go and tell someone off (which is SO out of character for me), but that just shows how much I honestly care for you.

If anyone is going to talk trash about you – it can only come from my mouth!

You are BEAUTIFUL, you are AMAZING, you are SWEET – KIND – FUNNY (because you are so quirky), and you are my one and only twin. I never want to replace you. There is simply no one who can be better than you.

Love Your Only Twin,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

Adoption is my choice.

Jennie's Snippets

Adoption.

The sound of the word brings pure joy to my ears.

To get started, I have an indescribable and horrible fear of childbirth. The story of a woman giving birth makes me cringe. I have never heard 1 good childbirth story. At least I am exposed to the realities of it.

But that also doesn’t mean I don’t want a child of my own (I would prefer a C Section). But I would like to only birth 1.

The rest of my family, as I have always dreamed, would be filled with children from all over the world and also in the United States. All of us under 1 roof!

There are so many children living in the world that do not have a mother or a father, a warm home to sleep in, or a place to feel safe and loved.

I desperately want to give that place to a child who longs for it. A child who may have been left abandoned by their parents, or a child whose mother couldn’t afford to keep them so she had to give them away, or a teenager who’s been in and out of foster care praying for someone to love them forever.

There are so many broken hearts from those who are young – I wish to mend them back together – piece by broken piece!I will pray with them to gain new strength in their new home.

You want to know what made me make my mind up on adoption? I visited the Dominican Republic to teach hundreds of young girls about Jesus, and I instantly felt like a mom to them all. I wanted to stay there, or to take them home with me.

My heart, literally, breaks for every child who doesn’t have the opportunity to feel loved, nurtured, cared for, and cherished.

I want to give that to them. To as many as God will allow me to.

Adoption is my choice. I am still young and I have time to prepare myself for the children who may walk through my door!

I do hope that God allows me the finances to adopt and then take care of them.

I guess we will see what his plans are for me in due time:)

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Nurpalah Dee on Unsplash

 

Dear Daughter. You don’t know me, but…

Jennie's Snippets

Dear Daughter,

You don’t know me, but…I think about you often and i’m not even pregnant. I’m not even married! But, I still think of you. The hope of having you, teaching you, and raising you alongside a strong husband who would be your amazing daddy!

I look at the world around me and for every moment I face I always think – I want to teach you this.

Through all my joys, sufferings, and pains I want to express to you how to live, how to be, how to have faith, how to be bold and brave, but most importantly, how to be you!

But – HOW do I teach you?!? I’m always frightened for you, already, because there is SO much that I pray for you to be, to know, and to understand. I already see myself holding you, cradling you, and protecting you, but I don’t want to shield you from what I want you to know.

So here is a list of the many things I think of now while I am 22 – dreaming of having you:

  • You are a WOMAN to be. No matter what the world tells you – you are a beautiful soul. You do not have to expose your flesh to obtain commentary that minimizes the lion within you.  You will be a little girl for a short time, but you aren’t a little girl forever – remember that, because the world will attempt to label you as just a girl for all the years of your life – but you are a woman (a lion).

 

  • You are INTELLIGENT. Your mind has the capacity to become whatever you wish to become. Your brain is made by God, and given to you from God. He made you and molded you. If you wish to learn about the entire world that God has created – then my beautiful child you do just that. Reach far and wide and past the stars! Read – become. If you want to be a CIO, CEO, President of the United States, a Doctor, a Lawyer, or an astronaut – you be it – become it.

 

  • You are LOVE. The world around you may be cruel. You will see it on every corner. But, if you choose to join the others, where does love go? I’ll tell you the story of a man named Jesus – the model of pure love. You are made to love like this. The choice to love rather than to hate. To treat another human being – regardless of their own personal choices – with dignity and love. You must always know to choose your words wisely my darling – words can open up the soul, but can also pierce the heart.

 

  • You are HONEST. No matter how hard it may seem – I know you are honest. Honesty is the first step to wisdom. Your choice will always be between the truth and a lie. Telling a lie may feel right for a short while, but it affects the inner you as a whole. It taints you and will eventually come back and be exposed. It hurts far worse to tell a lie than it does to tell the truth. Truth perseveres, and the truth gives you a level of credibility that nothing else can.

 

  • You are BOLD. God doesn’t want you to live in fear. Of course there are many things to be afraid of, but you can’t let that control you. Fear is a temporary feeling that prevents you from pursuing what God is asking you to step into. Be brave my darling. You may have to hold your breathe to take the step, but that’s okay. Hold your breath, close your eyes, and leap! Experience what God is calling you into. It is far better to look back and remember than to wish you had the choice again and wonder what it could have been.

 

  • You are STRONG. You are not born to be weak. Your body is an incredible creation made to live on this earth. If you take care of it, give it what it needs, and nourish it then your body will propel you through the years of your life. No condition you suffer will last as long as you believe and care for the wellbeing of your body!

 

  • You are COMPASSIONATE – You will be able to see through the eyes of those that surround you. While you live on earth, you will need to understand that your perspective is not the only perspective that exists. In order to know the pain of someone else you will need to step into their shoes – understand where they are coming from. Everyone grows up differently, some more painfully than others. Before you speak – listen first. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.

 

  • You are a SERVANT – Above everything you do, remember to serve others. We all live on this earth – we should all care for each other. There will be many people who will not do this, but you, my darling, need to know that serving others is a part of who you are because you are love and you are compassion. We strive to be selfless because God calls us to serve. It will open your heart, it will make tears come to your eyes, but it will also show you people. People matter – whether big or small, poor or rich, shy or loud, white or black, blonde or burnette – people matter. Because we are all people and we each deserve to be treated like we are loved far more than we believe we deserve. We out-love!

 

  • You are HARD-WORKING – God has gifted you with a body to use. So, get up and use it. Every day is a new day to reach the goals you have set, to serve like no other, and to love everyone around you! Did you know that Jesus is coming? We have work to do!! We can’t let anyone fall through the cracks. We show people who He is. We also show people who He is by being the best we can be! At work, at school, in clubs – everywhere. We work hard at everything we do! We have the strength and the talent to do so – we will not waste it, and we will not waste our time here on earth!

 

  • You are YOU – I want you to be so many things and more! I aspire to pour into you what I have learned in my years so that you live a life full of healthy and wise choices. But, I can’t make you into something you are not called to be. You see, God has a special calling on your life, and that is a calling you don’t want to miss. This calling is what makes you, YOU! I may want you to grow up and be a million amazing things, but please remind mommy that you must follow what God has called you to do. I can’t take away what God wants you to do, and I don’t want to. No matter what I say or wish for you to do – please promise that you follow my advice, but you listen for the voice of God before mine. His voice will lead you where you are meant to go.

 

  • You are FORGIVEN. No matter the choices you make – I will always love you. There isn’t a thing in this world you could ever do to change my mind. My forgiveness is endless for you! When God asked me to forgive people (70X7) endlessly then I will. There is no exception to you! And I hope you learn to forgive people like that also. It doesn’t mean you allow people to hurt you and trample over you, but you show them grace! People make mistakes. Bitterness from unforgiveness does a cruel thing to the mind and heart of people – don’t bottle that up and allow it to build in you. It will cripple the person you are and are becoming.

I already love you far more than you know. I can’t wait to someday meet the woman you become.

Love,

Your Mommy (someday)

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

 

I’m in love with my high school sweetheart.

Jennie's Snippets

 

Have any of you been in love so deeply that it pains you to see the one you love leave – even for just a short while? Now, there is a major difference between having an obsession and wanting to spend every millisecond of your time with someone that, overall, causes you to no longer enjoy personal time with yourself, friends and family that are crucial to healthy and long-lasting relationships.

What I am talking about is an increment of time large enough that you realize a piece of who you are is somehow intertwined with this other human being and without them in your life is like having a hole dug out of it.

I am speaking of going weeks or months without someone physically present in your life.

I am speaking of someone being gone long enough that your schedule no longer has a line with their name on it, and eventually life becomes normal without them. Yet, you still feel a small part of you that cannot be filled by anything other than them.

I have been dating a young man for over 6 years. We began dating in high school, we experienced college together, and I am now working full-time and obtaining my master’s degree. Life is pretty hectic and we have experienced many of life’s young joys together.

He is currently in school in Atlanta, Georgia while I am here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Just yesterday I dropped him off at a bus station to take him back to school and it was, and has always been, one of the hardest things I’ve done.

I completely understand the logic of “oh, you’ll see him 6 months – the time will fly,” or “it’s not that long – you shouldn’t be upset about this – what’s the big deal?” Because to everyone else time is irrelevant to them. Their time didn’t obtain constant and continual marks of occupied space with this one person on a daily basis. Nothing is missing from their life.

But to me I am missing something that takes a short while to readjust to. This is the 4th time I have had to say goodbye and readjust my schedule to exclude him from all of my adventures. And it never gets easier, but I always and eventually adjust.

We are once again in a long – distance relationship. And, let me tell you both ladies and gentlemen, that it’s the hardest, but most rewarding relationship I have ever been in.

Long-distance can work, but it is all dependent on who is committed, if you ever met in person, your goals, and your background.

For Bruce and I (Bruce is the boyfriend), we’ve dated for 4 years before we went long-distance. He started school almost 2 years ago. We had a deep rooted background, we already had conversations of marriage and what we hope to be when we were older, and we both openly expressed commitment.

It worked for us because we wanted us.

But the relationship, while being long-distance, helped me grow in so many ways, as well as for Bruce. We have been together since high-school (that’s a long time), and hadn’t had time a part from each other. What this distance has taught me was what I really wanted in life. I got to be my own person – growing and changing without him fully in the picture.

I was able to see life through a single person’s lens, and it ultimately helped me to decide who I wanted to be, and who I wanted to be with.

Thankfully, Bruce fit the whole frame, once again, as to who I wanted in a husband. It also helped me to appreciate and love his flaws – we all have them. People need to stop looking for the “perfect person” and look for the one who fits you with healthy traits, habits, and personality quirks that you don’t have! Certainly you should have a few things in common – because we both have to like something to enjoy and talk about – but having differing opinions and likes makes life much more exciting.

Now, back to the topic, the whole point of this blog post was to remind myself that feeling this way about him reminds me how much I love him. But our time a part is also healthy, because I miss him so much more in the end, but I also get to be a human being all on my own.

When you love someone, whether close or far away, you’ll know it. Doubts will ensue because life has no promise, but you’ll know – it’s a feeling that’s hard describe, but you’ll know.

You just know.

Jennie Laureen

 

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

I can no longer think small after I left my own country.

Jennie's Snippets

From September 1st through September 10th I was able to experience an extraordinary adventure that would forever enlighten my perspective and garnish my soul with unforgettable memories. I am Jennie Robinson, 22 years of age, and I am passionate about giving people the opportunity to listen to my perspective and experience on what I believe to be salvation through Jesus Christ.

At a young age many dreamers envision the opportunity to set flight across the sea – daring to cross the borders of a home far from what we call our own. We dreamers hope to capture the essence of this foreign culture, breathe in its unfamiliarity and give into the unknown with an aspiration to experience a reconstruction on our small perceptions.

I set flight for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic September 1st. To define fear settling in my boots would be an understatement to the many firsts that I had the opportunity to experience. I had never flown, I had never been out of the country, I never dealt with foreign currency, and I had never tried teaching salvation to a group of people with a language unfamiliar to mine.

But, most of all, I was able to experience what many individuals feel when coming to the United States (or any country for that matter) as a foreigner – disconnected and fearful, but overall grateful and excited.

Who knew that flying would bring a rush of adrenaline and fear all at once? When you stare up at the sky and see planes hovering thousands of feet above you, you never come to think that the plane is soaring through the sky at 500/600 mph. It always appears as if the plane is floating. At take-off, the plane launches at such incredible speeds that your head is practically thrown back, and all you could do is hold onto your arm rests and pray it doesn’t decide to go back down. But once you are in the air, the awareness of being so far from the land below is sensational. The view is phenomenal and the peace to be so far removed from your worries at home is fully present. You are in the AIR, away from it all, and nothing can trouble you.

 

 

When we descended in the Dominican Republic, the difference between being home and being there was strikingly obvious – especially when comparing the development of the country. Once we landed, it became increasingly evident that we were nowhere near home. There were already warning signs posted right outside our exit to avoid drinking the water (stick to bottled water), and to protect ourselves against the zika virus.

We grabbed our bags, and before exiting, sprayed on sunscreen and 100% deet (which smelled like pickles) to prepare for our trip outside. The heat was comfortable, sticky, but comfortable. Then, we soon realized that most places did not have air conditioning, a commodity found almost everywhere in the U.S, is rarely seen as a normal home accessory. We began to miss it shortly after our arrival.

Because our trip took 8 to 12 hours we soon stopped to eat. To put it honestly, the cuisine was far more scrumptious, appetizing, fulfilling and satisfying than any sort of food that America could produce (based on my experience of American cuisine). Soon, I fell in love with the Yuka Root – similar to a potato, but starchier. Then came the pineapple, which was larger and sweeter than the pineapple produced in the U.S. Later came the Tostones (fried plantains), and then the Avocado (3 times larger than the avocados produced in the U.S). The food was certainly different, but oh so delicious.

 

After a restful first day we began our adventures into the ministry – stopping at schools, stopping at churches, and ministering to hundreds and hundreds of women and children in conferences.

Our ministry was led by Darrell and Bonnie Clowers who are missionaries to the Dominican Republic. They also provided housing while we visited the country. The mission trip was packed full of ministry opportunity, from our 3-day weekend conference at Joseph’s campground, with 13 churches represented, to Monday’s visit to the Clowers’ vision at the 15 acre campground in Mata Mamon in La Victoria where we prayer walked the grounds. Later in the week we visited Rose of Sharon and their district school with Pastor Aundra Sanchas. We then went to girls’ and women’s conferences that evening at Way of Holiness in Azua with Pastor Bolibar.

We also visited several churches including: John 3:16 #5 with Pastor Freddie Checko, John 3:16 #3 with Pastor Socorro and the school there, John 3:16 #2 Divine Fire with Pastor Oridio, and John 3:16 #8 with Pastor Alexander and the school. We later held another girls’ and women’s conferences at Divine Fire #3 with Pastor Mulaun.

One of the pastors characterized our 3-day women’s conference as an “historical event” for the women because it was the first time that these women were able to leave the duties of their home for an extended amount of time to experience spiritual renewal.

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Overall, we were able to speak and minister to over 800 women and children, and a few men and boys, while we visited the country.

With our 3 day conference I was able to personally minister to young girls. The love we received was so incredibly welcoming. Every girl would love you as if you were always family. Their hearts were so open for us that it was heart-breaking to leave them.

The little girl’s stories were also impactful to me. Every story I heard dealt with poverty, loss, and sickness, but gratitude to be alive. Many homes that we were able to see were of small buildings made of concrete, barred windows, cheap tile and/or mud floors with tin roofs.

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Also, every single home and business was barred with black iron. It was frightening – theft rates were high. Protecting your home meant barring your windows and doors. Even the bank’s security system had soldiers sitting outside with rifles in case a robbery were to happen.

One of the greatest lessons I received from visiting the country was gaining empathy and understanding for individuals in the United States who speak Spanish and cannot speak English.

I thoroughly enjoyed ministering and getting to know the women and children, but the language barrier was disheartening and frustrating. I wish I could speak Spanish fluently so that I could have held a normal conversation with the girls, ask where the nearest restroom was, and order food and essentials with ease. Not knowing the language of the country makes you feel more of a foreigner than you thought you would feel. But that didn’t stop us from trying – our translator, Dariza, was excellent and spoke exceptional English.

Fumbling with our pesos was also a great struggle, but many cashiers were kind enough to assist us and help us sort out our funds while trying to make a purchase. These, however, were cashiers in major stores.  If you wanted to go to the market, where average people bargain and sell, then keep your money close. The experience of going to the market was thrilling, but overwhelming.

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As soon as you walked into the market, every buyer would bombard you with “would you like to buy, you are so pretty/handsome and you need this, and I’ll take this much for it.” The market people spoke English, because many foreigners visited the market, but I wouldn’t want to go back. Unlike the U.S where you can enjoy your shopping experience, in the Dominican it is more of a hassle – I would rarely choose to shop if I could.

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Although the country is vastly different from mine I would indeed love to go back again. I left my home to visit a new world and make an impact on their lives, but instead, a new home was created for me and a piece of my heart resides there.

Everyone should travel – at least once!

 

 

PS: There is no such thing as stoplights and stop signs. They are rarely found! If you want to have a heart-attack – then drive down there. It won’t take long.

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