A new chapter…..

As my children have gotten older, I have discovered a love for writing. I have eased my way into having this site….and now I own jennieellis.com. WEIRD. It feels strange to name something after yourself.  I have stayed pretty noncommittal most of my life because I was always scared to put myself out there. Never wanting to be critiqued or judged for the quality of my work, I have strived to stay on the “down-low.” Then today I officially began my blogging/photography site and I am asking myself, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!” And then I catch my breath and remind myself, “You were thinking you have something to offer, you dodo.” See…..I have these struggles that pop up in my head and heart that say, “You are not enough. Your work is not significant.” Today I am fighting the temptation to believe that and am “all in” for sharing my story, my life, my thoughts, and prayers with you on this blog. I pray that it means something to someone. That is all.



Looking for Courage

Courage- I want it more than money, success, or possessions. I see it in others and I beg God to give me an extra dose of it. In decades past, courage was the most honorable quality in anyone….Harriet Tubman. Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks. Abraham Lincoln. Mother Theresa. They were long ago heroes. Headliners. Respected for their bravery, stand for justice, and unbridled courage.

Are these qualities revered today? Honorable at all? Who are our headliners? Kim Kardashian? I might have spelled her name wrong but I refuse to waste my time and google it. Housewives of…..fill in the blank? They are not heroes in any way yet they make the “news” constantly- magazines, tv news shows, radio, etc. Seriously….make money and people talk. A LOT.

I try my hardest to tune out what the world values and sees as significant because it only makes my heart hurt. Like cry my eyes out and struggle with anxiety that I am raising my kids in such a counterfeit world where the heroic are boring and outdated and the explicit and provocative are glamourized and emulated.

So as I peer over the cliff of despair getting ready to jump,  I stop. I breathe a long, yoga type push of air and I ponder. I have a choice- be undone by what I see or pursue hope and not allow myself to give up on anyone, anything, or any place. I choose the latter but I do it grudgingly because being angry and self righteous feels good and powerful. Ouch. How do I see and feel and not judge? I think we find another way and we pursue that with everything we have. So my solution is to look for heroes of courage every day. I live for it. I breathe it, digest it, and crave it.

Hearing people’s stories is the most powerful experience there is. Getting to know them- not their masks and what they present to society, but where they have traveled and how it has made them who they are. Now THAT is powerful.

I think I make it a point to look for courage in others because I find it so lacking in me. When I garden, I ponder, think, and pray….. my hands in the dirt and all alone in my own head. In these moments, I often ask myself:

Do I love comfort?  Yes
Do I crave security? Absolutely
Do I want to protect myself from people hurting me? All the time
Do I want to change? Most definitely

And that is where my prayer begins. God, help me. Show me your ways. Continue to show me courage through other people. And then the slide show of heroes starts to click through my mind.

My heroes….
Nancy, who goes back to Kenya year after year to work on the school she started even if it compromises her finances, her safety, and her comfort.

Veronica, who left a lifestyle that was destructive to pursue a new way of living and standing strong even when money is tight and the bills seem like they will never get paid.

Shannon, who met me one time over coffee, and has responded to every one of my Facebook posts of people needing help and gotten in the car and put her love into action for complete strangers.

Jamie, who started to attend a Wednesday night meeting and allowed herself to be honest about the challenges of mothering young children and shed the image of being the perfect mom.

Nicole, who I have watched face her fears and walk through them like a soldier going into battle.

Lynn, who has learned to grieve the loss of her daughter in a healthy way without falling into the pit of despair.

Kobe, my son, who has worked hard to overcome his life of abandonment and neglect and has made me a proud mom of a United States soldier.

Amber, who has learned to stand on her own and make a life for her and her daughter.

And there I find encouragement and hope and true joy….in the stories of my friends. Those I respect, love and believe in. I won’t be jumping off that cliff of despair because the world cannot win this one. I will spend my life fighting the lie the world sells to us and our children- that money, materialism and explicit and raunchy behavior are the goal. I will continue to fight to recognize the badge of courage in those around me and share it with anyone who will listen.