“It’s impossible to think of tragic injuries in sports and not picture Tony C. The promising Red Sox slugger and Boston-area native hit 32 home runs at the age of 20, and racked up 104 career dingers by age 22.


He was hit by a pitch just below his eye socket in 1967, and he did not play again until 1969. His vision continued to deteriorate over time, and Conigliaro was forced to retire after the 1971 season. He made a brief comeback with the Red Sox in 1975, but he was never able to sustain the success he was once assured as a young superstar. Conigliaro suffered a massive heart attack in 1982 and died in 1990 at just 45 years old.


Tony C’s legacy lives on in Boston and beyond. MLB named an award after him to honor a player each season for overcoming adversity. He finished his career with 166 home runs, but he was likely missed out of hundreds more due to his misfortune.”  – Jack Andrade, Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC.




If we treated emotional injuries the way we treat sports injuries, people would be a lot more understanding when someone goes through severe trauma. You wouldn’t expect a football star that became a quadriplegic to get up and start moving and playing again just because his team needs him, right? In the illustration above, could the baseball industry have said, “Tony, you don’t need that eye to still hit the ball!”, “Why are you letting that ruined eye affect you?”, “What’s wrong with you? Get back in there! You need to keep hitting those homeruns!” or “I know your vision is deteriorating, but don’t let that stop you!” Ummmmm. No.


How about people with diseases and physical illnesses? Could a cancer patient decide by sheer will to be cured just to make life easier for everyone around them? Can we tell our daughter to stop having diabetes just because it’s affecting our grocery bill? Can people with ALS just ignore it and continue with life as usual so it doesn’t inconvenience themselves or those around them?


My family has had many difficult experiences over the past few years. I know we are not alone in this. Life is hard for pretty much everyone. It stinks! As always, with faith in God, love for each other, and sheer willpower we have fought through the grief, pain, and exhaustion to make everything continue to run as usual. There were highs and lows, and we tried not to let the lows dominate our lives.


Unfortunately, when the tank gauge moves to “E”, it can only go for so long before it truly is 100% depleted and there is nothing left to run on.


That is what has happened with us. We have been running on “E” for so long that it has affected every area of our lives.


Am I embarrassed about this? YES! We are in church leadership, we are supposed to have everything figured out, right?


Do I hate the fact that we are leaving our church? YES! We love our church so much and everyone in it. This has been our family for fifteen years! It is truly heart-breaking for us.


Do I know without a doubt that this is the right thing to do for us and for the church? YES! The church needs healthy leaders to move forward in the amazing plan that God has for them. Also, we need to get healthy again ourselves… for our family… And so we can move forward in the plans God has for us as well.


In the past, I always read statistics about pastors leaving the ministry (about 1,500 every month left the ministry last year) and NEVER, I mean NEVER, EVER thought that would be us. We were in this for life. It was my husband’s calling since he was FOURTEEN YEARS OLD, and it was my calling as well (as a child I knew this, just didn’t know how).


So what does this mean for us now? Uncertainty… Doubt… Sadness… Above all else – Hope.   We are placing our hope and faith in God for healing… recovery… and a renewed passion for ministry.


I hope people can see my heart and feel my pain in this. It’s not easy. It feels like a divorce, when your heart is torn in two and you just can’t make sense of it. But you will be ok. Everything will be ok. With God on your side, you are not alone.


I would love for you to read this link on statistics:



It is SO TRUE.


I also want people to see what it says at the bottom on improvements: 73% of churches are treating their pastors better. That is true as well! Thank you so much, New Hope, for being that kind of church! You have been amazing, generous, loving, and truly like family. You have grown so much in these past fifteen years, and so have we! I hope we have blessed you as much as you have blessed us. We love you so much!


Recently God gave me these scriptures for New Hope:


Matthew 10:29-31 — Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.


Luke 12:24-27 — Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouse or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds! 

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

So if you cannot do such a small thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Consider how the lilies grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.


Let me ask you… have you ever tried to count the hairs on your head? Impossible! (Well for most people anyway!) Hey I lost numbers 962, 801, & 35 in the shower today. Seriously though, these scriptures, along with hundreds of others, show how God loves you and will take care of you (and us too).


This church has amazing possibilities on the horizon! Stay faithful, committed, and just be your normal loving selves!


Thank you for your patience in reading this extra long letter.  I love you.


esau_24— Genesis 24:34-41 —


When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.


But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”


Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice.a First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?”


Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”


Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept.


Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”


From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”


Forgiveness. Usually when that subject is tackled we use Joseph as the number one example, right? He had to forgive his brothers for throwing him in the pit and wanting to kill him, then deciding not to do that and instead selling him into slavery… Then he had to forgive Potiphar’s wife for manipulating him and accusing him of rape… He had to forgive Potiphar for putting him into prison… And he had to forgive the cupbearer for forgetting about him when he helped him.


Not for me! Why? Because Joseph is SUPER-HUMAN to me. I wish I could be like Joseph. He is remarkable! I hope my kids can be like Joseph – resisting temptation, patient, caring for others above himself, organized, brilliant, talented, the bastion of forgiveness. Sadly, I have to admit, when it comes to forgiveness, I am more like Esau. Please don’t judge me all of you lovely Joseph-types out there.


Honest moment: I have let unforgiveness consume me, which leads to hatred, just like Esau. It is not pretty. I absolutely LOVE the part of Isaac’s blessing that jumped out at me today… “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”


Wow! I never really notice that before. Esau is such a small blip in the story of Jacob, who becomes Israel, a legacy of God’s people. In the blink of an eye you almost miss him, he is just a footnote in the incredible lifesong of the amazing transformation of a sneaky lying cheating dude who becomes a Prince an entire nation is titled after when an encounter with an angel changes his name.


I read those verses above and I can feel the emotions in Esau as he cannot hold back the sobs while he begs his father for a blessing. In this somewhat calloused generation we may not understand the power those words had to people back then. The blessing of their forefathers was everything!


It was not mere spoken thoughts carelessly cast upon the firstborn like a broken and empty jar tossed uselessly aside on the ground. It was life… seeds planted… a foretelling of the future of his path and the next generation. It truly was their universe.


Jacob shattered Esau’s world, not once, but twice. Of course Jacob runs away because his brother now hates him enough to want to kill him, and Esau is left to pick up the pieces with a mother who also betrayed him. And you thought your family had issues?


Here’s where we forget all about Esau and focus on Jacob and his changed life. Jacob moves to a foreign land and has a huge family, an encounter with God, and decides he would like to come home again. There is still a tiny bit of the old Jacob left, so Israel, afraid that Esau might still hate him and want to kill him, does a little scheming.


He sends wave after wave of all his riches (all the animals – goats, ewes, rams, camels, donkeys, etc, goods, servants), and then children and wives to greet Esau. He wants to show his brother how successful he has become. He also attempts to lavish his brother with gifts.


Now let’s forget about Israel/Jacob and focus on Esau:


Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept. – Genesis 33:3-4


Rough and rugged, Esau – hunter, angry, full of hate, the man who once wanted to kill his own brother for deceiving him – was able to forgive and love him again. This is amazing to me. He accomplished what his father said in the blessing many years before, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”


There are two parts to this verse that are important to point out:

  1. Breaking free from hate and unforgiveness is a DECISION, a choice. You have to make that choice for yourself. No one can do it for you. (Trust me, I’m talking to myself more than anyone else right now).
  2. The yoke around your neck may have been placed there by a hurt someone else inflicted on you. This pain might run so deep, you might feel no one understands. I know that kind of indescribable pain. You might feel hopeless, like you will sink under this weight, never to recover. When will I ever be delivered from this yoke around my neck? I am sure Esau wondered that. It probably consumed him. He was able to break free somehow and shake this off.


Do you believe in miracles? Esau is a testament to the miracle of freedom in forgiveness. I’m still working on mine.

Pastor’s Wives Only

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The Day Before I Became A Pastor’s Wife (little did I know. Hehehe).

I never do a “focused” blog for a select group of people, unless it’s teens (I do that all the time), but here it is:


Let me start with talking about my hubby: He is the youngest of nine children… He has an outgoing (sanguine) personality… He’s always the life of the party… People love him easily and are drawn to his charismatic personality… If I had a dollar for every person who told me how amazing they think he is, I’d be a rich woman!


AND THEN THERE’S ME:   The oldest of three… Painfully introverted at times… Usually a wallflower at parties… I admit people sometimes make me nervous (my insecurities tend to take over)… Some questions often asked at our church, “Jen, who? Who is Jen? Who the heck is the pastor’s wife anyway?!”


I even ask myself, “Who is this pastor’s wife?” She’s the person who doesn’t always fit in at church… the person who wonders if she has anything to contribute… the person who gets criticized so often it’s hard to NOT feel like a failure… the person who rarely feels accepted for who she is and is more often than not being told she needs to change… the person who tries to put her family first (soccer practices & games, track practices & meets, youth events, chaperoning activities, etc.), yet is criticized for not being at every church outing or outreach or event or activity. She is the person who has made too many sacrifices to count, but would do it again in a heartbeat. She is the person who is most often invisible. She is the person who is sometimes very lonely. She is the person who knows her multitude of flaws so well, that she would never judge you on yours.


Why is being the “Pastor’s Wife” such a tough experience for so many? If you are one of the fortunate few who LOVE this position, I am super-happy for you and want to know your secret! Honestly, though, I think contentment comes with age and experience. When you stop letting people tell you who you are supposed to be and JUST BE YOURSELF, then you can finally let go of your own expectations and insecurities and find joy in the ministry.


In my almost twenty-five years of ministry I have experienced being over-involved to the point of extreme burnout, being under-involved to the point of depression over not having a purpose, to finding a balance and being exactly where God wants me.


At times I’ve been treated as something LESS than a real person: There were times when people have tried to use & manipulate me, thinking that’s the way to get their voice heard through me to my husband… Some have been outright mean and judgmental of everything from my parenting – ministry style – clothing choices – house appearance – how my yard looks – to what I watch or don’t watch on tv… People have criticized my husband, kids, marriage, hair, weight, and even makeup. People have made things up about me. People can sometimes be rude to me. People can also be cruel and mean at times. Those people think I can handle it because I’m a pastor’s wife. If only they knew!


Here’s something NOT related to just pastor’s wives: since I have never been blessed with a “big” personality, I have always tried to get attention/affirmation in other ways (this was DEFINITELY a problem when I was a teenager). When I was younger it was in all the wrong ways of acting out. When I got older it was in a different kind of acting out.


Then, as a “grown up” I became obsessed at being the best at something, even if it was in only one thing! I worked myself to death at various jobs; in Bible college I fought hard (with my limited intellect) to achieve grades that put me at the top of my class; at home I read books to help me to be a better parent; even my ministry opportunities were approached with zeal and the psycho attitude of an over-achiever!


Everything I did was done whole-heartedly, with every ounce of strength and will-power (also very limited, haha) inside of me.   I didn’t realize it until just recently, but my extreme drive was purely selfish and not done for the glory of God at all. I was trying to make up for what I thought were character flaws and deficiencies by excelling in any way I could.


Recently I experienced a serious health scare. If the blockage in my heart wouldn’t have been caught and fixed, it’s possible that the next time I went to sleep I would not have woken up.  My particular area of blockage has a 1-4% survival rate.


A lady from church brought me some food a couple of weeks after I got home from the hospital. She looked me right in the eye and said, “I want you to know that I am so glad you are still with us. We need you. We love you.”  I broke down in tears when she told me this.


I still cry as I recount those words. Someone loves me? I mean, this is me, the unlovable one. I still can’t believe it! I guess in my head I thought of course the world would feel like it came to an end for people if something happened to my husband, but no one would really care about me. It meant so much that she said that (even if it was only one person. Hehehe).


So after this long blog about being a pastor’s wife I can finally get to my point, to someone that really needs to hear this: YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE NEEDED. YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE. YOU ARE AN INCREDIBLE PERSON.



     Cain killed Abel because of it… Joseph’s brothers sold him into a life of slavery because of it… Sarah sent Hagar and her son to die in the wilderness because of it… Rachel and Leah talked their husband into an immoral practice of surrogate mothers because of it… These are just a few examples of jealousy.

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? – Proverbs 27:4

     Envy starts with desire – wanting something you can’t have. It might start with self-comparison or continue to thrive with competitiveness, but always ends with hatred, insecurity, and destruction.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. – James 3:14-16

     Jealousy is ugly! It could be wishing for a better job, a better body, more recognition, more appreciation, a higher status, popularity, or even love. Someone has that “thing”, you think they don’t deserve and you do, one feeling leads to another… and before you know it you have started down the dark path of jealousy.

For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. – Proverbs 6:34

     It feels like a war is raging in your heart and mind. You know it’s wrong, but feel powerless against it. Thoughts like “Why do they get all the attention?” or “Why does the world seem to constantly revolve around them?” or “Why does it seem so easy for them?” take over your mind. Sometimes it could be thinking that someone is better looking, happier, wealthier, or more gifted.

     Soon everything that person does, no matter how small, innocent, or insignificant is like a punch in the gut to you. Your mind twists everything into an affront. You can’t stand to be around them and eventually end up hating them. The ironic thing is: the majority of the time the person has no idea! You are only hurting yourself!

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. – Proverbs 14:30

     You have to figure out a way to let it go. If you can learn to be happy with yourself and the way God created you, that’s a step in the right direction. God has given us all gifts and things that make us unique. YOU can touch a life that no one else is able to reach.

     Always wishing you were like someone else or to have what someone else has will never bring joy to your life, only pain.

     I’ve experienced these things too in the past… Jealousy, insecurity, anger, and even hatred. These are horrible feelings! My reaction was to crawl back into my shell and pretend the world doesn’t exist. Guess what? That doesn’t work, because the world is still there every time you wake up in the morning. My other reaction was to put up walls to protect myself from relationships. Guess what? That makes things worse AND I just end up feeling alone and depressed.

     Somehow, like the verse in Proverbs, you have to replace that envy with peace. Do you want life? Or will you let yourself rot?

     Peace – what a perfect way to combat covetousness. It can lead to being content with who you are and what you have, no matter what!

     When you think about it, life never really turns out the way you expected it would, but is that a reason to walk around in a perpetual state of unhappiness? I love that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Truthfully, though, I have a very pessimistic personality and have a really difficult time making lemonade out of lemons! My mantra would sound more like this saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

     Yup, I would rather run away when things get too hard. You can’t do that though, none of us can. As much as I would love to go live on a deserted island sometimes, it’s not reality. Reality is facing your struggles and growing from them.


Prayer and love, even for those you see as your “enemies” is the answer. Also, a heart full of unending gratefulness will change you. It absolutely won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You owe it to yourself. It will bring the healing that you desperately need right now.

The “One”

And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” — Mark 10:8-9 (NIV)

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Uncle Steve & Aunt Cindy

How do you know when a person is the “One?” one of my kids recently asked me. I told them some things to look for, and that it would also come as a feeling deep in your soul.


But… feelings can be tricky and deceptive, so maybe I should’ve started with this advice instead. (I’m a list person, so bear with me.) Also, some things may be a little different for guys and girls.


Seven things to look for BEFORE you get too caught up with your feeeeeeelings:


  1. Both: Shares the same faith as you! Some people may think this is insignificant, but in reality this cannot be emphasized enough. Relationships are hard! When you get married, two self-centered people are learning to live together. It seems romantic at first, but that fades when disagreements come to the surface. You don’t need to add disunity in your faith as well! You need to be on the same page where this is concerned! Present and future problems arise when this is not the case.


  1. Both:             This relationship will MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON, and that goes for him/her as well. YOU WILL BE GOOD FOR EACH OTHER, pushing each other towards better things. If you find yourself unhappy with who you are most of the time, lying about things, spiraling downward, or changing for the worse, that person is NOT the one for you.

Girls:              He makes you feel amazing… beautiful… smart… treasured… the list goes on. If he makes you feel terrible much of the time, he’s NOT the one for you.

Guys:              She accepts you for who you are, with all of your idiosyncrasies. If she immediately wants to change you, she’s NOT the one for you.


  1. Both:             We are selfish people by nature, but “love” will cause us to constantly put the other person first. If this person steadfastly displays selfish behavior early on, they are NOT the one for you.

Girls:              Guys sometimes take a little longer to see the bigger picture; it’s a huge windfall if he is already putting you first.

Guys:              Most girls are naturally nurturing. She might already be putting you first. Watch out for unhealthy behavior though, such as her losing her identity or becoming too controlling.


  1. Both:             Faithfulness, loyalty, and dependableness are important qualities. If you feel like you can’t trust or rely on this person, they are NOT the one for you.


  1. Both: You are treated as their equal. If they look down on you, make you feel small and not up to their level, they are NOT the one for you.


  1. Both:             You can BE YOURSELF around this person. You don’t have to put on a show for them or try to be someone you are not.


  1. Both:             Unless you live in a crazy home, your families will fall in love with this person too. Remember, your family loves you and knows you like no one else on the planet, so if they see warning signs PLEASE LISTEN.



Remember this:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? — Jeremiah 17:9


How can we trust our hearts when it comes to dating? We can’t! That’s why it’s good to look for these seven things.


Singles, maybe in addition to this, you should make up your own list? Of course, no one is perfect, but you should at least have a starting point before letting your emotions get the best of you. Then maybe you won’t get hurt as often or end up in the wrong relationship.


The best advice is: “Why not be careful and choosy when making one of THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS OF YOUR LIFE?” It is more important than picking a college (you may end up hating your school)… It is more important than choosing your career (the average person will change careers 5-7 times throughout their life)… It is more important than just about any decision you make on a daily basis.


God loves you and truly wants the best for you, just like I want the best for my children. Don’t ever forget that!

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Grampa (in heaven now) & Grammy Grover

Dear Alex,

2015080495174831 (1)As I spent the day washing and preparing all of your new sheets and other things for your dorm room I could not stop thinking of how familiar this all felt. I gently folded every towel & washcloth, comforter & mattress cover, sheet & pillowcase, while my heart clenched tightly as I thought of you in your dorm making your bed and finding the perfect spot to store the towels. When I packed them all carefully back in the large box I thought of the last time I washed and dried and folded and carefully stored your things… in preparation for your arrival into our world a little more than 18 ½ years ago… that’s when the tears really began to fall.

Al&Me (15)I remember it like it was yesterday! We were so excited to meet you. From the ultrasound, we already knew we were having a girl, so we were already calling you by name. I liked to say that we picked out your name from the Bible, the great city, Alexandria and the Jordan River. Your dad loved to tease me that your middle name was after his favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan (that’s really what he always told everyone, but I know the truth).

AlBaby (4)

Anyway… a couple of months before you arrived I had your room all set up. Your crib and changing table were ready along with other things. I bought special baby detergent to lovingly wash all of your baby clothes and washcloths and hooded towels and soft little blankets. Then they were folded and put away or hung up in the closet. Of course I arranged, then rearranged to try to make things ordered the best way possible. You were our first-born and we wanted everything perfect! I read lots of books on what to expect and tried to soak it all in and learn as much as I could (of course that all went out the window the moment you were placed in my arms, the “manuals” didn’t help with a real, live child).


Now, here I am again, with an 18 year-old getting ready for college in what seems like a blink of an eye. Looking at your dorm stuff, my mind takes me back to your nursery. I imagine you studying in your room at night & I flash back to the days we read books to you by your bed before goodnight hugs & kisses. I picture you alone, walking the campus & meeting new people & I remember how shy you were, always hiding behind me when someone said hi to you. I think of you on the school soccer field & I remember when I took you to your first practices up the street, while waiting at the picnic tables with your brother & sister (your brother would hit the bushes with a stick for 1 ½ hours while your sister would hold my hands, learning how to walk around the pavilion with her wobbly baby steps).

DSC_0856With all of this nostalgia out of my system, I want you to know that I am very proud of the young woman you have become. You have always been such an amazing gift from God to me, I appreciate you so much… everything you do and the person you are. You always help out around the house and care so much about all of us in the family. Your tender heart and concern for your loved ones is so special. It is what draws people to you. You are intelligent, kind, hard working, and truly beautiful.

There are things I want to tell you, advice I wish people had told me when I was a teen or before I went to college. You are old enough and smart enough to handle it, so here it goes:

  • Don’t get discouraged when you feel like life is unfair and people have things handed to them that you struggle so hard for. Of course, LIFE IS UNFAIR, get used to it! There will always be those people that SEEM to coast by with ease and get everything handed to them on a silver platter, but don’t focus on this because it doesn’t really matter overall. You don’t know what is going on behind their smiling faces anyway. You work hard for everything you have and that’s OK!!! You will appreciate it more and it will teach you the right work ethic to survive in this world.


  • Helping others become their best self really helps you become your best self. Whether it’s a roommate or a campus acquaintance or a teammate or a friend, push that other person to greatness! I know this is in direct contradiction to our self-obsessed society, but it is more important than you think. Your legacy starts now! Consistently building people up makes you a better person. Don’t let anyone speak ill of or tear others down around you either, you can always turn it around into something positive! Be that one that always finds something amazing to point out about someone else and make a difference in a life.


  • Continue to work hard, your strengths will only get stronger and your weaknesses will improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (or prayer, or to call home hehe).


  • Learn from others mistakes as well as your own. You don’t want to lose something you can’t get back or live with a regret that you can never change. Use wisdom and caution and think things through. “Adult” mistakes hold a lot more consequences (and sometimes danger) than childish mistakes. Yikes! Remember that!


  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. I know you can be a perfectionist sometimes. Everything is not going to be perfect. Sometimes you will make mistakes. Sometimes you will need to ask for help. (See #’s 3 & 4 J) Please don’t be afraid to talk to a close friend or to your parents, who love you more than anyone on this planet. We will always be here for you NO MATTER WHAT!


  • Enjoy these last few carefree years with your family and friends before you start a family of your own. Spend time with us too!


  • Last but not least, and probably most important, always make time for God. Consult Him with your decision-making. Even if you are extremely tired or super busy, fit talking to Him and reading His words into your schedule. He loves you and knows you like no one else.

DSC_0475SCAN0100Me and Alex

Happy Endings…


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