Friday, December 24, 2010

An early, but long-waited & eagerly anticipated Christmas present

Well, the point of Advent season is to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus - both celebrating when He was born in the stable, when He came to reside in our hearts, and when He will come again. The theme of advent is patience.

Ah, patience. A hard gift to appreciate. I've spent much of this season wondering if what I hoped & longed for would come to fruition. While I hoped for it, I prepared myself for the fact that it may not come...but, still, I hoped.

Well, on the morning of Thursday, December 23rd, Dan woke me up (by poking me in the face) and requesting that I come downstairs. I was far more interested in remaining in my bed where it was warm. He said, "It's warmer downstairs! Come on! I've got an ornament for Mom & Dad and I want to show you!" Well, I got up and went straight my pajamas, with my bedhead, and glasses.

I had this fleeting thought that maybe Dan was going to propose - but, when you've thought it could possibly happen for awhile, you learn to dismiss those thoughts. :) So, I came downstairs, tyring to focus (I really need new glasses!). He was waiting by the tree and started pointing out some ornaments and explaining their history. As I'm looking at some of the ornaments, I notice one of two penguins wrapped in a red scarf. The scarf had writing on it. The writing said, "Will You Marry Me?" I looked at Dan and said, "Really?" (I wasn't really sure if that ornament was for me...or was somebody else' one of his brothers had proposed that way. I don't know. I just wasn't sure if it was for me. When you've waited 31 years, you want to be sure that it's really for you before you go saying, "Yes! Yes!")

He said, "Yes. Will you?"

I said smiling and laughing, "Yeah! Yes! I'll marry you!"

So, there you have it. I'm engaged.

Also FYI...when you've spent your life being single and you're me (which means it's okay to think about silly things like reception decorations but not actual details like dates), it's a bit daunting to be asked WHEN the wedding will be when you've been engaged for less than a day. :) So, keep your ears open - we'll let you know!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh, Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit (disgrace) her.

While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him 'Jesus' for he will save his people from their sins."

All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel which means: God-with-us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home. So she gave birth to a son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph game him the name of Jesus.

I love Joseph. Mary gets so much attention - and rightfully so. Hers was an extraordinary leap of faith to trust that God could cause her to bear His son - to believe that it would happen to her just as the angel said - to believe and submit, even though "the world" would condemn her for being 'just another unwed teenage mother.' (Oh, maybe that was still a scandal, back in the day.)

I love Joseph, though, because he is one of those quiet, faithful leaders. Matthew describes him as upright (or righteous); he was righteous because he wanted to "do right by others and by God" - not because he kept the letter of the law perfectly. (although he may well have) I love that, though betrothed, he is referred as her husband; and she as his wife. I love that he deeply loved & respected Mary, evidenced by his desire to "in no way discredit/disgrace her."

I love that he pondered over this - probably prayerfully. While in prayer, God spoke to him. I love that God had big plans for Joseph in the birth & raising of Jesus. It was Joseph who was charged with naming Jesus. It was Joseph who gave Jesus his heritage as a "son of David," part of tribe of Judah, a root of Jesse's tree.

I love that Joseph did just as he was asked. We never hear a word uttered by Joseph, but we can learn much from his example. He wanted to do right by Mary and by God - without regard for himself. When given a message from God, he believed it and faithfully acted. Oh Joseph, you were the perfect husband for Mary and father for Jesus.

Commentary by Joan Chittister, OSB:

Mary is for us a sign of faith; Joseph, a sign of compassion.
Mary trusts God in every aspect of her life.
Joseph trusts the mercy and plan of God, as well.
Mary turns her life over to the will of God.
Joseph trusts that goodwill underlies human nature.
Her faith and his compassion are measures of our own.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rite of Welcome

I wanted to recount a little bit of the Rite of Welcome service. It was so powerful and beautiful - beyond anything that I had expected. What exactly I had expected, I'm not sure. But I didn't think it would be so powerful or captivating. Certainly, Sister had kept back most of the details because she wanted us to be caught up in the moment. As a few of us "planners" were lamenting this prior to the service, (because we need to plan to be spontaneous) she was right. We needed to NOT know all the details, so that its beauty could captivate our senses.

As she described it, we would each state what we ask of God and His church; then we would all grasp the cross; then be signed with the cross. Bada-bing, bada-boom, done. So, we thought the hardest part would be coming up with something to say. (Which wasn't that hard, it just required really thinking about, "why am I here?") I said something to the effect of, "to share in the fullness of their faith and for a place to serve, to give, and to love." Of course, I could've said much, much more - but we were limited to a sentence. (see how I joined two sentences with that lovely conjunction "and"? Yep, always getting around those rules, I am!)

As a group (there were 10 of us), we grasped the cross in response to the question, "Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Christ?" Then, we moved onto the signing. I thought it would just be a one-time sign and we'd be done. But noooo...

Our sponsor (someone who is already a member and will serve as a mentor for us through the next phase) signed us with the cross. The priest would read what I am about to write, Mary would sign me, and then the choir would sing, "Christ will be your strength, learn to know and follow Him."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your forehead. It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of His love. Learn to know and follow Him."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your eyes, that you may see the glory of God." (at this point, as Mary signed my eyes - I felt such heat and was reminded of something that a friend prayed about my eyes once.)
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your lips, that you may respond to the word of God."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your heart, that Christ may dwell there by faith." (which reminded me of the time I was in 1st grade and wanted to see Jesus, so I closed my eyes and 'looked into my heart' and saw Him calming the waves.)
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your hands that Christ may be known by the work you do."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your feet that you may walk in the way of Christ."

After each sign, I would look out at Mary - and the joy that radiated was incredible. The joy that radiated from me was incredible. I really have no way to completely capture what I felt - but I have never felt so welcomed, so loved, so connected, so much a part of something so much bigger than myself. As I took part in this, I really felt connected to all who have gone before me, throughout the centuries, those now, and those to come.

I truly feel part of the Body of Christ. I know that, yes, before this I was a Christian and I was a part of it...but, trust me, I now KNOW it deep within...that I am connected to the communion of saints, which has strengthened my bond with the head, which is Christ.

To close, an appropriate Psalm for today:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come into His presence with singing!
Know that Lord, He is God; it is He that has made us - not for ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name.For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations!

(Psalm 100)

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Tomorrow I will participate in the 'Rite of Welcome' at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. This is the public step toward becoming a member of the Catholic Church.

Have those two sentences tripped anyone up yet? Well, I'm not surprised if it has. If you know me, you know that this was not a rash decision, but one that has been given much, much thought and prayer over the last (almost) two years. (I was going to say it wasn't an emotional decision, but if you know me, you know that I feel things deeply - so, there have been plenty of emotions playing a role.) The reason why you haven't heard much about it is because, well, for whatever reason, I am very aware of people's reactions, and prefer harmony over discord. Therefore, while I feel (and think) very deeply that this the right path for me, if I'm not really sure how you'll respond, well, I just tend to avoid it. Right or wrong, that's how I roll. :) (totally stole that from Paige Van Voorst)

I often say that I never would have imagined that my path would have involved joining the Catholic Church. I didn't. I think that's one of the reasons for my above actions; it's a shock to me, why wouldn't it be to others? But, while I have come to this humility that truly says, "Lord, I am the clay. You are the Potter;" and in that submission have been experiencing a fullness of my faith never found before...not everyone has responded the same way I have (hence my peace-maker nature of avoidance).

However, I think fullness is the appropriate word for what I have received thus far. Fullness of faith, joy, unity, place, and inheritance. I cannot explain it, but I have received this through my journey within the Catholic faith. The place of where and even the manner of how I worship has changed, but the God of/over All has not. It is my prayer that we all will be able to express in joy, in love, in humility, in grace and mercy what He has done and is doing for us. God is greater and moves in many suprising ways. As he continues to teach me humility and submission, I pray that we'd all be ready to see Him work wonders in our day.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY!"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How do you measure 8 years in a life?

On January 6, 2003, I started my first day of work as a advisor with the TRIO Educational Talent Search program at Iowa State University. I thought I *might* be there a year, year-and-a-half before getting married and moving away. (No, I wasn't dating anyone at the time; why do you ask?) On January 5, 2011, I will have my last day as 'Advisor' before starting a new journey the next day...becoming a full-time grad student, and teaching assistant for Ag 450.

I had no idea how hard this would be. In mid-August, I realized that I need to finish my degree, so that I can move forward. As I've progressed through my classes this semester, I have begun to think that (perhaps) I might like teaching at the university level. (I know, right?) SO, I asked about any assistantships in our department. Lo & behold, there was ONE coming available for the spring!

The challenge is that it's Ag EdS 450, the senior capstone course for Ag Studies majors where they learn how to manage a farm by managing a farm. To quote my brother, "How are you going to teach THAT class?" Trust me, Brother, already had that concern...and yes, that concern does still linger. The second challenge was figuring out if I can live on an assistantship "salary." I can make it work, BUT I'm very open to part-time work! 5-10 hours, please - hit me up. The biggest challenge was approaching my boss. How do you approach something like this? I was at a complete loss. The only solution for me was to pray. And pray. Pray some more. Recruit my "circle" to pray, and pray, and pray some more. It went well...beyond anything that I could have imagined or hoped for. I received the blessing of my director.

What caught me off guard, though, was the emotion behind the decision. Everything above was about me, my decision, my life. It makes sense to make a move like this. Right? The night before I met with my director, while talking with Dan about this, I just started crying. It wasn't about me, anymore - but my students. How can I walk away from them?

It was then that it began to settle in just how blessed I have been to have this job - this privilege - to work with my students. My goal in life, the reason I chose my major, the reason I took this job, was to "positively influence others to realize their potential in life." I get frustrated when I feel like I'm not doing this; when I feel like "my kids" just aren't getting it. Then, God gives me these moments where I can see just how blessed I've been to be doing that what I've always desired to do.

So, this brings me to the title line. How do I measure the past eight years of my life? (thinking of this brings tears to my eyes) My students. Their families. The brothers and sisters. I have been blessed. I don't know how to say good-bye to you all...only to count you all as blessings. I can only hope that my next job will be such a blessing; filled by people who bless me.

I mean really, in what other job do you have students devote entire facebook posts to you - that are GOOD?! Or say "RIP J-Rohr" and cause school controversy? Or cause other teachers to say, "She's just leaving. Is it that big of a deal?" Or say, "if only the next advisor is just 1/3 as cool..." You guys have made this journey worthwhile. It's all been for you. :) Much love & many blessings!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leaps of faith

God invites us to a leap of faith because it is the closest we humans get to experience the freedom of flying.

That's a Jessica Rohrig original folks.

Stay tuned for a life update! (Coming tomorrow - or some time thereafter!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spare Change

On June 30, 2010, my grandpa, Joe Kremer, passed away. He fought a long fight, battling kidney failure. While I've meant to blog about him, his life and his passing - I hope I'll get to that. This post is different.

Yesterday, my cousin Valerie and I went to Grandma's to help her sort through Grandpa's clothes. Before I got there, she mentioned to Val that she wasn't ready to get rid of things, quite yet. So, we just helped her look through the clothes in Grandpa's closet and decide what to give/let the grandsons/son/sons-in-law have...and organize things.

My Grandma is a perpetual saver. As Val put it, yesterday we may have found someone who had just as hard of a time throwing away things as Grandma: Grandpa. In his top drawer, we found artifacts from the last century. Alongside about 50 white handkerchief were prayers for meetings/meals he'd been asked to bless; funeral programs from those near to him, including my great-great grandfather (and "namesake") Jesse O'Neel; old pictures; a get-well note that my aunt Barbara wrote him, and much more. We found dozens of old campaign buttons from the last 40 years: Reagan, Dole, Grassley for CONGRESS, Brandstad for Lieutenant Governor - and Grandpa's button for the Iowa Presidential Caucus as a Reagan supporter. It was incredible! Did you know that candidates used to promote their campaign with plastic combs and nail files? I didn't! I'm really thinking that these items need to be donated to the State Historical Society...and also thinking about putting all of Grandpa's political memorabilia and notes that he's written together. "A Snapshot of a Public Servant"...

Cleaning out Grandpa's drawers was a history lesson. He saved a silver dollar from 1921 - his year of birth. He collected many old coins. Did you know Dwight Eisenhower was on the silver dollar? Ben Franklin used to be on the fifty-cent piece! Speaking of the fifty-cent piece, Grandpa saved a fifty-cent piece with Kennedy dated 1964 - the first year it was issued! These coins may not be worth anything (more than their value) monetarily. But they were significant to Grandpa. You kept things like that because it was significant to your life.

Grandpa's drawer and dresser-top had a lot of spare change (not historically significant coins). We collected it and put in Grandpa's spare change container. After sorting through items, organizing, and cleaning, I found Grandpa's wallet on the dresser. I saw it, and said to Grandma, "Do you want me to put this in the drawer?" She said, "Nooo. I like it there. I like to think..." I said, "That he might be coming home to get it?" She smiled, "Yeah."

Today, I was cleaning some spare change off of my desk. Doing this made me think about Grandpa's dresser. How many years has it been since Grandpa walked in and emptied his pockets? Probably two-three? Yet, there was the change.

Then, I realized that, unwittingly, by clearing off the dresser, we were reminding Grandma that he's not coming home. Maybe what we're doing is helping her grasp "the present reality"...and I can see the good in that, but I also know we can't force it. She loved Grandpa with such depth, such faithfulness, such loving constancy. To understand the depth of love, you need to know her. I have been blessed just by knowing them and witnessing her devotion. The day Grandpa died, my heart broke watching her say good-bye to the only man she ever loved. May God bless her and hold her close.

Friday, June 18, 2010

THAT guy

For all you Wayne's World fans out there, I realized today that I am Chris Farley's character. In reference to him, Wayne says, "You know, for a security guard, that guy had an awful lot of information." Well, that's me.

It's Orientation season at Iowa State. This month, 5000 new freshmen and their parents descend upon ISU, two days at a time, to register for classes, get their ISU card and their first bout of "Holy crap, this campus is huge and I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going" feeling in the pit of their stomach. Truthfully, I love this time. BECAUSE I LOVE HELPING PEOPLE! I really enjoy helping a family figure out the best route to Beardshear, or the best place for coffee on campus, or how to figure out Cy-Ride (since it took me about 10 years of living in Ames to be brave enough to attempt it), etc.

Currently, I'm a bus rider on the Orange route. This route stops right in front of Maple Hall, where the Orientation-eers stay. Every morning, about 10-20 get on the bus going to places like the Memorial Union. Now, if I was a Cyclone Aide, I would NEVER recommend that these folks take the Orange route to get to the MU. Seriously? From Maple, you'll get there in 5 minutes on foot. Maybe 7 if you walk like a middle schooler. On the Orange Route, it's at least a 10 minute ride...granted, that ride is air-conditioned, and in this humidity when you're a freshman girl dressed to impress the freshman boy with your freshly straightened hair...well, the ride might be worth it. I DIGRESS....

This morning, I decided to chat up my seat-mate. She'll be majoring in Biology and living on 8th floor Larch. I proceed to tell her about my experience living in Willow and how much I LOVED hanging lofts because of all the space they free up; how creative people get in their elaborate designs to create space & extra room; how all the athletes lived on 8th floor Larch, back in the day. (Back in the day is actually an applicable phrase for this girl, now. 12 years ago when I was in her shoes, she was 6! ayiyiyi.) I refrained from telling her it was the big party floor...she doesn't need to know that; she'll figure it out. And hey, the party could've moved to first floor by now! (Which was the nerdy quiet floor 12 years ago.)

AND THEN I remember that 8th floor Willow couldn't have the ultra-cool hanging lofts BUT they did have ultra-high ceilings, so you could have ultra-high lofts - still freeing up space. So, I told her she'd need to check on that.

All of this information was spewed out in the ride from Maple to Kildee...which lasts no more than 5 minutes. Arriving at Kildee (and knowing she was registering for classes today; yes, we covered that, too), I asked her where she was going, since she didn't seem like she was moving. [I'm telling you, she was soaking up the information I was providing!] :) She replied Bessey - which is right across the street from Kildee. Informing her of this, she quickly got up, grabbed her mom and we parted ways.

I felt so helpful! Then, as I thought more, I remembered this guy:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I've had a very productive day, so far - and I still have two hours left!

Here's what I decided:
I need to finish this degree.
As SOON as I can.
So, next year, I am going to take two classes each semester and be done.
I think I'm going to start doing my research this summer, so that I can really be done. It'll be work, but, I'll have some time freed up.
To do this, I need to get my committee lined up. Two appointments on Thursday and one on Monday. We are locked & loaded. Hopefully, they all agree; 1 is in; 1 has given verbal agreement to Dan; 1 has no idea.... :)

I'm one of those people who really has to WANT something, in order to do it. Once I feel it; once I KNOW; look out, I'm ready to get the truck in gear & get moving.
I've known from the beginning that I need a committee. I've known since last year what I'd like to research. But, I haven't "felt" the need to get it done. I do now.
I'm ready. It's time. Let's do this.

I also want to start running again. Anyone want to join me? I'm a take it slow & ease into it type. That means, I follow a regimen where we start off running ten minutes - one minute on, one minute off - and work our way up to 17 minutes straight; one minute walk break; 17 on. It's the perfect training for a 5k. I think I might work up beyond that, though.

San Diego, Post 1

I spent last week at a SAEOPP Priority 3 training in San Diego.

This post has nothing to do with the "me" time at San Diego; that will follow. This is just a post about what I learned. YES, I DO learn while on my "exotic" work trainings! :)

SAEOPP trainings do not disappoint! This training was very beneficial and relevant. This training focused on proven retention strategies and assessments. I really appreciated all of the theories supporting student retention and the different strategies that implement these theories. Currently, I am taking a graduate level Educational Psychology course. This training fit in seamlessly with what I have been learning, and provided many ideas. Programmatically, it was a very timely training since we will be writing our grant this summer and access to proven strategies targeting retention & preparation will help us meet the changes.

I have used the SWOT (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) Analysis a couple of times before. We used this a lot in our training. I like its simplicity & effectiveness. I think I will start using this with my students as a needs assessment & a resource to develop goals. It’s such a helpful way to think about our resources/options when making a decision.

One of the best parts of this training was our group project. We were assigned to a mentor-group and we had to develop a model focusing on student recruitment/retention or assessment. Our group focused on the necessity of early recruitment to circumvent the drop-out process. We located relevant data, created a model based on our research & different theories we’d learned and presented it. It was such a great project to really implement research into practice. I personally really liked it because I can get intimidated by research or developing models – but, this was ‘easy’! I also love collaborating with other people to come up with something creative and relevant.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Importance of Family

I've been thinking about this post for about ten days now.

Two Wednesdays ago (I think), my dad posted something similar to this as his facebook status: If you've had a daughter that has touched your life, post this as your status. Daughters are an amazing gift. He then added: 'Thank you, Jessica, for the sunshine that you bring to my life and the lives of so many others!'

I needed to hear that on that particular day. My dad has a way of saying the right thing when I need to be reminded of truth. When I was a college freshman and trying to figure out my path in the world (and not always selecting the best path), he wrote me a letter. God has used that letter in so many ways. In that letter, he told me about the joy that I had brought to him, the concerns he had for me as his daughter (knowing the ways of the world). It wasn't preachy; it was just honest. I read that letter over & over again when discouraged - in college and after - or when I just needed a reminder that life is worth the wait. One thing he wrote was, "Jessica, you have an enthusiasm for life - and that enthusiasm is catching - so don't lose it!"

I love my dad. I have been blessed to have him as my father. Knowing my dad has helped me to know my heavenly Father. Often times, when I am talking with my dad about some situation where I need advice or to vent, I'll find myself saying, "God, it just doesn't make sense!" (then I correct myself because I'm talking to my dad, not God) It's easier to understand God's caring, providential heart for me because of my dad's generous, wise love for me. (My dad has not given me everything I have wanted - but I believe his example has taught me that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence to find aid when we need it.)

To say all this, shouldn't in any way take away from my love for my mother. I am equally indebted to her for the lessons she has taught me. Our relationship is different, though. She's the one that you want to talk to after you wreck your car - because as soon as you hear her voice, you know that you can just let it go. It's okay to cry. You don't want to talk to Dad right after something like that (you might get in trouble), but your mom - she'll give you a hug. :)

I believe that God has a design in families to point us to Him. I think of how I equally love and yet differently respond to both of my parents. I believe that we respond to our fathers as we respond to God the Father (fear & trembling, deep respect); and we respond to our mothers as we might respond to God the Son. In both, we respond to their strength, love, grace, mercy, justice, kindness & compassion.

I think the family is the first place that God displays His plan for us. I know that it was through my parents that I finally understood what it meant to 'live for Christ.' It breaks my heart that there are those who haven't known the love, provision & strength of their earthly father or the compassion & kindness of their mother. We have the choice to how we'll parent/love/discipline our children and how we'll respond to our parents...and we may not always do it "right." But, I do believe that God can use even that to turn us toward His heart, as well. We are but human; we cannot do it on our own. We can approach the throne of grace with confidence to find what we need, in the hour of our need.

In Deuteronomy, God says that the sins of father will be carried out through the third & fourth generation of children; but for those that love Him, He will provide for them through his covenant of love to the thousandth generation. Psalm 61:5 says, "You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name."
Surely, God has graciously blessed me. I am humbled by that gift and responsibility. I pray that I will provide that same heritage for my children.
Thanks Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa, and all who came before you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Crisis of "Self"

This is for my students, especially those in college, for I believe that you will encounter this during your years in college; I did. I write this not to make you believe like I do, but so that you know that if and when you encounter this moment, you are not alone. There is hope; I'm sharing my journey with you. You may choose to disagree and that's fine; it's your right. I just want you to know my story for future reference...and I want you to know that I care.

For those of you with psych or education majors, you are taught that the most important thing you can do in this life is to "self-actualize." What does this mean? Well, I think that it means that you discover who you actually are. It's supposed to be good. You are supposed to find out that you are good. Well, that isn't what I found (and I don't think that'll be what you find). I went on the journey and found that I was lost. hopeless. scared.

We're taught that in this self-actualization process, we will find joy, hope, peace, and fulfillment if we do the things we really want to do. If we pursue those things, then we will be fulfilled. Well, as a sophomore in college, honestly, I had it all. (by most definitions)

I had made the Dean's list every semester; I was involved in clubs on campus - in fact, I was an officer in 3 clubs; I had good friends with similar interests and a roommate that I got along with; I went to parties. One thing I lacked - a boyfriend. Oh, if only I had that! THEN I would be okay. THEN my life would make sense! So, let's check off what I had to fulfill me: academic success, respect from peers and adults, friendship, popularity and parties.

But, I was empty. Oh, I was SO empty! I had all these things which were supposed to satisfy, but I didn't feel satisfied. I felt alone. I wondered what the point of it all was. If these things didn't satisfy, what would? At points, I felt despairing (not like depressed or ending my life...just restless), but no one knew that. No one knew the questions that I was wrestling with because you aren't supposed to talk about that.

What I knew that I needed and craved was unconditional love. If I had that, THEN my heart could rest. So, I pursued boys. One in particular - my best guy friend (who should've fit the bill, right?). Well, February of my sophomore year, some events transpired that changed our relationship. I was left feeling like I meant nothing.

This was the last straw. At this point, I realized that I couldn't do this on my own. I could not direct or run my own life because I kept screwing it up!

[A moment for some background: I grew up going to church. When I was 13 or so, I confessed my sins and believed that Jesus died for my sins. I believed that He was my Savior. At this point in college, I still believed that. Knowing Him as my Savior was where it stopped, though. When I started college, I said to God, "Thanks for all your help thus far, but from here on out, I've got it. See you in heaven!" At different points in high school, I wondered if "being saved" was all there was to this God-thing. If that's the goal, why are we still here? What's the point of the rest of life? Did I miss something? When I got to college, though, I was ready for the 'life about me' to begin. I intended to go to church, but I didn't like the Ames version of my church at all. So, I stopped going.]

So, I'd had it. When I pursued life, I found that it eluded me. I thought that my peace, joy and fulfillment would come through success, involvement, popularity or relationships - and it didn't. Pursuing the desires of my heart did not satisfy. Knowing myself - or serving myself - did not take me higher. It brought me lower.

At that point, I decided to get serious about God. I would commit to going to Salt on Thursday and Cornerstone on Sundays. I read the Bible sometimes (because my parents did and they seemed to know a lot). Life started to make sense again...and then, God really turned the lights on.

That summer, still boy crazy and convinced that love was the answer and marriage would be the ultimate solution, I joined a Bible study. During prayer requests, one girl said that she wanted to love Jesus as her husband. To me, marriage has always represented unconditional love. Suddenly, I got it! If Jesus had loved me enough to die for me, then He loved me unconditionally. HE loved me! Here, I found the love that I'd been longing for. Here, I also found the great truth I'd been searching for: if He demonstrated his love for me in this dramatic way, then I needed to respond to this action - in an equal response of love. So, I gave Him the only thing that I truly had to offer: myself.

Don't ignore the gnawing in your stomach. Don't ignore the questions. No matter how much you drink, you can't escape them. No matter the trophies that fill your shelves, you won't be filled. I believe the questions and the gnawing are there for a reason. We were created for more than to serve ourselves. We were created to do more than just satisfy our own desires.

I tell you this, my friends, because the great paradox of self-actualization is that it does not fulfill. Knowing yourself won't lead to satisfaction, but knowing God will. Since that moment of surrender, I have found peace, joy and fulfillment. Because I know God, I'm able to better enjoy this life, my job and my relationships because I don't expect them to offer me things that they can't and were never designed to do. (Granted, I am not perfect. I do slip in my devotion & understanding of where my security and hope should rest. However, God is very faithful and patient to point out error and lead me back to truth.)

Perspective on snow & holidays

Christmas gets us excited for winter. The coming of Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the chance to take a break and rejoice about being thankful for a year of God’s blessings toward us gets us excited and leaves us feeling hopeful. So, we view the falling snow as a breath of fresh air – a reminder that we should rest, that we should simply be still for a moment and enjoy the hush of quiet that snow brings. We are reminded that our daily to-do list isn’t quite so important and that there are things in this world that can super-cede our constant need to be doing & working. We welcome it because we need a reminder that life goes on even when we rest. We need a reminder that we don’t possess the control over things that we try so hard to command. We need a reminder to stop and look up to heaven. We need the snow to quiet the world so that just maybe we will listen for the still, small voice of God who still calls out to us.

…and then, for the next two months straight, it keeps snowing.

Now, we don’t welcome the snow. We’re tired of it. We’re tired of looking out our window and seeing a mono-chromatic world of gray. We’re tired of being cold. We’re tired of trudging through snow every day and having to step cautiously just in case the freshly fallen snow is hiding a giant sheet of ice. We want to dress up and wear heels. We want to do it and not have to wear 3 layers over top which just wrinkles the dress. We want to do our hair and not have it be ruined by falling snow or the donning of a stocking cap. (Okay, well, that was just written from MY perspective.) We want something look forward to – that reminds of things that are good, true, beautiful and loving in this world – because the present outlook is bleak.

Along comes Valentine’s Day. I know all the complaints against it – it’s commercial, it’s stupid, it’s an excuse for greeting card companies to rake in some more money, it makes your singleness sting worse, it’s just another day with a burden of expectation. But, I look at it as a day to do something specific to remind the person that you care about just how much you do and why. Sometimes, we just need that reminder. We need the extra warmth in the touch of a hand; the gentleness of a kiss; the deep, warm-you-to-your soul feeling of being cherished and knowing it’s real & true.

Maybe we shouldn’t need a day prescribing it because it should just be something we do…but, just maybe, we do.

Those are my thoughts. I like days that give me an excuse to celebrate life and love. It just so happens that on February 14th, I get to do that times two.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Everybody cut footloose!


I am so, so serious. Here are just many of the reasons:

1. The lines: Jump back!

2. The scene where Ren defends the history and sacredness of dancing. "And David danced before the Lord. And doesn't Ecclesiates say, "There is a time to weep and a time for laughter; a time for mourning...and a time for dancing. And this is our time for dancing."
I actually tried using this in a friendly discussion with a high school classmate who said that he wouldn't be attending the Homecoming dance because it "leads to other things." I responded indignantly, "I have NEVER wanted to have sex with anyone I've danced with!" Anyway, when I said, "Didn't David dance to glorify the Lord?" He said, "Is that really why you're dancing?"
Okay...he had me there.

[back to the list]

3. The 80s! I just LOOOOOVE the 80s. And this movie is chock-full of it!

4. When Ren has a problem, he just "dances it out." (in an abandoned warehouse!)

5. The dancing.


7. The memories...this movie always makes me think of Jena Hansen.

8. The theme song always makes me think of Pam. Please request that she do the dance for you.

9. Small town ignorance, religious fervor, teen angst, rebellious music & cowboy boots - need I say more?


Thursday, January 28, 2010

My thoughts on Moses

I've been doing the 'Read Through The Bible' plan and yesterday was reading Exodus 3 & 4. I recommend reading Exodus 3 & 4 to get the context. My major thought is around Moses response to God's call and then what God says in return.

God appears to Moses in the burning bush. God then tells Moses his plan to rescue his people. He specifically says, "I have come down to rescue them and to bring them up out of Egypt and into a good and spacious land. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt." (I cut some out)

But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you and they ask me, 'What is his name?' then what shall I tell them?"

God said to Moses, " I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

When we are called to an impossible task in our eyes, or one that we think is difficult and will require more of us than we think we can actually give, we ask, "Who am I? God, who am I that you would ask this of me? Pick someone else, someone who's better, who's stronger, who's holier, who's smarter, who's (fill the blank of your personal weakness) ." We think that when God actually sees who it is that He has just called, He will say, "Oh, you're right! I did mean to ask the other Jessica Rohrig - not you. How ridiculous of me!" Obviously, the God who sees and hears could easily mix us up with someone better suited for the job. We probably do need to help Him out in that regard.

Instead, how does He respond? He tells us that He will be with us - and not just that, He'll give us a sign that we can trust Him - that it really was the LORD who called us and not just some weird hallucination. But, on top of that, He says (in essence), "Do not worry about who you are - or even who you are not. The question, my dear one, is not 'Who are you?' The question is, 'Who am I?' When you ask, 'But, Lord, who am I to do this?' Remember that I AM the one who will do this."

The question, who am I? God answers by telling us to not to focus on us, but on Him. He who formed us knows that we are but dust. He knows our weaknesses and our imperfections - but, He is the one who has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He is the one who wants to display what He can do in a weak, but willing vessel to the watching world. He's not asking for us to turn in a stellar performance or to astound him with our abilities; He's asking for a willing and obedient heart to hear Him and to follow His leading and obey His call. That's all. The hard parts, the obstacles, our stubborn & sinful hearts, He'll take care of. He'll either move them or He'll make us stronger by working through us as we move them. He will be worshiped and glorified as the Lord of the Universe one day, but for right now, He simply wants us to make Him the Lord of our hearts and lives.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Books vs. Movies

This morning, I was listening to Jan Mickelson on WHO. A guest (author) was discussing whether he would prefer one of his stories made into a movie or to just continue in print, through generations. He remarked that he would prefer his stories remain in print because they will continue to be read. He said that once a movie is made, it may receive hype and glory for a season, but it will fade. Stories continue to be treasured, read, shared and discussed.

A movie can help a story gain wider recognition from an audience the story alone may not have reached. However, once the movie passes out of our consciousness, who remembers it? Unless a movie gains a foothold in our experience, it will fade. Classic novels, though, continue to be read and passed on through generations. Classic novels can be enjoyed at any age.

A movie draws us into a storyline or help us fall in love with a character, but the actual novel commits us to the story (or author). Case in point: I wasn't a Jane Austen fan growing up. I may have caught part of Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility on PBS, but it didn't hold my attention or implant itself in my vein of consciousness. I had not read any of her works; it wasn't required reading in my high school. We had American Lit, not Brit. I watched the 2005 Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightley) and really enjoyed it. I decided to read the novel, though, because a friend had mentioned that this movie just didn't capture the characters. That summer, I read Pride & Prejudice. This was followed by Sense & Sensibility...followed by Emma...followed by Persuasion. Needless to say, I am a fan.

I've seen a variety of movies for each storyline. Some capture the story; some are horrid. I am glad to have the knowledge of the true source, though. It is so much richer than the movie.

I think of the Chronicles of Narnia. I started reading the series in 4th grade. Even then, I could understand the symbolism used to identify characters and Biblical events. I watched a PBS version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I'm glad I had read the book first - because after watching that, I would not have been interested in reading the novel! Movies must be well done. Simply creating a movie to bring a story to life or appeal to a wider audience isn't enough. It must be appealing in order to appeal! Now that Disney has produced some Narnia stories, the stories are accurately depicted and very well done. Hopefully, these movies can be bait to lure a new audience genre into the books!

As Lavar says, though, you don't have to take my word for it! Pick up a good book today!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Times Have Changed

So, you know that the focus of your lives have changed when this picture

is replaced by this one:

This is my best friend Pam's daughter, Victoria. I've never seen a baby pose like this before! ADORABLE!

I've thought that Victoria looks more like her dad, but now that she and I have a picture like this together, I might have to change my vote!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Silver linings

I'm looking for one.

Sunday, we experienced a tragedy. Dan's beloved dog (which I would like to call ours because I loved him, too...but, by all accounts, he is Dan's) was killed tragically. I am not going into the details because, well, they don't help in the healing process. Just know that it was truly a tragedy, in every sense of the word.

He will be missed. Really, he is already missed! He was such a sweet, innocent, fun-loving dog. He was great. Jud captured my heart right from the beginning. On our way home from picking him up, he found the perfect snuggling place - the base of my neck. He just crawled right up there and slept. And, I was hooked.

On a bad day, all that was necessary for a pick me up was some good Jud-time. A few minutes running around the yard, chasing tennis balls - or hedge apples followed by some snuggles and it was a brand new day. Ah, I loved him. He was the first puppy that I let give me kisses. Yeah, he had my heart.

So, Sunday was just tragic. I have never grieved like this for a pet...but, it was just so wrong & senseless the way he died. Ugh! I have hated it. And, while it may seem silly to some to cry out for justice about a pet, I have cried for justice. Because this should not happen; these dogs should not be free; this man should not own "pets." I came across a set of verses in Genesis after the flood, when God was offering his protection upon the people of the earth - he said that men AND animals would be held accountable for their actions - for harm that they cause. I would like to see that justice now.

Now a word about my amazing Dan: I am so thankful for him. You see, when he first proposed the idea of getting a dog, I thought, "Really? That's a commitment. That's a responsibility. Who knows where you will be in a year? What will happen then? You can't live in an apartment with a dog...blah, blah, blah." But, I didn't say it because it wasn't going to be my dog. The night we went to get Jud, Dan said that he was experiencing second thoughts - and I did tell him my previous concerns - quickly followed with, "Honestly, I am impressed that you want to take on this responsibility and that you desire to care for an animal. I am impressed that you think more of caring for another life rather than how it could crimp your style...because that's what my selfish heart does."

And on Sunday, despite the pain and grief we both experienced, I was - and am - thankful that Dan got Jud. In doing so, my capacity to love was increased...and my fear that caused my reservations has been decreased. In living this, my love and my respect for Dan has greatly increased. As our family and friends have expressed sympathy and support, I realize that we are blessed. SO blessed even in the midst of tragedy.

That's my silver lining.