Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thrift Store

Jennine loved going shopping at the thrift stores.  She took me to more thrift shops that I didn't even know existed in our surrounding towns!

Her favorite was probably the Guardian Angel, a thrift store closest to our home where the profits and proceeds support the Alzheimer's Association.  She could spend hours hunting through shirts and pants and shoes to inexpensively supplement her wardrobe.

She knew that for more upscale clothes you needed to go to the Goodwill store closer to a nicer neighborhood in a nearby town.  She knew when most places stocked their racks and what days meant even further discounts are certain color tags.

Jennine knew her thrift stores.

She could spend whole afternoons hopping from thrift store to thrift store, either by herself or with one of her sisters-in-law or with another friend.  If she saw something that she thought you or your kids would like, she would snap a photograph and text you.  And if you said that's awesome, she'd purchase the item for you or your kid, often without expecting reimbursement.

Jennine was thrifty, and she was generous, and she made you feel special while saving you both money.


Thursday, April 27, 2017


I cannot remember Jennine without remembering our many scrapbooking sessions together.  For the first few years that we knew each other, we would spend hours huddled over one of our kitchen or dining room tables with photographs, stickers, pages spread out everywhere, documenting the memories of our kids, our adventures, our families, and our life.

For a while we did full scrapbooking days at a local church, dragging our cases and boxes and albums across town to enjoy the company of others, to trade embellishments, and to try to win prizes.  Those were such great times of reminiscing and fellowship, sharing stories with each other and crafting beautiful keepsakes.

We even scrapbooked ourselves scrapbooking!

Jennine, me and our friend Traci

In later years, we moved to digital scrapbooking, keeping our photographs on Shutterfly or another online service and creating our albums online and printing them up for families and friends.  While the production in the end was the same, digital scrapbooking never quite met that need for quality time together, passing pictures back and forth, and carefully choosing that sticker or other embellishment to add to the memories we were making.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Jennine was a pretty realistic person, not overly optimistic and not overly pesimistic.  She was level headed and thoughtful when making decisions. She sought out information to understand the reality of her life, whether that was a search for a church or a medical diagnosis.

The reality was that she had an incredible 47 years with a few health hurdles that most of us will never have to deal with personally but are certainly touched by because of the diagnosis of friends and family.  I've been caught up in my grief and focused on the last few weeks of Jennine's life.  In reality, I should be thanking God for the fifteen years that I got to spend getting to know my friend, teaching and learning with my friend, laughing and crying with my friend.

The reality is that we shared a strong, amazing friendship that I hope changed her life the way that it changed mine.


Monday, April 24, 2017


Why were some people brought together in Jennine's life and others never had the chance to meet the amazing woman, mother, and neighbor that I called friend?

Who will give me advice about parenting and offer the wisdom of making it through the teenaged years in Jennine's absence?

When will the joy and excitement of all the great memories with Jennine finally push away all the sadness and pain that weighs so heavily from the last three months?

Who will find all those great Groupons, coupons, and deals and share, not only the coupon but the experiences, with me?

Why do some people have more illness, stress, and unfortunate health issues than others?

Who will encourage me to walk the neighborhood when I don't really want to and who will sit in the yard and cul-de-sac with me just to shoot the breeze?

How can there be game night without Jennine?

Who will make that last minute trip to Kohl's, the thrift store, the Bojangles, the Chick-fil-a, to pick up groceries with us?

Who will keep her family and her friends organized?

How can we go to the beach without Jennine?

Who will watch HGTV with me while surfing the internet, reading about the reality shows and whether they are legitimate or staged?

Who will go to Tripp's and order the four cheese pasta dish and help me eat loaves of bread with olive oil?

When will I sit in carpool at the end of the day and not think about texting Jennine about her day?

How can she have died so young?

Who will message me late at night just to chat when insomnia has set in?

Will time really heal the pain and grief at the loss of our Jennine?

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Jennine believed in the power of prayer.  We've prayed together over meals, about travel and trips, and for improved health and peace of mind.  We've prayed together about our families and friends, about diagnoses and prognoses, and for patience and understanding.

I've sent positive thoughts and prayers and started the prayer chain during her many appointments and surgeries.  The last scripture that I shared with her, two days before her passing:

Psalm 41:3
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.

There are many sustaining prayers and scriptures in the Bible, and there are many thoughts and quotes that people share at the death of a loved one.  While Jennine is not with us on this Earth, I know that she has been restored from her sickness and her bed of illness. I find comfort in my friends, her family, and our God.



On this Sunday morning, I was thinking about some of my favorite hymns and this one came to mind.

I know that Jennine loved the newer Christian praise and worship tunes, like songs from Casting Crowns, Danny Gokey, Matthew West, and Chris Tomlin.  I don't remember us ever talking about classic, old school hymns and whether any of those spoke to her.  So many of them still speak to me from my childhood in my little home church.

The Old Rugged Cross was my paternal grandmother's favorite hymn, and at this time of Easter, death and resurrection, today it speaks to me.

No more pain and no more suffering, Jennine has laid down her trophies at last and has exchanged them for her crown in heaven.


Saturday, April 22, 2017


We moved next to Jennine and her family almost fifteen years ago.  While I don't really remember our first introductions, I do know that we hit it off, and it wasn't long before we were spending time together as neighbors and friends.
Jennine had spoken with our other neighbors, small talk here and there, but no one really hung out together on a regular basis.  Jennine and I started doing more and more together, and we had the idea of bringing the whole cul-de-sac together.

Image result for good neighbors quotesIt was Memorial Day weekend, 2007, that I think really started bringing our neighborhood together.  Jennine was almost a year out from her original breast cancer diagnosis.  Little E was eight months old.  Our other neighbor had an almost two year old and another neighbor had a four month old and an almost two year old.  It was time to bring these younguns and adults together.

So between our two houses, Jennine and I planned a cookout, set up tables and chairs, and invited our neighbors to join us that Memorial Day.  Ten years later we've had lots of neighborly gatherings: too many game nights to count, holiday potlucks, New Year's Eve parties, girls' nights out with the moms, holiday cookie decorating, and "just because" cookouts.

Memorial Day Cookout, May 2007
Jennine, the neighbors, and Little E