End of summer 2019

Aug 25

End of summer 2019

I just logged in to the blog for the first time in a while.  And then I had to spend fifteen minutes googling how to fix my blog because I couldn’t get to the area behind-the-scenes where I post.  By the grace of God and google, I fixed it and I now feel like a technology goddess.  I tell you people, I am barely on the internet at all.

So here goes: what have I been up to?

Summer 2019 was a great one.  I always love summer and the best part is having the girls home all day every day.  They love to play together and the hours-long Lego sessions, new freckles, scootering and biking, days spent in pajamas, making kitchen messes concoctions, and fort-building are the staples of our summers. With no summer swim team, we challenged them to incorporate their own daily exercise (and fun play outside time counts), and that ended up being a highlight.  They learned how they enjoy being active and felt their bodies get stronger as the weeks went by.  We played hard all summer long. There is no doubt all four of us could have had another month of summer (and should have since they started August 15th — too early!) Lucky for us, they love school too.

My summer feels like it was divided in two: for the first half I was on the chemo drug and in July I switched over to my new drug: an oral pill that is an inhibitor instead of chemotherapy.  The chemo brain fog lifted, and it feels good.  Always though, there are challenges. There are unpleasant side effects with every drug and this one is no exception.  Most significantly though, this is my first time not being on chemo and having my lung symptoms.  In essence, my brain feels like I can do all the things including run, deep clean, purge, spend all day out walking, but my body just can’t do any of that — not even close.  Now that I am six weeks in on the new treatment, I can spend about two hours up and active (albeit my “active” is pretty pitiful, but I’m still proud of it), and then I need to spend the rest of the day physically quiet. My non-chemo brain is having a hard time accepting that level of forced rest, but as ever I am making it work and grateful for the gained margin on the new treatment.

My lack of writing is a symptom of choosing to be as present as possible with my girls this summer. They both love to spend time with me and I choose to soak them in with all the energy I can. For the same reason my school year commitments and relational connections completely fell off for the summer, so I feel like I have been missing in action from nearly all of my real-life people including locals and faraway people.  I miss you! I’ll be looking for some reclamation of my non-Mom identity as we get rolling in the school year.

I’m living a far-from-normal life relative to my peers, but I am heartily loving the life I live.  I turned forty last week, and it feels like a big one: not so much because it’s the Big 4-0, but more so because this is the first birthday I wasn’t supposed to reach. Last November I passed the five year mark of living with metastatic breast cancer, and thus passed the survival threshold that is the statistical norm for my disease. It’s a miracle I’m still alive. Nearly all of my metastatic friends have died while I continue to live; it is hard. And yet obviously also a blessing. Having watched a ton of my friends my age roll through their fortieth birthdays this year, I feel so different from everyone else I have talked to about it: I’m just grateful to be here.  I told Brad not to throw me a big party: I don’t like being the center of attention. I’m more of a small crowd, soak-it-deep kind of person, so I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want (mostly because everybody kept asking).  I made a list of forty mostly small experiences I hope to have over the next year.  Some are simple like spend an evening with a campfire, and others require more planning like eating fondue.  I cried a lot when making the list because there are things I can’t do like hike a summit and run a race that feel so core to my true self. I cried equally as much in gratitude that I have so many beloved people with whom I would like to share a mutual toast.  Ultimately, however, it was a good exercise in line with something I already focus a lot on: living well with great purpose and joy.

This is me on my fortieth birthday.  My faraway sister brought her newborn baby to me on my day, and obviously it was the best. I am so well loved by so many, and this life is so much more than I deserve.



  1. Jen, you are “more than we deserve ” – luv ya !!!

    • Marlayne Skeens /

      Jen ~ Here’s to All your Fun Memories of your 40th Year with your Girlie Girls, Families & Friends!!!!! As short as the Summer was, so glad you were able to have Good Simple Fun!!!!! You are such a good Mom, always thinking how to Bless other, Such a Beautiful Mentor to so many 🙂

  2. Kim Rourke /

    You ARE deserving of all the love that surrounds you and fills your life!! So happy that you and your little clan had a stellar summer and hoping that you are able to have some non-mom time soon.

  3. Kelly E /

    You and your niece are beautiful! Continued prayers for all!

  4. Lindsay /

    Been thinking abt(and missing) you! But here’s to soaking up our summers with our kids! I’m sure yours loved it!! And happy belated bday, sweet friend!

  5. Susan Buring /

    Oh my gosh…..you and that baby! ❤️

    • Julie Talford /

      Celebrate you everyday! Sending lots of love. You are my hero and inspiration!

  6. Another Jen /


  7. Patty Wheeler /

    I can’t believe you kids are 40. So much to celebrate in your life. We celebrate all the milestones you have reached.

  8. Denise /

    You are “strength and love” personified. Love Neecie

  9. Christin /

    Thinking of you crying at the difficulty and beauty of your 40’s list is all of the emotions💕. I just grappled with thinking my 35th bday felt old and now I want to just adopt your attitude toward aging!

  10. Kathi Roth /

    Ok he is adorable and you look radiant. True joy on your face! I’ve said it before- you have the gift of writing. You are eloquent and have a way of capturing and painting a picture that allows feelings. Happy 40th Birthday to you and many more I pray in Jesus’ name. Enjoy this day today ❤️

  11. Marge Greene /

    So glad to hear your words again. Thanks

  12. Eloise /

    Love this post Jen and the photo – big love and hugs x

  13. Peggy Wolfe /

    HaPpY New Decade of Life! Your new blog post came when I needed a reminder to stay in the moment and appreciate all my blessings. What a great idea to list 40 goals for the coming year…regardless of how small. If I’ve learned only one thing in my life, it’s that the small things that I remember and treasure the most. I love the picture of you holding your new niece…you’re positively glowing while holding little Glo! Praying for your next milestone birthday! xxx

  14. Newbie friend /

    Happy Belated Birthday! Hearing about your summer fun takes me back to my summers with school age kiddos, enjoying your blessings! Hoping that you receive all 40 experiences and more this year! Sounds like a great birthday exercise for all of us- living intentionally and appreciating all of the simple things in our lives! Thanks for posting again, missed you!

  15. Bonnie B Jackson /

    Such a beautiful Post ❤️ from a Beautiful lady!!

  16. Melody A. Smith /

    A big virtual hug sent to you in celebration of your 40th and also to the list of 40 to-do’s…may God provide you abundant Energy, Grace and Joy while experiencing each of them!

  17. Laura Lee /

    Jen, I have been following your journey since the beginning. I found your blog when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in 09′ . Your zest for life and your committment to living each day as well as you can has been an inspiration. Peace and prayers for all of you

  18. Marsha Vonderwish /

    Oh Jen,

    I’m fighting the tears as I read your blog because I am so thankful you are still with us and because I understand the daily thankfulness you have. I am 15 yrs past how long I was supposed to be here. God bless you and keep fighting!

  19. Hi Jen, I’m glad to hear your summer update. Praying for you, Brad and your girls. Kay

  20. Jules /

    Cheers to 40, Jen!! Your inspiration to all of us is amazing!! Thank you for being you and reminding us of the important things in life….family, purpose, etc. You are truly a blessing to us all!!

  21. annie /

    Very happy to read your update. And a reminder to savor the joy in the everyday. I hope that you can feel all of the prayers of your community.

  22. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, I am happy to read you blog, and that you had a great summer with your girls.. Happy Belated 40th Birthday…Continued prayers for you and your family.. Take care. Sending hugs

  23. You are here, loving your family, and that is the most important thing of all.
    And oh, that beautiful new baby!