Unvarnished Jenni

When I had to come up with a short & sweet statement for my twitter profile, I really didn’t know what to say. I tried a few different things before finally settling on this:

Freelancer… Worshiper… Geek… Artist… and astonished recipient of undeserved grace.

I love the freedom of freelancing. It’s not always the most stable, secure way to go… but it does allow me the opportunity to explore things that I might not get to do if I were working the traditional “9 to 5” job.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to worship. I’ve served on worship teams in many different capacities ever since I was a teenager. But there’s more to worship than just music: and I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to worship through service, missions, and art. Sometimes I’m surprised by how the things that stretch me and challenge me the most are often the biggest catalysts of worship in my life.

When I first went to college in the early 90s, technology was the last thing on my mind. My first choice for a major was Classics. That’s the study of Greek and Latin. I got very sick during my sophomore year, and attempted to compensate by doing some of my work through the university’s dial-up computer network. Unfortunately, I never did get much school work done. Instead, I discovered the Internet – which was quite young and still primarily the haunt of academics and true Geeks. That’s when I was introduced to unix and unix-like operating systems, and I made the jump from dead human languages to somewhat more lively computer languages. I dropped out of school and wound up building a dial-up Internet Service Provider from the ground up. It was an amazing ride. In more recent years, I’ve stepped back from the programming/coding side and gravitated more towards the creative side, but technology (and my geekiness) is still very much a part of who I am.

In 2010, I went back to college after taking a nearly 15-year break. In 2013, I graduated with a BFA in Visual Communications – a Graphic Design & Web Design program. By then, I was old enough to be a mother to most of my fellow students! It was an adventure to learn from and work with so many artists in different fields.

Of course, when you’re writing a profile statement, most of the time you’re going to focus on the positive. But if there was nothing but positive, there’d be no need for grace. I’ve had my share of struggles, and I still find myself wrestling with things every day. If you’re looking for a blog from someone who has it all together, you’re in the wrong place!

My most visible ongoing struggle is with my weight. And as is usually the case with obvious, visible things, there’s a lot more hidden behind it than meets the eye. But now that I’m in my 40s, I need to make some changes. And that’s a daily struggle for me. Acknowledging this and posting my ups and downs as part of my blog helps keep me accountable & motivates me to do better.

Some other struggles are not as obvious to the outside observer. The freedom that I value so much as a freelancer seems at times to be inextricably tied to insecurity. When you pour yourself into creative work, it’s difficult to NOT see criticism of the work as criticism of who you are. I’ve learned that this is a common struggle for many artists.

I also wrestle with the way that I’m wired in some areas. People sometimes have a hard time believing that someone who stands up in front of groups on a regular basis could possibly struggle with social anxiety… but I do. I dread large, unstructured group settings — like parties or “greeting times” during or after worship services. These times are awkward at best… and and worst, can lead to full-fledged panic attacks. Thankfully, especially over these last couple of years, I’ve learned to manage my social anxiety a bit.

And yet, in all these struggles and many more, I can say without a doubt that I have received more grace than I could have ever possibly deserved. That’s an incredibly freeing thing. I used to (at least try to) see the world in legalistic black and white. Now I’m learning to see it in grace and white. And it looks a lot brighter from here 🙂

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