Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Fellowship - Meet Jenny Marrs

Well - I'm pretty excited about my new series.  I have so many interesting people lined up to visit with us on Fridays!!  I hope you will enjoy this and come back each Friday! 

Today I want to introduce you to my friend Jenny Marrs.  I first met Jenny at a parenting class when our oldest kids were babies. We have so many mutual friends and over time we have just been at the same place at the same time and I'm thankful I have gotten to know Jenny.  

Jenny and Dave went through a lot to get their family and have such an interesting story.  She tells us all about it below.  Through adopting Sylvie from the Congo they grew a love for that country and the children there.  They began a ministry called "Feed Their Tummies".  They raise money to help feed orphans in the Congo.  They have concerts frequently in our town called "Bentonville Sessions".  They have great bands play in fun venues and the money all goes to help.  They also are active with Help One Now.  

They also live in an awesome old farmhouse that they actually moved way across town to the country and then restored.  Dave is a builder and he is awesome at what he does.  

So here are the Friday "F" questions with Jenny:

  1. What is your favorite food?

Lately, Im loving quinoa. I fully realize this is the most boring answer, ever. But, really, its so yummy and versatile!!!

2. What is your favorite piece of clothing right now?

I love everything Noonday. A few months ago, a friend gifted me a new pair of Noonday earrings and I wear them as often as possible. They dress up any outfit and are just bright and fun.

3. Tell us about your family.

Ill try my best to keep this briefMy husband is a home builder and, most recently, started dabbling in farming. We have a blueberry farm, honey bees and a bunch of animals.

We struggled for years with infertility. In 2008, we jumped on a roller coaster when we started the process to adopt - doors slammed shut left and right. After another failed match, we decided to make one last ditch effort with fertility treatments and finally became pregnant with twin boys in the fall of 2009. They were born prematurely and spent a month in the NICU but are now perfectly healthy and strong. The first of our four miracles.

When the boys were 18 months old, we felt led to start our adoption process again. We wouldnt realize it until many months later, but the day I published my very first blog post to chronicle our adoption was the day our daughter was born a world away. We finally learned about our girl in November of 2012. She was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not Ethiopia as we had originally planned. We changed our agency and our country program and completed new mounds of paperwork to finalize our adoption of Sylvie as quickly as we could. In August of 2013, everything was finalized and we were finally able to travel and meet our daughter. We planned to bring her home that next month. In September of 2013, the Congolese government issued a suspension on exit permits for all internationally adopted children. This meant our legally adopted daughter could not leave her birth country. We were absolutely devastated.

This same month, we received the surprise of our lives when we learned I was pregnant. Our fourth baby was truly a miracle and, even though the timing felt all wrong at the time, I can look back now and see how perfectly God orchestrated it all.

Charlotte was born in May of 2014 and on July 7, 2014, we received the most incredible and long-awaited email from the US Embassy in Kinshasa. Our daughter was being released to come home. In a complete whirlwind, she arrived home two days later!

Apparently, we only have kids in pairs. That summer was WILD. Two four year olds, a newborn and a newly adopted toddler is an equation for chaos. We struggled and lost a small amount of our sanity. Yet, we treasured those long-fought-for moments and pinched ourselves as we praised God for abundantly answering our prayers.

4. What is the most important quality in your Friends?

Honesty. My close friends are incredibly transparent and real. The older I get, the more I realize how messed up we all are. The truth is that no matter how many pretty pictures a person posts on Instagram, they arent perfect. No one is. And, if youre perfect, I feel uncomfortable around you because I am SO not. I like messy and real and honest.

5. What’s something you have recently learned on your faith journey? Favorite scripture. Favorite bible study.

I am continually learning about surrender. My ministry has undergone a lot of change this past year and I have to be honest and say that it has been really hard. I have been so disappointed and frustrated with certain plans and dreams falling flat. BUT. God has taught me that if I surrender and lay down my plans and let go of my expectations, then He can do His work. I know His hand of protection has been over us through these changes. I have seen it and I can trust Him for whats next. This work has always been His and He has graciously invited me to take part. I simply have to say yes, lay down my ideas of what He should do, grab ahold of His hand and walk with Him. Then, He blows me away every time. Every, single time. It really is exhilarating to watch His plans unfold!

Favorite scripture? Oh, that is HARD! I cling to different scriptures during different seasons. When we were waiting for our adopted daughter to come home, I clung to Ephesians 3:20. I quickly learned He truly can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Psalm 91 is a favorite when Im in the midst of spiritual battle and am struggling, particularly with fear.

Favorite bible study? Im currently really loving the First5 studies. I have been enthralled with the old testament books - Exodus and Numbers especially. The ladies of First5 do an excellent job with the app and the experience guides.

6. Biggest fear?

I am petrified of flying. This is a rather newly acquired fear that kicked in after having children. I also have self-diagnosed PTSD after an incident with an emergency landing after an engine caught on fire in the air.

But, an even bigger fear than flying in a metal tube, is the fear of living a life of insignificance. And, to be clear, I don't want to measure the significance of my life by the worlds standards. Significance doesnt require a big gesture or a certain number of likes or readers or photo opportunities. Im learning how significant our days can be regardless of the monotony or seemingly mundane circumstances. Lately, the Holy Spirit has been impressing the importance of embracing smallness and simplicity. He keeps reminding me that a life marked by love is a life well lived. I just keep trying to lean into Him and take the next step before me. Sometimes that looks like changing soaked-through sheets on my toddlers bed. Sometimes that looks like hosting a concert to feed orphans in Congo. Sometimes that looks like laying down my current needs and stepping into the grief with my daughter as she processes loss and change. It looks differently each day, each moment.

7. What are some of your favorite things right now?

Shuana Niequests new book, Present Over Perfect. She is speaking my language.

“Some of us are made to be faster, and some slower, some of us louder, and some quieter. Some of us are made to build things and nurture things. Some of us are made to write songs and grants and novels, all different things. And I’m finding that one of the greatest delights in life is walking away from what someone told you you should be in favor of walking toward what you truly love, in your own heart, in your own secret soul.” - Shauna Niequest

The app, ArtKive. It allows you to snap a photo of your kids artwork and file it within the app by child/age/grade/date. I am currently working on printing books of the boyskindergarten artwork. Its a life saver for this momma who cant handle piles and piles of papers. I still save a few special pieces of art but, mostly, I toss it all. {And, I do get caught sometimes when they find the papers in the trash. But, now I can tell them: dont worry! Ive already taken a photo for your art book! }

8. Biggest failure?

I fail in a million small ways every day. I lose my temper, I drop one of the ten balls Im holding in the air at any given moment, I forget to return voicemails and my email inbox is overflowing. Im reminded daily of my desperate need for grace. And, in turn, my need to extend grace to others.

9. What do you do for fun?

I have always loved to read. I try to make time to sit on our porch swing with a good book as often as I possibly can. Reading helps me relax and unplug. Also, it has to be an actual book in print on paper. I cant do a kindle or read on my phone. I need to disconnect completely from electronics sometimes.

10. What animals you have?(furry things)

We now live on a small farm with three dogs, nine chickens, five cows and a cat.

One of our dogs was abandoned as a six-week old puppy and discovered at the end of our dirt road in a plastic bag with her two brothers by our neighbor. So, of course, we kept her.

I helped hatch one of our baby chicks recently. When my husband collected the eggs from the coop, he heard a faint chirp coming from the inside of one of the eggs. {WHO KNEW THIS COULD HAPPEN?!} Apparently, the momma had abandoned the egg to help with the another newborn chick born the day prior. Thanks to the help of my Facebook friends (and, quite possibly the most hilarious Facebook feed of all time), the baby chick hatched and is now thriving. I had to assist her out of the shell and can now claim the title of Poultry OB.

And, owning cattle is a new adventure. Our kids named the cows: Princess, Big Red, Hamburger, Tenderloin and Baby.

The cat is a new addition. A friend had to give him away because he was killing squirrels in the neighborsyard. We are always accepting of cats who kill rodents here at the farm, so he was welcomed with open arms.

11. Favorite film?

I have a slight obsession with the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun.I actually like the book better than the movie - and they are very different - but the scenery from the film makes me happy. Tuscany is my favorite place in the world and I like to daydream about buying and restoring an abandoned villa like Frances Mayes. When I was hospitalized and on bed rest for a month before my twins were born, I watched this movie at least once a day.

12. Fact we might not know about you?

Despite my current paralyzing fear of flying, I used to be fearless and went skydiving when I was twenty-two years old. I was in Arizona for a work training, and a group of us (including my friend at the time - now husband - Dave), decided skydiving would be a fun idea. Why on earth I thought it would be FUN to voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good airplane is beyond my comprehension.

I remember waiting for my turn to jump from the open door. Each time a person would jump, the rest of us would inch our way toward to the opening. The closer I was to that open door, the more clearly I realized this was a really, really terrible idea. Once I finally jumped, I stared at the altitude watch during the entire free fall. I wanted to be sure to pull the cord at exactly the right moment. After I pulled the cord, I felt a surge of relief.

Then, I heard it.

The parachute was making a strange flapping sound.

I very distinctly remember the conversation that followed.
Me: Whats that noise?
Guy-tandem-jumping-with-me, after a few moments of silence: We have a slight problem with the parachute.
Tandem-jumping-guy: Well, the parachute is ripped.

We eventually landed safely and I kissed the ground while sobbing uncontrollably. Needless to say, I will never, ever, ever do that again.

You can follow Jenny on Instagram HERE.
You can read her blog HERE.

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