The Jenna Devin Blog

Thursday, April 23, 2015


                “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –Romans 12:2

                Purpose: this has long been a question in my life.  What is my purpose?  Lately I’ve been feeling as though I have no purpose at all.  I’ve been applying to as many jobs as I can, hoping to find my purpose in one of them, but I end up getting rejected again and again.   I feel helpless to the forces of the world around me, forces that seem to not want me to take part in the world.  I know I shouldn’t get so discouraged and that a job will pop up eventually, but I can’t help myself.  I have both anxiety and low self esteem, a terrible combination that makes the world around me a scary place much of the time.  And that’s why I write. 

                Writing is a way for me to spill out my thoughts and emotions into comprehensible language so that I can work through what’s troubling me.  I’ve found that all of my writing leads back to one thing: optimism.  I tend to be very pessimistic at times because of my anxiety and low self esteem, but my writing is the means for me to return back to my optimistic outlook.  My goal in life is to be ever-optimistic, even in the most difficult and painful times.  Yes, sometimes it’s inevitable that I will be pessimistic and let my sorrow wash over me, but I want to learn to control this urge to be sad.  Life is for living and being happy, not for just existing and being glum.  Myself and the world around me is such an amazing blessing.  There’s beauty to be found even in the seemingly most ugly, unhappy situations or places.

                  Mulling all of these current thoughts over in my mind, I begin to see more clearly what my purpose is.  I have such a wonder in the world around me—in nature, in individuality, and especially in love—and I wish to share this wonder with the world to help others with their unhappiness.  When I went to see the new live action version of the classic Cinderella, this bit of advice that Cinderella’s mother gave to Cinderella before she died really resonated within me:“Have courage and be kind.”  I think that would be a perfect motto to use for achieving my purpose in life.  I have always thought that being kind to people is the most important thing to achieve in life, and if a person has courage as well, then anything is possible.  I believe that God’s purpose for me is just that: to be kind to and love others and to share my love of His creation with the world.  So, maybe I haven’t found the perfect job yet, but as long as I approach every opportunity in life with kindness and love, and show the world how wonderful every aspect of it is, then I will be fulfilling my purpose.  It doesn’t matter where I go, how I’m perceived by others, what job I get, or how much I get paid, as long as I have courage, be kind, and share my wonder with the world, then life will be lovely and wonderfully fulfilling.


All Alone, but Not Truly

            Tears pooled up in my eyes and ran down my face in rivers that crystallized in the bitter winter’s chill.  I rubbed the ice crystals away and shivered, pulling my legs up tight against my body on the park bench.  I didn’t have to sit outside and shiver, I wasn’t homeless, but I just couldn’t stand spending another minute in that empty apartment.  I felt so claustrophobic, and the silence was deafening.  As my breath blew out in ghostly wisps, I looked around and saw a world of white.  It reminded me of a blank sheet of paper, just like my life had become: a piece of paper with nothing written on it, with no meaning, no purpose.  Next week would be the start of my college career.  I should have been excited, but instead I just felt utterly alone.  Away from Mom, Dad, my little sister Sylvia, and Andrew.  Andrew, my boyfriend and handsome prince, was the furthest away of all. Thinking of him caused new tears to run afresh, and my body began to shake in spasms.  I couldn’t help but think that this would’ve been the start of Andrew’s college career as well, if he hadn’t died in a car crash a year ago today.  We’d not only been dating since our first year of high school, but we’d also grown up together.  Despite the tears that continued to fall, I smiled as I remembered the day we met.

            It was a bright and beautiful spring day.  I relished in the warmth of the sun on my face as I stood on the fresh, green grass of the church yard.

             “Tag!  You’re it!” a boy shouted, tapping me on the back.  I turned to glare at him.  He was tall for his age, and skinny, with untidy brown hair that flopped over blue eyes glittering like sunlight on the ocean as he ran away laughing.  To the boy’s surprise, I kicked off my heels and ran after him, my white dress flapping in the breeze and strands of hair coming out of my long, blonde braid in large wisps.

             “Tag!  You’re it, Andrew!” I said.  I gave him a haughty look as he stared at me in wonder.

             “Alright, guys, let’s all sit down now.  It’s time to start our lesson,” said a lady with short brown hair and a kind but stern face.  We all groaned.  “I know, I know…it’s a gorgeous day, and you’d rather be playing, but it’s time for class now.  If you’re all good listeners, maybe we’ll end class early, how does that sound?”

            That shut us up pretty fast.  Mrs. Beech smiled, pleased by our response.  We then all sat down in a circle around our teacher.

             “Good, good,” she said.  “Okay, I have a story for you today that I think you’ll like.  It’s the story of Stella the balloon.”  Mrs. Beech opened her book and began to read.

            “Stella was a very happy balloon who lived in a party supply store.  She had a wonderful family and many friends who loved her very much.  All day long she would float in the air next to her fellow balloons, exchanging hugs and kisses as they bumped up against each other.  This world was not all happiness, however.  Every so often, a human would come into the store and pluck a balloon away from the little community.  Just recently a little baby balloon had been taken away from his mother.  The baby and his mother cried and cried for each other, but the man who took the baby could not hear him.  Humans cannot hear the voices of balloons, you see, because the balloons’ voices are too high-pitched to be heard.  Stella’s whole community circled around the mother, trying to soothe her, but they could not.  She began to deflate, to lose air.  The storekeeper inflated her again, and she began to recover, but she was never truly the same.  Stella began to feel nervous.  What if her mother or father were taken away?  Or her best friend Emily?  She couldn’t bear thinking these thoughts, so she tried to clear them from her mind as she snuggled close to her loved ones.  She didn’t know that the next day would be a day she’d never forget.

          ‘I want that one, Mommy,’ said a pudgy little girl, her curly red hair bouncing against her back.

           ‘The blue and pink sparkly one?’ the mother asked, pulling Stella down from the ceiling.  The girl nodded in agreement.  Stella called out in alarm and desperately tried to float back up to the ceiling, back to her family and friends, but the woman held Stella’s string firmly in her hand.  Her family and friends helplessly cried, as Stella was paid for and taken out of their world forever.

            Stella found herself in a world that she couldn’t have even imagined.  It was so bright, colorful, and incredibly vast.  If she hadn’t been so heartbroken, she would’ve loved it.  Instead, she felt utterly and completely alone as she was tugged along, put into the back seat of a car, and then wrapped around the red-haired girl’s hand.  The girl giggled with glee as she danced across the yard with her balloon.

             Stella was experiencing a terrific case of both whiplash and wonder as she dizzily watched the world twirl around her.  She was still terribly missing her family and friends, but she was also in awe of this new world.  The startling intensity and variety of colors made her head spin, and the freshness of the air and the amazing array of smells, both good and bad, relaxed her spirit.  The interesting new sounds of cars beeping, frogs chirping, and dogs barking both shocked and enchanted her.  What amazed her most of all was the sky.  It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen: never-ending and a shade of blue that she’d never seen before.  She longed to float up into the sky and explore it with her friend Emily, but she sighed and deflated slightly as she realized that she’d never see her again.  Suddenly, a large burst of wind came and pulled at Stella’s string, untying her from the red-haired girl’s arm.  Stella was free.  The girl shouted and bawled in sadness as her precious balloon drifted up, up, and up into the sky.

    At first Stella was exhilarated by her newfound freedom and marveled as she watched the ground below become smaller and smaller, but after a while the ground was lost from sight, and all she could see around her were clouds.  If she thought she’d been alone before, she certainly was now.  As if that wasn’t enough, the sky grew dark, and it started to rain.  The winds began to pick up, and she was violently tossed about.  Stella wasn’t scared, though, because a sudden calm had washed over her, and she suddenly understood that she was not alone; she never had been alone.  God had always been with her and was with her in that very moment.  Stella prayed, asking Him for help, and a few moments later the wind died, the sun shone once more, and a beautiful rainbow lit up the sky.  Stella gaped in amazement; she’d never seen something so beautiful before.  Everything is going to be alright, she thought to herself, for God is always with me.

          Stella continued her flight upwards, and eventually she began to expand as the pressure of the air grew higher.  She knew the end was near, but she kept her faith until the very end, when she ultimately popped because the pressure of the air was too high.  Stella then went to heaven and was with her balloon family once more.  The end.”  Mrs. Beech closed the book and gave it a satisfied pat.  “Can someone tell me what lesson this story teaches us?”

         I raised my hand, and Mrs. Beech called on me. “We are never alone because God is always with us,” I replied.


             I was suddenly flashed back to the present as a voice interrupted my thoughts.  Looking up, I saw a young man peering at me in concern.  He appeared to be around my age and had jet black hair and bright green eyes.

            “Oh, hi!” the boy said.  I looked back blankly, still recovering from my bolt back into reality “Sorry to bother you, but you just seemed pretty down.  I was wondering if you were okay.”

            “I’m fine,” I said. “Just thinking.”

            “Ah.  Well, isn’t it a little early to be thinking already?” he teased.  “School hasn’t started yet.  I assume you’re going to college here as well, right?”

            “Oh. Yeah.  I am.”  There was an awkward silence, while the boy looked around casually before extending his hand out toward mine.

            “Well, my name is Michael, in case you’re wondering.  Nice to meet you.”

             I took his hand and shook it.  “Nice to meet you, too.  I’m Brielle.”  Michael smiled at me, and I found myself smiling back because his smile was very contagious.  It’d been the first smile I’d had in a long time, and it felt really good.  I felt alive, instead of being the living-dead, which I’d been for the past year.

            “So, Brielle, what were you thinking about anyways?” Michael asked with a playful smile on his face.  My smile faded as quickly as it had come, and a blankness returned.  “Oh, sorry,” he said, noticing my reaction.  “I mean, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.  I was just wondering,”

             “It’s okay, but just…well…I don’t really want to talk about it.”  I looked down at the snow-covered ground below me, fighting back tears.

             “I’m so sorry.” Michael reached out and tentatively touched my shoulder.  The touch of his hand on my shoulder shot a shiver of electricity down my spine, and I felt my face begin to grow red as a stop light.  “If you ever want to talk about it to someone though, feel free to talk to me,” he continued.  “I don’t mind.  I know we just met, and maybe me saying that creeps you out or something, but just saying…”

              I looked up at him, and I felt hope.  I hadn’t felt this way since before Andrew died.  God must have been with me in this moment.  He had brought Michael into my life to try and pull me out of my painful past.  “Thank you, Michael,” I said, with tears glittering in my eyes.  “You have no idea how much that means to me.”

             Michael peered at me in pleasant surprise, and then looked down at his feet modestly as he said, “It’s no problem, no problem at all.”  He shivered involuntarily as a gust of wind blew past us, and we both watched as a scrap of paper went fluttering past our feet.  “Well, anyways…I was on my way to the grocery store, so I better get going before I turn into an ice block.”

           “Oh, okay,” I said, faking a bright smile to hide my disappointment.  I must not have hidden it very well though because Michael didn’t turn to leave.  Instead he lingered and opened his mouth to say something but hesitated.

           "Would…uh…would you….like to come with me?” Michael stammered. “I mean, the grocery store isn’t the most exciting place to go, but it’s better than sitting out in the cold.  At least it’ll be warm.”

             His insecurity was so adorable.  It made me smile, and I felt like a giddy little school girl.  I had to admit that he was very attractive.  With his shortly-cropped black hair, his infectious smile, and his green eyes like the color of grass on a sweet spring day, he truly dazzled me.  Michael made me feel happy and tingly all over, but I felt a wave of guilt beneath my joy.  Wouldn’t this be a betrayal of Andrew if I start to have feelings for another guy…and maybe have a relationship with him?  My heart beat fast, and I blushed beet red at the possibility of the latter, which made me feel even guiltier.

            “So…um…what do you think?” Michael said, biting his lip and looking around nervously.

            His voice startled me, and I realized I’d been lost in my own head again.  I knew I needed to make a decision, and as I looked up at Michael’s anxious face, I understood that Andrew would want me to be happy.  He wouldn’t expect me to live my whole life alone.  I didn’t want to be alone anymore…and God obviously didn’t want me to be alone anymore either.

            “Sure!  The grocery store sounds great,” I said.  I jumped up from the park bench, and before I could change my mind, I impulsively took Michael’s hand.  His eyes grew wide in surprise, and then a delighted smile filled his face.  As we walked down the street, leaving my park bench behind, I looked up at the sky and happened to see something that took my breath away.  It was a red balloon, rising up into the air.  All alone, I thought and then smiled, but not truly.  I knew I might never feel completely whole again, but I also knew that I’d never be alone.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, New Me

   So, the day is about to arrive again: New Year’s Day.  And now begins the New Year’s resolutions and weight loss advertisements galore.  I used to believe that stuff was a bunch of bologna, but just yesterday I began to give it a second thought.  Lately I’ve been really stressed out and down on myself.  My temporary position at Maple Ridge Farms has ended, so I’ve been searching for a new job, but in the free time that I have when I’m not searching for a job, I begin thinking too much.  This is mostly bad because when I think too much usually it’s about my insufficiencies or things that I can’t change, but yesterday my thinking got me somewhere.  I was trying to get at the bottom of what has really been bothering me lately.  I knew it wasn’t just that I didn’t have a job and was afraid I wouldn’t get one.  There was something more.  I’ve had these moments of depression when I had my job, so it was definitely something more.  It’s not about having a job or not.  It’s about me, who I am and how I react with other people.

   All my life I’ve been shy and tried to conceal who I truly am because I didn’t think anyone found me interesting.  I’ve always put myself down and tried to just remain unnoticed in social interactions.  This has become a habit that I can’t seem to break…and it makes me miserable.  Yesterday I was thinking about this pattern of behavior I’ve had, and I realized that it’s time to make a change.  2015 is my year…I can feel it.  It’s the perfect year for me to start over fresh, to be a new me.  I don’t have a job yet, so I can completely recreate myself in my next job, and I’m getting married in July, so even my name will be different!  A whole new identity…    

   But really I won’t become a new “me”; I’ll be the “me” I’ve always been but have been afraid to be.  I’m throwing all that fear aside.  I have decided that, instead of focusing on my imperfections and what people think of me, I will recognize and embrace my imperfections and try to focus on what makes me awesome.  Because that is what I am: awesome!  If someone thinks I’m not good enough for them, then they aren’t good enough for me.  We should all see each other as good enough plus more.  Everyone is awesomely unique!

   So now I will finally share with the world who I really am, my imperfections and my fears.  I think this will really help me to feel more at peace with myself and realize that people are a lot more accepting of me than I think that they are.  I’m anxious, shy, sensitive, insecure, emotional, easily frustrated, have a mild case of OCD, and socially awkward.  I’m afraid of the dark, insects, roller coasters, being alone, talking to strangers/people I don’t know well (most people…), and losing the respect/love of those I love.   But I’m also kind, optimistic, loving, creative, musical, respectful, and try to always see the best in people.  I love to sing, dance, and listen to music while drinking wine; I love hiking and photographing random animals/things I find; I love to read and reflect on myself and the wonder of life through writing; and overall just love to have a good time.  So in this coming year of 2015, I am determined to remain positive and be myself.  I know it may take a while to overcome my fears and anxieties in order to truly be myself, but I believe if I keep trying then I’m sure to succeed.  I love who I am; it’s time to finally introduce that young woman to the world.      

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Leaves and Snowflakes

The air is brisk, the leaves are changing color, and the smell of leaves and pumpkin spice fill the air.  Autumn is here.  Though I love summer and all the warm weather it brings, there is something undeniably wonderful about fall and the upcoming winter magic to come.  To me, fall is a time of such beauty and coziness.  The world becomes a rainbow of colorful leaves, the air is a bit more brisk so you have to wear more cozy layers and cuddle closer to those you love, and the smell of the air is intoxicating.  The air smells of the lovely aroma of leaves, pumpkin spice, apple cider.  Something very awe-inspiring about fall is that even though it is a time of impending death for many plants and all the leaves of the trees, it is yet so incredibly beautiful.  It’s a lesson to us that even death can be beautiful.  It’s all a part of the miracle of life.  It may be the end of this life, but it’s the beginning of another.  When the winter comes, the leaves are gone and the world is so silent and seemingly dead, but spring always comes without fail, bringing color and life to the world once again. 

Even though I dislike how cold winter can be and get disheartened by all of the snow after a while, winter still holds a special place in my heart.  Winter is another cozy time, and it brings the wonderful holiday of Christmas.  Christmas is my very favorite day of the year.  It’s a time of family, food, coziness, and magic (all of my favorite things)!  Even as a kid, Christmas has never really been about the presents.  It’s always been about the excitement and magic of being together as a family and taking part in fun traditions together.  Christmas brings such joy to many people’s hearts, and that makes my heart warm and unbelievably happy.  This magic is such a blessing.  The whole world we live in is such a blessing. 

Sometimes we forget to take a moment to truly appreciate how blessed we are, so the holidays of fall and winter (Thanksgiving and Christmas) remind us of our blessings and restore the magic feeling of awe that we felt as children.  As the leaves begin to fall and the snow begins to drift upon the ground, take a moment to watch this miracle of life.  These events may happen every year, but every year is unique.  And there is always something new and astounding to discover on this beautiful planet we call home.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Eternal Life

I was scrolling through quotes in Pinterest, which I do on a pretty regular basis since I’m a quotes nerd, and I found this poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye, pictured below.

I really love this poem.  It's so beautiful and can provide comfort to those who have lost a loved one.  More than just being beautiful and providing comfort, this poem also perfectly translates my beliefs when it comes to death and the afterlife.  I believe that those who have died may not be here in their former physical form anymore, but they will live on forever in spirit.  Bodies may die, but souls live forever.  Souls can take any form, so even though the ones we love won’t be there in their former physical form anymore, we will still be able to see them in other forms.  In sunlight, in the wind, in birds, in trees, in any number of living things. 

Some people may think that this idea is absurd and that once a person dies they are completely dead, but I disagree.  I’ve had a number of loved ones die, and for every person that has died, I have heard my family and friends tell experiences of seeing these people in other forms after they’d died. Some were seen in dreams, some in whispers in the wind, and others just in the feeling of a spirit beside them.   One experience that particularly touched me was the experience that my mom and dad experienced after my uncle Randy died. 

My mom and dad were in their pool, trying to relax after the stress of the news and the preparation for the funeral, when all of a sudden a Monarch butterfly fluttered down to touch my dad and then flew away.  As the butterfly flew away and moments after, both my mom and dad were silent, both somehow knowing that the butterfly was Uncle Randy.  His spirit lives on and comforts his loved ones.  What makes me believe this encounter even more is that a couple days before this I had a similar experience.  I was feeling stressed out from both the news of Uncle Randy’s death as well as my new job I had acquired, so I decided to take a walk.  The walk wasn’t helping at first, however.  Unhappy, fearful thoughts fluttered through my head, until I saw a Monarch butterfly sitting by the side of the road.  It was strange because he didn’t appear to be injured yet he was sitting there so nicely and barely even moved when I reached down to pet his wing.  It was such a beautiful experience, and after hearing my mom and dad’s story about their butterfly, I knew that the butterfly I encountered must have been Uncle Randy, too.

I sometimes don’t know what I believe in because it truly is hard to believe in things when you live in a world of such uncertainty, but one thing is certain: I believe in the everlasting soul.  I believe that after people die, their souls live on for eternity.  They become the whisper in the wind, the butterflies in the flowers, the gentle autumn rain, and the tree softly creaking in the breeze.  Their souls live on in the spirit of nature, and in our hearts, forever.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Proposal

        Something very exciting happened to me this past weekend, a moment I’d been waiting for my whole life…and it was everything I dreamed it would be and more.  It all started when Marshall and I went hiking at Devil’s Lake.  It was a foggy, overcast, and misty day, but that made it all the better for hiking.  It was a great workout, and when we reached the top of the bluff, I was pretty sweaty, but I felt great.  As we walked the trail, we came across a field of daisies.  Marshall led me into it and told me that there were two ways down from here.  I thought he was talking about either traversing down the cliff or taking the trail, so I immediately responded that we were taking the trail.  There was a brief moment of silence that set my heart racing.  I didn’t know why I was feeling nervous and exhilarated at the time, but somehow my heart knew what was coming because Marshall then said “…or as my wife..,” pulled a ring box out from his pocket, and got down on one knee.  

        “Will you marry me?”: words I’d dreamed of my whole life, but I could barely believe it.  It felt so surreal.  I was actually going to marry the man of my dreams.  I was going to be his wife, and he was going to be my husband.  Since my mind was exploding with exhilaration and happiness, I went on autopilot.  I did the mannerisms that pretty much all girls do when they’re proposed to: I clapped a hand to my mouth, choked out a “yes,” and wrapped Marshall into a boa constrictor-tight hug, telling him I loved him.  In retrospect, I kind of wish I would’ve paused a moment before saying “yes,” savoring the moment, but instead I said “yes” almost before he’d finished asking me, I was that excited.  I couldn’t help myself.  When you get the opportunity to marry a man as wonderful as Marshall, it’s impossible to hesitate!  And after Marshall had proposed to me and put the ring on my finger, I just couldn’t stop looking at it.  It’s so simply beautiful and unique, like a sparkly snowflake.  I couldn’t wait to share with everyone the wonderful news that I’d be marrying my prince! 

          I continue to play the moment of Marshall’s proposal over and over in my head and can’t help but smile.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the wedding planning we’ll have to do, the trials that we’ll face as we spend the rest of our lives together, and the commitment we’ll be making to each other, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Marshall is worth any hardship I may have to go through in life.  As long as we’re together, I’ll be the happiest woman alive.  And that’s the power of true love: it makes life so much more fulfilling and wondrous and brings out the strongest feelings you’ll ever feel.        

           Saturday, August 23, 2014…  It was such a romantic, magical day that I will never forget. I love Marshall so much, and can't wait to marry him and spend the rest of forever with him.  He makes my life so happy and complete.


Friday, August 1, 2014

“I’ll tickle your catastrophe.”

A couple of weeks ago I got a book at the library called The Standard Book of Shakespeare Quotations, and I’ve had quite a bit of fun with it.  Shakespeare has so many funny quotations in his works.  They’re especially funny when you quote them with a dignified, dramatic voice.  Here are a couple examples of some particularly funny/unusual ones:

“Your bum is the greatest thing about you.”

“Away, you scullion! you rampalian! you fustilarian!  I’ll tickle your catastrophe.”
“Away, you cut-purse rascal! you filthy bung, away! By this wine, I'll thrust my knife in your mouldy chaps, an you play the saucy cuttle with me. Away, you bottle-ale rascal! you basket-hilt stale juggler, you!”

“I had rather chop this hand off at a blow, And with the other fling it at thy face.”

There are so many awesome Shakespeare quotes, but my favorite is the following one from his play Macbeth: “What, you egg? Young fry of treachery!”  I think it’s actually my favorite quote of all time, to be honest.  It is just so funny to say!  Whenever I quote it I can’t help but laugh afterward.  You’ve gotta love the little things in life.  They’re what make life so worthwhile and much more interesting.  An ice cream cone, a favorite song, a sunny day, a hug…these little, sweet things make life so lovely.  An opportunity that arose last night can also be included with these little things.

It was a warm, sunny day, but a few clouds were coming in and thunder rumbled in the distance, when all of a sudden it began hailing!  My boyfriend Marshall and I dashed out and snagged a few pieces.  They were so beautiful, and it’s so amazing to think about.  Those little chunks of ice actually fell from the sky, in perfectly round pieces.  We held pieces of the sky in our hands.  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any more awesome, it stopped hailing and then began down pouring like crazy!!  So, naturally, we ran outside and into the rain.  We screamed and laughed deliriously, shaking with both exhilaration and with frigidity from the cold rain pelting down upon us.  In that moment, I felt so free, so alive.  I don’t think there’s anything better than that.  Just enjoying a simple piece of nature, feeling the rain pour down on me and not even care that my clothes are soaked.  Just letting nature take its course and marvel in it all around me…letting nature “tickle” my “catastrophe.”   

           This feeling that I have for running in the rain is how I should approach the rest of my life.  When things go wrong or unexpectedly, I should accept it and enjoy it.  I should let nature “tickle” my “catastrophe.”   When my life is filled with rainclouds and storms, I need to ditch my depression and instead embrace the beauty that even rainclouds and storms can have.  Because truly life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.