About Me,  social media

Best of 2016

Well, if not best then at least most popular. Shall we list from 10 to 1? Okie dokie.

10. Conversation with an exorcist {part 1}

9. What can we do? Practical steps for living in an age of terror

8. Porn-proofing our kids: practical steps {2 in a series}

7. Well, that escalated quickly

6. Porn-proofing our kids: emotional investment {1 in a series}

5. The power of a single life

4. This vocation is shaped like a cross

3. Conform or be destroyed (but be not afraid)

2. The innocence of children 

and, drumroll please, the one that found me chatting with radio hosts and answering emails from journalists and became my most-viewed post not just of 2016 but vvvvv close to all time:

1. Women, know your limits!

When I think back over 2016 and actually just reading through some of these old posts, I can see how dramatically I’ve changed and how much I’ve mellowed, if that is possible. (INTJ 4ever.) But I do seem to have mellowed a bit, just the same. The bark is softer, the bite is gentler. I still write about hard stuff and hold unpopular opinions, but it’s all been tempered a bit in the forge that was 2016.

I wouldn’t have said 6 months ago that this was the best year of my life, what with being the throes of shingles and watching another contract on another house fall through, but now, looking back on the journey we’ve completed as a family and that I’ve been forging as an individual, I’m a little bit in awe of what God has done. Which is helpful to call to mind when I’m temper tantruming at Him for what still needs to be done. Note to self.

This year has stretched me further and plunged me deeper into the abyss of neediness of Him than any other. From health struggles to new ways of eating and caring for my body to healing of a more spiritual nature, 2016 really had it all. And while I wouldn’t do it again for a million bucks, I’m so glad it happened. It really was a Year of Mercy. But not the fluffy kind, you know?

On a more directly blog related note, I have found that by pulling back from social media I’ve regained a better equilibrium for what my voice sounds like, and what my mission is for this space. There was a very real possibility of walking away from it all earlier in the year. And I’m glad to have found a new normal, a better balance which, for the time being, includes zero social media platforms aside form the occasional Facebook Live video and auto posting links to new blogs to FB and Twitter. Do I feel like a little bit of a hypocrite creating content and distributing it across social networks but not partaking of said networks? Well, I did at first. But after a bit of soul searching and pondering, I’ve come to believe that we all have the right and even the responsibility to decide how we’ll spend the time we’ve been given. And I was spending a vast amount of that time behaving, at least on the internet, the same way I’d behaved in grad school or as a young single working girl: supremely connected and almost always available.

When I looked around at my dirty floors and 4 beautiful and demanding children and the life we were trying to build, it made very little sense to be spending literal hours a day answering messages and emails, checking notifications, and the like. I’m not exaggerating, either. It was very literally hours, some days, when it all added up.

So I’m here still, trying to figure out what the future holds for the blog. And after what my sister and I joked (she was a new college grad desperately job hunting and flopping on my couch and I was dying of home-buying related ailments and, well, shingles) that this year was the Year of “No,” it has felt right to say a whole lot of no’s lately. But I can sense that there may be a new season just up ahead, on the horizon. This morning I went for a run, my first in maybe 5 months. As I pounded the pavement to a vintage Tom Petty album, I felt a real sense of possibility that maybe soon, maybe even this week or this month, we would be transitioning out of a season of survival mode and into something more. More what? I’m not sure. I just have the sense that this grueling, necessary and purifying chapter is almost finished. And maybe the next season will be harder. It could be. But maybe it could be a golden, honey-hued time of simple meals and meaningful connection. Of good, structured days and short runs and more laughing and less crying and an intensity that finds its focus not in worry or overwhelm but in prayer and in service.

I’m ready for a year like that.

I pray that your own New Year’s celebrations are joyful, chill, and marked by a distinct lack of projectile vomiting. As for me and my house, we’d like a bit of a Christmas do-over, and maybe we’ll shoot for just that.

Peace be with us, every one.

mama and luke

(And also, if you could spare a moment of prayer for a giant of a man, Fr. Mike Scanlan, who is probably going home to Jesus today. Pray for his endurance in this final mile, and for a glorious reception in Heaven. My life, like so many others of my generation, was absolutely transformed by his yes to the Lord. Read about him here.)


  • Laura

    So glad that you’re still writing! We’re at very different points in life, but I feel like we have the exact same thoughts sometimes. I love writing about controversial issues, many of which you’ve touched on, but have scaled back lately. I just don’t know what my place and voice is in those battles. But I want to keep at it. And I’m glad you’re keeping at it because it helps to hear other people work through the though stuff.

  • Becky

    Jenny, this is unrelated to this (great!) post but I was reading this article and thought it was something you’d be interested in. I’m a lurker around here and not even Catholic (though my husband and I do NFP unsuccessfully…pregnant with our 3rd in 3 years, ha!) I really enjoy your writing and this seemed like it would be interesting to you. (Also, we’re both INTJ’s and I love finding others who understand! Thanks, personality test, for essentially saying I’m similar to every movie villian ever)
    Anyway, the article is sad and surprising (but, unfortunately not *too* surprising). I think they’re drawing some strange conclusions…”unwanted” or unplanned babies get less care from their parents? Maybe, but maybe because they’re often second or subsequent children so the parent is unable to give undivided attention and unlimited time to reading Brown Bear 7 times in a row…but maybe that’s just me. #momguilt?
    It makes a few good points about the resources needed to address PPD and parental leave but it’s main point is in the last sentence: “If what we want is deliberate, thought-out, planned, and expected parenthood — and parenting that is healthy and happy for children — then we have to speak out.” It just smacks of our broken, selfish desire to control everything and live life solely focused on ourselves.


  • KD

    Moving out of survival mode is so so nice! It’s not like it immediately allows for extra time every day, but I love being in a season where I can help out others by bringing them a meal or watching their kiddos, or have time to volunteer at church, or just take better care of myself/build better habits so i can live out my vocation better, etc etc! I could go on and on 🙂 I hope your 2017 finds you out of survival mode at some point! 🙂
    Thanks for your writing!

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