Sarah McCarten

Thirty things that have changed the lens through which I see. A guest post from Jennifer Upton



I met Jennifer through Elora’s Story101 course. Apart from the wonderful things I’m learning, I’m also meeting the best people. Jennifer is one of those people. Enjoy.

I lied to myself when I said it would be simple to list thirty things that have changed the way I see life. Thirty moments out of thirty seven years of living seemed impossible. Moments came to me that I’ve not brought to the surface of my memory in years, brought refreshment. Moments I’ve never spoken aloud, afraid of who may be listening, brought angst. Moments that I am tired of sharing, but must, because they have wrecked me, brought regret (again). In the end, my list is just that- moments. Moments of my life, but not the whole of my life. Moments that have shaped the way I see, but haven’t narrowed my view.
  1. “No matter how far you go, you can’t outrun grief.” Words spoken by my wandering friend Patricia through tears as she held a bus ticket in her hand.
  2. Dancing in the cold January rain with my mother in law, wearing only our bra and panties, the night before she would be cut open side to side. We knew this was the last time she would reveal herself in this way for eyes to see, so I joined her in this freedom dance.
  3. “If you are real God, I need you to show me.” Words spoken through drunken lips.
  4. Sharing a meal and Jesus with the woman my husband had an affair with.
  5. Hitting publish.
  6. The day I chose to live in the gift named healed.
  7. Tilling of dirt, pounding of stones, the rip of weeds from the earth with bare hands imagining it to be the landscape of my heart.
  8. Leaving that one room shack where Mama stoked the fire every night at the foot of the couch where my brother and I slept.
  9. Answering the phone and hearing a family member say that my uncle lay murdered in his front yard. My husband’s uncle the suspect.
  10. My brother being born deaf.
  11. Confessing my adultery.
  12. Watching my husband dance a final dance with his mother atop a vessel on the Caribbean Sea. “I love this morphine stuff,” she announced in a laugh.
  13. Witnessing a mama dolphin give birth in the wide open waters of Florida. I jumped off the boat to get a closer look.
  14. Swimming in the Caribbean with sea turtles gliding beneath my body; a graceful dance of the deep.
  15. Holding the hand of a dying woman my heart loved deep hearing her say “I love you” on dying breath as one single tear fell from her eye.
  16. Being thirsty for the unknown and giving myself a drink.
  17. Entering into community.
  18. Being abandoned by friends my heart named family.
  19. No longer altering myself when I enter a room.
  20. Praying the prayer “Lord, take us to places where we feel small.”
  21. Receiving my husband’s words “I choose you.”
  22. Seeing the look on Omar’s face as I read from his state issued identification that his birthday was that day. Omar was homeless with addiction running through his veins yet he poured out his truth on us.
  23. Feeling my son being pulled from my belly.
  24. The moment I realized my tiny smile wasn’t the subject captured in the frame of my Daddy’s camera that day at the fair, but hers, the woman he was having an affair with.
  25. My first road trip in an R.V. driven by my grandfather, carrying us to the ocean.
  26. Having spiritual abuse defined in the basement of a Saturday night comedy club turned Sunday morning church. It was then I knew I had been abused.
  27. Looking at my son and seeing myself.
  28. Calling myself an artist.
  29. Saying the words “You are enough” to myself.
  30. Knowing if I left I would be homesick forever.

971579_10151590990669349_85747742_nJennifer is a writer, blogger, budding photographer, seasoned explorer and lover of all things story. She transparently shares about life, marriage and living a new normal on her blog


Author: sarahmccarten

2 thoughts on “Thirty things that have changed the lens through which I see. A guest post from Jennifer Upton

  1. Love Jennifer’s heart and authentic transparency. She always inspires. My favorite one is when she shares about choosing to live in a plan called “healed.” I think we could all do with a little more of that.

  2. What a wonderful exercise! The format itself is inspiring; Jennifer’s transparency and joy even more so.

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