Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Cannon Beach, Oregon, May 2018

Hello and welcome to This Joyful Life! Most people who will visit this website already know me, but just in case you don’t, my name is Jenene. I'd like to share a little about who I am and why I'm here.


One thing I hear about myself from almost everyone who has ever described me, is that I am a quiet person. I've heard it so many times, that it never comes as a surprise! I know that I do far more observing, thinking, and pondering than talking. Still, I always think to myself, ‘Oh, if they only REALLY knew me!!!’ You see, if you can get a glimpse past the quiet exterior, there is also an exuberance inside that bubbles over and sometimes feels too much for me to contain; exuberance for the vast and various things in this life that bring me inexplicable joy, all of which I credit my Creator. Those that are close to me know it is there and have seen it frequently, if not regularly. Often it is the smallest of things that bring the biggest of bubbles, like the first snowflake of winter or my dog doing her wiggle-butt greeting after gathering a sock in her mouth when I come home or Mt. Rainier sightings... okay, so Mt. Rainier is far from "small," but I think you know what I mean!


Mt. Rainier taken in-flight from Boise, ID to Seattle, WA - July 2019

Along this vein, it has also been said of me, by those who know me well, that I am a passionate person. I’d never really considered that as a description of myself the first time I heard it, but it is certainly true. I feel my emotions deeply, I feel OTHERS' emotions deeply, I care deeply, I love deeply.


This website has been in my head for a while. My step-daughter, Sarah, inspired me to take the plunge. It will showcase all the passionate, joy-filled bubbles in photographs, music, video, and written words. That will be the best way to find out who I really am, while providing me a much-needed outlet for those bubbly times.

One of the things I love is the ocean and if there is anywhere on earth that I would choose to be, it would be there. There’s a reason it is a background theme throughout my website and you will see it in many of the photos I post. Now this may sound odd at first, but I would liken my life to the ocean, and perhaps it’s one of the reasons I love it so much, because it is so relatable. Those bubbles I talked about? They come in waves.They build and crash, build and crash. So sometimes you will see me posting things often, while other times there will be nothing at all… like the waves and seafoam rushing to shore all wet and bubbly, then retreating, only to be brought back in another wave.

Enough about me. Let’s turn to the people around me.


Oregon Coast Vacation: Newport, Oregon Marina - October 2019

First, I have a wonderful, loving husband. He is my soul-mate, my confidante, my protector, the one who makes me laugh and smile daily, my rock when the ground beneath me feels shaky, my partner in the deepest sense of the word, and the love of my life. I can’t imagine life without him and am grateful for every moment God gives us together.

Next, my husband and I have a very large family, with seven grown children between us, four daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law, one fur-baby named Gracie, nine grandchildren (one of whom recently became an adult himself), both sets of parents still living, and many other extended family members. I love them all with all my heart. Spending time with any and all of them is what I love to do most in this life. They enhance my life and bring me so much pride and joy. Next to God, my husband and family are THE most important parts of my life.


Last, but most definitely not least and actually FIRST, is God. I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ. Notice I didn’t say a perfect follower, but a committed follower. It is not in the striving for perfection, but in the relationship with him that is the source of my ever-developing and maturing personal and spiritual growth. My love for him and vice versa is what feeds and waters my soul and breathes existence into This Joyful Life.

Finally, let’s talk about the purpose of this website. I’ve touched on it a bit already, but I also want to say that this is not a teaching website, but rather a sharing website. A place to share my joys and heartaches, my passions and my concerns, my discoveries and fears, my good news and bad news.


It is also a place for me to express my heartfelt gratitude for the treasured and precious gifts I find each day from God. I may not share them here every day, but thanks to some wonderful discoveries I made in 2019, you can be assured that I am noticing those gifts regularly. Sometimes... often, actually, I get distracted and caught up in the madness of this world, but he's teaching me that even in the worst situations, if I stop, slow down, breathe, open my heart of gratitude and look to him, he faithfully shows me all the gifts he's surrounded me with every single day and overwhelms me in the best possible way with his presence. I am always in his presence, I'm just not always aware because I've allowed myself to be distracted and overwhelmed by the world instead of him. I was never promised that there would never be pain or heartache, only that he would be my strength and help me through those times when I give thanks (when I don't feel like it) and keep my eyes on him (when I'd rather be angry or fearful or consumed with self-pity). It has taken practice and I still have a long way to go, but I can't begin to describe the consuming peace and sense of well-being that follows when I do this. It has produced more gratitude than my heart can hold at times to the point of real tears of joy. It brings me assurance of God’s love and care for me. There’s really nothing more precious than that.

If you would like to receive notices of updates to the website or blog, there is a place for you to share your email with me below. I would also love to hear from you if you'd like to leave a comment for me below. Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ll come back often.

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

It's Saturday, my favorite day of the week. It’s a day that I’m not burdened by alarms and hurried work preparation routines. I can relax and lounge in my pajamas as long as I like – all day, even, if I choose. I can linger over coffee and have a second cup before I start my day. I can draw, paint, watch videos of other people painting… search for the song being played in the background of that video… find and play the full video of the song and fall in love with the young, 16 year-old artist… excitedly search for more of her music… and find that she commit suicide two weeks prior to her 17th birthday…


Thud!


My heart sinks.


I read the detail-lacking story; look at the photos of her; search her face, her eyes – for something, anything, that tells the story of what might have happened to this young, beautiful, talented and creative soul to bring her to a place that life was too painful to live any longer.


https://www.instagram.com/iamhannahstone/


I search my own memory bank to a time when I was her age – almost exactly her age when she died, when I was 9 days from my 17th birthday. I was going through one of the greatest losses of my entire life. I have many years between that time and now to compare experiences, and it was by far one of the most painful, nearly unbearable, times of my life. My fate could quite easily have been the same. In fact, there was a time a few months later that it almost was the same.


I want to say that if not for the grace of God it would have been the same, because… that’s what people say, right? But does that mean that for those who do commit suicide, that they didn’t have the grace of God? That he didn't care about them as much as he did me? Of course not! There are some things in life that we will never fully understand, and I just have to be okay with that. I am here. I am alive. I am living life more joyfully and fully than I ever have, but…


Today… as I look out my window, the sky is blanketed in hues of blue-grey, lightened and intensified by the varying depth and weight of the sun-blocking clouds. My spirit feels the same. My life is good and I am happy, joyful, even… so why this heavy feeling about someone I never met? Is it the shared understanding of a life that once felt too crushing to live? Is it the thoughts of what her parents must have felt, what they must STILL feel? After all, it was only two years ago. Surely their hearts still have a horrendous ache inside. Is it just my nature to so deeply connect with another’s pain as if it were my own? That’s a blessing and a curse, by the way!


Whatever it is, I feel it, and it makes me more aware of how important it is to have a Heart of Gratitude (more about that another time), to connect with my Creator daily, not just once a day, but all day. He keeps me centered. He keeps me going when life gets hard. He reminds me that I am free... truly free... to be loved and cared for in the most beautiful way that exists, because of Him. So, in that way, if not for Him… MY act of reaching out to Him, it is THEN that if not for the grace of God, my fate may well have been that of the beautiful and talented Hannah Stone. I hope you found the arms of God on your exit from this world, my dear.



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