Wife, mommy and domestic genious in training!

Oh, I have a blog?!? I forgot…for like 3 years!  August 13, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 6:03 pm

So, I started this blog with such great intentions when Sarah was a baby. You know, the same intentions that would always have a clean house, never yell at my kids, not be a yoga pants, no make-up wearing, hair in a bun stay at home mom….well those intentions became reality: I’m a hot mess! And, it’s ok. 

I’m ready to have a creative outlet again for my thoughts. I’m ready to record some thoughts and prayers for my marriage, my girls, my friends, etc. 

Feel free to read along or not. My desire is really to use this as a place to write so my girls can read this stuff later. I’m not a writer, theologian or expert, just a girl trying to find her way and leave a legacy for her kids 💖


Our marriage March 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 4:07 pm

Dearest Sarah,

My heart is heavy and I want, no need, to write this letter to you.  You won’t be able to read it or really understand it for a long time, but I have to get these thoughts down on paper for you.  I am so saddened by the sheer number of couples we know who are currently walking thru divorce.  Daddy and I talk a lot about this and talked a lot about it before we got married.  We are adamant that we will not get divorced ever…so much so that we don’t even speak the word.  We truly believe that the Lord brought us together and we believe our vows are sacred.

Now, let me stop right here because other people are reading this too – please know that this is in no way meant as a judgment against anybody else.  I know first-hand that nobody knows what goes on in a house except the people who live there.  I also know that most people don’t enter into marriage with divorce as an option.  I just want to share my heart (and Daddy’s too) on how we view our marriage.  Just the fact that so many people we know are currently walking thru this has stirred up my heart to write to you.

Daddy and I have foundations for our marriage.  We have the obvious ones that everybody goes into marriage with: fidelity, love, trust.  We also have others that I believe are as important, or maybe even more important.  The core of who we are as people, spouses, and parents – we are Jesus followers.  We are FAR from perfect, but we live in the grace that Jesus provides for us.  Our desire to serve Him and look like Him drives us as individuals and a couple.  We believe that Jesus is our main foundation of our marriage.  We pray for each other, we pray together and we pray for you.  We go to church together and study the Bible together.  We pray that we instill this faith in you and demonstrate it for you so that you will choose Jesus too.  We also pray for your husband.  We pray that his parents are bringing him up to love the Lord and to protect his heart for you someday…you know, in like 30 years!

We also have a foundation of friendship.  There is nobody we would rather spend time with then each other!  Daddy always laughs at me because I tell him I like him.  But I do.  I love him. But I also like him.  He is my favorite person and I am his favorite person.  Now, we are still what most people consider newlyweds, so we are still in ga-ga love with each other.  But we are also old enough to know that feeling can fade away and there better be more to a marriage.  So, we work hard to grow our friendship as well as our marriage.  We learn about things the other person likes.  You know, like how I have learned ALL about softball and baseball when all I ever thought before were that baseball players were cute.  (See that’s one of the reasons I think Daddy is cute – he played baseball…anyway…) And how Daddy has learned ALL about jewelry because I love it and have a jewelry business.  We play cards together and watch sports together and do other stuff that fosters our friendship so that we will always have that in common.

We value each other and our relationship more than any other relationship (except with Jesus- He always comes first).  Because of the value that we place on each other, we do things to protect our marriage from allowing Satan a foothold.  We don’t spend individual time with people of the opposite gender alone.  We know each other’s passwords and share our phones with each other openly too.  We aren’t friends with any ex’s in person or on Facebook.  We don’t take separate vacations.  We take an active role in protecting our marriage and not even allowing openings for other people to swoop in.  As somebody once told me, nobody gets married with the goal of getting divorced and nobody starts a friendship with the idea that they are going to have an affair.  We know that we have to actively protect our marriage so that we don’t become passive.  We also look for friends who place the same priority on their marriage so that we are surrounded by other healthy relationships.  We have friends who have been married longer than us as role models.

We believe that we are on the same team and we are each other’s greatest cheerleaders…no, don’t worry, Daddy isn’t putting on a skirt and picking up pom-poms…neither am I for that matter!  With our words and actions, we are to lift each other up more than anybody else other than the Lord.  We have learned each other’s love languages and we strive to love each other in the way that makes them feel most loved.  You will witness this throughout your life, so I won’t give away all the details here, but I will address some of it.  Daddy’s love language is words of affirmation, so I tell him I love him a lot.  I need acts of service to feel loved, so Daddy always takes the trash out.  These things are little, but make us feel loved.  We also ALWAYS speak positively about each other in public.  This is a big one for me.  I want to lift up Daddy and make him feel loved and valued and so I refuse to speak negatively about him in public. This is sort of a soap box for me, so I will step down now.  Just know that we take our role to lift each other up very seriously.

This one is so cliché, but we don’t go to bed mad.  Now, I have to be honest…I definitely have a faster and hotter temper than Daddy and, (don’t tell him this) I usually pick/start our arguments and am usually the slowest one to get over it too.  Now, I am going to go with that is because I am a girl and that I am more emotional and definitely more hormonal and that is how God made me…ok, maybe I should leave that last one out, but anyway… We firmly believe that each day should start and end with I love you and with everything resolved.  So far, we don’t argue much – thank the Lord!  Hopefully, that won’t change over time.  We really work to understand the other person and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Remember the grace that we live in from Jesus? Well, we believe that if he can love us enough to die for us and cover all our sins with His grace, we should work to offer that same grace to the people that we love the most.  This is where Daddy is much better than Mommy!  I can honestly admit that to you and the rest of the world – he is much more grace giving than I am.  I am working on that though.  With all that said, because we love each other, value each other and don’t want to allow anger to settle in and turn into resentment, we resolve our issues before bed.

My prayer for you is that you grow up in a home that is happy more times than not, filled with love and laughter and that you witness what a Godly, healthy marriage should look like.  I pray every day that you will grow into the woman God has made you to be.  Selfishly, I pray that means that you will one day be a wife and a Mommy and that you will believe that you had a good role model in both of those in me.  I am so far from perfect and know that I will make many mistakes, but that’s ok.  I want you to learn how to kindly speak your heart and mind and know that you can disagree.  I want you to learn to stop and think about the other person’s perspective.  I want you to realize God’s abundant grace and learn to be a grace giver.  I want you to be such a better person than I am and know that the only way that is possible is if I work to be the woman God created me to be and teach you to be the woman God created you to be and we both allow God to love us, mold us and grow us!  Daddy and I long for you to grow up feeling secure and loved.  We long for you to look for your value in Christ first.  We pray you will protect your heart and your body for your husband.  I pray you marry a man who loves you as much as Daddy loves me.

Girly, this life is hard.  Marriage isn’t always easy.  Parenthood isn’t always easy; you aren’t even one yet and I have already made mistakes.  We just pray that we instill the values in you that you learn to navigate them all.  The Opdenbrouw house is going to be filled with lots of love, laughter, mistakes and grace!


Sweet Sadie Belle January 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 11:15 pm

As I sit and reflect over the last twelve years, one constant has remained – Sadie.  I got Sadie when she was seven weeks old and a ball of fur.  She had a lack of gracefulness that drew me to her immediately.  She was so excited to play and run she was tripping over her own feet.  That excitement never left her.

Sadie was the perfect pet.  She was always happy to see you, I mean ecstatic!  She loved going for car rides and walks.  In fact, the word walk has been spelled in my home for the last 12 years unless I was taking her on one because she would be at the door ready to go.

She has been at my side from day one; a faithful and loving companion thru thick and thin.  Sadie loved me through moves, jobs, broken hearts, meeting the love of my life, even thru the birth of our first baby.  She immediately assumed the role of protector when Sarah was born.  She would sleep in her room in front of her swing and crib many nap times.  She was the first to push open Sarah’s door and “check” on her when she was crying in her crib.  Never once was she jealous or territorial of me.  She just loved more, like I did.

I am forced to reflect on the times when I wasn’t so faithful to her.  When I traveled for a living and left her alone too often.  Or when I was single and would go and go and go and just not be home enough.  Yet, her love never waned.  She was always excited when I did come home and would love on me like I was her hero.

Sadie has always been our gentle giant.  Weighing in around 75 pounds at her heaviest, she was the sweetest dog ever. The Cook kids loved her.  Even when Griffin was going thru his mean spell and would poke her in the eyes, she would just turn her head.  Then he would lay down on the floor with her and tell her he loved her.  The kids always wanted her to sleep with them when they spent the night.  She would lie down on the floor and let them fight over who got to sleep with her.  She never growled or bit or anything.  She just loved.

Sadie is the first family member Sarah looked for in the morning.  When she saw her, she smiled and made a big excited yell!  They had a special bond that only the two of them understood.

I sat and talked with her yesterday all day.  I told her what a good girl she was.  How blessed I have been to be hers.  How we will always love her.  We reminisced over her life – her early years in Illinois playing in the snow.  Then in Knoxville, walking up and down the hills.  Then Nashville, having the Cooks live with us while they rebuilt from the flood, then Tom and I getting married and him moving in and then Sarah.  She and I had a nice long talk and cry, I told her I knew she was tired and it was ok.  She looked me in the eyes with sad, sunken eyes.  I know she understood.

Tom and I said good bye to her today.  We held her, we cried and we let her go.  She went peacefully and in my arms.

I cried out to the Lord – I am not this strong!  But His sweet, still voice said back to me, I am.  I am.  And He reminded me that in my weakness HIS strength is made perfect.  I know that He will provide the strength to get thru the difficult days and weeks and months ahead.  The moments when I walk in the door and realize Sadie isn’t going to greet me.  The moments when I wake up to a storm worried that she is scared and then realize, she is gone.  The moments…when I just miss her friendship.

If you aren’t a “dog person” you probably think I am crazy right about now.  But if you are, you understand the bond you have with your pet.  She has truly been part of our family.

Now I feel as though there is a giant hole in my heart and in our family.  I know the Lord is merciful.  I am so grateful for the life I have.  I know I have a full, very blessed life.  And yet, there is a hole, where Sadie should be.  I can’t imagine life without her.  It hurts to even breathe.  I believe that she will be in heaven.  The Bible is silent on pets, but the Lord loves us and heaven is an amazing place, I know she will be there dancing and wagging her happy tale at me when I get there.  Until then, I will miss you and always love you Sadie Belle!  You are the best girl I could have ever had!


Family picture Summer 2012


Guest Blogger – Tom January 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 8:10 pm

My sweet husband always reads everything I write.  One day he asked if he could do an entry in our blog.  Of course, I said yes.  It is, after all for our kids.  I had no idea what he was planning on writing.  I am so humbled and blessed by him I can’t even tell you.  These are his words…

As 2012 ends and 2013 begins, I felt the urge to write. I, for one, am captivated and intrigued to read every entry that Jenny writes. Tough shoes to fill, but here it goes. I sat in church the other day and listened to the pastor talk about the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, especially as it relates to marriage. All kinds of emotions, memories, and thoughts flooded my mind as I tried my best to focus on the message. As I was holding our daughter, Sarah, in one arm and Jenny’s hand with the other I felt an overwhelming sense of JOY. Jenny absolutely amazes me. I remember sitting in the car after dropping her off from our first date thinking WOW, she is the one! So many people had told me that you will know it when you meet the one but after so many lemons out there I couldn’t believe that I had found my true love. The friendship, partnership, and mutual trust that we have together is simply indescribable, yet amazing! I pray that someday ( a long, long time from now) that our daughter marries a man that makes her an even better, fulfilled person like Jenny does to me. I also pray that our example of love, respect, and admiration of each other allows her to be in the same kind of relationship. I thank those in my life who showed what that looks like. I am reminded of Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” The bottom line is that I am eternally grateful for all of the blessings in my life. With one of the biggest blessings being this wonderful woman in my life, named Jenny!



What must Mary have thought?!?! December 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 5:55 pm

What must Mary have thought?!? ! I am not even married and I am going to have a baby?!?! And He will save the world?!?!

I’m thinking that there must not have been a complete reveal of God’s plan to use Jesus…well, I know there wasn’t, I have read the story a million times.  I can’t imagine what she felt.  The fear, the excitement, the total and complete trust and obedience….

And, what about Joseph? Umm…you’re going to have a baby, but we haven’t…we aren’t even married…how?!?!  And his love for her to “quietly” put her aside so to not shame her more.  And, then, his total love, trust and obedience to marry her and raise Jesus.

My whole life I have read and heard this story as a church-goer and Christian and have thought about it as the birth of Jesus, my Savior.  This year, I read it differently…as a mom.  I can honestly say I have never given much thought to Joseph and Mary in the story other than the people that God chose to deliver Jesus.  I never thought about the emotions they felt, the issues they no doubt had to work thru…the sheer inconvenience of the matter of having to travel while pregnant and give birth in a stable.

I’m humbled every day that God gave us Sarah.  We have believed since before she was born that He has a plan to use her to change the world.  One of the reasons her life verse is what it is, (Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.), is because we truly believe God is going to use her in a huge way.  We believe God has already used her in her short eight months to bring joy to people – in the last month as we have been in the hospital and rehab facility with my aunt, her easy smile and sweet spirit have brought joy and hope to people who haven’t had much to smile about.  With all that said, I know my child wasn’t sent to be the Savior.  I know she wasn’t sent to die for the world.  I don’t know what God has planned for her or how he plans to use her.

But, I sit today and think, for just a moment, how must Mary have felt?  When she held that precious baby, when he smiled at her, when he cried. What must have gone thru her mind? I pray every day that I will be the mom God wants me to be for Sarah, that Tom and I will direct her in the path He has for her.  I pray we will grow in the Lord and always be an example of His love for her.  What in the world must Mary have felt?  How do you even begin to raise the Savior of the world?!?! I mean, I know he was perfect and God’s Son, but he still needed parents.  She still loved him as any mother would love her child.  She still felt pressure to be the mom God had truly called her to be.

And, I look across at Tom and think how excited we were to find out I was pregnant…and I think, wow, how different it was for Joseph.  And what about the pressures on him to raise a baby, a boy, a man that wasn’t even “his” child!  To love Mary and trust the Lord that she had been faithful to him.  What a different emotion to be raising and loving a child that wasn’t his own, but yet, was.

I sit and think about the end of the story, about Mary watching her son dying on a cross to save the world…the pain is almost too much for me to bear to even think about it.  What must she have felt?  Surely she questioned God in that moment.  The ultimate question – if there is a God, why must bad things happen to good people…why must her son die?  As a believer, I know the end of the story, I know the “plan” for Jesus.  But as His mother, she just knew he was her son and that she loved him.  Imagine if she had turned her back on God…imagine if she had tried to take control of the situation and not trust God’s plan…imagine if she had decided it was all too much and too hard for her…imagine if you were her…

She didn’t do any of that though; she chose to trust in what seemed an impossible situation.  She chose to obey in a situation that made no sense.  Wow, how humbling…I think I should be in control, I think God should show me His plan…I bet Mary was glad she didn’t know the entire plan from the beginning…

As I read the “Christmas Story,” as we call it now, I was struck with an entire new set of emotions this morning.  I was filled with a new sense of awe and wonder, a new sense of love and humbleness.  Motherhood has changed me…changes me every day… but the best change is that I am drawing closer to a Lord who loves me, one who never ceases to amaze me and I am learning about His love for me in an entirely new way.

If you are reading this and you don’t know that Jesus loves you and you don’t know that He chose to die to save you and you want to know more…please ask me.  I’m not really using my blog as a platform for anything, but I can’t imagine knowing this love and not offering to share it.  Jesus came just for us, He lived and died, fought Satan and rose again just because he loves us and wants to spend eternity with us. When I became a Christian, my sister said to me “Jesus died for Jenny.”  Little did that sweet little 8 year old know those words would carry me through many difficult times, but it was the words of a child that drew me to the Lord – Jesus died for Jenny and He died for you too!

Imagine how Mary and Joseph feel now, knowing that their son came to save the world!


Shhh…don’t tell Mommy November 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 4:22 pm

Hi! It’s Sarah here…don’t tell Mommy that I am writing this.  She is so cute; she still thinks I am a little baby that doesn’t know how to do this typing stuff!

So, I have read some of these blog things Mommy posts, man she is awesome!  (OK I had to say that in case she read this!)  What I need you to know is that my Mommy is NOT as serious as she acts in this blog.  She sings to me and plays with me.  Oh and you should see her dance…well, that is what she says she is doing.  I think it is HILARIOUS!  Poor lady…her and Daddy both dance for me and oh is it funny.  They like this guy LaCrae – now there is some talent, his song Send Me is my fave…apparently Mommy likes it too because she cranks it and Jesus Music up so loud I am sure the neighbors can hear it.  Then we just dance around the kitchen and sing and laugh!  I will try to get that video camera on her one day while she is doing it and show you!

She also likes to play.  We play with my ball and it is one of my favorite toys.  We play with my puppy piano.  Mommy likes it, so I let her play with it.  We play with my Cookie Monster, doll, and books.  I have all kinds of fun toys that I share with Mommy and Daddy.  I love to read.  So, I let them read to me a lot.  Daddy is really good at reading to me.  He changes his voice up and it is cool!

Mommy likes to dress me up all the time.  It makes her happy, so I let her.  Plus, I love when people stop and talk to me and tell me how cute I am.  I just smile really big at them and then they REALLY think I am cute!  I love people – just like my Mommy and Daddy!

Oh and my Daddy coaches football.  I love football!!!!  We go and watch their team play.  My favorite player, London, always comes and hugs on me and holds me.  I love him.  Then we watch the game and Mommy jumps up and down and yells.  She is crazy y’all!  I love it too.  And sometimes they let me watch it on tv too.  I also love softball and baseball.  Daddy coaches softball too.  Mommy said that he was a baseball pitcher and that is why she thinks he is so cute.  I think that is gross, but whatever.  Back to business – Daddy is teaching me to pitch.  Mommy says as little as I am I might be able to be a slapper and run fast.  That sounds fun!  When baseball or softball are on tv I get to watch it too, but Daddy says that is all over now for a little while.  He says something called basketball is about to start.  I don’t know about that, Mommy says she doesn’t like watching that on tv but maybe we can go to TSU and watch some of the games.  I am thinking I will like it since I like anything that has the word ball in it.

I have a puppy.  Her name is Sadie.  Mommy and Daddy say she is an old lady but I don’t think so because she likes to take a lot of naps – more than me!  I love her.  I laugh at her and pet her and talk to her.  She loves me too.  When I am screaming in my bed trying to get Mommy to come get me Sadie comes in and checks on me and then she goes and gets Mommy!  We like to hang out on Mommy and Daddy’s bed together while Mommy is getting ready and watch Vegie Tales.

One of my favorite tricks is to cry in the middle of the night.  Mommy and Daddy think they have me “trained” to sleep thru the night.  So, every now and then I will just decide to wake up and cry.  Sometimes I do it for 10 minutes and sometimes for an hour.  I love it because it keeps Mommy awake.  Hahaha!!! I mean, ummm…maybe I will stop doing that.

Oh and I like to eat!  You know, I have been having this milk stuff and it is good and all but then a few months ago they started giving me other stuff – fruits, vegies, oatmeal cereal.  YUMMY!  I mean, why were they holding out on my all this time?!?! And, now Mommy is trying to get me to drink from one of those baby sippy cups, but I don’t want to.  I like to drink out of her cup.  She says it is water.  I don’t know what that means, but I like it!  She seems happy that I like that water stuff too, so she lets me drink out of her cup.

I love my Mommy and Daddy.  Daddy goes to work every morning, so it is just Mommy and me all day.  That’s fun, but I LOVE when Daddy comes home!  I smile and he says “I love that smile” and picks me up and hugs and kisses me!  I like hanging out with him.  He says that Sunday is our day and Mommy gets the day off.  I don’t know what that means because Mommy is always still around, but I like it because I get lots of time with Daddy on Sunday!

I like to talk a lot too.  Everybody says I come by that honestly.  I don’t know what that means either but it must be true.

Oops I better go. I think Mommy is coming to check my diaper…better get back to pretending to be a baby!  Thanks for reading my Mommy’s blog.  She really likes writing it.  I love you all!


If pride comes before the fall, what does humility come before? November 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny O @ 10:30 pm

(I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but have been to chicken to post it…ummm obviously I still haven’t learned this lesson…)

I know the Lord is working on me daily, but some things are more obvious and yet harder to figure out all at the same time.  Pride is one of those things for me.

I guess you could say I have always struggled with pride, even though I don’t think I am a prideful person.  I have been successful, people like me, I bought my own houses, and then I married a great man and have a beautiful baby.  I did all that….see the problem there…well, as I grow in the Lord, He is stripping me daily of me and I am realizing I think more highly of myself than I have ever realized.

I know that if I am to become who the Lord wants me to be, I must daily surrender my pride and become more humble.  I must admit that I shop at Aldi (and like it).  I must learn to ask for and accept help.  I must learn that I can’t do anything on my own.  I must admit that, no, I can’t really afford that.  I must admit that my house isn’t always clean.  I must admit that I still struggle with comparison and I still want you to think I have it all together….and I must learn to admit that most of the time, I don’t.

That is sobering for me.  At the root of it all, I have always had it all together…or so you would think.  But, I don’t and it’s ok for me to admit it.  I have to admit that your opinion of me is really important – at times, more important than who Jesus has called me to be.  I must admit that it is vitally important for you to like me, think I have everything together, and think I have more money in my wallet than I do.

I really struggle with the “American dream” taking over my dream.  My success, money, house, clothes, purses and shoes have all too often defined me (to myself more than anybody else).  I have been blessed because I have all these things.  You should like me, heck, even admire me, because of this.  Wow – that is not Christ like at all, and I just wrote it down… but this is truly a struggle for me.  By bringing it into the light, admitting it, maybe, just maybe I give some of that power back to the Lord.

Tom and I have chosen the life we have, the lifestyle we have, and even to a degree, the amount of money we have.  I get to spend every day raising our beautiful baby and forming and directing her in the direction of the Lord.  I am so amazingly grateful for that.  When I start to think about money, I remind myself that I get a blessing many women don’t get – I get to be with my baby, I get to fix dinner every night for our family, I get to be the domestic goddess 🙂 I have always desired to be and that I truly believe God made me to be.  And, just like everything else we desire, there is a cost.

Now, I will still clean my house frantically if you are coming over.  I will still have my makeup and jewelry on.  I will still smile and tell you how wonderful I am.  But, I will promise that there will be a time when I will also say, I’m not ok, I don’t have it all together, Sarah didn’t sleep last night, I am wondering how we are going to pay for new tires for the 4-Runner, I wish I had a maid….But the beauty in it all is that I know that who God has me designed to be is this broken, not-perfect, and hopefully more humble person and that, my friends, is worth it all!