Tune into this excellent service and hear Jenni and others and the excellent sermon on April 13, 11 AM, at www.wposfm.com --click the radio tower icon at the top of the home page. On the radio dial, the station is 102.3FM. To visit our church, however, the services start at 10:40 AM with announcments.
Jenni, a soprano, has a really smooth, lovely, professional sound. She sings with our choir and worship team on occasion, but is pretty busy for music with her CPA husband and her three children. I remember a Christmas cantata which I directed around 1980. I auditioned and found 3 sets of sisters capable of performing excellently and in tune, a duet part with the children's choir singing, "Christmas isn't Christmas 'til it Happens in Your Heart." Jenni was one of these girls. All these girls were equally talented singers --so one set sang at the mall; another at the prison; and another at the home church concert. Today, at least three of the 6 are still performing solos (two are the music teachers, Steph and Chris, mentioned earlier.)
Jenni says she thought she probably would never get married --and then her Mr. Right, a few years younger than she, took an interest and took hold. She praises God for the good blessing of having such a nice and kind husband, who is head of finance for a tax-supported non-profit. He served as our church treasurer for several years. He, too, has gone on the Katrina mission trips. I think, like Inga, she introduced her husband to Christ and church life, if memory serves me correctly. She was previously a successful jr. high English teacher in the TPS. She is spunky and plucky, always upbeat, and can out-maneuver any jr. high student with her verbal wit and just a bit of orneriness --and a tad of what the old blogger Microdot would call sarcasicity!
Jenni considers that the church helped to raise her and her sister, who were adopted, as their mother was a single divorced mom and their father was not a part of their life. I mention the adoption, because in today's climate, they might have been aborted instead. What a loss that would have been! She tells how our then youth director, Ike Ruckman, became a substitute father to her. Ike was wonderful to be an extra resource for our teen kids, a back-up support for our parenting ideals, one whom the kids respected even when they were out of sorts with parents. He would attend the kids' school events with his wife, and plan excellent lessons and activities for them. Unfortunately, his company took him to Columbus. Continuing the Christian mentoring for Jenni and her sister was the Spring Arbor University, one of our church colleges. She and her sister were always hard workers and worked their way through school, in addition to whatever other aid they were elegible for.
Her children are so cute and bright and probably musical. Two beautiful little girls and a boy between. Their little boy has a birth defect caused by the placenta wrapping around his arm and shortening its development. My grandson had often played with this boy and one day when they were all at McDonald's around age 4, he came up and said, "Mrs.__, Mrs. ____, Josh only has 3 fingers!!!!" He had never noticed. And he went away informed and counting his own. "I have five, one, two, three...." Children are blessed with seeing only the beauty and perfection of those they love, aren't they?
This little boy is such a bright little delight and has just the right parents and sisters. There was a question about whether he would get some insurance-related coverage or not, so the mother had to take him to a meeting. At the age of three, he brought tears to the committee's eyes -and got the funding --as he told them about his "short arm," that God had made him that way --or allowed it, and therefore it was OK to be different in that way. Jenni said with a twinkle in her eye, it wasn't beyond her to use "cute" to get something they needed!
And sing! O he can sing on pitch and loudly! I think we'll be hearing good things from him all his life. But sometimes he does feel bad about his difference, and his mother is just one to not let him wallow too long in self-pity, to help him count his blessings and rejoice in all that he can do, in all that is normal and healthy about him. He has his parents' intelligence and his mother's zest and verbal and theatrical gifts.
I remember when the Covenant Players visited our church last year and they did a skit with children where they enacted the story of the Good Samaritan. They chose Joshua (because he was little and willing --which they needed) to be the victim along the side of the road --because they had to place him on another student's back who played the donkey who the Samaritan uses to take the victim to the inn for care. It was so fun and so cute --and all the little boys loved it --playing the robbers, playing the two passersby, the inn keeper, the Good Samaritan --and the donkey.
The mothers of special needs kids have an extra burden in life and an extra heartache, but the church makes a loving extended family, a place of belonging apart from sometimes cruel peer groups and schools. I expect Josh and his family will sing God's praises all their lives, because, even in the midst of disappointment and imperfection, Jesus is the all-sufficient lover of our souls --and He gives the joy in the midst of earthly trials --and the promise of complete wholeness in the eternal life to come --where there are no more sorrows or tears, death or disability.
Jenni directs our children's Christmas program and will direct our VBS this July. Previously she worked with the youth on Wednesday nights. We look forward to whatever she puts her hand to --and hope she will always find some time to make music as we don't all have that gift as she does.
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible