Author Archives: Jenn

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, having dinner guests, and elevenses. She is not afraid to lead a one woman crusade against the rampant misuse of the apostrophe. She is afraid to adopt kittens before the baby turns three.

Taking Initiative, in Spite of Fears

Taking Initiative |  A Simple Haven

This is day 16 & 17 of a 31 days series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I’ve moved enough to learn that if I want to make friends in my new town, I’m going to have to do the hard work of putting myself out there.

Of taking some initiative. Of not waiting around for everyone to come to my door, but to knock on some doors myself.

As an extrovert, taking initiative in relationships probably comes more naturally to me than some, but it can still get exhausting.

It can also be a little fear-inducing: What if they don’t like me? Is what I’m saying resonating with them at all? Am I going to find any kindred spirits?

So there’s a boldness needed to push past the fears that come with initiating–in hopes of really connecting with people and starting quality friendships.

I’ve also found that other fears can arise after you do find a kindred spirit.

Will it weird her out if I suggest getting together regularly? Does she like me as much as I like her? She said if I was ever in her neck of the woods, I should call her up–did she really mean that?

I’ve done this whole starting-over-and-making-new-friends thing about 50 times more than I’d like and the fears never totally go away.

But this year, my One Word pushed me toward being more intentional in my friendships.

To be more honest and say things that felt a little bold. To lay more cards on the table than I felt completely comfortable with. To put myself in potentially awkward situations.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky. A recipient of extra grace. Or maybe I just made the fears a whole lot bigger than they actually deserve to be.

Because it’s gone really well.

I found a new friend who I really connect with and am super encouraged by–we now get together every couple weeks after the kids are in bed. And on some days, those coffee dates are my lifeline.

But I had to ask.

I joined a Bible study at a church I don’t attend because I heard it was filled with older women and I’ve been craving the wisdom and company of a different generation. They’ve been so kind to me and I’ve loved the different perspectives and experiences represented.

But I had to show up knowing only a couple people. And feeling a bit like an outsider.

I went to a blogging conference and roomed with a friend I knew only from online and another girl I’d never met. They were great (great!) and it was a life-giving weekend.

But I had to say yes to going and yes to any potential awkwardness.

More points for boldness.

 Have you had to start over in relationships lately? Any words of wisdom for the rest of us? 🙂

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).


Boldly Believing the Best in Friendships

Boldly Believing the Best  A Simple Haven

This is day 15 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

One fear I can deal with in friendships is the whole “are they mad at me?” thing.

You know.

The conversation ends and you go home and are alone with your thoughts. You start to reflect on all that was said. And start to wonder if maybe what you said wasn’t that great after all.

Did I offend? Was I misunderstood? What does she think of me now?

Or when you haven’t heard from a friend in a while. Maybe she hasn’t called back or you sense a coolness between you that wasn’t there before.

Is she mad? Are we still friends?

Maybe this is all just me. But from what I hear from girlfriends, I kind of doubt it.

The Antidote to “Is She Mad at Me?”

Back in college, a wise woman once told me her policy about all of this: “Believe the best until you hear otherwise.”

In other words, assume that everything is fine unless the friend says differently. Maybe you are already in this habit, but at the time, the concept was revolutionary for me.

You mean I don’t have sit around being anxious and worried about the relationship? I can just trust my friend to tell me if something is wrong?


Well, what if she doesn’t? And it really seems like something is wrong?

Ok, then ask: When I said X, did that hurt or offend you? Hey, are you doing ok lately? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

Easy peasy. Well, maybe it’s not always easy to start those conversations, but the principle is pretty simple: when in doubt, ask.

You know that verse from the Bible about love that everyone likes to quote? My favorite translation of it goes like this:

“Love…is ever ready to believe the best of every person.” 1 Corinthians 13:7, Amplified Version

Love is ready to believe that they’re not mad. Or that they will extend grace if I’ve wronged them. That they’re believing the best about me.

For me, to hope for the best (or ask a question) in the face of fears often feels bold.

But I’ve been trying it for a while now and I like it a whole lot better than anxiously focusing on what may or may not be wrong.

Do you fear what friends may be thinking and not saying?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).


Boldy Making Friends When You Might Be Moving

Boldly Making Friends When You Might Be Moving  A Simple Haven

This is day 14 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To rest the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I told you that I hope for honest, authentic relationships where we bear each other’s burdens and share in one another’s joys. Maybe your hopes are similar.

Well, what if you know you’ll eventually move? Or might move?

Do you continue to invest in the people in your community, spending the time and effort needed to grow those relationships? Or do you check out, pull back, “guard your heart” from getting broken quite so badly when the move eventually happens?

As someone who’s moved 11 times in 8 years, I’ve wrestled with these questions a bit.

But I’ve decided that any pain that comes with leaving is worth the joy of dear friendships.

Yes, It’s Hard

The deeper the friendships, the more it hurts to leave. Boy do I know about that.

Our three years in Dallas was by far the longest we’d lived anywhere. And the friends we made there truly felt like family.

Then we moved. In the middle of winter. To a Midwestern farm town where we knew no one. And I was very, very pregnant with #2. Then my husband had double foot surgery and started grad school. (Cue sad violins).

It was all pretty pitiful. It was also pretty amazing to see how God provided for us during that time. But that’s another story.

But It’s Worth the Effort

Yes, it was a hard season. Yes, I missed my friends in Texas desperately. No, I didn’t always feel like “putting myself out there” and making new ones.

Full disclosure: every time we move, I whine to Hubs about how I don’t want to make new friends/what if no one wants to be my friend? He’s gotten very good at reassuring me.

But at that point, I had also determined that even if we weren’t here in Farm Town long (Lord, I hoped we wouldn’t be here long), I needed to live in community with others while I was here.

Because I believe we were made to go through life’s hills and valleys with other people. Because life is richer when shared with friends. Because I really, really needed people to bring me meals after I had my baby. (Ahem. Cough).

Because anyway, what’s the alternative?

Shallow friendships. No one truly knowing you. Missing out on the blessing of knowing and learning from new friends.

Bummer if/when you move? Totally. But bigger bummer if you miss out on the friendships that could have been.

Have you ever left friends behind? Or struggled with how much to invest in a new place?

PS, Are you moving any time soon? If so, go grab a copy of my free eBook, The Homemaker’s Manifesto: Loving the Home You Have. It’s a quick encouragement to make the most of your new place. 🙂


What I’m Hoping For in Relationships

Hoping for in Relationships | A Simple Haven

This is day 13 in a 31 days series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

If boldness in relationships is acting in hope despite fears, that begs the question, “hoping for what?”

My guess is this will look different for each of us.

What I’m Hoping For

Me, I’m hoping for honest, authentic relationships, where I know the other person and am truly known. Where forgiveness is asked for and received and burdens and joys are shared.

A tall order? Maybe. None of us is perfect, all of us will disappoint and be disappointed.

But again, I’m hoping for this. Not expecting it.

Hoping looks like working toward these things as far as they depend on me: by the grace of God, trying to be the kind of friend that I want in my life.

Taking initiative, sharing my heart, making time in my schedule, asking questions, serving in practical ways, admitting when I’m wrong.

Not always easy stuff. But again, by the grace of God.

Will I be this intentional with every person in my life? No.

There are varying levels of intimacy in relationships. I doubt it would be helpful or wise to take as much initiative or share as openly with everyone in my life.

But these are the things that I hope characterize my close friendships.

What do you hope characterizes your relationships? And do you have any thoughts about hopes vs. expectations?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).


Boldness in Relationships

Boldness in Relationships | A Simple Haven

This is day 12 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

So far, we’ve talked about what living boldly is all about (according to me), boldly loving your home, and bold hospitality. Now for boldness in relationships.

If living boldly is acting in hope despite fears, then boldness in relationships is pursuing what you want your relationships to be characterized by–even in the midst of all the fears that come with sharing your heart with others.

My hopes and fears about relationships may be different than yours.

But the principle is the same: choosing hope over fear–even when those fears have actually been realized in the past and will probably be realized again.

Believing that we need healthy, authentic relationships, even when they take more effort than we feel like making.

I’ll share some of what this has looked like in my life over the next week. Until then, I leave you with a few good links for this lovely fall Sunday.

Boldness in Relationships :: Around the Web

Scrappy Friends :: Modern Mrs. Darcy

Why It Doesn’t Matter How You Feel About Your Friends :: Shauna Niequist for Storyline

Overcoming the Fear of Disappointment :: The Balanced Wife

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).


Boldly Getting to Know Your Neighbors

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

This is day 10 (&11) in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I have hopes for my neighborhood. I want to know my neighbors, their kids, and their stories. We may not end up best friends, but I want to feel some sense of community.

I’ve had fears, too.

Will they think I’m weird if I just show up with cinnamon bread? Or stop by to say hi while we’re out taking a walk?

Can I actually ask her to borrow an egg when we’ve only talked a couple times? Do people do that here?

So for me, living boldly in my ‘hood is taking the initiative to get to know my neighbors despite fears about how my initiative is received.

Simple Encouragement to Get to Know Your Neighbors

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, here’s some encouragement from my (free!) eBook, The Homemaker’s Manifesto:

Definitely on the “you can’t change it so you might as well embrace it” list, you are stuck with your neighbors—for better or worse.

So you might as well get to know them.

At the very least, you’ll want to know them well enough to be able to ask to borrow an egg/pinch of chili powder/diaper, right?

(All real-life examples).

At the most, you could start a life-changing relationship just by saying hello. So, reach out to them! Stop by with a treat to share and a friendly smile.

Depending on how folks roll in your neck of the woods, you might be swimming upstream against culture, but who cares?

You are where you are for a purpose but only for a season. Your neighbors could very well be a large part of that purpose.

Do you know your neighbors? If so, how did you get to know them?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).


Boldness and Food for Company

Boldly Offering Food | A Simple Haven

This is day 9 in a series on Living Boldly. To check out the other posts in the series, go here. Welcome!

Since we’re talking hospitality, we should probably address the single most important aspect of opening your home to others: the snacks.

I’m only slightly exaggerating my view on the importance of snacks. I love food.

My hope in feeding guests is that they feel taken care of. When possible, I like to serve good food that I’ve prepared with love.

I’m pretty sure my love language to others is food and hugs–or other less-invasive forms of physical touch. Like arm pats. But I digress.

My fears?

That people won’t like my food. That I won’t have time/money/energy to make the kind of food I’d like. That people will stop over and my four year old will invite them to lunch when all I have in the fridge is leftovers.

Ok, that last one really happened. But it all turned out just fine.

So the way I see it, boldness in serving food can look one of two ways:

Option #1: Boldly Offering What You’ve Got

You can boldly offer people leftovers, crackers, a glass of water, whatever you have on hand. It’s what you’ve got and there’s no need to apologize for it.

Leftovers can feel like a feast to a college student missing the comforts of home. Sometimes a glass of water is just what a pregnant/nursing friend needs. A simple cup of tea can work wonders on a rough day.

Even though it’s simple fare, you are still considering the needs of others and serving them.

Option #2: Boldly Offering a Feast

On the other end of the spectrum, you can offer your best: that fun new recipe you’ve been wanting to try, a fondue dinner, a fancy dessert you only do on special occasions.

If you’ve got the time/energy/money, it can be so much fun to prepare a special meal to bless others with. And sometimes, you’ve got more of those three things than you think; it’s just a matter of prioritizing.

Obviously, fancy isn’t necessary. But done in love, it can be something really special.

Babette’s Feast

One of my favorite stories lately is Babette’s Feast (I’ve yet to read the book by Isak Dinesen, but you can watch the film here on Amazon Prime).

In summary, a poor refuge named Babette is taken in by two sisters. They live together very simply, but Babette gratefully accepts their hospitality.  Eventually, she comes into a large sum of money and spends the entire amount on an amazing meal (turns out she was formerly a famous chef in France) for the sisters and their friends.

There’s more to the story–there are powerful themes of grace, hospitality, and enjoying and sharing the gifts we’ve been given. But I love both pictures of hospitality: the sisters giving simple fare out of their poverty and Babette giving a feast out of her wealth.

Relatively speaking, we’ll all probably experience seasons of both poverty and wealth. Even if it’s just in terms of time and energy.

But I think we can boldly offer snacks in either.

Thoughts on cooking for company?

And if you’re in need of some good staples for company meals, check out my Cooking (Real Food on a Budget) for Company Series! 🙂

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldly Saying Yes to Hospitality

Bold Hospitality | A Simple Haven

This is day 8 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To check out the other posts, go here. Welcome!

It’s no secret that I love filling my house with guests. I’m never happier than when I have people to feed or someone in our guest room.

But even for me there are times when saying yes to hospitality feels extra bold:

Like when there’s a family of six who may need a place to stay for a few weeks.  Or when I’m in the middle of my first trimester of pregnancy.

Or when Hubs is in the middle of a crazy semester of school and our plate is extra full. When I just haven’t had the time or energy to tidy up the way I’d like.

Or when my cat is making poor choices (use your imagination…or don’t).

All of these have been the case at some point over the last year.

And while I’m a big fan of healthy boundaries, saying necessary no’s and purposeful yes’s (aside: it pains me to write those apostrophes but Lynne Truss assures me they are appropriate), I also want to make room on my calendar for genuine hospitality as much as I’m able.

This Year, I Said Yes

So I said bold yes’s to all of the above.

The results? Everything was just fine.

Better than fine, actually. Every time I say yes to bold hospitality, I gain courage and the blessing of a house full of friends–or friends-to-be.

Hospitality bonus: I find that nothing makes a house feel more like a home than company for dinner.  I’ve uprooted and replanted enough times to be sure of that.

Hope and Fear and Bold Hospitality

I’m hoping that my home is a cozy haven for friends and family, where they feel cared for.

I’ve feared cat messes, sharing space with long-term guests, and not having people’s approval or not meeting their expectations. I can still fear those things.

So for me, bold hospitality looks like saying yes to inviting people into imperfection–and making it about them, not me.

What does bold hospitality look like for you?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).