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    The Good Book

    Graffiti art of Jesus with a crown of black thorns against a backdrop of light grey stone.

    {GUEST POST FOR THE MUSTARD SEED CONSPIRACY}

    Posted on December 22, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek

    Born in the flatlands of Texas, I am the daughter of a mad poet and a troubled woman. Growing up in the country, Daddy would take me on long drives at nighttime, so I could see the sunset, the rolling prairies in the springtime after the rains came, and the golden grass spinning in the wind during summer. I felt Something in those moments with my father; it existed just beyond my reach because I also felt this Something in the wind when I played with friends, when I prayed while my mother kept me out too late on a school night, and in high school, when I grabbed a paper copy of the Lord’s prayer in high school Spanish class.

    It was out of the question for me to locate the Lord’s prayer in one of our unused Bibles. If Daddy saw me with the Bible, who knows what would happen? His moods were cantankerous at best and foul at worst, which was oftener than not. Staying out of the Good Book was the sanest course of action while living at home. High school friends slowly moved away from me when they found out I didn’t go to church. If only they new the trouble I had when I attempted, I thought ruefully. Daddy prohibited me from attending any religious service because he lived in cold-blooded fear that I would learn the secrets of the universe and worship God instead of him.

    The truth is he was right to be afraid because I did just that . . .

    I would love it if you’d click here and finish reading at The Mustard Seed Conspiracy.

    (Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)
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    A New Storyline

    {GUEST POST FOR THE MUSTARD SEED CONSPIRACY}

    Posted on October 24, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek

    At the end of summer, I traveled north to visit old friends. They live in a beautiful land, filled with oceanic meadows, breathtaking mountains, and enchanting hillside streams. My girlfriend, a brilliant but exhausted woman, cooked delicious food, cared for her children, and allowed me to nurture her kids.

    The weekend arrived, along with my birthday, and on that day, we ran errands to the farmer’s market, and finished by going to a stock show.

    As we walked around the mammoth auditorium, I smelled the stench of fear, and heard the meat lambs crying out. Standing next to one of the stalls, a slate gray lamb writhed in its cage, bellowing frantically. My heart ached to witness such suffering, and I yearned to comfort it in some way, its primal fear so dreadful to witness.

    Here I am, on my birthday, watching suffering animals, a parade of pain.

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest of the article at The Mustard Seed Conspiracy.

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    What If We Let the Spirit Lead?

    {GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE}

    Posted on October 10, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek

    What a joy it is to share another article with you; this time it’s on a favorite topic of mine–connection. How do we do we break out of societal norms that keep us apart? Join me as I explore a recent experience on staying open to possibility. As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

    ***

    One bright Saturday morning, at the dawn of summer, I got up for work. I donned my signature outfit—black skirt and blouse, bright turquoise necklaces, sparkly sandals—and piled my brown curly hair atop my head in a messy updo. For the finishing touch, I applied mauve lipstick and glittery brown eye shadow and beamed at myself in the mirror.

    It is a spiritual practice to enjoy the body one has been gifted with, and that day was no exception to my daily gratitude practice.

    After kissing my husband goodbye, I drove to work in the next town over and sang loudly to Maggie Rogers from my iPhone—my form of prayer for the day.

    As I pulled into the work parking lot, I experienced a wash of familiar emotions filling my body—dread and patience, compassion and hope. I work at a hospital, in an acute behavioral health unit. In layman’s terms, this means I work with people who are in the throes of emotional turmoil—despair, hopelessness, and suffering are some of my daily companions. As a counselor, it is my honor and privilege to use my body, mind, and soul as an instrument for healing, for instilling hope in others who live on the seemingly dead-end street of desperation.

    I would love it if you clicked here to finish reading at The Glorious Table.

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    A Love Letter to the Fatherless

    {GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE}

    Posted on June 19, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek

    I have a photo of myself on the property my parents owned in the small country town where I grew up. In it, I’m six years old, excitedly looking down at the pad of paper and pen my father has loaned me. I’ve donned his signature fishing hat and an oversized jacket, which is zipped up to my neck. The sun is out, and in the background are a mop, an air conditioner, and a large green bucket, all nestled next to the off-white mobile home we live in.

    That evening, as the sun made its way across the sky, my father walked me around our property as I made notes of the plants, grasses, and animals that filled our single acre of land. At sunset, I told him happily that I wanted to be a journalist, just like he’d been when he lived up north, doing one of the many jobs he engaged in as a young man—before he became a father. He smiled at my enthusiasm, but he didn’t encourage my writing pursuits. Instead, he said, I was to be a good girl, not a writer.

    I would love it if you would click here to read the rest of the article at The Glorious Table.

    (Photo by Erik Ringsmuth on Unsplash)

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    The Sacrament of Forgiveness

    Posted on June 5, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek

    Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are both arduous days for many of us.  For many of my counseling clients, these days triggers a cascade of memories, both joyful and painful.  I’d like to gently remind you that this is normal, and also suggest that taking care of yourself on those days is paramount.

    Please keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to get together with a parent simply because it is a national holiday, especially if that parent has a history of abusive behavior, is not remorseful, and is neither able nor willing to change hurtful patterns of interaction.  Healthy self-love tells us that limiting one’s interaction with family members who engage in hurtful dialogue is crucial to living well.  If family members are neither able nor willing to provide safety and trust, then we need to keep ourselves safe. That is our God-given right as human beings.

    I know this is tough for I, too, would like healthy, safe, and trusting relations with my primary caregivers, but that is not my story.  At least not yet.  Read more

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    My Father’s Birthday

    Posted on May 7, 2019 by Jenn Zatopek

    Grief is uncharted waters out in oceanic tsunami waves that threaten to pull us under but will not let us drown. The image of water continues to make sense to me when I think of loss, an ebb and flow of my connection to those I love and miss.  And yet, we all experience grief, at various times, over the course of our lives.  Why was there not nearly enough talk about this when we were kids?

    Back in winter this year, I attended a training on grief and the counselor called it movements, rather than stages, of grief, of how life is a dance and we are constantly moving in and out of connection with our loved one who died. What beautiful imagery! And so freeing too because we are all of us dancing in our lives, some of us more aware of this than others.

    Today is the anniversary of my father’s birthday.  I was hesitant to share anything, but a funny story emerged from the archeological digs of my past.  I share it with you now, in hopes of solidarity and spirit and connection for all those we have called beloved and lost to the unfairness of death. Read more

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