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    Rest is a Weapon

    A sandy beach with the sunset in the distance.

    {GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE}

    Posted on March 10, 2020

    My latest essay is over at The Glorious Table, and I could not be more thrilled to share it with you. The subject is on a much-needed one, a topic you will hear me write on again and again: rest. Why do I write about rest so very much? I think part of my desire is to break down the stigma to taking regular breaks, engaging in creativity, and letting go of endless work as a means to validate one’s existence on the planet. Another is personal: I struggle to let myself rest as a spiritual practice. But my long-term survival and yours depends on saying no to endless production and incorporating sabbath rests into our busy schedules. My hope is that this story invites you into examine your own life, discern where you can find rest for your souls, and courage to do so.

    ***

    “God’s trying to tell you something,” my friend says pointedly, raising her eyebrows at me with a small smile playing about her lips. We walk out of the church and say our goodbyes, and I make my way slowly to my car. The afternoon is hot and breezy.

    It is fall in North Texas. The temperatures plummet to the low nineties, fluffy clouds fill cerulean skies, and locals sigh with relief and nod to each other, saying, “Fall is practically here.” The drive back to work is short, but my friend’s question lingers long after I settle down at home for the evening.

    God’s trying to tell you something.

    I’d love it if you would click here to finishing reading at The Glorious Table.

    (Photo by Ashley McLaren on Unsplash)

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    Healing Happens in Fits and Starts

    {GUEST POST FOR FATHOM MAGAZINE}

    Posted on January 31, 2020 by Jenn Zatopek

    I am thrilled to share my latest offering with you. This week is my first time to be published at the prestigious Fathom Mag, and I couldn’t be more proud. In this article, I share about the power of forgiveness as the path to transformation. I talk about hard things, but my hope is this story will let open up a window in your soul to know you are not alone, ever, that all are welcome at God’s table.

    Full disclose: there is a triggering word in the first sentence, which I was encouraged to keep in the essay. It is crucial that we tell the hard truth rather than sanitizing what has happened for us, so we can model for others that our stories deserve honesty and presence. Healing only happens when we get honest. May this story give you a big permission slip to tell the bold truth about your past so you can live a beautiful life.

    ***

    My father began telling me to fuck off when I was nineteen years old. It was a hot summer day and I lived at home, taking classes at the local community college to get ahead and graduate as soon as possible. I was a tall and slim woman with fearful brown eyes who planned on moving north to escape the confines of the palpable disgust from my father. . .

    I’d love it if you would click here and finish reading at Fathom Magazine.

    (Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash)

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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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