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    Out of the Caverns

    Posted on October 22, 2020 by Jenn Zatopek

    Earlier this year, I wrote a little essay I loved, which was rejected by several publications. Feeling dejected, I wondered why creating art about an experience before Coronavirus would be deemed irrelevant by editors. It occurred to me, only recently, that it is only irrelevant if I look to others for validation without validating myself first. And thankfully, I no longer need to do that! Their rejections, along with my other curious emotions, became rich loamy soil in the ground of my soul, which, in turn, birthed another essay. And I am delighted to share it with you now. Many thanks to Sarah Cozart, Heather Caliri, Joe Burnham, Lauren White, and my husband for helping with this essay.

    In fear and trembling and so much wonder, I salute us. With courage and amazement, we walk on together.

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    The Gift of Honesty

    [GUES POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE]

    Posted on June 16, 2020 by Jenn Zatopek

    Many of us feel abandoned and bereft, especially now during the days of the twin pandemics. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we anchor ourselves in audacious hope: the Divine does, indeed, care about and for us. I am thrilled to share my latest essay with you. Join me at The Glorious Table as I explore how our honesty with ourselves, others, and God has the power to change our lives.

    ***

    It’s dangerous when we marry Christian theology with cultural lies of toxic positivity, especially during something like the devastating coronavirus pandemic. As a practicing psychotherapist, I am aware of how brave it is for my clients to share their hurts with me when they have not been given a chance to release their sorrows to friends, family, or at church. . . .

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

    (Photo by Maxim Tolchinskiy on Unsplash)

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    My Year as Beloved

    [GUEST POST FOR RUMINATE MAGAZINE]

    Posted on April 21, 2020 by Jenn Zatopek

    I’m thrilled to share my first article at The Waking Blog at Ruminate Magazine with you today. It’s a unique blend of storytelling, spiritual reflection, and artful psychological analysis of how using the word “beloved” as my vision word last year changed everything. My inspiration for the article arrived at the start of this year, shortly after I read Henri Nouwen’s wonderful book called Life of the Beloved. If you have a chance to read it, please do so. It’s short yet profound and filled with heartfelt and compassionate prose, guiding the reader toward humanity’s true identity in God.

    As always, thank you for taking the time to read this essay. I hope you enjoy it, and that you can firmly find time to rest, again and again, in who you are, not in what you do.

    ***

    Last January, I chose a word to cast a positive vision for the year. A few days after I prayed, a word came to me through a dear friend who slipped a bracelet with the word “beloved” into my hands. It was a cold, gray day when we met up for dinner, but my delight at being seen by my friend was ineffable. We shared our vulnerable hearts with one another, a gift for my parched and weary soul.

    As time wore on the tectonic plates of the relationship shifted, and like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, the earth filled with molten lava and cooled in a new distance between us. . . 

    I’d love it if you click here to read the rest at Ruminate Magazine’s blog The Waking. 

    (Photo from Unsplash)

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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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