Practicing Compassion for Ourselves


    Posted on February 17, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    With tears streaming down her face, my client said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be free of this way of being, of feeling like no one cares about me.” I sat still as she shared her despair, listening with compassion and deep faith. She talked about how, as she was growing up, her parents were not fully present with her, how their way of showing affection was through invalidation and a steady stream of criticism. She carried their voices within, and the inner critic drowned out the voice of love that lives within all of us.

    Her story was one with which I was all too familiar. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here to read the rest over at The Glorious Table. 

    Image: Giulia Bertelli, Unsplash


    The Great Belonging Book Review

    Lost Lakes on a snowy day.


    Posted on February 9, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    The pandemic ushered in a new way of living, highlighting our need to connect as we work, worship and gather together on screens. Even with the relaxation of social distancing restrictions, loneliness beckons. Writer and spiritual director Charlotte Donlon has written a timely response for such a time as this in her new book The Great Belonging. Part spiritual memoir and part guide, Donlon approaches loneliness as a helpful messenger rather than something to be feared, denied or ashamed of. Donlon’s insightful essays weave back and forth in time, centering on the power of loneliness to help us remember our belonging to ourselves, each other, art, place and God.

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Presbyterian Outlook

    Image of Lost Lakes, Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma by Jenn Zatopek


    On Trauma and Healing: Part 1

    An image of a snowy mountain landscape in the late afternoon.

    Posted on February 1, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    We live in extraordinary times of great change, reminding us we are embodied creatures, spirit and matter coalescing in a wondrous kaleidoscope of lived experiences, hidden dreams, inchoate longings, and windswept memories. We are not just our thoughts and feelings but beings whose lives are meant to fully inhabit, accept, and honor all our experiences, including our traumatic ones. Read more


    Mining the Digital Depths of Friendship

    A woman texting on her smart phone.


    Posted on November 2 by Jenn Zatopek and Tabitha McDuffee

    In my early teens, I (Tabitha) started making friends online. Before Facebook, Instagram, and ages before anyone recorded a Tik Tok dance, I was active on a popular forum for zealous evangelical youth. We were Christian teenagers eager to “do hard things” and change the world. Many of us were homeschooled and had few opportunities for friendship beyond our generously sized families.

    Read more


    The Gift of a Garden


    Posted on October 22, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    As autumn arrives, I reflect on the past year and how beauty has saved me. What comes to mind first is not the church (though I am grateful for her fellowship and sacraments), but the accidental garden in our front yard. The goodness of God is cloaked in mystery, which became apparent in the unexpected gift of a family garden we never intended to plant. God has marvelous plans for us, which involve healing and restoration, not only of our tired and weary hearts but also of the land and our kinship to it. Read more


    The Smallest Possible Thing


    Posted on September 5, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    While out hiking New Year’s Day on the grassy prairies of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, I saw a small toad in a slender crevice of water. The long narrow pool of water was ensconced between two gabbro rocks, solidified roots of ancient volcanoes, formed eons ago when tectonic plates wrestled together on the earth’s shifting surface. The creature had burrowed itself into the grimy sand below the still water and blew bubbles, forming a creamy foam circle the size of a child’s thumb on the water’s surface. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Bearings Online at Collegeville Institute. 

    (Image: The grassy plains of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Jenn Zatopek)


    Neuroscience Approves of a Holy Imagination

    Cloudy blue sky with distant mountains


    Posted on June 29, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    Last June on the eve of the summer solstice, I tasted heaven on earth while vacuuming the back bedroom.

    It was before dinner when I stole away to vacuum the house while my family finished cooking dinner. Beginning in the living room, I noticed the handmade wooden shelves my husband created, the setting sun blazing through open shades. As I vacuumed the small bedroom, I entered a little sanctuary: evening light poured onto the creamy quilt on our bed as indigo and lavender filled the darkening sky. I noticed The Lovers painting by Marc Chagall hung splendidly above the bed while the tops of the wooden dressers on the opposite wall held beloved treasures. I paused to examine my labor, and light was all I saw. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Fathom. 

    (Photo by Zack Smith on Unsplash)