Jen Jeffrey: A Life Sentence

Sunday, April 27, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

While Jason and I spent our first week of matrimony honeymooning in St. Pete, we have also delighted in the way our lives have immediately changed. It was one thing when we would visit each other and learn each other’s ways, but after becoming husband and wife there was a new sense of belonging and feeling even more comfortable.

Marriage reminds me of our walk with Christ. When those who don’t share the same faith as Christians assume that being a Christian is a life full of “don’ts” and that we are bound by rigid laws – that is not true at all. I have more freedom as a Christian and I feel protected. And that is how I feel in my new marriage. I am free to be myself and not worry to impress and if I make a mistake… I know Jason is in my corner and is my partner in life.

As we drove to St. Pete we both admitted that we really didn’t care about a honeymoon and were more excited to get our lives started back home, but as we got to the beach we realized getting away for a whole week was good for us both. Not only to relax, but also to be in a carefree atmosphere as we learned about each other more intimately. I am talking about learning each tiny habit we have. I had to get over a few areas of shyness and he had to learn what language was not acceptable – while getting cut off in Atlanta rush-hour traffic.

We did the normal thing newlyweds do in calling each other ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ just to hear the sound of it, but it already felt comfortable as if these roles were meant to be ours all along. Our pasts were a stepping stone and learning what God needed us to know before coming together. If my parents had stayed in Murray, Jason and I possibly would have married young, had kids together and had a happy life back then – but there is also a chance we could have lost our chance at true happiness. We could have made mistakes back then causing hurt and losing each other, but now having already been through the gauntlet of our separate pasts which formed our character; it has primed our lives to be at the very place we are in our faith, our wisdom and in knowing how blessed we are.


I began doing something fun on Facebook where I was inspired by my friend and co-worker Jenny Gienapp. She has posted “Differences in Wyoming” from her Chattanooga living after she moved to Wyoming some years ago and they have been fun to read. She would number them and is now past 140-something. So I began my posts  “Happily married discovery # 1” with something new Jason or I have learned about each other as husband and wife. They have become quite comical but I am careful not to embarrass my husband by telling things that need to stay between us. I wouldn’t do that.

The first post went like this, “Happily married discovery #1 - Sent Jason to the store for shampoo, conditioners and lotion with brand names listed. Though he had trouble finding a couple, he came home with every single item that I asked for. Way to go hubby!”

Several of our friends cheered Jason on, but the second post was done with a photo. I normally unpack my bags at a nice hotel, but this was the usual seaside resort and I just wasn’t comfortable unpacking my things – so they stayed in my suitcase. After retrieving items for a few days, I noticed my suitcase was rather messy looking. Then I glanced over at the other side of the room at Jason’s suitcase and I noticed that his was spilling out onto the floor. I thought our differences were cute, so I took a picture and I photo-edited it with the words “Venus’ mess” over my suitcase and “Mars’ mess” over his (Mars and Venus represent the sexes in John Gray‘s book ‘Mars and Venus’). That posts got a few laughs from our friends.

Blonde Moments

Jason has been a good sport to put up with my social online musings but he gives it right back to me behind the scenes. In making fun – it is done with love and laughter. We are making funny memories. Jason can just say one word and we both know the inside joke between us. He will say “U-Haul” to me when he catches me doing something brainless and I am reminded of one of my ‘duh’ moments when we were driving to St. Pete. I had an epiphany that I blurted out. I was thinking about my things still in storage and that I needed to rent a U-Haul and retrieve my things soon. As we passed a U-Haul, it had just dawned on me why it was called U-Haul. Out of the blue I blurted out, “Oh! YOU Haul!”

No, I am not blonde (anymore) and I am not an air-head. Really. But that one thing finally made sense to me as I thought about Jason and my boys helping me load my things in a U-Haul rather than get movers to do it. U-Haul. YOU Haul. As a child, you might hear a name of something and you just accept it as its name without questioning why. Jason will probably use this word against me for years. He also likes the word “Hola” which came about mid-week during our honeymoon.

One day on the beach, I was sitting in a cabana next to a couple who had asked me to take their picture. I detected broken English and an accent so I ignorantly assumed they were Spanish-speaking. I haven’t been out of the South much and most people I have had contact with in Chattanooga who have an accent, speak Spanish. Yes, this was sheer ignorance on my part, but right or wrong that doesn’t change who I am or how I think… it just helps you to understand my perception better.

Jason was away getting towels and when he came back to the cabana, he had no idea that I had already spoken to the couple. I like making friends so as Jason lay beside me tanning, I got my phone and Googled “Newly Married” translated in Spanish so I could share the news with my new friends. After finding the words “Nueve Matrimonio” the woman had turned her back to me and was putting on sunblock. I said, “Hola.” She didn’t respond so I said it louder, “Hola….” and Jason whispered under his breath, “No… no-o…”

I then said, “Excusah…” and the lady turned to me and said, “We speak English. We are from Atlanta.”  This no doubt became a “Happily Married Discovery #3” starting out, “Jason’s bride is a dork…” so Jason could see I can make fun of myself too. After talking more with the couple, they said they were originally from Europe which made me feel a little better that I really did detect an accent… I just didn’t know where from.

I didn’t get to use my Google words, but it did make a funny memory for me and Jason. We went to several local restaurants and shops and Jason took me to the racetrack to watch greyhound races. We won the trifecta – I still don’t know what that means but I will learn. All I know is one of my ‘picks’ helped. I have no knowledge of odds (which were against him); I just liked his name “Crazy Horse” and he won. The greyhounds love to race and they are so beautiful. It was like watching horses race, though it made Jason and I miss our greys back home. His mom is taking care of them while we are gone.

Gator Attack

I usually work on the weekends, but now my schedule will change. I will work during the week when Jason works and be off when he is off, so my stories may go up on different days.  I was looking forward to getting home and starting a new work week after being off for my elopement and honeymoon, but we have been delayed by a day.

We arrived in Chattanooga late Friday evening and stayed at Mama’s. The next day my son Jonathan visited us and brought my grandchildren Landon and Kylee. It was so good to see them. Jason and I brought back souvenirs for them. I introduced Jason as their “new Granddaddy”. They had met him before, but I wanted them to call him the matching name to mine - “Gramama”. It is tradition. It is what I called one set of my Grandparents and what my kids called my parents.

Landon is seven and Jason thought it would be cool to get him a real alligator head for a souvenir. It was small, but its teeth were pretty sharp. I explained to Landon that it was not a toy and it was something to sit on a shelf and look at or show his friends.

After dinner, I asked ‘Granddaddy’ to play with the kids outside while I did the dishes. The next thing I knew, my son told me that Jason needed a bandage. I ran to the bathroom to see my husband holding over the sink with blood gushing out of three gashes in his finger! The alligator bit him! He was playing tag with Landon and he accidentally rammed his hand across the gator’s teeth.

Florence Nightingale

I hadn’t played nursemaid in a long time, but it is something I am good at. I don’t panic and I don’t get grossed out. After raising three boys, I was good at triage. I did the I&D (irrigation and debridement) bit and held pressure for two minutes and bandaged him up.

After a fun evening with the grandkids, Jason and I planned to load the truck the next day with what I left at Mama’s and head out on Sunday. In the wee hours Sunday morning, Jason woke up very sick. He thought at first he had eaten too much of Mama’s cornbread – something we ALL do because her cornbread is the best in the whole wide world. But then he got sick again and again. He also had chills. I have NEVER heard Jason say that he ‘was cold’. He is always hot so I knew he had a fever and probably contracted some sort of bug while on vacation. Yes… I had thought of the alligator teeth, but the finger looked good. It never bled again, no infection, no change of color and no swelling. I doubted it was related.

I got to play nursemaid again and I felt honored. This is how I love. This is what I am good at. Blood and sickness doesn’t gross me out and I don’t see it as a ‘duty’ or something I ‘have’ to do. Caregiving is just another way I show compassion and love and, that just comes natural to me. Jason apologized to me and I assured him this was not a problem at all. I adore my husband and I love to care for him.

Where I thought we would be traveling on Sunday, Jason was too sick so I was able to do some work. Although my heart hurts to see him so sick, I know this is good for us as we are already seeing our strengths for each other. We see that we not only love each other, but we truly care about each other.

This isn’t our first rodeo - we are ‘seasoned’ newlyweds. We are honored to have each other - to be entrusted with the roles God gave us. A life sentence is the most glorious thing I could ever be offered with Jason. Thanks, God.


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