If You Were Here Today

If you were here today,

I would tell you about your

three grandsons (who remind

me of you in different ways).


If you were here today,

I would show you how I can

cook more than tv dinners, now.


If you were here today,

I would match wits with you

and you’d see that I am

just like you.


If you were here today,

I would run to you for advice

only now I would hold onto each

word spoken.


If you were here today,

I would know you were proud of me,

because I have finally listened to

all the things you taught me.


If you were here today,

I would still try to walk with your

crutches just like I used to – only

now …I would be tall enough.


If you were here today,

I would hold you tight and not

let go and I would shower your

face with kisses.


If you were here today,

I would get to hear you

call me “Termite” again.


If you were here today,

I would tell you Happy Birthday

and that I miss you so much.

I love you, Daddy.



Your Termite



Written Mar 5, 2014


His Love

He is steady and sure even when he thinks he isn’t,

He is kind in what he says and does,

He tells me often what I mean to him,

He loves me just because.


He is my guide when I am not sure-footed,

He calms my every fear,

He lets me have my own space,

But he lets me know he is near.


He makes me laugh and he is always positive,

He knows my very wit,

He never lets me get away with anything,

And he never quits.


He meets my every need,

And he quenches my every desire,

He wraps me in his love,

And sets my heart on fire.


He cares when I am down,

And he isn’t patronizing,

He listens and he prays,

And he knows how to comfort me.


He is my best friend, my joy and my love,

My life will never be the same,

All of this love is second to God’s

I have never felt this from another man.


For one soul to love me so,

Is a gift from on high,

I will return that love for all of my days,

And this man I will never deny.


Written Mar 22, 2014


Before I Knew You Were Mine

Before I knew you were mine I prayed for you,

I said a prayer for the one God would choose for me.

I cared for you and continued to pray for your safety, your health and for you to come to know the Lord.

I prayed for strength for your heart and for your soul.

I trusted you to God, knowing He loved you more than I could.

And I prayed that you felt His love.


Sometimes when I was disheartened and would forget that you existed,

I went about my way and made my mistakes, but I always came back to you.

I knew God would bring you to me and I continued to pray for you.

I wonder when you accepted Christ and made Him your savior, if it was a day in which I prayed.

I wonder for the times when you were hurting, if God brushed my love for you across your forehead and gave you peace to sleep through the night.

I wonder if you knew I was out there somewhere searching for you.


For all the years I prayed and felt we hadn’t yet met, little did I know that I knew you from the start.

My eyes remember the beautiful baby I saw and wanted to hold. God knew even then.

The sketchy memories of our childhood days are like distant stars we can barely see.

But somehow our souls were still connected and finding their way back to each other.

I cannot describe this love that is deeper than any love I have ever known,

But I knew I loved you …before I knew you were mine.


Written Mar 1,2014



From the Moment I Wake to the Moment I Rest My Head, I Love You

My love magnifies with every waking thought of you. As the gradient light of day kisses my lashes I am thankful for your love. I pray for your safety throughout the day and I pray for your hopes and dreams to beckon you. A smile trickles upward as I fondly remember last being in your arms.

Do you know my love for you, my Darling? Have you witnessed its truth? Have you weighed the difference of my love with others bygone?

You tell me that I have a way with words, yet… my words have little power and I have no need to persuade you with them …for my heart speaks louder. I am a slave to time as it holds our future. Our happiness is dependent on its foundation as time is busy building our dreams. I will wait. I embrace these moments of early amour budding and blossoming and knowing that the pruning and nurturing of our love is not in vain.

My existence is more vibrant as I anticipate each day I get to spend with you and taking none for granted. My Love, you will never hunger for veneration. You will never thirst for affection. You will have my love in the very being of your soul because our souls are entwined.

When we are apart you will still feel my heart beating in unison with yours. When our days are long or toilsome we will be upheld by the deep roots of our love and adorned with its life-giving vines.

Time keeps us apart and time brings us together. Each moment is precious with every beat of our heart which is one. My Love, I would that you know the depths of my love for you, but words cannot speak it. Time will reveal my love each and every day until you are wrapped in its promise.

Words are deciphered from the mind and the heart. My words come not only from my heart but from the depth of the very beginning of my soul. Our Maker fastened our souls encounter and He has given us the desires of our heart.

Nothing can compare with the love we have now and for what is to come. By the time I rest my head at night, my joy is overflowing. My eyes close but I still see your face and feel your touch. The power of a love so true is ever present. My Love, you have God’s promises and mine. May your heart feel protected and kept forever.

Written December 8, 2013


When cold weather swoops in for the season, I used to be one who grabbed my down throw and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and snuggled up until ‘it went away’. Yes, I hibernated with the bears. When I was joined with the workforce, I just brought my portable heater to my desk and still stayed huddled at my desk. And with the colder weather came the extra weight.

No, not from the bulkier clothing we wear. Maybe it is the whole ‘holiday season’ thing where we have recipes floating around for Grandma’s dressing and Aunt Mary’s apple pie or the candy canes which tickle our noses and we are kids again.

To justify the pounds, I’d tell myself that it is a ‘natural thing’ that occurs in winter because our bodies need to the extra fat to stay warm (and I’m still sticking to that).

The one thing we can count on with the seasons is ‘change’ and I like that. Yes, I said it… as much as we say we don’t like change, I think in some areas we really do. If everything (or everyone) stayed the same all the time, wouldn’t life be boring? And, I would think we would not appreciate the beauty of Life if it was ‘the norm’ instead of something to anticipate. Or in some people’s cases – dread.

The thing with seasons (in nature or our lives) is attitude – adapting to change with a joyous spirit or a cantankerous one.

We all need reminding of the joy in life when we find ourselves not adapting so well to certain changes. For the most part, I am a positive person with a joyous spirit, but there ARE times when I get critical or irritable as well.

It used to always be winter for me. For nearly 40 years of my life – well, probably only 30 because the first 10 years, I was still a kid enjoying the snow and no school days; but my adult years were spent trying to avoid the winter elements. “Go away cold!”

I would even acknowledge that I had ‘cold intolerance’ – a fancy term I heard somewhere and thought it fit me, so I stuck that label on myself. It gave me an ‘out’ for the part of life in which I was not as comfortable.

Let me tell you- God does not care about our constant comfort. That’s mean, you say? It may sound mean, but God loves us with a pure Agape Love and that doesn’t mean always giving us our way or giving us smooth sailing. I’m not saying that it is God who causes the discomfort in our lives either. This world is full of sin, full of danger, and full of pain. But God’s promise is that He will work all things together for the GOOD, for those who believe in Him and are called according to His purpose.

When I was in my early 40s, I began hiking in different hiking groups. I love nature, and this was something I really enjoyed. But when cold weather arrived, out came my comfy throw and furry slippers. But after joining the hiking groups, I was held accountable and my fellow hiker buddies coaxed me to join them on a hike even though it was cold.

At this stage of my life (I called it my ‘why not’ stage) I was trying new things so – why not!

In 24 degree weather I went on a hike with the Tennessee Wild hiking group and it changed my life. I realized that I was NOT cold intolerant, I had just let myself choose to not participate. Sure, it was cold, but I tolerated it. And, the cold may affect me more than someone who is always hot, but I can layer my clothing – so I did.

Because I chose to be present, I was able to experience something I never had experienced before – seeing my first ‘frost flower’. It was beautiful! The cold winter wind whirred around with moisture and made crystallized art!

Oh, how I missed the ‘energy’ the winter brings. I was a child the last time I experienced this. Energy in the winter? To my friends who wrap up in a blanket and hibernate in the winter also… yes, energy!

As a rancher, I love watching my horses when it is cold because they get excited, frisky and they are playful. They keep warm with being active. Hmmm… how nature teaches us. Our greyhounds love to run in the winter… the cold weather is excitable. We don’t experience this when we sit on the couch curled up in a ball.

Hey, I am not knocking curling up, snuggling or sitting in front of fireplaces with a hot beverage – those things are wonderful and enjoyable, and I would never take that away from my own life or tell you to take them away from yours; but what I am saying is – give winter a chance. Be a part of it and THEN curl up under the covers.

Then you will feel like you have earned the moment of snuggling up rather than feeling like a slug and not having lived life a little.




As everything around us changes, let us also change our attitudes. We aren’t made to be ‘avoiders’. We aren’t made to just ‘exist’. We are made to LIVE – Zoe (dzo-ay’) That is the Greek word for REALLY LIVING.

Even though lately, I have been experiencing a ‘season’s change’ in my life with the aging pain of arthritis, I welcome this time of season. Where my horses’ pasture is now browning and low, it is time to supplement the horses grazing with hay. Because I have to… no, I ‘get’ to go to the ranch EVERY MORNING and throw hay.

This might be something to dread on a few mornings when it is cold and raining or when my bones feel a little more sore than usual, but this is part of Zoe! And my attitude can either be to complain about it or LIVE in it and find the joy!

Life is going to happen whether I like what it brings or not. The people Life brings in my path, the employment, the pain, the opportunities, the chaos, the stress, the joy, the season… are all part of Life. I can choose to dread certain areas of this thing called Life or I can appreciate even the circumstances in which I am uncomfortable.

As I went to throw hay at the ranch this morning, the cool brisk air energized me and my horses were even neighing and snorting. That alone was worth the few minutes I came out of my blanket this morning, but then as I rolled the wheel barrow down the fence line, throwing hay in different piles for each horse (they have leadership issues) I watched them do their thing.

I thrusted my cold hands down in my pockets and watched them ‘herd’ each other. Smokey, my black Tennessee Walker is lead horse so he gets to pick which pile he wants first. The next in pecking order is Liberty. She is my grey (white) quarter horse who is usually shy except when it comes to feed-time.

I watched the other horses coming for a pile of nourishment and Liberty kicking up her back legs, “This pile is mine!” Smokey simply pinned his ears back and dared them to bother him. The weaker horses understand the process and all is well as they find their piles; but when Rocky Top, my sorrel (red) quarter horse acted a little selfish and horded two piles kicking my paint colt Legend away – I was not going to have that.

So, I had to go… no, I got to go (privilege) into the pasture and show them “I” was the LEAD lead horse and what “I” say goes… and I say Legend gets to eat!

Of course, after the lead horses eat the first of their fill, they do let the weaker horses eat, but I wanted them to play nice while I took the time to make six piles of hay for six horses.

After listening to them munch on their hay and after giving a few horsey-pats, I headed up the road to my house and as I came around the bend just before the Hughes farm, three frolicking deer were crossing the road. It is deer season, so this is the time to watch for deer leaping out from the woods and crossing the road and I encourage you to drive slow enough to brake for the spontaneous, leaping deer.

God knows I love seeing the deer. That was a gift just for me. God gives us gifts in the little moments and we might miss them because of our attitude.  If I had someone else to feed the horses, I would have missed seeing my beautiful horses and the frolicking deer. Gifts… gifts of Love from my Father who loves me and wants to show me His Love with these special moments. But I must be listening, open and available to receive them or else I will miss them.

God has given us the gift of Life. Zoe! It is all around us.

When my husband and I first got married, we wanted to spend all our time together and at first it was hard for him to leave for work. He said, “Okay, I have to go to work now…” and I encouraged, “No… you get to go to work… it’s a privilege.” And since then, we will both encourage each other with this ‘change in attitude’ reminder whenever either of us forget to see the gifts, the opportunities, or privileges we have in our lives.

Seasons change. Welcome them and be thankful.





Happily Ever After

When God begins working something in your life that changes your course it sometimes can happen so fast it makes your head spin. That is how it was for me at the start of 2015.

When a horse ranch just a mile from our farm went up for sale, my husband and I enquired about the asking price and that is when God brought a gust of changes all at once. At first, I thought it was time for me to put down my pen (…or keyboard) altogether, but writing will always be a part of me. I won’t have the time to sit at my computer and pour my heart and soul into a story for Chttanoogan.com each week, but I will occasionally ‘blog’ on my website jenjeffrey.com.

The changes are good because I do live in KY now and I am embarking on new adventures and a new business that keeps me busy with another passion of mine – horses. We will close on the ranch next month and I will run a horse boarding business starting off with four thoroughbred mares. Three girls who own horses attend MSU’s equine program and they take Eventing and Dressage classes out at the ranch from the trainer who is selling the property to us.

There is also a house on the property and three female MSU students currently rent it and also help work the ranch. When we take over in a few weeks, we will keep four boarders at the stables and the renters will continue living in the house. My twins have talked about possibly moving to Kentucky down the road and they would then rent the house and help with the ranch.

When God brings showers of blessings we want to honor Him with them and give back to Him serving. I had talked to Jason about using the ranch (after we acquired horses of our own) for equine therapy. My first thought was how much Smokey had helped me heal after going through so much and I wanted to reach out to other women who could benefit and become empowered by learning leadership skills, confidence and just being in the presence of horses. What also came to mind was people of special needs. There are many benefits in the health and spirit of those with special needs who are around horses.

After throwing out a few names for the ranch to Jason and telling him my thoughts for the future, one Sunday at church while we were singing about God’s grace, he leaned over and whispered to me, “I have the name… Grace Reins.” I knew immediately that God placed that name on Jason’s heart. It was perfect and we will own “Grace Reins Ranch” in a few short weeks. If you have Facebook you can keep up with posts and videos of what takes place on the ranch.

As all of this has been unfolding, I have been going to the ranch and seeing how it has been operated so that I can continue to run it in the same way and it is wonderful being around horses again!

In fact, Jason and I are getting a couple of horses of our own in a few weeks. We went to Dover Tennessee to look at Tennessee Walkers and we fell in love with a colt and filly we will bring to ranch after they are ready to leave.


I want to thank my editor John Wilson for allowing me to share many stories with readers of Chattanoogan.com and for taking me under his wing and being my mentor. I want to thank the people who took time to let me interview them for the Growing Local series and the People Profile articles. I also thank co-writers and editors for their friendship and all their help and I especially want to thank you who have followed my stories and found them interesting and many of you who would write to me.

As I begin my new journey and to have closure with what I have enjoyed the past four years, the best way to end this is how all great stories end… “…and she lived happily ever after.”

The End

Get Along Little Doggies!

Today was such a beautiful sun-shiny day that when I walked the Greys I wanted to let them be out a little longer and to do something a little different. And… I wanted to see just how they would react being around horses. I remembered how Spec whined on a hike when we met up with cows grazing in a pasture. There was no telling how he would react being up close to a horse.

When we came back to the garage I left their leashes on and went in the house for my keys. As I came back out they heard my keys and when I grabbed their leashes again they got excited! “Where are we going mommy?”

I wanted Spec and Sweetie to get out of their spoiled and routine environment and we piled in my Jeep and headed to the ranch. Some of the girls who board their horses at the ranch were there and so were their pooches. The first test was to see if prima donna Spec would be okay around other dogs without a fight ensuing.

Two black dogs came up to us – one was very friendly and I knew she would not be a problem, but the shorter male dog seemed to be sizing us up suspiciously. Spec let out a little whine as if to say, “Mom, I know I am the alpha and but I really don’t want to have to fight…” I held my breath as the four canines smelled each other. After they got acquainted I petted the other dogs and we headed towards the barn where the “big dogs” (horses) were. I held their leashes tight because I KNEW they would not get along with the barn cats.

Spec had to whiz on a couple of the planters that lined the driveway and then he saw a horse standing with her owner at the front of the stables. The horse bent his head down and smelled my two pals. Sweetie decided she liked what she smelled (I like the smell too) and she even kissed the horse on his muzzle.

Spec was a natural around the horses. He didn’t whine or act afraid at all. It was the other male dog that Spec was more worried about as he was still quite curious around us and kept Spec on guard.

We walked passed the horse and went through the barn where Sweetie and Spec’s hound instincts went crazy as they sniffed all the wonderful barn smells! “So this is where mommy has been going everyday!” I knew they would like it. We came through the other side of the stables and headed out toward the lesson ring and first pasture.

Spec spied the first large mound of poo on the grass and he did his little kicking thing where he tried to cover it with grass. I laughed out loud, “Spec, you didn’t do that – quit trying to claim it.”

Then he and Sweetie both saw several more piles! This was very different from the occasional deer poo or coyote poo they have to treasure hunt for. Why this was a landmine of very large poo piles! How would they be able to ‘mark’ each and every one of them?

By golly, they sure tried! Spec and Sweetie saw how much work had to be done so they reserved their void and only squirted a few drops as we walked passed all the piles. After the first ten piles, I think they got tired and realized it was a lost cause and marking horse poo was just not their job and it was okay for them to be left unmarked.

As the two black dogs romped and played together we newcomers watched the horse and rider in the ring as trainer Candy McCoy (the current ranch owner) called out specific instructions. What beauty! I could be out there all day.

The little black male dog still came around to sniff Spec and Sweetie again, but all the pooches seemed to be fine with each other.

I want to take riding lessons from Candy myself, but will wait until after we buy the ranch and all the paperwork goes through. There is quite a bit of information to take in about running the ranch and the boarding business. I have been studying resource material when I am at home at our farm, but I really love the ‘hands on’ learning when I go to the ranch.

It is hard to believe that in just a few short weeks we will have “Grace Reins” up and running with an LLC. My own business! And … with HORSES!

I have read in scripture where God wants to give us our heart’s desire, but that was something I had not believed for many years. Then when I finally came to that place in my life where I knew I was where God wanted me to be and when I ‘understood what He was teaching me’ all these years, I believed He would give me my heart’s desire in a mate… but NEVER did I think my perfect-for-me soulmate and I would ever live out our dreams together and so quickly (and to have them fall in place so easily).

Jason and I know that God has plans for us with all that he gives, and we feel honored to be a part of His plan. When we don’t tap into the riches God is ready to give us and we forfeit our blessings because we just don’t believe God cares about our inner most dreams – we really don’t have any idea just how much God is willing to do in our lives. I was just happy to find my ‘happily-ever-after husband, but while living obediently, God has showered us with such love and Grace it is sometimes overwhelming.

Spec and Sweetie took to the ranch nicely and had big smiles on their faces. Yes, yes, I know… Greyhounds always seem to have a smile on their face, but I could tell with their breathing, their relaxed eyes and happy wagging tails that they loved the ranch as much as I do. It blessed my heart to see that the horses and other pooches at the ranch …get along with our little doggies.