Monday, January 10, 2011

One Girl, Ten Years . . . A Decade Distilled

Six months ago my extraordinary friend Sharon shared something profound with my family. She had written a brief review of the past ten years of her life. Her short synopsis touched me, and not just because I love Sharon.  From the vantage point of a decade of accumulated days we discern patterns and purpose that we easily miss in the moment. I decided then that I would follow Sharon's example. January of a new decade seems like a good time undertake the exercise. Hold on to your hats, it's ten years after all!

2000 - 2010 A Decade Distilled

At the turn of the millennium every one of our five bedrooms had an occupant. Our kids and their friends came and went freely--the traffic through our kitchen never ceased. I grocery shopped at COSTCO, bought five dozen eggs and four gallons of milk at a time. Now four bedrooms sit empty most of the year. I buy one gallon of milk and Bob and I might manage to consume it before it expires.

Ten years ago we had two computers for the six of us at home. My verrrrry slow internet connection seemed fine--until I got a taste of DSL and then, holy cow, high-speed wireless. Now we have four desktop computers and seven laptops among the same number of people.

In 2000 we had never met Robbie Taggart. We couldn't have dreamed what a blessing it would be to have him marry Julie and join our family. Now we have trouble remembering what our family ever did without him.

A decade ago our children had four vibrant, living grandparents--two on each side. Bob lost his Dad in 2005 and his Mom in March of 2010. My Dad passed away in May 2009.  I'm not sure we anticipated how much we would think about them and miss them on a daily basis. I was present when my Dad slipped into the next phase of eternity and also when my first grandchild, Lydia Taggart, entered this world with her eyes wide open. Emerson and Oliver arrived eagerly, bringing joy, joy, joy. What's in a name? I used to be called Jerie, Mom, Jer, Sweetie, Sister Jacobs, Mrs. Jacobs. Now three amazing little people call me Nana.

Ten years ago our four children attended three different schools--we juggled Elementary School, Middle School, and High School expectations and events simultaneously. All four have since graduated from Livermore High School. Julie, Robbie, and Allison have all graduated from BYU with their Bachelor's degrees and Robbie has finished his Masters program.  I actually donned a cap and gown myself in 2000 after I returned to BYU for a summer term and finished the last three classes I needed to complete the Bachelor's degree I had started almost two decades earlier.  What're a couple of decades in the eternal scheme of things?

We have sent a son and a daughter and aging but energetic parents on full-time service missions.

In the past ten years I have wandered through twenty-seven states of the USA. I have eaten reindeer in Norway, wild boar in Tuscany, fresh lobster in Nova Scotia, bangers and mash in London, sandwich cake in Sweden, ripe red papaya in Mexico, gallo pinto in Costa Rica, halvah from a vendor in Old Jerusalem's maze, "St. Peter's fish" on the Sea of Galilee, lamb and couscous at the end of the dusty canyon trail to Petra in Jordan. (And San Francisco is still my favorite city in this wide world.) Kayaked the Rogue River and rafted Costa  Rica's gorgeous Pacuare.  Climbed Half Dome. Hiked the Zion Narrows from top to bottom. Zip-lined in the rainforest. Trekked Kauai's Napali Trail. Rappelled. Caved. Tried snowboarding (once, thank you very much. I'll stick with skis.) Pulled a pioneer handcart through the Sierra foothills (twice, in a long skirt.) Sea kayaked in Monterey Bay,  watched orcas up close in Victoria BC.  Jet skiied in Mexico and the Mangroves of Costa Rica. Jumped off rocks and cliffs into various bodies of water (some of it deep enough to land in safely, D'oh.)  Hiked through the Devil's Garden and the Fiery Furnace and spent a night in Purgatory (do you detect a pattern?) Rode a bike along the edge of Fjords. Floated in the Dead Sea, body surfed in the Pacific Ocean, waded in the Atlantic, snorkeled in the Red Sea.

Broke a leg. Passed a kidney stone. Was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Started wearing progressive lenses (yes, that's just a fancy word for bi-focals.) Lost 55 pounds and cut my hair short. Found gray patches in my hair and happy wrinkles around my eyes.

So, there you have the condensed version. Seems a lot changes in ten years. But the truly important stuff remains.  Faith grows, gratitude heightens, hope endures, love multiplies. I cherish my family more than ever and appreciate the goodness of God and the grace of Jesus Christ to my very core. Thanks, Sharon, for motivating me to look back. Thank you for the reminder that daily drops in the bucket become mighty waters and that joy and strength accumulate by bits. Even the hard, sharp-edged pieces that looked dark or ugly or impossible to work with when life first handed them to me are now an essential part of the beautiful pattern that is emerging.  And I wouldn't trade any of it. Here's to another defining decade, and to eternity.

If you boiled your last decade of life down to two pages, what would it look like?


  1. A high school degree, college degree, husband, three kids, a minivan, a twinhome, a bigger home. When a decade is more than a third of your lifespan, I guess you can expect that a lot of big things will happen in it.

  2. Jeri,
    I came across your post on I was touched by your testimony, especially your expression of faith in regards to your diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. I was also diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease last year at the age of 47. I have struggled to understand and accept this challenge in my life but like you have turned to the Lord for comfort and guidance. Thank you for sharing your story. It gave me some hope and comfort.

  3. Cidney-I wish we could chat! If you happen to visit winds unexpected again and would be comfortable sharing an email address or another way I can communicate with you, please send it to me at Other people's experiences with Parkinson's teach me a lot. Bless you.

  4. Truly an inspiring medley of miracles...Thanks for sharing! I love your gift of expression Jerie. I have to say meeting your family has been one of my winds unexpected. And I think I shall do some decade discovering myself! :)

  5. Too overwhelming to condense, but your strains of praise put it nicely. God is good, and this mortal life is magnificent. Thanks for being a part of my past nine years. Love you.