April 5th, 2010 journal entry:
“God, give me wisdom and discernment. I want to change things up at work, but not if it’s not going to be YOU[r will]. Jenni Johnson.”
A few weeks before that, I had asked a stay at home mom to do the unthinkable: apply for a job. I knew she was going to laugh at me. She was a #boymom of three. She was a #coacheswife. It was #baseballseason. I knew it was crazy. At that time in my life, I always sought out the things that seemed impossible…too good to be true. I was all about dreaming BIG.
She did exactly what I knew she was gonna do. She laughed out loud. I think I asked her five times before she finally mentioned it to her husband. Then, in true Jenni fashion, she prayed about it for.ever. When she told me that she was going to apply, I stopped breathing for a minute.
God is [obnoxiously] faithful.
From there, I only did two things: I asked her a question in the interview and I helped with decorations once a year…for graduation programs. Why? Because she was an amazing director. She didn’t need any help from me. This week, she is wrapping up her last week as Director of MDO. I have caught myself tearing up a dozen times reflecting on those years.
The question I asked her in her interview was how she would interact with kids/parents/staff. I don’t remember how she answered, but looking back over the last seven years, this is how she did it:
Kids. Kids are easy. If you love them, they will love you back. However, when you are “Mrs. Jenni”…that lives in “Mrs. Jenni’s office”…things are different. You only need to go to Mrs. Jenni’s office when you 1) have bitten someone 2) are being a total punk, or 3) are conspiring with your twin on how to take over Mrs. Evelyn’s class. However, the kids still love her. She has an on point way of correcting undesired behavior by building up instead of putting down. I’m pretty sure that one kid was a hot mess just so she could go she “her” Mrs. Jenni. 🙂
Teachers. Employees are great…but not easy. They take work. They take support. They take planning. Conflict happens. Hurt happens. But, if the teachers are like the ones at MDO, they are worth it. I know that they deeply enriched Jenni’s life. I tried to lead them in a devotional time once. It was horrible. The truth was that they needed to lead ME in a devotional. Jenni was their voice. She was always ready to defend them. She was always working to make their lives easier. She worked hard on their behalf. She made the tough decisions. She had the tough conversations. I promise you…there is no one in their lives that have covered those ladies with more prayer than Jenni has covered them in. She loves them. She breathes grace over their mistakes and asks for grace from them to cover hers.
Moms. The mommas. I was a rock star kid. I loved middle school…and adored high school. College was perfect. The newlywed season…sooo good. Being a mom to two little girls…two years apart…punched me right in the face. I walked into MDO late most mornings. My kids did not match. Their hair was not cute. Life was not what it looked like on Facebook. But, moms will get real when it comes to their kids. MDO was all about the kids….to the moms and the teachers. But to Jenni, MDO was all about the mommas. She paid attention. She prayed. She listened. She texted. She helped with the practical advice you needed…but were too tired to think of. I don’t know most of the moms she rescued…but just look through her fb page over the last seven years. They tag her in their pictures. Their kids love her. I wish I could have kept count of how many moms walked out of her office with red eyes and a runny nose from breaking down crying. I wish I could tell you how much she helped me through those days. She has shown me so much grace. She has cheered me on through the same problem a hundred times. She knows my rock bottom moments because she was there texting me…or marching up to my office to tell me to chill.
Jenni Johnson, when God called me to FBC, I had no idea why. Now, I have a million memories of wonderful things He did, but your friendship has been above and beyond the best thing that came from my years there. As far as I am concerned, Jack was right. 🙂