Happy Birthday to Jennifer from your not-so-secret admirers!

Happy Birthday, Jennifer! From the 3rd and 4th grade class!

Today is a special day for a special person. I had planned to celebrate in person, a bit early, but you know how life is; it likes to thump us around sometimes. So in lieu of an in person flesh pile, we are instituting a virtual blogathon birthday. This will be a departure from the usual posts from the Village Idiot. Please return on Wednesday for more of that flavor. For now, though, allow me to introduce you to someone who has changed an awful lot of lives and just happens to be wearing a cone shaped Elmo hat as she blows out 40 birthday candles before her house burns down!

The first song is definitely the best of the bunch.

And here’s another group of people wanting to share the love. This one makes me  happy.

Annndddd…one more. And this one pretty much illustrates everything that is wrong with my family. Shirtless (again). Really REALLY loud. And though they can carry a tune, they have, on this very important occasion, chosen not to. My apologies, friend. They love you anyway. I mean it. This one makes me cringe.

For other personal videograms, see the Shout Outs tab. And for our best attempts at honoring our dear friend, read on!

I wonder if you know my friend, Jennifer. Today is her birthday. Her 40th birthday. I hope she won’t mind me posting that to the worldwide superinformationhighway web.  She usually isn’t the type to let a number get to her. In fact, she makes it a habit to rise above most things. Things that have at times made my mind shut completely down. And since I hit 40 first, I feel like perhaps it’s okay to blast to the world that she is here now…joining me. Convalescence. It feels good, really.

If you know my friend Jennifer, then you have some idea why I am dedicating today’s entire blog to her. In one word, she is amazing. If she gets knocked down, she gets back up stronger than she was. If someone else gets knocked down, she is there to pull them up. If the world sits down on her, she learns something while she is trapped there and she prays herself out from under it. If there is a silver lining, she finds it. If there isn’t a silver lining, she makes one herself (though not with a needle and thread…she does it with hot glue…like me!). She is an encourager, a worshiper, an indescribable friend, a servant, the embodiment of love, and an Overcomer.

She is Jennifer the Overcomer.

I first met Jennifer at Florida College in the fall of 1989. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Jennifer had met my mother at church a few weeks prior to us starting college. My mother went on and on about how I didn’t want to go there and maybe Jennifer and I could be roommates. It was a recruiting campaign, but done with just enough raw facts that Jennifer made a mental note to avoid the head case named Missy and that was that. I was a head case, but she didn’t actually try to avoid me. That’s not who Jennifer is. Time passed, I got less homesick, our circles began to overlap a tad (I know you are going to find this difficult to believe, but she ran with a cooler circle than I could really keep up with), and we became friends. And by the end of our sophomore year, with many adventures, trips, and failed pranks under our belts, we were the best of friends.  While I watched her try to covertly slink around with the dude who eventually became her husband, I was spending time with her sister in the Warren County Jail. We weren’t inmates. We were visitors. And believe me, we were the best things to be seen in that place since 1922.

Her friendship, her circle in Kentucky, her mom and dad, her sister, have all blessed me and I am so much better because of this. I feel blessed to have hung out in their home when I was still completely free and irresponsible and blissfully innocent. I feel blessed to have been there in those early days of her finding the person she would spend her life with. I feel blessed to have been the sloth she chose to watch her sweet baby while she was off helping her sister get ready to marry (believe me…there’s a whole blog waiting on the foibles of my babysitting. Hallie, I tried!). I feel blessed to have sat on porch after porch after porch, year after year, chatting in a sweet saltwater breeze. I feel blessed that when life sat down on top of me a time or two, and I was completely convinced I was just going to stay there, she wouldn’t let me. And when she needed to, she just laid down next to me under the burden.  I am thankful that 22 years later, I am still wishing her Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday, Dear Friend. Thank you for overcoming. Thank you for keeping your gaze fixed on Jesus, because it helps me do the same. Sometimes I am tempted to forget. But you won’t let me.

I hope the world scoots up under you today, to the tune of Happy Birthday and to the texture of everything you love. I hope you can feel the weight of a crown around your head, because you deserve to be treated like royalty.

And if you don’t know my friend, Jennifer, look around here today. By the time you are done, you’ll have some idea who she really is. But you won’t know all of it, because there’s too much for a silly blog. If you already know my friend, Jennifer, tell God thank you–because you’ve been given a gift.

I love you, Jen. Happy Birthday!

Happy 40th Birthday, Jennifer!  You are a special friend, a caring and compassionate person and you are an amazing testimony to God’s grace and love.  I have so many wonderful memories and thoughts of you.  I was blessed to meet you while our girls jumped rope together with the awesome Jumpin’ Jaguars!  We packed our girls up and sent them to Mason, Ohio for camp.  I will never forget your leadership in preparing their “Medieval Times” door theme and Hallie’s incredible costume.  You have always gone above and beyond in providing a taxi service to all those around you too.  You have always been there to make my life easier.  And you do everything with a smile.  I will try to express a few of my thoughts with this….

J is for joyful
E is for encouraging
N is for nurturing
N is for naturally nice
I is for inspiring
F is for faithful friend
E is for eternal life through Christ
R is for radiant source of strength

Jennifer, I love you and I am very thankful that God has put you in my life.  I think of you and pray for you and your family often.  You truly are an amazing woman of God. Your love for others shines through in all you do.Happy Birthday and welcome to the “40 Club”.  I have been waiting on you!  🙂

Thanks for being my eBay Queen!
Love ya!
DeAnn McElroy

40 years… wow… I am so thankful I have an opportunity to write and tell you once again of how much of an absolute blessing it has been for me to know you.  I hate that we don’t get time together as we once did.  The loss is mine for sure.  I’ve heard “preachers” talk of “walking sermons” and I don’t know if you are a sermon as much as a just a walking glory!!  A forty year pathway that if anyone were to follow such a pathway it would only lead them to a relationship with God that is saturated with complete dependence, love, faith, happiness, and to me, someone who doesn’t just hold His hand, but is living with their arms wrapped around His neck because you just love and want to be that close to Him.  This makes me smile!!!  Your faith and light on this earth is simply too rare.  You have only (and always) inspired me to reach more within to hopefully also become something deeper for my God.  In you I have witnessed time and time again that suffering is no reason to give up on God, but hanging with Him until the end is what matters.  I’ve never witnessed it to be the immediate outcome that counts with you, but its the end result, one that will never be regretted.  You’ve shown me and everyone that the greatest blessing in life IS one’s relationship with God.  It is no wonder that I truly carry your friendship and example in my heart.   You are and will always be a kindred spirit to me and a friend I cherish to my core.  I couldn’t be more sincere in that statement Jennifer.  I look forward to nothing more than spending an eternity with you someday so we can hang out always! Thank you for being such an inspiration and light.. SUCH a LIGHT… in this life.  You my dear…ROCK. 🙂  I love you dearly and hope you have the best 40th birthday on the planet!  YOU DESERVE IT!  I love you dearly!!

Your friend always and always,

Dearest Jennifer,
A few months ago I decided to make a list of the women who have had the most influence on my spiritual life, and your name is on there. What I have witnessed in you time and time again over the 12 years that I have known you is selflessness, and it always shines so brightly as I struggle to fight the selfishness within. You are gracious, kind and unassuming, constantly taking an interest in the lives of those around you. You have uplifting words to offer even in the midst of your most difficult challenges.
I remember years ago your telling Durell and me that just seeing us at assemblies and knowing that we were there was an encouragement to you whether or not you spoke with us. I remember at the time thinking, “We’re encouraging Jennifer? She’s the one encouraging all the rest of us!!” And it was just like you to be offering such words to others–not just thinking them, but actually taking the time to express them. That spoke volumes about you to me–your humble, thoughtful character.
I’ll never forget that. It made such an impact and brought to mind so much. It put into words the reality that we’re all in this together, validating each other’s decision to live a life for God, and that our loving God planned for us to meet regularly for our own benefit.
You are a treasured sister and friend. I am grateful for you and I love you.
I wish you a wonderful, happy 40th birthday!!

On this special day I just wanted to let you know how much I truly love you!!! I don’t know what I would do without you!!! You are the best mommy any kid could ever ask for!!! I love you and hope your day is great!!!



Happy Birthday, Jennifer!!  Jennifer, I have known you for about 5.5 years and I can truly say that you are a part of my family…both physically and spiritually.  Thank you for being the wonderful person that you are to everyone.  You are the epitome of a Christian woman and the woman spoken of in Proverbs 31.  You are loving, caring, humble, sweet, thoughtful, understanding, funny, helpful, etc.  The list could go on and on!  You are someone I look up to in my life and am so thankful for having you as my sister in Christ.  Thank you so much for showing me your love for God.  You may not realize it, but it helps me love Him more.  I thank God for you daily and will continue to do so.  I hope your day is as amazing as you are!  Love you very much!”  Megan Stinson

Jennifer has always allowed Christ to minister to me through her. Her love shines through her smile and warmth accompanies her every touch. Her compassion reigns supreme and her tenderness never fades. When I am having a hard day, I always wish I could be with her. She does all this and is still one of the most beautiful women I know! I am so thankful and blessed to call her my friend. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Love, Becky Dobbins

When I think of Jennifer, the first thing that comes to my mind is the word LOVE.  Jennifer loves deeply and with all she’s got.  You can have a short conversation with Jennifer, but when you leave that conversation you know without a doubt that she loves you.  Jennifer is a friend, role model, Godly Christian women and a sister I’ve always wanted.  I’m so thankful for her and the love she shows to me and my family.  I hope that today (and always) she knows that she is loved as much and more than the love she shows to everyone on a daily basis. When I count my blessings I always count you twice.
Forty looks good on you girl!  Wear it proud!!!
Happy Birthday, Jennifer! OK.  I am not selecting one specific memory but rather a general observation about you and your little sis. Never in my life have I seen two sisters as close as you are. I have the feeling you guys could do that cool thing that they say twins can do…you know …look at one another across a crowded room, not say a word, and totally know what the other is thinking. I’m right, aren’t I? 🙂 After getting to so spend some time working with you sisters I could not get over the fact you girls were just so stinking nice to one another! 🙂 Do you remember when the 3 of us shared the back office together? It was then I got my first taste of the simply adorable “nerdy” sisters.  Watching how you interacted with one another was totally endearing to me. Yes it’s true, if you remember, I did refer to you girls as sister “nerds” HOWEVER,  it was with the deepest admiration and love that I said it! There’s just a sweet innocence about you girls and your sisterly bond; it’s a blessing to be around. So, on your special day, I want you to know that you and Nat enabled me to witness what true sisterly love is. I thank you for those sweet memories. It is obvious that you sisters have a bond that could never and will never be broken.I found a few quotes on sisters that I wanted to share: 

A sister is a forever friend.  ~Author Unknown
In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips.  ~Author Unknown
There can be no situation in life in which the conversation of my dear sister will not administer some comfort to me.  ~Mary Montagu
How do people make it through life without a sister?  ~Sara Corpening
And I leave you with my favorite…………
A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.  ~Marion C. Garretty

Happy day sweet Jennifer!
Love ya,
~Melanie (Stinson) Frye

My Aunt Jennifer is someone that I am made better by knowing and having in my life. I had the wonderful opportunity to live in Bowling Green for a few years, in which we were able to share life together. Aunt Jennifer demonstrated to me what patience, devotion, and unwavering love looks like. She is someone that allows herself to be vulnerable, sharing her own struggles, sorrows, and joys with those around her. This automatically breaks down barriers that we may have and allows ourselves to share our own struggles or joys with her, mimicking that same vulnerability. Not only has this characteristic proven to provide healing, but it also has strengthened our relationship to a level that I don’t share with many other family members. Who would have thought that this kind of openness and sharing would encourage me and push me to try and provide that kind of comfort and safety with those I meet. I have learned so much by her example. She is hard to sum up, though. Her crazy amount of beauty, her overwhelming strength, her immense passion and love for others, and her complete selflessness can’t even truly be put into words. I love my Aunt Jennifer so much and hope to measure up to even half the godly wife, mother, and friend that she is. I love you Jennifer!

Tess Dewhirst

Jennifer,   Well some of my first memories of you were when you were a child living off Cumberland trace rd. I remember going to your alls house and you eating butter by the stick just like a candy bar or banana.  I never saw anyone do that, so that stuck with me. Kelly always called your family the fancy family!  Don’t really know why but that comes to mind.  Also I think of you and Natalie helping with our wedding reception I think it was. You must have been about 10 or so. Hard to believe how time has flown by.

You have been such an inspiration to me in the way you have dealt with adversity in life. God has used you and you have been willing to be used by Him to show us all how to keep trusting and loving through difficulty. Thank you for this!

I pray your 40th birthday is so wonderful and special for you!  May God richly bless you in the years ahead!   I love you!   Sheryl

Trust in the lord with all your heart!

When Jennifer and I were little, for some reason, Jennifer and Natalie came to stay with us for a few days.  I’ll never forget that my family and I were floorboarded because when we offered them cereal for breakfast, they had never had sugary cereal before. It was the 1970s after all and everybody ate Cap’n Crunch and Frosted Flakes. We corrupted them by feeding them these cereals and then took them to eat at Godfather’s Pizza, a less than upstanding restaurant!  I remember we were so pleased with ourselves for introducing them to such delicacies.   I’m sure we probably exposed them to all sorts of  heinous acts that visit.  They definitely got a chance to see our wonderful habits, such as eating white bread etc.  Thankfully, we didn’t cause them to enter the downward spiral of a life of processed food addiction. However, Jennifer is addicted to Riley’s Bakery  cakes and there is no good reasoning for that!

Happy 40th Birthday, Jennifer!  I love you and am so thankful you are my dear friend!


The first time I met Jennifer was when I was in high school and Jennifer  was a counselor for summer camp in Oregon.  She was blonde and beautiful  and in college, and seemed to have the admiration of all the girls.  I  had no real idea about the amazing woman I would know again later in my
life and the incredible impact she would have on me as a woman.

While I was in college I moved to Bowling Green, KY to finish up school
and was blessed to meet her again and know her better.  The more I  learned about Jennifer the
more my admiration grew.

She is stronger than anyone I know!  Her inner strength is incredible
and with that so is her patience and long-suffering!  She is an amazing
woman who I believe God gave as a gift to all who know her.  She lives
her life, and without her knowing, she truly inspires others.  My life
is more blessed by knowing Jennifer.

I love you Jennifer and am so thankful for you!!!  Happy Birthday!!! 🙂
Melanie Coffey

A very SPECIAL HAPPY  BIRTHDAY to you Jennifer!!!!!

This is to YOU Jennifer!!!!
As we celebrate YOU on YOUR special day we want to thank you for being the person you are:
>            A wonderful wife to Tim!
>            A loving mother to Hallie and Tyler!
>            A caring daughter in law!
>            A special daughter!
>            An awesome sister!
>            A superb sister in law!
>            A compassionate friend!
>            An endearing aunt!
Despite all of your struggles, your ups and downs and your many aches and
pains you continue to reach out to others with your love and
compassion!!!!!!!!!! We love you dearly and and so very thankful and
blessed to have you as part of our family!!!!! Much, much love to you,
Kari, Guy, Andreas, Hanna, Michael, Matthew and Riley James!!!!!

Just wanted to tell you welcome to the 40 CLUB!!!  You are and have been such a special person to me the first time we met at the Honaker’s.  You are the one person I look to when things get tough and I think if Jennifer can endure the things she is having to go through who am I to complain.  You are the toughest lady I know.  Your love for God and others are beyond compare.  I LOVE YOU and wish you the happiest of all birthdays.  Don’t look at 40 as a sad birthday but a happy one because it only gets better from here.   Have a wonderful day and remember how many people love you and your family!!!
Melissa Arnold