Monday, January 14, 2008

American Jennie

I've been down the last couple of weeks. Between my little brother's troubles and my own illness, I haven't been a very pleasant person to live with. Doogie and Jesse both called me on it, but I didn't hear them. Last Thursday I was listening to songs on our computer, and I came across Kirk Franklin's Stomp (with God's Property). Mia was watching TV upstairs while I was in the basement alone. Thank goodness I was alone, because God chose to speak to me right there. As Mr. Franklin says, I had some church down there. I've heard the song so many times over the last ten years, but I never really listened to the words. Here's the first line: Lately I've been going through some things that really got me down. I need someone somebody to help me come and turn my life around. When I heard that, I stopped everything and just listened. I've never been able to sit still while listening to this, but Thursday I bounced, raised my hands in the air, and let the tears pour down my cheeks as the Lord reminded me of who He is. And Mr. Franklin reminded me that I was letting the devil steal my joy. I may have struggles in my life, but I am so amazingly blessed.

That four minute song turned me 180 degrees. On Friday when I woke up in pain, the song started running through my head, and I started smiling again. I helped Jesse around the house all weekend, and he could see the difference in my attitude. So watch the video above and see if God has something to say to you too!

American Jennie by Anne Sebba is the story of the incredible life of Lady Randolph Churchill. American Jennie Jerome fell in love with Brit Randolph Churchill in a whirlwind courtship. After overcoming parental objections on both sides of the match, the couple wed and quickly produced son Winston. But the romance faded soon, and both engaged in affairs. They pulled together to get Randolph into the House of Commons, but for most of the rest of their lives, they lived apart. Sebba digs through newspaper accounts, family records, diaries, and letters to produce this well put together biography of an unusual woman. Jennie was well known for her beauty and her indiscretions in a time when women were still considered a husband's property. She produced a literary magazine, helped get both her husband and son seats in the House, traveled extensively, and cared for her husband at the end of his life. Randolph, who suffered from syphilis, was a difficult man, capricious even before the disease attacked his mind. Sebba tries to defend and protect Jennie where possible, but even in the best of lights, Jennie was an atrocious mother who ignored her children. In the end, the picture that emerges of Jennie is of a woman determined to live life on her own terms. She produced children, but that didn't make her a mother. She was married, but was a better wife to her lovers. She lived very much in the moment, always in debt and buying Worth gowns. Sebba does her best to make Jennie likeable, and to an extent, she succeeds. Jennie would be a wonderful addition to a dinner party, but not someone you could count on as a friend. A couple of complaints: there are not nearly enough photos of Jennie. For such a famous woman, I'm sure there are many more out there that would have shown her recognized beauty to better advantage. Also, Jennie and her sisters spoke French, so they peppered their letters to each other with French phrases. Sebba also throws several in her writing. I don't know French, so I often felt a bit left out. Sebba easily could have included translations in brackets, because the meaning was usually not easily gleaned from the rest of the passage.

I completely redid the blog yesterday. What do you think? Jesse made the banner, and Molly edited the new picture. Take the poll (I hope you vote for the Packers!) and drop me a comment to let me know what you think of the new layout.