What an honor and delight to be invited to participate in a vivacious, virtual Girls’ Night Out! Thank you, Karen! And what a thrill to meet all your exuberant, talented, Jesus-loving friends. I’ve so enjoyed reading their stories. There’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned GNO gab-fest to share hearts and bare souls. I’ve hosted these at home for four to forty, and if we’ve just met, we begin by telling a little about ourselves.
Don’t know what Girls’ Night Out is all about? Click HERE first.
This is what I often share: Though raised in a Christian home, I came to Jesus a complete mess and suicidally depressed in my early twenties. He got a hold of me and has never let go. He’s utterly transformed my life. My passion is in sharing about Him at every turn, with a heart filled with gratitude, amazement, and humility that He would save a wretch like me.
Two more miracles: I married the gorgeous boy across the street, Michael Hentrich (I kept my maiden name), and we have a beautiful daughter, Sheridan, who is a college junior and art major. We reside in a St. Louis suburb with our incorrigible substandard pit-poodle (!) Chevy (and it’s a miracle that he isn’t in the dog house more often! But we love him.)
Michael would tell you that I am a talker and that I just might hold the Guinness’ record for the world’s longest telephone conversation: eight and a half hours straight (without so much as a bathroom break—yet another miracle! 🙂 He would also tell you that it was he who woke every night with baby Sheridan, because I slept like a rock through her crying. I’ve also slept through a tornado, earthquake, and childbirth. The only thing that wakes me from a sound night’s slumber is a hot-flash. Truth!
Sheridan would tell you that I’m a twenty-first-century Hyacinth Bucket (pronounce that Bouquet, with a calligraphed B!), who has a flair for pretension, waits till Michael opens my car door or seats me at a table (more for making him prove his love in public than for propriety’s sake), asks little children, sweetly of course, not to put their hands on my walls, and sings *at* Sheridan in elevators or on walks. She’s mortified—her most embarrassing moment.
*My* most embarrassing moment was in hot-flashing the neighborhood, when I was at my computer, writing with my office light on and my PJ top off, unaware that my window blinds were raised. Mercifully, when I realized my faux pas and felt a breeze waft through the window, it was in the wee hours of the morning when everyone was asleep. I was not hauled off to the county jail.
Speaking along the lines of flashing, but surely with greater subtlety and decorum, I know how to remove my bra, fully-clothed, so that no one knows or sees my clandestine maneuver. I performed my most recent bra-shedding feat in 2013 in the packed-in-like-sardinesGlobe Theatre, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, in the midst of a Shakespearean drama and England’s worst heat-wave in 300 years. They didn’t have air-conditioning. Ladies, I was roasting and about to flip out. Little did theatre patrons, their eyes glued to the stage, suspect the other drama unfolding in the balcony as I surreptitiously stripped off my bra, not once lifting my blouse, and folded it neatly into my purse. During intermission, when I confessed this transgression to my unsuspecting girlfriend, Jo, who was sitting next to me, she was in undeniable shock, horror, and disbelief. She hadn’t even seen a thing!
England still loves me, and I love England. I’m a hopeless Anglophile. I drink my daily requisite three cups of strong Yorkshire-Gold tea, continuously listen to British boys’choirs lilt over CDs, watch British chick flicks and BBC series, and am a Downton Abbey devotée. We host a season premier Dowton Dress-Up dinner, and our family had the rare privilege of visiting Highclere Castle. Lady Carnarvon, move over! Do read her fascinating blog HERE.
I’m a word-woman, and my words gush into published books and poetry, unpublished (thank goodness!!) journals, professional singing in a Bach performance group and unprofessional in the shower, and public speaking. In a former life, I was a director of Christian education and also executive director for the world’s largest airport USO in St. Louis, where I supervised 500 volunteers, who served America’s military and their families twenty-four hours daily.
What is the best beauty or fashion tip that someone gave to you?
My Aunt Wanda told me always to dress like a lady, wear black, and maintain perfect posture. Her advice has served me well, and while I’m certainly no fashion plate and buy every garment deeply discounted, I often wear black. In fact, my favorite go-to outfit is black tights and black leotards, embellished with Jane-Fonda-type legwarmers, a throwback to the eighties. I think I could live and die in these comfort casuals; but, admittedly, you won’t see me sporting them in public.
While I enjoy wearing color and also my beloved plaid kilt-skirts, I agree with Aunt Wanda that black makes a definite fashion statement; moreover, it’s slimming and can be simply accessorized with gold or silver jewelry and pearls, or some kind of colorful shawl. I swathe myself, chrysalis-like, with a myriad of shawls, both for flair and warmth.
While I wear my fair share of jeans, and went through my kneeless-jean-and-granny-dress phase in college, I lament the dressing down of America, in general. I believe that God is far more interested in our hearts than in our attire (1 Samuel 16:7), but when I attempt to dress modestly and tastefully, I’m hoping to put my best foot forward for Him, as a sign of respect in places like church, mortuaries, the symphony, etc. All that said, though, if my life isn’t right with Him, no “nice clothes” are going to camouflage the fraying fabric of my sin-torn heart.
What fictional character inspires you as a woman, and why?
Admittedly, I’ve been pretty much of a book snob, reading only for information and inspiration (meaning Christian-life or theology books). I’ve had the unfortunate attitude cited by Christian author, Madeleine L’Engle: “Too many people apologize when they are caught reading a book of fiction; they are afraid that it will be considered a waste of time. Is Jane Eyre not true?” Fiction mimics life, and there are so many lessons to be learned and so much joy and pathos to be experienced vicariously through compelling characters and plots. I’ve robbed myself of these, so I’ve changed my view and have begun to relish books based on narrative.
And speaking of Jane Eyre, hands down, she’s my favorite heroine, the protagonist after whose name the novel is titled. I first read the book in high school and have a number of times since. It was penned by English author, Charlotte Brontë, in the mid-nineteenth century. A Victorian Gothic-horror drama, it revolves around the provocative, passionate, and unprecedented amour between the brooding, wealthy recluse, Mr. Rochester, who hides his dark secret past, and the innocent, sheltered, but courageous Jane Eyre, who serves as governess to his illegitimate child.
Though Jane describes herself as “small, plain, poor, and obscure,” this once-abused orphan fully rises, victimless, from her unfortunate past to the invincible stature of womanhood. She clings to God, standing her ground with Rochester, refusing an adulterous liaison with him, despite her pain in rejecting the man she loves as her own soul. Her words to him shimmer with fire and bravura: “I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart! I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you. I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give. It is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!”
Jane Eyre is moral, humble, free-spirited, fiercely loyal, and the embodiment of Christian virtue. She’s a feminist in the best sense, long before the word was coined and ultimately abused. I know few women whose hearts are knit with such tough moral fiber and righteous resilience as J.E.
There is one woman, fortunately for me not a fictional character, who greatly influenced my life. She was forty years my senior and of African-American descent. You might like to read what I wrote about her HERE.
What advice would you give to a young bride?
Marry a man who is a great cook (mine cooks because he says he likes to eat!), and remember that young brides become older brides—yes!
While marriage is a serious commitment, it should also be seriously celebrative. God gives us marriage as a treasure. Don’t let the romance, spark, and fun fizzle out of your marriage. Be best friends, spend intimate time together and together with God, and laugh a lot at yourself and each other: My husband makes me laugh every single day.
Praise your husband publicly, as I will do now: Michael, also known by the well-deserved title, St. Michael, bestowed by my mother for putting up with me for forty years, is my Renaissance man. Honestly, the guy can do anything. Besides cooking, he sews, does house-and-car repairs and carpentry, acts as resident painter, plumber, and electrician, and is a savvy computer programmer and executive. The only thing he can’t do is sing, but he’s a great captive audience (*literally*; I force him to attend my concerts).
Michael and I are as different as night and day. And that’s my second piece of martial advice: Don’t revile your differences; revel in them. The book of Ecclesiastes states that two are better than one, and God has gifted you both as complementaries. I write;Mike edits. I dress up; he dresses down. I watch Brit chick flicks; he watches baseball. I eat Brussel sprouts like candy, he eats *chocolate* candy. I sing; he listens. And I say: Vive la différence! And he says: Lynni is *really* different! 🙂
What advice would you give to a new mother?
You’re a new mother the moment you become pregnant. Know this truth: God is the author of life, and every child is His wanted child, who is meant to be born.
This counsel might seem obvious to the Christian woman, and yet, as a brand-new Christian, overwhelmed with the idea of motherhood and completely paranoid over pregnancy and childbirth, I aborted my first child. I had not yet read the beautiful truths of Psalm 139, how God, our Creator, knits every child wonderfully and intricately in his mother’s womb.
When I first read those words, after I had taken my child’s life, they pierced my griefs-stricken heart like daggers. When I had the abortion, I was in my early twenties, married a couple years, and terribly depressed and confused. Abortion, itself, was clouded in lies and deception, not long after our Supreme Court legalized it. While I take full responsibility for my heinous sin, in one sense, I didn’t know what I was doing. It would take eighteen anguished years after confessing and repenting of my sin, finally to *feel* God’s forgiveness and to be able to forgive myself. I write about my story in my book, Love Letters to God: DeeperIntimacy through Written Prayer.
When Karen gave me the GNO questions, I didn’t want to answer this one in the way that I am, but God kept impressing upon my heart to live my purpose, which is to “encourage transparency.” We can only truly help each other if we are honest and vulnerable. I know that some Christian women reading this blog either will have had an abortion or be thinking about having one, and that they will not feel free to share with other Christians. And while I went public ten years ago, I really resisted sharing on this blog, because some of my church friends will not know this story.
I still fear rejection. In fact, when Mike and I first told our former pastor in our current church home that I was going public in my book, I thought he would ask me to step down from leading a working-women’s Bible study. Instead, he met us with kindness, compassion, and support. I attend a large church, and there is no ministry for post-abortive women. We need healing and help, and have no place to turn within the Church, at-large. We suffer in silence or else turn to parachurch organizations, when what we need most is empathy from our sisters in our own congregations. I did eventually share with some of my church sisters, and that experience is documented in author Carol Kent’s book, A New Kind ofNormal: Hope-Filled Choices When Life Turns Upside Down.
My heart goes out to women who chose the path that I did; but I assure you that God’s grace is greater than your sin, and He longs to restore you. And to those who fear motherhood, know that it’s God, Himself, who has bestowed upon you this great privilege, and He will give you more grace to raise your child than you could possibly imagine. He will not fail you.
Because I finally understood truth, that God is the author of life, when I became pregnant at forty and was far more terrified than I had been in my twenties, I acquiesced to God’s will. God’s truth set me free. He sustained me through a second surprise pregnancy and gave me the grace to raise our daughter. How I praise Him now for our precious surprise package, Sheridan Suzanne.
What else would you like to share?
A life worth living is worth recording.
Word-shapers are world-shapers.
These are my personal quotations and life mottos. I cannot begin to tell you how important I believe writing to be, whether in our relationship with God or with each other. I was once a prayerless, powerless Christian, who struggled praying orally; but God used journaling to open the floodgate of my emotions, allowing me to pour out my heart to Him on paper.
He used journaling to free me and to heal me of alcoholism, suicidal depression, the guilt from abortion, and more. Journaling has also become a way to explore my God-given passions and spiritual gifts. I’m now a certified journal facilitator, trained through the Center for Journal Therapy in Denver, and teach journaling classes. It never ceases to amaze me what happens when women pick up their pens and pour out their hearts to God, reading what they’ve written to each other. I’ve watched in astonishment as women have literally been healed of deep emotional wounds before my eyes. Many, too, discover a beautiful writing voice that they never knew they had.
Additionally, I am a letter-writing aficionado, and have seen how God uses our letters of thanks and encouragement to transform relationships. It’s never too late to pick up your pen and shape words on the page that will shape (or reshape) the wonder of your world. Write your legacy, or you will lose it. Your life *is* worth recording!