Jenny Youngman is the worship pastor at Providence United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. She is also a freelance writer, singer, songwriter, wife, and mother of four. Jenny holds a Master of Theological Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois, and a BA in Religion, Philosophy, and Youth Ministry from Friends University, Wichita, Kansas.
Formerly an editor of youth resources at The United Methodist Publishing House, Jenny created the Worship Feast line of youth worship resources and contributed to the Deep Blue Kids Bible (CEB). She also authored the participant’s book Prayer: Heart of the Pilgrimage (volume 3 in The Way of Pilgrimage series). Jenny has released two full-length albums: Glimpse of Glory and The Girl with Good Intentions.
August 22 Book Signing at Parnassus Books, Nashville (2:00 p.m.)
A Conversation with Jenny Youngman
1. What inspired you to write Scrambled Starts?
I needed help. Our family had experienced one too many crazy mornings with ridiculous amounts of yelling, crying, and searching for homework/socks/gloves/you name it. At my most exasperated moment, I had the idea of morning worship and looked online to see what other families might be doing. I found some great ideas, but I didn’t find a lot of resources. I would have loved to have a book in my hands to help me execute a new morning routine or give me language to speak words of prayer into our chaotic home.
2. How did your experiences as a theologian, an artist, and a mother shape the content of your book?
I’m kind of an all-out-there person, so any exchange with me is going to show some element of every side of me. My experiences in the church and in seminary, at my piano, and at the park are all right there and shaped the whole of the book.
3. You and your husband are both in ministry, and you have four children. Could you describe a typical day in your household?
A typical day for us is waking up and getting ready for the day, then breakfast and prayers at the table before school. After school is dance, baseball, soccer, tennis, play practice, church, and myriad other activities…then home to dinner, bedtime, and hopefully sleep!
4. How do you manage to carve out time in your busy schedule for your family to pray together?
We had to put it in our calendars and micromanage every minute of our mornings at first. Now we can wing it a little better because our habits have changed.
5. How do you balance time spent praying as a family with time spent one-on-one with your children?
With four kids, one-on-one time with the kids is difficult, but at bedtime we have sweet moments with all of them. They ask deep questions and are seeking God in their own ways. We don’t really try to balance family and one-on-one time; we just try to point to God as often as we can.
6. How do you see your prayer time changing with your children as they mature?
I have noticed with my older two that they have learned to practice prayer on their own, and even asked for prayer journals. I can imagine that our family prayer time may grow to include deeper Bible study.
7. Your book describes the plan you have for working prayer into your family’s daily routine. How do you see other families with different schedules adapting your ideas?
My hope is that readers will connect with my family’s experience and find some energy around how to set a prayer-centered family schedule. Every family dynamic is different, but every family can make time for prayer if they get creative with their routine.
8. How have your children responded to incorporating prayer into their daily routine?
My kids have read through their storybook Bible multiple times because of our daily prayer times. They’ve also learned to ask for prayer when they need it.
9. What challenges to your daily time together do you foresee as your children enter their teens?
As my kids grow and their schedules get more complex, I know we’ll have challenges. I see us keeping our morning time as a firm family worship time, before the day begins.
10. What was your favorite chapter in the book and why?
I think my favorite chapter was bedtime prayers because that is my weakness. I was most convicted by my lack of energy for the bedtime routine. At the end of the day, I am so exhausted that I just want everyone to go to bed. But I want to have words of prayer and reflection with my kids in those sweet moments before sleep. I’m actually looking forward to having the book in my hands to practice bedtime prayers more faithfully!