What led me to this interview: What I did know was that my husband, Chris met Jina, her husband Chad, and her two sons while sitting at a baseball game in Oklahoma. Chris, is a pro baseball scout and so he has frequent conversations with families in bleachers, but I knew when he came home from meeting the Tolle family this meeting was different.
What I did not know is WHY my husband and Jina connected so easily with each other until after I stopped recording my interview with Jina. Let me explain.
Chris came home talking of this great family and specifically a friendly, amazingly warm, and kind woman battling cancer. Through Chris’ experience of his own dad’s cancer, Chris knew that TALKING about cancer or illness with the family experiencing it is a good thing. Otherwise, it’s this weird avoidance of clear reality.
Because of this, I knew that Chris was probably UNUSUALLY chatty in the stands that day. Turns out Jina had the same cancer as Chris’ dad and so they talked meds, experiences, doctors, etc. They exchanged information and soon after Jina sent the most kind and thoughtful email to Chris. From there they began a steady but occasional email exchange and after each email Chris’ received, he and I would talk about how strong, incredible, inspiring, and gritty Jina was in the face of, well, death.
Through my interview, I also learned, that Jina is hilarious and so when we were done recording and she said to me, “I am glad you didn’t think I was after your husband when I emailed him. I have learned to take action and tell people when they are on my heart, and so that is what I did with Chris, but when he comes to mind and I email him I am not after him.”
We laughed, and I said I knew she wasn’t after him and that I appreciate the authenticity and thoughtfulness she puts into her emails. In my heart, all along, I knew that Chris liked his connection with Jina because I think it is a way he feels connected to his own Dad even though he is gone.
She went on to tell me WHY she connected with Chris. Through her tears, she said to me, “He was still talking about his dad. My greatest fear is that my boys will be asked about their mom and they won’t remember me. Chris remembered his dad.” I am crying even as I write this now. Jina felt a sense of hope from my husband Chris because although his dad lost his battle to cancer 8 years ago, Chris still talks about his dad.
It’s probably good that Jina didn’t tell me this before the interview because then I would have been a blubbering mess! No one likes a weepy podcast host!
Jina dove right into our conversation and didn’t hold back, and we are all better for that! She is honest, positive, hopeful and one of my favorite people after one conversation! She is a proud momma with a powerful perspective to share with all parents.
Jina is raising two sons who are 17 and 13 and she has been married to Chad for 20 years. Jina’s faith is central to her life and she shared many times how her faith has helped her in life. Jina was diagnosed with stage IV cancer 4 years ago, she has had 13 surgeries and 68 rounds of chemo and counting. She was given 1% chance to be alive at the time of our interview and let me tell you, Jina Tolle is more than just alive – she is purposeful and radiant.
The perspective that Jina lives with everyday was clearly stated when she said, “If you think you are going to die soon you are not going to waste moments.” This is the way Jina moms – she is soaking up every minute she gets with her family.
Jina said as a mom she has always been firm, but offers a lot of grace. I loved how she explained that because the firmness is important for her boys to feel the structure and expectations of being a great person, but the grace gives them the space to make mistakes and bounce back. I’m keeping that lesson with me.
Jina’s oldest son is 17 and finding his own voice, opinions, and views, which she discussed as wonderful to see him develop his own path. She went on to say how she wanted their dinner table to be a place where everyone could converse and share their own opinions even if they differ. She made it clear that their dinner table isn’t a contentious place, but instead a place where opinions and differences are welcomed. I can’t help but think how foundational this will be for Jina’s two sons, Charlie & Payton, as they grow and find themselves at other dinner tables and boardroom tables. She is giving them a practice ground for idea-sharing.
Be purposeful. That is Jina’s advice to parents. She remembers people telling her parenthood would go by quickly and yet here she is, amazed at just how quickly it goes. She talked about being purposeful several times, and given her perspective and diagnosis, her words are etched on my mind forever. Time is a gift, be purposeful with every one of those precious moments.
Jina shared so much during our interview and I believe she gave the most poignant perspective for a parent. Do not waste a minute. Say yes to your children. Be purposeful with your time. How will your children remember you? Jina has to carry this perspective because of cancer, and the rest of us can honor Jina and her amazing mothering skills by heeding her message. Jina is a legendary momma and has forever changed how I will parent my children. Thank you Jina! We are praying for you!