Love Week – Days 2 and 3

I love that our weekends are filled with adventures and love and laughter. I love even more the weekends that we have my two older boys, my stepsons Jordan and Aidan, here with us. They bring so much laughter and silliness and Noah just adores them, we do too.

It did make for a crazy day with my Love Week project yesterday, but there are worse things.:) I decided that for my Day 2 activity I was going to be a blessing to some people who have been a blessing to me over the years. I’ve actually felt God leading me on this one for a little while now but I finally got the courage to wrote the notes, add my blessings and get them in the mail. Very exciting. 🙂

Today’s activity was a little more hands on and definitely an expression of love. I thought that I’d surprise my brother-in-law and his wife and kids to a home made meal one day this week as a way to help relieve some of their stress. They have two beautiful boys and as you can imagine, dinner is always a bit crazy. So today when we heard they had an extra rough day with a dentist appointment that was less than fun, I decided it was the perfect day to show them not only how much we love them but that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Plus, I love any opportunity that I have to cook or bake, especially if it’s for someone else. We dropped off home made perogies and some keilbasa and they asked us to come in and visit for a bit. The kids had a great time playing together and they were super appreciative for the meal. I trust that God worked in all of our hearts tonight as we laughed and they ate a “somewhat” relaxing meal.

This is why I’m doing this Love Week project. To show others God’s love through me. He showed me this opportunity today and it was through His strength that we made it happen. Better yet we went over as a family. God is building things this week that can only be made through love and I can’t wait to see what He does with all of it!

– Jess 🙂

 

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A Letter to Myself: Remember This

Dear Jess,

I want you to remember this. This night when your beautiful boy fell asleep on the ride home at 5:45pm. Remember the excitement of the possibility of a night alone with the hubby. Remember the heartache when you realized that a quiet night isn’t what you really wanted, you wanted to play with your boy. You wanted to hear about his day and to cuddle him and smell his hair.

Remember this feeling the next time he asks you to play with him and you’re about to do the dishes.

They can wait.

Remember this feeling the next time everyone wakes up late and all he wants to do is get your attention.

Getting dressed and ready can wait.

Remember this feeling when he is extra whiny at the end of a long day and instead of hiding from it, embrace him and love him.

Because these days are going by much too fast and the more I work, the more I miss him and the more he misses me. Trying to live more intentionally for me means that I want to notice when my son needs some more time with me. I want that day when I didn’t get to be with him at all to be a reminder to make as many special moments as I can, whenever I can, because that morning I didn’t. I was in a hurry to get out the door. Remember that little guy with the blue eyes is more important than the housework and he is more important than you wearing make up to work.

Finally, really make sure to remember this when he wakes you up at 6:20am on the next day. He misses you too, and he is ready to take on the day, with you, his mom, that he loves oh so much.

Don’t ever forget that you are doing a great job! While you’re worried about your mistakes, he’s there thinking about how awesome you are! Go hold him and play with him and show him what fun is.

I love you.

– Me 🙂

Love Week Day 1

Love Week Day 1

Today did not go as planned. Is it just me that it seems that no matter how much you plan it often goes awry? In any case, I had told you all that today I was going to start Love Week by giving blood, however I forgot to include in my planning the fact that I had to drive to and from Rochester today. The last time I gave blood, well, I almost passed out. SO I’m hoping to be able to participate in another blood drive but I just couldn’t risk it today.

But I made the best of it instead and choose a local non-profit to support. The Finger Lakes SPCA is doing some great stuff to keep animals off the street and getting them into the homes of loving owners. Their Facebook page is always showing happy people gaining a new 4-legged member to their family.

They have an ongoing can drive that helps them offset the cost of medicine and vaccines for the dogs and cats. And guess what? It’s SUPER easy to participate. There is a shed outside and a yellow A-frame that tells you where to put the cans. You just drop and go.

There are also a number of items that they are in need of and I plan to bring down more of a donation later this week. If you want to support them in more than just your empties you can check out the Pets’ Wish List for things like food, litter, cleaning supplies and more!

While I know that my donation today was a great start, I am really hoping to make a bigger impact with this whole Love Week quest. Not for me but because I know that it’s needed. I’m praying that God opens doors of opportunity for me to see what He needs me to do this week and for Him to provide for all of it, plus more!

That being said – make sure to take your next bag of refundable cans to the Finger Lakes SPCA. Maybe you can even do it tomorrow 🙂

– Jess

 

Love Week 2014

LWEE_Logos-021-550x262

 

Lately the hubby and me have been watching Elevation Church online on Sunday mornings. We love it! Now it’s no substitution for getting planted in a local church, but while we’ve been searching, we’ve been calling Elevation Online home. We’ve seen God show up big time too, Pastor Steven’s messages have hit home and helped us in our walk with God.

About a month ago I was watching by myself and they were talking about their annual Love Week event. I found myself wishing we were in the Charlotte, NC area so that we could participate and subsequently writing off the event because there was no way for us to do that. It was in that moment that I felt the familiar whisper of God saying why don’t you just do your own Love Week where you are?

So I got up and wrote the dates down on the calendar and stared to brain storm what I could do. And then I kind of forgot about it. It wasn’t until I realized that Love Week was almost upon me that I remembered that I said I was going to impact my community and spread some much needed love. With only a few days to plan, I almost said forget it, but that just didn’t feel right.

I’ll be honest with you, setting out on this journey again scares me. A couple of years ago I tried to do a month of activities for my 30th birthday. It didn’t go so well. Admittedly, it was too much for me to handle at that time.

I’m determined this time to impact not only my community but my friends and family too. Since we strongly believe that ministry starts at home, a lot of my week will be filled with things that I can do for my family as well as ways to help the community.

Throughout the week I’ll keep up with a blog and you can follow the journey on Facebook too. I hope you’ll take each days activities and participate in your city and your family too.

This Saturday July 26th begins Love Week and I’ll be starting with giving blood for the American Red Cross. Why start with that? Well the event is already planned and I can hit the ground running with it. 🙂

I’m beyond excited that the next week I’ll be committing to my own Love Week events. Here are some of my ideas, feel free to add some others in the comments. I’ll post the next day’s activity on Facebook and Twitter so make sure you’re following me there too!

Visit a family member day
Give Blood
Donate cans to SPCA
Donate Food to the food pantry
Random Act of Kindness Day
Bring Dinner to a young mama day
Volunteer opportunities
Bless someone who has blessed you day
More to come 🙂

– Jess

Being Intentional Starts at Home

It’s been two weeks since I started my medicine and even though it’s a little early yet, I think I can feel a difference. It seems easier to focus on things. Easier to set a goal and actually accomplish it! (Woot!) I don’t think I’m having as many days where I’m indescribably sad. These are good things, REALLY good things.

I know that I have a bit of a journey ahead of me and it involves not just a quick fix but learning some skills that will carry with me too. One of them is to learn how to be more intentional with my life. Right now I’m focusing on being more intentional at home but there are so many areas I’d like to apply this to. Making sure I’m keeping up with dishes and laundry and the bathroom and sweeping and mopping. Seemingly simple things, but things that on my worst days that are the hardest to do. And I realized that when those things weren’t done it was making me feel worse.

So, enough is enough, because I DON’T WANT TO BE IN THIS PLACE ANYMORE. That’s my motto these days. 🙂 Here’s the thing guys – I’m ACTUALLY doing it. I’m impressing myself with the stuff that I’ve accomplished, and I’m thinking ahead. Plus, all this housework actually makes me feel better about myself too – double bonus!

The great things is that I’m not doing all this intentional-ity on my own. I’ve joined a Facebook group called Thrive Intentionally that’s all about supporting one another and setting goals and holding each other accountable for them in a nice, loving. we can do this kind of way. I LOVE it! It’s really helped me to stay on track. I’d highly encourage you to stop over join the group and say hi! If you’re looking to make some changes in your life, this is a great way to get up some motivation to actually do it.

– Jess 🙂

A New Step in My Journey

I went to the doctor this week. The visit was not only an overdue checkup but also to take a new step in my battle with depression. Over the past few weeks my husband has been lovingly telling me how much my depression affects him. He’s awakened me to the fact that most of the time, I’m just sad, or emotionless. 

This is NOT how I want to live life. 

Partly because of this depression, partly because of my personality I’ve said before that I wanted to get better but at the end of the day it was easier to be sad. It was easier to hide in the comfort zone of depression. I’ve been hiding there for almost 10 years. 

My trip to the doctor was to get on some medication that will help me feel again. Feel like myself, feel my feelings, feel good again. I’m on day 2 and I’m just plain excited to be taking this step to move forward. 

What was the change you ask? I think I finally realized just how much my feelings and emotions were affecting other people. In particular, my children & husband and really myself. In the pits of your own despair it’s easy to think the feelings that you are having affect only you. It’s easy to believe that you are the only one with the pain and the hurt. Unfortunately our families see the hurt and they hurt for us and sometimes they don’t know how to deal or what to say or what to do. 

To say that I’m excited is true. I know that medication is not the miracle cure, I know that it won’t be forever and I know that it’s just a tool. What I’m really excited about is making a change in my life and sticking to it.

Through these changes I’m making I want to get a little more intentional with blogging too because there is a story in this. There are lessons and words that someone needs to hear and I need to write. Writing helps.

Also there were two beautiful blogs that I started reading recently that helped me to know that making the decision to get past this is not only the right thing, it’s also doable. They both offer insight into overcoming the pits of depression but also living with it too. 

I’d highly recommend that you check them out: 

One Lyric

WondHerFul

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be doing a little maintenance around the blog, creating a new look and possible a new name (eek!). I hope you’ll be along for the journey!

– Jess 🙂

 

 

Aside

Not a Mechanic

Never let what’s going on in your life or the excuses in your head, stop you from being the hands and feet of Christ.

On my way back from dropping Noah at “school” I was riding into the gas station on the last gallon of gas. You know the days when you don’t want to stop for gas because you’ll be late but if you don’t do it now then things are just going to get worse. I didn’t want to stop, I could make it to work after all, but I did anyways because I knew I should. When I pulled up to the farthest pump I noticed another woman opening the hood of her car. She didn’t look too confident and I thought I should ask if she needed help.

But then fear tried to come in. Fear said that I didn’t know anything about cars. How could I help? Fear said she won’t want help. Fear said I’m sure she’s got everything under control.

Too bad I’m learning how to not listen to fear anymore.

It’s hard and I know I’m going to be better for it, but learning how to step past the fear has been an up and down path of proud moments and disappointing defeats.  I know I’m farther than I was but I’m not where I want to be yet. And that’s ok.

So today when I felt God told me to ask her if she needed help, the fears that gave me excuses why not were overshadowed by my desire to go for it. I walked over and made the ask despite the fact that if there was something really wrong with her car I probably wouldn’t be able to help. Turns out she was really sweet and didn’t really need the help, but seemed grateful that I at least asked.

I don’t think it was help she needed though. I think that God wanted her to know that she is loved and that He sees her and that she’s not alone. When I finished pumping my gas I checked back over with her to see if things weer going ok and she was just finishing up. She had a smile on her face and so did I. Who knows how my one act of bravery today impacted her life but I know how it impacted mine.

– Jess 🙂

Losing My Faith

I swear my kid has a built in mom alert that tells him within 15 minutes that I am awake. I love that he wants to be with me and I love the extra time with him – especially these days when it seems like I’m out of the house more than I am in. However, when I wake up early, it’s so I can get ready or spend some time in prayer or just to savor the silence of the house. If I’m not careful I can let the fact that he just wants to be with me become an annoyance in my life. 

Today, though, I was determined to figure out a way to still get what I needed to done even though my son woke up so early. So, I enlisted the help of my husband, and I’m so glad I did because during the prayer time that I made room for, God showed me something amazing and loving and just awesome. 

I was looking over my notes from Pastor Steven Furtick’s message this past weekend – Consider the Source. He had referenced Luke 15 and so I had written a note to go back and read it in depth. What I found was a chapter that I’ve read/discussed/learned from a number of times but a section of which that came into a new light. 

“Or what woman, having ten (silver) drachmas (each one equal to a day’s wages), if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and look carefully and diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she summons her (women) friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the silver coin which I had lost.” – Luke 15, Verse 8 & 9, AMP Version 

This woman knew the value of the coins. The scripture tells us that each one was a day’s wages. They were valuable to her, yet somehow one got lost. Now, the scripture doesn’t tell us how one got lost or how long it had been missing, and my guess is it doesn’t matter. But once she realized it was gone, she remembered the full value of it. She realized how much that silver coin meant to her, her family, her livelihood. She realized the full value of what she had lost and she went running back to find it. And once she found it, she not only rejoiced but she told everyone she knew. 

I felt like God pulled this scripture out to me today to show me something. Maybe God sometimes allows us to lose out faith so we can remember how valuable it is to us. And so we can rejoice and tell others and grab on so hard and never let it go again. 

I’ve alluded to the fact that this past year was a tough one for our family in previous posts. And it was. It rocked us in more ways than I care to share. At first, my faith was made stronger and I was seeking God. Then one night my son was having a night terror. It was intense. We couldn’t wake him up and he was screaming, nothing helped. I knew that it wouldn’t, I’d read up on them since he was getting them every couple of weeks, but that knowledge didn’t help when we were basically helpless to it in the moment. I prayed and asked, then begged and cried out for Jesus to take the dream away from my boy. To ease his mind and give him peace. But no peace came. He kept screaming. My husband went in to try. He kept screaming. And while I was in the hall I let a lie so terrible come in and take root. A voice said it’s no use, you’re all alone. It was a lie, I was never alone, but in my weakness, in that moment when I thought God hadn’t heard me, I believed it. 

It hurts more than you know to admit that. I remember that moment clearly. It was the moment that I lost my faith. The very thing that I had been hanging onto during the toughest part of my life was taken by one moment. The next weeks and months I wish I could say I got up and started praying again, but I didn’t. In fact the months after that, when I needed God the most, was when I withdrew from Him the farthest. See He never left me, but I lost Him. 

Slowly but surely I realized what happened, I renounced that memory and that moment and that agreement I had made. I’ve prayed through and over and for it a number of times now. And since the beginning of the year I’ve been running towards God faster than I ever have before. My journey isn’t perfect, it’s spotted and delicate and off and on. But I’m happy to say it’s been a LOT more on than it has off. That tells me there is progress and we all know I love progress. 

Like the woman in the parable, I lost something that I valued very much, but I didn’t know exactly how valuable it was to me until I realized it was missing. And once I did, I went all out looking for it again. Thankfully God was with me the whole time and I need only turn to Him and he rejoices to see me and embraces me with loving arms no matter how long I’ve been gone.

Have you ever lost or been lost in your faith? 

– Jess 🙂

 

Getting Past the Exhaustion

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. – Anne Frank

Such an inspiring quote. The thought that I can do even a little something right now, right this very instant to make things better. Smile at a stranger. Laugh with my two year old. Help someone in need.

I love it. And it’s something I want to remind myself over and over until I really “get it” because it’s simple and powerful.

Yet sometimes I see stuff like this and I just feel exhausted at the thought of it. If I’m to be honest, this thought of exhaustion, tiredness, or of the effort that something takes, I focus on that WAY too much. I’m not proud to say that, not at all, but it’s what happens to me.

Anyone else just feel exhausted thinking about such things? I can’t be alone on this one.

Don’t get me wrong this feeling of exhaustion isn’t limited to saving the world. It creeps in at 10pm when there is a sink full of dishes. It creeps in when there are important phone calls I need to make. It creeps in at the thought of cleaning the closet in my boys room. Or when I think about opening a youth center in my town.

The funny thing is that the thing that is actually exhausting is the fact that I don’t do those things. It’s more exhausting to leave the tasks alone and sit on the couch and flip through Facebook. It’s more exhausting to hit the snooze button 17 times or to wake up to a sink full of dishes that you, yet again, have no intention of starting because – it’s too exhausting.

I know I’ve trained myself to think this way and it’s something that I don’t even consciously think about most days but looking at my life I can see it’s there and it needs to change if I’m going to go forward instead of in circles.

How do we get past these thoughts?

For me, I need to remind myself of the truth instead of the lie.

The lie: Doing that project, or choosing happiness, or changing the world is too exhausting.
The Truth: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

The lie: It doesn’t matter if I do my dishes(or laundry or cleaning the car etc) or not because nobody will see.
The Truth: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” Colossians 3:23

That’s great for the mental attack I get at the thought of something but there is one sure fire way I can attack my exhaustion (or rather perceived exhaustion) that seems to work every time. I simply get up and do some thing. It doesn’t matter what. And yes it’s sometimes harder than it sounds, but it works.

I have to remind myself that motion begets motion. An object in motion will stay in motion until a force stops it. See what I’m getting at here? The more you start, the more you finish. The more you finish the better you feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself the less exhausted you feel and when you feel less exhausted you change the world.

I’m beginning to realize I’ve spent too much time not doing things because I was scared it was going to be too much for me. Or because of a myriad of other fears I’m sure. I NEED to remind myself that I have not been given a spirit of fear but that of love, power and a sound mind.

At the end of the day I’d rather actually be exhausted because I did things that will change the world than be exhausted because I played on my phone all day. Even if the only world I am changing at the moment is my own home, or the lives of my children, it’s all important and it’s all worth it.

So here’s to an exhausting life – I hope you live one too! 🙂

What makes you feel absolutely exhausted at the thought of it? What ways have you combated that?

– Jess 🙂

 

The Receiving End of a Random Act of Kindness

starbucks

It’s not very often that I’m on the receiving end of a RAOK from a total stranger. So when the man behind the counter said “It’s on me” I was a little taken aback.

I had stopped to treat myself to a cup of Starbucks coffee on my way to pick up my older boys. I don’t do this often, and maybe he could tell. I confidently ordered my grande Verona and the total came to $2.04. I handed over my debit card and got the most embarrassing news ever. It was denied. For a $2 cup of coffee. I hastily began shuffling through my wallet which had nothing more than old receipts in it for some cash. To avoid the fact that it actually was an awkward moment for the two of us I cut the ice with a “well this is embarrassing” comment. More than that, I was really disappointed. Perhaps this was why I had that nagging feeling not to stop?

As I was fumbling, he was saying something to me but I didn’t understand at first. He said “It’s ok – it’s just a cup of coffee, take it.” I was flabbergasted I mean absolutely surprised. He didn’t have to do that and I was surprised that he did.

In that moment I felt what it was like to receive a gift that I didn’t deserve or expect but that I was very grateful for. I felt like it was God reminding me that I have the power to do that every single day and that there was a time in my life where doing that for someone else was what I lived for.

So this is what it’s like when I pay for the car behind me in the drive through. And this is what it’s like when I drop off groceries to a friend who I know is struggling.

I want so badly to be able to do those things on a large scale and I just can’t right now financially. But maybe I can pay for a car behind me. And maybe I can buy a few extra groceries every week and bring them to the food pantry or to a friend. I can do that. And I know that as I am faithful in the small things again, He will be faithful when He needs me to do the big.

That small gesture reminded me that I felt 100x better when I was giving. That seemingly insignificant cup of coffee given to a stranger reminded me that I have been called to be a light and I need to shine.

Thank you my new coffee friend for doing what you felt was right. It did more than you could ever know.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a Random Act of Kindness? What was your experience like?