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

 

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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 🙂

 

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Just Keep Going

Just Keep Going

It’s so hard for me sometimes to remember to keep going. Sadly yet honestly when things get hard I tap out, sit on the couch and pout. This is a huge life change I’m trying to accomplish, to overcome my sadness to feel my emotions and yet to learn how to not get bogged down by them. I find inspiration in things that remind me that I don’t have to be perfect, that the text to a friend doesn’t have to be perfect, that I just need to keep going. Today I’m choosing to keep going, to keep moving, to venture out into new land.

Just keep going, yup I can do that.

Looking Ahead, Not Back

It’s been one hell of a year. 2013 has certainly tried it’s darn-est to knock me down. Between layoffs, personal catastrophes, alienation, losing our apartment, living with family and being the worst financial place of my life, I’d say I’m looking forward to a new year.

But, as I wrote during November’s 30 Days of Gratitude, I want to look at all that I’ve learned this year and not focus on just the hardships I’ve been through. It’s this mentality that I go back to when I’m tempted to run through all the things that have gone wrong these past few months. I’m fighting to keep a positive outlook and that has really been helping.

So as the year winds to a close I thought I’d reminisce about what I’ve learned this year, about myself, about the world and just life in general.

– I’ve learned that friendship takes work but it’s so worth it and I so, so need more of it in my life.

– I was meant to fly, soar and rise above.

– My strength is found in love and joy.

– I can do hard things.

– I am braver than I thought.

– The secret to life is to keep moving. Keep getting up. Keep trying.

– Hard work scares me. Yet it’s what I need to get to where I want.

– My dreams are worth chasing. Big, small, easy, hard – they are all worth going after. Every. Single. One.

– I am capable of more than I even know.

– I’ve been given a gift to love and connect with people in a very genuine way and I am most at peace when I let that shine through.

– Most of all – LOVE WINS!

 

Here’s to picking up the pieces, taking my own advice and rocking 2014.

Happy New Year!

 

– Jess 🙂

Em-bare-assed

There is nothing that drags me down faster than embarrassment!

It doesn’t look like it used to, with a “friend” thinking its funny to pull up my skirt in the middle of the 8th grade wing at school. Everyone laughed. It was horrible, as you can imagine. No, now that I’m in my 30’s embarrassment looks a little different but certainly feels worse.

Have you ever gotten to a place in life where you are like, how the f$#* did I get here?

And when you think to reach out you realize you’ve burned your bridges, and you are embarrassed even ashamed of your choices?

What about starting again? Can’t you look for a new job? Put the baby in day care? Yes. The answer is yes. But what I don’t think anyone understands is how much the thought of all that makes me paralyzed.

I know that I will never be “ready” to do those things, and everyday that I don’t I feel more and more worthless which feeds into the depression and the embarrassment and the guilt and the sitting and doing nothing.

Can you tell it’s been a rough day? 😉

How do you get to “no more excuses”? How does this change? At what point will I stop letting my embarrassment keep me down? At what point will I fight , consistently, day after day?

Please God I hope it’s today. I don’t want to be a “disappointment” anymore. Actually what I really want is that I don’t want to believe lies like that anymore. That is where the fight begins, and maybe that’s where the fight has been all along. In my head.

Have you ever let embarrassment lead your life? How did you get past it?

– Jess

My Kind of Therapy

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Crafting is my kind of thing. Sewing patterns drawn me in. I swoon over new yarn. Don’t even get me started about the colors of paint and pencils and markers – I want to buy them all. Yet when life gets busy and stressful and well crazy, the one thing that I love to do ends up being the last thing on my list.

I realized though that crafting is like creating, and creating is like creativity, and creativity is a part of me. It’s when I am most at peace. It’s when I’m most content. Despite the stresses of some craft projects it is actually a relaxing activity for me. It boggles my mind why I don’t do it more often.

So when I had two hours to myself this past weekend I decided to craft. It’s not perfect and it’s not meant to be. It’s about getting back to me and the very things that make me excited. So here it is – my therapy.

I found an old shoe box top painted it a fun turquoise-ish blue and added my words. Nothing fancy, but I love it. And I love what it means to me too. 🙂 New beginnings, hope, change and life.

– Jess 🙂

Reaching Out

This week I wrote two entire posts about how things are changing and I’m choosing happiness and do you know what happens?

Five minutes into my 2-year old refusing to sleep I break down into a heaping mess of sadness.

Yes I was sick and running on like 4 hours of sleep and that always makes me very overwhelmed to begin with. But I just had nothing left to discipline or anything. It was bad. Like my husband almost came home kinda bad. Like don’t tell anyone about this because I’m super embarrassed kind of bad. I don’t even like writing that. But it’s where I was at and I bet someone out there has been there too.

That was how things were almost every day when I first had Noah. Everything was SO overwhelming and I didn’t know what to do and I was so sleep deprived that I couldn’t figure it out or find the strength to do it anyways. But back then I wasn’t able to tell anyone. For whatever reason I kept all of that inside and the doubts and sadness and shame filled my head and my heart.

Maybe that’s why my meltdown yesterday was so scary. Maybe it reminded me of those first few months when everyone was looking at me to help the crying baby and I had NO IDEA what to do. And so I hid. I hid my insecurities my emotions my weaknesses everything. It wasn’t just all that I was feeling that broke me it was what I was keeping hidden that did.

Yesterday even though I didn’t know it I was choosing to reach out and to not keep it hidden when I texted my husband. And that made all the difference. Seemingly out of no where I was at my breaking point and I didn’t know what to do and the one thing that helped was reaching out. And it took me about 30 minutes and some hugs from Noah to remind me that those things my brain was telling me weren’t true.

In that moment I had to then choose to listen to the good. I AM a good mom. My kid will sometimes just not sleep – despite my best efforts and arsenal of nap time tricks. This stage will NOT last forever.

Today I am telling myself that it’s ok that I slipped up yesterday. It’s ok that I broke down. It’s going to happen. What is important is that I got back up. It’s important that I reached out. And it’s important that I changed my thinking and went on with my day and was a ton better for it.

And maybe you are in that hole and you don’t even know what it means to change your thinking or it’s unthinkable to reach out to someone today that’s ok too. I understand. Hang on. You’ll get there too. 🙂

– Jess

Speaking Out

Kevin Breel is my new hero.

Two nights ago I watched his Tedx video. watch it here 🙂

At 19 he has displayed more courage and self awareness than I even pretend to have at 31.

There are not enough people talking about depression. There are lots of therapy sessions but they are done in secret behind closed doors and on the down low. I know because for years I told friends an family that I had an appointment or I was going to talk to my special friend because I didn’t know how they would react if I told them I was going to my therapist.

Times have changed, I’ve changed n I’m more open but not always.

I applaud Kevin’s bravery and am so hopeful for the lives he is impacting!

Watch the video pass it on. 🙂

Jess

Expectations, Schmexpectations

Some days I just need some encouragement. Not that I set out looking for it, but I usually end up finding it when I need it the most. 

While talking about work catching up on life with my friend, I shared with her that I noticed that for the past few weeks I’ve been really short with my kids. A trait that happens from time to time – like many parents I’m sure – but I really wasn’t sure where this has been coming from.

So while talking through this, I tell her about how I’ve been giving myself a pep talk. “This weekend I’m going to be the best mom and I’m not going to yell and I’ll teach them things and do fun things together”.  In talking to her I realized that I was actually just heaping expectation after expectation on myself…and then the weekend would come and that didn’t happen I was getting upset at myself and that was coming out on the kids. No good right?

My friend said to me “Jess, you ARE a good mom. You ARE doing a great job. And you need to get this “I will be” out of your vocabulary because you ARE a good mom”. 

Gosh, my heart smiles just thinking about how this simple word of encouragement impacted me in such a huge way. 

She reminded me that I AM doing a good job and it helped me and really allowed me to take some pressure off of myself.  That I don’t have to be perfect to be loving. That I may get frustrated but that’s where grace and humility come in and sweep me up in their arms. 

We had an amazing weekend, and I realized that the more that I Iet go of my expectations and the more I focused on love, the better the whole thing is. I felt better, my family was happier and we made memories this weekend. Such great, great memories. All because of her simple words. 

I want to encourage you today to speak those words, spread hope, give love. And if you are the one who needs the encouragement, don’t doubt what they say. Don’t doubt what that friend in your life is telling you. Hold on to that encouragement and tuck it in your heart. It will lift you up when you need it most. 

– Jess 🙂

 

Finding My Passion (Turns out I knew all along)

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but when I developed a plan to deal with my depression, the first thing I did was sign up for counseling. I’ve been through counseling before and it’s been wildly helpful and I love talking through stuff – seriously. Lol.  As it would turn out, I actually have two therapists which I love because they both bring so much to the table, and they come from different perspectives. 

In any case, after we spoke about a lot I was given homework, which I think is great! Even if I tend to not write it down and forget a few days later :-/ This week’s homework though is to  answer the question “What does passion look like to me?”. We’ve been talking about how I think I don’t know what I want, and how I think that I don’t know what my passion is but really deep down I most certainly do. And I have for some reason been telling myself that I don’t know, and that it’s not good enough. Thus the homework for this week. 

I came back from my appointment, and while taking a few minutes to myself got distracted and sucked into beautifully written posts about life and love and hurt and joy. This paragraph though, this changed everything. 

 

Your needs will not magically go away while your child is sick.  Fill them. Go on dates, even if it’s just a walk to the cafeteria for terrible coffee.  Forget about making things look like they’re okay.  They’re not.  Hunt for joy.  If you find it twinkling in the dark, dark night, it is meant to be found.  It is no mistake. Pick it up and take it with you.  You’re going to need it later.  Above all, accept every single scrap of kindness that is offered.  The web they weave will hold you when the bottom drops out and hard reality rushes up to meet you.  Memories of awkward hugs from strangers and mowed lawns and pans of lasagna will help.  I promise. – Momastery

 

I still remember the day that a woman from our church brought over meatloaf and mashed potatoes for our family when my youngest son Noah was born. I was a new mom with two stepchildren and beautiful newborn and two hours of sleep. I was delirious and feeling pretty much nothing at that point. But I remember how impact-full it was to know that someone whom I didn’t know very well (we had only been attending a couple of months) took time out to think of us, cook us a meal and then deliver it to us. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. 

When I read that paragraph, I admitted to myself what I am passionate about. Helping others, making them feel loved and spreading kindness to strangers. 

That is what I’m passionate about. And it’s not glamorous and it’s not flashy and it’s not going to win me any prizes. But it will change the world and that’s what I’m here to do. And if I ever make it about wanting to be known – then I know I need to reset my heart. 

So perhaps tonight I’ll finally just rest in that. I’ll let myself know that I have found my passion, it was here all along and I will let myself dream. Dream about what is to come. Dream about what I could do. Dream about my dream. Dream about my passion. Dream about the wonder of God. 

And tomorrow I’ll find the courage to act those things out. To dare to be different. To live a life that changes the world, in my way, the way that I have been called to. 

Hope restored. Love abounds. Heart is full. It’s a good day!

– Jess