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

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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

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 🙂

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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.

My Dukes Are Up

I’m feeling a bit defensive today.

Like I would verbally spat with anyone who dare question the direction of my life right now.

Not a new emotion for me but putting a name to it and being able to identify it is pretty new. Definitely progress if I do say so myself. 😉

I think the defensiveness is coming from what I am assuming other people are thinking about me. A dangerous road for sure.

It’s coming from trying to be confident in choices that have been made. Some have been conscious choices, others have been because I let life do the picking for me. And that’s where my guilt comes in. That’s where I start to question everything and I feel like its all a mess too big to dig out of.

That’s also where I end up getting stuck in the muck of it all. I’m knee deep in guilt and shame and confusion and I forget that looking down into the muck doesn’t help me get unstuck. And wishing Id though to put on pretty pink boots doesn’t help me know.

I need to look up. Remember that the sun is shining and that I am breathing and that God has a plan for me and that He uses all things for good.

I need to look up to find a branch to reach out and hold onto. I need to look up to see the help that is waiting for days when I can’t bear to show my face. I need to look up and remind my weary heart that “this too shall pass”, and that I can start the movement of change right now.

– Jess

Progress

It took well over an hour for my youngest , Noah, to fall asleep tonight.

He refused to eat for me as well today and definitely did exactly what I told him not to do, just after I told him not to do it.

It’s days like these that make me want to throw in the towel and recoil into the thought that I’m not doing well at this parenting thing. And then I remind myself that he’s two and things could be worse, temper tantrum in the grocery store worse. Or worse like mommy can’t get out of bed to even try to parent today worse.

Thank God I wasn’t at that point today.

I would have missed the adorable laugh of my toddler. I would have missed his silly ways. I would have missed the crazy things that come out of his mouth and the fact that he all of a sudden, half way through his ice cream, needed a cone.

Today is a good day, today I can see the forest for the trees & brush off the “bad” for all the good. 🙂 This isn’t typical but ill take it. And hopefully when bedtime tomorrow night isn’t going as planned I can remember all the good things about the day and remind myself that I AM a good parent,just like I was able to do tonight.

That my friends is progress in the face of depression!

-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 🙂

 

Just BE Happy?

The other day I went through and re-read all of my posts here on the blog. I love and hate when I do that. I love to reread my favorites, but then I cringe at the other non-favorites. 

A while back I wrote about choices and it got me thinking about how people would tell me that you have to choose happiness. Have you ever had someone say that to you? You just have to choose to be happy. It’s always irked me, and frustrated me and in the height (or depths really) of my depression, that sentiment just made me question myself and ask why I couldn’t just choose to be happy. 

Because in the thick of it, I couldn’t. 

And while many of these people were well-meaning, I sincerely doubt they know what it’s like to be truly depressed. To struggle to get out of bed in the morning, to struggle to eat, to struggle to laugh at the most adorable faces, to struggle to be happy for your family. If you’ve never been there I don’t know how to describe it to you, but if you have, then you know what I mean. I’ll bet that you also know how hard that happiness choice is.

There is truth to the statement, that at a point you can choose to be happy, but I think that you need to get to that point. When you’re up to your elbows in tears and tissues and completely distraught, that statement is so unattainable, that for me it didn’t help. 

I can honestly say that yesterday I CHOSE to be happy. It wasn’t the easiest thing and it wasn’t 100% but I did pretty good. This wasn’t the first time I’d done this but I think that it’s the first time in a while that I realized it happened. 

Yesterday happened because over the past few months even though I didn’t know how, or didn’t feel like I could, I kept trying. I kept reaching out. I kept moving forward, inch by inch. You’ll find your happy too, and it may not look like every one else’s happy, but you will get there.

From what I can tell, things are getting better. Now that I’m farther along in my journey I look back and realize that maybe I wasn’t as sad as I seemed? I don’t know. I do know that this IS a journey, that for me, depression is not a one and done deal. Unfortunately, it’s taken me about 15 years, many of which were spent denying my feelings, and multiple seasons of counseling for that to really sink in. 

So today I rejoice that I’m at a point in my journey that I can make that choice to be happy, to put away the darkness. I’m at a point where I know that I can lean on God to help me look past the darkness and see His light. I am happy to be at a point where I can be happy. 🙂

– Jess


Guard your heart above all else,

    for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23