Sunday, February 12, 2017

Breaking the Silence

I have been tossing around some ideas in my head lately and blogging just seems to be a good way to clear my own mind. Read if you dare.

 At the grocery store nearby, employees act bothered to be doing the tasks for which they are hired and paid to do. They are not only unhelpful, but they are unkind. I don't know what happened to the idea of taking ownership of your work. I thought that we were all supposed to work excellently at everything that we do. Why are we all so bothered with our responsibilities?

Reading through my Facebook feed, I see so many politically and religiously "tolerant" people behaving SO intolerably. It's pretty insane that we don't know know how to disagree with dignity. We aren't open to engaging in conversation with people who don't think exactly as we do. There is a HUGE gap between "us" and "them." I am ready to encounter some people who don't think like me, but who are willing to engage me as a human being. I have a worldview. So do you. When we can pinpoint where our worldviews differ, we can have real conversation.

More to come.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Take it Personal

God is trustworthy.
He keeps His Word. And no one has to remind Him to do so, because He doesn't forget. He doesn't grow old or tired or weary.

I've been reminding myself of this truth. And really (because I do a crappy job at times of reminding myself--oh my sin!), I have just been assaulting myself with the truths that are found in His word. Daily being in His word is my lifeline. I am grateful for His work in renewing and transforming my heart and mind.

I've been thinking on a lot of things these past few months, dear reader. I wish that you were sitting across from me on my comfy couch with a warm cup of _________ (insert whatever you like to drink here). I'd like to share the highlights with you here and now, though.

In January, a few days before my birthday, I was afflicted with a stomach virus. I never remember how much I abhor throwing up until I am cuddling with the toilet bowl and lying on the floor. I hate it. Brian was so gracious to me during this time. He stayed home from work and took care of everything and everyone so that I could vomit in peace. He put the kids down for nap and set up "The West Wing" so that we could watch it (in between me running to the toilet. TMI?). A few days later, *he* was struck with the same virus. So, he stayed home from work and I took care of him. Needless to say, we were all very happy when our Virus 2013 was dormant. We prayed that God would spare our children... and He did! Isn't He good?

A week later, I woke up with a horrible pain in my side. It was debilitating. And I'm not a weenie. I ended up having to call Brian and he rushed home (my Dad came and stayed with the kiddos, for those who are curious). Without going into all of the details, we found out that I was pregnant. That didn't explain the pain that I was experiencing, so we were sent to the hospital only to discover that I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. The doctors told me that had I not come in to the hospital, I would have internally haemorrhaged and died. There was already a large amount of blood in my pelvic region. Anyway, sad, sad day, friends. I was excited to discover that we were expecting a baby and so saddened to learn that the baby would not be joining our family, here outside the womb. I am still processing all of these things and probably will continue to do so for a while. I have learned a tremendous amount about the Lord and His trustworthiness.

I know that He is in control and has the right to rule.
This baby did not slip out of His hands.
He caused this.
He did?
Yes, He did.
And He is good.
It was His will.
Wait, what?
Yes, it was a part of His grand story for His fame and glory in my life.

I am so grateful that, in the details of my life, He has proven to be so trustworthy. He is faithful throughout the Scriptures. I could just read and learn of His faithfulness. BUT He has gone above and beyond in showing me that He is not only faithful to His collective people-- the Body of Christ, but that I can take His promises personally too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Forgiveness and Some Change

A lot going on in my mind and heart, but I don't even know how to articulate *most* of those things right now. I think that is probably the Lord...setting a guard over my mouth. Anyone? Sometimes, the things that I am thinking don't need to be said, for whatever reason. It isn't profitable. It isn't true. Or some other reason. Francis Chan's wife said something recently, encouraging women to not believe everything that they think. Anyway, sometimes things that I am thinking about *are* able to be articulated in a way that may be profitable (either for myself or for someone else) and the Lord allows me grace to be able to put words to thoughts and articulate. We'll just have to wait and see if this is one of those times...

I've been thinking about forgiveness. Mainly, how I suck at extending it. I would have never known of my extreme "suckage" in this area were it not for July 1, 2006 when God allowed me to marry a really handsome + Godly man and therein begin the process of my soul having it's roof ripped off. That's right folks; real love. =) Anyway, we were married for less than a month when I realized (read: was told my by man) that I needed help in this area. "Moi?" I thought to myself. I was clueless (read: self-righteous). I just listened to a sermon by Dave Harvey on this forgiveness matter and it was so encouraging. I wish that I could travel back six years ago and tell myself what I know now. But, God in His timing doesn't allow for that. In fact, I need to retract that statement about wanting to travel back because I think that it has been in these six years of being married and struggling to extend forgiveness that I have realized MY OWN NEED FOR FORGIVENESS. Duh! Someone needed to knock that 20-year-old Jessica off of her high horse...and she was knocked off it, alright! Anyway, one small thing that Dave Harvey mentioned was this: forgiven sinners forgive sins.(Point of information:  I know, without listening to the sermon you might think that *we* are able to forgive on our own. Lest you be misled, Harvey was of course saying that we rely on God's work in us to be able to extend forgiveness. So, we rely on the fact that He already paid for the sin and thus forgave its penalty; we just extend that good message.) I needed that reminder. That ability to forgive is fruit of a heart that has been forgiven. And boy, have I been forgiven!

The second thing that I have been melding on is this truth that God loves me. Like, me. Jessica. There is a place for God loving the church as a whole. I am not making a case for "just me and Jesus" kind of talk. But I am saying that the fact that Jesus died for me and my sin (and the sins of those He came to save) affects me. Or it should. I should take it personally as well as corporately. Anyway, I've had this awakening to the fact that God actually wants me to take my thoughts, fears, wants, needs, etc. before Him and talk to Him. Not because He is a giant vending machine (though He is in charge of everything), but because He wants to engage me... to change me. To refine me. To conform me to His image. I feel like I've know this for a while, but I haven't really KNOWN it, ya know? Mind-blowing. It's changed the way that I talk with Him.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I'm feeling pretty refreshed since having vented to you, blogging world, about my current struggles.Thinking about having baring my soul to you, dear reader, makes me think about something I just read:

In C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader, after Eustace is overcome with greed, he turns into a dragon. When Aslan rips off the dragon skin with a stroke of his paw, Eustace compares it to the childhood joy of picking a scab. It hurts like billy-oh, but it is such fun to see it coming away." When we remove out false selves, repentance creates integrity. We return to the real source of love--our Heavenly Father. We become authentic.

Paul Miller wrote that in a chapter in one of his books (The Praying Life). I referenced that book in my last post. It is really shaking up my prayer life...really, shaking up life for me in general. Love it. I love that God desires for us to be authentic. He wants us to come as we are, but He has declared we should not stay as we are; He's changing us. It's a slow process, but in the end, we will not be as we once were. 

I love authentic people. I loathe the fake. Just be you, for cryin' out loud. I know that is so easy for some and oh-so difficult for others. I'd much rather be real with people and have to work out issues because I've been honest about where I am and who I am than to never engage people on a real and meaningful level because I was wearing some silly mask.

Being authentic is risky, but I think it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Praying Life

"God takes everyone He loves through a desert. It is His cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly search for a new Eden. Here's how it works.

The first that happens is that we slowly give up the fight. Our wills our broken by the reality of our circumstances. The things that brought us life gradually die. Our idols die for lack of food. The still, dry air of the desert brings the sense of helplessness that is so crucial to the spirit of prayer. You come face-to-face with your inability to live, have joy, to do anything of lasting worth. Life is crushing you.

Suffering burns away the false selves created by cynicism or pride, or lust. You stop caring what other people think of you. The desert is God's best hope for the creation of an authentic self.

Desert life sanctifies you. You have no idea that you're changing. You simply notice after you've been in the desert for a while that you are different. Things that used to be important no longer matter. After a while, you notice your real thirsts. While in the desert, David writes,

O God, you are my God. Earnestly, I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh faints for You,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
Psalm 63:1

The desert becomes a window to the heart of God. He finally gets your attention because He's the only game in town. 

You cry out to God so long and so often that a channel begins to open up between you and God. When driving, you turn the radio off just to be with God. At night you drift in and out of prayer when you are sleeping. Without realizing it, you have learned to pray continuously. The clear, fresh water of God's presence that you discover in the desert becomes a well in your own heart. 

The best gift of the desert is God's presence. We see this in Psalm 23. In the beginning of the psalm, the Shepherd is in front of  me-- "He leads me beside still waters" (v.2); at the end He is behind me --"goodness and love will pursue me." (v. 6); but in the middle, as I go through "the valley of the shadow of death" He is next to me-- "I will fear no evil, for You are with me" (v. 4). The protective love of the Shepherd gives me courage to face the interior journey. "

An excerpt from "The Praying Life" by Paul Miller

Monday, October 15, 2012

Remedy for my anger: The Gospel

I've never thought of myself as an angry person, but when it comes to the discipline and training of my children, an angry person emerges with such frequency that I may need to seek out some major counseling. I wish it were as simple as just putting new information in between my ears, but alas, I am afraid it is not quite that simple. See, I know that what I should be doing is pointing out their respective need for the Savior. I know that I should not be taking their offenses personally. They are afterall, only  three, two, and 9 months old. What sort of ridiculous person expects such lofty things for such small and precious people? This idiot.
I know that there is a balance between lovingly holding them to a standard and being gracious. I want to do both. But for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to make it stick.

Prayer? Yes. I am daily reminded of my complete inability to do this thing called "parenting." And really "existing" is complicated for me these days. I feel like I am in between two worlds. I want to embrace this time of my children being young, because I do know ( and hear often) that it passes by ever so quickly. I want to savor it, but then again, I sometimes find myself just wanting to gulp it down and move on to the next course. It doesn't work like that. I think that I am supposed to learn to savor this season. Maybe in the next season, I will long for this season? That's terrifying to me, actually. At this moment, I cannot continue with that thought process.

The point is: I see who I am becoming and what I've done and I don't like it. And I know that you may think that I simply need to make the choice to change and be done with what i don't desire. But, dang it, I cannot. I've tried. I am desirous of the Gospel to move in and rearrange or reupholster or remodel completely. I don't like this "me." I need the help of the Savior just like my kids do. Desperately. More desperately, even.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Recently, I've been able to look back on my life (or at least, life for these six years gone by) and process some things that I hadn't yet. Mainly friendships.

Friendships, growing up, were very easy for me. I have a natural fondness for people and do not have to work at enjoying them. I have been told (by my parents & relatives) that this has been true of me for a long, long while. Friendships, therefore, were abundant. I remember my parents cautioning me and telling me that if I were to have a few close friends, I should consider that a great success. I remember being so puzzled by their cautionary advice because, at the time, I had many good friends. Of course, I had an amazing amount of time to invest in people and they in me. In high school and college, I spent most of my time with people. We discussed really deep theological topics, good books, politics, as well as not-so-deep things like hair, music, and food.

When I was barely twenty years old, I married my best friend (whom I had only known for about 6 months at the time). I had gone off to school at the University of Florida and had grown apart from many of my Pensacola friends. Many of them were also going away to universities in all parts of the country. It was sort of a natural shift; one that I don't like that happens, but one that happens, nonetheless. When I moved to Gainesville, I met some really remarkable people through a church there and had a great season of sowing and being sown into. When I finished a semester there, Brian asked me to marry him and I moved back to Pensacola. Making friends after we were married was really difficult for me. I remember so vividly a conversation with one of my friends (a friend I had known since 9th grade) who said plainly, "It's just hard to be friends with you now that you're married. No one else that I know is married and it's just odd." I don't know exactly what she meant by it, but I do know that I didn't see her much after that. Brian introduced me to several dear friends of his, but they were quite a bit older than I was and I was just so immature and crazy. At that time, I was going through, what I like to refer to as the "Lifetime movie" phase of Brian and mine's marriage. I had a lot going on emotionally and really was a hot mess. Not even joking. That's another post for another time.

So, since then, and since having three children, I am out of the loop on this friendship deal. Since having the children, though, I will say that a lot of the walls that women put up have come down (I guess because pregnancy and childbirth give us common ground?) and I am oh, so grateful. I do have some really wonderful friendships that have begun to blossom, but I'd like things to be deeper. I have been severely perplexed about it all-- why it's so tough and why so many girls I know lack deep relationships (with someone besides a relative or a spouse). Then it hit me:  I don't invest the time into relationships like I used to. And let's face it: I can't, in this season of life. My priorities are different. I am no longer just able to take of  just me. I am looking out for Brian, Halie, Caleb, Abraham, and Noa Grace. My expectations for friends that I have now need to be lowered and I need to realize that this is where I am-- this season of  a new way to make and maintain friendships.

What about you?
Is there any insight that you have about juggling life + friends?

*I know that I didn't say much about how to be a good friend, etc. I guess this spiel was more just to unveil my epiphany about time being this key component with friends ( and I don't feel like I ever have time ).