winter.jpgMany moons ago, on a dark winter night, as the children lay nestled in warm beds and my husband reclined pale and motionless in his chair, I wrapped myself in a thick coat, pulled boots upon weary feet, and ventured out into the bitter loneliness.

My emergence was greeted by a silent dirt road, my being enveloped by the brisk air as the blackness provided shelter from the rest of humanity. Nothing but stillness awaited my pilgrimage. I was free.

I glanced to the left and recognized a spattering of houses and to the right – nothing but naked branches swaying in the stagnant air. I leaned into the vacancy and began moving, one foot in front of the other – the vicious cold biting my face and freezing the tears as they fell. I walked in penance for whatever grave sin I had committed – a sin which had led to a recent life of so much pain and heartache. I knew that surely if my husband held the strength to wage war against numerous rounds of poison, and my son had the strength to defy the proclamations of death voiced against him, and my children possessed the strength to look into the abyss of eternity staring back at them through their daddy’s hollow gaze, then surely – SURELY – I could face whatever lay ahead. And so I walked. I walked the coals – the clear crystal coals intermingled with the frozen ground. And nothing moved. And all was silent.

I walked and I paused and I crumpled to the earth, fists curled and pumping into the night sky –

“CURSE YOU NIGHT!” I screamed.

I screamed and I screamed until the noise was deafened by gasps – gasps of oxygen being pumped into a broken heart, gasps of air reviving a weary soul, and then I rose, yet again, to face my tormentor and crumpled beneath the weight of the heavy cold air. I wrestled and rose and cursed and moaned and fell again and again and again, all to the beat of the maestro’s baton, to the beat of the never-ending drum of life.

Eventually I grew weary, as we all do, and I turned back– slowly fixing my gaze to reality, the dim lights flickering through the swaying trees – ready to return to my life- a haven of pain and grief and joy.

This Do In Remembrance Of Me

Breaking the bread and drinking the cup – wrestling, walking, moaning, cursing, accepting – traditions which enable our remembrance. The bread and the wine; the aching joints and all of the movements that stir our remembrance of something greater than ourselves – a remembrance of His faithfulness.

I still walk in the bitter air, but I no longer seek the solitude of the night. I now turn to face the warmth of the sun, often walking hand in hand with those I love – those born of the light. The bitter cold of what was and the warmth of what is – of how life can unravel at any moment into something bright and beautiful and unexpected.

Choosing life. Choosing warmth. Choosing light. Choosing to Just Keep Livin.

2017. What a year.  Some would say this was the year I lost my mind just a little bit.  Some would say this was the year I also found myself just a little bit.  2017 was the year Ryan and I turned 40 – which we each handled very differently.  It was the year we made some difficult decisions personally and spiritually.  It was the year of growth to say the least.  Here is our unofficial Christmas/New Year’s letter – affectionately known as The Ronne Recap.
Continue reading “The Ronne Recap – 2017.”

desk1Remember the old metal table I had my eye on in my husband’s junk pile

awhile back?

It’s not an old metal table anymore! Not only has he masterfully restored it to a beautiful new desk, but he’s also masterfully restored an old barn on our property into a quiet space for me to write and practice yoga.  Continue reading “A New Desk and A Podcast Debut”

lovedbaby.jpgA baby gone too soon.
A beloved family member diagnosed with cancer.
A dear woman battles emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband.
Children beg for food in third world countries.
Ten year old girls lose their innocence and their humanity as they are sold as sex slaves.

It hurts like hell.
It stings
It all falls so painfully short of what we feel this life should be
It aches like betrayal on a massive scale
A world wide scale
And we, humanity, are the victims left in the wake.
A big joke played on all of us
by a bunch of pranksters residing in the Heavenlies.

And we numb the pain with drugs
With wine
With anger
And sleep
Or hurtful silences
Or busyness
Or denial
We numb our cells to the best of our ability
To avoid feeling
To avoid the reality
To avoid the ache
But when the numbing wears off
It still hurts
And we rage against our Creator
Our cells scream
We groan from the never lands
We weep for the lost tomorrows
And forgotten yesterdays
And the vacant presents
And there are still no answers
The Creator is silent.

The baby remains absent
And grandma starts chemotherapy
And the “C” word enters our children’s vocabulary once again
Along with the “D” word in regards to their unknown sibling

And our eyes spill in response to their tears
And children still starve
And that woman still aches for a loving spouse
And girls are raped again and again
And that is the reality of what we call life.
And that is why our hearts ache for something purer
And bigger
And more beautiful
We ache for more
We need more
We yearn for a hereafter
Where all the pain is gone
And every tear is wiped from our eyes
Our hearts scream for some sort of redemption
Something that makes it bearable again
All of creation grapples with the injustice we’ve been served
And we shake our fists in righteous indignation towards the pain we have endured in our fallen nature.
Our souls search through the fragility of our humanity for something deeper.

The “Whys?!” we scream
Why is a Godly woman ravaged by an insidious disease?
Why a baby, an innocent child who has harmed not one, taken so early?
Why!?!?
We scream to the Heavens
To anyone who will turn a listening ear towards our anguish

These were some of the words I wrote in response to losing my beloved baby in December of 2013 http://jessplusthemess.com/index.php/my-blog-old/entry/love-and-loss-and-bethlehem .  I felt so incredibly alone, lost, scared, fearful and full of despair and so I hid.  I hid behind words.  I hid in my house.  I hid behind a fake smile plastered across my face that told the world I was just fine.  But I wasn’t fine.  I thought I was being punished for some reason.  I could not understand why God couldn’t grant me the desire for a healthy baby – especially after all I had been through – especially after obeying what he had called me to in blending my family with another family and raising 7 beautiful children.  I deserved this baby!

In hindsight, God used the next 9 months of waiting to become pregnant again as an opportunity to birth something beautiful in my marriage and heart as Ryan and I gained a deeper intimacy through the pain and revelations that preceded the conception of our 8th child who would be our beautiful daughter Annabelle Ryan.  God is good. All the time, but man, sometimes it hurts like crazy to walk in obedience to his plan.

I was honored to be a part of the launch team for Sarah Philpott’s book Loved Baby.  In all honestly, I have never read a book on losing a baby that impacted me quite like this one did.  She is honest. She is vulnerable, and she is realistic in explaining step by step, what to expect, how to process all of the feelings, and how to slowly release the pain and agony to your Heavenly Father as you allow him to help carry your burden; as you choose joy over fear when you are blessed with another child, and it is a choice to be made – wishing “we could be filled to the brim with delight about the new life blooming in my womb. But the little thing called memory prevents us from pure elation,” and her wise counsel, “When fear seeps into our soul, let’s combat it with joy.”

This book will be such a blessing to your life and to anyone you may know who has walked through this difficult terrain, AND…. I have a copy to give away! Comment here (sorry, I know it’s a bit like Fort Knox to be allowed to comment on the blog – you can thank the trolls for that) or comment on Facebook or Instagram about why you would like to win a copy. I’ll draw a winner Sunday evening.

Just keep livin!