A New Desk and A Podcast Debut

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

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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”

Love and Loss {And a Giveaway!]

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://www.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!

PIZZA PARTY!

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The feeling of hopelessness within the world seems to be at an all-time high lately. Between natural disasters, people dying, senseless shootings, and opinion after opinion after opinion on anything and everything because that’s what we do – we hop on our social media platforms and barrage the world with our thoughts – never necessarily having to take ownership for anything because we’re just a click away from deleting it all or logging off.

Anyway…  I needed to do some soul searching due to the information bombardment and what I felt like it was doing to my soul as it was not only sucking me dry mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, it was depriving my family of me – present, engaged, fully in tune me – which isn’t good.  It’s not good for me, and it’s not good for you either.

I took stock as I so often do.  I thought about how the information was feeling overwhelming and causing me to be anxious about life which in reality I really shouldn’t be anxious about because we’re all good. We’re healthy thriving people, and somehow in the midst of this goodness all around me I felt bad because I was overdosing on the negativity of others. We should absolutely be sympathetic towards others and their plights, but there is a fine line. When we continuously process all of the “others” pain and heartache we become stunted in our own relationships as our purpose and ability to be present becomes nonexistent because we’re so engaged in what else is going on in the world. It’s the woman out for coffee with a long lost friend who can’t put her phone down.  It’s the dad at his son’s football game who can’t stop texting someone. It’s the mom checking out Instagram as her daughter banters for attention (guilty). It’s in these moments where we must put the phone down, turn off the Television, or let the battery die on our tablet. Seriously. This is when the “all knowing” has crossed a line. Instead of being able to help the world because of our vast piles of information, we actually hinder the process of joy and kindness as we are no longer able to even display these simple traits within our own small tribes because we’re so consumed with humanity as a whole instead of the individuals within our homes.

I gathered all of these thoughts and made some changes which I will discuss in depth next week, but for this post, you get to be a part of one small change.  We had family pizza night on Sunday. Now, this isn’t necessarily unique in our family as we eat a lot of pizza but what was unique was the process we engaged in as a family to get to pizza night.  Ryan and a few of the kids ventured down to the garden to pick the few remaining tomatoes and peppers from this year’s crop.  Mya helped make the dough. Mabel painted garlic oil on top of crusty bread for bruschetta.  Many hands helped chop up the topping options and make sauce. Annabelle assisted in picking basil from the planter.  It was a community effort as we all pitched in as a family, making our pizzas, being present together on the deck, laughing, eating, and being in the moment which is so incredibly rare nowadays.  

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I’ll have the dough and sauce recipe on the blog in the next day or two and yes, I am slowly rising out of the fog of infancy as my baby is now two and a half, and I plan to digress quite a bit more on this blog if I still have any people interested in my ramblings.  If not, guess we’ll call it a journal 😉 AND – a big congratulations to Melanie King who won the copy of LOVEDbaby!  Message me and I’ll get it in the mail. 

Just keep livin!

Follow Your Heart {And a Giveaway!}

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I have four beautiful daughters ranging in age from 12 on down to 2: Mya, Mabel, Jada, and Annabelle.  Four hearts that I’ve been entrusted to nurture and care for. Four young ladies with strong wills and lots of estrogen.

On the one hand, I love having four daughters.  I love watching them learn life skills and grow into their own personalities. I love crafting together and thinking about our future adventures when they’re grown; meeting up somewhere fun to shop till we drop or Ryan and I watching the grandbabies for the weekend so that they can get away with their husbands – goofy stuff like that crosses my mind – but honestly, these next few years, the teenage years, make me a little nervous as I attempt to raise so many daughters with so many hormones and so many opinions.

Our culture is hard on girls. It constantly tells them that they’re not enough: they’re too fat or too skinny or too tall or too short or too mouthy or too shy or too smart or too stupid, so many messages that they hear, and to top off all of these subliminal messages, they are thrust into this sex crazed, no limits, immediate gratification culture, and all of it is exaggerated by social media which paints a picture of constant perfection and pressures them to emulate this unrealistic ideal.

I’m exhausted just thinking about the battles they’ll have to fight for purity, kindness, and goodness, and I’m thankful there are resources written specifically with our girls in mind which address the pressures they face on a daily basis.  The Faithgirlz Backpack Bible is one of these fabulous resources.  It’s adorable. It’s pink, compact, and easy to read, and I love the words on the inside cover which affirm anything and everything a girl needs to hear on a consistent basis:

·         Focus on my inner beauty

·         Remember that God loves me always

·         Love myself the way God made me.

·         Look at other’s gifts without jealousy

·         Treat other people the way that I want to be treated

·         Love my neighbor

·         Forgive others when they sin against me

·         Love me enemies

·         See God’s will in all that I do

·         Focus on the inner beauty of others. 

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These truths continue throughout as gentle reminders to seek out the source of where true beauty and strength come from. If you have a young girl in your life, make sure you check out this resource and also the one that I wrote about last week, The Brave Beauty devotional book, and pray without ceasing for these ladies as they seek to be pillars of truth and light in their culture.

And, as always, I have a copy of the Faithgirlz Backpack Bible to give away to one lucky reader!  Comment below or on Facebook or Instagram, and I’ll draw a random winner next Monday!

Just keep livin!