One More Flower for the Wreath.

I ventured out shopping the other day, something I rarely do for pleasure anymore due to my busy schedule, and I stopped by two old favorites, Michaels and TJ Maxx. I wrapped up my time at Michaels fairly quickly as I spotted the ceramic flower pots I required, purchased them, and headed out the door. I then crossed the highway to one of my favorite stores, TJ Maxx.

I slowly perused the aisles looking for unique and comfortable business apparel for a few upcoming speaking events and fully enjoyed the peaceful moment.  As I sauntered up and down, gently touching potential purchases, I noticed the younger moms with their children; perhaps children who were too young for school or maybe homeschooled.  I glanced their way, occasionally meeting the eyes of a toddler and warmly smiled as I was transported back twenty years to my carefree days as a young mom with two-year-old Caleb sitting in a shopping cart while I waddled about, pregnant with his brother Lucas.

That was such a simple, joyful time – the year after having Caleb and the months prior to discovering that his brother had experienced a stroke in utero – the time before I lost my innocence forever.  The time consisted of keeping my children entertained, happy, fed, and making sure I always remembered to clip the 40% off one item coupon for Michaels from each and every Sunday paper. That habit led to a memorable weekly moment, the following day, when I drove to Michaels with young Caleb to purchase one more silk flower to be incorporated into the front door wreath I was creating for our double-wide home.

Money was scarce, and I did everything in my power to pinch pennies, but I was still a young wife and mom who desired to create a beautiful, welcoming home for my growing family.

That was mostly my purpose twenty years ago.

Being a mom, clipping coupons, making a whole chicken last for four meals with enchiladas, pasta, casseroles, and pizza toppings, bundling up Caleb at night with his “monkey suit” – footed pj’s, and gobs of blankets to keep him warm as I turned the thermostat down a few degrees in an effort to save a few bucks, and, of course, pursuing the aisles of stores like TJ Maxx and Michaels looking for the best deals.

Those were the good ole’ days in many ways.  Less stress, worries, advocacy work, and more love, presence, and peace.

I don’t worry about coupons or prices all that much anymore.  I’ve “made it” in terms of purpose and financial stability, but yet…

Yet I find myself envying the young moms as they count the change in their wallets, making sure they stick to their tight budgets. I envy the simplicity of my purpose from twenty years ago, which included the purchase of one more beautiful silk flower for my wreath.

It took eight weeks to finish the wreath that moved with me many times as life progressed. It moved from the doublewide to the apartment where we would hear the devastating news about Lucas, to our new home that we brought Lucas home to, and to my next home with Ryan after Jason died. That wreath has hung on numerous doors and served as a reminder to stay present, stay grounded, and pursue simplicity and joy.

I no longer have the wreath.  Once we moved to Tennessee, a strong gust of wind blew it off our front door, and I later found it mangled and ruined beyond repair. As much as it served as a reminder to pursue simplicity and joy, its final demise also taught a poignant truth.

I wish we could know that we are in the good ole days when we are in them, but that’s not how life works.  I believe we do become more aware as we age that the sands of time are dwindling, and when those early, blissful, innocent moments of our lives become simply a breath. A beautiful memory that makes up the tapestry of this thing called life, and all we can do is use those memories to value the present gift of time.

Just keep livin.

If you enjoyed this and want to read more, check out my books, Sunlight Burning at Midnight, Blended with Grit & Grace, and  Lovin with Grit & Grace

“Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4



Buy Now                                            Buy Now                                           Buy Now

Why Travel Exhausts Me the Older I Get.

Ryan and I spent last week traveling to Oklahoma for a handful of speaking engagements, and while it was a wonderful period of respite, with no meals to prepare, laundry to fold, housecleaning, or children’s schedules to maintain, it was also exhausting because of all of the previously mentioned + work was put on hold for a week.  There’s always a price to pay when mama takes a break 😉

I’m finding that the older I become, the less I enjoy the process of travel.

I love landing in a unique place and exploring new possibilities, but the process of getting from point A to point B, I’m not really into that experience anymore; particularly when the process involves airfare.  Our travel plans went off without a hitch – no delays or surprises, but there’s something about airports and checkpoints and ears painfully popping and the complete loss of control while in the air that leaves me plumb worn out.

I’m also discovering that the older I get, the less interested I am in hotels or homes that are not my own.

Our first two nights at the Hampton Inn were uneventful, and then a slew of young high school students and their coaches checked in for the weekend.  They were in town for a state wrestling championship meet.  All 50+ high schoolers, and they practiced for their matches right above our room.


We called the front desk three times begging for the noise to stop, but it never did.  Finally, at around 3:00 am we drifted off to sleep for a few hours before rising the next morning to prep for our first event.


We opted out of the couple’s skill-building exercise in the afternoon (weight lifting) and opted into a nap, but before our nap, we asked the front desk to move us to the top floor which they graciously agreed to do.

I did sleep much better the following few nights but decided that I would rather travel via truck and trailer for any future events we might schedule. And so, in pure Jessica fashion, (jump in and do it), I convinced Ryan to send a text to a friend who had been toying with the idea of selling his travel trailer to see if he was still leaning in that direction.  He was, and we set up a time to see it.

They say as you age, the neural pathways in your brain become deeply entrenched in whatever routines or rhythms you’ve adopted throughout your life and this makes it difficult to learn a new language as you get older or change a habit.  And then tack on a firstborn, black-and-white personality and that’s simply a recipe for massive amounts of OCD all day long. I am definitely stuck in my ways at 45 years old.

My nightly rhythms are so entrenched in my psyche and the key to being able to successfully manage my life!  (Magnesium, CBD, and stretch at 8:00, magnesium and CBD at 9:00, lavender cream and wild yam at 9:30, the Office from 9:30-10 and sound asleep until 6:00 am) at least that’s how it goes when everything is “normal”: my bed (softer), my special pillow (harder), my room darkening shades that cut every ounce of light, and my thermostat turned down low.  My husband is also becoming very adept at his/our rhythms, but he’s not as crabby if something goes a bit off-kilter.  In other words, he handles sleep deprivation much better than I do.

We saw the travel trailer this past weekend, and it is perfect.  We will make this purchase in the near future, and then I will always be able to take my comfortable little space and routines with me wherever I go. And I will sleep peacefully as the little old lady that I am becoming and everyone will benefit. It’s the simple things in life, right?

Just keep livin.

If you enjoyed this and want to read more, I have a new book that was recently released  Lovin with Grit & Grace and it’s ON SALE TODAY!

Monday Musings – How God Used A Desk to Change My Outlook & Life

I am traveling this week for speaking events & didn’t have time to write an original Monday Musings. Instead, I pulled one of my favorite excerpts for my latest book, , Lovin’ With Grit & Grace.

I glanced out the front window at the disheveled sight before me. A few years prior, we had purchased thirty acres of God’s beautiful Southern country, and how did my husband go about tending this beautiful land of ours? He littered it with “treasures” he either found or bought or were given to him, including a weather- beaten, rusted-down desk that he took from an old barn he helped demolish in exchange for the paraphernalia inside. Those treasures had to go somewhere, and that somewhere became my front yard.

The sight of this desk, not only irritated me, it grated on my very last nerve on this particular day. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t move it someplace where it wouldn’t be such an eyesore. I mean, really; did it have to be the first thing people noticed as they drove up our driveway? Or maybe that wasn’t fair. Perhaps the first think they noticed was the broken washing machine next to it. I rolled my eyes for my own satisfaction.

I said to him, louder this time, “Darling husband, that desk is so ugly, and it makes us look like we don’t care about cleanliness or order or ever patriotism! Or that we’re too lazy to bring the trash to the dump. It looks tacky, and it doesn’t reflect well on me as the wife and mother running our home because Southern women generally have their homes in order.”

He glanced my way, slightly annoyed that I was interrupting his show but said nothing.

“Honey, do you understand what I’m saying?” I continued, not at all deterred by his lack of enthusiasm regarding the conversation. “Southern women take care of their yards. Their porches are immaculate with big, beautiful pots overflowing with flowers, and the monogram their front doors, and people oohh and aahh over the beauty that these women present through their homes. The Ronnes are the opposite – people drive up to our house, and they see this ugly, old, broken desk in our front yard, and it doesn’t reflect well on my transplanted Southern homemaking abilities. I would move it if I could! I shouted.


“It’s too heavy to move, but I can burn it!” I threatened.

“Don’t burn the desk,” he calmly replied, looking intently into the madness staring back at him.

“Fine,” I agreed. ” I won’t burn the desk, but we need to come up with a solution soon.”

I left the room and let my frustration hang thickly in the air.

I considered what was really going on in my heart. Was it truly about a desk? Or was something deeper at play?

Two days later I received a text. “We lost him.”

A good friend’s brother-in-law unexpectedly died after only a few short months of fighting cancer. He was in his forties. His wife stepped away from his sickbed, and in that instant, he left earth. I had only made two freezer meals for the family. His widow hadn’t even had the opportunity to get sick of freezer burned casseroles before she lost her husband.

More fatherless children. Children like mine had once been. Another widow with a bleeding heart as mine had once ached.

Beastly cancer always getting the best of people.

People dying; people hurting; people in hospitals; children, widows, widowers left in the wake; and old desks left in front yards. All of it broken.

God, why can’t he just move that stupid desk?!

Something I could control.

Something we could control.

Something that doesn’t really matter.

Like my own frantic actions in 2010 as I angrily attempted to rip every single weed out of a flower garden with tears streaming down my face. Every single weed representing a cancer cell. Every single weed representing a perception of control.

But only a perception.

Always a perception and nothing more.

The old hymn “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” was playing in the background as I gently stirred the pea soup simmering away on the stove for that evening’s dinner.

I got this, a voice whispered.

It’s not the desk.

It’s not the cancer.

It’s not even your husband’s stubborn ways.

I got this, the voice whispered again.

I’ve got cancer.

I’ve got your husband.

I’ve got your anger. 

I even have your perception of control.

I’ve got it all in the palm of my hand. 

I awake the next morning and glanced out the window. The desk had been moved into the barn and someone came to pick up the washing machine later that day, convinced they could fix it. I was thrilled that it was now another wife’s problem and no longer mine.

Lovin’ With Grit & Grace is now available & each copy comes with a FREE  7-week study guide. This book would make a fantastic resource for a marriage group or event. If you would like to review a book for consideration, please reach out to We also offer bulk discount purchase options. Additionally, I would SO appreciate a review on Amazon if you’ve already read the book! Thank you! 

Why Ryan & I Are Pretty Sure We’re Outlanders

We were gathered around the dinner table last Sunday evening, and I suddenly remembered something that had caught my interest that afternoon. Every Sunday, following lunch, I take a nap. This rest is vital for my mental and physical well-being. I work diligently and purposefully 6 days a week but then I intentionally rest on the Sabbath.

After snuggling under our big cozy comforter, I sought out a “boring show” – not boring in the literal sense but boring in that I’ve watched it a million times because the goal of this Sunday afternoon is to not actually be entertained. No, the goal is to be bored and fall asleep. Previous standbys include Castaway, It’s Complicated and Family Man, but on this particular day while pursuing the options, one on Peacock caught my eye, an immediate blast back to my childhood – Little House on the Prairie. I smiled at the recollection – did not pick it because it might have held my interest – but as I slowly drifted off to dreamland, I reminded myself to tell Annabelle about it that evening.

We were eating stew later that night when I remembered – You would love it! I tried to convince her. It was one of my favorite shows as a little girl, and it’s about a child just like you! Her name was Laura, and she lived in the 1800s and her family built a cabin and I know, if you give it a chance, it’ll be your favorite!

Mom, she replied, sounding way too grownup for her 7 years of age, the only reason you want me to watch it is because you grew up in the 1800’s.

Say what!?

The funny thing is, I wish I had grown up in the 1800’s. This modern world often feels very unfamiliar, and Ryan and I joke that we’re really outlanders, individuals from another time and place as portrayed in the hit show Outlander.

We love the confidence that comes from knowing how to do things. In a past life (recent past if we’re being entirely honest) we’ve butchered chickens and skinned squirrels. We made soap from bacon grease and lit a fire to keep us warm. We’ve grown vegetables and then canned them for the long winter months. We have a root cellar and a bomb shelter 😉 We’ve made jam and wine and relishes. We’ve harvested apples and smashed them into a sauce. We’ve fixed everything that could need fixing. We’ve picked dandelion leaves for salads, roasted crickets over an open fire, and showered in the rain. I know how to operate a washboard, a butter churner, and a push lawn mower, not only operate, but I’ve owned all three! I quilt, sew, bake, and crochet.

The life we once lived in rural Tennessee made our souls soar, and we will be beckoned back to it, at some point; however, that life doesn’t marry well with a disability, especially profound disabilities like our Luke has. That life becomes really isolating, exhausting, and stressful with additional needs.

We accept that we were created “for such a time as this” – God didn’t accidentally place us in the wrong century – but it’s fun to revisit days gone by making homemade drip candles or putting the final stitch in a quilt.

On Luke’s 18th birthday we purchased a future for him and for us; a future called Hope Farm, a farm brimming with the 19th century; fruit trees, a root cellar, gardens, a vineyard, and a big barn for animals, a wink from the Lord. He does know the desires of our hearts and blesses us through our continued obedience to the hard and holy things he’s called of us in life.

Just keep livin

If you enjoyed this and want to read more, I have a new book releasing tomorrow!  Lovin with Grit & Grace which is now available and it’s ON SALE TODAY!

Lovin' With Grit and Grace Book Cover

Lovin' with Grit and Grace