"I have come that they might have life and have it to the full..." -John 10:10b

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Visit

This past week, my sister-in-law, Anna came up for the day with her 3 beautiful kids! We had a blast decorating Easter cookies, blowing bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk and playing at the park.

It was a bittersweet visit as it was their last one before they move. Granted, they're not moving but a few more hours away, but it's been nice to have them a mere hour away for quick trips for the kids to see each other. I've loved having them live so close. I've loved watching the cousins enjoy one another. It's been a real blessing to have them near.

Easter Cookies


Anna and Violet



It was an awesome day full of a lot of fun and I miss them already.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


It's not easy. It's not for the faint of heart. It takes real work. It takes constantly questioning every decision you make. It requires selflessness in it's most basic form. It's not always fun. It's so much more than vignetted images of mother and child in embrace. It's just plain tough.

But when she stops crying as soon as I pick her up and snuggles her face into my neck, it's worth it.

Izzy and I

When she offers me a kiss, on her own accord, it's worth it.

Eva and I

When she looks up from her peanut butter sandwich and tells me she loves me "so much" without being prompted, it's worth it.

I Love You...kind of ;)

And when I see her happy,

My Girls

it's so worth it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What My Children Do When I'm Not Looking...


SO, I meant to open up the iPhoto program on my Mac last night and accidentally clicked the Photo Booth icon instead. Well, here's what I found...

My girls. So productive, so technologically savvy, so, so...mischievous.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Need a New Journal

I do. All of my old journals are full to the brim. The pages are covered in sermons, thoughts jotted down during Bible studies, prayers and even grocery lists and budgeting calculations. I. Love. Journals.


Whenever I'm at any bookstore, once I've meandered through the Best Sellers and the Christian fiction, I usually find myself right smack dab in the middle of the stationary section gazing at journals. I could stand there for hours inspecting each and every journal. And I have a method.

I'll spot one I love and pick it up. First, I rub my hands all over the cover, to feel it and get a feel for it. I'm envisioning myself opening this journal every single day, trying to decide if it's worthy enough to hold my innermost thoughts. Is it meant for me?

Then, I open it up and inspect the pages by thumbing through them real fast, which accomplishes two things; 1) I learn whether or not the pages are blank (I prefer blank to lined because than I can doodle or add pictures if I want to). 2) The swiftly flipping pages send that perfect journal smell wafting up my nose. Aaah, I love that smell.


I also prefer spiral bound journals to book bound ones and I love it even more if the pages are textured. Textured pages make my heart happy.

I had the perfect journal once. It was a gift from my dear friend Ashley on my 19th birthday. It was perfect. I would wake up every morning and see it there sitting on top of my Bible and it's almost as if it would beckon me to spend time with it. So much spiritual growth took place within it's pages. It was a very special journal.


I found that journal in a box of my old stuff while I was in Florida. I read it. Every single page and I fell in love with that journal all over again. It really is a special journal. It's one of my most treasured possessions.


It's a special journal because it was given to me by a special friend. A bosom buddy. A kindred spirit. And I wrote about her a lot in this journal, because she was a HUGE influence on me. Still is.


So anyway, I need a new journal. And it can't be just any old journal. It has to be THE journal. So pray for me, send me good thoughts, suggestions even. This is not a treasure hunt I take lightly.

Monday, March 22, 2010


On my way to church yesterday, the girl's and I were listening to one of my favorite Watermark CD's as is typical and all of the sudden, I found myself overcome with emotion. I was listening to the words of their song "All Things New" while gazing out of my window at the budding trees and the little patches of green grass trying to push through the brown, dead stuff that winter had left in it's wake. And all of the sudden, it hit me.

Winter. I've been in a stage of winter. That's not really a bad thing, it's just a different season...a necessary season. Winter has to come. It has to come in order to strip the old and make room for the new. It can feel cold and unpleasant, yes...but at the end of winter, when spring starts to peek through in random days of warmth and sunshine, you start to see why winter was needed.


I've always noticed in my life that when I'm overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of routine and schedule, or when I've placed something or someone else in the position of #1 in my life, the Lord finds a way of removing it. He is a jealous God and therefore, will do whatever is necessary to make me look at Him and put Him back on the throne of my life where He belongs.


He's taken me through seasons of solitude where I had no other option but to rely fully on Him and then He's walked me through seasons of friendship and discipleship where I could be fed by and in turn, feed the people around me as an outpour of His being first priority in my life.


And when I fall into the trap of pushing Him to the side, taking Him off of the throne, He strips me down to the bare minimum. He gives me no other choice but to look up at Him and ask, "What do you want of me, Lord?" And then, He willingly shows me.


Spring is here. It's not my perfect idea of spring, per se, however it's a God given chance to grow and bloom and blossom no matter how cold the winter has been. God has used the winter to strip me down to my bare minimum and now, I can bloom where I'm planted.


"Blue skies that take me back to being a child
Trees with leaves that turn the colors I love
A heart that's beating to Your melodies ringing
And I am a miracle 'cause heaven is a part of me
And You are the song that I'm singing

I was created to love You
I was created to need You
I was created to know You
And I am a miracle 'cause heaven is a part of me
And You are the air that I'm breathin'

Because of who You are and who I am in you
You make all things pure
Because of who You are and who I am in You
You make all things true
You make all things new

And I'm so thankful for this life that I know
That I am no longer what I was
Because of Your love
And the beauty of the cross
I can see Your work in me
All things new
All things new in me
All things ne
All things new in me"

All Things New by Watermark

Play song from iLike.com
All Things New - 2000 - 4:45

Friday, March 19, 2010

Simple Joy

Thank you all for your encouraging words yesterday. This is most certainly a trying time in my life, but your words have served as reminders for me to take one day, one moment, one obstacle at a time.

I'm going to work on that. Today, I'm just going to try and breathe. I'm going to focus on what is right in front of me. I'm going to count my blessings.

Sometimes, I wish I had the mind of a child (my hubby would argue that I do most of the time). I just wish I could see things as simply as they tend to. I wish it came more naturally to me to enjoy the moment I'm in. I love how little it takes to excite them. I love how a simple plate of pancakes cut in the shape of hearts can inspire joy and smiles and infectious giggles.

Today, I'm going to try to be like my girls...


and just enjoy my pancakes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I. Am. Stressed. I am. There's no stopping it, no holding it back. It just keeps coming, hitting me in waves, overwhelming waves.

Too much happening all at once that is out of my control. I don't do "out of control" well. I just don't.

My house is wreck, my kids are in the pjs until after their afternoon nap and don't get me started on the laundry. Ugh, the laundry.

There's a baby shower to plan, new bedroom furniture for Izzy to purchase, groceries to buy and then there's that one thing. That one thing that I'm not supposed to mention on this blog. It's happening on Saturday. It's huge. It's sad. It's possible, but it's stressful.

I just want to go sit here...


and pray this:

Lord you are my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear if you are near
Lord you are my peace when there is war all around me
And even here inside me I will have no fear

Oh Lord you're my protection from my enemies
You set me high upon a rock and You defend my soul
And when their ways advance against me
I am confident that they cannot make me less, for you have made me whole
O Lord, you are my stronghold
You are my stronghold

Lord you are my strength so let my head be lifted up
That I may glory in the ways you've overcome
Lord you are my home because you've created in me,
a heart that lives the victory that you've already won

Oh Lord you're my protection from my enemies
You set me high upon a rock and You defend my soul
And when their ways advance against me
I am confident that they cannot make me less, for you have made me whole
O Lord, you are my stronghold
You are my stronghold

-Watermark, "You are My Stronghold"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mary Wells

Mary Wells is my cousin.

(I did not take this pic, I stole it from her Facebook...sorry MW)

She's brilliant and witty and has talent oozing out of her ears and GORGEOUS. She's always been that way. Even as a wee thing, her quick wit was unmatched.

Mary Wells and I as babes

She told me once when we were 7 or 8 that only genuinely beautiful people have widow's peaks in their hairline. She had a widow's peak...I did not.


We used to play dress up. She had an armoire full of dress up clothes and we used to don them all the time and play princess. She was the princess...I was the maid.

(another Facebook steal)

One time we spilled nail polish remover on one of those dress up dresses and the stuff ate a hole right through the silk. Aunt Debra was m.a.d.

(and another)

Mary Wells was a gymnast and a cheerleader and a singer and she composes her own music on the piano. She's photogenic and petite and unspeakably coordinated on the dance floor.


Me? I was the chubby one (still am, unfortunately). I had frizzy brown hair and horribly crooked teeth. My humor was more obnoxious than witty and my piano skills...lacking to say the least.

I had (have) zero coordination and sing through my nose. Petite is the LAST word anyone would ever use to describe me and I freeze in the spotlight.

Mary Wells and I, total opposites...or so it would seem.

As adults, Mary Wells and I have come to realize that we actually have a few things in common. And those few things are monumentally binding.


Mary Wells loves the Lord. She's devout and determined and insightful and has an incredibly generous heart.


She's not just my cousin, she's my sister. And I love her. Dearly. She's everything that I'm afraid to be and she does it with such grace. I admire her actually.


And she loves me. Just because I'm me. Because I'm different from her.


Mary Wells got married this month and I got to be there. Granted, I missed most of the ceremony because Izzy decided that sitting still for the wedding was NOT on her agenda, but I did get to see Mary Wells walk down the isle, and let me tell you...it was an emotional thing for me.


Seeing her in that wedding dress, walking towards this man who MUST be amazing in order to earn her affection and devotion was a little overwhelming. She looked so grown up. So perfectly beautiful. So deserving of what was before her.


It brought me back to when were kids and were playing wedding in her room.

She was the bride.


And I was the groom...



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Finding Home: A Personal Journey, the final part

Driving around Central Florida absolutely gave me the warm fuzzies. I was feeling connected in a way that I never had and I also experienced a sense of being on my "turf" for the first time. I was happy to be there with my mom and little sis, happy to introduce this place to my girl's, happy that I'd made the journey.

Mother and Daughter

Jess and I 3

Jess and I

Then, Saturday night came around. And I got nervous. My mom still goes to the same church we went to as a family when I was growing up. Covenant Presbyterian. I have warm fuzzies about going there, absolutely I do. But I also had some hesitancies about returning. I could go into fine detail about the whole ordeal, but that's a book in and of it itself, so I'll just say this:

I lost my identity at 18 years old. I was forced to realize at 18 that I had been building my life around the wrong thing, the wrong idea, the wrong person. It was a hard realization to come to and I kind of went into a reclusive phase that has lasted almost 10 years. Not reclusive to the point where I cut out everyone, mind you, but reclusive enough to cut out people whom I didn't quite know what to do with anymore. People who reminded me of my old identity. I scrambled to find meaning, scrambled to find a new direction, hunted for peace and a place to hide from everything and everyone that reminded me of what I'd lost.

I went to Arkansas. It was a wonderful year for me. I learned spiritual disciplines from my Momma Gloria that I still carry with me today. I had big sisters and good friends there. I had a church that I LOVED and I enjoyed my life there. It was an escape. I didn't appreciate it then at 19 years old as much as I should have.

I tried to come back to Florida after my year in Arkansas but I felt restless there. Too many reminders of my old life, too many obstacles, too many things to make my insides twist up inside of me.

So I joined the military. This confused a lot of people. It even made some people angry. Important people in my life, were baffled by this decision. But I couldn't be there. I couldn't stay. I was still scrambling to find my path.

Well 10 years later, here I am, on my path. I am confident in my calling. Confident in what my life is founded on, confident in my God and His plans for me wherever I am. I'm a happy person wrought with sin and insecurity but confident in my Creator.

Getting back to the original story...I was nervous to go to church because I knew that I had pretty much cut all of my high school friends out of my life. Not in an act of malice, but in a desperate attempt to heal. Most of them have moved away from Florida and since gotten married and started families but there was still a deep nervousness inside of me.

As I walked up the sidewalk toward the Fellowship Hall, I was flooded with memories from my teenage years. So many happy memories for me took place right there on that sidewalk, and so many hurtful ones too. I shook them out of my head and pushed open the left door in the set of double doors bracing myself for the looks, the questions, the complacent nods and smiles.

I got none.

I got hugs, and laughter and hearty, heart-felt greetings and well wishes. I was welcomed there. I could relax. And I did.

I'm so glad I did too, because I was able to reconnect with Michelle, a friend who was on the basketball team with me in high school. She's now married with 4 children and she and I were able to spend some time together later that week in her home. I enjoyed her immensely and left her house feeling like I had a friend in Florida. A real, genuine, bonafide friend to come see whenever I'm in town. I hadn't had that in a long time, or so I thought. Hopefully, this will the start of really reconnecting with many of my old friends.

And that was the experience that sealed the deal for me! I came to the understanding that my family isn't my only connection to Florida. It's my memories, my experiences, my friendships, AND my family that connect me to that place.

Mom and I 4

Moral of the final part of this story: Home is where your friends and family are.

Mom and Jess

Of course, being a wife and mother, my HOME for all intents and purposes is where my husband and children are. It's where I'm called to be now and grow now and train my children.

But my hometown? I'm glad to say, is Palm Bay, FL.


I'm from Palm Bay, FL! That's where I'm FROM. It's my HOME town!

My Girls and I 2