Friday, July 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday: exhale

Exhale, inhale - breathe in, breathe out - just make it through...

through this run, through this day, this hour, this month....

The last several months that's what life had been like around here - I need conscious reminders to take the time to breathe, between cross-country moves, and a month without dad, and a new job that will be taking his time from us yet again. 

Breathe, Jessica, breathe - exhale the old heavy breath and breathe in the fresh, sweet air that surrounds - breathe in the beauty of your growing children - breathe in the comfort of your husband's presence - breathe in the fun. 

Exhale the stress and the worry and the need to do it all and be it all for all of them. Exhale and release those heavy burdens - exhale with a sigh of sweet release that this time of testing has come to an end and revel in the joy of new beginnings. 

There will always be more to do and more stress and worry, but have faith that the Lord will equip you for the work to be done - all you need to do is breathe in - breathe out - and know that He who is bigger than you - bigger than I - cares for us.
 Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

the season of goodbyes

I was the person who never knew loss or death or any real tragedy. Into my adulthood, my family remained complete - with rare injuries and sickness - and no needs for any goodbyes.

Then it was my grandma, my dad's mom - who we never expected to say goodbye to. A bladder surgery, followed by complications, followed by what we all thought was Alzheimer's - but now I really think was toxicity from a serious uti/kidney infection - and then she was sick and then she was gone. For the last year or so it was hard. She wasn't the same and would ask questions that showed her mind was years in the past - she knew me but she thought I was in high school rather than college and with the loss of bladder control - the smell of their home was difficult at best. So, we didn't visit as often that year and we said goodbye to the grandma we had known before she was really gone - but then when she went, the pain she felt, the struggle - it was hard - and the unsaid truths lingered - it was hard feeling like we should have done more to get her healthy, but no one had known she was sick. We always said that in the end it would be that way - she was such a servant and the consummate hostess a proverbs 31 example to us all, and a product of the 50s housewife generation - she would never admit that she was hurting or didn't have everything under control - it just wasn't done. In the end, she was surrounded by almost all of her family, praying, laughing, loving, living. This was my first taste of death - my first goodbye - lessened by knowing that she was now in heaven and felt no more pain - but life changing all the same. She was and is missed.

My grandpa - he was never really the same after she left him - and I'm not quite sure he ever really got over it - after all he was always the sick one with open heart surgeries and the rest - he was always supposed to go first - but instead he outlived her by years - his love, his life. He lived with my parents and then on his own, and eventually was sick enough to need to be in a medically supported nursing home. In and out of the hospitals, time and again, the claimed he wouldn't make it time and again - and to be honest we were never quite sure if he wanted to come back to us. My papa - he loved me - he wasn't expressive, he didn't share or talk about life or emotions - but his love for me was palpable. He was proud of me and loved my boys and was in awe of them and their beauty. After Owen was born he told me how proud he was to have a great grandson and Noah just added to his joy. 

In November, my little family ventured to the desert to make some decisions on our house and celebrate thanksgiving with my family. While we were there, we made the trek with my whole family to visit Papa in his "home" (which he called a prison and hated) about 2 hours from where my parents live in the town where my uncle and his family live. Papa was able to meet Noah for the first time and we were able to capture a few beautiful pictures and sort of say our goodbyes - as we didn't imagine that we would all be together again before he passed as we were not expecting to be in the desert again until we move back in July. 

Sure enough, on Christmas Eve as we headed up north to visit J's family, we got a call that my Papa who had been in the hospital with mrsa and pneumonia was being moved to hospice. To say that this put a damper on Christmas would be a bit of an understatement! I spent the next several days "celebrating" with a heavy heart - and by the 26th my MIL had offered to fly the boys and myself back home to say goodbye. I arrived in the desert on the evening of the 27th and my mom and I drove down to the VA the next morning. The nurses said that the babies shouldn't come in, so my parents stayed outside with the boys who were unhappy to see me leave after so much upheaval and constant travel - but eventually calmed with their grandparents. The family had all assembled - uncles and aunts and cousins - all holding vigil each day and night ensuring that he was never alone. They left to give me a moment alone with him - to say my own goodbyes - and everyone went outside to see the boys. I told him I loved him and that I knew it hurt and that it would be okay to let go and say goodbye - that grandma and Jesus were waiting for him - and I thanked him - I thanked him for loving me, for being the man he was, for everything he had done for us all. And within minutes - his breathing calmed and slowed and he was gone - all the while holding my hand. My papa and grandma were both gone - I held his hand for a while longer - having called my dad and telling him I thought it was close - although he didn't seem to believe me. He called back after I tried calling him a few more times, unsure of whether or not he was really gone, I never let go of his hand - not wanting to abandon him in his last moments if he wasn't quite gone - I told my dad that I thought he was gone and in moments the boys (my dad and uncles) had rushed the room - my aunts and cousins with tears in their eyes - and me not quite sure how to feel - and I'm still not - over a month later and I'm still not quite sure. My chest feels tight and swells when I think of it, but I can't really cry - I know his quality of life was less than I'd want for him and I know he's in heaven - what more could I want. Yet still there is an ache - not the ache of the unsaid as I had with my grandma - as I told him all of those things in our last moments alone - the ache is for the man I didn't get to know as fully as I'd like, the stories he'll never tell, for my father - the orphan, for my boys who won't remember their great-grandfather. I miss him - I want him back, but I don't want him to hurt - so I know that goodbye was best. And best that these goodbyes happen while the boys are too young to remember the pain. Yet, I'm struggling - I'm not bouncing back like I feel I should - I'm not sure if it's struggling to deal with the experience of being alone with him when he passed - but I don't think that's it - I think that was okay and I was glad to be that safe place for him to let go. I just...I just hurt - I'm withdrawn after nearly a month away from this place that we currently call home - from the end of October through the beginning of January - the boys and I were away from home for over 5 weeks - followed by our car being rear ended and then colds and terrible weather - we haven't seen our friends in months - we haven't been to playdates or had a routine - and now, the clock is ticking for the next big change and move - and the effort to reconnect only to face more goodbyes in only four months overwhelms me. And now, today we here that J's grandmother was placed on hospice and we must travel again to say our goodbyes and support my MIL as she loses her mother. 

It seems to be the season of goodbyes - and it is not a season I relish. I'm struggling with the change and the finality and the loss. I'm struggling to determine what I should hold onto and what I need to let go. This move back home, one I so looked forward to when we arrived, has now become a source of pain. I have friends and a life here - that I will miss - I don't like goodbyes - I don't like losing - I guess no one does - my heart is heavy for these losses, natural and necessary though as they may be. Pray for us - as we travel again - as we say goodbye again - as we find our way back to normal only to prepare for more changes. Such is life, and I, for one, am grateful to be alive.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday: hero

"Mickey Hero" to the rescue!

My little hero swoops through the living room - jumping from couch cushion to couch cushion - "flying" through the air - always on a mission - ready to "rescue her". He's absolutely in love 'heroism' and this mama will do all that she can to use this phase to teach him how to be a gentleman! His love for others, his eagerness to please, and the joy he feels being a helper and a hero is contagious to us all!

He rescues me with kisses / he rescues me with his cuddles, his love, and his joy - my little hero rescues me more than he knows! He rescues me from my worries and fears - from my distractions - and from a life less lived and less loved! He is my hero!

My littlest hero has a gummy one-toothed smile. He's quick to offer kisses and cuddles and  always ready to chase after big brother on hero patrol - always learning - always watching - the happiest person I know - always ready to share his joy with the world. A hero-in-training, but a hero nonetheless!

He crawls to the rescue at a single whimper - he hates to see any of us upset or in pain. He isn't sure yet how to help, but with a tear of his own to accompany yours and a kiss and cuddle. He helps to make it all better - whatever 'it' may be. The compassion in his tiny heart and the love and admiration for his big brother are inspiring. He is my hero!

Their daddy - their daddy is the biggest hero of them all! He wakes before the sun and only rests when all of our needs are met far later than his body craves - he works at least twice the 'norm' yet comes home doing all he can to help and support us here. He saves me from the day that just won't end, and the needs that just can't be satisfied, and the need for time to myself and for adult attention! He rescues me from myself - just by being himself! I am and forever will be in awe of this man that I am blessed to call mine. His love for all of us and his devotion to his work and his family are unparalleled! This man does more for our family and for the world in the hours before I wake each morning than I do all day! He is truly a hero to us all! It is my hope and my goal to raise my boys to be everyday heros - just like their daddy! I know he often feels like he doesn't do enough, or isn't here enough, or in any other way - that he doesn't measure up - when in fact, he couldn't be more wrong - he sets the bar!

I live in and I love in a house full of heroes - who love their mama with their full selves, who don their diapers or their  capes and big boy undies or their scrubs - and they go to the rescue each and every day - and I'm proud to be their mama and their Jess - I'm proud to be the woman behind the heroes - supporting their wings - helping to guide their steps and their hearts - being a hero is a big job - but the world needs more heroes like mine and I'm so glad that God trusted me to be a part of building them! (Ok - this took more than five minutes, but I just got excited!)

 Five Minute Friday

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's hard...

It's hard when the baby nurses all night long and the toddler refrain of "dow sares" (down stairs) begins far earlier than your tired, aching body can bare. It's hard when sick child leads to sick baby leads to sick momma and the daddy has to work overnight anyway. 

It's hard when who you used to be doesn't seems to fit and your new skin feels a little too tight and itches in it's newness. It's hard when the people you always thought would be there drift away with the winds of change. 

It's hard when you hear beauty in the voice of another, but you can't find the strength in your own. It's hard when someone else's "failure" looks an awful lot like your "unattainable" goal. It's hard when you measure yourself with the yardstick of another's success.

Life is hard, and it shows no signs of letting up, but God never wanted you to be her or us to be them. He only wants us to let Him in - to let go of our need for control and to allow Him to guide our steps. To let him set our goals and use his standards to measure our success. 

To put it in the words of another more eloquent than myself -

Jehovah Jireh, 
My provider, 
His grace is sufficient for me. 

My God will provide all my needs,
According to his riches and glory, 
He will give his angels charge over me

Jehovah Jireh cares for me... (this video is dated, but just made me soo happy!)


If the God of the universe cares for me - if He will provide for me needs, and He offers me his grace - who I am to worry when life gets hard. Who am I to question His strength and His ability to provide in all circumstances? When life gets hard, where will you turn, in whom will you rest, whose strength will you rely on? 

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I'm glad that I don't have to have it all together when things get hard, I'm glad that I don't have to have all the answers - that I don't have to be responsible for it all - I'm glad that my God is my provider and that my Heavenly Father is always here to help me when life gets hard.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Reflect: five minute Friday

 His blue eyes sparkle back at me, a glint of rebellion, a shimmer of excitement, a challenge - his love is infectious, this boy of mine, but his will is a challenge all it's own.

In him, God shows me reflections of myself - reflections of who I have been and who I still sometimes am - even now I often stand before a loving Father - just like a petulant toddler, insistent that I know better than He, that my way is surely the best way! And He gently leads me to follow His will rather than mine. Through His love and His grace He guides and He softens this stubborn will of mine. 

May my parenting of him be a reflection of the way He has guided and taught me! May he see a reflection of God through me just as I see a reflection of myself through him! May I continue to learn through these parallels of parent to child and my Heavenly Father to me - and always strive to parent more like Him! May we both not only survive this time of toddler tantrums and tears, but come out on the other side both a better reflection of our Creator - after all, we were made in His image and what better image could we reflect unto the world!

 Five Minute Friday

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lost and found

Do you ever feel like you are losing yourself? Just a little bit? With an energetic toddler and a newborn in the house -  who I am and who I want to be often seems to get lost in the shuffle - the shuffle of nursing and potty training and runny noses. You find your identity through them and with them and in spite of them in all the best and the worst ways.

Today is my birthday and to be perfectly honest, I have no idea how old I am turning - sure when I take the time to do the math - I will find that I am now 27 - but I'm really not sure how that has happened, how I am ten years out from the girl entering her senior year if high school - about to embark into worlds she had never known. The last age I remember turning was 25 - and I remember being disappointed that my "golden" birthday (25 on the 25th) wasn't what I hoped it would be. And I'm sure that J made the next better as he knew that I had been hurt, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the love that was shown on each of those days, but my life is such that I have no recollection of those days - or why I was hurt or happy - I am no longer the priority - I have no grand plans for what I should have for myself - and you know what - it's supposed to be that way. 

These are the years of babies who need me to be their everything - these are the years that I'm building their identities and showing them who they should be - and if who I am has to be on hold for a little while so that I can do that - then that is fine with me.  I'm not using it as a cop-out or an excuse not to better myself or grow - I am working to better myself and to grow, but I'm working to be better for them rather than for me. I'm reading up on parenting and spirited children and personalities and raising boys and I'm trying to study and grow in the Lord to be a better mother. Not to compete in a Pinterest world, but to provide them with memories that will last a lifetime - to be a better example of a woman of God (so that they know what to look for in a girlfriend and a wife), to be a light so that they will see and know God's love through me. 

I want them to see themselves through His eyes and to grow to be men after His heart - and in order to do that - as there is only so little time in a day, in a childhood, and in a lifetime - who I was has to be abandoned - who I used to be has been lost, but who I am becoming - the me I am finding as I travel through the fog of too little sleep, too many dirty diapers, and just enough grace - is who I believe I was always meant to be. It is only through losing yourself and letting go of the reins that you will find who He has always hoped you will be. And she might not be someone you recognize in the mirror, but in your heart you will find that as you become their shelter - you have found your way home. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Operation 9 Month Off - Week 3-5

Err, take 3 - I've started this post two other times, but with running off to care for babes - it's disappeared twice since I didn't save it! Anyway...I better get it done, so that I can link up with

How did I do this week: (eek - the last 3 weeks!)
Anyone want to guess why I've been AWOL the last three weeks? No, no, I'm not pregnant again...we need to give this body a little more recovery time than that! I have just completely falled off the wagon - I stopped charting my foods, I ate far too many ice cream sodas, and I didn't make exercise or even being active a priority! Err, I'm soo mad at myself - because I actually got down to 183 - which was 2 pounds below my pre-Noah weight and now I'm back up to 187! I decided it's really time to take things seriously - it's time to post real numbers and get real with my fitness journey! This isn't just about losing weight! It is about being a good example for my boys, it's about being healthy for another pregnancy in the future, it's about living better and longer with my family! So, I found a few weight loss link-ups that I plan to join in on, and on Monday I (& J) signed up for WW online. I want to lose a lot of weight and I want to lose it quickly, but I don't want to hurt my ability to nurse Noah, or to limit his nutrition or calories in any way. My issue has always been motivation and sticking to it - but I need to be motivated to be healthier for my kids - to not be the tired mom! If I am going to stick with this as I lifestyle, then I need the flexibility of something like Weight Watchers to let me have my "cheat day" while not blowing the whole diet! It doesn't do me any good to lose ten pounds only to gain it back over and over because I wasn't drinking enough water or I wasn't eating enough, etc. I really like how the new plan gives you lots of healthy options for 0 points (like the banana I just had). I did Weight Watchers in college when I was at my lowest weight (128) and it was a lifestyle that I could stick with and it was easy - but over time I slowly shifted out of that lifestyle - so I'm hoping getting back into it I can go back to the old habits that I used to have and create a new lifestyle - rather than the calorie counting that I've been doing and constant analysis of everything. As I remember, you get to the point where you know how many points most of your favorite foods are - which makes things easy! I really want this to be easy - and I'm coming to the realization - that it's just not. We've hit the 3 month mark - so if I want to hit my goals by Noah's first birthday then the 9 month countdown is officially ON! It's time to make this happen! Hopefully, finding a few friends along the way will help me stick to it!

Measurements (starting points in italics): 
  • Waist (smallest point): 35" (35")
  • Hips (largest point): 45" (45")
  • Arms: 12" (12")
  • Thighs: 28" (28")
  • Chest: 40" (40")
  • Weight: 187.3 (189.9)
Here's a reminder of the rewards I have planned for reaching weight loss goals:
  • Reach 0 point ( 185 - post-Owen/pre-Noah weight): Get my eyebrows done - DONE
  • -5 pounds: Massage
  • -10 pounds: Manicure/pedicure
  • -20 pounds (pre-Owen weight): New woven wrap - a shortie 
  • -30 pounds: Haircut/color
  • -40 pounds: Overnight date/mini vacation 
  • -50 pounds (goal weight): New wardrobe (I'll need it!)
Want to do this together and help encourage one another and keep each other on track?? I'd love a partner, or several, in this! Let me know! I'm on Weight Watchers and myfitnesspal and fitbit and twitter - join me! Email or comment with your usernames and I'll friend you!

Weigh In Wedneday

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