Welcome!

This is a place for hearts and for grace. A place for life and story, laughter and tears, the serious and the silly. I hope you see my heart in all that I write, and that ultimately you see the God's heart for you as we learn together to tune our hearts to sing His Grace.

Songs For Your Soul :: “Restless” by Audrey Assad

51ANJ3ZySkL._SL500_AA280_Some days just need songs like these.
Maybe you need this today? It reminds me how in need of God I am for contentment.

I’m loving this live version. It is real and raw. Enjoy.

“Restless”

You dwell in the songs that we are singing,
Rising to the Heavens, rising to Your heart, Your heart.
Our praises filling up the spaces
In between our frailty and everything You are
You are the keeper of my heart

And I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
I am restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
Oh God, I wanna rest in You

Oh, speak now for my soul is listening
Say that You have saved me, whisper in the dark, the dark.
‘Cause I know You’re more than my salvation
Without you I am hopeless, tell me who You are
You are the keeper of my heart
You are the keeper of my heart

And I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
I am restless, I’m restless

‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You, Oh
I wanna rest in You

Still my heart, hold me close
Let me hear, a still small voice
Let it grow, let it rise
Into a shout, into a cry

Still my heart, hold me close
Let me hear, a still small voice
Let it grow, let it rise
Into a shout, into a cry

And I am restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, let me rest in You
And I am restless, so restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You, Oh God
Let me rest in You.

Ice & Snow

Though the ice and snow we’ve had in February and early March has been challenging in some ways, it did provide plenty of inspiration and beauty! I had fun with my “big camera” trying to capture the beauty of all the ice. :)

 

On Sludge-filled Hearts :: When the cutting away hurts.

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I don’t even want to write about this right now, but I have to. I just have to get the words out.

There’s been a whole lot of pruning happening in my heart. Like the kind you don’t even like to talk about. Like the kind of cutting away that hurts.

Like the kind where you think, “Oh yeah, everything is great.” Then boom. Nope. I’m face to face with my “issues.” Like the sin nature issues. Like the things you want to say are totally behind you. Like the small issues that Jesus reminds us are really the big heart issues. Man. There they are again.

So yeah. I’ve been reminded that I look pretty yucky. When push comes to shove…I’m shoved into a dirty, mucky, road-sludge pile of yuck. This is me without Christ. Total mess.

John 15 gives a hopeful picture. A vine. That is where I am digging in today.

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Rooted in Christ…abiding in him daily…minute by minute means I find life in him. However, we also see in that passage the branches that are not rooted. The ones maybe that think they are all that and don’t need the vine. Yikes. Those are cut away. Burned in the fire.

Today, I think a few branches have been cut off. Lovingly cut off that is. The Gardener saw fit to show me a few dead places. He’s gently cut away where he sees fit. He’s making room for new growth I hope! I’m feeling the pain, but I’m clinging to the grace of the Gardner because in the process he promises that his joy may be in me, and that my joy may be full. Full of joy!

After the pruning that joy sounds so good!

I am a child of God and though my sin nature has been revealed to me (once again…) I choose to also remember that “though my sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” (Isaiah 1:18). I am forgiven. I am redeemed.

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Where are you today? I feel far from perfect. In fact, I feel perfectly inadequate. Maybe you can relate?

But in the these places of inadequacy and failure we learn to submit our lives to the Gardner (our Heavenly Father). And as we daily abide (live in, remain in…) the vine (Jesus Christ), we may feel the pain of pruning, but I pray that as we understand that we can do nothing apart from him, we will begin to see fruit, abundantly and for his glory!

Singing this today…

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

In my weakness…Singing His Grace,

Jess

A Mom’s Identity Crisis :: Starting a Conversation (or at least a thought process…)

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Any moms out there tonight?

I want to start a little conversation (I think). I would love to hear your thoughts…especially you seasoned moms a little further ahead…who have been there.

 

Ever feel like you’ve lost yourself?

 

I mean in all the requests, needs, jobs, and everything “mothering” includes…do you ever wonder, “Wait, who am I again?”

I guess I don’t mean relationally.

I know I am wife, daughter, aunt, sister, friend.

And I don’t mean spiritually.

I know I am redeemed, adopted, and a child of God.

I guess I just mean…like, on a daily basis…what/who am I?

I find myself lately trying to learn myself again. Here’s what I’m remembering…

I am emotional.

I am creative.

I am athletic.

I am 40% extroverted 60% introverted.

I am smart.

I am sensitive.

I am a reader.

I am a writer.

I am a photographer.

I am a baker.

I am a decorator.

I am an adventurer.

I am a homebody.

I am a teacher.

I am far from perfect or exceptional at any of these things. And none of those things completely defines me. However, in the last seven years (almost eight now) of trying to figure out what it looks like to be mom, I sort of lost what it means to be Jess.

I don’t think the two should be separate. But as I find myself coming out of the “survival years” of parenting, I think I’m learning to see myself again.

Am I making any sense to anyone out there?

I feel like I should be embarrassed that I even “lost myself.” It feels weird to even type that… Yet, maybe this whole process is just life. Do we ever really understand the seasons we are presently in?

Through some conversations with my husband along with my kids growing up, I am beginning to realize all this. Identity Crisis is probably too strong of a term for what I’m thinking through. Nevertheless, I’m beginning to remember the things that have taken a back seat for a while due to lack of sleep and time. Of course I’m not the same person I was. I’ve learned many things, I’ve grown up some, I’ve suffered some, I’ve made mistakes…But there are things that are and always will be me. I guess I’m trying to figure those out and re-embrace them. The things that bring me joy the things that bring life and that inspire me. That is what I’m trying to remember.

I’m getting there, I think. Not completely, but I do wonder how God is even using this whole mothering thing to shape me.

And wow, yep…this is where my brain has just exploded.

That’s all I’ve got. This is not something I have figured out…

 

So, anyone want to jump in and help me out? Can you relate? Or should I just delete this and post a pretty picture of snow? :D

Anyway….feel free to share your thoughts.

 

Singing His Grace,

Jess

P.S. I don’t think it is necessarily bad that I’ve “lost myself” so to say. I think good parenting definitely involves “dying to self” to a very intense degree. And I think that is called self-sacrifice…again…help me out. What do you think?

 

A Slushie Day

We are right in the middle of a slushie storm.

Seriously, it looks just like the stuff you get in a snow cone.

Muffins have been made. Movies have been watched. Fights have been refereed (just being honest), and soggy sledding has been the most recent adventure.

The snow gear is now tap tap tapping in the dryer as it tumbles over and over and I sit here waiting for “slush” photos to upload.

This little ice storm is just the blessing my little family needed. School has already been called for tomorrow and we shall see about Wednesday.

I am thankful for this little gift of margin…a little extra time.

 

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Time to just be!

Woohoo!

What does it look like outside where you are? Slush? Mountains of snow? Sunshine?

Either way, happy Monday.

Singing His Grace,

Jess

Journaling :: On English class, peanut butter, toe jam & the beauty of now

 

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When I taught High School English, I started class the same way each day. We began with a daily journaling routine. Students could write about anything they wanted. There were no wrong answers. The only thing that I asked of them was to keep their pencils moving. I told them that even if they wrote, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.” That was okay because they would eventually find themselves writing something. I would explain to them that writing is like a muscle. We have to work out our writing muscle. We must practice. We must dive in. However, just like in swimming it is helpful to have a wall to push off of… I often times gave them a prompt. Sometimes it was a quote. Sometimes it was something silly like toe jam or peanut butter. The goal was to get their thoughts flowing. They didn’t have to write about the prompt they could let their mind take them anywhere. They only needed to let the words keep coming…almost faster than they could write it down. You see there was no one sitting there critiquing their spelling. No one would comment on their structure or flow of ideas. They had complete control, like an artist and a canvas exploring shape and color. I would say, “Ready, Go!” They students would begin. Some would hesitate. There were always a few who struggled with the open-endedness of journaling. Some would stare out the window. But soon each of them would have to throw out perfection and give in to the rambling nature of their minds. They would have to tune in to the thoughts and emotions they were having that day. My students adjusted to this routine and would come to expect it at the beginning of each class.

I wonder if any of them dreaded this journaling. I wonder if any of them enjoyed it. I wonder if any of them remember this routine we practiced each day. I wonder if they ever find themselves picking up a pencil and paper or sitting to type…free from expectations or judgement and just write what they think. Have you ever tried this? I am in fact participating right now in this type of journaling exercise. You see a few moments ago I was stuck. I wanted to write something. I hadn’t written in a while. Well, I have been writing but to tell the truth, most of my writing has been in email form. There is certainly a place for crafting an email and communicating your thoughts clearly. But journaling is so much more fun! I can write whatever I want. I can drift into the joys of eating peanut butter on a spoon or mention the grossness of toe jam and no I do not have to worry about what you think about my run on sentences or my thought processes. You can simply enjoy (or not enjoy) the journey that this amazing thing called my brain just took us on.

Maybe you should do some free writing. Who knows where it will take you? Maybe you can throw out the pressure to be perfect or polished and simply enjoy the messy process that is living in the present. Maybe that is the true beauty of journaling like this. It is embracing the now of exactly what you are thinking this absolute second. Even if your thoughts take you from memory to memory you are experiencing those memories right now. Journaling can be a tool to help not only your writing muscle strengthen, but also to keep our minds in the present. It makes me wonder how much of my thinking is stuck in the past or anxious about the future. I want more now. I want more journaling. I want more clarity in this moment. I will take present over perfect. I will look for meaning here and now. Or, I will simply enjoy the ride.

Writing is a gift. It is not just for writers. It is for anyone. Let your pencil and paper or the fingers on the keyboard help you embrace now. And I am convinced that God wants us to learn the beauty of now. He gives us now. Grace for now. Peace for now. His presence is in the now. We don’t know the number of our days. We only know right now.

So how are we using our right now’s. I know I’ve wasted so much. I know I want that to change. I know that I don’t want all the distractions. I don’t know how to get rid of it all. But I do know the things that keep me sharp. I want more of those things. More reading. More music. More sleep. More exercise. More deep breaths. More laughing. More creating. More writing.

Your turn.

Just start writing. Set a timer if you have to…just keep the words flowing. See where it takes you. Embrace the now.

 

Singing His Grace,

Jess

Not so much a “Do-Over” as a “Do-The-Next-Thing” Year

 

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We all just stepped into a new year.

It’s January 1st…the great big “Do-Over Day.” Everyone is sharing New Year resolutions, goals, and plans.

Yet, this year for some reason, all the New Year’s sentiments and resolutions have seemed so predictable and borderline obnoxious to me. Anyone else feel that way? Maybe I feel a little jaded. Maybe some of my youthful optimism is fading. :) Maybe I see all too clearly in my own life where I’ve set out to make changes only to fail and give up.

Well, I don’t want to seem pessimistic or start this year with a bad attitude. Maybe I’m still feeling the effects of a 16 hour car ride back from Boston. Maybe with a few hours sleep I’ll feel completely different. But right now, looking into 2015 I don’t really want to shoot for some lofty goal or ambition. I don’t want to work hard to change myself to meet some high standard or some idyllic achievement based on a comparing myself to someone else. Isn’t that the temptation?

No, this year I just want to be me.

The best me.

The healthiest me.

The me that pursues God with an undivided heart.

I want to remember that I am already a new me. My life has been redeemed, the old self has gone…the new self, by grace alone, is in me. Yes, there is still work to be done, but my hope is not in anything I can accomplish.

Really, I just don’t want to be duped by the idea that somehow there is a completely different me who is better. No, I want to be plain old me, but as I face choices all day long to choose what is best.

So how do I choose? I’m not always very good at choosing…I waste gobs of time, I lack discipline, I miss so many divine appointments. Where do I start?

Here is where.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

I think of this passage as a grid to run all things through…like a net, weeding out all the dross.

Some years we need to declare a complete “Do-Over” I get it…I’ve been there. This year for me however, I want to focus on the small choices. The small things can add up can’t they?

So there. Those are my New Year’s sentiments. :)

Happy New Year to you! How are you feeling? Does this year need a “Do-Over” or a “Do-The-Next-Thing” approach? What are your New Year’s sentiments? :)

Singing His Grace,

Jess

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