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Just as He intended

I look up from my work and there she stands.

A little sugar,

a whole lot of spice—

exactly as He intended to make her.

There she stands.

Squinting eyes that twinkle with joy.

An adorable, kitty cat dress.

Sweet. Girly. Proper. Polite.

This. This is the sugar.

But there she stands, a whole lot of spice, too.

Spice so feisty it can’t be overlooked.

Spice so feisty it can’t be contained.

Yes, there she stands.

An ornery, crooked smile.

A gleeful giggle bubbling to the surface, just seconds from erupting.

And that headband.

Let’s not forget that headband.

A dainty, red and white polka dot accessory adorned with a bow,

meant to perch atop a head of tamed, manicured locks.

A headband meant to be the cherry atop a sweet little sundae.

Yes, let’s not forget that headband.

It crosses her forehead, no bow in sight.

It tries to contain her crazy mess of untamed waves and curls.

Instead of the cherry atop a sundae it looks more like the iconic accessory of Rambo.

Yes. A little sugar, a whole lot of spice.

But I can’t help but smile.

I can’t help but laugh.

This girl is one-of-a-kind,

This girl is made just as He intended.

This girl, like us all, is fearfully and wonderfully made.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” –Psalm 139:14

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I choose to blame him less

It’s been 3 years since he confessed hints of his infidelity over breakfast.

Initially, I blamed him.

I blamed his wandering eye.

I blamed his callous disregard.

I blamed his all-encompassing love for himself.

And initially, I blamed his adultery for the ultimate destruction of our marriage.

But now, years later, my heart has not only forgiven,

my heart has softened allowing my eyes to see things in a new light.

Now, I blame him less.

And instead, I blame our broken world more.

I blame the ever-cunning, always-persistent enemy more.

Matthew 5:28 tells us, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Anyone. Who. Looks. At. A. Woman. Lustfully.

Not anyone who flirts.

Not anyone who touches.

Not anyone who engages in anything.

No.

Slow down.

Throw it in reverse.

Anyone who so even LOOKS at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery.

Friends, is it just me or have we totally been missing the mark here?

Is it just me or has the enemy gotten ahold of society, dangerously twisting the truth?

Society has us believing that in order to be considered adultery one has to sleep with another.

Society has us believing looking, flirting, touching isn’t REALLY adultery; it isn’t THAT bad.

Society has us believing we should be able to tolerate or overlook such things because they have yet to fully “cross the line.”

But friends, who are we kidding?

Listening to those lies is not protecting us.

Listening to those lies is not shielding us from the pain.

In fact, listening to those lies is just opening the door for the enemy to easily enter and destroy.

The truth is the damage is done long before one sleeps with another. The truth is the moment one looks at another lustfully the damage is done, the sin is committed. The truth is the flirting, the touching, the engaging in anything else just further deepens the hurt, deepens the betrayal, deepens the shame of the sin.

So, when I take the time to really reflect on my past experience

my compassionate heart makes a decision to blame my former husband less.

While like each of us, he was and is responsible for his actions,

my compassionate heart makes a decision to extend grace.

I choose to extend grace and blame him less because I realize how difficult it must be to understand the importance of protecting your heart when you aren’t walking with the Lord.

I choose to extend grace and blame him less because I realize how difficult it must be to understand the importance of shielding your eyes from the images that infiltrate our daily lives when you don’t know they are harmful to your soul.

And I choose to extend grace and blame him less because I realize how difficult and overwhelming it must be to feel you have to do everything in your own strength when you aren’t aware that you could tap into the strength of the Almighty God.

So, while the adultery broke my heart and broke our marriage,

I choose to blame him less

and blame our broken world

and the ever-cunning, always-persistent enemy more.

Pieces of Jessika©

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Shift your focus

Girl, why?

Why is it that we could seriously have the whole room applauding us,

the whole thread lifting us up and encouraging us,

but that ONE, that ONE person,

that ONE comment,

can totally ruin it for us?

Why is it that instead of focusing on all the good,

all we can seem to focus on is the one who didn’t think it was good?

If there is one thing I know, it’s that the enemy wants to rob us of our joy.

And girl, the haters are no different.

No matter how hard it is, let’s make a pact.

Let’s make a pact to shift our focus.

Let’s make a pact to shift our focus away from the haters and toward the encouragers.

Deal?

shift your focus

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Sinners yet forgivers

my girls

Sometimes
they raise their voices at each other,
they yank a toy from the other’s hands,
they smack the other in anger and frustration.

 

Yes, sometimes they have their moments.
In fact, they frequently have many moments.
And quite honestly, not all of them are pretty.

 

Although we’re bringing our children up as Christians, as Christ-followers, the truth is our sweet little children are naturally sinners at heart. They can’t help but default to instinctual egocentric, selfish ways.

 

But the good news is in a matter of minutes
they can often be heard laughing,
they can often be seen cuddling,
they can often be seen playing harmoniously,
and they can often be seen hugging and kissing.

Why this sudden change?
How can they hurt one another and then be so quick to forgive?

 

I’d like to think our Christian morals play a fundamental role in this. I’d like to think our daily conversations about Jesus and what He would do in similar situations are formatively shaping their hearts. I’d like to think that as a result, their hearts are open and their hearts are tender.

 

And these open, tender hearts are thereby allowing for His loving redirection. These open, tender hearts are thereby allowing for His loving correction. And this is why they always seem to find their way back into each other’s arms and right back into His loving arms, too.

 

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

 

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God-filter loading…

god filter loading

Harsh, unsolicited advice that lacks love and compassion.

Ignorant, senseless assumptions that threaten to make your blood boil.

Arrogant, hateful judgments that hurt your heart and bring tears to your eyes.

Tactless, opinionated comments that cause the breath to expel loudly from your lungs.

Unfortunately, social media is full of them,
full of our keyboard-brave friends with little to no regard as to how their words impact others.

Sometimes we read the comments in passing.
We read the comments directed at
everyday people in the news,
celebrities in the public eye,
and complete strangers.

And other times we read the comments that boldly catch our eye.
We read the comments directed at friends.
We read the comments directed at ourselves.

And let me tell you, sometimes I want to retaliate.
Sometimes a barrage of quick-witted quips come to mind.
Sometimes I feel the urge to just set people straight and put them in their place.

But it’s in these moments that I literally use my fingers to clamp my mouth shut.
It’s in these moments that I physically prevent myself from typing back a response.
It’s in these moments that I restraint myself because

(((God-filter loading…)))

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Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes: A Birth Story

I had dreamt of an at home waterbirth for over a decade.  I had dreamt about the peace, the comfort, the beauty of it all.

 

And here I was, hours away from realizing such a dream, and peace, comfort, and beauty were nowhere to be found.

 

The news of his infidelity coupled with our already volatile, abusive relationship led to the destruction of our marriage just one month prior.  With that devastating news, I spent a tumultuous night laying on my cold, bathroom floor, cradling the life in my belly and crying out in despair. When I awoke the next morning, with no more tears to cry, I accepted the harsh reality that I would most likely be everything I vowed not to be—divorced, single, and alone.

 

So, here we were hours away from welcoming new life into the world and things weren’t at all like I had pictured them for us.  We weren’t speaking. We were in separate rooms. Literally and figuratively, we were worlds apart. We were angry. We were hurt.  We were at each other’s throats.

 

And here I was, in labor.  Here I was, about to bring a baby into such an unhealthy, chaotic environment.  I was crushed.

I was devastated by my current circumstances, by my glaring failures. I felt like I was living some cruel nightmare.

 

And like a slap in the face, it hit me. On an emotional level, I would ultimately be doing this alone—I would be birthing our child alone.  My husband had offered to let my mom take his place in the birthing process. He had offered to relinquish his position to someone he originally had objected to having at the birth. This broke my already shattered heart, as I knew this expressed the severity, the finality of it all. He didn’t want to be there to support me. He didn’t want to be there to welcome our baby.  I felt unwanted. I felt unworthy. And I carried that burden for the baby in my womb too, as it felt like he wanted nothing to do with it either. He despised me with such a passion that for the first time, I clearly saw how narrow the line could be between love and hate.

 

As the contractions intensified, all my hopes of a peaceful, comfortable, beautiful home waterbirth washed away with each silent tear that fell from my eyes.

 

Although he eventually came to my side as I labored, I couldn’t help but feel alone. The words he spoke to me felt empty, distant. The rubbing of my back felt impersonal, foreign. The consoling he offered felt cold, calculated.

 

But out of all this pain, out of all this adversity, something was stirring in the depths of my soul. A strength I never knew I had was taking root and was beginning to bloom.

 

It was me and this baby. We were in this together.  We needed each other.  Each other was all we had.  So, with each painful contraction I gripped the countertop, silently swaying left and right to quiet the pain.  With each painful contraction it felt like my bones were physically breaking, mirroring the pain and anguish of my simultaneously breaking heart.  

 

But once I stepped into the water, the warmness enveloped me. And like a rushing wind, she came fast and she came hard.

 

And when I held her to my chest in the warm waters, when I stared at her in complete awe, she began to fill in the spaces of my broken heart.  The strength that had begun to bloom from inside me was slowing beginning to open, to blossom.

 

No, the at home waterbirth I had dreamt of for over a decade didn’t happen the way I had planned it, it didn’t happen the way I had envisioned it.  It was preceded with devastation. It was filled with brokenness and heartache.  But it ended miraculously, it ended with a beautiful blossoming. Although it wasn’t what I would have chosen for us, looking back I wouldn’t change any of it. It’s our story. It’s our story of beauty coming from ashes. It’s our story that continues to unfold—our story of strength, of beauty that comes from adversity, our story that continues to blossom in each season of this life.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” –Isaiah 61:3

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Too opinionated. Click.

Too risqué. Click.
Too negative. Click.
Too boastful. Click.
Too opinionated. Click.
Too quarrelsome. Click.
Too attention-seeking. Click.

And because they don’t share our beliefs,
because they don’t do things the way we would,
we make judgments.

And with the click of a mouse,
we make a decision.
We make a decision not to love them,
but a decision to unfriend, to unfollow them.

Out of sight.
Out of mind.
Not my problem.

2 Timothy 2:24 reminds us, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”

So, although we may not want to surround ourselves with certain things,
although we may not want to associate with certain people,
God calls us to do more.
God calls us higher.

Let us not write them off,
but rather let us write them in.
Let us write them into our lives.

Let us love them with grace,

Let us love them with compassion,

Let us love them just as He has loved us.

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