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

Pieces of Jessika©


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.


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©


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.


shift your focus

Pieces of Jessika©


Sinners yet forgivers

my girls

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


Pieces of Jessika ©


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…)))

Pieces of Jessika©


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

Pieces of Jessika ©


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.

Pieces of Jessika ©


Bondage can be deceiving

Bondage can be deceiving.  It doesn’t always look like we think it will. 

Bondage doesn’t always look like a cold, iron cuff clamped around our ankle with chain link after chain link leading to a heavy iron ball at the end. 

No, bondage can look very different. It can look much different because the deceiver knows we are more likely to recognize his schemes when they come in the packages for which we have prepared our hearts and our eyes.  So, because we have gotten smarter, he has gotten craftier.

Now he disguises.  He wraps his same old schemes in new packaging, more alluring packaging.  And this new packaging is exactly what gets us. If we were to see the ball and chain, we would surely make every effort to turn and go the other way.  But now his instruments of bondage are disguised as harmless things, good things, and even as useful and commonly accepted things.  

Little by little he infiltrates.  He slowly blurs our once 20-20 vision. He slowly grays the once black and white areas. And before we know it, he has got us where he wants us. Clink. The cuff closes around our ankle. He has successfully established his stronghold.

And it’s usually at this point when we see through the false packaging.  We see that this seemingly harmless thing, can in fact be harmful.  We see that this seemingly good thing, maybe isn’t so good after all.  We see that this seemingly useful thing, maybe isn’t the most useful in hindsight. We finally see through the packaging and see the instrument for what it is—the ball and chain that has enslaved us.  It consumes way too much of our time.  It distracts us from the things that are important. And it leaves us feeling empty and unsatisfied.

In what area of your life can you feel the enemy closing in with the iron cuff in hand, ready to slap it around your ankle? What tool is he using to distract you? What tool is he using to make you feel empty and unsatisfied? 

Pieces of Jessika ©


What If We Changed Our Posture?

As featured on, Encouragement from Women Who’ve Been There. 

“What If We Changed Our Posture?”
By Jessika Sanders

Genesis 3:10 “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not eventer into the kingdom of heaven.”

The girls were at it again. In a tug-o-war, fighting over toys. Screaming, yelling, vying to be heard and seen.

I sat and watched, exhausted from this very situation that seemed to happen day-in and day-out.

And that’s when my husband stepped in to tackle this one. As I sat this one out I was amazed at what I saw unfolding before my eyes. He sat down so that he was eye level and face-to-face with the girls. He was ready to confront them of their wrongdoing and to lovingly discipline.

They both stood before him but with radically different postures. The oldest assumed the position–head hung low, avoiding eye contact. She couldn’t bear to look him in the eye, she knew she had disappointed him.
And the tears were already welled up in her eyes even before he uttered a single word.

And it reminded me so much of our ancient beginnings in the Garden. It reminded me so much of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6-10 and what feels like our instinctual way of hiding in our shame. It reminded me of how often we want to flee when confronted with our wrongdoing and sin.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And he said, I heard they voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

But as I sat and watched the scene play out, the youngest assumed a radically different posture.

While the other hung her head in shame and avoided eye contact, the youngest looked my husband in the eye and raised her arms to embrace him.

I watched her do this three separate times.

He confronted them of their wrongdoing,
voiced to them his sincere disappointment, and reminded them of our foundational values.

And each time she looked at him with love and adoration, lifting her arms to hug him.

And then it hit me.

This precious little 3-year-old child was teaching me such a powerful lesson,
She was reinforcing the truth found in Matthew 18:3.

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not eventer into the kingdom of heaven.”

Friends, what if we mimicked the latter posture, the latter attitude? What if in our moments of sin we didn’t hang our head in shame and hide from our Heavenly Father who loves us? What if instead we drew near to him, fixing our eyes on Him? What if we heard Him out, listening to the difficult truth? What if we assumed a humble posture and the pure heart of a child? How might our relationship with our Father be different if instead of hiding from Him, we went running to Him, reaching out to Him with nothing but pure love and adoration even in our moments of discipline and correction?


Less about the words

A few months ago, my stepfather gave his life to Jesus. He humbly stepped out in need, raising his hand at the end of the church service to pray the sinner’s prayer with the Pastor. 


And together we smiled. We wept. We rejoiced.

We thanked the Lord for changing his heart and calling him near.


And while his walk with the Lord is new, while it requires daily discipline, it also requires grace.  It requires the grace and understanding that must come from us, his family. And it also requires the warm blanket of God’s grace and God’s love that my stepfather needs to cover himself in.


I know his need for grace because I’ve watched him turn down the opportunity to pray, passing it along to someone he considered more experienced, more well-versed.

I’ve watched him self-consciously rush through a prayer, worried that something was missing from his attempt.

I’ve watched him say a prayer in the form of a phone call to God, thinking his comedic approach might relieve him from being asked to pray again in the future.


But I’ve also watched him pray from his heart, getting choked up in the moment and unable to finish his thoughts except for a humbled and tear-stricken “Amen.”


And you know, of all these examples mentioned I have no doubt that God’s favorite, the one that touched His heart most was the last. I have no doubt that the imperfect, unfinished prayer was His favorite because it was in that moment that my stepfather’s true heart was revealed.  He may not have been able to finish his thoughts, but you can believe that God knew how to fill in the blanks.  You see, if there is one thing I have learned it’s that in prayer God cares less about the words you use, and more about the condition of your heart.


Pieces of Jessika©