The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me...
To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

Isaiah 61:1,2c,3 (New King James Version)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown, Conneticut.

I can't begin to explain the sadness in my heart.
I can't begin narrate the chaos of emotion inside my head.
What I can do is make my voice be heard right now. Something has GOT to give. Something NEEDS to change. We shouldn't live in a world that Kindergartners are not safe in their own classroom. That a 24 year old can hold so much anger, have access to high power weapons and take away the light of these littles in a small town elementary school. But we do. We live with the real questions on what the right decision is in dealing with the problem.
More guns?
Less guns?
Gun reform?
Gun control?
Bullet proof bubbles for all those who don't "deserve" to die?
I'm not completely sure what is "right" in this battle. I'm just not. I'm sitting here reeling through flashbacks in my head of the day Makenna died. Projecting that into fantasy scenarios of what the massacre would of looked like in my own Kindergartners room today. Wondering what it would of felt like to be the dispatcher taking that call or the firefighters moving bodies to see who might have a chance. I wonder what the teacher in that classroom felt like, hopeless. You see, I've filled all these rolls, I've signed the death certificate of my daughter due to gun violence, I've taken frantic 911 calls due to gun violence, responded to horrific crime scenes due to gun violence, and I've taught in many many classrooms in which I loved those kids so deeply that I would go to the greatest depth to protect them. This tragedy hit home. I'm thankful and praise God that this tragedy has not CAME to my home...not yet at least.
There is a lot wrong with guns. The number one thing is the people who are allowed to buy them. How many times do we hear about a mass murderer who obtained his weapons legally usually within a short time of the massacre? How many of these people had reached out to get help before hand? Performed erratic behavior before? Hmmm in my recent memory, it's been every single one. Virginia Tech, Aurora, and the recent Portland shootings. Why can't there be even a basic social background check. A look into medical release? A simple psychological evaluation? Too much time? Too much paperwork? Violating a civil right to bare arms? My ex-husband who killed my youngest daughter bought a .45mm handgun one week before her death. She was killed with that weapon. He was under the care of a psychiatrist for PTSD with the military and had multiple combat deployments. He had all of a 30 minute wait period before he walked out of Bass Pro Shop with the weapon. Less than a week later, I had two hours of HELL waiting to hear the doctor tell me my daughter was dead, followed by months of paperwork, and my own temporary psychological deterioration. So where exactly, on what side, is there too much paperwork. On which side of this scenario are people's civil rights being taken away? Call me selfish, but I would much prefer a proactive government than a retroactive government and have less death certificates and more background checks. Get a better picture of the guy trying to buy a Semi Automatic Assault Rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition along with some body armour before you sell it to him. Then maybe we won't see 26 pictures of innocent school members on the news, teddy bears by white crosses, and parents running in fear hoping they'll be reunited with their children. Perhaps, if we get those who want to protect themselves to talk to a mental health professional we can stop just one of these tragedies. Just stopping one is enough for me, at one point just stopping one bullet would of been enough for me.
This needs to change. It needed to change yesterday, last year, 3 years ago. Pro Gun and Anti-gun need to find a ground that those who can't protect themselves are protected. The government and the people need to work together logically and figure this out. Our society today isn't the same it was when everyone had a gun on their shoulder, times have changed. Just as our constitution that we all fight so adamantly to defend was written to evolve we all need to wake up and evolve and see what is wrong for what it is, and what is right for what it could be. I haven't lost faith in humanity, far from it. But my heart is broken, from where our society fails. Where I have failed. It is going to stop now. My voice will be heard.
I need a bigger platform to get this out. I have contacted Ellen DeGeneres, please share my story with her as well! Anyone that I can get a bigger voice out. I need your help!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Biggest Fear.....

I just typed the title, and the first thing that seeped into my brain? Wimp, hypocrite, weak, lazy, unfaithful, failure. Why? Well, in this nifty book I've been reading lately it's pretty clear that those with faith don't fear. It's pretty clear that *all* I have to do is trust in God and I can give fear up. Well, I suck at that. Badly. No joke, if you don't know me yet the first thing you might know about me after an hour or so is that I don't like being in situations that are either beyond my control, or out of control. For me to be comfortable someone better be driving the train with unquestionable leadership or I better be at the helm trying my best to steer the locomotive myself.
Ironically, I fail to remember quite consistently that I never HAVE to take the helm myself, that a simple prayer brings the best leader into each and every situation that I come across. But my vision and judgement get narrow in the chaos of life, I see the tunnel fast approaching and fumble with every switch searching for the light to guide the train through the darkness, forgetting that the light I am searching for is voice operated.

God, I come to you now - asking you to be present here today. To hold my family, friends, community, nation and world in your safety. We need you now as we did yesterday and as we surely as we  will tomorrow. Guide me, hold me, and help me shine that light you gave us so long ago when you sacrificed your only son for me. 

So my biggest fear? Specifically, to mishandle the blessings in my life by failing to share God's love. Seem vague? It is. It's rather large as well. However, most specifically it's my family. That I will say or do the one wrong thing that scars those I love the deepest. I've done it. My entire family shows the scars of my failures. They are mutilated with my lack of the ability to rely on God first and my tongue second. It saddens me.
My daughter, she yells at her step-sister with almost the exact same cadence that I utilize when I let anger take over my parenting skills.
My oldest step daughter slams her door with the same zest that I do when her world is frustrating her.
My step son, harps on tiny misjudgments that lead to spilled milk or messy homework.
My Love, avoids conversation with me when we are leading into hot topics.
My parents, carry the grief of a marriage they knew was wrong for me but I stubbornly entered into anyway.
My extended family doesn't know my children because of my lack of effort to extend love to them.
My community, doesn't get any of me because I am wrapped up in my own little world.
These are all the blessings that I thank God for, yet rarely live out my thankfulness to. I get so wrapped up in righting the wrong that I never celebrate the right. A girl cannot go on living like that and expect to shine light. This girl cannot go on living like that and enjoy this blessed life.
So what do I do?  "Start over" for the 951,254,261,568,125 time? Absolutely. Will I fail - yes I'm pretty sure. Will I grow? No doubt. You see, I am faithful to the point that I can pray to an ever loving God to change my tenacity to right wrongs, into a passion to celebrate the right. That he can change my heart from the pessimistic problem solver, to a radiant optimist who glows with the Godly love that she has come to know.  I often witness that the day my life changed was when I felt God's presence in the stairwell of the parking structure leaving the hospital in Norfolk Virginia.  That day was the most bittersweet blessing I could ever get. But today, I would witness that each day I feel saved again. That each day I feel God's presence, I hear his words, and I am newly inspired to seek him. I want my life to be a living testimony to salvation. I want transparent proof of grace and mercy. I want to witness that I was reintroduced to God a long time ago, but today is the day that I feel God has been more truly revealed to me, more than yesterday - less than tomorrow.
Today, I pray that I can let go of my fears, I can learn from my past, and that I can continue on this ride through the tunnels, over the plains, up the mountains, and into the valley's with a conductor who has it handled but will let me choose the way. I forecast a couple derailments, maybe some lost steam power, but I'm an confident that my final destination is safe and promised...this world will be right one day and I want to share the love that will get it there.
Tenth Avenue North says it the best in their song "Healing Begins"

Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won't disappear

So let it fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
Life is Good. God is Great.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Planning for happiness....

So many dark nights, I wondered if I would ever feel joy again. If I would ever laugh from my belly, until my sides hurt, until the tears that came from my eyes were from an overflow of happiness and not from pain. During the days, I was tough. I could do the life that I had. The normal day to day of going to work, taking care of Cheyenne, and engaging in typical relationships was the proverbial piece of cake. The day to day mundane happenings of my life were easy to do without Makenna. It was easy to say, "Wow, I can trust God's plan, I got this." Ironically, the mundane was my safety. The extraordinary - good or bad throws me back into the pit of the beast that is mourning. That surreal understanding tears at my heart, and burns deeper than the pain I had with the doctor gestured his head up and down in response to my pleading of "is she dead" in the ER waiting room that morning.
 My first gut response to this personal reflection was that I want Makenna to be here. In my happiness  I miss her and need her here to be happy.  In my sorrows, I am reminded of my ultimate sorrow and relive the pain that I had with it. While this maybe half true, it isn't the whole truth. I think my lack of ability to be truly joyful in celebrating my blessings or truly open to God's healings when I am in the dark valleys isn't a mere matter of missing my beloved daughter, it's Satan attempting to get a foothold on my faith. To use his evil works to shake my faith in the plan, to doubt that I am deserving of a joyful heart, and to get me to pursue an answer to my "whys" and not move in his plan and pursue the "whats." The what do I do with this story I've been given.
Well Satan, I sought God's wisdom, I got it. Now it's time for you to go. This girl has been inspired to move.
I will never forget the moment, I was standing in front of my house, watching the sunset behind a tree, and clearing hearing that I could use this to move, to make this world better - at the time I wasn't clear on where I would go, what I would do with it, but two years of spiritual growth and life experience has convinced me that I need to share my story. That I need to utilize my radical story of spiritual awakening to reach those with God's good word that have not been reached.
I am asking for prayer, for continued wisdom and direction. Please, if God puts it on your heart on how I can share, share with me. You are all a blessing in my life, and have helped me become who I am today - by sharing your friendship, your love, and God's light in my life.
life is good. God is great.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

....and the wisdom to know the difference.

That last line in the serenity prayer always gets me...wisdom comes through prayer. Yet I feel that SO often I think i can change everything. It's definitely not a new development. Since I was young, I thought I could endlessly change the world - that ANY goal I had in mind could be possible. While this helped with succeeding with a lot throughout my life, it has not helped with my ability to let God handle things and to wait for his promptings. The realization at 30 years old, that I cannot change everything is very scary. I was about to say humbling, but I'm not there yet. I say scary, because I STILL don't want to let go of the control even though all the evidence, circumstances, guidance, and promptings tell me it's time. I'm stubborn, but if you know me that isn't news, and that is something that YOU can't change. :D
I am certain that there is peace that comes from letting go of "what is" when you don't want it to be. I did that with the death of Makenna. Perhaps, even I see the permanence of death. Or do I? I can remember many ambulance rides looking at a patient and knowing in my guts they were dead, yet pumping away on his chest like I could change things. So, what truly makes me "let go?" Do I have to be in a place that nothing else makes sense? If I do, what does that say for my faith? Proverbs 2:5 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." What does it take for me to get there.
This has been my question as I endure a new season of my life. 
I think I've arrived at the answer, through conversation with my boyfriend. He continually reminds me to trust in God, that his plan is good. It frustrates me to be honest, that it seems to come so easily to him. Then it dawned on me. Relationships take time. I should know this being I rushed into my first marriage after a fair one month of dating, married with doubt on my heart, and endured a relationship that was not fullfilling. I don't say that to be harsh, I say that to be real. After leaving that, I was blessed with a relationship that has simmered, been under the fire, cooled off, and reignited. This relationship has been forged by heat and cold in every element I could possibly imagine and it is strong. So, why haven't I approached my relationship with God like that? Why have I expected it to materialize so quickly? Do I have some unrealistic expectation that he expects me just to accept things at face value, if he did why did he allow me the brain capacity to analyze information? The longer I endure hardships, the tougher things get, the more convinced I am that I am pursuing a relationship with God full of doubt and questions but exactly the way he knew it would go. 
God knows me. He knows my heart. He sees a fighter's spirit, a girl who craves life experience and he gives it to me. He knows that I'm not going to learn what his love is from a book...that I'm gonna learn what his love is from standing in the fire. That's me. It's not lack of desire to love him to trust him, it's lack of time forging a solid relationship with a love that will always surpass my understanding. I know I'm in that fire, I know all this stuff around me will end one day and then new stuff will take it's place. But I also know that God is in that fire with me. I also know that the fire subsides and I am blessed beyond measures with gifts, relationships, and life experiences that I don't deserve. I'm figuring this out one day at a time.  I don't always remember in the moment, when I'm trying to handle it myself, but one day I might. One day I might see the fire, pass the nozzle, and let go. One day...maybe.  So for now, I'll taked these experiences that the world throws at me. I'll try to rely on the armour God has given me and punk Satan whenever he tries to get a foothold in my life. I'll try to do that option first...before I think I can save the world myself. 
Life is Good, God is great.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Does God do good through all things?

A baby dying?
A bright young man getting killed in a car wreck?
Loss of job?
Custody battles?
Yes. Yes he does. He can, he does, and he will if he is asked.  I think the confusion comes when our idea of what is "good" doesn't line up in his plan. Sometimes, that just sucks. It's makes our day, week, month, or year "bad." Why? We only see the underside of this crazy loom he is weaving our story on - but he  sees the top. Ever looked at the bottom of a beautiful tapestry? The knots, bumps, abrupt changes in color, and the lose ends - then flipped it over only to see the beautiful artwork of the weaver? Finally, to understand the need for the knots, the reason the bright yellow went to a blue so quickly? I think that's life.
I'm not sitting here recollecting on progress...I'm sitting here preparing to get on my knees and pray for his strength, guidance, and grace. You see, today all I am seeing is the knots and the bumps. But today, I know that I have seen a glimpse of my tapestry and see that God is good and he will do good through my life's immediate struggles right now.  God will do what is best for your immediate struggles right now too. Hold on, for one more second, minute hour, day, - whatever you can. Then when that is over, do it again.

I don't typically bombard with bible verses, but I came across this today and thought I would share.

10 Scriptures About God’s Promises

2 Peter 1:4
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Matthew 11:28-29
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:37-39
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Proverbs 1:33
But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”
John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Read more:

Life is good. God is great.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So, now what?

I read recently that sometimes the greatest step into faith, comes from a moment of non belief. Perhaps, I have shared before that following the moments after Makenna's accident I fell to my knees in prayer and instead of asking for healing, instead of pleading for her survival, my heart was doubting. Satan, used my heart - popped into my head and whispered "is he really there Jess?" and for a moment for that crucial moment I doubted, in my head leap the thought "Is anyone listening?" Most of that day was surreal. A large percentage of that day felt as though I was living someone else's life - that for some reason I was dreaming up the storyline to a hit Lifetime movie that I just couldn't wake up from. However, the one thing that was very real was God's presence. It stuck, that love and safety I felt knowing his presence lit my heart on FIRE to serve. I craved to become a better servant to move closer to him. To try and follow him to do what he called me to do. But, reflecting now - perhaps my heart was in the wrong place for that. In reality, I was pursuing HIS knowledge. That maybe if I was a good enough Christian, he would answer my "why." That he would whisper into a dream, provide a vivid vision, or reveal a miracle that would tell me exactly why my cards were dealt the way they were. Exactly why I had to have this life. In my true new reality I was pursuing God the way the shy boy in high school pursues his crushes best friend.  To get the information I needed not get what my heart truly desired.
Now, as my faith matures the answers that may come to my "whys" are not mine to know and I shy from wanting to seek them. As my faith grows and I learn more about his unrelenting love I see that I can trust his plan even if I don't know all the facts guiding it. I have learned that I can sit and be still, listen and be lead. Not that it is easy, it's incredibly difficult. If you know one thing about me it's my lack of patience and my inability to take things one day at a time. I'm learning it's necessary, very much so to wait until the time is right.  So now what do I do?
For so long, my identity was "Jessica, who's daughter died." So many of my "friends" rallied around me for the time after the accident, then disappeared. Many if them stayed as well, but no relationship are the same. For so long my faith, had an ulterior motive. For so long, I was surviving and not choosing to live. So here I am, moving forward finding what my heart has always truly desired.  Two years ago I thought I had evolved, reminiscent of how I felt as a preteen embarking on a new life, thinking I had it figured out. I had a goal in mind, one I would never reach. So now, I don't have a goal. My desires are to serve and love. I continue to reevaluated my heart, my intents, and my actions frequently to evolve endlessly as my relationship with God grows. Today, I say "So, now what?"  I wait in silence,  but the gentle push of the holy spirit to say, "This way Jess, he's there."
Life is good.
God is great.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where are you Christmas?

Going into this Holiday season, didn't exactly begin with what I had envisioned. People I truly care about were dealing with death, cancer, fatal health diagnosis, and just hurt. I myself was dealing with a relationship going through a time of change. To be completely honest, the holidays were something that I wanted to not happen. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas...all of it could just be boxed up and thrown away. I was ready to settle with just "everyday" ...well everyday. How do you celebrate when hurt? How do you "fa la la la la" when you just want to run away where no one knows you? Well, I guess I should of known, well before the Grinch settled into my cold heart, that the best place to start when your world feels like it is falling apart, is to your knees. I wish I could of said that my landing there was of my own will and heart, but it truly was the Holy Spirit making my knees go out and saying "HEY, remember me?"
So, where IS Christmas. I know for sure it's not there in the stuff I got on Black Friday, but it might of been mixed in among all the laughter and chit chat I had with my Mom as we browsed through WONDERFUL applique holiday sweaters (stay tuned for Christmas morning pictures, where the model will be wearing her very own). I doubt it's in the turkey Kevin and I cooked on Thanksgiving, but the flavor of laughter and joy was pouring from the loved ones around that table. I may also be willing to admit, that Christmas isn't in those sugar cookies I'll bake with Cheyenne this week...or my inability to "gift" ones that aren't quite right - but there is no doubt in my soul that those moments I spend covered in flour and sugar with the little girl that God has let me keep will have Christmas written all over it.
I know it sounds cheesy, and maybe a little cliche to write about the spirit of Christmas, but it's what I need right now. It's what those who I know who are hurting NEED right now. Jesus didn't just come to earth on Christmas day so many years ago just to forgive our sins. He came here to teach us how to live! To love one another and share that love. God also blessed us with relationships to cultivate and grow with the spirit of love, service, time, and experience. This is where Christmas is. Celebrate the blessings given to us my a gracious and loving God, but loving on those he puts in our lives. So, if that's demonstrated this year with Christmas cards, presents, sugar cookies, lights, and songs - then I am "fa la la ing" all the way through December. Christmas isn't a time to reflect on my blessings, it's a time to be a blessing. Through that, I'm sure I'll find Christmas this year.
Life is Good. God is Great.

"Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"

Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

Matthew 22:37-40 (The Message)