Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Platform: Belated Update

This blog has served me well over the years and if anyone is still checking here, I so appreciate you! I realized this morning how I've never posted to indicate my website launch (it's still in the rudimentary stages and requires quite a bit of work, but the blog is up) and have begun writing there. As I work to complete my first book, I'm not blogging often, but I look forward to having you join me Here.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014


I said goodbye to the most steady, day-to-day thing in my life -- for the past eleven and a half years -- this week. Fred. My Volvo. Truth be told, the night before the people came to take him to the place where he'd help wishes to be granted, I cried. And, cried. Strange perhaps, but it occurs to me in the days since his departure that many enormous things have shifted in my life since January and well, the straw on camel's back, or whatever that is, finally broke.

The guy called me to say he was on his way hours before I was prepared to release Fred. I said, "I have a few errands to run nearby, so I'll do those and be back in time to meet you." I grabbed my keys and headed to the Post Office, then took the long way home (totally unnecessary, of course) just to spend the last few minutes with him. As I'd done before, I verbally revisited how much Fred meant to me and told him how odd it was to be letting him go... I meant every word.

And, once the paperwork was signed, I returned to my front steps with coffee in hand to wait out his departure. Maybe the dude thought I was weird. Though, I genuinely did not care. Cup in hand, I sat there with tears in my eyes behind carefully placed sunglasses recounting the miles and the memories, the conversations I'd had inside that car with people and with that car and with the Lord therein... So many moments and so much life was lived and Fred was the steady part. I became a "Volvo person" with him. Now, I'm not anymore.

Today, I was driving home from a work thing and noticed one of Fred's cousins (you know, same make, model) passing us on the left on the Freeway. I actually got teary AGAIN. Don't get me wrong, my new car is LOVELY and I am so very thankful for it... I'm just still so sad about ol' Fred -- needing a transmission and an oxygen sensor and new front seats and paint on the rear bumper...

It's funny how a thing can become such a monument in one's life... Steady, stable, always there, never arguing or difficult (other than expensive repairs, I suppose)... Just available and helpful mostly. I thought I was to the end of the changes for the year, but this newest addition to the list reminds me that God still has more ahead. It's only July after all. I'm wondering if my heart can take it.

Don't worry too much. I'm just feeling sentimental and a little over the edge. All to say, I'm really grateful for the gift of that Volvo and the years I had it -- I put around 115,000 miles on that car. He really did serve me well.

xo, Fred.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Read Online Tonight:

"I don't have any baggage..."

The person was serious. I don't know how to process this belief, honestly. I imagined what my relationships would look like if I actually believed I had no baggage that I brought into them. How would the people in my life experience me if I came at them from this perspective? I would think it would mean a whole lot of me thinking all of the issues were someone else's, not mine. If I held this belief I would never be a contributor to the chaos and everyone else would be to blame for whatever wasn't going well. The result would likely mirror narcissism.

Now, do I always know what to do with my baggage? No, not so much. I'm growing through some more of that at the moment actually. It's delightful. I guess I can see why this dude would want to deny it, putting his baggage away from himself... It's so much more challenging to actually deal with it. And, I feel for him. I actually have compassion in the midst of feeling baffled. It's not a life-giving way to live... Denying the truth always leads us into death whether we recognize it or not.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Out of the Noise

It's grey outside this afternoon and I hoped the rain would actually come. What a tease! All of that wind and even the feeling of it in the air which sent me directly to the curb to bring the trash bin in before it poured... Or not.

I've turned on the lamps in my living room on account of the lack of brightness and it sort of feels lovely in here--even with a bit of a mess around the house today. I've been sorting through things in hopes of getting rid of more stuff and having space to actually store the things I really want around. It has been a good process for me. I'm learning how to let go more and more of less important things. This applies to so much more than my 'stuff' these days.

While printing pages of what will become my first draft of a book manuscript soon, I hope, I realized I hadn't blogged in quite some time. I've been working on a poem these past few weeks and continuing to ponder the book project while penning ideas in my mind for how the next part goes. I'm not writing in order which has presented an interesting challenge of sorts, but like my abstract paintings, I think it's becoming something even though the structure seems more lacking than abundant at the moment.

Honestly, I've felt fairly overwhelmed the past few weeks. There have been some significant happenings in my life and in the lives of people I love. It's always amazing to see how much emotional weight I carry. God is continuing to invite me to sit still, recognize exactly what it is and hand it back to Him. I'm still learning how to do so after all of these years. Going into the "prayer closet" is becoming increasingly more important the older I get and yet, it's so very easy to just keep moving with all of the 'extra' weighing me down. He's reminding me to continue to stop, to rest and to relate with Him over what comes up in the quiet.

Today, I worked from a coffee shop for a while and there was a group from a local church meeting to talk about what they're up to these days. I don't know them or their church, but as I was trying to focus on the book writing, I couldn't help but tune into their conversation and reflect on how my life looked like their's not so long ago. Even six months out from my old work routine, I find myself thinking very differently about church. That hit me strongly today as I eavesdropped a bit. I'm finding how much I'm longing for the Church to sit and be still. We talk a whole lot and have many ideas of what is happening or should happen. It's rather noisy in that place.

This isn't meant as a criticism. Rather, I was surprised to find how my own mind wandered there. I've been a major contributor in the past to that noisiness and I imagine I will fall into that again in moments to come. I know it's important that we work hard and do our best. Activity and talking can be a hindrance though. I think it's part of what God has been rescuing me from... my own tendency to allow my perspective and activity to become more important than the listening and the being.

There is little in my life which actually makes sense at the moment, but I'm finding how much freedom and peace I'm experiencing in a place of not knowing much of anything and even letting go of what I thought I knew. When I'm sitting quietly, I've been telling the Lord that... I'm genuinely glad to be 'in the dark' because I'm finding how I'm in a protected place, under the shelter of His wing (as it goes in Psalm 91, a personal favorite). I'm learning His character better and better here. And I feel thankful for a rainless, cloudy afternoon to stop and reflect on how good it feels to know so little these days. I'm enjoying the quiet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Little Changes, Massive Results

It has been just a week or so now since I've shifted my sleep schedule -- going to bed earlier in order to rise much sooner the next day. Recently, I considered how effective I used to be when my schedule had me greeting the day on the early side. I lived it in college and even in my Boston years. I wondered what it could look like to 'go back'...

In the early part of February I mentioned to a friend how exhausted I was feeling after making a major decision for change and she encouraged me, "I don't think it will last much longer..." But, it did.

I gave up sugar for a couple of months to be more in tune with my body and gain greater awareness of how I was feeling (not running to it as a crutch). I also continued working out faithfully. What a helpful process, but it also left me with questions. My exhaustion was worse than I imagined... How in the world could I come to a place where I wouldn't be tired all of the time?

Then, just a few weeks ago, it hit me: You have to choose to change something else, Jess.... There's got to be another factor at play.

And so I thought about my daily schedule -- mornings have ALWAYS been my best, most fruitful times. I've strayed from them for years now. Starting my days later and later. Plus, I realized I needed to add some supplements back into my diet. I've been counting on food to supply all nutrients I need when I know it's really not possible (even with good, non-processed whole foods). So, I changed my sleep schedule and the other day, I bought a blender to bring nutrient-dense shakes back into my life. I've even gotten back into the habit of making my bed in the morning... All of these little things...

I feel like a new human! I've been marveling at how much more energy I have (even after a crazy full weekend) and the sheer volume of tasks I'm able to complete before 11 AM. I've even been enjoying extra time with the Lord -- real, quiet, sweet moments with Him and a cup of coffee where I'm inviting Him to prep me for the day He has ahead for me and just hanging out in Scripture, soaking in His words. It's been really good.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised by the way these seemingly small adjustments are having an enormous impact, but I am. More than that though, I'm just grateful. The Lord always leads us into life -- I'm reminded that sometimes I have to take a step back to see the areas where it might be leaking so I can take responsibility and make life-giving decisions.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I guess I wish I had the courage to say
how strange it continues to be that Sunday meant more than Saturday
or the Friday the month before
or the Wednesday before that

Because here I am
living life, practically around the corner
having released something which hindered
only to find it's all that really mattered to you

not me
just me not being there

There's so much more to me than that space in time
so much more than what I offered there and what I left behind

but all that seems to matter to you is Sunday
forget Saturday and how I stood available a room away
open for conversation and actual friendship

I've offered it time and again
you wave me away, dismiss me
put it in my court
"If you want to talk about it..." you say

the thing is, I talked for two years
making an approach time and again
offering, hopeful, receptive, inviting
and no, certainly not perfectly
but trying

and three days later, all that's on your mind is Sunday...

So sadly, words fail me -- what to offer you?...
a couple keyboard characters will have to do.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Tomorrow I begin...

... to finish a first book nearly 10-years in the making. Part of it is written and will need to be reworked, no doubt. I think it's what those who find their place in the field of editing love to do -- make it better by tearing it to shreds. For now, I'm not concerning myself about that piece of the process and how it will come together. Instead, I turn back to the pages I have in order to focus my intention on telling the stories once again.

On the drive home from my part-time job today I said, "I cannot believe I'm actually going to write like a writer..." The season is here! I know the work will be hard, still I have a confidence from the Lord that He's giving me everything I need so the words will come and the stories will mend their way together to become something I never imagined.

I feel sort-of thrilled, you know?

Monday, April 14, 2014

An End of an Era

Today I've struggled to find the right words. I'm in the process of writing a most important letter, the likes of which I cannot turn back from once written and sent. In a way, it feels like the most significant piece of paper I'll mail in my life thus far. It has to do with new beginnings and uncharted roads ahead and releasing and opening my arms wide to whatever God will bring to me (and what He'll bring me to, as well, I suppose).

Given the circumstances I've walked through over the past three months, this is the next necessary step to finish the journey I've been on and embrace what is to come. Still, I felt the words escape me where they typically remain. How do you succinctly tell people your whole life is changing while expressing tremendous gratitude to them all at once? If you know, please tell me. I'm all ears.

This is the task at hand for me this week. I'd hoped I would finish it today, but I'm left with a complete, yet utterly incomplete first draft. Part of me desperately longs to settle it and mail it; the other part of me wishes never to send it at all. The latter has something to do with stepping out in faith in the loveliest way I've yet to do so -- leaving the 'nest' if you will. It's terrifyingly lovely.

And, what's sweet about today and writing this letter is this: in route to a coffee shop where I'd write said letter, I made a pit stop at the Post Office to send a card and pick up my mail. In the process I retrieved an unexpected letter from one of the very people to whom I'll send my news. It's as if the Lord was saying, "Hey, this isn't an ending... They'll still be with you." I felt grateful.

So perhaps I should think of this not as an ending, but as a beginning. A beginning of a new era --  a place to invite people to join me in which simply looks a little different than the other spot. Whatever is to come, I have a strong sense in which it will be more than I ever hoped for and likely harder in ways I could not understand before arriving there. Such is life, after all. But, I thank God I know Him better now. I thank Him for that everyday because whatever is ahead, He's already there ready to greet me. That's good news for my heart today as I press in and try to finish this little letter...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Taxes & Twitter

I had a tender moment on Twitter last night.  I made a little 'office' space out of two storage bins stacked on top of the other and sat in my lovely dark leather chair which has been with me since Colorado... This set-up was much more comfortable than the kitchen table we're hoping to send to a new home soon. Trust me. So there I was detailing my mileage log in preparation to meet with an accountant today and tears came. I took a second away from my spreadsheet and wrote:

It's remarkable how the simple act of working on 2013 taxes brings up each hardship of the past year. Thankful to wrap it up fully.

The feeling was strange. I was executing this mundane task over hours and hours while reliving some of the most poignant, painful and eye-opening moments of this past year. Not quite sure how to feel, I let the tears come and told the Lord about them. Whew. 2013. You were a toughy. 

There are so many things I've said and thought and felt about the very moments I recorded for the sake of another tax deduction, but now, on this side of it, I'm simply amazed by the quantity of the yuck. Again.

I knew it was bad. If you've read anything I've written here this past year, you probably did, too. It was bad. 

One thing hit me late in the evening though. Perhaps it was delirium from sitting in 30 different positions on that chair and staring at those numbers and the printout and wondering if I missed anything, but I had another moment of clarity:  it was bad, but it has led me into so much good. Without it, I would not be where I am today and I actually feel like it's worth it somehow. I think I've said that before, but after detailing those days and the drive from one awful conversation to the next one, I needed to be reminded. 

It's like I could see why I have made the decisions I've made in the last few months. They make so much sense. I feel proud of myself for listening. Though, I wish I would have allowed myself to leap sooner. I could have been spared a bit of the pain, I think if I had. Hindsight.  

And I want to wrap it up, but I have a feeling I'll be revisiting many of those moments again as I write these books that are on the horizon. Part of me doesn't know how to do that as I consider it. It's still fresh in many ways and I worry about how to honor people while telling my truth. For now though, I think I'll leave it there. Taxes done. Refunds (yes, you read that correctly: refunds!) on the way. All in all, not a bad day.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

My Longing

I felt like I returned to a land I lost. A place I once lived with hope high while brokenness drained away down river. The river rolled over my cheeks flowing off of me. While I well, I embraced the new creation. Catching glimpses of the me I was meant to be -- and as the layers were peeled ever so delicately backward, I saw more clearly. Hope flooded my heart with new possibilities. But unknowingly, I entered an almost darker time than before.

Thankfully He stood there to greet me in the midst of it and I knew Him better here. Soot from the past turned white pants to black. He was speaking the ash off of me. But I'd have to climb through the garbage heap to arrive at a new destination, leaving the stain on my back behind. Even as I climbed I thought I'd remain there... I never understood leaving as the point of the picture.

Until now.

Tonight it registered... I bid farewell to what it had become, not what it meant to me at the beginning. And as we sang songs in my sleepy hamlet, windows wide encouraging the succulent breeze of springtime to lavish us with life, I remembered the thing I loved. Here I was low, against the wall, inviting my voice to hold steady the lyric while tears rushed out once again.

This. This is what it used to be. Simplicity and fervor and light. Fellowship and creativity and hope. Intimacy and longing and joy. And these words, they fail me now as the memory was captured in my feelings. But, I felt it. The same feeling which existed then was present now. How? What does it mean to return when I've relinquished my longing for the very space in time when this similar stirring delivered me into a landscape so grand that I physically held my breath? (I couldn't believe how lovely it was.)

But it was real for a few fleeting moments. It was real and true and good. And it mattered, regardless of what anyone may tell you otherwise. It mattered to me.

And I grieve it.

I wonder about tonight though. My curiosity peaked as I encountered the familiar feeling. His presence evident in a small thing, that thing. He reminds me not to despise small beginnings.

Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of things to come. By design, my deepest hopes for what once was are now enveloped in what is to be in the not so distant future. What a beautiful thought which becomes my prayer. And maybe, just maybe, this particular story hasn't reached it's own potential yet.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It Was Brilliant

Most of the time I consider myself to be a person who isn't easily surprised. Many years of engaging with people from a smorgasbord of backgrounds has developed my curiosity and yet, for good or for bad,  I've grown to be rather unmoved when I learn of or see something I didn't expect in someone's life. I guess when you hear and witness so many stories, nothing feels too shocking. But today, I was genuinely surprised.

I attended a function and knew the person giving the address. It was one of their best moments when it came to content and delivery that I've witnessed. None of that was unforeseen. Still, there was a moment when a question was asked and instead of speaking in generalities, they allowed their humanity to spill out. The person spoke about a genuine fear they face in a process they're in. And I, well, I marveled.

The public and specific acknowledgement of limitation and weakness was one of the most beautiful and powerful things I've yet to witness in that person. I realized something as the day moved onward: I've never respected them more. Because today, I related to them in a way I didn't know was possible all due to a choice they made to be vulnerable in a brief moment in front of crowd.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Earlier this year there was a piece of me which wondered about the things I was giving up to follow after the Lord. I didn't take much time thinking them over because I knew He was leading me to good places and I was so ready to go. One friend felt deeply about it on my behalf and honestly, I didn't really understand or even agree with their perspective. Because, to me, when the Lord invites me into something, I know He isn't asking me to release good things from my life. He's just inviting me into better.

And, beyond that, I wasn't concerned about how things would turn out. I figured that the people who needed to be in my life would be and I would be in theirs. Those who didn't need to walk through this next season with me wouldn't. I didn't need to 'fight' for friendships or figure it out. I simply needed to grab the Lord's hand and walk forward with Him. I truly thank God that I didn't worry about it because I've been able to simply be here, moving forward.

In the midst of feeling light about my relationships, God has done something I didn't expect (I didn't analyze it to death, so I didn't see it coming). He's given me the sweetest moments with people I used to see all of the time. I've been included in ways I haven't anticipated. When I show up somewhere and happen upon people, there is a freedom and joy in the moments we're together that I haven't experienced in quite a while.

I was living under a burden I couldn't easily identify. Expectation. Disappointment. Longing. Desire. Newly freed up from these places, I have the privilege to look at my encounters with fresh eyes. It has been really lovely. I'm feeling a little gooey about it today, actually. I see how the Lord has fought for ME in His leading away from what was. He had more for me and was not content to leave me there. Instead, He has led me here -- to a space which is so open and wide. Here where the sun shines more brightly, I find myself blinking back tears of gratitude for what was and now, what is.

This is where surrender leads. When I opened up my heart and my hands to say, "You know better," God kindly showed me just that -- better.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

What He Says

I've been thinking a lot this week about believing God. He has given me many opportunities to practice listening to His voice above the voices of people these past few years. In this arena, the challenge for me comes when those people happen to be close to me.

What I've been learning is this: He tells me to place my trust in Him alone. He invites me into depth and intimacy in ways others might not ever understand. The risks He asks me to take and the decisions He invites me to make won't make sense to everyone. He and I have a really sweet relationship that way, actually. I'm really grateful for the way He works with me. It's a gift in my life.

So, at the end of the day I know that as I follow after Him, I genuinely don't need to worry about the opinions of those who don't see it as I do. They may never get it and honestly, it's okay because the most critical thing is that I choose to believe Him. No matter what.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Think It's Called Living in Confidence

Six weeks ago my life looked radically different. On the outside, only a few things have changed (significant for sure); but what has happened on the inside is what I'm taking stock of right now. Driving home today, I realized how tired I am. I haven't slept well since Christmas and as a friend in my small group offered tonight, "That's a really long time..." True. I'm feeling it.

So driving home I got teary. I talked to the Lord about a couple of repetitive thoughts which feel irritating and hard. I dropped by to see a friend at a thing, paused to grab my mail and showed up at my house wanting nothing more than to see myself in my pajamas. Releasing any care of small group friends showing up 45 minutes after that, I let myself go there. I felt the small bit of sadness I felt today and I let the tired feeling exist without living in tension about it. Then they came and I was glad to see them (even in my pajamas).

Leaving for another thing after we wrapped up, I couldn't imagine why I got myself ready. There was nothing left in me, yet the place I arrived at and the people there required only that I be present. One woman showered me with unexpected encouragement. I don't even know if she could know how much her words meant to my heart today. She couldn't have... As I sat, writing notes to a couple of the friends we were celebrating, I noticed being noticed and felt a part. It was sweet.

What I'm seeing right now about myself is the way I've been called to live by a deeper level of faith than ever before and I think it looks good on me even in spite of the weariness. I feel alive. I don't have a great handle on where exactly I'm going, but the Lord has been inviting me to take even more significant steps forward this past week and I'm surprised, encouraged, curious and hopeful about what is to come. Somehow I've settled even more specifically into being just who I've been created to be. It's difficult to describe, but I guess I'm feeling decisively more comfortable in my own skin.

Over the weekend, I took time to revisit journal entries from the past nine or ten months. It's funny how God was literally birthing new desires in me and I wasn't able to see it clearly until now. And, perhaps they weren't so new, after all. When I think of it more, it seems He's been pointing me back to the core of what He's put in me all along. I think He's making a way for me to actually invest part of my time (in a legitimate paid sort-of way) finishing my first book later this year. I think He's making it possible for me to come alongside some people in ways I never imagined I could. I think He's bringing me to a place where I step into, in a substantial way, the things He's put in me to do and I believe the season I've just left afforded me the help of breaking off a lot of junk that needed to go so I might be right here. Right here in this place.

I'm tired and while a small bit of sadness lingers over some rather ordinary things, I see myself coming of age. I see promises being fulfilled. I see intimacy growing only deeper. I have hope in the core of who I am that He is who He says He is and He always, always, always leads me into good things. I have faith that the things I cannot see are actually coming to fruition right now. I keep encouraging these tired eyes to remain open, even focused, because what's ahead will certainly be a lovely view like I've never seen. I don't want to miss a moment.

Monday, February 03, 2014

A Life of Learning

I don't think there's anything in life which prepares one to walk through the deepest tragedies with people except for that one thing... Walking through them with people....

A few weeks back, two of my best friends and I decided to schedule an excursion to the coast, but mostly to Trader Joe's. I've been wanting to go for a month or two and was grateful we landed on a date. Within the day, I realized we would be making our way there on the 5th month anniversary of Sophie's life and death. There's nothing easy about death. Even five months into the grief, we all feel it.

Still, we took the day for what it was and found ourselves eating lovely fish tacos, then strolling down the street to witness the beauty which is the Gulf Coast. We took a couple of pictures (the kindest man offered to help us as he and his beloved walked by) and sat on the sand, staring out over the water for 20 minutes. I felt profoundly grateful for these friends who are more like sisters to me. They're more beautiful to me four and a half years into our friendship. I know it's because of the roads we've walked together.

Walking back to our car, we daydreamed about renting a vacation home there so we could get even more time together. It's fun to dream those little dreams, you know? But, I can see it... A week there with them (and probably the other peanut we love and their husbands... I don't think the guys would let us get away with a week without them). I'd love it.

I'm realizing more and more as I get older how much I simply don't know. The Lord, in His kindness, is helping me to open up my arms and invite whatever He deems as best. He's helping me to be faithful and to walk in obedience. And perhaps most importantly, He's helping me to learn to lean on Him in so many moments when I 'just don't know how' to relate or do the thing I need to do or risk or be the friend I'm not sure how to be for someone else. 

It's amazing how much I don't know, actually. I'm finding peace in this place, though. I'm learning to be present and how to be free. I'm learning to love better. And, I'm learning to be grateful for the process and these people in a way I never knew I could learn it.