My resolve today.

I have no idea anymore. Yeah, I honestly have no idea what’s going on or what’s going to happen next; I would say that none of us do. But you know what… that is Ok, I am at peace with it because it is outside of my control. If there is a choice between stress or peace, I’m going to choose peace every time. I’ve also read that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so naturally I will choose Him any day of the week. Before this all started, I was reading my way through a book in the Bible called Proverbs. It’s filled with short phrases full of wisdom and I am always up for getting some extra wisdom in my life. I would encourage you even if you don’t like the Bible or Christianity that these words are still good – it’s worth a look 🙂

There is one line that is standing out for me at lot at the moment; you can see shadows of its influence in my previous post.

Today I am holding onto kindness for my fellow man. I have no idea any more, but I will still be kind. I may cry, I may feel sad, I may feel uncertain, but I will still be kind. When people are scared they react in all sorts of ways, but I can still choose to be kind. I am determined to carry myself with kindness and be like ‘honey’ for those I engage with. May people walk away (more accurately ‘turn off their phones’) from their interactions with me soothed and stronger.

Today I am holding onto kindness for myself. When the kids are driving me crazy, when I feel weak and weighed down… I will be kind. I will give myself space to feel and move through the emotions. I will allow for growth in its many stages and forms. I will make self-compassion my companion.

I will share kind words to sweeten souls and give health to bodies – This is my resolve today. What is yours?

Love Jess xxoo

Letting go and holding on

As countries continue to go into lockdown and people’s livelihoods are disappearing, it is a season of uncertainty for us all. I was speaking with a friend in the USA this weekend (via Instagram) and he said he was “trying to hold on and let go at the same time”. What wise words for us all to apply to our lives.

Letting go:

All of us will have things that we need to let go of at the moment and some of them are so very, very hard to do. They might be wedding plans, long awaited holidays, jobs and careers, personal dreams, new businesses, studying, fitness plans, financial goals… I honestly can’t name them all. There are so many ‘things’ that COVID-19 has impacted and we have all been impacted in one way or another. So today, why don’t you give yourself permission to mourn the things you need to let go of – mourn the things that can no longer be.

I suggest you allocate 20-30 minutes to write down the dreams/goals/plans in your life that are not longer possible and really be honest with how you feeling. Allow yourself to actually feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, depressed, sad or whatever. After that timing however, let’s do some letting go. If we are going to keep going, it’ll be easier if we aren’t holding onto things that are no longer a reality. The world has changed for the foreseeable future and it’s time for us to be resilient. You can do this; you can rise and rise again. You can let go of those hopes and dream and put others in their place. I will be doing the same. Our new dreams may look very different and not as ‘glamorous’ for a while, but having dreams/plans to look forward to is important for us all. Take a moment… let go with me. It is hard and almost unbelievable, but we are in this together. You are not alone; everyone will be faced with changes. Let them go dear friend. Even if you have tears in your eyes, take a moment to mourn and let them go.

Holding on:

As we are doing our ‘letting go’ now is also a time to ‘hold on’ more than ever before. Hold on to relationships, hold onto hope, hold onto self-compassion and hold on faith or beliefs. Hold on to the idea that you will survive this. Hold on dear heart. I will be honest and say that I have moments during the day when I think ‘Is this really happening?’ I feel sadness as I look at the lives lost, the virus spreading, people without work, nations shutting down – it is the reality of what is happening. But I don’t stay in that place. Instead I hold onto my faith in God and my belief in the extraordinary ingenuity and endurance of the human race.

Today I am holding onto the people I love, messaging them words of hope or sending them funny memes to lighten their day. I am being more intentional about my connections, not necessarily in quantity but in quality. I am also treasuring and being mindful of the the moments I find joy and sharing them with others. Today I am holding onto hope, hope for a cure, hope for a breakthrough and good news. Today I am holding onto self-compassion and realising that sometimes I will feel strong, while other times weak and that is ok. Lastly, I am holding onto my personal faith. Faith in a God who cares for us, who hears us, who has empowered us and loves us without measure.

What are you holding onto today? Just like our letting go exercise, why don’t you write them down and spend some time focusing on the things that are your strength today? When you feel down, remind yourself of what you are holding onto.

As things around the world continue to unfold, we will be letting go and holding on at the same time. Both are equally important particularly in moments of such rapid of change. Take a breath, take a moment, you are doing so well.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – I’ve been spending time on a live dance party on Instagram by DJ dnice (click on his name for link to his profile). Although I know nothing about him, he plays great music and it’s honestly a lot of fun having a virtual party with about 100k people. Things really go off when he does a hat change 🙂

Life’s Intermissions

Intermission (noun). A pause or break. A period during which action temporarily ceases; an interval between periods of action or activity.

Have you ever had a season in your life when you feel like everything is on pause? It might be caused by illness, a career break, a bad decision or a change in social situations, but whatever the reason it can be incredibly frustrating. It can feel like you’re in a holding pattern just waiting for your life to re-start. I know because I have been there a few times myself.

Say it with me “I’m in an intermission.” When those thoughts of uncertainty, and the feelings of being forgotten or left behind come creeping in, just remind yourself that this is only temporary. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but it is. Everyone has ‘intermission’ moments in their lives and despite being uncomfortable they aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

For the audience, an intermission builds anticipation for what’s to come in the acts to follow
– Sue Brickey

If you feel you are enduring an intermission in your life, let me encourage you to see it as an opportunity to reflect. For Christians it’s a time to trust and draw closer to God as Psalm 62:5-8 shows us how it’s done. It’s a forced pause for you to take stock of what you want in life and what your values are. It’s an opportunity to change the next scene in your life. If you don’t like what happened in the past, it’s time for change. If the past was great, it’s time for stepping up into something bigger and better or trying something completely different. I know for me, the way I see life’s intermissions has always determined what the next ‘act’ looks like and how well I make it through.

As long as we don’t check-out, things will get moving again eventually and a new act or season will start. This interruption to your life, might just be exactly what you didn’t realise you needed.

“I’m at an intermission in my life. I’m looking forward to what will come next.
I’m just at a pause. So it’s alright, it’s not over yet.”
– Author unknown

Love Jess xxoo

For more encouragement in the struggle read: Gratitude, When Faith and Hope Run out or Ten Times Braver

When Faith and Hope run out

I have a friend my age that has a chronic illness. I have a friend who is in her late thirties and longs to find a life companion. I know someone who suffers through the heartbreaking disappointments of wanting to fall pregnant. I know others who struggle through the dark complexity of mental health issues. As a “person of faith” aka a Jesus-lover, sometimes I have great faith. Faith so strong that I know in my very soul that something good is going to happen; be it a physical healing, a new job or a mended relationship. Other times, I have hope. Hope in people, hope for a fresh start, or hope that this time I’ll see my prayers answered. And then, and then my dear friends… there are times when my faith and hope have depleted and it’s too painful to even dare to pick them up. I feel faithless and hopeless, with no answers and no end in sight. My heart is downcast.

There are some incredible commentaries on 1 Corinthians 13, but recently I have been thinking about verse 13 in particular:

 Three things will last forever
— faith, hope, and love —
and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

Three things will last forever – it’s an interesting notion, especially when at times it feels like those exact three things have faded from my heart. However, if they do in fact last forever like the verse says, then they must be intricately linked. Therefore, if the greatest one is said to be love, surely it’s something I should take note of and turn to in a personal crisis. Personally, when I spend time receiving love from God, I’m surprised by the way hope finds its way back into my heart. Then, after a little while (and even more love), hope builds and eventually produces embers that ignite into faith.

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Many of you know my journey with pregnancy and some of you don’t. In a nutshell it took 3 and a half years, one miscarriage, many, many blood tests and doctors visits to see our first child into the world. During this journey, some months I would be full of faith. I would believe with all my heart that this time was ‘the month’ so much so that I would go out and buy nappies as a ‘step of faith’. Some months I would have hope, hope that held onto promises in God’s word and prophecies that people had given me. Other months, I had nothing except my knowledge that God loved me and that He was holding me through my pain. I didn’t have faith and I couldn’t find hope, so I would just tell God that I had nothing that month and knew that others around me would have to do it on my behalf.

If you don’t have faith for a personal miracle and can’t find hope that your situation will ever change, let me encourage you to let go of everything else and just let yourself be loved. As Christians often say ‘camp out in love’. This means that you don’t have to force your faith or hope. Just close your eyes and ask Father God to show you His love. Remember, don’t force yourself to feel something you don’t, simply ask to see His heart, then, ask again the next day and the next day and the next day. You’ll never be disappointed focusing on that – camping there. You can always find rest by being loved by the best Father that ever was. I can promise you, that as you get a greater revelation of His indescribable love, hope will inevitably come and eventually, so will faith.

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Allow me to interrupt this nice warm fuzzy moment… couldn’t that be overly simplifying things? What about people in deep depression who can’t feel any love? What about people who don’t see a physically healing and no longer have faith for one? Ok, let’s go deeper…

I’ve have already alluded to it, but let me give you my thoughts about how this can work. When you can’t feel love, experience hope and find faith, in steps what the bible calls “The Bride of Christ” – which basically means other Jesus followers. When I’m authentic with other Jesus-lovers about what’s in my heart, they can help me out when I lack something. No love? Boom, they can pray about the barriers that are keeping me from feeling love. No hope? They can have hope on my behalf that things will be brighter and can encourage me on the journey. And lastly, if I’m lacking faith, I can lean on theirs. Of course it works both ways – even if you don’t have faith, hope and love in your own life and circumstances, it’s surprising how sometimes you find it for someone else.

I see this constantly in my own life, not only with my husband, but also in my relationships with others like my sister; always patient, always kind, not jealous or rude or proud. They love me in all my seasons, inspire hope when things feel hopeless and stir up faith. Deeply trusting and authentic relationships built on unconditional love are a beautiful gift. Plus, these are earthly relationships with limits on the amount of time and energy we can offer each other. This leads me to ponder how much more does God want to give us? We may not see answers to every prayer, but I believe we can always experience love. If I am lacking faith, hope or love, I can allow my life-affirming friends to intercede on my behalf to a willing God. I believe God is a good God, so breakthrough will inevitably come and love will be released.

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God’s love never fails and I know this to be true. How do I know this? Because I have spent a lot of time being loved by Him when my hope and faith had faded. So, I say it again, if all else fails, camp out in love; it really is the greatest.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)

 Love Jess xxoo

The last few days

 

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The last few days have been filled with some hilarious and horrendous moments. I thought I’d share some of the funnier ones and yes, some things are funnier once everyone is in bed and finally asleep.

Saturday 27th June

During a rather one-sided conversation about a certain little girl going for a ride on a unicorn, I realised that I hadn’t actually explained to Amy that those fabled creatures aren’t real. She was pretty devastated for about a minute and then went on to talk about pink and purple horses. One thing at a time.

Monday 29th June

Today I was Amy free, which was a blessing, but also made me miss her. After picking her up, we drove home:

A: Mum, do you have a lollipop?

J: No I don’t

A: No, you do

J: No Amy, I really don’t

A: Noooooo, you do

J: I can promise you Amy, I don’t have a lollipop

A: You do (getting seriously annoyed)

J: I don’t (getting seriously annoyed back)

Slight pause

A: Mum, do you have a pizza?

J thinking: I’m just going to pretend she’s not there.

Wednesday 1st July

Number 1. This morning while hanging out in Bella’s room, Amy was looking at the painting Tim did for Bella:

A: Daddy’s going to paint one for Shadow (our cat) with red and pink and yellow, like horses running and a unicorns with a black tail.

J thinking: Sounds awful, but fifty years from now it could be worth a fortune

Number 2. After struggling for an hour and a half to get Bella to go to and actually stay asleep, Amy came to tell me the good news:

A: Bella’s asleep

J: Oh YAY!

A: You did it Mum!

J thinking: I can’t feel my arms! How will I drink coffee?

Number 3. Just before bath time:

A: I’m pretty tired Mummy. I have eyes in my soap.

J thinking: I know the feeling

The last few days have been tough, the kind of tough that makes you want to go for a long, long drive to nowhere in particular with just you and your favourite music. This afternoon, as I sat feeding Bella for the forth time in so many hours, I thought about the pains and struggles in my own life and the lives of others around me. I know this is part of the adventure, it is all part of our story, but man it’s exhausting.

b623e07f5bda4b73b774f9a60283a5b4As I sit here, I look forward to tomorrow. What hilarious thing will Amy say? Which little smile will Bella give me? Who will Whatsapp me telling me that they are feeling better? Tomorrow fills me with hope. So, if you’re having a tough one, don’t worry, you are not alone. You made it through today and I am so proud of you! Chin-up, we can do this.

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Love Jess xxoo