Babies

Growing up I never thought of babies. I wasn’t surrounded by them, so I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t really enjoy holding them, especially the newborns. I never had a desire or dream to have lots of them. In fact, I was the opposite. My plan was to be single forever. No husband. No kids.

That lasted well into my 20’s and now that I’m in my late 20’s, I’m on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I think it was sometime around 25 that a lightbulb went off in my head.

Marriage, when it’s done the way God intended it, sounds amazing. Marriage when it’s done with a man who searches so whole heartedly after God’s heart sounds like the best decision ever.

And ever since then, that is what I’ve craved. It’s what my womanly heart aches for. A good Godly husband, and kids. Oh, so many kids.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always known that I wanted to leave California. With a husband or without. I’ve always known that I wanted to raise kids away from LA. But I had this moment tonight.

See I’m in Yakima, Washington visiting my best friend, Kayla, her husband Luke and their new baby girl Haddie. While I’m here, her parents definitely wanted to see and spend some time with me, plus, Kayla’s 2 sisters have both just recently had babies, so grandma and grandpa are swarming in babies. I got to sit and watch them just sit and stare at these new babies, at Haddie. And you could just see the admiration in their faces. The smiles.

See my mom has always wanted grandkids. I remember not to long after my brother dies she started joking about me having to have 10 kids in order to make up what my brother didn’t get to have. She wants lots of them. And after the revelation at the age of 25 about babies, I was good with that. Well, I’m only giving birth to 2.. but I totally want to adopt a bunch more from a ton of countries. So yeah, give my mom tons of grand babies!! Woohoo!

But. I want to move. I want raise all of those kids in another state. And tonight I realized what I would be taking away from my mom. She always says that she will follow me, but how realistic is that?

So, as aways, I’m left with one question for God? How is that going to work? I don’t want to raise kids in another state while my mom is sitting in California not getting those moments to snuggle with daughter or to watch in amazement of my son. I want her there. But I also want to be selfish and not do those things in LA. So what’s it going to be God?

I’m so thankful that God can handle all of my questions. I’m so glad that I don’t have to be afraid of talking to Him about these things.

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Music

For as long as I can remember, music has been apart of my life. My dad used to have this big stereo set up in our living room and he was always playing all types of music. Mostly oldies, of course, but country and rap were certainly apart of the rotation. I have so many memories of my dad and I singing with and to each other. When driving in the car, music was always playing and being sung.

Music always brings back memories for me. When I hear Peaches and Herb’s “Close Your Eyes” I’m instantly taken back to being 8 years old and singing the echo part with my dad. Same thing for Leann Rimes’ “Blue”.

It was no surprise that when we started going to church, I was introduced to a new sound of music.

Christian Music.

Yesterday, I woke up wanting to listen to Kirk Franklin. He was one of the first artists I started listening to. That, of course, lead to Avalon and then Point of Grace, which of course lead to Crystal Lewis and Out of Eden. So all day, while I was listening to my christian childhood through these artists, I started to wonder how much of these songs helped shape my belief system. When I heard Kirk sing, “You don’t have to worry
And don’t you be afraid, Joy comes in the morning, Troubles they don’t last always, For there’s a friend in Jesus, Who will wipe your tears away, And if your heart is broken, Just lift your hands and say” was that preparation for losing my brother? Did those words resonate within me as I fought to understand the tragedy that I walked through? When Avalon sang, “The dreams I dream for you, Are deeper than the ones you’re clinging to, More precious than the finest thing you knew, And truer than the treasures you pursue” are those words still speaking to me today, as I figure out what my life dreams and pursuits are?

There are so many times that I wish I could go back and tell little Jessica to pay attention more, to listen for God’s voice with more persistence. I wouldn’t change anything that I did, but maybe if I would have at least recognized the working that God was doing, even then, then I would know how to function better today.

I hope this love of music never fades. I hope, that for the rest of my life, I constantly enjoy seeking out new music and allowing it to help shape my life.

And I hope that I can teach my kids that music can do so much for your life.

Dancing with Daddy.

I have this image of a young girl. She’s at a Father-Daughter dance. She’s dressed in the prettiest dress she could imagine. She’s got a flower on her wrist. Her hair is full of curls and pinned with delicately placed pearl pins. Her date. Her daddy is dressed in a suit and tie. He made sure to wear his best clothes. She’s so excited to go on a date with her daddy. She gets a whole night of attention all to herself. She’ll get to dance with him and eat with him.

When they get to the dance her daddy reaches out his hand to hers and asks her if she would like to dance. She hadn’t realized how afraid she would be. She’d never really danced with anyone before. Would her feet know what to do? What if she looks silly? What if people laugh? What if, oh lord, she trips and falls? She’s re-thinking this whole night. She doesn’t want her daddy to be disappointed or ashamed.
He’s still got his hand held out towards her… She shakes her head, no. Her realizes that she’s scared and sits next to her. It’s ok. He’s willing to wait for her. While they wait and watch all the other’s dance he leans over and whispers in her ear.

“It’s ok. Daddy will wait till you’re ready. I’ll wait all night.” She whispers back, “I’m afraid.” “What are you afraid of silly?

“I’m afraid that I will fall, and that you will be ashamed of me”
“That will never happen daughter. I love you! If you want, you can stand on my feet and I’ll lead you.”

She thinks for a second. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad. Her feet won’t have to think about what they are doing, since they will be on daddy’s. Although, she might looks silly needing daddy’s help like that. But it’s less silly than tripping over daddy’s feet.

She looks at him, hesitantly. “I won’t force you daughter. I’ll wait for when you are ready.”

A few songs begin and end, and the young girl is still sitting. The thing is, she wants to dance so badly. She’s been waiting for this night for so long. What if the whole night passes by and she never gets to dance with daddy? She has to stop thinking so much! Here’s what she knows. Her daddy loves her. He won’t be mad if they don’t ever dance. He’s just happy to be here with her. But she also knows that if she takes the step onto his feet, while they dance, her daddy won’t let anything happen to her. He’ll catch her if she trips and show her how to dance when she’s not sure what to do. He loves her so much! She can trust him.

“Ok dad. I think I’m ready. But you won’t let me fall right? You won’t let me look silly?
“Ok course not, love. This is your night. I want you to have fun and dance as much as you want.”

He takes her hand and walks her to the center of the floor. She steps on to his feet and just as a song begins her sways her back and forth. She starts to wobble a bit, but he steadies her and holds her tight. They sway back and forth and her heart feels like it’s going to burst of her chest. She can’t believe how afraid she was!!

They dance every dance until it’s time to go home. As they last dance ends, daddy leans over and whispers in her ear, “Thank you daughter, for spending this night with me. Please spend more nights like this with me. You can’t imagine how much I love your company. Even when we just sat and watched, I was happy. But do you know when I was the happiest? When you let me lead you in that first dance. I’m so happy that you trusted me with that. Thank you daughter for trusting me. I promise to never leave you. I promise to always lead you. I promise to always steady you when you get a little wobbly. I love you…”

And as they left the dance, the young girl new that Daddy meant every single word. And that the promises He made that night would remain until the day that she died. And every time that music was playing, they danced. And every time she climbed on his feet and lead Him steady her and sway her back forth.

Creativity… Part… 12?

So I’m still on the creativity kick. This time I stepped out of my very comfortable box and put some music out there. Don’t get too excited, it’s not original. It’s christmas music. lol And I planned on at least on more, but I got busy! Anyway, here it is.

A Story and a Whole Bunch of Rambling.

I wrote these words yesterday on my Instagram account:

It’s been 14 years. 14 years since I’ve heard his voice, watched him laugh. In those 14 years I’ve experienced emotions from one extreme to another. My feelings have launched me from intense anger to acceptance, from heart wrenching pain to unworldly peace. To be quite honest, I’m not sure how I feel this year. It hurts, of course. I miss him. There has always been an absence in my life, and there always will be. But today, right now, I feel the love of my Father more than ever. I know that He hated the day we lost my brother. He didn’t want that for us. He longed for a family that was whole. He hurts with me. He feels my pain. And more than that, he longs to sit and walk through the process of mourning with me. I’m thankful that my God doesn’t require me to get it together. He doesn’t need me to get over it and get on with my life. He happily welcomes me into His comforting arms when the tears begin to fall. After 14 years, I’ve learned that the only place I can find peace and comfort, is in His arms. 


“In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear”
“I Am Not Alone” – Kari Jobe

And every word is true. But it’s interesting to me how easy it is to lean into God and into his mercy and grace when you have some control over situations. Even situations that are menial. When I wrote those words yesterday, I spent all day with my mom. We usually always do. If I’m supposed to work that day, I usually always take it off and we spend the day together. Most years we go to the cemetery, we pick out a tree for my brothers grave, we decorate and we just spend time with each other. We don’t’ really talk about my brother. We don’t cry together. We just are. We’re present. For the most part we stay away from our phones. So with no outside interruptions, it’s easy to say “God. I’m leaning into you. I’m pressing into your presence because it’s only by your love that I am made whole. It’s only by your grace and mercy that my still shattered heart is held together.” And I truly to try to walk in that belief. I have faith in my God. In my father.

And then Monday morning comes. It’s kind of weird. I’ve always said that losing my brother was hard, but living after the funeral was much harder. I think the same goes for the anniversaries. The week leading up to that day is always hard… He’s on my mind much more than normal, and usually the night before is the time it really hits me. It seems to be the time that I lean into God further, it’s a time that I cry and get angry and tell God that it isn’t fair. And then December 14th comes… and I’m ok. My brother and his death sit at the edge of my breaking point but I can keep it together. I wonder if that is a product of 13 years of feeling like I need to hold it in for my mom’s sake. She’s never been one to hold it together. If I’m being honest, in the days after his death, my mom was one of the main reason’s for my learning how to internalize my pain and bury. I had to. My mom was falling apart. I couldn’t lose it too. Now, I’m not saying that it’s her fault. That was a choice that I made. Whether I knew it or not. Every 14th of December though, I slip back into that. I internalize things for a day, so that my mom can grieve the way that she needs to.

We held my brother’s funeral 3 days before Christmas. The thing with funerals is that people are constantly there. I don’t remember my mom and I ever being alone except for when we slept. And even then, we took to sleeping together because it was just too hard to be alone. At all other times of the day, though, someone was there. They were making sure that we were talking and eating and planning. Planning a funeral. And then the funeral ended. We ate food, we celebrated my brother’s short life, and then people started to go home. By that night, we didn’t have people at the house all the time. We had the family that were staying with, but that’s it. And we had to rush to have Christmas. Looking back, I don’t know how my mom did it. I was 12, so while I missed my brother and while I was grieving, I was also able to compartmentalize and focus on Christmas. I was still a child, of course. But my mom.. Man. Every time I think about that year, I realize more and more just how strong my mom is. How brave, how heroic.

All of this crazy mumbling has been to say, that the days after the anniversary, much like the days after the funeral are hard. I’m testy, I’m angry, I’m hurting. And people make it worse. haha. One day I hope to understand myself better. To understand that while God has created me to be in community, why I tend to crave being alone. For now, I just try. Try to let people in.

Sunday Bakes

In an effort to continue working on my creativity, I’ve started a series called Sunday Bakes. Basically part of October through the end of the year I’m baking something different every Sunday. I think I’m only…. 3 weeks in? But I’m having so much fun!! The researching and planning has kept me busy and I’m LOVING it!

So of course, I wanted to share it here…

Week #1: Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies – From Pinch Of Yum

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These came out SOOO good! I took them to work, and they were gone so fast!! Someone said they taste like chocolate poptarts, and I totally agree!! I made them again for Halloween and again, they were loved. 🙂

Week #2: Easy Peasy Whole Wheat Bread – Tasty Kitchen

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Let me tell you, there is NOTHING like making your own bread. This was so easy, and so much fun, and soo good!! Store bought bread has nothing on this bad boy. It was dense, and heavy and hearty!! My mom and I had a PB&J right after this came of the oven and that ended up being dinner for us! I need to make bread more often. 

Week 3: The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe – Gimme Some Oven

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I actually remember to take proper photos of this one. My cousin LOVES carrot cake, and he was moving out of our house this weekend so I decided to make some carrot cake for him. This thing took ALL day long! I’m not really sure why, I think I was moving a bit slow, plus I always forget that making cakes means a long waiting time for cake cooling. I was really excited that the frosting came out! I’m so terrible at making frostings for some reason! Everyone in my house has enjoyed this and the bright orange of the carrots makes my heart happy. 🙂

I want to try to also blog each weeks baking excursion. So I’ll be back next week! I already know what I’m baking but it’s a secret.

As an added bonus, I made something on Saturday too! I make those every year and I’m so glad that I switched up the recipe this year, these came out SOOO good!!!

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows – How Sweet Eats

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Your Past Does Not Define You.

Last week I spend the weekend with my mama down in San Diego. Well, I say San Diego, but really, we were in Chula Vista and El Cajon. But that’s beside the point. A few months ago, I bought tickets for a worship night with one of my favorite people in the world. Kari Jobe. Interesting that I say that like I know her. Psh. I wish. Without knowing it, she is one of very few people that I look up to.. And anytime that I get the opportunity to be in the same room with her while she is worshipping, I take it.

So me and my mom headed south for the weekend. I was really looking forward to the whole weekend, because my mom and I don’t get too many opportunities to spend whole weekends away together. We are super close. Close friends. And we shop together all the time, and we bounce ideas off each other daily, but she’s married. So I guess, he’s first priority. So after spending way too much money at fabric and quilt stores we headed to Shadow Mountain Community Church. And we stood in line for a long time. 🙂 We bought premiere tickets for a Q&A session with Kari and her soon-to-be hubby, which was really good! I have to say, I love her worship leading skills, but I LOVE hearing her speak! Even if its just answering questions, she’s so soft spoken and her heart just spills out of her mouth and I want to soak it all up and apply it to my life. She seems like the kind of person who talks, and people listen. They have no choice.

The worship night is going great, I’m crying out to God, as is everyone else in the room. And Cody Carnes starts to sing his song, “All He Says I Am” (which is such an amazing song!) And in the middle of an instrumental he says “Your past does not define you….”

And I begin to hear God speak. See, just that afternoon my mom and I were driving around Chula Vista and I saw this house. This house… It was perfect. It was definitely a “Jessica” house.
– Old
– Creaky looking
– Staircase entrance
– Attic
– Wood paneling
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I
t wasn’t quite this big or spooky looking, but this is the general idea. It was perfect. And I wanted it. And as I began to day dream about this house, a voice crept in and started whispering to me.
You’re never going to have anything like that. Keep dreaming, cause that’s all you’ll ever have. Dreams.
Yeah, it could happen, but it probably won’t.

And my bubble started deflating. So I started talking to my mom about desires of the heart and what God says about it. And what I was always taught growing up. I almost feel like I wasn’t taught a very good theology when it comes to desires of the heart. I was always told “God knows the desires of your heart and he will give them ALL to you!!” And then I was told “Your desires might not be His, and He is certainly not going to grant desires that aren’t apart of His plan.” I’m thinking this was loosly based on Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your hearts desires.”

Well that’s confusing. That’s contradictory! How do I know what are His and what are mine? How do I let go of what is mine and grab hold of what His are? So now that I’m an adult (who probably should have read her bible more then and now) who’s worrying/asking about the same things.

I have lots of desires. I’m probably almost too picky. (But when I was a teen, I was told to be specific when I prayed!) Matthew 7:7 says “Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened to them.” Sooo many promises!!

So I’ve always asked. I’ve always dreamt! I’ve listed and planned all the things that I want in life. The kind of qualities in my husband, the number of kids and the order that they come in. The state and city to live in, the type of house I want. The occupation I want. Literally my whole life. I’ve listed and prayed and begged for them. But every time I even think about them as reality, I’m met with that whisper “Yeah right, maybe for someone else, but not yours

And so, while driving around with my mom, I began to tell her this. How do I know if I’m being to picky? What if, instead of listening for what God wants for me, I’m telling Him what I want. And then, who am I to do that? He knows me better, right? But what if he doesn’t? These are the things that I want! And what if I don’t get them! What if my husband isn’t anything I said I wanted, what if I have a girl first instead of a boy! What if I end up living in the city, surrounded by millions of people, what if I get stuck in a 8-5 corporate job doing the same things day in and day out?! These are the fears that creep in. These are the things that in my flesh, scream, “Will make me happy!!!”

My mom hears all of this and basically tells me that I need to go back to having childlike faith. Believing and trusting that God will grant ALL of the desires of my heart. Of course, He’s not just going to give me everything. There are conditions of living my life for Him, and being obedient to his call. But, “keep asking and you will receive what you ask for.” Childlike faith. But how do you have childlike faith when you also feel like you never got to be a child, and have childlike faith?

It’s kind of hard to develop childlike faith when at the age of 7, you were sexually abused by a slightly older friend, or at the age of 10 when your father walked out on your family. It’s hard to believe when just 3 years later your older brother made a life changing mistake and was no longer on the earth. Its hard to believe when after all of that, a boy crushes your heart and spirit to such capacities that even thinking of trusting a guy is out of the question. So how? How do I trust a God who allowed all of that to happen? How?

So, I’m worshipping while Cody Carnes says that “Your Past Does Not Define You” and God whispers.

“Jessica, your past does not define me.”
“You don’t realize it but, you’ve always looked back on those tragic moments, that friend, your dad, your brother, the boy…and you’ve labeled them as failures of mine. Mistakes. You view them as me failing. As my love failing. And I’m here to tell you that they were not. They weren’t failures of mine! I HATED what happened to you! I hate that my little girl was introduced to sex and such a young age, I hate that your dad walked out on you! I hate that your brother made the decision that he made! I hate that that boy took the precious heart that I created and crushed it! I never wanted those moments for you! I love you! My love has never changed! I have not failed. So please, daughter, please don’t let what has happened to you define my love for you. ‘For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days, when you pray I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by you…'”

Enter tears. God is the only one who knows how to talk to me in a way that makes me feel like a child who needs comforting and love. It’s amazing how easy it is to worship God after a moment like that. That is not to say that trusting and believing and childlike faith comes that easy. Not for me. Doubt has already crept back in… But I know that I need to bury myself in His word. I need to burrow so deep into his word that Satan literally has to go through my father to even breathe near me. It’s a work in progress. I still have those earthly things that I want (And maybe there’s another lesson in there that God is preparing me for) but I’m learning to walk in the promises of God. Trusting that no matter how my life turns out, whether the boy comes before the girl, or if my house is 100 years old or not, God knows me. He knows my desires and His plan for my life will make me happier than anything I could even imagine. But at the same time knowing that God wants me to express my desires to Him. I shouldn’t be afraid of telling my father what I want. He longs to spend time with me and to talk with me.

So all in all, the weekend was a success! haha our hotel sucked and we felt like we were going to die from paint fumes, but we’re not high maintenance girls. We lived through it, ate some Panera Bagels on the way home and took nice long naps when we got home. It was great!!

I love spending time with my mom and this trip made me want to take more small weekend trips with her!