Thursday, August 28, 2008

Could This Be It? Grace Meets Us


We have been visiting a new church for the past month and I think I may have fallen in love with this place. I have never felt so welcome anywhere in my life.


Since January, our family has been looking for a new church. Various reasons arose to draw us out of our old church that we had attended for almost three years. I still love that congregation and many of those relationships remain strong, but God began to call us to another place. It was a very difficult decision to leave, but we felt it was time to move on.


Thus began our visiting around to different churches in the area. We visited some beautiful churches and were blessed to worship with several different bodies of Christ. However, being a "visitor" is wearing on the heart and soul and I began to long to feel a part of the family. Jason and I became discouraged and we spent a few months not going anywhere.


I can feel my spirit start to dry up when I do not attend church for weeks at a time. I grow hungry for comradeship in my walk with Christ. Tired of dropping in on churches only to find that some of the specific things we were looking for were absent, I opened the yellow pages for options. It was a Sunday morning, and much too late to get to any church, but I wanted to be ready for the following Sunday.


I ran my finger across the hundreds of churches in the area and sighed. How would I ever find "the one". I saw Grace Church. Mmm... That sounded interesting. I noticed a website in their "ad" box and quickly found myself on their site. Following the link to "What We Believe", I scanned their beliefs. I did not want to waste my time visiting a church with beliefs that were not in line with mine. Mmm... I was impressed with their list of beliefs. Good so far. I told Jason and Rachel about it and we decided to bite the bullet and visit another church.


During our many church visits around the area, I noticed most church members will smile at visitors, but only a few might come up and actually visit with them. This was the first and the brightest difference in Grace Church. Everyone who offered a welcoming smile, approached us to visit.


"Hi!" they gushed. "Where are you from? How did you hear about Grace Church?" Each person was excited to see us in their church. Smiles abounded and were attached to friendly handshakes. Conversations quickly moved past "hello" and grew to five-ten minute visits about Grace Church and us. We walked away from that service smiling; maybe this was IT....


First impressions go a long way. Every Sunday I wake up excited to get ready for church and make my way to Grace. The friendly faces continue to welcome us, growing more and more happy to see us every week. I am hesitant to jump in with both feet; my human heart fearful of being hurt or disappointed. But I have a feeling about this place. Give me a few more weeks and I think I might be ready to link arms with these believers and stand with them in advancing the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Good Mother" Goes Crazy

Yesterday was a "hard" day. Where do those doozy of all days come from? They seem to swing in from nowhere and beat me up.

Yesterday gave me crazy moments to wade through. By the time Jason got home (after an unexpected twelve hour shift) I was sitting at the dining room table with my head down against the coolness of the wood. Lela stood beside my knee, pitching a crying fit because I wouldn't give her my water glass. Rose sat across from me crying over her ketchup-covered mac 'n cheese. Isaiah sat at the computer, ignoring us all, while he played his PBS games. Craziness. My mind reeled with sounds of children; escape was only a mean carrot dream someone dangled in my face.

Crazy moments can bring my mother heart guilt. I feel guilty for not wanting to do the usual care of the children. Doesn't a "good mother" always WANT to bathe her babies? Does a "good mother" spend hours at the computer writing and researching while her children entertain themselves? What the heck is a "good mother" anyway??

After feeling like a crummy mom because of my swirl of overwhelming emotions, God gave me a reprieve. I bathed my girls; Jason bathed the boy. Then we met for an impromptu family meeting on our king-size bed. It works great to diaper everyone and get all the little guys in PJs. Amidst Momma and Daddy cuddles, I saw all those fresh toes wiggling on my bed and began many rounds of "This Little Piggy" riddles. Eventually, all three pairs of feet were on my lap. The children giggled as I wiggled their tiny toes. They even returned the favor and tried to recant the rhyme while wiggling my big toes.

It was a rewarding moment; one I desperately needed. As they giggled and wiggled, my heart was refreshed. Jason watched me enjoy my kids and I realized, perhaps, this is what makes a "good mother".

Monday, August 25, 2008

Can You Find the Hornworm?

Here is a puzzle just for you, my faithful readers! :)
We have found about 15 hornworms on my tomato plants this past week. They are very difficult to spot because they blend in with the plant.
This is a picture of one. Do you see the hornworm?

Here is a close up of the little booger. See him now?
Can you see the little, red "horn" on his tail? Thus his name, "Hornworm".

At first, it was kind of fun to find the green guys. But, after finding EIGHT just yesterday, it is only irritating to see another hornworm on my plants. I am wondering if a momma hornworm laid her eggs in my plants. FYI all eight are now in Hornworm Heaven.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pregnant Complaints

I have reached the point in pregnancy where "uncomfortable" begins. Since this is my fourth time around, I know it only gets more "uncomfortable" from here. Sigh.

We went for a walk last night and my round belly ached through the whole half hour. When I am not pregnant, I impress Jason will my work out abilities. When I am pregnant, we all walk very slowly.

With this huge belly, I feel so incredibly un-sexy. I do believe a pregnant belly is beautiful and full of life, but sexy? I don't think so. The other night, I streaked from the bathroom to my dresser for my nightgown. My husband grinned and said, "you're so sexy!" I stopped and starred at him, my belly round with baby.

"Yeah, right," I said before quickly dressing myself.

"You are," he insisted. I rolled my eyes and sighed. I feel anything but sexy! I do not know how to feel sexy when I move like an elephant, swaying back and forth across the floor.

But, I know this routine. It's old news for me. I know babies do not stay inside their mommas forever. My belly will grow rounder and bigger before all is said and done, but the end is in sight. Less than ten weeks away. I can do this. I know that pregnancy does not last forever. This baby will come and will be in my arms soon enough. My body will return to its pre-pregnancy self and I will, again, feel sexy for my man. Until then... Watch out! Here comes the pregnant lady!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jessica's Obsession

Tomato Babies
My tomato plants in their infancy.
Looks like every single seed sprouted!

Upside Down Tomato plants.
At first, they curved up towards the light.
Eventually, they became heavy enough to grow downwards.


The Tomato Garden
Fruit of my labor

Look at my plants!
Me and the girls show off the tomato plants.


A Handful of Red Everyday
We pick a handful everyday. And this is after my kids eat their fill outside!

In case you can't tell, I am obsessed with my tomato plants. I stare at them in awe at my handiwork. I have never planted anything that has prospered so beautifully. I enjoyed this project immensely. We are already planning our garden for next year!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sarah's Baby


Emmanuel Neil was born at 2:37am (Mountain Time) by Cesarean Birth. He weighs eight pounds, six ounces and stretches out to twenty inches long. Mom and Baby are doing great! He is already nursing!

We got a call around 4:30am (Eastern Time). Jason and I both thought his alarm was going off for the morning. Instead, it was my mother calling from the room Sarah had labored in for 54 hours. Mom told us of the drama happening while we slept 2000 miles away.

Yesterday afternoon, Sarah's doctor declared, "She'll have this baby by dinner!" Dinner time came and went. Around 7:00pm, the doctor said, "We'll have a baby by nine!" Nine o'clock came and went. Next he predicted, "There will be a baby here by midnight!"

Around midnight, Sarah started running a fever. At one point, the fever spiked to 104 degrees. It was quickly brought down with medicine, but hovered continually around 100 degrees. The medical staff checked her urine and found it full of protein. Combined with blood pressure that sky rocketed to 200/117, she was declared to be suffering from the dangers of preeclampsia and a Cesarean birth became a necessity.

Mom called us while my Dad joined Sarah in the OR. Twenty minutes after Mom hung up, Dad called with the good news of a healthy baby and healthy mommy. In the background I heard the excitement and joy a new baby brings. Giggling, sniffles, coos lifted across their hospital room and drifted into Dad's cell phone. The sounds made me long to be there; to be a part of welcoming a new life into our extended family.

I cried when we hung up. I am relieved the long labor is over for Sarah. Praise God everyone is whole and well. Today is Emmanuel's first day of life "on the outside". I think I just might smile all day long.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Labor of my Sister

Sarah was induced the night I left to return to my little family. I will completely miss the birth of her son.

She continues to labor in the hospital in Wyoming. Every few hours I call my daddy's cell phone to check on Sarah. Tuesday night (the beginning) everyone was excited and laughing. On Wednesday morning they celebrated Sarah's cervix being dilated to one centimeter so they could begin the Pitocin drip. Wednesday afternoon, Sarah was still at "a one". Wednesday night... Still dilated to one centimeter. The plan was to keep the Pitocin drip on through the night and make some decisions with the sun came up.

Thursday morning (today), Sarah's cervix was dilated to four centimeters. The doctor told her, "We can take the Pitocin off and send you home. If your body continues labor, you can come back in; otherwise we'll try it again in a few days. Or, we can keep going."

Sarah said, "I want to have this baby today." The epidural was brought in and the Pitocin drip flowed.

I called Dad about three hours ago. Sarah was dilated to a seven. The pain was so intense I could hear her moaning in the background of our phone conversation. Dad said he was at the side of the bed, holding Sarah's hand.

My heart is aching for my sister. I have been through the pains of childbirth three times. I know it hurts. I have never been medically induced or clung to the hopes of an epidural bringing relief. It aggravates me that Sarah's epidural is not working effectively. I cannot imagine an un-natural labor that is at the mercy of Pitocin flowing through my uterus. I am sure the pain is much more intense than my hormone-induced contractions.

I am so far away and can only offer prayers on Sarah's behalf. My parents attend her bedside, watching monitors report the intensity of her contractions. Labor is a matter of time. It takes time for the cervix to dilate. Time to push a baby through you. We are at the mercy of time.

So, I pray for my baby sister. I pray God would draw her close to Him during the pain and intensity of childbirth. I pray she would release herself to Him. I pray He would be merciful and put His hand on her body; that her labor pains would bring dilation. I pray that her son would be born soon and she could reap the sweet rewards of her labor.

Why I Hate Airplanes

I sat through five flights in six days. Here is my list of irritating things about flying.

1) It cost too much money.

2) They now charge you for every piece of luggage! Come on! If I pay $500 for a ticket, I ought be allowed at least one piece of luggage!

3) Teeny-tiny seats. It should be in-humane to force people to scrunch into such tiny spaces.

4) Being in a stranger's bubble. I do not sit that close to my friends, much less a stranger. I found myself keeping my fingers crossed for a skinny co-passenger to occupy the seat next to me. Which really isn't fair since I am not skinny, at all. But, a thin person next to me allows more room for my fat. To be honest.

5) One and half square foot bathroom for 100 people. I only went pee one time during only one of the flights. That is quite a feet considering I am 30 weeks preggers. It shows my commitment to not using airplane bathrooms. They smell bad. They are about as big as my rear-end. And... where does the water go?

6) Motion sickness. Even doped up on Dramamine, my tummy rolled and my head ached.

***

Despite my complaints, the positive thing about flying is that you cover 800 miles in two hours. That is amazing. Flying allows me to cross the country in a day. It gives me the blessing to see my family. I do love that and appreciate the opportunity.

To sum up. I hate flying; but, I am grateful for it. Good to be home on solid ground.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Taking It Off

I wore the jewelry because I wanted to feel pretty. I wanted them to accept me and think I was beautiful. So, I prettied myself up, donned my favorite jewelry and went to a Ladies Bible Study.

All the women were sweet and precious to me. They accepted me as a fellow sister in Christ. I noticed several smiling at my pregnant tummy, enjoying my obvious blessing. We snacked on breakfast foods until things grew serious and everyone re-adjourned to the living room. Around a circle we sang songs to the Lord.

The last song was one of my favorites, "This Is the Air I Breathe". The last words of the song read "I am desperate for you. And I am lost without you." As the women's voices repeated that phrase to the soft accompaniment of the piano, I lost myself in the presence of the Lord. To someone who has never felt the Spirit of the Lord in the room, I might sound crazy. But, the truth is I felt the Lord in my heart. I leaned my head back on a stranger's couch and allowed myself to let it all go. Tears rolled down my cheeks. At first I worried what these women might think about me, but those thoughts quickly vanished. Who cares about that? I'm talking about the Most High! I sunk into the presence of the Living God. He met me there in that moment.

I felt very bare in his presence. My jewelry that I had been so proud of earlier, suddenly seemed clangy and overbearing. I had a sudden impulse to take the necklace and bracelet off and to be totally "just me". I felt made up and fake. I knew God could see through my facade of "please like me" that I had donned for the Bible Study. How silly of me to try to be someone other than who God created me to be. I "took off" that silly me and I tried to hold onto the moment of intimacy with the Lord.

I do not need jewelry to be beautiful. I do not need to do anything extra to be loved. Just be me. God met "just Jessica" that morning. He loves me. So, I am taking off that "jewelry" of expectations and fakeness. Here I am; this is me.

It was a good Bible Study. I am glad I took a leap of faith and joined the fellow believers in study of God's Word.

"Home" Again


After a total of five hours of flight and three hours of driving, I am blessed to be in my mother's home once again. I am surrounded by gorgeous mountains and the beauty of God's creation. There is nothing like sitting in your mother's living room and talking for hours and hours. I am glad I took the plunge and flew away to Wyoming.

Ok, so the airplane rides. Wow. I think they have redesigned all their planes to hold more people. I do not remember the seats being so squished together! Oh my. I had to practically straddle the seat in front of me. I saw grown men with long legs struggling to fit their bodies into the tiny slots they paid for on that plane. Very ridiculous.

Starting August 28, NWA will be charging for every bag you check; no more freebies! I was one of the last few to be able to fly with "free" luggage; and that was only one bag allowed. I squeezed all my things into a medium size bag. I am amazing to accomplish such a feat!

It is good to be here. My baby sister is beautifully full of baby. We stood side by side and compared bellies. Her pregnant belly is much bigger than my six month belly! Lots more baby in her womb. She will probably not have her baby while I am here; the doc is not very positive about a baby showing up before next Friday and I will be long gone by then. But, I am ok with that. I am happy just to see my family. To sit in their rocking couch (yes, they have a couch that rocks!) and smile at my Daddy as he snores. Ah, home again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucky Hornworm Update

My Internet research told me the tomato-eating monster of a hornworm eventually drop off their victims to burrow down into the dirt before creating their cocoon. Being the caring person I am, I filled his comfy jar half-way full of fresh dirt. A few days later, he gobbled up every last leaf I put in the jar and disappeared.

"Where's the hornworm?" my husband asked.

"Well, I think he's in the dirt. Either that or he escaped," I said. We stared at the shelf his jar sat upon. My ivy plant was only a few feet away. "Hope he's not in the ivy," I mumbled. We stared at the ivy.

"I don't see him."

I picked up the glass jar and studied the dirt. "I don't see anything." What a mystery.

The next day, I studied the dirt again. "There he is!" I yelled into the empty living room. At the very bottom of the jar, a little green worm poked through a clear patch of dirt. A few days later, the green worm became brown. I assume he has spun his cocoon and now begins the miraculous process of him becoming a moth.

What a great homeschool project! Although, I think I am enjoying this science lesson much more than my slightly-interested kids.

Mom's To-Do List

Here is my "To-Do List" to complete before leaving tomorrow for Wyoming and my "Mommy Vacation".

1. Clean upstairs bathroom. (It's in need of cleaning and, while I'm tempted to leave it for Jason... That's just not nice. Right?)

2. Empty pictures off the camera. (Full of the cutest kids pictures in the world!! Hee hee hee)

3. Check size of my suitcase. (With all the changes on airline regulations... I can carry one bag with NWA -until August 28th, and then I would be charged for one bag!!- I plan for my Knight in Shining Armor to check my suitcase size against the regulations. I want no surprises at the airport!)

4. Laundry (Of course. The never ending mound of clothes that need washing.)

5. Write Jason a note to remember to water my tomato plants. (I am almost as worried about leaving those little guys as I am my kids! I put a lot of effort into those suckers, ok!)

6. Grocery shop for the extras. (We always need milk and bread. I figure I'll make it easier on everyone by getting the necessities before I leave. I already stocked the fridge with frozen pizza, hot dogs, frozen nuggets and fries, etc. All a rarity and treat in our whole-wheat family; trying to make it easier for the Daddy-O.)

7. Get to the library for flying entertainment. (When do I get to really sit down and enjoy a good book? This is my chance! A total of five loooong flights -round trip- to read to my heart's content. Ahhhh.)

So, that's my list. Wish me luck! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Discipline in Love

For what it's worth, here is my "two cents" about spankings.

First, I want to define a "spanking" as I am referring to it. I am NOT talking about cornering a child, switch in hand, anger spewing out of the adult while he or she beats the child into submission. THAT is abuse, and I DO NOT advocate hitting your child because you are too angry to control yourself. That is a sin.

When I talk about a spanking, I am talking about this scenario: Mommy leads child to a quiet place. Softly, not in anger, the parent says something along the lines of "Bobby, when you hit your sister, you disobey Mommy. Mommy is told by God to teach you to obey Mommy so you can learn to obey God. Because you disobeyed Mommy, Mommy has to spank you so you learn to obey." Then, Mommy calmly administers a few swats to the naturally-padded bottom. This should change the child's heart. A spanking is useless if it does not change the child's heart (we'll come back to this). After the discipline, the child's heart is changed and he turns to Mommy for love and forgiveness. This is what I am talking about when I say "spanking".


Now that we have defined a "spanking", I want to look at the Word of God. I am just a follower of Jesus Christ. All I know is what I have studied in the Word; with the grace of God, I seek to follow His guidelines for us written down in His Holy Word. What does the Bible say concerning discipline?


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7)


"The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly." (Proverbs 5:22-23)


"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-11)

While our society touts that we should just talk nicely to kids if they are naughty; that we are to be their little friends, considering their wants, etc. I think the reality is that our children are just little balls of flesh. God has called us to be their conscience, to teach them right from wrong. How else will they learn to obey God if they do not learn to obey their mother and father?


I desperately seek the Lord for guidance! I am passionate about raising up Godly men and women. How am I to do this? How do I train this blessings up in the Lord? I turn to the truth of God's Word for instruction.


Proverbs 22:15 says "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."

Proverbs 3:24 says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."

And again in Proverbs 19:18, "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death."

Another reference to "the rod" in Proverbs 23:13. "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die."


Spanking may not be the most popular thing to do in our society, but the Word of God seems clear to me. For the sake of my children's souls, I choose to spank. I quote these scriptures to comfort my heart when folly seems so bound up in their little fleshly hearts. I "remind" God of His promise to me that spankings will drive that foolishness and sin out of my child.

The purpose of a spanking is not to "purposefully inflicted pain to drive home a lesson". I spank my children to mold and shape their hearts towards obedience. The Scriptures do not specifically address all life's issues; wouldn't it be great if they did? But, praise God, disciplining our child is specifically addressed in the Bible. I find peace in following the Word of the Lord.

So, that's my two cents... Take it or leave it. Do your own research. I recommend "Shepherding a Child's Heart" as a dynamic book on child-rearing. Search the scriptures for truth; seek the Lord. He promises to be found and give us wisdom. FYI

Comments Rebuttal II

(Please check out my "Paddle Closet" post (August 8, 2008) and the comments from my readers. "Comments Rebuttal II" is referring to those comments.)

I love my blog. I love writing. It is one of my passions. It blesses me greatly for people to read my writings. I think that is so awesome! I want my gift of writing to be used of God. I want to be an empty vessel, set aside for the use of the Almighty God. My hope is that everything that I write would glorify God.

I also love hearing from my readers. I enjoy everyone's comments (even when you disagree with me). Please continue to comment on my posts. Also, feel free to email me directly if your comment is personal in nature and you do not wish it to be published on my blog. I would like to respond directly to your comments, so please leave me an email address if you are comfortable with that.

I write articles that stir the heart. I want to turn you towards the Lord. Whether you agree with my writings or not, I encourage you to seek God's will for you in every area.

On that note: Parenting is one of the most difficult callings God has placed on His children. It is not an easy, "cut and dried", journey. I believe God's Word does speak to us about spanking, and I will be addressing that in a later entry.

However, I pray for GRACE from my God as I parent the children He has given to me! I do not have it all together, by any means. I pray daily for God's grace; that it would cover me and my family. I ask God for His divine wisdom as I seek to raise my children up in Him. This is my heart.

Thank you for your comment, Rachel. I hope you continue to read my blog and post comments as you are lead. Blessings, Jess.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Approaching Trip

Three more days until I leave for Wyoming. I am both excited and scared. Scared to leave my precious babies, even if it's only for a few days. I know that the world does not revolve around me... But, it is going to be hard to kiss them all good-bye and head out the door.

My heart goes back and forth with the trip. One minute I am excited about going and the next minute, I am dreading it. But, I am pushing through the dread, certain that my kids will be just fine with their daddy and that Momma will have a good time with her own momma.

I can feel this freedom sinking into my heart about the time away. I have a list of books I want to read while I am gone. Magazines to cruise through. Hee hee hee. It is going to be so surreal to not have little ones hanging around me knees and filling my lap on the plane. I will miss them so much, but I want to enjoy "just being me". Is that wrong? See, I think I am feeling a tad bit guilty for being happy about going. Guilty for looking forward to a break. It's ok, right? I can be excited about a break from my dear Motherhood Ministry, right?

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Paddle Closet

Clang, Gong, Clang! My wooden chimes banged together in the backyard.

"Isaiah! Leave my wind chimes alone," I called to him from inside the house.

"It was the wind, Mommy," he said to me.

"Isaiah, leave them alone!"

Still from outside, Isaiah yells back, "But, Momma! It's the wind."

Now, I know the wind can blow hard and make those chimes knock against each other; but the morning was calm and peaceful. The noisy chimes bonged due to little hands pulling on the dangley strings; not from the wind. Mom always knows.

"Isaiah, come here," I called to the open back door.

He slowly ambled inside. Lela came inside, too and stood beside her big brother. The both looked up at me. Being a one year old, I doubted Lela Mae could touch those chimes, but there she stood with Isaiah, looking guilty.

"Lela Mae, leave Momma's chimes alone. Now, go outside and play," I said. She did a little "about face" and trotted out the door. I turned to my little boy. "Isaiah, do not lie to me. Did you play with Momma's chimes?" I tried to look compassionate, hoping to evoke the truth from his heart.

"Oh no, Momma. I didn't. It was the wind," he said again. I sighed.

"Go to the bathroom, Isaiah." The bathroom is our "paddle closet". It is a private place where spankings are administered in love. The place where we pray God changes little hearts and turns fleshly desires into self-controlled obedience. Isaiah dragged his feet to the bathroom.

In the paddle closet/bathroom, I asked Isaiah again about the wind chimes. He lied again. I told him he had to stay in the bathroom until he told Mommy the truth. He pitched a fit and earned a spanking for his fit. The crying died down and he sat in the bathroom for a few minutes, alone. The solitude brought conviction.

"Mom," his voice called to me from the closed door.

I squatted down to his level and looked him in the face. His eyes darted around and he stumbled over his words. "Mom... I... it wasn't the wind."

"Isaiah did you play with my wind chimes?" I asked softly.

He started to cry. "Yes, Momma. I did," he said. He climbed into my lap and cried.

His little heart broke and was convicted of his sin of lying. I did not even get onto him, and he cried. He was repentant.

Aren't we this way with God? Don't we pretend like we are not in sin? We run and play and holler up into the Heavens, "I'm fine, God! I'm not playing in the mud!" Of course, we're covered with mud and God knows our hearts and the truth.

I think God puts us in the "paddle closet" by allowing us to reap the consequences of our sins. Sex outside of marriage is a sin and there are huge consequences. Turning to food and overeating is a sin and brings deadly health consequences. Gossiping is a sin and the consequences of wounded friendships are heartbreaking. Our spankings from the Lord are painful. But, they do the job! We are left alone to review our decisions and the Holy Spirit comes in and convicts us (just like little Isaiah was convicted).

God is such a gracious Father to His children. We cry out, "God!" and He comes to the closed door of our hearts. Just looking into His face brings us to our knees and we cry as our confessions pour out. In His miraculous grace, God eases the consequences of sin. He gives us the strength to persevere. He pulls a "Romans 8:28"; even when we mess up, "all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". He is such a good God!

I love learning lessons from my children!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Twins Are Born


Twenty years ago today, my littlest brother and sister were born.


I was eight years old and away at a Bible Camp. I got a phone call in the evening and got to go to the main lodge to answer the call. I felt very important. My younger sister, Rachel (who was too young to come to camp that year) was on the phone.


"Guess what!" she giggled.


"What?"


"We have a new brother and sister!"


"Really? Oh, wow!"


Sarah and Jon were born to their birth mother a thousand miles away from our house. We had staked our claim on their lives a month before they were born and now my mother prepared for the trip to go pick up her babies. It was not the traditional way to add family members, but it sure is a special way to do it!


The first time I saw the twins was at the airport. They were so tiny. Their bi-racial skin was gorgeous; their black hair smelled heavenly. I cradled them in my arms and welcomed each one into my heart. Sarah and Jon brought our family total to seven; five kids and two parents.


Adoption has enriched our lives. I think we would have been a very boring family without the excitement of Sarah and Jon. They make us unique and have taught us so much. They were the beginning of diaper changes and baby soothing. The first babies I sang to sleep.


Sarah and Jon are my siblings, without a doubt. But, adoption is not a magical process, free of heartache. It is a long road and I encourage every family considering adoption to be realistic and not starry-eyed about the hardships of this road. Adopted children face the ultimate rejection; I have watched the twins go through this pain. It hurts. They still process the grief of loosing their birth parents.


Happy Birthday, Sarah and Jonathon! I am so glad God put you in my life. You are the most adorable little brother and sister a girl could ask for! May God draw you close to Him; may you learn to recognize His tender presence in every situation. Love you both!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Motherhood Follies II: Walmart Insanity

I was convinced into family shopping at the largest store in the area by the sweet invite of my hubby. Jason seems unperturbed by screaming children, but this pregnant momma feels a little crazy after twenty minutes of kids begging to "get out of the cart and walk."

I should have known there would be trouble when Jason's mom left us to do her own shopping. She was my escape route, but now I was alone with the kids and Jason. We did our trek around the super-store. By the time we returned to the front of the store, my feet and my back ached. I longed for a chair. Our cart was so full of children, I carried the eggs and bread. Images of squished bread and eggs running everywhere kept me from even trying to squeeze them into the full buggy.

Looking at our kids lined up in the cart always makes me think that we really got a bargain at Walmart. People eyeball our kids, sitting like stair steps. I find myself biting my tongue from the retort of "why yes, we got three for a buck today! What a deal!"

While my energy was gone and my patience sat at an all time low, my dear Jason and his mom decided it was the perfect time to shop for a birthday present for Jason's daddy. I should have smiled and said, "great idea!" Or, at least said, "well, would you mind if I sat down for awhile while you shop?" Yes, those would have been very sane responses. Instead, I am ashamed to say I just walked off. A very hormonal thing to do, but not a compassionate or gracious thing to do.

I walked off and sat down on the floor in the women's clothing department. That is how desperate I was to sit down! A few minutes later, I watched Jason's feet walk past me. I knew he was looking for me, but I was still too tired and irritated to stand up and holler for him. I just sat there.

Five minutes of rest produced a new woman; I was up and gone. Still carrying my eggs and bread, I circled the store, looking for my little family. No luck. I thought they might have started looking for Dad's birthday gift, but I could not find them. One lap around the store and my fresh energy was already depleted. I found a bench to sit on this time and plopped my pregnant body down.

They found me like that; rubbing my belly and guarding my eggs and bread.

"Where were you?" Jason asked. His face was flushed. He carried chicken from the hot deli. "I thought you'd passed out! Here, eat this." He shoved the food at me. My blood sugar was dropping, but I think I was insane all by myself. No help needed from low blood sugars.

"I'm sorry, Honey," I said. I smiled sweetly. He still frowned.

Jason is not easily angered, but he was pretty upset with me that day. His mother was watching the kids while Jason lapped the store five times in search for his pregnant wife. Images of me passed out on the floor pushed him hard around the store. I felt so stupid. Oops. I had not meant to cause so much trouble.

Here's what I learned at Walmart that day: 1) It can be costly to walk away in anger from your husband. 2) Never take children shopping at Walmart, if you can help it. 3) Bread and eggs do get heavy after carrying them for half an hour.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lucky Hornworm

I rescued my tomato plants from a Tomato Hornworm last week. I was trimming some thick branches and on one of the branches I trimmed, I found the Hornworm. I did not even see the little monster until the branch was in my hand! That is how well he blended in with my plant.

He is a rather interesting looking little worm so I decided to keep him. I put him in a clear jar so we could observe his habits. After a few days, Hornworm ate all of the leaves and the stem off the original branch I had found him hanging out on. Being the caring person I am, I found him some fresh leaves from the wild flowers growing in our backyard. The leaves stayed in his jar for days; he was not interested. The leaves wilted and fell to the bottom of the jar. Hornworm clung to his bare stem.

Mmm... I trimmed a few small stems of leaves from my tomato plants and put them inside Hornworm's jar. The next day all the leaves were gone! And there were nuggets of poop at the bottom of his jar! Wow.

So now I have a Hornworm for a pet. He hangs out in his jar, waiting for me to bring him more of MY tomato plant. I kind of wonder who the idiot is here... How can I keep a vicious monster who eats all the leaves off innocent tomato plants? He hangs out in a cozy condo of a jar, feeding off my tomato leaves; that I gave him to eat! He has doubled in size, growing fat off my feedings.

I cannot just squish him and toss him in the trash. Every day I eyeball my tomato plants for any of his comrades who might strip my whole plant in a day's worth of eating. Then, I carefully trim unbearing stems off the mother-protected plants and feed it to the Hornworm in on my counter. What a lucky worm!

Jessica Does Not Turn the World

Well, I am leaving. I am leaving them all. My husband. My children. The smelly dog.

It's ok, though. It's only for six days and then I'll be back! Hee-hee... Did I get ya??

My baby sister is having herself a baby in less than two weeks (she's due August 15th). I decided months ago that I wanted to go to Wyoming (where she lives with my parents) to celebrate her baby's birth.

However, after buying the tickets, extreme worries set inside my heart. For the past three months I have been wishy-washy, back and forth, about whether or not I should go to Wyoming. Last week Jason and I finally talked it all out. One of those talks that lasts into the lateness of the night.

"What kind of mother leaves her children to go alone on a trip?" I moaned.

Jason was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. He stepped out, his toothbrush in his hand. "What?" he asked, incredulous. "What does that even mean?" he said.

More tears squeezed out my eyes while Jason finished brushing his teeth. What does that mean? I felt huge loads of guilt for even wanting to go see my family. I felt like a "bad mother".

"Who are you listening to, Jessica? Those voices in your head are not from God," he said in his ever-compassionate wisdom. "You need to tell them to shut up."

Wow. Ok. Thanks.

"But, I am the children's world!" I cried. "I do everything with them! I am here when they get up in the morning, I make their meals, I bathe them, I put them to bed... I..." I broke off in tears.

Jason shook his head. "Jessica..." He climbed into bed and put his arm around me. "Jessica, the world will not stop spinning just because you are not here to make it go around."

I looked at him through my blurry eyes. He was so sincere. His eyes were full of love and truth. And peace. I studied his face and realized, I can trust him. After all, he is the father of my children. He kind of knows how to take care of them, too!

We cuddled together in the darkness. I heard him snoring long before my mind allowed me any rest. I tried to imagine my trip. My long airplane ride minus any babies. I have not gone on a trip without a husband or a baby in FIVE YEARS! I ran the six days through my head. I imagined every step and conversation. I switched back and forth between me in Wyoming and Jason at home with the kids. In my imaginary pictures, everything really was just fine.

In the morning, our conversation still dominated my thoughts. I kept remembering Jason's words. "The world will not stop spinning..." Suddenly, I felt incredible peace.

"Jessica," God whispered to my heart. "You can trust me with your kids. I will take care of them. Go, enjoy your family. Have peace."

So, I am leaving. I am leaving them all. My husband. My kids. The smelly dog. And it's ok. I'll be back. Six days. Hee-hee-hee-hee.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Good-byes Are Icky

I hate good-byes.

Jason's parents have been in the area for the past month. His dad, Leslie took a contract position about six hours from here. It was weekend shifts, so they have been able to come spend Mondays through Fridays with us.

When they first drove up here, and Jason suggested his family spend five weeks with us, I freaked out a little. I worried it would be stressful to have "company" for a month. Then, I thought of how much help another woman could be with my little children. I thought about how lonely I am when Jason is working. We decided to invite them over to stay a few weeks and see how it went.

It has been wonderful having all of them here. Jason's mom and dad still have two kids at home. Eleven-year-old Olivia was incredible help with my babies. Especially the girls. They fell in love with her and I believe the feeling was quite mutual. Josh, Jason's 5-year-old youngest brother, became Isaiah's new best friend.

Today, they drove away. Only my God knows when we will see them again. Might be three months; might be a year. This military life of ours brings many blessings; but it does have its share of heartaches. Living thousands of miles away from family is a huge heartache. Hugging and letting go of someone who loves me so much... It feels like my heart is ripping.

Sitting in my empty living room, tears pouring from my eyes, I think of Heaven. I often heard my mother comfort herself with "there are no good-byes in Heaven". I repeated that to myself this morning. And I reminded myself that God says, "my grace is sufficient".

I love you, Tami, Leslie, "Livey", and Josh. God be with you!

revolutionary love

I have experienced revolutionary love. Love with no strings attached. Jesus Christ loves me and made a way for me to have a relationship with the One True God. God desires a relationship with you, too. If you have yet to experience this revolutionary love, please email me at jandjkeys@hotmail.com so I can share this amazing experience with you. Blessings, -Jess