Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas of 2010 by Jess

I really love giving gifts. I love the experience of giving someone unguarded laughter in a gift that brings them joy... or watching them become speechless as they discover a gift that they couldn't have dreamed of receiving... or watching them physically leap in delight of a wish that's been granted or seeing tears that creep into their eyeballs because their heart is simply overwhelmed with gratitude.
I was blessed today to be the giver and receiver of such gifts. My mom got giddy when she saw a card that would pay for the movies she loves to go see... a theater is a friend she simply delights in. Gavin jumped off the couch when he got a thing for his xbox that will let him play video games with his cousin who lives in another state. Scott cried when two large bags of gift were dumped in front of him and he was told that none of them were for him to open, but rather to deliver later in the day to the less fortunate kids he'd met delivering turkey's to at Thanksgiving. I cried (okay... I blubbered and it wasn't pretty!) over handwritten notes from my kids that were and always will be simply priceless.
Eliot got an early present a couple of weeks ago when through the wily ways of his mom, he was able to meet his all time favorite musician... he simply could not fathom it was really happening. Being the giver of that gift was one of the best moments of my life. I couldn't help but think that must be how God sees us... knowing us intimately because He thought us each up in the first place! and longing to delight us in ways that we can't even imagine possible! I can just imagine Him saying "oh wow! I just can't wait 'til she sees what I've been working on for her!" I wonder if He ever wants to jump out of His socks with excitement for me like I did that day for Eliot. I hope my heart never stops bursting with gratitude for the kindness that my Father in heaven pours over me every day... in the things I see and in the things I don't.
This day of gift giving was fan-flippin-tastic! We needed nothing but were blessed by much... some in the giving and some in the receiving. Merry Christmas 2010!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chair thoughts

I'm sitting in my living room under my toasting warm blanket while the fireplace breathes it's warmth beside me and the lights of our simple primitive Christmas tree are reflecting on my laptop. It's quiet. As much as I love the silly banter of boys becoming men and the strangely odd exchanges fathers and sons have of connecting (I mean titty twister wars! really!?), when they all go to school and work, the stillness that falls over this place invites me to soak it in. We have this great leather armchair in the corner of our living room with a big ole' foot rest... throw in the heated throw and the fireplace and we are talking a done deal. It stills me... it stills my core. In this moment, I feel content in my spirit... deep down. Whatever list awaits me, whatever things need to get done... they can wait.

It's inevitable. As I sit here, prayers come. Whispers to God for people I love... and people I don't. It's hard watching people struggle, be weary. It's hard to not try to fix it. So I talk with God about them. He already knows how heavy their hearts are and how deep their sorrows burrow...He knows their unspoken and unarticulated reasons for being less than happy. So I will whisper their name with Him, asking on their behalf that He, the life giving author of their very being, would stir in them the longing to lean in towards their Father and ask Him to lift their countenance. To heal them... to bring them back to life...abundant life...wholeness...contentment.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teaching Moments

I had a few events in my life collide in the past couple weeks that have made me stop and ponder. The kind of events that need to happen on a more frequent basis to constantly remind me.

The week before Thanksgiving, my youngest son, Eliot, and I delivered complete Thanksgiving dinners to a couple families in the Cincinnati suburbs who were in need. The families we visited were struggling to make ends meet, pay bills, take care of kids, and find jobs. One had just taken in a foster baby and were planning on eating cold cuts for Thanksgiving without the assistance.

On the way home from making these deliveries, we saw a young woman pull over on the side of the road. Moments earlier, a tire blew out and she barely escaped a major accident and bodily injury. In her words, she thought she was going to die. She already had her spare tire on her car on another wheel so she was stuck and in need. I offered to drive her somewhere so she could get help from friends or family. She asked if we could take her to her work, where a friend would let her borrow a spare tire until she was able to buy a tire. While talking with her, I learned that she just bought the tire that blew out a couple weeks earlier...for only $20 (probably an old retread for that price). It was all she had and she needed to get back and forth to work. When I got her to her workplace, I asked if she needed any money to help in getting a new tire since she wasn't going to get paid for awhile. She immediately said, "No, I could never ask you for money. You have already helped me a lot". I could see she needed the money but was too respectful to ask. I reached into my pocket, not knowing how much I had on me, and gave her the $30 that was there. She couldn't believe it, started to cry, and reached across the center console in the car to give me a hug. She was speechless. She said that she couldn't understand how a total stranger could stop and help her in such a way. She was deeply touched. I told her that God apparently had His eye on her, and to not forget that.

The whole time (in fact, the whole day), my son is watching this all play out. A great teaching moment!

Last weekend, I went to a AA hockey game here in Cincinnati (The Cyclones) with Eliot and a friend. It was a first for Eliot and me. Eliot is a huge sports fan and was actually more interested in seeing fights on the ice than seeing a Cyclone's win (and he was rewarded). The Cyclones have this sweet deal - if they score in the first period and keep the other team scoreless, everyone in attendance gets a free chili from Wendy's. Well...the Cyclones came through and we were the recipients of free chili (actually a coupon for the free chili).

As with every sporting event in Cincinnati, since the stadiums and arena are located downtown, you are hit head-on with the homeless in the city whenever you leave an event. They are sitting at all the exits with their signs asking for money.

Last weekend was no different. As we left to make our way to the parking garage, there they were. We passed one man asking for money. It was extremely cold this night and I could not imagine living on the street on a night like this, and wondering where my next meal would come from. We all saw him. The three of us knew what he was asking for. And then the my son blows me away.

Eliot, who had his free chili coupon in his hand, asked if he could run back and give the homeless man his free chili. And he did just that. My son just fed the needy. He just helped a man he didn't know, but knew of his circumstances. He loved a stranger. He shared his food with the hungry.

He made me very proud. What a great teaching moment from my son.

And then my friend and pastor, Joe Boyd, teaches on a non-traditional Christmas story ( The fact that Christ came to not only save the lost, but to meet the needs of the poor. I encourage you to watch this. It's powerful. Thanks, Joe, for the teaching moment!

I am reminded again this season of just how much I have. There is nothing I need. I do not go without anything. If there is something I need, I get it. I know I frustrate my family when I tell them to not get anything for me for Christmas, but it's true. There are so many others who have legit needs - food, clothing, help with rent or a car repair, or a medical bill, etc. I encourage us all to give to those with the greatest needs more than those who already have an abundance. And then let's not limit it to this time of year, but work to make it a lifestyle. We can change the world!

"Small things done with great love will change the world" - Mother Theresa

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Burst of Gratitude!

I'm not a big fan of Holidays... they feel over rated. Thanksgiving is on the list, but that could have something to do with me not having any delight in cooking nor actually favoring the flesh of a turkey (but the yummy potatoes taking a bath in peppered butter redeems that aspect). Anyway, it's another reason I have to clean my house, and since I don't cook, I clean (another of my not so favorite things to do). Regardless of my lack of adoration for the day itself, I find myself fully aware of how much I have to be grateful for... so I have decided to honor those things and speak them out loud.

I am thankful for/that...
the life I have gotten to live - for others, it's been cut short
discovered passions - they make me breathe deeply and refresh me
when I was a girl, I chose Scott to be my husband
a comfortable home for our family and friends
Julie and the yummy meals she makes, as well as the wise counsel she often has
God not only designed me but made a way for me to engage with Him
people I've hurt have forgiven me
new days that become fresh starts
friends that really know me and still love me like crazy
copic markers
that Scott's dad got to be my dad before heaven had to take him back
my cleaning fairy
electric blankets when even your bones are cold!
the simple kindnesses that are often shown to me
Thursday volleyball
the ability to play Thursday volleyball
old hymns
that Gavin and Eliot are my sons
the honor of the friendships I've made with the senior residents at the Barrington
Warner Chilcott and their separation package
Scott's P&G job
MSG (some people have small groups, we have Medium Size Group)
Nitrous Oxide and Dr. Nymberg
the piano I've dreamed of all my life now sits in my living room
fuzzy slippers and fireplaces
Kaden and Max
the loft and the endless possibilities that it holds
poker and friends I love to play it with
seeing my kids discover their passions and pursuing them
that Joe can teach about God's heart in a way that seeps into me
music - it reaches the spots where there's not room for words
the 30% off Kohls coupon
Debbie's voice messages

I know there are countless more... but I've got things to do people! Make your own list and post it. Perhaps our bursts of gratitude will remind someone else of some of the things they've forgotten to be thankful for... or theirs will remind us of some things we need to have gratitude for and not take for granted.
Lastly, "Thank you God, that you love us more than we can imagine and that all that we could possibly write on a list is because of your kindness to us. You are good beyond measure!"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

An open letter to God...

Dear God,
Thank you for making us and this beautiful planet we live on. In spite of the fact that you knew we'd screw up so much of everything (okay, practically everything) that you made with no flaws to speak of. If it was me, I'd have probably pulled the whole flood things multiple times by now... but you and your rainbow promises - you keep 'em. You're awfully patient.
Really sorry about the whole screwin' up things... I mean, really sorry. You planned it all out so perfect and for everything to have it's balance and rhythm, then we get all smarty pants and go and mess it all up... like we know more than you. No excuses, we're just dumb... and on behalf of all of us, "I'm sorry".

How come you did it though? Why? When you knew what jackasses we'd be to you and each other? I guess you must have thought we were worth it...I guess that's how I feel about my own kids. No matter what they do, they are mine. They are my heart outside of my own body and whether they do or not, I long for them to love me and be with me. Is that how you feel? I'm sorry that some days I even forget to tell you hello. You really deserve more than being forgotten about. I will try to remember that...

By the way, since you know everything 'n all. I have a few friends that I wanted to talk to you about. I'll spare names since you know 'em already. My friend whose heart is really hurting, would you please nuzzle a little closer to her today... so she can feel ya'. Sometimes we need to feel you or we have a hard time believing you're really there. And my other friend who's got the weight of the world on his shoulders... would you come alongside him and hold him up? He needs to know you've got his back. My other friend is really weary and just needs some hope. Can you remind her that you are bigger than all these things that she's tempted to believe she's at the mercy of. And my friend who is feeling lost... maybe even feeling all the things mentioned above but can't quite figure out why. Would you smother them in that peace you say doesn't make sense to us but is the only kind you bother with.

Thanks for listening and caring. Thank you for not being that God I grew up believing you were. Thanks for wanting to make us whole and mend our broken places. Thanks for leaning into us when we keep walking away. Thanks for being kind and not giving us what we deserve. Thanks for not holding all our failures against us. Thanks for believing in us and wanting more for us than we even want for ourselves. Thanks for changing us when we become willing to let you. You really are good and I love you.

By the way, thanks for the friends you've given me. They are a gift I have no suitable words to thank you for.


Monday, May 24, 2010

What Jess has to say today...

It's rare. Sometimes I have something to say and I do so in a blog... but not today. Today... I've got nothin'.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Women's Day by Jess

One and a half months ago, my mom moved to Mason. One and a half weeks ago, my older sister Jennifer moved to Mason. One and a half weeks from now, my younger sister Julie will move to Mason. Some of you might be having sympathy for me... some of you are jealous. Those of you who are jealous... should be.

I hit the jackpot on families... not just with Scott, Gavin and Eliot, but with the women I have grown up with. Don't get me wrong... a fair amount of those years we have wanted to find creative ways of killing each other. We have despised each other with the same passion with which we have loved each other... fiercely.

We often speak about the unique entity that we are... this circle of women bound by blood... bound by the history we share... bound by the commitment we have to each other. We comfort each other, we push each other, we challenge each other, we believe for each other. When one of us is weary, the others step in and lift us up with words that we can hear through the fog. When one of us can't see the light, the others put light on the single step in front of us. When one of us is lost, we remind each other that we're not alone... however lost we feel. For all the times we fight each other, we will always, eventually, fight for each other. It's a messy bond we have... full of history that has battered and bruised us, but never broken us.

I will forever be a better woman for the influence that my mom, Jennifer and Julie have had on my life. They have forced me to see myself honestly, sometimes harshly and sometimes with a whisper. They have wounded me with their sharp edges and they have bound up my wounds with their compassion. They have taught me to grant grace as often as possible because holding onto it accomplishes nothing. They have shown me the value of honesty and the definition of courage. They have made me believe that I am more than I believe I am. They have been there when I have laughed the loudest and cried the hardest. They are my heroes. They are my heart. They are my mom and my sisters.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jess's thoughts on February...the month of the Valentine

So I haven't blogged in a long while. I envy those of you who are faithful in doing so. I love opening my blogger dashboard to see who has what to say... and everything is paused for a moment so I can taken in your monologue in hopes of knowing you better somehow for having read it. The problem is, then I feel like I know you better but you don't know me any better... leads to awkward moments somewhere down the road.

I rarely write... not because I don't have anything to say, but because I think what I write has to be a certain way. I get caught up in wanting the collection of my thoughts to be articulate and form a well written piece. I over think it way too much. I want it to always be my best, and like anything I suppose, my best takes me time and a lot of thought. I wonder how much of this very text will get backspaced, rewritten or deleted completely. I wish I could let that go. I'm going to try... so here goes.

It's February... that month that about 14 days into it requires you to declare your love for the one you're enamored with (yes, I just opened a new tab and checked my spelling on enamored on it's correct). I use to go to Hallmark and try to find just the right card because I felt the day should be acknowledged with at least a nice card. I would literally stand there sifting through one after another and say things like "really?" or "you gotta' be kidding me" or "palease!". It was really quite laughable. I guess I've become a bit of a cynic. Thank God I discovered my love of card designing because now the idea of spending money on a store bought card is beyond all reasoning. Now I make my own and say just what I mean. This year's card might say something like this...
"I will be nicer to your cat because I love you."
Happy Valentine's Day

Yes, we have a cat now. He's no longer on a trial basis. He's a Docherty. An act of God occurred when Scott connected with this cat in a PetSmart over Christmas break. With reluctance, I didn't say no because I saw something in Scott change. This dog person had to become willing to figure out how to be a cat person. We now own things like silly string toys, flea medicines, multiple boxes for excrement, a black light (to find the whizzing areas) and have doubled our Vet bills.

I think love takes funny forms. I didn't want a cat... at all. Sometimes loving something or someone that someone else loves is just as important. The cat, otherwise known as Maximus, needed to be loved. Scott loved him first. I already loved Scott... so maybe, just maybe, someday... this dog person will love a cat.

Happy Valentine's Month... love someone in a way that you'll never find described in a Hallmark card.