A Time to Heal

Usually, I write these on paper and edit them before I post. But today, I was inspired and while stuck in traffic, it got all jarbled  (I just made that word up. Don’t act like you’re not impressed. Oh and that was a quote from Anchorman if you didn’t catch it. If you didn’t, go watch it immediately.) So. Here we go.

This time last year, I weighed in at 108 pounds. We’ve been over this so I’m not going to dwell on it. Now I’m 145. Yay!! I had a gym partner that contributed to all of my gains. He was a body builder and I basically did exactly what he did. The results have been so amazing that it inspired me to become a personal trainer. I finally pulled the trigger and started my classes yesterday. It’s been SO MUCH INFORMATION. It’s definitely not as easy as I, or some people, think. Myology. Anatomy. Biomechanics. Kinesiology. Nutrition. I thought my brain was going to ooze out of my head yesterday. But it didn’t and I woke up this morning feeling even more motivated.

Before I talk about what’s next, first let me say, Body Design University has been incredible. Doug Blake is the single-most engaging instructor I’ve ever had. He is a wealth of knowledge and will answer every single question you have, even if it’s off-track from what we’re talking about. Talk about a mentor!!!!! Oh and he’s funny too. No boring conversations in that classroom! If you’re considering a career as a personal trainer, look nowhere else but Body Design.

So. Here we go. Today we took a field trip to the Bodies Exhibit today in Atlantic Station. It was mind-blowing. And a little creepy and very informative. But it made me feel (just a little) sorry for guys because I learned that one, women have bigger brains than men (duh, ladies, am I right?) and two, their junk is exposed and hanging out the outside. You think they’re not cute alive, try seeing it on a cadaver!! Be right back. I have to go laugh.

I’m back. Hahahha!!

One of the exhibits that stood out the most to me, was that of the liver. It has about 500 different functions in the body. So cool. But what got me was when he was talking about having a fatty liver and what can cause it. Diabetes. Alcoholism. Junk food. But then he said something I was expecting, and it was that people that struggle with anorexia and/or bulimia can also have a fatty liver. If you’ve ever read any of my posts before, you know that I’ve struggled with anxiety. It’s managed much better now because of exercise, but at that moment, I felt overwhelmed with it. I started to cry, just a little bit, because I didn’t want anyone to see. The damage is repairable, another awesome thing about our liver. Once you change the thing that contributes to the damage, it can start to repair itself. I wasn’t upset over the fact that I was damaging my liver. I was crying because I am GRATEFUL. I am grateful that I’ve been in recovery and now have a healthy relationship with food. I am grateful that I was able to come back from it because so many people cannot. Now don’t get me wrong. I still battle negative thoughts. But it gets easier.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because whether you don’t eat at all, or eat too much, there is hope for you. We are all stronger than we think. It’s mind over matter. But sometimes, we need help. Sometimes, we need to talk to someone to help us not to feel isolated. If you struggle with this and you feel stuck, please reach out. I’m posting the number to the National Eating Disorders Association Information and Referral Helpline below.

1-800-931-2237

Thank you for letting me share this with you

xoxo,

Jess the Haute Mess

You can also follow me on my new fitness journey on Instagram, @PurdyHauteMess. Make sure you say hi!

Let them eat cake..er, cookie dough!

Last night, while making cookies with my kids, they mention to me they’ve never tried cookie dough. Real cookie dough. Growing up, I want allowed to eat it because of the raw eggs. “Salmonella!!”, my mom would say to us. So much that it became an actual fear. Irrational c yes, but there nonetheless.

When my kids said this, it triggered something in me that made me do something I’ve never done before. Let me give you a little background. I’ll start with a simple, yet profound statement. 

Sometimes it takes losing everything to make you appreciate what you have. 

As most of you already know, my ex-husband spent some time in prison. I’m not here to sling mud. He’s done his time. But it still happened. That left me to try and pick up the pieces and try to keep my family from unraveling. Well guess what? I failed. I was on the brink of losing my home (for the 2nd time). I was working 2 jobs and that still wasn’t enough to keep up with everything. So after taking to my then-husband, we both decided and agreed it would be best for our kids to stay with their grandparents in Tennessee while I tried to salvage what was left of my sanity and my dignity, and he went back to jail to finish out his sentence. Trust me when I say this, it was the last thing I wanted. It showed weakness. It showed failure. It showed that I wasn’t enough. That I couldn’t handle it. Insert whatever statement you want here. I promise you I’ve already beaten myself up for it at least a hundred times. But sometimes, as a mom, it means making hard decisions. I’ll never forget the day they left. I was devastated. I kept telling myself “it’s only for a short time.” The pain was unbearable. I closed myself off. I rarely talked to them on the phone because all it did was tear my heart out more each time. And theirs too. This went on for (roughly) 6 months, maybe 8. 

Side note, this isn’t something I’ve shared with many people. If you were apart of my life during this time, you knew. But I don’t go shouting it from the rooftops. Until today. 

Being a mom is hard. You’re responsible for teaching and raising kids, to grow into successful adults. There is so much pressure to be “perfect”. Have them in the best school. Sports. Dance. Church. Good grades. Before their father was arrested, I was the worst kind of helicopter mom. I gave them freedom, but not too much. Looking back I now see it wasn’t very much at all. Them being away from me for that long taught me a lot of things. One of the most important things it taught me was to LET GO. I was trying to control their every move and every outcome. I couldn’t just let them be kids. But now?! Now, on the weekends, they can have ice cream for breakfast (sometimes). They can walk in the grass barefoot. They can hang their arm out the window in the backseat. They spent all day yesterday in their pajamas. We had pizza delivered twice in a week! The little things in life that are meant to be enjoyed, are being enjoyed. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and a step back. Yes, it was awful while they were gone. I hated every single moment of it. But it made me better. Better for them and better for me. 

Cut yourself some slack, y’all. Parenting is hard. Parenting with an ex-spouse is even harder. Do the best you can with every day you’re with them, even on the days when you want to run and cry in a closet. 

I guess I’ll address the cookie dough thing. We are cookie dough last night. A lot of it. And they said it was the best thing they had ever tasted. Something as simple as cookie dough!! They danced around the kitchen and laughed with delight. Such a small moment but such a huge impact. There will be many more cookie dough dates in our future. Oh and by the way, no one got sick 😉

xoxo,                                                                                     Jess the Haute Mess

Thursday is Leg Day

I’m about to share a picture with you. Some of you will be offended by it. Some of you will sexualize it. Some of you will judge me and tell me I shouldn’t put picture like that up. The quality isn’t the best. The mirror is dirty. I had no idea when I took them that I would be sharing them. I don’t care. I want to show you that you can change your body if you want it bad enough. These pictures were taken exactly 3 months apart. That’s only 12 leg days in 3 months.

Disclosure: I’m not a personal trainer (yet). These are the things I do when I train legs. Do them at your own risk!

First I do 3 warmup sets of 20, on the single-leg press. I like to do a low weight with high reps, just to get things cookin’. Don’t exert all your energy yet. Save it. You’ll need it!

Working sets. Yay!!!!

Leg extensions: 4 sets of 10-12 reps with higher weight

Feel the burn!! Fire!! 

Now I head over to my gym bae, the squat rack. This is where all your booty gains are made. Ok not really, but it sounded so good. But seriously y’all. Squats are super-important. Someone once told me “Ass to grass”. That means get low. As low as you can. Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boyz kinda low. Play the song if it helps you. No judgement here! 

Squats: 4 sets of 10-12 reps, increasing weight as I go. Stackin’ plates, gettin’ dates!! I’m just kidding y’all. I don’t actually go on dates. I just saw it on a Nike t-shirt and thought it was awesome. 

Sometimes from here I do the leg press or the hack squat, 4 sets of 10-12, increasing weights as I go. Sometimes I do one of these exercises, sometimes I do both. Today I neither! 

Are you still with me?

Now it’s time for a superset. A superset is 2 exercises, back-to-back, with no rest in-between. I always die a little with these……..

Leg curls: 3 sets of 10-12, increasing weight and straight to kick backs, 3 sets of 10-12. Add one more set of each but the last 5 reps on the leg curl, drop it reeeeeeeaaaal slow until your hammies are on fire. The bring it back up and do it again for 5. Don’t hate me. Same with your last set of kickbacks. When you get to the top, SQUEEZE DAT BOOTY and hold it for a second. A full second. Don’t cheat yourself. Do that 5 times. 

Last set best set!! 

Glute bridges: 4 sets of 10-12, squeezing at the top for as LONG AS YOU CAN (on the last rep of each set). I do this with a 60 lb barbell on my hips. 

Some people have asked me why I do 4 sets instead of 3. I don’t have a fancy scientific answer for it. I’ll just say this. I love the burn. I love leaving the gym with a pump so big I can barely get my regular pants back on. Do I hurt the next 2-3-7 days? Yes. But the results are there. It’s worth it. Let me know if you try this workout!

XOXO,

Jess the Haute Mess 

Transformation Tuesday

I’ve touched on this a few times before, but since it’s Tuesday and this is my blog, I’m going to talk about it again. 😊

The woman you see in this picture was a broken-down, insecure person that was lost. I’ve never been the confident girl. I was picked on for being too skinny, too flat-chested, too whatever. Fast-forward to my 30’s, add a whooooooole (that’s legit, right?) of stress and drama (maybe I’ll talk about that sometime in the future) and you get this. 108 pounds of Hot. Freakin. Mess. I never ate. I drank a LOT. I lived off coffee and cigarettes; I’m shocked I’m still here today. Yet HERE I AM!! By the grace of God, a lot of soul-searching and self-realization (man that’s a lot of hyphens), here I am.

You would be surprised at the effects working out can have in your body. I always thought people were full of it when they said “endorphins! Sunshine and rainbows!” Blah blah blah. Eating crow has never tasted so good, let me tell you. I used to suffer from anxiety and depression. I was even on medication for it. I’m not knocking medication. It served its purpose in my life. But now, I’m medication-free. I have been for a while, even before I started working out. The symptoms didn’t go away, I just had to find a new coping mechanism. You see, several months ago, I hit my emotional rock bottom. I was driving home one night and I feel like I’d had enough. Too much stress piling up, amongst other heartaches. Major heartaches y’all. Not just simple ones. Anyway. All I could think about was driving straight into a tree. God kept me safe that night because something else captured my thoughts that night and I made it home. I woke up the next morning not feeling any better but something forced me to get up off my sad and flat (hahaa) butt and go for a run. Not to lose weight, but to gain perspective. I felt refreshed afterwards. My head was clear and my heart was pounding and I was covered in sweat. I felt accomplished. Everyday that I ran, I started to feel a little better. Then I got the crazy idea to start lifting weights. Like actual weights y’all. Heavy stuff. I felt so weak! I could barely squat just the bar on the squat rack. My form was horrible. But I didn’t give up. I kept going and kept pushing. You see, in order to be successful (at anything) but especially working out, you have to have drive and be self-motivated. We live in such an instant-gratification world and exercise takes time. Patience. Dedication. Loyalty. Persistence. Even when it hurts and you feel like you can’t squeeze out another rep, do it anyway. Arnold said “the mind gives up before the body does.” This is truth. You will cry. You will sweat. You might bleed if you squeeze your finger between two 45 lb. plates (guilty). But it’s worth it.

Now I wear a size 6 in jeans and a medium in tops. I have all of these muscles that are round and strong. And that makes me feel like Wonder Woman. I have more confidence than I’ve ever had before. Did I mention I’m stronger?? That old bar on the squat rack that I could barely squat in the beginning is now loaded up with 145 lbs that I can squat clean on my own. My PR is 185. I even got a little something to commemorate it. 😏


So ladies!! I see you. I see you putting in the work. I see the sweat and the selfies and the progress pictures you’re taking. Don’t give up. Keep pushing. Whether it’s to gain weight or lose it. Stay focused. You’ve got this 💪🏽😘

XOXO

Jess the Haute Mess

Life as I know it 

So, this is going to be the most transparent blog I’ve ever posted. It’s humiliating. It’s the lowest point I’ve ever. Been in my life. But there are some things I need to share, for those reasons alone. 

My husband was convicted of theft by conversion. He’s been in Douglas county jail for the last 8 months. This past Tuesday, he got shipped to Jackson, Ga where the state prison is. We are not able to speak for 3 weeks. When I first found out, I was overcome with anxiety and fear. I didn’t know how to respond to finding out. I was in a daze for the rest of the week. In fact, I’m still I a daze. I can’t believe this is my life. You never dream that your life would go in this direction. Especially when you’re married to a God-fearing man. I understand we all make mistakes. That’s why it’s so important to put God first, so you’re less likely to make those mistakes. I’m sure a lot of you are wondering, “how did you not know what was going on?” Well. I was raising my children. I blindly trusted him because he had never really given me a reason not to, except for a few minor hiccups here and there. Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not here to throw him under the bus. I’m here because I’m broken. My prayers are not being answered. I cry out to God on a daily basis and nothing has changed. I feel like Job. I feel like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. I feel alone. 

When all this happened in July, my emotions were out of control. I couldn’t find my footing. In fact, I still haven’t found it. I’ve never been so devastated in my life. I’ve considered divorce. In fact, it’s been on the forefront of my mind for quite a while. I hear different opinions. God forgives. How will it make anything better. God hates divorce. And I get it. I understand everyone’s perspective and point of view. But does God’s grace run out? Are my financial blessings being withheld because I hold this in my heart? I’m about to lose my house, my car, my power being cut off, insurance lapsing, plus many other things. And it’s not for lack of looking for a job. I’ve searched and applied fo more jobs in the past month than I have my entire teenage years. 

But nevertheless. I keep praying. I keep waiting for the windows of heaven to open up for my family. My best friend gave me some words of wisdom that haven’t left my brain since she said it. “You have to let go of the thing that you’re holding onto and get your boxes back in order.” See, since my husband got arrested, I’ve been ashamed. Embarrassed. Condemned (by my own self). I couldn’t walk into my church home with feeling all of those things. How can anyone look at me with love after knowing what my husband is? It’s a daily struggle. Especially when Sunday and Wednesday come around. But I have a select few who continue to speak life over me and pray for me and love me through it all. And I am grateful for you. Who knows where I would be if it wasn’t for your prayers and support. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it gives you a little more insight as to my life. I also hope that it helps you know that you’re not alone in your struggles. We had a picture-perfect marriage. While it wasn’t perfect, it appeared to be. Stand your ground. Don’t relent. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. I haven’t been living as righteous as I should be. But I’m a work in progress. It’s a choice. Every moment of every day it’s a choice. I pray that (we) make the right choices today. Especially me. 
Xoxo,

Jess the Haute Mess 

A look back on 2015

What can I say. 2015 has been quite a year. It started off as one of the most beautiful times in my life. We welcomed our son , Elisha. We became involved in ministry  at our church. Made some new friends. Lost some dear friends.

It’s funny how when bad things happen in your life, you find out who your true friends are. I never thought that my husband would spend the last 5 1/2 months in jail. When it happened, lots of people stepped up to help my family. For that, I am forever grateful. On the other side of the coin, the people that I thought would be there just disappeared. But God showed me that friends can be friends for just a season. No matter how meaningful or how long the friendship, sometimes it IS just a season. At first, I was so hurt. But God has done such a work in my heart and showed me that no matter what, He is here.

I had to start working right away. My body didn’t have time to heal after having a baby. But I didn’t have a choice. But HE is faithful. My children have not gone without due to generous love and gifts given by my friends and church family.

When he first got arrested, I felt like the floor had fallen out from underneath me. There were days that I couldn’t pick myself up off the floor. I had no idea what to do. I had been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom for years. My husband always provided a good life for us.But what we realized through conversation and revelation from God, is that we put each other first. Our children first. Our worries first. Not Him. We compromised in areas that we shouldn’t have. No matter how small these things seem to be, they’re not small to God. Our husbands have to put God first. Wives, put God above your husband and your children. Pray together daily. Teach them the word. When they are old, they will not depart from it. We got too busy with t-ball, dance work, etc. We weren’t making time for Him in a way that please Him.

So here we are now. Separated. Not doing God’s will. Well, my husband is. He’s lead over 25 men to the Lord while in jail. He has brought God’s light into a place where there was none. They have daily bible study. Prayers are being answered. Meanwhile, me, I’m out here. Struggling. Struggling to find peace. Struggling to find revelation. Struggling to be the head of the house, the dad, the mom, the provider. Everything. It’s not the natural order. It’s not what God intended it to be.

My challenge to you is this. If you find yourself compromising, even if it’s small, give it to God. He is a graceful and a merciful God that loves you very much.

I was mad at God for a long time. My feelings were hurt because my family had been ripped apart. My son had no one to play ball with him. Bella had no one to help her with her math homework. Paisley didn’t have her daddy to paint her nails and to play barbies with. I had no one to reassure me that everything was going to be ok and to hug me when I cried. To wipe my tears away from my face when I was sad.

I know it sounds like I’m putting him on a pedestal. I’m not. But when you’re married to your best friend and suddenly that person is ripped out of your life, things get hard. Really hard. He missed the birth of our last child and still has yet to hold him, kiss him or smell his sweet baby scent. As a woman married to a great father, these are things that break my heart on a daily basis. Hearing your children cry out every morning because they miss their daddy…what is a mom supposed to do? I cry out to God daily. Asking him to comfort my children. To help me understand their pain in a way that I can be a comfort to them as well.

The holidays were no better. I had to fight to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s usually my favorite time of year. I didn’t have it in me this year. But we made the best of what we could. Thank you to all of you that contributed to make Christmas so special for us. My prayer is that you will be blessed so much for obeying the urgency in your heart to bless us.

I’m going into 2016 with a different attitude. Total dependence on God Not being afraid to ask for help. Loving Him more than I have before. Trusting Him more than I have before.

I know this has been a sappy post, but I wanted to share what’s really been going on in my heart. I haven’t been able to bring myself to talk about it because it just hurt too much. Thank you for allowing me to pour my heart out and reading this. I appreciate all of you!

 

Blessings,

Jess the Haute Mess

The Weekends are Always the Hardest

I have so much I want to say today I’m going to try and share this with you in the best way I know how, which is real, raw and painful.

The holidays are my thing. I love having a house full of people. I’m constantly baking, Christmas music is always playing. It’s a magical time. It’s a reminder of why we’re all here. Jesus. But lately, I’ve been dreading it. All of it. I don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving. I don’t want to put my Christmas tree up. I hear Christmas music and I cringe. I’ve dealt with these type of feelings when I was a teenager/young adult because I always felt alone. My birthday is on Christmas, and (most) everyone forgets. Wah, wah, right? I know. There are bigger problems in the world. This year is different though. My husband won’t be here for Thanksgiving. He won’t be here for Christmas. He won’t here for Bella’s birthday, my birthday, Elisha’s first Christmas or Paisley’s birthday. Like I’ve said before, I know military mom’s do this all the time. And again, I applaud you for your strength. I look to you for inspiration.

I mentioned in one of my last bog posts the story of Mary Magdalene and how important this story is to me. I’ve always felt a connection to her. Her love was lavish, uncontrollable and it made people uncomfortable. She was an outcast, or as I like to call her, a wierdo. Just like me. She acted ridiculous in front of Jesus and His disciples. She didn’t care at all. Because this is the same Mary that was caught in the act of sex, with someone that wasn’t her husband. The Pharisees dragged her out into the street. I’m certain she felt shame. She was naked and vulnerable and humiliated. I imagine she felt like the lowest person on earth; like she was of no value.

I want to backtrack a little bit on myself. I grew up from the age of 15 without a dad. I didn’t know what it was like to feel the love of a father. So much like Mary, there were times (and still are) that I feel shame. Guilt. Humiliation. Vulnerable. My heart was hardened.

But just like Mary, my first encounter with Jesus, my REAL encounter with Jesus, set me free. He came down to my level. He lifted my chin and looked me in my eyes and told me I was valuable to Him. Ever since then, it’s been a battle in my mind to remind myself that He sees me as cherished and valued.

Mary had a special relationship with Jesus. Her act of love was instigated by her, not the opposite. She had fallen at His feet when He drew the line in the sand. She had fallen at His feet during her display of extravagant worship. She experienced His love, protection and deliverance. He cast  7 demons out of her!

Lazarus was sick. So sick that he died. Jesus took 4 days to get to Lazarus. Martha ran to meet Him, but Mary stayed behind. Remember, Mary loved Jesus on a level that some of us may not ever understand (although I hope to). I believe she was feeling rejected and forgotten. If Jesus had been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. When Jesus finally arrived, He comforted Martha but He knew the love that Mary had for Him. He called Mary by name. She didn’t run to the grave to mourn. She ran to the place of her Savior’s feet that had been a source of comfort for her. The same place where she met Him the first time during her moment of humiliation and shame, the same place where she poured out her love on Him.  He stands her up to look into her eyes. She says to Him “Where have you been? You’re late.” I see this as a moment where she was mad at Him for not being there. She couldn’t hide her feelings towards Him. But being the Jesus that we serve, He looks at her with tears in His eyes (Jesus wept) and said “I’m not late. Take me to see my friend Lazarus.” In other words, TAKE ME TO THE SOURCE OF YOUR PAIN. He tells them to roll the stone away and He commands the grave wrappings to loosen and free him. This is significant because Jesus wants to come to Him raw. NO matter how angry we are with Him. He’s saying TAKE ME TO THE SOURCE OF YOUR PAIN and let Me fix it. When we are real with Him, even though He already knows, the bondage that has us bound can fall off at His command and set us free. What the devil meant for harm, Jesus turned it around and made it into something good.

So next time you’re (me) weeping uncontrollably on the bathroom floor, so badly that you’re blinded, cry out to Jesus. Take Him to the source of your pain.

I don’t have all the answers. All these words sound great. But it doesn’t bring my husband home. It doesn’t bring my family back together. But it reminds me that Jesus is FOR ME. HE IS FOR YOU. Not against me. Not against you. He has plans to give us a hope and a future. John 13:7 says “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you understand.” If you’re impatient like me, which I’m sure you’re not, this is so hard for me to grasp. It doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me hurt worse. I know it’s supposed to do the opposite. I’m just being honest with you because I know there is someone out there that is battling something and you feel like God has abandoned you. He hasn’t. Even though it feels like it, He hasn’t. Keep your hope and keep your faith Even if all you can muster up is the faith the size of a mustard seed. He said that’s all we need. My precious Bella told me the difference in hope and faith is that hope is something you think or want to happen but faith is something you know will happen. Out of the mouth of babes!

DSC_0017

Luke 7:47-“Therefore I tell you, her sins have been forgiven-as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little”

Be Blessed,

Jess the Haute Mess

It’s finally time for me to share this with you

The story that I’m about to share is an emotional one. I will preface a little bit. But first let me say, there are women out there that do this every day. Military wives. Single moms. Please know that I’m not discrediting you in any way. This is just my story.

My husband was arrested 6 days before I went into labor. This was my hardest pregnancy ever. I had lots of preterm labor issues, bed rest, bleeding…it was hard. I missed out on a lot of things because I was always in the hospital for something. My body doesn’t handle pregnancy well at all. I’m going to be very transparent here and say that I’ve had 4 miscarriages. Not many women want to talk about it because they feel alone or that something is wrong with them. But unfortunately, it’s more common than you think. You are not alone.

So back to my story. He was arrested 6 days before I went into labor. I thought he would be home the next day and we could just go back to our business until the next court date. But that wasn’t the case at all. His bond got denied because we had no legal representation. I cannot express to you the emotions that I was experiencing. Crippling fear. Sadness. Loneliness. Fear was the biggest one. I was so scared I was going to go into labor at any moment. I had moments of clarity and faith that said “he’ll be home before your son is born”. Well. It didn’t happen that way. God does things His way. And sometimes you don’t understand until you’re looking back on things.

At the Shine Conference this year at my church, the theme was “Brave”. The whole time I’m thinking, wow, I’m pretty brave. I’ve lost 4 babies and lost custody of my oldest to my ex-husband. I would’ve told you then that I was pretty brave. But God was setting me up for the things I had no idea we’re coming downstream.

My Pastor’s wife told me, “We’re praying and believing for a miracle. But we also need a plan B.” So I came up with a plan B. People that I would call if I did go into labor. My mom had already driven down the day after he was arrested to come and be a help to me. My oldest daughter, Bella, had told me about a dream she had that Elisha was born on a Wednesday. She was right.

It was 1:00a.m. on Wednesday morning. My contractions had been strong that day and were getting closer together. I woke my mom up and told her I was going to drive myself to the hospital and just to stay with the kids until she heard from me. As I was driving to the hospital, I got out my phone to start making my phone calls and the Holy Spirit stopped me. He told me “You and I are going to do this together.” I can’t explain to you the peace I had at that moment in time.

I get to the hospital and I’m 4 centimeters. I had been 4 centimeters for 2 weeks with no change. They kept me over night to see if I would progress. I just kept crying out to the Lord and singing over Elisha, songs of worship. One song that repeating on my playlist was “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel. It was also sang at the Shine Conference. (By the way, as I’m writing this out, I’m crying my eyes out. One because of God’s goodness and another because my husband still hasn’t been able to hold his son).

There was no change, so they sent me home the next morning. It was around 8 on Wednesday, July 22. But I knew he was going to be here that day. I talked to Billy and told him that today was going to be the day. He cried with me but said “Make sure to celebrate him. He deserves that. Don’t be sad because I’m not there. Be happy because you’re bringing forth God’s promise.” That was around 1:00 p.m. I had already been readmitted into the hospital with again, no change. My contractions started getting stronger and I asked my mom to take the kids downstairs to get a snack so they didn’t hear the pain I was in. I had no epidural. Well my water broke and I went from 4 cm to 8 cm in a minute. Literally. It was time to push. I was so scared and felt so alone. I looked up in the midst of my labor pains and anguish and I saw Jesus in the room with me. He was just sitting in the chair, very casual. Like I imagined Him to be when He was sleeping on the boat. No fear. Just peace. He nodded His head at me and somehow I mustered up the courage and strength to bring forth my son, with no one but Him to get me through it. It happened so fast.

In the picture I’m going to share, you can see the mixture of sadness and joy on my face. IMG_1163Here I had this perfect little baby. All alone in the room. No one to take pictures. No one to kiss me on the forehead. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But now, here I am, 3 months later, finally able to share it with you on a level that only my closet friends have heard. His name is Elisha (God is salvation) Silas (forest). Silas actually has a double meaning to me. Silas because Silas was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Imprisoned while doing God’s will. And forest because sometimes, when the trees are thick and we can’t see where we’re going, Jesus will show up in the room, give you a gentle nod and guide you the rest of the way.

If you would have asked me in January if I would be able to do this without my husband, I would have said not a chance!! But God has taught me to be more dependent on Him. He has constantly provided for our family. I’ve had to go back to work, which has been hard because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years and years. But there’s no one I trust more to take care of my babies than my mother. She gave everything up to move here and help me. Mom, I love you and I’m so grateful for all you do.

Please know that you are not alone. Even when you feel like you are, you’re not. This story isn’t over yet. My husband still isn’t home and I don’t know when he will be. But everyday I believe for a miracle. And you should too.

Jess the Haute Mess

My first fashion post!

Today, I’m sitting at home in my robe, drinking hot tea and listening to the rain hit the roof and the laughter of my kids playing downstairs. (I’m supposed to be at church but I have a sore throat.) If you didn’t know it, I’m a mom of 4 beautiful, stubborn, charismatic and hilarious children. Ok, so Elisha is only 2 months old but I’m certain he will carry the same traits. I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do fashion. Well, to some moms, nothing. But I’m here to try and encourage you and tell you that you don’t have to resort to yoga pants and t-shirts just because you’re a mom!!

I’m all about comfort. I hate wearing heels. It has to be a really special outfit to get me in a pair. So first I’ll show you this dress that I purchased from http://www.nyandcompany.com

I grew up in the 90’s and Gwen Stefani has always been my style icon. I wore a bindi to school once, in the 10th grade and you would’ve thought it was an eyeball sticking out of my forehead. They just didn’t know how cool it actually was! My reason in saying this is, one, because this dress is similar (yes, I know the original was short sleeved and navy blue) to the one Gwen wore in the video “Don’t Speak”. I’ve been obsessed with that dress since 1995. It was one of those instances where I knew that (not literally, but maybe literally?) I would just die if I didn’t have this dress. And I wore patent leather mary jane heels with it. See what I did there? Heels. Special dress. I was practically Gwen Stefani that day. I’m surprised no one stopped me and asked for my autograph……

Ok next! http://www.express.com has this amazingly comfy called One Eleven. If you could wear just butter and get away with it, this would be the next best thing. Everything feels like hot chocolate in your hand with extra marshmallows. It feels like your favorite Sunday blanket. You need to check out. Seriously!! AND guess what? You can schlep around town with all 4 of your kiddos and still be comfortable and look AWESOME and look effortlessly put-together.

I’m going to show you some pictures now, taken by one of the coolest, funnest (yes, I know it’s not a word but it’s my blog so I can do what I want!), kind-hearted, tell-it-like-it-is people I know. Our friendship was doomed from the start (long story) but now we are the kind of friends that have matching tattoos. Evanda, I love you girl! I had so much fun during this photo shoot. At first I felt really stupid because I’m good at goofy. Not posed. I like to make silly faces, not dreamy-eyed sexy faces. So it was a struggle! #thestruggleisreal . But she made me laugh so much and made me feel so confidant that soon I forgot the camera was there. In fact, she did such a great job on my pictures  that I received a call back to be an extra on the set of Mother’s Day. Google it!

I also want to give credit to my tattoo artist. I say “my” because he’s the only person I’ve let tattoo me more than once. His name is Michel and he’s at Skinwerks in Carrollton, GA. You won’t find a steadier hand anywhere. His lines are the tightest, he pays attention to detail and is overall awesome at what he does!!! That’s Luke 7:47 in Greek. I’ll save the importance of that scripture and how it applies to my life for another day.

Enough yappin’ already! It’s picture time! I’ll share some of my favorites and 2 silly ones, because, you know, yolo and whatnot.

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Dance break!!

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My eyeshadow is the new Monarch Palette from Kat Von D. You can find it at http://www.sephora.com. See, I promised you 2 silly pics!!

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I got this amazing camo Coach cross-body for $56 at Dilliard’s!!! I think it’s because they thought I was Gwen? Maybe?

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Follow Michel on Instagram at @michelparisay

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XOXO,

Jess, the Haute Mess

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Feet of a Deer

Sometimes God does things and you don’t even realize it until it’s over.

Friday night I went out and had dinner with two of my favorite people ever. Evanda and I had discussed getting tattoos earlier in the week. She sent me a picture of a deer head with antlers and right away it clicked. Now let me be clear. I’m not a “country girl” nor do I hunt. But something about this picture intrigued me. It represented the scripture in Psalms 18:33 that says “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and sets me on high places.” This entire chapter is David praising God for delivering him from his enemies.

A lot of you don’t know, but my husband has been in jail since July 14th. I haven’t made it public because I was shocked, embarrassed, sad, angry….you name the emotion, I experienced it. I still feel all of them on any given day. I gave birth without my husband by my side. It was one of the hardest times of my life. I cannot put into words the challenges I have faced since all of this has happened. I can’t wait to share with you all the details of this trial, I just can’t yet.

But God.

God has been with me every step of the way. He (even though there are many times, even daily, I feel He has left us) He has shown Himself every single day.

Ok, back to this tattoo.

I was wondering what the significance of a deer’s foot was. So I did a little reading. When deer are jumping from embankment to embankment, there is no way for them to know where the best footing is, however, they rarely slip and fall. But it’s the hooves that make the deer so special. Their feet consist of 2 elongated toes. Each toe is capped by a hard toenail (the hoof). These hooves absorb the shock of every stride and also provides traction on wet surfaces.

So why does this matter? I believe that God is telling us He will equip us, when our enemies are against us or are being tested in our faith, to give us traction. To absorb the shock. Even though the embankment we’re walking on we are unsure of, He will keep us from slipping and falling.

This tattoo is not a coincidence. God used Evanda to show me that He has equipped me to face this, head-on and no matter what, my feet will be on solid ground, although it may be unsteady.

Did I mention she got the same tattoo? 🙂

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Until next time!

Jess