Forgiveness??

If you were to make a list of the people in your life that you needed to forgive, could you be honest? Would your list have two names? 20? None? How many of those people are family members?

The family dynamics in Colossians 3:18-21 is God’s perfect plan. You can call me old-fashioned, sexist, barefoot and pregnant…I don’t care. It’s what I believe. Our family is supposed to be our first line of defense. Our parents to protect us. Our siblings to build and learn about friendships with, along with conflict resolution (even if that involves these hands! Right Lyss? You were so mean!). But instead we have strife. Jealousy. Bitterness. Anger. A house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25). And no, I’m not referring to the SEC…at least not today haha!! Go Dawgs!

If there is division, it can destroy the family structure, causing us to “wander” solo. No one by our side to hold us accountable…yes we have friends, but we can talk about that later….that’s how Eve was able to be tempted. She was alone. When a sheep wanders away from the herd and it’s shepherd, it’s more vulnerable to its predators.

The funny thing about this blog post is that I don’t have an answer or resolve to what I just talked about. Which brings me to my next topic.

Today was my first counseling session at Elevate. I had one major issue in my life that was causing me a tremendous amount of stress. That’s what caused me to make an appointment in the first place. I wanted some healthy coping mechanisms for when I felt anxious. God had bigger plans, y’all. I wasn’t ready!! My first session and I’ve already learned that I’m dealing with un-forgiveness. I didn’t even know!!! It was so profound that I’ve decided I’m going to make this journey public. I’m going to blog after each one of my sessions. I will share my revelations, my heartaches, my joy and my victories. My darkest places. I really hope that my transparency will help you to see that you’re not alone. No, I won’t be sharing names if anyone, in case you were wondering! This is for my exposure, no anyone else’s.

I thought I knew how to forgive someone, but today I found out that I don’t. I’m excited to learn and share as I go. My hope is that it will inspire you to seek it out for you and your family too.

xoxo

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

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 

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.

DSC_0029

Dance break!!

DSC_0083

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!!

DSC_0100

DSC_0068

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

DSC_0109 DSC_0061 DSC_0147

DSC_0017

Follow Michel on Instagram at @michelparisay

DSC_0104

XOXO,

Jess, the Haute Mess

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

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? 🙂

FullSizeRender

Until next time!

Jess

Celebrity Crush?!

What I’m about to say isn’t going to go over well with some of you. But that’s ok. Before we get started, let me be transparent with you (my favorite thing to do…not!!). I am just as guilty of these things as the next person. We all are. At least I think. Something that really bothers me is when I hear a married woman talk about her “celebrity crush”. Remember, I’ve been guilty of this before. But God rang my bell today and you get to benefit from it! Or be mad at me. It’s your choice. Just remember, God corrects those He loves so you should be flattered that He loves you so much!!

I was curious at the actual definition of “attractive” so of course I googled it.

at·trac·tive
əˈtraktiv/Submit
adjective
(of a thing) pleasing or appealing to the senses.
“an attractive home”
(of a person) appealing to look at; sexually alluring.
“an attractive, charismatic man”
synonyms: good-looking, beautiful, pretty, handsome, lovely, stunning, striking, arresting, gorgeous, prepossessing, fetching, captivating, bewitching, beguiling, engaging, charming, enchanting, enticing, appealing, delightful, winning, photogenic, telegenic; More
(of a thing) having beneficial qualities or features that induce someone to accept what is being offered.
“the site is close to the high-rent district, which should make it attractive to developers”
synonyms: appealing, inviting, tempting, irresistible

This bothered me even more!! It made me think, what is the motivation behind our celebrity crushes? As married women, we shouldn’t be looking at anyone BUT our husbands to make us feel these things. We should be looking at them as sexually alluring, handsome and my favorite: arresting. Whoa. Think about someone being arrested. Stopped in your tracks. Holy smokes hot. If we aren’t looking at our husbands that way, we have a heart condition of lust. Yes I said it. Lust. The bible is pretty clear on issues of lust, too. In Matthew 5:27-29 it says

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29″If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.…”

That’s pretty intense. Yes, it says everyone who looks at a woman, but this applies to women looking at men too. Dare I bring up 50 Shades of Grey? I’ve never read the book. I never will. But I have a general idea of what the book was about. I also know that hundreds of thousands of CHRISTIAN women went to see this movie. Remember Magic Mike? Same thing! This movie was about male strippers. We should be so wrapped up in the love of Christ, that seeing a man nude or semi-nude, makes our hearts break. God gave us marriage as a gift. Something beautiful and sacred. How are we hurting our marriage by watching these movies, reading these books or looking at other men with lust?

I know some of you right now are trying rationalize your feelings. Saying ugly things about me. That’s ok. I know that God has better for us, as women. I’m not condemning you. I’m saying, how much better could our lives be if we turned our hearts away from these things and turned them towards the things of God? Galatians 5:9 says

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

That means that all it takes is one little teeny-tiny, seemingly innocent thought and then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and before you know it, you have a really big problem. Think about when you make homemade bread. Wait, does anyone do that anymore?? It starts off small, but after a few hours of the yeast doing it’s thing, you have a ball of dough so big that you have to punch it to make it manageable again.

So how do we stop the lust in our hearts? Use the Word! The bible says in Philippians 4:8

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Simple! Control your thoughts. No, that’s not really so simple, is it? Ok so how about taking our thoughts captive and instead of feeding those thoughts, we start thinking about things that are pure, lovely, admirable and worthy of praise? If we can make that our habit, we can defeat it. Before you know it, you’ll be looking at your former celebrity crush and thinking, “ew. what did I ever see in him?”

Men, this is for you too. I’m not just calling out the ladies here.

I wrote this in love and I hope you receive it in love. We are more than conquerors!

It’s a……………

Hey y’all!

Today was a pretty surprising day for me. I can only remember one other time in my life where I was more shocked. But y’all already know that story.

Today I am 16 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I wasn’t really expecting them to tell me the gender this morning, but I was hopeful. My husband wasn’t able to be there because my 2 youngest are still sick with some nasty crud that has been going around. Side note: Parents!! Please keep your sick children at home!! So I was at the doctor’s office this morning and I told the sonographer that I didn’t want to know the gender because my hubby wasn’t there and we wanted to find out together. I had my head turned pretty much the entire sonogram. It was challenging for me!!

This pregnancy has mirrored my pregnancies with my 2 girls. Because of that, going in this morning, I was 99% sure that when I opened that envelope, it was going to say “It’s a girl”. We already had her name picked out! I hadn’t really entertained the idea of boy names because I was so convinced we were having a girl.

Well. I am excited and shocked to tell you….we are having a boy!! Billy (my husband, in case you didn’t know his name haha) dropped to his knees. I sincerely thought he was going to cry because he was so happy. My son, Isaac (who maintained his idea it was a boy this entire time) DID cry because he was so excited to have a baby brother. “Another boy like me, Mama!!” he said as he danced around the kitchen. Paisley, on the other hand, was downright mad. She cried too. She kicked her feet. She wouldn’t speak to us! Hopefully all of it will wear off by the time he gets here. Bella doesn’t know yet but I’m certain she will be just as surprised as the rest of us. I’m trying to think of a cute way to tell her. Any ideas? I’m open to suggestions!

Thank you for sharing this moment with me!!

Chili. It’s what’s for dinner.

Hey y’all! Its been a long time. But now I’m back. And I have something special for you!

A few years ago, I had a thought. Let me warn you in advance. I can be a pretty deep-thinker. You ready for it??

What if you could have chili with the cornbread baked into it? :::drops microphone, exits stage:::

I know, right? I tried to warn you!

I love eating cornbread with my chili. It brings a little bit of sweetness to the savory chili. But I’m lazy. And I don’t like making a mess. You would think having 3 kids and another on the way, messes wouldn’t bother me. THEY DO. So I became a “problem-solver”. It’s kind of a dramatic title for such a miniscule problem (is it even really a problem?) What can I say. I’m a deep-thinking, problem-solver who has a flair for the dramatic! Wow that was a lot of hyphens. Moving on…….

Out of all the meals I’ve made for people over the years, my chili is one of the most requested and most loved. Now I’m going to share my recipe with you. Reluctantly, I might add. But giving is better than receiving. So take good care of it and use it wisely. By the way, you’re going to be SHOCKED at how easy it is. I’m almost embarassed by it. Ok not really. But it does taste like it’s been simmering all day, when in fact, I just threw it together. There, My secret is out!! I hope you enjoy!

Jessica’s Lazy Chili

2 cans tomato sauce (I use organic)

2 cans dark red kidney beans (again, I use organic)

2 cans chili beans in mild sauce (if you like hot, go for it, you crazy person!)

1 pound grass fed ground beef

1 1/2 Tablespoon chili seasoning (recipe to follow)

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix

Chili Seasoning

3 Tablespoons chili powder

3 teaspoons cumin

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

3 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all together in a airtight container. I use a mason jar.

For every pound of ground beef, use 1 1/2 Tablespoons of chili seasoning

IMG_1338

*Disclaimer* I tried to make this once with homemade cornbread from scratch. It never made it to the execution stage. My husband said “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So I didn’t! But if your little sweet heart desires to make it with homemade cornbread, go for it. And let me know how it turns out!

Preheat  your oven to 400 degrees

Brown the ground beef in a dutch oven. This beauty is one my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas several years ago. It gets used more than any other pan in my kitchen. I love it!!

IMG_1342

While this is browning and making your kitchen smell amazing, go ahead and make your cornbread according to the box instructions.

After your beef is mostly brown (don’t worry about getting it all done. It will go into the oven later), add your 2 cans of tomato sauce.

IMG_1344

Now for the chili seasoning. If you ask me, this is the star of the show. But you might think it’s the cornbread. That’s fair.

IMG_1345

Let this simmer for about 5 minutes. There’s no real logic here. I’m just giving you time to complete your next task. Which is an important one. RINSE YOUR KIDNEY BEANS. See all the bubbles? Those end up in your belly, causing you-know-what. Rinsing your beans will cut down on the oligosaccharides (oligo is a prefix meaning “a few” and saccharides is just a fancy name for sugar. Don’t you feel smarter??), which cause the music that escapes your butt. Don’t skip this part. You’re family will love you for it!

IMG_1347

Add them to your beef and tomato sauce mixture. Now add your chili beans. Stir well to incorporate.

This is the part where we get a little crazy. Remember your cornbread that you already mixed? Now you want to spoon it onto the top of your chili. Don’t be scared. Just go for it!

IMG_1350

It should look similar to this when you’re done. Or if you’re the creative type, you can do a heart or something else. No judgement here. You’re in a safe place.

IMG_1351

Now pop this bad boy into the oven for 35 minutes and walk away. Feel free to marvel at your amazingness for making such a delicious meal that everyone will be wowed by. :::Miss America wave:::

After 35 minutes is up, take it out of the oven and insert a butter knife through the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, put it back in the oven for 5 minutes at a time and recheck. The cornbread can be a little sneaky (as you can see here). It looks “done” at the top but it can still be runny underneath. No one likes runny, undone cornbread.

IMG_1352

You’re done! Congratulations! Feel free to top your chili with shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapeños or anything else you like. See! I can be flexible!

I hope this warms you belly and your heart on this cold and rainy day. Cheers!