Time to Move…. Again

Well, I’ve been with WordPress several years now, but enough is enough. I’ve hit one too many frustrations with it, so as of today, I’m moving my blog back over to Blogger.

You can find my new address at: http://bsjess.blogspot.com/ .

And I’m sure most of you already know that the ‘bs’ refers to Bittersweet. Not that other thing.  ;)

So… come check out my new digs, if you get the chance!

Published in: on December 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  


“When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

I had the most curious thing happen yesterday. Still not quite sure where it came from or what prompted it; perhaps a culmination of things. But, it seemed to come on as nothing more than a mere consideration and before I knew it, my heart was gripped in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Gripped by the ever powerful… ‘What if’.

Heading now into my 39th year, I was struck with the realization that, although most days I feel the same as I did in college (albeit a few pounds heavier and a good bit creakier)… the door is quickly closing on the possibility of becoming ‘Mom’.

Like I said… “Where’d that come from?!”

I’ve never been a girl who had a ‘ticking clock’, as they say. I enjoy children. And have often joked that the best thing about having a niece and nephew is the fact that I can love them as my own, but still give them back at the end of the day.

But, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind to wonder what mine would be like. Or that I’ve never wished that Savannah and Emery had some cousins on our side to play with and grow older with. I have. But, it’s always been a fleeting thought at most.

So, why the sudden pang? image

This is the first time I had ever actually sensed that door closing on me. The door of possibility. The door of options. Driven by the hands of time. And honestly, I didn’t even think I really cared about what may lie behind that door. But, funny how once it starts closing on you, how much more you appreciate all that it could contain.

But, I know that in such things, I am to trust that His ways are higher and better. And that He has a good and perfect plan for my life.
And I know that He has a sense of humor, too.

The very same day that all of this knocked me back a step, I had my usual volunteer night with the Celebrate Recovery kids at church. Only this night, at the last minute, they needed me in the Baby Barn, with the really little ones. The screaming their heads off, drooling little puddles at their feet, filling dirty diapers kind. As if to gently remind me of all that lies behind that door would entail.

And perhaps He does know better than me after all.

Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 9:34 pm  Comments (1)  


Thursday. The time had come. The aroma of the final supper fresh in the air. It was now the time for any words yet left unspoken. Some words of advice. Some that cut deep. And some last final words of reassurance. All spoken out of great love. And deep devotion. And with great humility, dusty feet were lovingly washed. Even those of the one who would betray. Bread broken. Wine shared and savored. Moments to be cherished. Symbols to be remembered.

A little while later, dusk settles in over a sheltering olive grove. Weary followers drift. While gut-wrenching prayers are offered up. Beads of sweat, mixed with that of blood. Final petitions for another way, ultimately relenting to the desire for a greater good.           

Friday. Beaten. Bruised. Humiliated. Scorned. Flogged. Broken, hanging on a cross. Bearing the brunt of the evil of a fallen world. Hopes crushed. Broken hearts left grappling. Does it really end like this? Where do we go from here? Darkness falls. A veil is torn. One final breath draws out: “It is finished.”    

Saturday. Fresh blood still trails up the hillside. The body lays behind a large cold stone. Loved ones meet in heavy silence. No words sufficient to satisfy their souls. Lost. Alone. Confused. Broken. A jug on the table still holds some of the wine. The basin in the corner still holds dirtied water. What did it all mean? Was it all just in vain? It may seem like a dream if the pain weren’t so real. All hope lost. Any words of assurance that still linger in the air now only seem to mock their weary minds and torture their broken hearts. “It is finished” now resonates more than anything else.

“It is finished.”

That’s how our proverbial Saturdays can sometimes feel, can’t they? A dream gets crushed. A relationship ends. A greatest fear becomes realized in an unexpected diagnosis.

But, it’s not necessarily finished, is it? At least not in the way our worldly minds may tend to think. In a way that would lead us to believe that all we are left with are some lingering memories and a cold heavy stone.

No, if you are in Christ, you know that ‘It is finished’ is merely a declaration that a battle has been won in advance. You may not yet see that victory played out, but you can rest assured that a greater work is taking place. And when that stone finally gets rolled away, you will be left singing His praises, wondering how you could have ever had the slightest doubt that He would overcome.

Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm  Comments (1)  

More Blessed to Give

This year, for Christmas, my Mom, sister and I all decided that instead of buying each other things that we really don’t need, we would find organizations to donate to in honor of each other. It was great! And now that the gifts have been given, I’d like to share the ones that I decided on for them.

clothed Clothed in Hope – A charity I came across in trying to find a mission that would be close to Mom’s heart… sewing. (The cool back story of how this charity came about and the girl who founded it can be found here.)

bin Bindonated – I remember seeing this charity, based in Chicago, featured on an episode of ‘Secret Millionaire’ and thought it’d be an organization that Dad would like to support. (And the guy that heads it up is SUPER nice! He sent me an email personally, to thank me for my contribution.)

147 147 Million Orphans – Okay. So, once I ordered a bag for Jodi and saw it, it resembled one she already had, so this organization wasn’t anything new to her. BUT, with it going to a good cause, I didn’t mind! The proceeds still went to a great cause and she has another tote to use!

happy Everything Happy – This one made me happy to come across. I don’t know how I found it exactly, I think just in a general online search, but the story behind it is so sweet and the products are so cute! Found Savannah the cutest (softest) pink heart pillow. A lot of their other stuff just made me wish the kids were smaller again… *sigh…* But, all very cute, for a good cause.

water Charity:Water – I remember hearing this organization’s President speak at a leadership conference in Atlanta a couple of years ago. Great ministry.

Anyway! So, that’s my compiled list! Made me feel good to be able to contribute to so many great causes AND not only the ones I supported, but the ones that were donated to in MY name! I highly encourage you to click on the names above to check out some of these charities and what they’re all about.
Or, check out http://www.charitynavigator.org/ for even more options!

Published in: on January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Simple Words on Simple Paper

I’ve pinned many things on Pinterest. Most of them just nice ideals, but a few I’ve taken and actually followed through with. The Memory Jar being one of them. The concept is this: Jot down anything you want to remember from that year. Then, at the first of the year, you read back through them and think back on all those things that made you smile.

I set out last year to jot down any notable occasions that I wanted to be sure to remember going into this year. And though I wasn’t real consistent with it and even skipped several months at a time, I still ended up with quite a fair amount. Of little reminders of how I am blessed in this life.

They are really quite varied. Most are rather simple. An encouraging word from someone I may hardly know. An unexpected hug from a CR Kid at church on Sunday morning. A reassuring arm around me from my Dad at the end of a particularly discouraging day. All simple in nature, though special to me nonetheless.

But, there’s one that stands out. One that is not only scribbled on a little piece of paper, but etched on my heart as well.

At the beginning of last year, my Bible Study ladies agreed to do Blessing Bags. Typically, these bags are merely Zip-loc bags filled with travel sized essentials (toothbrush, soap, tissues, deodorant, gum…) for those in the community who are in need. Generally, homeless people. Well, we all took our bags in anticipation of who God would place in our paths to receive them. And I wasn’t sure why, but my neighbor, Mandie kept coming to my mind.

Now, Mandie does not make a very good first impression. I’ll confess, she unnerved me at first. She no sooner moved in next door to me and the fighting commenced. Day and night. The cops were called countless times on account of her and her partner fighting. And I’ll admit, I was not thrilled. At first, it unnerved me. Then, it just irritated me. But, then I started to get to know her better and it just broke my heart for her.

I have no idea what her background is. I think it would be safe to assume that it’s not been an easy road for her. She’s rough. I won’t lie. Yet, she’s always been respectful toward me. Always polite and kind and appreciative. And it wasn’t long before I just saw something in her that nobody is quick to see in her. Something buried deep beneath the tough exterior. Something redeeming.

So, even though I had intended on sharing my Blessing Bag with a random person on the street, I felt it impressed upon my heart to share this one with Mandie. See, she had just told me that I should be glad, because they’d be moving out soon. And honestly, there was a part of me that was relieved. Relieved to know all the fighting would stop. But, I admit, I was a little sad, too. Not only sad for her, because she had no idea where she’d go from there, but sad that she was quick to say that I’d be glad to see her go.

Though she was not homeless, she was getting evicted, with no place to turn. They already had nothing. No furniture. Very little food. And she tried to hold a job down the best she could, without a car. And I couldn’t think of anyone better to bless with my bag than her.

So, I upgraded her bag to a clear plastic cosmetic bag, took out some of the hygienic items, as not to offend, and added some food items and a Wal*Mart gift card. And then I began to pray. “Father, if this is of You and You want this bag to go to Mandie, please make a way before they leave.”

A couple evenings later, there was a knock on my door. It was Mandie. She needed a couple of eggs. I smiled immediately and told her “Sure. I’ll be right back.” Stepped back in, grabbed a couple of eggs along with the Blessing Bag. Then, I stepped back outside, handed her the eggs and said “Here you go. And here’s a little something I wanted to give you before you leave” and handed her the bag.

She wasn’t sure how to respond, so just said “Ohh, okay… thanks!” and headed back for her apartment. And I to mine.

I no sooner got back to my dining room and my knees hit the floor. “Lord, thank You for this opportunity. Thank You for seeing in her what I’ve come to see in her. Thank You for caring for her and thank You for using me to show her Your love. Please use this meager bag to speak Truth into her. To let her know that she is loved.”

I was hardly finished with my prayer when I heard a rustling at my door. I stopped. Looked over. Waited. And then the doorbell rang, followed by footsteps sprinting down the breezeway and a slammed door next door.

Smiling curiously, I headed over to my door. I opened it up to find the sweetest little hand-written Thank-You note on a notebook paper hand-cut-out heart simply saying: “Thank U – Appreciate it – Came Just In time!!”

I never saw her again after that night. They were gone before I knew it. But, this moment in time will stay with me.


Simple words. On a simple piece of paper. But, sometimes those come to mean the most.

Published in: on January 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Mighty Big But

  This view of sunsets never gets old to me.
…. Never.

This is taken from my little porch off my apartment and I’ve taken countless pictures much like this one over the years. I can’t resist. Though admittedly, trying to capture a sunset in all its glory is entirely in vain. I just can’t get enough of them.

I got to thinking today  (Happens occasionally…)  about all my “I may not, but…”s. And how these sunsets are a great example.

Stormie O’Martian calls it “Seeing what’s right with this picture” in her book ‘Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On’.

Or, as my friend Missy loves to simply put it ~ PERSPECTIVE … as greatly inspired by Andy Andrews in his book ‘The Noticer’.

I don’t mind my little apartment.. most days. I wouldn’t want to live in a big empty house by myself and this place is just big enough for me (and Li’l Bit). But, so many times, I find myself bemoaning the fact that it just stays so dark in here. Being as I only have three windows, all on one side of the apartment, I’ve wished on many occasions that I at least had an apartment facing the east, so that the sun could filter in as it first comes up in the morning, as opposed to pouring in sometime in the afternoon, throughout the heat of the day.

But, then I would miss out on these beauties. Every evening. And many a day, nothing makes my day more than seeing the sun setting right outside my doorstep.

I may not have the best window to the world, BUT at least mine frames the sun as it sets every evening.

“I may not, BUT…”

What’s your “may not, but….” ?

Published in: on March 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Time to Make the…. Difference

A couple of weeks ago, a friend had posted on Facebook an incident that had taken place on the morning of Valentine’s Day:

“So, this morning at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru, I paid for the car behind me & told them to tell her ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’. The lady caught me at the light, and in tears she thanked me for making her day. Her husband passed away a few months ago, and this is her first Valentine’s Day without him in 20 years. She told me this was his way of telling her he loves her… And this is why it is good to pay it forward!! You have an extra $2, pay for the car behind you, it could mean a lot to them!!”

I loved it! I mean… how uplifting! So, I proceeded to pass it along onto my Facebook page (aka: Timeline… whatever).

Well, it quickly appeared that about the only person who realized that I was merely the sharer of the story, not the person in it was my high school English teacher, who undoubtedly picked up on the subtle use of quotation marks. And I found myself having to correct people throughout the day in saying “It wasn’t me. I had just heard it somewhere else and wanted to pass it along…”

It wasn’t long before conviction set in…

Why wasn’t it me?
Not only… why had I not thought of going myself, for a yummy sweet dozen of glazed goodness that morning, but… Why was I not the one out there helping to make a difference in someone else’s life?

Opportunities await. Every minute of every day.
I mean, who out there COULDN’T use a word of encouragement? Or a hand of help in some way? The simple reminder that we’re not in this world alone? I know I could.

And I know for me personally, anytime someone has extended their heart or hand out to me… it’s been sweeter than the sweetest Boston Cream or Jelly-filled donut Dunkin’ Donuts has to offer.  ♥

Let’s keep our eyes open.
Let’s keep our hearts open.
Let’s ‘be the change we want to see in the world’.

Published in: on March 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brick Wall

I remember it like it was last week.

I had come to my Junior year of college and had fullfilled all the prerequisites, so it was time to determine which direction I was to take from there.

My advisor was probably the most notable and respected professor on campus. He taught history and was very passionate about his studies. He made it clear to you the first day of class that there would be no chewing of gum, no hats worn by the guys and the door would remain closed from the prompt beginning of class to the very end… no coming and going as one pleased. But, had you gotten a late start and missed the closing of the door, no worries… you could just take notes outside in the hall. The man was so passionate about history, he would lecture at the top of his lungs. Often times, yelling to get his points across. I loved his class. I think I only took notes in the hall once. I hated to miss it.

However, once outside of the classroom, this empassioned man would become as humble and soft-spoken as a church mouse. The polar opposite of what you’d see in his classroom. If you passed him in the hallway, he would slightly hang his head down, nod to you and say something like “Good morning, Miss Simons. How are you doing today?”

Needless to say, having him as an advisor could be a tad bit… intimidating.

And I can still remember sitting there, in his office at the end of the hall. His little window looking out at the brick siding of the building next door. Surrounded by stacks of books, me sitting in the chair facing his desk and him behind the desk patiently probing… “Well, Jessica, what are your interests? What are your strengths? Where do you feel you should go from here? Do you enjoy Math? Science? Literature? (He already knew how well I ‘strived’ in History)….”

And I remember just sitting there. For three hours (not even exaggerating). Not having a clue as to where to go from there. Hating to waste his time, yet appreciating his patient insistence on helping me find the direction for my life.

As it turned out, that excruciating consultation ended with him relenting and saying “Well, there are a couple of electives here you might like. Would you like to take a psychology class or sociology class?” I said that sounded interesting enough. So, he signed me up for Psychology 101 and Sociology 101 and I ended up pursuing a Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology.

I then went on to work 15 more years at the job I held when we last spoke. The one in which I lost this May.

And now I feel like I’m back in that little office, surrounded by stacks of books, staring out a window facing that same brick wall, wondering….. “Where do I go from here?” While everyone else is just outside the door, scurrying about, actively chasing all their dreams, knowing exactly where they’re going in life.

Published in: on September 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm  Comments (3)  

“Not Guilty”


I mean, really. Who wasn’t blown away by the verdict in the Casey Anthony case today? Seemed to the general public an all but open and shut case. And yet…

“Not guilty.”

Judging from her reaction, I’d say the defendant was just as blown away as the rest of us.

“Not guilty.”

After years of scrutiny and judgment and public ridicule.

“Not guilty.”

Undoubtedly, by this point, guilty or not, her mind more than likely plagued with regret and second-guessing.  Any shred of hope for a future being crushed by mounting fear. And then…

“Not guilty.”

Now, I won’t deny what was done to that sweet child of hers was heinous and unacceptable. Nor will I deny that all signs pointed to this young mother. But, as I sat there watching the story play out, I couldn’t deny the image of grace either.

And this song “Not Guilty” kept playing through my mind, my heart challenging me to scrutinize my own life and my own indiscretions. How would I measure up with all my sins laid bare before me as well as a seat of judgment? Would I still have a future and a hope?

And I believe… Yes. Because I cling to the belief that I have an Intercessor who knows me , loves me and gave His life for me.

“Love paid the price for mercy. My verdict… Not Guilty.”

Thank you, Lord.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 8:18 pm  Comments (5)  

“What Pilate Said To Gaius”

 – excerpt from a sermon from long ago

Listening to the recent series “Jesus as They Saw Him” by Ravi Zacharias, I was especially struck by the final installment. Below is a copy of the sermon that he quotes, “What Pilate Said to Gaius”. Though I do suggest listening to the linked podcast for the full effect:

http://www.rzim.org/resources/listen/justthinking.aspx?archive=1&pid=2108 .

“… “It suddenly closed in on me Gaius, the impact of how trapped I was. The proud arm of Rome with all its boast of justice was to be but a dirty dagger in the pudgy hands of the priest. I was waiting in the room, Gaius, the one I use for court, officially enthroned with cloak and guard when they let this Jesus in. Well Gaius, don’t smile at this, as you value your jaw, but I have had no peace since the day he walked into my judgment hall. It’s been years but these scenes I read from the back of my eyelids every night. You have seen Caesar haven’t you? When he was young and strapping inspecting the legion. His arrogant manner was child like compared to that of the Nazarene. He didn’t have to strut, you see. He walked toward my throne; arms bound but with a strident mastery and control that by its very audacity silenced the room for an instant and left me trembling with an insane desire to stand up and salute.

The clerk began reading the absurd list of charges. The priestly delegation punctuating these with palm rubbings and beard strokings and the eye rollings and the pious gutturals I had long-since learned to ignore. But I more felt it, Gaius, than heard it. I questioned him mechanically. He answered very little but what he said and the way he said it, it was as if his level gaze had pulled my naked soul right up into his eyes and was probing it there. It seemed like the man wasn’t even listening to the charges brought against him as a voice deep within me seemed to say `You are the one on trial, Pilate.’ You would have sworn, Gaius, that he had just come in out of a friendly interest to see what was going to happen to me. The very pressure of his standing there had grown unbearable when a slave rushed in all a tremble, interrupting court to bring a message from Claudia. She had stabbed at the stylus in that childish way that she does when she is distraught. ‘Don’t judge this amazing man, Pilate,’ she wrote. ‘I was haunted in dreams of him this night.’

Gaius, I tried to free him. From that moment on I tried and I always will think he knew it. He was a Galilean so I delivered him out of my jurisdiction, but the native King Herod discovered he was born in Judea and sent him right back to me. I appealed to the crowd that had gathered in the streets, hoping that they were his sympathizers, but Caiaphas had stationed agitators to whip up the beast that cry for blood and you know how any citizen here just after breakfast loves to cry for the blood of another. I had him beaten, Gaius, a thorough barracks room beating. I’m still not sure why. To appease the crowd, I guess. But do we Romans really need reasons for beating? Isn’t that the code for anything we don’t understand? Well, it didn’t work, Gaius. The crowd roared like some slavering beast when I brought him back.

If only you could have watched him. They had thrown some rags of purple over his pulped and bleeding shoulders. They jammed a chaplet of thorns down on his forehead and it fit, it all fit! He stood there watching them from my balcony; lame from weakness by now but royal I tell you. Not just pain but pity shining from his eyes and I kept thinking somehow this is monstrous; this is all up-side-down. That purple is real, that crown is real, and somehow these animal noises the crowd is shrieking should be shouts of praise.

Then Caiaphas played his master stroke on me. He announced there in public that this Jesus claimed a crown and that this was treason to Caesar. And then the guards began to glance at each other and that mob of spineless filth began to shout, hail Caesar, hail Caesar. I knew I was beaten and that’s when I gave the order. I couldn’t look at him, Gaius. And then I did a childish thing. I called for water and there on the balcony I washed my hands of that whole wretched affair, but as they led him away I did look up and he turned and looked at me. No smile, no pity, he just glanced at my hands and I have felt the weight of his eyes upon them ever since.

But you’re yawning, Gaius, I’ve kept you up. And the fact of the matter is you are in need of some sleep and some holidays. Yes, sleep. Claudia will be asleep by now. Rows of lighted lamps line her couch. She can’t sleep in the dark anymore. No, not since that afternoon you see, since the afternoon when the sun went out and my guards executed him. That’s what I said, I don’t know how or what or why—I only know that I was there and though it was the middle of the day it turned as black as the tunnels of hell in that miserable city and while I tried to compose Claudia and explain how I had been trapped she railed at me with her dream. She has had that dream ever since when she sleeps in the dark—or some form of it—that there was to be a new Caesar and that I had killed him.

Oh, Gaius we have been to Egypt to their seers and magicians. We have listened by the hour to the oracles in the musty temples of Greece chattering their inanities. We have called it an oriental curse that we are under and we have tried to break it a thousand ways, but there is no breaking it.

Do you know why I kept going, Gaius? Deep within the curse is the haunting, driving certainty that he is still somewhere near, that I still have some unfinished business with him, and that now and then as I walk by the lake he is following me and as much as that strikes terror I wonder if that isn’t the only hope. You see, Gaius, if I could walk up to him this time and salute him and tell him that now I know that whoever else he was he was the only man worthy of his name in Judea that day. Tell him that I know I was entrapped—that I trapped myself. Tell him that here is one Roman that wishes he were Caesar. I believe that would do it wouldn’t it Gaius? I believe he would listen and know I meant it and at last I would see him smile.

Quiet tonight isn’t it Gaius? Not a breeze stirring by the lake. Yes, goodnight. You had better run along. Would you please waken the slave outside the door and tell him to bring me a cloak, my heavy one please. I believe I will walk by the lake. Yes, its dark there, Gaius but I won’t be alone. I guess I really haven’t been alone—not since that day. Yes goodnight, Gaius.”

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 12:27 am  Comments (2)