“Let it Go!”

I have a piece of paper that means the world to me.

I keep it posted on my fridge, so I never let it be forgotten.

It’s kept inside its little plastic ziplock pouch and to most would just look like a piece of trash.

But, to me, it’s anything but.

It contains only 3 short words, followed by an emphatic exclamation mark. But, it spoke volumes to me the day I received it.

You see, several years back, a situation arose in my life that was one of those ‘squall’ moments. You know the kind. The kind of storm you know will pass, and certainly could be worse, but at the same time, really rocks your boat.

Well, as much as I knew to just let it go and not let it get the best of me… it did. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had headed to my sister’s after work to hang out with her and her kids. And by the time I got there, I  just couldn’t shake all the feelings that had come up with the squall. I kept trying to shake it loose, but it just wouldn’t let me go.

I got home that night and was plagued with emotion. Overwhelmed with emotion I honestly didn’t even feel was mine to carry and yet there it was.

Not being able to sleep, I got out my ‘Streams in the Desert’ to read that day’s passage:

” ‘Do not be anxious about ANYTHING.’ (Phil. 4:6) … Anxiety should not be found in a believer. Instead we are to take all concerns to God. We should develop something of a spiritual instinct, causing us to immediately turn to God when a concern keeps us awake at night. … Also speak to the Lord about any trial you are facing or any difficulty you may have in your family or professional life.”

Well, it was comforting to know we were on the ‘same page, as it were. Though I must confess, much of the anxiety remained throughout that night.

So, the next morning, I got up, still upset and unnerved, but was promptly reminded by my perpetual calendar:  “Spend plenty of time with God; let other things go, but don’t neglect Him. (O. Chambers). “

Let other things go. Focus on Him.

Let other things go. Focus on Him.

Let other things go. Focus on Him.

Now, I’d be lying if I said all those crazy emotions faded away the instant I decided to focus on Him. But, that wasn’t the case. It was more like a determination to stay focused on Him amidst all the turmoil.

It felt like days later, but when I got to work that day, I took the opportunity to water some of the plants outside, to be able to just have some more quiet time. And no sooner had I watered that first batch of flowers, a lady came over to me. She made sure to get my attention, despite my busyness and said “Here. I thought you might like this.” She smiled and turned away, leaving me with this sweet, but powerful note simply saying “Let it go!”, along with a mini Hershey bar.

The tears stung my eyes then, just as they still do now whenever I think about it.

Who says He’s not an intimate God? The God I know is One Who loves to show up in the details of our lives. Waiting for the opportunity to lavish His love on us. And to help us carry our burdens.

But, He won’t impose. He draws near to us when we first draw near to Him. (James 4:8)

Let others things go. Focus on Him.

If you need to see Him move in your life, I encourage you to focus on Him. It may not be instantaneous. You may not feel any differently at first. But, you’ll know it when it happens.

That little mini Hershey bar was one of the sweetest I’ve ever had, but it was gone the day I received it; however, the message still rings true today.

“Let it go!”

Focus on Him.

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Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm  Comments (14)  

Laying it Down

“We must take our troubles to the Lord. But, we must do more than that ~ we must LEAVE them there.” (Hannah Whitall-Smith)

~

I love this quote. It’s one I’m driven back to, time and time (and time and time) again.

And yet, something in me still just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’.

I know it’s true. I know that my life works best when I’m able to complete the second part of this advisory. And yet… it’s still just so hard!

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Tell me I’m not the only one who insists on holding onto (typically, with a death grip, mind you)  …TROUBLES.

Troubles, People.

We’re not talking the ‘good stuff’ of life. We’re talking the muck and mire here. The nitty gritty. The irritants of life. The poison.

Frustration. Anger. Resentment. Bitterness. Guilt. Fear. Unforgiveness. Anxiety.

You name it ~ it’s what gets locked up tight in my grip whenever it surfaces in my life.

I know where to take it. I know the One Who wants to take it from me and carry it for me. I know He’s more than ready, willing and able. And yet, often times, I manage to take it to Him and lay it before Him, only to then grab it all back up and walk away.

Why is that?!?

Why do I seem to insist on holding onto all the junk in life?

I mean… Imagine a storm came up and I was caught out in it and I got a huge chunk of something lodged in my hand. I knew enough to seek medical attention. The doctor took my hand in his, surveyed the damage, carefully removed the debris, cleaned the wounded area completely and assured me all was well.

… Only to have me say ‘Thank You’ with the most sincere of hearts, turn to walk out the door and snatch that nasty piece of junk back up on the way out and clench it in my treated hand.

Crazy, right?

Yet, that’s essentially what I tend to do with many of the troubles of this life.

The big question is…. WHY?

Why is it SO darned hard to relinquish a hold on the bad stuff?

And am I the only one who struggles with this?

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm  Comments (3)  

This Ride Called Life

~
Just 3 more days until heading back to Disney World!
I haven’t been since 2009, so I’m pretty excited.
Excited that Emery will be taller, so he can ride more rides now.
Excited to stay in a new resort this time.
Excited that it’s Dad’s first time…. ever.
And who am I kidding. At this point, I’m just excited to get away for a few days!
~
But, more than all this excitement, I’m probably more shocked than anything.
Shocked that my Mother would even invite me to go this time.
For she has yet to forgive me for taking her and Savannah on Soarin’ the last time we were there.

I didn’t realize just how grave a mistake it was until the seats rolled back, the lights went out, and I looked over and saw my niece slowly beginning to freak out.
Then the movie came on.
Yikes.
No sooner were we drifting over the Golden Gate bridge, and she was absolutely inconsolable.
So, I looked to Mom for reinforcement.
And it was then that I realized… it was two against one.
And not in my favor.
Mom was losing it pretty quickly herself.
~
An hour and a half wait to get into this ride, mind you.
~
So, I started trying to calm BOTH of them down.
“Just LOOK at ME! Stop looking at all that STUFF! LOOK AT ME!!!”
~
Nothing.
~
“Close your EYES! Just LISTEN to me!!!”
~
Augh.
~
I think it’s safe to say that that was the single-most exhausting ride any of the 3 of us have ever been on.
~
But, as we walked away, I thought… You know. How many times have I been overwhelmed in this life, by all the craziness around me?
And how many times have I heard that still small voice clearly say “Stop. Look at Me. Don’t focus so on all that stuff. Just look to ME. Close your eyes and listen to ME.”
~
And I guess I can’t blame Mom and Savannah too much, because I don’t usually listen either… at least not until I’ve absolutely worked myself into a frenzy and come out of it just utterly exhausted.
~
Maybe one day I’ll learn to take my own advice.
~
And maybe this time, I’ll let them go ride the teacups while I enjoy the scenery!
Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Snow

“Flakes, flurries, swirls, crystals.
Whatever form it comes in, I’ll take it.
We go back, snow and me. 
We have a beautiful history.”

Thank you for dropping in at Christmas, dear friend.
It was a pleasure to see you once again.
I’ll be awaiting your return….
Love,  Jessica
Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Holiday Humor

I went to watch the kids one night last week. After watching some “Polar Express”, we were just hanging out, eating some pizza. Well, Savannah and I were eating our pizza; Emery had scarfed down what he was going to eat and ditched the rest for some quality time on lego.com.

While Savannah and I picked at our pizza, she began to pick at me, saying… “I know what you’re getting for Chriiiistmas!” She said she got me something that started with ‘P’, so I played along.

“You got me a peanut!”

“Noooooo!”

“A penguin?”

(giggle) “Noooooo!”

“A painting!”

“Nooooo!”

“A popsicle? You know, that’s just gonna be Kool-Aid by Christmas Day.”

(laughing) “Nooooo!”

So, she then moved on to “I know what you’re getting from Emery, too!”

(gasp!) “You do?!?!”

“Yeppp! It starts with ‘S’!”

I said “Hmmmm… let me see… Is it a soccer ball?”

Emery, who appeared to only be half-way listening this whole time, glanced up from the laptop and candidly said “No. It’s socks. Kinda rainbow striped and really fuzzy” and looked back down to his game.

Hahahaha. Savannah said “EMERY!!”  And I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

After that, Savannah went over and ‘told Emery what she got me’. Uh huh. Yeah, right. I wasn’t born yesterday, kid.

Published in: on December 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm  Comments (1)  

This is my Story… (continued)

 

(for previous ‘Story’ post: 
https://bittersweetjess.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/this-is-my-story-continued/

If the well-known expression rang true and I was to be the camel in the scenario, then 2005 would have been the final straw that broke my proverbial back.

But then, if I started there, I’d be putting the cart before the proverbial horse now, wouldn’t I.

So, let’s just back it up a bit, shall we?

~

… Through several years of moving on and navigating the straight and narrow, I found myself in a more solidified position at work. I found a nice little apartment, just big enough for me, to call ‘home’. Things seemed to continue to ‘fall into place’ and my life started to take shape a little bit more.

Except I couldn’t seem to find someone to share that life with. A desire that had long since developed in my heart and had all but been within reach… and yet still eluded me.

I dated some. Some good. Some bad. I laughed. I cried. Sometimes, even laughed until I cried. And even got my hopes up a time or two for something more. But, the ‘more’ just never came to pass.

Then, in the fall of 2003, I happened back across a guy I knew just in passing from my first year at Piedmont. I also happened to be going to his brother’s church. And in getting to know him better, he happened to love fishing as much as my brother-in-law, his parents happened to love eating where I work and he happened to be living back up in northeast Georgia, which I just happened to love.

You know how, with a mirage, there seems to be something of great substance and promise on the horizon? And yet when you come up on it, it just seems to dissolve into nothingness and you’re left with nothing more than a landscape of sand to quench your thirst?

But alas, I’m jumping ahead again…

(… to be continued…)

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 10:53 pm  Comments (3)  

Redemption

 

 

re·demp·tion :

 Recovery of something pawned or mortgaged. 

 

 “Gainesville State School is a maximum-security detention facility, which houses some of the most violent male teen offenders in the state. The young men who are inmates at Gainesville are rewarded with participation on the football team if they are progressing in all areas of the facility’s rehabilitation program.

“Grapevine Faith’s fans participated in a similar outreach to the Gainesville team in 2008, an expression of compassion that drew national media coverage and has led to the development of a major motion picture detailing the story.

“Grapevine Faith’s head coach, Kris Hogan, initiated the outreach last year when he sent an email to his school’s families, students, and staff, asking that they reach out to the Gainesville team members and demonstrate unconditional love. His idea included the spirit line and cheering for the opposition.

“‘When I thought about how we could impact them, I thought about what would give them the most hope,’ Hogan explains. ‘That’s when I had the idea … My goal continues to be sending a special message to these boys … I want to let them know and feel they are just as valuable as any other person on Earth.’

“Last year’s game, won by Grapevine Faith 33-14, had an impact beyond the playing field.

“Members of the Grapevine Faith community continued to reach out to the inmates at Gainesville. Several of them serve as mentors to boys at Gainesville, visiting them on a regular basis. In addition, the Heart of a Champion character program, a curriculum developed by a non-profit organization run by Grapevine Faith parents, has been deployed since last spring. As of this month, every participant in that program has progressed to the point of being sent home or being advanced to a halfway house. Other efforts to impact the youth at Gainesville continue with long-term transition programs in development.

“The movie on last year’s game, One Heart, is in pre-production and is scheduled for release in fall 2010. The film is being produced be local production company, Eterne Films, with Steve Riach as the producer. The film’s screenwriter is native Texan write/actor Lane Garrison. Information on One Heart can be found at www.oneheartmovie.com.” (Source: Pegasusnews.com)

Published in: on July 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Comments (3)  

This is my Story… (continued)

(for previous ‘Story’ post:  https://bittersweetjess.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/this-is-my-story-continued-some-more/ )

~

“But that’s just a lot of water
Underneath a bridge I burned
And there’s no use in backtrackin’
Around corners I have turned
Still I guess some things we bury
Are just bound to rise again
For even if the whole world has forgotten
The song remembers when”

~

I went through some old cd’s last week, to see if there was anything I’d want on my iTunes. And as I played some of the dustier ones, it was just like going back in time. I really should’ve buckled up before taking such a trip, because before I knew it, I had flown down Memory Lane and was back in college in another time.

The year was 1995 and I was just kicking off my senior year at Piedmont and life was pretty good. Nothing extraordinary, but I had finally settled on a major and gotten into a house with a group of great girls and there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Still wasn’t exactly in any sort of relationship with God, but I still retained the peace from the previous Spring and knew that I wanted His will for my life. Guess I was just hoping it would fall into place as I went along. The need for any real relationship with Him honestly never occured to me.

Come September, I got stopped by a buddy of mine saying that his roommate was dying to meet me and asked would I please consider going on a double date? I agreed and we set the date.

Next thing I knew, I was headed back up to school with just enough time to freshen up for the big date and not 15 minutes from the school, a man crossed a very busy Hwy 365 and out of all the cars around me, managed to only hit me. The man was very seriously injured, for quite some time. And honestly, looking back, we both could’ve been killed. Yet somehow, though my car was totaled, I managed to walk away with no more than a seatbelt burn.

However, the paramedics insisted I go back to the hospital just to get checked out for insurance purposes. So, I called the guys from the emergency room to let them know I wouldn’t be able to make our date. And before I knew it, my date was up at the hospital with me, making sure I was alright. And though I had never met him before that night, he just seemed to fall into place. From that night on, we spent every moment that we could together.

He was very kind. And funny. Family oriented. And I even remember being impressed to see him pray in the evenings and thinking “Wow… this is what I’ve been looking for.”

We dated that whole year. His family was like my own and I loved them all dearly. He was a part of my family as well. And though we ‘had our moments’, all was pretty great.

Before long, he started hinting at the future. But anytime he would, I just never felt like it was the right time. I kept hoping and thinking my heart would change with time. Finally, he couldn’t wait any longer and proposed. It was very sweet and I was so honored… but still didn’t feel right about it. And with no good reason why.

So, I went along with it all, still hoping for a change of heart… accepted the ring… was engaged that whole next year… began looking at halls and putting deposits down and looking at dresses… with no change of heart. I just couldn’t get excited about it all. As much as I had wanted to.

Inevitably, he sensed the feelings that weren’t there and I had to confess that I just didn’t love him as much as I wanted to or as much as he deserved. And I gave the ring back. To this day, that’s got to be the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. For so many reasons.

I knew that I was breaking the heart of the only guy who’d ever truly loved me. I knew that there was no way we could ever go backwards from that point, so it’d be the last time I’d ever see him or his family. And I knew that someone like that was one in a million and that finding another worthy to take his place would take a very long time.

And yet I knew it was the right thing to do. And was beginning to trust in something bigger than what was before me. Rather something that lies within.

And I was quickly learning that the narrow path can be just plain difficult… even when it does all ‘fall into place’.

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm  Comments (2)  

‘Reality’

I remember it like it was last week.

I must’ve been about 9 or 10 years old and riding the bus home from school one afternoon.

And for some reason, the idea just popped into my head: “Where will I be in the year 2000?”

It seemed so far away.

Almost like the age of jet-propelled space cars and commuting to Mars.

And I just thought “Well, let’s see… I’ll be OVER 25   *gasp!*   so I will have graduated, married and have a couple of kids by then (and be well on my way to the retirement center…)”.

And though I may have pondered for a moment, how the specifics of that future might play out, the overall picture seemed all but a given. Clearly, an open and shut case.

Now, whether it was accepted with a spirit of anticipation or that of resignation, I couldn’t honestly say to this day.   

Either way…. it was just a matter of fact.

And here, some 25 years later, I still almost feel like that little girl on the bus, wondering at times how it’s all supposed to play out…

But, by now I’ve realized that nothing in life is a given. Each year that lies before us is a mystery. Every day a gift to unwrap as it comes. And sometimes, just sometimes, those matters of fact can just as swiftly turn into fiction.

~

“We all have this picture of the way our lives should be. And for some of us the picture of the way our lives should be and the picture of reality is just a reminder our lives are not turning out the way we had hoped.

“So, what do you do with a shattered dream? What do you do with an unmet expectation? What do you do when your life isn’t turning out the way you thought life was going to turn out?

“What do you do when you have to turn to Plan B?”

~

*  Thoughts based on Chapter 1 of Pete Wilson’s book “Plan B” . *

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm  Comments (1)  

100 (more) Things…

A couple of years ago, I followed strict blogger protocol and came up with my ‘100 Things Jessica’ at about my 100th post. So, this week, in honor of like my 250th post, or going into my 36th year on earth or whatever, I thought it might be fun to do another one.
Let’s see…..
  1. You could call me a procrastinator.
  2. I had intended to do this list over 50 posts ago.
  3. I do however tend to really get things done, once I put my mind to it.
  4. I once quilted a whole bed-sized quilt.
  5. Okay… so, technically, I just pieced the top and my Mom did the rest.
  6. You might also call me a fabricator. (No pun intended.)
  7. My earliest remembrance of fabricating (aka: outright lying) involved an Avon Duster D. Duck and dusting powder.
  8. I couldn’t have been much older than 3 yrs old, but I remember it like it was last week.
  9. I haven’t used dusting powder since.
  10. I tend to traumatize rather easily.
  11. I can’t hear Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” to this day, without being taken back to my room in Sheridan, playing with Barbie Dolls. (Not traumatizing. Just curious as to why that one song stuck, over all the others?)
  12. I do like good drum features in songs.
  13. Music is very influential in my life.
  14. Some of my sweetest memories are of us hanging out in the basement, when we were little, listening to some Eagles, Creedence Clearwater, Don Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, Eddie Rabbit… on Dad’s stereo.
  15. I am totally hooked on sweets.
  16. My favorite midnight snack is a nice glass of orange juice and some form of sweets. Cake, cookies, donuts… or just plain chocolate. ~Yum.
  17. I can’t even eat yogurt anymore without adding chocolate to it.
  18. I really do need help.
  19. And I do worry about the amount of my sugar intake lately.
  20. I’m not a big fan of doctors.
  21. I once passed out at the vet’s office.
  22. I still fight passing out when having my blood drawn.
  23. Though I have gotten significantly better at it.
  24. I was diagnosed in 2004 as having Crohn’s Disease.
  25. A couple years later, I was downgraded to Ulcerative Colitis.
  26. So, not sure what I have exactly (guess it depends on who you ask).
  27. I’m just glad the meds are working.
  28. And that the doctor I ended up with has a sense of humor.
  29. Apparently, during my last colonoscopy, I was reportedly rather concerned that they would upload video of my procedure onto you-tube.
  30. I hope that’s the worst I had to say that day.  *gulp*
  31. I was told that morning that the office was all abuzz thinking that ‘Jessica Simpson’ was there for a colonoscopy.
  32. Yeah… me and Jessica Simpson… same thing.
  33. I can eat my weight in boneless barbequed pork chops off the grill.
  34. My other favorite is teriyaki-marinated pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon.
  35. I’m really not supposed to have much pork in my diet.
  36. I splurge every now and again.
  37. My first favorite Bible verse that I committed to memory was: Isaiah 41:10.
  38.  I now have countless favorites.
  39. I’ve now completed 10 different Bible Studies with the Tuesday night ladies.
  40.  My first one was “Fingerprints of God” by Jennifer Rothschild in 2005.
  41. I just finished up “Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place” by Beth Moore.
  42. I cherish each study.
  43. And I cherish each one of those sweet ladies.
  44. I am very blessed to be part of such a exemplary church family.
  45. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it.
  46. I like to listen to David Jeremiah and Ravi Zacharias on the radio.
  47. I almost met Ravi a while back… (I saw a gentleman in the gift shop one day who favored Mr. Zacharias, but I didn’t think much about it… until his wife came back in later and signed her charge slip: Margaret Zacharias!!)
  48. I was beside myself the rest of the day. (If only I’d heard him speak. Then, I would’ve known it was him.)
  49. The funny thing was, just that morning I was ‘Just Thinking’ while listening to his broadcast how I’d like to sit down and ask him a thing or two.
  50. However, I would not have been able to ask a thing, even had I known it was him.
  51. I have met the great guys from MercyMe.
  52. I got voted ‘SLOB’ of the month on their blog (very first one, as a matter of fact).
  53. So, I took it upon myself to introduce myself to them a couple weeks later, when they came to town on tour.
  54. I think I may have frightened Bart. ~ Ha.
  55. That was an all day, outdoor concert and had to be one of the hottest August days in Georgia history.
  56. I. don’t. do. heat.
  57. I love Fall.
  58. I can appreciate Spring.
  59. I don’t mind Winter in the least.
  60. I LOVE snow!!!
  61. And even love me some rain.
  62. But, I am not one for Summer in the least.
  63. I realize I am very misplaced living in the Deep South.
  64. I wish I had the opportunity to travel more.
  65. I actually traveled one year to Branson, Missouri… With my Grandma. On a bus. Full of old folks.
  66. I was 25 at the time.
  67. We saw about 9 shows in 3 days. Those seniors wore me out!
  68. I knew I’d regret it one day, if I didn’t go.
  69. I’m so glad I went. We had the best time.
  70. And there was really only one lady in the group that tested your patience.
  71. Well, two if you count Grandma. 
  72. My favorite place to eat in Branson was McFarland’s.
  73. They served dessert first.
  74. I loved it. (Traffic Jam pie. Mmmmm…)
  75. That concept, however, did NOT fly over well with my traveling comrades.
  76. A busload of 50 folks, average age at about 80 yrs old and I was the only one who had to use to bus ‘facilities’ the entire time we were there. (Figures.)
  77. It did help that our tour director was somewhat young and entertaining.
  78. I think he drank.
  79. I’m pretty sure I would, too if I was him.
  80. My greatest source of entertainment these days is “Castle”.
  81. I dropped cable last July, so I now watch “Castle” online.
  82. I don’t miss the rest at all.
  83. I’ve also been without a phone for going on a month now.
  84. I’m okay with that, too.
  85. My inner editor finds it VERY difficult ‘2 text’.
  86. I eat candy in 3’s and 5’s… or 8’s.
  87. I only eat Jelly Belly’s and assorted chocolates if there’s a chart.
  88. I don’t like surprises (especially if it’s with the likes of burnt popcorn-flavored candy or coconut laced chocolate.)
  89. I was once surprised at Turner Field when a bird selected me to poo-poo on.
  90. I also got a surprise when I was hit by a misfired nail out of a nail gun at Stanley Proto.
  91. It’s funny, because I’m not normally one to be caught off-guard. I usually see things coming…
  92. In college, I once went on a blind date I wasn’t even sure I was on.
  93. I didn’t see that coming.
  94. I saw ‘Tombstone’ for the first time that night.
  95. I saw ‘Tombstone’ 2 more times on the big screen after that.
  96. But, not on blind dates.  … I don’t think??
  97. I’ve forgiven the mastermind of my blind-sided blind date. (It probably didn’t hurt that it involved seeing ‘Tombstone’.)
  98. And I’ve forgiven the nail gun operator.
  99. As well as the bird.
  100. I still have yet to forgive Duster D. Duck.

Published in: on May 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm  Comments (6)