Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas

Now I know why my parents would send us kids to Mamaw and Papaw's house and then go back home to chill. A house without screaming children is pretty darn peaceful. 

Paul and Anna have been in a rare form this week. I am blaming all the sugar that they seem to be getting at school. Or maybe I should blame the excitement of Christmas. Or, well, lets be honest, when it is cold outside and it gets dark so early there is not enough inside play to burn off the amount of energy a 8yr old and a 5 year old have. I blame the weather and the sun.

Either way, they have been nuts. Just ask our friend Tyler. He stopped by last night after work and, I kid you not, as soon as he walked in the door Paul jumped on his back and Anna started attacking him from the front. And of course the dog joined in on the fun.  It was a mad house. A MAD HOUSE.

This morning after sending the kids off to school I curled up in the fetal position in the middle of the living room floor. It felt nice blocking out, for just a split second, all the stuff that needs to be done before the children start arriving back home at 2pm.

My 3rd semester as a full time Grad student has come to an end and I am beyond giddy. I managed to finish the semester strong, unlike last semester in which I cried myself to sleep nightly and daily threatened to quit. I guess you could say that I am getting the hang of feeling overwhelmed and pushing through? 
I don't know. . . maybe not. 
I did call Roger just about every Monday at lunch crying. The call usually consisted of me telling him how stupid I was and how hard it is to be me. I get VERY dramatic, can you tell?

Anyway, the semester is over, I am giddy, the children are crazy, and Roger, like most ministers around this time, is super busy. It makes for very interesting days.

And for the heck of it, because I like sharing pictures, here is a photo of Anna and Paul playing dress up.  The back story: we decided that Roger was working too late and needed to come home so the kids dressed up and I drove them over to the church. I let them loose in the building to go find their dad, scare him, and kidnap him. 

  So I guess this post is random and has no point . . .  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let Everyone Be Himself

A church member pointed this children's poem out to me. It comes from the book Peace on Earth: A Christmas Collection which was put together by Mary Engelbreit. The poem is written by James Freeman Clarke. 

Let everyone be himself, not try to be someone else. God, who looked on the world He had made and said it was all good, made each of us to be just what our own gifts and faculties fit us to be. Be that and do that and so be contented. Reverence, also, each other's gifts; do not quarrel with me because I am not you, and I will do the same. God made your brother as well as yourself.

He made you, perhaps, to be bright; he made him slow; he made you practical; he made him speculative; he made one strong and another weak, one tough and another tender; but the same God made us all. Let us not torment each other because we are not all alike, but believe that God knew best what he was doing in making us so different. So will the best harmony come out of seeming discords, the best affection out of differences, the best life out of struggle, and the best work will be done when each does his own work, and lets everyone else do and be what God made for him.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Paul's Writing Assignment

Paul had an assignment in the 1st grade to write about his mom's hands. 

I guess it somehow got lost because his 2nd grade teacher sent home some papers that his 1st grade teacher had found.

As you might imagine, as I read his little writing my breath was taken away.  

What a sweet boy we have! 

I remember my mom's hands holding mine as we jumped off the diving board.
We walked on the bottom of the deep end.
It was like walking on the moon.

I remember my mom's hands on my shoulder. 
I looked at the body of my grandpa Levi.
He died.
Tears came down my cheek.

I remember my mom's hands buy me minecraft.
Which I wanted so bad.
She made me happy.

The simple day to day things, those are what mean the most to your children.

Those are the things that they hold dear.

May we never forget that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Body of Christ: His Church

When I most need it, I run away from it.

Monday I tried to run away. I feared it.

But in the end, I went.

I sat in the back, trying to be alone, but no matter how far back I went I was still amongst them.

It has a way of doing that.

That's why during times like this, I run.

But this time was different, I didn't run. This time I leaned into it.

As I walked down to recieve communion by intinction I felt an arm wrap around me. A fellow Christian reaching out, consoling me, acknowledging that it was okay, in this place, at this time, to grieve, to seek comfort in the community of believers. 

As I took the bread, dipped it into the cup, placed it within my mouth, I was filled. 

God was with me.

His body was surrounding me.

The tears that flowed were not of sadness, but of gratitude. Even at such a time as this I can find rest.


Monday, October 21, 2013

A Sunday Afternoon Ambulance Ride

Hello Everyone!
Because I don't want anyone to worry I will quickly update you on what is going on.

Monday I wasn't feeling well after my 1st class so I decided to skip out on the rest o the school day and head home early.

Tuesday I woke up peeing a little bit of blood, but by the end of the day I was peeing a LOT of bright red blood and was begged by my husband to do to urgent care.

At urgent care I was diagnosed with a Kidney Infection.

Being that I had no other symptoms besides the blood in my urine, they wanted to later check for kidney cancer.  Just a precaution.

Starting Thursday I begin to have mild discomfort in my upper abdomen.
By Sunday afternoon the mild discomfort began to turn into pain. The pain started in the middle of my chest and radiated up through my left side and left arm.

By 4:30pm I could take it no longer so I headed to Urgent Care.  I figured it was either a gallbladder attack, very bad indigestion, or a possible side effect of the medicine.

While at Urgent Care I was so uncomfortable with the chest pain that I started to break out in a sweat. When the doctor walked in the exam room I tried by best to explain my symptoms. At that point it was hurting so bad that I could no longer hold back the tears of stress.
Once the Doctor say my medical history they gave me an aspirin, hooked me up to a monitor and oxygen, and called the ambulance.
I refused the ambulance, saying that I would drive myself to the ER, but they were insistent that I did not drive.

So I had them call my husband to come pick me up.
Roger arrived with the kids in tow.  

The doctors were still insistent that I take the ambulance.  So, In the end I took the ambulance and felt like a total idiot. I just KNEW it had nothing to do with my heart but whenever people see my heart history, on top of me having chest pain, they freak out. 

Once in the ER I refused all medical tests involving my heart. As I signed the papers saying that I would not sue the hospital if I indeed died of a heart attack, I explained to the doctors and RNs that it WAS something in my stomach area.

Little Anna refused to get near me, while Paul stood in the corner praying. I could see that this whole ordeal was upsetting the kids so I asked Roger try to find someone to come get them.

Our good friend Carla, who has 2 children of her own, got our kids and our house key.  She fed them dinner, took our dog out to pee, grabbed all the stuff that the kids would need for school the next day, and took them to her house.  Such a BIG help!

After a million tests the verdict was . . . "We don't know why you are hurting, but here is a prescription for some antacids."

Damn it.

That was the WHOLE reason I went to urgent care.  I knew I probably had something simple like that.  Since I was already in the ER I requested an ultra sound on my aorta, kidneys and gallbladder. That seems to be all ruled out so I am feeling mentally MUCH better.

Well, minus the bill from the ambulance and the ER.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


 A few days ago Roger and I had our first real fight in a while. I honestly have no clue what it was even about. I do however remember the tension that was in the car as we drove the kids to school.

Oh wait, now I know what the fight was about!  

It was about something incredibly stupid. 

You'll laugh when I tell you.

Roger, who was driving at the time, was taking a different route than I usually take and was trying to tell me that it is quicker. I was telling him that he was a "Mr Know it all" and to stop, "my route is faster."  That spiraled into one of those crazy random marital spats that inevitably bring up past mistakes and end with that odd tension in the air.

Once the kids were dropped off we headed to the fitness center. Roger, having put the car in park, placed my water bottle on the seat next to me. Being that it didn't have a lid on it and that I had no clue he was putting it there, the water bottle tipped over, spilling water all over my butt.  

So, there I was, mad and getting ready to walk into the fitness center with a VERY wet butt.  As I was walking in, sulking, I noticed that I had at least half of the water bottle left. What did I do with it? Well, I ran up to Roger and poured it all down the front of his shirt.  


I did.

What did Roger do?
He gave a little chuckle and said "ok. that's fair."

Right then and there we realized how insane our little marital spat was.  We apologized, giggled some more, and headed on into the fitness center.

Of course, when we got inside the people at the front desk asked why we were both so wet.
"he spelt water on me so I poured water on him."

***blank stare from behind the counter***

Why am I telling you this personal story?  
I have no clue.  
Maybe it is because I want to share the importance of being able to laugh at yourself.  Laughter is what gets me through so much. SO MUCH. 

Don't take life too serious. 

Sometimes I forget that.

 Fortunately I am married to a man that NEVER forgets that. 
Yes, sometimes it is annoying, but in the end it is good.  

  I am pretty sure the key to a healthy marriage is laughter.
Yep. I am almost positive.

I know Roger and I have only been married 9 years, but all the people I know that have been happily married for a REALLY long time laugh a LOT.  

There MUST be something to it.

Go forth and laugh! 

Take a look at this video. I think you will really like it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A touch of Joy

I went to class this morning unprepared for the cooler weather. Being that I live 2hrs from campus I couldn't just run home to grab something. This afternoon, with time to kill between classes, I ran (drove) to the local Goodwill in search of a sweater.

As I walked through the back door of the library I caught a glimpse of myself. Everything that I had on, literally from head to toe, was either bought at Goodwill or given to me out of the goodness of someones heart. 

My hair- Two lovely ladies at the church bought me a VERy generous gift certificate to the local salon I use. I have had free haircuts for almost a yr now, including the kids. Best Christmas present EVER.

My glasses- My Mother works for an eye doctor and gets a 2 free eyeglasses a year. The doctor, out of the goodness of his heart, gives me a free exam and my WONDERFUL Mother gives me one of her free pairs of frames.

My clothes- Goodwill finds

My umbrella - Goodwill find while we were on vacation (yes, I hunt out the goodwills in the expensive neighborhoods)

My Shoes- My Mother-In-Law knew how much I wanted Chacos, but could not afford them, so she got them for me for my 25th birthday.

My backpack- A VERY kind woman in a church was selling a backpack that she had originally gotten for her daughter, but said daughter didn't like the color. I offered to buy it off of her, for a reasonable price, but she refused to take the money, saying it was a Seminary gift.

My purse- I would say this is out of the kindness of her heart, but, in all honesty, I think my mom got tired of my carrying around crap bags so she bought me a very nice 31purse. Thanks Mom!!!

As I stood looking at my reflection, like a crazy person, I was humbled.  I am so incredbily thankful for the wonderful people that our in my life.  Joy!  Joy is what they bring me.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hello blog world!

It's that time of year again. 

I head up to see my cardiologist for the BIG look around this Friday.

Please be praying for me around 11:15am Sep 13th?
I always tell myself that I'm not nervous, but clearly I am. 

I mean, I'm looking up all of this information on the internet that I have already looked up before. Information about my heart condition that I look up every year about this time.

 "High risk of sudden cardiac arrest" read the websites.

I'm a little freaked out that my appointment is on Friday the 13th.
I don't know why I'm freaked out.  I just am.
It's friday the 13th.
Isn't that a bad luck day?  

I should reschedule. 

The bottom line, that I have to keep reminding myself, is that non of us know when our last breath will be.  Each day is a precious gift.

so happy to get my new pacemaker

I  will never take one second of this gift for granted.  

Summer 2013

Summer 2008

Winter 2009

Summer 2010

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lord, Hear our Prayers

I'm having a rough day, emotionally

Last night, for the first time in several months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn't get those awful images out of my mind. The images of my two cousins tucked into their coffins. 

This last year still feels like a dream. So much loss. So much pain. So much confusion. 

"It is dark. He does not know where he is. And then he sees pale light from the street soaking in above the dawn drapes. It is not a light to see by, but only makes the darkness visible." - Remembering, a novel by Wendell Berry.

Grief is a tricky thing. You think you are making progress, then all of a sudden you are back at stage one . . .  SHOCK. 

This past weekend Roger and I went to visit with his family. Before heading into town we stopped by Gran's grave for a visit. 
It was harder than we imagined it would be. Looking at the grave brought back the memories of sitting by her bedside, holding her hand as she struggled to hold on during those last few days of her life.

Paul - "The little lego thing that I made for Granny Janet is still in the coffin with her, right?"
Me- "Yes. And the little picture that Anna drew for her is in there too."

I'm tired.

I find myself wanting to spend the day on the couch.

I forced myself into the shower.

Forced myself to fix my hair.

I'm forcing myself to write a little something on this blog.

Later I will force myself to work on Seminary stuff.

I know all of these things will eventually help. They are helping.
My heart is becoming lighter.    The tears are slowing down.

Psalm 102: 1-2
Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly."

Life is rough sometimes.
So many people I know and love are going through such hard times right now. From the loss of babies, to the loss of Grandparents, to the loss of marriages. Lord, hear our prayers. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Seminary: Day 1, Year 2

Monday, August 26th, was my first day back to Seminary. My 2nd full year back.

I was both excited and nervous, but mostly nervous.

To add to the nervousness I had alarm clock issues which caused me to be 30 min late to my first class, on the first day.  


However, after my first class was complete, the syllables gone over, the reassurance from the professor that we are all capable and competent students, I was more than ready to dig into the learning process.

My class load this semester:
9-Noon  Church History
1pm-4pm Old Testament
6pm-9pm Leadership in the Church

The class that I was the most nervous about, Church History, seems to be the one that I am the most excited about. 

Mainly because I am going into it knowing pretty much NOTHING.  

I know. I know.  I am married to a person that is obsessed with Church History. How can I know little to nothing about it? 

Well, honestly, I probably know more than what I give myself credit for.  But let's be truthful, it's not something that, like my husband, I obsess over. 

I, unlike my husband, do not lug church history books to the beach for some casual reading.  

I do, however, suffer through the long late night ramblings of said husband about Church History. 

Some of that information has stuck in my head over the years, of which, at this point in my adult life, I am thankful for! 

Being that I have one full year of Seminary under by belt, I think this year I am going into it knowing what to expect and what is expected out of me.  Maybe that is why I was so nervous about heading back to class on Monday?  I had first hand experiance of how incredibly hard graduate level work can be.

I came across this quote while reading a book for my Church Leadership class:

"If you deliberately set out to be less than you are capable, you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life." -Abraham Maslow

This is going to be my quote for this semester!  It is a good reminder that no matter how challenging it is to juggle career, parenthood, and marriage, that I would be incredibly unhappy if I didn't continue to push myself to do the things that I KNOW that I am capable of doing.

You can ask my husband, an unhappy Jessica is NOT a fun person to live with.  

Here is to a great semester full of books, massive papers, lots of hair pulling, late night tears, and LEARNING!!!  

 God Bless the Seminary student . . .  and all the family members that support us.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am on 3 different heart medications at the moment. It seems that my medication load increases every couple of years. Which is normal for someone with my congenital heart defect. I am sure that over the years the meds will increase even more.

The most frustrating thing for me, being a mother and a student, is the tiredness that comes with these medications. I do everything that a "normal" person is suppose to do. I eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise. But I am still left with the need to take a few cat naps throughout the day.  

I feel lazy when I give into the need to rest. I look like a "normal" person, therefor I should feel like a "normal" person. But, as my husband keeps reminding me, it is okay to rest when I need to.  
When the tiredness rushes over me it feels as if my heart can not stand to beat one more second.I have to plop down ASAP.  I've taken to explaining to the kids when I have to lay down that "Mommy needs to rest her heart muscle for a bit."  By me explaining this they are really good about letting me rest. Anna will often color by my feet while Paul grabs a book to read. 

With seminary starting back I am not looking forward to the long Mondays.  Class is 2hs away and lasts for 3hrs. I have 3 classes once again this semester. Like every other Seminary student that attends BSK, I will be non stop going from 6am until 11:30pm.  When Tuesday morning comes I feel horrid, like I have just woken up from a rough surgery. 

I have been in a little bit of a panic this last week trying to figure out how in the world I am going to fit all the studying that needs to take place into our already full, yet manageable, schedule. But even though I have lingering doubts, like I did at this time last year, about whether or not I am going to be able to juggle Seminary, I am super excited to start back. I really enjoy the learning process and look forward to connecting once again to my little Seminary community!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Anna's First Bus Ride

Anna rode the bus home this afternoon. She's been begging to be a bus rider since kindergarten started. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about my 5yr old riding the bus.  It kinda made me unsure. I didn't let Paul start riding the bus home until he was in the 1st grade. Even then I was a bit nervous. 

But Anna insisted and I allowed it. Just one more step towards independence for her, I guess. 

I sat on the front porch, reading, while I waited for her bus to pull up. In the end, Anna got home earlier riding the bus than when I pick her up

Me -"How was your first bus ride?"    (expecting that she had a great time.

Anna - (with disgust on her face) "It was TERRIBLE. The bus was full of boys and they wouldn't stop talking about pee-pee and poo-poo and butts."

It was all I could do not to laugh.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's almost friday

This last week has been spent catching up with house work and getting ready for Seminary to start back.  I'm slowly becoming emotionally ready to jump back into the world of lots of reading and MASSIVE papers. . . . and insane amounts of driving.

With both of the kids at school from 8am to 2pm, and no homework as of yet for me, I have a chunk of time during the day to get things done around the house. It's been fun, and a bit exhausting.

This morning was spent getting my home office ready. Over the summer the kids turned this room upside down. Believe me, it was a MESS. But now look at it! It clearly is calling out to me "come Jess, come sip coffee and study."
Next weekend I am planning a yard sale. You know, to get some school money (and get rid of stuff). Therefor, next week will be devoted to cleaning out the closets and the garage!! 

 I joke, but honestly, I love to sort . . .  and get rid of stuff.   It clears my mind and makes me want to dance.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

School Year 2013/14

My blood pressure got pretty high last night. Well, high for me. I usually have really low blood pressure. The fact that it was 190/90 was frightening and incredibly painful. 

In true Jessica fashion, I saw my impending death flash before my eyes.  

My husband calmed me down with laughter and breathing exercises. 

Once he reminded me that I had all the right in the world to have high blood pressure, being that it was the night before the start of the school year, my blood pressure started going down, I began to feel better, and I was able to fall asleep.

Paul and Anna started back to school this morning. Paul is in 2nd grade and Anna is in Kindergarten. They both were incredibly excited to be back and were very adamant about me leaving the school building ASAP.   Since when is it not cool to give mom and dad a hug goodbye?

My Seminary classes don't start back until Aug 26th.  THANK GOD.

We just got back from some major road tripping and I have NOTHING ready. The laundry is piled high, the refrigerator is EMPTY, and our yard is a JUNGLE.  And I have no clue how this happened, but our car has turned into a giant ant farm.  Where did they come from?

Not to mention the fact that I need to go through the kid's clothes and toys. That's the point in which I am thankful I only have 2children. So. Much. Stuff.

Needless to say, I have a lot to keep me busy between the hours of 8am and 2pm for the next 2wks.

Honestly, I am excited for the beginning of a new school year. It is a tad bit nice to have a small amount of alone time once again. I'm a better mother and wife when the introvert part of me gets fed!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

No title

I've been wanting to write a blog post, one about the past 2 weeks, but it has been hard for me to process all of the emotions that I, and the kids, and Roger, have been going through. Some days I just don't feel like seeing anybody, some days I do NOT want to be alone. 

This year has been full of incredible loss and so many trials. 

I just finished reading the book of Job. I like reading depressing books of the Bible when I am depressed. It helps. During my 2 cousins' viewing, as I sat there listening to the same song playing over and over again, watching a mom, a dad, and a brother grieve, I read through Ecclesiastes.  "So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievious to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (ecc 2:17)

On July 2, 2013 at exactly midnight, Roger's grandmother took her last breath. We knew the end was coming, she had been diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic cancer in May, but even when you know the end is coming the loss is still hard. In the days leading up to her passing we took turns sitting by her bedside, holding her hand, talking to her when she was able. 

This week has been a lot harder than I thought it would. The amount of grief that I have gone through this year is finally feeling a bit overwhelming. First my 2 cousins, then the wife of a beloved minister, now Gran. I'm just tired, completely worn out. I want to go into a cave with my family and snuggle. I guess I'm just mostly tired. It has been a LONG summer. 

Oh, and did I mention that the church moved locations?  Yep.  And then there is THAT.  Not that I helped move, but I did stay at home, and I am staying at home, for hours and hours, and days and days with 2 children. They've actually been REALLY good and a LOT of fun, but it is still exhausting, child rearing.

The great news is that we still have our vacations coming up!  I am so looking forward to them. We are headed to the Ozarks with Roger's sister Layla and her husband Aaron and then to Edisto Island with my mom, dad, brothers, and their wives.  And of course we are taking our kids, Paul and Anna, on both trips.  It really should be great fun.  The mountains and the lake, followed by the beach!  

I'm excited for a some detox. I feel like these vacations will be the restart button for all of us. We have ALL (all the people listed above) have had a rough year. I'm looking forward to the car rides, the conversations, the spontaneous fun, and the adventure of it all. 

On a lighter note, I made Paul promise me when he gets married that for the Mother-Son dance we can do a choreographed dance.  I saw this video and got all teary eyed thinking about my kids growing up. 



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Keith and Lacey's Wedding

This weekend I could not have been more proud of being part of such a wonderful family and extended family.

The past 3months have truly shown our family values. We stick together, pushing each other when needed, and crying with each other just enough to get through.

With a wedding just 3 short months after the tragic death of my cousins Kyle and Kody, I knew it was going to be hard, but we were all determined to make this wedding a celebration, not a cry fest.

Keith and Lacey, not wanting to fill the empty space that was left by the loss of Kyle and Kody, opted to have the 2 grooms men seat the parents and grandparents, and the 4 bridesmaids simply walk down the aisle and take a seat in the second row. The flower girl and ring barrier were the only ones that stood by the bride and groom.

My handsome brother Jacob doing his groomsman job.

 At the reception, off in a corner, were two candles in the memory of our dear cousins.

I was doing well holding myself together until the Mother-Son dance. The song that was played was Garth Brook's The Dance. As I watched a mother dance with her only remaining son, and looked over to see my uncle, with tears in his eyes, I lost it. Roger had to leave early in order to get back for Sunday worship so I sat with the kids trying my best to catch the tears before anyone noticed. But the weeping was inevitable.

Once the dance was over the DJ put on the Black Eyed Peas' I've Got A Feeling. Slowly but surely my strong family made their way to the dance floor, we weren't going to let this beautiful day and this special occasion be a cry fest.
 Keith and Lacey were married, FINALLY!!  

With red eyes, and wet cheeks we started dancing. My uncle David even made his way to the middle of the circle to do little jig. The rest of the night was spent doing what we do best (besides work) partying!!!

I'm thankful to be part of a family that truly knows what it means to be FAMILY. We might be strong headed and kind of clan like in some ways, but that's what gets us through the hard stuff.

 Congratulations to Keith and Lacey!!   

A wonderful time was had by all, especially this little flower girl.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013


I've finished up my first full year as a seminary student!

It feels nice and a little weird.

I'm having a little bit of a hard time calming myself down. The past two days I have went to the grocery store, cleaned out both the kids closests, mowed the grass, and sorted through all the junk that has piled up during the semester.  Welp, now that I've gotten the spring cleaning done . . .  in two days . . . what will I do with the rest of my summer?

 Let's not forget that soon the children will be out of school. I see plenty of adventures in our near future.

I can't believe I already have 30 hrs completed in a 90hr program.. 
I counted up all the classes that I have left to complete and I should be done with my degree in 2016. That seems so close, and so incredibly weird.

This school year has been an uphill climb.  The first semester I was very sick and had to be placed in the hospital several times. Sitting in  back-to-back 3hr long classes while having heart trouble is no picnic. It was miserable  but I pushed through, determined that I would not let this heart condition rule my life.

The second semester started with the tragic death of 2 cousins. The shock made it hard to concentrate on anything. I got pretty behind on my studies and spent of the rest of the semester trying to dig my way through the papers. There were several nights I threw myself in the living room floor and declared defeat. Roger wouldn't let me quit. He pushed me pretty hard.  Frankly he pissed me off on several occasions but I love him all the more for it.

The very last week of the semester was spent jumping around between libraries, coffee shops, and the church office. At 6pm every night I took off to a location and sat working on my papers until I began to get antsy. Then I would pack up for a change of scenery. I forced myself to work every night until 10:30pm. I missed my husband and children dearly.

On Sunday, the day before my last day, I headed to the Georgetown College Library and camped out until 1am. I spent the night with my sister in-law and her husband, and got up bright and early to start working until my class at 9am.  (they surprised me in the morning with a MASSIVE muffin with a candle stuck in it. It was my 29th birthday)

On Monday evening, after spending a week of working really hard, my body ached as I turned in my final papers. I sat down in the big black chairs that are in the foyer of the library and started to weep. I couldn't stop myself. I just cried and cried and cried. It was the first time that life seemed to stop. Everything around me was quite. No longer was their pressure to rush from one thing to another. In that sacred space I wept for my cousins. I wept for my uncle. I wept for my brother. I wept for my grandmother, for Lacey, and for Keith.

I also wept because it was my birthday. I had made it to 29! As my little brother said to me after he said happy birthday, "Jess, you're getting close to your expiration date." With a heart condition each and every day is a blessing. I have good days and bad days, good hours and bad hours, but I have managed to push through. By the grace of God I have been given a wonderful sense of humor that has sustained me through the trying times and an eye in which to see the Holy all around me.  

After my final class, which ended at 8:45pm on the dot, no later, and certainly no sooner, I headed to my little brother's house. I sat up until the early morning bugging the crap out of him. It was like the good ol' days!

I'm currently sitting on the front porch in my jammies typing out this blog. It's raining pretty hard and the breeze is quite cool. I love it. Anna has been singing and dancing with me all morning while Roger gets some rest on the couch. He's tired too. He really stepped up the last couple of weeks.
I love him so!

I'll leave you with one of my all time favorite songs. 



Friday, April 19, 2013

An Insanly Stressful Day: Public Venting

completely frustrate.  insanly frustrated.

Anna has  been whining and complaining and screaming and yelling since 2pm yesterday (Thursday). 

 It is now Friday. 
She doesn't have school on Fridays so she is home with me.  

I have a big paper due on Monday that I am trying my best to write. 

I have sat here trying to type for over an hour, I have a paragraph that I have written in that hour.  


I am going to go insane.  COMPLETELY INSANE.  

The child is so incredibly grumpy AGAIN today.

have I mentioned that my head is pounding. POUNDING.

if I didn't have this MASSIVE stack of commentaries and books and journal article that I had to pack up, I would go to the library. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Memory of Old Jack: A story of beautiful simplicity

I received a frantic call from my mother in the early morning hours of July 29, 2007. My grandfather, who never complains of anything, was being taken to the hospital for severe back pain. Being half asleep, I didn't really think much of it. I simply hung up the phone, said a quick prayer and snuggled back into bed. A few hours later my mother called again, this time to let my know that my Pawpaw has passed away. I became numb.

I tell the above story because that was the start of my down hill emotional roller coaster. Shortly after my grandfather's death I became pregnant with our second child. At 5 months pregnant I woke up in a puddle of my own blood. My placenta had abrupted. I was sent to the hospital where I was told that the outcome did not look good and because of this I would be on bed rest for as long as they could keep me from going into labor. I was confined to a private hospital room and given strict orders to “be still.”
Over the months I had plenty of time to think. Most of my days were filled with mindless reading, late night discussions with my husband, and phone conversations with my parents, in-laws, and friends. At one point my husband reminded me of a Wendell Berry novel that I had read during college, Hannah Coulter, which sparked my desire to read more of his fiction.

When I first read Wendell Berry's The Memory of Old Jack it was less from a theological point of view, I wasn't even thinking of seminary at the time. I read the novel from the point of view of a grandchild grieving the loss of her grandfather. The character Old Jack reminded me of my Pawpaw and the town in which he lived, the people that he was surrounded by. More than anything Wendell Berry's fictional town of Port William reminded me of my hometown and the Thacker Family Farm I grew up on. Never before had I come across a book that described rural Kentucky life the way that I experienced it; beautiful, simple, and simply beautiful. 
Years before my Grandfather passed away he would jokingly say as he patted and stretched the wrinkled skin on his left arm. “You know, this is just a shell. When I die I wont be in this old body. I'll be in heaven. I don't care what you do with this old shell. Just go throw it in one of those sink holes over there in the field.” I thought of that when I read page 157 in which Jack's nephew, Matt, after hearing of old Jack's death, ponders how Jack would demand to have his funeral if the dead man had any say.
“He would be taken in secret to a place at the edge of one of his fields, and only the few who loved him best would be permitted to go that far with him. They would dig a grave there and lay him in. They would say such words as might come to them, or say nothing. They would cover him and leave him there where he had belonged from birth. They would leave no stone or marker. They would level the grave with the ground. When the last of them who knew its place had died, Old Jack's return would be complete. He would be lost to memory in that field, silently possessed by the earth on which once established the work of his hands.” 
In Wendell Berry's The Memory of Old Jack, we are introduced to many characters within the the fictional town of Port William. The tension that is the focus of the book is between a materialistic life and a life of holy simplicity. Jack is a simple farmer who wants for nothing he doesn't have. He marries a woman, Ruth, who desires social ambition. As you can imagine, the two clash. Ruth tries to convince Jack that his main goal in life should be to acquires more land in order to gain more respect amongst his fellow human beings and enough money to be able to move into town. The problem is that Jack loves his work, his little farm, his old run down house, and has no desire to move into town. But, like any man in love with a woman, he slowly begins to purchase more property.

With the accumulation of more land came more work than Old Jack could handle. He was forced to hire on a farm hand to help with the labor. As a result “[...] he had destroyed his old independence” (p.58) As the work increased, the joy of the labor decreased. He found himself succumb by a new desire, a desire that was, before Ruth, unknown to him. He began to want more than what he had.
As the story goes on we learn that Old Jack starts to have money problems, and ends up losing all that he had acquired after marrying Ruth. He, in the end,is back at his starting point with the small farm and old house. However, with his loss comes a knew found knowledge and appreciation. Jack discovers his place in the world, discovers that his joy comes from his labor and the people that are around him. His joy does not come from what the world deems as successful or what the world thinks of him, or whether or not he has ambitions. His joy comes from “[being] faithful to what he belonged to” p.140. He belonged to the land, to the people within his community
Being from a small farming town, I went away to college seeking to, as the characters in the book say, “better myself.” I fought through years of over work, and mental and physical exhaustion, in order to receive a bachelors degree from a good liberal arts school. I was going to make something of myself. I was going to go places. But that all began to change as I sat for days upon days in a single occupancy hospital room wondering whether or not I would be planning a funeral for the child whom I had yet to meet. 
The Memory of Old Jack, along with other books that I was able to read on my little hospital sabbatical, touched something in me that got my mind and soul working together. I slowly began to see that there was more to life than social ambition.
Through the years I have found myself freed from the worldly bondage of success. Like Old Jack, I am content with where I am. I desire for nothing that I do not have. Like Old Jack, I look around at this old house that I share with my little family, and see things that need to be fixed or tended to, but I know, like Old Jack, I will find great satisfaction in tending to them. 
As Christians I believe that we are called to holy simplicity. We are made aware that this earth is not forever and the things that we have can not be taken with us. Like Wendell Berry shows through his character of Old Jack, we Christians should be good stewards of what we have been given. We should be faithful to the community in which we have been placed. And most of all, we should not desire what is not ours and be content with what we have. The Memory of Old Jack allows the reader to step back from the world for a bit in order to see the silliness that is the American Dream. Through the character of Old Jack, Wendell Berry shines a light on the darkness that has consumed our culture. In doing so, we, the readers, are given the great gift of reexamination.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Voice Of Grief

I'm trying to get back to life, to living. I went to the fitness center this morning with my husband, then showered and straightened up the house.  I now have my coffee, my class notes, and this blank computer screen to stare at.  I have so much class work that I need to get caught up on while the kids are in school but I can't seem to focus. I'm hoping typing this blog will help to clear my mind. I can't constantly dwell on the events of the past week.  I can't.  I just can't.

For those of you who do not already know, my two cousins passed away on Saturday around 9:30am.  I got the call while I was sitting at the church office working on the paper that I am currently trying to work on.  I went into the sanctuary and sat on my knees in the very back.  I knew I needed to pray but no words would come. "Dear Lord Help!" Shock, I was overcome with shock.  I calmly saved my paper, slipped my notes into the folders, put my jacket on, grabbed my car keys, and headed home.  That was a rough drive.

First let me start by telling you a little bit about my two cousins and our family.

With 13 aunts and uncles, 18 cousins, over 100 acres of farm land, and a Family owned and operated business, we are a clan . . . The Thacker Clan.  Growing up it was instilled in each of us the importance of family.  We worked together, played together, cried together (only if we were bleeding), and fought together.
My brother Jacob's wedding on the farm.  The whole Family.

As a little girl raised on a farm, surrounded by boys, I was taught to be tough.  I jokingly say that I was "just one of the boys."  We built forts out of hay and old skids, chased each other on dirt bikes, golf carts, and go carts, spent hours and hours looking through the woods for buried treasure and worked the soil to grow enough tommy toe tomatoes that we could purchase a horse.
Kyle and Kody in our hay fort

me, Jacob, John, Joseph, Keith and Kyle

Kody sitting on a skid that we tied to the mule to pull him around

Kyle and I

Life seemed simple.  You got up in the morning, threw on some old clothes (that you probably wore the day before) and headed to Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house. You never had to worry about what you were going to do that day, or what kind of fun was to be had, because there was ALWAYS something..

We were cousins, but raised like siblings.

Our last photo taken together.  Mawmaw and all the grandkids

On Saturday morning Kody, age 19, was loading an old shotgun when it misfired, hitting his brother Kyle, age 23, in the back of the head.  Kody, seeing what he had done, became distraught and turned the gun on himself.  We know this because there were friends present when this horrible accident took place.

The most difficult thing for me has been watching my uncle grieve the loss of his two sons, my cousin, Keith, grieve the loss of both his twin brother and baby brother, and my little brother grieve the loss of his best friend.  It's a nightmare that we can't wake up from.
My uncle with his son Kyle

The twins

I am trying my darnedest to not dwell on what happened, to instead focus on all the happy memories, and the way our family is getting through this difficult time, but it's hard. 
Kody, Lacey, Keith, Kyle, and David

Life does goes on.

The things that happen change us, but hopefully for the better.
Me and my two little brothers, John and Jacob.

Through this whole ordeal I have felt such a closeness to God, so has my family.  In some way we have all been touched by, what I believe to be, the Holy Spirit.  God is there, we just have to be quiet enough and still enough to notice.

On Saturday morning the last thing I wanted to do was work on a seminary paper. I wanted to snuggle with my children and drink coffee with my husband, and enjoy the sunshine of the unusually warm Febuary day.  But I forced myself to drive over to the church so that I could get the paper done before class on Monday.  When I arrived I noticed a small bird sitting by the door of the church.  "oh GREAT, a dead bird. That's just what I need today."  But when I bent down to gently move the bird to the side so that I could open the church door, I was startled when the bird started walking towards me.  I reached out my hand to offer the little fella a bit of my apple and while he was examining the apple I pet him and talked to him and kept thinking how cool it was that this, what seemed to be healthy, bird was letting me get so close.

this is the photo that I sent to Roger on my phone that morning

The bird continued to sit outside the church door while I started working on my paper.  I tried to scare him away by banging on the door because I wanted to make sure his wing wasn't hurt, but he just sat there, staring at me.

When I recieved the call about my cousins I walked out of the office and stood by the door.  The bird then flew away.  I just KNOW that was God sending one of his creatures to comfort me, to give me hope for the days to come.

Thank you all so much for the prayers.  It is hard to truly describe how much they have helped except by saying that somehow our massive family is growing closer and getting stronger through this.  I KNOW that we are not doing this on our own.  It is the strength of God, the hope that He has filled us with, that is helping our family to smile and laugh once again.

Kyle and Kody will be missed so much, but I just know those two buckaroos*  are having a grand time with PawPaw up in Heaven.  The thought of that makes me so happy!  

 “After a while, though the grief did not go away from us, it grew quiet. What had seemed a storm wailing through the entire darkness seemed to come in at last and lie down.”

― Wendell Berry in his book Jayber Crow

*buckaroos is what our Pawpaw called us grandkids