Monday, January 27, 2014

Seminary Starts Back: Spring semester 2014

The alarm rings. It's 5am. I hit snooze.  The alarm rings. It's 5:10am. I hit snooze. And so starts the morning of me hitting snooze over and over again until my husband graciously volunteers to take a shower first. I snooze a bit more before tackling the task of waking two children.

The hot water hits my face. The shower wakes me up. The husband makes breakfast for the children. I get ready for class.

The entire family walks outside to the cars, it's FREEZING, we all have backpacks on, we are all headed to class. The boys go in one car while the girls go in another. Here we go, another chapter in our lives together.

Roger and I are both taking a morning class at seminary together and are trying to manage dropping the kids off at school and getting to our 9am class, which is 2hrs away, on time. We have to drive separately since I am taking classes all day while he is only taking one class.

This morning we were both about 20min late.

We vowed to get up earlier next time.

We vowed to give this another shot.

 If it doesn't work out he will take both of the kids to school while I get to class on time.

He offered to be perpetually late since he already has his MDiv and is merely going back to get a class that he is missing for his certification.

I, the person that waited for him to graduate before heading back to seminary, was very gracious when he offered to be perpetually late.

 I have put in my time of marital sacrifice in regards to seminary.

I got a little tingle in my heart when he offered to be late, while we were on the cell phone with each other, as we were both driving to Georgetown in separate cars.

So, that is our life as of right now.                      The entire family is in school.

Paul and Anna are in elementary school. Roger and I are in seminary.

It's crazy.

It's exciting.

It's exhausting.

But I love it!

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Ps: if this blog gets super quiet again . . .  you know why. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dreams From Heaven: PawPaw and Kody come for a visit

I have a lot of crazy dreams. Vivid dreams are something I have always had and will probably always have. Most of the time the dreams are crazy and amount to nothing. Sometimes the dreams are so real they set the tone for my day. Every now and again I have a dream so vivid, so touching, so mystical, I truly feel it was sent by God. I am not above believing that God speaks through dreams and so I listen.

For the past 2 weeks I have been consistently waking around 3am soaking in sweat. Night sweats? My nights have turned into the routine of waking, changing, lamenting, and then attempting to go back to sleep. It is exhausting and worrisome and of course I am jumping to horrid conclusions about my heart condition. The poor heart condition gets blamed for everything. I get a cold, it's my heart. I have a head ache, it's my heart. My toe hurts, it's my heart.

A few nights ago I had a very comforting dream that none the less resulted in me waking to night sweats. In the dream I was standing in Mawmaw's kitchen, the whole family having gathered for some big feast, a celebration of some sorts and in walked PawPaw and my cousin Kody, both are whom dead. As I stood in the kitchen, eating from my plate, PawPaw and Kody meandered through the crowd and headed to the back bedroom. No one but me seemed to notice. I slowly put down my plate and began walking down the hall. I came to Pawpaw's old room, the door being shut I slowly opened it. Sitting on the corner of the bed was Pawpaw telling Kody what he wanted and did not want to be taken  out of his old drawers. Kody, with a smile on his face and SUPER curly hair, was busy doing as he was told. Were they packing? Where were they headed? Where did they come from?   

In the dream PawPaw explained to me that he was just picking up some stuff that he needed and that heaven is not at all like what he expected it to be. "It's not some sparkly magic fairy type place, Jessica. It's right here. It's all around you. Kody and I have just decided to move to a different town." Kody smiled and gave a nod. He didn't say much but he looked well rested and pretty tan. Had he been to the beach?

When I asked where they were moving to PawPaw said "Muhlenberg County."

When I told Roger, my husband, the dream the next morning he laughed and said "So paradise really is in Muhlenberg County!"   Listen to this song to get the reference:

The dream had me laughing all day!  It was as if  God had given me a big hug and allowed me the comfort of knowing my loved ones were safe and HAPPY.

The next night I had another dream. In the dream Pawpaw came to me alone. In his hands was a Bible opened to the book of Psalms. He said to me, "This chapter is now my favorite." He pointed to Psalm 30. After your death you now have a favorite Psalm?

When I woke up I read the Psalm.  And then I read it again, and again, and again.

I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken."
Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: "What is gained if I am silenced, If I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help."

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Think what you will of dreams and the ability of God to speak to His people through them, but I will believe. Those dreams brought me comfort. This road of grief is long. This road of grief is hard. Emotions come in like waves- some stronger than others. The whole lot of us is in the midst of unimaginable and indescribable pain.As one of my family members expressed to me, "Jessica, this is what hell is."

It has not yet been a year since this tragedy rocked our family. Each day brings different challenges to each of us. Each of us have been affected, and continue to be affected by this differently. At times I see the small God rays shining through our holes, but other times all I see are black holes. It's on those black hole days that I will cling to these comforting dreams, that I will read this psalm, and pray that instead of ripping our family apart this tragedy will mold us closer to Him, and one another.

Peace and Love in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Jr. Day with the kids

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr the Jasper family slept in . . . until 8:15am!  Anyone with young children knows that  8:15 is some MAJOR sleeping in.  Considering that I went to bed last night before 10pm I got an INSANE amount of sleep last night, a little too much if I do say so myself.

Today has been wonderfully relaxing. I've gotten to clean, read, bake, and play.

As I type this blog Roger is flying through the sky with a friend. Yes, he is actually in a plane, flying over our house. Is he going anywhere? Nope. Just flying around, taking in the view. Crazy man.

On each MLK JR day we set aside a little bit of time to talk to the kids about what the day means. This time we made chocolate and vanilla swirl cupcakes and I read a book about Dr. King to them while they spread the icing. I also reminded them of our summer adventure to Arkansas to visit the Little Rock High School and civil rights museum.

Little Rock High School

at the civil right museum

Each year I tell the kids a little more about the civil rights movement. A lot of it is really inappropriate for children, but I know they need to know. Thus the reason why I add a little more information each year.  We want them to understand that the civil rights movement was about much more than marching and speeches. It's about people, actual people, who were being treated like animals, men and women being drug from their homes, raped, murdered, all because the color of their skin. The civil rights movement was  about more than lunch counters and water fountains. We want our children to know that the civil rights movement was about a group of people, having spent years being TERRORIZED, finally standing up for themselves and demanding to be treated with respect and human dignity. We want our children to know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,  a Baptist Minister, helped end one form of terrorism in America by showing people that it is possible to respond to violence with non-violence. Or as little Anna said today, "He stood up to the bullies!"

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's birthday with cupcakes!!!

I know it sounds so cheesy to us adults, but it really resonated with the kids to make the chocolate cake batter and the vanilla cake batter and then mix them together as we spoke of Dr. King. As they grow we'll do different things, but this year the cake batter thing made sense. Plus, what birthday celebration doesn't have cupcakes? YUM!!!!

To top the day off we met our neighbors at the park to play and enjoy cupcakes. 

Life is so sweet! 

( . .  and I totally binged on the rest of the cupcakes when I got home. Don't judge! I'll feel bad about it tomorrow.) 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Such is Life

I'm sitting upstairs in my quiet place.

I turned our little loft area into a in-home library, or as I lovingly refer to it, "my office."

This is the space that I retreat to when I need to center myself.

 Life gets crazy sometimes and I need to step away for a bit to reflect on the goodness, to remind myself that I am held by a gracious and humble God.The peace that I get from retreating gives me the strength that I need to take on the day.

Yesterday was our first official day back home from the holiday madness. This season we were gone a lot. On top of the normal Christmas festivities that take place with our family members we also added a trip to North Carolina to visit some of Roger's extended family.

We had only one day between getting back from Christmas festivities with our parents and packing up to go to North Carolina for a week, that we were home. In that one day we had to unpack, do laundry, and pack back up, on top of helping the kids explore (put together) their new toys and bagging up their old toys for donation.

After 13hours on the road to North Carolina, a week of visiting, and 13hours on the road back home, I am exhausted. But alas, there is laundry to do, groceries to buy, children to tend to, and class to get ready for.

This morning Anna woke up screaming at  4am. Roger has a conference in Georgetown today (2hrs away) where he is presenting a paper, along with some pretty well known theologians, so I tried my best to deal with the screaming and hysterical 5 1/2 year old by myself. Anna finally fell back asleep around 7am, at which point we had to wake her up for school. I don;t even want to think about how cranky she is going to be when she steps off that bus at 2pm.

On the way home from North Carolina I got caught in what they call a "speed trap." So there I was, minding my own business, when the dreaded blue and red lights started flashing. I pulled over to find out that the 55mph speed limit had gone down, for a brief second, to 25mph. Great!  Having had no previous tickets, and being from out of town, I figured I would get a pass. Nope. I was handed a speeding ticket for 182.00.  WHAT????? 

When we FINALLY arrived back to our home sweet home we settled in for the night only to wake up to a freezing cold house. In the middle of the night our furnace stopped working. GREAT!!!!

We sent to kids off to school and immediately called our go to furnace guy.

Since Roger is going to be out of town, leaving me with the station wagon, he decided to go ahead and get the thing looked at. The station wagon has been making some CRAZY sounds and is in desperate need of new tires.

So, while I dealt with the furnace guy Roger sat working on work at Big O Tires.

Since I was home, and wasn't able to go anywhere because our furnace was being reparied, I opted to tackle the massive mound of laundry that comes with being away from home for almost a month. But when I turned on the washer no water came out. Our furnace guy then informed me that the pipe leading to the washer was frozen solid. GREAT!!!!!!

After a day like we had I decided that for dinner we should have some southern comfort. No. Not whiskey. But close. Beans and Corn Bread!!!!!!!!!!!

At abour 5:30 the beans were done, having simmered all day, and I was preparing to put the corn bread in the oven when all of a sudden  . . . . . .  . our electricity went out.   GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!

At that point I gave up. I called Roger to pick up some cooked corn bread on the way home, and snuggled with the kids on the couch to enjoy the last part of the day light by reading books to them. What better way to escape the stress of life than through a children's book!

In the end the electricity came back on, I cooked the corn bread and we devoured some yummy southern comfort food.  And get this,before heading to bed I gave the washer another try and a few drips of water started coming out. I let it run like that for a while and it ended up thawing out. We have clean underwear!!!!!!

After the day we had, Roger and I headed to bed early. I snuggled up in my wonderful electric throw feeling that all was well with the world. Our furnace was fixed, our 2nd car was fixed, our pipe was thawed, and we had clean underwear for tomorrow.

But then, at 4am, the screaming started.

 Another day.        Another challenge.       Such is life.

But at least I have my quiet place to go to!!   

A prayer that is prayed by the Missionaries of Charity at the start of everyday:

Dear Lord, the Great Healer, I kneel before you, since every perfect gift must come from you. I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart. Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift up a part of the burden of my suffering fellowmen, and a realization of the privilege that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness, that with the simple faith of a child, I may rely on you.  Amen