Dear Lord,

Some thoughts.

I saw this photo earlier this week, and it really resonated with me.

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You don’t need big, beautiful, “churchy,” poetic words to talk to God. Nope. You don’t even need words at all. HE KNOWS. You don’t have to explain anything, just go and rest in Him.

This week has been a tough one for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.  Losing someone unexpectedly is SO VERY HARD. While I had not known this person long, it was a wake-up call as to how things can change in an instant.  How life is so fragile.

It made my heart ache so deeply for those I know and saw and talked to who were close to this person.

It reminded me of the sermon that was preached last Sunday at Life Vineyard Church and words that I have heard from a few mentors.  You have to let yourself feel all of your feelings to be able to move through and heal.

But I will admit, I didn’t take that advice.

While I felt and grieved for everyone, I didn’t really let myself. I tried to numb my thoughts and feelings by eating and drinking junk so I could sleep and not think and feel my feelings.

Not my proudest moment, but I wasn’t sure if I could be a good support if I was grieving too.    *insert eyeroll*

So yesterday I went to God. I went to God and cried for everyone touched by this loss and  for myself.  I didn’t have words. HE KNEW.

Being in HIS presence is peace-giving, life-giving and healing.  While the sadness isn’t all gone, I have a lighter heart than I did before I went to HIM.

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One last thought.  Yes, Heaven is rejoicing by this good and faithful servant returning home.  BUT, I believe that Jesus is weeping with everyone touched by this loss.  It breaks His heart to see us heartbroken. Instead of the awful “everything happens for a reason” statement, I find more comfort in knowing that Jesus is weeping right along side of us.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay not to have any words.  HE KNOWS.

One Year Into Our Autism Journey

One year ago today, Gemma was officially diagnosed with Autism. In some ways it seems like there is no way a whole year has passed, and in other ways I feel like a lifetime has passed. Some of that is just life with kids (the days are long but the years fly by, amiright?), but a lot of it has been the continual, nonstop learning about autism.

Gemma’s diagnosis came only a few short weeks after my divorce was final. Yeah, that was fun. It was like life was handing me the ‘ol one-two-punch.

But, you know what? After the dust settled and we got into the groove of our new normal, I really started to find my passion through advocating for Gemma. You see it IS true, things are scary when you aren’t educated on the subject. So as I started researching, talking to her doctors, meeting fellow “AU-some” friends and getting Gemma enrolled into an incredible school, I replaced my attitude of fear with a warrior attitude.

When I first publicly talked about Gemma and autism, I was SCARED. TO. DEATH. to his “publish.” But looking back it was one of the best decisions I have made. There is so much freedom when you are vulnerable and when you are your authentic self. It gets easier the more you do it (my experience), and it also can make you feel lighter even going through heavy circumstances.

So many people reached out to me with similar stories, there is so much power in the two words “me too.” Not just the movement our country is embracing, but in anything… Divorce, autism, grief, parenthood struggles, the list goes on and on.  When you start talking about these things you quickly find out that you aren’t alone.

While I am not an expert on anything, if sharing my stories can help one person feel seen and less alone, it is so worth it.

While this last year has had huge leaps and bounds for Gemma, I have found that I have gained just as much (maybe more) from everything. Life is actually really sweet.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me, I appreciate all of you!

TUESDAY THINGS: 7 Fun Things About My Birthday Month (yes, it’s a month long event)

It’s heeeeere! My birthday month… and this one is a doozy…

On May 29th I’ll be re-celebrating my 39th birthday. Kidding, I’m actually 100% A-OK about turning the big four-oh-em-gee.

Fun things about birthdays:

1. Cake.

2. Parties.

– actually this is probably more like it:

Zzzzzzzzzzzz… #kids

3. Presents.

4. All. The. Pizza.

5. Wine.

– It’s fine. 40 is fine. I’m FINE. –

6. Friends.

7. More cake.

Here goes nuthin!

Choosing “And”

A recurring theme of “AND” has been popping up in things I am reading, listening to and seeing online. We (me) too easily box ourselves, ideas, beliefs, God etc. in instead of being bold & free by accepting that things can and do coexist. This quote from Glennon Doyle really struck me yesterday:

“In life, the brutal won’t break us because the beautiful will sustain us.”

Life can be brutal & beautiful.

We can be brave & scared.

We can laugh & cry in the same hour.

We can have joy & have our heart can break for people/situations at the same time.

We can be messy & have moxie at the same time. (Jen)

We can be great moms & great at something unrelated to motherhood.

We can care about the suffering in our country & the suffering across the globe.

You better believe Jesus lived a life of “AND.” Can you imagine all the emotions he felt (at the same time) walking himself to his crucifixion? Jesus loved God AND wept. He also changed so many lives because he did life with so many different types of people. I want to live a big, bold, moxie-filled, Jesus-life of “and.” Who’s with me?

Oh, Hi! #namechange

Soooooooo, I had to re-name the blog due to unforeseen circumstances.  But you know what?  That’s okay!

At first when I got the news I was all #pityparty:

And then trying to switcheroo everything over to a new name had me like:

When I got it all set up and the content of the old site transferred, this was me:

So without further adieu, I give you Just Jac!

I’d love for you to hang out with me in this little space, and please let me know if there is anything you would like to read about here!

Books, Check ‘Em Out! (Books I’ve Loved)

This past year I have had a resurgence in my reading.  I think a lot of it is because my kids are at an age where they don’t chew/rip books anymore.  I’ve been a bookworm since I was a kid (hello, Babysitters Club), so it’s nice to get back to devouring books.

Since I am headed back to get my masters degree soon, my days of “reading for fun” are limited, so I am trying to squeeze in ALL THE BOOKS until then!

Basically, I am channeling my inner Rory Gilmore.

So all of this talk about books has got me thinking about some of my favorites.  I know I will forget some (hello, mom-brain) that I have loved, but I just wanted to throw a handful out there in case you need a good one!

(No particular order)

BLUE LIKE JAZZ, By Donald Miller

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I would recommend this book to EVERYONE.  Young, old, male, female, Christian, non-Christian.  I started reading this just a chapter every morning before the kids were up, but it was so good, I found myself picking it up throughout the day because I couldn’t get enough.  Donald is an amazing writer who makes you think about topics in a laid back, un-pretentious way.  One of many things that I took away from this book was how he talked about tithing.  Until reading this, I didn’t understand it.  But that is just a little blip in the big picture of this favorite book of mine.

 

FOR THE LOVE, By Jen Hatmaker

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Oh boy, this is seriously one of my all-time faves.  I have listened to the audiobook version a million times (rounded up).  I have also read the hard copy.  But honestly, she makes it come even more alive since she is the narrator.  She will make you laugh, cry, and inspire you.  If you are a mom, you HAVE to read this book. Now.

 

GONE GIRL, By Gillian Flynn

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This was an absolute page-turning shocker of a book.  It’s been a couple years since I read it, but I still think about it from time-to-time.  I don’t like books that are too scary (I can easily freak myself out in the middle of the night), but this one was just enough suspense and drama to keep me reading.  I have heard they did a good job on the movie, too.

 

Carry On, Warrior, By Glennon Doyle (Melton)

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I also listened to the audiobook version (Glennon narrates it) and read this.  NOBODY IS PERFECT (hello, blog title…) and Glennon writes beautifully, sternly, hilariously and emotionally about embracing our messy lives.  I have her newest book, Love Warrior, and I want to start it over soon.  I started it when I was in the thick of my divorce, and it was a little too heavy for me to read at that time.  I can’t wait to read it, because of how much I love Carry On, Warrior.

 

DISARMING THE NARCISSIST, By Wendy T. Behary, LCSW

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Oh boy, was this an eye-opener!  I am interested in the mental health field (that is what I am going back to get my masters in), so this was fascinating.  If you have a narcissist in your life, I recommend it 100%.  It isn’t a difficult read, but it can really help you figure out what is going on in the mind of the narcissist.

 

BOSSYPANTS, By Tina Fey  &  YES PLEASE, By Amy Poehler

Ok, these two go hand-in-hand because they are two of my favorite current actresses/comediennes.  I want to be besties with them both.  I read Bossypants and listened to Yes Please.  I would totally recommend listening to Amy’s because she has so many guest readers and extras in the audio version that you would miss out on by only reading the book.  Both are so entertaining, but also really interesting & surprisingly a tad emotional.

 

THE HELP, By Katherine Stockett

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I read this and also saw the movie (always book first, is my rule), and both were incredible.  I read the book years ago and couldn’t put it down.  It will make you cry, laugh, cheer and open your eyes.  They cast the movie perfectly to capture the dynamic personality of each character. So, so, good.

 

Well, there you have it.  A few books I have loved in the past.  Writing this, I realize my book-review skillz need some tuning up, but I wanted to throw these gems out there before I completely forget I’ve read them.

Tell me, what are you reading?  What books have you LOVED?

 

A Letter to My Kids

Dear Ashton & Gemma,

 

There is a lot of crazy junk going on in our country right now, and I am thankful you both are too young to understand it right now.  I pray that when you are old enough to understand these goings on, they are far, far behind us.

A long time ago (even before I was born… I know, ancient) there were some very mean people in the world who did and said very bad things.  I wish I had been a better history student (sorry Mr. Exline), because I would be able to explain it more eloquently.  Anyway, because of these mean people, OTHER people were treated badly and not given the same rights because of very unfair, mean reasons.  A couple reasons were because their skin was a different color than the mean people, they had different beliefs than the mean people and many other reasons.  It was a very sad time.

Fortunately our country overcame a lot of the problems, and people were treated more equally (not completely, there were still problems).

Fast-forward to today.  It kind of feels like we are going back in time, because there are some new “mean people” who are causing a lot of trouble in our country.  I think these people are scared for some reason, but that is never a reason to be mean or unfair to others.  It is scary to mommy when the person who is in charge of our country and is supposed to be someone we look to for leadership is one of those “mean people.”  The things he has done/said/not done/not said, are all things that I am trying to teach you both not to do.

In our house I am trying my hardest to teach you both to be like Jesus.  What does that mean in a nutshell?  It means I want you to be kind.  I want you to reach out to those people who might be hurting.  I want you to be friends with people no matter what color their skin, no matter what religion they associate with, no matter how much money their families have.  I want you to love as big as you love right now, don’t lose that, ok?

Most of all I want you both to know the amazing, unconditional love of Jesus, and I want it to light you up. Then when people see you, when they talk to you, they know exactly where that LIGHT comes from.  It is a bit of a dark time and if we can’t change things right now, we can at least be a shining light in the dark.  Every little bit of light makes a difference.  I can’t change our leadership, but I can make sure that I am the light I want to see in the world, and I can try my hardest to help you do the same.

I love you more than you’ll ever know,

Mommy