Fierce Love

fierce-love-prophetic-art-by-marilyn-simandleI’m reading this book called “Choose Joy,” it’s excellent and uplifting and holds me accountable for my own joy. Regardless of the circumstances of my life.

Which is a good thing. But today I don’t feel like choosing joy.

My husband is gone, bug had a horrible night, Nici is…well Nici, always intense (one way or another), and I’m supposed to be compassionate. I’m tired.


I’m supposed to choose joy and radiate Christ. I do feel like flipping some tables, Christ did that…so does that count?


As Christians we are held to high standards, which is a good thing, a biblical thing. However we are often judged, for having those standards, “you call yourself a Christian, yet judge others.”


Yes, I judge how people show love. I’m working on it, my empathy, compassion, grace (whatever you want to call it) is growing. But my standards for how we should love one another is high. And that is Biblical.


That doesn’t mean loving everyone is easy. It does mean we are called to try. It also means holding myself and those I love to high standards. I’m passionate and overly emotional…so is my God.


You don’t let your son die for others, for sinners, for those completely unworthy, unless you’re overcome with fierce irrational love.


You don’t hang suffering and tortured unless overcome with fierce irrational love.


So I’m reading this “Choose Joy” book, not feeling joyful, not feeling overcome with love. But feeling fierce.


And maybe that isn’t something to push aside as I search for sunshine. Maybe God purposefully placed this fierce beast within me so I could accomplish great irrational things.


Regardless of who is uncomfortable with it (myself included).


And yes, fierceness requires high expectations and unbounding love.

  • J

The Holy Option

Exodus 22:51 “you are to be my holy people…”

What does it even mean to live a holy life?

Yes, I’ve got Jesus.

Yes, I pray. Yes, I know I am forgiven without mosaic rituals. But what in MY personal journey needs some redirecting…could use some holy water.

Needs refocusing to “seek him first”

Striving for holiness is like striving for perfection, except failure is an option and expectation thanks to grace and mercy.

So, as a Christchild, a daughter of royalty, holiness IS my high throne, my birthright and gift.

IF I choose it. IF I am willing to seek him first and again and again.

But the question remains, what in my life must I purposefully redirect on Christ.

And the answer comes fairly simple to me, yet hits hard. Love.

I like to think I live love out. I love hard and obvious and my love standards are high.

I also snap, hard and obvious and it hurts those I love most.

Tensions can be high. Love is strong.

the-holy-optionI get to choose which one will be louder. And I pray for grace and mercy and strength to choose the holy option.

Keep awake! Watch at all times. The devil is working against you. He is walking around like a hungry lion with his mouth open. He is looking for someone to eat. – 
1 Peter 1:5-8

And so I know I must purposefully choose love. It may not come naturally, but it is my holy calling.

– J

Let’s Celebrate!!

6ffc87d6fc501dbbb19237aacc5656d7Celebrate good times, come on!

…and bad, and easy,and hard – because God is to be glorified  in everything.

This is what God has been commanding my heart so far in 2017.  Celebrate!  And there is so much to celebrate.

God is good always.  Our salvation is secure.  My hope and joy should rest in Him.  Life ebbs and flows, but He is constant!  He never changes,never leaves.  So, there is always reason to celebrate.

Jesus came not only to give believers life that lasts forever, He intends for us to experience this eternal quality of life right now.” (my BFS notes from this week)

That is not to say He promises an easy life full of only rainbows and sunshine, but that there is always reason to celebrate Him.  Joy always comes in the morning.

That is what celebrate has come to mean to me so far this year – worshiping God in joy over specific things, events, or people.  I often started a day thanking God for blessings, which resulted in a grateful and humble heart.  As I’ve been celebrating things with God in the morning over the last two weeks, I am still grateful, but I am overwhelmed with joy.

Some early celebrations this year:

  • I celebrate the sunshine.
  • I celebrate softly falling fat snowflakes.
  • I celebrate Scooby Doo with littles that can only be watched in TiTi’s bedroom.
  • I celebrate a family who cries with and delights in one another.
  • I celebrate a body designed be broken and cut open, and, heal again.
  • I celebrate recognized competency leading to responsibility (okay I had to talk myself into celebrating that one).
  • I celebrate that the depths of despair grow empathy and stronger searches for light.
  • I celebrate a God that knows me, loves me, and wants me.
  • I celebrate new beginnings.
  • I celebrate that my identity is rooted in God.
  • I celebrate that this is not my home.
  • I celebrate His air that fills my lungs.

And so, with each breath in, I will marvel at His majesty.

And with each exhale, I will celebrate his bountiful blessings.

  • S

Christmas is Over

15419767_10109356708892194_5520719584611047593_oChristmas was hard for me this year. We decorated and trimmed, not one, but three trees. We drank plenty of hot chocolate and ate candy and sang the songs more than ever before.


And it all felt like it sounds: secular and beautiful and surface. And I often felt like a character going through motions.


I didn’t have the warm and cozies despite the oodles of family and good things. I felt so off I even started an advent devotional- which sounds lovely but was truly an act of desperation, to find and cling to the Christmas of old.


We had a Jesus Birthday cake, but my December felt desperate for Christ.


My home needs to be saturated, not in Christmas decorations, but Christ.


15589580_10109446017117794_5125888555205362410_nChristmas is over but it didn’t end, it was just the beginning. January 1st was the new year, but Christmas is the new life.


And the only way to feel Christmas when 12 months roll along is to live in the depths of Christ the next 11.


So here’s to a new year, a new beginning Christened in a secular glow with a holy reality


Christ was born, Christ has risen, and Christ lives in me. In this very drafty old home, Christ abides.


So it’s about time I start seeing Him everywhere.

– J

Christmas Started Early

Christmas starts early in this house. (Each year it seems a little sooner than the last.) And I wake up early, sitting here, looking at our three Christmas trees. The earlier Christmas starts, the more money people make, the more commercial it can become.

But the earlier we start, the holier the outcome.

Between candy cane clusters placed excitedly with two year old hands and fisher price Jesus in the plastic cart…under the blinking tree…you can feel the secular merge with the holy and it’s magical and meaningful.

christmas-starts-earlyFaith was designed, intended for the masses. It’s natural for the worlds to collide; this odd pairing of elf and manger.

All glitter, all one star.

But it’s fitting, because my life is all mess, lovely, and smelly, and faulty. And too often I say no to God. I place him in the manger, holy baby perfect, and deserving, right into the middle of the smelly mess.

I turn him away every time I’m too busy.

And yet his perfect grace lights me up, washes the grime off, and decorates me from the inside out.


I shine glitter, sacred glitter, holy elves.


Santa giving, Nici giving, God’s grace given.


It’s for the masses and it’s full of meaning, and I’m fairly certain the angels rejoice when each tree is lit – a  holy secular merger of peace, love, family, and faith.


Lit up bright with elves and candy cane magic, reminding us of the not so plastic Jesus in a manger.

  • J

In the Boring Stuff

“Motherhood is the hardest assignment I’ve ever been given and the most extraordinary life that exists.” Brooke McGothlin


extraordinary: very unusable or remarkable


exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, stunning, incredible, unbelievable…


This journey I am on.


I find it highly interesting that the word best used to describe my life (motherhood) is extraordinary.


Extra + ordinary.


And so many of my days are so incredibly extra (super) ordinary, and mundane and repetitive.


So ordinary that if you blink you miss the magic, and another same day with the same shows has repeated itself.


It’s a work, a discipline in training the mind to see the magic. To see Christ in the dishes. To see the holy work in the laundry, and the kisses, and the spilled messes.


If you blink too long, you miss the EXTRAordinary parts –


The extra cuddles after long naps or crankies,


The extra help cleaning up,


The extra minutes of water play,


The extra I love yous, followed with extra puppy kisses.,


The extra warmth in your bed, only noticed by its absence,


The extra nudge to slow down and look down and notice the ordinary in a new lens,


The extra nudge to notice the flutterby (butterfly) on the flowers,


And the extra cake and snacks,


And syrup forever being associated with chubby baby Nici hands.


These are the moments of an extraordinary life. They aren’t flashy and well groomed and held in high esteem by society. They are what make a life worth living though.


And they are what make memories, the big things come and go; we are left with the day to day. The days make a life.

  • J


Magical Women

The world is crazy and full of evil. Evil that in many ways we can let control our day to day, especially as moms protecting little ones.

As a mom, our day to day is riddled with too high expectations placed on us by ourselves, but also by others. I am no exception, maybe one of the worst culprits of high standards.

But being a mom has taught me magic.

You get hurt, magic kisses heal.

You have a bad dream, mommas arms chase it away.

You’re hungry, she provides.

You’re sad, she wipes your eyes.

The dinosaurs are scary; she makes them do a dance.

The dragons breathe fire; she teaches you to ride them.

You can’t sleep (ever) and she is right beside you.

The world’s injustices can be undone by a mother’s love. A mother’s magic.

Too many kids face evil everyday. Life has attacked the parents and the kids taste the backfire.

magic womenAs a mom, as a woman, I can undo that evil, not just for my own kids. My arms contain magic far outside these walls we call home.

It’s a scary world and as women we hold a lot power. A lot of magic.

How wide and how deep we choose to spread it is up to us.

It doesn’t take a delivery room to become a mom, it doesn’t take foster papers, or adoption papers, it takes love.

It’s giving a child extra time, extra attention, extra arms, a space they can vent and be themselves.

Mothers Day has come and gone, but the need for moms has not. The need for strong, powerful, compassionate, magical women is more pressing than ever. Be that woman.

  • J

Christmas in July

They say discontentment is the opposite of a thankful heart. It’s the opposite of joy.

Its fists closed to the gift of the moment. I should be wiser than that.

We get to say yes; we get to choose joy. We have the power of a thankful heart.


And when I slow down, my life is brimming and my heart IS thankful. But as I sit here alone and quiet (for the first time in weeks), my soul yearns for me.

More love? How selfish am I?!

More peace? Is this not enough?!


So I stop writing and open the only source able to provide both, that has a prayer of loving me big enough, peace that will last long enough.


christmas in july1Perfect love born in December; yet it’s July. Christmas reflections in July…why not.


December isn’t the only secular season of “more.” It seems to last the whole year through and we wonder where the dissatisfaction comes from.

Unless we set down the stuff, purge for simplicity, go to the source of grace and love and peace, the stuff will just clutter and dust.

Lack luster love hidden among things.

christmas in july2There’s only one love and it was born in a manger. What would that look like if I focused my home on becoming a stable?


Only the necessities, so that there is room, there is time for more, for better, love.

  • J

A Prickly Bush

I have a hard time relating to Moses; I am awe struck at his faith, wavering and flawed as it may be. God used him in large, scary, and obvious ways. That is not my life. I am raising children in a series of apple slices, Disney jr, bug spray, and pool fun.

Yes, I’m called to obedience and love and patience, over and over and over again. But Moses feats- I don’t think are in the cards for me.

However, this morning I’m feeling like a different character in the story. The bush. No, not the “great I am” who was (and is) the fire. I’m an actual prickly desert bush, thirsty and begging to be engulfed in flames.

Moses “saw that the bush was on fire and did not burn up.” Exodus 3:2

fbusgIn so many real ways as a daughter of Christ, in this modern world, I can be consumed. The devil loves nothing more than to let anger ignite irrationally in me, flames burning high and thrown around. I become the thirsty bush consumed by fiery rage.

However, I get the choice, I do not have to be burnt up. I can be engulfed, but not consumed. There is a higher power alive in me, one Satan and flames can’t touch. So even though I feel ugly emotions that accompany breathing death, it is the life in me that can win.

It is a choice though. I have to choose (repeatedly) to humble myself. To take off my shoes in His presence, acknowledge I have no power or authority; I am a flawed servant, barefoot at his presence. I must set down the flamethrower set aside anything that fuels earthly logic of rage and pick up love.

Christ want comes through the proud warrior. It’s the humble and meek and unworthy he uses. And although I am unworthy, humble and meek are not my strong suits.

Yet, I am no Moses. I am a bush and I get to decide if I’m engulfed or consumed, a minor yet significant difference. Fires of death, or fires of life.

Anger, pride, bitterness verses joy, humility, peace

The flames do not burn up the bush, but the fire is real, the pains are real. The perplexity continues, as God is within the flame, “God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses,” and he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4

In the trial and tribulation, God’s presence is real. In the annoyances and frustrations and spilled milk and exhaustions, God is there. Some like to think a godly life is church bbq’s, family devotions, and mornings to praise and worship, sealed with nightly prayers and sweet dreams.

When in actuality a godly life promises hellfire and tribulation, “we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed but are not driven to despair. We are hunted down but not abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed….we live in the face of death because of the life in us” 2 Corinthians 4:8,9 11

And sometimes I’m called over emotional…

A godly life is hard, but it comes with sprinkles, a hope, and a future.

bushAfter all, the bush is only engulfed, not consumed, it becomes the fire.

So I am no Moses, but I feel the flame nonetheless.
My ordinary life is being used and my emotions run high and hot.

And I am reminded it is all an opportunity to humble myself. A lowly prickly bush.

“and as Gods grace reaches more and more people there will be great thanksgiving and God will receive more and more glory” 2 Corinthians 4:15

– J

Happy Birthday Dominic!

safe_image.phpSome how three years have come and gone. And my entire world has changed from the minute I found out my Nici Bear was coming.

He is the thunder and the rain and pushes me beyond. And he blooms and melts me. And the love just expands.

People tell you life is different when you become a mom. That’s the biggest downplay I’ve ever experienced.

13558753_10108463244946104_3161595361261887697_oLife is the same, repetitive and mundane and built of Tuesdays and repeat Batman… It’s I who have changed. The core of who I am is no longer me, but parts of them. And it’s a beautiful collaboration of chaos and stardust and Legos and cupcakes and heart donuts and fruit bites.

It’s fitting he was born on the Fourth of July, my firecracker boy.

The dramatic roller coaster he experiences daily over tv shows and spilled fruit bites and nerf guns and clothes mimics the emotional havoc I’ve experienced my entire life. He is a mini me and all I see is potential and joy. He teaches me to love myself, to see the good, despite the hard.

Being a mom is a burdensome blessing. It breaks you apart, sometime daily, but it builds you up twofold. It’s not a journey for the weak or proud or stubborn. It’s magical and tiresome and humbling. And I’m grateful to be broken in (sometimes hard) by my Nici Bear.13528083_10108458158170044_6317506522760983108_o There is no love like it.
And I pray he continues to take life fast and furious and to experience his emotions one hundred percent, not letting the world tone him down. To revel in the wonders of nature only seen at his pace, and marvel in the delight of ice cream secrets.

Happy Birthday Nici Bear!

  • J