As a young mother, Jessica faces the terminal diagnosis of her son. Choosing life, a son Lucas is born with a life-changing disability. His name meaning, “bringer of light.”
A few years later, Jessica’s husband Jason is diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumor.
After six years of marriage, she becomes a widow with four children.
Jessica’s shares her journey with honesty. Her story is beautiful because she allows readers into her heart, the pain and the hope alike. She doubts, wrestles and pleads. She clings to her faith and the God she knows to be good. We are assured that not having all the answers can be a holy response.
In the end, two stories of heartbreak are made into something beautiful, something as unexpected as sunlight burning at midnight.
Isaiah 61:3 And provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
Visit Jessica at Jess Plus the Mess or via social media on Facebook or Instagram. Her family’s adventures and her unwavering faith are an encouragement to all who follow her journey.
Comment below to be entered to win a copy of Sunlight Burning at Midnight.
Sometimes when I run out of things to read, I reach for Where There is Love, There is God. It is a selection of Mother Teresa’s writings and talks to the Sisters of Charity. Her words never grow old or less impactful to me.
This past week was full of challenge. Leading me to a space where doubt and worry takes up residence. It culminated with a trip to Grand Rapids Art Prize Saturday. When we parked at my brothers house, in the gutter by the street, Ellie and Josiah stepped in dog poop. It somehow ended up on four shoes, two hands, clothing, and the interior of our car. I sat in the road scrubbing Ellie’s shoes with wet wipes and laughing until I cried. We’ve all been there, and what can you do but laugh? (The above piece is by Kelsey Montague and features interactive butterfly wings on the opposite side.)
I was reminded of some of my favorite words for this book.
really wanting to give up, but not.
discouragement that takes root deep inside you.
tears after basketball.
all the mundane.
You _______________ fill in the blank.
She also said,
we fear the future because we are wasting today.
#whatliftsyou was the hashtag of that piece of art.
May what lifts you today be that you are not wasting one drop of anything.
Offer it all to God that it may become infinite. Beautiful. Small.
I came across this on accident last week, when researching an article.
Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.”
We are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God’s eyes and that all we are is a pure give.
We must grow beyond self-rejection
(From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey)
How would it feel to do this? Grow beyond…
I imagine it feeling like being completely naked.
Like having no idea who I was anymore.
Probably everyone hating my guts.
I have to do it, if I want my hope to expand. If I want to be an instrument to expand hope in others, I have to let it go.
I am reading Nicolas Kristof and Sherly WuDunn’s new book, A Path Appears. A film of the same title, will premier on PBS January 26, 2015.
“HOPE IS LIKE A PATH IN THE COUNTRYSIDE. ORIGINALLY, THERE IS NOTHING – BUT AS PEOPLE WALK THIS WAY AGAIN AND AGAIN, A PATH APPEARS.”
—LU XUN, CHINESE ESSAYIST, 1921
The enemy wants us to waste our time in self-rejection, worrying in circles, being ineffective.
I want to walk hope, away from my self-depreciation and worry and into life.
I want a path to appear for people because I kept walking it.
What path are you going to wear thin? How can you grow beyond self rejection?
Five minutes before we had to leave for school yesterday, I looked out the window.
There was white stuff and not just a little bit. Not unheard of, but definitely not the norm for October in Michigan. I frantically went to the basement and emptied the winter tubs onto the cement floor. No boots for either kid. Check, check, double check.
I frantically ran upstairs and announced they would have to wear their sneakers. I gave them a winter jacket, hat and gloves and shoved them into the car.
When I got to the parking lot I realized that I should at least have put snow pants into their backpacks. They could have also wore their rain boots. I guess I lost my mind somewhere between eat your breakfast bar and there’s an inch of snow on the ground. All the way to school Josiah was upset because Halloween would surely be cancelled.
I work at the school, so at lunch recess I got to see Josiah tiptoeing into the masses to play in the snow, and come back inside with wet jeans and soaking shoes. The rest of the afternoon, I though about my kid across the hall with cold, wet feet. I also had another kid in another hallway with cold, wet feet.
On the sidewalk, I heard a tearful kid greet his Mom after school, “You are a bad Mom, you forgot my boots and my snow pants.”
“Did all the other kids have their boots and snow pants?” She asked.
“No, they didn’t.”
I wanted to yell out to her, “Your’re OK and I’m Ok! I love you. Don’t think I’m weird.”
After school, I drove to Target and bought two pairs of boots for a total of a whopping fifty dollars. The selection was slim. I think eight hundred parents might have bought boots today. By the way, my kids only wanted to try on cheetah print/iron man slippers the whole time because they are super practical and needful.
When we got home, I went back into the basement. No boots. I went upstairs to set out the winter gear for tomorrow. Then, I wrote their names in permanent marker on the new boots, in three places. Yes, three.
Twenty minutes later I went back to the basement to change laundry and there wedged between the winter tubs was a pair of Hello Kitty boots and Spiderman boots. I went upstairs and traced the permanent marker (times 3 !?1?) with my finger and cried.
I am sitting here in the dark, realizing that some kids don’t even have one pair of boots. In reality, I should be thankful mine now have two pairs. But, I confess that I am an imperfect and tired Mom. Sometimes, I don’t want to be good. I want my fifty dollars back, so I can eat at Taco Bell eight times and not cook or get four crisp books from an actual bookstore.
And the guilt eats away at my heart.
And there is a lot of noise in this world.
So, I leave you with this small hope.
I know God is whispering this truth to your heart too.
Rejection is something I do not love and avoid like a plague with my people pleasing ways. Yet, somehow I decided to become a writer.
In writing, you get rejection on a very regular basis. I feel like I get a REJECTED stamp on my forehead every other day.
Last week, I was very excited about something. One week later that something was put on hold. I just talk in ‘somethings’ now, no need to drag everyone else in my life down with my maybes moving to not meant to be’s.
That same day I got this comment on one of my posts.
It would be a shame if you did not lose weight when these people accomplish it easily: isabelle
Yes, Isabelle it would be a shame… <insert not nice word>
Isabelle, I think you are a robot. I hate your message on this day. (I like self-effacing jokes. Isabelle is literally a robot and the comment was spam trying to sell diet pills.)
Rejection makes me want to lay down and sleep and when I wake up eat a very large bowl of ice cream. I cannot do this anymore, because I would be sleeping and eating ice cream like it was my job.
Now, I have to get back up and keep going almost immediately. It’s hard. I’m not going to lie, I really want to give up sometimes.
I have to dig deep and refuse. You have to dig deep and refuse.
Refuse to listen to the doubts you entertain about yourself.
Refuse to listen to the voices that seek to bring down and not lift up.
Refuse to allow rejections press away your hope.
Refuse to let your mood dictate your day and drain your joy.
What do you need to refuse and dig deep about today? We’ll pray for your strength.
Your shoulders give over the the weight of discouragement.
The kind words meant to keep you going and offer encouragement are wonderful, but they still sting.
You were good, but not good enough.
We have all been there.
I was last week, I wanted nothing more than to lie down and cover myself up to the world.
Instead I let it simmer on the surface while trying desperately to push the disappointment down.
When I’m with my friends and share something that disappointments me, I always extend a qualifier, but it’s OK. Then they say to me, it’s OK to be disappointed and sad. I forget that sometimes. I feel like I have to be perfect, upbeat and full of faith.
I trust, but that doesn’t mean I always feel that. It doesn’t mean you actually feel it every moment of every day either.
A couple of weekends ago, I watched the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.I immediately grabbed the novel from the library, both were written by Stephen Chbosky. The characters were so real and broken, but beautiful.
Hope is always with us though. There is always hope.
For me, that hope comes from my God, I know he’s not leaving me.
I’m learning that you all like fiction and she is a fixture in the world of Christian fiction. Susan has wrote more than thirty novels! Here is the link to her website full of great information. She spent eight years with her husband and four kids as a missionary in Russia. She and her family now live in Northern Minnesota, where she writes full-time.
Take a Chance on Me will be a part of series about the Christiansen family of Northern Minnesota. There are seven adult siblings in the family and this 7-book series will follow each one of them. Take a Chance on Me is the first! So, if you like the book there is more to come.
The setting of Deep Haven, Minnesota and the Christiansen resort of Evergreen Lake drew me into the story right away, think rustic summer vacation.
This first story follows the eldest Christiansen son, Darek, a single-father. And wait for it… the story has not one, but two love stories going on simultaneously. I know, it’s enough to make you pass out 🙂
I most enjoyed the book because of its theme of forgiveness. The characters in this story have deep frailty. To experience a future of hope they need to forgive the past.
The longing to be more and to let go of past hurts is something we can all relate to… to take a chance on faith and forgiveness.
I love these discussion questions:
In what circumstances have you doubted God’s kindness?
Looking back, are there any difficult circumstances in your past that you now see as pruning, shaping you into who you were meant to be?
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