Be A Light

I feel like a broken record in every blog saying that we are all living in crazy times right now . Between COVID and the ongoing riots and general unrest in this country it feels like the world as we know it is quickly vanishing right before our eyes . It is easy to see why all these circumstances have contributed to everyone feeling fear, panic, uncertainty, and hopelessness. In the beginning of this difficult time we all still had a little bit of hope. I don’t know about you, but I thought everything would be fine. I still had hope. I thought the upheaval that COVID has caused would last a few weeks and then life would be back to the way we knew it. In fact if you watched the news there were moments when that hope was given to us. It would be reported the shutdown would be two weeks, then they would add another week then another and finally the weeks turned to months and very slowly our hopes began to disappear as no end was in sight. To add to it, then came the rioting that caused an unrest in communities that were already heavily burdened with fear.

With everything in disarray it is so hard not to become depressed, fearful , hopeless , and yes even bitter sometimes . I can tell you I struggle with this myself. I have to make a choice everyday to get up and pray that I do not let the world and my feelings drag me down. This is very hard to do, but I can tell you that one thing that has helped me overcome these feelings is the decision that I wanted to be a light to others. I realize everyone is struggling not just me . Most people are having the exact same feelings that I am. Which made me think deeply about the situation. I first started with myself what would make me feel better under the current circumstances? What would others possbily need to make them feel better and be filled with hope? Here are some suggestions that I have compiled that may help you become a light to others.

  • Look in your own heart first. Chances are the things that you seek in a time of darkness is also what others are needing as well. For me, I hate the feeling of loneliness. I want to know that I am not alone, and that there are others that are there with me. Things that help me feel better? Getting a text or call from a friend. My husband or daughters being close always makes me feel less lonely and secure. It is important to remember that, especially now, everyone is going through the same thing. Look into your own heart and that will help guide you on how to help others.
  • Just because we have to be away from each other doesn’t mean you cannot reach out to others. Text your friends to check on them. Send cards or goodie bags in the mail. Keep in touch, even if it is from a distance. Make sure to let others know that you are there even though you may be away.
  • Offer help, espcially to those that may be more vulnerable or may not have others to assist them. Run errands for the elderly, or others who may not be able to get out. Drop off groceries or neccessities to these individuals even if they don’t ask for it. Make them a dinner and leave it for them. Do whatever you can to assist others to let them know they are cared for and not alone.
  • Ask people how they are, just because they may smile on a Face-Time call, doesn’t mean they are ok. Be deligent in asking and be sure to listen if you notice they need to talk. Let them be open and you be open and honest in return.
  • Smile. Yes, simple as that smile. Even if your alone. Think of a funny joke, watch a funny movie, talk to a friend about crazy things you used to do and smile. Not only will a smile lift your spirits but it can lift others spirits as well.
  • Help others be lights. Talk to your children and loved ones. Encourage them to reach out to someone and help them or even just text someone and say “I’m here if you need anything”. We all know the more lights there are the brighter the room is.
  • Talk to God. Let him guide you. Tell him your fears, let him lead your path during these uncertain times. Most importantly, pray for others. Lift them up and help speak hope and peace back into their lives.

Of course, these are just a few things you can do to be a light to others. There are so many ways we can reach out to others and bring a little light into this dark world right now. I would love to hear from any of you about ways that you have been a light? It is great to see good news for once. There are many people out there who are trying their best to make this world a better place. How much different would the world look right now if everyone chose light over darkness? Even under circumstances beyond our control. I truly believe there would be a lot less fear, hopelessness, depression, and disconnect. This world would look much different. I encourage each and every one of you to be a light to someone today. Let’s all make this world shine so bright that darkness can never creep in.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

I hope your light is shining bright today and that you are covered with many blessings.

Love and Hugs,

Jennifer

Donuts, Dog, and sweatpants

This past December my daughters bought me the cutest sweatshirt for a birthday gift. It has quickly become my go to sweatshirt. You know what I am talking about? That perfect piece of clothing with the soft lining and a little oversized for maximum comfort. The one you wear so much, that you eventually get holes in or completely wear it out. Yes, that is the one it has become my absolute favorite!! I reach for it anytime I am home and want to be comfortable. Hey, I reach for even when I’m going out too and just want to be comfortable. If you see me, well you will probably see me wearing this at some time. The front of the sweatshirt has writing that simply says: Donuts, Dogs, and Sweatpants. When I first opened the gift and saw this on the front, I actually had to giggle. Why? Because my girls know me so well!! Yes, one can definelty say that donuts, dogs, and sweatpants are three of my absolute favorite things in the whole world, besides my beautiful family of course. As I was folding the sweatshirt the other day after being washed and I read the saying that is on the front. It got me thinking about all the things that not only bring me comfort, but about what brings comfort to others as well. What is it that brings you comfort? Yes, I love my yummy glazed donuts, laying on the couch and snuggling with my dog, and a comfy sweatshirt and sweatpants. All of these things are tangible. However, my true comfort comes from God. He is the one that brings me the most comfort when I need it the most.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8-9.

A donut is truly delicious. One of the best things about donuts, is the countless options you have to choose from. Original, chocolate, glazed, and some even with delicious filling. Unfortunately, I am from a very small town so we do not have a place here to buy fresh donuts. Well, now that I think about it, maybe that is a good thing. It is no secret to my family when we go out of town and there is a Krispy Kreme, that I will be there to buy some delicious donuts. In fact, when we see that infamous red sign on, we stop traffic and do whatever we have to do to get there as fast as possible. No joke, we are crazy over donuts. They are just so delicious and truly are at the top of my comfort foods. What is your comfort food? Do you take extra measures to just get one bite of something that you love? What if we were to run to God like we do when that red sign is on a Krispy Kreme? When we have a craving for a taste of comfort, we can also run to him. God will feed our souls with his word. Whatever may be going in our lives, God is there. He will always be there to provide the peace and comfort our hearts desire. God is our comfort when our soul needs to be fed.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Johns 6:35.

Just like that cozy loungewear and delicious donut, I also find comfort in spending time with my family and my dogs. As I am sure it is true for most of us, my family is my entire world. The reason I live and breathe. It is no secret they are my true joy and peace. My dogs, who we treat like they are our family, also play an integral part in allowing me to feel joy, peace, and solace. In fact, there has been research done that dogs can reduce anxiety and bring comfort to those in need. It is not uncommon to see dogs used for therapeutic purposes in this day and age. Emotional support animals, dogs who aid in the care of disabled individuals, and even dogs brought into medical facilities and schools to help improve the individuals there are all ways we see dogs helping people cope. There has been many days that I really felt like I needed a friend, and my dogs have been there and helped me get out of a not so healthy headspace. God can also help you when a shift of focus. It is so important to remember God is our friend. A loyal friend that will never leave us and will always be there to be the light on a day that may seem dark. Feel his embrace and hear his words when you need comfort. Find peace in just sitting and talking to him like you would a friend. His love is constant and never changes.

Praise be to the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort this in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4.

I love having things in my life that bring me comfort. I will admit I cannot live without my comfy clothes, favorite foods, and my sweet little doggies. However, there is no comfort like that of God. He touches my heart, feeds my soul, and wraps me in such a safe embrace that there is nothing in the world that can bring me peace like him. He is everything that I need. I encourage everyone that needs to find comfort and peace to run to him. Lay everything at his feet, and get comfortable because he will always take care of you.

I pray each of you are finding comfort today and are filled with many blessings.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Cherished Time

Can we all just say that 2020 is throwing all of us more punches each and every passing day. I honestly feel like I am living in the middle of a scary movie, not real life. Each day I wake up and have this feeling of dread about turning on the TV and watching the news. What possibly could be going on now? There are even some days that I choose not to even turn on the TV. I make this choice for my own mental health, but my families as well. Do we need to stay informed about what is going on? Absolutely!! I am not making the choice to ignore what the reality is. I, of course, want to be educated and knowledgable so that I can keep my family safe and healthy. However, I do think because of the many different things going on in the world that each of us need to also give ourselves a mental break. To not feed our minds with the negativity news and images that is in abundance right now. Constantly feeding yourself with the negativity will not be good for you. One might think that watching the news or scrolling through social media will not have a great psychological effect, but it most definitely can. I would guess, and I am not an expert nor do I have a medical degree, that after all this is over there will be an increase of numbers of people who are diagnosed and have to be treated for depression and anxiety.

Because of all the negativity in order to prevent ourselves from falling into the rut of being depressed or anxious we must turn away from the negative images and find something that will help us take our minds off of the current circumstances of the world. One thing that has helped me is to find a way to cherish each and every moment that I have with my family. The world has changed in drastic ways, and so that means my family has changed also. My husband and my kids are living in this crazy world too, not just me. They have fears, anxiety, missed opportunities, time away from friends and loved ones, changes in their activities, restraint from activities, and the list goes on. Not only that, but we all are getting another year older, getting to new phases in our lives, and adapting to new changes . In fact, I have my oldest, Taylor who will be in her last year of college, Emma will be leaving home and starting her first year in college, Elle will be starting high school as a Freshman, and Abby will begin her journey in junior high as a 7th grader. Lots of big changes for our family!! This is one of the reasons that I try to block away the negativity and take time to cherish every little moment I have with my beautiful family. In a blink of any eye it goes by.

The time together is so important to me. I want to hang on to each minute. I was so thankful that we made the decision to take our girls to the beach a few weeks ago to get a much needed break from the real world. Before I get any hate about our decision to go to the beach, I want everyone to know that we stayed in a private residence, practiced social distancing, and wore masks while we were there. We made sure our daughters were never put in harms way or that we would put ourselves in a position to pass to others. All safety measures were followed!! It was a personal decision we made as a family to spend this quality time together. Like I said in a few short weeks, our lives will look much different because of the stages my girls are entering. Not only that, we have no idea in this ever-changing world what will be thrown at us next. So, I want to take the time to remember today. To see my girls all together smiling, laughing, and making memories. I want to see them enjoy life, despite the fear that may be lingering in the air. I want to cherish the second, the minute, the hour, and the day we have right now. I don’t want to watch the news everyday and feel depressed or weighed down. I want to lift my hands up in the air and thank God for the gifts that are standing in front of me right now.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34.

Again, I am not promoting for anyone to ignore the news, or not take the events happening now seriously. I actually feel the total opposite of that. What I am saying is give yourself a pass. It is ok to do what is best for you and your family. Do not feel guilty for missing one day of news reports. Do not feel bad if you have to get away from it all, if done in a safe way. Make sure that your family has the opportunity to have a mental and emotional break from it all. I would even suggest to talk out loud about your fears. The most important message I have is do not ever let what is going on, take away your time as a family. Cherish all of it. Do not let anything steal your joy. Hold on to the precious minutes you have with your kids. I can tell you it seems like yesterday by 21 year old was just a baby. Now, she is a grown woman who dreams of her own family. Do not let these moments slip because you are scared. Take a hold of this season, even though for everyone it is a rocky one, but take a hold of it and turn it into cherished time together. When my 18 year old leaves for college in a few weeks, I certainly do not want to have any regrets that I did not find joy in my last few days with her at home. I do not want to take my time or life for granted. Every breath is a gift, every moment with my girls and husband is a gift. I may worry about the type of future that is ahead for all of us, and I am sure most of are having those thoughts right now, but I want to live in the present. Each new stage my kids enter is bittersweet. I have loved watching them change and grow but it also makes this mommy a little sad too. I will tell you that letting go is so very hard, that is why I want to cherish every second before my hands have to let go.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.

Hope this finds you all safe and healthy and with many blessings. May God bless each of you.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Overcoming Infidelity

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1Peter4:8

In order to get to know me, you have to get to know the reasons behind what made me what I am today. As I mentioned in my About Me page, my personal marriage struggles has been the biggest thing that has shaped me into the person I am today. In fact it is my biggest testimony. I once had a wise friend, counselor, and teacher tell me one day my mess would become my message. I’ll tell you at the time, I thought she was one crazy lady!! But you know what? She was right!! More than right, in fact I think she may have written my story before it ever happened. I know there are many stories out there just like mine. Many people going through the same things, or worse and many people with bigger problems than mine. In fact every time I get on social media or the internet, I realize I am not alone. I applaud all those men and women out there that stand up and share their stories. No one really knows until it happens to them the feelings that come along with it. I’m not writing this to seek sympathy, to share my dirty laundry, or embarrass my family. I’m sharing it because my mess has become my message. And I pray by reading it, that hope and encouragement will touch someone who may be reading it.

This is not easy but here it goes:

My husband Ryan and I started dating at age 15!! Wow, that’s hard to believe. Even though we were young we quickly fell for each other, and our love story began. We dated all through high school and the start of college, and by the age of 19 we were engaged and then married on August 3rd, 1996. Now it may seem like a fairy tale, but our relationship was far from perfect. Chalk it up to being young, immature, or other reasons, but our relationship had issues that I think most couples face. Despite the small issues I was always still very confident in the fact that no matter what, Ryan would never hurt me. Yes, I was one of those women that would say my husband would never do that to me.

The years passed and along comes our four daughters. We seemed to be just moving through the world as a normal family would. Then in 2011, I noticed a huge shift in my husband, he had become almost a stranger to me. He was distant, degrading, and overall just not good to me. We had began hanging out with a group of couples that we met through our church we were attending. There was several couples, but one in particular that we got closer to. I will say from the very first day I met them, my gut was saying something was off. But I am one of these that I always root for the underdog, and seeing that most other people did not like them, I felt sorry for them and decided to really befriend them. We spent a lot time together, and our lives, our kids everything became intertwined.

My worst nightmare came true when in the Spring 2012, while away on a Spring Break vacation with my daughters, sister, and friends, I got a call that my husband was caught with the wife of the other couple by her husband. As you can imagine my world crashed. This was my husband, the father of my kids, the man I said would never do this me. And he did it to me with a woman who had become what I thought was my best friend. I also found out it had been an ongoing 2 year affair. Two years of lies, deceit, manipulation, hurt and pain. I will spare the details of the days, weeks, months that passed after I found out. That is something I will continue to write about in future posts. There are many details, many feelings, many things to write about that I will share. For this post, I just wanted to share the backstory so you would know me a little better and know where my heart is.

I don’t want this post again to be about gaining sympathy, and in no way do I want embarrassment brought to my family. I also am not on here to bash my husband, and I certainly do not want others to do that. I just want to let others know that no matter how hard the road is in your marriage you can make it. You can overcome infidelity. You can forgive, you can move on, you can trust again. You can come out on the other side. You just have to make the choice to do the work. I chose to do the work, I choose to still do the work, and most importantly I decided to let God guide me in my decisions after the betrayal. That was not an easy task, because in this situation there is so much anger, bitterness, pain, and raw emotion. There are a lot days you just want to hate, scream, and hurt those who betrayed you back. It takes a lot of self-discipline, strength, self-reflection, and prayers.

It will be shocking for you all to hear that I can say after time has passed that this hurt that happened, has actually been a big blessing to me. Sounds crazy, huh? It wasn’t a blessing as far as the pain and brokenness that it caused, of course not. And I also can’t say that there still isn’t negativity that comes from it , because there is. But, oh boy, did it make me learn what a strong woman I really am. I am fierce, I have a voice, I have power, and I can do anything!! As an insecure person all my life, what a blessing it is that through this I am able to to discover that. And you can to. You will make it. It is so important for me to tell someone that. I wish I had more people that did to me. Unfortunately I pretty much fought my battle alone. I had friends before this, but after this happened I was left in the dust. Sure, a couple of people were there a few weeks after it happened, but then it is as if everyone just disappeared. I’m still confused by this and why it happened, but it was another lesson that came out of this also, be careful who your friends are. But that is one of the main reasons I want to share my story, because I know how it is to fight this battle alone, and trying to figure what the next step will be.

I look forward to sharing more of my story with you, and I would love to hear from you about your story or any questions you may have. I can’t wait for us to grow together . Just remember you are one strong lady!!!

Hugs and love,

Jennifer

God is within her she will not fall Psalm 46:5

Admit Your Faults

I think we can all agree that 2020 has already been one wild and crazy year. I honestly can’t remember a time in my lifetime that there has been so much chaos, division, fear, and uncertainty. I am sure I would not be far off to say that most people, in some form, are struggling. It could be that the struggles are from financial burdens, or maybe, like me, things are effecting you more from an emotional standpoint. No matter the circumstances it has not been fun for anyone. Stress can definitely become a monster in our life if we allow it. That monster will not only effect us personally in a multitude of different ways, but it always seems to carry over to the ones we love as well.

If we can all just take a deep breath here and use a little honesty. We ALL, yes I am saying ALL of us have taken our stresses, anxiety, or unhappiness out on someone else. How many times have you been in a bad mood and you snap at someone over the silliest things, like leaving the toilet seat up, or a glass on the table. We all have done it, and I would say more than we care to admit. Does that make us bad people? No, of course not. Is stress a free pass to mistreat others? No not at all. However, it happens to all of us.

We must remember that, yes these are pretty normal incidents that take place throughout our life. However, we must also make sure that the incidents do not become part of our normal pattern in everyday life. Also, we must be able to ensure that we know that we must also be able to admit when we are wrong.

Let us first take a look at the issue of this becoming a pattern. What I mean by that is do not allow yourself to become a bitter, hateful person. Someone who constantly has something to say to others or about certain situations. A person who complains about everything no matter what circumstances they are in. Do not become the person that people dread to see coming around because they know there will be something said or some type of problem (or I could say a problem to them anyway). Most of us know someone like that I am sure. They have allowed this to become a part of who they are, and a lot of the times they do not even see that this is how they are. They tend to turn and blame others for their actions. They claim to act this way or do that because of what others may say or do. They simply do not see any fault of their own. I tend to see that people who fall under this pattern never admits guilt no matter what. I find that when people get into this trap of hateful and bitterness, it is very difficult to get out and people just have to learn how to deal with them in the best way they know how.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away with you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31.

If someone is in that pattern of negative behavior, or even if they are not, it is important that everyone learns how to admit they are wrong, or admit their faults. What? Admit faults in ourself? Yes, it is vital that we all take a deep look into our own mind, souls, and hearts and learn to grow as a person by admitting our very own faults. This may be shocking to some, but no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all have emotions, feelings, and needs. Remember, we are all very different too. What effects one person may not the next. The big word to keep in mind here is RESPECT. You should always respect other people’s feelings. I personally have dealt with many people in my life that have hurt my feelings, I mean really hurt them. Several of those people I have approached to talk to them about how they have hurt me. Some did go on to say they were sorry. However, some told me that they didn’t do anything wrong and they didn’t care. My advice that if someone approaches you and tells you that you hurt their feelings, then respect that. Please do not dismiss them. Don’t be the person in the bitterness trap who thinks everyone in the world is wrong but you. Be the better person. Be the person God would want you to be. Most people would not say they are hurt, unless they truly are. Have the strength to admit when you are wrong.

Admitting faults is not a weakness and it is not an ad to the world that you are not a good person. It is opposite of that. It is a sign of strength. It shows others that you have the ability to see yourself for what you truly are good and bad. Admitting wrongs is such a difficult thing to do. We are all naturally stubborn and want to be right all the time. Guess what? We are not . I have always told my girls if you do something wrong just admit it. I would much rather deal with them being honest then trying to hide. Find comfort in the fact that admitting our own faults will not only bring peace to others, but will bring a lot growth and peace to our own life as well.

So what can we take from this? Admit when you are wrong. Don’t fall into a trap of always being bitter, complaining, and lashing out to others. Choose to live a life more full of positivity, love, kindness and forgiveness. Learn to grow as a person and admit your mistakes. Try to live everyday seeing the good side of things instead of complaining. Respect the feelings of others. Overall, just allow yourself to admit your faults and you will see the freedom it actually gives you.

I pray each of you are covered with many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer