Saturday, January 7, 2017

Youth Hunt Day


Oh wait, I'm not Robin Williams, and this isn't Vietnam.  It's South Carolina and it's 4AM and I am awake!  WHY OH WHY?  Actually I've been awake since about 3AM.  Why?  I guess I'm excited for my son this morning.

LJ in August on his first hunt.
Today is "Youth Hunt Day" so daddy is taking little man hunting one more time. This will likely be the most horrible hunting day weather wise of his short hunting career.  It is cold outside. It is raining, bordering on sleet. Quite frankly I think this is the coldest day of the hunting season so far with rain to boot.   It is quite miserable for a southern boy to be in the woods today.  But maybe, just maybe my boy will bag his first deer!  He's so excited.  I know this because at no other time in history has my 10 year old gotten up at 4am to do ANYTHING.  Not even Christmas!!!  Certainly not willingly. And he is wide awake to boot!  You know, the wide awake that makes a kid slap happy.

We dressed him in quite a few layers of clothes.  I won't go into his antics with his "long underwear" last night except to say the moon over South Carolina was on full last night. Gloves, hat, sweatshirt, long underwear, feet warmers, boots, and of course, hunter orange.  Our boy is ready.

So with a warm heart I bid my husband and son goodbye for the morning and am snuggling up in the bed with the dogs by my side hoping to go back to sleep.  Good luck to my hunting men!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Baby it's cold outside

Well, that might not be true here in Charleston...not yet anyway.  But it appears as though we may receive 2 or 3 days of winter weather here in South Carolina.  Regardless of the temperature outside, I can tell you, there will still be those people, those strange people who wear flip flops outside (my son) and shorts around the house (me).  You can ask my mom; even on the coldest of winter days in Kentucky when I was growing up, I wore shorts around the house. 

December evening by the fire
More often than not when it is cold outside I am guilty of not wearing the appropriate amount of clothing for the weather. For example, I won't wear a jacket or coat while driving my car.  Even in sub-zero temperatures when I lived in Northern Japan, I would warm up the car, take off my parka (because yes, it was cold enough there for a parka, not just a regular old winter coat) and then drive to where I needed to go.  Heaven help me if I was ever in an accident and ejected from a car because I would definitely not be protected from the elements.  Around the house, I wear drives my family crazy.

When I walk into work most mornings, I don't wear a jacket or coat.  I'm lucky to be wearing a cardigan or something but then again, I probably took that off to drive also and am carrying it.  Now, mind you, the distance I walk from my vehicle to the front door is, on a bad day, about 100 feet.  Most mornings I'm about 40 feet from the front door.  I can handle the 100 foot walk without a coat.  Plain and simple, I just do not like wearing a coat.  Never have.  

Now, let's flip that around. If I am in the lab or a conference room and I have to sit for long periods of time I should just bring a blanket because I will start to freeze and then wear my coat.  A few years ago on a business trip to Maryland, I was in a conference room for a week and it was JULY, so I HAD to buy a jacket to wear inside!  So call me strange. Call me weird.  Call me a non-conformist, call me crazy.  Whatever.  I'm just one of those people who maybe subconsciously always wishes she were near a nice warm beach.

Or maybe I just like to keep people guessing.  My husband likes to refer to me as a vampire. I work in a building with no windows and have for the last 25 years.  I burn easily in the sun and am a night owl.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love the sun!  I love the warmth of a sunny day!  I love the sun shining down on my face warming my soul! Unfortunately it just doesn't necessarily love me.  I am pretty fair skinned and burn easily (ask me about my boot-camp sunburn).  When I was doing my middle eastern tour I had to wear long sleeves and long pants.  It was HORRIBLE.  I was miserable.  When I flew in to Kuwait from one of the ships, it was a cool 117 degrees on the blacktop tarmac (translation, heat index of approximately 140) and I had on long pants and long sleeves (these would help keep the sun from burning my skin).  I won't even tell you how hot it was in the porta-potties on the tarmac.  OUCH is all I will say about that!   However you can guess, at those temperatures I quickly changed into short sleeves because well, I didn't want to fry.  But then again, I did end up frying a little.  Man that desert sun is strong!

So to all my friends and family "up north", I feel for ya.  Try to stay warm.  As for me, give me the sun.  Give me the beach and a gallon of sunscreen and I'll be happy for a while.  Add a boat, some scuba gear and I'll be happy as a clam!

Stay warm peeps!  Much love from South Carolina,

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What's in a name?

Hi!  My name is Jessica.  Or is it Jesse? Jess? Mom? Miss Jessica? Wait, what is my name?  Well, I think that can only be answered by you.  You see, I am different names to different people.  And when we really dig down deep, we are all that way.

Let's look at me first, because well, this is my blog so I'll go first. And I would never want to call any of my friends out and comment on their names (LOL).   My name is Jessica.  However, my family has called me "Jesse" since I was born.  The only time I heard "Jessica" was when I was in trouble (which wasn't often mind you) but it was more like "Jesse Ca Ann" so I honestly thought my name was "Jesse Ca-Ann" until I was in 4th grade.  Imagine the shock when I realized my first name was Jessica and not Jesse!  Silly yes but when you aren't called by your first name, but a nickname that's what happens.  When I first started dating my husband he didn't get the whole "Jesse" thing and refused to call me by that name.  That was, until he met my family, until he heard my mom and step-dad and sister call me "Jesse" and he got it.  He understood it.  He HEARD it.  He heard the WAY they called me "Jesse".  So guess who calls me Jesse now?  Yes, my husband.  I think it was the love he heard in their voices in the way they called my name.  Because really, it's not the name, but how it is said that really defines us.  Think about that a minute.  HOW someone calls your name is just as important as your name.  The love that is in the greeting changes the sound oh so much.

LJ and Janessa
Mom is another of my names, one that I cherish and one that my amazing husband gave me when we married.  Only one of my two children call me mom.  The other calls me  Miss Jessica (or at least she did until she got "too old" to do that so now it's "Jesse" from her too!).  But most of the other "kids" around call me Miss Jessica.  See, I live in the south.  Adults are all "Miss" or "Mister" plus their name down here. So the kids call me "Miss Jessica" and I absolutely love it.  It is respectful.  And I still call ladies older than me "Miss" too.  It's a southern thing I guess.

LJ a.k.a Fred
Now, I have a son.  He received a nickname too!  His Uncle Jason (whose birthday is the day before my sons) started calling him LJ for "little J" because we thought he was going to be born on Jason's birthday.  Now, LJ (as everyone calls him...well everyone but our swim team carpool and there he's known as "Fred" but that's another story) is named Jon just like his daddy.  He went almost 6 years being called LJ until he started K5.  When we went to school his teacher asked what his name was and he said "Jon".  I questioned him on it and he said he wanted to be called "Jon" because he's a big boy now.  OKAY big boy!  You got it!  It was his choice so I didn't say anything about it to his teacher.  Well, on the third day of school the teacher contacted me and informed me that "Jon" wouldn't answer her in class.  She wanted to know what was wrong. She would say his name and he would completely ignore her.  I laughed.  I immediately knew the problem.  You see, for almost 6 years, he's been called "LJ" so naturally  he wasn't answering to "Jon" because that wasn't his name.  I gently told her the "story" and suggested she call him LJ vice Jon.  Well, immediately she began calling him LJ and  he answered and all was good in the world.  So LJ is still LJ, except when he's Fred or his full name but that's only when he's in trouble...which isn't often. But "Fred", well I'll explain that another day.

Nicknames are wonderful most of the time.  Nicknames are sometimes the way most people know us.  They are usually shorter versions of our name or variations on our name.  If you are like my family, all of our names start with the same letter. And for us, we've really taken it to an extreme. "J" names!  TOO MANY! Across both my husband and my family we are predominately "J" names.  Except for my sisters kids (all "A" names) and my little brothers girls ("E" Names).  But for my immediate family we are all "J" names.  So much so that I had a difficult time finding a name for my son that wasn't taken already!!! And we didn't!  Our names define us.  People know us by our names.  People recognize us by our names.

I have been called many names in my life.  Jess, Jesse, Ma'am, Mom, Miss Jessica, Janet(??), Sarah(??) but the one name that I carry that isn't on this list is "Princess".  I can hear the laughter from here!  Before you balk, let me explain. When I was a young girl of 9 years old, I accepted Christ as my Savior.  So therefore I am a Daughter of the King!  I have been adopted into the family of God because of Jesus death on the cross and accepting the Salvation He so freely gives.  So there, I'm a princess.  I don't have a crown (not yet anyway) but I am HIS. Now, if I could just get the wardrobe to go along with the princess title I'd be set...HA!

But seriously you ask, what is in a name?  In the name of Jesus is salvation.  Freedom.  Peace. Forgiveness. THAT is what is in HIS name.  Each of us are loved because of that name. Each of us, if we accept it, are HIS.  So there are many things in a name.  But if I had to define it, there is Love.  And that's all we need in this big crazy world.  Love.  Love of our family, love of our friends and most of all, accepting the Love of God.

Until next time, much love to each of you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

To See the Son Rise

It was November of 1991 and I was wondering what to do with my life.  I was stagnant in college, had no love life AT ALL and really did not know where I was headed in this life.  To say my life was going opposite to what I had planned was an understatement. I figured I would grow up, become a teacher, get married, have kids and live my life in Kentucky.  But God! He has plans for us and it's typically better than we could ever imagine.

That night, as I was reading through my Bible (more like skimming) I came across the following verse that pretty much jumped off the page at me:

II Timothy 2:4.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 

Helicopter ride somewhere over the Gulf of Arabia, 2010
Okay, so that's an unusual verse...unless you were, at some point in your past, considering joining the military.  For quite a few years my mom had suggested I go into ROTC in college. In high school, I had toyed with the idea of a military academy (yeah, my math grades didn't come close to qualifying for that but God had bigger ideas).  So there I was, laying on my water bed wondering what in the world was I in for with this verse.  Was God speaking to me?  And what in the world was He saying? (I actually heard him LOUD and CLEAR but chose to ignore him at that point).

Sunrise from the USS Winston Churchill, Arabian Gulf, July 2010
Fast forward 5 months and I was playing volleyball with two men from college practicing for a tournament and wham, I landed wrong and my ankle touched the floor (while my leg was still vertical) with the distinct sound of shredding muscle/ligaments to follow.  Needless to say, I was out of commission for a while. I had ignored the Lord and his "nudge" 5 months earlier and now had a glorious 3 weeks to lay on my back, foot in the air, unable to work and just going to school and thinking.  This little "vacation" gave me 3 weeks to think. It gave me three weeks to consider my future and at the end of it I knew what God wanted me to do. I was supposed to join the military. 

As a naïve young lady, I did the only logical thing I could do.  I started to consider my options.  I knew if I joined the military I would I want to go to the beach, someplace warm. I wanted to be where I could see the sun rise and/or set over the ocean. So I did the


train of thought.  Which seems logical right?  Sure! So off to the recruiter I went.  And off on my little unexpected adventure I went.  It wasn't where I thought I would end up though.  But the Navy was where God wanted me, at least temporarily.

I didn't take this picture but THIS is Northern Japan!!!
Well, typical of life, my first duty station was anything but warm.  Stuck in Northern Japan for 2 years, I learned the meaning of cold. I learned the meaning of snow (and yes, I grew up with snow but this was SNOW...FEET-OF-SNOW, COLD-FEET-OF-SNOW). 

Through my far eastern adventure I learned the meaning of "Land of the Rising Sun".  I was enjoying the rising of the sun even if it was not on the beach I expected.  Because really, do we ever get to watch life from the place we expect?  "Bloom where you are planted" is a favorite saying of mine and this was definitely the case in Misawa Japan.

Through two more duty stations, I learned the meaning of resting in Him. I learned that no matter which beach I was on (and I was on MANY beaches), the sun would still rise and set and through it all Jesus was still the same.  God even chose to allow me to see the sun rise and set from the deck of a warship which is simply amazing.  To be standing on a ship, and see the sun rise knowing that you are out there, standing watch for those who sleep is an overwhelming, humbling, amazing experience.  To add to it He even allowed me to watch the sun set over the beach in Israel.  Now, you want to talk about blessings!  THAT was a blessing. To walk the very land my Savior had walked:  Amazing!!!  But back to the story.

Sunset over the Arabian Gulf from a US Warship, July 2010

Why did God allow me to take the path I took all those years ago?  What was the meaning behind it all?  Why was I allowed to have things happen to me that shook me to my core?  As a young lady, all I had wanted was to go to college, eventually get married, be a teacher, have some kids and live in Kentucky the rest of my life.  Small town dreams for this small town country girl.  BUT, there was a part of me that wanted to travel the world.  Israel, Paris, Rome, London, you know, THE WORLD.  Honestly, I didn't think it would ever happen.  Yet God!  God allowed for my deepest desires to come to fruition.  ALL OF THEM!!! He took all the dreams I had of seeing the world, having a family and laid them at my feet.  He used all of those things that at the time may have seemed bad and led me to a place where I could watch the sun rise and set.  A place where I relied SOLELY on HIM.

All of those steps, that seemed so very chaotic at the time and totally unexpected were actually to bring me to where I am today. You see, had I listened to the Lord in November of 1991, I may not have gotten into the schools I got into for my job(which ironically is HEAVY on the math part, go figure).  Yet, had I not really listened 5 months later and ignored His still small voice, I may not have had the chance to see the places I was blessed to see. I would have never met my husband which means I wouldn't have had my step-daughter and son.  It all worked together in HIS time.

Romans 8:28 says: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
Through it all, God has placed me in locations where I can watch the Son rise; places where I can easily see His hand in all the things around me.   Are you watching for the Son to rise?  Can you see God's hand in your life?  Look around, it is not as difficult as you may think.

Do I have regrets? Sure.  Don't we all?  But I know that God placed me right where He did on so many occasions to bring me right where I am today.  And He wants me to be PRESENT today.  He wants me to live my life, loving those around me like HE does because HIS love is perfect.  And for this life I am very thankful.  This life is much better and bigger than any dream this small town Kentucky girl could have ever imagined.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Calming Touch of God's Hand

Have you ever been the recipient of an unexpected blessing?  Has a prayer request been answered before it was ever spoken?  Have you ever just sat back and said "Thanks God" because you knew, without a shadow of a doubt that He had answered your request before it was even made?

I was driving through our little town bringing my son back from getting a haircut.  It was the last day before Christmas break was over for me and I was mentally preparing for the things I need to do over the next few days.  As usual, my mind began to speed up and a small seed of anxiety began to grow in my mind and heart.  Would I be able to get it all done?  Would I be able to give 110% even though my energy level tells me to take a nap? 

It was at that point I began to spiral down just a bit into a state of being a tad on the overwhelmed side.  Alright, honestly I was starting to mentally freak out.  Was it over anything significant?  NO!  But I was starting to spiral...then all the sudden, the little hand, attached to the not so little boy in the seat next to me began to rub my arm.  It was just a soft touch across my arm meant to calm my racing mind.  This soft touch is something our son has done many times in the last couple years and has calmed my racing mind and beating heart almost instantly.  Quite frankly, it stops me in my tracks!  Where did my son learn this calming mechanism?  How did he know that Mommy needed to be calmed?  Many times he has reached over, rubbed my arm and told me to calm down and stop stressing (especially lately) but this time there were no sighs, no deep breaths, no outward signs I was beginning to stress.  So how did he know?  I asked and his reply was he didn't know.  It was just something he did.  However, God knew.  God knew that in that moment, I was sliding into the deep abyss of "I'll never get it all done" and He sent me a little reminder, in the shape of a 10 year olds hand to remind me that I'm not alone.  He reminded me that my Father in Heaven is there and as always He is listening.

God uses people in our lives to touch us every day. All too often we are too busy to realize it.  We are busy rushing around, making sure we have all our ducks in a row so that we can rush on to the next thing. But that's not what the Lord wants of us.  He wants us to be PRESENT in today!  To live in today and let HIM take care of tomorrow.  God tells us to not worry.

In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul tells us:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (NKJV)

Am I anxious?  If I am honest, I typically live in a perpetual state of anxiety...all of my own choosing and likely all of my own creation.  You see, I was designed to love, I was designed to serve, and I was designed to take care of those around me.  It's just who I am.  But I don't think God wants me to do that to the detriment of my own health.  He didn’t bless me with those qualities only to have me make them into a curse.  God has given me those gifts to freely share…without worry, without anxiety.  I really think what God is saying here is RELY ON ME! BE PRESENT!  Talk to me child, I love you and want you to know you can trust in ME.  God desires a relationship with me. 

Being a follower of Christ is not a religion.  It's a relationship.  And relationships cannot be one way; they must be full-duplex, full of trust, communication and love.  God showed HIS love for me by sending His Son to die on the cross for ME.  HE wants ME to know HE loves ME.

So today, I'm working at letting go.  I am committing to being PRESENT.  I need to fully rely on God to take care of my needs, my heart, and my life.  He takes care of the sparrow.  Doesn't he want to take care of me also!!!

And God wants YOU to know He loves you also!  He wants a relationship with you dear friend.  It's been too long, reach out and talk to Him.  Surrender to Him and begin a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 - My word

Well, 2016 is dead and gone. For a lot of people they are pretty pleased it is finally over. I honestly didn't think 2016 was that bad. We went on a pretty nice Spring Break vacation.  My stepdaughter graduated college.  Our son is doing well in both school and swimming.  I mean, sure, I miss my step-daughter who moved way too far away and it's honestly strained our relationship.  We don't talk like we did before but I guess that's a part of growing up.  But she graduated college!!!  She's got a great job!  So I'm happy for her.  Sure there were a lot of celebrity deaths...but really?  Does this affect me??  Not really.  Most of them were way too early granted but a combination of overuse of alcohol and drugs made many of them die way too early.  Sad? Yes.  Something our society should learn from? Yes.  Does it directly affect me?  No.  Not really.  Although I will say, Star Wars won't be the same without Carrie Fisher.

So what will 2017 bring?  For me, I am praying 2017 brings peace.  I want peace in my little world.  I would love peace in our larger world.  Along with that I am committing to a 365 day quilt block challenge...and it will be a challenge.  I have an incredible Bible Study I am starting in a couple weeks on Wisdom.  I am also committing to working out when LJ is in the pool.  But is that enough? No, it's not.

I am therefore jumping on the bandwagon of having a word for the year.  My word?  It is something that affected me greatly in 2016.  Being present.  What does that mean though?

PRESENT - being attentive to those around me.  Paying attention to my family and friends.  NOT GIVING THEM MY LEFTOVERS. I have been on the receiving end of people's leftover time in the past and quite honestly it isn't fun. Especially when those people are ones you love.   Now, in full disclosure, I am sure I am guilty of giving those I love my leftover time on occasion.  So this year I am committing to concentrating on being PRESENT.  

I will be revisiting this theme over the next year.  Bear with me, I know I am not perfect.  But God is still working on me.