Two days left to win…!

There are officially TWO days left to get your name entered to win the Cultivate Powersheets (that retail at $60!!!) Simply refer a friend here, and if they sign up to receive emails, your name and their name gets entered to win! (Contest ends December 17th at midnight!)

So here’s how to get your name in the hat:
1.Share this blog, jessicastone.org, with a friend/mother/sister/cousin/co-worker.
2. Encourage them to sign up to receive emails from Jess.
3.WHEN that person signs up to receive emails from my blog,  AND they put YOUR name in the little box that says ‘who told you about this blog” THEIR name AND your name gets put into the hat. (you’ll get an email where you need to confirm your sign up, check your spam folder just in case!)

**BEST PART: If two of your friends sign up, your name goes into the drawing TWICE. Or more…for as many friends as you refer…!!

And it isn’t just pretty on the outside…!!!

Ready…GO. Two days left! Contest ends December 17th at midnight, Nicaraguan time. (hmmm, that’s basically US Central time) and I will announce the winner December 20th!

Let me tell you, I bought this book last year, and absolutely loved it. If you want to read more, directly from the source, just click here.

But let me tell you personally what I love about these Cultivate PowerSheets. Because, well, I just can’t help it. I think they are absolutely amazing, and they have dramatically changed the way I think about an upcoming year, and helped me to get organized to see some goals all the through to fruition. Here are some quick bullet points highlighting their fantasticalness:

~The first 60 pages are incredible. They focus on you. Who you really are. Breaking your identity box, evaluating all areas of your life, naming your fears, lessons you’ve learned, what you’re grateful for, what will matter when you’re 80. These pages help you cultivate what matters, and (bonus!) through all those questions you’ll uncover your goals for the upcoming year.

~Each month has space for planning, dreaming, and making detailed daily, weekly, and monthly lists.

~Every 3 months you stop and reevaluate. You have the space/freedome to drop a goal, adjust it, or move it to another time. (Cause hello, life happens!)

~One of my favorite features I didn’t know would be my favorite feature is the last page of each month. You fill it out at the end of the month, and it’s a time and space to reflect with questions for the month like, “I am especially grateful for…” and “someone I’m grateful for…” favorite memory…” and “a good lesson learned…” also, “what I’m saying yes/no to…” It’s SO good.

I already ordered my new book for 2020, and I cannot wait to get started. And you know what was SO fun about ordering mine this year? Ordering one for somebody else. YOU. One of you. Because, I told you as I am making changes to this blog, I would be giving away some of my favorite things, and so here we go! (I know they aren’t big Ellen Degeneres giveaways, but still pretty fun!) I am so excited to see who wins this very special goal planning book.

Good luck!

It isn’t always easy.

“Just because God has a plan doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy…I’m scared”. A quote from Mary, in the kids movie, The Star. A pretty simple and yet profound statement coming from an (amazing) animated movie about Christmas.

Why is it that we tend to think the opposite? Maybe it’s just me, but deep down in my heart, I sometimes think if I’m following God, obeying Him, serving Him, loving on others, that life will be easy. Or easier I guess. After all, there are deep seeded beliefs in my mind, that tell me, if I do all those things, follow God’s plan and direction for my life, it will go well for me. If I’m where God wants me to be, it will be easy, smooth, there will be no doubts, no problems, no hardships, no safety concerns, you name it.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true anymore. I don’t know when exactly the shift in my thinking began, but it’s been a slow and gradual shift over several years.

It’s why verses like Acts 14:22 make me feel squirmy. “We must suffer many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven.” I don’t like that verse. It’s not very catchy; I have yet to spot that on a banner at any church! Who wants to sign up for something knowing ahead of time that it’s going to be really difficult?

Expect hardships, Jess, when you follow Jesus. Expect suffering. Expect to be let down, to loose, to not understand, to be betrayed, to be hurt, embarrassed…whatever “many hardships” might encompass. I think it might be broad on purpose, so that we are not surprised when it comes. So we don’t turn away, blame God, shut Him out. Cause if we’re being honest, that’s our tendency isn’t it? Or we turn around and think we must be out of His will if hard things come our way. What IS that? Why do we believe that? Why is that our default when things get hard? We should expect that life will get a little harder when we chose to follow Jesus.

I’m pretty sure life wasn’t exactly peachy and perfect for Mary and Joseph. They had clear and direct information from angels. But trying to explain a virgin birth to family, friends, strangers? Mary, knowing she was giving birth to the Messiah and she can’t even get a room or a bed to do that in? Having to flee for their lives, and travel with a newborn, because King Harod wanted to kill Jesus? And that’s just the beginning of their story!

So as I watched the story of Christ’s birth unfold in this children’s version in The Star, it made me feel, well, like a stinker. Cause I was sitting on my couch thinking, oh my goodness, if that was me, and I was pregnant with God’s son knocking on doors to try and find a place to birth His child that is actively trying to come out of me, I think I’d loose it. I’d for sure be questioning God’s plan, why He didn’t seem to be providing, if I heard the angel right in the first place.

But when God told Mary the plan, He didn’t say it was going to be easy.

So I’m thankful for the reminder. I’m thankful to be reminded that God’s plan for the birth of Jesus and the whole amazing Christmas story wasn’t easy. But it was God’s perfect plan. And if His plan for His very own son wasn’t easy, then I need to remember that the plan He has for my life probably isn’t easy either. And the plan He has for your life probably isn’t a skip and hop through easyville. Maybe you’re living smack dab in that not so easy part right now. And that is crappy, and maybe even feels unfair. But, it’s His perfect plan, and it’s what He created you to do. And just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place. It might mean, you’re exactly where God wants you to be.

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Hot glue.

Is there a person or an animal in your life that happens to think you’re the best? Who is always sad to see you go? A loyal dog who whines or digs holes when you leave? A feline friend who scratches things they shouldn’t? Perhaps a child who cries or gets upset?  

Lately, my three year old has been hysterical when I leave the house without her.  It feels like it comes from a heart that has a lot of love for her mama. Now, I can’t always see that fact, seeing as how if she takes it up a notch to actually throwing a fit, I’m making that sideways head tilt while trying to remain calm. But there have been moments, several in fact, where she just sits in my lap and cries, begging me not to go. No fit, just tears; because she genuinely just wants to be with me. 

All the time. Every single moment of every single day. 

And that kind of love and attachment is beautiful, when it’s not a little suffocating. 

Sometimes I need the reminder that this is a sweet, sweet thing. That this time of her always wanting to be close to me, at all times, will end. I know it will. I want this time with her before I have to share her with school. And she is equally jealous for my time as well. 

 The last time I drove away with the other two kids in the car, my 6 year old said, “wow mom, she really loves you.” And, well, it got me thinking. Like Holy Spirit convicting me type of thinking, the best and worst kind of thinking.

Do I love Jesus that way?

Do I just want to be with Him? Right next to Him? Like, all the time? Am I genuinely sad when we are not spending time together? 

Well, dang it, not really. And these questions nibble at my heart, because I don’t know what to do with them. It’s probably why I’ve always had a hard time with the Martha and Mary story. I did an entire study on it, “Having a Martha heart in a Mary World” (I’d highly recommend it) but I still struggle with, how do I make Jesus a priority in my life when life is, life. Every single one of us has responsibilities, work, obligations. And so when Martha drops it all to be at Jesus feet, I hate that I can so relate to Mary’s annoyance (and clearly edited out heavy sigh and eye roll) “Lord, tell her to come help me” I get it. There.Is.Work.To.Do. We cannot do all the things we have to do, and sit at Jesus’ feet at the same time.  Just like I cannot possibly sit down with my 3 year old and play with her all day, as she’d have it. But I can invite her to join me. Of course she would rather we played all day, but she’s just as happy to join me in what I’m doing. Chopping veggies? She’s right there. Making lunch, I’ve got my helper. All the things, always together.

So, I had to stop and ask myself, why don’t I always treat my time and my day with Jesus the same? 

We’ve all heard about having a child like faith, but what about having child like love? 

What if I acted a little more like my toddler than the busy adult that I am? What if I saw Jesus the way my toddler sees me? Hmmmm. Strange concept I know. But, I am the world to her. She comes to me for everything. When she is happy, she comes to share it with me. When she gets hurt, or is scared, she runs to me. If I am sitting near her, she automatically comes and sits in my lap. Out in public, she is that child who is clinging like hot glue to her mama’s leg. And, truth be told, sometimes I just wanna shake her right off. (I know, I’m the worst, but you guys, it’s like 1,000 degrees here) But lately, I can see more than the threat of tripping over each other. I see a little girl who trusts me. She knows I am safe, when in her mind, everything and everyone else is unsafe. And being the jaded human being I am, I am okay with her hiding behind me as long as she’d like.

So what if we started living our moments like that? Since we adults know the world to be a rough, unforgiving, scary place, what if we ran to Jesus? What if we starting desiring to spend more and more moments with Him? Not just our quiet time moments, but our natural, living, every single day moments. Sometimes I get stuck sitting in quiet time with Jesus, which is beautiful, essential, life giving,  but I don’t ever just sit with my toddler all day long. (homegirl hardly sits still!) But rather, we walk hand in hand as we do things together. And I feel like Jesus is saying, “sweet daughter, take my hand. I want to be with YOU, all the time. In every moment, in every good thing you encounter, in the scary times, and hard situations, in the temptations, in the questions, in every everything, I am here.” 

So, let’s ask Jesus to show us what following Him around looks like, since it has been a long time since any of us have been toddlers. Because the intimacy He desires with us is unique to us, it will look different for each and every one of us. But if we let it, I think it has the ability to change how we see Jesus. He is our Father who loves us, cherishes us, and delights in us.  And His love is so unconditional, He loves us no matter what, even if sometimes we throw our own adult sized fits.