What I learned from a different crisis, and how I hope to face this one

I’d love for you to read this. I know we’re all sort of glued to various news outlets, social media, etc for information regarding all this craziness, but come and take a little break. Lean in. I’d love to share something I’m trying to do differently in this crisis, perhaps even a little better, than the way I handled the last crisis I went through.

Two years ago, the place I was living had a revolution. And what does living through a revolution mean, you might wonder?  Well, I’m sure it can vary, but here it took the form of an uprising, and it meant daily life was filled with road blocks, fires, riots, shootings, marches, kidnapings, food & fuel shortages, and no one left their home. We only left for the essentials, similar to what we’re all facing right now.  And this went on for months.  Then, because of all that, tourism halted and an economic crisis hit. And, if I’m being honest, I was rather surprised, and even a little  embarrassed how I handled it all. Uh, the unhealthy things I did to deal with the stress! And oh, oh how I judged other people! Oh the mistakes I made. Honestly, it wasn’t pretty.

So, I am asking myself, what am I going to do this time? Will I learn from the mistakes I made?  If you too have been through a crisis, a really hard event or situation, I think it might be helpful to ask yourself the same questions. Let’s both examine the hard things we’ve been through and reflect. Then let’s figure out what we can do better.  

 Well, here is what I’m thinking, for me, as I face another crisis. And maybe, if I can honestly share where I blew it and what I’d do differently, we both might be able to learn a few things and face this crisis with a different perspective.

1. I’m going to give myself more grace. I am going to allow myself to feel all the feelings. Because, 24 hours might go by, and my range of emotions is all over the place; I’ll go from laughing at the ridiculous, to slight panic, to worry, to stressed out, to yelling and snapping at people, to being sweet as honey. I am going to let myself feel the way I am feeling, and bring those feelings before the Lord. I’m going to invite Him into how I feel, and ask Him to be with me in those very real moments. So I don’t mask them. Or cover them up. Or ignore them. But I want face them. Admit them. Work through them.

2. I’m going to give more grace and kindness to other people.  There are very few experts out there, the vast majority of us are just doing our best. We will all say and do some stupid things before this is over, I promise you, so I plan to hold my tongue more often and give grace and kindness freely-more freely than I give my opinions and judgements. Oh ya, and more kindness for the poor souls I’m stuck inside with might be a fan-freakin’-tastic idea. 

3. I’m going to (try!!!) to stop judging others. Oh this one is huge and really hard to do. I was so, so judgmental of people when they didn’t handle the crisis the way I did. If they felt differently about it, I judged them. If they chose to drive to this place or that, I judged them. If they didn’t leave their house at all, I judged them. If they did, I judged where they went an why. I put up my own boundaries for myself and my family, and thought anyone else who did anything different was, I am embarrassed to admit it, dumb. Ignorant. Too easily scared. Being manipulated. Not scared enough. You name it. I thought it. Have you found yourself doing the same? And even now, I feel those same thoughts creeping up, as I hear, read, and see first hand the varying degrees of people’s differences and the way we each are handling this. And I have to stop myself. I have to remind myself, that what might work for me, won’t work for my neighbor. My family is my family. Yours is yours. Our beliefs, our medical histories, our existing problems and fears, they are all there. All those things effect how we’ll make our own decisions. Maybe some of us are over reacting, maybe our problem is under reacting. But the truth is, we’re going to get some of it wrong.  Because none of us have been through this before. So let’s remember that when we want judge anyone else who is handling this differently than we are.

4.I’m going to read/listen to the news less. We did this one poorly two years ago. We were glued, I mean guh-luhed to our phones. We read every article we could, we watched everything on the news, we scanned Facebook and Instagram for updates and the latest. We told ourselves it was to be smart, to keep ourselves informed. And, believe me, there is in fact some truth to that. But, oh my goodness, when it’s what we’re fixed on during this time of crisis, it will start to permeate our hearts and minds in a very unhealthy way. I only can say from experience, the hype and the fear that the media tends to portray, will dig into your heart and soul. (Also, side note for those with kids: oh their sweet ears and hearts are hearing all this too. Last time, we didn’t have to worry too much because our kids were young, our youngest being 5 at the time. But even she picked up on words and phrases and things we said and she’d ask us later about them… so clearly they hear things and can’t always make sense of them). I’m trying to figure out how to be honest with my children about what is happening without worrying them or scaring them. They’ll still get mixed up though, as I told them it’s most dangerous for people who are already sick and who are older because that night my daughter prayed, “Jesus, please help people not to get sick, especially the older people. Like 40s 50s”  Yikes. Wow. Apparently 40 is old?! 

5. In that same vien, I also want to be and stay informed. I am going to figure out how and where to get REAL news, real truth, and seek it out. I am going to educate myself on this virus. I am going to educate myself on what is needed and necessary for me and my family, not just what my neighbor/family/favorite celebrity/ thinks is needed, or is doing.

6. I am going to spend more time with Jesus. We joked, sadly, last time that if we would have spent 1 minute with Jesus, for every 5 minutes reading the news, we would have  tallied up a grip of time with Him. Why is that? What is that? Maybe because in a time when it feels like we should be doing this, or preparing that, or helping with this, or heck we’re all stuck together at home and can’t find one minute alone, it feels like time with Jesus is so, so,  elusive. I somehow told myself it wasn’t as important as staying up on the current situation. And, I told myself, time with Jesus is certainly too hard because I’ve got kids in every corner of my house vying for my attention. But trust me, that is a lie that I believed last time. And you know what happened? The days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, and I sort of just stopped spending time with Jesus. I am not doing that again, I will not.  The good news is, I am starting at a much better place with Him that I was two years ago. But even if you aren’t in a good spot with Him, the amazing news is you can change that right now. 

7. I want to thrive in this situation, not just survive. I barely survived the last crisis we went through, and I intend to do it better. I think the above listed changes/ideas that I’m mulling over in my heart will help move me in this direction. I do believe we can go through hard things and actually do it well.I went through something hard two years ago, but I didn’t do it well. I barely survived. My marriage barely survived. Our business barely survived. Some important relationships suffered.  My parenting was less than great. Sure, sure, I survived, I made it out on the other side, but the damage I had to mop up over the following months and year actually, was extensive. 

8. I want to find ways to help and encourage others. I’ve noticed, when I’m drowning in a sea of my own fill.in.the.blank, I can’t even think about helping anyone. Cause heck, I can’t even get my own act together.  Sometimes, we are barely afloat. Sometimes, we are barely surviving and that’s the truth, because sometimes, that is life. But when we we’re better,  when our feet feel like they are back on solid ground, let’s take a deep breath and actually look up and take notice of other people. Look around. I want to have eyes that see people around me. People who need real and actual help, or an encouraging word, or that last roll of TP I’m reaching for (people, what is the deal with the shortage of TP?!) Anyway, if I can keep my heart soft before the Lord, I know He’ll show me exactly who I am supposed to help and in what specific way. Because even though we’re all sort of in survival mode right now, I can promise you there is someone who desperately needs some help.

All I know is this: God is faithful. And when I take a moment to look back at hard things in my life, I can see how He has brought me out of them. Through them. It hasn’t always been pretty, some hard things that I’ve survived, I’ve come out burned. Scarred. Some of it was because of the actual situation, other times it was because of my sin during a hard time. It hurt. And there are plenty of things I’d do differently. But, I am the woman I am today because of the hard things I’ve gone through. The hard things God has pulled me out of. Either because I finally cried out for help, or the hard thing was over, or He removed me from the hardship. I know you too have gone through hard things. I encourage you to ask yourself, what did you learn from those things? How would you like to face this new, difficult, strange thing? Better than you did the last hard thing?  The past is the past, sure, but we can learn from it. And as I have spent time reflecting over the many, many hard things I’ve gone through, I am actually able to see God in it. Either all the way through it, or out on the other side. But He’s been there. He is faithful. And it does my soul good to remember that. Because as I face this new hard thing, I can tell you what I don’t quite understand: I face it with a new perspective. I face it with Jesus, and the calm and peace that I feel (even when I still feel uncertain and afraid at times!!) changes everything. 

I’ll leave you with my gal Lauren Daigle’s words in her song “Remember”:

In the darkest hour

When I cannot breath

Fear is on my chest

The weight of the world on me

Everything’s crashing down

Everything I had known

When I wonder if I’m all alone

I remember 

I remember

You have always been faithful to me

I remember

I remember

Even when my own eyes could not see

You were there

Always there 

Choose kindness.

I am fairly confident I say the words, “be kind, choose kindness, or you are kind” 1,000 times a day to my kids.  And sometimes it feels like we’re not making a lot of progress in the kindness department. I mean, when will things ‘click’? What is happening? Well, I’m not entirely sure yet, but I have an idea or two.

Yesterday I had a chance to chat with a teacher who heads up several unique programs for our school, he seems like a pretty great resource. So I asked him, specifically, how I could work with my daughter on being kind. 

And as we chatted I realized that I hadn’t really helped my children define what kindness is. Or what it looks like, or feels like. I mean, think about it, it’s pretty abstract. I can hardly give you a good working definition as an adult. When I stopped to think about it, all I could come up with was, “being kind is, well, being kind.” 

That isn’t exactly helpful to a small child.  

The dictionary isn’t much help either, “the quality of being friendly, generous, or considerate.” 

Can a child articulate what is being generous? Or considerate? Probably not very easily. Perhaps with some prompting. 

I decided it would be helpful if I could work through this with my children, and so we’ve begun practical conversations about what it means to be kind. We’ve talked about examples of it, what it looks like and feels like, and naturally, what it does not look like.  

Turns out, there are so many great resources out there. We came across several great charts on Pinterest. I also came across a FANTASTIC book, and I’d love to share it with you. This book, Be Kind, by Pat Zietler Miller, is amazing. (It’s right here on Amazon if you wanna check it out) It’s a story about how a little girl spills grape juice on herself, and what another little girl thinks about it; she wonders what to do, how to help her, how to deal with it. And how when we are kind to just one person, that kindness spreads. (Spoiler alert: one idea she has is to spill juice on herself to make the other little girl less embarrassed and alone-it’s so sweet!) 

 And I have a feeling, it’s not a matter of things just clicking one day, and suddenly they will be kind. It might be, that the road to kindness is, well, a road. A journey. And perhaps, if I am being honest, I’ve got some unrealistic expectations of my children and how they behave. Do I expect them to be kind all day, ever day, with me, their siblings, their friends? Gulp. I think I do. I mean, I don’t, but I do. I’m hurt, or annoyed, or offended that we have to have the same conversations about being kind every single day, all day long. But why?

I had to stop and ask my adult self, am I kind all the time? 

Uh, nope. No I am not. Not even close. So, then, perhaps as we continue to have these conversations about kindness, I can remember that it’s a process. I am work in progress, as are my children. And just as I am thankful for God’s grace with me in my process, I can also chose to have grace with my own children in their process as well. 

So yes, bring on the books and the charts and the ideas, but also, bring on the grace. I’ve got to let go of my unrealistic expectations, and chose to continue down the ever exhausting path of correcting, directing, disciplining, reminding, and encouraging. And we’ll continue to have these discussions, and read great books, and remind ourselves that kindness is a choice. And sometimes we don’t make good choices, but, but we can keep trying.

Finally, a make over.

Lean in friend. I’m making some changes to this spot, and I’d love to share them with you…

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m getting older, but life seems a little more complicated, a lot harder, certainly more stressful, and not as black and white as I once thought it was. And with this realization comes this deep sense of needing a space to be, to think, to write, to chat about it, to create. Partially because I don’t think I’m alone in this thing called adulthood, a place where the cares of youth are no longer blissfully blinding me.

I know that I value honesty, and being authentically who I am. But I can’t be who I am when I’m too concerned about what others think of me. So, in light of that, I’ve created this place, a place to be really who I am.  I have said goodbye to social media, for the last 8 months and perhaps forever.  Because I got lost, in more ways than one. And so in this place, I hope to actually create something that is real, lasting, true, and honest. 

I’ve been thinking about this spot for months, what I’d like it to be. I’m also wondering what I think you, the person reading this, might like it to be. And the truth is: I’m still unsure. Because, well, frankly, that seems like too big of a question. And since it feels so big, and I don’t know what my tiny role in it all might be, I’ve let a little seed of fear grow, and it’s prevented me from even starting.

So let’s start with what I do know:  I know what the rules of blogging/websites are, both spoken and unspoken, and I’m just going to have to break them. I cannot pick a theme, and I cannot tell you exactly what to expect when you come here for a visit. Because, well, that’s not who I am. I cannot organize my life and my thoughts into categories, or really in any way, so how would I ever be able to do that here?  But here’s something you can expect:

~Encouragement. I sort of think women are amazing, and often times we need a little encouragement to remind us of the badass women God created us to be.

~Honesty. Even when it’s awkward, I’m in. Like double in. And not pretend in, like I’m actually going to be honest and real and it might make us both a bit uncomfortable. (Sorry. Just writing that line made me feel squirmy)

~Skin care talk. Let’s talk about it all! I’ve been an Esthetician for 16 years, I can’t not talk about skin care! Ooo, and make up to!

~Book talk. I Love books. And I love hearing and reading other peoples favorites (even if/especially when they make me venture outside of my favorite genres) and I will for sure share mine. 

~ Honesty about Wifehood. Motherhood. Sisterhood. Daughterhood. Friendhood. All the thoughts, all the feelings. Ladies, we wear so many hats and it’s good to talk about how awesome and hard that is!

~Unmotherhood: Some talk and thoughts on infertility too, because gosh dang it, I might have 3 kids right now (which, since I’m being honest, often makes me feel like I don’t dare talk about infertility)  but we tried for five years to have kids and it was the.hardest.thing.ever.

~Favorite things. I’m no Ellen, man she’s fun! But I am someone who wants you to have my new favorite thing too! So, keep your eyes on this section for some-much-lower-budget-than-Ellen give aways.

~Travel ideas/tips. My husband and I love to travel. And we said we wouldn’t stop if/when we had kids. So we haven’t. But, well, can somebody just admit it’s changed things, and  it’s so much harder traveling with them?! So, this section we’ll chat about it all. Tips. Tricks. Ideas. Mistakes made.

Is any of my rambling so far giving you some idea of what might go on around here? Would a mission statement help?  You see, my husband, has this very practical, analytical mind, and he suggested I create vision/values/mission statement. I laughed at that idea at first, but he was onto something. (Shhhhh, Don’t tell him,  it will go straight to his head)  So, here are those things for this blog:

I envision a world where women truly believe they are strong and beautiful daughters of the King and they act like it.

I envision the church to be a place that cultivates and encourages women to be a have significant role in how we bring glory to God.

I envision a place where women audaciously love others because they fully see, feel, and accept their value and worth in Jesus.

My mission statement:   Jessica exists to encourage women.

Okay, okay, you’re right, there is more to that actually. Here is the whole thing. I held back, because, well, every time I read it out loud, it either makes me laugh or cry and I just don’t know what that means or what to do with that information. So, fine, I’ll share the whole thing, here you go:

Jessica exists to encourage women, so that we believe in the person God made us to be- full of love, courage, kindness and a little badassery –so that we can boldly bring Him glory in the unique way we were created to.

I want to encourage women so that we honeslty believe that we are loved by God and are precious to Him, and that belief just might change everything. I want to encourage women by reminding us that God thinks we are stunningly beautiful, intelligent, and always enough. And instead of looking to our friends, husbands, or strangers for affection and affirmation, we can start believing God, living our lives like we believe Him, and glorify Him as we do it.