Pushing Together or Pulling Apart

One of the great things in life is how we change & our interests evolve. This can be great for our marriages...or it can pull you apart if you don't work to include one another in those developments. It's so easy to believe the lie, "We just aren't compatible anymore," but that doesn't jive with God's definition of marriage. Growth in us can bring growth in our relationships when we don't just focus on ourselves!

Do you feel like you've grown apart from your spouse? Take a moment to intentionally tune into his interests, and - even if he couldn't care less about social psychology studies or babywearing or making your own cleaning products - God will honor your efforts and bring healing to you in His way & in His time.


Redeemed Parenting

When you come from a background where your parents' parenting was ineffective (or worse), it can be a real worry that you will repeat their legacy. The great news is that when we have an active, grace-filled relationship with our loving Daddy, He enters in & rewrites the story! But we desperately need to be in community, humbly listening to others & accepting wisdom where we are lacking. This doesn't mean we take every piece of unsolicited advice that comes our way, but rather we use discernment to recognize that God brings us together as a Body to raise His precious little ones!


Welcome to the World

On a personal note, I had twins yesterday. The two boys join their daddy & sister in our wacky home. Off to cocoon for a few hours & bask in this double joy...

~A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.~
John 16:21


Milkweed Turns 1 Year Old, Isn't Moldy Yet

It's hard to believe my Milkweed family of mamas has been meeting online & in person for over a year! What a tremendous community our loving Daddy has brought together here to pray, encourage, laugh, challenge, & grow.

Some have asked how this group started, and I thought I'd be a bit transparent here. Last year, my marriage was going through some really hard stuff. I was desperate for other ladies to pray with me, lift me up, hold me accountable, speak truth to me, but I realized how spiritually isolated I had become as a stay-at-home mama. As usual, though, God had something beautiful to pull out of that manure, and He put this challenge on my heart:

"There are other mamas like you out there who are hurting, lonely, or just in need of others to walk beside them honestly & humbly in this journey. They, too, struggle to find a place where they - & their kiddos - can fit. It's time for community."

Around this time, I visited the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix & learned about milkweed, the plant that monarch butterflies live in & live off of. It houses & nourishes these butterflies, and it makes them poisonous to predators. That is what Godly community, prayer, & Bible study does! And so, our group Milkweed was born, out of the manure of pain & confusion & isolation. I don't think I knew anyone at our first meeting, yet it was amazing how open & supportive they all were with one another from that day & all those since. What a life-changing adventure!

Of course, this story isn't about me. This is God's story. He is the Protagonist, the Narrator, the Editor. He is the Gardener, the Grafter, the Vinekeeper. And I'm so grateful to be with these ladies in this mess of life, this Milkweed, that He has used to strengthen our marriages, heal our hearts, & lay foundations for Jesus-loving kiddos! All praise be to Him for this year & those to come!

~Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up [her] fellow. But woe to [her] who is alone when [she] falls and has not another to lift [her] up!~
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


Sharing Victories

Lately, God has been speaking to me a lot about redemption. What a sweet word that is! What awesomeness to contemplate! Our loving Daddy grinds up all our poop into manure that grows beauty & life! 

We must share regularly with each other & with our kiddos about how God has redeemed us, all His mighty works in our own lives. Psalm 78:5-8 talks about how these reminders will keep our children from becoming rebellious against God. What a gift to us both: Sharing God's victories in our lives with them so they can learn & stay faithful, seeing His victories in their own lives!

Let's tell each other the almighty works of our redemptive Daddy who is greater than our pasts & creates new futures out of poop!

~We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.~
Psalm 78:4


Freedom from Mommy Guilt

As women - as moms - we're subtly fed the lies that we should always carry some degree of guilt & an endearing tendency toward worry. It's almost like a membership card or a badge of honor.

Here's the crazy part: Jesus died to set us free from all that! It breaks His heart when we choose to cling to shame, anxiety, & regret. He wants us to choose life & the freedom that cost Him so much.

As servants of the conquering King, it's time we raise our flags high & claim that victory as ours! Ask our loving Daddy, the Breaker of chains, to increase your faith in His ability to remove guilt & worry, and to replace them with His Spirit of steadfast peace & confidence in the blood that redeemed you. Look for others who live this so you can believe it's a real thing! Pray & praise Daddy every time a self-condemning or fear-based thought crosses your mind, and He will claim that territory as His. You belong to Him!

~I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.~
Psalm 34:4-5


Grudge Removal

~I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn’t want his children holding grudges. And, oh, yes, Syzygus, since you’re right there to help them work things out, do your best with them. These women worked for the Message hand in hand with Clement and me, and with the other veterans—worked as hard as any of us. Remember, their names are also in the Book of Life.
~Philippians 4:2-3

Is God calling you to let go of a grudge & be reconciled to another brother or sister in Jesus? Or is He asking you to be a Syzygus & be the peacemaking mediator in others' lives? Listen to the Spirit today with humble openness, and trust Him for the courage to act - it will make the journey together with each other much easier & amazing!


Dethroning Money

Please take a moment to STOP, READ, & PRAY on the following statement. It applies to so many of us. Our Savior can & wants to free us all in this way! Thank You, loving Daddy. Guide us out of our shackles.

~When Christ redeemed you, He forgave your moral indebtedness and your wrongdoing. You were spiritually reconciled to God... But if you haven't received a second reconciliation - a financial reconciliation in which the power of God breaks the power of money in your life, His love cleanses your shame and guilt about your financial state, and the Holy Spirit fills you with the power to move ahead with all-new financial practices - well, friend, in my opinion, you're still one reconciliation short. You cannot be fully free from shame and guilt until you experience that second redemption.~
-Bill Hybels, Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul


Flame Retardants Need Not Apply

~Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.~
Romans 12:11-13

What does all this point to? Regular rest, self-care, & quiet time in the King's presence. If you aren't making time for these, humbly cry out to Daddy, the Creator of time, and He will guide you into R&R so you can truly worship & serve with a fresh filling of the Spirit. Burnt-out, grumpy servants are no pleasure to Him, no matter how much work we accomplish.


It's Okay to Be Happy

When someone you know is sad, suffering, or searching and God has gifted you with a season of abundance, it can feel wrong to celebrate it & feel joy. Romans 12:15 tells us to "weep with those who weep," after all.

However, it also says to "rejoice with those who rejoice" - and He wants that to be you! Your grieving friends - if they are of sound mind & heart - do not want you to miss out on enjoying the blessings Daddy designed & delivered to you. They may even need that time of rejoicing with you to encourage their broken spirits! The key is sensitivity: being careful not to flaunt your blessings & season of joy, but rather be grateful & share it in wisdom.

So let's let the Spirit of God lead us to dance & to cry, never depriving ourselves of either critical experience of life & community.

~...God...richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.~
1 Timothy 6:17


We are more than just the givers of life to our children. We form their templates of who women are & how they should act - & demand to be treated. We introduce them to the beginning of their values, worldview, & the authenticity of what we claim to believe.

Be in consistent community - church, Bible study, Christian friendships, etc - that supports what you want to instill. I grew up with fairly healthy messages about Jesus & Christian living in my home, but the summer Bible camps & youth group I attended were more conservative & legalistic & sent a lot of damaging messages I've had to learn to undo by God's grace.

As we work to train up our children in the way they should go, let's pray & strive to make sure the messages they're getting outside the home from fellow Jesus-followers reinforce that training instead of dismantle it.


Temptation Is...

Temptation doesn't just mean lust. For some of us, the temptation is to react in anger, judge others, please others, or overeat; for others, the temptation is to get bogged down by our past or give in to anxiety about our future.

Temptation will affect us all - especially when we're striving to obey our loving Daddy. The temptation is not sin; the response to it can be. The great news is our All-Powerful Defender gives us the power to resist temptation! When we feel the tentacles of temptation, we need to cry out in praise & prayer to Him, and He will provide a way out or through it for us. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

~When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.~
-Charitie L Bancroft


5-Minute Reflection

Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to record the following from that day:
-3 things you're grateful for
-1 thing that touched you
-1 thing that inspired you
-1 thing that challenged you


Sabbath as a Preemptive Strike

I'm just starting to get that God gave us Sabbath rest not as a rule but as a blessing. He knows the frailty & limitations of our human bodies, and He lovingly has given us a proactive guideline to keep us from becoming our own worst enemies! Take that, burn-out!


What Everyone Needs in Their Medicine Cabinet

Last night, I had a pretty scary reaction due to a medication/pregnancy hormone interaction, and it threw one more grievance on top of my massive pile of maternity issues. But what I've found to be most effective in combating the vacuum of self-pity isn't Tylenol or ginger essential oil or urgent calls to my midwife. It's gratitude. It's trust my loving Daddy is sovereign & is always with me & using this all to His glory.

Some of you may know about the heart-altering dream I had in my early twenties about embracing family life; needless to say, Daddy grabbed my attention at a place & time when I couldn't escape Him, and He gave me a glimpse of the joy of motherhood to whet my taste for it - for the first time ever.

Today, I get to constantly experience the indescribable love & satisfaction of being a mom, and I owe it all to Him. He knew what I needed then, and how to get a stubborn me to it. So I am practicing gratitude & faith that He will get me to the next point, regardless of what trials stand in the way.


When Your Sin Isn't Cool Enough

As inspiring as it is to hear about God's forgiveness toward drug addicts & murderers, how atheists can do a 180 & serial adulterers can experience fulfillment in the redemptive love of Jesus, these stories can also isolate us. They can make us think, "I'm not that bad - why would God waste His massive, precious grace on someone who just cheats a bit on her taxes or had sex with her boyfriend in high school or secretly judges others for their parenting styles?"

As small as those things may sound, to God they're flashing neon signs of pride. Whenever we fall into the trap of thinking we should be able to fix our low-level sins, that our Lord doesn't have time or interest in our moderate flaws, we are discounting what Jesus did on the cross.

Listen: We can't all have earth-shattering testimonies. And we shouldn't - most people can't relate to them! So let's purpose today to own our sins as sins, no matter their size, and accept that our loving Daddy's grace is just the right size to cover them.

My name is Jessica, and God forgave me for complaining about my boss & coworkers. And He's helping me to learn how to use my words to give life instead of spreading disease.


An Incomplete Intro to Fasting

Fasting. There, I said it.

A lot of you are facing some difficult, even impossible, situations. Prayer is essential! And I also want to encourage you to consider fasting to allow the Spirit greater access to break down those extra-stubborn strongholds of the enemy.

Maybe you can't do a day of fasting from food, but you can forgo one meal & use those hunger pains to remind you of your dependence on the Redeemer & Healer. Maybe you can't do without food because you're EBF'ing or diabetic, but you can go without Facebook for 24 hours. Let the Spirit meet your needs as you go deeper than ever in focused prayer to the One who can do more than you can dream!

Remember, Jesus didn't say if you fast, but when you fast (Matthew 6:16). I'm not an expert on this topic, but I have seen the tremendous work God can do in us & others when we obey this instruction!

~"But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."~
Matthew 17:21


Being the Chosen One

I'm about to get a big sci-fi-geeky here, but bear with me because I think you'll be encouraged by the end.

I've been reading Bill Hybels' call-to-passion book Holy Discontent, and I realized how we all kinda want to be Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Queen Esther, Sydney Bristow in Alias, Bethany Sloane in Dogma, and all those other "chosen ones". As audience members, we relate with these characters because we rather like the idea of having ancient writings foretell our coming, or other people recognize us as the person who will accomplish what needs to be done. We want to be selected for a specific mission that only we can do.

And here's the awesome news: WE ARE! Our loving Daddy, Creator of time & the universe, Giver of all good things, put you on the earth for the time you are here to do something only you can do. Isn't that incredible? You are Neo in The Matrix!

So be who God has empowered, equipped, & designed you to be, whether it is saving the galaxy, raising an amazing kiddo in spite of hardship, or living your light in front of people at work who couldn't hear the Good News from anyone else.

~For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.~
Ephesians 2:10


Wasted Words

As women, so many of us enjoy sharing our life stories & advice we have learned with people we think need it. However, this isn't always helpful - if we were honest with ourselves, all too often we share for ourselves & not to truly benefit the hearer. This act of non-listening can create distance between ourselves & others...and those "others" may be our children or husbands. Let's all ask the Spirit for guidance next time we have an urge to speak into another's life, so that our words are life-giving & blessed by God!

~Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...~
James 1:19


Purposeful Parenting

We are our children's first understanding of God as a loving Parent. When we look on our children lovingly, wisely, & attentively, they can begin to fathom there is a Divine Being who does the same!


Banishing the Bad Moms

If you find yourself saying, "I'm a bad mom," or even thinking it, those words are not from God. He doesn't label us & send us off to pasture; He loves us where we are & helps us grow from there. He is a loving Daddy who wants us to serve Him in our work & take pleasure in it!

Would you want your child to build a tower then declare, "I'm a terrible builder!"? It would break your heart. And as a parent, it wounds our Creator's heart as well to hear us condemn our efforts! God wants our words to speak life - even about ourselves.


Working with WHIMSY (or Me on Film)

I had the incredible opportunity to present on my book, Raising Unicorns, in Berlin last month at the re:publica conference. I talked about the importance of WHIMSY. Enjoy, my friends!


Thinking Straight

When it feels like your thoughts are out of control or like they're controlling you, starting praising God. Say, "Jesus, You are my Savior. Daddy, I belong to you. You are my King!" Sing from your heart, clap your hands - worship like your mind depends on it, because it does! You'll be amazed at the clarity you receive when you turn to praise instead of letting your thoughts drag you down.


Affection Reflection

We brag about our kiddos because we spend so much time with them, feeling their love, enjoying their uniqueness. This is what happens when we genuinely engage. If our words & attitudes don't reflect this kind of affection for our loving Daddy, it's time for us to take some dedicated time alone to genuinely engage with Him! So listen to the birds, read a Psalm, and bask in His gentle & unconditional grace today.


The Lie of Guilt

A great tragedy is that guilt has become associated with God. Not only is this not one of His choice tools, it's not one of His tools at all! When the Spirit convicts our hearts, the message is not a harsh, "Get this right and then we'll talk," but a gentle, "Hey, see that thing over there? Would you please give it to Me? It's getting in the way of us being closer."

He will take it away or transform it in His power, working within us, not waiting for us to shape up or ship out. We don't try harder - we just let Him get to work.

When the Spirit convicts us, the choice of how to respond is always ours. As are the consequences.


Sacred Setbacks

Life is never a smooth, steady, upward climb toward our own goals. In His wisdom, our loving Daddy interjects other plans, pathways, & lessons for us so we can become the beloved servants He designed each of us to be.



God is our Rescuer. That doesn't mean His rescue will come right away - it depends on what He wants to accomplish in your life through your current trial. Still, He will always protect you from what will destroy that which He plans to accomplish in & through you. He will be your Refuge, He will be right by your side, when you call on Him. (Psalm 91:14-15)


Just As I Am

It seems whenever I start an attempt to better myself, I run into the situation Lisa Simpson encounters in a famous Simpsons episode about pursuing vegan living: There is always a level of commitment higher than my current one.

I want to eat healthier, then discover the all-natural chicken I picked up is not organic. And then the organic chicken I bought was not free-range. And then that free-range chicken in my fridge was not locally raised. Talk about discouraging!

What I'm discovering in my walk with God, though, is that He isn't concerned with me getting to the top level ASAP. When it comes to me, He doesn't take into account that someone out there does three hours of prayer each morning; He loves that I am genuinely seeking conversation with Him. He isn't asking me for a weeklong fast while I'm breastfeeding my toddler. What is He looking for? That I not compare myself with others, but to keep walking in the way He is leading me (Galatians 6:4-5).

So let's banish the concerns about becoming "Level 5 vegans". God loves us where we are at, and He will get us to the next level by His grace & in His time.


Walls & Focus

Do you feel a wall in your heart? God knows it's there, and He wants to remove it. He wants our hearts to be soft, malleable, & open to His Spirit's movement within. Be honest with Him about its presence, and let Him show you how it got there so He can dismantle it - brick by brick or with a mighty explosion, depending on what He wants you to learn.

Focus on the Healer, not on what needs to be healed.
Focus on the Provider, not on what needs to be provided.
Focus on the Redeemer, not on what needs to be redeemed.


New Diet

  • Eliminate cynicism
  • Reduce sarcasm
  • Detoxify your life of any toxic relationships
  • Load up on Jesus' love, hope, & truth, as well as authentic God-lovin' community. 
You'll feel pounds lighter & years younger. (1 Peter 5:7)


In Praise of Dedicated Mamas

The radio has a growing catalog of songs about girls' low self-esteem. From One Direction's "You Don't Know You're Beautiful" to "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North, from TLC's "UnPretty" to "More Beautiful You" by Jonny Diaz, our young ladies & our young selves & even our current selves struggle with our worth. Ladies don't own their beauty; they look great but feel lousy. And that is where mamas come in.

We are powerful. We hold the future in our arms each day. God has given us an incredible responsibility, not just to bring life into the world & nurture it, but to infuse it with truth & boldness & a sense of self that does not rely on a cute boy's flirtations.

Mamas, let's purpose to teach our daughters that their Heavenly Daddy, the Creator of Everything, thinks they are fabulous and has an amazing role for them to play. Let's intentionally teach our sons to respect & value others' daughters, knowing they are called to honor these women and will have to answer for every action to their Father, the King of All.

And let's start by believing this message: We are deeply loved and called beautiful by a Man who gave His life for us. We are redeemed & delightful & full of promise & gorgeous. If we believe it, our daughters will see it and believe it for themselves, and our sons will see it and respond to it - in you and the women they meet. And that is how we will change the world, one sensational, Jesus-loving, dedicated mama at a time.