Thursday, May 27, 2010


It must be the weather. I am thinking that the sudden surge of beautiful weather is making Michigan people feel a little more concern and care because all of a sudden I have heard like a zillion times this week, "What happened to her head?", "Poor baby she got a good bump." If you are wondering what I am talking about I will enlighten you.

My sweet baby Claire was born with a Hemangioma on her fore head. For those of us who did not know that word existed, it is simply a birthmark. When she was born it was barely noticeable. As she grew, it also grew. Now it is only slightly noticeable. Her hair often covers it.

I generally do not get upset when someone says something. And if you happen to be someone who noticed at some point, don't worry. I probably do not even remember. I always try to respond very politely and tell the person asking that it is simply a birthmark. People generally feel really bad for asking and I can tell, so I am not mad at the moment.

But right now I wish to vent. We were walking into a public bathroom a few hours ago and a nice older woman noticed the mark and asked what happened. I politely told her it was a birthmark and walked away. What struck me was when we walked away, Claire repeated, "Birthmark, birthmark." And in my head I wondered, what will she think of herself as she grows? Will she always be self conscious of it? Will she always have to explain that she did not bump her head? Will it simply fade away like so many doctors have told me it would?

I don't know. I want to shelter her. I don't want her to feel like her head looks so awful that people assume she has been dramatically injured. She is desperately beautiful. She has captivating eyes and gorgeous hair. And her spirit draws you in. I want people to notice so much more than her "bump" on the head.

And I know that people generally mean well when they ask. I never even knew such a birthmark existed, so I understand why people ask.

I just have had enough this week.

Here is my girl. Two pictures of her. The bump is just under her hairline. Maybe you can see it. But I hope that you notice so much more.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


One of my favorite things about Todd is that he values time. When he gets together with a friend he could spend 5-6 hours just talking with them. Time spent with someone is very valuable to him.

Over the course of our life together we have had many different seasons. There was our season of dating when we spent very little time alone together. We were both busy with school, jobs and ministry. There were times after we were married that were extremely hard as well. When we bought our first house we completely gutted every room. Todd would work during the day and then work on our house late into the evening. Sometimes he would work until 2-3 am and then get back up and do it all again. Those seasons were hard, but they have been few.

When we had a family Todd made a commitment to spend time with me and our kids. Quality time cannot be planned. Quality time is quantity time. We can make the best plans to spend a grand day with our children, but then one is crabby or sick and the time is ruined. If that moment was the only one planned in a week it would be lost.

Todd has a lot of things that can demand his attention. He is self employed in the home remodeling business. He is extremely gifted and has plenty of people pulling at his time. He could work 90 hours a week. He has had seasons where he was forced to work many hours at a time, but those are rare. He has made a commitment to be home with us for dinner on most nights. I heard a speaker once say he interviewed some men around 50- 60 years old. These men were in in different professions, but all very successful. The speaker asked each one if they had any regrets in their life. Without fail, every man said he wished he has spent more time with his family. Amazingly all of those men had achieved worldly success, but they all realized they had missed out on something more valuable.

Todd focuses on the things that are most valuable and for that I am thankful. Even seemingly good, valuable worthy things can sometimes draw a man away from his family. Work, ministry, hobbies, sports, and friends can all be good healthy involvements. But when a man sacrifices his wife and children for these things it can be destructive.

That does not mean that Todd does not work hard. He works extremely hard. And that does not mean that he does not have friends or hobbies. He has friends, but the time he spends with those friends has to be much more focused and intentional now. And we both have a huge heart for doing ministry. But in this season of our life our ministry is much more about connecting personally and loving on friends and family than it is about being a part of a specific ministry.

Life has seasons. But we only have one life. Our children are only young once. I am so thankful for a husband who is there to share life and mold them with me.


Letter to myself

If I could I would write a letter to myself 6 years ago and give it to me on the night before my wedding here is what I would say...

Dear Jessica-

You are about to marry a man that you love deeply. I know that you feel so much excitement and hope for the future, but here are some things I want you to know.

1. You will not always feel in love.
Marriage is hard. Your feelings of exhilarition will not last. You will have moments when you do not feel like you even like this man you are married to. You will feel like giving up. You will feel like things will never get better. Hold on. Continue to choose to love and respect him. Do things that remind him of your love. Do special things for him even if you do not feel it. For some reason when you choose to love him, despite how you feel, your feelings change. And somewhere along the road you will realize you love him more deeply and completely than you ever thought possible.

2. You are so different from eachother.
You know men and women are different, but you still imagine that he somehow thinks like you. He does not. He thinks so differently from you that sometimes it will blow your mind. Your mind is so much like spagetthi. Everything in your life runs into the other and you can easily shift in a conversation from one noodle to the next. He is like a waffle. He has all these nice little boxes that everything in his life fits into. Think about it like this... You are having a conversation about something going wrong with the car and then quickly throw in that you have dinner plans for Saturday and then Saturday arrives and he acts like he has no clue that you had dinner plans. You will get mad. You will think he was not listening. He was listening, but he was in the box of the car and trying to wrap his brain around a solution. He was not being malicious. He was not being mean. He was trying to help you with the car. He cannot shift as quickly from one box to another. The sooner you figure this out, the easier both of your lives will be. He is not stupid. Do not mistake his unique wiring for stupidity. You will be thankful for his way of thinking many times in your life. He will be your rock when your plate of spaghetti is overflowing. He will help you sort through your mess one issue at a time. You will find yourself coming to him over and over because his way of thinking is so helpful.

3. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
He is a much better man than you even know. He is so full of integrity and genuine love for you. When you are having a conversation with him and he says something that you find offensive, stop and tell him. Ask him what he meant. Chances are he meant something much more kind and loving than the way you took it. He will try to avoid making you upset at all costs, so chances are he will not say something to hurt you intentionally.

4. Sex will get so much better.
In the beginning it will be akward. And it will hurt. It will not be that enjoyable for you. You need to share your feelings. He cares genuinely for how you feel and enjoys sex so much more when you enjoy it with him. You need to talk about sex. You should not be afraid to share with him the things that you like and the things that you dislike. Over time the two of you will learn eachother and believe me it will be soooo enjoyable. ;)

5. Trust Him
The two of you will not always agree with eachother. There will be times in life when you are both wanting to go down different paths. He values your opionion. Share it with him. Share it without whining and he will listen. He will not always agree, but you should submit to him. He will not always make the perfect decision. But he is a good man. He loves the Lord with all of his heart and he genuinely wants to lead your family down the right path. Submit and know that when you do, you are not only showing Todd that you trust him, but you are showing God that you trust Him. Todd may make mistakes, but your heavenly father will never forsake you. And more times than not you will find that Todd made the right decision.

6. Choose your children last.
Today you have no concept of the beautiful gifts that God will bring in the form of your children. But when you have them, be careful to choose your husband before them. Choose your marriage before your kids. It sounds good on paper, but practically it is hard to do. It will be hard to leave your children with a sitter. It will be even harder to leave them overnight or for a weekend. Do it anyway. You will be amazed at how good it will be for you and how healthy your marriage will be when you do. Todd will be with you long after those children are grown and gone. And your children will be ok. They will actually thrive when they know that mommy and daddy love one another.

7. Be quick to apologize.
You are going to say things that you never imagined you could say to the man you love. You are going to be rude to him. You are going to neglect him. You are going to be selfish. You are going to do a lot of things that you should not. Be quick to tell him you are sorry. You will be surprised at how willing to forgive you he is. He will offer you so much more grace than you deserve. Tell him when you are wrong. And tell him quickly. Do not let the night pass. It will make it worse. Do not let your pride keep you from reconciling. You will regret it every time that you do.

You have so much to learn over these next few years. Ultimately I want you to know that you need God much more than you think you do. He will be the rock that sustains you when your marriage is hard. He will be your comfort and the gentle reminder to come back to your husband. He is a good God and he has blessed you tremendously with a good man. Thank Him. Praise Him. Love Him and learn to love your husband more and more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


In honor of mothers day I want to share with you about the wonderful woman I call mom...

My mom was the youngest child of the family and at a young age she lost her father. For many years she and her mother struggled along alone. In a time when single mothers were rare. I think this time made her strong. She is one tough woman. She is beautiful and feminine, but she is not afraid of hard work and getting her hands dirty. She can do almost any work that a man can do and do it well. She is not afraid to jump up in one of their excavators and drive it around. She is tiny and petite and you may think when looking at her that she is fragile. But she has been through some tough times and come out strong. She works hard every day of her life. Growing up, I remember numerous times my dad saying, "Can't you just rest?" She was always busy. She worked long hours at a physically demanding job. She came home and cooked for us, cared for us, cleaned the house. She made a nice home for us. Looking back I always saw her busy. As a mom, I now know, she was busy making a home for us. She was busy sacrificing her energy and time and life, so we can be taken care of. I did not realize how much she sacrificed while we were growing up. As a mom, now I know.

My mom worked hard and made a nice life for us. But she also cared for us deeply. I remember my mom taking days off work in the summer and taking us to special places like the water park and play lands. Those times were always times we looked forward to. I also remember being a very small girl having a special time every Friday night where we would watch TGIF together and I would play with her hair. I enjoyed so much the special times she spent with me. Today when I bake cookies with my daughters I think about the special times we used to bake peanut butter cookies with my mom. (We mostly did the eating part.) I am thankful for a mom who cared so much for her family.

My teen years were hard on our relationship. I was hormonal and moody and felt misunderstood. I still remember her giving me cards during that time that said she loved me and was proud of me even though the season was hard.

When I got married and moved away my mom and I began to share a closeness again. She is one of my very best friends. She is the one I call when things are really tough. She is the one who I can count on to come over in the middle of the night. Or the one who comes over when I am sick to make me take a nap and clean my house. She is the one I run to when I need someone to watch the kids in a pinch. And she never complains. In fact when I ask her to watch my kids she is excited for it. She says, "grandchildren are more fun than children." She is still a hard worker and I am not sure how she can clean her house, run a business and still manage to find time for me. But she does. She does it all.

And on Mothers Day I just wanted her to know that I am thankful for her example as a mother. I am thankful for so much that she taught me. And how much she sacrificed and continues to sacrifice for me. Thank you mom for caring so deeply for your family!

Love You Mom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hedge of Protection

I heard an author speaking about a book he had written about protecting your marriage. The idea of the book was that all marriages are in danger of infidelity. The good marriage is one where the husband and wife both create hedges around their marriage to protect each other.

In all honesty I do not think most people set out to have an affair. I think affairs happen when someone is vulnerable and hurting and does not have proper boundaries. All of a sudden an innocent friendship turns into something more. It is not planned, but it is not an accident.

I am thankful that I have a husband who protects me and has created hedges around our marriage to keep us safe. Here are some things he does to protect me...

He is never alone for a meeting, meal, recreational time with another woman outside of family.
This means he does not meet a female friend for lunch. He does not plan alone time with another woman for any purpose. Now this particular one is tricky. He is self employed in home remodeling. So that means there are moments when he is working at a home when the wife may be the only one home. It is almost unavoidable in his business. For us that has been ok. But he always tells me where he is and I have the right to say no to anything that makes me uncomfortable. There was a time last year when he was supposed to meet a customer at Home Depot to pick out some tile. The customer was female and they would have been alone. In some cases that is ok with me. Often many of his customers are older couples and that would not bother me very much. But this particular customer was younger. I told him I was uncomfortable, so he called the customer back and made arrangements for her to pick out the tile and him to pick it up later. Was it awkward for him? I am sure. But he loves me enough to protect me and our marriage.

He never talks about being attracted to another woman (Even jokingly)
I have heard other guys make comments about finding particular actresses hot. Todd never makes light of pointing out other women. I do not think it is healthy and it certainly does not make the wife feel secure when a man finds other woman attractive and makes it a point to tell his wife. In the book about protecting your marriage the author tells a story about two young christian couples who spent a lot time together. The husband from couple one and wife from couple two often made a joke about finding the other attractive and leaving their spouses for one another. It was seemingly innocent enough, but eventually one came to the other and asked if they were serious. They ended up divorcing their spouses and marrying each other. That marriage did not last either. Todd protects me by keeping his attention and eyes focused on me.

This includes pornography. Many, many men in our society view pornography. Some say they find nothing wrong with it. I was in a video store one day and while I was looking for a movie an older man walked by me. His eyes caught mine. I had a hunch he was headed for the porn section. When his eyes caught mine, he quickly changed direction and stood for a few moments looking at some movie. He did not continue on to the porn section until I looked away. People say they find nothing wrong with it. But I think deep down they do. I think deep down they know that it is damaging to their own souls and their marriage. And it is. When a man views pornography he is setting his spouse up to compare to something unattainable. A real woman cannot compare with those airbrushed figures. And she should not have to try.

I am thankful that Todd keeps his eyes for me alone.

I am thankful that I am married to such a good man. A man who protects me and our marriage.

For Love Story part 5

**** So in writing this I had a thought that some people may think I am being judgemental towards them or that we have a perfect marriage and perfect life. We do not have a perfect marriage. We have had struggles and conflicts. Maybe some day we can share those with some of you. Most of those struggles are not easy to share in a public forum. So I will not. I have learned that it is so much easier to look at the negative things in our spouse. So I have made it a point to say things about my husband that are uplifting. So many women in our society talk extremely negative about their spouse. I have been guilty of that many times. My plan is to never say things that are not uplifting about Todd. There are moments when I genuinely need to share struggles in our marriage with someone. In those times I choose (carefully) a trusted friend who will fight for my marriage. In those times I need to be careful to share with someone who loves and respects my husband. It is easy for someone to look down on your spouse and bash them with you and in the moment it vindicates you and helps you feel better momentarily. I do not ever want to make our struggles about airing our dirty laundry. I am thankful that I have friends who are quick to mourn with me when I am sad, but also careful to correct me when I am not respecting my husband.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I trust my husband implicitly. I have never known a man that was so full of integrity as Todd. He is honest, trustworthy and dependable. I have never known him to be dishonest. He will tell the truth. I value his charecter.

I am so thankful to be married to a man that is so full of honor.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

The D Word

When Todd and I got married we said directly in our vows, "I will never divorce you." We had a lot of reasons for doing that. But mostly it was about security and protection. We wanted the other person to know that no matter what failures, problems, issues arise, we will be there and we will be together.

Fast forward 6 years into marriage. We have had a lot of moments that were rough. We have had moments when one or both of us felt like it would be more simple to walk away than to stay and resolve it. But through it all he has never once even hinted that he was going to divorce me.

Some people may think that is not such a big deal, but for some reason, in our society today, it is a huge deal. I cannot tell you how many of our friends quickly resort to, "I think I want a divorce." In the heat of the moment those words can be used to wound, fight back, get revenge. They can hurt and tear apart if even if someone does not mean them. When someone says those words, the issues are no longer the discussion. All of a sudden it becomes a fight for survival. One person is left trying to hold on for dear life to their marriage and another suddenly has all the power.

I think that is what divorce has become. It has become power. If a fight or argument is going wrong one party simply has to utter those words and they are left holding all the chips.

It is sad. It is no way for a healthy, thriving marriage to exist. That is why I am so thankful that Todd has always given me the security and respect to never threaten those words. Those words have never been uttered within our marriage. Have they been thought? Probably. But never once have either of us spoken them to each other. In the heat of a moment you may feel like running. You may feel like things are too messed up, too hard to fix. But when divorce enters in the picture (even in word only) the situation gets 10 times more messed up.

I am so thankful that I am married to a man who protects me and offers me enough security so that I never have to worry, "Will he leave?" He offers me and our children the security and protection we need to thrive.

I am not passing judgement on anyone. I am not saying that everyone who divorced did so in the heat of a fight. I personally know many people who have fought long and hard for their marriage only to have it still end. My purpose is not to pass judgement or look down on anyone. I am simply pointing out that for some reason today many couples will use divorce as a weapon in a fight. It is not and should not be used lightly.

I am so thankful for a husband who protects me.

For Love Story Part 3.