Posted in Media Mondays, Thoughts

Reckless love

When I’m drawn to a song, I tend to run it into the ground, listening hard and often. Spotify labels this one part of my “heavy rotation”. So, I thought it’d be nice to share with you.

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury at Bethel Music

I dare you not to sing along with the chorus. Double dog dare you. 🙂

My husband read that there is a bit of a theological controversy about this song’s use of the word “reckless” as applied to God. I find it fascinating. How could the ridiculously overwhelming love God really has for us NOT seem reckless. It’s a gamble! He loves without thought of whether we will love Him in return. We can choose not to love Him back. So yeah, His love seems reckless to me. I don’t find that word to be a stumbling block.

What do you think?

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Posted in Being real, Exploration and travel, self-care, Some Real Good News, Thoughts

I wish…

“I wish, more than anything, more than life, more than the moon…”

My head is crowded with songs. Because magic is happening at every moment. And if I slow myself long enough to really pay attention, there’s lots to see. If I’m brave enough to do what I’m told, I find things I dearly treasure.

Today, I’m meditating on these words: “Ask, Seek, Knock.”*

ASK:

I don’t know why I’ve been so afraid to ask others for what I want. I think, perhaps, I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid if I ask even for simple things, like food I prefer or help with a chore, that someone will reject me by refusing to serve. And I don’t like feeling both alone in my work and rejected. (Who does?)

SEEK:

I don’t know why I’ve been so afraid to seek what I want. Why have I not gone after what I want when I feel rejected? Why have I stayed on the sidelines and refused to play? Seeking is like hunting up treasure. And I like treasure hunts. “So, get off your butt, Jes, and go hunting!”

KNOCK:

Things that run through my brain when I hear the word, “knock.” “Knocking…UPstairs!” from Noises Off. And “knock! knock! who’s there?”. And “If you knock the door will be opened unto you.” Do I really believe that? If I ask and feel rejected, if I seek and don’t find, can I trust that someone will answer when I knock on the door?

“Be brave, little Jes, don’t be afraid to…”

Ask. Seek. Knock.

I think what God is telling me is quite simply this: don’t be afraid to wish. Cinderella does some wishing in the musicals Cinderella and Into the Woods. We don’t always know what we want or need, but we certainly know what we hope for. And sometimes to hope is to expect which ends in pain. And sometimes to hope is to believe with all your heart which ends in faith. And faith is ALWAYS rewarded.

Always.

Be brave, my faithful friends. Someone is listening when you ask, seek and knock. Someone who is Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kind.

Much love,

Jes

 

*Matthew 7:7-12

Posted in Being real, New-to-me, self-care, Thoughts

Changes come, turn my world around

That’s a lyric to an old Over the Rhine song that haunts me sometimes. Wanna be haunted yourself? Check it out here.

Well, hello. Been awhile, hasn’t it. Disclaimer alert: this post may be a bit heavy. We’re gonna dive into the deep end of the pool here, and the deep end can be scary if you don’t know how to swim. Grab your water wings, let’s go…

In early December, I was hospitalized because I experienced a manic episode and was barely sleeping or eating. Yes, me. Yes, I experienced this. For real. Not joking. After a week-long stay, I reestablished good self-care habits and started medication for sleep and psychosis. I’m now in group therapy 20 hours/week. So yeah, a lot’s been going on.

Have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz? Remember that scene when the main characters stand trembling before the scary projection of the Wizard’s head? Then Toto casually pulls the curtain off the man moving the cogs and whistles. Sometimes we need the curtain ripped back so we can see what’s really going on. And sometimes, what’s really going on isn’t as scary as expected.

The major hurdle for me right now is mainly mental. (pun intended) It is SUCH a stigma to label psychosis (I’m potentially bipolar), to admit defeat, to discover flaws and unlearn habits that spiral me down. To be honest, I live in the land of feelings. That’s my “mother tongue” if you will. It’s hard for me to get out of that place. So when feelings are low, they really REALLY affect me.

But I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid to be weak and vulnerable. I’m not afraid to learn new things about myself, even if they are negative things. I’m not afraid to heal, even if it hurts. I’m not afraid to be labeled and mislabled. I’m not afraid to be alone and scared. I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. I’M. NOT. AFRAID.

I’m in the hand of the One who made me, who knows what I need 8 million times better than I can fathom. And He wants me well, so I will be well.

I’m happy to report that I can count on one hand the number of truly low days since Aurora’s arrival in July. And I am so incredibly grateful for the Mother Baby Day Program that simultaneously allows me to heal while being with Rori. That’s an incredible gift.

And some great people are cheering me on to wholeness. My Mama’s in town for the holiday season, which is an utter delight. My house church family has been stocking our refrigerator & pantry, proving how great God is by choosing to be like Him. My friends who don’t live nearby offer their wonderful support via technology. My daughter is thriving, thanks to the village of people who want to love on her. And my husband is a sturdy, steady rock of faithful service that he always is. I am well looked after. I will be well because “through it all, my eyes are on You and through it all, it is well with me.

Thank you for listening.

Jes

 

Posted in Authentic joy, Being real, Celebration!, Homesteading, Loving Others

Welcome, Christmas!

It’s that magical time again. Everyone feels compelled to love on each other and spread cheer. People selflessly spend their money to bless others. And we all eat more sugar than we need to. Welcome, Christmas!

This is my first Christmas in 10 years which finds me celebrating free from the bonds of employment. What a gift it is to have open-ended time to lavish on others. Truly, that is one of my favorite things about this Mama gig. So, you’ll pardon me if I have a little extra joy to throw around.

Today, I began planning in earnest the ways in which I hope to love on family members when December 25th rolls around. I love the excuse to tell a person with a tangible thing, “I thought of you. I love you.” While I hope to continue my efforts in celebrating all those dear to me on their birthdays, and leave Christmas for lavishing on the God I love, I will never refuse the opportunity to exchange gifts with family. It’s a wonderful reason to be creative and make things. It’s a wonderful reason to be selfless so I have coin in my purse to buy presents. (ehem, avoid Starbucks, drink your tea, Jes)

So, here’s my very heartfelt wishes to all of you reading this:

I hope you have a truly, deeply, madly joyful holiday this year. I hope you are struck at the beauty of humans at their absolute best. I hope you lay down your burdens for even a moment so you can drink in some peace. And I am praying that you all are profoundly loved, the kind of love that cauterizes open wounds and covers over multitudes of hurt. May your December days be merry and bright. Truly. I am praying it will be so, for you.

Merry Merry Christmas. 

Posted in Celebration!, marking this day, The Rori Girl

4 months and counting

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Yesterday, someone passed a milestone. It may have been just a typical Tuesday for some of you, but over here on the ole homestead, we were sharing some life. Aurora decided to spend her 4 month anniversary in the world by doing some of her favorite things:

  • hanging out with my Mama and my good friend Elise
  • drinking lots of breastmilk (“cuddles AND food? yes please!”)
  • wearing my jammies past breakfasttime
  • playing with my crinkle blanket and fish toy
  • napping in my crib all by myself (“wait, who snuck that in there? Moooooom!”)  😉

We’re freshly back from her 4-month well-baby check up. Rori now weighs a healthy 14 pounds, 6 ounces and has surpassed 2 feet tall at 25.5 inches long. Wow! All that breastmilk has been put to good use! We are both practicing being brave and getting our necessary shots without drama. I’m happy to report that Miss Aurora continues to show all the adults how its done: giving out free smiles to the clinic staff, protesting verbally when things hurt but NOT being mean or kicking, and always calming down quickly when offered support. Seriously, what a champion!!

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I don’t like them either, Rori girl. I got my flu shot today too for solidarity with you, girl 😉

When Aurora isn’t enduring the slings and arrows of humanity, she is busy being a delightful, cheerful joy. And I feel constantly grateful for her presence in my life.

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I’m proud of you, Rori-girl. You continue to teach and amaze me. I’m praying this next month you blow all our expectations of you out of the water! May we continue to learn how best to come alongside you and foster your growth.

Thank you for this girl you created, Papa! We trust You with her!

Posted in Being real, Mama life, The Rori Girl

Together is the best place

As I spend more time around this Aurora, I’m learning her preferences. It must be hard for a Little Bean who has no language to tell the Big Bean what she wants and needs. I would be SO frustrated with that! Rori does her very best to communicate with what she’s got: wiggles, smiles, noises & sleep. Here’s her basic cheat sheet:

  • Wiggles: “OOOOOH! I AM SO EXCITED!” (Or I have energy to burn)
  • Smiles: “YAY!!!! SOMEONE IS INTERACTING WITH ME!!!!!”
  • Noises:
    • (Happy) kind of speaks for itself
    • (Angry) um duh
    • (Fussin) “I’m not comfy or getting what I want”
    • (Cryin) “Someone fix it!”
    • (Screamin) “NO SERIOUSLY! SOMEONE FIX IT NOW!”
  • Sleep: “I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO comfy” (or just wiped from being a tiny human)

Now that she is sleeping through the night with regularity (CAN I GET AN AMEN!?!?), I’m learning that she would prefer to nap with me. To quote Ariel in The Little Mermaid, she wants to be “where the people are”. I get it. I’m the same way.

And I’m more than willing to invite her along.

So, until she hits a different phase, I’ve got a buddy throughout the day. And that’s kind of challenging, but mostly REAL sweet. Now, for photographic evidence…

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“I like when Mama video chats w/ Aunt Monica, my cousins, Goga, Grandma & Grandpa Brookes or takes pictures of us in selfie mode.” -Rori
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Out running errands. In motion with something to clutch! 😀
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Rest mode
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“But I don’t WANT to practice being autonomous!”
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“I help. Ooh! This is soft, Mom!”
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Front row seat on the action.
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“Bouncin’ so Mom can finish my Halloween costume. I REALLY want snacks right now.” -Rori
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“Probably the best nap of my life.” -Mama & Baby Bear
Posted in Being real, Mama life, Thursday Wordsday

“Hello from the other side”

Hands up if you belt along with Adele. Glad to see I’m not the only one. 🙂

Happy to say, “I have a free moment to write.” We don’t need to pick at the threads in the tapestry or unravel the why. But for the curious reader, this blog post was composed when Minnesotaland lay snuggled under her beautiful Autumnal quilt. That one all downy with clouds and speckled with starlight.

The cogs in my brain are oiled & spinnin’. It feels like I’m ready to process aloud again.

Life over the past few months has felt like some unexpected, unaired episode of “Survivor: New Mom Edition” is being filmed in my house…and I don’t remember auditioning for the role of “Tired, Crabby Woman Who Navigates Swamplands of Advice”. But here we are. 🙂

Joking aside, it does feel as though some unnamed fog is lifting. I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with Aurora hurdling over milestone after milestone in our sleep training routine.* Still can’t believe we’ve only been doing this since October 5th. 3 weeks in and my life has been flipped upside-down; back into sanity.

This Mama has been getting some SLEEP, y’all!

We could end this blog post right there. Drop the mic and just let that statement ripple out into the abyss. But that’s not how I roll. Once I’m a rested Jes, I’m back to functioning on all cylinders…which means: hunting up the metaphors to explain what I feel and practicing that all-important, somehow so difficult skill of remembrance. More specifically: committing to long-term memory those things that matter, cultivating gratitude for the rocks in the desert (whether they gush water or not**), and fighting the good fight, to constantly say no to distraction from my purpose: Love.

I’m not saying I’m killin’ the game here. Just the act of writing this down is convicting me that I’ve forgotten my purpose SO MANY FRICKIN’ TIMES over the past, I dunno, 24 hours? week? month? lifetime?!?

As Aurora Riviere Brookes rests and becomes, I have the opportunity to be fully present in this mama gig. That is 100% my choice, to be fully present. Stay at home mama or career mama, doesn’t matter, I could be fully present either way if I chose to be.

And what I’m learning is that the people that chose to be fully present, that put away distraction (ehem, hello iPhone in my back pocket whispering “escape this! play with ME!”), those who engage with the humans right in their faces; they make me feel loved and seen and known and valued. 

And I wanna be one of those people: to my daughter, to my husband, to my housemate, to my neighbors, to my family and friends and house church community and any stranger that crosses my path. So, yeah, I’m still here. I’m not blogging (or sleeping) as much as I used to. But I’m still here, and I’ve got some coals in this tired old heart of mine that feel fanned into flame. I know Who to blame. 😉

Love y’all,

Jes

 

 

 

*Joking and sarcasm are, in fact, two different people. But they are siblings…and Snark is their cousin.

**Lost? To unpack this further, see Exodus 17:1-7

Posted in Being real, Homesteading, Mama life, The Rori Girl

What we’ve been up to

Well, it’s been a hot second since I’ve written a blog post. I feel like mothering a 3 month old is reason enough, so I’m not offering excuses. Just happy to have a moment to spend writing.

It’s been raining for legit almost 2 straight weeks here in the Twin Cities. The leaves are starting to turn, a pumpkin now graces our front stoop and the tea pantry is open for Autumn business. Ahh, Fall.

Over here at the old Brookes homestead, we’ve got 2 new beautiful trees in our backyard. Thanks to a generous grant, both were free and planted by volunteers! Mama likie! What a silver lining to the loss of a beautiful 100-year-old tree earlier this year. (Stinky emerald ash borer!) Looking forward to watching these li’l saplings grow.

IMG_9583.JPGAnd speaking of li’l saplings, someone is now 3 months old, weighing in at a stunning 14 pounds.

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I took this photo moments before she started screaming. Welcome to bedtime meltdown, y’all!

Aurora’s favorite things now that she is 3 months old include:

  • “riding face out” when on laps or being held so she can look at everything
  • batting at her fish toy, turtle and froggie (which are suspended from her playmat)
  • kicking her legs (strong baby!)
  • watching Baby Einstein, especially the puppets
  • playing the “stick your tongue out” mimic game with Daddy
  • smiling at people that interact with her
  • anytime Mama lets her eat
  • anytime Mama lets her sleep ON her, NOT laying flat

Chunky monkey is enduring some changes in routine. We’ve implemented a new sleep/eating schedule that will hopefully yield us some overnight sleep (for baby but especially for tired Mama!). It’s been a rough going over the past week as Rori protests the new normal. But she’ll get over it, and Mama will persist in breaking some bad habits Mama picked up as she was learning to be a new mom. We’ll get there. But man, it’s been ROUGH.

For now, Rori says,

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After screaming her head off whilst in her crib, suddenly all was well when Mama picked her up. (Punk kid!)

And Mama patiently persists in forcing the following to happen anyway:

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Believe it or not, babies DO need sleep. 😛

 

Posted in Authentic joy, Being real, Homesteading, Thursday Wordsday

Minimalism: my spiritual act of worship

Hey all,

Around the Minnesota Brookes’ homestead, we are experiencing some lovely peace. It feels tangible, like something I’m steeping in at all times. Feels nice to just let go and float.

As baby sleeps and the days slip toward Fall, Mama Bear has renewed energy. So, what’s she been up to? Oh, a little of this and that: long walks around the neighborhood with the Rori girl, learning how to sneak in meals so to have fuel for the milk factory, folding laundry, and making space in my heart to let others be. (More on that later.)

Puttering around the house, the Holy Spirit directed my attention to the plethora of objects we have laying around. If I’m real honest, I am deeply convicted. I have collected too much stuff. And I’m learning why.

Whenever I feel unseen or uncelebrated, un-allowed to have joy, I treat myself. That is my pattern, my habitus. And that is really sad. I justify it, claiming the thrift stores are so much cheaper than retail. I hide it, literally, from my sweet husband who gently and repeatedly asks, “do you need it?” I’ve even gone so far as to drop very obvious hints to the generous givers in my life at super low moments. Yeah, I’m not proud of it. The sin of greed is deeply sown in my heart. (Let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we?)

I don’t want it in my soul anymore. It’s time to root that out, a little bit more seriously now. So, I’ve poked around cupboards and drawers, pulling out what hasn’t been used, what isn’t necessary, what doesn’t bring me life; and it dawned on me that there is a joy in owning less. And I’m drawn to that joy. Not only does less mean “less to clean” (hallelujah!), it also gives weight to what is kept. Decisions have been made. Things have been whittled away to their essence. And what is essential? Love.

“That’s a nice cliche, Jes, but how do I apply that?”

I’m figuring it out too. Here’s what I’m learning so far:

If I leave room in my house and own less stuff, others’ generosity means more. I can feel their love better. And I feel seen and provided for. So, I have a choice going forward. I can either worry I won’t be loved, scramble to treat myself and spend money on items that I don’t use, clutter my house and bring me only temporary happiness. OR. I can let go, trust God will see me & meet my needs, poking strangers/friends/family to be generous when I need a tangible thing, and slowly teaching me the very real joy in the intangible. I’m choosing the later.

I trust you, Papa. Make me more like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

 

Posted in Authentic joy, Celebration!, Loving Others, Thoughts

Some Very Tempered Birthday Love

I absolutely love the opportunity to spoil a person on their birthday. My Mama is really good at this. One of her lasting life lessons: the utter joy it is to see another person right where they are. Because that’s what celebrating a person’s birthday can be about. And every single creature on this planet has a unique way they’d like to be celebrated, because they are…wait for it…unique individuals.

Seems a bit of a, “duh!” but how hard it is to love a person the way they want to be loved! It demands that you set aside your own agenda, your own preferences, your own biases, even your assumptions and knowledge of the other person. Because people are constantly adapting and growing, and sometimes what we know of a person is old news. Trying to keep up can be exhausting. And being fully present, fully aware of who a person is at any given moment is a rare thing indeed.

Yeah, I’ve talked a big talk about celebrating others. I say I love to see people for who they are, but I get it so wrong…especially with the person I share a home with, my husband Nayt.

And today, on his birthday, he’ll probably cringe as he reads this. Because if 12 years together has taught me anything, it’s that this man I married is a private one. And despite my better intentions, I continue to embarrass him with my flamboyant style. I try to temper my love for him and package it in a way he’d prefer. But that is HARD! I will do my best today…

(clears throat, is aware of the irony that she is making public what Nayt would prefer remain private)

Ehem. Moving on.

Happy birthday to my favorite mountain man. I must publicly declare that I see bits of who you are: an adventurous soul who is open to challenge and seeks out the less-traveled road, a man unafraid to be intellectually cornered — hunting for all possibilities in each scenario, a diligent and sacrificial husband that constantly tries to meet his wife’s needs despite her often negative feedback (sorry, babe), and a loyal friend — once his friendship is gained, you will always have it. You are steadfast and true, Nayt. I am thrilled I get to love you. I pray God satisfies your every hunger, reigns victorious over your every battle and gifts you deep-rooted joy in the face of your hardships. Here’s to another year of adventure!

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Mountain Man steps into the misty unknown. -Lake Superior May 2016