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?

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.”*


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?)


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!”


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.


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

Much love,



*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.



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!

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




Posted in marking this day, New-to-me, Thoughts

Birthing a River

“Hello world, I’m Rori.”

Last week a miracle happened: a new human was coursed out into the wilds from secret depths. Aurora Riviere Brookes entered life outside her mama on July 6th, at 3:25-27am*

Over 23 hours, all 8 pounds, 15 ounces of her slowly bore down the pathway leading out of her hiding place. Mama felt the very faintest twinges and rumbles of “The Beginning” at 4:30am on the 5th. Things seemed to move slowly along until they weren’t anymore. By early afternoon there was no doubt, we were “In Labor.”

Such a bizarre thing to describe and experience as, for every woman, labor can take whatever form it needs to. Each woman’s fears and strengths are her tools to navigate what is happening to her body. And I doubt anyone is ever really prepared to face themselves in their raw, vulnerable state. Labor’s work was, for me, more mental than physical. I had to consciously choose to face myself. And then put aside judgment of what I discovered.

Easier said than done! 

Aurora (dawn, light, new beginning) was born at precisely the time she needed to be, in a moment that still comes as a surprise to her Mama. In that wee small hour, I felt no remarkable difference in the push that eventually brought her shoulders past the wall of my pelvic bone. I had no conscious knowledge that I had been actively trying to expel her through the final stages for a solid two hours. All I felt was exhaustion and weakness. I felt like there was no way I could get this River (Riviere, the French spelling) out of me. I had no more resources to bail me out at the last minute. It was just me, on a table with four women like the four winds, blowing encouragement across me: continue, stay, work, come…be vulnerable. And a subtle, unconscious hope that it would be over soon.

And then all of a sudden, the little I had brought to the table was enough. That will never not be a miracle to me.

God saw me in my raw, real, weak state and made that enough. 

And now she’s here: Aurora Riviere Brookes. A new beginning; this mighty girl who immediately taught her Mama the importance of resting after a long, long fight. And she is strong. Like a river, she knows where she is going and will bring life where she goes. 

And now we wait, and see who she becomes. And that is the greatest gift I could ever be given: to witness a journey from its source. There are no words, only (as Aslan the Lion would say),  “Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time.”



*Rori’s birth certificate will say 3:25am because that’s when the midwifery team says she arrived. However, Nayt is certain she arrived at 3:27. And I will always trust that Eagle Scout’s precision. 😉

Posted in marking this day, Thoughts

A firm foundation: 10 years

On this very date, 10 years ago, I married Nathan Andrew Brookes.

10 years ago.

Today, that feels like a solid achievement, like a concrete foundation that has set well. We have worked hard to communicate and love each other over those 10 years. And I am proud of the fact that we have stuck it out, that we are continuing to stick it out together. But mostly, I’m grateful that with God’s help, we are looking forward to new adventures down the road.

Happy Anniversary, Darlin. I am proud to be your wife.

a firm foundation
10 years of love and support matter.


Posted in a bittersweet goodbye, Thoughts

The last week

Well, it’s a little hard to believe, but this is my last week working for Half Price Books.

I’ve spent four and a half years of my life toiling alongside some amazing co-laborers. I’m grateful for each of them and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’m not sure I’ve wrapped my mind around the fact that I won’t be at the Roseville HPB on a regular basis anymore. That’s giving me a bit of a brain freeze. And since I’m an external processor, here’s what I’ve been unpacking as I think about stepping away from Retail-land into Mommydom:

Firstly, no one gives retail workers the credit they deserve until they have tried working in retail; it’s the proverbial “walk a mile in my shoes” troupe. No one gets how tough it is. To work in retail is: to do your job while constantly on display, always interrupted from your tasks, receiving constant negative criticism from a varying peanut gallery, asked to put aside your own human needs to serve others, while barely making a living wage with terrible hours that affect literally all aspects of your social life. That is the ugliest description of retail work but it is 100% accurate. In no way will I miss that. But I’m walking into the exact same job “perks” by being a full-time mom. So, oh well, guess I’m not dodging THAT bullet! 😛

Secondly, no one can prepare you for the utter joy of working alongside people who don’t let “that retail BS” get them down. Rising to the challenge together cements the kind of friendships that get you through all the awful stuff. There were multiple days on the job that my coworkers literally made my day 100% better. There were MANY days where I showed up to work unable to put aside my personal life, and the 096 HPB staff listened to me complain, gave me hugs, bought me candy coffee and in general, reminded me that it’s okay to be human. Man, I just don’t deserve that kind of love.

So here’s to you: Craig, Jess, Britta, David, Aidan, Jena – you underpaid, marvelous leaders of the Roseville crew, who boldly step into your roles with everything you have. You are some of the best people I have ever met. Some personal notes for you six:

Craig – Thank you for taking a chance on hiring the weirdly blunt girl in 2014. Thank you for every time you said something nice to me about my work, even if it didn’t seem like I accepted it. I heard you. It mattered. And thank you for your sarcasm and wit, they were invaluable tools to poke holes in my heavy moods. I hope you actually visit every last park and national forest in Minnesota with Sara in that RV of yours. You deserve it.

Jess – your gentle direction and empathetic ear have been such a calming influence in my life. I sincerely respect and want to be more like you. I’m so glad you are the assistant manager. You bring something to the Roseville staff that no one else does, they are lucky to have you as a leader.

Britta – you’ve reminded me that there are other humans on the planet who take pride in a job well done because girl, YOU GET S*** DONE. I respect how you are authentic no matter where you are and I’m still sorry I ate your digestive biscuits that one time. 😉

David (DAVIIIIIIIID!) – I will never NOT think of you when I read those ridiculous David books to my kid. I’ve enjoyed laughing with you and seeing you step into leadership this last year, handling it with the skilz we all knew you brought to the challenge. You are an awesome shift leader, and make everyone feel comfortable to be themselves.

Aidan – Thanks for being my vegan-recipe guinea pig and never saying no when I offer you a bite of some random thing I’ve made. You are a steady rock of shift leader goodness and the Roseville staff is lucky to have you on their team.

Jena – (taking a moment to steady myself emotionally before I type this) I will never not miss you. Thank you for…listening to me, hugging me when I cried, constantly loving me with homemade spicy stuff, buying me hundreds of snacks and drinks from the gas station & Dunn Bros over the past 4 years, having an “open door” policy about food on your shelf (but not the Thin Mints, or she will cut you), sharing Hamilton with me, drawing that amazing comic strip for Nayt’s birthday, asking me about my life, sharing yours…for being an unexpected and much cherished perk of my job. This small paragraph barely touches on the exhaustive list of things I’m grateful to you for, my dear dear friend. You are an amazing SIM, which is stating the obvious. HPB corporate has no idea what a gem of a human they have working in 096. May all your future shipments from Texas scan in correctly and an ever-increasing quantity of books you don’t already own about Bruce Springsteen and Lin Manuel-Miranda cross your path. 🙂

And for the rest of you lovely staff members: Aaron, Grace, Kai, Ellie, Elise, Rowan, Eric, Kevin, Keith, Alec, Tom, Taylor, Carroll/Poe, Silas, Ainsley, Malika, and Christian: way to make the Roseville HPB the best Half Price in the state! 🙂 You are literally the coolest people and I’ve enjoyed worked with you. Some personal notes for each of you:

Aaron – Dude, is there anything you can’t fix?!? Thank you for sharing your homemade salsa, coming to fix our front door and making our feral kitty shelter! Your knowledge and work ethic make the Roseville HPB a better place. I’ll miss the smell of your gigantic coffee thermos, hearing about your homesteader goals and sweet cello-gig life.

Grace – I have nothing but respect for the way you ATTACK shelving. You single-handedly set the standard for efficiency at HPB, for serious. I have loved that we can simultaneously price the entire table and have a conversation about Benjamin’s and Rudi’s latest antics, because you are truly the queen of multi-tasking. You never show up to work for any other reason than to work. I have mad respect for that. 096 is lucky to have you.

Kai – Man, I don’t want to think about not being around your face 5 days/week! 😦 I’ve thoroughly enjoyed co-laboring in the kids/YA/Teen section with you and fully trust that you will direct all interested parties to the right, mind-opening portals they need from our section. 🙂 You are truly one of the kindest people I know. And if you do not text me random, cute pictures of Radar this summer, I will be sad.

Ellie – Thank GOD you came over when Crystal closed, cause man, we needed some Ellie in our store! I love your energy and how you connect with people, because you really value people. You are a beautiful person and I will never not drink an Arnold Palmer from Dunn Brothers or see Po’s face on anything Star Wars related without thinking of you. Please tell me the next time you wanna do karaoke cause I wanna be there!

Elise – (guttural moan) I don’t want to leave you! 😦 You are the bestest and greatest of bouncy, Tiggery peoples with an infectious laugh and a heart of gold. Thank you for coming over to sewing dates, for laughing over stupid cat memes, for sharing what’s under the surface with you, for real feedback and real love. You are a good bean, a good good bean. The customers at 096 don’t deserve you. I will miss seeing your face, so send me lots of pictures of it (and the cool Rey costume when it’s done).

Rowan – The LP pricing machine! We literally would have nothing good to sell without you on the team, for serious. Thank you for selflessly and single-handedly pricing all the stuff everyone else hates to price! You provide a great resource of nerdiness and niche knowledge that 096 needs. Resist the urge to buy all the sweet board games, dude. You can do it. 🙂

Eric – strong, silent and mad helpful! You, sir, I respect for your kind tone with customers and your general willingness to help anyone (staff or guest) with whatever they need. I hope that during your time at HPB, you feel valued for the great work you do. Keep on, keepin’ on, sir!

Kevin – man, that Nost section was hella sad before you came along! You do such great, focused work in there and I’m generally impressed with how you single-handedly turned that entire alcove around within a few weeks of transferring to 096. May all your future nostalgia pricing session be uninhibited by leeches like me wanting to use Jena’s computer. 😉

Keith – in the short time that you have joined our crew, you have made an irrevocable impact on me, and not just cause you constantly offer the pregnant lady your french fries! 🙂 You are genuinely kind and give amazing customer service, meeting each person you encounter where they are. If every single retail worker in the whole world were like you, the whole of humanity would feel very seen and served. Thank you for being a selfless example of what it means to be a great employee and human. And “Go Canada!”

Alec – You have a contagious smile, sir. And even the grumpiest of stoic persons would crack at your self-deprecating wit. Thank you for being you and adjusting to the chaos of HPB so quickly! You are an asset to the crew!

Tom – I can’t think of you and not smile. Your quiet humor and diligent work ethic are respectable. Thanks for the moments when you made me chuckle over something snarky you said under your breath. I’m glad you ditched stinky St. Louis Park for us. 😉

Taylor – You are a quiet and sweet addition to the staff. You work to make the register area productive and not a giant mess, which I super respect. I’m so glad that Craig hired you! 🙂 Make sure all the good Disney films get sleeved and I hope more of those Little Mermaid comics come in for you!

Carroll (or Poe) – Thank you for repeatedly calling my baby “delicious” after asking what fruit or veg size it was on a weekly basis. LOL. Your energy and personality make 096 a more fun place to be. I’ll miss seeing what color you dye your hair next time and hearing about your crazy nieces and nephews. Pet all the pups for me. ALL of them.

Silas – (sigh) This sucks. I’ve liked hearing about what you’re writing, and how much you love helping other people not suck at writing. 🙂 You are a beautiful soul and I will miss working alongside you, hearing your laugh and co-miserating about stupid retail woes. Make sure that sidelines section doesn’t look horrible, dude. Jena is counting on you. 😉

Ainsley – I just feel like I’m starting to get to know you! :/ Thanks for every time you’ve asked me about baby things. You are a big sweetheart and I’m glad the Roseville staff includes you. May all the things you secretly desire come across your path at the buy counter, until you need to resist buying all the things so you can afford groceries. 🙂 Then I hope NOTHING tempting crosses your path!

Malika – Girl, you are killin’ those history alcoves. Way to leap in and make things happen over there. And I’ve appreciated every time you’ve said something that reveals just a little bit of what’s going on under the surface with you. It’s reminded me that we ALL have things going on under the surface with us, and I appreciate the reminder to love on humans where each of us are at any given moment. 🙂

and Christian – last because you are the newest addition to the team! Welcome! May your summer at HPB be full of awesome. I know the training period can be really overwhelming (it was for me), and I know you will rise to the challenge! 🙂 Hope that during your time at HPB, you feel included and free to be yourself. This is the greatest team of people, for real. You ARE welcome.


So, that’s it. Just 4 more shifts with some of the greatest people alive. Hard not to be sad about that, even though my reason for leaving is to tackle a job I’ve wanted for 8 years. I’ll miss you, Half Price Books. Thank you for being a place for me to be myself, for the sweet SWEET discount and the wonderful chance to rub shoulders with other bibliomaniacs. It’s been a wonderful 4+ years.


Posted in Thoughts

A letter for the fathers

To all you dads out there:

I feel like the majority of you are quietly serving behind the scenes, not expecting much recognition, plugging away as mostly unsung heroes. Most of the dads I know are faithfully supporting their children and wives, with all the resources at their disposal. Sometimes I feel that moms get most of the credit for raising their children (which is no small feat, let me be clear!) But dads are in there too, getting dirty in the game of parenthood: and it costs them.

I’m not a man. I can’t really know what it costs to be a husband or a father. But I feel the effects when each of you actively chooses to show up. Men who love and respect the work their wives do raising their children are some of the best humans on the planet. Men who honor their kids with their presence and time get it. That’s what this is all about: seeing each other and meeting each other where we are.

So, dads out there: thank you for showing up. Thank you for the sacrifices you make, the work you do to be present and provide love. Thank you for caring for your children and wives, for serving them. You are heroes. You are all wearing invisible superhero capes. May you be recognized this Father’s Day. May you feel seen and heard and respected and known. And may you all be gifted with the love of your children and wives in a way you both understand and accept.

Blessings to you all. Happy Father’s Day.



Posted in Real, Good News, Things I'm reading, Thoughts

Revisiting this classic…

I recently re-read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. By far, this is my favorite of Lewis’ works; yes, even ranked above my favorite Narnia book (which is The Magician’s Nephew, in case you were curious). It’s one of those I get a hankering to read again and again after long stretches of time away from it. There’s just so much meat to unpack in this little, dreamlike work of fiction. And if you’re at all familiar with me, you’ll remember I love hunting through stories to find the nuggets of truth. There’s a lot that resonates with me in The Great Divorce.

Let’s talk about one of my favorite character interactions:

(WARNING: semi-spoiler alert)

For those who haven’t read it, a truly stunning woman with a full entourage of children, animals and angels descends from high in “The Real” (Heaven) to talk with her shadow of a husband who’s journeyed up out of the (minuscule-by-comparison) depths of Hell. What we learn right away is that she is both “one of the great saints” and a very ordinary woman; no important person on Earth, just a man’s wife. This immediately struck me. I love the dichotomy that people can be two opposing things at once: an honored saint and an ordinary woman. It reminds me that small things done in great love really do change the world.

This woman’s entourage also stirs something in my heart. It’s made clear that the angels, children and animals that follow her around do so of their own free will. They have all of eternity to spend how they like, and they choose to be close to the woman that showed them their first glimpses of Real Love, to literally sing her praises. How stunning. The observing narrator makes the comment that her Love was like a stone dropped in water, rippling out and touching literally everyone she encountered. Man, talk about life goals! This fictional woman makes me want to be more Real, to truly Love.

She is also clearly moved by Love to meet with her lost husband, a man who doesn’t know himself and let’s a replacement speak for him. It’s both tragic and beautiful: tragic that he is so clueless and lost and unable to see the truth, beautiful that she has ventured to meet with him, that she is trying even in the afterlife to love him into his Real self. But he can choose to accept or reject that love. And you’ll have to read the story to know what happens. 🙂

I was reminded of a dear friend who’s been long laboring as “just someone’s wife”. This everyday saint knows about “The Real”; she knows Who created everything and she worships Him and tries to be like Him. When I’d finished reading the chapters about this fictional saint, I immediately imagined my friend in her honored place. And I was struck that none of us are really doing anything that doesn’t ripple out into eternity.

Seriously, think about that for a second. Life may seem mundane: a lot of work, a little play, some rest; a blip of a lifetime and it’s over. We struggle and get overwhelmed and opt out of living fully. Because after all: who’s to see when you’re all alone and you choose to love? What does it really matter if you wash those dishes so your spouse doesn’t have to? Who even notices when you choose to let a bitter root of resentment die? Certainly not a spouse or your children or your coworkers or your family. No one sees into the depths of your heart…

Except the One who created it.

And let me just tell you: not one single moment you loved goes unnoticed.

Did you catch that? Cause, no really, not one single moment you chose to love is wasted. Someone witnessed it. And not just anyone, the only Someone that matters. He witnesses when we step out of our humanity and respond with Love. Every. Single. Time. And here’s the even crazier part. Despite the fact that we can only really Love with His help, that we can only know what Love IS because He first defined it for us, because He first showed us what it was like — despite all that, the Creator of every human heart wants to radically reward each one that chooses to love.

Are you kidding me?

So, He models what Love is, teaches us how to receive and give it, empowers us to do it and then rewards us for it as if we’d done it all by ourselves???

Are you kidding me?

That seems to be some very good news. So, bravo, you beautifully broken, figuring-it-out humans; when you Love, whenever you Love, treasure awaits. And I needed that reminder. If I could thank C.S. Lewis right now, in person, for writing The Great Divorce, I would. But I can’t, so instead I’ll just thank the One who used the words Lewis wrote to stir up these coals in my heart.

Thank you, Holy Spirit. You are truly amazing. And I really want to Love like You do. Make me more like You. Amen!


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

Reflections on parenting

Well, here we are 5 months into 2018 and I finally have the energy/will to sit down & blog a little. It’s ironic to me that in the last trimester of pregnancy, I am finally feeling as though I can process being pregnant AND be a Jes. I’m so glad human gestation takes 9 months. It really gives all parties involved time to prepare.

I’m wrapping my brain around the myriad of changes coming to the Brookes household as we transition into parenthood. One of the ways a good Jes prepares to be a first time mother is to reflect on all the examples of parenting she has witnessed. A good Jes learns from any teacher: strangers at Half Price Books with children in the kids’ section, strangers on the bus, families in house church, relatives, friends. You have all been showing me how you do it: this parenting thing. And I’m hyper-aware that I have a lot of theoretical ideas & ideals but not so much preparedness for the new job I’m transitioning into this summer.

Because let’s just be clear: parenting is a job.

You can be unwillingly employed, unskilled and unaware. You can fail on a daily basis. You can feel like at times you want to quit. You can resent management for a lack of communication and feedback on your performance. You can doubt your ability. You can rise to the challenges. You can be physically, mentally and emotionally drained only to find out your shift is an overtime/overnight gig when you least want it to be. It can demand you work on things you are weak in for the betterment of the whole team. It can demand you show up for work when you are sick, or angry at your coworkers, or desperately needing a vacation. It can feel like it doesn’t pay enough or the benefits package sucks. Yet it can be a place of pure joy, of deep pride in the effort you’ve put in. It can be a place you love to go, alongside coworkers you truly enjoy. It can be hard AND rewarding because it IS hard.

I repeat: parenting is a JOB.

In 2008, a naive bride prepared herself to marry the man she loved, armed with ideals and a lot of blind faith. Turns out I’m also walking into this new job with relatively no skills. My resume is padded with good intentions, idealized dreams of what it “could be” and how I’ll perform. Thank God we go in that way, not fully knowing. Cause if we knew what anything would ultimately cost us, we would never risk getting off the couch to go.

And I want to go. I am thrilled to learn more about my flaws; to grow as a human as I take care of this budding new life. It will be humbling and embarrassing and I absolutely will fail this child. I will fail to see them when they need to be seen most. I will hurt them where it matters more than I know. And going into this knowing I have the best of intentions, but will still fail? Man, that isn’t an easy pill to take.

But newsflash, you warrior parents out there, with your brave hearts: failure is not the only legacy you leave your children!

Love washes over a multitude of things. Your children remember your kindness, your stories, the food you make, the ways you saw them and met their needs, the times you rose to the challenge and sacrificed without their knowledge so they could flourish. It may take awhile. And they will never know everything you gave and did, how parenting emptied you of yourself so they could be them. But your children will stand and bless you. They will give you gifts you didn’t expect, and joy you didn’t think possible to experience at moments you were bracing yourself for sorrow.

I sometimes get the feeling that parents feel like all their kids remember is the moments when they blew it. Kids (young or old) can act like that. They may be little punks and hurt you real deep, or expose your worst fears. But you have not failed 100% of the time. Love washes over a multitude of things. How your parents messed up doesn’t matter in light of the love they give you. I feel like this is what God teaches us when He gives us agape love.

We are human, and we fail each other. But when we love/agape each other, we say, “It’s okay you failed me (this one time, lots of times, whatever). I see that overall you try to love me, and you’ve successfully done that (insert specific examples). I forgive you for hurting me when you were just in human-mode. You have more than made up for this with the countless ways you have loved me. I will choose to remember those.” And then we do, until hurt is a distant memory.

My parents are some of the people I respect the most on this planet. I have been privileged to witness: their lives, their personalities engaging in their work, their struggles, their being real. That is a gift. It affects me profoundly. And that’s what parenting is: affecting other humans profoundly. What you say and do as a parent, is remembered. The wonderful moments you give your children ARE REMEMBERED. I don’t care who your kid is. They will remember some time you saw them, for real, some moment you gave them something special and interacted with them on their level. And this will be a thing they TREASURE FOREVER. It will make small & even big hurts seem less important, even miniscule. Being loved and seen and known and accepted washes over a multitude of failures.

So, brave mamas out there: on this mother’s day, DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. You are exactly the kind of person for the unique job of parenting your kids. You have what it takes. Showing up might be all you can bring today. Bring that. Any moment you choose to be a mom is a win. Any moment you choose to love? That’s a win. No one may comment on it. No one may seem to notice, but it matters. You, being you, sharing your life with your children, matters. Every day you show up for work is another faithful testimony to your strength, courage and love.

And I have so much respect for you all. Thank you for the lessons in how to overcome your human-moments. Thank you for showing me ways to be kind and treat little humans with respect. Thank you for showing me: how to remain yourselves when the job is overwhelming, how to say no to most things and yes to a few, how to get it right and how to bounce back when you get it wrong, how to show up and stay and fight and love well. I wanna be just like you.

Happy Mother’s Day.