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!

IMG_6010
Mountain Man steps into the misty unknown. -Lake Superior May 2016

 

 

 

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

Birthing a River

31906961-A3D0-4C86-A50B-055AF7FBFD8A
“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.

Jes

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.

Jes

 

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.

Posted in Being real, Thoughts

Quenching the wildfires

Hello all,

This week, my heart is burning for people that live in Northern California, some I know by name. The wildfires there are just plain crazy/scary & so many families have been uprooted. So much loss, so much fear, so much worry as the fires keep raging.

My heart is heavy as I think of you who live in the state I used to call home. Some of you share DNA with me and hearing of your distress causes me physical pain. So, you beautiful families of Northern California: I am praying for the fires to be extinguished, for you to be comfortable & safe while exiled from your homes, and for God to move hearts to give compassionately to your collective and specific needs. May you all be satisfied with every good thing in this horrible time. May you all have rest and deep peace. I am so sorry that this has happened. And it weighs on me, so I had to do something. Even if my “something” is just a prayer and a blog post.

What did Mother Teresa say? “Small things done with great love will change the world”? May so many small things done in great love change the wildfires’ waves of destruction in California.

God, please go and sit with people and meet their needs in their distress. We are waiting for You and we desperately depend on You. Come and help us! Amen

 

Posted in Being real, Joy: 2017 Word Meditation, Media Mondays, Thoughts

Joy & Sorrow: kindred spirits

Hey all, remember Media Mondays? (dusts them off) Yeah, me too.

I’ve previously mentioned my affinity for Ann Voskamp’s words (and heart and life). And this weekend, I read a blog post on her website and started weeping. That’s right, straight up ugly crying. So, for this Media Monday, I’ll leave you with this piece of my heart:

Joy can still be found in brokenness.

To be honest, I don’t really understand why I had such an intense emotional reaction to Katie Davis Majors’ words. I deeply resonated with her book Kisses from Katie when I read it many years ago. And I had no idea that she and Ann Voskamp were connected.* But something is stirring within me as I keep living on this busted, broken planet full of busted, broken humans (of which I am one). We get it so wrong. We fall so short of God’s hopes for us. And yet…there is still very real joy to be had.

For the most part, I’d say emotions are a pendulum which swings between two polar opposites: sorrow and joy. But no. Sorrow and joy can occupy the same space. They are not extremes that come nowhere near each other. To be deeply, profoundly affected by sorrow can mean I experience real, tangible joy. Because the Author of my life is near those who are brokenhearted. And He really is.

What?!

At house church this weekend, some dear friends related their week as they engaged with a beloved family member going home. Really going home, to the Lord. And I was reminded that there is more than we see. There is so much going on behind the scenes, in the reality that is unseen, and that God is there too.

And I imagined myself, at the end of my life, turning to see Jesus literally come to meet me. And that thought wrecked me.

Right now, we see in part, but then…we will see REALLY. What I experience now on this planet is a shadow in comparison to what is to come. I forget that, cause these shadows have weight; they can hurt me, they aren’t wispy and light. But there is more. And I am not alone.

And if I’m willing to live in the place sorrow lives, sorrow will not be all I experience. Cause joy lives there too. And God is close to the brokenhearted. God is willing to be wounded to sit with those who are hurting. Wow. That is just echoing in my brain and I’m truly hearing it. If I claim to love Him and want to be like Him, I will sit in my sorrow and not run away. I will stay through the tough stuff, I will let the arrows & slings of His enemy come, because He is right beside me and there is true joy to be had, right here, right now.

Bring it on.

 

 

 

*I am thrilled Katie has written another book. And I am equally thrilled that two women I profoundly respect for their reckless abandon to Jesus are friends. I want Ann Voskamp, Katie Davis Majors, Sara Groves and Audrey Assad to all come over to my house for the realest, most raw worship session ever. 🙂 Hey, a girl can dream. 🙂

Posted in Being real, self-care, Thoughts

The land of the living

Hi.

Been awhile, I know. One way to lose all your readers is to casually disappear. Good thing I’m not blogging “for the views”.  🙂

It’s been a summer, y’all. Actually, to be real honest, it’s been a heck of a year. But for the first time in awhile, I’m beginning to have a little hope things could change over here at the Brookes’ homestead. We’ve jumped over a couple really scary-looking what-if fences, and are on the other side with scraped legs…but we’re okay.

Nayt is now doing contract work at Code42 in downtown Minneapolis, which has many perks: proximity to home cuts his cycling commute WAY down, he has a fantastic view from his cubicle and access (once again) to a myriad of free snacks. It’s like tech companies know IT staff are super food-motivated or something.  😉  Nayt has access to all the iced tea and gummy bears he could ever long for. And after 1pm, Code42 actually lets you drink beer on the job. Yeah. Jealous much?

I’m still plugging away at Half Price Books in Roseville. We’re amping up for the Holiday season. For those of you not hip to the retail-scene, thinking “what!? it’s AUGUST!” yeah, we get ready for Holiday* in August. We already have Christmas cards in stock. And get this, people have actually bought some. This week, I imagined an alternate reality where I didn’t work in retail during Holiday. There were 15 seconds where my brain’s tires spun out. I’ve done retail for the past 4 years and the concept of experiencing the Christmas season when it actually starts was like, “wait…what?”

Otherwise, summer feels like it ended about two weeks ago. Minneapolis has been having a very balmy August. It’s been rainy and chilly…so…wonderful. Case end point: I started wearing sweaters. This Fall-baby is in love. I’m drinking my Novembre Te from Sweden, so it’s official, I declare Fall is here**.  I fully expect leaves to turn and pumpkins to magic their way to my front stoop at any moment. #AccioAutumn

As I type this, I have sleeping kitties on my lap and the back of my chair, Hem’s album “Rabbit Songs” is quietly making Nayt’s office into a calm oasis of sound and I am content. I can just be. Moments of utter freedom to be who you are becoming; truly the definition of home.

To be frank, these past 60+ days, I haven’t really felt like I wanted to live my life. I’ve been coasting, just going through the motions and escaping reality. For a long chapter, I’ve disengaged to protect myself; a friend even labeled me “poky”, like a hedgehog all rolled up. Because I’m a mature adult, I had been giving God the silent treatment. But last week, the prayers of all the saints in my life broke through the wall I had wrapped around myself. And God gave me some completely undeserved and real, actual, tangible happiness. So I started talking to Him again…because I’m a toddler and need to be reminded 1500 times/day that my Papa still loves me and is taking care of me.

Naturally, being on speaking terms with the author of my personhood & life has made a radical change in my daily experiences. Circumstances aren’t much different, but I feel like I am willing to take up my cross. Just last week, I was focused on the weight of it on my back and the splinters on my hands. But miraculously, I had a moment where I looked ahead on the path. I saw Jesus standing there with outstretched arms and a smile on His face. I can see Him now and He’s beckoning me to come after Him. What’s crazy is I really believe He means it when He tells me it’ll be worth it.

Faith makes no sense.

So, I am back in the land of the living, all. I’m sorry I forgot to rely on the God I love. I’m sorry I forgot to trust Him with the deepest needs of my heart. I had been looking for those to be met in the wrong places. It wasn’t working. Putting Him first is working. (Imagine that!) CLEARLY, I have the attention span of a 3-year-old. I want to be obedient to Him and just am not so often. To my prayer warriors, thank you and please keep praying for me!

Much love,

Jes

 

 

 

*”Holiday” is the hip merchandize-y word for the season during which customers request and are supplied with a myriad of choices to celebrate American commercial Christmas. Other lesser known holidays sometimes get small sections of merch as well: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christianity’s version of Christmas and if the store is REALLY niche, the Winter Solstace.

**Outside of the Twin Cities, Fall may not be currently available. Please check with your local stores to see if Autumn is “in stock”.