About Small Still Voices

We are six uniquely different woman listening to the Truth God brings to us and sharing our lives with you in Small Still Voices. Just as we learned in 1Kings 19:13, God is constantly speaking to us in small still voices, a truth of love and encouragement, but are we always listening? We are imperfect sinners, just trying daily to hear those voices over the chaos of our daily lives. I hope you can see pieces of yourselves in us and learn to be still and listen to God's voice in your own lives as we struggle to do the same in ours.

Reinvention

It’s been a little over 2 years since the last post on this project, yet coming back here feels just like sitting back down in a worn armchair, comfortable and welcoming.

Over the years I was able to share this project with many beautiful and talented woman, who lent their voices to a project about grace, life stumbles and loving one another. (Which you will continue to be able to read some of their guest posts when the archives page is finished) I hope that this project continues to be about many different woman, lending their voices as guests to encourage one another in every aspect of life because I think it is something missed in society today and I think we are in desperate need of more of it.

Two years. Phew. It goes by in a blink, doesn’t it.  When I left off, my husband and I were just taking a giant leap of faith and entering the missionary world full time in disaster relief.

Now, I sit here at my computer desk, belly swollen with the growth of our first baby, due any day. We have see the hard times and the great times in ministry and continue to build our small ministry to meet the needs of children and families after devastating disasters. We travel the road in a 27ft travel trailer, our home sweet home, that takes us all over the country as we respond to storms.  We have grown so much in those two years and I can’t wait to share the precious moments ahead with each of you.

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Coming back to this project feels a bit like coming back to an old friend and in so many ways, coming back to my own voice and self. I’ve thought about it just about everyday since it ended, and I’m thrilled to be back and sharing life with you wonderful ladies and this community again.

So, what’s new? Where has life taken you in the last 2 years?

Let’s see where life takes us from here, shall we?

Jenny

His Way, Not Mine

5952294100_c3f69b0058_z“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” Proverbs 19:21

Since the moment we left Nashville, responding to the massive flooding with a three week disaster relief trip, we knew that everything we did from then on would be about making missionary work our life.

 
We set out a plan, decided to work for awhile to save the money, made a move to Mississippi to be closer to our home church, make new plans, set dates, set new dates, and prayed the day would come.

 
That was three years ago.

In those three years, we were working so hard towards something and yet, we never could achieve it. We’d look at one another and wonder, as the months went by, why it was so hard to pursue what we knew God wanted us to pursue.

 
The answer is simple.

 
WE were trying to make it work. WE were making the plans and WE were trying to do it our way.

 
We.
Not Him.

 
When the news hit about the tornado’s in Texas, something changed. I felt like the time was up and it was time to give Him back FULL control. It was time to let go of ‘the plans’ and follow the road He laid out in front of us. The road where I won’t have all the answers, and I won’t have all the money stored up. The road that was none of us and all of Him.
For me, that is so hard. In fact, even though I was sitting there watching the news coverage, feeling so over-overwhelmingly called, the doubts were sprouting up. What about our bills? our debt? Kurt’s job? Our family? Could we really just leave? Kurt’s sister is having a baby soon, shouldn’t we be here for that? Oh, and my brother graduates high school. Can I miss that? What about this? or that?

 
I was terrified to make the leap and I was justifying everything so I wouldn’t have to.
I messaged a friend, and explained my fears. She answered in one sentence:

 
You ALWAYS answer the call.

 
So, it was time to forget our plans. Time to stop trying to have a backup plan and know that God will provide and carry us.

 
It’s His way now, not ours, and I feel like we are going to do great things for His kingdom.
With that said, our first stop is Granbury, Texas and we leave as soon as we can raise the money to get there! I can’t believe God chose me for this adventure, and I pray that in all things, I remember to give Him control and see more of Him and less of me.

 
You can follow our journey here: Morton Missions
And if you feel lead to support our mission, big or small, please make a donation here

Thank you all, amazing readers, for your love and support from the beginning. You are apart of this journey with us and we can’t thank you enough.

 
With love and Blessings,
Jenny

Photo Credit: Moyan_Brenn, Flickr Creative Commons

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When Mother’s Day is Hard

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Two weeks before, the commercials start. Rosy cheeked children with hand made cards and trinkets, given to a smiling mother, their eyes glistening with surprise.. Ads in the paper, flowers at the store, signs in the windows, posts on Facebook, Mother’s Day mayhem becomes omnipresent.

 
Chances are if you have a mother, living and loving, you don’t notice them. If you do, you might enjoy the reminders, the ideas of gifts assisting you in picking out the perfect reminder of the love you feel for someone that has likely given you the world.

 
But, there is a club of people, and I don’t wish membership on anyone, where Mother’s Day isn’t about chocolates and flowers, but about pain and remembrance.

 
I am in that club. My mother is still present on this earth, but not in my life, so this yearly tribute to the woman that didn’t want me stings as I grasp at the emptiness that stands right where she should be.  I stay away from Facebook and television and try to make the day feel normal.

 
My husband, and his siblings are also in the club as well, but for different reasons. He lost his beautiful mother four years ago, and her presence is missed daily, but compactly on Mother’s Day.

 
So many years, we hid from the day, gritting our teeth and waiting for it to pass.
This year, was different.

 
We have been working for years to bring his grandmother home to take care of her. She is in her last moments, and we want to cherish all the time we have left and give her a life outside of the confines of her current nursing home.

 
This weekend, we began that process and brought her home for the weekend, learning the in’s and out’s of her required care and sitting curled up next to her listening to her stories and hearing her laugh. I read her the hard crossword puzzle questions that I couldn’t get and listened as she spelled out the answers. I heard stories of her youth, laughed at jokes she told, and held her hand to comfort her when the pain of Parkinson’s took over her body.

 
Then, she gave me the best Mother’s Day gift I could of ever received.

 
I had just helped her back to her chair and tucked in a blanket around her before sitting down and taking her hand. She leaned in, a challenge for her at times of pain, and kissed me on the head, whispering these precious words in my ear,
  ” I love you, Honey. I wish you were my child”
Words, that I never heard from my own mother. Words that healed a part of that hurt, if even just for a moment.
And it came to me that Mother’s Day isn’t about just celebrating YOUR mother, but all the Mother’s that have given you love, and you have shaped you.

 
This mother, gave me healing.  My aunt Dina, took me in when I was a teenager and still treats me like her own child. She is a mother that I should celebrate today. The women who have given me advice, who see me through tough times, who help remind me of who I am, they are who Mother’s Day is for.

 
Much like Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, Mother’s Day is a celebration of the love that woman have for one another, and the care and compassion we are shown everyday by those around us.

 
There are so many Mother’s that unlike my own, have given me gifts of healing, love and warmth. This Mother’s Day, and those in the future, I will focus not on my loss, but of the richness in that.

 

With Love and Blessings,

Jenny

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, By Jengledow

 

To be Heard

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My husbands family is your typical big family, and we all get together at least once a week for events big and small, or just to enjoy each other’s company. We share meals, cheer each other on, attend dance competitions and basketball games, birthdays and holidays.Or, if it’s been a few days, we just get together to be together.  I always wanted a family that was together in everything, and that prayer was abundantly answered.

What’s was really different for me though, was the dynamics of their conversations. With  8 children in the family, conversations almost always turn into everyone shouting for their voices to be heard. What start off as a normal talking around the table, slowly turns into  very loud exchanges and lots of interruptions  as everyone fights for time. Add to this, that along the way, one conversation branches into 15 other ones and sometimes you forget and never get back to the beginning, and it can get very confusing.

When we were first dating, I would just sit back and try and keep up with the ping pong of voices and topics switching as often as speakers. I am from a big Italian family, and they were loud and had big personalities, but my role was the quiet listener. It’s what I’ve always been, so it was natural to resume the same demeanor.

But as time went on, I become apart of this family and I wanted them to know me for more than the quiet girl that listened. I wanted them to see me. To do that, I had to get good at speaking up, and talking above the rest of the chaos of voices.

Not the easiest for me. At first, I’d start a conversations, get interrupted and sling back in my seat, as the topics switched and shifted. I was timid to speak up, I didn’t want to be rude, and I didn’t know how to be heard.

As time went on though, I learned that to be heard, I had to fight for it. I’d talk louder and interrupt others to bring them back to my topic. I’d cut people off, break off topic, come back to the question someone asked 30 minutes ago, make jokes, and learned how to become apart of a beautiful family dynamic that I didn’t fully understand until I was apart of it.

From the outside, it may look like chaos; but, inside, it’s absolutely beautiful.

I think our relationships with God are just like this. At first, we are so unsure, assuming we need to reserve ourselves, be quiet and filtered to fit in. But, as we learn who our God is, by listening and observing, we slowly begin to feel at ease, breathing him in and learning how to speak and pray to Him. Then, the relationship is natural, not forced, but beautiful. We become part of it instead of a bystander. We let it blossom and turn, asking questions and waiting, not for the instant answer, but the one we get back to later on, when the time is right.

No matter what stage you’re in, God is there, listening and loving, waiting for you to step out of your comfort zone. He wants us at the table with him, laughing till tears spring in our eyes, speaking with ease and joy, and sharing all our moments big and small with Him.

With Love,

Jenny

Writers Writer, Right?

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Since as early as I can remember, I lost myself in words both read and written. There were always stories floating around in my head, scenes and characters living their lives quietly as I daydreamed my way through mine. Sometimes, I get them down on paper, but mostly, I enjoyed them just where they were, a part of me.

I wrote some stories here and there growing up, but mostly just for school project. The worlds and characters were just for me, and I selfishly held the captive until they faded and were replaced with new ideas.

When I hit high school though, things started to change. I felt the need to write. I had years of ideas in my head and I finally felt I was ready to let them fly. I wrote all the time. I wrote in dingy old composition notebooks, leaned against a tree at lunchtime. I wrote poems in science class, hiding the words deep in my notes, swirling them around so no one would see. I got onto the school newspaper and I wrote articles, letting people finally see the world I was creating. I wrote like a writer would write.

Then, it all changed. I went through a pretty rough upbringing, which really toke it’s toll on me my senior year and continued to permeate long into my adulthood. I started writing less and less, until finally I wasn’t writing at all. The stories and the characters were still there, begging to be told, willing my hands to write them, but I didn’t; or I couldn’t.

Suddenly, words from my mother, became all I could hear. That I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t talented, that I would never make it. Her doubts became my fears. I wasn’t strong enough to tell her that I didn’t need her approval. My faith in myself was already ridden with fault lines and bruises, so her constant badgering was all it took to take my world down.

Years passed and I didn’t write a word beyond emails and status updates. I longed to write. To me, it felt like breathing and without it I was surly suffocating. My fears overrode my desires, and I become so worried that someone might read what I wrote and disapprove. I knew writing was my passion, and deep down I believed it was my only talent, therefore, if someone came along once more and told me it was garbage, I knew I would shatter and break.

As I began to battle depression, writing became even more sacred to me. It became the one thing I could hold onto when I was losing so many pieces of myself.  When everything was in chaos and my thoughts felt foreign, I knew my writing and stories were still there, and were still mine. I was a writer, no one could take that from me.

Things changed for me like seasons, gradually and then all at once. I started falling in love with reading again, carrying totes bags of books out of the library like they were treasures. Then, my own words and stories started filling my head again, just like before, only this time I knew I didn’t want to lose them.  I would jot notes down quickly on post-it’s or index cards, preserving the ideas for later.

Then one night, I started praying on an idea I had. I was being hit hard with stories of my past, and I felt like the only way through it was to tell these stories, even if just for myself. I thought about people that might be going through the same and wanted to see if my stories could help other people too. I wanted to assemble other writers as well, to tell their stories, and to show people that brokenness is about of life’s story and it’s not a flaw. That’s when Small, Still Voices was born. I gathered four other woman and we began telling our stories. Sometimes it was hard to hit post, where old fears would creep into my thoughts and I worried about being ridiculed or criticized. Instead, I get amazing feedback from people who were listening and being changed by my words.

Now, I am a writer again. I let my words hit the pages as often as I can. I strive for the same goal I had when I was little and innocent and truly believed I could be anything I wanted in this world.

I’ve learned that our gifts and talents are always ours, and that no one or darkness in our paths have the right to steal them from us. Writing helps me heal, writing helps me conquer my fears, and writing is who I am.

We all have hopes and dreams that seem out of our reach. Whenever I let my insecurities get the best of me, or someone scoffs when I say I want to be a writer, or I get negative feedback, I don’t let it derail me anymore. Instead, I close my eyes and remember what it was like to be a child, when the idea’s were endless, when dreams weren’t just dreams, but hopes for the future. When wanting to be president, or an astronaut, or even a writer, were things within our tiny little grasps. Because, that was the one time in our lives we truly trusted our guts. When we believed in ourselves whole-heartidly and never, ever let the world crush our dreams. I want to be that girl, always.

I am going to be a writer.

What was your childhood dream?

Jenny

Photo Credit by: Flickr Creative Commons Erichhh

Time to Heal

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When I started this project 9 months ago, I promised to be truthful and real, no matter how it may look. I didn’t want to sugar coat my life or make it something it wasn’t because this project was to be about realness, about being broken and finding Jesus in those moments when your low seems like it can’t get lower. It’s also about the good moments, the love and joy and the healing and happiness. It’s about life, the good and the bad and the tough and the easy. I never want it to deviate away from those principals.

With that said, I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. Sometimes, it hides in the inner corners of myself, and I push through with smiles and laughter and it doesn’t seep into my daily life. Then, there are those times where seemingly out of nowhere it grasps me and drags me down, confining me to the comfort of my billowy blankets, unable to face the world. When the latter time start to outweigh the better times, I know it is starting to be a problem.

That time is now.

In deciding to open up about my depression on here, I am doing something that many people don’t like to do, myself whole-hearty included.

I am admitting that there is a weakness in me, a flaw, that I am no quite sure how to handle.

I am admitting, to the friends, family and readers that I don’t have it all together. That, is a very hard thing to do. But, then again, it isn’t much harder than navigating the world of depression itself.

There are people out there that believe depression isn’t real, that it is or isn’t cured by medicine, that it’s lazy, that it’s a matter of “get over it”, that it is selfish, that it is an excuse .. that it’s this or that.

I am here to tell you my personal story, and only that. I know depression robs me of moments with my family and loved ones. It steals my joy. It takes the things that I hold dear and makes them undesirable. It takes the core of who I am and leaves me lost and lonely, even amongst people who desperately want to pull me out of it. I know depression is real, that I fight it daily, and that there is no one in this world that wants rid the sadness inside of me more than I do.

My husband and I made the move from Mississippi to Maryland to live closer to family and pursue our dream of being full-time missionaries. That is still our dream. Right now, my sweet husband is allowing me time to heal myself, before we move onto the next phrase of trying to help and heal others.

This season, as I am calling it, in my life is going to be about me. Of finally taking my health in my own hands, and doing what I need to do to heal. My 20’s have been plagued with these bumps and bruises of pains and hurts that I have gathered along the road of life. I’ve tried to heal them with time alone, hide them away and bury them, but they always come back, bigger and stronger.

Now, I have to face them.

I’m telling you this now, because that’s my job as Editor and Writer of this project. I am telling you this now because there are dark spots in our lives sometimes, and we don’t have to hide them, not from God, not from our loved ones, and not from anyone. I am telling you this so that you know, whatever you are dealing with, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel pain, to crumble sometimes, to not stand strong.

It’s okay to take time to heal.

I thank you all for your kindness, your thoughts and mostly, your prayers during this time,

Jenny

Photo Credit by Flickr Creative Commons Vinni123

I’m not a Good Friend

6830757913_79dbf5e01dSometimes, I can’t believe that it’s been a month since I left the Gulf Coast. It was our home for a total of 4 years and it holds so many memories, so many things I wish I could of packed into boxes and brought with us when we moved. We were married there under a family of strong oak trees, in the shade of their blanket of leaves. We had a church that challenged us to have a deeper relationship with the Lord and a Pastor who walked us through each moment with a sweet, genuine spirit.

And then, there were our friends.

Close friends, best friends, church friends, work friends, good friends.

Friends who were there for our big  moments and our low moments and everything in between. Friends who we miss everyday, desperately…

but you won’t be able to tell all of that by looking at my phone records or text messages.

Truth be told, I’m a bad friend.

I will at this point try and offer you up a few excuses, good ones at that.

First and foremost, I am a reclusive introvert that likes to read and write. I spend most of my time in my head, daydreaming or thinking. I am a person that likes my own personal space. Even in marriage, my husband knows when I get a bit cranky, that I just need a few hours alone, in the quiet of my own being, to gather myself and come back to the real world. I have been that way since I was a child. Born into a large, rambunctious Italian family.  Any Italians out there know the noise level around those gatherings around the table that go on for hours. In those times, I’d find my Nano’s (grandpa) room off the front of the house, relish in the quiet and read a book, occasionally looking over at the scenes of laughter and shouting coming from the dining room.

Second, I get busy. Isn’t that the excuse above all else? Life gets in the way. A day turns to a week, turns into a month. I’ll call tomorrow turns into feelings of guilt when the day turns and I’ve forgotten, then too ashamed to call late, I give up.

Also, I’m a home body. I LIKE the comfort of my home and the security and peace it brings me. Nothing is better than sitting on the couch, curled up in a blanket with my husband and dog, watching TV or playing a game. I have never been into the bar scene or clubs, even in my college years. For me, I’d just rather stay in.

I can go on and on with the excuses that I spill out when I find myself in situations where I haven’t been the greatest friend, but there is only one reason, one truth that while hard to speak, is the real root of why I find myself always at a distance.

I’m afraid of rejection.

I want to give myself distance from you, my closest friends and my dearest loved ones, because I think there is always a chance that you will leave me. I want to guard my heart from you in case you see me and suddenly realize you’ve made a mistake in choosing me.

A bruise from my childhood not quick to heal, I am always waiting for people to leave. So, in a way, I leave first. I wait for you to call, to prove how much you want me in your life. It’s an unfair balance of affairs, and it’s the reason I have lost so many great people that I once called friends.

The thing is, this isn’t a way to live.

Fear has never added one happy memory or blissfully moment to my life. It’s never had me in stitches laughing, it never was there to comfort  me during hard times and it never added a single minute to my life.

Fear, is a destroyer in all aspects of my life, and the more time you give it, the more control you give it.

I want to apologize to so many people, people that I love and adore, that I am and was lucky to call a friend. Thank you for being in my life, for loving me despite my baggage and for simply being my friend. I know I don’t make it easy.

This year so far has been about owning my damages from my past instead of letting them define me. Every day I am taking time to heal, to learn about who I am and what I am about despite by past, and I am so thankful for every moment that I get to move forward.

Thank you all for listening, week after week, and joining me on this journey.

With Love,

Jenny

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons by _Libby_