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

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Living out Loud

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Dinner plans. Presents. What you had for lunch. Ultrasound pics. Dogs and cats. Kids and siblings. Special dates. Drama. Opinions. Thoughts. Feelings. Feel good moments. Steak dinner. Errand list. Complaints. Travel plans. What you’re reading. What you’re wearing. What you’re doing.

All of it, lived out on social media.

Before I go on, I want to give y’all full disclosure and say that I am guilty, guilty, guilty. I even have some examples that I will entertain you with later.

Everyday, we all log on and putting our best foot forward, spill tidbits of our lives, share pictures that represent the best of us, and create this painting for our friends and enemies alike of what our lives should look like from the outside.

Here’s an example. If you got through my page, you’ll see posts like this:

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I LOVED that day. We had just got our first Sam’s club card and we were like little kids on Christmas morning, holding hands and pattering down each and every aisle, laughing at the oversized portions and acting like goofs. It was a beautiful moment and a wonderful day, and as soon as I came home (or maybe in route to home to be honest) I decided to share it with my 637 Facebook friends. Why?

Maybe because it was a moment worth sharing, but I think more so because it was a pretty picture of my life at that moment. If you crept up to my window and peeked in, that is what I would want you to see. And really, that’s what Facebook allows us to do. It gives us warning that you are coming over, so we can tidy up our house and put out the fine china.  It gives us control over what others see and let’s us paint a picture that we want, that may or may not mirror reality.

My husband and I DO have a fantastic marriage, but it’s not all hand holds in the grocery store and love cuddles on the sofa. What marriage is? But you won’t see much of the posts where I say “Went shopping with my husband and argued over which bread to get for an hour. Why can’t he just embrace wheat bread? Why should I have to get white bread?” That’s not what I want you to see, because it’s not what I want to see myself.

I worry about living our lives out loud. That we get so caught up in posting pictures and status’s that we are forgetting to LIVE the moment, cherish it in our hearts for ourselves, not everyone else.

I worry about the reassurance and constant approval we are learning to rely on. How many likes? How many comments? Look at the ring he got me for my birthday, does it meet your approval? Are you jealous? Is my life desirable?

My life’s aim is to make my life approved by one man, and that is God. He doesn’t buy into the rose-colored pictures and status, but see’s the core of who I am. He seems the ugly in my life and loves me just the same. I don’t need to put my best forward for Him, but instead, His love strives me to be better.

I ask you to take a challenge with me. It’s scary and seems a bit crazy, but I think we can do it.

I am taking the next 30 days to live my life for me, to cherish my moments and keep them banked in my own heart.  I am going to be free and messy and me without status updates and pictures. With full disclosure, I will still use Facebook to talk to friends and to post blog things, but nothing personal. Are you in?

Let me know if you will take my challenge too!

With Love and Prayers,

Jenny

Why I won’t go Home

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I was born and raised in the great city of Pittsburgh, a city I love, a city I stand for. It doesn’t take long into first meeting me that I start to gush about my hometown. I love the sports, the black and gold nation of Steelers, Penguins and Pirates and their fans. I love the bridges that are snapped in like Legos over the still rivers that line a beautiful skyline.  I love the people, a small town demeanor in a big city lifestyle.

Pittsburgh is my home, and I miss it everyday. It’s been almost 6 years since I have lived in it’s billowing comforts, but I know I won’t ever live there again.

I know that I won’t ever go home.

Since my move away from Pittsburgh, I have lived in many places and have been willing to move whenever I felt like I needed or wanted a change or whenever I felt God calling me somewhere. But, I have never once thought of living back in Pittsburgh.

If you have been a reader from awhile, you know that my upbringing didn’t foster a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings in my life. I grew up in a family that defines dysfunction and there are wounds from it that are still barely scabbed over. Unfortunately, those pains hang over my beloved city like an inescapable chill. A visit there doesn’t bring me the same comforts that it used to, but instead attempts to claw at my healing and rips away old wounds while creating a halt to my moving forward.

This is a very hard balancing act, because I have two younger brothers that I love more than life itself in that city. I have an aunt that became like a mother to me, took me in when my mom threw me out like the garbage and she raised me like her own. I have a step-dad that is an important male figure in my life and who has never once treated me like anything but his daughter. There are friends, best friends, that helped me through the hell of those rough years and the pain afterwards.

In other words, in the darkness of that pain, there is so much light.

In a way, Pittsburgh is just a metaphor for the life we live everday. There is pain and darkness, hurt and sadness. There are open wounds that we try and cover over each day, hoping that in time they will heal and the sting of life won’t hurt quite as much.

But, in those moments there is light. There is a God to lean on, to provide us strength and healing like nothing else can. There are friends and family that guard our hearts and build us back to being stronger than we ever were before.

I won’t ever live in Pittsburgh again, but the longer I let my hometown stay besieged by the pain, the more power I give that pain, and the people that caused it. The more I shield myself from the darkness, the more I miss the light.

Part of this move to Maryland was to be closer to the people I love in the city I call home, and yet here I am dragging my feet afraid to open the door.

I will visit and see the people I love. And I will look at the foundation that sits in between the rivers, and think about sitting in it’s midst on hot summer days studying for finals. I will remember the good I achieved there, the non-profit I started, Hearts and Crafts, that partners the Art Institute with children at Children’s hospital. The Habitat work that lead me to New Orleans and ultimately Mississippi. The people that shaped my life, the road that lead me to who I am now.

I won’t see the clouds, but the light shining through.

Is there something you can’t face for fear of pain?  Please let me know how I can pray for you.

Jenny

I Love You

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Our God,

You are so precious and lovely.  Power and might are yours, and yours alone.  To you belongs all glory and honor and praise!  Loving Father, thank You so much for the sweet soul that is reading these words.  Almighty Creator, thank You for creating them, knowing them to their innermost parts, knowing the exact number of the hairs on their head, planning for them every second that they are on this earth.  Gracious King, thank You for loving them so hard, so fully, that You did the most perfect, painful, pure, righteous thing to be in relationship with them!  Precious Savior,
THANK YOU for becoming fully man as You were fully God, living and dieing and raising again that we may know You!! Our words will never be enough to thank You.  Our words will never be enough.  God, this sweet soul that is reading these words, You know her.  You know him.  You know their heart, their mind, their spirit.  You know what time they woke up this morning, You know what struggles they are facing.   You know their past, their present, and their future.  You know how they can and will impact this world.  Oh Lord, I pray that they know You.
I pray that their name is in Your book, right now.  I pray that You would give them renewed peace, mercy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, joy, faithfulness today to follow You, trust You, and love You recklessly.  And God, pursue them.  Romance them. Touch and affect their lives today with your awesome power in a way they need and a way they can’t ignore!

Sweet soul, I love you.  I pray for you every day.  I want you to know that. I want you to know that every one of us prays for you.

And we are thankful for you.

And we can’t wait to know you!

Love,

Mary

Seeing Light in the Dark

This past week was full of surprises, blessings and humbling experiences, no doubt sent from God to inspire and awaken my sleeping soul.

Over the weekend, my partner and I, who are working on developing a non-profit, were invited to be interviewed on gun control and have a photo shoot in the park. Incredible. To top our week off, we were asked to join in on a meeting dedicated to stopping the violence that has been occurring all too frequently on the Northside area of Pittsburgh.  I realized that our goal of working with the youth, inspiring them to create change and creating a platform for them to speak out on racial issues was not so distant in my future. After almost a year of putting this project into motion things are finally falling into place and the name of the organization is finally getting the attention it deserves.

With all that being said, because I’m still trying to catch my breath, my plans for New York are being put on hold. (I know, I know…) But don’t worry, my disappointment is not what you think. In fact, the more ideas, opportunities and experiences that keep coming our way have been leading me to this.

We are told we must contend with 3 things: The World, The Flesh and The Devil.

We see and feel disappointments from others, we become disappointed with ourselves and Satan certainly celebrates in our disappointment because after all, the world is his playground, he created disappointment.

Sometimes disappointment leads us to the truth, no matter how big the let down. The problem is, we do not always choose to see the light while we’re in the dark.  I realized that I wanted to move to New York for all the wrong reasons right now. Let down after let down and false promises led me to this: God has a plan for me and I realized that with everything happening here, the light had been shining so bright but because disappointment had left me in the shadows, I had chosen not to see it because that feeling had distracted me from my faith in His plan.

So as it stands, I am embracing Pittsburgh for the moment and the Northside community where we will be diligently working on our efforts to stop the violence. Pittsburgh has already had 71 deaths in Allegheny County and the year is not over. Most of these murders are committed by youth and against youth. So here I’ll stay where the light shines brightest because with that, I believe I can accomplish anything.

Have you ever wanted something for the wrong reasons only to realize you were staring at what He wanted all along?

 

Love,

Jessica

Christian Mothers, Love One Another

This blog has been a long time coming.

It’s going to be a call out to our judgmental, prideful, and worldly hearts. It’s a hot topic these days. I may offend some people, but honestly I think we could use that. It’s about us, moms. About how we stare down our noses at other moms and the way they parent. There is nothing that gets my blood boiling faster these days other than seeing a mother criticize or argue with another mother over breastfeeding versus formula, organic versus processed, epidural or home birth, etc.

I honestly feel like Satan has taken a beautiful, Spirit-lead role and demeaned it down to nit picking each other to make ourselves feel better. Image

Let me back up {and take a deep breath}. I have been the blessed mother of Jude Garrison Taylor for almost 2 years. He is a gift. He is passionate {stubborn}, adventurous {dangerous}, funny {wild}, loving {momma’s boy} and a picky eater {ugh}. I literally think he is the best kid in the world, and I love being his mother. I’m still learning how this looks every day, and most of the time I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing! I pray a lot more and ask for a lot of wisdom. I am also pregnant with our second baby boy, Graham, and we are beyond grateful for this gift too.

However, I have never felt more judged or more “watched” since becoming a mother. I have never been in a stage where other women were so quick to give their two cents on what I should or shouldn’t’ do, how I should calm down or try their tactic {which is unsolicited}, or felt more boundaries being pushed past in really inappropriate ways. The guilt or feeling of failure as a mother immediately had come right after their words, and I realized that it was not from God. But still, it hurts. It hurts to feel that because I had an emergency c-section some women think I am weak or failed at giving birth. It hurts that some women look down at me because my son weaned himself from breastfeeding at 6 months old, and I had to use formula. It hurts that some see Jude carrying around a bag of Cheezits, and shake their heads in disgust. I just don’t get it. Why are we this way to each other?

Why, when mothering is so hard already, takes so much prayer and strength, would we beat each other down like this?

Why can’t we just love each other and be there for each other when we are going crazy?Why do we feel like failures because we aren’t doing the million Pinterest ideas for homemade organic snacks or creative fun activities, and really we just got through the day without any meltdowns? I call that a success! How is arguing over birth or your right to show everyone your breasts in public while you nurse really the best thing to do with our time? It breaks my heart.

Christian mothers, we need to get back to a few basics. One being that the point of mothering is to lead our sweet and rebellious children to the only thing that will truly give them a full, rich, life: Jesus. Not organic produce or breast milk. JESUS. The other being that these children are not our own, they are God’s. He knows their deepest needs, He loves them more than we do, and He wants better things for them than you can come up with. There is no need to argue or fight with anyone for them. He will fight for them. He will satisfy them. There is no need to judge any mother for how she is mothering because He is leading her in the way she should go. Trust God with her mothering, and trust her to trust Him with what she should do. Let the Spirit lead each person to what Jesus is calling them to do, whether that is having their baby in a bathtub or having them in a hospital. Let’s encourage and lift up all of our beautiful and brave mother friends, and support them in whatever God is asking of them.

I’ve got to say this in full disclosure: I do buy organic products often. I think breastfeeding is great. I also used formula. I also let Jude eat hot dogs and ice cream. I really hope to have a vaginal birth this second time. I do think about what I put in my family’s bellies but I also love to get them fries & nugs! BUT none of these things is the MAIN THING. These are fleeting, worldly things.

The main thing is that I discipline my children towards righteousness. That I lead them towards repentance. That I rejoice over their choices to be kind and giving. That I model how to be a servant. That I love them with the love Christ has loved me with.That I take a breath and realize He is in control of them and every detail of their life.

Can we free each other from feeling guilt and shame as mothers? Can we just love and accept each one as a sweet gift to the body of Christ and trust her to do what God asks of her? Can we just lay down our own insecurities as mothers and let each woman feel the freedom God has given her to parent? I would so love this. I know I’ve been guilty of judgment and these words and prayers are for my heart first, and for yours next.

Children are a gift from above, along with every other good thing we have. I hope we steward them well for God’s glory and for their joy. That they would know Him, love Him, and honor Him should be the only fighting we ever fight for, sweet Mommas.

Chavon

Going for God

I am seriously in love with the Olympics.

There is something so amazing and inspiring about athletes from all over the world, coming together in one place to showcase their talents and passions. The dedication they Imageput in, the hours of blood, sweat, and tears, the pain, the glory; it all seems so unfathomable.

And while the flags are being raised, the anthem is being sung, and the glimmer of all that dedication comes steaming down their faces, I can’t help but get choked up and reflect at my own life and where I put my time and dedication.

Where are my dreams in the priority of my day to day life?

Where does my passion lie?

And what might my life look like if I pursued and sought God like an Olympian?

I have dreams…..

To be a missionary. To pack up an RV and hit the road going from city to city doing disaster relief. I want to be a writer. I want to use my words to bring people closer to God. I want to be a mom, and to raise a family.  I want to run a race. To make my body lean and strong and run through the wind towards the finish line.

But above all, my biggest dream should be: to pursue God with every ounce of strength and energy I have.

And if that was the focus in my life, if that is what drove me and motivated me, wouldn’t the rest fall into place?

Sometimes, I get caught up in the day to day so much, that I feel like I am sleep walking through life. I lose the passion and the fire that makes this life beautiful. I put off my dreams for another day, I dip my toe in the pole of depression, and I let days fly by me like seconds. I am daydreaming and hoping for brighter days, but lay paralyzed in the stagnant pool of despair and normality.

God did not design me to live a dreamless life.

And more than that, he didn’t design me to dream and not achieve. He wants to fill my life with Blessings, He wants to see me succeed and live  fulfilled. But, He won’t do it for me.

If I want to be a writer, I must pray, seek Him, and write.

If I want to be a runner: I must pray, seek and run.

And in all hopes in dreams I must follow that model:

1. Pray: Share with God my hopes. my fears. Talk to Him like a daughter would to her dad about the things that matter to me. Brainstorm. Dream. Share my life with Him.

2. Seek God: Seek Him in every step. Ask Him where to go:then go. . Let Him walk with me, step by step in each milestone. When I hit a roadblock in my plan,I must seek his guidance and ask for His strength.

3. DO IT: With God walking (or running) right there next to me I can achieve my dreams. He has now paved the road, and all I have to do is run on it. And with each step I will know and feel that God is with me.
Suddenly, that dream isn’t so scary. The goals aren’t so high. When we use God in our lives, everything starts to look a little less intimating.

I will probably never be an Olympian, but that was never really my dream. Instead, I will pursue my OWN passions and dreams with God with the same hard work that an Olympian does.

And when this life is over, I will die a champion, and my God will greet me with a hug and a high five and be proud of what I have done here on earth.  I will make my dad PROUD. Who doesn’t want to see that?

Dream Big.

Pray.

Seek God.

Do it.

Achieve.

Repeat.

I love you all and can’t wait to share our dreams and achievements with each other.

Jenny