Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Boot of the Problem

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The Boot of the Problem

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If I haven’t made it clear by now, I love boots. All kinds of ‘em. Tall. Short. Slouchy. Laced. Zipped. And especially, Cowgirl.

I also love animals. Cats, dogs, donkeys, cows, horses, chickens, guineas, geese…they all have a home on our family farm.

So it’s probably no surprise my 7-year-old daughter also has a love for animals and boots. But have you any idea what would happen if our two loves collided?

This…

Jessie' Phon pics 10-25-14 684

Meet Zoey. See her in the background, looking like the cat that ate the canary?

Upon returning home from church one Wednesday night last Fall, we were met at the door by our two dogs, Tanner, my 12 year old golden retriever, and Zoey, who I also call Newman. (If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you get this.)

Tanner and Zoey are part of the family. Our home is as much theirs as it is ours. Whenever we leave, they play in the yard. However, that night we were in a bit of a rush and they were inadvertently left inside.

We had been gone roughly 3.5 hours, which apparently was just enough time for a boot massacre.  I found the remains on Zoey’s bed.

Of all the things That Dog has destroyed, this time she purposely chose my daughter’s beloved cowgirl boot. Why do I say “purposely chose”? Because all of our boots stay tucked away in the boot bench in the entry way of our home.

Abbie’s boots were neatly put away right beside her brother’s, dad’s and mom’s boots. There were a total of eight boots Zoey could’ve picked from.

Apparently she likes pink.

Zoey ate the entire backside of that boot. She ATE it, y’all. There were no shredded leather pieces, no mess to clean. All that remained of her snack was a backless boot.

My daughter was in tears but I—I.Was.Furious! I yelled, beat That Dog’s rear with what remained of the boot, and threw her outside for the night. I seriously haven’t been that angry in I can’t remember how long. My blood was beyond boiling.

I know it’s just a boot. It’s a material possession that can be replaced. Sure it’s inconvenient but is it really worth getting this worked up over, you may ask?

Beyond the fact that our tight budget would’t allow me to run out and replace these boots, is the ever-so-lovely backstory of how Zoey came to be part of the Prestridge Family. Go back with me…

It was the summer of 2013. Our son had just turned 1 and was finally learning to walk, while I was finally beginning to recover from a year’s worth of sleep deprivation. My husband had taken a job an hour away from home, working roughly 60-70 hours a week, which left me to man the fort alone.

Bluntly, I was tired. (I think I’ve typed those words before…?) Between caring for our kids, running our household, serving at the church and All The Other Things I’m Committed To Do, I needed some slack. So when Stevie-P mentioned late one night that he wanted a puppy, it took me exactly zero seconds to firmly say Uhhh—No.

At first, I thought he was joking. Our furry family of 4 had downsized to 2 over the past year and a half and frankly, that was good for me. We were now a one-cat, one-dog family and I liked it. It was manageable for me considering all the other mouths and hineys I had to care for.

We were also fostering a dog at the time and I was literally working every day to find her a good home. Could I BE any busier?

But the next day when my husband broached the subject again, I realized this was no joke. In fact, this was to be A Very Big Deal.

First, this potential canine addition to our family was part Mastiff. If you don’t know what a Mastiff is, think back to the movie “The Sandlot.” Remember “The Beast”? He was a Mastiff. At full size, these dogs can weigh anywhere from 160 to 230 pounds. And their height? Let’s just say my almost 5 feet could be slightly rivaled.

Second, it would be a big addition to my daily routine. Have you ever had a puppy? Seriously, they are great practice for a baby. Middle of the night potty issues. Whining at all hours. Everything goes into their mouths… If you’re thinking of getting pregnant, get a puppy first.

Third, this was a big deal to me emotionally. Did my husband just not GET ALLLLLLL that I did in a day? Did he honestly think I wanted something else to be responsible for? Hadn’t he seen my plants? To me, this wasn’t about a dog, it was about him understanding and appreciating all the hard work I was doing.

Sure, he claimed he would “help” and “take care of her,” BUT HE WAS GONE FROM SUN UP TO AFTER SUNDOWN EVERY DAY. I would most definitely be The One teaching this dog to do her business outside and cleaning up her failed business attempts inside.

I had three points, people. I had solid reasons for not getting this dog. Why was this even a conversation?

I thought the issue was dead in the water…until my husband walked through the door two nights later with said Puppy in hand.

Remember the anger I described earlier about the boot? This anger trumped that.

Sure, she was adorable. Floppy ears that I’m a sucker for. Puppy breath that I love. Huge polka-dot bow around her neck because polka are just my favorite kind of dots. (He obviously knew what he was doing.)

But I was speechless. No, really. I seriously didn’t speak a single word for over an hour I think, and that is a feat for me. I could not believe my dear lamb of a husband would make such a big decision without my agreeing, or even worse, in spite of my disagreeing.

I wish I could tell y’all I was over it by the next morning, but I SO wasn’t. We had multiple, lengthy, heated *conversations* about this until I was sure he understood how I felt. And then we’d go at it again.

Yeah, I know, this was about a dog, but my hurt was coming from a much deeper place. For the first time in our marriage I felt betrayed and manipulated; misunderstood and underappreciated.

This wasn’t about what he did; it was about what it did to me.

Realizing this, he sincerely apologized—multiple times—and I forgave him, multiple times. I knew he hadn’t meant to hurt me so deeply. He did his best to make things right, even offering to give the dog back. Of course, I said no. The dog was an innocent bystander in this whole debacle and besides that, our daughter loved her. Life went on.

Though my Head knew this was a minor infraction on the grand scale of betrayal, my Heart was infuriated every time I looked at That Stinkin’ Dog. She was a constant reminder of my husband’s fault; Forgive and Forget was not an option. Every mess she made or issue she created didn’t make me mad at her, it made me mad at Steve all over again.

“Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, The Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” ~ Colossians 3:13

As my husband’s choice stared me in the face, I struggled to understand my feelings and control my temper. I honestly thought unforgiveness was the root of my problem. I studied forgiveness, read God’s words on the subject and consciously chose forgiveness every time I felt anger rising up.

Yet, I remained hostile and distant with my emotions. I had become The “B” Word–Bitter.

bit•ter•ness—(noun) anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.

Yep. That was me.

I’ve never been one to use that word much and really had never given it much thought, but this little conundrum allowed me to sample a taste.

How do I describe it? Bitterness occurs when someone else’s bad decision messes with my good life. When, through no fault of my own, some injustice is thrust upon me and, in my innocence, I am forced to bear it.

020I began withholding my affection and attention, NOT doing usual, helpful things for him. It started small, like not making his lunch for work or scratching his back when he asked. But before long, I was scoffing at his leadership and questioning his intelligence decision-making; disregarding his needs and flat-out ignoring his wants.

With all he had added to my plate, I felt totally justified.  Make life harder for me, will you? Well, it’s gonna affect you, too, Jack…

Our friendship began to unravel. We bickered and argued Every Single Day about whatever stupid topic d’jour.

I cried and it got me nowhere. I yelled and it got me a shouting match. I sulked to no avail. We were disconnected from each and we were both miserable.

For the first time in our 14+ years of marriage, I would go to bed angry or aloof, something we promised we’d never do. It just didn’t matter to me that he was upset, and vice versa.

Girls, with all the words I have I still cannot tell you how much this incident hurt our relationship.  (Click here to read even more gory details.)

It’s so easy to get sideways with your man when you feel he’s making a bad decision or when it seems he’s just not hearing you; to justify your anger and lack of respect.

He’s not loving me “as Christ loves the church,” so why should I do anything for him?

Because we are called to.

“…Live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

Return to Exhibit A: The Boot. Clearly, I haven’t gotten this verse down yet.

I’m still learning to intentionally count my blessings and not my headaches. Like Zoey choosing the pink boot, I must purposely choose to “live and act in a way worthy”; to be humble and gentle and patient because of my love.  It doesn’t come natural.

“Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison.” ~Ephesians 4:31 (VOICE)

I know the taste of this “poison”. One look at that half-eaten boot and all those emotions came flooding back; the urge to shout at my husband about HIS dog and blame him for this misfortune was on the tip of my tongue.

Lord, help me.

Once again I’ve shared way more information about my private sins than I’d care to, but I know I’m not alone.  After living this out and hearing the stories of other women, it seems lack of forgiveness is not the “boot” of our problem.

As believers, we understand we have been forgiven much so we, too, must forgive. We make huge strides to forgive, but inevitably the harsh taste lingers in our souls.

“I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” ~ Job 10:1 (NIV)

Though we can belt out the song, we sincerely struggle to “Let It Go.” It’s so much easier to choose The Victim role and become dissatisfied with life, living out our days resenting what That Man or That Dog has done to us.

Rather than see the situation as an opportunity for even greater love, we view it as a chance to prove a point, to say I Told You So and live a melancholy life.

How about you? Is there some injustice you need to let go of?

For me, it was about a dog. Maybe it’s more for you, like when your husband isn’t wise with money, uses his time for things you think foolish or chooses to do the opposite of what you suggest. Those are very real, daily incidents every couple must learn to overcome.

Maybe, like me, you’re eyeball to eyeball with the consequence of someone else’s bad decision and Forgive and Forget is not an option.

Maybe the hurt you’ve endured makes my whole situation laughable. I know a deeper pain exists.

“A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.” ~ Proverbs 17:25

Bitterness seems to be a natural response for us girls, especially when hurt by a loved oneBut as F.B. Meyer said, “As we pour out our bitterness God pours in His peace.”

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“Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives our transgressions? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us, You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” ~Micah 7:18-19

The only One who truly has this Forgiveness-Without-Bitterness thing down is God.  It is only by His power at work in us that we’re able to choose a better way.

We can stomp around in our boots of bitterness, or we can replace them with a more graceful footing: Magnanimity.

mag•nan•i•mous—(adjective) generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty, resentfulness or vindictiveness.

I’ll take Magnanimity, size 6, please.

Jessie

P.S.  Since dealing with my bitterness, God truly has poured out His peace in our relationship.  It is by no means perfect, but God has slowly restored us to an even closer bond.  If you’re struggling with a relationship, hang in there.  Fight for it.  If you ask Him, the Holy Spirit will join you and strengthen you.  Take it to Him in prayer.  He won’t disappoint.

Life in My Bubble

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It’s 2:53am. I’ve been awake now for a little over an hour. Racing thoughts, my husband’s cough and a leaky Pull-Up have hi-jacked my sleep. Might as well be productive.

I’ve been thinking lots of thoughts this week and I really don’t like them. I prefer to live in a rose-colored bubble.

I’ve randomly chosen the book of Luke as my morning read the past couple of weeks. Something about Jesus’ voice in this book has caught my attention and this week, His words have burst my happy little bubble.

Well, Jesus’ words and all that’s going on in the world right now.

After seeing My Girl and Stevie-P off the other morning, I decided to turn on the news. (I’m currently reading The Third Target by Joel C. Rosenberg and somehow his novels always spark my interest in current world events.)

I rarely turn the channel from Disney Jr. or Nick Jr. because every time I do I just wanna curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth until Jesus returns.

Nonetheless, I changed the channel.

Seriously people, how do we all sleep at night?

After yet another satanic display at the Grammy’s, preceded by the comments President Obama made at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, coupled with the live burning of a Jordanian pilot and the cowardly and critical comments STILL being made about American Sniper and hero Chris Kyle, my heart is just raw. I can no longer ignore the unsettled feeling in my soul that everything is coming to a head.

I watched and read all I could stand, and then sent this text to Momma: I think I’ve figured it out. In order to function I just have to ignore what’s going on because if I don’t, all I want to do is sit and pray.

As I felt the urge to just turn it all off and retreat back inside my rose-colored bubble, I remembered a pledge I made as a young girl…

“To be ever alert to the conditions which exist throughout the world…”

Then, Jesus’ words in the chapters I’ve been reading began filling my mind.

“Anyone who is not for me is against me; if he isn’t helping me, he is hurting my cause.” ~ Luke 11:23

“For though you are careful to tithe even the smallest part of your income, you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave these other things undone.” ~ Luke 11:42

“Do you think I have come to give peace to the earth? No! Rather, strife and division!” Luke 12:51

Jesus? That seems a little harsh, don’t ya think?

But as I read His words again He asked…

Jessie, are you helping Me or hurting My cause?

Do you care about justice in the world and sharing the love of God?

Do you understand that all you’re seeing is the reality of a spiritual war?

Of course my defensive, knee-jerk answer was, “Well, I think I’m helping You? I try. I want to help. I want justice for the oppressed and for all to know Your love, and what’s happening in the world sickens me. But what more can I do?”

What more can I do…?

In that moment with Him, I felt so helpless. So unable to make a difference. So sad. Help me make sense of this, Jesus.

The truth is, I can’t and shouldn’t fight this feeling anymore. It is so tempting—no, it’s our way of life—to turn the channel and simply focus on the storms raging in our own hearts, the injustices felt within the four walls of our home and the tension between the lines of our bank statements.

When I think about it all, really think about it, I in fact cannot sleep at night.

My stomach turns at the thought of babies my kids’ ages being crucified or sold into sex slavery.

Even as I type these very words, tears fall as I realize how safe I am to sit here at my laptop and contemplate all this while my fellow sisters in Christ are literally staring evil in the eye, losing their children, their husbands, their homes—their lives.

I’m asking Jesus and myself, Is this where we as The Church stand today? Are we careful to tithe, to faithfully check off our Christian To Do List all the while turning a blind eye to the state of affairs around us?

Maybe it’s just my neck of the woods, but I’m just not hearing God’s people discuss these important matters.

Most people I talk to (not all, but most) really cannot articulate the details of the war going on in Syria, much less the persecution taking place in Iraq.

As a whole, are we clueless? Are we ignoring what’s going on because it’s just too much? Because it makes us feel inadequate or defeated?

We are quick to judge the President and his responses, but what about ourselves? What are we actually doing to make a difference?

The Holy Spirit scrolled my mind back to my text…You *should sit and pray.

“Father, may Your Name be honored for its holiness; send Your Kingdom soon. ” Luke 11:2

Jesus specifically told us what to pray. He said to seek The Father and honor Him and ask for His Kingdom to come, like now.

Why?

Because this world is not your Home.

How? How does Your Kingdom “come”?

My Kingdom comes through you, The Church.

“…Upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven…” ~ Matthew 16:18b-19a

One of my favorite worship songs our church sings says, “Build Your Kingdom here, let the darkness fear. Show Your mighty hand; heal our streets and land. Set Your Church on fire; win this nation back. Change the atmosphere; build Your Kingdom here, we pray.”

We are the ones who usher in The Kingdom because we are supposed to be praying for it to come!

We are the ones He wants to use to make the darkness fear! Instead, we sit around and contemplate the darkness and end up being the ones fearful.

He will heal our streets and land through our feet and hands. Us—The Church. Not the President or NATO or health care reform or the economy.

We are the ones who need to change first. We are the thermostat that adjusts the atmosphere.

Yes, I know there are believers not only praying but Doing The Work out of their immense love for Jesus. I realize the gates of Hell will not prevail against The Church and I am hopeful.

But inside my bubble I just don’t hear many of us praying for Israel, praying for an end to genocide or against evil.

We cannot change the channel if we claim to love Jesus. We need to know what’s going on for our prayers to be effective.

Jesus said we have the keys to The Kingdom. Notice that word, keys. It’s plural.

In order for the Kingdom of God to come, we must not only pray but we must share the Gospel.

Honestly, when is the last time we actually shared The Gospel? Not a story about how God came through for us in a tight spot. Not an encouraging scripture for a friend or coworker who’s down. I mean The Gospel. 

The Good News that Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life and that He died to free us from sin.

Lest you think I’m pointing fingers, I am so guilty of this. I can write and talk all day about how good God is, how faithful He is, how amazing He is to me. But when it comes to straight up telling people Jesus is The ONLY way to The Father, that’s a bit tougher.

Like most people, I fear rejection. I’m afraid of offending someone or of being called “narrow minded.”

But I must share it. The information I have is truly a life and death matter.

“…Those who welcome you are welcoming Me. And those who reject you are rejecting Me. And those who reject Me are rejecting God who sent me.” ~Luke 10:16

If sharing The Gospel isn’t easy for you, either—good. It’s not supposed to be. If it were easy we could do it on our own, in our own power.

Instead, it is challenging, which causes us to lean on Him, dig into His word and watch for opportunities to share. It takes effort.

“Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations…” ~ Matthew 28:19a

Another part of my childhood club motto was“…to carry The Gospel to every corner of the world.”

While I know these words probably won’t reach every corner of the world, they have somehow reached your corner today.

And while I feel most readers of this blog are other Christian Mommas with snot on their shirt and ketchup on their pants like me, I want to obey.

Beyond anything else I may write, sharing The Gospel must be my main objective.

So here it is, The Gospel of Jesus Christ as I believe it and understand it.

  • We’ve all sinned and will never be good enough for God. (Romans 3:23)
  • God is holy and just and hates sin, but He is merciful and loves us. (Romans 6:23)
  • God sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile that difference. (John 3:16)
  • If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. (1 John 1:9)
  • If we believe in our hearts that Jesus IS Lord, we are saved. (Romans 10:9)

And that’s it. Nothing fancy or rocket-sciency. Just faith.

My heart’s desire is for you to know Him. Really know Him and trust Him. He is so much more than I can describe, more than any blog could contain.

I pray that if you’ve never believed in Him before today, that in this moment you Get It. Trusting Jesus is more than head-knowledge. It’s personal.

It’s like sitting in a chair you’ve never sat in before. The only way to know if it will hold you up is to sit in it. It may look sturdy and maybe you’ve seen other people sit in it, but until you sit down—until you make it personal—it’s just head knowledge.  The only way to know is to sit in it yourself.

Sit in The Jesus Chair. Make Him your Rock and let Him redeem you; your past, your present, your future.

He may burst your bubble-world, too. But don’t worry, He has a better one in store.

Gracious Father, thank you for bursting my bubble with your Word this week. Thank you for the ways You’ve changed me and my little world, but mostly, thank you for your forgiveness of my sins. I ask that if anyone reading this has not trusted You, Jesus, as Savior and Lord of their life, that today, in this moment, they will call out to you. God, you are holy and righteous and we are so undeserving of Your love. Thank you for giving it anyway. In the name of Jesus alone I pray. Amen.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9

How do you stay tuned in to world events without feeling bombarded? What ideas, acronyms, etc. do you use for sharing The Gospel? I’d love to hear from you! Jessie

Groundhog Day Greatness

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A friend of mine sent this to me a few days ago. She knows this to be true because she’s a mom, too.

046As a mom of littles, there’s a lot of redundancy to my life. Like Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day,” I literally do the same things over and over and over–and over–again.

Staples may have an Easy button, but I want a Repeat button. Attachment-1

Make the beds?  Repeat!

Laundry?  Repeat!

Dirty dishes?  Repeat!

Pick up Legos and Barbies?  Repeat!

Life with littles would be so much easier with a Repeat button.

I’m really feeling this today as it’s actually Groundhog Day, but then I read Jesus’ words in Luke 9…

“46 Now came an argument among them as to which of them would be greatest in the coming Kingdom! 47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he stood a little child beside him 48 and said to them, “Anyone who takes care of a little child like this is caring for me! And whoever cares for me is caring for God who sent me. Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.”

Caring for little ones is a big deal!

Whether we are working moms or we stay home, taking care of our little people is The Thing that makes us great.

Not how much money we make. Not the car we drive or the house we live in. Jesus said caring for others is the measure of greatness.

Today, I am both challenged and encouraged by this.

Challenged, because I love routine and strive to keep it. But if I’m not careful I find myself running on Auto-Mom, either being annoyed by or completely missing the little things that make life Life.

In those moments of frustration and exhaustion I must remember I’m not just doing all this for my little people, I’m doing it for Jesus, too. The way I speak to them, the attention I give them and my attitude toward them says a lot about who I am and it’s the measuring stick Jesus uses for greatness.

At the same time, I must remember life for little ones is supposed to be repetitive. It’s how they learn best.  When I’m tempted to hit Repeat, I need to remember repetition is a good thing.

The encouraging part is knowing that what I’m doing is important to Jesus and to Him, loving little ones is the greatest job in the world.

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Regardless of what Things I may do in this life, being Momma is the greatest.

Here’s the most encouraging part. Even if you’re not a mom, you can be great, too. Just love the little ones around you. Care for them. Encourage them. Take time for them like you would for Jesus.

Your investment in a young person is the one that guarantees the greatest return.

So I’m off now to make beds, pick up Legos and do laundry–again.

Oh, and love on my little ones.

Jessie