Jess

Hi. I’m Jess. : ). I started this blog to help others find joy, even from the trenches. I’m a slightly unhinged mother, wife, friend, and avocado addict who’s thankfully experienced enough victory and freedom in God to share with anyone on a similar journey towards authenticity over surface-level togetherness. Some of this may be self-imposed (I’ve been called a born again Lucille Ball), but my life has been so full of zany, ridiculous events that brought me to an eventual surrender to enjoying life instead of focusing on my general life fails.

This week alone, I dropped off a son to the wrong basketball game, realized I never filed last year’s taxes, and repented after having a PMS meltdown on the Cox cable man for refusing to install wifi when promised (5 kids, people). My gifts are few, but I believe He’s given me a heightened ability to feel his goodness no matter how ugly or bleak our circumstances. Either that or I have a dissociative disorder. Really prayin’, it’s the former.

This site should feel like more like a long, soulful chat between the kind of friends who embrace the crazy, broken parts of each other, because we are His, and He’s got this. We’re on the right path no matter how ridiculous, and it can feel, so we might as well embrace the mess and dance in the kitchen instead of freaking out when the meatloaf burns. Preferably to late 90’s R & B. Because Jesus understands. I can’t stand the thought of fear, depression, or worry, robbing us of our peace and strength, and I believe the ability to laugh together is the most underestimated tool and a gift from the Lord.

Laughter heals, unites, and transports us into His resting state: joy. So cheers to the journey that’s solely ours, no matter the bumps. Buckle up, praise the Lord, and maybe order the turbo shot. Amen.”

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” - Job 8:21

My baby just left for college. And now I need tranquilizers.

There are so many moments in parental life we just can’t emotionally prepare for. The insanity of screaming like a Sudanese war chief for hours before the joy of meeting baby.  The anxiety felt on that first day of daycare or Kindergarten. The unhinged thrill of watching them score the winning point at the big…

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Swallow Hard, Vote Trump

Down the street from us lives a U.S. Congressman who delivers church sermons on the weekends, has an MBA, and loves his fellow veterans. I wish he was running for President. But he’s not. And that’s why I’m voting for Trump. Before all my liberal amigos out there get their panties in a bunch diving…

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Marriage is Killing the Anarchist in Me

I married a rule follower. Like a lifelong Boy Scout, ex-military rule follower who files his taxes in January and would rather lose an appendage than park illegally. And so, as God’ humor would have it, I’ve realized I’m a risk-taking anarchist. I fully recognize that as a born again, spirit-filled Christian I should have…

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The New Normal

It only takes one thumb scroll through Facebook to indicate quarantine’s left most of restless, scared and at the very least, bored to the brink of insanity. For the love, I almost scrapbooked the other day. Almost.  We’re all searching for projects and purpose to consume our energy and time, and we’re all feeling that…

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5 Ways to Praise Yourself Out of a Funk

I really stink at many a life function. Like I might be a missing chromosome. Cooking, gardening, “home making,” crafting, shopping, event planning…I’m notably bad, and the older I get, I really don’t care. I’m into Jesus. My family. Writing. And running, but that’s only to keep the waist in check. However. I will say…

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My Epic Back to School Manifesto

Ahhhh, back to school. The only three letter phrase delivering more dread to my soul might be “Beach is closed.” As much I love summer, the sadness I feel bidding adieu to strappy sandals and the blessed shore has more to do with the fact that soon I’ll be running through the house at 7…

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5 Things I’ll Miss About Quarantine

In an attempt to maintain quasi-delusional hope that this quarantine season shall soon be behind us, I felt like posting a list of all the things I will actually miss about being homebound with my children, all the day long (and we have a combined 5). Of course none of this makes up for tolerating…

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Failure Rests in Yesterday

I have become a morning person. I don’t know how or why it happened, but there it is. Aside from enjoying the magnificent blend of caffeine and worship time, I just love the feeling of a new day and the concept of a fresh start. New decisions to be made, new ways to see God…

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8 Ways to Keep up the Romance During Quarantine

I was married approximately two months before quarantine kicked in. We had not lived nor slept together beforehand so you can imagine the excitement and newness. So when learning my prince and I would be working home for months in our happy love nest my first reaction was, “Oh yay, now we can have sex…

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Thank you God, for Blessing Me, so much more than I Deserve

I am slightly unhinged, 5’9 proof of God’s immeasurable grace.  Since coming to know Him in my early 20s, God has always ‘wowed’ me. Even when I’ve veered from Him and made mistakes leading to difficult consequences, God has always answered my prayers, come to my rescue, and blessed me so much more than I deserve. …

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Censorship. The Language of Cowards.

I treasure authentic people. The kind who say what they mean or how they feel, despite who’s in the room, or who’s reading their post. But in an increasingly “PC” world, authenticity has become a rare commodity. Especially on the web. I’ve been tempted and fallen guilty myself, through the years, to water down a…

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5 Ways to Beat the Quarantine Bulge

Top Diet Hacks to Beat the Quarantine Bulge I gained four pounds the first month of quarantine. I blame the evil mix of gym closings, excessive yoga pant wear, and the fact that peanut butter pretzels seem to diffuse all stress caused by being furloughed and promoted to homeschool teacher.  I watch yard squirrels for…

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Motherhood, Your Artform

When I get to heaven I will have two questions for the Lord. The first is the common query of why innocents had to suffer on Earth. The other would be why he mistakenly forgot to bequeath me with the talent and body frame necessary to be a contemporary dancer, when it was my heart’s…

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God is Bigger than Your Rut

Ruts are the worst. Just the word “rut,” is ugly. And when we’re stuck in a financial, relational or whatever kind of rut, it can feel like you’ve been reduced to a speck on God’s worldwide radar when your prayers have been ignored for a seeming eternity. But before doubt and frustration creep in and…

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3 Things to Remember, if You’re an Imperfect Mom

Ah motherhood. The place where our girlhood dreams of baby cuddling and tutu shopping collide with the reality of public tantrums and sanity droughts. Even the most prepared, most maternal of moms be all out shocked at the let-down that ensues when our visions of how we thought this would fly fall drastically short. Big…

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Run as if You’d Never Fall

This image next to this post of course looks nothing like reality, but in my mind, I’m totally an Indian princess warrior every time I run. Or the character Cora from Last of the Mohicans, running after her love through the war-torn forest. There is nothing more freeing and inspiring than running for me, and…

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Kids. The Cure to Narcissism

Some say the way to gain humility is to deny the self and pray for it. I say it’s by birthing children. From the time baby is born, we give up so much of ourselves, our past ways and nearly all of our pride, to keep our most precious ones alive, and happy. Your vanityFor…

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Expect a Miracle

I am a total worship junkie. And given my sorted pre-saved past, it’s quite a progression.  Like, from the time I wake up, ‘til the moment I lay this head ‘o highlights down to sleep, I find a way to play my worship music. And thanks to the gift of earbuds giving the unfortunate appearance…

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Dear Fortnite. Satan Wants His Game Back

I consider myself an A minus parent. I’m not winning mom trophies for xx dinners and chaperone sign ups, but think I’ve scored a good balance of protecting and sheltering my kids without actually keeping them in a bubble, and so far, and they’re all seemingly well-adjusted, respectful little men. But anyone birthing at least…

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Powerful Ways to Transform your Thought Life

If day-dreaming were a sport, I’d be a gold medalist. Maybe it’s because I have three boys and therefore no time to think, but if given the opportunity, I could sit and stare at a blank wall for hours and be completely entertained. While there’s nothing wrong with getting carried away with your thoughts or having a…

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God. Father to the Fatherless.

The week of Earth Day has always been reflective for me. For most, it’s about Spring and ‘newness’ and celebration of life, which is still how I feel, every April 22nd despite it marking the anniversary of my father’s death. There’s of course always a heightened sadness since losing him when I was 12, but…

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3 Characteristics of God, Every Heart Needs to Know

I think the world would look drastically different if most people knew who God really is, and the nature of his thoughts, intentions, and his heart toward us. So many of us are either raised with no religious upbringing — deriving our concept of God from hearsay — or have experienced a religion full of rules…

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The Key to Victory is Trust in God

I wonder how drastically our lives would change if we completely trusted the Lord with everything. I wonder how many mistakes and heartaches would be avoided and how many of our dreams and hopes would be realized more quickly if we trusted God instead of growing impatient and opting for a plan B that will let us down. Trusting…

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Why God is Good…All the Time

I literally cry, every morning, thinking about God. It usually happens on my drive to work, or during my quiet time, after the kids go to school. I’ll blast my Bethel Worship music, focus on him, and then bam: tears. Not the violent, Claire Danes from Homeland kind of sobs. But just a silent trickle, after instantly…

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Why Moms Need Prayer Even More than Sleep

What makes the best kids is the best you. At the risk of sounding all Joel Osteen, I believe the number one way to be your “best self” is by remaining close to God. You + God = happy mama, and everyone—the hubs, the kids, and the snarky school secretary you almost assaulted during last…

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5 Scriptures that Will Re-define Your Prayer Life

Prayer is one of the most intimate ways to connect with God, one of the most powerful spiritual warfare tools, and for me, the clearest way God demonstrates his love. But what’s amazing is after more than 15 years of being a Christian, I’m still learning so many principles about prayer that I never realized….

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For the Single Mommies…This One’s For You

Ah, water. The lifeblood of the human race. The bringer of hot showers and the main ingredient to radiant skin. And the reason one unhinged single mother almost lost her marbles when preparing to chisel away at the evergreen pile of sink-dwelling dishes one recent morn. Because instead the gush of water one normally expects…

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Dear Kansas City, We Want Our Sister Back

When my youngest sister left our hometown, college-bound KC we all swore she’d return. After all, she was a Kastner. And there’s only a few things we Kastner women refuse to do- walk slowly in any circumstance, confront conflict directly, and move away. We have five generations of family with like 30 first cousins living…

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5 Truths about the Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a staple of the Christian faith. We know that Christ died so we can receive forgiveness, and we know we’re called to forgive others. But sometimes we might not fully grasp the necessity and power of true forgiveness due to a lack of knowledge, or feelings of bitterness we haven’t dealt with. Here…

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How to Stop Negativity in its Tracks

Negativity is a natural human response. Especially nowadays when we’re surrounded by viral outbreaks, terror threats, and a spirit of worldliness that seems to be worsening by the nanosecond. It can be so hard remaining hopeful and determined to focus on the good, especially in difficult circumstances and environments, but keeping a God-centered perspective is…

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Some Things Never Change…I’m Glad Doesn’t

I’ve never been much of a city gal. The chaos and hustle, coupled with the fact that I have the directional skills of a yard goat, pretty much guarantees every visit to the city feels like an episode of survivor…will the flighty girl from the suburbs realize she’s walking in circles past Grand Central for…

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To My Bestie, on Her Wedding Day

I’ve always been so glad God made me a girl. I can’t even imagine hair loss after 30 or being expected to innately handle a drill gun. But of all the reasons to love being a woman- the thrill of carrying babies, the joy of wearing boot heels, sniffling our way out of speeding tickets-…

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3 Things Prison Ministry Has Taught Me about God

Sometimes we think we have God all figured out. Many of us base our spiritual fortitude on the fact that we’ve attended church for years, read the Bible cover to cover and lead a pretty solid prayer life. I was one of those Christians, and then I joined a ministry visiting institutionalized teens, and it…

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Lies We Believe, That Keep us From God’s Best

If we lived according to how God sees us, I think our lives would look drastically different. So often we settle for less, give up or don’t even bother praying for our hearts’ desires because we’re trapped believing lies that keep us from God’s best. Thoughts like, ‘it’s too late anyways,” or “I’ve sinned too…

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Ode to Jen Hatmaker, My Muse (Apologies in Advance)

We all have those special people inspiring us on our personal or professional journeys along the way. It could be spiritual leaders, athletes or overcomers in addictions and struggles we’ve faced, like Joyce Meyer, whose Battlefield of the Mind helped me realize nicknaming myself “black cloud” wasn’t the best way to usher in spirutal blessings….

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Top 5 Hardest Moments to Maintain Your Christianity

For some, admitting you’re a Christian is tough. I’ve never had that problem. I used to be a self-absorbed binge drinker with obsessive tendencies, and thanks to the Lord, I’m now a people-loving Jesus freak. However what the secular crowd doesn’t always realize about Christians is that we’re still human, and we have weaknesses that…

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Sometimes the Best Prayers are the Unanswered Ones

In an instant-gratification-addicted world, where we need and want answers, meals, information and almost everything instantly, we sometimes treat our prayer life the same way. If we don’t get an answer or see a situation change in about a week, we assume God’s either not listening, or it’s just another failed prayer attempt. But looking…

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A New Year, Walking in His Presence

I love New Years. Something about new beginnings and new chances to improve always gives me a feeling of hope and excitement. Plus I just love champagne. It’s almost as invigorating as the idea of letting go of “the old” things you want to forget, or habits you want to change. Like running like an…

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How to Keep the Joy of Christmas, 365 Days a Year

I felt a literal blast of joy the other night, clutching my seatbelt and praying in the spirit, while my 16-year-old drove us around the neighborhood for the first time. Somewhere between the cul-de-sac and my near panic attack, we were astounded by this 20 foot high, illuminated “JOY” sign in the yard of a neighbor…

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Our Faith Must be Hiding Under Trump’s Hair

I’ve made it through an entire election season without a peep. Not a Facebook share, not a Tweet, not a friggin’ blog post about anything political. Divisiveness destroys us, and after our choice of candidates plummeted to a decision between a would-be felon and a butt-grabbing egomaniac, I checked out. But even the strongest powers…

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Top 5 Scriptures that Banish Fear

When I think about the root cause of so many mistakes and spiritual pitfalls in my life, the source seems to be the one and only, the ugly, fear. Fear will cause us to buckle and settle for less than God’s best. It’ll cause us to disobey after diluting our trust in Him, and even…

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Gorilla Shooting Just Might Have Ushered in the End Times

I realize Jesus said no one can predict the official end of days, but this week’s news of protesters a rage over the shooting of a gorilla to protect a 3- year-old boy might officially signal his near return. What else can explain people losing their minds over the death of an ape, instead of…

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4 Things to Avoid When Christian, and Single

Keeping a pure thought life and remaining celibate until marriage can seem almost impossible, especially when we’re surrounded in a sex-driven world full of temptations and messages urging us to toss our convictions to the wind. We manage to stay strong through prayer, scripture, and in my experience, by avoiding four especially torturous scenarios for…

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My Baby Went on a Date…and Now I’m Ready for Jesus to Return

It is amazing to me, how many high and holy standards I’ve lowered over my 16 years of parenting. From my stalwart pledge against processed foods at the birth of my first, to ardently vowing I’d never give a child under 15 a cell phone (tapped out at 13) the amount of platitudes I’ve let…

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Why Today is the Day to Share Your Faith

Last year, God put it on my heart to get together with a high school friend, to hang out, and hopefully share my faith. But after trading Facebook messages about when and where we’d meet, I was too “busy” and full of excuses to follow through. She passed away suddenly after that, becoming the third…

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I Prayed over a Stranger, and Mercifully, Live to Tell

I recently had the most incredible God moment of my sorted life; ironically not during a church or ministry activity, but at the movie theater while being tortured with another action movie with my 16-year-old son. When taking a merciful bathroom break for two minutes of sweet peace, I passed a teenage girl leaning against the…

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