• inner world,  jesus,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    Please. Christmas. Now.

    Joy feels urgent to me as we enter into this Christmas season. It’s the season of Advent which is all about waiting- finding hope in the midst of darkness that never seems to end. My friend Alex Kuykendall released a book recently, Loving My Actual Christmas and it was a hopeful reminder that we can choose to experience joy this season. I read it in September & it’s helped me to be mindful entering into the holidays with my time, budget and relationships. This year I saw people posting on Facebook that they put up their Christmas trees the day after Halloween. That they had started watching Hallmark Holiday movies before…

  • leadership,  spiritual conversations,  spirituality,  women

    Show Some Love

    Do you ever get jealous of fictional characters?  I find myself envying Zoey Deschenel’s wardrobe in New Girl, and that Wonder Woman can roam around with a lasso of truth in some killer red boots. I also get jealous of real people- random friends on social media I see who seem to be having amazing time connecting with friends, and bloggers who seem to effortlessly crank out content that throngs of people love, and marriages where breakfast in bed is a normal occurance. You know what happens when I start to focus on all of the ways I’m not being loved? I get crusty, bitter, resentful and wish I could…

  • friendship,  inner world,  jesus,  self-awareness,  spirituality

    The Gift of Pain

    “Pain is God’s megaphone to us” C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia series once said.  I love and hate this quote because so much of it depends on the person’s willingness to listen to what is being said through the megaphone.  At times I have clamped my hands over my ears, closing my eyes and been unwilling to look at or hear what the cries were from gaping wounds in my life or the lives of other. I’ve turned up the music to drown out the presence of pain that was howling for my attention relishing a good beat instead but then slowly realizing that the howl could sing along…

  • fashion,  inner world,  jesus,  simplicity,  spirituality,  thrift store shopping,  Uncategorized

    Thrifty Thursday: On the outside and the Inside

    Warning- this is about to get a little philosophical up in my wardrobe on this Thrifty Thursday. I was thinking recently about reasons why I love thrift store shopping which include: 1. saving money. 2. caring for the planet by reducing my demand for new items. 3. finding the needle in the haystack in the form of fabulous clothes. 4. The unexpected delight of finding something I’m looking for. 5. Enjoying the secret that most of my wardrobe comes from thrift or consignment stores yet I look fab-ooo! Though, I guess it’s not so secret since I’m blogging about it. But it also goes deeper than that- for me thrifting…

  • inner world,  jesus,  justice,  prayer,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    This is How We Fight

    This is How We Fight  We dance because we believe in the one who makes all things new We sing because our voices cannot be silenced amidst the screams of terror around the world We bake bread to nourish our bodies because just like Elijah- the angels around remind us; “get up and eat. the journey is far too much for you.” We go to sleep because the one who made the day and night holds us in his powerful hands. We love. And keep loving. And then love some more. To the porn-addicted man in his clean oxford shirt at church on a Sunday morning. To the gay teenager…

  • books,  inner world,  jesus,  spirituality,  writing

    Dreams Come True

    Right before Christmas I received this amazing email from Al, an editor at InterVarsity Press: Jessica – I’m thrilled to tell you that our publishing committee officially approved publication of your book proposal! The team was impressed with what you have done to develop both the proposal and your platform, and folks really appreciate your motivation and creative energy. The sense was that the time is right for you and the book. Congratulations! I’m still grinning ear to ear that this is for real happening- I get to write Beautiful Feet! It’s all I can do to keep myself from yelling in excitement right now lest I wake up my…

  • inner world,  jesus,  mom blogs,  MOPS,  spirituality

    Getting on God’s “Nice List”

    We try to do Christmas “right” – bake cookies for exchanges, host amazing parties, pick out (and ship on time) gifts to loved ones, sing carols with heartfelt adoration of baby Jesus. We may do all of these things because they are on our mental list of what a proper Christmas is supposed to be. God is never impressed by our lists of what we think is right…. To continue reading this post, check it out at FullFill’s site. They have an awesome line-up of webinars this winter and send out free weekly email’s like mine to subscribers. I get no compensation for plugging this btw- other than your lovely comments,…

  • friendship,  kids,  marriage,  mom blogs,  parenting,  spiritual conversations,  spirituality,  work

    Care, Questions, & Creativity- sharing Jesus after college

    Jesus tells us to go into the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), but some days it feels like a lot just to make dinner. Now that you’re navigating traffic on your morning commute, toting young kids to soccer practice, or traveling 20 days a month for work,how do you talk to neighbors, friends, and colleagues about Jesus without sounding like a robotic salesperson? One of the best ways to do so is to be present to others and express interest in their lives…. To continue reading my post, click on over to InterVarsity’s evangelism blog….thanks-a-rooney neighbor! What have been ways you’ve reached out to colleges, neighbors, friends or other people in…

  • friendship,  inner world,  jesus,  kids,  mom blogs,  MOPS,  parenting,  spirituality,  Uncategorized,  working moms

    MOMcon 2013- Amazing happens here

    This past month I flew to Kansas City to attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) MOMcon. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, or at least picturing….something like this…. Frumpy Mom- who has gone un-showered, forgotten that she is a woman and is still wearing her clothes from high school because, well, her kids wipe their ranch dressing covered fingers on her sleeves and there is spit up on her shoulders from carrying the baby around. Why buy new clothes when that Alanis Morrisette t-shirt from 1997 still fits? or you picture this….. Perfectly coiffed moms who look like they bounced back postpartum like 2 hours after giving birth… like the ones from…

  • inner world,  jesus,  social media,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    cigarettes and carrot sticks- my facebook fast

    I decided to go on a facebook vacation recently.  And then I felt this huge void in my soul. Well, that might be a little dramatic but I definitely felt like a smoker who reaches for a cigarette only to remember that tough decision to quit.  Those addictive little puffs of affirmation, feedback and likes feel like they’ve begun to turn my insides into black goo and distract me from pursuing what I really want from life. So on my facebook vacation I decided like a smoker that it isn’t enough just to get rid of what I keep coming back to- I need some carrot sticks to replace my…

  • inner world,  jesus,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    Tell me about your friend

    “You talk differently about God now.” Curious, I asked him what he meant- “you used to talk about Jesus, now you just say “the LORD” like you have to use his professional name now that you’re a campus minister.  My husband Dave made this comment about six months into my ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We laughed about it but it also made me wonder what had changed.  I had been learning all kinds of cool things about the Bible, theology, relationships and prayer but I realized that it made me think about God in a professional way rather than as a friend.  God had become knowledge to attain rather…

  • inner world,  jesus,  marriage,  mom blogs,  parenting,  prayer,  spirituality

    Marriage is Just Too Loud for Me

    I could hear him throwing up in the bathroom though I was at the end of the hallway, at least 30 feet from the disgusting retching sounds.  Dave had food poisoning from a late night Denny’s run with some friends at a weekend retreat. We were there with his parents  a few months before he proposed to me in 2001 so I could experience one of his family traditions.  I stood with his mom in the musty church basement, a worried look crossing her face as she listed to her heaving son. Mom Fick, seeing my grossed out face which she must have interpreted as worry as well commented “Ohhhhh.…

  • jesus,  spiritual conversations,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    You Don’t Look like a Christian

    It’s Ash Wednesday. And likely that you’ve seen some folks around town who appear unhygienic but in reality have had ashes imposed on their foreheads to signify the beginning of Lent- the 40 days leading up to Easter.   A friend recently commented to me- “If I saw you in a crowded restaurant I wouldn’t guess you were a Christian. You don’t look like a Christian.”  This gave me pause to wonder- “what do people think a Christian looks like anyways?”  On Ash Wednesday it might seem a little more apparent than usual. A Christian- Catholic or Protestant could look like this:   Or this: Possibly this: And yeah, this…

  • inner world,  jesus,  spirituality

    the s-word

    Submission. or, the s-word as some Christian women call it- can raise feelings of anger, injustice, pain and resentment. For me, submission recently brought the word ‘gratitude’ to mind. As some of you may have seen from the picture I posted on Facebook, I inadvertently dyed my hair royal blue five days before Christmas.   As I was watching blue foam drip off of my head as I shampooed out what I thought was toner that would give me a more platinum blonde do’, I peeked out from behind the shower curtain to look in the mirror and saw myself in unexpected smurfette glory. I posted the picture online for…

  • food,  inner world,  jesus,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    wife points

    “you don’t get wife points for calling your husband a butt” our babysitter Nita guffawed after my derogitory derriere related remark directed at Dave while frantically racing around the kitchen trying to load the dishwasher with cereal bowls, put away the milk and get out the door to get some work done. A few weeks before that I had been at Nita’s dorm room to pick up the kids after she and her roommate Rachel had kindly watched them so Dave and I could see a play (the perks of working with college students!).  Rachel, Nita and I have ongoing conversations about gender roles in society, the church and marriage-…

  • inner world,  jesus,  spirituality

    I’m not the girl I used to be

    Twigs + logs + matches + newspaper = fire. At least for a girl who spent the first 17 years of her life growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where I’d wager that many kids learned the skill of how to build a fire amongst other skills like ice fishing, downhill & cross-country skiing and how to swim in Lake Superior just long enough until your toes feel numb. Recently my friend and colleague Grace spent a weekend in a lovely log cabin, tucked in the back of a generous person’s property, overlooking a stream and surrounded by woods. Though the two of us usually run the gamut conversationally from…

  • food,  jesus,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

    Though the chocolate may melt in my mouth, I still have blood on my hands. A few weeks ago I was supposed to give a talk at Oakland University on Everyday Justice drawing from themes from Julie Clawson’s book by the same name. As I did research, read her book and scoured online articles and websites I thought about themes on everyday justice that would connect most with students living in the affluent suburbs that border derelict Detroit; While cars and clothing might have been good choices for a school where students sport coach tennis shoes & drive Escalades but chocolate seemed like an easier thing to tackle in a 30 minute talk on…

  • inner world,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    weekend to remember

    Most of us don’t wait until the transmission of our car blows up before we take it to the shop, so why do so many of us wait until our marriage looks like a rust-bucket spewing smelly gray clouds into the atmosphere as we try just to make it from here to there? While I wouldn’t say my marriage to Dave is lookin’ like a broke-a** hoopde, we certainly aren’t crusing thorugh life in a shiny new rolls either. I don’t think we would have considered going to the Family LIfe Weekend To Remember conference had it not been for some of our kind donors who bought vouchers for each of…

  • jesus,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

    out of the boat living

    While I’d rather be like Andy Samburg sporting a nautical themed pashmina afghan on a boat, life has felt much more like the disciple Peter- half-sinking, half-having faith that Jesus is able to grasp ahold of me and keep me from drowning. Our move to Cleveland was in many ways been an experience of stepping out of our own comfortable nautical vessel- being near family, having a secure funding network in a job that requires us to raise 100% of our support (Grand Rapids consistently ranks high among charitible giving across U.S. cities), and all the other comforts that living in one place for 10 years affords.  It took us…

  • inner world,  jesus,  spirituality

    Merry Freegan Christmas!

    Do other parents feel guilty and sad that they too won’t have the same elated faces on their children’s faces when they present an XBox 360, complete Thomas the Tank engine set (with newest Misty Island Rescue attachments), or any other toy that said child would enjoy on Christmas morning? Have you noticed how even McDonald’s is equating personal fulfillment with food ordered and consumed from their menu this holiday season? Though Dave and I are typically content with the lifestyle we’ve chosen of glamorous non-profit student ministry, are creative with our resources and try to live simply, there are times I just am sad or pissed off we don’t make more…

  • church,  grad school,  inner world,  jesus,  spirituality

    the church of my imagination

    Choirs of unicorns singing gospel hymns, humorous sermons by Stephen Colbert and joyful potlucks with BBQ ribs afterwards comprise the church of my imagingation. Well, not actually, but it’s fun to picture right? Unicorns, Colbert, ribs- sounds like a divine trifecta to me. Dave and I have been looking for a church here in Cleveland and I’ve been reflecting on what we value in a church, how we go about evaluating those values, the dissonance that occurs between what I picture as an ideal church and what we experience in reality.  Recently I took a class with Rick Richardson (aka Slick Rick) at Wheaton Graduate School on various models of…

  • inner world,  jesus,  spiritual conversations,  spirituality

    how open minded are you?

    We all like to think of ourselves as open-minded people, tolerant of others who look different than us or have different beliefs. We want to be more enlightened thank many of the close-minded who have gone before us. Yet most of us have histories that shape the way we view people and people groups that leave lingering feelings of resentment, suspicion or judgement.  Sometimes this can be warranted- someone breaks trust by doing or saying something really hurtful which makes us likely to not trust the next person who comes along who is also a member of the intergalactic cat-lovers society or the Girl Scouts. I’ve chosen to associate myself…