God’s Wake Up Call

asouthernmother
October 26, 2013

Wednesday morning on a plane to Newark, I started this blog entry,

“Why, of why God have you forsaken me?” I repeat this repeatedly to myself. How many trials
should one person have to endure in a lifetime? It is growing harder to not be frustrated with “life”. I am happy to be alive and I am grateful for a healthy child, but I have days when I am pissed at the “man upstairs”. I have days when I am unsure if my faith is being tested, or this is retribution for a previous or future sin. I don’t have much to complain about in the grand scheme of things but I am just tired of the “drama”. I have a career that I love, and I am surrounded by family and friends. My son is healthy, and he is happy most of the time. My attempts at letting “faith be bigger than my fears,” are failing. I spent several hours in prayer and meditation last week. My rosary nearly calloused my hands, and “Hail Mary” played through my mind on repeat. I just wanted to cry out, “Give me a sign God, please show me what you want from me.” The last 6 years have been chaos, and I assumed my impending divorce would provide some relief. I feel like a weight has been lifted, but the stress of the divorce proceedings and a heated custody battle is killer. Friends of mine who have been through similar things, who used the services of lawyers like those from Simon Law, found that the process was far less stressful when they had an experienced legal professional onboard. We filled for divorce in May and we are no closer to settling things than when we first filled, it is nearly November! It has gotten so ugly, I am unsure that it will ever be amicable, maybe I should invest the help of a law firm like peters and may to help it become amicable? My son will be subject to the same ugly childhood that I had, two parents who vengefully hate each other. I wish I could reassure him. I wish I could offer him some resemblance of a “normal” life. Yes, the majority of children will witness the divorce of a parent during a lifetime, the upset and heartbreak of either parent, the back and forth of visits and phone calls with the chosen law firm. It can all get a bit much, but that doesn’t make it normal…..

I intended to finish the piece after I landed, but God got had a sign waiting on me. I turned on my phone, and read my Facebook feed to see a host of prayer requests. I was unsure of what had happened, but I knew it had to be bad. A clicked on a single message to my cousin Jennifer’s facebook wall, to find a host of other prayer requests. My heart sank. I had messaged her early that morning, and didn’t get a response which was unusual. When I finally spoke to someone, I was heartbroken and angry at first. I thought to myself, “God, how could you do this?” I came back home knowing lots of people, but I really didn’t “know” anyone anymore. Jennifer had welcomed me back into the family and into her heart. My son and I love her two precious girls dearly. She had received news that no mother ever wants to hear, her oldest daughter had cancer.

It suddenly struck me. What in the heck had I been whining about? My son was healthy and safe, and I know I could help him by letting him talk openly, and doing my best to explain the situation to him. I’ve heard about book called Family Changes, a story to help your child understand the changes that will be happening, and I’m really thinking about picking up a copy for myself to help explain it to my boy in a way that will, hopefully, help him understand and give him some comfort. My situation might not be ideal, but I have everything to be grateful for. I felt like a selfish little brat. God gave me a sign, and a reality check. I immediately sobbed tears of sadness, but also remorse.

There is no problem too great that our God is unable to handle. I am sure that God will use Jennifer as a testament to his will and glory. My sweet lil cousin will continue to be a light unto the world, her faith and trust is unwavering. Reagan is in our constant prayers, she will be a miracle of God’s healing power.

The prayer to St. Jude

Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. Make use I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly our beloved Reagan that you protect her, that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.
Amen.

Please keep the family in your continued prayers.
We love you Reagan, it is time that we become your cheerleader!
XOXO
~Jess

Happiest Girls are the Prettiest Girls

asouthernmother
May 15, 2013
My dear friend Jen and I in Cali

I looked in the mirror today and I realized, the happiest girls are definitely the prettiest girls. I see a direction and purpose for my life. I am honestly relieved that my facade of a marriage will be over soon enough. It is nice to no longer pretend that everything is okay. The truth will set you free, but it will definitely annoy you first. One person can only lie to you so much before all faith is lost. I look at my son and I realize, we have a bond that will never be broken.

For a lot of people I know, their workplace plays a huge part in their happiness. No one wants to work somewhere that drains their positivity and does not make them happy after all. Of course, there is no magical solution to the age old question of ‘how to keep your employee happy for real‘, but it cannot be denied that employees are more likely to stick around when they feel respected and valued by their employer.

Anyway, this cowgirl is ready to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. Today’s sunset was picnic in the park, we walked over to the park, played on the playground, and had snacks for a few hours. It was loads of fun, until Escobar managed to wiggle loose from his harness. I’m not sure how a short fat dog moves so fast. A ten minute chase and he was recovered. I have a love hate relationship with that dog. He better be grateful Gabe loves him so much.. lol

Being happy is not always easy though. With mental health being such an important topic in the media at the moment, finding ways to practice self care has to become a priority for each and every one of us. I was actually talking to a friend of mine about this the other day. She has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of her life but she has discovered that using natural remedies like CBD oil has made a big difference to her frame of mind. CBD oil has a wide range of health boosting benefits but it has been shown to be particulalry useful for people that live with mental health issues like anxiety and depression as it is believed to be a mood booster. Accordingly, if you would like to learn more about CBD oil, you can take a look at this guide to the best CBD oil UK customers can buy on the High Times website.

On a funny note, how does one sign up for a class and totally forget about it? No joke. I think I signed up for Human Health and Global Environmental Impact in February through Harvard Extension program. I wanted to make sure I got in before it filled. I get an email today saying, “Welcome to the first day of class!” What??!!! Yeah, like I needed this right now. I am going to suck it up and move forward. I have never taken one class at a time, only full semester loads. I think this course will help to improve my perspective on global health and strengthen my advocacy skills. It might even improve my chances of getting the dream job that I applied for.
Photo Credit: Nanny Stella
On a very strange note, I checked my inbox earlier to find an email from Nanny Stella. You might remember her as one of the nanny’s from The Nanny 911 Show. I thought to myself, I know Gabe occasionally throws tantrums but he really isn’t that bad. While I was in Laguna Beach for the Mom2.0Summit I filmed a segment with the New Era Mom Show about discipline. The segment is ironically titled, “When you disagree with your husband about discipline.” Nanny Stella is one of the co-founders of the New Era Mom Show. They were using part of my interview in the segment and it is set to air on Thursday. I’m slightly nervous, anxious, and apprehensive about it airing. I will also be participating in a twitter chat on May 23. So who is gonna tune in?
Happy Triumphant Tuesday,
XOXO
~Jess

Some birds were meant to fly

asouthernmother
February 10, 2013

Some birds were meant to fly and I flew the coop a long time ago.  I have always been adventurous and slightly audacious.  When I graduated high school at 17, I was ready to leave that sleepy little town that I loved to explore the world.  I have been fortunate to travel and meet lots of interesting people along my path, and yet I feel like my journey has just begun.  

Today, I took my another big leap out of my nest.  I left my son with my mother while I am gone to Washington, D.C..  I know we are both ready and we need this.  In his three years on this earth, he has traveled to Idaho, Nevada, throughout South Florida, along with the countries of Colombia, Curacao, and the British Virgin Islands, and countless stops inbetween.  If you count the 9 months I was carrying him, he has been a few other places too!  I was determined to teach him to have wings too, but sadly I realized I have been hindering him.  We have never slept in separate rooms  and tonight will be our first night apart.  I have never been away from him for more than a few hours.  

I am an Army wife, and I have an Army life.  My husband is gone alot.  He has been gone since shortly after Gabe turned one year old.  In honesty, if you counted up the days, he has been gone close to half our marriage.  It is the life we chose and I am grateful for his career.  Sadly, I sometimes feel like Gabe is being short changed in the parental department.  My family lives about two hours away.  It is just Gabe and I most days.  I feel guilty leaving him when his Dad is gone all the time.  

I believe in teaching a child by example.  I need to teach Gabe to fly by watching me.  He needs to know that I have dreams and I am not afraid to follow them.  I can’t make him afraid to leave the nest or always need me to fly with him (although I gladly would).  Leaving him asleep this morning wasn’t easy, but in my experience nothing that came easy was ever really worth it.  

Today I dusted off my wings and hopefully Gabe will start to use his own.  Watch out Washington this Bluegrass Belle is on her way!  I am so excited about advocating for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I say this repeatedly, I may not be able to change the World, but I can work to make it better even if it is just one person at a time. 

Dear Boo, 
Momma will be home soon enough.  I miss you bunches and love you more than you will ever know.  Big a big boy and don’t be too mean to Escobar. 
Love,
Mommy

Happy Soaring Sunday,
XOXO
~Jess 

People you admire..

asouthernmother
January 23, 2013

I saw a post on twitter earlier asking who you admired and why.  I occasionally get amused at some of the responses.  The response is often something similar to asking a 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up… There is one person I admire above others.  She never had a drivers license, carried a paddle with her everywhere she went, never traveled out of the country and rarely out of the state, she was known to be stubborn and contrary, but she was one of the wisest, kindest, and loving women I have ever been blessed to know.  Her name was Rose Garland Cole and she was my great grandmother.                                                                                                                                                

She was born on September 26, 1911 to Perry and Ida Townsley Garland.  She had several siblings who were equally talented and amazing, three brothers James, Beckham, and Charles Garland, and one sister Etta Garland Bargo.  If I am correct all of the siblings attended and graduated from college, several of them working in education.  My great grandmother graduated from Union College in 1933.  Amazing, huh?  Most women weren’t even dreaming of college in that era.  I would have loved to have known and befriended her back then, I can only imagine what a feisty and spitfire woman she was.  She started work at a very small school in Cole’s Branch, Kentucky which is in rural Southeastern Kentucky.  She met and eventually married my great grandfather, Delmar Cole.  They had two handsome sons Earl and Freddie, along with a daughter Ruby Lenore who died shortly after birth.   She continued teaching following the birth of her sons, working their modest farm, and being very active in their local church.

She walked to school most mornings, and impacted countless lives in our small town.  One morning while walking to school she was struck by a drunk driver and thrown into a ditch.  It fractured both of her femurs, did significant damage to her knees, and nearly crippled her.  She never gave up.  Her injuries would have been hard to overcome with modern medicine, and she survived this many years ago.  She eventually required bilateral knee replacements, and the constant use of a brace and walker to get around.  Even after the death of my great grandfather, she lived and managed their farm alone.  I can remember as a small child helping her work in the garden, can tomatoes for the cellar, canning jam, or making her famous peanut butter fudge.  I can also remember having a brush or two with her infamous paddle.  I have been approached by many of her former students who told tales of how they encountered the same paddle many years before me.  
Dewitt School 1950-51
She taught me about life, sewing, hard work, love, and education.  When I had to be home schooled because I was in a wheelchair, she taught me multiplication tables and made me french fries.  We worked on quilting and made my senior Halloween costume, Alice in Wonderland.  She encouraged me to travel and see the world that she never got to see.  She loved me unconditionally and never missed an opportunity to remind me of that.  I am a better person because I knew her.  
The summer after my freshman year of college I was staying with her.  She lived in a small white farmhouse just past the Dewitt bridge. The house had no central heating, so we relied on air conditioners and heaters to manage summer and winter. One year, the A/C system broke so I had to find someone that offered Air Conditioning Repair before the house overheated. I was so worried about her, especially in winter. Her house was always so cold. Luckily that summer the A/C was fixed really quickly, but I was still worried about her. The last memory I had of her was telling me goodnight and closing the curtain to her room. My Mamaw Cole was a creature of habit, much like I am now.  She was always up, sitting in her chair at about 6 am, prepared to watch everyone leave for the day.  I got up at about 7am to use to the restroom, I never realized her chair was empty or the erie silence in the house until I sat down.  My heart began to race with panic.  I screamed her name and ran through the house.  My world came to a screeching halt.  I found her eyes wide open, laid halfway off her bed, unable to move or call for help.  She had a massive stroke.  I have always questioned if she tried calling for help and I couldn’t hear her for the air conditioning.  I laid sobbing at her bedside until the ambulance arrived to pick her up.  There wasn’t anything that could be done other than wait on nature to take its course.  On September 11, 2001 while the nation was mourning an incredible loss, I mourned the most incredible loss of my life.  

Mrs. Rose Garland Cole with one of her many school classes 
I wish that everyone could have someone like her to admire.  She was incredible in every way and the world was a better place because she lived.  She was my great grandmother, but she was also one of my closest friends and biggest supporter.  I have spent too long focusing on how I failed her instead of how I could please her.  I hope she is proud of the woman I am, and she knows that every day I am trying to be better than the day before.  Her life is a testament to never giving up and overcoming whatever obstacles may be thrown her way.  She stood out in a crowd and was well ahead of her time. She is my inspiration, and I still miss and think of her daily over 10 years later.  
Who do you admire and why?  We should choose those people carefully.  Don’t raise your children to admire star athletes or movie stars.  Teach them the meaning of a real hero, or better yet show them with your own actions and deeds. 
XOXO
~Jessica 

A Testament of Hope

asouthernmother
January 21, 2013

I am sure Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrating today, we have made incredible steps toward equality since his murder.  Every U.S. citizen should be celebrating our freedom today.  He gave his life so that others could have equal rights and freedoms, he was a martyr for his cause.  I think U.S. citizens regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. often fail to recognize how lucky we are compared to citizens of many other countries.  We have freedoms that many people still only dream about.  When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech, do you think he fathomed we would get this far?

There is a quote, “I am better than I was yesterday but not as good as I will be tomorrow.”

The United States has made steady improvements toward equality but there is still work to be done.  There is a large sector of the U.S. that is socioeconomically disadvantaged regardless of race or ethnicity.  Poverty is heartbreaking.  We should all do our part to help others.  You may not have money to donate but why can’t you donate your time?  There are countless ways to help.  If you want a few ideas, volunteer with your local Habitat for Humanity, drop off items you are no longer using to a local charity, volunteer at a food bank, or organize a dinner at your local Ronald McDonald House.  These are just a few ideas of how you could help make a difference in the life of someone else, while setting an example for others to follow.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our nation is a much better place thanks to his courage and innovation.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr.

XOXO
~Jessica

Tears of joy

asouthernmother
January 17, 2013

So if your reading this blog to get to know me, then you have to get to know my son Gabriel. He is the purest light in a world full of darkness. He saved me from a deep despair and he was Gods promise I would be okay. I was already having a rough spring in the May of 2009. I took a job at the University of Kentucky in January. It was demanding but I had great co-workers and I learned a great deal about diagnostic laboratory medicine. My husband who had returned from a tour in Iraq several months before was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP). I’ll save that story for another post too. He underwent medical treatment but it failed. His physician suggested a course of a chemotherapy drug called Rituxan. We were counseled that not only could Rituxan make you sterile, it was teratogenic. If Arturo and I wanted to get pregnant, it had to happen immediately. We had one month to try before his treatments began. The week following his first treatment my brother was murdered. Two days later I took a pregnancy test that was negative and I had double devastation. In one week my brother was murdered and there was a significant chance that my husband and I would never have children. It was rough the weeks following. I sat watching them fill Arturo with poison, I grieved over my brother, and I wasn’t having a baby… Or so I thought! I didn’t want to drag myself out of bed, I was always sick and exhausted. I assumed the overwhelming stress of everything was getting the best of me. I reluctantly made an appointment to see my physician. I knew the first thing they would ask was if I could be pregnant. I decided to prevent any embarrassment I would take another pregnancy test as a precaution….I cried the first tears of joy in weeks. It was a miracle.

Beginning today…

asouthernmother
January 16, 2013

I hope everyone will read that message and really think about it.  If you have ever lost a loved one suddenly, you will can better understand it.  My brother and I were in different states when he passed away.  I sometimes wonder how other people treated him the last weeks, days, hours, and minutes before he died.  Sadly I know he died alone, lying in a pool of his own blood, after begging for help.  Every person that we cross paths with, we have no clue when their life will end.  What if you were the last smile or the last frown someone ever saw?  How would you want your loved ones treated?  We all have bad days but need to recognize how we influence others.  I don’t always feel like smiling but I would rather be the last happy face someone saw than the grimmest.  Has anyone ever randomly done anything for you that changed your day?  What if you could do that for someone else?  How different would this world be?  If we all set out in the morning to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, no matter how small.  I could be grim and pessimistic, but I refuse to let the act of one evil person negatively change the outcome of my life.  If I let him make me scared or angry, he wins.  My brothers life and his death would be in vain.  Instead I try to live positively, helping others with an open and kind heart.  I ask each of you to do something simple today to help someone else.  Don’t do it for me, do it for my brother and his memory, and others that have been lost to evil and violence.  Smile my dear friends, today is going to be a great day!

XOXO
Jessica