Monday, March 31, 2014

How are you?

"How are you?" is probably the hardest question for me to answer right now - which is horrible considering it just so happens to be the question that gets tossed around out of "politeness" without actually wanting to hear peoples' genuine response. It's the question you ask people as you pass them in the grocery store without stopping to actually carry on a conversation. It's the question you ask that you really don't want an honest response to - if we're all being honest here.

And can I keep being honest? It's the question I wish people wouldn't ask me unless they're prepared to carry on at least a 5- or 10-minute conversation. I hate lying when I answer this question. And I try not to lie, so I typically answer with, "I'm okay," or "I'm alright," which is kind of true because if I'm in a position where I'm out in public running into people it must mean I'm "okay" enough to be standing there carrying on a somewhat normal conversation. What I'd really like to say is, "Well, I'm really struggling to keep a good perspective on life at the moment. I'm really struggling to try and not focus on things that are seen, but those things tend to blind me and suffocate me at times. I miss my mom more than I could ever put into words. Nothing seems right without her here, and I'm still pretty angry that she isn't here. There's a huge gaping hole in my heart. But.....I'm still getting through it. So I guess I'm okay." So instead of saying that mouthful because I know people don't really want to hear it or they would feel awkward if I spouted all that off, I settle with the last two words - "I'm okay." It just makes things easier I guess....for whoever is asking.

I'm not trying to sound cynical. I realize "how are you" is just part of our culture. I'm guilty of throwing it around, too. But when you're in a place where you can't easily answer "good," you just notice it more.

So anyway, today is the last day of March. Which means tomorrow I head back to work.

This has been a good month for me. I have enjoyed having the freedom to do with my days as I please. I have loved going to the gym and taking care of myself physically. Zumba is a new favorite of mine! I have enjoyed sitting down and listening to sermons about God's purpose in suffering. The Lord has begun to speak some beautiful truths into my spirit.

But as March has been coming to a close, I have felt anxiety bubbling up inside of me, slowly creeping its way into the corners of my mind and sucking away the joy that is so desperately trying to peek through. My mind is like a war zone. I know good is coming. I know joy isn't just reserved for the happy times in life - I can have joy now, but it's still so hard.

Each new day requires so much effort...
mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
And for that, I still feel so tired.

I was talking to my husband the other night, sorting through some different thoughts and emotions. It was one of those moments when all I could see were all the things I currently hate so much about life - which, honestly, is a really long list... Through talking to him, I realized how much I loved the approval of my mom. She was my biggest fan. She was my motivation for so many activities in my life. She was the one I wanted to show all of my latest projects. I was such a momma's girl. Was... No. I still am a momma's girl.

My mom was the person I loved most in this world. And when the person you love most is taken from you, it makes it really hard to want to stay here. I've never wanted heaven more than I do now.

I don't know how to end this post. I'm having a hard time gathering all my thoughts today.
I could talk about how I'm struggling to be content in this season.
I could talk about how I'm still struggling to fight for joy.
I could talk about how I'm afraid people are going to think, "Okay, she's had a month off. She should be good now," and forget that I'm still so broken and fragile.
I could talk about how my mind feels completely blank and yet frazzled at the same time right now.
I could try to wrap this all up in to a pretty package and make things seem a little better than they really are - which I honestly was hoping I could conclude the month of March with a great uplifting post. But reality is, she's only been gone for 3 months, and I don't have to be okay right now.

But if I wrote about all those things, this post would turn into a novel.
And I don't have the energy to do that.

I still need time, and I still need prayers. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me. I will say this month hasn't been for nothing. It has been very good and much needed, but I'm not ashamed to say that there is still a lot of healing that still needs to take place. And I guess, as much as I hate to say it, the only medicine for that is time. More time and more grace.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

20 Years Ago Today

20 years ago today, God began crafting a beautiful story for my family.

This is the day my Mom said, "I do" to Tony Pate. I was only 5 years old at the time (I have a hard enough time remembering the details of last week, let alone to details of something that took place 20 years ago), so my memories of that day are very vague. But I can tell you that God set our family on a track that has reaped blessing after blessing after blessing.

My Mom and Tony have such a beautiful love story. It's one that I have adored with all my heart. As I watched their love grow over the years, I could only hope that God would bless me with such a precious love between me and my own spouse one day.

I remember sitting in the back seat of the car watching them hold hands. I remember watching them stand in the kitchen and hug each other. I could see their love overflowing by the way they looked at each other. I never heard them fight a single day in my life. It was obvious they both esteemed each other as better than themselves. They loved serving one another. The loved taking care of one another. There was never a day I questioned their love. It's the kind of love you read about in storybooks, and I got to watch in unfold right before my eyes for nearly 20 years.

 I couldn't have asked for a better man to step into our family after losing my Dad in 1993. Since I was only 5 years old, Tony really is the only Dad I have ever known. He is the man who has raised me and taught me so many lessons. He is the man who has prayed for me and fought for me. He is the man who I thought was "so mean" when he wouldn't let me date certain boys in high school and even college. But he is now the man to whom I say "thank you" with all my heart for protecting me and helping me wait for the man of my dreams. He is the man who has given me so much more than I deserve - so much, that I don't even know how to begin to repay him. He is the man that loved my momma with all his heart. He is the man who gave of himself so unconditionally and took care of my Mom until her final breath. He stayed by her side to the very end. I saw their love grow deeper than I ever thought possible in these past 2 years.

I thank God for placing Tony in our lives 20 years ago. I write this with tears streaming down my face. I don't know how to convey how blessed and how truly thankful I am. God knew what He was doing when He gave us the most kind-hearted, gentle, giving, self-sacrificing, loving man to step in and lead our family.

I want to close by sharing a paper that I wrote as a 17-year old senior in high school. Even now, as a 25-year old college grad, I don't think I could write or get the point across quite as clearly as I did then...

"You're the best, Dad!" "Happy Birthday, Dad!" "I love you, Dad!" Everyone has someone to call "Dad." Not me. I was the little girl who had straight blonde hair, was on the skinny side, wore big t-shirts, and had no one to call Dad.

Growing up, trying to adjust to a new step-dad, and still coping with the loss of my dad at age five was a difficult thing to do. I had to listen to all my friends referring to their fathers as "dad" and longed to be able to say that same word. I tried countless times to start calling my step-dad "Dad," but it just never felt right. I finally grew to realize that this desire would never be filled and learned to get past it.

I am no longer envious of my friends when they say "Dad." Just because they have someone to call "Dad" doesn't mean they have a better relationship. To them, "Dad" might mean "the man who is never home," or "the man who is never nice to me," or maybe "dad" is just "the man who works, eats and sleeps." Why was I ever jealous that my friends can say, "Hey, Dad!" It took so long for me to realize exactly what I have. I have Tony. Not "Dad" like everyone else. I'm the one who gets to say, "Hey, Tony!" And to me, Tony means "the man who loves me probably more than I'll ever know." Tony means "the man who would do anything for me." Tony means "the man who took our family under his wing and gave us the best possible life we could ask for."

I finally came to realize that the title you give your father is meaningless.
The man who is your father means everything.
So now, I'm no longer the little girl who has no one to call "Dad."
I'm the lucky girl who has someone to call, "Tony."


Tony, I hope you know how much I love you and how thankful I am to be your little girl. You are one of the greatest blessings God has given me, and I don't know where I would be without your widsom, your prayers and your love. Thank you for stepping into our family 20 years ago today. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me along the right path. Thank you for praying for me and for fighting for me. Thank you for leading our family. And thank you for loving my Mom with a passionate, unconditional love. You have set a beautiful example that I want to follow in my life and in my marriage. Thank you for everything. I love you with all my heart!

your Jordo

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Okay, so in my last post I mentioned I was going to blog about eMeals soon...
so here it is!

I feel like it's so easy to get stuck in a rut cooking the same things over and over and over again. Also, meal planning can take hours if you like to plan far enough in advance! My husband and I used to sit at the kitchen table and rack our brains on high gear trying to figure out what we want to eat 2 weeks down the road. It can be really hard coming up with a main dish PLUS two or three sides for each meal! Holy cow!

And then along came eMeals like a majestic white stallion!

First of all, some of you may not know what eMeals is... So what is it?

4 words... Meal Planning Made Simple.


Each week you get a new meal plan delivered right into your inbox, and voila!


I just go through and choose two or three meals per week (out of 7 options), and I'm on my way to the store.



They even have different types of meal plans to fit your lifestyle...
Classic Meals
Clean Eating
Low Calorie
Slow Cooker
Portion Control
and so many more!

Seriously, I love how eMeals has simplified my meal planning, and it even has been good for our budget. I've noticed that when we "plan our meals" (aka choose pre-planned meals from the eMeal plan), we are more prepared when we head to the grocery store and make less impulsive purchases.


So what do you have to lose?!

Here are a couple sample recipes...

Right now, eMeals is running a special discount offer:
15% Off Your Order at with Bonus Comfort Foods Brochure! Use code Dinner15

Hope this helps some of you out there! Happy planning!

(This post contains affiliate links to eMeals, I will get a percentage of the sales if you buy through my affiliate link. But the opinions of it are my own.)

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, March 21, 2014

March Update

I thought I was going to blog a ton this month! Well..... Looks like I've done just the opposite, which I think is actually good for me. I've tried to allow my mind to rest and soak in the things I have been learning.

I have continued to exercise consistently this month, and I've really enjoyed it. Zumba has been my favorite part by far! I never knew a day would come that I actually enjoy going to the gym!

I have continued to listen to a lot of John Piper sermons during my free time. I think this has been the best thing for me. If you are walking through a season of grief, or if you know someone who is, I would highly recommend the following sermons by John Piper:

Today's Mercies for Today's Troubles
This one is actually really great for anyone! If you find yourself worrying a lot about tomorrow... THIS ONE IS FOR YOU - regardless if you are grieving or not. Please check it out!

Called to Suffer and Rejoice
There are four sermons in this series. For some reason I have only listened to the first two so far, but I am going to listen to the rest very soon. I give this one two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Do Not Lose Heart
This is probably one of my favorites! Just listen to it already!

Job: Five Sermons on Suffering
LOVE this one! If you don't want to listen to all five, I would beg you to at least check out the first two! Awesome!

So besides working out and listening to John Piper, I haven't done a whole lot worth mentioning...  I have cooked a little bit more than usual I guess. I am actually using Emeals right now and will be posting about it soon, so be on the lookout for that!

We visited David's family this past weekend and had a really great time! We hadn't been back to his hometown since before Thanksgiving, and the visit was long overdue. I was so thankful and very blessed by our time there. He has four older sisters and four nieces and nephews which makes for a very full and noisy house, but it truly is a lot of fun! We played croquet, pickle ball, skittles (a new game I had never heard of which involves a lot of frantic running around the pool table - very fun) and a slew of board games. I also got a lesson on some new painting techniques on using Annie Sloan chalk paint (which if you are into refinishing furniture much, you've got to check this paint out! I think I will have to post about it at some point - it's nothing short of awesome!) So yeah, it was a great weekend! I really enjoyed getting to spend more time with David's family!

March is quickly coming to a close, and I have very mixed emotions. I don't even know what all I'm feeling. But I do feel anxious. I don't want to feel anxious, but I just do. There have been days that I have felt refreshed and joyful this month, but now I feel like anxiousness is beginning to overshadow some of my progress. I still need lots of prayer. I am so thankful and grateful beyond words for all the prayers that have been lifted up on my behalf this month. I do know that God is doing a work in my heart, but I still have such a long way to go.

We aren't even three months out from Mom's home-going. Part of me feels like it has been forever and that I should be "okay" by now. But at the same time, hardly any time has passed at all and my heart is still so broken and grieved. I still have a gaping wound. I miss her more now than ever. Her absence is so real and so thick. There is no one like her on this earth. No arms that feel quite like hers felt around me. No hands that feel just like hers. No voice that soothes and calms like hers. I want to hear her call me her "little girl" again...

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

12 Days In, Acts 27, and Steal of a Deal

12 days into March, and it's been so far so good. I have been exercising regularly and trying to take good care of myself. I feel better than I've felt in a very long time. I feel like my soul is coming to life again. I feel like I can finally feel again.

For so long, I have just felt so numb - not really sure what I was feeling. But today I can tell you, I am so thankful for the Truth He has been pouring into my life. I do feel like I am being refreshed. I do feel like I can breathe again. I feel like I am learning to walk again - in uncharted territory. I've never been in this place before, and I don't have a choice but to learn to find joy in this place. I feel like He is giving me moments of joy and, surprisingly, moments of "normalcy."

The biggest Truth that has been spoken into my life these past few days is to not focus on what is seen, but to focus on the unseen. For what is seen is temporary. This life is but a breath. This is not the end. I will never find satisfaction here. My heart will only be fully satisfied in Christ. I can't put my hope in things or in people here on earth. Everything here is finite. Death is part of life. I am not alone.

I really loved what I read today, and that's what I want to share with you. My counselor (also a long-time friend of my mom's) told me to read Acts 27, so I did, and here's what I learned...

Sometimes on our journey from Point A to Point B
(a journey ordained and willed by the Lord)
a storm will blow us to a land we weren't expecting.
We will find ourselves shipwrecked.
God has a purpose in the storm and in that unknown land
where you find yourself broken and torn,
and He will eventually lead you to Point B.

That's the summary of the lesson He taught me today. I'll break it down with specific verses from Acts 27 and 28...

27:1 - a journey ordained by the Lord (see Acts 23:11)
27:14 - the storm
27:20 - losing all hope
27:22, 25 - take heart in God's promises
27:39 - shipwrecked in an unknown land
28:10 - equipped with everything we need to finish the journey
28:14 - finally at Point B

I love verse 25, and I inserted my own name in it:

"So take heart, [Jordan], for I have faith in God
that it will be exactly as I have been told."

So then I had to ask myself, What have I been told? What are the promises I can cling to?

If you need a reminder of God's promises today, here are just a few...

And to really seal the deal, let's top it off with this one:

Beautiful! I would encourage you to spend some time reading Acts 27 for yourself. I am sure you will be blessed! Also, would love for you to share what promises you cling to in the comments below!

Okay, and now I want to end with something totally off topic but am super excited about! I went to Goodwill today and SCORED! Somehow, before I even walked in, I had a feeling I was going to find something good, and boy howdy......

Yeah. That's a La-Z-Boy love seat for only $50! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I don't really love the red, so I'll probably recover at some point in (hopefully) the near future! But seriously, what a steal! And it's so comfy, I'm sitting on it blogging right this very moment!

Thanks for all your prayers and words of encouragement!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Because and Therefore

Thank you to everyone who has been lifting me up in prayer this month. I am hopefully expectant of what God is going to do in my heart. I am still trying to soak in the things I have been learning. My heart is still more empty than it is full, but I can sense the Living Water beginning to bubble inside. I'm not full - I'm still far from full - but He is pouring into me drip by drip each day. The things I write below, I am trying to preach to myself. I am trying to fill and saturate myself with Truth. Please continue to join me in praying these very specific truths into my life. And if you're reading these words as a broken, empty individual yourself, I pray that God will use this to begin to fill your heart and put the pieces back together. Please click on the links to any songs or sermons I mention, as I have found God is using them in my own life. Thanks for joining me!

I've exercised two days in a row now, and oh my, my muscles are screaming at me! But it's such a good pain. Exercising really does something for your mental health as well as your physical health. Somehow, I've even been inclined to try and eat healthier as well and bought some fruit to make smoothies!

1 frozen banana
2 large strawberries
8 blackberries
Handful of spinach
2 heaping spoonfuls plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk (or enough to thin)

Combine in blender and enjoy!

I hope this month will jumpstart a new lifestyle for me of exercising regularly and taking care of my body.

I've listened to three sermons by John Piper over the last 3 days - all related to suffering. I really enjoyed today's message. I've shared with you before the Shane and Shane song "Though You Slay Me" in which they inserted an excerpt from a Piper sermon called "Do Not Lose Heart". I chose to listen to that particular one today, and I feel so blessed by it.

He preached on the passage of Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away,
our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight
momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen
but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are
transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

A few things really jumped out at me.

1. "our inner nature is being renewed day by day."

God created us in such a way that we need to be renewed every single day.
The fact that we need renewing means that our bucket leaks everyday.
Everyday we fade. Everyday we get depleted.
I can't run today's life on yesterday's newness!
In Matthew 6:34 Jesus tells us that each day has enough trouble of its own. And Lamentations 3:21 tells us that His mercies are new every morning. Today has its troubles, and today has its mercies. Tomorrow will have its troubles, and tomorrow will have its mercies!

Why did God set it up in such a way that I have to be renewed every single day?
To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to myself! (2 Cor. 4:7)


2. PAY ATTENTION to the "because's" and "therefore's" in Scripture!

SO (therefore) we do not lose heart (v. 16). Anytime you see the word "so" or "therefore" check out what came before it! There is a reason we do not lose heart!

FOR (because) this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory (v. 17). Anytime you see the word "for" or "because" check out the text around it! THIS IS THE REASON we do not lose heart!

I did a little more research around the text of these verses and found many reasons why we do not lose heart in the face of trials and suffering. Here they are...
  • I am a jar of clay - I was created to crack and leak in order for God's glory and power to be displayed (2 Cor. 4:7)
  • I'm not supposed to be able to handle this on my own (2 Cor. 1:9)
  • I will not be crushed - by God's power (2 Cor. 4:8)
  • I will not be driven to despair - by God's power (2 Cor. 4:8)
  • I will not be forsaken - by God's power (2 Cor. 4:9)
  • I will not be destroyed - by God's power (v. 9)
  • The life of Jesus will be shown in my life through this (vv. 10-11)
  • I will be raised with Jesus and brought into His presence (v. 14)
  • God is glorified (v. 15)
  • I am being prepared for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (v. 17)
  • I look to the unseen, to the eternal (v. 18)
Why do I not lose heart? Because GOD.
God is my strength.
He has the surpassing power.
He is glorified.
He has greater things planned that I can't see right now.

If I do not look to what is seen, which is really hard, I will not lose heart. But the very second I allow my focus to settle on the fact that I lost my mom. My mom is gone. My mom won't be with me in the delivery room someday. I can't call my mom. I can't text my mom. I won't see my mom in her office at work anymore. I can't hear my mom's voice. The very second I focus on these things - I lose heart. But the very second I focus on the unseen, that God has a greater purpose and that His surpassing power is at work within me and that He is preparing for me an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison... I will not lose heart.

This doesn't mean that I will never miss her.
This doesn't mean that I will never be sad.
This doesn't mean that the hole in my heart is gone.
This doesn't mean that I'm perfectly okay.

But what it does mean, is that my joy can never be stolen because my hope is not placed in anything here on this earth. My hope and my joy are found in Christ. This earth is temporary. These trials are light and momentary in comparison to eternity and the joy we will experience there.

Last thing! Here are a couple resources Piper mentioned in the sermon I listened to yesterday (That We Might Gain Christ). I haven't read these books yet, but I plan to and wanted to share them with anyone who might be walking through a difficult season. And if you have read either of them, I would love to hear from you what you think about it!

Click here to purchase

Click here to purchase

Okay, I think that's all for today! Thank you for your prayers!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hope of the Glory of God

"Though he slay me, I will hope in him."
Job 13:15

It's only officially Day 1 (since it's Monday) of my time off from work, and I feel like the Lord has spoken so much into my heart today. I don't even know where to begin right now. I feel like my heart and my mind are overflowing with some hard convictions and precious Truth.

I decided to listen to a sermon by John Piper about suffering. I quickly found a sermon series he preached back in 1992 entitled, "Called to Suffer and Rejoice". It is a 4-week series and the first one is called, "For Holiness and Hope".

He is speaking from the angle of suffering for Christ in the cause of carrying the Gospel to the world, but his message can be easily applied to any form of suffering or tribulation you may be walking through.

I am not going to walk through or summarize the message. If you would like to listen to it you can CLICK HERE - I would highly recommend to anyone who may be walking through a difficult season. I do want to talk about some things the Lord has revealed to my heart today.

So often, we beg and plead with the Lord to give us the most comfortable life possible. I don't know that I can put it any better than Laura Story put it in her song "Blessings":

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family
Protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering

These aren't bad things to pray for. I mean, hello, I prayed for healing for my Mom for almost 2 solid years. I begged and pleaded with Him to not take her from me. Why? Because I love my Mom, and I wanted her here with me. I wanted her to be here when the day comes that I find out I'm pregnant. I wanted her to be by my side in the delivery room. I wanted my children to know their G-ma. I wanted to be able to call her when I'm bored. I wanted to be able to text her pictures of my newest redecorating projects. I just wanted my Mom here with me. When I pictured my life without her, it was the most unbearable thing I could imagine. I wanted comfort. I wanted God to receive glory through Him performing a miracle in her healing - the easy way for me to give Him glory. It's easy to give Him glory when He gives us what we ask for. But it is hard to give Him glory when our dreams are broken and crushed and shattered. I knew He was going to receive glory either way - either in her healing or in the healing of my broken heart. But I was really hoping for the former. Why? Because it would have been much easier than this.

"Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"
Job 2:10

It's easy to receive good. It's easy to receive the answers to our prayers when they provide us with comfort and peace. But what about when God says, "I have something else in mind. I have something greater for you than the easy road."

It isn't bad to pray for healing. It isn't bad to pray for blessings, for peace and for protection. But it is bad to put your hope in these things. God doesn't promise the easy road. But He does promise His Spirit. He promises to never leave us or forsake us.

I've written lately about my struggle to find joy. Something God revealed to me today is how much hope I was putting in comfort, in the easy road. Since I'm not walking the easy road, I don't have joy. As a Christian, this should not be so! For His Word says, "...we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:2b. We rejoice in hope. Hope is not something now. Hope points to something that lies ahead. "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25. I want my joy now. And I can have that joy - but my joy is to be found in HOPE - NOT in the things and comforts of this world - not in the healing of my Mom from cancer. Even though she was not healed here, I can still rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

We are not created for this world. We are not meant to be comfortable and satisfied here. This place is temporary. The pain we experience here points us to our longing for something greater.

John Piper prayed these words over his congregation, and I now pray these same words for myself and for you:

"God, take out other hopes that are squeezing
away hope in the glory of God, and replace
those hopes with the glory of yourself."

I am begging God to change my perspective. Up until today, I have felt cheated and stolen from, wronged and short-changed. I am still battling these feelings. But I am desperate for God to do a work in my heart. To help me see the grander purpose in all this. That this life is not about me and my comfort. I do not want to only receive "good" from God, but I want to receive hardship as well. I want my joy to be found in the hope of His glory. I want my life to count for something far greater than the here and now. I want to stop thinking I deserve more than what He's already given me. I want to be thankful for what I have but not place my hope in any of it.

Piper ended his sermon with this, and through my own suffering, I want to hear God say:

"I have a godly purpose for you, and it's a soul-work that, in my eyes, is so much more important than you were up to. Don't complain. Receive the blessing of my hand. I am going to make you gold."

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."