The Truth About Jess Connell

jessSo you want to know the truth?

Not just the lovely bits, hmmm? Well, I don’t blame you.

Here at JessConnell.com, I try to share from both my weaknesses and strengths… however, there’s always that niggling sense that other people are better than us, isn’t there?

It shows up often in our online interactions, because these things are so curated– unlike the hurried half-conversation in the foyer at church on Sunday, or the going-on-two-days-unshowered-and-still-in-my-pajamas look when someone comes to the door on Thursday afternoon.

In THOSE moments, it’s quite evident to the real life people around me that I am FAR from perfect.

Consider this my offering to those of you who DON’T know me in person, just to get you on the same page as those who DO– so we can all walk forward together in awareness of my flaws and sin and need for Christ.

This post is all true– full of (mainly) the most unlovely things you may not already know about me. Please know, though, that these things are not easy for me to share.

Multiple times, I have felt like deleting this. Since elementary school I’ve felt like I’m the biggest loser in the room and that I should hide the unsightly and unsavory parts of myself in order to be accepted by people. That people wouldn’t like me if they knew me. High school rebellious years only made that feeling worse, especially around those who I perceived as “good” church people.

In recent years, I’ve realized that I come to every interaction of life assuming that I am the one “outside,” fearful that I am going to be excluded and unwanted. Yes, even now as a Pastor’s wife, I still don’t feel like I really belong amongst a crowd of “good” church people.

As I share these things, please do remember that I’m a child of God– forgiven, redeemed, made clean… and also, a normal human– still weak, frail, stupid, prone to wander.

The reason I’m sharing this is not to brag about, wallow in, glory in, or glorify my past or my sin. It is to tell the truth about who I was, so that none of us may be under the impression that there is perfection here in this skin of mine except for what’s found in the good Lord Jesus in me.

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Friend, can I ask you to be gentle in the way you handle these things I’m about to share?

Well, here’s the truth about Jess Connell:

MY PAST

  • Before Doug, I flirted indiscriminately, sexually used others, and was sexually used by others. While I confessed these things and fought against them throughout my late teen years, this continued to be an off-and-on struggle for me even up through the beginnings of my relationship with Doug. Sadly, we used one another, even while trying to do things “right.” We each brought our own baggage to the relationship, and then together, we added to the list of things we would need to work through once we were married… including our own sins against each other.
  • As a young teen (14/15), I did drugs, dabbled in the 90’s rave scene in Dallas, and — in my pride — convinced myself that I was being “smart” because I had personal limits, like I didn’t shoot up or snort.
  • I always felt like the girl that didn’t fit in anywhere. Not cool and disinterested enough for the hippies, not smart enough for the geeks, not talented enough for the artsy crowd, too sexualized and bruised for the churchy, not sexualized and calloused enough for the wayward.
  • The way I talked to and interacted with my parents was, simply, wicked. Disrespectful, yelling, cussing, dismissive, demeaning… I was just horrible.

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OUR HOME

  • Our house is regularly messy. You can call it “lived in” but that’s really too generous.
  • We are both “messies” (that’s the noun the decluttering lady I get e-mails from uses to describe people who are Professionally Messy) and so our bedroom generally stays in a horrifying state and pretty much always has. And we’re both really OK with that unless there’s a threat of someone seeing it– then I feel humiliation and we both tidy to a state of mild presentability. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen our bedroom completely tidy and decorated, and if I have, it has certainly never stayed that way for any significant period of time.
  • I have seasons of dependability with chores, meals, and household routines, but we are very, very much on the spontaneous side of things.
  • 4:30pm fairly regularly arrives with NO set plan for dinner and with me having no desire to make it. Yet, we always eat, and sometimes we eat very well. I’m just not (at this present time) very organized or enthusiastic about it.
  • Sometimes I yell and throw what is best termed an adult-sized tantrum when I walk into a room and it looks like a tornado has blown through. And that is not right. But it is the truth. (Isn’t it a horrible piece of irony, too, given my confession about being a messy??!) This is probably the biggest active fight going on in my heart right now– to not let circumstances dictate how I will respond to my family.
  • This is the second home of our lives where God is teaching us “contentment with much,” and I continually fight the urge to apologize for it, or explain away the “much” God has given us.

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PARENTING

  • I wish I could say that after these years of prayer and fighting it, that I’ve 100% stopped yelling, but I have not. Sadly, despite genuine effort and a real decrease in this area of sin, I still (sometimes) yell at my kids. I have far more victories in this war than I used to, but this is still a regular battle for me.
  • My kids are precious, insightful, and funny. They are also (sometimes) obstinate, throw fits, scream answers back at me, stomp their feet, fight with each other, talk back, try to fight nap times, hit, lie, delay obeying, roll their eyes, sneak, draw on walls with markers, disregard what I say, and all the normal stuff that kids do. Though I am purposeful in my mothering, and though I write about parenting often, my children are not and will never be perfect. 
  • Sometimes I’m a zone-out mom, and I suddenly wake up, mid-“uh-huh” when I realize they’ve said something to me and I’ve given a mindless response and have no idea what they’ve said. I hate this about myself, and hate it that I let social media drown out my sweet children’s voices. I’m working on this, too, but it happens.

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MARRIAGE 

  • We really have a very fun marriage; I think marrying your best friend is… well… just the best. But we fight sometimes, and when we do, I can feel like he is the biggest jerk. (Which is ridiculous because he’s super-sweet, incredibly generous toward me, and utterly a servant. But I’m telling you the truth about how I feel in those moments.)
  • I am stubborn and selfish. Working on it, for sure, and he says I’ve made noticeable progress over the course of our marriage, but I really really really like things my way and really really really don’t like it when it’s not my way.
  • Neither of us felt like we “fit” in the traditional “gender roles”… and we’ve had to work so hard to live according to biblical precepts (leadership/submission). That began changing in earnest about 3 years into our marriage when I asked, “do you think I lead too much?” and he answered honestly, “sometimes.” Eeeeeeek, that answer STUNG, y’all.  😀 But it was the beginning of GOOD work in our hearts and marriage.
  • I still mow the lawn, though. And pay the bills. He likes it that way. And he irons his own shirts. And I like it that way. We don’t think gender roles necessarily have to affect who does those sorts of tasks.
  • Part of why I am able to write so much is because he values my gifts and continually encourages me to use them to bless the Body of Christ… so while it might look like it’s all *me,* I’ve actually offered multiple times to quit writing so we could do other things with this same portion of time, and he continually encourages me to keep going. This man blesses and nurtures me in a singular and spectacular way.
  • We’ve both had a lot of sin and shame to work through, but we both really do like sex. I’m super-super thankful that we’ve worked through sin and shame (individually and together), and pursued mutual joy in this area. And since I’m being honest, and since I write about sex, I might as well say it. Having a healthy, fun sex life is worth working for, even if you have to trudge through a heap of sin and shame and confession and forgiveness to get there.

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PERSONAL FAITH & CHURCH 

  • Like most everything in my life, my Bible reading and study goes in fits and starts and is more passion-driven than discipline-driven, and that is both a blessing and a weakness. Discipline in this area (whether I feel like it or not) is another thing God’s been bringing back into my life recently.
  • Sundays are hard days for me, in terms of having meaningful conversations with real people. Now that Doug’s a pastor, I feel so many different pulls on Sundays. Conversations are constantly interrupted and I’m not able to be a very good friend because I’m so “on” as a mom, and trying to help Doug in any ways he needs me to, but then… that’s the day I see most people… so I’m afraid I come off like a not-terribly-interested, easily-distracted, undependable, forgetful, really-really-random person to people who only interact with me on Sundays.
  • Like a lot of American Christians, my knowledge of biblical teaching and doctrine far exceeds my regular, disciplined practice of Christian living. If I just obeyed what I know… *sigh*
  • I know that I need fellow believers to call me out when they see sin in my life, and yet, on my own, I want to run from that. A couple good friends here in Washington have helped me continually dive into this discomfort of asking to hear hard truths, and it has borne good fruit. I want it, and yet, I don’t. It would be dishonest for me to act like I wake up in the morning eager to hear hard things about myself, but I do know it’s for my good, and I’m learning to welcome it.
  • My spiritual gifts are wisdom, teaching/prophecy, and discernment. But I also have weaknesses– I am NOT very merciful or long-suffering. I’m apt to be impatient with long-term struggles in life/belief. The problem with that, of course, is that we all get shaped and reshaped by the Lord, and it typically takes years, not moments, for real lasting changes to show. This impatience on my part is a lack of grace and charity toward people around me… it’s a lack of offering the grace that I have received.
  • One of the areas where God has been changing my heart in the last 6 months or so, is in my relationship with my mom. When I was a teen, I habitually talked down to my mother, and that festered and has reared its ugly head again… (perhaps because we’ve only rarely lived near each other?) so I am actively fighting it now. We have weekly phone calls and I’m trying to retune my heart toward the respect and love I should have for this amazing, fun, super-loving woman, rather than the incomprehensible way my sinful heart naturally wants to go. It has been good to reconnect and train my heart to walk in fresh, healthier cycles of interaction with this woman I love so much.

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MISCELLANEOUS

  • If given a free day/morning/afternoon to spend however I wish, I often spend it in my bed, in the quiet, with papers, notebooks, books, and devices around me, and will hole myself up for as long as possible in the quiet. Part of this is selfish, wanting to get away from people, and part of this is (I think I’m not being too easy on myself here) restorative. I think large family life has turned me (at least temporarily) into an introvert in practice, so I often recharge by being alone.
  • We don’t live by a budget… I just generally save money and cut corners anywhere I can, and if things start getting tight we batten down the hatches and call a spending freeze on anything but the absolutely-necessary. This works for us, personality-wise, but it does mean that sometimes we get to a place where we realize we need to tighten our belts and be ultra-strict after times of financial leniency.
  • We’ve lived all over the world and that can seem glamorous, but the flip-side of it is that we have people we genuinely, deeply love all over the world. Only in Heaven will we get to see them all again… except that some of the people we love around the world may not be there because they don’t (yet) know and love Jesus.
  • People ask us if we’re planning on staying here, and the answer is an enthusiastic, “YES, Lord willing.” The ironic thing about that question is… we’ve planned on “staying” nearly everywhere we’ve lived. We liked Little Rock, AR…. loved Washington, DC… planned on raising our family back in TX after we had our first son… planned on spending our lives in middle-of-nowhere China, pursuing business to help a minority group there. The longest place we’ve ever lived– in Istanbul, for four years– is one place we actually *didn’t* see ourselves staying for our whole lives. But when we moved back to TX in 2011, we thought we’d live out our lives there. We could never have guessed that we’d end up living in the Pacific Northwest, but here we are, and we love it we have planted our feet, and hope to (Lord willing) spend our lives and raise our kids here in beautiful, friendly southwest Washington.
  • I’m the QUEEN of good intentions and unfinished projects. Partially crocheted items, half-done canvases, old cabinet doors waiting for their paint jobs, thrift-store-finds that I’ve not made the alteration on, etc. I’m getting better about this after KonMari came in and lectured me real good (I should listen to her more!), but it’s a tendency I have to actively fight.

IMG_3359I don’t ever want to portray an image of perfection, and I hope this list helps humanize me, our family, and our home for you. Our lives are not perfect and never have been.

I’m a flesh-and-blood gal, just like you. Not perfect. Not a perfect wife, perfect friend, perfect housekeeper, or a perfect mom.

If you have a question you’d like to know about, send it to me, and I may add to this list.

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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31 Responses

  1. shannon bradbury says:

    Love this post! Thank you for your real, authentic honesty. It helps me to relate to you as a mom who loves Jesus, but isn’t perfect like all of us! :)

  2. Laura says:

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. It means more than you know.

  3. Kristie says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I think most moms feel a bit like frauds, so it’s always good to hear that no one has it all together. I am a pastor’s wife of two (2 years and almost 4 months) and I completely agree about how crazy Sundays are! I feel rude and frazzled every Sunday, and if I’m honest, jealous of the moms that have help with their littles during the service. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how to manage sundays a bit more joyfully! And how to teach a two year old to sit (relatively) quietly while also juggling a baby (he’s in the service for communion and singing every week). Thanks for all your posts! They have been very encouraging and helpful.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Well, my husband is an associate pastor so while probably one week out of four, he’s not able to help at all, for the majority of Sundays, I have him sitting with us for at least most of the service.

      Two possibilities come to mind for your two-year-old:
      (1) work on this diligently at home. You could even use something like blanket time if you’re ok with her being on the ground by your feet for the present time.
      (2) is there a young adult you could ask to sit with you who you could ask to help keep the two year old still?

      • Kristie says:

        Thanks for writing back! Those are both great ideas. I occasionally have friends that don’t have kids that can help but they often serve in various categories on Sunday morning. I hadn’t thought of a young adult! My husband works with the youth group and I’m sure some of the girls would be happy to help. Thanks again!

  4. KB says:

    This was wonderful, and it makes me realize things we have in common; which makes it easier to realize stretching towards the other things you write about as a possibility. Keep writing!

  5. HL says:

    I loved this for so many reasons. The vulnerable posts I know are the hardest to write, but know it is so encouraging to a mom like me to see a beautiful example of how God has worked in your life and family. I’ve struggled and walked through some hard things, and I don’t always feel comfortable relating. God is using you in a mighty way to encourage moms, thank you for being willing to be a vessel in this way; even when I know it isn’t easy at times.

  6. Kondwani Kondwani says:

    Amazing, refreshing, encouraging, challenging, helpful. Thank you.

    I sometimes still feel like a ‘fraud’ and ‘not good enough’ in Christian circles, even though I’ve been a Christian for more than half of my life, and when I look at things objectively, I know there has been so much change and growth from when I was a lost seventeen year old who had experimented with just about everything and was desperately looking for love. It encourages me to know that you feel that way too! Because I can see clearly how God is using you (although sure, I don’t know you in real life). It encourages me that God can use ALL of us, including our feelings about our past, about sin and shame, about all the dark things we would rather not think of any more. But sometimes having known real darkness and pain, you can then really really appreciate the light, truth and hope of the gospel.

    Bless you!

  7. Barb says:

    Ok, I relate to this article in ways I don’t care to admit. I just keep starting over trying to get things right. My house, my yelling, my distraction, my laziness, the sins in my past, my prayer life, my Bible reading, the list goes on and on (homeschooling is going well for the moment). I just bounce from one thing to another trying to fix one area but never quite getting anything completed. Then there’s the health issue, about the time I get going or have a plan, my health enters the picture. I heard my husband tell my daughter today, after she asked if I was sick, “She’s been sick since the day I married her”. I believe he was joking, but he’s right. It’s always something and I’m growing weary of all of the health issues. I’m glad you write your posts they are honest and I relate all to well. Thank you for the time you spend.

  8. Sara says:

    Any other person here who has or had to resort to chemical and psychological help to deal with life? I feel so guilty about being on antidepressants sometimes…But if I don’t I think about death all the time. Does this make me a bad believer? I’m so torn.

    • Laura says:

      In my opinion, no it doesn’t at ALL. I don’t think I could base that opinion on any specific verse in the Bible (so maybe take this with a grain of salt) but I just know that in our fallen, broken world, sometimes the mental part of us suffers too. I think a lot of Christians are under the impression that if you are a believer you shouldn’t be depressed or have chemical imbalances, or that you ‘just need to pray more’. For some reason, once there is mental struggle, they equate it with a lack of spirituality. I really don’t believe this is true. I think our brains can be broken and need to be treated, just like our bodies can be broken and need to be treated. If you had cancer, no one would blink an eye if you went on chemo. Yet, if you need drugs to balance the chemicals in your mind, they balk. But I really, really don’t think it’s being a bad Christian to need drugs. Just thank God that these drugs are available and able to make you cope with your life as a mom. A friend of mine, her husband (who is a very strong Christian) is right now being treated for deep depression. He is seeing a counsellor and in the process of finding drugs that work for him. As an aside, he just preached a sermon on Psalm 38, in relation to his depression, maybe you would find that chapter helpful too. I really don’t think you should feel guilty for keeping yourself as healthy as possible for your family!

    • Jess Connell says:

      You know I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist. So please filter all this through any medical input you have received, and do not take this as medical/counseling advice.

      To ANY friend of mine thinking of taking anti-depressants or psychotropic meds, I would say: have a full work-up from your doctor. Make sure there are no other issues at work– thyroid, missing nutrients, dietary issues, etc… and then proceed cautiously ahead. Test and see– alongside the Lord and your doctor and those who love you and know you best (and possibly a good biblical counselor) —

      * what is really happening to my body, my mind, my choices, my thoughts, my attitudes, my reactions, when I take these meds?
      * do meds allow me to think more clearly, or muddy my thinking?
      * do these meds enable me to fight sin with greater purpose and focus because I’m not distracted or fuzzy, or do they mask what’s happening and make me less responsive or clued in to what’s happening in life around me?
      * what root issues exist (thinking patterns? past sins against me? past sins I need to confess and fight and work against? relationships I need to end or mend? a need for practical skills to help me succeed in my everyday life?), that I can work on even while I’m on meds, so that when/if I’m able to get off the meds, those challenges will no longer be so massive in my life?
      * etc.

      Ask hard questions of yourself (this is something we all have to do because our hearts are deceitful and wicked) and ask hard questions of the meds. I don’t think every person will answer these questions the same. I’m (truly!) not trying to sway for or against, but to say, like ANY physical element upon which we might become dependent (yes, like chemo, like insulin), I think there might be reasons to use them for a time, with a goal of getting healthier.

      If it was me, I personally would likely want to see what I could do to (over time) wean myself off of them… I would try to openly enlist my community, a biblical counselor, godly woman friends, and (obviously) my husband in that effort.

      One final thought– you mentioned being fixated on death when you’re off the meds, and that is serious. You are probably already doing this, but while on meds, I would want to be evaluating– what is it about death that I’m fixated on and how can I combat that, while on these thought-stabilizing meds, to actively develop new habits of biblical, right, healthy, life-giving thinking? What can I do to prepare for the (possible) eventuality of getting off the meds so that if I face those same thoughts, I will be better equipped to handle them rightly?

      These are my thoughts off the cuff. Again, I’d definitely recommend a full work-up from the doctor, and (obviously) working alongside your physicians and a biblical counselor to walk this journey.

      I don’t think you should walk in guilt or shame about being on meds. But I do think there is a healthy level of skepticism associated with ANY meds

      (Sidenote: it bothers me when people say, “of course meds are no big deal and no one would ever say that about diabetes!” Because that’s simply not true. Plenty of people are skeptical about being long-term on physical-sickness medications as well. ANYTHING we commit to on an ongoing long-term basis should be looked at thoughtfully and I think it wise to come with a healthy amount of evaluation and skepticism. My diabetic grandpa who passed away last year at the age of 92 was skeptical of insulin and worked really hard for the last 40-50 years of his life at regulating his diabetes through exercise and diet and in all but the most extreme moments avoided injecting insulin.)

      In the same way, I would encourage you to have people close to you who can help you be both wise and discerning about this, and not ever to close the door to the possibility that you could be healed, or learn to live in such a way, that you might not need them.

      Like all believers, I think you should walk in the light and let God’s Word counsel your heart so that even these choices are submitted to His Word and His ways. I don’t think any of us should EVER walk in guilt. With guilt, we either (1) are guilty and walking in sin, at which point we need to confess… or (2) are not guilty, but being accused by our insidious enemy and therefore need to pray and trust that what God says really IS true– that there is therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. Either way, we should never walk in guilt. Guilt is meant either to spur us toward confession or to prod us toward right thinking when we feel condemned and accused.

      I am praying for you right now that you will have peace and walk forward in confidence in your choices, as you are led by the Lord and counseled by those (friends, counselors, your husband/family, and doctors!) who have wisdom and insight. Grace and peace and God bless you.

      • Laura says:

        I don’t think using meds is no big deal. I think it’s a very big deal. Of course it should be weighed out with everything else. However, there are some instances where medication is necessary. For example, I am in the process of being diagnosed with MS – the drugs I might have to take will be a huge life changer. So that decision would have to be weighed out with the progression of my potential MS. But if taking those meds, at risk to myself, is balanced out with being healthy for my kids for longer, then that maybe is a risk I have to take. I definitely do think it’s a huge, prayerful decision. My comment before was addressing more the common mentality I see in Christians – that drugs for mental health are a complete no-no. And this mentality does exist. But I have known Christians who did all the right things (counselling, seeking Godly wisdom, prayer, etc) and still needed their meds to function in everyday life. In the diabetes example you gave, he was able to control his diabetes with his diet, but my brother-in-law has the other type of diabetes, and he needs to monitor his insulin everyday with the device attached to his hip which gives him the drugs needed to keep him alive. Without this, he would die. So every case is different and of course all of it needs to be weighed out with much prayer and consideration. That is a given.

        I felt I needed to clarify my comment from yesterday, scattered though my thoughts may be :)

        • Jess Connell says:

          Thanks for clarifying. I didn’t take your comments as pro-meds, just as I hope people wouldn’t take mine as anti.

          I think both of us are trying to caution against pitfalls we see around us– the pitfall of “meds are always evil and anyone who says different is a fan of big-pharma and denying God” is one ditch we could fall into, and another is “meds are always necessary and anyone who says different is inhumane and anti-medicine doesn’t understand.”

          Thanks for the discussion!

  9. Deanna says:

    Thank you for sharing…it blessed me and encouraged me! Some days, the sins of my past can come creeping in and mess with my present, and I can get discouraged by it but then I remember Gods mercy and grace and forgivness and start singing, ” Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul…Thank you Lord, for making me whole…….”
    We all want to be “perfect”, especially in our childrens’ eyes! After reading this post, It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only momma who struggles with the “messies” and sometimes still yelling, and some of the other things you shared….so, thanks again, Jess! For opening your heart to us!

  10. Chelsea Johnson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I see the redemptive work of the gospel all throughout this humbling post. We can sometimes view others as having it all together and it is a sobering reality to look to Christ as the ultimate authority in our lives. I’ve often questioned myself on how I can encourage others on living a God honoring life when I don’t have it all together myself, but it is about obedience. Bottom line, and I appreciate you and your ministry through writing. It helps more than you know and I read your blogs more than anyone else’s because I am challenged and encouraged at the same time. God bless you!

  11. Candice says:

    Jess, thank you for sharing so transparently. I, too, pray daily for the Lord to make me a more gentle mother and not a ‘yell-er’. I actually think that this has gotten to be more of a struggle as my hormones have changed (coming up on 40!). But it sure keeps me humble and dependent on the Lord–and constantly grateful for His mercy and grace in Christ! Also, I have a less-than-stellar sexual past as well. Have you determined what you will tell your children? Amazingly, mine have not asked me about my past.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’m just being honest. I’m sharing from weakness and telling them the themes without all the unnecessary details. Enough specificity to let them know I really was a REAL sinner with (unfortunately) REAL knowledge in this area, and that I really love them and want to help them walk wiser than I did.

      Like everything else, we go deeper in discussion the older they get. It’s not easy though. We want to run and hide. But there is such freedom in acknowledging what we’ve done. I think that’s actually– for me– part of repentance… confessing that it happened and was sin, and then helping others in the Body of Christ (including my own children as they confess Him) to walk in wisdom and obedience in an area where I fell.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Oh, and by the way, even this post is part of my communications with them. Them in the future. “Them” being my kids as they come back and possibly read this. “Them” being my grandkids who come to learn about grandma/nana/whatever I’ll be, and find out that she was just a normal sinner with flaws and weakness and sin like the rest of humanity.

      One of the reasons I kept delaying this post and editing and re-editing to make sure it says exactly what I mean for it to say, is because I know… one day they (at least some of them) will read this. Eeeeek! Even that, though, I trust God will use for good.

  12. Adelle says:

    You know, I’m really glad you made this list; that you bucked up with the courage to share it! I think so many times we see the ideal all over the internet & compare that to the worst in us. But like you said, we all have failings & shortcomings; we all sin. It’s good to be reminded that we can do our best with the life we have & the bodies we were given. We can still make good choices. Just like you have done, we can repent. Thanks for being an example of goodness, choosing God & righteousness over evil & sin. I appreciate your posts. They enlighten me, so keep up the good work!

  13. I now like you 500% more, and I already liked you. :) This made me feel a metaphorical sigh of relief just to know I’m not alone! We are alike in many ways. If you ever want a visit and aren’t too busy to come forty minutes away, I’d love to hang out with all our kids getting to know each other. Though of course I’d be awkward and intimidated. Lol. Nature of online things.

  14. Jennifer Collins says:

    Jess,
    Thank you for sharing yourself with us. It’s encouraging to “know’ you at a deeper level and how you continue to persevere to follow Him. You and I have a lot in common. My past, my strengths and my struggles are similar to yours. I have two grown, married daughters, a 16 year old son and 14 and 11 year old daughters. We have homeschooled since the oldest one was in 4th grade. She married a Godly young man after a parent-guided courtship type relationship. Our second daughter had ideas of her own – even after I had poured myself into raising/training/teaching/loving/guiding her in the ways of God. I tell you (and other younger moms) this, to encourage you to maybe understand something that I didn’t until after my heart was broken: We cannot control the hearts of our children. We can do everything “right” and they may decide to go their own way. In a special way, as I clung to the Lord as my only defense and comfort, He gave me a new freedom in Him. I am only required to do what He has called me to do and the rest is in His hands. I had mistakenly believed that all my children would learn from my own past sinful living and avoid it at all costs. I would not have put that into words at the time, but I did believe it. My second daughter is now married to a man that we would not have chosen for her. We love them both and accept them (and his two sons from a previous marriage.) They go to church with us sometimes and say that they are Christians, but it does not look like they have surrendered their lives. I tell you all this, not to scare anyone (because God is faithful and I love Him more now than ever!) but to encourage each of you to know that raising them in the fear and admonition of the Lord is your calling and duty. But it is not an expensive insurance policy ensuring that they will follow the Lord. Truly, it is between them and God. My two teenagers at home right now do love the Lord and strive to live pure lives before Him. Their hearts are surrendered.
    Jess, thank your husband for giving you the time to use your gift of writing; encouraging and admonishing other women. God is using it for His glory. Thank you, sister!

    • Jess Connell says:

      “We cannot control the hearts of our children. We can do everything “right” and they may decide to go their own way. In a special way, as I clung to the Lord as my only defense and comfort, He gave me a new freedom in Him. I am only required to do what He has called me to do and the rest is in His hands. ”

      I really do believe that! So many times I have seen parents be so purposeful and cautious in their choices and face real struggles and challenges with their children.

      THANK YOU for the reminder that our part is to be faithful and obey Him. His part is to lead our children according to His will… and their part is to choose to follow after Him.

      Wonderful reminder!

      • Jennifer Collins says:

        I wanted to add, that if any of your readers are going through heartbreak because of wayward children, I have a few books to recommend that helped me so much.
        Come Back Barbara by Jack Miller
        Engaging Today’s Prodigal by Carol Barnier
        Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow

        • Emily says:

          Thank you so much for sharing! I have two older mom friends in my life that have wayward children. I know it pains them and I was just talking to a friend this morning about how I wish I could find a book on this very topic for them. Praise the Lord I came across this comment. I am also grateful for this post by Jess. God is good! I look forward to passing along one of these books to my friends.

  15. erika says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I write for a blog and feel the backlash of people’s wrong perceptions. This was a great idea and it did humanize you. Thank you for being real. I have enjoyed your blog for years! God’s continued blessings as you write faithfully to Him.

  16. Catie says:

    JESS! I have been a long time reader (I loved your “Making Home” blog) and I’m so glad you wrote this. It brought me to tears. THANK YOU for your transparency! Not because I’m glad to see someone else’s faults, but b/c it means I’m not alone! God is good even if I’m not! He is faithful. To see that someone else still teaches hope and love (and fails sometimes) gives *me* hope to finish the race.

    I can so easily feel alone in my struggles and failures, and feel defeated, but that is not the Truth. The Truth is God is good and He WILL complete the work He’s started in me.

    Thank you, Jess.

    (sorry that I don’t comment enough, but keep doing what you’re doing!)

  17. Kami Crawford says:

    Jess, thank you so much for this post. It was an encouragement to me and I’m sure many other women.
    I related to many points of weakness but I’ll highlight a few: sometimes I yell at my kids and like you I’ve worked on this and improved quite a bit but it still comes out of me from time to time; sometimes I’m a zone out Mom; I like to hole up in my room to recharge; I’ve been known to throw adult size tantrums especially when my house is a mess-I really like how you put it: “not letting my circumstances dictate my response to my family”; regular no plans for dinner-been there done that countless times-and I think there are more.
    Thanks for making the rest of us feel like it’s okay to be human and to struggle.

  18. “Sometimes I yell and throw what is best termed an adult-sized tantrum when I walk into a room and it looks like a tornado has blown through. And that is not right. But it is the truth.”

    Thank you for your honesty in this! This is me too – the struggling, the getting better, but still the struggling with yelling. I can’t even figure out what “triggers” it. Yes, I have 3 boys 3 and under and yes, the eldest is a very good button-pusher, but that’s not a good excuse.

    Anyway – thank you for your honesty!

    Oh yeah – I mow our lawn (usually) and shovel snow too. He doesn’t iron his own shirts though – yeah for shirts that don’t need ironing! But he is better than I am at throwing in a load of laundry when he notices a need.

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