Kindergarten Graduation 2020

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Savannah and I have been having the BEST time celebrating her great big milestone. She has graduated from Kindergarten! Graduation isn't the same this year as it has been for the Kindergarten classes that came before her. We are celebrating and having fun just the same. We've been going to all our favorite places to take her celebratory photos. She deserves all of the celebrating I can possibly muster up.

Please, join us in celebrating Savannah's success! Her school was kind enough to have a virtual graduation that we cherish so much. In some ways, this graduation ceremony is better than an in-person ceremony. We get to KEEP this ceremony and watch it whenever we want! If you'd like to celebrate with us, please click here for the ceremony to begin!

Prayer and Love

Yesterday there was an "I Can't Breathe" protest organized downtown. I considered taking the kids because I have so much faith in the citizens of my city. My friends told me the protest was peaceful and loving and supportive. The Facebook live videos I watched of the afternoon protest were peaceful. Our city came together to support the vulnerable population we live with. I wished that I had taken the kids to the protest instead of the beach. I want to teach my children that when given the opportunity to stand up for justice, you must do so. 
I can't think of any reasonable people who do not also feel that black men, women, and children deserve to be able to safely walk down the sidewalk without being harassed or even worse, killed. I'm sickened by the hatred that has plagued our country. I was talking to a close friend last night, who is black. I love her dearly. I told her that I was driving down the road and saw a black man running yesterday morning. I really wanted to stop the car and get the kids out and run with him. I want to walk with my black neighbors because they are safer with me and my white children by their side. It's absurd! Black people should not need white bodyguards.
Last year, while walking Savannah into Kindergarten, we passed a man loudly voicing his hatred for the Muslim population of the school. Somehow the kids being Muslim was interfering with the education of his child. That notion is just absurd. I reported the incident to the school because I was scared for all the kids. Savannah's school is very diverse. We like it like that. I think it's important to teach love and acceptance of everyone, regardless of race, color, religion, nationality, etc. 
That is the day I began talking to Savannah about racism. The conversation was difficult, but necessary. I don't think she fully understands, but she will. What she does understand is that a day will come when she's hanging out with her friends without an adult around. People will treat her black friends differently than her, and may even be mean to her black friends; just because they are black. She really doesn't understand that because it is so ridiculous to a 6 year old. She knows that she has to stand up for her friends. That part she understands. 
Now let's get back to yesterday's protest. We didn't go because I was afraid the peaceful protest would turn into a riot. Sometime between 6pm and 7pm, that's just what happened. I saw a Facebook live video documenting the destruction. I read the comments asking the maker of the video to burn down our city. Not only did they want to burn down the downtown area, but to also move to the Town Center and burn that down too. My heart began to hurt for my city.
I did the only thing I know how to do. I came inside, turned off Facebook live and turned off the TV. The kids and I began to pray together. We prayed for God to not allow the rioters to burn down our city. As I was praying, I peeked at the kids. All 4 of these girls had their eyes closed, heads bowed, and hands together. It was an incredible time. We prayed for healing for not only our city, but for our nation. 
Less than an hour later, the sky opened up, and the rain came pouring down. There was more violence, but our city did not get burned down like so many other cities around the country. Our greatest weapons against this racism that has plagued our nation are prayer and love. If God will save my city after hearing the prayers of 4 little girls and a mother, He will heal our land of this crippling racism if we turn to Him. How do I know? Because His word says so. 

First Grade, Here She Comes!

Friday, 29 May 2020

My girl did it! She managed to pass Kindergarten. We were a little worried for a bit. Being quarantined was really difficult for her. Before distance learning, she was still learning how to sit still and do her work. When I became the teacher, she really struggled with getting all of the work done. I was working full time from home and just didn't have the time to ensure it all got done. But, we kept pushing through and we did it! I couldn't be more proud of my sweet girl. Can anyone else relate?


Kindergarten brought us more challenges than just distance learning. She, like many other Kindergarteners left school for Spring Break, but didn't get to return to school. Taking these photos was the first time Savannah had been to her school campus since March 6 when I picked her up from school. Not only was March 6 the last time she had the opportunity to see her friends and teachers, but also the last time she saw her dad in person. She's been through so much this year. I am incredibly proud of her for her perseverance.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel sad that she didn't get a Kindergarten graduation. It's so important to celebrate these milestones. I spent the last 6 years looking forward to a Kindergarten graduation that will never be. When I asked Savannah about graduation photos, she said she wanted photos to celebrate passing Kindergarten, so that's just what we did. We will be taking cap and gown photos this weekend. I can't wait to share!

I think it's important to recognize the support and love that has been extended to my family, and I'm sure all of the other families that attend Savannah's school. Even before distance learning, they lifted us up and supported us. They helped me to realize the impact of our home life on my sweet girl, and I will be eternally grateful for that. Thank you Mrs. Puckett and Mrs. Webb for loving Savannah during her ugly moments and not giving up on her. You'll be happy to know she is healing and returning to her kind and compassionate self. We are incredibly blessed to call RCSA home and look forward to returning next year for 1st grade!

PS. I did not make it through writing this without any tears.

From the Mouths of Babes

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Last night was pretty awful. Like most nights, I couldn't fall asleep. When I did fall asleep, I was awoken by nightmares on multiple occasions. Now I'm tired and sad, and it's my birthday. I'm also feeling a bit old. I mean, I'm 35 so my life is half over and I haven't even really lived yet.
The girls and I went to Publix to get wine and a birthday cake for my virtual party this evening. The people at Publix were so sweet and loving. The lady bagging my groceries shared with me her survivor story. She did not have to do that. I'm glad she did.
Drenching Rain - Jo Ann Harris - MediumWhen we were walking out of the store, it was pouring down rain so that was fun. On the drive home, Savannah told me she thinks God sent me the rain for my birthday. At first I thought, "Who wants rain on their birthday?" After a few more moments of thinking, I said to her, I think you're right. The rain will keep us inside so we can take naps." She has to know I didn't sleep well since she slept in my bed last night.

We continued our drive home talking about my virtual party and their visit with their dad tonight and eventually circled back around to the rain. She said, "Rain means God is crying." I told her I think the rain is to make the flowers grow and that God isn't sad. She said, "Well, they are happy tears, Mommy." I thought some more and responded, "You're right baby. God is so happy that we are safe that he's crying tears of joy." I'm so thankful for the meaningful conversation I had with my 6-year-old this afternoon.
12 Bible Verses and a Prayer for When You Need to be Refreshed ...This rain God has given us is keeping us inside and quiet. Our A/C doesn't keep our house cool on hot summer days, so the rain means it's a cool 76 degrees in the house. The 3 of us are definitely going to be taking that nap now. I'm pretty excited for some refreshing afternoon slumber. Sometimes a good, refreshing rain is exactly what we need to recharge.

It's OK To Leave

Monday, 25 May 2020

Someone out there needs to read this today. I want you to know that you are more than a victim of your abuser. I want you to know that you are strong enough to leave. You are strong enough because God is your strength. He will help you get out. He will keep you safe. How do I know this? Well, He said so. He has also shown me that His word is truth. He is keeping me safe from my abuser right now. If He will do it for me, He will do it for you too. He is so faithful, and He loves us so much.
A very wise woman, who walked the path of surviving before I told me that God will take care of everything if I put my trust in Him. She was so right! She told me that things would just keep falling into place. This same advice is for you too. You are strong enough to leave. Once you make the decision to leave, there will be helpers everywhere! The day I had the domestic violence injunction my car was breaking down. I made it to a car repair shop and the man gave me a cool drink (it was super hot) and fixed my car for a HUGE discount!
And you know what else? God isn't going to be angry with you or disappointed with you for leaving your abusive marriage. God wants you to be safe and happy and protected. It is ok to divorce an abusive husband. You should divorce an abusive husband.

Answered Prayer

Sunday, 24 May 2020

For a few days, I've been praying for some things. I've had some important decisions to make, so of course I turned to God for his loving guidance. After all, He loves me the most! This morning I got my answer. How exciting is that! I now know what I have to do to keep my family safe.
As it turns out, I need to do nothing. No one or nothing can protect us and keep us safe better than my Heavenly Father. His love is perfect and oh so good. The Bible is packed FULL of stories of redemption and God protecting those who love Him.

Jessica Life Photography

Saturday, 23 May 2020

 Those who know me well know my love for photography. I am absolutely passionate about photographing children and families, and the occasional backyard chicken. When Savannah was a baby, I had a photography business for a bit. I did really well. I took lots of photos and learned a ton. I met many great families. I am still friends with some of those incredible people today.
Once my business really started to take off, my husband did not like me doing it anymore. I put down my camera to make him happy and have a happy marriage. Of course, he wasn't happy, and neither was I. Eventually I let him talk me into selling my camera with the promise he would buy me a new one. He did buy a new one, but I couldn't bring myself to use it. Last year I sold that camera for him too.
Since leaving my husband and getting quarantined and then losing my job, I've been really pressing into God to find out what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. How will I support these kids and give them all the things I think they should have? When looking for jobs, I have mostly found positions that are temporary or the pay is less than what I need to provide for myself and my kids. I was strongly considering a roommate but felt really anxious about having a stranger live in my house with my kids.
Last week I had an interview for a low-paying temporary position. As I sat on the couch waiting for the phone to ring, the voicemail icon appeared. It was the recruiter. She didn't leave a phone number to call back and I never got her email either. I'm inclined to believe that's a God thing. Right after I missed my interview, I remembered my passion for photography and how well I did at it before. That's also a God thing. Once I remembered, seconds later my passion was reignited.
I loaded the kids in the car and set off to get myself a camera and lens. We drove around to 6 stores and spent most of the day looking for the necessary supplies for taking photographs. The room I was thinking of renting is now going to be my portrait studio.
This rebuilding phase of my life is so incredibly exciting. I have the opportunity to do the things I love without worrying that someone will be upset and threatened by my success. I can freely follow my dreams! This is huge!
I hope you enjoy these beauties that I took yesterday while playing outside with the girls. We had such a fun time taking photos, swimming, and hanging out with the chickens. I can't wait to do it again! Sometime this week, we will be doing a little photo project for Savannah. I can't wait to share it with you guys!
You can access Jessica Life Photography by clicking here.

Rebuilding My Life

This morning I woke up late. I don't feel all that great, so I've really been dragging my feet. It's now the afternoon, and I've just now sat down for my daily devotional time. Until I spend time with Him, I usually feel pretty empty inside. Now that I've spent some time with my Heavenly Father, I feel better.
With all of the life changes happening for my family, I've really been struggling with feeling inadequate. I know that I am good enough and strong enough. I know that I am resilient. As terrible as things have been lately, I've survived worse. Sometimes those feelings really get me down though. I'm getting better at pushing them aside so they don't get in the way of God's truth. His truth is WAY more pleasant than my feelings.
This season I'm in is a time for rebuilding and healing. This is NOT a time for restoration. We tried that, but my husband just was not willing to participate. Now I am being rebuilt with a stronger foundation in the Lord than ever before. I am in a place where I can focus on the things I'm passionate about. I don't know what I'll look like after this rebuilding season, but I know I'll be pretty great. I can't be anything else but great with God doing the building!

Beauty In Grief

Friday, 22 May 2020

Lately, I've been really interested in grief. I am grieving right now for the loss of my husband and the loss of my marriage. I worked so hard for so long; I fought for my husband and my marriage. The fight is now over. He couldn't fight for himself, let alone for me. His addiction won the battle of our marriage. The reality of divorce is moving in. It's painful and it's messy.
I've been watching other women in my life grieve via Facebook. One friend became pregnant during the quarantine and then had a miscarriage shortly after. She shared her pain and grief with the rest of us. It was raw and emotional and beautiful. My heart aches for her so badly. I have another friend who's husband passed away recently. Her grief has also been beautiful. She is very open about her pain and frequently shares the incredible love between her and her husband. Grief is sad and painful, but it's also beautiful.
Since being stuck at home, I've watched my children grieve. Until a couple weeks ago, Sierra who is 3, had daily mourning sessions. She sobbed for her friends and her life back. She yelled and screamed that the coronavirus is over and she was finished being quarantined. Savannah has been grieving her teacher. The relationship she had with her kindergarten teacher was incredible and I know Savannah will always treasure it. Watching my children grieve has been heartbreaking, but also beautiful.
While witnessing the grief of others, I have been able to recognize my own grief. For a while, I thought I was depressed, but I'm not depressed. I'm in mourning. I have lost my husband and it's sad. It's ok for me to be sad. It's healthy. 

Everlasting Love

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Lately I've been struggling with feeling inadequate and unloved. In the past 2 months, I've lost my marriage and my job. I've been terrorized and harassed by the man who vowed to spend his life loving me and honoring me. He did not come through on his promises. I've been forced to work from home while also teaching Kindergarten from home. I've felt betrayed and endured a lot of heartaches. All of these things have left me completely broken and almost paralyzed by the fear of the unknown.
You know who NEVER breaks His promises? God! He doesn't break His promises! Today I'm reminded that God loves me and will continue to be kind and loving to me. I am enough and I am loved. I am not defined by my marriage or by my job. I am not defined by domestic violence. I am not inadequate or unloved. I know this because my heavenly Father has said so. He said He loves me with an everlasting love!

The End of My Homblette Life

Sunday, 17 May 2020

I've taken off my wedding ring. I won't be putting it back on. I tried for so many years to make a happy, healthy Homblette life. My husband wanted no part of happiness or healthy. He was always incredibly mean to me. He abused me physically, emotionally, financially, and verbally for almost our entire marriage. He often embarrassed me in front of my family and friends by being mean to me publicly. I don't regret a second of it.
Enduring my husband and loving him through his most ugly and terrifying moments has taught me a lot and strengthened me in many ways. I've learned how to love the unloveable. I've learned how to extend grace and mercy to others. I've learned how to keep myself safe. I've learned to stand up for myself. Most importantly; I've learned how to love myself.
I am able to walk away knowing that I loved him deeply every moment. I fought hard just to keep him alive. I fought for him when he couldn't fight for himself. I propped him up when he couldn't stand. I loved my husband through some pretty difficult times. Through this marriage, I have been strengthened in a way I can't describe. I've learned kindness and compassion. I've learned to stand on God's promises and to trust Him.
He has never given me more than I can handle. I've seen darker times than these and lived to tell the tale. God has me right where He wants me. This may be the end of my Homblette life, but it's just the beginning of my Jessica life!