Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

encouraging an adoption

A few weeks ago my sister in law asked for help on facebook. She knew of a family that is adopting a child and they are holding a yard sale to help raise the funds for the adoption. I didn't know anything about the family or their adoption. We are in the process of downsizing Judah's toys and just clearing out the house and I had some things that I could donate to the family in need. When I brought a few bags over to my sister in laws house she told me a little more about the family and that they are adopting from Haiti. My heart immediately felt this intense tug and the desire to do more. A few years ago I went on a handful of missions trips to the Dominican Republic. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are on the same island and we interacted with a lot of Haitian children. I fell in love with the Haitian children. I always had a child in my arms and wished I could do more to help the living situations that they were in.  We walked the countryside through sugar cane fields, visited homes made out of tin, saw malnourished and dehydrated children and exhausted parents who tried to help raise them. Many of the children that we met were born to women who felt they had no other means to make money than to be a prostitute. Leaving their children alone at home with no food so they could go out make money to provide food and getting pregnant again in the process and starting the whole cycle all over again. It was heartbreaking.  

In the journals I kept during my missions trips I would always highlight the verse:

 {Isaiah 1:17} 
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

My heart hurts even more for these children because we walked and saw the hard road that they traveled. We saw the oppression, we saw the mothers who felt they had no other option than to sell their bodies for money for food. We saw the children not knowing any other way of life than the example they saw from their mothers. We held so many children that felt abandoned, alone and would take affection from anyone who would give it to them. Sometimes living in the Northern Virginia area its hard to still see that their is a huge need for our support and that The Lord has commanded us to do so. We saw a need with the adoption. We could immediately provide with the Wicklines  more toys and we drove over a few more bags last night. The entire time I was telling Judah that he was giving away his toys to help a little boy find a home and we hope that in the long run we are raising a boy who has a heart to help those in need.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

sweet encouragement

Over the past three years I've really struggled with going to church and having christian friends. The first two years of my marriage was hard, harder than what most couples ever have to experience. I felt very hurt by the church and by some believers who I thought would walk along side us during our marriage but disappeared. Feeling abandoned on top of the hurt just made me want to have nothing to do with church and I labeled all Christians as "those people" "the ones that you can't trust" and "the ones that hurt you". I hardened my heart towards God and I spiralled down into a secret dark depression that only my husband knew about. I tried out a handful of churches in the area during these three years, but every single Sunday I would wake up sick to my stomach. I hated Sundays. It was the day that I felt that I was being judged by my christian husband for "not attending church". He wasn't judging me, but I knew his heart hurt. His heart hurt over seeing his wife struggle and trying to make sense of the hurt she experienced and his heart hurt feeling like he couldn't go to something that was such a huge part of his life. I encouraged him to go to church with out me. I begged him to. But he said he was afraid of people asking him questions about where I was. I would tell him "tell them the truth! I hate Christians, they all hurt you and I hate the church". Scott insisted that we go to church as a family. Which was in a sense was his way of loving me but I took it as his way of trying to force me to go to church with him. 

Scott allowed me to struggle. He allowed me to wrestle out these feelings I had in my heart. He allowed The Lord to break me so I could see that The Lord was my only hope.

Last fall I signed up for a women's bible study that I didn't follow through with for several reasons. My main reason. I didn't want to trust "Christians" again. I didn't want to get hurt. One of the leaders of the study, Sarah emailed me all the time. Scott grew up with her and her family and I knew from him that she is a very sweet person. She immediately friended me on facebook, sent me emails or texts asking me how I was doing and just really snuck into my heart with out me even knowing about it. So when I found myself in a crisis of faith a few months ago knowing that whichever direction I turn could lead me to life or to destruction, Sarah popped into my heart. I emailed Sarah and told her everything then asked if I could join her at church. Over the past month or so Sarah has encouraged my heart in so many ways. Never before have I felt so accepted by other believers and I feel so encouraged. Through Sarah's persistence in trying to build a friendship with me I have come to see that the Lord hasn't given up on me. That He knew how much encouragement my heart needed and He placed the right person in my life who wouldn't give up. 

Before we went to church today I put a bunch of cherries into a mason jar with a note letting her know that I actually look forward to going to church and that I am grateful for her sweet friendship. Her friendship and how she has unconditionally reached out to me and my family is sweeter than all the cherries that we picked from the orchard yesterday. I wanted to encourage her just the way she has encouraged me. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

give me family, flowers, sunshine and a farm

This weekend is fathers day weekend and since Scott is not a gifts person I tried to think of another way to celebrate him being a great father to Judah. Scott loves to take our family to some of the local farms so we can pick our own fruit, so we went out to MacIntosh Farms about an hour away and spent the afternoon picking cherries. 

We spent two hours at the farm. It was empty for a Saturday and we felt like we had the farm to ourselves. We enjoyed each others company, being in the sunshine,  watching the wind blowing through the cherry branches as we propped Judah up high to pick the sun-kissed cherries. I made flower garlands with the flowers that Judah picked for me and we sang songs. 

Give me family, flowers, sunshine and a farm and I am one happy girl.  

We ended up picking 14 pounds of cherries. Good thing they were on sale!

Then we spent some time checking out some local thrift stores in the country side. We finally found a really nice pair of jeans for Scott and a cute Napoleon Dynamite prom shirt that fits Judah! After several hours of driving around we arrived home sun kissed, with cherry stained fingers and took a family nap. 

Fathers day has always been hard for me. Mainly because I do not have a good relationship with my own father and never will. Every Fathers day I think "Will my father realize how much hurt he has caused his children. Does he wonder why his children don't celebrate him on this day. Will he ever recognize his abuse towards us. Or does he lie to himself thinking that he was a good father". 

Thats why each fathers and mothers day I want Scott and I to spend with Judah. Its our special day with our son. Im excited to celebrate the actual day with Scott tomorrow. Im excited to see which fathers day craft Judah will bring him home from Sunday school. I can't wait for Scott to wear his #1 dad shirt to church and I can't wait to hear our son say "Happy Daddies day!" and know that Judah truly adores and loves his father and thinks that he is the best person on this earth. 
Scott is more than a father, he is a hero to our son. 

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Friday, June 14, 2013

encouraging it forward friday

The most beautiful form of encouragement is giving something and not expecting anything in return.

This week for encouraging it forward I am doing another banner giveaway. I absolutely love doing these giveaways because it gives me the opportunity to pray for each person who needs encouragement and it allows me to see which people do need encouragement. Also the bonus part is looking back and witnessing the domino effect of everyone starting to encourage one another (at least that's is my hope)

If you have someone in mind who could really use some encouragement and you would like to enter that person or even yourself in the giveaway. Go to my Instagram feed, my name is @jessjudkins, look for the picture below and comment on it.

Who have you encouraged this week? Link up below!

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Monday, June 10, 2013

something good comes out of imperfection

Traditions with my son is very important to me and since its Judahs half birthday today I wanted to make this morning a special "mommy and Judah date" to celebrate. I dressed him up in his favorite suspenders and vintage bow tie then drove him over to Fairfax corners to get him a cupcake. I even taught him to go around singing "a very merry unbirthday to ME, TO ME!". He was a little ball of happy energy, smiling and waving at each person who walked by and telling them that they have nice shoes (he has a shoe obsession).

When we got Judah's cupcake he was so excited and was jumping up and down and singing to a group of girls outside the shop. When all of a sudden his cupcake toppled out of the box and landed on the sidewalk. He said "Ohhh nooo" and looked like he was about to cry. I told him it was okay that I can take the top part of the frosting off when one of the girls said "I'll switch cupcakes with him" I looked over to see if she was serious. She had bought the same exact "red velvet" cupcake and she said that she wasn't going to eat the frosting. My eyes welled up with tears and I said "You really would switch with him? You don't mind?" and she said not at all. I told her that was one of the kindest and most encouraging things someone has done for us today and explained to her how we try to encourage it forward and asked if I could take a picture of her and Judah. So if anyone reading this recognizes the girl tell her to stop by the blog so I can say a thank you! She made our day.

We walked around the shops for a bit and then headed over to the mall down the street before it started pouring outside. I let Judah run around the play area, took him to lunch and let him walk the mall until he was to tired to take another step. Afterwards I took him to Target and let him pick out a mini crane.

When we finally got home for his pre nap time routine of reading books I knew I wore him out. 

I think I've been thinking a lot about my imperfection. I'm always always thinking about it. How I can never measure up, how I am not good enough and how I tend to shy away from things or even people because I don't feel that I would make a good enough friend or that I am a good enough person. Its nothing particular that I've done or will do, I just tend to really not like myself sometimes. I think that is why I love to encourage people so much. You never know how deeply your encouragement will touch their life.  As I was driving Judah home I started crying. He was asking me to play our "best friend song" (best friend by queen) and I realized that in my imperfection, something good came out of it.
 Judah is my good that came out of my imperfect mess. 

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Judahs weekly library reads

I've heard about toddlers getting into a pirate, superman or fireman phase and wearing their costumes all over the place. I never expected Judah to be in a monkey phase. He wants to wear this semi scary mask everywhere, including the library! 

This week I realized that I have to really read through the books I check out for him at the library. I innocently picked up "The Story of Babar" thinking its a common story and that Judah should enjoy it. I didn't realize until I was reading the page to Judah that a hunter kills Babars mother. I quickly made something up and put the book aside. He also didn't care for the "What can a crane pick up" book. The illustrations are great but Scott and I were having difficulty reading this book to Judah. The author is all over the place and the writing doesn't flow very well. We found ourselves stressed out trying to read it to Judah. I believe it could have been a very fun book to read nightly to Judah if it was written better. 

The books he requested us to read to him several times a day are.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

This warm and delightful book is the perfect length for a toddler's bedtime book reading routine. Judah can relate to Woolly the little lambs frustration in wondering who will tuck him in at night. He loves looking at the colorful illustration's of each animal making a valiant effort in trying to tuck in Woolly but it not being just right. Finally Mother Sheep appears and makes everything just right for Woolly's bedtime. Judah's favorite part of the book is at the end when Mother Sheep is knitting on Woolly's bed and singing him to sleep. He thinks she is crocheting just like his mama and he holds my arm tight when I finish reading the book to him.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Warning this book will have your toddler laughing out loud! We have checked this book out three different times from the library and will probably end up purchasing the book.  This story is a fun and easy read that the whole family will love. This book is about an unseen narrator that is trying to read a handful of nursery rhymes but always gets interrupted by Ivan the Terrier. This book has Judah engaging in the story line by anticipating where Ivan will pop up next. The illustrations are bright and colorful and capture my toddlers imagination. 

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

I wasn't sure what I was going to think about this book when I checked it out but it turned out to be a wonderful toddlers book. This book has helped my son not have meltdowns this when its time to leave play group, grandmas or the pool. Instead of throwing a big tantrum Judah now says "bye bye pool" "bye bye grandma" "bye bye bath" ect. This book has helped Judah process what it means to stop one thing and how that can lead to starting something as equally fun as the first thing. The illustrations are very sweet and the book has a great flow to it. 

If you would like to check out my list of "great toddler books" click here

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

the unexpected

I woke up at 7:30 this morning and got ready to take Judah to mommy boot camp. When I finished putting on my workout cloths I picked up my phone to double check the time and noticed a text from my husband. He said that the weather is going to be gorgeous a perfect day for the zoo. So he asked his bosses if he could take the rest of the day off so he could take us to the zoo. They said yes so he is on his way home and he stopped by Starbucks to bring me my favorite drink. I put my phone down, snuggled up to Judah and whispered in his ear "Judah what do you want to do today" and he sleepily murmured back "trucks, lets play with trucks" and I said " would you maybe like to see some animals instead? like a lion or some...." and Judah sits right up and says "Snakes! Mama lets see snakes!". Okay Judah lets go outside and see if its nice enough to go to the zoo. He jumped off the bed, I helped him slip on his fireman boots and we walked outside just in time to see Scott pull up. My sleepy headed little boy just realized that his daddy was going to take him to the zoo! 

We spent the entire afternoon at the DC Zoo. I would suggest if you have a toddler that you try to take them inside the indoor animal exhibits.  The past three times I've taken Judah he would get distracted by other things besides the outdoor animals. It was to hard for him to focus on an animal that was so far away while other kids around him are pushing and talking loudly. At the indoor exhibits Judah was able to pay attention to the animals and really enjoyed talking to them. We saw lions, snakes, turtles, elephants and watched a family of Apes literally walk up to the glass we were standing at and watch us watching them eat. We bought monkey masks, took silly pictures, saw an escaped snake slither across the walking path and scare a bunch of people. We ended our zoo trip by driving over to my favorite vegan place Sticky Fingers to grab lunch before heading home. 

Judah and I ended up missing mommy boot camp today, its okay because we will make up the class tomorrow. Today was for the unexpected. We took advantage of this gorgeous day in doing something spontaneous and fun as a family. We made memories that will last a lifetime, like standing next to a family of Apes eating lunch or watching the escaped snake scare everyone. I'm so grateful that my husband was thoughtful enough to surprise us with such a fun day today.  

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

crocheting encouragement

The more my heart is led to encourage others, the more I realize that I am crocheting encouragement. When I don't have the words to speak I use my hands to create. I love how I am able to think of someone who might need encouragement and use my hands to create something beautiful for them out of a long thin strand of yarn. Its similar to these random acts of encouragement. You never know how the ripple affect of your encouragement will create something beautiful in the heart of the the person who you are encouraging. 

 The past two weeks I've sent out the following to encourage others.

I created this "brave" banner a few weeks ago and had it listed in my shop, but as I was crocheting it I kept thinking about my friend Amber. Amber has had a really tough year and her mom is currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Although I've sent Ambers mom a cowl a few months ago when she first started chemo, I knew in my heart she needed additional encouragement. June should be her last month with chemo and I wanted to encourage her for being so strong and remind her that she is so brave. 

Two weeks ago I ran an encouraging it forward giveaway on my instagram account. I wanted to give away the above banner to a person who really needed it. But mostly I wanted people to reply back to each person who said they needed encouragement and encourage a few people with kind words. My hope is to eventually build a community of encouragement. My friend Kelly was picked as the winner via When she emailed me her address she just found out that her grandmother passed away and said finding out that she was receiving the banner came at the perfect time. The banner below I crochet for another instagram mama friend of mine Abra. You can read all about her story here. Abra found out a few weeks ago that her daughter Naomi had large tumor near her heart and lungs. Her story is incredible and you can just literally see the Lord work in their lives. Abra's faith is such an inspiration so I also created her a "hope banner with anchors" to symbolize "we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure". I got this idea from my friend Becky who I made the exact banner (in different colors) just a few weeks ago for her unborn son. 

One of my sweet blogger friends Natalie from take-the-cannoli emailed me two weekends ago asking if I could possibly crochet her an "oh" and a "day" so that she can have a banner that reads "Oh happy day" for the pictures her and her husband are going to take for renewing their vows at their 10 year wedding anniversary. Natalie wanted to pay especially since I had less than 4 days to crochet and mail off to her for her to receive it in time. But I refused payment, only because Natalie's marriage has been such an inspiration to me. My hope is that the Lord would continue to use their marriage to encourage those who need help in their marriage and that the Lord continues to give Natalie and her husband the words to speak love and truth into these troubled marriages. 

Last but not least. I finally crochet this colorful granny square blanket for my baby sister Kaylee. Kaylee not once has asked me for anything.She really needed some encouragement last week. She is such a caring, thoughtful and kind person who would do anything for anyone but would never ask for anything herself. People always take advantage of her kind and generous heart and I wanted to encourage her to never change. To always love and to always give even it the person doesn't appreciate it because in the long run she is making this world a better place. My sisters Rhonda and Kaylee inspire me and I'm honored that they will now both have a crochet blanket from me. Just a tiny token of how much I love them. 

I haven't done this in awhile. But I would really love to know who you have encouraged this week. I set it up so you can link your blog post below. Let me know how your being led to encourage others in your life. 

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

yummy sweet potato hash

I've been searching for some savory meals that I can make in batches so I can reheat and serve through out the week. Making these meals allows me to grab a healthy meal on the run and it also helps me to keep the stove off during the day when its hot outside. A few weeks ago my good friend Brooke posted a picture on Instagram of a sweet potato hash that she made. As soon as I saw the picture I immediately texted her and asked her for the recipe. I'm going to ask Brooke if she will write a post on her blog on how she makes her hash, I changed up her recipe and created a slightly different hash. I try to make this in two big batches twice a week and put them in one serving size tupperware containers so Scott and I can grab and reheat. This meal is perfect for me during the week, especially since I am going to mommy boot camp and come home exhausted and wanting to grab and eat anything I see. This way I am able to eat something healthy and more filling than grabbing a handful of cookies. Here is how I make the sweet potato hash.

3 big sweet potatoes (peeled/diced)
1 medium shallot (diced)
olive oil
turkey kielbasa (diced)
tin foil

peel/dice the sweet potato 
dice the shallot
place it all into a bowl
cut up the turkey kielbasa and set aside (I use only half and will use the second half later in the week)
warm some 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat
stir in the sweet potatoes and shallots and place the tin foil on top
keep the stove on low heat (I have it on the lowest setting)
20 mins stir the sweet potatoes
20 mins stir the sweet potatoes again and add the kielbasa
turn the heat up to medium and stir every 5-10 mins for the next 20 mins until kielbasa is cooked
remove from heat
Once finished you can sprinkle with sea salt and pepper (I prefer mine with out seasoning)
cool for 10 mins then put single servings into tupperware or immediately serve and eat. 

I prefer to cook my hash at the lowest heat setting till the very end because I want the sweet potatoes to come out soft with a nice sear to them. 

You should check out my friend Brook's blog/instagram/twitter you will love her! 
She is the sweetest friend and I know you would love her blog and instagram feed.

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