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The story of an amazing God's work in our family.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Three Million, Six Hundred Seventy Nine Thousand, Two Hundred Minutes

Today, seven years ago, our little family stepped out into an adventure that would change our lives.

If you’re new to the #TeamThomas show you can read all about it here.

Believe it or not, that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Shocking…I know.

The thing about life changing events….especially ones that start off with trauma….is you don’t know they’re life changing until you’re on the other side of them.

When we first came home I felt like I was looking through a fog.  I felt disjointed, like my body didn’t belong in this space anymore.  Relationships seemed choppy and took extra work.  Church was hard.  Like, really hard.  I was desperate to hear from God, but the static in my head was so loud I didn’t know if I could anymore.  Everything felt like an out of body experience.  It was all JUST. SO. DIFFICULT.

Fast forward seven years (and unlimited tears and prayers) and I can look back on the experience without bitterness, hurt, or resentment.  I can take what was good and store it away to smile about another day, and the bad….well, like the fog that I felt strangled by in the beginning…it dissipated.

So….I say all that to say…

I see you.

Yes, you.

Right now it’s all so hard, and you’re feeling alone, and broken beyond repair, and empty.  I know.  I remember that hollowness that seemed to swallow my entire being.

I can confidentially say….this is not the end for you.  This thing, whatever it is, will not end you.  I promise there is freedom. (Pinkie promise)

Cry if you need to.  Scream into the pillow.  Purchase a punching bag.  Eat an entire cake. (Ok, that’s actually not super helpful, but you get the point)

Just do me one favor.

Don’t unpack there.

Don’t intend to stay.  Don’t even bring a carry-on.

Do something every day to work toward forgiveness (for yourself, not them)

Take every thought captive. (Yes, EVERY.SINGLE.ONE) 

I know.  I know what I’m asking you to do.  I know how hard it is to not wallow, even when all you want to do is curl up on your pile of pity and take a nice long nap. 

Ask for help.  Yes, having a friend to vent to is great, but chances are they won’t understand every aspect of your pain. 

Ask the one who created you.  The one who sees it all.  Every piece of your beautiful mess. 

Y'all, not only does he see the mess now, but he sees the mosaic that he’s created for you.  He sees the tears you’re crying now as fuel for the joy to come. 

One of my favorite passages of scripture is in Mark 9.  A father brought his son to Jesus and asks Jesus “If you can help him.”  Jesus responds with a question…”IF I can?”  The father immediately says “I believe, but help me overcome my unbelief.”

Y’all…is there anything better? 

“God, I don’t know what you’re doing….but I know who you are.”


Put that on repeat.  Say it every time you have to take one of those thoughts captive.  Cry it into your pillow at night.  Let those words heal you.  Let God start to re-position the pieces of your mosaic.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Happy Birthday To MEEEE!!

This morning, at 1:17 AM, I turned 36.

And weirdly enough, that number doesn’t scare me. 

There are about 8 million things I wish I knew more about and about 6 trillion things I would have done differently, but all in all, I’ve had a pretty decent run :D

So, to celebrate my completion of 35 revolutions around the sun here are 35 things you may or may not know about me.  Some of which have taken a full 35 years to learn.

In no particular order:

I have an exceptionally good memory
It’s almost like things get burned into my mind and I can’t let them go.  And it’s not always really important.  It’s the little stuff like how my brother orders his sandwich at Subway (Meatball, extra sauce, American Cheese, Mayo, Pickles), or how my Granny took her coffee (Black with 2 teaspoons of honey), or how my friend Emily eats her pizza (Toppings first – then scrape the cheese off and roll it up – then pick the fluffy part of the crust off).

I feel more deeply than I let on
I’m essentially a burnt marshmallow.  You’re not going to see a lot of emotion escape to the surface (thanks to #10) but I’m practically goo on the inside.

I am a ‘Ride or Die’
I’m a pretty intense ally.  I will 100% match your enthusiasm….Every.Single.Time.  I will hold your earrings.  I will help you fight your way out.  I will answer the phone at 3 am and unlock the front door because you have nowhere else to go.  I will help you stalk the girl you think he’s cheating on you with. But…I will also force the hard conversations.  I will ask “What does that look like now?”  I will line out your options and make you choose a road to walk down. 

I don’t function well when I’m hungry…or tired
Y’all.  Hangry is LEGIT an emotion.  I feel it.  Deep within me.  It’s taken me a LONG time to know that if I’m reaching my limit I probably just need some French fries and a nap.  Thankfully I’m married to a man who also recognizes this…way before I do…and can usually head my crazy off at the pass.

I have an insatiable need to know.
I know it doesn’t affect me.  I know it doesn’t matter.  I just want to know. 

Yes….I AM ‘head-shrinking’ you
Look.  I’m just being honest.  As you’re talking I’m about half listening and half trying to figure out your personality quirks.  I want to know how you work.  If we talk for more than 30ish minutes I can tell you if you’re an introvert or extrovert, what your love language is, and how you are motivated.  I will need this information later….see #3.

I really do find myself hilarious
Come on…you HAVE to give me this one.  It’s basically Kim 101.  Rule #1 is I’m HILARIOUS.  And it’s SUCH a sad story when people are unaware of rule #1.

I know all the lyrics in the universe, but don’t ask me about song title or artist
If you need that info, you should ask my brother!

I’m seriously disappointed about the lack of choreographed musical numbers in my life
I mean…what’s a girl gotta do to get a little singing and dancing on cars on the way to work?  I feel like this will be my 50thbirthday request….someone arrange a flash mob while I’m at the grocery store. (No, I’m serious)

I trust you as far as I can throw you
I’m pretty strong…but that’s still not very far.  I am going to try to figure you out before I give you any ammunition against me.  I need to know if you’re going to shoot me in the back the second I turn around.  I don’t enjoy being vulnerable.  There are probably 3 people in the known universe that I trust implicitly…..odds are, you’re not one of them.

If you ask my opinion I am going to give it to you….this is your warning
I’m not really a sugar-coater.  I’m learning to speak truth in love, but I’m still going to speak truth.  If you’re looking for someone to back your crazy idea, I may not be the one.

I read….a lot
For the last few years I’ve read 52 books a year.  Yes, that’s a book a week.  Granted they weren’t all life changers, but I enjoy the escape to another universe.  I also think I like literature because there’s no “Hurry up and wait.”  It’s constant motion….one thing changing to the next. 

I get a little ADD behind the wheel of the car
Sometimes that I forget that I look with my eyes and not the entire car….

I get narcolepsy in the passenger seat
I seriously have fallen asleep on the way to Ikea.  Which is only an hour away!

Sometimes, random songs get stuck in my head and I just have to sing them.
You can ask the girls I work with.  And it really could be ANYTHING….from some crappy to 40 hit to an obscure Disney song.  It doesn’t matter.  I think the only way to get it from bouncing around in my head is to let it go. (See what I did there….HA…..see #7)

If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life it would, hands down, be tacos
Y’all.  Nothing more needs to be said about this.  Mexican food is a blessing.  Be blessed.

I will not discriminate against you because of race, religion, or sexual orientation…But I will judge you if you’re female and your toes aren’t painted
This is probably my biggest pet peeve.  It probably has more to do with #26 than anything.  And I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter.  But paint your freaking toes…

The first thing I notice about people is their eyebrows
I know.  This is weird.  I’ve been told 11 billion times how weird this is.  But, alas.  Here we are. 

I still have my wisdom teeth
Weird.  Who’da thunk I’d have enough room in my mouth for 4 extra teeth….

I don’t like to eat alone…ever
I don’t mind hanging out at the house by myself.  But don’t ask me to go in public and have a meal alone.  I just can’t do it.

I consider it the highest honor to be part of your big life event
Make your wedding cake…I’d love to.  Hold your hand and remind you how badass you are while you’re having a baby….sure.  Stand beside you as you proclaim that this is the one forever and ever….of course.  I think this one is tied to #1 and #2 (heh….I said #2).

I have an abnormally high pain tolerance…unless we’re talking about my toes.
Have back surgery on Monday and go back to work on Friday.  No problem!  Have a small human cut out of me on Wednesday and clean house on Saturday.  Why not?  Stub my toe on the coffee table at my grandma’s house going to the bathroom.  Scream like I’ve been stabbed – fall to the ground and shake the whole house – and exclaim that “It’s BROKEN!!!”  Yeah…that happened.  But in my defense – that toe is STILL crooked – proving my point that it WAS broken (Thank you very much, Mema)

I can pop my sternum
Your sternum is that hard bone in the middle of your chest that your ribs connect to.  Fun Fact: It’s actually 3 different bones. I have no idea why, or how I became aware of this, but every now and then I can get the joint between the top bone (Manubrium) and the second bone (Body) to pop.  (And, yes, it grosses EVERYONE out)

I don’t like to hug…but not for the reasons you might think
I’m tall.  If you’ve met me you know this.  I stand at about 6’2”.  Which means if I’m going to hug you, a normal sized female, I’m going to smother you with my boobs.  It’s just a fact.  I don’t like this….you don’t like this…people walking by don’t like this….it’s just uncomfortable for everyone.  Also see #10.

I hate feet!
I don’t know why.  I just don’t like them.  Putting your feet on me is a sure fire way to ensure that I will NEVER speak to you again.

Don’t see a movie with me unless you’re ready for a running commentary.  No, I’m serious.
Again, see #7.  But really, I think I’m just too ADD.  I can’t have all these un-shared thoughts bouncing around in my head for 2+ hours.  I just can’t.  I need to let them out.  Now…they may be remarks on a characters appearance….wondering where she got those shoes….wanting that pineapple cup….thinking that man (who looks remarkably like my husband) is smokin’ hawt….but whatever I think is going to come flying out of my mouth.  At least I’ve been nice enough to warn you beforehand!

My mind is in the gutter….Always….No matter what….
I’ve tried to work on this, but it’s hard….heh….SO HARD…..heh

I want to be given a 24 hour notice before I die….so I can eat my weight in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
I mean….is there anything more amazing?  I may just want to ride the conveyor under the glaze waterfall.  Seriously, this is the stuff dreams are made of!

I’m crafty, not creative.
Show me a picture and I can figure out how to do that.  Give me a blank canvas and tell me to create….I’m screwed.

I have a lisp.  It’s not enough to notice in normal day to day life, but gets worse when I’m tired….or tipsy.
I can confirm that it’s bad enough that my talk to text can’t understand me unless I’ve had a cup of coffee...

My natural schedule is 10 am to 3 am
I am a night owl by nature – and an early morning riser because the rest of the world seems to think that all business needs to take place at the butt crack of dawn.

My 2 year goal is to do a half Ironman.
Yeah.  You heard me.  IRON. MAN.  This inspiration comes on the heels of watching my former Crossfit coach compete in a FULL Ironman shortly after being diagnosed with RA.  I don’t imagine that this road is going to be easy, but I’m ready to NOT give up on something and actually FINISH.  
We’ll see how that goes…

I really want to be pretty, but it seems like SO. MUCH. WORK.
I can either have full make up or have my hair fixed.  I can’t do both.  Dammit Jim, I’m an accountant, not a magician

I’m a Student….again
Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment…and have enrolled to get my Master’s Degree.  Because you know what goes with a nice Bachelor’s in Psychology….a Master’s in Accounting.

I think there’s a better way.
It doesn’t matter what it is.  But you’ll catch me saying “There’s got to be a better way.”  Granted, this statement has been to my detriment at a few jobs.  Thankfully my current boss just listens and lets me rant and even lets me try out a few of my crazy ideas.  Sometimes they work.  Sometimes there’s an even better way than my better way.  Sometimes you just need to try.

So.  Kudos to you if you got to the end of this.  In parting I’ll leave you with some birthday wisdom (Which is WAY better than a birthday suit….LOL)

Figure out who you are.  Know WHOSE you are.  Be the friend you want to have.  Buy coffee for the guy in line behind you.  Eat the cake.  Laugh fully (even if you snort).  Be a better remember-er (even if you have to set a reminder in your phone).  Pray more.  Text the person you’re thinking about.  Love even if it hurts.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2-0-1-7


Each year, as the calendar counts down to 1-1 again, I start to pray about what word would be the theme for the coming year.  As we roll into 2017 I felt like God was telling me that it was a year to rest.  (Lord knows I need it....2016 was....tough)

Rest is the one action that I’ve never been able to get right.  I guess because I forget it really is an action.  

As a wife and a mom it's seemingly impossible to look around and NOT see something that needs to be done/taken care of/handled.  I feel like I'd be of much better use if I had 6 arms and wings like a hummingbird.

But rest….there’s no time for that.

On December 27th, my first day back to work after the holiday, my co-workers noticed that my cough had stopped sounding cough like and started sound like a barking seal.

The next day I could barely hold my head up.  I was down for the count.

Let me just interject this point of knowledge, for those of you who already know where this story is going...

When God asks you to rest...it's not a request.  It is a call to obedience.  (One that I CLEARLY didn't heed.)

SO....here we are, six days later, and I still feel like a zombie version of myself.

I haven’t been able to do anything.  I jokingly told the kids that I was going to have to start paying one of them to hold my head up!

For us...well…me, 2016 was a year of manufactured happiness.  

I tried everything in my power to move our family out of one season into the next. 

I was working as much as humanly possible, taking on as many side jobs as I could, trying to make sure that we could still afford to keep our lights on and buy our kids yearbooks.
Mark was drowning.  Depression and anxiety are beasts of another realm that can't be conquered with sheer willpower.  If I started now I don't think I could ever count the number of hours that our community of believers poured out prayer for this man.
Camber was dealing with giants of her own.  Thirteen is a tough age.  Girls are mean.  And this world is trying to do everything in its power to drag our babies down with it.
Then there was Coop.  This kid y'all.  He's either going to cure cancer or take over the world.  This las year was rough for him as well.  I'm pretty sure the vice principal of his school had me on speed dial.  

So...with all that drama I was desperately trying to keep our family together...and functioning...and growing....

Many times my efforts failed miserably.  We cancelled a lot of plans because one or more of us was having some sort of existential crisis that day.

You see, as much as I wanted to be...I’m not the author of grace. (Gasp.  I know you're shocked)

I got exhausted.  And honestly, I just stopped trying.  I didn't schedule anything.  I didn't say yes to anything.  I started shutting down projects that were floundering because I.CANT.MAKE.THINGS.WORK.

Slowly but surely, as I sat on the couch and watched 1 million hours of Netflix in hopes to connect to the husband that I was sure I was losing, little bits of light started shining through.

After a fairly dramatic (And we Thomas girls KNOW dramatic) knock-down, drag-out, we were able to talk some sense into our struggling 13 year old.  

We discussed the life-cycle of a friend.  How important it is to keep those who are like-minded close to you, how important it is to keep those who continuously stir up drama at an arm’s length, how hard it is to genuinely love someone and see them set out on a path of destruction that you can't do anything about, how to earnestly pray your guts out for those people...and how to set them free from your life.

Redemption for Coop came at the changing of schools.  We had always known that he was a grown up trapped in a kid’s body.  This summer/fall we really got to see that in action.  It started at youth camp…

*****Side bar - I can’t say enough how important youth ministry is.  Get a group of leaders who are in it to win it.  Don't cycle through babysitters.  These kids are smart enough to know that it's not worth it to build a relationship with someone who is going to be out the door when a "better opportunity" comes along.  Secondly, pray for these people....Seriously...you've met your kids...and their friends.  This job ISN'T easy.  Kids are nuts and annoying and barely listen (except when they do and all the hard work pays off).  Third, support them.  Donate.  Get a crappy car wash.  Buy a bad cupcake.  Just write a check to cover a couple of kids going to camp.  Don’t make these guys beg you to support the next generation of disciples.*****

Ok...enough from the soapbox...

Youth Camp - Y'all I was TERRIFIED!  This kid hadn't gone a week without having some sort of major breakdown with a classmate....how was he going to survive a week at camp without me there to thump him in the head and get him back in line???
Well, thankfully, the leaders know him all too well.  They put him on the team of a girl woman who loves him almost as much as I do.  She knows him, knows his heart, and protected him and gave him space to learn to interact with his peers.  She believed him (honestly, the kid REALLY doesn't lie) and went to bat for him against people who didn't have his best interest at heart.  She is my favorite.
Somewhere in this week away Coop showed these people who he really is.  Not just the rowdy kid who that they had seen before...but who he was evolving into.

I'm still not sure on the details...But the bits and pieces of the story tell me that there was fire (of course there was) and Coop prayed over the people in his grade...and the entire group as they prepared to go back to school.  (Although, all I could get out of him was that there was fire...)

In November, a friend from church hooked Mark up with an interview at the Starbucks in the mall.  He was hired right away and started the week after Thanksgiving.  He seems to enjoy it.  It's a much more extroverted position than he's used to, so he usually comes home completely exhausted.  But everyone who has seen him in action say that he's amazing (I TOTES already knew that).  A little bit of purpose (and two different anxiety medications) have gone a long way.  I'm excited to see what God has for this man in 2017.

As for me.  I feel like I've been hit by a bus.  My head is WAY too heavy to hold up and my chest burns when I attempt to breathe.  I CAN, however, successfully make it from the bed to the couch. (High five me!)  But....I can rest.  I have two kids and a husband who are willing to entertain my ridiculous wishes for a dusted and vacuumed living room (even though we're the only ones who will be seeing it).  I have a job that I've been at for a year and still love.  (And because I've been there for over a year I can take a few days to rest up without worrying about how we're going to pay the light bill).  I've closed doors on all the ventures that had me running like a chicken with my head cut off and I enjoy the down time watching old episodes of Smallville with my main squeeze.

I look forward to a year of rest.  Nothing too pushy.  Just organic growth and genuine joy.  

What is your word for this year?

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

I have been in a funk.

There.  I said it.

For those who don't knowI lost my job in August. 

It was a shock to say the least. 

I had been with the small, family-oriented company for over a year.  Mark and I were talking about buying a house.  Then, out of nowhere, I was called into the owner's office and told that because of our heart for missions, and our desire to one day leave this country, they didn't see me as a permanent employee.  Thankfully I was so shocked that I handled myself with as much grace as I could muster.  I gathered the things from my desk, loaded everything in my car, and cried the whole way home. 

After a couple of days of wallowing I applied for unemployment and started exploring other options.  A few short weeks later I had my first unemployment check and a fairly lucrative cake business. 

God is good.

I decided that I would apply for jobs and go on interviews but that I would be selective until November (as my unemployment runs out at the end of December). 

Well....it's November. 

I have been on several interviews and nothing has really panned out.  I feel like I'm fairly bright and capable of doing whatever is asked of me, but because of craptastic decisions earlier in life (mainly resulting from my selfishness) I don't have any experience to back those claims up.

It's no secret that I've struggled with my identity.  As days turn into weeks, and the call backs never come, I have struggled with feeling inadequate, useless, and unworthy.

Unfortunetally these feelings have migrated into my relationships as well. 

This has resulted in me wanting to crawl in a hole and sing:

"Nobody likes me,
Everybody hates me,
I Guess I'll go eat worms."

Thankfully I have a husband who calls me out on this childish behavior and encourages me with "Suck it up buttercup."

I hope that the handfull of you reading this understand what a huge deal it is for me to pour out my heart like this.  I don't usually open up to people.  I have not had good results with it in the past.  More often than not my deepest struggles have been locked away inside another person to be used against me later.  I just don't trust people.

I would love to say that there is a bright side to this depression narrative....but, alas, I'm still waiting for....something. 

Right now I rest in the fact that God is who he said he is, he will do what he says he will do, and I am who HE says I am.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Way We Were

I saw a high school marching band for the first time in years tonight.  Actually I saw 5.  It's crazy how memories can be attached to sounds and resurface so quickly.

The second band that took the field started their show with Beethoven's 5th symphony.

Immediately I was 15 years old, my first season of marching band, with my hair pulled too tightly under my hat because I was terrified that one strand was going to be misplaced.  Under bright stadium lights, pouring sweat, I stepped onto a football field for the first time.  Y'all....my heart.

After that one show seemed to bleed into another.  Football season lasted forever.  But one memory remains so clear I can almost feel it.

District marching festival.  1997.  Tommy Oliver Stadium.  Panama City, Florida.
We lined up on the field like so many times before.  The lights were blaring and the stands were filled with people.  (This time our audience was made up of fellow musicians and exhausted parents.)

The show was like any other, only this time it meant so much more.  We had 30+ years of tradition riding on our shoulders.  Our band was 'superior' (the highest ranking that a marching band can get) and had been for years.  Everything rested in our hands now.

During the last song (Ode To Joy by Beethoven) we performed a 'company front.'  Basically the entire band formed a straight line, paused for a bit, and then marched 5 more yards forward in unison.  During that brief pause no note was to be played.  It was dead silence for a few seconds then we all came back in together and played our guts out.

Those brief seconds are forever burned into my memory.

We formed our company front.  The music went silent.  Seconds before we were to play the next note a voice called out:
"Come on band."

There, from the sidelines, the man that challenged us to be better, chastised us when we made stupid mistakes, yelled when we refused to listen, and praised us when praise was due was cheering for us.

He knew what we had inside and he compelled it out.

That's what he did.  He challenged us to greatness.  He taught us that there is no excuse for not being excellent.

Tonight I saw bands take the field running with their instruments and waving wildly to people in the stands.  I saw musicians dance rather than play.  I heard melophones "trying to save the world" and tubas who were trying to see if they could get their tongue to come out of the bell.  And I heard Mr. D's voice in the back of my head, not being critical, but demanding more than mediocrity.  

I have waited 11 years to be a band mom.  As I watched not only these bands, but their proud parents in the stands, I silently prayed that Camber gets her own Mr. D.

Words can't express the impact that he had on my life.  I will forever be grateful for his influence.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I have found the one my soul loves...

I'm a math nerd.  I always have been.  Numbers just make sense to me.

So, here are some numbers for today:

5,113 Days
7,362,720 Minutes
14 Years
2 Kids
1 Cat
3 Dogs
25 Houses
4 States
9 Countries

In those numbers we have laughed and cried.  Hurt each other and carried each other through tragedy.  We've seen new family members be born and said good bye to others. We made made lifelong friends and watched relationships dissolve. We have lived with family and we have lived on our own.  We have had much and we have had very little.  

We have literally grown up together.  We have learned to be adults.  We have learned to rely on God in situations that we never dreamed possible.

14 years later I still do.
1999
2000

2013

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where Feet May Fail

I'm not good at expressing emotions.  I spent most of my childhood hiding the way I feel so that it couldn't be used against me.

'My heart' is a phrase that you will hear me use when I can't express the deep emotion that I'm feeling.

Y'all.

My heart.

Last night our small group had its last meeting for the semester.  We grilled burgers and dogs and sat around chit chatting about baked beans recipes and the conundrum of ab workouts. (You workout your abs so you have a smaller waist, but the workout makes your abs hurt so much that you can no longer 'suck it in.')

I didn't realize at the time, but while I was downing Mountain Dew like it was my job, my childhood friend was losing his life.
Yesterday, in a freak accident, a boy that I had known since I was 2 years old was shot and killed in his home.  His family was gathered to celebrate the birth of their first son.

On the way home from my last small group meeting I read the short article posted on Facebook by mutual friend and immediately started to sob.
A million questions started going through my mind:  What just happened?  Is there anything I can do?  Is his wife ok?  How is his mom?

I immediately remembered that this is the same boy that used to get blamed for pulling my hair...even though it was really his best friend.
I thought about baby Jax and how he will never his father.

Of course, in times like these people squeeze their loved ones extra tight and try to remind themselves that God has a plan.

If I'm being honest, as my head hit the pillow last night, I repeated over and over through cold wet tears:
"Lord, I believe but help my unbelief."

Today, as Facebook is flooded with pictures, and memories, and condolences, I am praying for Jess.  I literally can't imagine what she's going through.  I pray that the peace that passes all understand will be real to her.

I pray for Mrs. Sandy and Mr. Billy, that they would have wisdom in the words that they speak over their daughter.

I pray for Mrs. Vicki.  That she would be comforted.  That the pieces of her heart would begin, even now, to weld together.

I pray for Brian, Justin's best friend.  That he would continue to draw close to God and that he would be a source of wisdom and strength for the family.

I pray for Emily, Jess' best friend, that just her touch would be a source of comfort for Jess.

I pray for baby Jax.  That he would grow to be a man of integrity, like his father.

 I pray for those who will feel Justin's absence in the days and weeks to come.

I don't have answers.  I don't even have anything comforting to say.  But I can pray, so that's what I'll do.

Donations to support Jess and baby Jax can be given here.