a letter to my younger self

baby jess

dear 16-year old jess,

that’s what you like being called. jessica gets caught on the tongue. too many syllables. jess is familiar. people who know you call you Jess.

i’m not sure how much time passes to mark the transition. but people shift from saying “Jessica” to “Jess.” that marks your people.

you’re in the midst of discovering who you are. rushing through life. anticipating what’s next.

slow down, oh my sweet soul.

it happens fast. prom. graduation. getting your first and second… and third speeding ticket.

[by the way, you think those mark the end of the world. trust me, dad won’t actually kill you. the time you almost go to jail is worse.] keep reading…

everything you need to know about true beauty

Barbara Casasola

oh friends. you’re in for a treat. i asked one of my very best friends, alese, to pop over and share a bit of her story with you today. this is a friend who has been in the trenches, and has been refined, not defined by her battles. if you’ve ever battled with insecurities, body image battles, believing lies… 

do not miss a syllable. 

jess and alese

by alese deans

So—I will just start off by apologizing. I am not a writer. If you were to look up my name in the dictionary, writer’s block would be found under my description. I struggle with writing for a multitude of reasons, but for time sake I will just mention two.

  1. Writing makes things real. Saying or thinking something is one thing, but writing it? It is in a field of its own. Which totally freaks me out.
  2. I hate following rules. I hate having to worry about if my grammar and punctuation are on point. So if poor writing skills make you shriek, I’d advise you focus your attention elsewhere and spare your neighbor’s ears. All silliness aside, one of my very best friends asked me to write a little something for her blog, so I will happily accept the challenge.

I, like many men and women, have struggled with body image issues from a young age. keep reading…

the unlikely bread of heaven

bread and wine

i’ve been attending the episcopal church down the street from my apartment.

i am learning so much from this well-worn, liturgical, mainline denomination.

inclusivity. the three-legged stool. the great big arms of god.

but my favorite part? keep reading…

the day i cried in front of glenn in the hardware store.

i went to home depot last summer.

my sweet friend and roomie at the time, logan, was helping me install a dryer (because, adult), and we dropped one of the screws inside of the dryer (because, children).

i offered to take a matching screw and go to home depot to find it’s match.

elsa came along to keep me company (and not destroy the entire house).

walking up to the entrance, i started getting weepy.

surely this is allergies. my heart would betray me now. here. over this silly thing.

but i hadn’t gone to home depot by myself… ever.

d was the one who went to home depot. not me.

i made my way to the first orange apron I saw (because what else are you supposed to do when you walk in? actually peruse the aisles?). i asked this sweet, unassuming woman to find me a matching screw.

she directed me to aisle 3.

i started perusing for something that looked sort of like what i held in my hand.


i don’t know if it was sawdust in my eye, feeling overwhelmed by the variety to choose from, or just sad (<– cough), but as glenn approached the obviously confused girl in aisle 3, tears puddled in my eyes.

i asked for help.

something that has been increasingly difficult the last few months.

glenn found me the closest version he could (for the record, he was wrong).

and I made my way back to elsa in the car. tears streaming.

on being brave


meet hannah. you’ve heard me sing her praises before. she’s the kind of friend who says yes when you ask her to drive to utah with you and your fluffy pup in a powder blue mini-van. 🙂


hannah is a dear friend, encourager, creative, and someone who is figuring out this whole adulting thing alongside me. we often have pretty rad convos i wish you could all listen in on. and if you get a chance to be hannah’s in-real-life friend, DO IT. i asked her to pop over and share a little bit about something she’s been learning in this season of her life. i think it will resonate with you.

ever since i was tiny and in need of encouragement, my dad’s anthem for me was: keep reading…

here’s your challenge for the week


in the midst of crisis, ev.er.y.thing is hard. (read: impossible).

do you know the feeling of wading in a stream or river wearing flip-flops? every step is a battle of mud verses inner-toe-strength.

i experienced this feeling in the weeks after our separation. even small, simple tasks loomed large. every step forward was a battle. life zoomed at its normal pace, but i couldn’t keep up.  keep reading…

5 ways to own the summer instead of letting the summer own you


if there is one person who is rocking this whole juggling being a wife/friend/momma/badass boss thing, it is my sweet friend, Sarah. sarah is a momma of three boys under 3 (yeah… i know). ev, bear, and baby huck keep this momma’s hands, days, and heart full. i’m continually amazed at how well and intentional she is with her time–with her friends, her kiddos, and her hubby. BONUS. sarah has an incredible story of how one beachbody challenge changed her life. so each month, she leads people through a fitness challenge group. follow sarah on instagram (because she will kick your butt with encouragement, truth, and challenges every day). and sign up for one of her challenge groups, here.

i asked sarah to pop over and share a handful of tips on how to own summer instead of letting the summer own you:

keep reading…

8 things NOT to say to someone going through a divorce or break-up


In the midst of my divorce, and for the many months following, I had a slew of people who didn’t know what to say or do. for many, I was the first person they knew, up-close-and-personal, to walk this wobbly path. There is no rule book, no manual for what to do when your friend experiences this strange and devastating loss.

The following are REAL things people said to me. Most are well-intentioned. Many, I’m guilty of speaking over people. and hear me when i say that there is so much grace if you’ve said them, too.

we so badly want make sure we say something even if it isn’t exactly right for the situation. We long make others’ pain more palatable. the silence scares us. but The words we offer often make US feel better, and leave a wake of pain and devastation.

Here are 8 things NOT to say to someone going through a divorce or break-up:

keep reading…