how to love better — by loving yourself more

With the new year ahead and full of potential, what might it look like for us to love bigger than ever before?  Jessica Turner is a veritable expert in looking for pockets of time & for ways to love well:  She works full-time in marketing, writes regularly on her lifestyle blog, mothers her three beautiful young children, yet still finds time each day for using her gifts in life-giving ways. Jessica has been a kindred friend for more than six years — she’s taught me so much about giving with joy & loving upside down & deeply — and it’s a humble joy to learn from her needful journey of  The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You and its beautiful companion My Fringe Hours: Discovering a More Creative and Fulfilled Life… an honor to cheer her on and a grace to welcome Jessica to the farm’s front porch today….

Click here to Listen to Today’s Post Read By Today’s Guest by Jessica Turner

guest post and photos by Jessica Turner

On the second day of this brand new year, we threw a party for my son Ezra who’d just turned 1.

Metallic streamers and three-dimensional gold stars hung all over the dining room to celebrate “twinkle, twinkle little star, he’s grown so much and come so far.

I’ve always loved stars and throwing a star-themed party was a bit of a dream for me. Plus, it was meaningful to think about Ezra’s life and how God will use him to shine bright, just like the stars.

About 20 friends joined us that morning and all of our kids were running amuck around the house.

French toast and star-topped cupcakes surely contributed to the chaos.

Amid the mayhem, a dear friend shared her pain, there in my kitchen. The joy of the occasion couldn’t prevent her hurt from breaking through.

As we filled plastic cups with juice, my friend talked about the miscarriage she had experienced six months earlier and how she still cried about it often.

How her husband was tired of her crying.

How she was going to start attending a support group to seek comfort.

How she yearned for another child.

I just stood there, listening, the rest of the party fading away. I grasped for words, but none came, so I just hugged her tight and said that I loved her.

When the party was over and in the days that followed, I thought about my friend.

Not only did I think about her circumstances, but I thought about how in recent months I had not been the friend that she needed.

In Mark 12 Jesus shares the the two most important commandmentsto love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

I think we probably remember the love the Lord part.

And we likely remember the love your neighbor part, too. But that as yourself part—those are the words we forget.

 

Last year was incredibly hectic for my family and me.

I released two books and had baby #3.

My husband traveled for six weeks overseas.

I worked full-time and blogged.

In the end, too many responsibilities prevented me from loving myself well. I over-yesed myself and ran on empty for most of the year.

Consequently, when my friend had a miscarriage, I spoke with her and texted during those first hard weeks, but then I became distracted. Part of why I couldn’t love her to the best of my ability was because I wasn’t loving myself during that season.

I didn’t have the capacity I needed. I was exhausted and busy. Too busy.

The irony is that I believe unequivocally that practicing self-care needs to be a top priority for women.

I wrote two books about it. Yet, in sharing that message with the world, I lost sight of it myself.

Jesus knew that our self-care wasn’t just about us. Loving ourselves has a positive ripple effect on our families, our neighbors, our communities and the world.

We are the body of Christ. We belong to one another and desperately need one another’s love. But that starts with the way we love ourselves.

Just think of what the world would look like if we really embraced Jesus’s commandment.

If we started exercising and took control of our eating habits.

If we made time to be creative.

If we spent time in the Word.

We would be healthier.

We would be happier.

We would love our neighbors better.

We wouldn’t neglect our friends when they are going through painful seasons, too wrapped up in our own busyness.

Instead, we would be able to radically love the way Jesus has called us to do.

This new year is already looking different for me. I chose the word SLOW as my word for the year and I am embracing it deeply.

I have turned down work opportunities and not over-scheduled myself.

I have made room for a Bible study and book club.

I have already had lunch with three different friends, and several more dates are on the books.

And while slow might be my word, that doesn’t mean days aren’t going to be full and sometimes messy.

That’s not how life works—all of us know that firsthand. Three kids to parent, 9-5s to report to, meals to make, laundry to fold and the list goes on.

Yet, in each day, fringe hours can be found. Those bits that might be missed or wasted all together can be redeemed for beautiful, soul-filling hobbies and habits.

When we redeem those hours, life-change happens. Beauty is found. Friendships are nurtured.

We are the best versions of the people God created us to be.

As you embark on a new year, consider these questions:

  • Who do you want to be?
  • What are those giftings you have?
  • When are your fringe hours each day?
  • Who do you want to serve?
  • What do you want those ripples to look like?

May this year, you embrace with renewed commitment Jesus’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

Because in the end, most of us will do just that.

And don’t we all want our love to be big and bright?

 

Jessica Turner is the founder of the popular lifestyle blog The Mom Creative, where she documents her pursuit of cultivating a life well-crafted. Additionally, she is a writer for DaySpring’s (in)courage, an advocate for World Vision, a speaker at conferences nationwide, and an award-winning marketing professional. 

Jessica’s books The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You and My Fringe Hours: Discovering a More Creative and Fulfilled Life are a gift for every woman who struggles with finding time to do the things she loves and practice self-care. These practical books are the permission slips so many women today need, and will have you saying yes to sharing your creative gifts again.

Find The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You on your kindle for just $1.99 through Saturday, January 16. And might I suggest to also pick up the beautiful companion book My Fringe Hours to work through the questions and exercises? Together you’ll be equipped for a lifetime of loving your neighbors well.

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