The Bollen Alley

life with our little family of three… and almost four!

the simplest prayer

Honestly, I’ve never felt more powerless in my life. My baby girl just lie there, arms stiff and trembling, her little hands clenched. Eyes panicked, teeth grinding, breath shallow… All I could do was stand there, trying to comfort her calmly and not completely lose my mommy mind, as her lips and nose started to turn blue.

What only lasted a few minutes felt like eternity… but eventually her little arms weren’t so stiff, her teeth stopped grinding, and her color returned.  It wasn’t her first seizure, but I doubt they’ll ever be any less terrifying. It didn’t help that these were different than the others. Plus, this was her third seizure since the evening before (that we were aware of), and they were getting considerably worse. Thankfully, Daniel was already on the phone with me when the seizure started, so he was immediately on his way home so we could head to the ER.

As I held her while we waited, limp and essentially unconscious (a state called “postictal”), all I could do was pace my house and pray.  You’d think after what I had just witnessed, I’d have a LOT to say, but it was the total opposite. I had nothing. There was just one word that came to my lips… “Jesus”. Over and Over. Just a pleading, begging…  “Jesus”. The simplest prayer.

A few days later, I was scrolling my newsfeed on Facebook and I came to this post from one of my favorite female Christian authors, Lysa TerKeurst.  She said,

“Today, in the midst of all you have going on… stop and whisper, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’ Just a whispered breath formed in the wholeness of His name carries all the power and mercy and wisdom and grace we need to handle what we face.

I couldn’t believe how perfectly she nailed what I had just experienced. All my heart knew to do in those moments when I felt so completely powerless, was to call on the name of the One who is all power. Jesus, the ultimate Savior, our Immanuel – “God with us”.  I needed God to be with us. Right there in my little foyer.

And you know what? He was. I found comfort, peace, strength. Was I still upset? Yes. Was I still scared? Of course. But with every whisper of that precious name, I remembered,

  • my God is faithful! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
  • My God is Healer! “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” Matthew 9:35
  • and that no matter what might happen, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Maybe you’ve been there, maybe you haven’t. That helpless, powerless place where you have nothing, not even words.  I’m hear to tell you,  you have Jesus. And that’s the only word you need.

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14


life lately: part two

IMG_9281As a kid, whenever I would get a new diary, I always felt compelled to write a ginormous first entry all about the current happenings of my life.  As if the diary couldn’t possibly understand anything about my life if it didn’t have the full backstory and all the details. (I know. You’re so surprised I could be that dramatic.) Well, I’m pretty sure I’m writing these updates out of that same compulsion…  so, just bear with 12 year old Jess for a smidge, will ya?

Last post, you heard all about our sweet-n-sassy first born, Tindell Jane. This time, it’s all about her SISTER… that’s right, we are thoroughly pregnant once again and it is another baby girl.  One of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, once posted a “State of the Uterus Address”. HA! Clever, no?  Consider this exactly that. Here are answers to questions I get most often:

When are you due?  December 8, although Daniel is convinced I’m going to go into labor in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. (Silly boy, doesn’t he know there is a VERY important game coming on the next day? Baby girl and I talked… she’s going to stay put until we win. And until I get aaaaall my Christmas decorations up.) According to my countdown, that leaves us with less than 60 days to go!  (Cue panic attack…)


Are you glad it’s another girl?  Heck to the yeah!!! Just the thought of all the stuff we get to use again, from the clothes to the pink bumbo, makes this mama oh-so-happy. Beyond that, I really am looking forward to seeing my sister-girls grow up together. We are praying and praying and praying for their relationship.

Won’t they be really close in age? Well… yes. 22 months or so!

Was that on purpose? Well…. as much on purpose as it can be! We hoped and prayed that our kids would be around 2 or 3 years apart, knowing that it poses certain challenges in the early years, but hoping that the benefits later in life make it worth it.  The Lord heard our prayers and blessed them!

Is Tindell excited? That’s the thing about having them so close; we’re not sure how much she understands.  But, she can tell us where “Sissy” is (my belly… sometimes hers!) and likes to kiss it and say “aaaaw”.  We try to talk about “Sissy” a lot… her room, her clothes, her toys… with the hopes that it will click when baby girl is actually here.  Any suggestions for helping her adjust well are more than welcome!

How are you feeling?  Overall, really good! I’m blessed to be one of those women that truly enjoys being pregnant. However, I can’t honestly say this pregnancy hasn’t been quite as simple as the last.  The main difference being that I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 25 weeks pregnant. I also waddle more. It’s annoying.

What do you have to do for the diabetes?  I check my blood sugar four times a day and (usually…) eat a carb controlled diet. So far, my levels have been really good, so we’ve had no reason to even consider insulin injections. Baby girl is growing right on target as well, so at this point we aren’t worried about her coming out super huge (which is always a concern with GD babies). If you’re feeling really curious about GD and what causes it,  this page from the ADA gives a great synopsis. (Spoiler alert: hormones. You can just about blame any preggo woe on those little buggers.)


Is her nursery done? HA! Ummm… no. We’ve started the process, though! Thanks to my rockstar parents, all the old furniture is moved out and it is a lovely shade of light blue. We have lots of other plans in the works as well, and I am unbelievably excited to see (and show!) the finished product.  So, stay tuned!

Do you have a name picked out?  Oh, the name game. It’s hard to name a kid, y’all! They’re stuck with it. Forever. FOR. EEEE. VER.  All that said, yes, we’re 99% sure we have a name. Dan and I just like to do this thing where we wait to see her little face first and officially name her after she’s born.  So, I can’t tell you just yet… but, if you hang out with either of us, we would probably tell you. Or accidentally call her by it. That’s been happening a lot lately.

And that’s, that! We really are getting so excited. We’ve had LOTS of friends having little ones over the past several months (in fact, we know at least one person due each month from July 2013 through at least next January), so we’ve had lots of squishy, snuggly newborns to get warmed up with. Like I said, stay tuned for nursery updates and a maybe a few other baby related posts. It’s just what’s on the brain, my friends!


life lately: part one…

IMG_8742As fast as a year seems to go by at this point in my life, I’ve noticed that a whole lot can happen in just 365 days.  So, since it’s been about that long since I’ve posted, I figured we’re overdue for a little update. Just a peek into what life is like at the Alley these days!

Tindell is now 19, almost 20 months old. Running around, feeding herself real food, saying actual words… all my fellow parents out there know what an amazing phenomenon it is to watch your child develop these simple skills. Now that we’re officially experiencing toddlerhood, I often feel like we’re in this crazy limbo land. She’s not quite a little girl, but not so much a baby anymore either.  It’s a wonderful, terrifying place to be… especially with your first.

Wonderful in that we have so much fun. We laugh, tickle, snuggle and play every single day. She is such a joy to us! We get to praise and celebrate new things ALL the time… a new word, a new ability. Kids learn so much, so fast at this age. The overwhelming sense of pride I get over her simplest accomplishments is indescribable. To see that pride and joy on HER face is even better! I think what’s been most fascinating, though, is watching her personality develop – and let me tell you, it is equal parts sweet and sassy, curious and cautious, independent and yet still so vulnerable.  She comes alive in front of a crowd, but her favorite place is in your lap with a big stack of books to read. Yes, the second year is truly wonderful.


And yet, toddlerhood is terrifying at the same time.  She now has the ability to run into a busy street… and sometimes the desire.  She is curious about the oven. And the knife drawer. And a gazillion other things in this world that can hurt her, or worse.  With age and ability comes a growing need for independence, a growing curiosity, and a growing will. When she was a baby, her needs were so basic – nutrition, sleep, warmth, love.  While she will always have those needs, now she also has wants… but not necessarily the ability to communicate those wants. Or the ability to understand you can’t always get what you want. Or the patience to wait for those wants.

So, suddenly the baby we have given everything to at the tiniest little cry for the first year of her life, we now have to DISCIPLINE?!?! We have to tell no, and let cry, and try to reason with?  Lord help us, she can throw a fit. Trying to find the balance of unconditionally loving her while effectively teaching her, trying to constantly discern between moments of truth and moments of grace… it’s exhausting, and yes, terrifying.

The full weight of our biblical responsibility to discipline, reproof, instruct, and most importantly disciple is now heavily on our shoulders. Thankfully, we have godly parents, grandparents, and friends that love us, support us, and set fantastic examples. SUPER thankfully, we believe in a God who’s Spirit is a never ending source of strength, wisdom, and grace.

Truly, we are so blessed to be Tindell’s parents. I am confident she teaches us as much as we teach her. She is silly, wiggly, and wonderful, and if you haven’t met her, I hope you get to one day. She will bless you!  Plus, I can already see that the Lord fully intended her to be a big sister! (Read: this girl is bossy! I have no idea where she got that gene, of course…) Stayed tuned… Part II will be a (much shorter) update on TJ’s baby sister-to-be!



i’m a wannabe…

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by photography.  Something about the way a photo freezes time… I can just stare at one for ages, like artists at a painting. I’m actually not artistic in the slightest, but a long time ago someone told me that I had “an eye” for photography. Not sure how true it is, but it stuck with me nonetheless.

Unfortunately, I never put much time into developing those skills… just like this blog, I was hesitant.  I know SO MANY absolutely fabulous photographers. Debbie, Barb, and Jenny, just to name a few.  Y’all… they’re so legit. I feel like such a photography groupie. A wannabe. Why even try?

Thankfully, I have a husband who reminds me how completely ridiculous that is. And then buys me my dream camera, along with my sweet parents. And then signs me up for photography class. And then keeps our child while I attended said class. Man, he’s the best.

So, for the past month I’ve had a fantastic time taking a class at Bedford Camera & Video, taught by Alex Kent. It was SO. GREAT. Highly recommend them to anyone looking to learn.  Our last homework assignment was actually a little contest… and I won 3rd place! Woo hoo! Of course, what I lack in skill I make up by having the sweetest baby in the world as my subject, so that helps. 🙂 Would you like to see my final photo? Drumroll, please!

Oh, how I love my baby girl! I took literally hundreds of pictures of her as I practiced and she was such a champ.  Guess she should get used to it!! Here are a few more favorites from our little mini-shoots…

That child is pure joy, I swear. In a season where time seems to be flying by so quickly, I’m extra thankful for the ability to freeze it, at least for a second. 🙂  Now, excuse me while I stare at this precious face… for real!

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