Jesse Jo's Journey
I have a fantastic daughter. Her name is Jesse Jo. What an adventure! She's been through quite a bit in her ten years. Mainly she has had to deal with the loss of people in her life. People who once were consistent in her life, have now dropped out. She's struggled with the loss and rejection of important male role models, but she's since gained some. She struggles with eating issues. I suspect she also struggles with some depression, which tends to run in the family. She has had to deal with not enough attention from me because her sister takes so much time and energy on my part. She's such a smart girl! She started learning to read when she was three. Sometimes there are difficult days, but she is a good big sister, always trying to help me. She is very compassionate, always willing to help her teachers.
I was very young when I got pregnant, only nineteen, and I had no place to live at the time. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around (she's my turkey, born on Thanksgiving Day), I had a place to live. Her father had decided he didn't want to stay with me after I told him I was pregnant, so it was just me, Jesse Jo, and our cat, Gary. At the time, it was awful. He broke my heart and my trust. Now, however, it ended up being a good thing that we were not together.
In 2008, we moved to across the state. That was a big change, but one that was for the best. School was good through kindergarten and first grade. She started having problems in second grade. She was in the challenge program, but I couldn't help her much because I had to take care of her sister's stuff. She tends to keep her feelings pretty quiet, and isn't comfortable talking about her difficulties, so when I would try, it was almost always a fight of frustration.
In 2012, Jesse Jo's good friend, E, died. Jesse Jo would go to visit her sometimes, after she was diagnosed, even though it didn't sound hopeful that E would make it. E's mother gave me a chance to keep Jesse Jo away from that sadness, but how would that be fair for either of the girls? Jesse Jo would have missed out on some special memories and E would have felt so sad without a friend. Such sadness, she was a beautiful sweet girl, and her parents are good people. When I told Jesse Jo E had died, she didn't really react. It takes her awhile to process things. She's has grieved for her friend, but she hasn't forgotten about her. She will sometimes mention her, just in a comment. Today, we were listening to a song, and she told me that it was E's favorite song. She is still in our memories, and we think of her with love.
One of Jesse Jo's biggest trials occurred exactly one year ago today. We had a new adult cat that we adopted from the shelter. We had had him about three months. We were at home, packing to take a trip over to see my mom. The sliding glass door was open, screen shut, and there was a stray cat on our porch. Our cat was hissing and growling at this other cat. I told Jesse Jo to stay away from them, and then I went upstairs. I was on the phone when I heard what sounded like a cat fight, and then she was screaming in terror. I went to the top of the stairs, as she was coming upstairs, her hands over her face, blood streaming from her face, through her hands. I felt like I was watching a horror movie. I hung up the phone, put a towel on her face, and we ran to the hospital.
WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The staff at the hospital were so kind. I was trying not to panic, because I knew that she had been scratched near her eye. I was terrified she was going to be blind. I called a friend, who came down to be with us, and the children's pastor from church came to see her too. God bless the doctor who decided to transport her to the Children's Hospital where a plastic surgeon could stitch up her face. When the hospital staff asked her what happened, she told them that it wasn't the cat's fault. What had happened was that she was trying to save our cat. She picked him up from behind, while he was involved in the fight with the outside cat. He wasn't expecting to be attacked from behind, and he freaked out and latched on to her face.
We rode in an ambulance to Children's. The first time either of us had been in an ambulance. We arrived, and they put her in a room. My friend drove down to meet us, and my sister, who lived nearby, also came to be with us. Jesse Jo was in really good spirits. When she was at the hospital in our hometown, she was worried she would have to have stitches, because she was supposed to start school in four days. Now, when the doctors came in to discuss their course of action, her concern was for other children. The doctors told us that they would either put the stitches in while in the emergency room, or take her up to surgery to do it. Jesse Jo opted for the emergency room because she said she didn't want to take the surgery rooms away from kids who really needed them. I love that girl!
They decided to take her in to surgery, and they did fantastic! They put over seventy stitches in her face alone, then she had one in her finger, and a few in her scalp.
We went home the same night.
In the beginning, she wondered why it happened to her. Now she says that it happened so that she can tell people about how God saved her. She still cuddles with our cat. She never got mad at him, but recognized that he attacked out of fear. One year later, this is her beautiful face. She didn't lose her eyesight, except for not being able to open her eyes for a few days after surgery. We all gained a lesson from this, and also a knowledge of how much people cared for us. At the time of the attack, we were packing to leave for my mom's, because Eliska was there. I had to pick Eliska up before school, but after the attack, I was more comfortable leaving Jesse Jo with trusted people then I was traveling six hours one way with her to my mom's. So she stayed a couple days with our pastor and his family. It was a big job to take care of her, but they did, and some of our church family came and loved on her. I'm not sure she realized how much she was loved by our Assembly of God family until that happened.
Jesse Jo is starting fifth grade this year. Last year was the best school year she had had in a long time. This summer, she made a decision on her own to grab something for herself and hold on. She loves to creatively bake, and likes to cook. She participates in drama, and she's good at performing and speaking in front of groups. She loves to swim, and she likes to pretend she's a mermaid. She's a good artist, loves to read, and engages adults in serious conversation. Jesse Jo is very opinionated, she argues, and she knows what she wants. I'm not worried that she will conform to whatever others are doing. She's a very old soul, and a deep thinker, even if she doesn't often share it. She is learning what her identity is. I have told her that the stuff that has happened to her sucks, but it doesn't mean she is unloveable, unworthy, or unimportant. I remind her of all the people who do love her, and I remind her that God loves her. I tell her she is beautiful. Now she just rolls her eyes at me. "I know, Mom" she says. But I tell her anyways. She's missed a lot of people in her life. People who have died, and people who have walked out, to their loss. She keeps on going strong. My treasure, God's girl.
Dogs are not Bullies
It is the start of day three with this dog, Jack. This morning, Eliska walked him. He did great with her. We encountered a neighbor's dog, small thing, unleashed. Jack was on the leash, and he whined and barked, but I made him sit and stay, and he did. We walked him on the main street, with cars going by. He did great. He didn't fight the leash, he stayed right by us, didn't try to pull ahead.
We took him to the vet yesterday, and came home with three different types of medication. The ear drops he has trouble with, but once I can get those in, we reward him with his other two oral meds wrapped in a small piece of fake cheese. We also took him to the kennel yesterday to meet the owner. She liked him, and said that she can board him when we need to. Yesterday evening, we took him to the park for a church BBQ. We stayed about two hours, and he whined any time any kid left, or when any kid didn't come say hello. He really likes kids. While there, Eliska got a massive splinter in her palm, and so we ended the day with screams and chaos, tears and sloppy dog kisses.
We still have our cat, Conrad, but he has only come downstairs twice since we have gotten the dog. Cats run, dogs chase. Jack is okay with him, until he runs.
What I have realized in all of this is that GOD IS GOOD! He has given us this dog. Even though it is hard sometimes, and we have a lot of changes to make, they are GOOD changes. I thought that Jack would be beneficial for Eliska, and he is, but he is also forcing me to gain self-confidence. We are going to have to walk at least twice a day with him, and that is good for all of us. Eliska will have to remain calm, so that he will remain calm. Jesse Jo and Eliska will have to get along more, so that the dog can be calm, and know that we are the boss.
God knows what He is doing! Even though it seems like there is chaos and difficulty, He has a purpose in everything He does, and everything He does is good for us in some way. Thank you for your prayers, and please keep it up. Blessings!
For over a year, I've been looking for a dog for my daughter, Eliska. As you might have read previously, she has some special needs that I hoped a dog would be able to help her with. I haven't been able to find a dog in a price range that we can afford. I wasn't able to get a working dog for her, because her needs are behavior and emotional, rather than physical. And she is too young, I've been told. So we started praying for the right dog.
Yesterday, we picked up the dog that I believe God had for us, for her. Today, this morning, I sit here and cry. I've been getting up every morning, doing exercises and/or swimming, for months. But this morning, when I got up to "walk" the dog, I'm using new muscles that I have never used before. I'm exhausted, my hands hurt. I'm in the process of training this new dog that he is NOT the boss. It is very important that I make sure he knows that I am the alpha, and that the girls are also the boss over him. He is a powerful dog, and it is hard work remaining calm and assertive as I make him be submissive.
And we are making progress. We still have a lot of work to do, and I know that. I'm not afraid of the hard work, but I am feeling really tired today. I feel like I burned through all my energy for today in the hour and a half I was working with him. We all need some serious prayer. This is new territory for me, for the girls, and for him. But it isn't fair to him if we fail. I take our pets very seriously. We do not get animals and then discard them if they are inconvenient.
Please pray for us.
God's Amazing Grace
This morning, in the middle of my workout, the DVD started skipping. Because I've missed so much time with exercise lately, I was so frustrated! I threw a big fit to God, complaining, getting so mad because I was trying to do something that I felt He had told me to do. I was trying to get my body back to healthy. And being that I'm so heavy, the activities that I can do at home are limited. So when the DVD isn't working (the fault is the DVD player I think), I can't do my exercises. So...temper tantrum. I got so angry with Him! I told Him this is when I start to feel like He is playing head games with me!
I threw my fit, like a spoiled toddler.
Then we went about our day. We went to a wedding. Both the girls participated in the wedding. Jesse Jo as the candle lighter, and Eliska as the flower girl. I was so nervous the entire time! There was doubts that Eliska would be able to handle the small amount of anxiety and pressure that came with the job. But she did fantastic! They both did! And they were so beautiful! Things went great!
After the wedding, we went to meet a dog. This in itself is incredible, given my anxiety over social situations. For over a year, it has been our dream for Eliska to have a dog to help her. Every week, our church family has been praying for this dog. She needs a bigger dog to ground her, to calm her down. A companion. Money is tight, and I have not been able to find a decent dog for under $500. We aren't looking specifically for a purebred, but just a good dog buddy for her. A year ago we received the okay from the apartment owners for Eliska to get her dog. And, this week, we might have found one. He was young enough to adapt, but old enough to be house trained. He loves kids, and seemed absolutely thrilled to see us. I told the owner I had to think about it, and we came home. Eliska has been creating a work of art all afternoon for her new dog. I have doubts, because I don't want this dog if God didn't put him there for us. I was concerned about the responsibility of spending money on this dog, when I need to save money for a new truck. Which brings us to the next part of the story of today.
I was given the option to purchase a truck from a friend. It is a decent truck, a Nissan with a manual transmission, which is what I prefer. My current truck, Jack, is a Nissan with a manual. This is a great opportunity for us, and I trust these people completely. I trust that they want what is best for us. So, I know they are going to sell me this truck, but I need to save the money up for it. I have almost the full amount, and then I need some more for taxes and whatnot. So, (ready for it?), the cool part is I sent Jesse Jo out to check the mail. She brought back a letter, with no return address. It was addressed to me, and sent through Spokane, WA. I don't live near Spokane, so it is no one from nearby, as far as I know. Inside was an anonymous note that read, "Leah Potter, For your truck...XOXO..." Inside this note is enough money to bring me almost completely to my goal. I'm speechless!
After my temper tantrum to God this morning, He spent the day blessing me in huge ways! He spent the day answering one prayer after another! From helping Eliska walk through the wedding ceremony without incident, to providing her a much needed dog companion, to providing further finances for our transportation! On my knees, praise HIM! That He would bless me so much when I'm acting like a spoiled brat! Our God DOES NOT react like a human does! His nature is to bring us closer to HIM, to love us, regardless of our weak actions! I know how He works, and I'm closer to HIM than I have ever been, but I still falter, and I still doubt, and I still get angry with HIM sometimes. HOW DARE I! But I do dare, and He doesn't walk away, He doesn't back out of His care and concern, His promises, His love.
Amazing Grace! I am weak! I am spoiled. I am angry. I am wrong. I am doubting. I am impatient. I make mistakes. I sin. I am unworthy. And then God, my DADDY, HE IS LOVE! And I am humbled. I am grateful. I am blessed. I am honored. I am loved. I am enough. I am worthy. I am saved. I am valuable. I am royalty, a princess, the daughter of the KING of kings. Hallelujah, thank You.
I encourage you to hang on. When it seems dark. When it seems as if God has disappeared. When it seems He has gone deaf, and cannot see you or hear you. Hang on! I have experienced those dark moments, and those doubts. Even in the middle of good things, I was still feeling left behind. Oh, what a lie! You may be walking through the desert right now, and I'm sorry. I know it sucks, because I've walked through my desert. It was long, and despairing, and I thought I would die. But God wouldn't let me. All I can offer to you is my own experiences, and hope. Amazing grace. It is for us all.
What do you do when you lose your passion for something? Is it a temporary thing? Or is it more permanent? When you wake up in the morning, excited only for the moment when you can come home and get back to bed, is this all you have to look forward to? I don't believe life is meant to be lived that way.
For many years, after waking in the morning, I looked forward to the time that I could come home and hide away from the world. I didn't want to interact with anyone, and I sure didn't have the energy to try! Going anywhere and doing anything took so much mental energy that I would be exhausted at the end. But now, I am busier than I have ever been, and I still have energy to keep the day going. Then when I am ready to fall into bed, I am a good tired from the things I have accomplished that day. I am a good tired from ENJOYING my life. I am moving forward, changing and growing.
Lately, my fires have burned down. I'm smoldering along, still getting things done, but the inspiration isn't in the forefront right now. So I have to stop and really think about what inspires and motivates me. The energy I have comes from my health and daily exercise. I am going through the motions, accomplishing things, but I'm not feeling the greatness like I was a few months ago. I'm not feeling discouraged or defeated. I'm not depressed or anxious. I'm not under a great amount of stress. Things are just fuzzy and uninspired.
I have to get back my inspiration. I know what being uninspired and unmotivated can do. Thankfully, I am able to recognize the beginning of this path, and I know where it leads. It leads to depression, anxiety, fear, and anger. It leads to weakness, and self-doubt. It leads to the enemy's lies that tell me I am worthless. I recognize the warnings, and I can choose to break off into the unknown and keep moving forward, finding the little things that bring the excitement to the journey. And when I look back and see how far I have come, I can rejoice.
I encourage you to find out what inspires you. Start finding the little things that you can look forward to. Sometimes all you can do is find one thing, and that is okay. Don't let the monotonous days of nothing turn into months and years. You have a LIFE to live. Enjoying your life helps to light the fires for others. You are not here to only exist. You are meant to LIVE. You have much to offer, and you are WORTH living.
I've been working on a healthy lifestyle change for the past year and a half. What was it that kicked it off? I started losing my eyesight. And then I found out that I had diabetes. What went through my head was shame, disgust, self-loathing, and great fear. I went home and cut out all sugar. Within a week, my eyesight improved. I started swimming, twice a week. Then it went to three times a week. Then four. The strict no sugar diet lasted a month, just until my fur baby, my best friend, died. Grief interfered. I was still swimming, but not working as hard to eat healthier. The year progressed, swimming five days a week, sometimes six. I gained a little bit of muscle, but weight loss seemed to stop. I felt good, but was still overweight.
I joined Beachbody, began the 21 Day Fix. I would swim first, then come home and do the thirty minute exercises. I was drinking Shakeology everyday. Running my business as self-confidence allowed me. Hit some more snags. Summer came, which means schedules don't exist much. I was missing going to the pool. I lent 21 Day Fix to my mom, and started PiYo. After two weeks it was clear I wasn't ready for PiYo yet.
Here is one of the things I love about being a Beachbody coach. I asked for ideas on what to do, and two fellow coaches mailed me some tools. One was her copy of 21 Day Fix. And the other was wrist wraps, as I have trouble with my wrists. I was all set to keep going, even after several weeks of limited activity. Then my grandma died, and that same day, we learned some distressing news about a family member. Grief struck again. When I'm swimming, and grief strikes, I cry as I'm doing my laps. I was still motivated to get in the pool. But I lost motivation for the exercise programs.
After a couple more weeks, I got up to do the 21 Day Fix. Not really motivated, not looking forward to it, but had to. And the disc didn't work in my computer. It took me another week to set up a DVD player in my living room. And Monday began the start (again) of my exercise. I knew I had to so something, because the pool closes for two weeks in the summer. The pool is closed! No swimming! I had to do something.
Monday started off with total body cardio. Gasping for air, sweat pouring off my body. I would have kicked myself for letting it get that bad, except I was too tired and I couldn't reach. After I finished, I took my shower, had my Shakeology, and then I felt The Glow. It didn't use to feel this way. Now there is something about completing an exercise video that makes me feel GOOD inside. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Yesterday I finished upper body, and my muscles were screaming, all day long. There is a huge difference in not being able to move well because you started exercising, rather than because you don't exercise at all. I've felt both. This is definitely the better option!
Today is lower body And I am excited to be doing this again. I missed out on several weeks of exercise, but I didn't stop altogether. Which means that it's hard to restart, but not as hard as starting in the first place. And I am so glad that I took that first step on this journey. It is one of the best things I've ever done for myself and my kids.
Don't let the hard work scare you. It is what gets you journeying towards the place you want to be. It's a good place, I promise. Send me a message or comment below if you want to get started and don't know where to begin. Or if you are already on your journey, fitness or otherwise, share your journey on tab above. You are worth the effort to begin and keep going. Blessings!
The Beginning of Eliska's Tale
Why am I a Beachbody coach?
Out of the blue one day, I received a Facebook message from a woman I had known years ago. She invited me to learn about a business opportunity with Beachbody. I dismissed it. It is pretty easy to find offers to earn some extra money, but I always looked at these suspiciously. About a week later, however, she messaged me again, asking me if I had thought about it. I hadn't, actually, but I didn't want to disappoint, so I agreed to watch an introduction video about it.
After I watched the video, I was intrigued. Not only because of what the video was, but because there was something different about this business. I talked with her, asked questions, got answers. And then I told her I had to pray about it, and asked her to pray about it too.
What I had been wanting was a way to earn income from home, and also to help people. Myself included! And here was this offer to do all of those things. After gathering the information, thinking about it and what I had to do, I felt God had given me this direction. I signed up, invested in my future and in other people. I jumped off the edge, hoping and trusting God would catch me.
Beachbody isn't about selling products. I'm not a salesperson, far from it! I know the struggles of trying to change a lifestyle, from trying to lose weight and be healthy! I have experienced the difficulties,shame, and fear from being overweight and unhealthy. I want other people to get the support for a healthier and happier lifestyle.
So I began my journey as a Beachbody coach. And that is when God told me that this was my mission. In the beginning it was crazy! Me, with my anxiety and self-doubt, my lack of confidence, attempting to reach out to anybody, strangers and friends. I'm so shy! I don't talk well on the phone, I don't know how to carry on conversations. This was feeling like a disaster, but God had given me funds to start, a dream, and a name. I had no excuse at all. I also had support. One of the greatest communities I've been involved in is that of Beachbody. In our team of coaches, I have never seen a negative comment from one coach to another. I have never seen any drama, bad attitudes, unkind words, or backstabbing. What a joy to experience that kind of community!
As a coach, my intent is to help others with not just health and fitness, but 360 degrees of transformation, including encouraging and supporting a positive value of self. As a woman involved in a deeply personal and positive relationship with God, I am striving to love others as God loves. I know where I was, what fire and darkness I have walked through, and where I am going now. I admit willingly, freely, and without shame, that I would be dead if not for God and other people loving me as God loves. Knowing all that, how can I turn my back on His plan, His mission for me? How can I withhold these gifts from people when know that it helped me?
I'm taking this mission seriously. I want to support people in achieving their goals and dreams. I want to encourage those that struggle. I want to keep learning and growing, and to watch others learn and grow. The incredible passion of this lifestyle has caught on and is spreading like wildfire. It is amazing, and life-transforming. God knew what He was doing when He put me in this place. I am on the path He wants me on, finally, and there is amazing peace from that.
Who Am I?
When asked to describe yourself, you usually run off the list of items necessary for public knowledge. My name, my age, my family. My education, where I work, and my hobbies.
My name is Leah Potter.
I am 30 years old.
I have two daughters and a cat.
I have a BA in Human Development, I work as an Independent Beachbody Coach, and also at The Red Door Thrift Store. My hobbies are reading, swimming, writing.
What does this mean, though? Does it really tell you about ME? Does it tell you what inspires me, what makes my heart break, and what makes me weep with joy? Does it tell you my greatest dreams and my deepest fears? Do you know my trials, my sufferings, the things that did not break me, and why they did not break me? No. So how, then, do you find out? You can ask, but how many people ask? And why would you want to know?
Conversations with me began like this:
"Hey! Nice to see you! What have you been up to?"
Me: "Nothing much, kids start school soon, work is work. Nothing new to report."
For many years, I labored under the assumption that people didn't really want to know what was going on in my life. Why did I think that? It is because I learned that to tell people what I am struggling with is to invite criticism and attacks. Or when I did start to expound on my trials, I would get cut off, or ignored. So I just shut my mouth. I would lie.
Now, however, I realize that I can't be upset with people when it isn't their job to fix my issues, or to even listen to my troubles. That is GOD's job. One He is very good at. Now, if I wake up in the middle of the night, plagued by over-thinking, I have learned to give it to God rather than stay up all night worrying and being fearful. I live my life trusting Him to see me through, and I don't suffer from sleepless nights much anymore.
How many people really want to hear all about the disasters in your life? Truthfully, not many. How many want to hear about your triumphs, your transformation from a life of despair to one of joyfulness? Probably most everyone. By all means, share your story, your struggles, you difficulties. But share them with the intent to get help out of that hole, or to help others out of their pit. Don't wallow in the mud, and then proudly display to all that your life is a mess. No one is going to drag you out of that pit. You have to take the steps to help yourself if you expect someone else to help you.
When I finally started asking for help, and wasn't getting it, I had to figure out why. People usually want to help, but most of them aren't counselors or life coaches. They need specifics on what they could do to help. I finally wrote an email to a woman I trusted to help me, telling her exactly what I needed and why. I also told her what I wanted in my life. The result was the beginning of great new friendships, a greater understanding of my identity in Christ, a co-leadership position in a women's outreach discipleship ministry, a self-published co-authored book, and a new business venture as an independent coach. Within two years, I had gone from asking for help out of that pit, to journeying towards 360 degrees of transformation.
So, it is not a question of WHO AM I, but a statement of WHO I AM.
I am a single mother, raising and advocating for two beautiful children, one who is special needs and another who has experienced the heartbreak of parent abandonment. I am a woman who has lived through failed, traumatic, abusive relationships, sexual assault, depression, social and general anxiety, and PTSD. I've been hospitalized for attempted suicide, lost my best friend to suicide, battled for custody and protection of my children in court more than once, and earned a college degree, while staying home with my children. I moved across the state with my daughters to a place where I knew no one, to ensure their survival and mine. I am overcoming an identity crisis. I am creative, an author, a swimmer, a learner, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a coach, a leader. I listen, I hear, I see, I think before I speak. I take the hard baby steps on my journey. I no longer hide from fear. I fall down, and I get back up. I cry from grief, from joy, from the presence of the Holy Spirit. I laugh, I smile, I look into the eyes of people when speaking to them. I hold my head up high. I place a high value on my family, which includes people who are not related by blood or marriage. I see God moving in everyday, and I recognize now when He steps in to guide me, when He is teaching me, and when He provides rest. I am learning what it feels like to have a father love me. I am ROYALTY, a PRINCESS, the daughter of the King of kings. I am saved by grace, forgiven, redeemed, made new, qualified, called to a life of missions. A disciple, making disciples. I am alive, free, blameless, a masterpiece. I am LOVED, REJOICED over, ENJOYED. All these things and more. If you only take one thing away with you today, take this: I can do nothing and I am nothing without the Awesome presence of God in my life. He is what transforms us 360 degrees, if we let Him.
We might be in different places, but all of us are on a journey.
Leah's Life Verses