This Friendship Didn’t Happen by Accident

If you see me and a friend out in public having a good time, please know this friendship didn’t happen by accident. 

I know it looks simple. I know it looks comfortable. I know it looks easy. 

And it is all those things, but only because we’ve done the work. Only because we’ve fought for this thing, we’ve shown up for this thing, we’ve valued this thing. 

Please don’t look at this friendship and think it happened by magic. Please don’t think we’re just lucky or special. (Although maybe there was a little of that).

This friendship happened with love and intentionality.

It happened by countless hours of sharing our hearts (and deep gut laughs). 

It happened by choosing each other over and over again. 

It happened by listening and really HEARING each other.

It happened by having honest conversations when it was needed (instead of letting splinters of hurt/miscommunication grow deep and fester).

It happened by making time for each other (even when we were busy and overwhelmed).

It happened by being humble (and apologizing) when we got it wrong.

It happened by giving the benefit of the doubt and having each other’s backs. 

It happened by loving each other well (and our kids, spouses, parents and siblings, because we also chose each other’s family). 

It happened by buying each other random cards and gifts just to show we care. 

It happened by sending a million different texts.

It happened by years of creating history and shared stories (and inside jokes that still make us double over with laughter). 

It happened by being flexible.

I happened by seeing each other at our best and seeing each other at our worst, and loving each other still.

It happened by inviting and pursuing (even when the sink was full of dishes and crumbs were on the floor).

It happened by celebrating and cheering for each other with our whole hearts. 

It happened by learning how to communicate well (and what we each needed to hear when we were having a hard time).

It happened by showing up for each other in the very hardest moments of our lives and sitting in that pain, because there’s nowhere we’d rather be. 

I know it’s easy to see a friendship from the outside looking in and think it’s easy, or simple, or just fell into our lap. 

But it didn’t. 

This friendship was built on choices.

A million different times of choosing each other.

What you’re seeing is the fruit, but let me tell you there is a story behind this magic. 

And if I can have it, you can have it too.

Love,

Jess

Photo by Yanapi Senaud

If you love this, you will love Amy Weatherly and I’s new nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/3MJtpKU

You Value Deep Friendship When You’ve Experienced Shallow Friendship.

You recognize when someone loves you for you, when you’ve been loved conditionally and with strings attached.

You know what it is to be able to relax and exhale, when you’ve had to perform in order to “belong”.

You cherish mutual friendship, when you’ve been in relationships where you were the only giver and they were the only taker.

You hold tight to the people you know you can trust, when you’ve been burned before.

You know peace is precious, when you’ve been pulled into drama.

You’re grateful for honesty, when you’ve experienced being lied to.

You value confrontation and talking things out, when you’ve been left before without explanation or an attempt to clear things up.

You’re honored by being included when you’ve been left out.

You can tell when someone truly cares about you, when you’ve experienced the pain of being in a friendship with someone who makes it all about them.

You recognize being built up, when you’ve been torn down.

You appreciate being given the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been hurt by someone assuming the worst.

You treasure friends who have your back, when you’ve been the brunt of gossip before.

You value being seen, when you’ve been overlooked.

I don’t know about you, but I value my real friends so much more, because I’ve done fake before.

Fake hurts.

Real connection heals.

Every broken story has led me cherish the friendships that heal.

Written by Jess Johnston & Amy Weatherly

Photo by Crosby Hinze

This One is for the Givers:

This ones for the givers. The ones who show up and again and again, (even when it’s hard, and even when it’s inconvenient.The ones who love and serve in ways that often goes unseen and unappreciated. The ones who’ve loved hard and with their whole hearts – and sometimes that’s meant being burned.

The ones who try really really hard.

The ones who read a post about being a good friend and their heart hurts because they ARE good friends and they never quite feel like it’s reciprocal.

The ones who do the right thing even though they know it may go unnoticed.

The ones who always pour out, but don’t always feel poured into. You give and give and give and sometimes you get tired.

Sometimes your feelings are hurt because why doesn’t it seem to go both ways. Sometimes your heart hurts from disappointment and it hurts deep. You’re resilient. You’re strong. But sometimes you just get tired. So so tired.We just want to say we see you.The gifts you give leave ripples and make marks and change lives in ways you may never know earth side.It’s not for nothing.And even if no one seems to notice I guarantee God does, and he’s proud of you. And sister, let me say one more thing, it’s okay to rest. It’s okay to put down all those things you hold together for the ones you love. It’s okay to give less sometimes and for some seasons. Take care of you. Because you matter. You really really matter.

Love,

Jess

Photo by Isaac Johnston

Friendships Need Maintenance

Don’t forget friendships need maintenance.

You’re not just getting a coffee, you’re connecting hearts.

You’re not just texting, you’re being a part of each other’s lives.

You’re not just spending money on that trip, you’re investing in your connection.

You’re not just showing up for a party, you’re letting them know they matter.

You’re not just spending a couple hours by the pool, you’re building history together.

You’re not just going to their kid’s birthday party, you’re showing them that what matters to them, matters to you.

You’re not just buying that gift, you’re showing them you love them.

You’re not just answering that call, you’re valuing them in your life.

Its not just big things, it’s the little things over time that build deep friendship.

Love,

Jess .

The Highest Honor of Friendship

The highest honor of friendship isn’t getting invited to “that party” or out on a girls weekend. It’s not clinking champagne glasses at fancy brunches or wearing matching shirts on a beach in Florida. That all is nice and fun and good and special, but it’s not what it’s about, not at all.

The real honor of friendship is being invited into someone’s REAL. It’s getting an invitation into the nitty gritty, the not-so-pretty, the hard stuff, the vulnerable stuff, the weird stuff, the unpolished stuff. It’s being welcomed into a home where the sink is full of dishes and the laundry is covering the couch.

It’s entering the places of heart ache and pain. It’s being invited to the hospital room when your friend is still in her mesh underwear from birth. It’s sitting crosslegged in old sweats on the floor and laughing till you cry. It’s carrying around secrets that you’ve been trusted to keep. It’s listening and hearing. It’s holding space for each other.

It’s answering phone calls just to talk something through.The highest honor of friendship isn’t found in beautifully planned events or brightly filtered photos.

The highest honor of friendship is messy and dingy and real. It’s in unfiltered photos of laughing so hard your double chin is showing. It’s loving each other’s babies and holding each other while you ugly cry. I can’t stress this enough:If you’ve been invited into even one person’s real, you are blessed. Cherish it.

Written by Jess Johnston

If you love this, you will love Amy Weatherly and I’s new nationally best selling book! https://amzn.to/3N1fu2B

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

When you’re done having kids (and you’re sad)

When we were deciding if we were going to be done having kids, my aunt told me something profound. She said, “No matter when you stop, whether it’s four or ten, you’re always going to grieve the end of a season.” Her words helped me make peace with my youngest being our grand finale.

For the next couple years, I didn’t grieve. Not really anyway. I was still nursing and diaper changing and hiding in the bathroom with chocolate. The idea that we were done held a certain excitement to it. That season was over, that chapter was closed, my body was just mine and no one else’s. I was never going to go through labor again, or leak milk on my dress, or hear phantom crying in the shower (spoiler alert, that last one never goes away).

I think it was probably when she stopped crawling or maybe when she didn’t need the stroller anymore. Maybe it was when she stopped climbing into my bed in the middle of the night or maybe it was when she started saying “about that” instead of “bout dat”. That’s when the grief started hitting me in waves.

The day she walked into kindergarten I melted into myself. The pain was tangible. Every milestone my youngest hits I am acutely aware of how quickly time is passing me by. When she started reading, I envisioned her interviewing for her first job. When she walked out of her last day of first grade, I pictured her walking the platform and receiving her degree.

I don’t know if I regret being done, I just know I long to go back. I long to feel a baby kick even though I never really felt like myself when I was pregnant. I ache to wake to midnight cries and smell their newborn skin, even though at the time I felt like I was losing my mind.

I miss diapers and nap times and pudgy little hands wrapped in mine and I miss now like it’s already over.Maybe someday it gets easier, I don’t really know. I think my aunt is right that even if I had four more I’d still grieve being done. Today is one of those days though when I ache. I miss what’s past and I already miss what’s present. I already miss pouring bowls of cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. I already miss their bed heads and hello kitty pajamas. I guess that’s motherhood right? Beauty and pain wrapped up in the most precious gift.

Love,

Jess

Being There is a Gift.

I think sometimes we make the mistake of thinking it’s hard for our friends to “be there”. We apologize for our messes, our tears, our rants, our dirty floors, our needs, and our humanity. We invite them in with a mile long disclaimer that basically says “so sorry you have to be here”. The truth is though that it’s an absolute honor to be invited into someone’s real. The truth is that getting to “be there” is a gift.


I’ll never forget the times I’ve gotten to stand along side my friends as they said their wedding vows.


I’ll never forget the honor of sitting with my friends as they cried deep and ugly and real tears.


I’ll never forget the times I pushed open heavy hospital doors to rush in and celebrate the birth of a friend’s baby. (Hi little one, I’m Auntie Jess).


I’ll never forget late girls nights of venting and laughing till everything just felt better.


I’ll never forget the times my friends have asked for my help with something. (Even though sometimes asking for help feels vulnerable and hard).


I’ll never forget holding space during tragedy and loss. (Being there in those moments is nothing short of sacred).


I’ll never forget my friend’s warm kitchens with sinks full of dishes and toys covering the floor. (It’s my favorite).


I think one of the greatest gifts of friendship is getting to be there. Being invited into another persons hard, their real, their mess, their magic, their pain, their joy, their everything…it’s priceless.


Being there is a gift.


Love,
Jess

It shouldn’t be expensive to be a good friend.

I’m sorry, but it shouldn’t be expensive to be a good friend.

It’s not about living in the right house, or fancy decorations or going out and buying brand new patio furniture. It’s not about catering five-course meals or throwing elaborate parties or picking up the tab for the entire table at the hottest restaurant. It’s not about lavish vacations you can barely afford, feeling the pressure to over-extend yourself financially sprucing up your house, or going into debt to impress anybody.

You can be a good friend today. As you are. With exactly what you have. You can host people in your driveway with lawn chairs and you can feed everyone frozen pizzas, or invite people to a BYOF night at the park by and that way everyone can do what feels best for them. Play cards, or board games, or just sit around and talk. Just get together and enjoy each other’s company. That is literally all it takes.

I used to think I needed to have all the “right stuff”, but now I know that mismatched plates are the perfect kind of “dinnerware” for a night in with friends. Box brownies are chewy goodness. Potlucks are underrated. Old quilts make perfect picnic blankets. Big pots of potato soup go a long way and aren’t expensive.

It’s just about being together, let’s not overcomplicate it.

Sure, fancy dinners are great, but the real gift is being present. The real gift is listening (and hearing), the real gift is sharing stories and hearts. The real gift is just as easily found with plastic cups in our ratty sweats as it is in high-heels using three different forks. Maybe it’s even easier.

Friendship shouldn’t be a luxury and it shouldn’t be some exclusive club that only allows those on the “it” list to get into. Friendship is for everyone and shame on us as a society for making it seem unattainable.

It should be easy. It should be simple. It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg and a giant wad of $100 bills to build friendships, so don’t buy into the hype that you need this or you need that to invite people into your life and don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t afford to have friends.

The truth is, you can’t afford NOT to have friends and it costs exactly $0 to be authentic, kind and fun to be around, and that’s all it really takes.

Written by Amy Weatherly and Jess Johnston

Photo by Matheus GO

You Have to Protect Your Peace (even when people don’t understand)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

You have to protect your peace.

You have to draw lines and have boundaries. You can’t give your energy to everything and everyone or it will drain you completely to the point where you don’t have anything left to give.

At some point, you are going to have to put a fence around your heart and say “No. This is what I will be doing for now.” This is what matters. Some people won’t get it and that’s okay. They don’t have to. Losing yourself is not success. Success is keeping a pure heart and never losing track of the things you’ve been specifically called to do.

Boundaries are not selfish. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. Saying “no” is not selfish.

You are not anyone’s savior. You cannot be all things to all people. You have limits, you have needs, you have feelings. You MATTER, and your peace is sacred and worthy of protecting.

I know sometimes that inner voice tries to make you feel guilty. I know sometimes people are critical of your “no”, and dang it that’s hard to swallow. But this is not about them, it’s about you.

I think sometimes we expect ourselves and each other to be super-human. We expect too much. It’s not selfish to have boundaries, it’s brave.

You can’t do it all, no one can, but you can do you. You can stay in your lane and do the things that are yours to do. And you can bravely say no and have boundaries when you need to.

Protect your peace.

You are amazing, but never forget that you are human.


Love,

Amy Weatherly & Jess Johnston

Photo by Artem Kovalev

If you love this you will love our nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/387iMT4

Dear Friend, When I get it wrong…

Have you ever been a bad friend?

Have you ever stuck your foot so far down your mouth you thought it might be time to move to a new country?

Have you ever dropped the ball and forgotten to text or call back when it was actually pretty important?

Have you ever gotten triggered by something and way overreacted and then been embarrassed?

Have you ever assumed the worst of a friend, when that really wasn’t fair or right?

Have you ever been absent when you really should have been more present?

Have you ever been harsh and judgmental?

Have you ever dropped off the face of the planet because you were just going through something, but you left your friends wondering what the heck was going on?

Have you ever pushed them away because of old wounds and baggage that wasn’t their fault?

Have you ever not given the benefit of the doubt and quickly jumped to negative conclusions?

Have you ever forgot a birthday and felt like a jerk?

Have you ever gotten resentful, and instead of addressing it, just let it fester and grow into something bigger than it should have been?

Have you ever made a joke that (unintentionally) made you friend feel like crap?

Have you ever been wrong? Like you really really thought you were right, but you were not?

Yeah, me either.

Perfect friend right here.

Kidding.

If anyone thinks that they haven’t been a bad friend at one point or another (intentionally or unintentionally) then that’s a bigger problem.

We all screw up.

It’s about what we do when we screw up that matters. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Were we humble? Or did we focus on getting our point across? Did we take ownership or did we shift blame to something or someone else? Did we listen (like really listen) or did we just try and defend WHY we did what we did? Did we prioritize our connection or did we prioritize being right? Were we approachable or defensive? Did we try to understand or focus solely on being understood?

When we screw up, all we can do is do our best to clean up our mess (even when it’s hard, even when it means eating humble pie).

And sometimes it can’t be rectified, and that’s terrible, awful, and so painful, but the only person we can control is ourselves. So did we do our best? Did we try?

That’s what matters.

And maybe if we have more grace for ourselves to make mistakes, we’ll have more grace for our friends too.

I don’t know, but I think that friendships that weather storms and hurt feelings grow stronger and deeper.

Love,

Jess

If you love this, you will love Amy Weatherly and I’s new nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/3ES0d1c

Photo by Tim Mossholder.

Friendship Isn’t a Freebie

Friendship isn’t a freebie.

It’s not a giveaway or a winning lottery ticket.

Friendship is something you work at and sacrifice for.

It’s something that you commit to and invest in.

Friendship looks like listening (like really listening).

Friendship looks like giving the benefit of the doubt even when you’re spitting mad.

Friendship looks like showing up when things are hard.

Friendship looks like serving (with a meal, taking the kids, or doing the dishes).

Friendship looks like being reliable and following through on plans.

Friendship looks like loving each other’s kids.

Friendship looks like pursuing.

Friendship looks like taking the time to call and text just to say “I’m thinking of you”.

Friendship looks like forgiving.

Friendship looks like diving into the hard stuff and being vulnerable even when it’s scary.

Friendship isn’t something that happens by accident or magic.

Friendship is the fruit of loving each other well.

Love,

Jess

Photo Credit: Richard James

If you loved this you will love mine and Amy Weatherly’s new book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants). https://amzn.to/37yEMGu

Dear Friends(Who I’ve grown apart from)…

Dear Friends (who I’ve grown apart from),

I hope you know how much I love you. I hope you know how grateful I am for the season that you were my person. I know we’re not in each other’s day to day lives anymore, and that’s sometimes sad, but it’s also okay. Our paths took us separate directions, and I’m grateful for the time we had.

Sometimes I see you on Facebook or Instagram. I see your life now and the things and people that fill it. I see your new home, your new baby, and your new job, and I just want you to know I am so so proud of you. So proud. Even though I no longer sit across from you regularly sharing my heart and hearing yours…I’m cheering you on from afar.

I’m cheering for you with my whole entire heart, my friend. I want nothing, but good and wonderful things for you.

You are a part of my heart and journey forever.

Love,

Me

If you love this, you will love me and Amy Weatherly’s new nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/37yEMGu

It’s better to have one true friend than a thousand “kinda” friends.

It’s better to have one true friend than a thousand “kinda” friends.


It’s better to have one true friend cheering for you with her whole heart, than a thousand who talk about you when you’re not in the room.


It’s better to have one true friend who wants to really do life with you – even when it’s messy and hard – than a thousand friends who are only there when things are fun and good and easy.

It’s better to have one ride-or-die than a thousand who put you low on their list.


Here’s the deal, and I know we say it a lot. It’s not about how many friends you have. It’s not about having a crew or a tribe – even though that’s awesome if you do. It’s not about having a long checklist of people to call for girls night or to list as emergency contact at your kid’s school.


It’s about finding those people that are TRUE friends – and then cherishing them with your whole heart, because a true friend is absolutely precious.

Love,

Jess

Written by Jess Johnston

If you love this you’ll love Amy Weatherly and I’s new nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/3K4l7eC

Follow Sister, I am with you. for more.

Choose Friends Who Choose You Back.

Choose friends who are choosing you right back.

Choose friends who are willing to get real in conversation.

Choose friends who are making room for you at their table and willing to invest.

Choose friends who lift you higher, let you relax—who make you laugh harder, breathe a little lighter, and come alive a little more.

Choose friends who always give you space to be yourself.

Choose friends who see you (in all your glory and all your mess) and love you still.

Choose friends who love your people too.

Choose friends who celebrate with you when you win.

Choose friends who know you well enough to call you on your crap sometimes (when you really need it).

Choose friends who text you just to check in.

Choose friends who will remind you who you are (when you forget).

Choose friends who believe the best in you and have your back when you’re not in the room.

Choose friends who are vulnerable and real.

Be the kind of friend who loves her friends well, and choose the ones who are loving you right back.

Love,

Amy & Jess

(Written by Amy Weatherly & Jess johnston)

Photo credit: Rachel Mcdermott

Psss if you haven’t seen it yet check out our new book https://amzn.to/35tE9wB (the workbook is out now too!)

Find yourself a friend who tells you you have salad in your teeth.

Find yourself a friend who’s couch is better than yours on a rough day.

Find yourself a friend who will never judge you for your dirty floor or your venting sash.

Find yourself a friend who is in it for the long haul (even when things get mess and hard and weird).

Find yourself a friend who will go to Costco with you on a Tuesday morning because errands and food samples are better together.

Find yourself a friend who FaceTimes and texts even when she moves away.

Find yourself a friend who thinks sitting on the living room floor with $1.00 Diet Cokes from McDonalds is a good time.

Find yourself a friend who will laugh with you and at you too because we all need to not take life too seriously.

Find yourself a friend who you can trust with the your most sacred secrets and hardest struggles and who is a safe place for an ugly cry.

Find yourself a friend that cheers for you with her whole heart.Find yourself a friend you don’t ever have to impress (not even by putting on a bra when she stops by).

Find yourself a friend who will do life with you. Even when life means playgrounds and Target trips and kid’s meals and tantrums.

Find yourself that friend, and be that friend too.

Love,

Jess

Photo by Nicolas Gras

If you love this you will love mine and Amy Weatherly’s new nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/3My7EgX

Good friendship won’t feel like fitting-in where you don’t belong.

Good friendship won’t feel like a bunch of pressure to be skinny enough, or smart enough, or rich enough. It won’t feel like a bunch of pressure to be pretty enough, or funny enough, or to have a big enough house. It won’t matter what kind of job you have, or what brand your leggings are, or how old you car is.


It won’t matter if you show up with bad news, or if you’re feeling blah, or if you’re still in the same shirt you wore the day before. It will only matter that you show up exactly as you are.


Good friendship won’t feel like a bunch of pressure to say the right thing, or put on a fake smile. It won’t feel like accidentally saying the wrong thing might get you gossiped about later on, or that being vulnerable will be held against you later on.


Good friendship will feel like your favorite sweats with fuzzy socks. It will feel like the perfect messy bun that sits just right. It will feel like comfort and safety. It will feel like kicking off a bad pair of heels and putting your feet up. It will feel like your favorite meal and a summer evening where the temperature is just right.


Good friendship will feel like an open invitation to be fully yourself, and for the right people, that will be enough. It won’t feel like pressure. It will feel like one giant exhale.
It will feel like you belong, just as you are.


Written by Amy Weatherly & Jess Johnston

If you love this, you will love our best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/36rmMwX


Follow @sisteriamwithyou for more.


Photo by Hannah Montez

Loneliness & Laundry

I think it was Brene Brown who told a story about a village where all the women washed clothes together down by the river. When they all got washing machines, there was a sudden outbreak of depression and no one could figure out why. 

It wasn’t the washing machines in and of themselves . It was the absence of time spent doing things together. It was the absence of community. 

Friends, we’ve gotten so independent. 

We’re “fine” we tell ourselves even when in reality we’re depressed, we’re overwhelmed, we’re lonely, and we’re hurting. “We’re fine, we’re just too busy right now” we say when days, weeks, months, and years go by without connecting with friends. I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. It’s so easy to say even when it’s not true. 

We’ve become so isolated and it’s hard to know how to get back. It’s so hard to know how to even begin to build the kind of relationships our hearts need. And I think In our current culture, it’s just not as organic as it once was. It’s more work now.

Because you know, we have our own washing machines. We don’t depend on each other to do laundry, or cook dinner, or raise babies anymore. We don’t really depend on each other for much of anything if we’re being honest. 

In Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness, she says that being lonely effects the length of our life expectancy similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. I don’t say that to freak anyone out, but to let you know that the longing for connection is LEGIT. I think we’ve treated friendship like a luxury for far too long; friendship isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

We don’t want it. We kind of need it.

Be independent. Be proud of it. But be an independent woman who realizes the value and the importance of opening the door to other good women. 

You can do it alone, but you don’t have to. Islands are only fun for so long. 

There is true magic when women come together and hold hands and share ideas and share stories and struggles and endless bowls of salsa. You use your gifts, and I’ll use mine, and then we’ll invite that girl over there who brings a completely different set of skills to the table we are building, and we’ll watch together as something miraculous unfolds. 

So I guess that’s why Amy and I started this page: because we believe there’s got to be a way to come back to each other. We know it can be hard, but we know for sure it’s worth it, and as always, we believe the sisterhood is big enough for all of us. 

Thank you for taking this journey with us. We believe it’s an important journey. We believe it’s a good journey. We believe it’s a better journey. 

We know we probably won’t change the whole world, but we sure hope we can change yours. We sure hope we can remind you that you’re never alone in this thing. 

Written by Wonderoak by Jess Johnston & Amy Weatherly 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

When Friendship Hurts

(When you break-up, move on, or grow apart.)

***

Sometimes you open up your heart big and wide in a friendship and you get hurt.

Maybe your paths turned two different ways. You didn’t see it coming, and it’s painful to know your futures aren’t intertwined like they used to be. You kinda always pictured you’d be together and it’s hard to let that go.

Maybe there was a betrayal and the sting of your broken relationship goes deeper and hurts worse than you can say. You trusted, and that trust was shattered. You don’t even know how to put those pieces back together again.

Maybe they just disappeared. You don’t even know what happened, but they’re gone and there’s an ache left in their absence. It feels hard to have closure when it ended so suddenly.

Maybe one of you moved away and even though you promised to keep in touch it’s harder than you thought. You want to keep things the same, but it’s not the same. You miss doing life together.

Maybe there was a conflict and even though you tried and tried to work it through, it never was fully reconciled. You go over and over it in your mind wondering if there was something you could have done differently.

Maybe you grew and your growing just wasn’t in synch with each other. You’re proud of your transformation, but you miss the connection you used to have.

There are a million and three reasons friendships can end or change.

No matter what happened, losing friends is always going to hurt.

Friendships are sacred. We let them in, we let them KNOW us. We do life together, we share our secrets and our dreams. We have inside jokes and thousands of little memories and moments that include each other. Breaking up is painful like we’re losing a little bit of “us” in the process.

If that’s you, then friend, let yourself grieve. It is hard and it hurts.

And when you’re ready, I want to say something (and maybe that day is not today, and that’s okay), but if you are, here you go:

Your past friendships do not define your future friendships. Just because you’ve been hurt before, doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

I know it’s always a risk to open up your heart again, especially after things have gone wrong, believe me I’m not discounting that. It’s hard, it’s scary. BUT, I believe with my whole heart that friendship is worth it.

Some friendships are just for a season, some friendships end in flames, but if we keep our hearts open…who knows the amazing people who will walk into our hearts next.

***

If you love this, if it spoke to you, you will love mine and Amy Weatherly’s new bestselling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants)https://amzn.to/3JNnn9K

Dear Friend, Borrow my hope.

Twelve years ago I miscarried for the first time.

I was completely heartbroken and I quickly spiraled into a dark night of the soul. When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t even recognize the person looking back. I’d had loss before, but this time felt different. I’m naturally hopeful, but my grief and depression made everything go dark. I felt alone and scared. Scared of what the future held, and scared that I’d never be me again.

My friend Kari sent me a card and a shirt that read “HOPE”. It was so simple, but that message, that Tee, meant everything to me. It was a tangible reminder that I wasn’t alone and even though I didn’t have any hope, my friend did, and I could borrow hers. I wore that tee constantly, and every single time felt like a hug.

Years later I’d found my hope and I sent that tee to a friend who was struggling. When that friend found her hope she sent it to another friend. At one point it came back to me, and another time it was sent to Kari in her own dark night of the soul.

That shirt has made the rounds again and again, each time bringing the message of hope with it. It’s the sisterhood of the traveling shirt. I can’t really think about it without feeling emotional. It reminds of hard times that are now in the review mirror. It reminds me of my rainbow baby. It reminds me that the sun always rises again even when things are really really tough.

It reminds that friendship is one of the most precious gifts. It reminds me to SHARE hope, because when one of us doesn’t have it, there’s always someone who does.

Today if you don’t have your own hope, then friend, please borrow mine.

Love,Jess

If you love this you will love our nationally best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll be Wearing Sweatpants) https://amzn.to/3rjg4R0

Photo by Photo Cred: Roya Ann Miller

10 Qualities of a Really Good Friend

10 Qualities of a Really Good Friend:

1. They can be real. Fake is exhausting, and overrated. We’re all kind of a mess. Friendship is a whole lot better when you can be in the mess together. Authenticity breeds a beautiful level of depth and understanding to the relationship.

2. They are a safe place for you to be real. Dirty yoga pants, bad night, fight with the hubby, trouble with parenting, depressed, anxious, ate too many tacos and now you have heartburn…doesn’t matter what it is, you want friends you can be yourself around. If you can’t ever relax when you’re around them, they’re not your home.

3. They’ll make time. Everyone is busy, but if you want true friendship, you’ve gotta carve out the time consistently. Consistency is key here. It’s important you have friends who will do that whenever they get the chance, even if it’s squeezing in a ten minute phone conversation while they’re going through the car wash, or a text at some point in the day. If you never see or talk to them, it’s hard to know them. And if you never know them, it’s hard to build a relationship with them. In fact, it’s kind of impossible.

4. They like you for YOU. Listen and listen real good. If you have to impress, perform, or work hard to keep them around—stop it this second. If they don’t love you when you stop, then GET OUT. Ain’t no one got time for that. Your energy is better spent where it is valued.

5. You can trust them. You know your words stop with them and they have your back when you’re in the room, and when you walk away.

6. They’re approachable. It’s never fun to let a friend know they hurt your feelings, but it’s gotta happen sometimes. Friends who listen, really hear you, and can apologize are so precious.

7. They show up. Birthdays, bouts with anxiety, grief, good times, bad times, celebrations… friends who show up when it matters leave lasting impressions.

8. They aren’t super duper negative. There’s a difference between being honest about the ups and downs of life, and spewing a firehouse of negativity constantly. You should feel good around them the majority of the time.

9. They’re all-around good humans. Just like your mama said, you’ve gotta watch who gets your attention. If they’re nice to you, and then turn around and act like a jerk to the waitress—they’re not nice. Friends should make you want to be a better human, and they should see the value in others.

10. They pursue you right back. It’s essential to find friends who check in, invite you out, and text first. They initiate. They invest. They pursue. Relationships and bridges—neither of ‘em work if they only go one way.

Love,

Jess & Amy Weatherly

-Excerpt from I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants) if you love this you’ll love our nationally best selling book! https://amzn.to/3onCyyV

So, I have anxiety.

So, I have anxiety.

I’ve always had it I think. There have been seasons that it’s come in waves so strong and fast it knocked me off my feet. There has also been seasons of unexplainable calm and peace. 
Sometimes anxiety feels like all my senses are turned up too high. Every noise is too loud. Every touch is too rough. Every light is too bright.

Sometimes anxiety has made me silent and frozen. I feel trapped in a prison of my own fear, unable to cry out for help.

Sometimes anxiety makes normal life feel overwhelming.

 Everything is too much. Cleaning the mess is too much, doing the laundry is too much, paying the bills is too much. 

Sometimes anxiety makes me unable to handle (read) the news or even have certain conversations with friends because if I do my mind will spin out of control.

Sometimes anxiety causes me to feel physically ill, like headaches, stomach aches, and knots in my back and neck from stress. 

Sometimes anxiety feels like being completely alone in a room full of people. 

Sometimes anxiety causes panic attacks so strong I can’t breath and I begin to sob uncontrollably wherever I’m at (even I’m in the grocery store).

Sometimes anxiety makes me unable to sleep.

Sometimes anxiety makes me on edge and impatient with my family. That’s my least favorite symptom I think.

You know what else having anxiety means?

It means I will never judge someone in the middle of a battle with mental health. 

I will never wonder why she’s not happy when she has so much to be thankful for. 

I will never wonder why my friend who is struggling isn’t calling me back. 

I will never wonder why she is so scared about something that seems unreasonable.

The thing is anxiety sucks. It really does. But the more we talk about it the more we’ll realize we’re not alone. 

Right now my seas are peaceful and calm, but if you’re in the middle of a big storm I’m holding space for you because I get it.
I gotchu.

Love,

Jess

If you love this, you will love our new national best selling book I’ll Be There (But I’ll be Wearing Sweatpants).https://amzn.to/3ubNJ0H

The Answers to 10 Common Questions About Racism

As a black woman influencer in America, my inbox has been flooded with questions about racism in the last weeks. My heart is heavy from current events, but the people waking up, asking questions, and fighting for change gives my family and I hope.

I’ve made a list of the most commonly asked questions and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. In no way can I speak for black people everywhere, and I won’t try to. I’m a mother, I’m a wife, and I’m a friend. I’m a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a social media influencer, and these are my thoughts:

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Be the Friend You Want to Have

Friendship that is like family doesn’t happen overnight. Jennifer Garner posted a quote the other day that said, “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” Friendship is just like that. It happens over days and weeks and years of constantly investing in someone and making time for them. It’s a thousand little decisions to show up and be an extraordinary friend.

My friend, if you are lonely, my best advice is to love yourself enough to be the kind of friend you’ve always wanted.

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To my friend’s kids: I love you like you’re mine.

To my friend’s kids:

I hope you know how much I love you. You’re not mine, but I love you like you are. You’re not my niece or nephew by blood, but you are by choice…and that pretty much means you’re stuck with me forever. You are my chosen sister’s baby and that means you own a piece of my heart and you always will.

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Friendship requires sacrifice.

Friendship requires sacrifice.

There, I said it.

I have met and talked to a lot of lonely people lately, and let me tell you it breaks my heart because I remember those days like I remember the smell of burnt popcorn. That memory is never going away, and when I think about it the ache it throbs like it was yesterday.

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Dear Teenagers, Be patient while I let go…

To my teenagers,

Be patient with me as I learn to let you go.

I know it’s time. I know you’re growing and becoming and that sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Be patient with me because it’s not just you who is adjusting, my love. It’s me too.

I know it’s hard to understand, but hear me out.

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Dear Son, You’ll always be my little boy,

Dear Son,

Today I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back and hold you as an infant. I wish I could smell your skin and rock you just a little longer. I wish I could be still and feel that moment just one more time.

When I look at pictures of you in your toddler years with your round cheeks and pudgy hands, I smile. Inside my heart breaks a little bit because I wish I could squeeze you as you ask me a billion questions in your tiny voice, just one more time.

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Dear Kids, Sorry I was a jerk…

Dear Kids, I’m sorry I was a jerk.

I wish you knew that sometimes when the house is dark and quiet, I come in and watch you breathe for a minute. I wonder there in the stillness if you know how much I love you. I think about the things I could have said differently, and I wonder if you let my mistakes roll off of you or if they stuck.  I hope and pray there in the stillness that you would know how deeply and widely I love you.

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Don’t drink the Mom-Koolaid

I had a few moms over for coffee the other day and one of them was telling me about the “imposter syndrome” among moms. I’d never heard of it before, but I’ve definitely experienced it. The imposter syndrome, she said, is a term for moms trying to appear to have it all together, probably because they feel less-than.

Look, I know that’s tempting. I dropped the F-bomb at the kiddy park today when my dog pulled over my stroller and later mom-handled a isntshetoooldforthis tantrum from my four-year-old. In that moment, I remembered how my friend used to use a fake name at the bar, and considered that that might be a good idea for me at the park. Hello, I’m Veronica and these are my kids Kevin, Stuart, Jenny, and Britney. You will not find us on Facebook. Please forget we ever met, kthanksbye.

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Dear Kids, I am with you no matter what

Dear Kids,

I am with you.

I was with you when you were in my belly. I was swollen, heavy, tired, and I felt like a moose, but I was with you.

I was with you in the seconds, the minutes, and the hours of labor, when I truly didn’t think I could go on.

I was with you when I held you, and nursed you, and smelled your perfect skin for the very first time.

I was with you at 3am and again at 3:45. I was with you when I stumbled in the dark to get you from your crib. I was with you when I bargained with God for you to sleep.

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Dear Hot Mess Mom: To me you are perfect.

It’s tempting to pretend that there aren’t ritz crackers hidden deep inside my shag carpet, along with some other things I probably don’t want to know about. It’s tempting to pretend my four-year-old doesn’t rock the same “favorite” dress three days in a row, and that I don’t currently smell like men’s Old Spice deodorant. Sometimes I’d rather my life looked like a Instagram feed of awesome. I’d also rather my butt looked like a bubble instead of a wide pancake, but we all have to live our truth.

The thing I’ve noticed is that when I don’t pretend, I find my people (the ones who don’t pretend either), and to me that reward is everything. Literally everything.

So to the women, the moms, the people, who don’t pretend…

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Please stop telling Moms to enjoy every minute

Nothing makes me feel quite as overwhelmed as the words “enjoy every minute”.

Like do you mean right now while my kid is spread eagle on the Target floor demanding a slushy? Do you mean when I make dinner and half of the family is crying because it looks weird? Do you mean when I clean the toilets and I wonder how the pee reached the corner under the trash can?

I can do it; it’s worth it. But enjoying every minute is a different type of pressure.

In truth, there are a whole lot of minutes I feel annoyed or tired.

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Permission to say NOPE at Christmas Time

I am the santa, the elves, and the magic.

I am the delicious smells, the stuffed bellies, and the Christmas spirit.

I am the twinkle lights, the clean bathrooms, and the mistletoe hanging in the doorway.

I am the stories, the advent calendars, and the reminding what Christmas is really about.

I am the greeting cards, I am the coordinator of gift exchanges, I am the christmas pajamas for the night before.

I am the traditions, I am the baker of all treats, I am the buyer of last minute presents that were forgotten.

And now I’m tired.

I am mom.

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Dear Mama, You are not a failure…

Dear Mama,

You are not a failure.

I know you don’t always believe that, but it’s true.

We all fail, all of us, but we are not failures.

There have been so many moments when I felt done, when I wanted to run outside and scream. So many moments when I knew I said the wrong thing the second the words came out of my mouth.

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Being a mom is hard, and that’s okay.

Today I met some friends in town for coffee and shopping. I ended up bear hugging my four-year-old on a bench as she screamed and kicked in a level ninety-nine tantrum. A shop owner came out of a pottery store with wide eyes, but her face softened when she saw me.

I’m so sorry I mouthed.

“You are totally fine!” She smiled encouragingly. A minute later a woman and her older daughter walked by and said, “You’ve got this mama! You’re doing a great job!”

I continued on as a human straight jacket.

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Confessions from a Tired Mom

My ears are tired. Everyone is just always talking, all the time. Do not tell my kids that I said this, but sometimes when they are telling me a story that is never-ending I think about what color I would like to paint the walls and if I should get more throw pillows. I feel terrible about this, but it is the truth.

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Dear Kids, When I’m tired…

Dear Kids,

Sometimes I peek in your door and watch you sleeping. I wonder how I could ever get mad or frustrated at you. Your soft face is squished against your pillow and your favorite stuffed animal is buried under your chin.

Today I was irritated that you left your notebooks and crayons all over the floor.

I was annoyed that I could hear you bickering in the other room.

I was bothered that I asked you to clean up five times before you did.

All of those things are silly and unimportant now, as I pause.

Those things have little to do with you and everything to do with me.

You are my favorite.

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Swearing and other things I taught my kids.

I had grand plans of the things I would teach my kids. I would teach them confidence, kindness, and a love for great books. I am still working on that, but in the meantime I’ve taught them some other gems…

Swearing.

Yesterday on our way to church my oldest son realized he’d forgotten something at home and hollered out a perfectly timed swear word. My husband and I looked at each other. I didn’t know whether to be stern, or a little proud.

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Confessions of a “Selfish” Mom

When we got to the beach today children, sand, and food wrappers exploded out of the car as soon as the doors opened, and I laughed to myself. I picked up a rotten tangerine that had rolled under the car and tossed it in the trash. The boys shook the whole vehicle as they wrestled their way out of their seat belts. They were yelling so loudly I thought maybe I should clarify to people walking by that there were no actual violence happening, just kids “at play”. My third child sobbed because she had an “owie” (also known as a sock imprint) on her ankle, and now she couldn’t walk.

I had a few comments on the blog recently about how people have kids to fill a selfish need for love.

I laughed because even if I had kids to fill a selfish need, parenting is where all needs come to die.

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Dear Firstborn, It’s okay to fail…

Dear Firstborn,

It’s okay to fail, and to fail again and again and again.

There’s something special about my bond with you. It isn’t better or more important, it’s just different. You were the beginning of my awakening, the step through the portal that is motherhood. Your becoming was my becoming. The day you were born I said goodbye to one life and ran with open arms into the next.

I can still picture you cradled in my arms. I stared at your tiny face in disbelief. How was I going to give you, this precious human, the childhood you deserved? I still haven’t figured that out. Every day I make beautiful things and I make messes too, but there’s never been a calling more worthy of my everything than you.

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My kids are not an inconvenience

We just moved into a new neighborhood and I met an elderly woman a couple blocks down the street. She looked at me in shock (almost horror) when I told her that we have four kids and she kept saying, “Four? Four??” Then she looked at me square in the eyes. “I guess that will be okay,” she said, “as long as they are quiet.” She was dead serious.

I laughed like it was a joke (because that’s what I do when I feel awkward).

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Dear Kids, It’s okay to be mad at me…

Dear Kids,

It’s okay to be mad at me.

Sometimes we make decisions for you that you don’t agree with or understand. You feel voiceless and frustrated.

Sometimes I overreact and I misunderstand.

Sometimes you just have a bad day. It’s okay, I have those days too.

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So this is my thirties

Last night, I was tucking the girls in and my four year old reached up and touched my face, “You are young,” she said, “but you do have those lines by your eyes.”

This is my thirties.

I am still young-ish, but I do have the lines around my eyes. Dammit.

I’ll tell you what else I have…

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Mom Guilt is a Liar

I have friends that grow, cook, and make almost everything from scratch that their kids eat. They are amazing. I salute them while I rip open a box of macaroni and cheese and add an extra few tablespoons of butter. It’s Annie’s Organic on a good day…otherwise we are not above the 19-cent variety.

A friend of mine researches every health related issue, and spends her extra change on the supplements she reads about. It is her passion, and it’s how she loves her family and friends so well. I spend that money on lattes and stretch pants.

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Dear Kids, As you grow older…

Dear Kids,

Right now as I watch you sleep, I lean in so close I can feel your breath against my cheek. I think about the good moments today. I think about you touching my arm and telling me a story about a slug that you found by the water. I grin to myself alone in the dark. I think about our conversations and I realize how grown up you’re becoming. How did it happen so fast?

You are perfect laying there so still; my heart swells like it might burst. Motherhood has  made me so strong and so fragile at the same time. Since the day you were born I’ve worn my heart on the outside of my body. Everyday I fight against the urge to lasso the world and make it tame for you. I wish I could keep you in a bubble.

I wish I could keep you safe here with me forever, but I will use all my strength and I will give you wings instead my love; then I will cry the day you use them.

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Dear Stranger, Yes, my hands are full…

There I am, standing in the checkout line. One child is having a meltdown because they want a soda and the other one is doing aerial spins in the aisle. She is seconds away from taking out an elderly gentleman. He will never see it coming; she’ll take him out right at the knees. I grab her, which is kind of like capturing a demonic butterfly. I wrangle her and pin her between my legs.

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Dear Strong Willed Child, You’re worth it…

Dear Strong Willed Child,

Today we had many battles you and I. We had battles in the sun, battles in the sand, battles over popsicles, and a battle while I walked you screaming and kicking back to the house. You were red and fuming, I fought back tears. We’ve had thousands of battles you and I.

Today our battles were about little kid things, someday they might be about curfew or boys or doing the dishes.

No matter what, here’s what I want you to know:

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Happy Mother’s Day to my Mama Friends

Sometimes as Mother’s Day approaches I find myself reflecting on how I’m doing as a Mom, and today, these are my thoughts…

We are never going to be perfect. Sometimes we are going to be messy, and human, and moody.

Sometimes we are going to feel real crappy at this. That’s normal I think.

Sometimes we are going to lose our cool. Like when I held the tablet out the car window and threatened to let it break into one million pieces if EVERYONE DIDN’T LISTEN UP RIGHT NOW. I scared them so badly that then I spent 45 minutes comforting them.

I’m going to call this bonding.

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Not a Perfect Mom, but an Enough Mom.

I was going to be the Dr. Oz of parenting. I was going to be a guru, and then I realized that I would probably have to teach my kids to stop acting like wild raccoons at the grocery store. I don’t want to be negative but my kids are 10, 8,6, and 3. This is never going to happen for me.

You are not going to get advice from me on teaching toddlers to read, or getting your kids to stop gagging on their vegetables. I could however offer a step-by-step guide to watching them chew on the same vegetable for two hours, until you eventually give up and let them spit it out.

I am not very perfect at parenting, but I do love my kids enough to cuddle with them while they smell like pee, and I feel like that’s kind of a lot.

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Dear Kids, When I fail…

Dear kids,

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. Your face is more defined, your eyes look older. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I’m afraid that I haven’t always been awake and noticing, and that somehow I have slept through the magic of your growing. I wonder, have I enjoyed you enough? Have I given you what you needed? Is your heart still whole? Is your spirit unbroken?

I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being your mom. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.

Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.

Everyday I make mistakes.

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What do Stay at Home Moms DO all day?

While usually we are being quaint and adorable like a live Norman Rockwell painting, there are a few other things that get us from WHYGODWHY in the morning to Netflix-O’clock at night.

We clean things so they can be destroyed right exactly before you drop by. I don’t mean to brag, but my kids are capable of making my house a major health code violation in ten seconds flat. Sometimes I think about posting pictures of what my house looks like when it’s clean – just for reference.

Welcome to my home. Here is a picture of what my house looked like one time last week.  It could also look like this more often if I had 47 maids and manservants.

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Dear Kids, The world is still beautiful.

To My Kids,

Some people will say that the world is a scary, scary place. Some people will say that there’s no hope and that the future is dark and bleak.

It is scary sometimes, but my dear ones, always remember, there are things that are awful, and terrible, and sad, but there is also always HOPE and there is always GOOD.  You have the tools already printed in your heart. You have love, mercy, compassion, generosity, and kindness. You have ambition and courage, and a radical sense of justice…and that is exactly what is needed.

You are not helpless to bring goodness and light to the world; you are well equipped.

Fear will tell you that it isn’t enough, and that there is nothing that can be done. It will say that you are helpless and a victim to fate. It isn’t true, my loves. The world is your canvas. Make your mark on it with creativity, compassion, and purpose…and I promise that you (and it) will never be the same.

The world is still very, very beautiful because it is full of people, people who have greatness inside of them. We must always be believers in people.

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Dear First Born, It’s not you, it’s me.

Dear First Born,

I remember the day I first held you in my arms. You became, and I also became. I’d thought about motherhood for a long time, about how I’d be and how you’d be. But I was still so unprepared. Heaven and Earth kissed for a moment and I’d never felt so sure and so uncertain all at the same time.

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Confessions from a Stay at Home Mom

I know you think I wear yoga pants and athletic-T’s because I spend my days doing pilates while my kids practice Mozart on their harmonicas. But, I’m here to tell you, I wear them because they’re stretchy.

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PSA: Husbands, I know what your wife wants for Mother’s Day.

Listen, this is just my opinion (but it’s right).

I know what your wife wants for mothers day. Ready?

*Drum roll*

Whatever it is she told you.

I know, I know, it seems too simple, but, just trust me:

If your wife tells you what she wants: get. her. that.

If she says she wants you to leave with the kids for 8 hours, get her that.

If she says she wants chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, get her that.

If she says she wants a nap, believe👏 her👏. She really really does want a nap.

If she says she wants to not *think* about what to eat for dinner, do not let her think. Get her a think-less dinner.

If she says she wants a beer at 8am, get her that.

If she says she wants a certain bracelet/t-shirt/flower do not *I repeat* do not overthink it, get her exactly what she asked for.

EXCEPT, (and this is important) if she says “nothing”, do not for the love get her that.

Love,

Jess

Reasons a mom says she doesn’t want “anything” for Mother’s Day

Reasons she says she doesn’t want anything for mother’s day:

1. She doesn’t want to think of what you should get her for Mother’s Day. She wants you to think of what you should get her for Mother’s Day. She is tired, her brain is mush. She would like “not thinking” in addition to whatever you get her for Mother’s Day.

2. She is setting her expectations low because she doesn’t want to be disappointed.

3. She doesn’t want to feel bad or guilty that you went and got her that thing she asked for.

4. She wants you to know her well enough to think of something she will like.

5. She doesn’t want anything monetary, she wants something like a nap and a day off from doing all the things that she does.

6. She really doesn’t want anything.

7. It’s probably not 6.

Love,

Jess