When Father’s Day Is Difficult

“Happy Father’s Day” doesn’t apply to everyone. There are many situations— death, estrangement, unfulfilled dreams of being a father, and more— that may leave a person feeling a tangled ball of emotion this weekend. If you’d like tips on how to survive this Father’s Day or how to support someone you care about over the weekend (including alternative e-cards), check out optionb.org!

Resources for Veterans & Families

At the beginning of May, Wounded Warrior Project hosted the Veteran Support Conference to open up community dialogue about veteran-friendly organizations, provide insight into the military community, and share resources for our vets. Attendees were able to hear firsthand experiences of transitioning back to civilian life, including the hope that comes with community support.

This community dialogue has inspired me to create a list of resources for our local military members and their families. Let’s spread a message of hope this week of Memorial Day! Visit my Military Resources page to learn more.

Essential Oils and Mental Health

Today’s guest blogger, Melody, has graciously agreed to answer some questions about essential oils and their potential uses to combat some common mental health concerns. Please check out our instagram collaboration to see all of the tips she’s dishing out this week! Melody is an oils user, lover, and educator. She and her husband, Danny, live in the sweetest place on earth- Hershey, PA- with their kiddos (ages 4, 6, and 8). Their family has known Jess and her husband since their college days together at Geneva.  When she’s not teaching about oils, you can find her serving at their church, helping out in their kids’ classrooms, chatting with a friend or two at Starbucks, and if it’s a really good day – on the beach with her favorite book! Melody’s family spent over a decade in full-time ministry with Young Life but has recently done some job transitioning– it’s been a crazy but good ride.

Ask Melody your essential oil questions here: @TheSweetestPlaceToLearn

I (Jess) started using essential oils a few years ago and I recommend some blends for clients, but I’m far from an expert. How did you (Melody) get into essential oils? I started using doterra’s oils about 2 years ago because I was determined to find a way to keep myself, my husband, and our 3 kiddos healthier over the Fall and Winter months. I was a complete oils skeptic but I was also desperate so I reached out to my cousin who had offered to share some samples with me if I ever wanted them. Low and behold…they worked! Winter #1: countless visits to the dr (if they had frequent flier points, I’d have earned myself a free vacation). Winter #2: 1 trip! After that, I was all about educating myself and my friends and family about how incredible these oils are!

A lot of people have heard that things like lavender can be calming. Can essential oils actually help support mental health? Absolutely, especially for mood and pain issues. Using oils aromatically, topically, and internally can help support mental health in a variety of ways. I’ll share more about this during our story posts on Instagram, but the short answer is YES!

Who can use essential oils? ANYONE! You, your friends, your kids, even your pets. There are correct ways to use them, and this is where that education comes in. The more you know, the more empowered you are to help yourself and the ones you love. It’s why I’m committed to supporting my members every step of the way.

Why did you choose doterra? Good question! There are so many oils out there today so this is a very important topic. After tons of research I was thoroughly impressed by doterra’s sourcing (all over the world- the plants we use come from the countries where they grow natively), testing (the most tested oils on the market, and you can see all the test results!), their commitment to sharing education, and also their price points and rewards (so so generous). I could go on and on about this question!

Check us out on instagram this week for specific ideas for your mental health support! @JGageLPC & @TheSweetestPlaceToLearn

Where can people learn more? Melody loves to share information about oils, so you are welcome to email her your questions at thesweetestplacetolearn@gmail.com. Her doterra members know that she’s there for them. She takes it very seriously when someone decides to try oils for the first time. She knows you’re going to need some guidance for a little while, so she’s got a few resources set up for you to make you successful and to make sure the investment you make in your health goes a long way! Check her out on facebook and instagram, or look at her doterra page and doterra blog to browse some resources!


A Spectrum of Relational Health


You don’t need a degree in counseling to realize that relationships are complicated, especially when they don’t feel balanced. That can happen in a number of ways, but today I’m focusing on the dynamics of healthy interdependence and how easy it can be to slide toward the more extreme ends of the spectrum of relational health.



Independence sounds admirable enough, but it’s not good for long-term relationships. When a person cannot (or will not) bring down walls in vulnerable ways to expose weak spots, lean on a partner, or ask for help, the relationship withers over time. Isolation starves relationships. Bringing vulnerability into relationships, however, is like offering sun and water to a plant: it’s necessary for healthy growth.

Codependency is a word that’s thrown around a lot these days, but when I say it to a client, the most common response is, “I’ve heard that word a lot, but I’m not sure what it actually means.” For the sake of this discussion, codependency means excessive reliance on another person (usually a partner) for psychological and/or emotional validation, purpose, and identity. Typically, a person struggling with codependency is attached to a person who is dealing with an addiction or a physical or mental illness and needs that person to remain in a weak place in order for their own identity to survive. My favorite codependency resources are by Melody Beattie as well as books like this one.

So if independence and codependence can be so detrimental for our relationships, what’s left?

Interdependence is the gold standard for healthy relationships. It can be intimidating because it is built on both partners’ levels of confidence and relational intelligence. But once achieved, both partners are able to be strong enough to hold up the other person and simultaneously vulnerable enough to lean on that person for love and support. I often see people coming into my office with resistance to one or the other, and it doesn’t work well in the long run. Interdependence is like building a teepee where each post is strong on its own but gains both strength (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) and purpose (a safe place) in relationship to the others as each post is strategically placed with equal weight distribution.

The next time you catch yourself feeling a lack of balance in your relationship, take some time to assess where your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors fit on this spectrum of relational health.

On this Mother’s Day…

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child – we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away – we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption – we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising – we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

-Amy Young, The Messy Middle blog