Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recently--with photos too!

Well recently we have been working with the School of the Circuit Riders here at YWAM LA. This is basically a 2 week long program for people to get fired up about Jesus and then go out and see people's lives get changed. There are around 200 people here from all over the U.S. for daily teachings and outreach in the city. Its amazing. The other day I watched as a group of them pray for a guy with an injured ankle. It was swollen and he couldn't walk. After like ten minutes of praying for him he was able to walk around, and twenty minutes later I saw him jumping up and down praising Jesus. 

Saturday Shaun drove 26 of us in the shuttle down to Huntington Beach for Beachside Summer Fest. It was an outreach event put on by a bunch of churches and Shaun was invited to skate the ramp along with 5 other skaters from The Sanctuary church. He skated and preached all day long. It was so much fun. 
The people loved it & God did some awesome things in peoples' lives. 

After the event Shaun went down to the ocean to baptize a few of our Circuit Riders students. As he was giving a message about baptism between 20 and 30 other people started gathering around to listen. 
After he finished the main pastor who had organized the whole Beach Fest event told Shaun that all of the people who had come down to the water wanted to get baptized. So Shaun had thought he would be baptizing 4 people, but it ended up being a whole crowd of them!!  Jesus is so amazing!! 

Afterwards we all headed to In N Out... 
because its just a given that anyone visiting California needs to go there. :)

I also included some photos of Lily "washing her hands" in our sink. That is her new favorite hobby. 
By the time her mom came to get her she was soaking wet and "washing the dishes". 
Most adorable thing ever. 

In the Shuttle on the way to HB
the remnants after Becca eats an orange
In N Out 
Crowd favorite! Shaun & Aaron Morgan doing a doubles drop-in off the guard rail
They both landed it! 
Some of our Circuit Rider men. 
driving the shuttle 
Lily washing her hands... and feet...
and the dishes...
after eating chocolate :) 
hands up for people getting baptized in the ocean :) 
Lauren and Davy!! Our friends from Michigan!! Here for Circuit Riders!!  
Reunited! Maren is visiting from Norway and Jamie is here from school. Shaun and D Bates took them for a late night taco truck run. :) They were all in the 1st DTS we led in 2010. 
Aaron and Shaun did the drop in twice :) 

I am dark but lovely.

 No not literally. I'm not dark. I'm a bit sunburned on my back and shoulders, but not to the point where I qualify as "dark". I've always been mostly white with a subtle pink hue. No big deal there.

But I came across a verse in the Bible from the book of Song of Songs where a woman is saying that she is "dark but lovely"... and today I relate to this lady.

Back in her day it wasn't beautiful to be dark, it was more lovely to be pale, because to be dark resembled a servant (working in the sun) but to be pale showed that you were of class and stature.

She is saying "I am dark but lovely" because she is trying to "woo" the man she fancies, and in expressing those words to him, she is revealing a bit of the shame that she feels for being so dark. She hopes he will overlook her darkness, and see her loveliness. 

I know that feeling, where I have to convince myself not to be insecure about something, that I am secretly feeling EXTRA insecure about.

If she wasn't super aware of her own skin tone she wouldn't have even mentioned being so dark, she'd just confidently flaunt the fact that she was sun kissed and unique. But no. She's feeling it.

Well I'm feeling it too... today I have been EXTRA aware of my own weaknesses. To a fault actually. I got to a point around lunch time where I honestly wanted to hide from the people around me, and I was all too grateful for the opportunity to leave the conference I am attending this week, and take a couple friends to the doctor for the afternoon.

Actually I was pretty anxiety-ridden at dinner too, when I went back to the conference for the evening session. It got so bad that I excused myself and used Shaun's iPhone to search for the nearest Starbucks so I could get away and go gather my thoughts.

I feel embarrassed that it got so bad.

But now that I've been sitting here at Starbucks for about an hour, I feel like I'm getting a bit of perspective that will hopefully help me go back into the conference and be my normal self.

"I am dark but lovely."

So one of the main reasons I get so insecure around all of these people at the conference is because they are amazing. These people are full of faith. Loud. Bold. Sometimes they make me slightly uncomfortable because of it... But then again when God is using them to literally heal people right in front of my face, I think they are doing something right.

Somehow when I get around them I feel like I'm failing because I feel so different from them.

That feeling reminds me of the struggle I sometimes have when I'm working with the gorgeous people in the fashion industry. They're amazing too. Physically perfect. Beautiful. Faithful. Brave. Responsible.

Somehow when I get around them I feel like I'm failing because I feel so different from them.

Two totally different groups of people. Same tormenting feeling within me. In both settings I feel like hiding, quitting.. and eventually seeking out something that will numb the turmoil within my heart.

I'm just so very aware of the dark spots in my heart. My weaknesses. My shortcomings. My desire for people to want me. My lust. My insecurity. Even physically... my pimples... my spider veins... my not-so-super-model-shaped-body.

When the darkness of these thoughts floods my mind... I feel ashamed and unworthy.

Then comes God. With His sweet... quiet... yet oh-so-real voice of truth..

"You are dark but lovely"

I like that. He doesn't say I'm not dark... meaning that I am without fault. Because if he said that, I might think He doesn't actually know me. I might strive to "act" like I'm perfect and faultless because I'd think that's what He expected of me, but really inside I'd probably suffocate because of how far I am from perfect. The disconnect from my true self and the person I was pretending to be would eventually be too much for me to handle.

But I feel safe when I realize that God knows me. He knows my every struggle. He sees my every sinful tendency. He is completely aware of all of them. Yet He still calls me lovely.

I don't have to feel ashamed of my shortcomings, and I don't have to withdraw from people because I feel unworthy.

Because the God of the universe has looked upon my life and chosen me. I am enough for Him. I am dark but lovely. I have faults, but they don't negate my loveliness in the sight of God.

In life, we have a tendency as people to look at our "shortcomings" (whether real or imaginary) and allow them to count us out. We set ourselves up to try and 'earn' a position because in our hearts we don't feel like we actually have it.

it looks like this:

I would be beautiful IF I lost 5 pounds.
I would be a real baseball player IF I made this team or pitched at this speed.
I would be a real dancer IF I dance like this person.
I would be a successful and creative business owner IF I sold this amount of product.
I would be good at writing IF I had this many followers on my blog.
I would be wanted IF this many people liked my photo on instagram.
I would be a great leader, influencing people and changing lives, IF I were this well-known.

We don't believe we are worthy. We live life trying to prove that we are good enough. Sometimes we actually think we are trying to prove it to other people, as if they are the ones who don't believe we can do it, when in reality the only one who needs convincing is us.

I hear kids say to Shaun.. "No man, I'm not really a skater"...
Even though they literally just rolled up on a board, and are now holding the skateboard in their hand!
They say it though because in their mind a "real skater" requires something that they don't feel they've attained.
I love Shaun's response though, he always says, "Well, do you love to skate?"
"Yeah man I love to skate."
"Perfect, then you're a real skater."

I need a little bit of that perspective in my life tonight.

I am the first one to count myself out of things...
No it doesn't make sense that God uses me to love on a fashion model, I'm not a model.
No it doesn't make sense that I am training in dance, or that I use dance to entertain people, I don't have good technique.
No it doesn't make sense for me to teach on relationships, I sometimes lust after guys other than Shaun.
No it would be crazy for me to teach on identity, I am daily battling to find my own.
No it is silly to think God would use me at all, I'm a big bundle of issues.

But then I hear it,

"Hey Jess, Do you love Jesus?"

"Yeah... and I want to love Him more."

"Perfect, then you're qualified."

That's just it. I can have peace because I'm enough. No more striving. No more feeling like I'm behind.

I just surrender myself. My life. My weaknesses. My strengths. My fears. My dreams. My desires. All of it. Into the loving hands of a God who is passionate about doing life with me.
And I watch Him work miracles in me and through me. Even all around me.

Safe in the protection and security of His love is where I find myself standing confidently alongside the woman in Song of Songs saying,

"I am dark, but [SO] lovely. " (I added the "so) :)

Meet my adorable nieces Rose & Sasha. They are my brother's daughters and I love them. They live in Montana. So cute! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Psalm 46:5

I was just journaling this morning about a few things I'm struggling with, but I felt comforted when I came across this verse.

"God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, 
God will help her when morning dawns."

I needed this scripture this morning.

I pray it encourages your heart too.

God is here, working in every detail of ours lives. We have nothing to fear. He WILL come through for us. He is faithful on His promises. He loves to reveal Himself as we continue to trust in Him.

I hope you have a good day beauties. Let's try to make the most of the opportunities before us today. Let's love extravagantly, listen patiently, serve joyfully, and do everything as if we were doing it for Jesus Himself.

If there's anything coming up against you, making you feel inadequate or unworthy, kick that thing to the curb.

I'm here to remind you that if you weren't here, something would be missing. God has put life and gifts and potential within you that are unique to you alone. We need you to fulfill the call on your life, because your influence will change the world. If you deny the glory God has put within you & don't fulfill that call on your life, He can raise up someone else to do it, but something precious will be lost in the process.

Be uniquely you. Beautifully you. That's enough. As soon as you feel yourself striving to be more or do more, stop, take a deep breathe, and ask Jesus to remind you of His personal love for you. Ask Him for new strength.

This life isn't about what everyone else thinks of you. At the end of the day you are accountable to God alone. That is a frightening and wonderful thought. We don't have to live at the mercy of the opinions of others, and yet we need to get to know God so we are living according to His standard.

Anyway, all that is really just to say, we are okay. We are loved. We are accepted. We will not be moved.

"God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, 
God will help her when morning dawns."

I thought of this picture as I was reading the scripture this morning. Shaun took it on his i-phone last summer at the Getty. I like it because it shows I feel... everything around me is chaos, but because Christ is within me, I will not be moved. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Pulliam Wedding

random photos from Michael & Chelsea's glorious day!
dessert time, i love Chelsea's reception dress! 
the groom, minutes before the ceremony
Scott Pulliam playing the grand piano in the house 
married on a lake 
the backyard of the mansion where the wedding was hosted! 
all the ladies! 
backyard swimming pool


I went to a wedding the other day. Perhaps the best wedding I've ever been too (but I have a feeling I say that about every wedding I go to) either way- it was definitely in my top two!

This one was so very real, that's what I loved about it. The groom really was head over heals in love with his bride. Their vows weren't about the crowd. It wasn't about the photos... or the decor... or the cake, though all of those things were gorgeous. It was about love. The love that the couple had for each other. The love that Jesus had for all of us. And the love shared between the couple and the small group of honored guests that were invited to attend the celebration.

It felt like heaven and earth were hugging for those few hours, and I got to be right in the middle of it. :)

After the sun had set that evening, we all gathered in a small group to listen as musicians were invited to get up one by one and serenade us with their incredible abilities. The groom happens to be one of the greatest musicians I have ever heard, and he has 7 siblings that are all prodigies too, so you can imagine the quality of music we were able to enjoy. It was better than a concert I could have paid for.

I was sitting in the 3rd or 4th row- not that it affected my ability to hear or see, because there were only like 20 of us there. But in front of me were a couple of rows of beautiful single girls. Maybe ten of them were in my direct line of sight. And as I was sitting there, soaking in the lights, the music, and the beauty of the evening... I felt sad in my heart for these girls.

I didn't feel sad that they were single, because being single is a gift that sometimes, if I'm honest with you, I envy.

I felt sad because I know that sometimes weddings, even though they are completely wonderful, have a way of highlighting our own feelings of insecurity and loneliness. They can remind us of a deep desire to be in a relationship, or even to be married, and sometimes those reminders can be torturous. As I looked at these gorgeous girls sitting before me, I imagined the rejection that each of them may have faced so far in their young lives.

I knew a few of these young women personally, and I had heard their traumatic stories of loss and heart break... so that was definitely impacting my thought process. But even for the precious ones that I didn't know... I could imagine their stories, because I know my own story, and the stories of other girls in my life... and that filled me up with enough emotion that I was seriously considering walking up to the front, taking the microphone from the guy singing the love song, and giving these ladies some kind of motivational speech about how stinking valuable they were.

But instead I sat in my chair. Praying. And thinking about rejection.
Thankfully this little blog has become my own microphone and though I'm not always sure if anyone is listening, at least it satisfies my desire to get the words out.

So here's my "speech".


Rejection has a way of ruthlessly haunting us females.

Since we were little girls it has crept up on us and attempted to steal our security and sense of worth.
I know it too well. It plays out in different scenarios, but the outcome is all the same.

Parents divorce, one of them leaves, maybe they remarry, perhaps they even have more children and you are left trying to sort out why you feel so unwanted.

Third grade, the guys prefer to chase her- instead of you- around the playground, and despite everything you do to try and get their attention, nothing works.

Middle school. The guys make a list of every "hot girl" in your grade. You didn't make the list.
Or maybe you did. But even once you're on there, it doesn't stop. The guys proceed to rate every girl's features on a scale of 1-10. 10 being best, 1 being worst. Every "hot girl" is compared, and picked apart. Leaving you wondering where you fall in the eyes of others.

High school. Or even college. Still trying to recover from the past rejections, you look to relationships to redeem yourself and restore the value that you no longer see. You give ourself away. He breaks up with you. You begin again with someone else. He cheats. Or you cheat. By this time you've have gotten so mixed up, its hard to know what is right and wrong. Finally you find someone you are ready to fully invest in. You dream of marrying them... you plan life together... you give your body to them... everything. But then somehow it doesn't work. Or even when it does work you still battle feeling insignificant and valuable. You and him don't trust each other.

Or perhaps rejection crept in simply because you have been single your whole life. Or most of your adult life. And so you hear this thing inside of you that says 'no one will ever want me'. And every time you see others start relationships, or get married, it just confirms that lie that it will never happen to you.

When we are single we imagine this rejection thing will go away with marriage. Well dear ones, I'm here to tell you its not true. If it were true there wouldn't be so many affairs and divorces in our world.

And for me... I personally wish it were true. Because I'd have been free from this garbage for over 3 years now and I wouldn't still struggle so much hoping that guys view me as desirable, lovely, and wanted.

Rejection happens within friendships too. I was just sitting with a friend the other night who expressed to me that she believed that she was easy to forget. She believed that she was disposable, because she had a series of friends who expressed love to her when she was around, but as soon as she left they stopped talking to her, and never invited her out with them.


I'm hoping you are seeing what I see. Rejection is everywhere, affecting all of us, and convincing us of things that, if left alone too long, could lead to the end of us.

When we believe that we are rejected, and our value is left in the hands of other people, we are in a place of constantly striving to be enough. It drives us to change ourselves in order to be what we perceive other people want us to be. Or it manipulates us into being bitter, hardened people, that think we are protecting ourselves, but are really starving ourselves from the sweetness of deep relationships.

We are created to be whole. Rejection messes that up.

We can pretend to be whole for a while, but eventually the reality of our brokenness will come out in things like:

-constantly feeling disappointed in other people because of our own unrealistic expectations
-imagining that people are thinking things about us.. that they probably aren't actually thinking
-obsessing over where people are and who they are with (especially boyfriends) fearing that we may not have been invited
-being jealous over the successes of others... especially when it comes to their relationships

There are plenty more examples... I've probably lived a hundred of them.

We can go through life pretending that we don't have a problem with rejection. We can call it other things and disguise the condition as something else.

Like, "No I don't have issues trusting my boyfriend, its just that tonight he is being weird, so that's why I'm going crazy texting and calling him nonstop. I just want to be sure everything is okay."

"No, I don't think I'm overly needy. I'm just loyal. And most people don't get that. My heart is just bigger than most peoples'" It is probably true, your heart is big, but precious girl, you're swimming in a sea of rejection... and its time to ask for a life vest.

We were created to be whole. Rejection is not a state that we are meant to live in forever. Yes we may get rejected from time to time. But all of heaven wants to see us get free from that, and move into the awesome plans God has for us.

There is a vibrant, beautiful depth of life that we are missing when we allow ourselves to remain "rejected".

Because the fact is that many of us have been legitimately rejected. Its true. But God has the power to swoop into the most broken parts of our hearts and heal us, so we can be redeemed from those bad situations.

Isaiah 49:15 says,
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!" 

That is God's heart for us, even when people closest to us reject us. Even when family, friends, loved ones... anyone... forgets us... we have a God that has never taken His eyes off of us. When we grasp that truth it has the power to set us free from the pain of even the deepest wounds.

In Him we can find healing, wholeness, and restoration.

In Him, we have everything we need.

Dear Jesus, 
Thank you for whoever you bring to read this blog post. Please will you heal them. Show them how you see them. Free them from whatever residue of rejection might be left on them and bring them to a place of wholeness. Please God fill them with faith in you, and please fill them with hope for the future. You love them so much, please help them to see it. Help me to see it too. We need you. 
In your name, Amen. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Evening with the Nearman's

Shane and Christina Nearman are friends of ours. They are also personal mentors to me and have been a huge source support for me since I first met them 3 years ago. They are the International Directors of Models For Christ an have worked as professional models for many years. They have also be married for 17 years!

It is impossible to hang out with them and not feel encouraged. They seriously live by faith, simply listening to the guidance of God and going wherever He sends them. They have taken risks that would frighten most people- literally getting rid of everything and by faith moving to different places as God leads them to. (they even went all the way to Israel because God said to do it) They've seen miracle upon miracle as they have walked in total dependence on Christ-- and they are about to embark on another adventure by faith- moving to England for the year so Christina can complete grad school!

Monday evening they invited us to come to Manhattan Beach because they wanted to surprise us with a date. The only thing we knew was that it would be extra special and we needed to dress warmly. First they took us to eat at a delicious Mexican restaurant, then picked us up some hot drinks from Starbucks before heading over to the beach for the surprise.... SAILING!! Just the four of us and the awesome sailer man, Eric, who led the adventure.

We spent an hour on the water and it was just completely the best thing ever! Exactly what I needed in my heart. Everything we talked about reminded me of how much God loves us and cares about the little details of our lives. His love is so personal. Christina even shared again about how Jesus miraculously healed her of a disease that almost took her life... A serious full on healing. That experience was actually what led her to surrender her life to Christ over 15 years ago.

After sailing we went to a local coffee shop in Redondo and played a full game of Scrabble, while I enjoyed some tea and a scone. So British of me :)

Jesus is so worthy of trusting. He is passionate about showing His faithfulness and I'm so grateful for friends that remind me of that truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

 "So encourage each other & build each other up, just as you are already doing."

here are some photos of the adventures! they are out of order but that's okay! :)