Friday, August 31, 2012

Rocky mountain high.

Dear Colorado,

You grow some of the most gorgeous women I know.

Thanks for that.

Love, Jess

PS. I miss you already.

ashley vanley photography.

I'm back in LA and not sure how to feel about it. 
I'm happy to be with Shaunny again but sad to be without some of my bestest friends. 
I have lots to share with you but for now I thought you might enjoy some photos 
taken by the ever lovely Ashley Vanley.  






















Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Husband...

flew to Michigan yesterday. Wife, that's me, is still in Colorado for another week. I'm thankful to be here but sad to be away from him. He is the best man I know.

His birthday is Saturday and sadly I won't be there to celebrate with him. I also won't be there to give an adorable pair of glittery skinny jeans to our one-year-old niece, Siri. (PS. She was born BEFORE the iPhone decided to welcome its own "Siri" into the world... Our poor niece will forever be jokingly asked for directions and weather reports.)

Anyway I love my husband and I love Colorado, so I'm happy that even though I can't have both at once... At least I'm not sitting in Los Angeles missing them both.



A good word about fear & pain.

"Dr Paul Brand was a physician who spent much of his life working with lepers in India. He discovered the real danger was that leprosy destroys the nerve endings in the body and lepers lose their ability to feel. While the inability I feel pain might sound like a blessing, it is ultimately a lethal curse. Without pain lepers are unaware when they have been injured. As a result, even a tiny wound or splinter can be left untreated and become infected, leading to the loss of limbs or even death.

After documenting this phenomenon and treating its effects, Dr. Brand said, "I thank God for pain, I cannot think of a greater gift I could give to my leprosy patients." When taken too far, the pursuit of comfort and the avoidance of pain can make us into spiritual lepers- we become incapable of experiencing the aches God uses to awaken us to the reality of sin and evil in the world and in ourselves. Dr. Brand continued, "Most people view pain as an enemy... yet, without it, heart attacks, strokes, ruptured appendixes, and stomach ulcers would all occur without any warning. Who would ever visit a doctor apart from pain's warnings?"

Although no one enjoys feeling pain or fear, they play a vital role in our existence. Physically they help us stay alive in our dangerous world, and spiritually they awaken our souls to seek a beauty, a justice, and a freedom beyond what this present world can provide. By focusing on insulating ourselves from these unpleasant experiences and pandering to our consumer desires, (we are) cut off from the redemptive purposes of pain and fear. In our comfort we forget the One who alone can deliver us from our true ailment. Instead we seek lesser things."

-taken from the book entitled "With" by Skye Jethani

Sunday, August 19, 2012

thoughts inspired by Amyjane.

 Life is short. Extra short.

I learned this week that a precious 19 year old friend of mine was murdered.

Her name is Amyjane and I met her last September when she arrived at YWAM LA as a student in the Discipleship Training School. I had just watched "Anne of Green Gables" in New York like a week before meeting her, and I remember calling my friend back in New York saying, "I met a red-headed girl that reminds me of Anne- her name is Amyjane!!"

Amyjane was extraordinary. Truly one-of-a-kind. She was full of life. Outgoing. Free-spirited. Always adorned in lots of colors and eccentric fabrics. Amyjane could talk to anyone. She was trusting and always excited to make friends. She was comfortable with anyone, and bold to start conversation. She was also passionately in love with Jesus, and was always eager to share His love with others.

She was a bright light. Radiant.

And now she is in heaven.

The news of her loss was both shocking and heartbreaking. It has been almost a week since I heard about it and I am still not sure what to do with my emotions. I don't quite know how to feel.

But I do know that in the last 6 days I have spent a lot of time thinking about how short life is.

To be honest, the awareness of that is mostly comforting to me because life can be so hard.

I have thought a lot about James 4:14
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
A mist. Imagine that. Just one single spray of perfume and then its gone. That is what our life is compared to.

I heard of a guy back home in California that was diagnosed with cancer and given a few weeks to live. In those short weeks he changed everything. He slept less. He prioritized differently. He spent more time with his family. He spent less time doing things that didn't matter. He is gone now. But he certainly made the most of his last days here on earth.

Why do we wait until time is literally running out to live meaningful lives?

In Psalm 90:12 it says, "Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom."

I prayed for that this week. I need God to help me remember how short my time on this earth is, so that I can continue to trust His wisdom and not get carried away doing meaningless things that I feel to be best... but aren't actually good at all.

We need to know that life on earth is short. Because when we forget we make silly decisions. We start to trust in our emotions rather than trusting God's word. We begin to forfeit things that we wouldn't really want to give up, if we were thinking "soberly". But in moments of loneliness or hopelessness or boredom, we decide that it is more important to pursue our own gain rather than trusting that the Creator of our souls is actually real and actually has good plans for us.

I've seen this play out recently- in my own heart and in the lives of others. We justify doing crazy things... just because they feel good to us.

Marriages dissolve because we decide that we never really loved our spouse in the first place. Or that God never really "spoke" to us to get married and that the real husband that God prepared for us was that gorgeous guy we met recently who "really understands us". Or that we never connected sexually, so rather than deciding together to make our sex life better, we would rather explore sexuality with other people- outside of the family we have built.

Or we are beautiful singles who become promiscuous because we trusted Jesus for years to provide someone for us, and He didn't, so we are going out to get the love we have been missing.

We walk away from gifts He has given us, or passions He has placed in us, or ministries He has called us to... all because our fickle emotions have convinced us that He is somehow holding out on us... and we deserve "better".

I feel like I'm constantly on the verge of some sort of unfaithfulness in my heart.

I feel so refreshed when I remember that compared to eternity... this life is just a vapor. Even if I live another 80 years... I will still look back on the time that has passed and think to myself, "Wow, where did all that time go?"

"What good is it if we gain the whole world and forfeit our souls?"

No good at all.

Lord Jesus,
Help us to be faithful. Help us to stay strong. Help us trust your word, over our own emotions. Bless every single girl that stumbles onto this page... comfort her in any loneliness she might feel and remind her of the truth, that you are near to her. Bless every wife that has visited this blog, strengthen her tonight. Fill her with love for her husband. Help her... and me... to choose to trust you, even in times when everything in us feels tempted to walk away from the lives we have made. Bless every mommy that stops here in the midst of her busy day. Show her please Jesus the great honor that she has in her role as mother, and give her revelation of the powerful ways you are using her life. Bless every man that reads my words. Cover him in your love. Show him how valuable and desirable he is. Strengthen him in his walk with you and give him grace to live in purity. Lord if there are people you bring onto this blog that struggle in their sexuality, please draw them so close to you right now. Shower them with your peace and your acceptance of them as your children. For the hurting, and the broken, the hopeless... those who have recently lost people they loved... please may they feel you right now... more deeply than they have in a long time. Remind them that you will never let them go. No matter how bad it hurts. Or how far they fall. And for those who feel strong and peaceful today. Thank you for that Jesus. Thank you for everything. We desperately need you. Please comfort Amyjane's family and friends. And use her death... just as you have used her sweet life... to bring you glory. In Jesus Name, Amen. 








Friday, August 17, 2012

Little girl, arise.

 So this morning I went for a jog... well mostly a walk... we can call it a wog.

And as I was wogging I wanted so badly to pray, but realized I didn't know where to start because I was feeling so overwhelmed by everything there is to pray about. I also felt somehow distanced from God this morning, like when I began to pray it felt like I was talking to myself, or talking to the air.. and I try to avoid doing things that make me look insane, because people already think I'm crazy as it is.

But even in feeling that way I knew that prayer really was what I needed to do most, because I can't do life without Jesus, especially when I'm overwhelmed.

So I did what I recommend to my friends who are new at praying to Jesus- I talked to Him like I would talk to a friend. I think I started by saying, "I don't know where to start..."

But after a few minutes the prayers started to flow, and thankfully so did the peace of Christ. After I got home from my "wog" (haha I'm loving that term) I decided to open the Bible and read only the words of Jesus from the book of Luke. In my Bible they are red, yes I wish they were pink, but at least being red they stood out on the pages. I did this because while wogging I realized that part of my stress is coming from the expectations that I think people have of me. Even expectations I have of myself. And since I know life is short and ultimately I am accountable to Jesus, over everyone else, I wanted to be reminded of what He has to say.

So I started reading His words from Luke out loud to myself. Now at this point I realize I looked a bit crazy, but I was home alone, so there was room to do it. :) I decided to read aloud for five minutes.

What did I learn?

To be honest I wanted to dance or sing or run around in circles because I was so relieved by what I read. My five minutes turned into fifteen minutes and it was so worth it! Jesus thinks SO differently than I do. His desires for us are so good, and His priorities are NOT the priorities of the world! Yes!

The last words I read are from Luke 8:54, "Little girl, arise."

So I did.

I arose from my chair, thought about how that line would make a great tattoo, then ran upstairs to start curling my hair.

When we encounter the truth of Jesus, and the authority that He has over the whole universe, everything else feels smaller in comparison. My time in prayer and in reading His words renewed my strength to face the days ahead. Starting with today. I still have a lot to think about, and plenty of issues that are yet to be dealt with, but I know now with my whole heart that though those issues are big to me, they are only minor details to God. And as I trust in Him, He will be faithful to sort them all out.

"Little girl, arise." Luke 8:54

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Phil. 4:4-9



Green grass, Justin Bieber & contentment.

"The grass isnt greener on the other side. The grass is green where you water it." Thanks Justin Bieber for that line in your "as long as you love me" song, it is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today.

J Bieb isn't the only one teaching me that lesson. I recently planted a small garden. By small I mean like 6 flowers. And I think as of today they are probably all dead... Or almost dead... Because the weather has been in the hundreds... And I'm in Colorado now and forgot to ask someone to water them.

Lesson learned. If I want beautiful flowers- I need to water them. They won't just stay lovely on their own.

I'm learning that with everything in life actually. Things just don't stay lovely on their own. And often the temptation is to look around at what other people have and desire those things, instead of taking time to invest in what's already there. We resort to wanting the lovely things around us, instead of figuring out how to have loveliness right where we are at.

Last night I listened to one of my most treasured friends as she poured out her heart about the pain of being single at an age when everyone around is getting married and starting families. In her mind the struggle is that it seems that if she could only be in a relationship things would feel better.

Another friend recently opened up about how desperately she had wanted to be noticed. Her whole life she had longed to be desirable and she decided early on that her small breasts were the problem. So she decided last year to get breast implants. As we were talking about it she became really vulnerable and said,"I thought that they would fix my problem and that my insecurity would go away, but now i have them and i still feel bad... I'm learning that nothing on the outside can fix the problems on the inside."

As a wife I feel it too. I'm embarrassed to admit it but sometimes I find myself looking at other guys wondering if some of my issues would have been solved if I had chosen a different husband.

We do it with all kinds of things- we look at our situation and decide that the discontentment we feel inside is somehow a result of not having something or someone "out there". It is sometimes our bodies- wanting to lose weight, or our incomes- wanting more money, or our homes- wanting something bigger or nicer.

If we let it, discontentment has the potential to steal our lives right out from under us.

I think the chorus of the Bieber song I quoted in the beginning says, "As long as you love me, we could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke..." and when I heard it I immediately thought of Jesus.

Now just a helpful P.S. ... I'm not some hyper spiritual lady who gets divine revelation every time I listen to the radio. It would be nice.. I'd probably be less distracted.. But it's just not the case. For some reason though this song spoke to me and it's making for some good blogging :)

So back to part of the chorus. "As long as you love me, we could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke..." That so reminds me of how the love of Jesus impacts our lives. Because when we really truly get it His love is so real that our natural response is contentment in every circumstance.

It's like we could sing back to Christ, "As long as you love me, I could be single, I could be married, I could have small boobs..." Haha it doesn't make for such a catchy song, but it does make for a much better life.

There will always be things out there that appear to offer us what we don't have. Through eyes of deception we see them prancing around convincing us that our lives are incomplete until we acquire "those things"... and it's always false. No matter what we have our eyes on, if we are looking to it as our source for joy, we will always be let down.

The lovely green garden we want is right in front of us. It just needs some watering.

Jesus says to us, "What good is it if you gain the whole world but forfeit your soul?" What our hearts need isn't out there, it's actually right here. It is choosing to be content exactly where we are at. And it begins with Jesus. Because only when we are satisfied with Him, will we have the true perspective toward everything else.

So let's seek Him and as He quenches our thirst with living water, let's water the gardens we already have. Let's look for ways to be content in everything, and take time to make what we already have even better.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Phil. 4:11-12

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marie's Bridal Shower.

On Saturday two of my most favorite people on earth got married. But before they did that the other bridesmaids and I were able to throw the bride, Marie, a whimsical little bridal shower. Marie loves sparkles so she asked that before celebrating we all adorned ourselves with gems. I LOVED it. 
Here are some of the photos taken by my husband- Shaun, and Elsa- the maid of honor. 
Elsa is the one with the long curly invisible hair. ;)