Friday, September 28, 2012

Flower child.

Children dream.

Big dreams.
Silly dreams.
Lots and lots and lots of dreams.

Safely in the love of their parents... They have courage to do just about anything.

We could use some more dreaming ourselves I think.

Safely in the love of our Maker... We can have courage to take on the world.

So let's dream.

Big dreams.
Silly dreams.
Lots and lots and lots of dreams.

(Lily looks like a little flower child. Her mama made my old shirt into a dress for her. I love it.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Long Island Iced Tea

No.

I didn't drink any of those in Long Island.
But I did go to a vineyard and taste some lovely wines!

Here are some photos of my time with my sweet friend Amanda.
She is amazing. So is her husband Mark.
Their family delights me... They have thick Long Island accents.
It's perfect.
PS. We ate great food too. You may notice lots of it in the pictures below.

a video worth watching.

 
This is a video Shaun made of JP in our bathtub while I was in New York.
Its hilarious, profound, and definitely needs to be watched through the end.
The end is most funny.
Enjoy. God will speak to you through it.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lily's Shoes.


Lily is my god-daughter and I love her like crazy.

Lily's shoes are stinking cute. Always.

I feel like she always has the best shoes. They are pink, or sparkly, or bright, or strappy, or Nike or Tom's or... I don't even know... they are just always perfect for her sweet little feet.

What is crazy though is that Lily is just a little girl. Her feet grow so fast that she can literally only wear a pair of shoes for a month or two before needing a bigger pair. So logically I would think that we wouldn't put too much effort into making sure her shoes are great.

But despite my logic, Lily is probably wearing an adorable pair of pink Nike's as I type this. 

So why would that move me to post a blog about it?

Well here it is...

Recently I have been doubting that my future will be bright. I started thinking that I don't have much to look forward to because I ruined things back in high school. I got caught up in the wrong crowds. My grades fell. I didn't go to college. I didn't pursue sports... Or the performing arts... Or a respectable career with a stable income. As much as I want to trust that God's plans for me are good... I have found myself feeling mostly doubtful, fearful, and anxious... stressing and feeling overwhelmed because I don't know how to be a 24 year old.

Aaannnddd recently I have had lots of conversations with some of my gorgeous single friends. These friends have been struggling too. They are doubting that God will bring them a spouse- even though it is all that they have ever dreamed of. They are afraid that they will never be wives or moms. They have even expressed that they think when God does bring their husbands (IF He does)... then they will probably be boring or grossly unattractive men.

So as I'm faced with this stuff... I am realizing that it all comes down to how much we believe that God loves us... and whether or not we believe He is a good lover.

Earlier this year I found an adorable pair of sandals for Lily. But they were too big. It would have been months before she could fit into them. They were SO cute though. A great brand, bright colors, sparkly... I knew she would love them- one day. Sooo... I decided to buy them for her. Before she needed them. Before she knew to ask for them. Simply because I love her, and it delights me to give her good gifts. In that moment my love for Lily, and my desire to see her happy, outweighed all of the practical reasons why not to buy her the shoes. The most important thing for me was blessing the little girl that I love.

And sure enough it was the best feeling ever. I loved it! I loved seeing Lily's face light up when I gave them to her. I loved it when, a few months later, she ran over to me to excitedly show "Auntie Jess" her new sandals! I still love it- even though now she can't fit into those sandals anymore. I don't regret buying them for her at all.

Lily loved the shoes I got her. But Lily also never doubted that she would have shoes when her feet got bigger. In fact Lily never stresses about needing new shoes, ever. Even though her feet are growing quickly. She never wonders if she will be taken care of. Actually she doesn't even have time to worry... because in most cases her mom, or me, or another friend has already bought her the shoes she will need in a few months!

Like her current Nike's... those were a gift from our friend Derek... a 21 year-old athlete with tattoos...
Yep. Lily has stolen his heart too.

So now if I... A girl who is often struggling, irritable, doubtful, impatient, and selfish... am capable of loving Lily like this... where I am delighted to spend my own money on a pair of shoes she will adore...months before she needs them...

What kind of lover must God be?

The Bible says He is perfect and good and kind.
He is our provider and our friend.
He knows us better than we know ourselves.

The joy that I feel in giving Lily good gifts, is just a glimpse of the joy it brings God to provide us with what we need.

And I know it's so easy to doubt that He really will bring us what we need. Often when we do believe that He will provide for us, we expect Him to give us something bad.. Or less than our favorite.

But I am learning from Lily.
We need to expect good gifts, with thankful hearts, because our Father is a good lover.

He loves to excite our hearts, MORE than I love to surprise Lily with cute shoes.

He not only delights to give good gifts, He also created us and knows what is best for us. He is trustworthy. His timing is perfect. Even if He delays in fulfilling our desires, we can trust that He will not fail us. His plans are better than ours. His ways are higher than ous.

We are safe in His love.

Just as Lily lives safely in the love of her parents... Trusting that she will always be taken care of.

We are safe trusting in the Lord. He loves to love us.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!"
1 John 3:1

And now some sweet photos of Lily hanging with "Uncle Shaun" yesterday...
notice the adorable Halloween outfit I got her... just because I love to love her :)




Monday, September 24, 2012

Photo fun in NYC.

Eve, Carrie and I dressed backstage every day of Fashion Week. 
Eve joined us from Germany... and sweet Emma flew in from London. 
Anna, Eve, Carrie and I excitedly waiting for a show to start. 
Dinner break at Whole Foods
25 cent ice creams. Yes please! 

Fashion Week Outreach. Part 2.

Favorite story #2.
I was able to dress a model that I had worked with last year. Actually I didn't remember her at first- but she remembered me. Last year during a show she almost passed out and i was able to help to take care of her. At the end of our time together this year she said, "Do you know how I remembered you? It was your eyes, the way you looked at me..."

It's incredible to me that this girl can interact with dozens of dressers in a single fashion week, and yet a year later she can remember one of them simply because they looked at her differently than the rest. I am amazed at how little things like a smile, or a compassionate glance, can communicate Gods love.

Favorite//Hilarious story...#3.
One night I was assigned to dress a male model. I had done that once before so I didn't feel terribly nervous.... Until I saw the outfit he would be wearing. Actually it would be better to say... The outfit he wouldn't be wearing... Because really he walked down the catwalk wearing mostly skin. I was just there to help with his SPEEDO!! Haha oh and I had to help him tie his boots and put on his jewelry... But the only outfits he wore were speedos. The first was covered in pink and white flowers and the second was a little less revealing... A pair of pearl printed spandex shorts.

I was so afraid I was going to have to see his area. Haha i turned to my friend and whispered... "Am i going to have to see his willy????"

Nudity is everywhere backstage but I only ever work with females, so the thought of a naked man made me apprehensive (frightened!).

As I was praying for my model I asked God to show me His pure love for this man I was about to dress. As I did that He reminded me of a little two year old boy I had been playing with moments before coming backstage. I felt like God was showing me that His love for my model was no different than His love for that little boy, and I was to be just as caring & respectful toward this man as I was to that child.

Eventually my model came out and I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. Unlike the other two male models that had come out first that were making crude jokes and boasting about their bodies, my model was humble and sweet. After seeing his outfit he politely asked if he could change somewhere private so people wouldn't see his body. Being that it was a fashion show and time was limited, I informed him that he had to dress backstage with everyone else- but I told him I'd do everything I could to cover him while he changed so no one would see him. It was incredible! Even the other dressers near me told me not to cover him, or they jokingly asked me to drop what I was using to cover him... So that everyone could see him naked. But I had the fear of God on me and knew it was my job to protect his integrity (just as I would have protected that little 2 year old if someone was going to take advantage of him)... So I covered him up with my whole heart. :) and the show went SO well! My model did a great job! And our quick change into his second outfit was perfect! After the show I covered him again so he could get back into his normal clothes, and he was completely grateful and honoring to me- he really saw that I tried hard to protect him.

I felt really loved by God and deeply thankful to be entrusted with His son for that show, because all I could think about was how much God loved this man. Right after it was finished I called Shaun to tell him about what had happened.. he was so excited for me. I'm also thankful to be married to a husband that teaches me daily how to love well... and I praise Jesus for a husband that will NEVER wear a floral speedo!

PS. If you want to see some of the outfits from this show check out:
http://www.stylewylde.com/fashion/2012/9/11/fashion-feature-the-blonds-spring-2013.html

Also please visit:
http://www.facebook.com/ModelsforChrist
for more photos and video from the outreach!! 



With Eve & Carrie being ridiculous after dressing for a show
With Alissa at Lincoln Center... and in the rain at Times Square
Eve, Anna, and Carrie in a show
Supporting our model friend in her show :) 

Sweetness from fashion week NYC.

And oh how sweet it was!

I returned home from Fashion Week and have so much to share with you about what God did during those 7 days in New York City. I will do my best to encourage you with my favorite stories and then hopefully other volunteers from the week will share their stories too- so you can get the bigger picture of what the Lord has done!

Favorite story number 1!
As I told you in my blogpost from NYC I had an awesome experience reconnecting with a precious model I met last year! She is a redheaded beauty from Germany that I had been praying for lots over the last year, hoping that Id be able to see her again. Day 2 of this fashion week I was not only able to work backstage at a show she was modeling in, I was assigned to dress her! Just to help you understand how awesome that is- there are lots of shows running during the day, at multiple venues, with between 10 and 30 models working each show. The chance of me being randomly assigned to dress my friend was not high! But God did it!

Actually to make things even better- I was assigned to dress another model for that show as well, and she was also a girl we had ministered to last year! She was a Chinese model who had never heard of Jesus until she spent an hour with my friend Mckenzie backstage before a show last September! After the show she told Kenzie, "I think God had me model in this show just so that you could tell me about Jesus."

So as I am waiting for my German model to get done with her hair and makeup I begin a conversation with the girl who is assigned to dress the models with me. She is a confident African American woman who works full time in business but hopes to one day work as a professional stylist. I encouraged her to trust God with that desire and shared about what He had been teaching me about being faithful with what He had put right in front of me... Knowing that one day He will be able to trust me with more because of my faithfulness. She loved it and opened up with me that she too was a Christian and that it was her faith in God that kept her strong. As soon as I found out she loved Jesus I excitedly told her what God had done in letting me dress my German & Chinese model friends. She was thrilled and offered to work extra hard to dress the Chinese model so that I could have more time to talk to my German model!

When my German friend did finally arrive, she hugged me as if I was her best friend! She opened up immediately about the last year of her life- sharing high points and successes as well as her very low, heartbreaking moments.

While backstage I was able to introduce her to Eve, my good friend from YWAM LA who joined me for this outreach. Eve is also from Germany and had been looking forward to meeting this model because I had told her all about her.

After the show Eve and I invited our German model friend for a "date" later in the week. So two days later she was able to spare 30 minutes before meeting with her booker and asked to meet us for coffee...

2 and a half hours later we were still sitting together because she wanted to know everything she could possibly know about God!!! She had literally never heard of Him! We explained everything we could- from Adam & Eve to prophecies & hearing God's voice! She was so curious! After we shared the gospel with her she expressed that she really wanted to read the story herself. That's when Eve pulled a pocket-sized German Bible from her purse in the easiest German translation! She said that in the morning she put the Bible in her bag, not really knowing why, but feeling strongly that she needed to do it. Now she knew why! Our model friend was so grateful for the Bible! She was thrilled! We encouraged her to start reading in the gospel of John. We finished our time together by praying.. This was the first time our friend had ever prayed!

We have remained in touch with our friend and are looking forward to our next visit with her. She has also connected with Models for Christ in New York which we hope will provide her with continued love and support.



Talking with people outside Lincoln Center- inviting them to Models For Christ. 
Each day began with prayer at the American Bible Society. 
Volunteers came from all over the US, Canada, and Europe to help with the outreach! 
Alissa, Andrew and Jackie are all volunteers who came through YWAM Los Angeles. 

Carrie and I dressed the models backstage everyday :) 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tempted.

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 9:13

Good word. So when life gets crazy and we are feeling totally overwhelmed with the desire to trust our feelings rather than the truth of God's word... We can know that there IS a way of escape. We won't be tempted with more than we can handle.

The other night a few of my friends came over and shared, with aching hearts, about how hard it has been this week to trust God with their singleness. They are being tempted with things like dating guys that clearly aren't best for them, or selfishly flirting with guys in order to feel beautiful, or just getting bitter with God for not providing them with the relationships they long for.

Though I'm married to an AMAZING man- I too shared some of their aches and definitely related to the temptations they were facing.

After spending time doing fun things to pamper ourselves in my living room... Like manicures and facials... We talked through everything we were feeling and were able to encourage each other to continue trusting Jesus with our hearts.

We didn't end the night feeling 100% better... In fact we still woke up the next morning facing some of the same pain that we talked about the night before... BUT we were undoubtedly stronger than we were before we talked to each other about it. Our perspective was better and our commitment to trusting God was renewed.

We aren't meant to walk through this life alone. The Bible says that Christians are a "body". This means we literally need each other, the same way a brain needs a working heart and lungs in order to function properly.

So sweet ones... You are NOT alone. Don't isolate when you feel tempted. It is okay to lean on others in the Body of Christ when you are feeling weak. Even if a church podcast or a blog (like mine) is your only way to receive strength & encouragement to continue walking with God... Use it! Don't try to do this life alone. It won't work.

Besides... If we choose to be alone... We are choosing not to have anyone to give us a facial... And if we do that then who will be there to put their salad on our face when we need it? ((see photo))

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A word from Paul.


"... Do not lose heart... For our light and momentary affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Much to learn from my friends. Colorado edition. Part 2.

Continuing on with my last post. I have been thinking about the beauties I spent time with in Colorado last month. These are some things I learned from them. I'm sharing them in hopes that you'll be just as blessed by these girls as I am. They have taught me so much.

Angie- I've never met anyone so authentic. She is who she is and she won't pretend to be anything else. Few things are more refreshing than that... And few people have influenced my life as greatly as Ang has. So while I could fill a book with things I have learned from her... I will stick with the main thing I learned from our few hours together this trip... Shame is a powerful thing, but love is even more powerful. Shame makes us want to hide. The weight of our mistakes and the ache of our broken dreams can often lead us to resist things that are good for us. Things like counseling. Time with family. Godly friends. We recognize that somehow these things are good, but our shame is worn like a sunburn and every hug we receive is painful, even when we know they are motivated by love. Shame makes us run. Hide. Isolate. But love... Persistent, compassionate, gentle, selfless love will eventually draw us from our shame. It may take time... Sometimes years... But shame is like death and the Bible says that love is stronger than death. Angie teaches me that no matter our shame we can't give up. She reminds me to have grace on ourselves when we mess up, and to understand that though the church may turn up their nose at our mistakes, it was Jesus Himself that welcomed the woman caught in adultery... With the comforting words, "neither do I condemn you". Angie encourages me that no story is perfect and every story is another opportunity for God's love to shine forth. Ang reminds me how significant it is to encourage our loved ones and remind them of what we see in them... It's never safe to assume that someone else will encourage a person. It's likely that most people haven't been encouraged at all in a day... And even if they have, there is no harm in extravagant love.

Chanelle- Among the conversations I shared with Chanelle, I think I was most impacted by her desire to see people value themselves... Really i was impacted by her desire to see me value myself... Haha this mostly played out in her sending me consistent compassionate text messages that reminded me to slow down and rest. Its amazing the affect she had on me. Being someone who has mastered the art of "overdoing it"- I had managed to fill every hour of my day one week, and one of those hours was scheduled to be a date with Chanelle. But when she learned of my schedule she insisted that I stay home and rest... After a bit of reluctance on my end... I ended up on my bed listening to Coldplay on Pandora and exploring Pinterest. It was perfect. Chanelle said that proper rest is a way to reflect on what God has done. It refreshes us and gives us strength for the new things God is doing. She is a wise woman. Im so grateful.

Melissa Mikkelsen- Passionate. That's a distinctive mark of this girl. She has always been passionate- i remember seeing that in her when we first met back in high school. But in the last few years I have watched her direct that passion towards Jesus, and the power of God at work in her life has been undeniable. I guess what I learned most from her this trip was the importance of intimacy with Jesus. It is a message that she preaches without even speaking. To use a word that Taylor Swift introduced me to... Melissa is "wonderstruck" with Jesus. Watching her do life with Christ is like a watching a new bride adore her groom. She gets excited to pray, she is eager to read the Bible... And the joy she carries is testimony in itself of the Spirit living in her. Melissa reminds me that life isn't about what I accomplish, and success isn't found in the things I do... She reminds me that the most important thing in life is the relationship we have with our Savior. Everything else, though often good, is essentially meaningless compared to the greatness of living in love with Christ. And beyond that... Melissa helps me to remember that no "ministry for God" is as important as simply seeking Him. I'm so grateful for a reminder like that... Because its a truth that I often forget.

Alexa- What isn't Alexa teaching me these days? She is living proof that God really does take us from ashes to beauty. She has faced, at her young age of 24, things that most don't go through until late in life... if ever. Still somehow she has maintained a tender heart and a genuine desire to be the person God created her to be. She views her difficult life circumstances as a gift. She is always looking for ways to love and serve others, no matter how she is feeling. She lives with hope for the future and really believes, with simple faith like a child, that God can and will make everything okay. Her innocence is endearing and her work ethic is admirable. Her hope for life makes me hopeful too. She has grown so much in the last few years and the woman that she is becoming is one of sweet compassion and gentle strength. Alexa reminds me to laugh more and stress less... which is something I am working on... it seems like there is always so much to stress over... but sweet Alexa (actually I call her "Wessa"- its what her little brother used to call her) teaches me to pursue a life of simple pleasures and not to get hung up on things that are out of my control. She is a precious friend and I'm so thankful for the time spent with her.
After a dinner date with Ang
Chik-Fil-A with Alexa 
Melissa, Tara, and I last year celebrating my birthday :) 
This is Chanelle. I couldn't find a photo of us together. But we both like coffee so this one will do :) 

Much to learn from my friends. Colorado edition. Part 1.

I heard a quote once that said, "Show me your friends and I will show you your future." I like that concept. I like it because I see often that people become like those they surround themselves with.

It happens when you spend a lot of time with a person and then you start to take on their tendencies. Sometimes it goes so far that people begin to ask if the 2 of you are related.

So if we can predict the fact that we will eventually resemble those we love, then it is important to assess whether the qualities we are emulating are beneficial for our futures. This is what motivated me to think about the lady friends I was able to spend time with while visiting my home (colorado springs, colorado). They are some of my most treasured girlfriends and are people that I really admire. Here are some things that I learned from them while I was home.

Based on these friends... Id say that my future is looking pretty bright.

Tara (my "twin")- I feel like I may have learned the most from Tara this trip... Or perhaps together we learned the most from God this trip. Being with her daily reminded me of my need for open, honest, and encouraging conversations with other women of God. We realized together how important it is do have solid friends to do life with... Especially when you desire to live a life that honors the Lord. Tara taught me that I can't maintain purity in my heart without the love and safety of a trustworthy friend who can talk with me and pray for me. The Bible talks about the importance of guarding your heart, and Tara and I spent hours talking and praying about that very idea. We tearfully confessed our shortcomings and we excitedly shared new revelations God was showing us. It seemed like every time I hung out with her we had amazing fun AND I left feeling inspired to live better somehow! From Tara I learned the power of speaking kindly and how important it is not to gossip. Together we gained new motivation to live in a way that shines the love of Jesus to people we encounter daily. She taught me to value myself and my personal belongings by keeping them clean and lovely. Mostly because everything she does is clean and lovely. She also reminded me how fun it is to be creative... Because she is a crafty little thing with adorable taste. I'm wishing that I could teleport to her weekly so we could share life together or a hot pumpkin spice latte... That would be heavenly.

Hillary- is always inspiring me to seek out life's magical moments. From the way she cherishes her family to the way she snuggles with her pets, even how she photographs yummy foods or the lovely details of something that could easily be overlooked... She encourages me to find joy exactly where I am. She also shares my love for celebrating... Holidays... Birthdays... Or nothing at all... There doesn't need to be an occasion for Hillary to make life a party... Even if nothing special is happening she has a way of taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. Actually her mom and sisters share that gift too. Her life encourages me to live creatively and celebrate often. The way she looks at her husband inspires me too. They have been together for almost 10 years and are still smitten with each other... Love like that doesn't just happen. It takes commitment, loyalty and faithfulness- all qualities that Hillary lives daily. She is months away from having her first baby and even in her pre-mommy months she is teaching me how to love my future little ones. Hillary finds sweetness in everything and invites the people around her to do the same. I am one of those people- following her lead as I seek to make the most of this life I have been given.

Bethany (my "little sister")-it was such a gift to connect with sweet Beth while I was home because though we grew up in the same city and even danced at the same studio, we actually didn't meet until I was living in Los Angeles. She was a student in the first DTS we ever led back in January 2010. Bethany only lives an hour away from me in California now, but due to our crazy schedules we rarely see each other. My time with Bethany reminded me how important it is to pursue our dreams and develop the gifts God gives us- even when it is a grueling process. Bethany had been in Germany for a few months dancing on tour with the Young Americans. I love the YA's and am always so impressed by their productions, but I respect them all much more now after hearing Beth share all about the rigorous work it takes to do what they do. Long hours. Aching muscles. Constant travel. Always appearing energetic and enthusiastic despite jet lag and major sleep depravation. But somehow they do it, and they love it... Not to mention all of the lives they change in the process. In every city they travel to they are able to train young people in the performing arts, while also instilling a sense of value into them. Whether on a stage, in an orphanage, or in a prison they wholeheartedly teach a variety of things like singing, dancing, and songwriting along with important matters of the heart and emphasizing the significance of having a solid character. Bethany encourages me to grow in the skills God has given me, just as she trains herself in dance and musical theatre. She is confident and brave as she then steps out and uses her abilities to be a blessing to others. I want to be more like that.

Melissa Danley- Courage and authenticity. A couple weeks before I arrived to Colorado she had a severe jaw surgery because of a rare bone disease that she has been suffering through for years. I am so thankful to have been able to stay with her and her family for the entire 2 weeks of my visit. Daily I watched as Melissa sought God to overcome her anxiety. She was in the Bible every night reading and praying with her boyfriend Bart. Despite the fact that her mouth was banded shut and she was limited to eating only liquids &soft foods, she still had a positive attitude about the whole experience. She would joke about the fact that she has no facial expressions yet, or that she can't feel her lips. Her demeanor was radiant, always fun, even when her heart was struggling through all of the changes. Being with Melissa taught me to be brave and trust God with even the things that appear to be most scary. She also reminded me that it was enough to just be myself. I would watch her confidently post photos online and attend school and work, even while her face was still swollen and naturally she could have felt insecure. But Melissa was not hindered. She still faced each day with a smile... A numbed-and-banded-up smile... But a gorgeous, faith-filled smile none the less.

with Tara. our twin photo from last summer. 
getting ready before Hillary's wedding

Laughing with Bethany... our usual 
beautiful Melissa before my wedding

Sunday, September 9, 2012

With love from New York City

Here I am!
Stealing a moment on Christina's mac to update you from our outreach to New York City's Fashion Week.

Things are going so well! I will share in more detail later but here are the basics.

We have volunteers with us from all over the world. Roughly 40 I think. We begin each day at the American Bible Society (right next to Lincoln Center) with prayer, worship, and sharing encouraging stories from the day before. After that we split into different groups- I have been with the other "dressers" working backstage dressing the models for the fashion shows.

My most exciting moment so far has been reconnecting with a model that we have been praying for since last fashion week. She is the most precious German girl and I have loved how our friendship is growing. Today Eve and I plan to have lunch with her between shows. We are praying that our time together will refresh her heart and be an opportunity to talk more about God's love for her.

I am so grateful for the family that I have working alongside me this fashion week. There are so many friends here that have come through YWAM Los Angeles... many that Shaun and I have led in the past. These are people we adore, that we have ministered with in places like Mexico, Thailand, and Chile.... it is incredible to add NYC to our history together. God is good.

Well, that's all for today. I will try to share more soon!

Most of the volunteers for this Fashion Week outreach! 

YWAM LA family! (Jackie and Amanda will be cropped in later!)

At the American Bible Society!