Friday, December 27, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

in a sentence.

my ramblings.
in a sentence.
not really though.
more like a few sentences.

Shaun and I aren't fighters. We aren't perfect and we definitely have conflict, but we aren't fighters. He does a good job forgiving me quickly, and he is rarely, if ever, defensive. Conflict in marriage dissolves quickly if you are both on the same team. My brother-in-law Jason told me to always "assume love". We have taken his advice and it really helps. For instance (I'll use a recent example), I could easily assume that Shaun has been leaving our room a disaster lately because he is prioritizing his work over me and my needs, OR... I could "assume love" by deciding right away that he loves me and I am his priority... so the reason for Hurricane Shaun wreaking havoc in our bedroom must actually be because he is extra busy, potentially overwhelmed, and probably unaware of how stressed that makes me feel. When I approach the situation with that attitude things stay calm and together we find a solution. In this case we cleaned together while listening to nice music and talking about life. Hooray.
Sometimes my neck acts a fool and I can't move it. That happened yesterday and today it realllllyyyy hurts. I have a heating pad on it... but I just realized that it isn't getting hot.... Hmmmm....
Psalm 103 is so good. I'm trying to memorize it. I've used several options but rapping it seems to be the best method of memorization. For me anyways. Probably for Eminem too.
Writing, editing, printing, and sending out newsletters seems like it takes a million years. This means if you receive one of mine in your mailbox you should definitely appreciate it.
Even if you don't read it, please at least hug it for me.
If he "isn't into labels"... what he actually means is that he isn't into commitment. I know that you guys "feel really committed"... but reality is you are not committed. If he made out with another girl today he would NOT be cheating on you. That's risky and not a good place for your fragile heart to be. Value yourself more than this and define your relationship. If he won't do it then that is worth being concerned about.
We are going to Michigan on Thursday morning and I CAN'T WAIT!
Get ready for some wonderfully twinkly pictures in the snow.

Lastly, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Because I often struggle with feeling like I've failed. Its so good to meditate on who God is and how He views His children. Psalm 103: 8-17.
Praying it blesses you... 

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.He will not constantly accuse us,nor remain angry forever.He does not punish us for all our sins;He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.For His unfailing love toward those who fear Himis as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.He has removed our sins as far from usas the east is from the west.The Lord is like a father to His children,tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.For He knows how weak we are;He remembers we are only dust.Our days on earth are like grass;like wildflowers, we bloom and die.The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here.But the love of the Lord remains foreverwith those who fear Him.

Friday, December 13, 2013

For the Broken.

This week's video devotional from Beauty Arise Los Angeles. 
A word of comfort of the broken hearted. 
Love you guys.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

on being me.

"Wow, you have a huge forehead."

"Standing next to her, you can really see how flat-chested you are."

"Well... you need to have a body that's in proportion if you want to model...."

"Your eyes slant down on the sides."

"Look at Jess and her cheesy grin. Always."

"You suddenly became thin and gorgeous."

"You look way older than you are. Its probably the lines around your eyes."

"You are very all-American, like there is nothing very eye-catching about you. Its a surprise that you photograph so well."

Isn't it frustrating how deep the words cut? We can hear all kinds of encouragement and piles of compliments, and yet its the insults, or "back-handed compliments", that whirl around in our minds torturing us quietly.

The other day I looked in the mirror and caught myself criticizing my features. Words that had been spoken over me years ago were playing in my head as I examined my "big forehead", and my eyes that "slant down on the sides", and my overall "not very eye-catching" look. Why wasn't I eye-catching? I have a "cheesy grin"? I thought it was good to be smiling. But then someone else told me I am getting "smile lines" around my eyes. Should I smile less? I even replayed something fresh that a friend said to me several few weeks ago about how I was "suddenly thin and gorgeous." What did that mean? Did she think I was big before? I didn't think I had lost weight. Was I not beautiful before? When was I not gorgeous? I didn't think I was changing, but if I am, is that okay? Ugh...

My mind was reeling and my heart felt extra heavy.
After a few minutes I found myself praying something like...
"Oh God help me to see what you see. I'm losing it over here..."

I waited and kept staring in the mirror.
I began specifically looking for the good things that I might have been missing.

New thoughts began to trickle in...

My eyes.... they resemble my Dad's eyes and my Grandma Mary's eyes. I love that.
This forehead... its a gift.... its probably the same forehead that someone in my family had generations before me. They would probably be delighted to know I look like them.
This face is all-American. How wonderful. It looks like a Wilson face. I like Wilson faces.
My smile. It reminds me of my mom. She is always smiling. How awesome that someone thinks I am always smiling too.
Smile lines. We are all going to get wrinkly. The best wrinkles must be the ones earned through years of smiling. What a gift to have so much worth smiling about.

The Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. (proverbs 18:21)
I agree. Words are extremely powerful, especially the negative ones. But thankfully we have an even greater power at work within us, that enables us to take our thoughts captive, and replace the garbage with life-giving truth.

I am not the most beautiful girl we've ever seen. I'm not the smartest or most gifted. I am not the greatest decorator or most brilliant motivational speaker. I am mediocre when it comes to meeting the needs of people I love. I am just okay when it comes to cooking and house-keeping. I won't be cast in a Victoria's Secret runway show, or be on the cover of a magazine for being the world's sexiest woman. I am not a fashionista, I am not a talented baker and I am not really a professional anything. I could use some work in the wife department, and I am not super confident in my future mothering skills either...

But I am me. And I'm the only me there is. I am the only one with this particular array of gifts, skills, passions, background, family lineage, physical features and personality makeup. I am incredibly unique. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have something glorious to bring to this picture, because there is no one else like me. I was created to reflect a piece of God's heart that ONLY I can bring, because I am the only me there is. I am irreplaceable. Someone else may be able to do my work, but nobody else can do my life. I am the only me that can fulfill my calling. There is no one else.

So while I could spend hours picking apart my flaws, and even creating new things to despise about myself, I am choosing another way. A better way. To embrace being me. Wonderful and beautiful me. People will continue to have opinions of me, and thats okay. But I will choose to agree with my Creator's thoughts towards me, rather than looking toward other creations to tell me who I am.
What He says will be the truth about me.

And the same is true for you, you know? There is no one else like you. Those eyes. That nose. Your laugh. Your passions. Your skills. Your family. Your story. Its all unique to you. You bring something marvelous to this story that no one else can bring. We need you. So while you could wish yourself away by mulling over everything that is wrong about you, do us all a favor, and embrace being you. You are needed. You are wanted. You are loved. It doesn't matter what has ever been spoken over you, catch those thoughts as they wander through that sweet brain of yours, and throw them out. Replace them with the truth about yourself and move forward. There is so much life to live, and no one can live your life, but YOU.

Praying for you.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

comfort the brokenhearted...

What do you do when you don't know what to do? 
What do you say when their precious heart is shattered and none of your words are able to put it back together? How do you comfort someone who is longing for something you can't give them? 
How do you love those who are so desperate for love and yet too broken to receive it? 

That's where I've found myself recently. My heart has been aching with some sweet friends that are going through hell. Each of their hellish experiences look different, but it's hell none-the-less. All I want to do is make them feel better, but I am painfully aware that I can't. 

I've been asking God to show me how to best love my sisters & I heard a song by Casting Crowns recently that He used to give me my answer....
"Just love her like Jesus, carry her to Him,
His yoke is easy, His burden is light,
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions,
Just know that He loves her and stay by her side,
Love her like Jesus,
Love her like Jesus". 

Whether we are going through hell, or we are walking with a friend who is hopelessly broken-hearted, our God is a God of comfort and He wants to meet us in this time. We don't need to have the words to say, or the answers to life's questions, we just need to know that we are fiercely loved and hope is not far away. 

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed."
 (Isaiah 61:1 NLT)

Monday, November 25, 2013

21 things.

1. i take 2 gummy multivitamins daily. i never forget because i get too excited about them. they taste like gummy bears. even if they secretly had no nutritional value they would probably still enhance my life greatly because of the joy i get in eating them.

2. i just scrubbed my bedroom floor on hands and knees, then i sprayed the carpet with febreeze and lit a candle.... its feeling heavenly in here.

3. i am so thankful that this week is short. its been crazy. we need some rest. i'm also super excited to eat turkey and go Christmas shopping.

4. Shaunny is out of his cast and into a boot. He is still on crutches, but only for two more weeks. He is so great.

5. i LOVE being 25. i don't think i've told you that yet, but i seriously love it. i feel like i've been 25 since i was 17, but now i actually make sense. i loved being 8 and i loved being 19... and 25 is the newest favorite.

6. i am deeply grateful for the friendships i have. friends near and friends far away... they are like family  for us and i am realizing lately what a special gift that is.

7. I eat a lot of carrots and hummus. I think because it's easy and yummy and healthy. I might actually eat too much of it. I'm not really sure how to tell...

8. I eat dairy. I eat gluten. I eat bread. I eat meat. Just in case you were wondering.
((Living in LA I often feel like a minority in those departments.))

9. my mom and I both love to give lavish gifts.

10. Meredith is spending Christmas in Canada with David and his family.

11. I'll be spending Christmas in Michigan with Shaunny and the fam.

12. i love white Volkswagen Cabrio's.

13. i'm thinking about making some Christmas stockings. my friend Melanie did one over the weekend and it is adorable. Anthropologie was her inspiration for the design.

14. I really do believe that the success of my future is largely dependent on the friends I choose and the books I read. My newest book is called "God loves ugly". It came highly recommended from several trustworthy pals.

15. i would love to be fluent in Spanish. and German. and French. :)

16. gifts and words of affirmation are my love languages.

17. You are more valuable than you realize.

18. You are also wayyyyy more beautiful than you know.

19. Me too.

20. sometimes i get scared that i'll fail my life and i find myself trying to prove that i am enough. lately God has been teaching me that He chose me BEFORE He made me. He chose me before i had the ability to succeed or fail or anything at all. He created me in joy and loves me regardless of how "good" i do. i don't need to please people because people are broken and their perception of me is going to be flawed no matter what they think. i am far worse than most people know, and far better than some others would believe. God has the final say on my life and He is pleased. End of story.
(phew.... huge sigh of relief)

21. I started this new thing where i treat everyday like it is super important. I begin by figuring out the date. (today is the 25th of November) Then i pray and thank God for filling my lungs with air. (because He wouldn't have me here if it weren't important) Then I go through my day with a sense of purpose, looking for opportunities to receive His love and ways to share it with others. It has been wonderful. (I knew today was important right away though, because it begins the one month count down til Christmas! hohoho!)

Thanks for stopping by!
(PS. I took a selfie while typing this post. Now you can feel like you are here with me!) 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

a prayer for Hillary.

on the day of her daddy's memorial. 

Lord Jesus, 

Thank you for Hillary and the incredible family you have given her. Thank you for her Daddy and his faithfulness to the Grant family. Thank you for times when you prolonged his life and kept him here longer than doctors anticipated... and thank you Jesus that even though this feels too soon, you will carry the family through. Thank you Lord for the truth that Rick is healthy now, he is at peace in your presence. Thank you for eternal life, that Hillary will see her Daddy again one day. Thank you for filling Hillary with a heart of gratitude... Even when she is shattered, her words are still rich with love and thankfulness for this life you have given her. Your grace is so obvious in her.

Im asking you now, as our Heavenly Daddy, that you would strengthen my sister. Hold her heart steady as she goes through this day remembering all that her Dad and has been for her, and for so many other people. 

May your comfort pour out on her like the freshly fallen snow... 
You know how she loves snow. 

Give Chris the grace and strength as her husband to know how to best love her today. Thank you for what an amazing man he is for her. Comfort her through him and please draw their hearts even closer together as they grieve. Thank you for Abel. This little man is a gift straight from your hand Lord and I praise you for bringing him here this year. Thank you for his name and the reminder to "breathe". Hillary will even need help just breathing sometimes Lord, please use her precious baby boy to help her with that. Thank you for the joy he brings and the way he, and his beautiful new cousin Arrow, are lighting up this family in the midst of such a dark time. 

Please bring comfort and hope to the entire Grant family. Thank you for the wife that Kathryn has been for Rick all these years. Thank you for her faithfulness and strength to face hard times. Renew her strength today Lord and remind her that you will be "her husband" and you can meet her needs. Please surround her with close friends and family to remind her of how close you are to her right now. 

Thank you for Taylor and what a wonderful older sister she has always been to Hillary and the other three siblings. Such a beautiful role model. Reveal more of your love to her now Jesus and show her that you see her. Not just that you see everyone, but please show her that you see her, and that your hand is upon her life. Fill her with hope for the future in a way that only you can. 

Bless Ashton and Grant and sweet little Arrow. Thank you for bringing them together in marriage and giving them the gift of a daughter. Please protect their family and speak to them about your tender love for them. Thank you for all of the incredible gifts you have put within Ashton and I pray for continued opportunities for her to use those gifts. Please fulfill her heart and satisfy her with your presence. As Grant and Ash love on their little girl, show them your own love for them as your children. Take care of all of their needs please Lord. 

Thank you for Tristan and Kieran. What amazing men they are. Lord as the youngest in the family they have gotten the least amount of time with their Daddy. Please redeem that somehow. Please heal their broken hearts and keep the memories of their Dad so alive in their minds, that they can continue to learn from Rick's example of how to be men. Give them strength to finish high school and enable them to feel your love and presence in their lives, even in times when no one around them acknowledges you. Fill them with joy and with dreams for their future. Thank you for their humor and positive attitudes, use those to bless people, just like you did through their Dad. 

Jesus you so often use broken times to reveal yourself to the world. I pray that you would do that in Hillary's life. I know you already have been, but I'm asking for even more. 

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach... And these will be the first big holidays that Rick will be spending in Heaven with you Jesus... Please fill the void in Hillary's heart with a sense of deep love and peace. Comfort the family like never before, and teach them how to grieve. 

May joy not bring them guilt, but may joy bring healing. 
Rick would want joy for them too. 

Thank you for this family in my life. 
Thank you for the gift of friendship with Hillary. 
Thank you for the way Rick loved me. 

Please carry them today. 

And one day here soon please bring me back to Colorado so I can encourage them and love on them in person. 

I trust to you do even more than I can ask for or imagine in their lives. 

You are faithful. 
In Jesus' name. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My favorite podcast.

Or one of them.

Her name is Christine Caine and her message is called "Embrace your place".
She shared it at Elevation Church during their "Get Back" series, and I have listened to it over and over and over and over.....
and over again.

This morning I felt like some of you might be in need of encouragement,
so I am sharing the podcast link with you.
I personally like to listen to it while I walk, or while driving.

I think you'll enjoy it.

I love you friends. 

PS. This gorgeous photo was taken by a Norwegian friend. 

When she posted it on Instagram a long while ago I took a screenshot because I loved it so much. 

Follow her at @siljeaxelsen 
for some of life's most lovely moments. 
She is a gem.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Peace, be still.

"Peace, be still."

He said it to the storm. 
The wind and waves ceased. 

Most days I need Him to say it to me. 

Jesus has the power to do a lot of things. The epitome of His power was shown when He literally defeated death and was raised from the dead three days after being crucified. 

One of the most powerful things He has been doing in me lately is simply reminding me to slow down. 

Peace, be still.

Life is short. We don't know how long we will have with the ones we love. Life is more than work. More than reputation. More than making money. More than fashion. So much more than anything temporary. Embrace right now. Today will be gone soon. Soak it up. Be okay with making mistakes. Everyone does it. It's all going to be okay. You won't feel happy every moment of everyday. That's alright. You aren't crazy. You're actually doing quite well considering everything you have faced. Your God loves you. Not a vague love that you can't know. He loves you dearly. Intimately. Personally. He knows your name. He knows the very number of hairs on your head. He gave Himself for you when you were nothing. You hated Him and He still fought for you. What makes you think that after all that He has done for you He is going to give up on you now? He is not going anywhere. He is ready to carry you through this. Trust Him with your life. Trust Him with your heart. Trust Him with your worries. Trust Him with your story. He is faithful. 

Remind your heart today. 

"Peace, be still."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A thankful heart.

It looks good on pinterest. It sounds sweet as an instagram caption. It even reads quite nicely when painted in cute font on a random piece of weathered wood, or written on a cozy coffee mug. 
But its slightly harder to live out.

And by slightly harder.... I mean WAY harder to live out. 

Well actually I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t assume you are as ungrateful as I am. I have plenty of people in my life that are heroes when it comes to appreciating the simple things in life, and I praise them for their hearts of gold. So if you are in that category of Grateful-Shiny-Golden-Hearts then know that this blog post is not for you.... and you are cordially invited to pray for the rest of our selfish souls. 
(PS. I’m smiling as I type this. And I really do need your prayers.) 

Okay so moving on. November has been good for me. As I approach Thanksgiving this month, I am faced with the realization that I need some extra help in the thankfulness department. 

I first noticed it last week when I was in my room, feeling pretty sorry for myself as I was cleaning up Shaun’s mess, and it was like God tapped me on the shoulder and very bluntly said, 


In that moment I felt immediately convicted that I had been thinking about a whole bunch of nonsense, and I was actually perpetuating my own feelings of negativity by focusing on everything that was wrong with my world.

Right away I asked the Lord for forgiveness. Because I've learned an awesome thing about God; when He highlights our sins to us, it is so that we can turn from them and receive His freedom. (In the Bible it says "Repentance brings refreshment.") So I knew that if He was faithful enough to show me where I was blowing it, He would be faithful to forgive me and help me overcome it.

Anyway, thanks to November & the glorious Thanksgiving celebrations just around the corner, my solution from Heaven was obvious... it was time again for Jessica to work on having a thankful heart. ((See, I really want to be in the Grateful-Shiny-Golden-Hearts club that I invented for my friends a few paragraphs ago.))

Here is what I'm figuring out- even though there will always be troubles in our lives, God's grace comes to us when we choose to focus our thoughts on all we have to be thankful for. This does NOT suggest that we are supposed live as if we are oblivious to the things that are going wrong, its just that rather than being consumed by fear and worry, we are to pray about our issues and put our trust in the Lord to sort them out.  

In Philippians 4:6-8 (The Message version) it says, 
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

Our joy doesn't need to be smothered under the weight of negative thoughts & anxiety. We all have so much to be thankful for. 

So let's do it together.
Focus on the gifts, pray about the struggles, and enjoy this wonderful season of Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for you! 

(Ps. I'm also thankful for Manhattan Beach in the evenings. 
I mean really, look how gorgeous this is... And my iPhone hardly even does it justice. It's unreal.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Montana. Here and there with the fam.

My Dad is Steve Wilson.
I love him like crazy and feel honored to be his daughter. He is loving, responsible, generous and goes out of his way to make my sister and I feel important to him. 

My big brother is also Steve Wilson. 
He has always been someone I admire and look up to. He is a great husband to his wife, Alana, and an amazing dad to his girls, Rose & Sasha. He is almost 20 years older than me and yet my whole life he has done what he can to show me that I matter. That's a gift in a brother.

With that said, it was perfectly fitting that my Dad (Steve) and my brother (also Steve) would take us girls to a cafe in Helena called "Steve's Cafe". 

So I'll start my photo adventure there... with my yummy pumpkin pecan pancakes. 

And down a little ways you'll catch a glimpse of Meredith's (partially eaten) huckleberry stuffed french toast. Sooooo yummy.

This blog-photo-adventure also includes shots from our "girls day with Grandpa" at the makeup store, an evening with the whole fam at the Helena carousel, Halloween, and our times at the house with princess nail polish... Oh! and I can't forget snuggles with Bruce the friendly pitbull. 
(PS. Friendly Bruce helped me overcome a fear of dogs that I've had for most of my life. Yessssss.)

I also hope you enjoy the moment where I found my dad pretending to blow dry his granddaughter's hair with a toy vacuum cleaner. So cute.

This month, like most of you, I've been trying to pay extra attention to all that I have to be thankful for. I'm seriously grateful for my family and so blessed that God is giving me opportunities to have deeper relationships with them as we get older. It's an answer to my prayers. 

Anyway I hope you are having a great weekend friends and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my life with you. Thanks for stopping by!
With love, Jess