Wednesday, April 30, 2014

i could convince you.

I could convince you that I am awesome.

I could use this post to share adorable photos from my crazy schedule that takes me to some of the most beautiful places in the world. I could use carefully articulated words to blog my life away and show you how meaningful my work is. I could remind my husband to post photos of me on his instagram too, just so you can know how truly, madly and deeply in love with me he is. I could tell you about the masses of people pursuing my attention... and the continually growing number of emails, texts, and facebook messages that I haven't responded to because there are only so many hours in this always sunny day of mine....

Or I could tell you about the messy tears I cried as I drove home from a meeting this week feeling like a total idiot. Yeah. I'd like to go ahead and do that.  because I am not awesome. I am normal. Normal is awesome. But I am no more awesome than anybody else.

So about those tears.

Basically there is something I believe in with my whole heart. A dream that I'm sold out to. A vision that I carry with me every minute. I'm all in. I read books and study success stories and seek out wise people to see if I can learn from them. I encourage myself with stories of people like Moses, David, Gideon, Esther and Nehemiah.... all ordinary people who did extraordinary things. I get hyped on the idea that trusting God and moving in obedience to Him can lead to outrageous victories. I do everything I can think of to get better equipped to move forward into the dream I have....

But then I flop. Like I did this week.

After all sorts of preparation I finally got into a position where I could actually walk out some of this stuff I am so fired up about... but when I got there...  I immediately got distracted by fear... I felt insecure... I started wondering what people would think of me... I forgot what I intended to say... but I remembered that I am young and inexperienced ... and then eventually my feelings of doubt drowned out my faith... and I flopped.

Which led me to that weepy car ride home afterwards with a horrible lump in my throat and too few words on my lips. I tried extra hard to pray but I couldn't. All I could say... errr... yell.... was...

"This is so dumb!"...
"I feel like an idiot!"...

All of the sudden my head was whirling and I wondered if I was even impacting anyone at all.

What is the point of all of this?
Why am I trying so hard?
Am I even right for this job?

That's when I remembered the word I feel like God spoke over my 2014.
It's this theme that reminds me to focus more on my heart before God than on how I appear before people. & It's the simple truth that what matters most is NOT what you think of me and my life, but rather what God thinks about it.

This word "unseen" brought gentle conviction. Because I realized that I had allowed my dream to become my identity. I had allowed my reputation to attach itself to my heart... and so a seemingly "failed meeting" equated to a "failed Jessica".  This morning as I reflected on the shame and frustration I felt earlier this week (which I can still feel even as I type this) I was reminded of something profoundly freeing:
I am not my dream. I am not my work. I am not the size of my ministry or the number of my followers. I am not my reputation. I am not my success. I am not my failures. I am not my past.

I am dearly loved by God. And my identity is safe with Him.

It's in that safe place that I'm able to dream and risk and fail... and then get back up and try again.
Because at the end of the day its not about me... my life is about Him.
Obedience to Him is success. That's reality.

So yes I could convince you that I'm awesome. And you could convince me that you are awesome too.
But no matter how awesome we look on the outside, we are all just normal broken people.. trying to be brave... attempting to make a difference... and hoping that the joy in our journey will make up for all of our awful weepy car-rides home.

God bless you friends. I believe in you.
You are SO awesome. 

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photo by Sarah Grunder Photography 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Beauty Arise devo video // "What do you have?"

A video by the ever-so-lovely Kate Cook- about what happens when you take the little you have...

((the stuff so small you feel like its "nothing at all"))

and decide to trust God with it.

Be encouraged friends. God is faithful.

What do YOU have?

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PS. Just between us:

1) The man of God told the woman to go find "empty jars" from her neighbors houses...
Not "jars of oil". In my excitement I said that wrong. :)
2) I was actually wearing a cute shirt for this vid but was holding flowers and got red pollen on it... so then I had to make a last minute switch to this "potato sack" (as Shaun & I call it). A major bummer... but it happens. 
3) I've been wearing these Converse's everyday this week. I love them. They are amazing. I got about a million compliments on them. & if you look close there is even gold embroidery on the sides! But don't be misled... They aren't mine. I was housesitting for a (VERY fashionable) friend this week and she let me use them. What better way to soak up their goodness than film a devo in them?!

That's all. :) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

If I could go back.

I have lived a wonderful life. I really have. But I was realizing yesterday that when I cruise back down memory lane there are a few years in there that I prefer to speed past... because if I linger on them too long the unanswered questions surface and heart-ache overwhelms me.

Those years?

High school.

It wasn't all bad. I made deep friendships that I still treasure today and I learned a lot about myself.
But mostly. I wish I could go back and do it again. Because if I'm honest with myself, I feel like I missed out on all that it was meant to be.

So yesterday as I was washing the floors of my elderly friend's house I decided to think about what I would change if I could go back. Because even though I can't go back, I can learn from that time. And I can make the most of where I am today. So that someday many years from now, I won't wish I could go back to this current time in my life and do things differently.

Also... maybe through reflecting on my own missed opportunities, I can encourage any of my friends who are still in high school. Because this time is so special for you.

For some reason the letter L kept coming up... so I've decided to organize my thoughts on "going back" with L words.

If I could go back to high school, I would...
be Lovely.
by definition this words means to be beautiful or attractive, especially in a graceful way. very good. very likable. very pleasing. in high school there was so much pressure to be "hot", or be popular, or to be what wanted the guys wanted. i remember specifically a time when the guys were making a list of the "hot girls" and then rating us on a scale of 1-10 according to our features. that's intense. but if i could go back i would like to pursue being lovely. to me this reflects more on my heart than on my outward appearance. though its funny because the older i get the more i realize that the most beautiful people outwardly are usually the ones that exhibit grace, kindness, confidence, and selflessness inwardly. so if i could go back i would want to trade the pursuit of popularity for the adventure of pursuing loveliness.

be a Listener.
listening helps us realize that we are not the only ones in this story of life. there are other hearts involved. other families. other struggles. other needs. if i could go back i would want to listen better to the needs of my family members and friends. even to people that weren't my friends. people who maybe longed for friends. i'd also want to listen for the voice of God. He was there. but i wasn't looking for Him. if i could go back i'd look for Him. i'd also listen better to my own heart. there were dreams in there. hopes & desires. needs. but i neglected them because i thought it was more important to fit in and appear okay. if i could go back i'd be more open in times when i didn't feel okay.

be a Learner.
the future felt so far away. school felt so unimportant. older people felt so irrelevant & unable to connect with me right where i was. but if i could go back i would position myself as a learner. i'd pay more attention in German class. and math class. i'd learn more about how to apply for college. i'd spend more energy pursuing time with people older & wiser than me. i'd work harder on my homework. maybe i'd even host homework parties. we would all get together & eat snacks & drink yummy drinks & get our work done. i'd work harder at things like sports or dance or whatever hobby captured my heart at the time. because learning is good and the future is closer than i realized. and often the things that are most tempting to quit are the ones that will be the most important later on.

be a Lover.
if i could go back i'd be a lover. lover of family. lover of friends. lover of my school. lover of my town. lover of celebration. lover of life. lover of Christ. i'd spend less time hoping people loved me & more time loving being right where i was. fear would take a back seat and love would drive me. i'd look for little ways to love... at home, in the classroom, in the hallways, at the game, before the recital... and i'd look for big ways to love... raising money for the needy, hosting parties for the lonely, spending time & energy caring for those who couldn't care for themselves. i remember how stressful life felt. but i am learning that life will always feel too big for us to handle. its not until we get higher perspective and think outside of our own circumstances that we recognize the extravagant capacity we have to love like Jesus no matter where we are.

I can't go back. But I can be here now. And I can do all of these things in life right now. Because I still feel those same struggles that I felt back then. I still would rather be popular than be lovely. I'd still rather focus on myself than listen to those around me. I'd still rather be led by my feelings of happiness than by a commitment to learning. And I would still rather focus on whether or not people love me, than on being an extravagant lover. So while I'm still trusting the Lord to heal my aching heart and redeem some broken years in my story, I am looking ahead with faith that the future is bright & I can become today everything I've always desired to be.

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photos by Sarah Grunder photography.