Friday, December 14, 2012

My soapbox stand.

I was originally going to post to my facebook.. but decided not to.. so I'm posting here. Just keep that in mind for me.. I didn't edit this... 
 
 
 So I don't normally use my facebook as my soapbox. I don't get into any of the issues such as politics, religion, or anything else that is very controversial due to the fact of, everyone on my facebook has different opinions than I do, and that's fine. Everyone who is on my facebook, I love to death.. and I respect their decisions as much as I would hope my beliefs and thoughts are respected. I see no need to get into huge debates over issues. I think just from what I post for me personally.. it's pretty clear what I believe and think. And if asked directly.. I will share what I believe. But I live my life the way I choose, and that's between me and my God.

So on that note before I go off into a complete rant.. and take this as you want.. for me this is a venting of thoughts I have kept inside for quite awhile. I've been quiet during this whole election.. I've been quiet over huge debates over the legalization of gay marriages.. of abortion.. of everything that is controversial. But as of today, I've really had it with the ignorance of the American nation. We are so wrapped up in everything that is all us. Everything that will serve us. Everything that will increase the size of our wallet and social standing.. we're all about how much more we can gain for ourselves that we don't look at the consequences of our decisions as a nation. We have for YEARS... even before my time.. have become so uninvolved and concerned with what's going on in the world. We turn a blind eye to everything. We are a fast food society.. we want everything good right now, no matter how bad it is for us in the end. I think the American nation and people are getting to become so spoiled and pampered that we don't have a backbone anymore. This country was founded on God.. and that is our basis. I keep having this mental image of a house built on a rock foundation, and people are chipping away at the foundation of that house because they don't like it. The house is going to fall.. and that's what we're doing to our country. I have a lot of friends who don't believe in God. Once again.. I can tell you about God, and give my testimony.. and tell you why I believe in Him.. but at the end of the day.. it's between you and Him. It's up to you to make the decision to believe or not.. to follow or not follow Him. But whether you believe or don't believe.. to deny the existence of God is like trying to deny that gravity exists. We can deny gravity all we want.. but we can't do anything about the fact that it is there and it is very evident in our life whether we choose to believe in it or not.
Americans think that world peace will solve everything. Only in the kingdom of God will there ever be peace on this planet. As Christians.. the Bible tells us this world is not our home.. and it's days and circumstances like today that shake you up and make you realize that. This world is evil. There is an evilness on this earth.. we talk about America all the time... it's not just America.. there's a whole WORLD we live on.. a really cool place called Earth.. and yes it's evil. The Bible says that the devil walks around like a lion. A LION.. and yet we're shocked and stunned when something like this happens. THIS IS NOT ABOUT GUN CONTROL!! Everyone has been yelling for less ignorance.. more tolerance (tolerance, by the way.. only extended to the people who believe what they want them to believe.. not tolerance for anyone who chooses to believe differently... like Christians..). They keep talking about ignorance every time you turn around. What about ignorance as far as really thinking gun control is going to help?? What are we supposed to do when someone is ignorant?? Properly inform them and help them understand what they're ignorant about. I understand that across this nation there are communities that aren't as comfortable with guns as say we are here. Here in communities such as mine, we understand why gun control is a bad idea, because we've been raised around with knowledge of how to handle guns properly. And newsflash.. if there is gun control... these people are STILL GOING to get their hands on a gun!! Just like meth... just like anything else that's illegal.. people are going to do what people want to do because once again.. the world is evil.
It extremely breaks my heart over the fact that this was done in an elementary school. We're an odd mix of people who have been desensitized by what we see in movies and such (no.. I'm not going on a rant over movies being the cause...because some people can watch it and be fine..others not so much. It does remind me of the days of when the Christians were martyred and given to the gladiators and lions for the pure sport of watching someone die and be eaten...).. and yet we're so SENSITIVE over anything that happens that's devastating. I'm always amazed at the immediate reaction of "Oh Jesus is coming now for sure.. this is a sign." Have we already forgotten THE HOLOCAUST?!!? The horrors of the wars we have fault? History has all over it's pages the blood shed of innocent people... there were camps in the Holocaust made specifically for children.. they saw these types of horrors DAILY.. and yet people still turned a blind eye and we choose to forget this because it's not affecting our every day personal life.. horrors like this have happened all through history. This nation is getting worse by the day because we're chipping away at our foundation, and letting the lion loose more and more each day. We're opening ourselves up to whatever consequences to our decisions may be. America didn't want God in schools.. once God's out.. the evil one is in. Don't believe that? Then go ahead and try jumping without falling back to the ground... there's gravity pulling you right back. You can ignore it all you want.. but there will be one day when your feet will be so firmly on the ground that you'll have to fall to your knees because you realize Truth.
It's not to say that because everything going on is signs that Jesus is coming back. This is a major ignorance among Christians that surprises me. We were never promised to live out our lives in comfy church pews. Christians are being persecuted.. tortured.. and killed.. and so many ways that this pales in comparison.. and yet we turn our heads again because it makes us uncomfortable. I talked to a woman last year who told me that Christians weren't martyred anymore. I told her to check out Voice of the Martyrs... http://www.persecution.com/... where there are stories of what is going on TODAY in the lives of Christians all around the world. People who don't have the freedom to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday.. and people who don't have the luxury and freedom to publicly talk about their beliefs. There's were taken away.. and it wouldn't surprise me if one day that happens to America. Jesus will come when it's time to come.. but no where are we promised safety and a comfy cozy life. Why would we get that, but not our brothers and sisters in other nations??

My heart breaks.. and I pray so hard for those children that were involved today. We may not know WHY on earth a man would go in and do something like that.. WHY would he be so heavily armed and willing to hurt those babies??? People tend to refuse to accept that there is an evil in this world. And it's pretty strong to make people do such sick things to other humans.. especially humans as innocent as these children. It's been happening though.. this kind of thing happens in other nations.. it's happened in our past. I don't expect this to stop. I expect this to get worse. This country is so far down.. I don't think one small thing will tip the scale. If we have gun control or we don't.. if we vote for gay marriages.. or we don't. If we legalize abortion or we don't. If we vote Republican or Democrat.. or we don't... this nation started choosing a long time ago what direction our future will take.. and it's been steadily declining ever since.. and we're all too eager to usher it along.. so long as we get some temporary gain during the process. We don't know how to wait.. and prepare and enjoy the fruits of our labor later.. we have to have everything now.. no matter the consequences. And we're suffering the consequences and it's going to get worse.


As I said before.. this is some thoughts that have been in me for awhile.. I've chose not to share them on facebook due to I do NOT want any controversy on my wall... not among my friends.. or me with any of you. I love you all a lot.. but this is where I stand. If it offends you that much... you know where to take a friend off of a facebook page, I'm sure.
 
 As an end note.. After going back and reading what other friends have written.. I figured I'd better clarify before people really go off.. I am not waving my Bible at anyone.. I'm not putting this out there as a political debate.. I tell people when everything in THIS life is done.. you will have to face God yourself. With no one and nothing around. No one to rely on.. or call on. Nothing to help you bribe or talk your way through it... and God's going to ask.. who did you serve? Did you choose Him? Or the evil one? Despite everything going on in this nation.. in our country.. there is a bigger picture.. and that's God vs. satan. It is a battle for souls. No this decision to kill children did not happen based on how America voted this past election.. this decision was made by this individual. An individual I believe has the evilness in him. THIS is what we need to guard ourselves against. Because our time's going to come.. and we all better be ready. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

I carry your heart..



I think this poem is more popular than I realize! LOL But I have only recently read the whole poem and I've fallen in love with it. My sister and I are contemplating sister tattoos, and I think we're getting the first couple of lines tattooed... if I can talk her into it! :)
I'm posting it on here the same as I would post in my scrapbook. This is something I love and would like to share.


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      
 i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) 
i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Letter to my Future Self...



It's been four years since I've been divorced.. and it's an issue now that I've come to terms with and really don't think about anymore. But my journey and struggle of who I am and who I've been and am becoming has been a daily constant. From completely down in despair where I feel like the only one holding me was my Savior.. to trying to stand up and feeling so completely unworthy of His grace... to standing on my feet and accepting my validation as a daughter of my God... to now.. taking tentative steps towards an adventure with the Love of my Life, wondering which direction He wants me to go. Life is a process.. and thankfully I have so much more than crutch... I have the Creator of the world holding my hand the whole time. Ah! I love falling in love with Him every day :)

I've spent so much time beating myself up for sins and regrets... and now that I'm moving forward, I feel like I'm in a stage of waiting in God's presence to see what's next in my life. There are a few things that I would love to do, but I'm praying and waiting. :)

I've been contemplating and praying about the whole missions thing again.. and what I need to do right now, most importantly, to work on my relationship with Him. The last few days, it's finally sunk in something that I've heard all my life: He is I AM. He is the God of Abraham, and Joseph and Daniel... this is a thought I may blog about later more in depth when it's sunk in.. but this amazes me. The same God who traveled with them.. and saw them through miracles. That God that Jonah cried out to, and Who was right there with him in the whale. The God that walked with Adam in the garden of Eden. The same God who shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel. Ah... What an amazing thought.. that the same God, is here with me.. and guiding me. He's not lost momentum... He's not half dead after centuries of miraculous wonders, etc... He's still right here fully ready to do with my life epic things. Maybe not epic by most people's standards.. but epic for the Kingdom of Heaven. My constant prayer: to learn to breathe God. :)


This morning a friend was searching through some old facebook albums of mine, and she went into one that I haven't looked at in awhile. It was a 30 day photo challenge. She clicked one picture of me I had taken a few years ago, and underneath it read:  "A picture and a letter.." I wrote it almost two years ago... and well.. it hit me pretty hard. It was like finding a message in the bottle... so here it is: I'll post it on here and maybe one day again in a couple of years I'll read it and smile again at how far I've traveled :)



Dear Two year ago self...
It's been a long road... and it's been a long time. It sometimes feels like yesterday, and sometimes feels like it never happened except in a dream. I'm so glad it's a memory.. You were stronger than you realized.. and more of a survivor than you realized. Maybe all my decisions were not right, but I am grateful for the way you stepped

up in certain situations. Momma was right.. a year or two later, I'll be able to look back and be glad that it's this far behind me.

To my future self in two years: Always remember you're tougher than what you realize... and no matter what.. how God sees you in His eyes. He holds me in the palm of His hand.. I'm precious and I'm a treasure.. no matter what happens. Anything that I don't feel I have the strength for, continue to draw from His.. I hope that in two years you're closer to our dreams and goals..."Be strong in the Lord, and never give up hope.. you're gonna do great things, God's got his hand on you, so don't live life in fear, forgive and forget but don't forget why you're here.. take your time to pray.." ♥

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Family Shoot at the Depot & A Blue Haired Bride























 Rock the Frock - My Blue Haired Bride





I wasn't sure about this one at first, but it actually became my favorite!






Utter Nonsense and Ramblings.

So it's been QUITE a while since I've updated.. I figured it was time. :)

It's been a bit rough the past couple of months, but I feel like even though my life is going through a "season" that I'm still coming out on top. It's amazing how God's right there no matter what's going on. I've studied the Bible my whole life, and I'm still getting what I need RIGHT now for THIS moment. No matter how tough it is.

So my second attempt to go on a YWAM DTS has fallen through due to a few unexpected hospital bills and a few legal matters that will keep me here until resolved. I was a bit frustrated at first.. I felt a little more connected to the girls on the Compassion team. I sent an email to the leaders and made the decision to hang back till I saw how things were going here at home. I accepted the fact that I needed to stay here and settle some things before either trying to head back on a YWAM DTS, or to take the next step where I feel God is leading me. I pray it's back on the field, because my heart is very much in love with the mission field. It's so hard not to keep pushing and rushing into that decision again, but I do think that God's teaching me to wait and have patience. There are things here that need doing in my life, that will only enhance what I can offer in the next step in my life.

In late September I went to the doctor because I had been struggling more and more with weight gain and extreme exhaustion. I also noticed my face and neck were feeling a bit puffy. He informed me that I had a thyroid problem.. which isn't uncommon, but it was a little scary at first. I was giggling when I left his office, because he informed me that I was "not normal.." Oh, dear doctor, you have no idea! He's placed me on the Mediterranean diet (this means a lot of fish. A LOT of fish... for some reason the smell is a constant reminder of my time in Japan...) and told me to start working out. My bestest friend since forever ago text me a few days later asking if I wanted to go workout with her in the gym. My first though: "Pish.. noo!" V's a quiet girl, but she knows me too well, and won't let me slack at anything. If anyone is the best at pushing me out of my comfort zone, it's V. So I agreed.. after a month of working out with her, I'm now addicted to the gym, down almost 15 pounds (wooo hoooo...), and can run a little ways!

The only thing I'm failing at is the stair-master. I'm convinced this thing hates me. I'm not sure if anyone else has tried it, or if it's intimidating to you too.. so I'll share my first time and maybe it'll encourage you to try it. I just highly suggest to tell your friends to step off their row machines/treadmills/elliptical's before you hop on. So this thing.. the screen is pretty high (I'm 5'3")... and like most gym equipment, you have to get the machine started, before you punch in what you want your workout to be and how long, etc. etc. Not a problem if you're tall.. or coordinated. I start climbing and it's easy enough.. yeah I can do this.. Then I try to punch the screen... I slowly start sinking... I grab on and start climbing again. Once I've got it, I try to punch again. I start sinking again. Finally I just sink and tippy toe up so I can peek at the screen and hope I'm punching the right numbers. I probably put it on the highest level and said I weighed 85 pounds... so I try to start climbing again. Every time I got high enough to see the screen.. I saw a flashing "Walk faster." I don't think so, dude. I was either on the floor trying to work my way up, or up at the top leaning heavily on the pole to try and keep it up there.. I finally sunk back down and decided to go try the row machine. Thank goodness no one else was in there!!

I did a family shoot the other day.. and I mean FAMILY shoot :) I did a session with my cousin and her family and kids. It was a bit chilly and overcast, but perfect for the pictures. I'll be posting them up in a bit!!

I had the chance to go to a bookstore, first time since forever... I may have gone a bit crazy (crazy by my standards and means of budget!). I found a huge section of Francine Rivers books.. to which I flipped! Francine Rivers to me is one of the most awesomest Christian writers! She takes stories from the Bible and turns them into clear images set in either modern day time or in their own place in history. I saw a book of different women in the Bible which I would love to get eventually, but the one I bought was called "Redeeming Love." It takes place in the 1800s, in a small gold mining community. The books main character, Michael Hosea, sees a woman named Angel, and feels God press on his heart that he's to marry her. Hosea finds out later that Angel is the town's most desired prostitute. He first believes that this is just his mind playing tricks on him, but he keeps feeling God tell him to pursue her. I started reading this book several years ago and had to return it before I could get too far into it, but just from the first few chapters, this book was completely captivating and romantic, not just in the way that Hosea pursued Angel, but the way God's love is portrayed through Hosea's love and grace towards Angel. I can't wait to read it again!
The other purchase was a Frank Peretti.. we've been huge fans since I was young. This one was called Illusion. Not so much spiritual warfare versus demons and angels like the other Peretti books I had read growing up.. This one was about a couple who had made their living as magicians in Las Vegas. After a horrible car accident, the man retires to a farm, but he runs into a 19 year old version of his dead wife. You pick up the wife's story when she was 19 in 1971 and somehow transports to a time of cell phones and laptops and something called google. It was so creative that I had a REALLY hard time putting this one down! I think a few days I only got about four hours of sleep because I wanted to see what would happen next! It's a long book too, so it lasts awhile reading wise! I loved it! So I recommend that one.

Movies: I watched Snow White and the Huntsman. It was pretty gory, could have been better. I for one like Kristen Stewart, but I think her character could have had more depth to the part. We also watched Man on the Ledge. I want to own this one! I've seen it two or three times now. I love dramas like this that have a lot of intrigue and mystery and a "wait.. what??" factor at the end of it. Then we also watched an old one "Inception." with Leonardo DiCaprio. I have to say that I watched it several times over. I liked it from the first viewing, but there was a LOT of depth and things I missed the first time. I don't suggest watching this one right before you go to sleep.. because I kept dreaming something along the lines of the movie! LOL


For now, I'm closing. Check the family shoot pictures, and I'm also posting the finished versions of the blue hair bride shoot. 

Next time I'll talk about something fun. Like pinterest.




Saturday, August 4, 2012

Photo Peeks!!!

So I took the family ones a couple of months ago.. (my family, so of course I think they're gorgeous...) and I had to share.. but my friend Hope (https://www.facebook.com/hopeannphotography to check her on facebook...) and I got together to practice our photography with a styled shooting. I've not completed the editing process due to my computer deciding to slowly start crashing, but I wanted to show a couple of the ones I did. Hope's posted a few on her website that you can check out from the same shoot: http://hopeannphotography.com/uncategorized/twophotographers-ahotday-afunbride/. Hope amazes me with her pictures and impresses me even more with her heart for God. She is a constant gentle nudge to me to work harder on my relationship with our Jesus!! I love this sister in Christ!!! <3


RAAANDOM!! I loved these for some reason...
Welcome to Mayberry!!!

The beautiful bride, Ms. Heather!

This chick is seriously awesome... I ADORE this pics!!! more up later when I'm done editing.







 AAAND here's the family sesh!!! Aren't they beautiful!?!?


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jesus Calling...

I've been out for a couple of weeks due to power outages, and my laptop crashing.. (I hearby promise to shut my computer off.. and not run it into the ground by not charging it properly.. *sighs*). But I'm back :)

The mission field and ministry is heavy on my heart. To be honest: I'm scared of failure in front of everyone else. I've been officially accepted on to the Compassion team, even though I don't have the required funds needed to be accepted. I feel they're putting a lot of faith that God'll raise the money for me! There's so many little ifs ands and buts... I really do believe if this is where God chooses for me, then the money will be there, when God sees fit. It's definitely harder this go around to try and raise support when I don't have a lot of time on my hands. I have a hard time balancing my life just working a third shift full time job, and paying bills, trying to raise for a school/missions trip, is tough. I am trying to be open though.. if it doesn't happen, I think I'm going to have to come to accept that it's not where I'm needing to be.. that there is somewhere else I need to be. I do see this as an incredibly awesome journey... opening the door through something like a 6 months mission school may be what I need to be pushed to go do something I wouldn't normally do. So whatever happens.. I want to fully dedicate myself to Christ in wherever He leads.. 

"Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice. I speak softly to you, in the depths of your being. Your mind shuttles back and forth, hither and yon, weaving webs of anxious confusion. As My thoughts rise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky webs of worry. Thus, My voice is muffled and you hear only 'white noise.'
Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind so that you can think My thoughts. This ability is an awesome benefit of being My child, patterned after My own image. Do not be deafened by the noise of the world or that of your own thinking. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Sit quietly in My presence, letting My thoughts reprogram your thinking." ~ Jesus Calling. ♥
 
 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Family Shoot SNEAK PEEK!!!

So I do photography as somewhat of a hobby.. but would love to own my own business someday.. right now as part of my way of raising money.. I'm offering photo shoots.. I'm in the process of getting ready for a few shoots.. but here's two sneak peeks of the shoot done this past Saturday.. You can check out more of my photography at www.facebook.com/countitalljoyphotography



Community rallies behind ‘Officer Jim’

 There's a lot of different areas of my life that I've not been mentioning or keeping updates on.. I want this blog to be about my life..
A huge part of my life is my family. My daddy was diagnosed with cancer this past year. We casually tell people that it's liver cancer, but it's technically a huge name I can't pronounce. Basically it's cancerous tumors on his liver. There's no cure, and the doctors can't operate on them. He just finished up his first round of radiation.

A few months ago he called and told me about the night he found out he had cancer. He was sitting at home with his now wife, Heather, when he received the call. He said he looked at her and told her their worst fears were realized, and the tumors, were in fact, cancerous. Daddy said in that moment, he didn't reach out to God.. but that God reached to him, and wrapped my dad up in His arms and held him tight. Daddy said besides worrying about his family, mainly his children (he has 6 children, my sister and I being the oldest.) and Heather...he has a complete peace about this. I've noticed such a difference in my dad that completely blows me away, and I can't explain the joy I feel that my prayers have finally been answered. I hate the circumstances and that my family, especially my younger siblings and stepmother are going through, but I rejoice in the fact that God is God, and that He has us in His hands, no matter what happens.

Daddy has served on the Mt. Airy Police Department for several years.. fulfilling his lifelong dream of going into law enforcement. Last month, he had to retire early due to the cancer. The police department and community decided to rally behind him and hold a benefit run/walk. That day was so overwhelming for me personally. Noticing Daddy's humility and modesty and how his life has impacted this community. I went through the gates of the Mt. Airy High School football field and was stunned by the mass of people mingling around, listening to the bands, chit-chatting with each other, and examining the silent auction items... They were everywhere! And the majority were wearing shirts, "Running Back-up for Officer Jim."

The t-shirts and bracelets worn in support for Officer Jim.





I hugged my family and took in the crowd, being introduced and hugged, and told what a wonderful man my father was.. and how he had touched their lives. I watched as people hugged my daddy and my stepmom and with tear filled eyes told them how much they loved them, how they were their heroes, and that they were praying for them.

A little later as we prepared to begin the run, there were speeches by several people of the community, including the mayor of Mt. Airy, the Superintendent of the schools, the chaplain, and several other people who Daddy had worked for and with and who gave first hand accounts of the impact he had on the community, and the effort that was raised into helping raise money. What got me was the children who gave up their tooth fairy money to go towards this cause. Dear Lord, bless those children!! That to me is the same as someone giving a million dollars..

Daddy then got up and made a speech. "Are you excited? Are you? Well you don't sound it!" LOL He spoke softly, but strong and steady to the crowd. I was held captivated by what he said. He explained what the cancer was.. and that the doctors had given him only so much time left. He shared the news of the cancers shrinking AFTER the chemo treatments had been stopped. "How about that, Doc?" he grinned at the crowd. I was so proud of him, my heart ached. As he came off the stage, my grandpa looked at me and smiled. "Are you proud of him?" Yes, I am proud of him.

We started the run/walk from the high school, looping around downtown "Mayberry" and back to the high school. My family was carried in golf carts while my aunt and her family and I and my boyfriend, Ben, ran/walked with the rest of the crowd. Everyone was laughing about how hard it was.. complaining about the hills.. and then we came to a sign that about stopped me in my tracks. "Thank you, Jim! We love and support you!" Sign after sign.. people standing on their lawns, yelling encouragement to us to keep going.. I was amazed. And then we hit main street.. people were lined the streets as if a parade.. half of them holding signs saying "Hero" "We're praying for you!" "Thank you, Officer Jim" It hit me all over.. this is happening, and this is my Daddy. It broke my heart.. We really do need these prayers for a miracle.. and that so many people were praying was encouraging. No matter what happens.. God's got us in His hands. <3

I'm not sure if anyone from the Mayberry area is reading this.. but you are huge in my hearts and have no idea the effects of the prayers and support is to my family! Thank you so much to everyone who came out, and who continues to support my dad!! 

Counting it.. ALL joy...

<3

My Dad's shirt. 


Mayberry Bears!


Music, and face painting and jump castle!! woo hoo!!


Enjoying the sunshine and music..

My family chatting with a neighbor.. we really are blessed with the people in our lives.



My grandmother chatting with a friend.








Community rallies behind ‘Officer Jim’:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Letters from the past..

I've been getting together my letters and things for a support letter to go out soon.. I'm still feeling some "eh" moments.. LOL I really have to let it go... 
Today as I was cleaning out EVERYthing in my room.. I ran across all my old letters and notes from teammates and family members and supporters. Then I found one written when I was debriefing on my Euroquest missions trip in the year 2000. We were told to write a letter to ourselves and we would mail it, so we could read it later. I received it about a month later, so my feelings weren't too different. However, twelve years later, having been through so much.. it's interesting what the 16 year old me has to say to me now. I remember wondering what would happen and where my life would go. I never imagined I would be where I am now.. 

Here it is: 

Dear Future Jessa:                 8/7/00

I don't know what you are feeling right now as you read this, but I know what I'm feeling as I write this. I feel a sick-pit in my stomach because the summer is going, and I don't want to leave. This summer has been incredible! Remember everyone? How awesome they are? remember what God taught you? Do you remember clowning? How fun that was? Do you remember the people on the street? How lost they are, and have no clue about what God can do in their lives? Remember the woman in Amsterdam, the one in Paris? The couple in Austria? The man in Germany? Jessa, do you remember what you were gonna do to change your world when you got home? Continue your clown ministry, start a d-group with the homeschool teen girls, be a light with my attitude and fire for God. Show God's love to the people of Galax by being like Jesus. Jesus would talk to them, be a friend. Be in a better relationship with my parents. That one is especially important. Dug deeper into the Bible; you should have lots to learn about. Don't stop reading the Bible. Work hard so you can go on a trip next year, darling. When you finish this letter, I encourage you to go back and read the journal I kept while on the trip. Look at all the pictures, and just remember. God is awesome, and this was an awesome summer where I learned so many cool things. Reflect on the time between us. What's happened? If you need to exhale & inhale, do that now, and get your life back to where it was when I left; totally on fire for God. I'm praying for the future me.  

<3 Jessa

PS Write to everyone & keep working on verses everyday so you can go to London next year, ok? :) 








LOL Oooh.. I love it!! Where my heart was.. this relationship with Christ is such an up and down journey. Things happen. Life happens. We make choices and changes. I feel so innocent and naive, and yet sometimes so strong in knowing what I wanted and where I was going when I think about 16 year old Jessa. I just wanted to share that letter :) 











Asia team: 2002. 



Another letter I'd like to share is one that I received from my middle school Sunday School teacher. This man is still held in high esteem. His love for Christ inspired me to walk closer to God in my own relationship. Any letters from home on a missions trip are better than presents on Christmas.. but reading this today.. also 12 years later, pulls on my heartstrings. For some odd reason, it felt like the words written a decade ago, were also written for me today:

DearJessyca,                                                                                           
I pray that this letter will find you in good health and spirits.
Jessyca, do you realize that God has seen fit to bless you to do something that most people will never get the chance to do? That is to share His gospel in another country and better yet, you're doing it in not only one, but several countries! I am very proud of you and your commiment to our Lord. I have always felt that God would bless others with your life ever sine I was blessed to have you as one of my students in Sunday School. 
Be assured, Jessyca, that you and your group are always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that each day of your missions work you will grow a little bit closer to Jesus Christ. For if this will be the case, then no matter what you may have to suffer through, it will be worth the trouble. You will be a better Christian for it. Plus the world will be a little bit better off because of Jesus and your commitment to Him.

I may not have understood what he meant then.. but I do now.. and I treasure these words of wisdom from the past. This just gives me more of a boost to continue the path I'm walkin' on!! :) 

Counting it ALL Joy,

Jessa


Friday, June 8, 2012

From Fear to Faith

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

This past week has seriously been a test of my faith! LOL There has been so much going on...but God and I have had a lot, if not non-stop, prayer-time. I believe I mentioned that my goal this year was to learn to "breathe God"... LOL I wasn't sure what that meant.  Maybe it meant that I was to learn to be dependent on God for absolutely everything.. to make my life centered and focused solely on Him. Never ask God for something unless you're willing to be challenged and woke up to life around you! :) Every day there's a new challenge for me to grow and change. It's incredibly exciting!! 
I had somewhat of an epiphany (well several) this past week. I have been emailing the team lead, Dieuwke (Dew-ka), a wonderful woman with a beautiful spirit for God, about the change from Creative to Compassion. She mentioned I needed $2000 AUD before my application was prayed over and reconsidered for the Compassion. It scared me a bit, because I don't have that. So, I took a week praying over whether or not I needed to pursue this. I've crunched numbers.. prayed and pondered and weighed options as to if I should go or not, or should I stay... should I wait and go next year, or pursue it this year? It's hard not going next month to Creative, and I'll be honest, it'll hurt if I can't go on Compassion.

I had two conversations with two different people that really revealed a few things that were going on that I wasn't aware of or really thought about. On my support group page on Facebook, I posted that I am trying to find ways to raise money. There are so many ideas that I have to raise the money! However I do have a full time job at the same time, so I do need financial supporters and backers. Even if I spent a year working, I won't be able to raise this on my own. One friend suggested I write support letters. It has been ten years since I've been on my past missions trips. This is a whole new ballgame, being 28 and going on not just a missions trip, but an actual 6 month school. I'm leaving my job, my home, I'll be selling pretty much everything to do this. I feel very passionate about this.. but I wasn't sure how this would be taken by my supporters from a decade ago. I was reminded it that it wouldn't hurt to try! LOL Which is true... 
The other conversation I just started talking without realizing what was going on internally. I just spilled out what I was feeling and thinking to my best friend. I said I needed support, and it was scary because for me this isn't the same as before. This isn't a trip where I'm a teenager and everything at home stays the same. This time I won't have my job, or car, or security like last time. It also feels more acceptable for a teenager to go on a missions trip or to a missionary school.. because they're taking those steps towards their future. For me, I have a fear of what it will look like to the people I'm reaching out to for help. I'm afraid of what their thoughts and possible judgments will be.. "She's 28, why now?" "How can she not raise the money on her own, she's an adult!" and I could give a whole list of the questions that pop up in my head that pretty much run along the same line! Where ten years ago, this would be more of an accepted reality, it feels more like a nice dream to take a break.. travel the world.. and come back home while the bill is being footed by someone else who is staying behind and working their full time job. (One thing about adult me: I try to be as independent as possible.. lol.. as a grown up, charity is harder for me to take.) 

I realize that I'm letting my fears become greater than  my God. It's a lot easier staying here and not taking a chance on what God has out there for me. In Jeremiah 29, the Bible talks of how God promises us a hope and a future.. and not a life that will harm me. And I keep hearing Jesus say over and over, "I came that you might have life.. and have it more abundantly." For me, I feel my call is in the ministry, and specifically overseas. This 6 month school is not just a whim or a passing fancy or an early mid-life crisis. For me this is a decision to put aside 6 months of my life to dedicate to Christ.. it's a decision to spend every moment of my time learning to "breathe God". It's a decision to become closer to Him and learn about Him through others during the school, and on the field as we become His hands and feet to the people we meet. I believe this school will raise the bar on what I've been through in the past.. and I want that change in my life to form me into a stronger child of God.
I'm leaving my fears at God's feet, and I don't want to pick them back up again. As far as the question of should I continue.. (with my nagging fear of.. mainly if I don't accomplish this, I'll really look silly or like I wasn't following God's will..) I'm going to go. I emailed Dukes about everything and about the need of $2000 AUD before I can officially be accepted.. and for some weird reason.. I felt no fear.. no worry.. I feel peace. A peace that seriously passes all understanding.. but I know that I will follow this until the end. If I don't make it.. I know that I'm making the steps towards God and a life of no fear.. and continuing to grow closer to my Jesus.




If you've been reading these and can or know of someone who would be willing to become a financial supporter.. send me the name, email and/or address so I can get in touch with them. As of right now, I'll be putting the money in a savings account till I have it raised and deposit it directly to YWAM Newcastle. After I'm accepted, I can continue to take donations in my name, or there will be a link where you can send money directly to the school in to go towards my fees. I'll be sending support letters out this next week or two. I would really love for a good strong prayer team, as well as financial supporters!! 


I'm leaving this in God's hands, and praising Him for the outcome that He already knows about! :) 


Counting it All Joy, 
Jessa

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Break my Heart, Lord.

Ok you'll have to forgive me if I repeat things from post to post.. sometimes things go over and over in my head.. and I'll ponder it until I've soaked it all in. (Yes, I'm weird.)

I remember being 16 and on my first overseas missions trip to Europe when I started singing a song.. "Break my heart, Lord... for the things that break yours." This concept challenged me a bit. What must God see when He looks at this world. I normally do what comes naturally to everyone and look at the world through my eyes.. my thoughts.. my opinions. But what does God see? What breaks His heart? And what would happen if I truly prayed that? So I did.. and for the years after that, traveling through Europe and Asia, and even working here at home, I think that changed me as a person. When you meet people, it's so hard to put up a guard and a front, and to be nice and polite, but not go deeper. I truly care for the people I meet, and I want them to know that. I want people to see Christ in me. I love when people tell me that they sense a peace and joy about me, and they want that.. why do I have that? How do I have that? It's really not me, it's Him. I love asking people how are they, how are things... I think sometimes people just give small answers that don't really answer the question. I'm not trying to pry.. but I do want them to know that if they need someone to talk to, I'm here. It's amazing what simple hug or smile can do to brighten someone's day. As Christians, I believe that we're God's hands and feet. It blows people's minds when you do something for them, just for the sake of doing it for Christ. When you see people through Jesus' eyes... you see the hurts, and the needs.. but you also see what you can do to help.

When I traveled with the organization Royal Servants, they did what they called "Servant Projects". During the training camp phase before we went overseas, they set aside a day to send the students out into a local town. We were geared up with things to hold car washes, to clean houses, and to pass out drinks. It was an incredibly hot day.. so we would run to cars that stopped at a light and asked if they wanted a drink. Or we would hold signs and yell free car wash. We went knocking on doors and asked the people if there was anything we could do to help them such as mow their yards, or rake leaves, or wash their cars.. anything they needed, what could we do? At first I helped with washing cars.. I noticed several people kind of badgering our students, getting out of the car and asking WHY are we doing this? What was our angle? What did we want? How much was this going to cost.. really? LOL All for a free coke.. or a free car wash. People can't fathom the word "free" anymore. We would simply tell them, "We want to show Jesus love in a practical way." I learned that summer, Jesus was quite the hands-on go-getter on earth. He met real needs. He healed the sick, He helped the lame, He fed the 5000. Through us today, I believe He would go door to door and ask people, "What can I do for you?" By mid-afternoon that day, we broke out into groups.. I was teamed with a group who had been knocking on doors that morning. They explained that they had come across a woman and her son who lived in a small two story house with a lot of cats. They had offered to clean the place. We ran to the grocery store and bought cleaning supplies and I believe they did buy some food. I remember walking in and thinking a few cats was an understatement. The place was run-down, and dirt was everywhere. The middle-aged son was overweight, and sitting on a skinny mattress in front of the t.v. Cats were everywhere. You could tell the woman had a soft heart and loved these animals. I'm not sure what their story was.. but we were here to do what we needed to so she could feel that God had not abandoned her, and that He loves her. One of the girls on our team, spent time helping the woman in her kitchen. I'm not sure what she did, but I do know that she sat down and started reading the woman's mail for her, because the woman had been without glasses for sometime. I was upstairs mopping a bedroom floor. One of the boys on our team, a 16 year old, came and was watching me and another girl work, and warned us not to go in a certain corner because it looked like it was about to cave in. I remember at that point I hadn't gotten to know that boy very well, other than that he liked to laugh and joke and was completely goofy. (We had a pretty big team.. so it took about a month to get to know everyone.) I thought this boy had a pretty tough exterior. He went into the bathroom and started cleaning something that looked as if it used to be a toilet. I remember thinking the floor was just a simple brown.. and started with half bleach and water... then more bleach... finally I was taking the bottle of bleach and pouring it on the floor. I scrubbed and scrubbed until a little bit later I realized the floor wasn't just brown.. but it was so caked in dirt that I couldn't even see that the floor had teddy bear designs on it. It broke my heart that someone lived like this. We cleaned as much as we could, until we heard it was time for us to go. We gathered our things, and as we passed the bathroom, the boy was still scrubbing the toilet with tears running down his face.
Break my heart, for the things that break Yours, Lord.
We left the woman, who broke down thanking us for our work. She said no one had shown us that type of compassion and love. I've gone knocking on doors and handing out tracks, but for me, this was the most effective way to minister to someone I have ever seen. It touches people. People have needs.. people go through things and they feel hopeless and lost. If we as Christians, did this more often.. what would the results be? I believe people would see Christ at work. Most normal people of this world, don't do those kinds of things.. especially for free. What would it benefit us to get our hands dirty? Nothing. But as Christians.. we're not of this world. What does it benefit us? It grows us into people who are molded more into the image of Christ. I say all the time that actions scream louder than words. I know for my own needs.. I worry and I fret.. and I try to trust God. I try to trust God with my finances for my trip, and for every little worry and fear that comes along with making this decision to leave for 6 months and do this. I hate asking people for help..but oh, how much it would mean to me if someone did help. So what can I do for others?
When we returned back to training camp that day, we discussed with a leader what had happened and the situation. They said they worked with local churches in that area, and called a few of them.. and told us a few days later that someone from the church had reached out and was helping that family.
Break my heart, for the things that breaks Yours, Lord.

My prayer right now is that God allows me to be His hands and feet. To show His love in practical ways. I pray for the people that are put in my path, and that I'm aware of why they are there, and what I need to do. I want my heart to break for the things that breaks God's heart.. so I'll be able to be more effective for Him.

Counting it All Joy ~ Jessa

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Love Your Ways

I have said several times that I wish that I could meet myself. Step outside my body and watch me through my day and as I meet people and then come up and shake my hand and get to know me. What do people see? I know what I want portrayed.. and who I am by my thoughts, but how do other people see me? I want more than anything for them to look at me and see a mirror image of Christ. My goal is to become a godly woman, and for people to want what I have.. which is the the joy and peace of Jesus in me.

As I said in the last blog, I've really been going through a lot lately.. and I did something most Christians try to avoid: I asked God why. I'm dealing with mourning for someone who was close... I'm dealing with a new relationship with my father. I'm dealing with a new job.. and realizing I'm not going to be able to control my life by trying to steer it my way. Every time I step up and try to control what's going on in my life, things happen beyond my control that just reminds me again that life is life, and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm learning God's ways aren't my ways.. and even if I don't understand WHY things happen.. and WHY I can't have my way.. and WHY God brings people in my life at certain times and WHY and what is my purpose with certain people and situations.. it's all apart of a bigger picture. The past week I've learned more about myself, and I'm feeling like the closer I move to God.. the more I see myself.

I was feeling bummed about not being able to go on the Creative DTS, but I have been thinking about how the work with Compassion is a lot more advanced then the ministry I've done in the past. My main purpose and goal is to take myself out of the rat race I feel stuck in, and shift my universe from my bills to my God. As a Christian, that's the most important relationship I have, and it's slipping, and I want to fight for it. I think maybe if I lay aside everything... even my photography, it'll help me focus a bit more. Instead of spending 6 months focusing on God and my photography.

I'm not sure exactly why things are happening, but I do see that despite everything.. God knows, and He is still molding me into a woman of God. And that's what I need to realize and stay close to.

I'm slowly seeing answers to my prayers.. but I am still struggling with mainly the financial aspects. I'm really hoping also to find a new church family who I feel comfortable with asking to surround me with prayer, as well as finding prayer partners while I'm overseas. As every missions trip, it feels very up and down and one step forward five steps back kind of process. It touches my life in every way.. but more than anything, my focus is on Jesus and to be faithful to Him.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Peter Furler - Reach

I'm dedicating this song to my Daddy.. who's living proof of God's grace and love.. and the fact that we don't need to do anything.. because Christ's loving arms are already reaching for us!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Hope and a Future...

  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


I've started a few of these blogs, but can never finish.. I start out strong and then fizzle out. The past few weeks has been some kinda crazy emotional roller coaster ride.. and I'm ready to get off at any point now.. However normally when something's up (or down..).. God's got a plan to teach me something..  

I've been excitedly planning my upcoming school trip to Australia... and then life hits you kinda hard. Normally in the way of something simple.. like a little white envelope labeled "Bill." (I don't know why they keep sending me his mail... anyways..) So I started praying and going over everything to figure what would be the best way to raise support and take care of things at home before I leave in 8 (well.. now officially 7) weeks! 

Then I received news that kinda shook me up a bit: someone who had been close to me last year, recently passed away. This news hit me hard. I have only had a couple of people close to me pass away, and they were older and we were expecting it. This was a shock. Someone who was so young, and had so much life to live.. and now they were gone. It took me a bit (still taking me awhile to grasp it.) that someone who laughed and loved and lived and experienced life.. isn't here anymore on this earth. I had several people listen and talk to me, and let me cry and vent. But the biggest thing that helped was the simple: "Just know I'm praying for you." There's not a lot to say sometimes that'll make you feel better when you're going through something. It got to a point where I wasn't sure how to handle it. I started reading a lot of Psalms, and letting God tell me through His word that He was there, people were praying for me, and that He hadn't left me. I felt the ability to go through daily tasks, and surrounded myself with friends and family that love me and make me laugh. It is sad that someone lost their life.. but my life is still going, and I didn't want it to come to a stand still. I'm still in a time of mourning, but God's showing me that I need to continue with my life and my plans.. That He's created a life for me that has a hope.. and a future. I'm so grateful for His strength and promises for a hope.

So praying over everything that's been going on.. plus my finances and taking care of things before I go (If anyone wants to buy some dishes.. let me know!!) I've been discussing the fact of not going to the Creative DTS in July. I have the opportunity to either wait till next year, or hop on-board the next DTS. Sooooo...I'm seeing about changing to the Compassion DTS!! It starts on October the 2nd, and ends on March 16th, 2012. Compassion has a mercy-focused ministries. The outreach will be anything from working with children in Asia, to evangelizing to brothel owners in Eastern Europe. So far, they have announced three of the four outreach locations. I'm very excited to have the chance to work in these areas. It's a step up from what I've done as a teenager, and I believe it'll stretch me out of my comfort zone. My constant prayer is that God will mold me into a woman who reflects my Heavenly Father.


For my prayer requests.. I've had a few people asking!!

I really need prayer for:

  • A prayer partner group - I'd like a few close people who will kind be on my "team Jessyca". Ones to help handle things back home in case something happens, but also a very close support group for more personal needs. Anyone want to be apart of this.. just holler :) 
  • New church family - I go to a certain church when I can, but with work, it's not been possible lately. I'm hoping to find a church family closer to home, where I feel at home and a connection with the people. Finding a new church always makes me feel nervous! LOL 
  • "Taking care of the Others".. The "Others" is the big elephant in the room that keeps following me, and I don't like looking at it! I've got a few things that needs to be taken care of before I go. Without going into a lot of detail, I just need prayer that doors will open to where I can take of my leftover debt as quickly as I can, so I can focus all my resources more on this trip.
  • My car. I love my car.. but I can't take it to Australia with me! I'm hoping I can find someone to buy it.
  • My storage unit and... storage...stuff. I have a storage unit filled to the brim with stuff leftover from my old house. I need to go through it.. huge undertaking.. prayer for strength and wisdom with what to do with it! Once again.. anyone need dishes?? :) 
  • Support raising opportunities and open doors.
  • My nerves! 
  • Visas and Plane Tickets.. I'm starting to look.. 
  • Keep praying for the decision to go from the Creative DTS and Compassion DTS.. I'd be excited to do either, but I will admit that I'll be a little bit disappointed over losing the creativity focus. I do think there's a reason I need to go on Compassion though. So pray for peace over that decision, so I can continue my journey!!
 
 





Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel....

So it's been a few months since I've last posted on my blog. I've thought about blogging and logging my thoughts and feelings through this process. I probably should have, seeing as now where I am. The past few months have been a ridiculous roller coaster ride... one that apparently has a lot of tunnels. I hate the feeling of not knowing where my life is going. Like.. tunnel vision. You walk blindly into it having no idea where to go or especially what's going to be on the other side. It feels like all your focus is what's out there and not where you're at in the moment. 

The past few months I've struggled with finances and my job, my health and my relationships. I've had people encourage me, and then moments where I've wondered if I need to stay put. But I started getting frustrated and thought maybe I do need to let this go.. this dream and desire to go back on the field. It was okay to do as a teenager, but maybe this adult life I've been wrapped up in for the past ten years is the more responsible place for me to be. So I told God that I was giving it to Him. All of it.. the frustrations, the daily battles, the desires, the hopes, the dreams, the planning, the worries.. all of it. I told Him that I couldn't live worrying constantly. Whatever His will was, I wanted it to be clear.. but I decided one thing: I was going to start fighting for my relationship with God. 

If you've read the first post, you kinda know the struggle over the past few years of feeling inadequate and not good enough. As a teen I was so close to God that I could hear His heartbeat. Oh, how I loved the pure peace and knowledge of being in His hands. And I had to jerk it all away and run with my life as if I knew what I was doing. Over the past few months, I've also had these feelings resurface. Maybe this wasn't going as smoothly because I had failed in the past. 

Then I heard this, which I've heard a number of times before: God doesn't call the qualified.. He qualifies the call. I was reaching out to Him, telling Him if He needed me, I was here. I had the heart and desire.. but more than anything, I wanted to be right back next to His heart. I wanted time out of my comfort zone, and out of everything I know here back in Virginia, to go and completely put myself to where I had to be pulled and twisted and TESTED back to Him. I just didn't feel qualified.. but with God, it doesn't matter. He doesn't keep glancing over my spiritual resume. He just sees my heart.. and my willingness to serve Him.

I continued with the application process..being reminded by the staff of YWAM by phone and email that they were praying for me. One email, I completely emptied my heart and told them (more of a warning!) that there were many obstacles in my way.. sickness in my family, my agoraphobia, financial difficulties, my car.. The response I received stunned me. They said they were impressed by my faith and persistence that God would bring me there. They thanked me for being so open to such sensitive subjects when I discussed my past and my hurts and where I've been. For me the past few years, I've been wrapped up in looking at just the few pieces of the puzzle in my hands I've not stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. I've heard a few times that God's strength is seen through our weakness. I hadn't thought of my own life in that way, but seeing it from someone else's point of view I saw that God's fingerprints have been all over my life. He's forming me and making me and bringing me closer to Him. I don't need to travel around the world to realize He's right here with me, and has been the whole time. 

I felt like I had had a mustard seed faith, where everyone else saw a mountain of faith...If God wanted me to go, He'd make a way. Little things started to open up and make it a bit easier for me to finish the application. I had a couple of difficult phone calls and conversations, trying to open up more about my agoraphobia and my past, and after some prayer time with the leader of the DTS, it was left to God on whether or not I was accepted. I truly thought I would hear no. I stressed for a couple of days then once again (so sad I'm realizing that this is a DAILY thing.. :) ) I had to give this to God. Praying with the YWAM staff and knowing that friends and family have been praying about this for me, gave me a lot of peace! If God didn't want me to do this, then the doors would be closed to YWAM. I didn't know if I would be going to YWAM in the near future.. or if I would be staying here and wondering what my other options are... 

Then I received the letter.. 

Hi Jessyca!

I trust you are going well. It's a delight to see your application complete and to be able to process it.

And....YOUR ACCEPTED!


I'm still stunned and so excited over this!! Where I couldn't see at ALL that light at the end of the tunnel.. now I see enough of that light to where I'm so excited... Through this journey, I'm truly learning what Jim Elliot once said, "He is no fool who gives what he can't keep, to gain what he can't lose." I'm giving up everything.. everything I'm clinging to.. everything that will eventually go away.. to gain a stronger eternal relationship with my Heavenly Father.. and 'prayfully' be used to see a grown in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Counting it All Joy,
Jessa