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

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...


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:

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,


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,