Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Gift of Christmas

"May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you trust in Him, 
so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

I am now back in Arizona from being home for the holidays
For one week I was surrounded by family and friends
My heart was filled with nostalgia of old Christmas memories
Laughter of my nephews filled the rooms

I was the only child staying at my parents house this holiday
My sister has her family in Enumclaw
Both my brothers have moved out now
It was just me and my parents

Though I am (cough) 30, I cherished this time to just be their daughter again
My parents even waited to get our tree until I arrived so I could help decorate
A tradition I always enjoy

Coming home for the holidays is a new experience for me
I came home last year from Arizona but I stayed two months through all the holidays
This year I was only home for a week

If I am honest, I was a little anxious how I would handle the emotions of being home and the holidays

 But before I left one of my friends gave me some of the best advice
She said, "Put your phone down and be present with the people you are with. Facebook and Instagram and all of that will still be there. Even when you feel like you are sitting around, look around and think about amazing things going on around you like your nephews laughter. Even in the car rides. You don't realize what you are missing."

I wasn't perfect the whole week being off my phone, but I tried hard
And for the first time since moving away and coming home I truly felt present

I gave myself permission to JUST BE this Christmas 

I gave myself permission to feel the nostalgia of the season
... to be joyful
...to be still and listen to the sounds of Christmas carols and laughter of my nephews
... to stop and smell the balsam & cedar candles and my moms cooking
... to let go of my past failures and mistakes of the year
...to let go of the responsibilities of the future

I gave myself permission to find peace in the knowing my Savior is coming to clean up this beautiful mess of mine

Because through all the hustle and bustle

Through the hard and the messy
I almost forgot the most powerful message of the season
One that got lost in my anxiety and the pressure I put on myself

The Christmas message of Hope, Joy and Peace

JOY that my future is already secured
PEACE that my future will be better than imagined
HOPE that my Savior is coming and will come again

Yup, Jesus is truly the reason for the season

And the best part?
Because of Jesus, we can receive HOPE, JOY and PEACE, the gift of Christmas, all year

This past year I have opened myself up to letting Jesus take over and He has taken me on an adventure that excites me more everyday
The gift of Christmas

The past year (especially the last couple months) Jesus has romanced my soul into an intimacy I have never known
The Gift of Christmas

The past year Jesus has placed dreams and passions that have set my heart on fire 
The Gift of Christmas

The past year Jesus has given me endless amounts of Grace from my mistakes
The Gift of Christmas

The past year Jesus has shown Mercy in situations I labeled impossible
The Gift of Christmas

The past year Jesus has given me friends and family that have blessed me more than I deserve 
The Gift of Christmas 

Jesus has given me Salvation
The Gift of Christmas 

Jesus is... 
The gift of salvation 
The gift of Grace 
The gift of Love 
The gift of Blessings 
The gift of Peace 
The gift of Favor 
We can receive them every single day of the year 

As you take down your last bit of christmas decorations
As you begin to reschedule your work and school schedule 
As you begin to write your resolutions and To Do lists.. 

Peace is not ultimately a place
Peace is the ultimate Person

The gift of Christmas is Jesus
You don't have to wait until next christmas to receive 
Receive it today and everyday 
The magic of Christmas truly lives in our hearts 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

My sister and I
Just the best grandpa and his grandkids and great grandkids!

Grandpa and his girls

My beautiful cousin Rylee and my brothers baby boy

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Living My Answered Prayer

Me and Sarah! 
This is my roommate Sarah
She was the original dreamer of Arizona
Almost two years ago she came to me and said, 
''Jess, I am moving to Arizona and you have to move with me"

The old me would have laughed at a statement like that
The old me wanted Seattle to forever be my home
But you see, at that time in my life I knew God was calling me somewhere else
Calling me into something different with my life
 Calling me to use my desires, strengths and dreams elsewhere

I guess it was Arizona and that following summer we drove down to a new chapter! 

Arizona winter evenings are my favorite 

We have been living in Arizona for a year and a half
God has given us community, fellowship, and comfort
To say we both LOVE Arizona would be an understatement

But just because we have a deep peace that Arizona is where God called us, does not mean the transition has always been easy or painless 

Most days I doubt where my life is going
 I wonder why God called me to Arizona
Moments my heart physically hurts to see my family
Pain from losing close friendships 
Heartache from relationships
Fear my dreams won't come true

Then something happened last night that changed my whole perspective
Let me share quickly a little about Sarah 
Sarah was along side me working at Seattle Pacific for four years
We lived together in Seattle for two years 
Sarah knew the ache in my heart for more
Sarah knew my dreams and longings
I will forever be grateful for Sarah taking a leap and asking me to move with her to Arizona

 Sarah and I were on our way to have a roommate Christmas date at local, cute Arizona restaurant called The Henry, we walked in on a beautiful evening, Christmas lights around cactus', Christmas music playing, cool, brisk weather of 60 degrees, dressed up for the first time in a long time, on our way to celebrate the holidays in a city that is now our HOME

....The Lord compassionately stirred in my soul and reminded me, "Jessie, remember you ARE living an answered prayer." 

One of my absolute favorite people in my life- than you for your YES Sarah!

 Remember the times sitting at your desk in Seattle crying because your heart longed for a change?

Remember praying to Me to make your purpose bigger and to enlarge your territory?

Remember daydreaming about life in Arizona and how excited you would be IF ONLY you could leave now? 

Remember that life with no vision?
Remember that life of wanting a stronger purpose?
Remember that life of small dreams?

I have been so consumed with what is NOT happening in my life in Arizona I forgot ALL that God has brought me out of and I simply forgot what God has already answered  or answering prayers in my life 

When we forget God the goodness of God, we forget where we have been and where we are going
And when I look back at my life I see that God has been faithful through it all
All the trials, valleys, peaks, twists, turns, doubts and fears

When I look back at my life, every single past moment God was faithful
Every single past moment He delivered me through it 
Every single past moment made me stronger
Those past slides of my life I see God's hand on me through it all

You know how I know? Because I am still here
Stronger than ever with a love for Him so deep it scares me
With dreams I never thought possible

Because of my past, I can see where I have been 
Because of my past, I can see where I am going
I know where God has delivered me

My past gives me faith for the future
My faith builds and increases because He was good
He will continue to be Good and Faithful
 He will continue to prepare me for His future plan
I have a purpose in this life
His purpose
For His Glory

Yet, it is still so easy to get distracted in this world
When things are going great in life it is easy to get content
When we go through trials and tribulations it is easy to abandon Him
We can easily forget that we are living an answered prayer 

When that happens, let's rewind my friends
Rewind the tapes of your life and be reminded where God has delivered you
He delivered you from your past and He will deliver you still
Let your past build your faith for the future

He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!                                                          
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.                                                       
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- 

Psalm 103:1-5

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Be a Farmer of Your Dreams

If you are anything like me, being patient is not easy
And it is especially hard for me to be patient with my dreams

That dream of a blog with a platform to encourage thousands of women
That dream of starting a ministry
That dream of getting married
That dream of writing a book

Those dreams that seem to be taking waaaay too long
Well, in my naive, selfish, human opinion

But listen to what God says;

With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness... He’s giving everyone space and time to change." 
2 Peter 3:

I might be in a hurry, but God is always on time
I might be anxious, but God is always calm
I might think I am ready, but God says,"not just yet, daughter"

He is never late or early in keeping His promises
He is always ON TIME

So, what can we do while in the waiting...
 We prepare by planting seeds of faithfulness in our life

The "seed and harvest" cycle is a way of life for progress to occur
When farmers plant seeds they EXPECT it to harvest when the time is right

We are farmers of our dreams and every day we are planting seeds for our future

When can choose to plant seeds of joy and happiness when we want to be bitter
We can choose to plant seeds of service and generosity when we don't feel like helping
We can choose to plant seeds of faith, trust, and belief in the midst of fear and doubt
 We can choose to plant seeds of boldness and expectation in the midst of confusion

However, we also must be aware of the GAP time of planting those seeds and harvest
The time in between can be miserable and extremely difficult, but also necessary
During this time is God working on our hearts- even when we can't see it

This time is where our hearts are refined 
We grow as leaders
We grow as women of faith
We grow as mothers, daughters and wives as we wait
Then, when the time for the harvest comes, we will be prepared 

So, at the end of my day, sometimes it isn’t about how many items I checked off my list, how many blog followers I have, LIKES on Facebook, or how many pages I wrote in my book 

Sometimes, it just about knowing I did my best to plant as many seeds as I could to help nurture those dreams- seeds of love for others and love for my God

Because by the Law of Harvest and by the Law of God's Perfect Timing
I WILL reap the blessings when the time is right 

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Galatians 6:9 

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