love love love

I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE love. Love is the greatest. [1 Corinthians 13:13] And I just wanted to speak some encouragement to you guys today (and for me too).

Let me start off by saying that I am, in fact, a single lady. Being single isn’t an issue for me. I’ve been through several seasons of singleness; I don’t mind being on my own. I’m pretty used to it. However, that does not mean I don’t get lonely sometimes or wish that I had a significant other, because I do– but I want real, God-fearing, forever and ever love. I don’t want someone just to have someone, that’s not who I am. And sometimes I sit here and see all my beautiful friends building their lives together and I quietly say, “Okay God, where is my spouse?” I picture Him just shaking His head and smiling to himself saying, “Jessica, just be patient.”

God loves you. And God has someone out there for you. You see, He created Adam but realized Adam was missing something, so then He created Eve. As Adam was working for the Lord, God thought, “He needs a suitable helper.” [Genesis 2:20] But before bringing him a spouse, Adam served the Lord. All of Adam’s focus was on God and serving Him. Adam didn’t go to God and ask Him about having a partner– He just did what God called him to do and God filled in the rest. God knew Adam’s need like He knows ours.

Sometimes we get caught up in not having our Adam or Eve and we forget to focus on what is most important– our God. I know we do, I’m guilty of it myself. I want to meet my soulmate so badly. I pray for my future husband all the time; I ask God to please bring him to me. But I have to take a step back and remember that I’m more than someone’s girl, I am God’s daughter.

So if you’re feeling lonely or wondering where your person is, they are coming. Just remember to live your life for God’s glory. Focus on what He has called you to do, who He has called you to be. [Deuteronomy 11:13-14] When the time comes, you will meet the one.

With love and grace, Happy New Year! (It’s still January so I can still say this.)

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A Work Of Art Called Love

This semester, I’ve been working on a photography project about signs/experiences from God.

Tonight, after a busy and gray day, I trotted into church, Bible in hand. A few minutes in, I spoke out about how recently, I’ve truly been missing someone. The longing for their presence has been constant and a little disheartening. I’m healing, right? Why am I feeling this way and when will it stop? I ask for a prayer request for myself. Class moves on and my mind eases. At the end, I asked two ladies to share any story they have about a sign or experience they had that they know without a doubt was God. After they shared their stories with me, they both asked me how this project started.

I’ve been thinking about it recently and it all started because I went through a breakup earlier this year. After the breakup, I couldn’t do anything. I was lost. I was searching. I was so sure that he was a part of God’s plan for me– that we should be together. Confused and heartbroken, I started reaching for God– calling out to Him like never before. I was listening to worship music all the time (which, if you knew me, I liked worship music alright, but not much). I was reading devotionals and the Bible and attending church any time the doors were open. I even started going to additional worship events. I wanted to be close to God. I wanted to know what He wanted for me. I thought I knew before, but I only knew what wanted. I didn’t want to make that mistake anymore.

I started learning about Gideon and how he asked God for signs. And I started learning about Ruth and the disciples and how they did whatever God said. “Because you say so, I will.” [Luke 5:5] I became incredibly interested in how God guides. I started questioning if any people I knew may have had a sign from God like Gideon did. And I started having moments myself where God brought me confirmation.

When this semester started, we could pick any topic to photograph. Whatever we picked would be what we spent a whole semester focusing on. I picked signs from God. Literally. I chose to photograph churches and their signs. That did not work out at all. Then I started asking people to tell me their stories and I would make their portrait and record their story– this did not work either. After my second disappointing critique, I spent about three weeks trying to decide if I should even continue. Part of me wanted to keep going, the other part of me just wanted to give up. Finally, I decided to compose a photo based on the story but I still wasn’t sure how to incorporate the actual story. One morning, while preparing for class, the idea came to me. I stepped out of the shower and BAM! it just hit me. I decided to ask people to write their stories in a book. (I know that this idea came from God). So here we go again, third try is the charm, right? Right! This critique went excellent and everybody thought I executed the project well. So that is what I have been doing and where I’m at now.

After I left church tonight, I was driving home, with so much on my mind. Thinking about my breakup and thinking about this project and as I drove, God gave me a thought. If the breakup had not have happened, not only would I not be as close to Him as I am now, but I would not be doing this project. Tears welled up in my eyes and I cried; it was a happy cry! A thankful and praising cry! An understanding cry! The whole reason I was inspired to do this project in the first place was because of my desire to know what God wants for me. Because of everything, I have been able to glorify God and witness to others that I might not have ever attempted to witness to! I’m comforted to know that I am being used in this way. It makes me know that all of my struggle was worth it.

Whenever I start feeling down about the way things ended, I just remind myself that God has a plan. And if I allow Him to, He can use my trials as triumphs for His kingdom.

With love and grace, think about how God has used you.

 

 

 

Rej[prot]ected

I know what it feels like to fall head-over-heels in love with someone– to believe that God created them specifically for you. I know what having a best friend like you never had before and making plans with them and dreaming about your future and believing that nothing will ever come between the two of you feels like. And I know what it feels like to watch the person you held so dear to your heart walk right out of your life— and the worst part is that there is not one single thing you can do to change their mind.

I know what it feels like to replay everything over in your mind– every single thing. Every happy memory, any sad memory, the end– all of it. Constantly on a loop. As if reliving it over and over again will allow you to go back and change the fact that they are gone. I know what it feels like to cry so hard and so often that a time comes when you can’t even form tears any longer, when your throat hurts from sobbing, when your head is aching and begging you to please just lay down and close your eyes, and when you’re wishing you could just pull your heart out of your chest so that the aching will finally stop. I know what it feels like to want to sleep so you can have relief from the constant thoughts and images flickering through your head and not being able to escape because your dreams are even worse. And then you have to wake up and come to terms with everything all over again.

But do you know what else I know? I know that it will get better. I know that it takes time and sometimes it feels slower than Christmas. I know that your heart will heal– but you have to bring it to God.

We ask why an awful lot– why did this happen to me? Nothing will improve if we spend our time asking why instead of asking what. What am I being prepared for? What is God going to do in my life? What do I need to do to be who He created me to be?

God has someone out there for me and you. I wish it was simple and easy but it isn’t. And if it was, what would the point in living even be? We wouldn’t gain anything or grow into the person we need to be.

Sometimes we get people that are here for a season confused with those that are here for a lifetime. Sometimes we let rejection creep into our hearts and plant bitterness– but you can’t do that. There is protection in rejection. If we truly believe that God has our best interests at heart, that He is good and everything will work out for us believers, then why don’t we see rejection as a blessing? Obviously it hurts and I am in no way saying don’t feel the emotions that come with it. What I am saying is after that time of grieving (and even during) praise God. Thank God. Because whatever happened has a purpose in your life.

We’re like pearls. We have to be wounded to turn into something beautiful.

Even Jesus was rejected– and He did the most beautiful thing of all.

Whatever God removes from your life He will replace with something greater. I know there will be moments where you may doubt or feel the sting of hurt again, but you can’t allow it to consume your life. Yes, you were rejected– but that is not who you are. 

Disappointments are God’s way of saying He has something better in store for you. 

So love on yourself, love on others. Pray for the people that rejected you. Thank God for His protection. Don’t allow this hurt to make you bitter, no matter the circumstances. Keep your heart softened.

With love and grace, embrace the protection.

Jesus Is A Gardener Too

I struggle with losing people. My biggest fear has always been to lose people that I love. I lost someone this year and I’m not going to lie– it’s been one of the most difficult experiences I have had to deal with.

I have been having to adjust to my life without their presence. It has not been an easy process, but it has been a learning process and a growth process.

Last night in Bible study we talked about John 15. Throughout our life, Jesus prunes us so that we can be more fruitful. Pruning can mean different things for different people; it can mean removing people from your life, places, etc. These people and places can be wonderful and awesome, but they just don’t belong in your life anymore.

My teacher’s husband gave us an example of how Jesus pruned him for his future. When he was younger, before he met his wife, he was engaged to another woman. She was a great woman, Christian, everything he wanted, but he just felt like he needed to ask God if this was right for him. He prayed about it and God gave him a sign that said it wasn’t right so he ended the relationship. He said it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make but if he hadn’t made it he wouldn’t be with his wife now (they’ve been together for about 30 years). And even after he made the decision, he still went through a difficult time. Still, he put his trust in the Lord and God directed him to his wife.

When I heard last night’s message, I knew it was for me. Looking back, I remember sitting there when it felt like everything was falling apart and my world was crashing down around me and every fiber of my being was wanting to fight for what I thought I needed– what I believed to be right for me. However in the midst of everything, this phrase ran through my mind, “Do not fight it.” And so I didn’t. I did say a few words in disagreement, but I didn’t fight what was happening. I just let it happen. I wanted to fight it more than anything in the world. I wanted to beg and plead and just show that I didn’t want this to happen– but I couldn’t. That phrase held me back from doing what every part of me wanted to do.

Do you know what that was? It was the Holy Spirit. I remember that feeling and I thought it was just me being in shock or whatnot. A lot of times we don’t recognize the Holy Spirit; we think that hearing God’s voice means we’re going to hear a booming voice speaking directly to us, but it’s not necessarily so. It can be a small whisper telling you something different than everything you’re feeling. A glimmer of hope or trust or wisdom.

If God is pruning you, you have to allow it. If you don’t allow it, you’re only going to make the process harder. If you sit and embrace it, it will make the experience much easier for you and help bring in the fruit bearing season.

John 15 gives me hope. If God is taking someone or something out of your life, He is doing it because He is going to replace it with what you truly need– what He has in store for you.

With love and grace, embrace your pruning.