Springtime!

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow." hopefully soon as I'm ready to take a flamethrower to all of this snow and ice....

It is (almost) my favorite time of the year: spring! Only a few more days of cold to survive, and spring will officially be here to stay (I hope)! Especially after this long, cold, tundra-like winter, I am pumped for spring. There is just something about spring. The flowers blooming, the birds chirping, the sun shining; there is just so much change. The dead is brought back to life and everything seems so balanced and good again. I don’t know about anyone else, but once spring comes, I cannot help but be happy and so joyful! The depressing, seemingly endless cold has gone. No more dreariness, no more dullness, no more runny noses and red cheeks, and no more layers of leggings underneath pants and multiple socks inside boots. Spring brings a new beginning, new opportunities, and new experiences.

I know for me, personally, this change is so refreshing. Sometimes in life we need a little change of pace, something a little new in the routine. These little changes renew us and give us a whole new attitude and sense of motivation and determination. Spring comes at the middle of my school semester and gives me this new, happier attitude to get things done and push through to the end of the semester. It renews me and brings my laziness and dullness to life, energizing me and putting a little pep in my step.

Don’t we all wish we could have this renewal year-round!? Good news. We can. God provides for us this renewal anytime we want, we just have to ask for it. Everyone goes through plateaus or valleys in their spiritual life. In those times, we need some renewal, some new life, a little pep in our step. God has already brought our dead selves to life, just as the spring does for all the flowers, but now we have to continuously grow, bloom, and bear fruit. This is no easy job. There are days with no sunshine. There are days with too much sunshine, and not enough rain.  We get stuck, dull, and weary, without bloom. We feel defeated and need something, anything.

This is where God comes in. He has the power to be the spring to our winter. If we want that help, we simply have to ask. It is always hard asking for help in areas of difficulty, I mean no one likes to admit their faults. But, it happens to everyone. God is more than happy to help us! He will bless us abundantly to help us grow closer to him and bloom into the flowers we want to be. He will take away the cold, the wind, the darkness, and bring us sunshine, spring showers, and a cool breeze. If we put trust in God that He will bless us with these things, we need not have any doubt or worry, because we will grow and bear fruit.

My favorite part of this whole idea is the fact that we can see it firsthand. As I look outside right now, I know the cold is out there waiting for me and my multiple layers of clothing, but I also know that the forecast calls for some spring weather in a few days. I am so looking forward to those days, and I am so grateful to see such a great example of what God can do in our own lives! He has the power to push out the winter, and bring in the spring, not only outside, but in our hearts also.

God Bless!

<3 Jessica

Just Ask.

Matthew 7:7 Bible verse  (Matthew 7:7)  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

This verse is one of my all. time. favorites. It is one I have probably read over and over throughout the years, but I think as I grow older, I understand it more and more. Chapter 7 goes on:

“For the one who asks, receives. The one who seeks, finds. The one who knocks, enters.”

However, a lot of people look at these few verses and wonder about our unanswered prayers, those in which it seems as though God doesn’t listen to, no matter how bad we want them. I know that the first time I really thought about this verse, I was confused. What about when I prayed to God to heal my Grandpa, but he ended up passing away? What about when I told God about the struggles I was having, but no relief came?  We ask, with seemingly no response. Those answers we seek, but have a hard time finding. The knocks on God’s door that seem to go unanswered.

Once I finally read beyond these first two verses, though, I had a huge realization in my own life.

“Would one of you hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf, or a poisonous snake when he asks for a fish? If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to anyone who asks Him!”-Matthew 7:9-11

Um, hello Jessica! All you have to do is read a little further and everything makes so much more sense. I have to admit, when I look back on my past, there are so many things I prayed to God for that I am thankful He did not provide me with. If He would have provided me with these things, it would have been like giving me a stone or snake. It may have seemed to me I was asking for a loaf or a fish, but in all reality, the things I was asking for were far from these things.

When I would come to God with my problems, was I listening for His answer, or the answer I wanted to hear? Was I truly seeking, or was I just complaining and hoping God’s solution would be what I wanted? Tough questions to ask myself, but the only way to be honest.

Our Father knows what is good for us. He knows not to listen when we ask for these things that have no purpose in our life. Sometimes the things God knows are good for us, may be painful. We may ask, but we have to understand we will receive what is good. We may seek, but the answer we find may not be the one we were looking for. We may knock, but we have to wait for God to open the door, not be impatient, leave, and think “No one’s home.”

It takes courage to ask, seek, and knock. We never know what will happen, but we can have faith that our Father will give us what we need. Although this may not be what we want, we have to have the courage and knowledge to realize that it will be what is best for us. Who are we to doubt God? Just ask. Go out on a limb and know whatever happens is for the best, and in retrospect, will be, literally, a blessing from God.

God Bless!

Jessica<3

My 2 Words

Why, hello there! Early post this week to make up for being late last week. :) This week, the Christian group I am a part of on campus, Cru, is doing an outreach program called My 2 Words. Basically, we are sharing with those around us 1 word describing life before we became Christians and 1 word describing life after we became Christians! I thought I would share my video on here with you all! Feel free to go check out the other videos on the channel too, if you’d like! :)

God Bless!

<3 Jessica
P.S.: Yes, I know I look awesome in the thumbnail. :p

All the Same

“Different faces, Different fears, Different failures lead us here. Show us how We’re all the same, All desperate for a change. We’re all the same, We need your love. We’re all the same, With hands held out for grace.”

I may have developed a slight obsession with Tenth Avenue North over the past few days. I knew one or two of their songs in high school, but after buying the deluxe version of their album the other day, I have been listening to it non-stop. Last night, I was having trouble sleeping, so I decided to put their album on shuffle to help me fall asleep. Their song “All the Same” came on and really spoke to me.

As the little excerpt of the song states above, we are all the same, all reaching out for God’s love and desperate for a change. Sometimes, this can be difficult to think about. We all have those people in our lives who seem like they have it all together and do not need to reach out to God, because they already have it under control. But in all honesty, as the excerpt says, different fears and failures bring us to God. We all have our own reasons we come to God, our different weaknesses, hardships, and failures. We are literally all on the same level, just reaching our hands out to God.

The question is, do we take this idea to heart? Do we treat each others in this way? I know there are times when I think “I need God’s help more than she does” or “Wow, he really needs God’s help, did you see what he just did?” We either place ourselves in a place of more importance to God, or of less importance. When in all reality, we are all equal to God. He is blessing each and every one of us equally and loves us all equally. He plays no favorites.

Knowing that we are all the same should call us to action. We should be building up our brothers and sisters in Christ, not tearing them down. We should be able to rely on each other for encouragement and assistance in growing closer and closer to God and improving our relationships with Him. We should all be together in the movement toward God.

Just picture it. We are all kneeling in a row, heads down, hands wide open, begging for God’s grace. We are all on the same level, craving the same thing. We may all be drawn there because of different reasons, but we are brothers and sisters. There isn’t anyone who is in front of the row, closer to God, or someone who is way in the back, further away from God. We are all the same, bathing in the grace of God. And sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves of that.

God Bless!

<3 Jessica

 

The Perfect Life

This is one of those posts that randomly came to me in the middle of doing homework and I just had to stop what I was doing and type it up real fast. Sometimes I think I use blogging to procrastinate my homework, but that is another story. This post kind of connects to last week when I talked about self-image and comparing ourselves to others, so this could be like a “Part Two” to last week.

As a college student, I am surrounded by people all. the. time. Even when I am alone in my dorm, there is still someone just on the other side of the wall who could probably hear me even if I whispered something. Like I talked about last week, I can pretty easily compare myself to every single person I come into contact with.

It seems as though everyone has an ideal path they want to follow. You grow up, go to preschool, go to kindergarten, go to middle school, go to high school, get a minimum wage job to support yourself, go to college, find a good paying career, get married, buy a house, have kids, raise those kids, retire, travel the world, become grandparents, and then just take naps and bake cookies for the rest of your life. More or less, I think this is the path a lot of people think they are going down, maybe with a few minor changes.

This whole “ideal life” thing terrifies me. I am a freshman in college, I’ve never had a job before, I’m single, I’m broke, and I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. I would love to say I am completely content, but honestly, I’m going nuts. I could mention so many people in my life that are my age, yet they have jobs, relationships, plans for their future, and they seem as though they have it all planned out. What am I doing with my life!?

It’s moments like these where I have to slow it down. Yes I am in college and have never had a job, and am therefore broke. But, I had the amazing opportunity to babysit my nieces for no pay throughout my high school career in place of a job. My sister needed my help, and I was going to be there for her. Through that experience, I gained patience, love, wisdom, determination, and understanding. Those two munchkins taught me so much about myself and about life.

Yes, I am single. But I have had so much time to grow as a person over the years as I have had the opportunity to spend time with myself and figure out who I am. Meanwhile,  I have seen some of my closest friends change because of their current boyfriend and finally realize what was happening and walk away from the relationship. I haven’t experienced that heartbreak, and I should be thankful.

No, I do not have the slightest idea what I am doing with my life. But, I am majoring in a subject I love and one day I hope will allow me to help people. I enjoy all my classes (that aren’t gen-ed classes of course) and love what I am learning about. My future is unwritten, which can be scary at times, but I am taking it one step at a time.

Some people may think of these things as scary and totally not ideal, but I am thankful. However, I cannot take one bit of credit for these things. I have learned over my 18 short years that whenever you have everything planned out perfectly, God is secretly giggling to himself. How silly are we to think we are going to go down this perfect path of life without a hitch? I am sure last year when I was pinning all these cute recipes I could make for my boyfriend I was sure to have by next Valentine’s Day or vowing to myself that this would be the summer I would save up a lot of money and prepare myself for the real world, God was up in heaven just smiling and shaking his head. He knew what was in my future, but I literally had no idea what was to come.

The only “ideal” life we can have is the one that God has planned! How exciting is that!? It is like a surprise party everyday for the rest of our lives! Some days might be scary, but in the end, we will be so happy! I have to challenge myself everyday to open my hands and heart and allow God to take over. I know I need to let Him control my life, because He will make it amazing. I may not be following what some call a “perfect” life path, but I am following God’s life path, which in my opinion, is waaaay better.

I may still be a Pinterest addict who still pins Valentine’s Day recipes and baby room ideas, but I just use the excuse that I have to be prepared for whatever God throws in my path. :) Because, it totally makes sense that God could drop off a baby on my dorm room doorstep, so I have to have nursery ideas, right? Yup, Jessica, makes sense. (I am shaking my own head at myself.)

The whole idea is to abandon the life path everyone else is following, because it will never happen. God already has His path for us, and we better be prepared for anything! Comparing my life to the lives of the people around me does nothing, especially when I already have this incredible life path right in front of me. We all do.

God Bless!

<3 Jessica

Positive Self-Image

The idea of loving yourself and having self-confidence is an idea that has been instilled in me, and I’m sure many others, since a very young age. Most parents always want to let you know that you are loved and beautiful and perfect and so on. They want to make sure you believe it every second of the day and that no one tells you differently.  However, once we reach a certain age, we realize that society is always telling us differently. Wear this, eat this, do this. These are two very conflicting ideas that everyone has to deal with on a daily basis. Love yourself, but change this about yourself as well. What does it even mean to love yourself? You can love yourself too much where everyone thinks you are super self-centered or you can love yourself too little to the point where people think you need to cut yourself some slack. It is so hard to find that middle ground where you love yourself “just enough.”

At church on Sunday, they talked about comparison. This goes right along with the idea of loving yourself. If you are comparing your looks, money, possessions, personality, faith, etc. to everyone around you, isn’t it difficult to love yourself? From my own experience, it is pretty much impossible. There will always be someone “better” than you and there will always be someone your are “better” than. Both comparisons are equally destructive. Again, you are either loving yourself too much to the point where you place yourself above people around you, or you are loving yourself too little to the point where you are placing people around you, above you.

This whole topic is one I am veeeeeeery guilty of. I may or may not be the queen of letting what others say hurt me and comparing myself to others. I am super sensitive to the words that are said to me and allow them to push me down far too often. I try to tell myself I am loved by God, but then the next second I am comparing my grades, clothes, looks, fitness, money, whatever to the next person I see. It is an area I need God’s assistance to grow in. I have to make a promise to myself to put a stop to this mindset that is so destructive and insulting to God.

It is amazing how once you realize these weaknesses in your life, God gets so excited you finally had your realization and comes to help you out. Just this morning when I was thinking about this weakness of mine, I read a quote that states:

“You cannot make anyone love you. What you can do is let yourself be loved.”

After reading that, I couldn’t help but thank God for placing it in front of me. I think in our society, we focus so much on impressing others. We have to wear the right clothes, say the right things, drink the right coffee, write the best tweets, and so on. We want the approval and love of others so much, we forget that we already have the love we need: the love of God. Why aren’t we satisfied with this love alone? Who cares if you don’t have expensive boots? God doesn’t want your boots. Who cares if you don’t get 50 retweets on a tweet? God doesn’t want your retweets. Who cares if you don’t drink Starbucks 25 times a day? God doesn’t want Starbucks (even if it is delicious occasionally. I’m sure He has his own heavenly coffee. Get it? :)). All God wants is for us to come to Him and to allow Him to love us. He loved us enough to sacrifice his only son for us, who else would do that for us? Through God, it is already done.

It is far too easy to allow ourselves to forget about God’s love for us. It is constantly around us, yet we so easily forget. Sometimes we just need a little reminder and encouragement. And it is the best when that encouragement comes right from God’s word:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8

How amazing is that? :) We are so incredibly loved.

God Bless!

Jessica <3

Anxiety and Stress

I know I have blogged a little about anxiety and stress in a blog post before, but today I want to really concentrate on a few verses in Philippians that really spoke to me when I read them.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your request know to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.- Philippians 4: 6-7

Stress and anxiety can sometimes consume my life, I’ll admit it. I focus too much on the things that could go wrong and the uncertainty of what is to come. I like to stay within my little bubble, where I am comfortable. It is definitely one of my largest weaknesses.

That is why that verse above speaks to my heart so much. It says to stop. Stop with the anxiety, the worry, the stress. Stop jumping to conclusions that everything bad that could happen, will happen. Stop it. It says to make our fears know to our Father. Simple as that. Once we cast these anxieties, stresses, worries, fears, whatever you want to call them, on God, we can be at peace. God knows all. We can never understand Him fully, but as the verse says, He will guard us. To sum that all up in my own words: Stop worrying and stressing and let God do His thing.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these thing. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and sen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4: 8-9

What a way to wrap that up. When we worry and stress, we are focusing on the negative; we are doubting God. I saw a quote from Todd Wagner while I was on Pinterest the other day that said: “Worrying is believing God won’t get it right.” Tough to hear, tough to accept. We need to accept the fact that God’s got it all under control. We have nothing to worry about. As the verses above say, instead of focusing on the negativity of the worries and stresses in your life, we should focus on everything we have in our life that is worthy of praise. And I’m pretty sure we all have plenty of those things in our lives!

Instead of focusing on a huge paper I have next week and sulking in my room, why don’t I just look out the window and be overcome by God’s goodness for placing such beauty around me? Instead of worrying that I will grow up to be that lady who will die alone with her dogs, why don’t I use the extra time I have that would be spent with a boyfriend to spend time with the ultimate guy, God? Am I getting out of hand? Anyway, you get the point! We could stress over every little thing, or we could thank God for every little thing. Obviously the latter would bring us a whole lot more happiness.

It’s little reminders like this that can be found in the Bible that bring me such encouragement. I know I will be reflecting back on this post often, and I know every time it will bring me more and more strength and wisdom. I will not let anxieties overcome me, because in the end, God is on my side. And, He is on yours too.

God Bless! <3

Jessica

P.S. Expect a Winter Jam post in the near future. It was fabulous.

Long Time No Blog..

I’m back! Again. After vowing to blog my little fingers off over my Christmas break, here I am with no new blogs posts and the first week of my second semester in the books. Whoops. New semester, new blog posts, right!? Right!

I am the type of person who loves routine sometimes, but hates it other times. Maybe that is the reason I can be so inconsistent with things (such a blogging). :p Don’t get me wrong, routine is great sometimes! Having a solid class schedule with perfectly planned out times to meet with friends and do homework is great. I know I have the perfect amount of time to get back from one class, do the homework, watch a Youtube video or two, and head out the door just in time to eat dinner. It works out so great and I never have to worry about losing time, unless something random pops up and interrupts my routine. I have to say, though, routine can get too repetitive and boring. I start caring less about doing my homework correctly, I just want to make sure I get it done before dinner. I start neglecting more important things because they interrupt my routine. I get bored with the routine and just want something new and exciting!

This is where God comes in. Personally, I think God really pushes me to break my routines. There is something about being spontaneous and letting God do His thing that is so amazing. When I am stuck in a routine, I block everything out. But, when I let God take control of what I am doing, I see His work like never before. It is a “go with the flow” kind of attitude, but God is providing the flow. When I have no plans for some period of time, I get so excited. I am always wondering what God has in store for me for that time and how He will work in me. The most amazing thing is you never know what to expect, it is always something new. I think that is what makes breaking out of your routines so fun! You never know who or what will cross your path. You can wake up always excited to see where God is going to take you!

Having a routine is good at times, but when you give yourself freedom, even if it is just a little more freedom, you are giving God the freedom to do His thing! You are opening your hands and giving your time to God. Sure, it can be scary, but it can also be liberating. Literally anything could be waiting right around the corner when you just let God take over. Now, I don’t mean I am going to go skipping classes and not doing homework because I want to be rebellious and get rid of a routine. A little routine is nice, especially when I am trying to graduate college in the least amount of time as possible.

There are even routines God probably wants us to keep, like the routine of praying everyday? Yeah, that is probably important. But, don’t get bored with it. Try new ways of spending time with God and in new settings and environments. Instead of being inside and reading the Bible, try going for a walk while you think about just one Bible verse. We can’t let routine take over our lives and make us bored and lifeless, especially in our spiritual life. Try new things, break the routine, give God your time and let Him work. In the end, He knows what is best and He has the most incredible things in store for us. And, I promise, I will be trying my best to stick to a blogging routine, even if they are only short, silly ones like this. :)

God Bless! <3

Jessica

This Is Not Our Home.

For this is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”- Hebrews 13:14

This is one of those bible verses that just makes me feel so happy. No matter what I am feeling, whether it be happiness, sadness, anger, or whatever, it brings me comfort and joy. Our life here on Earth can be so crazy at times. It is definitely not easy and sometimes it feels as if though you are headed no where. This verse really exhibits how false this idea is! No matter what is going on in your life, you have to remember that this life is only temporary. You are headed somewhere amazing, you just wait and see.

The song “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood really reminds me of this verse. “This is our temporary home, it’s not where we belong; windows and rooms that we’re passing through. This is just a stop on the way to where we’re going. I’m not afraid because I know, this is our temporary home.”

When I think of how happy and blessed I am here in this life, I can only imagine the pure joy and blessings that God has in store for us in heaven. When I feel sad and hopeless, I think of how these feelings will be far from my mind when I reach my eternal home with God. When I hit hard times and roadblocks, I feel motivation in pushing through them and jumping over them to continue onward on my path toward my permanent home.

Everything we face in life, God has placed in front of us for a reason. He has placed these “windows” and “rooms” that we must pass through on our way throughout our lives. Although everyone faces different emotions, struggles, trials, and opportunities, we are all headed to the same place. We all want to reach this eternal resting place with God: heaven.

When we look at both the good things and bad things in our lives as stepping stones, we are more and more likely to reach this goal of heaven. We should view these stepping stones as blessings from God that lead us closer to his amazing gift of eternal life. Although this place is only our temporary home, we should be using this life to glorify God and serve Him and His purpose.

Life is never easy. It is the most crazy whirlwind of ups and downs and side-to-sides; a true roller coaster. But, you gotta enjoy the ride. Enjoy the ups and be thankful for the downs that eventually brings you back up again. Hang on for the side-to-sides. Because in the end, if you just live your life for God, you will reach your final destination, the most amazing destination you could ever imagine. Sure, this life has the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Ireland (I really like Ireland. :)) But our final destination is so much more amazing than this. We are all on this journey, so let’s keep our journey focused on God and see the amazing home He has in store for those who love Him.

God Bless!

<3 Jessica

 

Whoops..

Welp, my last post was December 4th. And what is today? December 13th. My bad.

So, what have I been doing? Well, there are these little things in college called finals. They are not very fun, to put it lightly. So basically, this past week has been super stressful and crazy! But hey, God brought me through it, got all my finals over with, and I am home for the holidays! Now to break out the eggnog, Christmas carols, and napping to celebrate, right!? :)

I’m super grateful to finally be home, especially for such an awesome season! I will be home for about four weeks, and I could not be any more excited! I’m sure the next few weeks will be full of family, hockey, and Christmas spirit! I hope that with all this extra free time, I can spend more time thinking of some awesome posts to put on here and growing in my faith with no school distractions!

I know, really random update post, but hopefully I will be back in the flow of things soon! I will be trying my hardest to get some posts up more regularly over these next few weeks! Enjoy the Christmas Season and God Bless! <3

Jessica