Speak We’re Listening

This morning I was on my way to a hair appointment before work. I went to Starbucks and got a coffee as a treat for getting up so early and realized I didn’t have any money in my purse to tip the stylist. I looked up the closest bank in the area and headed off. On my way there I noticed a young homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. I see at least 2-3 homeless people each day. Most of the time, if I’m honest, it makes me feel uncomfortable because I want to do something. If money wasn’t an issue I would give money every day if I could, but I know that’s crazy. I also have grown up outside NYC and you’re almost conditioned to assume that homeless people will use the money for drugs or alcohol. Most of the time I walk by, smile at them, and say a prayer. That’s all. And sometimes I feel guilty about it. Like I’m not a good Christian because I’m seeing a need and not doing anything.

Today was different.

As I got my money, and walked past him again I felt compelled. His sign said that today was his 28th birthday. Wow. It’s his birthday today. I’m passing a homeless person on their birthday. At this point I needed to be at my appointment and I couldn’t focus. I’m sitting there, grateful to be getting my hair styled, but I kept thinking about this guy. Should I get him a card? Should I get him a balloon? At one point the stylist asked me “Is everything ok?” I guess I looked like I was deep in thought or wrestling with something.

As my hair was being finished I made up my mind. I’m going to get him a birthday card. I’m going to give him the other $20 I took out of the bank.

I wish I could say that was it easy. That people surrounded me after delivering the card and told me how awesome I was. Haha. But I still felt my heart beating super fast the entire time. I felt nervous. I felt kind of stupid. I felt worried that I would buy this card and walk back there and he would be gone.

I heard a voice say that he would still be there. So I went to a CVS. I bought a card. I bought a pack of pens I didn’t really need but I needed something to write with. Of course there was no pen in my purse today. I walked to Bryant Park and I sat down.

I wrote Ephesians 3:20 in his card. I said the best was yet to come. I said I saw him earlier and knew I needed to come back. I licked the envelope and closed it.

How would he react? How would the people around me react?

It was pretty casual after all was said in done. I said “Hello”. He didn’t notice at first that I was talking to him. I said “I got this for you” and reached into my bag and presented the envelope that I wrote “Happy Birthday” on with a green pen. He smiled and said “Awesome thank you.” And I walked to work.

I felt pretty happy that I followed through. I felt pleased with myself that I didn’t chicken out. I think there are times where you’re not sure if God is talking to you. You want to hear God’s voice but sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s yours instead. Today I think God spoke to me. I could have ignored it. I could have felt like I was only doing this for attention or to feel good about myself. The enemy could have succeeded in making me feel like this was for my own self-gratification. But instead, I just stepped out, shyly, and gave God’s child a birthday card. I gave him encouragement. I wrote the information for my church’s Sunday service at Best Buy with the times in case he wants to go. And that was my piece of the puzzle today.

I’m not special. This doesn’t deserve any praise. I am merely sharing because this is something small that anyone can do. If you feel nervous and scared when an idea pops into your head, if you feel convicted, I’m fairly certainly that’s God. I recognize that feeling. I’ve had it a handful of times. It’s like when people feel like they need to raise their hand to accept Jesus. Or when the preacher’s message sounds like it’s directly being spoken to you.

I encourage you to ask God to speak to you today. I’m sure He has plenty to say.

Yes

When I saw this image on Pinterest I was intrigued. Where did it come from? Thanks to the power of Google, I discovered this is from Max Lucado. If you are interested: you can read an excerpt here.

I like this simple but powerful paragraph that answers any of today’s questions. You might be struggling in one way or another. I know I am. But like Max Lucado says, yes, God is with us, our sins are forgiven, our names are written in Heaven.

It helps us breathe.

Image found on: Found on mynamewrittenonhishands.tumblr.com

Alive

I remember hearing a story Joyce Meyer told about how back in the day she used to live as if she had no money. There would be a section of the grocery store full of rejected canned food. Most didn’t have labels. Most were dented. But because they were cheap she bought them. God opened her eyes to this one day when she opened a can of food at her home to eat or prepare and it was animal food.

I remember hearing this and feeling sad for her. Why would you choose to live this way when you don’t have to? Some people don’t have a choice. Some people live in countries where food is scarce. But she wasn’t living under the freedom of her Father’s provision. She was devaluing herself. She was scraping the bottom of a barrel that God didn’t ask her to.

I think this is a picture of how all of us can be. At a class I am taking at church one girl shared that growing up she had very bad acne. Nothing worked. She often thought about getting a facial to see if it would make a difference but always convinced herself it wasn’t worth the price. In essence, her painful acne, her unhappiness, wasn’t worth the price. Now, I’m not saying treat yourself to luxury all the time. I’m not saying rack up your credit cards just because you want something or feel entitled to something. I’m saying, often as women, we tend to devalue ourselves. Our spouse or boyfriend or kids come before us, our job comes before our health, our bills come before us, etc etc etc. And I don’t believe God sent His son to die for our freedom believing that we would continue to act enslaved.

I remember going through about a year of really unhealthy treatment to myself–by my own hand. I wanted so badly to get our of credit card debt that I skimped on groceries and anything else I deemed unnecessary. It’s a worthy sacrifice right? It’s just temporary. But nothing is worth more than your health and well-being. I’m still in credit card debt but I know God will help me. I’d rather treat myself well and even get a new shirt once in a while than be making myself sick with a back-breaking budget. Ultimately I want to live in the freedom of knowing God will provide all my needs. I’m doing the best I can, and I can’t carry the weight of life and bills all on my own. If God’s yoke is easy, I need to live in that revelation.

I encourage you to look at areas where you are not treating yourself well. Where, dare I say, you are still used to being a dead thing, and that you may need to remind yourself today, and every day, that in Christ you are alive. Why do we allow ourselves to behave as if we are a dead thing? That we don’t need to eat healthy because that debt disappearing is more important, we don’t need to get that canned veggie because we can get a mystery can of God knows what because it’s a few cents less. I mean really? We don’t need to live like this. We need to love ourselves. We need to love God. We need to love others. And we can’t do this if we aren’t behaving like we are truly…alive.

Amen?

[SHOUTOUT] – She Reads Truth

For those of you who don’t know, SheReadsTruth.com is pure gold. I follow them on Instagram and I just ordered their Women in the Word book which you can purchase here.

I just want to give honor where honor is due and give them a woohoo! I admire what they do and I would highly recommend their daily devo going on right now.

Today’s devotion was on Leah. Click here to read it for yourself.

Here are the main points I got from it today:

Who hasn’t felt overlooked, unneeded or simply unloved?

  • If you can’t relate..BLESS YOU. But I just cried myself to sleep last night. Out of the blue feelings of lost love, loneliness, etc creeped up on me. As a young person in church it can sometimes be really hard to be single. Speaking candidly I attend Hillsong church in NYC.

1. People in NYC are beautiful

2. People in Hillsong are beautiful

3. People in Hillsong NYC have jobs in modeling, acting, dancing, film production, writing, Corporate America, etc.

4. Hillsong in general has had a few years of crazy favor and influence in Hollywood and celebrity spheres.

Add these all together and you can often feel that you don’t measure up. I’ve personally felt insecure because of my own sinful comparison but also because it’s been spoken to me. This is in no way bashing my church at all. Church is church. I’ve experienced “discouragement”, “insults”, and “rejection” at all churches in my life. People are sinful, church is for sinners, so add the two together and we’re bound to make up for one dysfunctional “bride” of Christ. I’ve had male peers say my campus of church women isn’t as attractive as the one in Manhattan (I’ll pray for you sirs) and have walked into conversations where people are one-upping each other on social media followers. This is the young, foolish, generation we live in. So in a long-winded way—YES I have felt all of these things. Sometimes, the whammy of all three at the same time.

Her own father found her lacking

  • YES. Enough said.

God sees her as so human sees her

  • 1 Samuel 16:7

Her hunger for love and acceptance was met not by a man, but by the steadfast love of her Heavenly Father (Psalm 63:3)

Now go forth and read this truth!

Declaration for 2015

So there’s still 9 months to go in 2015 but I want to accept a challenge that was laid out by Rick Warren in the Bible Plan I am reading called “God’s Dream for Your Life”.

Three benefits of telling others about your dream:

1. It gets you started. Once you’ve announced it, you’re accountable to try and get moving.

2. It attracts other people’s support. The moment I stated my dream, other people wanted to get in on it. A dream from God will attract people that you don’t even know yet to help you.

3. It releases God’s power. Because of your faith, you step out of the boat and start walking on water. God will hold you up!

My declaration:

On November 11th 2013 I started this blog. I announced it. I posted. Most of my nearly 200 followers are complete strangers. That in itself is wild. I don’t even have 200 real life friends people! I am so grateful for the transformation that has occurred in me during that time. In a lot of ways I started broken and discouraged and now I am healthy and encouraged! I have a physical timeline of posts where I can revisit old Jess and the raw experiences she had, and compare it to the current Jess who has survived those experiences.

(As I was getting ready to type out my new declaration my WordPress crashed. Luckily my last session which was unsaved mind you came back, but this is an affirmation that this is the right day to declare what I want to see, and that the Enemy does not like declarations!)

1. My dream is to be a powerful speaker. As a girl I would write and illustrate my own books with crayons. As a school girl I used to write poetry and stories. In college I continued to pursue creative writing. It has always been a constant in my life. People have affirmed that I am “real”, that my experiences are powerful and help them. I believe that as insignificant as I often feel, as bitter as I have sometimes felt because of the things I have experienced, that God has purposed me and designed me, and I will reach many people, especially women with my words; both spoken and written. I declare God’s favor and truth over my life and my blog. I invite the Holy Spirit to send people who need encouragement my way. I leave it up to God to grace me with women who have yet to start their own blogs to be encouraged by me and participate in Guest Blog Posts on my site. I believe that I will be a voice to my generation. I believe God can use anyone and I want to be that someone.

2. My dream is that other people will see value in what I post and have to say. I pray that I will stay encouraged when people tell me that “the market is over-saturated” with people who are doing the same things as me. God’s word never returns void and even if I am among many, I know that my unique voice and journey is still valid and important and needed.

3. I pray that even when I do not feel bold or important that my simple vision and declaration in this very post will release God’s power as I continue to take ground, post by post and word by word to declare His glory and release His gifts through me.

I think the crazier life gets the more God needs His people to rise up. To not believe the lies from the world or even from fellow Christians that tell them their dreams are too big, or have been carried out already. Let us believe that our God is big enough to carry an eternity of plans, provision, and dreams, and is just waiting for us to believe that He is good enough to trust us to dispense them on His behalf.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Tuesday Inspiration 6.9.15

Found on madbeephoto.com

Life can be exhausting—even in good ways. I am happy in my job, with my blog, in my church, etc but you can also tire out. Just because things are good doesn’t mean they can’t be hard. Work-life balance is challenging at the moment for me and I feel like I have been drifting away from my regular posting which I refuse to do. I just need to refocus, maybe wake up earlier, write tired, all of those things. But on a practical note I want to encourage you all with the following points I’ve read in Scripture this week.

If you feel exhausted remind yourself that:

1. David felt too young, too under-qualified for his job (1 Kings 3:7 MSG) but God used him mightily.

2. Sometimes you just need to give something up. It might be down-time reading a book or watching that show on Netflix but sometimes you need to give something to get something. In Job 37:14 it says “Pause a moment, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does.”

3. Evaluate if the things you are doing are actually beneficial to your life. Sure, you might be taking photos for a hobby, but if that’s at the expense of your true calling maybe you need to take photos less and grow your real gifts/calling. Hebrews 12:1 says “Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back…and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us”. Meaning sure. There are plenty of things I wish I had time to explore i.e. dancing, art, learning guitar or drums, etc. But ultimately I know these are just time-wasters for my own journey. I need to be focusing on writing, speaking, leading, encouraging, and all of the things I have a passion for and know God created me for. I need to be prioritizing my gifts and not squandering them in pursuit of things that aren’t mine to carry. In other words as far as I can tell, I’m not meant to be a worship leader, or a dancer, I can enjoy those things, or appreciate people who do those things, but I need to be a good steward of my time and resources for the particular calling I have. And let those with the dance or worship calling carry that out.

So beautiful girl reading this..handsome boy, we can do hard things. We were created to do hard things. We were created to carry our own creative crosses and walk out the missions we are given. Sure, in a face-paced creative world, do we all sometimes feel that we need to improve our Instagram game? Or sign up for Snapchat or learn how to play that instrument that everyone seems to be playing on YouTube? Yeah, but ultimately we’re not all meant to be that triple-threat where we can do it all. The Trinity is my triple threat. I just have to play my small part. And so do you.

Much love,

Jess

Prayer Request

I could really use some prayer. My dad is…less than enjoyable. Has been my whole life really. He has a past of drug and alcohol use and for much of my life my mom has been in and out of work. She has had a few surgeries and has been without work for almost two years. Tonight my parents once again have gotten into a massive fight but this time he said something along the lines of infidelity. Trust me when I say that we would have been gone ages ago if it were not for finances-–I cannot support my mom by paying 100% for an apartment, commuting to work, student loans, and all the other necessary bills. I’m just, once again feeling trapped, and wondering why nothing changes and we’re forced to be in an environment of complete dysfunction and verbal abuse. I know God is always there, but I’m just allowing myself to be vulnerable and say that once again I’m just at wits end. Considering we have so much family no one ever bothers to help–so that’s not a possibility.

Would appreciate some encouragement and prayers on this one.