Winter School

I had the privilege of attending Winter School at Hillsong NYC last week and have tons of great notes and thoughts from Robert and Amanda Ferguson who teach out in Sydney Australia.

One of the things I didn’t account for was on the final night, Robert Ferguson calling on the Holy Spirit.

Now you’re either thinking one of two things:

  1. It’s church, isn’t the Holy Spirit always there?
  2. Oh here we go, this is a charismatic, Assemblies of God thing.

Now let’s be real here. As a Christian I think I’m fairly good when it comes to the Holy Spirit. I like when the Holy Spirit is happy inside of me even when I want to feel sorry for myself some days. I like when the Holy Spirit helps me recall good verses in the Bible at random. I like the Holy Spirit how I like coffee..I’m not a big drinker but I appreciate it every now and then.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit though, for me, it’s really easy to get freaked out.

I feel like I told this story before, so if you have heard it bear with me. I don’t remember how old I was. Younger than 3rd grade I would guess, so about 7 or 8 at the oldest. And I remember that my aunt and uncle were in town visiting. At the time my parents were separated and I remember sitting on the couch in the living room with them, while my mom ran an errand or was outside for some reason. And I remember them trying very hard to teach me how to speak in tongues. I remember as a small child being really confused and almost embarrassed that this was happening. I didn’t get what was happening and I felt like I was disappointing my aunt and uncle somehow by not being able to speak how they spoke.

So that’s my first memory.

Fast forward to about four or five years ago, when I had my next really odd experience with what I still can’t be sure was the Holy Spirit at a gathering outside of my church. I remember being in a dark place, feeling depressed, and raising my hand for prayer. Long story short, I felt this really weird hot dripping egg yoke falling all over my body from my shoulders where strangers’ hands were laid on me to my toes. Once it was over I felt like my entire body was on fire, and sick to my stomach. So sick in fact that I had to leave the gathering before the sermon even started and proceeded to spew my insides all the way to the station where I thought I would be able to take the bus home.

Yay?

So needless to say I still have a hard time with “the Spirit” and “tongues” and all that.

I simultaneously want God to do His thing with the Spirit and am actually scared of what that will feel like.

So I’m at Winter School and Robert is closing the final night in prayer and he prays for the Holy Spirit to come and basically descend on us.

Now it might seem odd to you since hey, I’m a Christian so I should be okay with this, but I start to get sweaty and panicky. I start to think am I going to spew everywhere once it comes? Will I just start babbling? Will I be slain in the Spirit like they show on TV?

Haha. Anyone else?

I recorded both days in the sermon so I don’t remember at what point it hit me, but all of a sudden. Boom.

I kid you not it felt like someone shot me in the heart with a paintball pellet. Like actually it felt like I was hit with something but then it dispersed. Like it cracked open once it hit me. Like a snowball that whacks you in the chest for a second but then falls apart and spreads out.

I don’t know what that means.

It’s not like I started speaking another language or anything at all. I just sort of paused, expecting something weird to happen, but nothing did. Except the feeling that the Holy Spirit punched me in the heart.

I look forward to kind of, figuring out what all of this means in my life. Do you guys have any interesting stories? Am I the only one that is still sort of….anxious about this whole thing? If not, be of good cheer, I’m still sort of bashful about this whole thing too.

 

The Life I See

As I was drifting off to bed last night after a long work day I had two thoughts:

 

  1. I’m missing my #100daycreativechallenge post
  2. I’m feeling delusionally inspired to write a mini manifesto for the life I want

 

I’m equally tired and delirious tonight but not only do I want to write my life manifesto but I also owe myself and the creative challenge a post for today.

 

So here’s what I will write for The Life I see:

I see a life that is filled with laughter and purpose

I see a life that contains a family fully focused on Jesus and His kingdom

I see a life with a family of sons and daughters

I see a life with a  family of adopted sons and daughters

I see a life of writing adventures inspired by God’s faithfulness

I see a life that includes people who are not included

I see a life that is filled with unexpected generosity

I see a life that has a home where anyone is welcome to stay

I see a life that contains travel and conferences and speaking engagements

I see a life that is ever focused on drawing closer to God

I see a life that never forgets its purpose

 

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

Tuesday Inspiration 1.13.15

Ezekiel 34:11-16 MSG “‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.

I love poetry. I love beautifully written words. When I saw this quote a few weeks ago I pinned it immediately. So often we can see storms and think they are only there to rip us apart, to cause destruction and damage. This small quote reminds me that no matter what the storm can wash us clean. It can soften our rough edges. The ocean waves that crash around us can heal our infected wounds with its salt water. The harsh winds can blow us in a direction we wouldn’t have wandered to on our own. The cyclones can uproot what has been planted in bad soil and force us to replant in better land. You see what I mean?

Job 37: 14-18 MSG...are you listening? Have you noticed all this? Stop in your tracks! Take in God’s miracle-wonders! Do you have any idea how God does it all, how he makes bright lightning from dark storms, How he piles up the cumulus clouds— all these miracle-wonders of a perfect Mind?

I love this verse because it reinforces the idea of our perspective in storms vs. God’s. We see a dark storm. He sees bright lightening. Light in the darkness. One of my favorite quotes in literature is about water. While I don’t attribute power or authority to the elements of the world, I do think the message within it is worth investigating:

“I can see you have a great deal of water in your personality. Water never waits. It changes shape and flows around things, and finds the secret paths no one else has thought about — the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of the box. There’s no doubt it’s the most versatile of the five elements. It can wash away earth; it can put out fire; it can wear a piece of metal down and sweep it away. Even wood, which is its natural complement, can’t survive without being nurtured by water. And yet, you haven’t drawn on those strengths in living your life, have you?” – Memoirs of  A Geisha

In other words, God formed us. The same God who can control all of nature and its storms created us. If we are made in His image than we have the same ability to control these storms–to be undaunted by these storms. I desire to be fluid like water. “To change shape and flow around things, and find the secret paths no one else has thought about — the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of the box.” In other words to get through obstacles that no one sees a way out of. We are able to do this as children of God–not in our power but His.

Source undefined. Found on Pinterest.com

Monday Inspiration 1.5.15

Sometimes life can be hard. You want things to work out; you want a job, a spouse, salvation for a loved one, to be cured of an illness, whatever it might be. And often times it’s very hard when tragedy strikes or prayers go unanswered. I love this simple scripture because it puts everything into perspective. This life is fleeting..our life in Christ is eternal. Our God is greater. We can be stronger to face the days ahead when we remember this.

Photo credit: Flickr.com

Friday Inspiration 1.2.15

I’m not feeling well. I’ve had a minor cold the past few weeks and yesterday I spent all day sneezing. Over and over and over. So I hope this post makes sense today! Keep me in your prayers.

It’s officially 2015. I am expectant that many people’s prayers will be answered this year and that many people will come to know Jesus as their savior. I want to continue to be generous with my life, time, and money.

Some steps I’ve taken this year are: sponsoring a child, donating to various efforts like sex trafficking and child hunger, and trying to tithe more consistently.

Acts 20:35 ESV:

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Proverbs 11:24-25 ESV:

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV:

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

What are some steps you can take to be more generous with your life, time, or finances? I challenge myself and whoever is reading this to make 2015 the start of more generous living.

Be blessed.

Be Free

I found this organization after reading a Buzzfeed article. I think it’s a wonderful idea. So often when it comes to New Year’s, we become consumed with what we can do personally to improve our own lives. However, I want to continue to find creative ways to help people. This could be as simple as deciding to buy jewelry or a handbag from this company, sponsoring a child, or donating to a local cause. Mirriam-Webster defines a “resolution” as:

res·o·lu·tion

noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\

: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something

: an answer or solution to something

Since when did a New Year’s resolution become something as shallow as working out more, traveling, treat yourself more, or any of these somewhat trivial things? I encourage us all to become people who challenge ourselves with each new year. What are we doing to improve as Christ-followers? What are we doing to make an impact? What are we doing to improve the lives of others? What are we doing that has lasting success and not just temporary satisfaction?

I think these are worthy challenges and worthy New Year’s resolutions. Challenge yourself to do something more this year…I plan to.

Happy New Year.