Accountability

I’ve realized that I collect a lot of Voice Memos on my iPhone. I like being able to record sermons from church in case any of my friends miss it and also so I can re-listen to messages or playback areas I wasn’t quick enough to take notes on.

One of the downsides to recording everything is that I’ve amassed so many that I’ve gotten a little lazy with the whole, taking notes from them, part.

During Colour I purchased a new notebook, even though I have a lot, and last month I got to thinking. I can use this book as an accountability tool to make sure that I am going through all my recordings and taking out the best notes from them.

What’s something you can do today to keep yourself accountable?

Enlarge Your Tent

Hey friends,

I’m not 100% ready to share full context yet, but early this morning, way before my alarm, I woke up ready to start a task. As I got up to do it, I felt like God said to me. Stop. I want to tell you something. And I felt like he wanted me to read something in the Bible. I had that sense within me. I wondered, okay, what should I read? And for a brief second I heard nothing. Then Isaiah 54 popped into my mind. Trust me this doesn’t always happen. Lol.

This part stuck out to me differently today:

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.

I feel like God told me this morning – that I’m the blacksmith. May is already a new chapter for me, unexpectedly, and although I have peace I’m still like – hey, I’m not prepared to enlarge my tent again!

Just wanted to share this moment because God spoke to me this morning, and I hope it encourages you in whatever season you find yourself in.

💖 Jess

Feelings aren’t facts

I remember someone told me this once and it stuck with me: Feelings aren’t facts. As someone who relies a lot on my gut instinct and emotions. This can be a little off-putting. But I think, especially when it comes to feelings, we can allow ourselves to be beaten down by negative self-talk and the perception that we aren’t enough. Here are some quick examples that I’ve thought just in the past year:

You might feel like you’re a failure, but fact: You aren’t.

You might feel like you are ugly, but fact: You aren’t.

You might feel like you can’t do anything right, but fact: You are smarter than you think.

I was washing my face or brushing my teeth the other day, all I remember is that I was in front of the sink, and I felt like God was reminding me that there were times in my life where I didn’t think I was good enough, and so I cheated on a test here and there, or whatever the case might have been. It wasn’t from a place of shame having done those things, but more like, why do you think so little of yourself? And this is something that you’ve had to fight feeling since you were a little girl.

I still remember being in elementary school and changing one of my answers to what the kid next to me had. I thought my answer was correct, but I felt like the boy next to me was smarter. After I erased and circled the new answer, one of my teachers saw, and said after we turned them all in, I wanted to tell you that you had the right answer the first time around, trust yourself.

I’ve never forgotten that.

Unfortunately I’ve been struggling a bit more than normal the past month thinking about how my Instagram page isn’t as popular as other women in my vertical.  Vertical is an advertising term. It’s when you’re in the same industry, you are appealing to the same audience, and it can often creep up on you because you feel like, why am I not as successful? Am I adding value to the market here? It can be a killer to the self-esteem and perseverance you need when you are attempting to build your dreams.

I decided to do something a little silly the other day. I’m so used to analyzing reports for clients in the advertising world and I decided to put my own worries about being “popular” or “important” to the test.

I pulled up three accounts that I felt like were really killing it when it came to my life as a Christian blogger. I looked through their profile and tried to find the lowest likes they got on average and rounded them up or down. Then I took that number and how many followers they had to see what their engagement was like and I have to say I was surprised.

  1. Lowest likes: 600 Followers: 26,400 = 2.27%
  2. Lowest likes: 650 Followers: 16,600 = 3.92%
  3. Lowest likes: 500 Followers: 8,400 = 5.95%

 

Me: On my lowest day the average “likes” are around 60.

If you take 60 and my current following of 611. 60 is 9.8% of 611.

Okay so maybe that’s a fluke right? Let’s see if I do the reverse with highest likes:

  1. Highest likes: 900 Followers: 26,400 = 3.41%
  2. Highest likes: 750 Followers: 16,600 = 4.52%
  3. Highest likes: 650 Followers: 8,400 = 7.73%

Me: On my highest day the average “likes” are around 100.

If you take 100 and my current following of 611. 100 is 16.37% of 611.

Like are you shocked? I’m still shocked. My feelings are still telling me: no one cares what you are writing. You’ve been doing this for years and no one seems to be following you. What’s the point when you aren’t doing as well as everyone else? Your style doesn’t seem that great. Where’s your awesome selfies? LOL. You know what I mean?

And yet, my feelings, are clearly not the facts.

I didn’t do this to make myself out to be the winner compared to these profiles that are KILLING it. I did it out of curiosity because too many times I’ve asked myself: It seems like everyone has tons of likes and followers. Am I a loser?

If you’ve ever felt the way I have and you want to reach other Christian women, let’s remind ourselves that we’re occupying our space. We matter. We’re making a difference. The people who are liking our photos and reading our captions matter.

Also just for fun, I did a bit of googling and created this graphic in Easil:

Potential Impact.png

 

It keeps everything in perspective because there are plenty of women to reach, plenty of people to reach, in just the USA alone.

This has helped me keep any negative feelings in perspective!

Comment below so I can hear what you think!


Tools Used:

It seems like everyone has tons of likes. Am I a loser?

https://percentagecalculator.net/

How many women are Christians in the US? (The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study)

http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/gender-composition/women/

How many Christians in the US? (This ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll)

http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90356

How many women are there in the US? (Census is every 10 years)

https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf

7 Months Ago

I wrote these verses down 7 months ago and they have been in my drafts since then. Well today is this little draft’s lucky day:

When I took an Evening College course through my church I learned that the purpose of 1 and 2 Chronicles is to retell the past to inspire hope in the present.

I could just sit under that alone. Couldn’t you.

Sometimes we need to remember the past, and how we survived events in our life so that we can look to the present and future with hope.

If God was good then, He will be good now. Amen?

Below were the two verses I was thinking about 7 months ago:

1 Chronicles 10 (MSG)

13-14 Saul died in disobedience, disobedient to God. He didn’t obey God’s words. Instead of praying, he went to a witch to seek guidance. Because he didn’t go to God for help, God took his life and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

1 Chronicles 16(MSG)

That was the day that David inaugurated regular worship of praise to God, led by Asaph and his company.

8-19 Thank God! Call out his Name!
    Tell the whole world who he is and what he’s done!
Sing to him! Play songs for him!
    Broadcast all his wonders!
Revel in his holy Name,
    God-seekers, be jubilant!
Study God and his strength,
    seek his presence day and night;
Remember all the wonders he performed,
    the miracles and judgments that came out of his mouth.
Seed of Israel his servant!
    Children of Jacob, his first choice!
He is God, our God;
    wherever you go you come on his judgments and decisions.
He keeps his commitments across thousands
    of generations, the covenant he commanded,
The same one he made with Abraham,
    the very one he swore to Isaac;
He posted it in big block letters to Jacob,
    this eternal covenant with Israel:
“I give you the land of Canaan,
    this is your inheritance;
Even though you’re not much to look at,
    a few straggling strangers.”

20-22 They wandered from country to country,
    camped out in one kingdom after another;
But he didn’t let anyone push them around,
    he stood up for them against bully-kings:
“Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones,
    don’t lay a hand on my prophets.”

23-27 Sing to God, everyone and everything!
    Get out his salvation news every day!
Publish his glory among the godless nations,
    his wonders to all races and religions.
And why? Because God is great—well worth praising!
    No god or goddess comes close in honor.
All the popular gods are stuff and nonsense,
    but God made the cosmos!
Splendor and majesty flow out of him,
    strength and joy fill his place.

28-29 Shout Bravo! to God, families of the peoples,
    in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo!
Shout Bravo! to his famous Name,
    lift high an offering and enter his presence!
Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness!

30-33 God is serious business, take him seriously;
    he’s put the earth in place and it’s not moving.
So let Heaven rejoice, let Earth be jubilant,
    and pass the word among the nations, “God reigns!”
Let Ocean, all teeming with life, bellow,
    let Field and all its creatures shake the rafters;
Then the trees in the forest will add their applause
    to all who are pleased and present before God
    —he’s on his way to set things right!

34-36 Give thanks to God—he is good
    and his love never quits.
Say, “Save us, Savior God,
    round us up and get us out of these godless places,
So we can give thanks to your holy Name,
    and bask in your life of praise.”
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.

Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”

The takeaways I got, and was also challenged by were:

  • Because he didn’t go to God for help
  • inaugurated regular worship of praise to God
  • Remember all the wonders he performed

 

Sometimes I can forget what God has done. Not in a serious way, but just like, life gets busy. I never want to forget. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I don’t want to forget all that God has done for me, or feel deceived into thinking God does great things for others and I’m not his favorite.

You’re setting yourself up for a fall if you get into this way of thinking, trust me, I’ve been there.

Instead we need to always regularly worship and praise God no matter the season, remember all the wonders that he performed. If we don’t do this we risk turning to other things for our success. The first passage warns me that because he (Saul) didn’t go to God for help he forfeited what was rightfully his. Maybe I’m wrong but it sounds like God was blessing him with the kingdom, and instead of trusting God and what God gave him, God trusted someone else with it.

I never want that to happen to me.

God isn’t evil. But God wants you to be a good steward of your gifts and leadership. He doesn’t want you to wander around in the wilderness complaining about God and wanting to return to the garbage life you had before.

Let’s remember it’s all about him. And it will never stop being about him. Lest we forget.

Jesscbnyc Announcement

Hey guys,

I’ve been keeping a secret since November and now it’s official! I will be contributing content for Horacio Printing !!!

For those of you who might now know, Horacio Printing makes awesome planners that help you organize your life. Sometimes life can deteriorate your plans and dreams and this planner is crucial to make sure that you are cultivating the calling and dreams in your life.

The good news is I will be blogging here and there so nothing is changing. Feel free to subscribe or keep an eye on on the Horacio Blog here.

horacio

 

Also the planner has been such a huge success that the 2016 version has already sold out!!! But I have some news. There will be a limited re-release of planners for those who missed out on the first run.

Simply go to this link and enter the promo code “preorder” for a 20% off savings!

xoxo,

Jess

More than a number

Today was pretty discouraging. A few of my co-workers are banding together to help one another…get this…acquire more Instagram followers.

 

Wow.

 

Haha. I almost couldn’t believe it. So often people compare their own and other people’s popularity and if you have a low following, it’s almost laughable to today’s generation.

 

I have to admit a small part of me felt small during this conversation. Whether it’s a personal page or a professional page, you can often feel like no one notices you, values what you are doing, or listens to what you have to say. But ultimately our society values a lot of things that are fleeting or unhealthy and do not reflect true value and importance.

 

Let us remember that we have access to a God who knows the number of hairs on our head and does not care about the number of likes on our latest picture.

Christ Before Me, Christ Behind Me

The past few weeks have been, challenging.

So much good is in my life and yet equally we can all agree that there will always be something trying to pull you down.

Let me paint a picture for you.

I volunteer at Hillsong NYC as one of the leaders for Venue Design. This means all the signage, seasonal decor, etc is set up every week and broken down every week to make the venues we occupy feel more like home. We’ve been using this long poster box to house promotional materials, but if you know anything about the boxes shopping items come in, sometimes the weight of what you are carrying was not meant to hold all that is inside.

Hello.

But that’s a whole other sermon am I right?

The point is I saw someone try to lift that weight today and the box crumbled. Papers were everywhere and crumpled, and although the ideal thing would be to have a stronger box, sometimes you have to work with what you have.I explained the situation earlier today to my mom by saying “it’s like trying to carry a brick in a tissue box”.

That’s how it has been internally for my family the past few weeks.

For those of you who might be new to my blog and life journey, my older brother is schizophrenic. He has a kind, often simple spirit and is often mistaken for my little brother because of his temperament. When he was 21 he was diagnosed after a paranoid episode that he had never experienced before. They say mental illness strikes at that age if it is going to strike at all in a person’s life.

I both love my brother and feel like I do not know my brother.

These few weeks have reminded me of that very point.

Schizophrenia is often misunderstood in the media because so often you see people with mental illnesses villainized. Not every person is going to go totally off the deep end or endanger their life or other people’s lives. For my brother it is a matter of failing to identify fantasy or imagination from reality. It’s a confusion where he currently does not believe that our birth mother is our actual mother, it is a situation where he believes he is actually a hero in a video game he is currently playing. It’s a kind of imagination that you cannot always escape from.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Inception it reminds me of that. You go deeper and deeper into levels of dreams and after a while you feel like you can’t wake yourself up.

Some days its hard to cope with. I know I cannot save my brother. I know that he has a life ahead of him in Heaven of total health and to God be the glory for that. I am grateful that this is a promise we as a family can look forward to. However there are real human realities that you deal with as well. Sometimes that just feels like giving up. Sometimes that just feels tormented by the lies of the enemy. Sometimes you wonder why God hasn’t healed your brother. All of these things are acceptable to feel. But I was reminded at church today that my circumstances do not need to alter my convictions. My conviction is that God is good and loves my brother and while his mind might betray him our God never will.

God is behind me. God is before me.

God is likewise behind you and before you.

Let our hearts not grow weary. God is good and the things today on Earth will not hold us. We have eternity of joy as our future.

Don’t Make Enemies of Friends

The title of my post today is completely credited to the teacher of the Evening College course at Hillsong NYC. Nathan said this one thing and it’s stuck with me. I don’t believe that’s by accident. We all at one point or another look at one body of Christ or Christian and disapprove of their behavior. We might disagree with the way they look or do church, or their gifts, or the fact that they do not do something we do. The possibilities are endless really.

I wasn’t planning on posting today but I awoke from an afternoon nap today and saw that there was somewhat of a social media battle online.

I like social media.

I also don’t like social media.

It’s this weird tension where I love the cool things and the breadth of reach you get from it, but I also don’t like the faceless hate and criticism that people use it for.

The point is, I saw a friend of mine made it into a public volunteer church photo today. And in the midst of the innocent and expected shout outs to her Instagram handle to let her know she was in the photo…there was one, still small voice. And it was judging the posture of what it appeared like she was doing in the photo.

Now in church, I’ve heard the pastors mention sometimes the level of bullying and hate they see on our official pages and personal pages. It really ranges depending on the day. Sometimes it’s an attack on physical appearance and sometimes it’s an accusation about their character and if our church is a cult.

The sad part to me in reading this back and forth conversation today is twofold:

  1. Seeing the girl explain herself in the photo i.e. the timing and angle of the snapshot and the accuser’s total disregard for that explanation.
  2. Seeing members of our church try to explain that we need not worry about what it looks like to the accuser. And see where along the way the tone could be misread and seen as mocking or mob mentality i.e. some ganging up on one.

The sad thing is, both sides are Christians. Now I can’t read hearts like Jesus can, but I am giving the person I do not know from church the benefit of the doubt.

I think at times like this we need to be careful what conclusions or judgements we make towards brothers and sisters in Christ.

These were my initial thoughts and I hope they serve as a reminder for me and for you, my sweet friends:

  1. Assume the best in people, not the worst.
  2. Realize that in judging another Christian in a public way, it makes non-believers feel like they are already out of the game. If you have no grace for your Christian family, why would an outsider think you would have any for them?
  3. As humans we do not know someone’s heart. Yes we can see one sound byte online or a photo that could be misinterpreted, but ultimately if someone explains themselves I believe we owe it to that person to accept it. We are called to love God and love people and the judgement is left for God. He has motive X-ray vision, He has heart night-vision goggles.
  4. Be mindful of how you could be misinterpreted in a quick online post. If you feel that you explained yourself in grace and your conscience is clear, let your reply stand, don’t go back and forth with them in an argument.
  5. Matthew 18 doesn’t always get used in an online forum but it should:

15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

If you are attacked online by another Christian I think you have two choices: to ignore it, or to respond Biblically to it. I fully believe that you can try to diffuse a situation by explaining yourself truthfully. If that is not received, I don’t think you need to take the rest of the scripture and spin it out of control. What I mean is you don’t go and talk trash to your other friends and have them gang up on that one person. I’m saying you can rely on their counsel and be at peace that they will tell you if you were wrong or to let the drama go. If a friend or pastor feels like at that point its ok to stand up in truth and defend you as well that’s ok too, but I think the mistake is turning one bad comment into a debate. It’s not a good look for anyone.

I’m not perfect. None of us will ever fully understand God or people on this Earth. We are only human and our thoughts are not high like God’s thoughts. There are still times when I wonder if someone is truly a believer because of their behavior. We all can feel justified to “fruit inspect”. I do think there’s a way to be respectful and concerned for someone instead of picking up their fruit and throwing it back at them.

It reminds me of that scene in Wizard of Oz. If you don’t know it here’s an excerpt:

Dorothy
Oh, apples! Oh – look! Oh!
Ouch!
Tree
What do you think you’re doing?
Dorothy
We’ve been walking a long way, and I was hungry and – did you say
– something?
First Tree
She was hungry!
Second Tree
She was hungry!
First Tree
Well, how would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?
Dorothy
Oh dear! I keep forgetting I’m not in Kansas.
Scarecrow
Come along, Dorothy – you don’t want any of those apples. Hmm!
First Tree
Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?
Scarecrow
Oh, no! It’s just that she doesn’t like little green worms!

I think a lot of times we can be any of these three people.

We can be Dorothy. We saw an apple, a Christian, and were surprised that they scolded us. You thought we were all on the same journey and the same “team”, team Jesus.

We can be the Tree. Offended that we are being questioned. Defensive.

Or we can be the Scarecrow. We can be somewhat of the instigator. You don’t want to associate with THOSE apples. Or you’re one of THOSE Christians. Oh your picture isn’t honoring God. You should know what kind of person THAT is. Etc etc.

All of this to say, let’s just be kind to each other. None of us have this all figured out. We’re at different stages in our walk with God. We’re learning Biblical lessons at different times. We are getting revelations from God at different times. We are changed but we are changing still.

Have grace.

Commitment to God provokes persecution

Matthew 5 (MSG)

You’re Blessed

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

I’ve been struggling with a co-worker. This person over the past two months has gotten progressively more and more antagonistic towards me. I don’t know what to do about it other than to turn the other cheek as best I can and to bring it up to my boss when it has crossed a professional line.

This person sits right next to me which means I have a front row seat to various accusations and insults.

Over the past month these are some things that I have been told:

  • You look fatter
  • You are trying to play democratic games in the office
  • You are prejudice towards this client because they are from the same country as me
  • You are “Mother Mary”
  • Your college isn’t that great
  • You need to learn how to obey what I say
  • You are siding with this dept just by delegating internal work
  • You are trying to get me in trouble

All of these things are false and after speaking about this to my family and friends, I am reminded that sometimes just being a Christian makes people hate you. Being good at your job makes people hate you. Being sure of who you are makes people hate you.

It’s disheartening to know that this person speaks the above lies. It’s not even the fact that they are lies that hurt. It’s more of, hey, I’m trying to do my job, and so are you. Why do you have to be so spiteful? Why am I so interesting to you that you need to make up reasons to try to start an argument with me?

I don’t post this for attention. I’m posting this as a reminder, that sometimes we forget that this is the world we live in. As Christians you are looked at like dirt, like a clown, like a total fool. Sometimes even as a women you can be looked at as if you are drama, or not truthful. I’ve experienced all of these things and they have brought a heaviness to my heart some days. I listen to an entire worship CD every day on my way to work. I meditate and pray on my commute. I cling to God because my patience is thin for these attacks. I trust God.

But it can also be exhausting to continue to fortify yourself in the midst. Or to hear the buzzing of these “bees” around you. Sometimes its not the words themselves, its just the irritation of being stung over and over.

If you are experiencing something like this in your work or at home fill in your name below and be of good cheer. I am with you. God is with you.

Mine:

Not only that—Jessica is blessed every time people put her down or throw her out or speak lies about her to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. Jessica can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you, Jessica are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

For you:

Not only that—____ is blessed every time people put ___ down or throw ___ out or speak lies about ___ to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. ___ can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that ___ are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

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