Just a little hope

About two weeks ago I was preparing for my Heart for the House giving. It’s an annual event at my church and while not mandatory – it creates space for everyone to invest a bit more than their usual tithes.

Think about it this way – some can give $1 and some can give $100 – but it’s giving to the heart of our church. Maybe this looks like investing more in community, or putting a downpayment on a building if it becomes available so we don’t have to just rent every Sunday.

Anyway that’s not the point of this post.

The point is, I already knew a number God asked me to give. I’m not amazing and I still struggle to hear God’s voice more than I’d like. But suffice it to say that you usually know it’s God when it’s not something you want to do. Ha.

So I did what I knew He was asking and I didn’t feel strong-armed or worried.

But typical God, He wasn’t done asking me to do something.

Now, truth be told, this year has been one of the worst years of my life. And that story will not be written any time soon, unfortunately. But I’ve really suffered this year and felt crippled to write. So when God asked me to do something else, I was not jazzed about it. This wasn’t just a tithe, or volunteering, or anything I’d happily do. Nope, not Jesus.

Because Jesus, well He asked me to buy a wedding planner.

My friend Polly made this planner and I loved the idea, but obviously I’m single AF and there was no need to buy this anytime soon. Add into this, my past year and the total belly flop my heart and my hope has taken and it’s safe to say I didn’t get this prompt at all. While I want to find love and get married, I really feel like my hope is a really pathetic shriveled raisin.

And yet, it was unmistakable that God wanted me to buy this. Because, well, I didn’t want to.

I’ve put it off for almost two weeks now, but today, on Black Friday, I added that baby to cart and we’ll see. I plan on putting it away in storage, but I want to be faithful in everything God asks me to do. Especially when I don’t want to.

 

God’s Vision For You

Today I was finding myself feeling a little low so I decided to “binge-read” a devotional in the Bible app.

I landed on Kong Hee: God’s Vision For You. I’ve never heard of him but I was open to hearing something new.

His devotional was about Genesis 15 and the relationship between God and Abraham. Two concepts really encouraged me today:

  1. When you feel hopeless in the wait – God will remind you who He is
  2. God remembers every single promise He has made to you

A lot of times I can feel discouraged waiting. There are so many things I feel like are anywhere from 10 years all the way up to 20 years in the waiting in my life that haven’t happened yet. For my mom some prayers or visions for her life are 30 or more years in the waiting. So for me, it feels both comforting to hear that Abraham also got discouraged and frustrating to hear that he waited 75 years. Right?

But God is faithful – even if it seems like He is really really slow.

The Bible says “Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” Genesis 15:1 WEB

Even though it was 75 years, and Abraham had no son. And he felt like he was too old, and that his life had no purpose, the author says it perfectly:

“God reminded Abraham that He cared for him, that He protected him, and that He would reward him!”

Secondly, God realizes Abraham is stuck in what He does not see, and so God shows him something new:

“Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them…So will your offspring be” Genesis 15:5-6 WEB

Today be encouraged that God remembers every promise He has made to you…even if I don’t. Yes, we might be preoccupied with one over the others, but God will always fulfill His promises.

God, you know the ways I am discouraged and feel hopeless..show me my “stars” and remind me that Your ways are uncountable. Thank you that You will fulfill every promise You made, because You never forget. Amen.

Jesscbnyc Recommends: Causebox

I kept seeing this on Pinterest and tucked it away in my memory as something that would be cool to do. I love the idea of buying products that benefit people’s lives and while I know some organizations, I wanted to learn more. So, I finally signed up!

Why I recommend it:

  • Socially conscious brands
  • Learning about new charities/businesses
  • Beautiful packaging
  • Variety of products

causebox

 

First of all how BEAUTIFUL is the shipping box it comes in? I love it! Packaging is a huge plus when buying online and it was such a joy to get it. I’m thinking about recycling it for storage in my room.

 

Here are some of the products I received in the Spring Box:

 

1

 

Altru: Hand sewn “Stay true” Canvas Pennant created by female artisans in India.

Lili Arnold: Be You Print by local CA artist.

 

2

 

THX: Each candle is hand-poured by a young adult with special needs. And the facility helps them learn life-skills and training.

This Bar Saves Lives: Each bar provides a food packet to a hungry child.

 

3

 

Braid: Each purchase helps provide for homeless children.

Sasa Designs: Each purchase provides long term employment and empowerment


 

First Impressions:

Altru: This was the first thing I saw as I opened the box. I love it. I can’t wait to hang it up.

Lili Arnold: I plan to hang this up in my office at work.

THX: I love candles. This one smells great and I kid you not, when I read the lid my heart leapt. My brother is Schizophrenic, and I love that this company provides a service for young adults with special needs.

This Bar Saves Lives: I love this. I like eating Kashi Bars or KIND Bars and I think this serves a better purpose.

Braid: I don’t often spray my linens, but if I wanted to buy Febreeze or something, I would rather purchase this product.

Sasa Designs: I’ve discovered in recent years that my pierced ears do not like metal, so I plan to give these to my mom. I love the idea of supporting a company like this for jewelry if you don’t have allergy issues.

Which product did you like best? Would you use any of these?

To check it out go here.

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

Unfiltered Christian Women

You might have noticed that I updated the tagline here and on my Instagram page. For the longest time I didn’t really know what I wanted it to be. On Instagram it was just my name. On here it was a lyric from a Hillsong tune.

I’ve been trying to work on my overall branding, the look and feel of my pages, and also trying to explain who I am and what I’m here for. It’s sort of a lot of pressure when you think about it!!

As I was answering some questions from a course I purchased online the phrase came to me “Unfiltered Christian Women”. It had to be God because in a moment it was there. And after a few years at this whole writing thing, I had never thought of it before.

So in case you are wondering this is what I’m here for. I want to lead myself as well as the rest of the ladies reading this to be “Unfiltered”. So often when you are labelled as a Christian and a Woman and worse, together a “Christian Woman” so many things can be expected of you. And even more so you can expect a lot of yourself. And to a degree that’s good, but I also think that it’s important to be real about your struggles, experiences, times of blessing and harvest, all of those things. And in my experience there are so many talented people out there, but I think I have something to bring to the table too when it comes to raw honesty and life in general as I navigate my own journey with Christ.

I encourage you to come along for the ride and let me know if there are subjects you’d like me to cover.

xoxo,

Jess

Harvest those seeds

I get a push notification on my phone every day that says:

Your seeds are all ready to be harvested!

Basically I water my “plants” each day to make sure I drink enough water and when they are fully grown plants I can put them in my garden. They produce seeds.

One day I was looking at this pop up differently than normal.

It was like God was telling me, Your seeds are all ready to be harvested.

We all sort of know the basics when it comes to gardening. You get seeds, you put them in soil, and you water them. You might see some small green blades shooting up, then leaves, then all sorts of things. And one day it’s a fully grown plant. And what’s cool about a fully grown plant is..it makes its own seeds.

So today I want you to look at yourself and think, what are your seeds? Gather them up because they are ready to be collected.

Comment below.

Transitions

Have you ever felt like something was on its way? It feels like a combination of excitement and almost fear? Or like you are forgetting something that you wrote down on your calendar but have this funny feeling? I’ve been feeling like something is on the horizon for a little while now.

I’ve come to recognize this as a transition.

The last official time I remember this started was April 27th of this year.

For context, ever since I began volunteering at my church, I stayed planted on the same team. I grew in that team and became a leader of that team. It was something that helped me find community and purpose in church instead of just going to services and leaving. I will always be grateful for being able to create home for people coming to church and for the whole experience.

After doing this for a number of years, there were several months at the end where I felt really burned out in that capacity. I’ll even admit in darker times felt very alone and bitter serving. But there was this feeling of responsibility and obligation. I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to lose my “security” and the place I thought I found to contribute something to the church. To be a good servant for God. And yet, I knew something was changing. And I was scared that it might be me.

I worried that people would be disappointed in me, I worried that no one would care what I did any more because I wasn’t actively volunteering, I worried that I would lose my purpose and drift through Sundays. There were a lot of feelings I had. And yet, officially on April 27th I cut my rope.

It wasn’t this heroic thing. It was more like, God, I don’t feel like I have it in me to continue in this capacity any more. I’m tired. I don’t feel valued. I feel alone. And I wonder if these are just feelings from burnout or if you are changing my heart because I’ve been comfortable here, and it’s time to move on.

And I want to encourage you, in church, in your job, at school, in your relationships, whatever it might be. To realize that sometimes, comfortable isn’t a good thing. It’s ok to change. I’m not saying cut out everyone in your life and be selfish and do your own thing. But I’m saying sometimes, things are meant to be for a season. And God wants you to keep growing.

I find myself relating to Isaiah 42:16 ESV “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”

So here I am, embarking on some new adventures, pushing deeper into some other interests I have in church that surround women and aspects of social justice because I think God has prepared my heart for these things.

I am challenged to look up some stories again in the Bible for accounts where God took people out of their comfort zone because He wanted them to accomplish something else. Please comment below if anything comes to mind!