Ready and Waiting


 Have you ever been at a point in your faith with God when you feel SO ready to be at that next major step in life, but God simply hasn’t opened door/allowed you to go there yet? Things like a new relationship or marriage, a new job, whatever. Or, maybe you have been praying on something for YEARS that you know you are called to do (maybe open a small business, become a motivational speaker, whatever), but God hasn’t opened the door yet on those desires either. It is a confusing season, let me tell you. And I happen to be in that very season right now.

This whole idea to write this blog post came to me when I kept hitting ALL the red stop lights today coming home from church. It was driving me crazy. I’m the kind of person who LOVES driving, but also hates traffic. So, when I’m blasting my music in the car, the last thing I want to do is hit multiple stop lights. So when this happened today, I heard God whisper, “this is how you feel right now about your life Jessica. Even though you’re frustrated you’re not where you FEEL ready to be, you are where you are supposed to be. I go before you, and I know what is best for you.” It is funny because God always speaks to me through basic analogies like these. And I really loved the analogy He gave me today.

 I thanked God in that moment for speaking that over me today. Even though I may feel ready for that next step in life, God knows I’m not, or else He would make it clear/open that door. I think back to times where I have been disobedient and did things “my way” simply because I wanted to be in a different spot. These decisions led to a sever lack of peace in my walk with God, and also increased my anxiety. God has a way of making things pretty clear when we are NOT where He wants us, ya know? The best thing to do if you find yourself in that situation is to listen and be obedient to whatever God calls you to. You also have to ask yourself “Is it worth keeping this thing in my life if it is going to harm my relationship with God?”

I just want to encourage us all to keep waiting today, even when it is hard, even when prayers aren’t answered, even when we don’t understand. God promises in His word to direct us on the best possible path for our lives. Our faith really gets tested too when we go through these seasons. Let God make your faith in Him stronger.

Psalms 27:13-14   I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 Isaiah 40:31   but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

The Emptiness of the Party Scene


It’s Halloween weekend! And before you begin read this post, whoever you are, I just want to remind you (or just simply tell you), how crazy Jesus is about you. God desires nothing more than to know you intimately. If you don’t know Him this way, then trust me, He wants you too.

Anyways, onto my post. It’s Halloween weekend, and I know many of us are having fun dressing up and enjoying time with friends. However I also know there are many of people who are in college (or maybe a little younger/older than this time frame), who feel pressure to drink excessive amounts, and make some serious mistakes.

I went to Oregon State University after all, so I know how the whole party scene goes. Oregon State is an amazing school (GO BEAVS), but because it is a large university + in the middle of no where, it’s easy to get bored and wander off into the party scene. That being said, the first two years of my college experience, I made some serious mistakes when I gave in to the pressure of the party scene.

People make the party scene seem super desirable, when all it does is leave you empty. I remember going to party after party, getting super drunk + hooking up with boys, telling myself eventually “this would satisfy.” And you know what? It never did. Each time, I knew deep down within my heart that I was filling a void in my heart that was meant solely for Jesus. I was searching for something meaningful in all the wrong places.

However, I get it. When you’re immersed in this party culture, it’s easy to think “what else is there to do but get drunk?” But the TRUTH is, there are plenty of fun things to do than don’t leave you with major regrets the next day. Things like: having a costume party, drinking lots of cider + eating all the candy with your friends, hitting up the corn maze, dancing all night, the list goes on…the point? God isn’t boring. He sure as heck is going to give you people to do fun things with if you just step into that trust zone with Him.

I also think if you’re in this spot where you’re thinking “well, what else but partying?” then it is important to check your community. Who are the people you’re spending the most time with? I know that one of the main reasons leaving this scene was hard + confusing was because the people I was surrounding myself with were not followers of Christ and genuinely loved getting super wasted and making bad decisions. It was a lifestyle for them. As soon as my Thursday afternoon class was over, I was getting asked to shot gun a beer with all my sorority sisters. When I talked relationships with these friends, girls expressed caution if a guy didn’t want to sleep with them the first month of dating. The point? It’s going to be really hard to maneuver away from this scene + also discover fun things to do other than partying if you don’t begin to intentionally surround yourself with people NOT immersing themselves in this culture. For me, Young Life was my way out. I met plenty of Christian friends there.

I hope you know that this post isn’t intended to bash someone like you who could be trapped in this scene. This post is written out of love, knowing how depressed and hopeless I was in this scene. My deepest desire is for someone to read this who is trapped in this scene, and for God to begin to do a work in their heart.

Please also know that if you made some mistakes, there is always grace for you. When you simply confess your mistakes to God, He forgives you right then and there. There is no sin that God won’t forgive, sister, and you are crazy loved by Jesus no matter what you do. I encourage you to get real with God and begin to press into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ if you haven’t already. He didn’t just drag you to this post for any reason. :)


When you believe in God but He feels distant

For the first 20 years of my life, I believed in God, but he seemed distant, and I didn't understand why. This really affected the way that I thought about Jesus and who He was. Now, seven years later after walking with Christ and knowing Him as an INTIMATE God, I have some tips I want to share with anyone who is struggling with believing in God but also feeling really distant from Him at the same time.

1) One way to know God more intimately is getting into a regular habit of confessing your sin to Him.

God loves us unconditionally and there is NO SIN too big for God, but the only way to keep that sin from weighing us down and from knowing God intimately is by confessing our sin to Him. This becomes especially apparent when we have sin in our life that is not a part of God's plan for our lives. For example, I used to have sex and get drunk regularly before pursuing God relationally, which are obviously lifestyle habits that do not reflect a Christian lifestyle. This resulted in feeling incredibly distant from Jesus. For others, the sin that we struggle with looks different. Some of us just need to confess our basic pride to the Lord, or selfishness. Regardless, when I wasn't confessing any of my sin to the Lord, it affected everything about me and the way I saw Christ. It also put a barrier between me and my God. It was almost like I was saying to God "You dying on the cross isn't relevant to me because I am a perfect person." Today, I try to be in a habit of acknowledging the sin in my life that could potentially be harming my walk with Christ. I'm not perfect by ANY means, but I am aware of the sin that can so easily trip us all up SO quickly! (Hebrews 12:1).

2) Another way to know God intimately is by realizing that He wants to be your BEST FRIEND!

It may sound cheesy but it is so incredibly true, and this was MAJOR for me. I grew up in really legalistic church that was focused on rules. They never once talked about the relationship aspect of walking with Christ. Now after walking with Christ for so long, this makes me sad because I have learned that having a relationship with Him is what it is all about! In the Bible, Jesus talks about how He wants to know us as FRIENDS (John 15:15)! God is Holy YES, but God also sent His son Jesus so that we could become best friends with the God of the universe. This is seriously the best news ever and I'll be talking about it until God sends me home to Him. If you don't think of God as your best friend, then you have it wrong. God wants to know you in that way and I would start praying for Him to make Himself known to you in that way.


3) Finally, one key way to making your relationship with God less distant is to be in a constant conversation with God! 

Many Christians think of prayer as something you only do over the dinner table or at funerals. This is so far from the truth. Although those are wonderful +necessary times to engage in prayer, I believe that God sees prayer as more of an on-going conversation. For example, I pray to God about EVERYTHING! I talk to Him about my day, tell Him I think He's amazing, ask Him if it is REALLY worth it to buy that extra shirt at TJ MAXX...everything! This on-going conversation that I have with God has really made God feel more near. It has allowed me to see God as a God who wants to be involved in every aspect of my life, and not just the big moments. The Bible even says so in Psalm 37:23!

Alright friends, that is all. I hope this post encourages you. May God bless you moving forward! 




For the past week, I've been listening to the song "Mercy" by Amanda Cook over and over again. 

I can't get it out of my ahead. I can't stop playing it in the car, at work, everywhere.

This song gives me so much hope, because it reminds me of the kind of God we serve. A God of mercy. It is truly the mercy of Jesus Christ that got me where I am today. Mercy in the dictionary is defined as: "compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

I think back to all the mistakes I made before I was following Jesus. Of course I still make mistakes today, but I'm talking about back when I was intentionally sinning against the Lord and doing whatever the heck I wanted without Christ in my life. I made so many stupid choices, some of which I truly wish I could go back and erase...but that is the thing, God has erased my mistakes from His memory. The second I repented, God forgot them. Of course this is hard to fully understand at the human level, which is why scripture is so important to know and understand.

The Psalmist declared, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

So thank you Jesus, for your mercy. I know I'll be needing it all of my days, but I cannot thank you enough for delivering me from the person I used to be. I was a train-wreck without your mercy. You delight in showing mercy Jesus, it is amazing.

When God speaks..


I'll never forget the day when I heard the audible voice of God speak into my soul.

It was indescribable. No one around me could have heard it, but I did it. It was the Holy Spirit.
My best friend asked me: "Jessica, what do you think of when you think of Jesus?"

I looked at her, not really sure of what to say. Then, at that exact moment, God spoke into my soul:

"Jessica....You have run from me for so long. I love you. Please come back to me."

My heart nearly exploded. I had no words. God, the creator of the universe just spoke into my soul and told me He loved me. He had probably tried to reach me years before, but this time, being in the desperate place I was in, heard Him so clearly.

In that moment, I had two choices: I could respond to Jesus by choosing to finally accept Him into my heart and begin a relationship with Him, or I could ignore that undeniable voice, and move forward with my life without Jesus. Thankfully, I chose option A. In that moment, I accepted Christ into my heart. I was done living life without the help of God. I was a train wreck, I knew I needed supernatural help. And you know what? That is true for every single one of us. We all need God, whether we admit or not. We ALL have the option to choose Jesus or not. 

That is the beauty of the free will that King Jesus gives us. He does not force us into a relationship with Him. He wants it to be genuine, and from the heart. He wants us to understand our deep need for Him.

As we continue with our Christmas celebrations, I can't help but think of all the people out there who have not yet accepted Christ into their hearts, and are still living their lives apart from King Jesus. I have continued to pray for all of those people in my life that do not know Christ.

I would encourage you this Christmas season to make a list of all the people in your life who do not know Christ. Start with your family, then think of your friend and workplace relationships. Pray for these people everyday. Pray for the powerful love of Jesus to overflow into their heats. Keep inviting them to church. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move!!!! 

"Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." 
Ephesians 6:18

Love you all. 


How Far is Too Far Sexually? Christian Relationships

Hey everyone!

I am so excited to be blogging again! I wanted to share this video with you all. My hope is that it encourages you in some way shape or form. I really just want to let the Spirit lead in this place and let God do His thing. Sexual sin is something that a lot of Christians struggle with, and I want to encourage other Christians in this area. 

:) -Jess

Guest Post: Jess Lane Lusk, An Eternal Romance

Hello there friends! Today I am beyond excited about the story that will be shared. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my friend Shala's wedding in Texas, where I met a lovely girl by the name of Jess, who was Shala's maid of honor. Jess was so sweet, and absolutely gorgeous. But beyond all of that, there was something different about her. She had a certain kind of strength that was undeniable. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was something incredibly unique there. You could just feel the presence of God amidst her. When Jess prayed over Shala before the ceremony, it was honestly one of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard. I remember thinking to myself: "Dang, this girl is on fire for Jesus!"

After connecting with Jess at the wedding, I learned that recently she had experienced a heartbreaking tragedy: her husband Cody had sadly passed away back in January of 2017 from an unexpected fishing accident, leaving her alone with their daughter Abby.  Even though a lot of people in this situation would become bitter and choose not to trust God, Jess is choosing the opposite. She is choosing to trust God in the storm. Something awesome about all of this too is that Jess is a published writer and part of her story has already been published in a book. Jess hopes to write a book of her own one day.

And now, here is Jess's post: prepare to be encouraged beyond words!

Here is Jessica's post, "An Eternal Romance:"

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed more recent posts referring to missing being romanced by my husband.  I have had to really take this to the Lord.  I have had to lay these feelings at the foot of the Cross.  Of course after the death of one’s spouse, or even a breakup or divorce—you’re most likely going to miss the romantic sparks.  The sweet surprises, love notes, flowers, the whispering's of “I Love you”… whatever it is that defined romantic gestures in your relationship.  I know it’s normal.  I know this is a part of grief I have to walk through.  But I also know my personality.  I know if I dwell on this part of my life being lost along with my husband it can create a dark pool of self-pity.  It can create a selfish monster who says, “I deserve that in my life”.  That selfish monster would not make wise decisions.  I don’t have time to not be wise.  Neither do you.  Can I get an Amen?    


Let’s take a moment and really think about our society—All of these dating apps, dozens and dozens of Reality shows designed for finding love, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Blind Date, Married at First Site, Love Connection, Bachelor in Paradise… The list can go on and on.  There is nothing wrong with yearning for love, and seeking love, or watching people go out on a limb to find it—I admit I watch a few of these shows myself.  They can be quite entertaining.  And yes, some really do find love at the end of the show.  

But what if these individuals focused more on an eternal romance rather than an earthly one?  I bet their perspective and satisfactory levels in life would sky rocket.  

Through my current stage of grief I can feel the Lord prompting me to dissect my own heart.  My relationship with him is designed to fulfill ALL my emptiness and longings.  “Lord be enough for me,” I pray daily.  Psalm 107:9 says, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”  Those aren’t just nice words strung together to make a pretty sentence.  It is TRUTH. 

He satisfies, He fills.  

Jesus wants every area of our heart and soul.  He wants to be the One who fills us.  All other fillings will fade away.  Even the great loves of our earthly life.  People will let us down and disappoint us.  We will let people down and disappoint them.  Death parts earthly love.  Death will never ever part the eternal love of Jesus.   

We live in such a dissatisfied culture and generation.  We seem to always be striving for more.  And then when we obtain that ‘more’.  Guess, what?  We want even more.  Singles seem to be in a downward depression because they want to be married.  Married folks aren’t appreciating their spouses and wish they were single.  It’s a never-ending battle of unsatisfactory circumstances from our fleshly perspective. 

Here is some earth-shattering, life changing news—We have the answer to a more than satisfactory life.  His name is Jesus.  And He literally saves souls.  He wants to romance you to depths that your human mind cannot imagine.  He wants to have an intimate relationship with you.  Not a religious one, an intimate one.  This is the place I am at in my walk with the Lord.  I have walked with Him since I was a child.  But there is something about this season of grief that has opened my eyes to new realms of who God really is.  During my marriage I faced seasons of loneliness, and disappointment—as did my husband.  I was a difficult person to be married to, especially in our first year.  Nothing satisfied me.  I wished I knew then what I know now.  The more you allow the Lord to work in you, the more you want to LOVE others with a passion.  Even when life seems to be turned upside down, we can react in love because of the love of Christ living inside us.  

When I get stuck in my selfish, fleshly mind, I begin to fear my future.  I begin to pity my title of widow, and my daughter’s title of fatherless.  I become angry.  I am overcome with deep sorrow.  I yearn for my husband’s strong arms around me in the middle of a long grief filled sleepless night.  But the Lord is drawing my heart to Him in a way that would never be without facing this dreaded earthly pain.  He is bringing my heart, mind and spirit to focus eternally.  It’s not about what I can see in front of me.  It is about the unseen, for the unseen things are the eternal things.

He is bringing me to an Eternal Romance with Him.  

It is ironic how such dark, bleak, tragedy can change you to the core for the better.  Christ uses life altering phenomenon’s to draw us nearer to Him when we are at our lowest points.  If we surrender through the pain and darkness, He will lift us up.  He will set our feet on the rock of His foundation, on His steadfast love.  

In the first weeks following my husband’s death—all I could do spiritually was cry out “I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.”  I had no other words to pray.  

Every great love story begins with trust.  It’s no different with the love story of our Savior.  I know my heart being drawn to the eternal romance of Christ began when I surrendered.  When I put all of my trust into Him.  Not some of my trust—but all of it.  (I have to do this daily)  I had a revelation that my life is not my own.  Our earthly lives are but a blink of an eye— however our eternal lives are just that… eternal.  Forever, and then forevermore.  

Realistically, I am young—one day, Lord willing, I hope to be re-married.  But my focus is not on an earthly love.  My desires, my heart, my yearnings are on an eternal love.  An Eternal Romance with my Savior.  Everything else falls into place after that.  

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”   2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God. 

Finding Purpose

I think we can all admit that we want to find meaning and purpose and this life. Why am I here? Why was I born? What is the meaning of life?

I remember asking myself these questions in my high school and early college years. I'm not going to lie, during this phase of life, I found meaning in my relationships with others. Which is not necessarily a bad thing...however it eventually became an idol to me.  I worshipped popularity. My best friends were all in the popular crowd. I had a crew of girl and guy friends at school and we would just do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. 

And what happened? People began to let me down. I started to realize that I couldn't place my whole entire purpose in the people around me. But being my naturally stubborn self (still am by the way, work in progress!), I didn't want to acknowledge how God played a role in it all. Even though I grew up going to church, I think part of me wanted to hold onto my sin more than a relationship with Jesus. And when I say sin--I mean the intentional kind. Partying all the time, hanging out with boys I shouldn't have been...rebelling. 

College eventually came around, things didn't get too much better either.  Same sin, same mistakes. Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how sin seriously hurts our relationship with Jesus? I know I'll be dealing with it my whole life, but thankfully I am in a relationship with Christ now and can continuously be refined. Before Christ, it was ugly. 

Anyways, I hit an all time low in early college. I just knew I needed help. Someone was missing, and that was Jesus. I finally laid down my pride, and accepted Him into my heart at age 20. Best decision of my life. 

And what happened? I began to find purpose in every single step. God showed me how much he cared about every single detail of my life. Events in my life as simple as going to the grocery store were divine--I would run into someone who I hadn't seen in awhile and feel led to pray for them. And the big things too had so much purpose--God eventually led me to pursue my M.A. degree in Communication and I found such a purpose and a peace in that. This eventually led me to the job I have today--a college professor! 

So if you're reading this and feeling like you have NO purpose. That is a lie. Your purpose lies in the plans that God has for you. And His plans are good. It won't be perfect, but it will be beautiful. If you don't know Jesus yet/haven't accepted Him,  He wants to know you. Trust me. All it takes is one simple prayer to begin pursuing a life with Him. 



Don't Let Opportunity Pass You By

Sometimes the Lord can be very vocal with specific areas within my life. As of recently, I feel as though I can hear from practically yelling into my ear "Take advantage of EVERY opportunity Jessica. If you don't, you are limiting My ability to do a mighty thing in you. For I want you to be SO humbled by the work that I can do in you, you cannot HELP but give Me all the glory!"

Wow. Okkkkk Jesus. You words always leave me speechless.

I wanted to be sure though that these words were from the Lord. It is easy to let my emotions slip and take over my brain. Don't get me wrong, it is usually pretty obvious when the Holy Spirit is speaking to me, but sometimes, I like to refer to scripture to confirm what I feel like God is speaking to me.

The Lord quickly directed me to the verse, in Ephesians, where it says: "Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do." Ephesians 5v16-18

Boom! I was right! 

And you know what? God HAS been throwing opportunity in my face, left and right. This summer, I'm teaching a new communication course that I have never taught before. Aside from that, I'm also incredibly excited about the opportunity to photograph TWO weddings as well. If these are not exciting opportunities, I don't know what is. God is good.

Am I Nervous? You bet. Doubting myself? A little bit. Excited? MOST DEFINITELY. For I know that this is just another opportunity from the Lord, to do a mighty thing in me. I'm excited to give Him all of the glory. 

What about you? Are you giving God the opportunity to do something awesome in your life? At the end of the day, it isn't about us, it is about Christ. Don't let FEAR, DOUBT, or HOPELESSNESS get in the way from God working through you too. He wants to humble you too! :) 

How Religion Distorts Genuine Faith

When I was a little girl, I went to church as many other young people do. The Church I went to was like any other church: we participated in Sunday school, talked about God, prayed, ate good food...the usual church routine. However, that is all that it was: just a routine. I remember feeling as if I was in some type of social club. The people around me seemed to model an attitude of Self-Righteousness. It was as though, they thought they were better than everyone else because they could quote the most popular Bible verses at just the right time, and make their lives seem the most put together.

I do not remember discussions about a relationship with God at my church growing up. Everything was centered on reading the Bible (not a bad thing, but again it was never connected to a relationship with God). This self-righteonessness that I saw in my church back in the day really shaped my view of Christianity, in the worst way. I began to see Christianity as simply religion, versus a relationship with God. 

Seeing Christianity as just an act of religion, led me to a place of despair. And to be perfectly honest, I didn't really think about how Jesus came into the picture of faith. I knew He was some nice guy who healed people, but how could I apply Him to my life?

Through a lot of ups and downs, I learned that Jesus is THE main answer. We can and never will comprehend the grace of God without Jesus. He is the foundation of Christianity. 

So if you sat me down today and asked me what it means to me to be a Christianity, I would tell you one thing. 

I wouldn't tell you memorizing scripture (although this is great, but not key), I wouldn't tell you to be nice to people and to do good things, I wouldn't tell you to serve, no...I would tell you that a relationship with God is above all of these things, and it is the most important aspect of Christianity. We each need to know Jesus on a personal level, to experience Christianity for all God intended it to be. 

When I began to see Christianity as God intended, a relationship with His son, this is when I began to want to pursue a lifestyle of faith. This is when everything began to make sense. This is when God suddenly went from distant, to near. 

Let go of religion. It won't last and it will leave you empty. Grab on to a genuine, authentic, relationship with Jesus. 


If They're Leading You Farther from God..God Didn't Send Them

A few days ago, someone from my past creeped into my life out of no where. If you know my story or are familiar with it in any way, it is important to know that I haven't been following Jesus my entire life.  I accepted Christ into my heart when I was 20.

I was in a dark place when I was 20. I had made A LOT of bad decisions. Relationships (specifically with a boy) had led me to a place of despair. This person, is not somebody who I should have been hanging out with. It wasn't even that he was necessarily a bad person, but it was rather that he didn't have a relationship with God. That being said, sex outside of marriage was seen as no big deal to him.  

Hence, the despair. And you know what the Lord told me to do as soon as I accepted Him into my heart? 

Cut this person out of my life completely. And when I say cut out, I mean delete him from every possible avenue of my life. I blocked him on my cell phone, blocked him on Facebook, Instagram, you name it. God knew that this specific person was in no way part of His will for me. In His time, he would bring in a godly man. A man after His own heart. And this person, was not for me. And for my personality type, I really needed a removal of this intensity. God knew it. 

Because sometimes, right before God is about to a mighty thing in your life like he did in mine, Satan will bring in something, or someone, to REALLY TRIP YOU UP.

And for myself, that was a person. 

So what is God calling you to cut out? If someone is seriously leading you farther from Jesus and into sin, it is time to cut them out. 

"So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

Matthew 5:29-30

And I won't lie, when this person creeped into my life a couple of days ago, a small part of the old me wanted to write back. A small part of the old Jessica wanted that attention. But you know what? This just means that God is about do something REALLY big in my life. And this time, I'm not giving Satan any type of foothold. 


Review of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine

Today I am writing a review for GirlZ for Christ, a magazine that provides girls with positive, relevant, and encouraging materials for girls as they grow in the Lord! I am so happy that their editor Jessica Lippe reached out to me and asked me to do this review!

First things first, I can tell you right off the bat that this magazine is extremely encouraging! It provides so much material that girls can relate to and apply toward their individuals walks from the Lord. 

In one of their recent magazines (pictured above, John Luke and Mary Kate from Duck Dynasty are featured so I was really excited about that! I am a HUGE Duck Dynasty Fan.

. In their magazine, they have discussions about things such as why attending church is important for your walk with the Lord, which I love because it gives girls the opportunity to reflect and really think about what is important.  They also featured Macey McClain from the I am Not Ashamed Movie, who played Rachel Joy Scott in the film. It was awesome to read about her experience with the movie. 

Your Thoughts Determine Your Happiness

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Philippians 4:8

I don’t know about you, but I would describe myself as the type of person who wears their heart on their other words, I am an emotional person. I typically don’t just feel anything with little or no emotion—especially the big parts of my life. For example, I love my friends and family SO much that when they are hurting or are going through something hard, I typically will feel what they are feeling. These strong emotions that I experience are directly correlated toward my love for all of the amazing people that God has placed into my life. If things are going good for my friends and family, I rejoice with them. If their lives are in the gutter and things are tough, I worry for them and they remain heavy on my heart through prayer.

In general, I would say this emotional personality the Lord has given me also correlates toward the fact that I am a very extroverted person. I am mostly refueled by my interactions with the people that I love. I love to encourage others and build them up, and affirm the gifts that the Lord has given them to use within their individual lives. However, I recently realized that I am not this bubbly, positive person in regards to the way that I talk to and think of my own self! Crazy, right? You would think someone who is such a lover of people and who is also known for being super positive around others would be just the same if not more positive toward their own self, but that honestly isn't the case. 

 I realize that what I struggle with the most is negative self-talk. Maybe you can relate. I know that not only extroverts struggle with negative self-talk. A lot of people do! Do YOU struggle with negative self-talk as well? I know that a big portion of women do, and that I am not in this alone.

I notice that the negative self-talk creeps in when I am doing things that I am very passionate about, such as teaching, blogging, or photography.  I think it is because Satan wants to come at me where he knows it will hurt the most. When I am teaching and I notice a mistake in my lecture notes, I will tell silently tell myself I'm a failure and that I need to get my life figured out. If I am writing a blog post and I just can't seem to find the right words to write, I will think to myself there is something wrong with me.  If I look at myself in them mirror and don’t like the way a shirt or jacket looks at me, I’ll tell myself that I am too large and that I need to lose weight. If I am talking to a friend and something comes out not the way that I intended, I immediately criticize myself for messing up.

Goodness gracious ladies, this is NOT the way the Lord wants me to talk to my own SELF! He sees me as perfect, imperfections and all, and he sees you as the SAME! I need to value the person God has created me to be, and most importantly speak words of positivity over myself, to ensure that I am able to be the best version of myself that I can be. You see, I believe that our thoughts are directly connected to our hearts. If we think negatively of ourselves, it will affect our individual well-beings and hurt our hearts.

My best friend gave me this great analogy the other day and I encourage you to use it: Think of your heart as a home. You must be determined every day to protect it from anything that could harm it: especially negative thoughts. Every time a negative thought comes in your direction, see it as the enemy attempting to attack your "home". Do whatever you can to make it go away, aka pray against it in the name of Jesus! You have power and self-discipline in the name of Jesus to do so!     

 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  
2 Timothy 1:7

My prayer for myself and everyone reading this is that our minds would be filled with healthy, positive thoughts.

Holy Spirit, I pray that you would completely invade my mind, and begin to remove wrong patterns of thinking toward myself. I pray that you would help us take every thought captive and make it obedient to you, Jesus. I pray that if our process of thinking is not healthy in any way, then that you would invade it and renew it.

And for those of you whose mind may be in such a bad place, that you're feeling like there is no possible way out: There is always a way with the Lord! God can do the unthinkable. Call to Him in your time of need, sweet friend! 

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Jeremiah 33:3

Guest Post: Interview with Livy From Crown of Beauty Magazine

1)    Hello there Livy! I am so excited to feature you on Jessica Martin Blog for our interview.  I love your heart for girls all over the world to know and understand their worth in Jesus. It is inspiring! How are you doing today?

Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for having me! I’m so honored and blessed to be here, and step into your little corner of living-room space on the internet! Hehe :) 

2)    I am curious to know; how did you find Jessica Martin Blog? Because I am honestly so happy that you did, it has been such an encouragement to my faith! 

Actually, this fall we opened up an internship opportunity for our readers at Crown of Beauty Magazine. As we gave the interns different assignments, a few of them started emailing blogs and doing promotion for our new book. One of our sweet interns recommended your amazing blog! I’m honestly not sure how she found it either, but I’m so glad that she did! It’s always amazing to connect with sisters in Christ.    

3)    Next, can you please start off by giving a brief introduction of yourself? Specifically, could you share with us where are you from, and when your walk with Jesus began?  

Yes! My name is Livy Jarmusch and I am 22-years-old – oops, I mean 23! I just turned 23 this month, so now I have to wrap my brain around this brand new age! Haha. I live in Northern Michigan (which means lots and lots of snow) and was raised in a Christian family. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where my relationship with Jesus first started, because even as a little three-year-old, I remember flipping through my picture Bible and experiencing such wonderment and awe in thinking about God and everything He created. Once I was old enough to understand His amazing sacrifice and what Jesus did on the cross to rescue me from sin, He became my best friend.  


4)    Next, can you give us a brief introduction of Crown of Beauty Online Magazine?

Of course! Crown of Beauty Magazine is an online resource for Christian ladies, ages thirteen to thirty – and beyond! The heartbeat of our magazine is to remind women just how beautiful and valuable they are in Christ. Knowing our royal identity in His Kingdom is something that so many struggle with, especially when we’re living in a culture that is constantly bombarding our minds with lies. The purpose of our magazine is to come alongside our sisters in Christ, and encourage them in their walk with the Lord! 

5)    When and how was Crown of Beauty Magazine started? What inspired you to create this magazine?

I started Crown of Beauty in January 2013. I had just graduated High School the spring before, and honestly, still had no idea what to do with my life. I had always been obsessed with writing, and the idea of having my own magazine was a dream planted deep inside when I was a little girl. I was also painstakingly aware of the attack against our generation – young women in particular – and the assault against our identity. As a teen, I had seen several of my friends struggle with eating disorders and doubt their self-worth, and I knew that this was a message not many magazine were talking about! 

I was at a place in my life where I knew that I wanted to launch out and do something that would make a difference, but I didn’t know what exactly. I felt the Lord nudging my heart to just jump off the cliff of unknowns and see what would happen!  

 6)    How many people are on the Crown of Beauty Magazine Team? How did you meet each of these different people?

We have a strong core of about six amazing young ladies, but now with our interns, the team has grown to about thirty! It’s hard to label our team with an exact “number” because we’ve also got some amazing women who have helped plan conferences, back us up as prayer warriors, and join us on other projects, but they’re not necessarily getting every Facebook notification that our “Team” does. Haha. 
We also some spectacular sister ministries that we work really closely with but we don’t say, “Oh, are you on my team? Or on their team?” In this ministry blogging, magazine, website world, we’re all kind of intertwined and overlapping with one another, working to support one another’s projects! We all have the same purpose, so it’s amazing to see the body of Christ working like this with each other!
I could spend so much time telling you about how we got connected with each of these amazing ladies, but all I can say, is that every time it was just a “God thing!” Whether it came from a follow on Twitter, or Instagram, or a visitor to the website who reached out and sent an email…the Lord is the Master of making connections and it’s so fun to see how He does it!      


7)    Can you explain how Crown of Beauty Magazine works, how often does the Magazine go out, and what else do you incorporate onto the website for the Magazine besides the magazine itself? 

Right now, we have five full issues that anyone can read online, totally free! Our sixth issue was actually in print, but it was only available until our copies ran out. We’re working on our seventh issue right now! As far as our “release” schedule goes, it has been a little sporadic, which is why we ask our readers to sign up for email updates, that way they can be notified when we release something new, because we’re not on a specific schedule. They never know when we’re going to drop another issue – or a new book! Our main website, or blog I guess you could call it, is being updated with new articles every month. Our blog discusses tons of topics, everything from following your God given dreams, to relationships with guys, to tips on starting your own website! We just try to focus on things that matter most to young women, which means a lot of our articles revolve around purity, Disney, singlehood, and finding true love! ;)  


8)    Now, we would love to hear more about your passion for writing. How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?

I was always a storyteller. (Just ask my parents, as a little girl, I spent way too much time with my dolls! I was always pretending and making up exotic tales in faraway places.) In Kindergarten I had many dreams, but I told my teacher that I wanted to be an author. As a teen, I continued writing and even though I struggled with spelling and grammar and terrible plots, I just couldn’t get away from it. The words continued to flow. When I reached that vital decision time during my high school years (you know, the dreaded period of life where you’re supposed to choose the ONE thing that you’re going to do the rest of your life?! Ahh, so much pressure!) my dreams of being an author faded to the background. In my mind, I wasn’t good enough, and I was galaxies away from any kind of publishing deal. But the Lord continued to press on my heart the fact that He had given me a gift, and I needed to learn how to use it and be a good steward. That’s when the story for Secrets of Royalty started stirring in my spirit, and I knew that it was a story heaven wanted to tell.      


9)    Has writing always been a passion of yours?

Absolutely! (I think I already answered that, hehehe.) 

10) What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

Believe it or not, I don’t actually do a lot of reading. (Ahh! Authors, please don’t throw your pencils at me! I know, I know it sounds like heresy!) Don’t get me wrong. I love books. But when it comes to reading works of fiction, I just don’t have time. Everyone says that you have to read amazing fiction if you want to hone your skills as a writer, and I totally believe them, and trust me it’s on my to-do list for the future. But that list is really long! Haha. I have far too many ideas swirling around in my head as it is, without priming the pump with even more ideas from other brilliant authors.
I like to spend the majority of my reading time, in God’s Word. His Word is my life source, and all of my inspiration and strength flows from Him! I do enjoy reading non-fiction books though, devotionals, and messages that equip me in my faith walk! My favorite author is Lisa Bevere. Her books Kissed the Girls and Made them CryLioness ArisingGirls with Swords, and Without Rival are some of my favorites.  She has strongly influenced my writing style.  

11) Next, we would love to hear more about your new book, Secrets of Royalty. Can you tell us about this book? What is it about?


Absolutely! So, Secrets of Royalty is an allegorical fairy-tale about an orphaned captive who lives in a nightmarish place called the Worthlessness Camp. It's a place of chains and torment and lies. Nobody would ever want to live there! Sadly, so many of us do. Our generation daily struggles to try to escape from this place of worthlessness in their own minds. In the story, a glimmer of hope is suddenly seen on the horizon as a Prince riding on a white horse gallops in to save the day. Jesus rescues the helpless captive and sweeps her into the royal courts of His Kingdom. But happily ever after has not yet arrived, and the grand rescue is only the beginning! This orphan then goes on an exciting (and sometimes terrifying!) journey through the ups and downs of her life-changing transformation process, learning to think like the Princess that she is, rather than the pauper that she used to be. 
Following the fictional story, is a 31 Day Devotional that takes you through a similar journey in your own life, powerfully changing the way that you think about yourself, your relationship with God, and the world around you. 

12) Why did you decide to write Secrets of Royalty?

I actually talk about this a little bit in the book, but the inspiration came from a dream I had. In the dream, there were many beautiful girls of all different ages, backgrounds, skin colors, hair colors, eye colors, and personalities.  They were all so unique and different from one another! They stood along a wall, and complemented each other so beautifully, almost like a rainbow of God’s glory! All at once, the dream shifted and evil men came in and started poking the girls. They started speaking awful lies, telling them that they were ugly and didn’t measure up. I could see the girls hearts slowly begin to break, as sadly, they believed it. Then, the men pulled out guns. I gasped! They intended to kill each of those beautiful girls! I was outraged! In the dream, I knew that I only had a matter of time to change the ending, and do something about it. The clock was ticking, and that’s when I woke up. The dream was so vivid, and when I woke up, I immediately had an understanding about what it represented, and knew that it expressed an attack on our generation. A silent holocaust driven by lies. The Lord started speaking to me about the Worthlessness Camp, and that’s when I started writing the book. 

13) How long did it take you to write this book? Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day did you devote to writing this book? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)? I myself, would love to write a book someday.

Honestly, the fictional part of the story took me several years! Not because it was hard to write, but because I would only get inspiration for the story little bits at the time. I wrote the first chapter in one afternoon, but then I had to wait a few months before God showed me what should happen next. This was very different from all my other silly, “just for fun” fictional stories that I had played around with on my keyboard. Secrets of Royaltywas like collecting puzzle pieces that God only gave me little by little.  
For me, this was a really abnormal writing process. But since you’re asking about the process, and you’re considering writing a book someday (YAY! YES! DO IT, GIRL!) I’ll share what my ‘normal’ looks like, just so you can see why this project was so different. 

For my other works of fiction, I try to type five pages a day. Sometimes, writing feels like lifting weights! You kind of have to build up your endurance. I had been writing for fun for years, and didn’t care about my page count or if I ever finished my stories, but now that I’m working on other projects for possible future release, I try to be more diligent about it. And at first, writing five pages a day was really tough! Typing one page a day is a great goal to begin with, especially if you’re thinking about writing a non-fiction book. Because think about it, if you write consistently every day for an entire year, by the end of the year, you’ll have a 365 page book! (New Year Resolution, maybe? Haha!)      

14) Please give us an insight into the main character of this book. 

The main character in Secrets of Royalty doesn’t have a name. Because this is an allegory, her purpose is to represent the Bride of Christ. This young woman in the story is orphaned, rejected, afraid, confused, sinful, and desolate. She is me. She is you. She is anyone who was once lost in sin and separated from Christ. The amazing thing about her character, is the transformation that takes place throughout the story. She slowly discovers that she is not nameless, and her true identity is a Princess, and she must learn what it truly means to be royal!   

15) Do you think that you will write more books in the future? Why or why not? 

Yes, yes, yes! I’m completely in love with writing. I’ve actually just finished writing a fictional novel called The Coronation. (You're actually the first blog I've told about this, so you're getting the exclusive, inside scoop! Haha) This story is about a modern-day royal family living in a palace in a small European nation called Tarsurella. It’s about the everyday challenges of growing up in a royal monarchy! (Because we can all relate with that, right? Haha!)

I’m also working on several other books as we speak. Oh, here's something exciting! We will actually be releasing a free, non-fiction e-book soon on our website, called Dream to Destiny: Discovering Keys to Change the World through Your God Given Dreams. 
So yes, many more books on the way!

16) If you could give one piece of advice to your readers about life in general and their walks with Jesus, what would you say?

 Such a good question. I’m so glad you asked this! Because at the end of the day, only one thing matters, and that is our relationship with Christ. At the end of the age, when Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead, we will all stand before Him and be accountable for how we lived our lives on this earth. All the trivial, foolish, worthless things are going to burn away…so what will remain? Our faith, and our relationship with Christ. I want my relationship with Jesus to be real, and genuine, and pure as gold. When I get to heaven, I want Him to look at me and say, “I know you! You sought me. You loved me. You and I have history! Well done, good and faithful servant!”  

Knowing Him is everything. It’s the only thing that truly matters. Books, and ministry meetings, and dreams coming true…they’re all going to fade away. The only thing that is eternal, is our relationship with Him. So here's my advice. Spend time with the King! If you only get one thing out of this entire interview, get this: spend as much time with Jesus as you possibly can! Set your heart on seeking Him every day. Read the Word, pray, and worship, and soak in His presence. His love will transform you! The world tries to distract us and send our minds in a thousand different directions, but determine to set your heart on One thing. “I am single minded in pursuit of You…” (Psalm 119:10). 
Be like Mary and sit at His feet. Because no time spent with Him is ever wasted. 


The Sin thats Trips Us Up

I was listening to a song lately by one of my favorite Christian rappers LeCrae, and it really spoke to me. The song is called "Killa" and it is about LeCrae's personal struggle with sexual sin.

 Check out the lyrics:

 "Uh, I know it's going to kill me but I just can't let it go

And the taste so appealing got a grip upon my soul

These honey dip lies mesmerize me

Pride's got it’s crooked fingers twisted all inside in me

Fools walk the path I'm on, never to be seen again

Sipping on seduction while we eating on some secret sin

(Not a lot of love and mercy) says the whisper in my ear

And I know I should be over this, but I ain't seeing clear

And I ain't leaving here, unless somebody save me

Walking to my grave letting evilness enslave me

Evil looks so lovely covered in her lace of lies

And the silky smooth seduction just manipulates my mind

Her fabrical fabrication is fueling my fascination

While I'm intoxicated she starts her assassination

I'm losing all my honor and my years to the merciless

Giving all my life away but I'm just so immersed in this (killa). 

 I think that these lyrics are inspiring for a lot of reasons. First, LeCrae acknowledges the fact that sin is APPEALING. Whether its lustful temptation, getting drunk, gossiping about others, drugs, hate, whatever the sin…it often is appealing. We seem to think that it will be good for us and it often looks like it will be a lot of fun, and sometimes it is, but then it ALWAYS ends up hurting us in the end, through our individual relationships with God, and through our relationships with others.

I also love how he talks about how the sin prohibits him from seeing things clearly. I can think of countless times where I was involved in some type of sin, and it affected my ability to analyze things in my life from the proper perspective. My connection with Jesus was deteriorating, and I was having a hard time seeing things clearly. I refused to acknowledge that I had sinned against the Lord and chose to kept doing things my way.

So friends, let’s keep each other accountable in our walks with Christ, and keep our friends from tripping into the sin that so easily slips us up. If you find yourself in some sin, confess to the Lord first, and then get some help from some Christian brothers and sisters.

I know that this post might seem a little drastic and intense, but I come from a background where I was heavily involved with partying and intentional sin against the Lord. I recognize that we are not perfect saints as Christians, but at the same time, we have the ability to keep ourselves from intentional sin.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1



























If You're Tempted to be Mad at God, Read This

Most who know me this day, know that I am a fierce, passionate Jesus lover. My close friends would probably describe me as a "Jesus Freak," and I am certainly proud of that. My relationship with Jesus has drastically changed my life and has given me a kind of joy and hope that I have never known. But I haven't always been that way. In fact, during my mid-high school years and early college years, I rejected God. I was flat out mad at him for the things that were happening in my life. So, in other words, for five years of my life, I wasted a time that could have been a beautiful time of growth in my relationship with Christ, and instead decided to things my own way, without Christ thriving in my heart.

It was probably the darkest period of my entire life thus far. There were so many things that were happening that I couldn't comprehend why God would simply allow to happen. Being a moody high school girl as well (ha, sorry ma and pa), my emotions were amplified toward every situation. Number one, I remember being so upset with God for the weight problem that I had in high school. I wanted my metabolism to be faster and I wanted to eat whatever I wanted at all times and not gain any weight (ha ha, wouldn't that be nice). In all honesty though it was hard, because I was seriously overweight even though I was eating just like the rest of my friends. And ESPECIALLY since as girls we tend to be extremely negative and critical toward our bodies, it wasn't an easy thing to go through at such a pivotial time of change within my life. 

Then I also had some really hard things happen in my circle of friends following my weight problem. People rejected me and it stung like the worst bee sting in the entire world. I'm not sure if there really is anything worse than rejection. It is probably one of the hardest things that we experience as humans. Praise God for Jesus, because I know now my worth well enough to know that someone rejecting me is God directing me to something better. 

So how can you apply this to your own life? Well maybe you too, are going through something just seriously hard and horrible and ugly that makes you want to curl up in a corner and cry. It might be something horrible like a family member or close friend battling cancer, or it may be something that can easily feel just as worse like a close friend rejecting you.  

Here are some important things to remember when you are tempted to be mad at God for things going on in your life:

1) The ugly in this world, It isn't God's fault, it is the result of Adam and Eve rebelling in the garden.
God created us because He loved us. God never intended for the UGLY in this world: death, rejection, hurt, pain, cancer, disease, unhealthy addictions, rape, abuse....none of this was ever God's will. But because of what Adam and Eve did when they sinned in the garden, man and women must suffer at times and go through pain. Until Jesus comes back, we will never live in a perfect world. 
Verse reference: Genesis 3, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, & Psalm 46:1-2

2) The bad that may be happening to you is NOT a reflection of God's lack of love for you. God still fiercely and passionately loves you. 
Yes, Yes Yes! And I KNOW this seems impossible to believe when your world is falling apart. But what if God is allowing these things to happen because He wants to draw you to Himself in an entirely new way?  We cannot control what is happening around us. In John 3:16, God says that He loves everyone in this world. But because we live in an imperfect world, we all deal with good and bad. God sees our pain and is able to take it and use it for OUR GOOD! How awesome is that? The key is that we have to keep trusting Him. 
Verse references: James 1:1-4, Romans 8:28, John 3:16-17

3) God has a purpose for you pain
I believe that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I think that no matter what tragedies you have experienced, God wants you to trust that He is going to form something beautiful out of it. Maybe God wants to use your pain to encourage others who are going through something similar. Your story can be beautiful and it be a light to others if you choose to trust that Jesus is working it all for the good. 
Verse references: Romans 8:28, John 9

I believe God is working all thing together for the good in your life. Right here, right now. Please remember that you are LOVED. 


Keeping Jesus First in Your Finances



Something that the Lord has placed strongly on my heart lately is how I manage my finances. At the end of every month, I get pretty stoked about pay day...who doesn't?! But then, the Lord never fails to remind me: Don't forget to tithe, Jess!

I know some Christians tend to be more chipper about tithing, but I'll be the first to admit that it is not something I insantly get excited about, and I'll blame it on my flesh. My flesh wants and craves more.  My flesh doesn't want me tithe, let alone keep Jesus first. But if I don't tithe and give the first of my earnings to the Lord, then how will Jesus possibly stay first in my heart? 

And then I get to thinking: how selfish of me to not even have the simple desire to tithe! Because when you think about it, when we tithe, we are acknowledging that Jesus is our ultimate provider. He is the one providing our jobs, allowing us to pay the bills, and just simply allowing us to keep moving forward. Tithing should be a result of our simple thankfulness for all that God has done and is currently doing in our lives. 

But I also think that tithing represents an act of obedience. I believe that if we are obedient and follow God's command to tithe, then we will be blessed. Let's look at the verse in Malachi, for example:

"Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need."
Malachi 3:10

What an interesting verse. God is literally saying that if we continue to trust Him by giving to Him the first of our earnings (or in otherwords at least a tenth), then we will be blessed. This means, that God expects us to act out in faith and trust that by giving Him our money, we will be blessed.

I am so thankful that shortly after I was saved nearly six years ago, God put it on my heart to begin tithing. I have been tithing since my early days as a Christian, and God has never failed to bless me in return. This doesn't mean that I'm constantly rolling in the dough or never going through rough patches, though. Even when financially things aren't easy, I still have tithed, and God has provided. And you know what? keeping Jesus first in my finances has meant everything to me, because it has allowed me to keep Him first in my heart. He is a God who wants control of all areas of our lives, and not just some.

What are your guys thoughts on tithing? Is it sometimes hard for you to do?


How I Developed Perseverance Through My Struggles

Wow...what a year 2015 has been. I know that were still a few months away from the end of the year and a start toward a new one, but my goodness. Life has been crazy.

After I finished graduate school in June of 2015, I honestly just did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I had thought for so long all throughout my graduate school experience that I would take and apply what I had been studying in school (Communication and Creative Writing) toward the perfect career in public relations somewhere in Portland, where I would pour my heart into some professional social media/creative writing position. After all, I had worked for over a year as a paid-intern for an amazing public relations company, where I gained valuable experience and knowledge toward the field of PR. But I just remember once I finished school that I knew I definitely did not want to work any type of corporate job. Like that was absolutely not at all what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I wanted to teach.

And I heard the Lord kept saying it too, in His soft, yet strong, voice over my life. "Teaching, Teach, I've called you to teach Jessica..." However even though the Lord was saying this, no opportunities were opening up. ***For those of you who don't know, when I say teach, I am referring to teaching college classes. Since I have my M.A. in Communication Studies, I am permitted to teach college level communication courses. When I was a graduate student, I had the opportunity to teach public speaking, and I developed a (VERY unexpected) strong passion for it.*** Anyways, I as I began to search for college level teaching jobs, nothing was opening up. I was so discouraged. I applied to different schools over Oregon, but no calls were coming back. 

Ugh. It was a painful season of my life my friends. The worst part of it all was that God had placed a dream so strongly on my heart, and no doors were being opened toward that dream. I remember feeling hopefuls and forgotten. I really felt God sharpening me more than I have ever been sharpened in my entire walk. Because you know what? It is really easy to say God is good and believe and act on that when everything is going how you want it to. It is MUCH harder, and requires deep, authentic trust in Jesus to keep pursuing Him when things aren't going your way. Even though I was tempted to feel sorry for myself during this season, I chose to get more plugged in than ever to a local church that was absolutely phenominal toward my spiritual growth. I also began to pursue photography, and took a job working in social work (that I ended up deciding to leave, but I still tried it out and I am proud of myself for that!). :). 

It was in about March of 2016 when I felt very strongly that I was supposed to move to Portland.  As explained previously, I  had recently left the social work job that wasn't the right fit for me (and also the wrong location for me ), and I was looking for work again. I had also just started a new job where I worked remotely teaching online technology courses, so I was in a good place to move. Still hopes and dreams of being in the classroom and teaching with the students were unfulfilled. I still felt strongly that I was supposed to be in the classroom, and I wanted it so bad. Yet...God wasn't opening the door.

Anyways, in June of 2016 I did end up moving to the suburbs of Portland, and began to call Beaverton, Oregon my new home. I felt so incredibly at peace about my decision to leave Corvallis. After all, my parents knew that I would be happier in a bigger city with more movement and people. Once I moved to Beaverton, I began to get plugged into Westside a Jesus Church. I knew that Westside was the church that God wanted me to attend. I also knew that I wanted to continue serving in Youth Ministry like I had been doing in Corvallis, so I became a Middle School Youth Leader at Westside, which has been absolutely amazing. All of the leaders are so nice, and it feels like a gained a new little family. 

A couple months into my move, I received a call from Portland Community College. They let me know that they had received my application and were interested in hiring me to teach public speaking. I could't believe it! God is so good. I went in for an interview the next day, and they hired me on the spot. I was so thankful. 

This past season of my life definitely has had its ups and downs, my friends. I am thankful that God is opening new career opportunities in my life right now.  I am also looking into teaching Elementary kids, so I might be pursuing that avenue as well. For now, I am thankful for this opportunity to teach at the college level. I definitely developed a stronger confident trust in Jesus through this season, as I perservere and kept telling myself that He was and is always still good. I remember being so low one day that I went out and bought a handwritten painting of Jeremiah 29:11 to put onto my wall, just to remind myself of the goodness and truth of God's word. I hope I can encourage other people through this post who may be facing a season of unanswered prayer and discouragement. And you know what too? One of the hardest parts about being a Christian is that God isn't on our time frame. He is NEVER in a hurry. He knows the future and has good plans, but sometimes He delays His plans in our lives so that way we can be sharpened and our faith grows. If you're in a hard season, keep trusting Jesus. He has good plans. If you don't believe me, then just go read Jeremiah 29:11! :)

I am excited to start teaching soon. I also am looking into teaching Elementary in the future too, so well see. 

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12

How I'm Learning To Have Childlike Faith...Even as An Adult

The older I get, the more I notice it becomes harder to maintain that childlike faith that Jesus talks about when He blesses the children in the book of Mark. Even though keeping childlike faith can be hard, I feel like this is such an important part of every Christian's faith. I do not think Jesus ever wants us to outgrow having this kind of faith. 

Let's look back on the story behind childlike faith in Mark Chapter 10:

"One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them."

Mark 10:13-16

Wow, what a great story. It is obvious that Jesus didn't take having childlike faith lightly. He knows and understands how important it is to have this kind of faith. But, as I said previously, maintaining this kind of faith can be hard, especially when we become adults and are no longer children. As humans, we are tempted by our own sinful nature to figure things out on our own, without God's help. Instead of praying about something, we convince ourselves that we can do it on our own strength. But God doesn't want us to live life this way. He wants us to trust that He is going to provide for us in our lives, no matter what. But how do we do it? How do we maintain childlike faith even when we grow up?

I've prayed about it (since this is something God is REALLY working on within my heart right now), and I felt the Holy Spirit give me these three key points on how we can all continue to maintain childlike faith in our lives, on a daily basis.

1) Bring even the little things to God in prayer, not just the big things.

I've noticed that throughout the years, this has really helped me to maintain childlike faith, because it reminds me that God cares about every detail of my life and wants me to come to Him like a child for every concern, big or small. I think as Christians, we sometimes think that God only cares about the major things going on in our life (i.e. choosing a career path, finding a spouse, moving to a new town, etc.). But God cares even about the little things. Like, for example, finding a parking spot in a crowded parking lot, figuring out what happened to our missing keys (ha, me 24/7), deciding what to write our paper about in school…anything, really! When we bring even the little things in prayer to God, we are able to get excited about what He is doing in EVERY SINGLE part of our lives, leading to more joy and trust in our relationship with Jesus, just like a little child has.

2) Instead of holding onto your worries and concerns, bring them to the feet of Jesus and release them there

Okay...I think we can all admit that one of the major things that keeps us from having childlike faith is our daily worries and concerns. As humans, we are tempted to worry about pretty much everything, ESPECIALLY when we grow up and reach adult hood. But instead of letting worry drive our life, what if we woke up every day with the decision to trust God? What if remembered God’s promise in His word to provide every need and lived that out? If you think about it, this is how a little child lives their life. A little child, full of innocence, come to their parents with complete submissiveness, trusting for them to meet their every need without any concern at all. God wants us to think in this same exact way. Let’s all wake up every day choosing to be the conquerors that we are in Christ—because God has promised to meet EVERY single need!(Philippians 4:19). 

3)  Finally, pray that God would soften your heart and simply show you what it looks like to have faith of a child
Sometimes, the best thing we can do to maintain this kind of faith is is to just simply pray about it. Lately, God has really been leading for me to do this. My prayer lately is that God would continue to soften my heart and teach me to live out childlike faith in my every day life. You should try out something similar! Sometimes the faith of a child can seem almost impossible with all of the fiery arrows Satan tries to throw at us, but at the end of the day, God's still, small, voice is there saying "I got this, and I love you."

That's Not My God

At church this morning, our Pastor quoted something by Philip Yancy that really stuck with me. The quote was:

“I have come to know a God who has a soft spot for rebels, who recruits people like the adulterer David, the whiner Jeremiah, the traitor Peter, and the human-rights abuser Saul of Tarsus. I have come to know a God whose Son made prodigals the heroes of his stories and the trophies of his ministry.”

Gosh. What a quote....that is so incredibly true. I feel like this quote really puts into perspective of of the main characteristics of God---His tender loving COMPASSION for His people. He sees how broken we are in the midst of this crazy world, and He desires to be our source of reconciliation to that brokenness. 

BUT I feel like our culture has Christianity all wrong--which is why so many people are turned off by the idea of pursuing Jesus today. Often non-believers think of Christians as just of bunch of religious hypocrites who pretend to be more perfect than the rest of us.

...It is actually the opposite. As Christians, are all just a bunch of imperfect people in desperate need of God's grace. Now don't get me wrong, we are called to live above reproach as Christians and be a light for His kingdom...but at the end of the day we all mess up. We don't match up to the standard of perfection because we are broken people.

Which is why we so desperately all need JESUS. Heck, you can kick your religion out the door! I don't need any more rules in my life. I need Jesus people. He is the only one gets my mess. He is the ONLY one who can be the ANSWER to my mess. I wouldn't last for a second in religion. 

So when people say don't want to serve God because they will never be good enough for a God who is looking for a standard of perfection, I'll tell you right now, that is NOT my God. My God is a loving God who loves to take broken people and show them the path to finding fullness in their relationship with HIM. His love for His people is fierce and deep, and when you encounter it, you'll never be the same.