Monday, October 7, 2019

The F word.

"But maybe, if I keep going, keep asking all the questions that are laid out on my heart, something miraculous might happen. I might find a few answers, or I might find peace within the unknown." 

I wrote those words on the first page of my journal back at the end of 2018. I had high hopes for the new year and the change God was going to interrupt my comfort with. when I got to the end of last year, I remember being so upset with myself and how I let my own fears get in the way of anything God was trying to do.
I was so afraid to pray anything I really desired, because I felt as if God was only going to slam another door in my face, shatter another window and I would be left trying to pick up my own pieces to my heart. I didn't want to ask any questions and I was terrified of the answers that came with anything I truly wanted.

I wore faith around my neck like a shiny rose gold necklace, yet inside I was covered with words that resembled anything but that. 

It seemed as if every single thing that walked through the door was labeled with the words:

It always seems as if fear leads a good story. and I let this word carry my bags out the door each time I get comfortable one place. It has always felt as if I could never unpack long enough to call a place, home. As humans, I believe we let fear write most of our stories, but in the last year I have finally decided fear will not get to take the pen to my story. I think God leaves love notes pinned to the door stamped with the words, Victory and He is waiting for me to run with them until I feel it.
Fear and Failure go hand in hand like dance partners and the last thing they want to do is let you cut in and disrupt the noise. But, living a life fully dedicated to this whole faith thing means you have to be okay with the uncertainty and the outcome on the other side of the fence. And I believe that is the scary part. That part takes guts and grit, darling. I think we need to learn that we have a real God and he invites us to stop hauling our fear around as he whispers, "you must be tired. I get that. You know you can lay it all down, right? You know you don't have to be tough and strong all the time. I've got this. I've got you. Just take the next step, and make the leap. I have so much more waiting for you on the other side of fear."
fear will have a field day with whatever you feed it. But I think we have the ability to change the outcome by simply calling out our fear by name. Because even though love covers all things, fear is what keeps us silent and keeps words unsaid. Fear keeps us standing in one place and if you let it, it will rue your entire day.
1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear.
The opposite of love isn't hate. And I think that is where we often get it wrong. The opposite of love is FEAR.

Jonathan Helser says, "you just step into perfect love, and all fear resides. fear cannot come in, it isn't welcomed where perfect love lies."  and I absolutely love that.

I think we must get over the idea that if it falls apart we will ruin everything God had intended for us, because I think it's quite the opposite. All the what-ifs and the doubts are the direct avenues to what else is in store for us.

I always have a thing about October. It's as if everything shifts and becomes brand new once the beginning of this season begins. Everything seems as if it's going to be okay, and I don't know why I feel that way once it hits the first of October, but I do. and I think it's like a little promise from God that as the year comes to end, so does everything you've let sit under the bed for too long.

it's as if He is whispering, "it's time to give up the fear, love. it's time to jump and trust me. I got you, i got this, darling."

and all of a sudden, here's the answer in the unknown.

it's okay. it's going to be beautiful.

and I believe that. I really do.


Saturday, August 31, 2019


I want to be where the trees are
I cried out to God in that prayer.
After all this is quiet and done with that is where I want my feet to roam. 

The woods have always been my safe haven. It is the place i see God most. And although standing in the city tonight, I can feel His presence around me, it most certainly does not compare to the way I feel God between the trees.

Trusting God when things don't quite make sense to your heart or your mind is one of the most difficult things to grasp. I am a firm believer in miracles, I really am. But this time around I wasn't 100% sure I was about to see a miracle. I wanted to believe in a God that says He moves mountains, in a God that turns water into wine, and a God that heals the lepers.
On Sundays I proclaim I have a good good Father, and He is in the process of doing all those things, restoring brokenness from this world and shedding light to the desert spaces. But as I write this today, I want to tell you even the ones who pray every night, still doubt a Big BIG God.

My friend gave me a key on the night of my birthday party with the word VICTORY on it. I hadn't even yet told her about the news I recieved 3 hours prior to opening her gift. But I do know a God that knew the exact word I needed even before it was placed in the palm of my hands that night - He knew the weakness of my heart even before I sat at the dinner table that evening.

It all felt as if I was watching someone throw a plate against the hardwood floor, pieces shattering instantly, and not being able to catch it before it hit the ground.

It's funny how life can do that - change in a blink of an eye. It's utterly scary at the same time.

"you are handling all of this with so much grace, J", one of my best friends looked me in my eyes and told me. I remember that moment so clearly. It was weeks after I had found out everything. We went out for a drink one night after work, spilling all the things that had happened that previous month, and crying. 
"I would've had no idea any of that was happening, but wow God is moving.I see it in your eyes." she continued. 

It was in that moment I realized it - I am a warrior. I am a fighter and I am a conqueror. So often we think of a warrior as a soldier, but I believe it goes deeper than that. The dictionary defines Warrior as, "a brave or experienced fighter." and I absolutely love that. 

On most days,  I am the type of person who dramatically claims the smallest "change" and turn it into something greater and profound when it really is nothing. But this time, I had no idea if God was going to come through. For the first time in my life I found myself on my knees in utter desperation to see a miracle. The days felt longer than I wanted them to be and as the weeks went by I cried more than I had in years.

I found out in the past few months the best way to test if you actually believe in a God so mighty and sovereign, is to have your faith rocked at the sight of an illness, a tragedy, or a desperate measure where you need God to show up. 

I needed God to show His face somehow. 
and spoiler: he did. 

But, in a way I didn't expect. 
And i think that is how it always goes.

God isn't a magic genie, but He is constant in the way He orchestrates the things you pray about. 

God didn't heal me, He didn't snap his fingers and suddenly heal every other thing that entered my season this summer, but He did show me good people will always be there in the trenches to pick you up.

I have always believed in the people around me and vice versa, but never have I had to lean on them so much.
There were so many nights during this season I lay shattered at their feet, yet each time one of them would still carry me until I could walk again.

One of my pastors, Joe Smith once said the words, "when you cannot walk, they will walk for you until you can again." it has stuck with me ever since. 

I am pretty sure healing looks different in the types of way it comes. When the physical healing may not come when you want it to, mental healing often times takes hold of what cannot be visibly replaced.

I have learned more about who I am, who I want to be and who Jesus is to me in my life these last 4 months than I've ever have. Although, most days I am afraid of what may come next or if repeats may occur, I am hopeful in the fact that my entire world is held in the palm of the Comforter's hand.

Psalm 73:26 says, "My body and my mind may fail, but God is my strength; he is all I ever need" 

In this life we don't get to choose some of the detours our body may take and some times roads get windy and off balance, but I think it's beautiful to know this scripture - that God really is all we need. 

My motto in my life has always been these words, and to be honest, it's been hard some days to say it aloud and mean it but I hope it can speak volumes to whoever is reading this today. it's simple, but this is it:
If it helps someone else see the face of Jesus, then what I am going through is worth it. It's so worth it because the glory of God and who He is trumps anything I am facing. 

I love that.
I wish I could sit in detail and tell you every way the Lord has been moving this season and every detail he has handcrafted into this road. But I am going to leave you with this final thing:

keep going and keep showing up. Remember to live for the little victories. God sees you. He knows your story and your heart and He is here for it. He really is. 

I am not going to lie and say the days don't hurt because I know Jesus, but I will say because I know Jesus the hurt and trials are less scary.
I am getting the word, Fight tattooed on me in the next few weeks, because I believe it's what God has called me, 'A Fighter' and He is continuously calling me to fight off the demons, the things the world tries to convince me I am not, the same things that I thought might break me, that didn't. The victory is His.

Exodus 14:14 says, "the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." 

And although the days get stormy and windy, the lightning bolts strike joy each time the storm rolls in, and the peace instantly fills the sky. and you know what? it's okay.. it's all going to be okay. I believe in that. 


Sunday, February 3, 2019

I just keep bummin’ cigarettes.

dear B,
I have been wanting to write you for awhile. It seems like every time I open my laptop up and begin, I hesitate and I am afraid. You told me never to write you, nor write about you.. but how can I not? that's who I am .. I'm a writer and writers have this way of turning everything that walks into their orbit into a story - whether love or horror. They only know how to put it all into symbols, and letters and even so, poems. I am tired of living like I am afraid that if I write you, you might just act like I don't exist. You've done it before though, so I am not sure why I am so damn afraid of that again. (maybe I am afraid to lose it all once more). I came face to face with my demons when you shut me out. When you pretended as if I had no place in this world as you walked right beside me Sunday mornings as we walked into the holy room of worship. Isn't that funny, though? we were told forgiveness and to walk in love and mercy yet we continued to do the opposite. I love how pride works that way. It's just so great. (i hope you got that sarcastic comment there.) I wore the smile on my face like it was held up with toothpicks to prevent me from looking weak and like I cared that someone who kissed my cheek the other day turned into someone who spat on my face the next. It didn't hurt me, it didn't, I conquered it. I repeat those lines.
I began praying for you in the beginning of 2018. Not even out of selfishness, but out of pure intentions. Well, at first it was a little selfish because I so badly wanted you to want me. But then as I kept praying through the sadness, I began to see a new light. One that God had given me to see past all my wants. But one where I prayed for your goodness and one where I really prayed that you'd end up somewhere so incredibly happy, a place where you'd feel at home and one where one day you may see God again. You deserve all the good things, honestly. But I don't get why you constantly try to shut people who want that for you out. Out into the thin air and watch them leave when it gets too close late at night. It always seems the night sky has a way of doing that. reminding you of all the bullshit and all the demons hiding underneath your bed calling out your name.
you're the only one who deserves the credit, the glory, the gold star for where you are. And I get that.. I get that you've built yourself up so high and the mountain you're standing on in this moment, you earned it. You did, you really did and I applaud that. You're inspiring and I am not pulling that out of my ass, because I genuinely look up to the man you've made yourself into. You said you don't think like everyone else and you're different - i respect that. I think that's amazing to be this young and create a name for yourself. I am still learning how to be the best me. But I like growing and learning from those around me. It fills me up. But no, i don't morph into the people around me; I just grow along side them every time they tell me a new story about what made them, themselves. I am not weak, I am actually stronger than i've let you see. and you are probably a lot more stronger than the things you've shown and told me.
I like hearing your stories. I like sitting on the edge of your bed and hearing the good and the not so good things you'd experienced.
I knew I couldn't be just friends with you to be honest. 80% of me did though. I let myself believe we could. And we were. We were nothing more than friends and it was fine. It was so fun. I don't think I have ever felt not judged by another person in my whole life. and maybe that's why i'd call you up when I just wanted a friend. You made me feel good about being my whole-heartily self. and I think we all need a person like that in life. Someone who doesn't make us out to be this whole Mother Theresa persona, yet someone who lets you feel a little badass every once in awhile. 10pm was never my favorite time of the day until I started hanging out with you again.
I kinda like that we really didn't do anything and it was good to just be around another person with the same sarcastic asshole mindset that I had, (even though you're 10x worse).
It amazes me how you can turn off a switch as fast as I blink my eyes. It kinda scares me at the same time. Maybe that's why I constantly feel like you don't want to be around me. I am afraid you'll think that I am just another fucked up girl or that you're fucked up and you're just done. They say it's all fun and games and poker face until someone doesn't wanna play. I am not sure who didn't wanna play first anymore.
I think i'd be rich if i had a dollar for every time you made my heart feel cheap. I probably should've won the whole damn lottery.
But I keep letting you back in.. because for some reason I always think God isn't done with crossing our paths yet. Because I can actually see there is more to you. However, i'm not some holy spiritual guru so i could be wrong, too.
But no matter what anyone says, I still believe in you. I still think you are one of the best people who ever crossed my path. You taught me what it was like to be valued as a women. For awhile, I believed in all your beautiful ways.
The way we could actually talk for hours on end and it seemed as if time only passed 5 minutes. But the minutes turned into hours with one single blink. You're strong, and strength never shows anymore, but in you, it did and it still does. But I always see the sensitive side, too. You're not soft, just sensitive. (and that's not a bad thing).
when I saw you for the first time that July since you shunned me to the corner, I thought I was ready and I now know I wasn't. I wanted to somehow go back to where we made all the mistakes and fix them.. but I also wanted to do what you did to me and make you hurt like hell, too.
But I can't ever be that person.. so instead I just wanted to be friends. I wanted to understand the other side of things and move forward. I wanted to try things the right way.. as friends.
when I finally asked you to sit and talk about what the hell ever happened, I got all that closure I so badly prayed for all year. and I thought we'd be done and I could go on with my life. But, I was wrong.
You're like some sort of drug I can't seem to let go of. And it all became a big game. If I dealt my cards right, If we confused the queen of hearts and spades and we didn't show our best hands, we could somehow find the in between and remain that way until who the fuck knows when.
I have no idea why I keep going around in circles. Maybe I am just attracted to the rebel way of doing life. Maybe I want to play on the train tracks and smoke until 2am with you, again.
Maybe I am just tired of being this small innocent girl who lets people tell her she's not good enough to walk on the wild side.
But little do they know, and little do you know, I've already been there. And the cuts and bruises underneath my shirt, the ones you can't see because i've covered them up so well, tell a story i refuse to share.
And with you, I almost did share. But then you told me the same shit he did, and I sought to prove you wrong instead.
With you, it's different or it was. I still think the best of who you are. and I still hope you get to show that side of you to someone one day and don't run when life doesn’t shine and you can’t see the rainbows. I hope you know I actually cared and most days  I still do. I still pray for you. All the time, I do.
But I deserve to feel beautiful and to feel worthy of myself and  worthy of someone. I deserve to feel the love I’ve so badly wanted to feel.
I wanted it to be you. But we can’t always get what we want, huh? I know that.
remember how you told me you read every single one of my blogs ever? I'll never forget that. It was the best thing anyone has ever done to get to know the real me, past the facade, and actually cherish the biggest part of my life - i don't think you'll read this one though. but if you do, i hope you know I still care so much about you. I don’t know why, but I do. and I hope you somehow find this post just as beautiful as the old ones you used to read, too.

that’s all. i miss you.


Monday, December 10, 2018

2018, You were a Real One.

There are things in life you just learn. You sit for long enough to realize life is as series of letting go moments and letting moments change you. It's the moment you're driving in you car and you suddenly begin to see the fog clear up from the sky in front of you and the lights on the houses actually feel magical like they're supposed to this time of year.

This year, to be honest, has been one of the most heartbreaking years for me. It's been ground shattering, trying to catch my breath again, and relearning the meaning of love, who God is, and who I am and want to be.

I have fought like hell this year and a week ago I would've told you I can't find proud moments. But this morning, that has changed. Because I sure as hell am proud of the woman I am becoming today and the way this year has unfolded to teach me what fighting through the mud really feels like.

When 2018 began, My pastor has said, "this is going to be your best year." and i laughed out loud because clearly he did not know how I started this new year. I was broken, I felt guilt and shame covered my body head to toe. But, somehow his words kept flooding my mind every single damn day of the first few months.

During those months I walked with my head held high that God was going to move a mountain in front of me soon. I kept saying, "soon.. I know God will come through." and I prayed like crazy, I prayed in the fire, rain and the days that felt more like hurricanes. I waited on miracles. Simply because I believed in them so much.

Halfway through the year, I don't know why i stopped. But I just stopped.
I did my own thing and left God on the sidelines while I ran for my life on my own.
I didn't run all on my own, though. I let God help me every now and then but I placed Him on the back burner when things didn't align right.

I forgot.

I forgot how to pray. I forgot how to feel those miracles and it was hard to speak God into the lives of others during sunday night bible studies because I couldn't feel God speaking to me.

He just became silent. and as much as I wanted to hear Him at the same time I didn't think i deserved to.

I know that's a misconception of who God is.. trust me, I know that now. But in the middle of it, you just don't understand and I also think it's beautiful to question God sometimes. To question your life and your existence and your journey because without those moments, how can you even say you believe at all?

To believe in something takes courage, bravery and whole lot of strength from somewhere inside of you.

In February I wrote in my journal, "it doesn't feel this way now, but you're gonna get to October and it's all gonna be okay."

I think that sentence I wrote has rung so much truth in my year. I had dwelled on everything this year didn't serve me, but I forgot all the beautiful things, questions, doubts, praises, adventures this year did serve me.

I found myself. I found out that standards and scales, if I have great faith or no faith at all, understanding or a whole list of questions, doesn't make me less of myself, but more of who I was created to be and become.

I don't need a reason to apologize for the things of this year, I need a reason to celebrate the victories I have overcome, the people who have stood beside me and said they were fighting with me, and realizing God doesn't hate me because of the decisions I have made.

I am loved, I am free, I am called and redeemed.

Maybe it was hard for me to see it all through the year, but the year isn't over and I have decided to see the lights this year. I am finding the beauty in change, in real life, in the hard stuff.

I think at the heart of it, my pastor was right.. this was one of the best years.. because I found out exactly who I want to be.

I hope you have found peace with yourself, too, babe.

XO, J.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Do You Really Move Mountains, God?

I started to question God during that Sunday night sitting in a circle trying to pretend I was fine when I wasn't fine at all. I started to become angry with God because I didn't understand. Why people can so easily walk into your life and sweep you off your feet with romantic gestures and then we must let them go - let it all go. How you can show your family so much kindness and love and still be shamed to the ground.
I questioned every single thing that was meant to be sacred.

I remember sitting there, numb.
It brought me right back to 20 year old me sitting in the church pew, aching for some sort of savior. Except this time, I had a savior.. it was just hard to believe he was actually saving me.
I didn't believe that part of me could creep back into everything I was trying to be. Everything I thought I was.
But it did.

For the next few months following that night, I left God on a "i'll get back to you soon." basis. I wanted him when I was crying but cursed him every Sunday night when I would try to say it was okay during the "highs and lows" of group.

I became the girl I told myself I would never become again. That girl filled with fear, insecurity and doubt that God was even moving. Ultimately, I became covered in anxiety and depression all over again. 

They say 40% of people who experience depression once will experience it again for a second time.

I didn't believe in that until I started to forget my memory. 

I truly believe when you are pressed into the darkness, you figure out what you really think about God. How much authentic faith and trust you really do have.

Back in October, when I first started this bible study I lead, my friend leaned over at me and asked me to explain to the group what the word, "smelting" meant. ( I know what an ugly name, right?) I was opening an old journal last week and the notes I made from that night were on the first page I opened to.
The word, "smelting" means a refinement of something. It meant something would have to go through the fire time and time again, you would put it through this machine where all the excess junk would come off of that piece of metal until it was clean again and it would eventually come out as gold.

I didn't know it then, but I know God knew it.. He was doing just that very thing with my life that current season.

From the beginning of October, he was chipping away at things I thought i needed, but didn't need. Up until the end of March, I was the metal in the fire, ridding off all the unnecessary junk.

It was the hardest season to face and I didn't think the heartbreak would ever fade. On most days i wanted to call God up and tell Him I was done with all this stuff and just go back to doing the old things.

I remember meeting God in my car after study on Sunday night. It was February 11. That entire day I spent at war with myself and I was worn out. We had started spending 3 minutes of prayer at the end of the sessions and during that time all I remember coming to my head was, "God, show me a sign that you are still good." and i begged for that.

I couldn't feel any of it and I tried holding it together as I walked to my car.

Driving home, tears streaming down my face in defeat, roads cleared, my phone lit up with a text from a friend sitting in that circle.

it read,
"... I feel like God just kind of spoke to me randomly saying, "she is so loved by me and loves me faithfully (talking about you) and as you were talking, i just kept thinking she gets it. she gets that this is it and that this faith is the most important thing we have. Like that phrase she gets it kept coming to me and i feel like God was telling me that he sees you, and he is so proud and joyful with you and that you are pursing the Father in such an honoring way... "

I think God has this really cool thing where he sends himself in forms of humans - like angels in disguise.

she was one of those that night. 

and I don't think she knows how significant that message was to my heart.

I believe when the storms of life hit, followers and statistics don't matter on your grid. Platforms and highlights on your snapchat and instagram stories don't matter. But it's in the wind and waves you realize the small number of people who will meet you at your doorstep at 11pm and help you walk when you can't walk for yourself anymore.

I am realizing now, if everything in this past season never happened, if the failed relationships, the wars at home, the struggle to stand up, the hurt, the pain, the 2am anxiety attacks, I would have never realized this one thing:

I need people. I really really need people. 

I have truly learned how to move the prayer from, "God, remove this battle from me." to "God, just be glorified through this" because I honestly believe if it helps me see Jesus even more than so be it. Beautiful things can be born in the middle of the fight. 

and oh baby, He shined through it.

In Exodus 17, Moses, Joshua and the Israelites were fighting the battle against the Amalekites, Moses goes up the hill and tells joshua he will hold the walking stick of God in his hands. As Moses stands on the hill, with his arms outstretched towards the sky, up to God, the Isrealites win the battle. Yet every time Moses puts his hands ot his side, the battle shifted and they begin to lose. However, just when Moses gets tired, Aaron and Hur come to his side and help hold his arms up for him.

they walked FOR HIM... until the battle was won.
and Moses, keeping his eyes on the thing that mattered the most, wins the battle.

I finally have seen that when you let people in and let them see the raw parts of you while you're not always smiling, and you keep letting people into all your junk, you will eventually see Jesus. People are Jesus in the flesh.

and the small number of people who have stood in my fight, have made me believe that prayer i prayed back in February, "God, may this battle glorify you."

'cause i see Him.

Life, I have come to conclude, is series of letting go moments. It's a series of getting comfortable one place, finally liking someone so much, and then everything shifts and we have to loosen the grip on these things we so tightly wrap our hands around and to be honest, I don't think we'll ever be prepared for these type of things. It'll happen over and over again in your twenties. But then there are certain people who will stay rooted with you while you're figuring out this thing called life.

and i think those are the real sacred things. 

I had no idea then - but now i know, the choices we proclaim to the world as "small stuff" become something crazier. They determine who we are, how we'll unravel the things inside ourselves, and if we will still keep showing up to the person we so badly wanted to be before the battle hit us in the face.

My dad told me this a couple months ago.
He said, "don't forget the person you were before the battles started tearing you down. you were strong and free and you still are those things." 

I didn't want to believe him.
But, it's June 2nd. 
It's been half a year.
a half year of questioning so many things.
But one thing I know now is this: still pray like you're desperate for God to continue moving even though you've felt the victory.

He moves mountains.

I'm finally seeing Him do it again. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Oh but I have been Giving Shame my First Name.

I don't want to do social media in a way where it's a commercial or an advertisement. A life where it isn't actually the real me. So today, I have promised myself I would write this up with my whole heart in hopes you'll still stand by me. You'll still fight with me as I get honest.

I have been listening to "You're gonna be okay" By Jenn Johnson on repeat for the last hour bawling my eyes out. I remember listening to this song last year and how I truly could understand where she was coming from because I had once been in that same situation. She sings, "I know it's all you've got just to be strong, and it's a fight just to keep it together." and I thought, wow. All the memories of crazy nights of panic flooded my mind and all the numbness crept up my veins that day. I truly felt redemption for all the things I had gone through.

I thought what a storm God took me through and how thankful I was to be alive; breathing.

It's been a year later. It's been one hell of a year. A year I didn't think would be so hard.

It's kind of funny how foreshadowing happens sometimes, right? Or so I think so.
I write seasonal prayers and each time I get to the end of that season, I look back at them and see how God answered each one. In 2017 I prayed the entire year to be brave and go for it.

Going through different seasons of the year I felt as if I got a little braver and braver with each day.

But then December showed up and knocked on my doorstep. I truly felt as if my life hit a wall. a big fat brick wall. And to this day, I have never had to fight so hard to feel. On Christmas Eve, I got my first legit panic attack again. I remember sitting on my grandma's couch, hysterically breaking down in tears and couldn't walk. With everything in me I tried to stand up and I couldn't do it. It was a moment of weakness I hadn't experienced in a solid few months.

I hate looking weak. It's one of my biggest insecurities, next to feeling not good enough. "always wear a smile and be confident. Don't let them see you break a smile." was my mantra every day since I was 21.

The guy I had been dating had been distant all week and I was so lonely, I had been trying every day to somehow make sure my sister knew I loved her when I have only felt as if she hated me, and my relationship with my mom was barely starting to look up after years of destruction.

That week, I had been hiding the lies of feeling like the fight of life wasn't worth anything. I had been hiding the fact that I was so numb and alone and that night, I couldn't do this thing anymore.

I truly feel as if the enemy comes dressed up in everything you've ever wanted; everything you've ever desired. If you think God is the only one who knows you, think again: the enemy does too..

From October until December, I felt as if I had everything. I had everything my heart desired. People would constantly tell me how much joy I had in me and I felt it myself.
A community of people I so desperately loved, being able to sit at home with my parents and be honest, trying to mend things with my sister and it was finally going okay, and a guy who was perfect and actually someone i wanted to be with after years of closing myself off.

when a couple words, actions and misunderstanding in areas of my life began to fall apart, I got so swept up in it. I felt as if I failed and everything was somehow my fault.

"if i smiled more.
If I didn't act mad.
If I would've stayed home.
If I told him, i was happier for him more often
If I didn't cry when my mom yelled at me
If I showed up. "

The lies flooded on.

& I once again fell into a pit of depression and excessive anxiety.

January was the hardest month.
To be honest, I can't even tell you things that happened in that month because I can't even remember. The dark nights I faced, the hurt and the shame became my best friend and I am not proud of it.

I felt like the most unforgivable person. I felt the numbest I had in years.

These last 3 months I have been trying to hide the darkness I have felt and tell myself these feelings weren't valid enough to face because people are going through worse.
But hiding the feelings i shamed myself of, mistakes and my falling out, created something deeper in me that i thought was gone.

The same storm i crashed into years ago.

I haven't been strong enough to admit to anybody the numbness I have been feeling again for prideful reasons. I haven't wanted to show anything but "happy Jess." But through talks with my best friend, mentors and solid friendships over the last 2 months, I can now say it aloud: that I am just okay and that has to be okay. I am getting better.

This past Sunday at church, my pastor spoke these words, "there are storms in your life that you've handled before and you can handle again."

When he said that, i knew it was directly from God. This storm of shame and guilt and unworthiness of the good things is such a storm I once battled, and I can battle once again. it's not the end game.

I felt Jesus proclaim to the lies camping out in my mind that I was such a warrior, a fighter. And I am.

I praise baby steps. i really do praise the first mile and the gritty hard low terrain moments.. but being caught back in them are such another thing for me.

But I am trying.. I am learning to love the process of realizing I am still a good person even though I make mistakes. I am human.

The song I mentioned in the beginning goes on to say, "just take one step closer, one foot in front of the other. You'll get through this."

and I truly believe that.

Its March. We're only 3 months into 2018. and although it's been one hell of a fight, I am forgiving myself for the bad decisions I have made, for all the times I have lacked understanding, for the choices that hurt others and hurt myself.

Although it feels as if shame is swallowing me whole, I was made to dance in the light. I was made to stand in joy and dance for all the times I was too hard on myself.

Some days I want a call, I want a face to face voice speaking to me, "You are forgiven. You are loved."
But on most days all I want to be like the Taylor Swift song when she says she wants to dance in the rain in her best dress fearlessly.

I just want that. 

How freeing that must be.

I am currently letting Jesus teach me how to feel safe when I am not 100% okay, when I am un-okay and how to once again feel beloved when I am broken.

Because truth be told, anybody can shove their pain into a vault of numbness, like I have been doing. Anybody can pretend and masquerade in their cheap ass masks. But the brave feel their failures and abandon all their efforts to lock out suffering. Brave people let brokenness come; not neglect it. Something holy happens.

Something holy IS happening.
it's been three months of masking. But I don't want to be the one who masks anymore. I want to be the one who says, "hey I am hurting, and I know you are hurting.. but lets press onto Jesus together and let Him come into the broken pieces as we walk though life together."

I have been trapped by the enemy's lies of believing I deserve shame. But I will not give myself an option to stay angry at the world anymore.

This life has nothing to do with me and love still wins. 

I am remembering that.. Love is still winning.

John 13:7 says, "you do not realize what I am doing now, but later you will understand"

what a flipping promise. The name of Jesus is such hope. and today, as I am fighting to believe that, I hope you are too. Let's do this together. 

XO, J.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

You will see the Sunflowers Soon.

It's really tough to accept things. It's hard to dream of what you want your world to look like and then fall back into the real reality of it. I thought going into 2018 something magical was going to happen. Everyone talks about the New Year glistening and how we all "leave things" in 2017 there. But the truth is in the middle of February when the New Year isn't shining anymore and you're waiting for Spring, it's hard to find the silver lining. We can say we leave things in the old year, but those old things will still follow you into the new year whether we like it or not.
Right now, I am somewhere in the middle of wanting to hold onto everything that comes into my orbit and letting every single thing go at the same time.
I have been battling feeling everything and letting myself discover that it's okay to feel deeply. But, I have also wanted to slam the door, step on the brakes and sit in my numbness more than often.
On most days it's hard for me to see that God is good, but in the pit of my heart, I still know he is, it's just a little tougher to see the miracles at my doorstep.

Not all of life will be one giant love poem. I get that. You will have seasons of messy, ugly, distraught tears and life will feel like you're pressing the repeat button every time you open your eyes.
I am learning that in these seasons the important thing is to keep the focus on kindness. Keep the focus on love. Everything else is just extra.

You must do the things that get your heart back into alignment and remind yourself that not all things are lost.
You must not skip out on the seasons you are filled with despair, because often times those are the seasons God's glory will breakthrough most. But in those times you must keep fighting. And fighting hard can be difficult. It's easier to listen to sad love songs and sit on your bed angry, it's easier to get mad at the simple things and keep people at arm's length. But, let me honest, arm's length is a safe but awful place to be.

you never learn a single thing by shoving people away. By shoving your visions away. Shoving the kindness away.

There have been so many lies swirling in my head since this year has began. Lies from my past that proclaim that I am not enough. Lies that take everything in me to turn my cheek and proclaim kindness to my reflection in the mirror instead of words of hate.
Every day it's a battle of believing I am these things the liars in my mind tell me I am or choosing to pray and listen to a steady voice - the voice of Jesus.

And to be honest I have been listening more to the liars that have been setting up camp in my head more than the voice of the One who calls me instead.

I wanted to badly for this year to be different. During the end of 2017, I had my head held high and I felt confident. I felt like I was doing so many right things. However I guess I learned that you can do every single "right" thing, and still feel wrong.
It's not about doing "right"; it really isn't.

The last week of December I told myself as I will walk into the new year I would become this new person who would take on the world, meet new people, smile wider, be bolder and shake off every damn thing 2017 didn't serve me.

But like I said, things don't magically vanish. And because this year isn't going how I thought, I have sat in my confusion and anger.

52 days into 2018 I have been missing the point.

If I keep focusing on my fallen dreams and thinking God doesn't hear my heart's desires then I am too blind. I am too loud if I don't think God can find a miracle for me to participate in.

I am tired of directing my eyes on things that haven't gone my way. Things that I cannot change.

I have never had to fight so hard for joy. I have never had to fight so hard to keep focusing on being a kind person, being Love. And I have spent far too many mornings and nights wondering why looking to Jesus has been so draining.

But, i think I finally get it. This has been winter. It will end in time, but not on my doing. Not on my control or my efforts. My responsibility is to simply know my season and keep persevering though it. It is to know the discipline of it, yet don't lose sight of God in it. It's the season to believe in spite of - to believe in the absence of emotions on some days. And that i must walk without sight and still deeply believe in the power of God.

so yes, January and February haven't been ideal and I know the rest of the year won't magically become perfection. But i will build a house. A house where the floors are made of strength and the walls will be crafted with glorious ambition. Where the roof is a masterpiece of forgiveness - the forgiveness towards myself, people, and things. I will build this house within myself and I will not get angry at everything that this year hasn't been.

I will create a new beginning of hope. And I will see that in my own story.

If you have felt anything like me this season, please know you are not alone. You may feel lonely.. you may feel like the loneliness person standing, but goodness, you aren't alone.
Your spring will come and the flowers will bloom. The sun will rise, because it always rises.

Keep fighting, fighter. You are gutsy and you are still brave. It's alright to mourn all the dreams you didn't hold. Nobody ever talks about the amount of mourning in growth. But it's okay to.

Spring is coming.. Hold on. Just hold on, love.