Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Hello, Does it Haunt You Like Seventeen, too?

It's the memory you ignore, but you can't erase. It's the things you didn't ask for, but somehow you fell into. the stomach feeling with a smile on your face and the nodding of your head, in agreement with so many tears held back inside.

it's the room filled with rumors and everyone staring - telling you, you asked for it by what you were wearing and the piece of yourself you let go saying, "it's fine."

I remember it all in flashbacks, I remember the look he gave me on the side and laughing in my face when I said that was not okay as he tried to convince me it was alright.

and me believing it was okay after that.

when you're 17 and you just want to be liked, you think the world needs to see you more, that you're not this innocent little church girl they all proclaimed you to be - you'd do anything to be loved.

I wish I could tell my younger self that it's okay to glow in the light of the Lord, that one day a beautiful man is going to see that inside of you is so much more than the shadows of the world and being pure has no negative connotation associated with it and it's something to hold onto with your hand up high.

I wish I could go back to that room that day. In the middle of the mess and shut the voices that told me I needed to show more skin, have more sex, lose the purity ring, and tell that boy he was never allowed to talk to me the way he did.

People shed lots of light on physical abuse, and they're right.. its absolutely wrong. I remember the guys who used to punch me and act as if it were a joke and i'd take it, joking back. However, I feel as if sometimes the world overlooks mental and emotional abuse along with that.

you know that line, "sticks and stones may break my bones; but words can never hurt me." that line is a piece of shit because it's not true.

you will forever remember the words people have said to you - and they will haunt you if you don't deal with them one way or another.

they've haunted me into my twenties. They've made me look at purity, at men, at respect in a way that distorts my view so much.

It's taken me so much of this year to deal with those demons and some months I am so strong, and other months I want to sit in the corner and wonder what i ever did wrong to feel not good enough.

but the simple truth it I was always good enough. I was always worthy enough for a man to love. I was always beautiful even before and right after those boys told me what beauty was.

beauty is what one possesses inside of their own heart. and that's it.

I don't know when i forgot to remember that.

I believe you. If you are someone who just couldn't talk about it, but felt it all. If you lost your mind trying to make someone listen to you. the tears on your pillow, when you wanted to scream but just left it alone.

me too.

But you are not that girl.

You are a warrior, you are a daughter of God. You are more than words, and so much more than battles, you are bulletproof.

you're beautiful because life has given you reasons to give up on love, yet you still continue to see the good and hope in it.

You still let the door open, and let the door slam. but instead you persevere with confidence. You respect yourself to stand up and be bold and say when it's not okay.

you are a queen.

I am 24, and I still hold back a lot of those days. I still don't talk about them face to face, and i am still learning how to treat my heart, and my body and my soul like gold.

I got a tattoo this year to remind me that I am ONE. out of 100. that the Shepherd would save, would rescue, would hold, would cherish, would notice when i was gone, missing, or just broken.. when I felt as if I didn't matter..

I always did. and always will.

and maybe you could use that same reminder. that you are the ONE, golden one.

If anyone is gonna love you, let it be you first. THEN, let someone in.

XO, J.

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.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Depression, Anxiety, & The Real Reality of it.

I sat in my car and drove to work only to find myself sitting in my car with the air blasting, music up loud and looking down to see my hands shaking. How can this even happen? I drove here perfectly fine, but in the midst of waiting patiently for a text I ran out of breath to breathe.

I Just ran out of breath.
it's just that, though. It happens in an hour, a minute, a second and then in that same amount of time it takes to arrive, it can all disappear again.

And I thought to myself, How can this be? Yesterday was the best day ever and today I couldn't even get out of bed. It makes no sense to me at all.

People will tell you, "It's because you don't have enough faith in Jesus." And for most of my life growing up, I believed in that. I thought Jesus was embarrassed to be seen with me whenever the depression rose to a new high.


I would try to pray.

But every day I felt so dirty kneeling at my bedside, knowing I was sinking deeper into the anxious nights and unglamorous days.

Maybe they were right when they said my faith wasn't big enough. That's the lie I was telling myself.

But, here's the messy part people don't understand about depression. about anxiety disorders.

Life can be good. Life can be sprinkles and rainbows. That's the hardest part. It's the toughest thing to understand. because most of the time there really isn't any certain pin point, it's just a big ball of i have no clue why my body hates me. why do these thoughts fill my mind? why. 

Growing up, I struggled with letting my mind convince me I was nothing worth more than a penny. I acted, talked and walked around with the mindset that If I was told those things long enough, I would convince myself that was what I was.

It worked.

For far too long, for so many days, months and soon enough it was years.

For those of you who don't deal with depression, anxiety, or emotional trauma.. it's okay that you don't fully understand.
For those of you who do, it's okay to not be okay. it's more than okay to take the day moment by moment. Those are my two favorite words: ITS OKAY.

Here's the raw truth about depression. Here's the raw truth about anxiety disorders:
They are prisoners of the dark. It often feels like that spongebob episode when he is thrown into that sponge looking room. The one with no windows or doors and he is yelling out for help but nobody can hear a single thing he is saying. Then all of a sudden the walls start to laugh his laugh and turn yellow just like him and next thing you know, the room is spongebob.

That's what I like to think of when I try to explain to someone what anxiety and depression feel like.
It's a room closing in on you, trying to find the small EXIT sign and you can't. and nobody can hear your screams, the room gets smaller and the walls close in and you feel inmensily helpless.

It's a soundtrack of lies blasting so loudly through the stereo, through every situation you are in. One where no matter what volume you set the radio at, they are always there. Some moments they are loud, and then the next they're whispering in your ear like a fly.

There have been many days where all I wanted to do was lay myself in the pile of curse words I couldn't piece together about the things I felt about myself. But that's the cold hearted truth about depression; about anxiety.. it's like a drug that wants you to obsess over things you cannot change. It doesn't want you to move forward. It doesn't want you to experience joy.

Oh, I wish I could go back in time and say I am sorry to people I hurt along the line, the people who tried to love me through the mess.
Note: forgive someone tonight. Call someone. Tell them you love them. Tell them you forgive them.

Gosh, I wish I did that.

That's what depression does to you. It blinds you from every good thing Jesus is trying to do. It blinds you from every person who just want to hug you and love you.
I wish I let people walk along side of me during this time of my life. Oh, through the grace of God at one point I did. But it took years.

But let me remind you, you are NOT bound by it. You are more than the anxiety. You are more than the way your body is feeling.

Over the last few weeks, I didn't think I could be so numb. I didn't think I would get through the day without having yet another anxiety attack. I was so hard on myself.
I try so hard to see the glory of God, and honestly.. because of it, I have seen it. It just some times takes extra fighting.

But I get how hard a 360 can be. The switch inside you - leaving you feeling as if youre hanging by a thread. It drastically messes with your mind. and it's exhausting.. I get it.

Here's what I want to tell you tonight: You aren't alone. You aren't broken. You aren't worthless. And you aren't your struggles. You are more. You really really are.

There's something I have realized. Sometimes, all you need is one person to stop trying to save and rescue you, but one person to ignore all the panic and alarms, and just come sit with you in your burn, in your fire.
I believe everyone needs one steady heart to burn with them. Someone who can turn their flames into one holy blaze.
I think that ultimately breaks brokenness.
We don't really like to talk about any of this. Probably because it hurts. and it's vulnerable. and once you let it open, people can see your junk.
But, there is so much healing in revealing what you're really feeling.
I have come to understand that nobody will ever question me if I place a mask on my face. EVER. but it never did me any good except build another thorn fence around my real things.
so find your person.

But oh there is also a healer, darling. And his name is Jesus. Oh, if you would just keep running to Him. I wish I could soak up so deep inside of you the ways He wants to dance with you through these things. He won't lead you to places He won't go.

Don't be so desperate to fix yourself that you forget the One who heals every bone. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you."

There's a reason it says ALL, it doesn't say some.. but ALL. just pour them on your Heavenly Father.

Next time your chest hurts, the depression takes hold of you, the anxiety and panic attacks get tougher to deal with.. whatever it may be.. say to your soul, "be still my soul, be still. I have a healer."

Oh babe, Jesus provides a comeback for you. He's only waiting.
Don't curse the wilderness, Jesus often shows you the real miracles there.
And sometimes, they're not painted in the skies, but in the smallness of joy.

You are human. Remember you are more than this. Baby steps are flipping gold.

One day you'll be out of the woods - and you will help another soul out of the same woods, too.
Believe in yourself, babe.

XO. J.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Love + Grace and The Lies I Have Hidden.

I have been aimlessly walking around trying to grasp ideas of love, grace, fires and hope. I have let myself down so many times this month, yet I have also risen above more than I thought my heart could handle. I told myself not to write again.. I had been so insecure, so flipping insecure about my words. But, today I told myself to sit long enough to listen to my own heartbeat. to pay attention to my own heart and believe in her again.

I think sometimes its a lot more than just being afraid of broken things. I think we're afraid to burden someone else next to us with our brokenness. It's the thought of our breaking that can break someone else. So many times I am this person. I am the girl who will wear a crown that screams, "I AM HAPPY! LOOK AT MY SMILE." simply because I don't want to have this look of weakness and let another soul around me into my weakest and honest moment of: Broken.
It's so much easier to bury our hurt than to break anyone's heart.
and that's one reason I thought I'd give up writing. I was tired of letting this window open screaming, I am hurting, and I thought I would place a mask back on and try to be "perfect" all over again.
Oh it's been a lie. It's the lie of the year and I am over it.

I have realized communion not only births in our strong and joyful parts that are given away, but in our most vulnerable and broken bits of ourselves. I think Jesus shines the brightest in the broken. Everywhere in the bible you'll find Jesus walking with the lowly, the weak, the hurt. So if we touch a glimpse of that, maybe we can touch the heart of God.
Maybe, if we're brave enough and give the most broken and wrecked parts of our hearts to another believing heart, it can create another strand that miracles may bloom from.
There is no communion unless we break our ego, our pride, and our lies.
So here's to being honest with you and my neighbor.

I have been trying to practice two things: Love and Grace.
They're such simple words but when you unpack them oh they explode with so much depth.
I think they are two the most overused words in our vocabulary but the most healing words if given the right attitude and perspective.

It's been so hard for me to show these two words to anyone lately. I have wanted to cuss them out consistently, yet each time I almost do, I can only hear the voice of God saying, "keep praying." Oh it's been so tough. But through the days where all I can feel is hate from pain, Jesus always shows up and reminds me that Love will always win in this race.
I can confidently say that pain and courage sometimes include both these things: praying and cussing. and sometimes at the exact same time.

I always believed it was easy for me to show grace to people and just say it's okay. Somewhere along the line in 2017 I grew so cold to forgiveness. Every time someone wronged me, my first thoughts were a big, "eff you." instead of how it always was, "it's okay."
I became such an angry person internally.

But I think once in awhile we need that wake up call again.
I have so badly been wanting to hate certain people lately, but everything in me just cannot this time.
And I can't take any credit for the soften heart i've been given because quite frankly, it's all Jesus.
This word of Grace kept popping up everywhere.

"Grace, J.. look at all the grace.Show them endless grace."

I think many of us walk around in fear that our mistakes will take us out of the game. Whenever we mess up, God will strike us dead. But it's the opposite. Jesus comes and cups our face with the soothing words of, "that's alright, babe. Try again." His grace is like bottomless Red Robin fries, y'all.

And if we want to be anything like Jesus, I think we need to cling to this french fry scenario.

So that's what I am doing. If we limit grace to our neighbors, I believe we don't really understand Grace.

So I am relearning. Any forgiveness is only but a shadow of God's.

But you can't have grace, without love.

And I often feel as if we make love to be so much less than what it really is.
We can love nachos and we can love Jesus.
But do you see the problem?
It's the same word with two very different meanings.
It's so generic. And I don't think people truly seek to understand it anymore.

Love, at the very dang core, is self-giving. It's giving away more of ourselves to another.
I have been so cynical to love lately. Christmas day I sat in my grandparent's living room holding back tears because I thought love was a joke again. I sat there wanting to block out any sort of care and I began to feel numb for all the times I felt abandoned; all the times I failed at love. Like this time again.

But with every thing in me, and I truly mean absolutely everything, I woke up the next morning trying to rise from the numbness and over the last 22 days I have sought to dig deep into what Love actually means to me all over again. It's been hard to fight the enemies lies in my head but I have been letting love break into me and mess with me and loosen me and make me laugh and cry and hurt deeply because maybe that's the only way to actually live.

Someone once told me those who love too deeply are better off than those running away from it. and I think I believe her.

Letting yourself be loved and love is an act of terrifying vulnerability and surrender. It's giving of yourself and leaving you open, trusting another soul who is also trying to find the same exact thing. Why is so hard for us to believe we are believed in though? Oh it's so much easier to put up an 8 foot wall than to let ourselves be seen and cared for. It's so heart breakingly hard.

But over the last few weeks I have been thinking and dwelling on it so much.. and maybe the best use of our hands is always love and time and right now in this moment. It's sacrifice. and i believe that's one of the hardest things to remember. How real love isn't always heroism because that's all Hollywood. It's a sacrificing savior. It's a journey to be so dangerous and by danger I mean digging deep into the messy potholes and wounds and the smallest little things nobody around you will applaud for and only you know.

oh loving someone without getting anything back can win a thousand battles you may not be able to see.

I am learning this life has nothing to do with me and Love still wins. Grace still wins. I cannot give myself an option to be angry at the things I cannot control in this world.
But I don't need to be perfect. No, God doesn't need me to be this perfect human being, He needs me to show up with fiery passion and immense love in my heart.
You will miss the miraculous things if you are hardened to love and grace and wordly hardships.

Jesus will go through the storm to get to you, do that for people like He does for you. But you have to beg to Jesus to give you a passion for God and for people. and then, you must stand back and trust so whole heartily with all you got.

There is hope and there is a fire burning within you.. don't let the flames go out. This world needs more hearts like yours. Sit long enough to hear your own heartbeat, darling.

I am. I am, too...

XO. J.