Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hidden Blessings

Life is so full of blessings,

You just have to choose to have the eyes to see them.

Living in a foreign country it is hard to see the blessings God brings. It is so easy to let my mind get filled with my woes of how I didn't get a hot shower, or how I just can't get away from that spitting noise that everyone makes here or how that guy who takes one look at me and then honks his horn just because I am a foreigner.

It is so easy to let myself have a pity party and think about how much I miss my family or how I just wish I could sit down and have a long talk with my boyfriend. But if I let myself get caught up in that I will miss what God has for me now. I will blind myself to the wonderful blessings God has for me today.

I must choose by God's grace to see the little pleasures God brings. And if I choose to look for them, I will be so much happier.

That has been my struggle lately during the midst of the Christmas season to not dwell on what I don't have but to dwell on what I do have.

I realized today that I can be happy about the little things. Even though I miss a lot from back home, I can be so thankful for the little gifts God brings here today.

So I decided as I wrapped my hands around my warm cup to accept the hot chocolate that I thought was gonna be a cold chocolate shake as a wonderful gift from Jesus.

And as I write this my host brought me some red licorice something that I haven't had since I left home.

"Yes" I thought, "I can smile and wonderfully bask in the little blessings God brings"

"I can be so thankful every time I see the sun, or get a glimpse of the moon or tast the wonderful dumplings they have here, or when I get a chance to laugh with friends. I can be thankful and accept it for what it is,

A Gift from God. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Unexpected Flowers

This summer I got kinda used to getting flowers.

Growing up I hadn't gotten many flowers. Before I started dating I remember only one time that I had recieved flowers. When I first started working, my boss got me and my fellow employee roses as a thank you. Other than that getting flowers wasn't something that usually happened to me except in my dreams.

When I started dating my boyfriend Kevin though this summer I fell in love with getting flowers. He had his sister secretly find out what my favorite flower was and after our first date he presented pink lilies to me. It was the first time I had ever gotten flowers from someone I liked and who mutually liked me as well. They were so wonderful. They filled my room and the entire basement with their fragrance. They cheered my heart whenever I saw them. They put a smile on my face and yellowed my nose when I got too close while smelling them.

He gave those same flowers to me several times throughout the summer, with the knowledge that while I was away in a foreign country he couldn't give them to me for nine months. So he found some earrings with the same lily painted on a heart with a white background to make up for all the times he couldn't get me flowers while I was away.

When I arrived in the country, I didn't miss the flowers all that much, but as the time got longer and longer they were something that I began to miss from home. But God always provides. There are flower shops everywhere and my favorite lily is in just about every shop. They would make me smile every time I saw them and now I use them for free smells and beauty for my eyes :) I am sure the natives think I am such a strange foreigner.

I told Kevin, that they had my flowers here and the sweet man that he is, told me to think every time that I saw them, "Don't worry". He was drawing from Matthew 6:28b-34

"Consider the lilies of the fields, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God clothes the grass of the field which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not clothe you,  O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kindom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble"
So I started doing that. Every time I would see my lilies on the street I would see that as a reminder from God, "Don't worry Jess, I have this under control". Amazingly he would send those flowers at just the right times.  Often it would be when I was getting off the bus, or having just a stressful time and he was so faithful to bring me those flowers. Even on my running route there is a flower shop so I get to see those quite frequently.  And when I saw them I would think to myself, "I would really like to have some...maybe I will ask for some for Christmas".
Then one day this week, my team mate brought me flowers. She came into my room with them and I broke into a huge smile, then I broke down in tears. I knew that it was God that gave me flowers. That he was saying during a hard time, "Don't worry Jess, just trust me."
I look at them now as I write, and I am just so thankful at God's goodness. God is able to bring flowers even when you are half a world away from home.
He is so good.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Gift

I was feeling pretty down.

The realization that I was gonna be away from my family and boyfriend and friends for a long time was setting in.

I was with a family that I loved dearly but it wasn't my family. Not my family....and I was totally out of my element away from everything was familiar. I was tired.

As I read my sister's blog post about how she missed me, I broke down in tears.

"God I can't do this anymore."

"Why do you have me here?"

"Is what I am doing worth it?"

I laid my head on the kitchen table and let myself cry. I knew I needed to. I knew I needed to work through the pain of missing my home.

To help with the pain I started to sing,

"My child are you discouraged by the sorrows of the day?
Does it seem like life is crumbling? The skies have turned to grey.
Don't forget I gave you promises to guide you every hour.
In the moment of your heartbreak let me show you my great power.

And I will your shield when the battle rages on.
And I will be your light when the way ahead is dark.
I will be your strong tower, and guide you every hour.
Just place your life completely in my hands

I know it won't be easy I never said it would,
but my grace will always be there, my plans for you are good.
Remember that your weaknesses are perfect in my sight,
only when you yield them to me, can I turn them into might!"

And I will be your shield when the battle rage on,
And I will your light, when the way ahead is dark,
I will your strong tower and guide you every hour,
Just place your life completely in my hands.

And some day you will understand, why I sent this trial,
And someday you will see the end, and know its all worth while!"

As I sang this song and was reminded that God is always with me, He will never let me go, I went to go sit up on the window seat, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a white BMW beetle. My boyfriend and I used to always play a game called "slug bug" and every time we saw one, we would tell each other "slug bug!". When we were driving together instead of slugging each other like most couples do, we instead would hit the ceiling. Needless to say it was a fun game that we played endlessly and we hoped to continue it while we were apart, but slug bugs are very very scarce in my area. I had thought I would have to resort to telling him everytime I saw a Ford...but that is no fun. Anyways enough with the back story. I think you get the point, slug bugs are a huge memory for me.

So I saw the slug bug and with it came surprise, joy and memories of last summer's slug bugging.

I realized that God had given me a gift. A gift saying "I love you" and "Its gonna be o.k."

Needless to say its amazing how one little white beetle can make my day :) :) :)

Friday, May 25, 2012


The only
can be
from all
of love
is Hell.
~C.S. Lewis

The Gift of Family...

God has been more than good to me.

 I see that every day of my life when I look at the family He as given me. 

To explain why I love my family is rather hard because I don't know where to start. I am just reminded of it during the day by little things that happen. Whether it be Hannah my sister closest to me in age just coming into my room and sitting and talking with me, asking random questions and generally having a sister talk. :D

 Or being woken up by Allison, my youngest sister cause she needs my tape player, and which iron works again? 

Or its Sarah, who has the most hilarious sense of humor. She (and every one else cracks me up all the time). A quiet girl but always with something to say she is continuely making us laugh with her sarcasm. Whether its directed at me or anyone else its still funny. For example, Hannah rushing to take a shower cries out "Where's my cell phone?!........oh wait....I found it!!!" then at the perfect moment Sarah comments "What do you need your cell phone in the shower for?".

 Or it could be like last night as I heard shouts from the rain outside. Sarah, Allison and J.J. were playing in the rain. It had rained all day. The rain had created huge puddles around our little ten acre hobby farm. J.J. and I couldn't resist running and chasing each other through and around all those wonderfully splashy puddles. I can still see his face as his yellow "Minion" shirt from "Despicable Me" stood out in the semi darkness, giving me that grin of his with the triplets of dimples on either side of the corners of his mouth.

Or it could be Carson in all of his toddler cuteness. He is not afraid of telling me when he wants me to read a book. Grabbing his favorite (at the time) he will come right up to me and with his little but rapidly growing vocabulary demand that I read it to him. How can I resist that chubby face, with the blue eyes and curly hair? I can't miss those times where he willingly sits in my lap and listens to me read, exclaiming with every new turn of the page, trying to say things that he recognises on the pages.

Or it could be my Dad, teasing me at every opportunity but oh so willing to protect me, making sure that I get to where I am going, and looking out for my heart.

Or then again it could be my Mom, my wonderful, straight forward, down to earth mom, who loves the Lord with all her heart,  as she makes sure that I am heading in the right direction, or just watches me with that mommy vision over hers, always praying for me, looking out for me and loving me to the utmost.

Either way, every day I have reason to say, "Thank you God for giving me my precious, goofy, and loud family." :D

Friday, April 27, 2012

From My Bookshelf or The Library's

I love missionary stories and lately I just can't seem to stop pulling them off the library shelves and bringing them home with me. I miss the old days when I could read a book in an afternoon. So I have to limit my choices at the Library. Sad huh? It's not like I have to have a budget to stick to at the library. Its free for goodness sakes! (well unless you have late fees....somehow I always get those :/) but I guess I am just budgeting my reading time...ugh..I shouldn't have to do that.

So I was really excited that I actually finished a book last night!!!

I read "We Signed Away Our Lives: How One Family Gave Everything for the Gospel" by Kari Torjesen Malcolm.

When I pulled it off the shelf at the church library the title intrigued me. How did this family give everything? How did God draw them to himself? What can I learn from this?

My expectations were met. As soon as I opened it I was pleasantly surprised that it was set in China. I don't know how I didn't see that little detail on the back cover but I apparently didn't!

The book followed the journey of the Torjesen family on their commitment to follow Christ no matter what the cost. It all started when Peter Torjesen the future father of three boys and a girl heard a mission sermon at his church and when the offering plate went around he not only put what money he had, he also put a piece of paper in the plate which read "And my life". It was the pivotal moment in his life. He never looked back. This commitment to took him and his wife Valborg to China where they served the people of China sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were commited even through war, and harships. This commitment ultimately cost Peter his life, but was that really so much to lose?

"Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Savior's face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid---of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash, a crash, a pierced heart;
Darkness light, O Heaven's art!
A wound of his counterpart!
Afraid---of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not--
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid--of that?"
~E.H. Hamilton

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life in this world will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12: 24-25

"These all died in faith, not having recieved the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11: 13-16

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Opal

Do you know that lovely fact about the opal? That, in the first place, it is made only of desert dust, sand, silica, and owes its beauty and preciousness to a defect. It is a stone with a broken heart. It is full of minute fissures which admit air, and the air refracts the light. Hence its lovely hues, and that sweet lamp of fire that ever burns at its heart, for the breath of the Lord God is in it.
   You are only conscious of the cracks and desert dust, but so He makes His precious opal. We must be broken in ourselves before we can give back the lovely hues of His light, and the lamp in the temple can burn in us and never go out. ~Ellice Hopkins


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mirror Mirror

"Mirror Mirror on the wall".....

one of the most famous fairy tale lines isn't it?

I bet we can all finish the next line but do we really want to admit that we might not be "the fairest of them all?"

I stood in the bathroom tonight. Looking at my face in the mirror. My reflection stared back at me.

"Am I good enough?"

The thought burst into my head.

"Am I acceptable?"

Is that the heart's cry of every young person?

Cause it certainly has been the cry of my heart ever since I can remember.

But I have learned to try to answer my question, to talk to myself. Because I can never be acceptable. Never be good enough. There will always be another record to break, another goal to set, another person to please.

Then a thought pops into my head, "God has accepted you".

And I feel heartened. For this is not just a simple feel good statement. This is a truth that is built on the foundation of the Word of God. I was born a sinner. Unacceptable to God and hostile towards Him.

"For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord". Romans 6:23
"For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13

Because of my sin I was unacceptable to God but because of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross paying the penalty for me I am good enough. Not because of some great thing I have done but because Jesus lived a perfect life for me.

Now when God looks at me He sees not the sins I have commited but Jesus' righteousness.

 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

I can't always remember that though. I believe the lie that I must work to be acceptable. I look in the mirror and see all the flaws.

So I must speak truth to myself.

I must tell myself, "You are beautifully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14

I must remind myself, "Who can separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:35

I must stand on the promise, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1

Now for the challenge.....can I remember those verses when I stand in the mirror and think of all the mistakes I have made today?

"Lord please make it so!"

.....so unfaithful

I was standing at the counter at work today and thought..."wow I really need to update my blog."

This always happens to me. I get in a huge kick and blog regularly for quite awhile.......



I just stop.....

maybe its lack of planning. Probably because I am just plain lazy!!!!!

Anyway I decided to drop in and let you know that life has not stopped for me. I just haven't been able so slow down and actually blog...nothing has really hit me as "wow..that would make an awesome blog post"

or maybe my sensor is just broken.

Either way I am planning to have a brainstorming session....

Check in soon!!!!!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Directs His Steps

"The heart of a man plans his way 
but the Lord directs his steps" 
Proverbs 16:9

Photography by Hannah Bretz

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Race....

I don't think I will finish today.

My ankle hurts.

"God please heal my ankle!"

I keep running. The pace isn't to fast. I keep my legs under me.

Mile Four.

The pain subsided.

Maybe I can go faster!

I increased the speed. I started passing people. Oh what joy! What exhilartion!

It looked like I was going to make it after all.

I passed one racer after another.

I check my watch. Kenzie has got to be coming soon. She has to be heading back already.

Wait.....is that her?

I see the runner's stride. Not perfectly straight, more like a swimmer pushing the pavement back. 

I move towards the middle of the road.

I scream "Go Kenzie! Go Kenzie!!"

She's coming closer.

I reach out my hand.

We touch hands.

And keep going.

I prayed out loud. "God please let her finish second girl! Please let her break a record! Please let her finish strong!"

Now for Kevin and Caleb. I scan the increasing crowd of runners coming toward me. I find my head swimming as my eyes are scanning the runners for them.

Wait..is that them?

Yes!  They are side by side, neck and neck. A pack of runners behind them, looking as if they were leading a charge.

"Go Caleb! Go Kevin!"

Now to keep going. That half way point is coming up soon......just keep going! Just keep going!

Whew I passed the turn around. Ugh..its harder now. The wind is in my face now.

I must keep going.

I must keep going.

Wait! There's Corrie!


She looks suprised that I am so far ahead.

I keep moving.

Need more water!

Theres the water stop....grab two cups. One for my head, the other for my mouth.

Keep going.

I feel so much better.

Mile 9 only 4 more to go!

I can't let that tatooed man beat me.

Passed him.


Now where is my family? They said they were gonna be here.

Why do women have to wear spandex shorts?

Green Spandex Shorts!

I am not gonna let a girl with a green behind beat me.

Passed her.

Mile 12.

Almost there. Hurry up finish line! Where are you?

Aah.....I am almost there. My knee is on fire.

Yay! I see the finish line.

Yes I can!

I pick up speed. Pumping my arms and legs. Running faster and faster.

I sprint toward the finish line.


I hear my family...there they are.....I knew that they would show up!

I feel on top of the world. I can do this. I can do this!

The finish line is only a little bit farther....a little farther...

I passed it!

I finished!

I stop by my friend and her family. Bending over I pant, trying to get breath.

My body feels worn out but I feel good inside.

I did it!

I finished the race!

I didn't stop. I kept going and I finished!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Race on Saturday!

Lord willing I will be running a half marathon on Saturday!

Please keep me in your prayers!



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

..just do the next thing...

When I sent out an e-mail update to my friends about my closed door to Ukraine one of my friends sent me this quote in an e-mail.
"Sometimes life is so hard you can only do the next thing.
Whatever it is, just do the next thing.
God will meet you there."
Elizabeth Elliot
It has been a big encouragement. Life has been hard the past couple weeks. I have had to let go of a dream....and that has been hard. It has been hard to just give it to God and let him be in control of my life. Inspite of the hard times, I know that even though I don't know his will, I do often know what is the next thing I should be doing. It may be just going to work the next day, or helping in church on Wednesday or showing God's love to that customer who walk in the door...He will guide me..and He will sustain me.
He is enough.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Moon Thoughts

Driving home on the country roads that lead to my house I couldn't help but notice the huge moon shining down on me.

Ever since I was little I have loved the moon. Driving home with my family in our van I would press my nose against the back window of the van and stare up at it. It was so beautiful and large. Something about it fascinated me.

My love of the moon carried on into my mid teenage years. While at camp one summer I woke up to the moon shining into the window of the room that I shared with the maintenance girl. We had become best friends over the summer and I had to share the moon with her :D

"Em, Em," I said.

She lifted her head...."Whaaat?" she answered groggily.

"Look at the moon!"

"That's great"..and she promptily laid her head back down and went back to sleep.

It became a joke with us. I began to text her any time I saw a pretty moon...and she would try to see it too.

As I drove home tonight all these things ran through my head but another thought came to mind as well. I have often thought about the moon as a picture of Christians. The moon is a reflection of the sun. We as Christians should refect Jesus Christ. We are the moon. Jesus is the Sun. I had a new thought tonight. The moon doesn't do anything to create it's own light. The sun creates the light, not the moon. I thought..wow we as Christians need to stay close to Jesus. We need to can't do anything to shine Christ...all we need to do is just bask in Christ's light..in his love..and we won't be able to help shining Christ...it will just happen.

Friday, March 2, 2012

When God Says "No"

Yesterday God shut a door in my life.

To explain I must go back to last fall when I was sitting in church listening to the pastor's sermon. It was missions week. The week when the church's focus is on spreading Jesus throughout the world. On that Sunday there is a call to everyone who feels called to serve on the field long term. The pastor tells everyone who feels called to come up to the front of the sanctuary.

I knew what this particular Sunday was. Last year I had even determined that I would go up. The year before that I had felt compelled by God to go up, but I didn't. I didn't see my parents make any move to go, so I thought that if they didn't go they must not feel kindly to my going up there.

This Sunday however I was alone. I had come to the first service ahead of my family because I had work that day. So there was no family to see me walk up there. No family to influence my decision or to give me frowning looks as I made my way up to the front.

That is exactly what I did that Sunday. I just couldn't get that thought of, "you need to go up there" out of my head. I knew that I didn't want to squelch the call of God. So grudgingly and somewhat impulsively I scooted past several people to get out of my row and I walked shakily up to the front. Tears started rolling down my face.

There were many others up there. Several single young men and women, and a family, the dad proudly leading his young brood. I stood next to a young man. He looked like he was in college. He might have been the same age as me but he definitely was in college. I can spot college student a mile away. They have a certain kind of dress and attitude that just exudes college.

As the congregation was dismissed, the elder that was standing near me and the college student handed us both cards loaded with information on how to get us started on our journey and asked if he could pray for us. We both agreed and explained why we were here. The college student seemed to have a purpose. He even had a country that he knew that God wanted him to go to. I looked at him in amazement. I had no idea whatsoever about where God want me. (I still don't). The only reason I was up here was because I felt called. I didn't know how or when, or what or even where. I just knew that I didn't want to quelch God if he was calling me to the mission field. After we finished the elder prayed for us. As soon as his amen sounded I darted out of the sanctuary stopping only long enough to grab a flyer on short term mission trips. I ran to my car got in and promptly started crying. I was so confused. I thought that I had my whole life planned out. I would keep working at the quilt shop, maybe do some designing and get married and have kids. God had just thrown me a curve ball!!! To add to my embarassment my family drove up and parked right next to me. I am sure there were plenty of other parking places but they had to stop and see me cry.

God used it though. My dear mom got out and I told her all that happened. Like the wonderful mother that she is, she cried with me and gave me words of encouragement. She told me that she didn't care where I went. She just wanted me where God wanted me.

After that talk I decided to follow up on a mission trip that I had been interested in seven months before. By God's grace there were still openings! In fact the team leader had been meaning to contact me but for some odd reason she had lost my information.(she still hasn't found that very safe place where she put it). There had been no way for her to contact me..there was no way for her to even describe me.

So I went with her to Thailand to work with kids. I went hoping and praying that God would show me if he really wanted me to serve long term. I believe He did. The last day I made it known to several people that I felt called to Russia long term. The result? Explosion. God brought three people into my path to talk to me about Russia. He showed me two opportunities, one was to help with an English camp in Russia, another was to serve two years in Ukraine working with college students. Now as I look back I wonder if I went to far. If I should have waited and not acted on impulse like I did in Thailand but I know that even in spite of what I did, God has a purpose. He will use it for good.

I decided to apply to go to Ukraine for two years. God seemed to open the doors..even to opening my schedule to talking with someone who had been through the program before. So I applied. I filled out the large questionaire, got references, and sent it in. For three weeks I heard nothing. Then on the day before the deadline I was able to set up a skype date with the receiving missionaries in Ukraine. I was filled with excitement. Surely they were going to tell me that I had been accepted.

Alas. I was wrong. As I skyped with the couple they explained to me that I didn't fit into the box that the program had created. But if I still wanted to come to Ukraine I would be able to if I went through language school and applied for a mid term trip. I couldn't believe my ears. Were they really telling me that I hadn't been accepted?

Yes they were. After I said good bye to them, I started to cry. I think I was in shock. I had built so many dreams around this in such a short time. My mom came to me and I explained to her what happened. I told her that this isn't a set back. God will bring something along. He will show me the way. She gently contradicted me. She told me that this is a set back. "You have to go through a grieving time But after you grieve, you give it to God, and He will show you the way."

It has been two days since God has said "No."

It has been a grieving time for me. But an eye opener. I have been seeing things that I haven't before. It certainly hurts but it's a good hurt because it drives me to God.

So would you pray with me? Would you pray that God would show me where He wants me? Pray that God would give me a bent and a love for the lost the likes of which I have never had before?

Source: google.com via Jess on Pinterest

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From My Shelf: Graffiti

I picked up one of my oldie but goodie favorites today.

It is one of those books that you read a couple times then keep it around to grab when you need encouragement.

I needed it this morning.

For a long time I have struggled with body image. Some days are better than others and the last several months have been such freedom! God has given me the grace to trust in Him. To trust that if I eat that cake He will give me the strength to handle the consequences....

But lately I realized that I have started to slide down that old slope again. I rejoice because I have noticed it sooner than other sliding seasons but still I have been sliding.

I realize when I am putting myself down.....allowing lies to creep into my mind.

"you are fat"..."those thighs are huge! They should be smaller with all the running that you do....maybe you should take up weight training again".

"Should you really be eating those chips? Do you really need those calories?"

"I wish my belly was just a little bit smaller".

I have realized that these thoughts are coming into my head...I realized that I probably was dwelling on them to much. I prayed that God would release me from them. I know what can happen if I let these thoughts slide. They lead down a miserable slope. A horrible insecure slope that is very painful.  But sometimes praying is not enough in a spiritual battle. Prayer is wonderful but sometimes I find that I need a little ammo to shoot down those thoughts...

So I picked up this book.

Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves
By Erin Davis
I have read it several times before but this time I couldn't resist pulling out a pink highlighter.

I only read one chapter but truths that I could use to fight lies were suddenly bursting off the page.

The first chapter is rather like an introduction. Davis admits that she would rather not tell about her struggle with body image. She writes, "It would be easier not to admit these weaknesses to you. I would prefer for you to think that I have it all together. But I feel compelled to give you a glimpse into the heart of my struggle. Why? Because I know you struggle too."

I read this and I was reminded that its ok that I don't have a perfect body. As I read I felt Jesus whispering into my heart. "You are flawed but I love you. I accept you with your flaws."
I felt loved by Jesus. He accepts my flaws. He makes me beautiful inspite of my flaws.

Here are some other places that I highlighted with my handy dandy pink highlighter.

"God's word is rich with words of affirmation of our beauty and our worth.."

"If you have ever doubted your beauty and worth, you have heard a lie. Freedom from the lie ----for you and me---is important, and yes you can find it!
    We fight side by side with a slippery snake. I know from experience that this is a battle not easily won. But I also know that victory comes when you turn your eyes upon Jesus."

"I want you to know that there is a mirror that does not mock. There is a place where we can look and be told that we are beautiful, lovely treasured. That mirror is Christ, and believe it or not, He has dedicated much of His word to exploring your beauty and affirming your worth."

"...your beauty is God-given and that you truly are His masterpiece."

These passages spoke to my heart. I probably will walk away from this blog post and struggle with body image in less than a minute..but now I have ammo.

I can think "I am flawed..but Christ has accepted those flaws..He loved me enough to dirty himself with my sins, my imperfections and because of him I am beautiful."

And may the Lord grant victory in my battles against this struggle to feel beautiful and I pray that you will find the same victory in your battles. If you struggle with an eating disorder or just find it a struggle to accept that you are truly beautiful pick up Graffiti...or better yet dig into God's word. God has planted many wonderful truths about how He loves you in there. We just have to crack open our Bibles to find them.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

And Endurance Produces Character.......

Tomorrow I am planning on going on a run.

A fifteen mile run.

I am going to suffer. It is going to hurt to to be out there for three hours fighting the elements. I might even have to run during a snow storm.

But like Paul who wrote in his letter to the Romans, I will rejoice in my suffering. I will rejoice when my whole body aches and creaks when I try to move. I will rejoice in the sweat that soaked my hair and clothes. I will rejoice in my pain.

More than that we rejoice in our suffering....

I rejoice because I know that this run gets me a little bit closer to be able to endure running a half and a full marathon. This run will build my endurance.

...knowing that suffering produces endurance.

Also this run will build character. It takes guts to say that you are going to run fifteen miles but it takes character to finish it. You can't run a marathon on just your body strength. I will get tired. I will have to talk myself through the last half of the race. I will want to quit, I will want to give up. Even tomorrow thoughts of quitting with flicker through my head. I know. They have come before.

...and endurance produces character...

Just like the passage I won't stop here...this run will produce hope. Hope that I will be able to run my best in the half in a couple weeks. Hope that I will finish those long grueling runs that are needed to finish a marathon. Hope that I will finish the Lincoln Marathon in May and that I will finish well.

..and character produces hope,

There is one last thing that this run will do....and all the other runs will do for me. They will give me hope that will not put me to shame. I won't line up at the starting line of these races and peter out after only a couple miles. The suffering that I endured, that produced endurance to run long miles every week, which in turn built the character in me to keep at it, to get up early several mornings a week and brave the cold. All this gives me hope that I know will not disapoint me. I know because of all I went through that I will finish the race. (Lord willing)

..and hope will not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.

Romans 5:3-5

Friday, February 24, 2012

From My Book Shelf

I love books.

I have ever since I started reading at six. Much of my childhood was spent reading or listening to a book on tape. I grew up with the classics like Little House on the Prairie and Tom Sawyer.

Now that I have graduated from highschool and am an "adult"...I still don't feel like one even though I turn nineteen next week, I still try to keep reading.

Lately I have been reading these books.

A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter
by Miriam Huffman Rockness
Source: amazon.com via Jess on Pinterest

I picked this one up while at my church library. I love missionary biographies and I had never heard of Lilias Trotter before. I read on the back cover, "Lilias was an artist, proclaimed by art critic John Ruskin to be potentially one of the best artists of the nineteenth century. But Trotter left the art world behind to pioneer a mission work in Muslim North Africa".

"Wow", I thought..."I think I can relate to her...here she is giving up all she has to serve Jesus. I want to do that".

So I checked it out.

As I read the book I fell in love with Lilias. She was from a well to do family during the Victorian period. Living in England she wanted for nothing and could have pursued a career in art. But she loved her Lord more than earthly praise. She never married and gave up a career that could have made her famous. Instead she lived among Muslims in North Africa. Spending time and loving the people of Algeria she strove to serve the Lord whole heartedly and share His love with Muslims. Her life wasn't easy. She often worked harder than her health warranted but she endured and died in Algeria surrounded by the people she loved.

As I read the book many of her words stuck out to me.....here are some of the quotes I saved. (I almost wish I didn't have to return it!)

"Trained faith is a triumphant gladness in having nothing but God - no rest - no foothold - nothing but Himself - A triumphant gladness in swinging out into that abyss, rejoicing in a very fresh emergency that is going to prove Him true - the Lord along - that is trained faith"

"When God delays in fulfilling our little thoughts, it is to have Himself to work out His great ones"

"..it was a joy to think that God needed me: Now it is a deeper joy to feel and see that He does not need me - that He has it all in hand!"

Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges with Muslim Women
By Miriam Adeney

Source: amazon.com via Jess on Pinterest

I grabbed this book at the same time I grabbed, "A Passion for the Impossible". I hardly ever get an opportunity to interact with Muslims but I thought " I never know if God would have me serve in a Muslim country or bring Muslims into my path." So I picked it up. (I really am a big "buyer" when it comes to libraries..lately I have been picking up more books than I can read...not a fun problem)

I enjoyed this book immensely. Before I read this book I didn't really know much about Muslims other than the general knowledge that I had picked up from school, church and other reading. As I read the book I gained greater insight into the Muslim world and more importantly the world of a Muslim woman.

The author takes introduces you to many Muslim women who have fallen in love with Jesus and trusted in Him as their personal savior.  I read of how they grew to love Jesus not as a prophet who didn't even die on a cross but as God who loved us enough to lower himself and dirty himself with our sins and problems. As I saw Islam and Christianity contrasted I fell in love with Jesus all over again. Islam teaches that God is beautiful, great, powerful, loving....all the things that the Bible teaches about God. But Islam is missing something. It is missing a personal relationship with God. The God of the Bible is all those things, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness etc. but God wants to have a personal relationship with his people. "But God demonstrates His own love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Islam is missing that. God is impersonal to them, they have to say many prayers and be perfect..and maybe God will hear them. The God of the Bible isn't like that. He truly is a father. "As a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him."

 I still don't know much about Islam. Reading one book doesn't make me a scholar on the subject but this book gave me an appetite to pray that God would bring Muslim women into my lives..and the next time I see a book at the library about Islam I think I might just pick it up.

I have other books that I have finished just recently and a larger stack of books to read...I plan on keeping you updated on them as fast as I can devour them.

The other books that I have read recently are....

'Silent Night' by Sue Thomas

'The Navigator' by Robert Foster Jr.

and here are a couple that are on my list to read.

"Borderland: A Journey through the History of Ukraine" by Anna Reid

"The Greatest Russian Stories of Crime and Suspense"

I will let you know how they turn out.

What have you been reading lately? I always love to add to my stack of  "need to read"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Have to Tell You Something!!!!

I found my library card!

Yeah I know what you are thinking "she is posting about how she found her library card?..she needs to get a life!!"

Yeah well maybe I do....but it was kinda an event for me this morning.

I had just finished my devotions and I decided that I wanted to put a hold on some books at the library....but for some reason my web browser hasn't saved my card number and I have to find my library card to even put a hold on something. Who memorizes their library card number anyway? (well my mom does...but she is the exception)

So I pull out my wallet and there is no library card.


Normally when I lose things (and I really don't have a deadline for it..like a library book due date) I just think "eh it will turn up sometime"...I really don't want to spend the time or energy or thought power to look for it.

One time I lost my glasses for a month and I thought..."eh..they will turn up sometime" and "I can wear my old ones"

It took my mom to actually decide to start looking for them before I actually found them...and they were in the most obvious place...ugh....

So this morning when I found that my library card was missing I decided to look for it....besides..it had to be here somewhere..and you never know..I use my computer a lot when I am sitting on my bed..and my sheets need to be changed anyway..it couldn't hurt.

Twenty minutes later I still couldn't find my library card. But my sheets were in the wash..and my room was slightly (very slightly) cleaner.

I felt like the woman Jesus told about in the Bible who lost her money and wouldn't stop searching for it until she found it. (Luke 15:8-10)

This parable came to mind as I dumped out my purse, pulled stuff out from under my bed and checked the pockets of my pants.

I knew a library card wasn't very important but I prayed anyway.."God please help me find it!"

And I found it! :D (it was in my purse....I found it on the second dumping)

Never did that bright yellow card look so good to me.

I was so relieved that had found it and I was so glad that I didn't have to look for it anymore.

God feels like that when a sinner repents.

"...there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.." Luke 15:7

"There is more joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents" Luke 15: 10

Compared to God we are as insignificant as the library card I was searching for.

But he loves us anyway.

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;...for he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust"
Psalm 103: 11,14

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Love of Christ


 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness or sword?
As it is written, "for your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-38

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why I Run

I run because it makes me feel good.
 I run because it makes me feel powerful.
 I run because I know something good always comes from pain.
 I run because I can't stop myself.
I run because I am a runner.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


It's spring time!!!

Can't you tell?

Yeah I know it's still the middle of February but I can totally sense spring in the air.

When out on a run the scenery brings back memories of springtime.

I can hear birds...springtime birds... and the frost on the ground just adds to the illusion

Maybe I am just tired of winter...and maybe Minnesota's lack of snow is totally adding to the effect..but...but...it totally feels like springtime!

Can you blame me?

Love is Dangerous

"Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that his teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis from his book "Four Loves".

It encourages me to love without restraint and to trust God when it hurts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gas Station Obedience

I want to set the world on fire.

Until it's burning bright for you..

It's everything that I desire.

Can I be the one you use?

The words to Brit Nicole's song "Set the World on Fire"  were runnin' through my head as I pulled into the gas station after my dad.

He had pulled me away from working on my previous blog post to fill up my car with gas.

I grumbled inside..wishing he would just give me the money to fill it.

But as I sat waiting for my car to fill up with gas and for my dad to go inside to pay, I started praying for everyone that I could visibly see in the gas station parking lot. I asked for their salvation..that they would know God's love..and realize their sinfulness.

First it was the teenage boy straight ahead getting into his car.....then the lady to my far right just filling up...then my prayers turned to a man with a red truck just across from me, who just arrived.

As soon as I started praying for him I felt God say to me, "Get out and talk to him"

My mind jolted from my prayer....I was scared to get out and talk to that man..he looked like a nice man to be sure but...but..I was at a gas station at night...aren't those supposed to be dangerous places?

"God can I just pray for the guy?" I asked..but my mind couldn't focus on my prayers...all I could think about was getting out and talking to that man....what if he really needed to hear about Christ? What if God really wanted me to talk to him?

I had no idea what I was going to say to him if I got out..but as time went on I felt myself taking off my seat belt....

Then it was to late..He went inside....but aah..I had tracks in my purse. A gift from my dad before I went on a mission trip to Thailand..I am ashamed to say that I had never used one...until now.

As soon as the man got inside the gas station, I opened my car door and scurried across the aisle and placed the track right on the windshield.

It was pefect timing..for as soon as I had closed my car door back inside my car the man came back.

He walked right to his truck and got inside totally missing the tract I had placed on the window.

I prayed "God please let him see the tract"

He then seemed to see it..and got out of the truck....and picked it up, got back inside and drove off....

I breathed a sigh of relief..I prayed that he would read the tract....and really wished that I had gotten out to talk with him.

What if he really needed to hear about Jesus' love that night?

But a couple weeks ago, I wouldn't have looked at this gas station visit as an opportunity to share the gospel..and I sure wouldn't have gotten out and put that tract on a man's truck.

I rejoice at this little step of faith God granted me and pray that God would grant me the grace to step out in faith in larger ways. Praying that God would grant me a love for the lost. Praying that He would help me overcome my fear of man.  Praying in every opportunity in which I might meet people that God would grant conversations and openings to share the gospel.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Steadfast Love

"I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever;
        with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations"

This is what I saw when I opened my Bible last night to spend time with God.

I was struggling.

I couldn't get it out of my head.

"Tomorrow is Valentine's day and you don't have a date.....AGAIN!"

I was feeling worse and worse. The thoughts were closing in on me and I couldn't shake them off no matter how often I tried to give them to God.

But then I opened my Bible.

I didn't try to open it to any place special. Just to the place where I was scheduled to read

 As I read.....

God bowled me over with promises of love and faithfulness

              "...steadfast love and faithfulness go before you"

                              "My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him...."

                                             "My steadfast love I will keep for him forever....."
                                                         " ...I will not remove from him my steadfast love
                                                                  or be false to my faithfulness"
                                                                         "Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,
                                                                               which by your faithfulness you swore"
As I read, these phrases stuck out to me..I didn't really pay much attention to the rest of the Psalm...part of me wishes that I had, but another part wonders if I just needed to hear these specific words. I just needed to be reminded that God loves me....and it's more than just love...it's steadfast love.....love that will never go away or crumble. He doesn't just love me....He is faithful....He will always be faithful to me even when I reject Him for other things.

As I finished that chapter my heavy heart felt lightened. I was reasured that God's love satisfies, that He will always love me."

I didn't dread Valentine's day anymore.

I was ready to hit the day head on....caus' I had a love better than any other human love on earth.



I was just cutting fabric, doing what I normally do at work. Serving the customer by answering their every beck and call. This doesn't just mean that I just cut fabric and run errands. I give hugs. I ask questions. I listen.

This particular customer had several projects she needed help with. She was going on a retreat this weekend and wanted to stock up on projects for the three days of non stop quilting.

One of the projects was several pieces of fabric all the same sizes for pillowcases.

She told me that she got them at her quilt group meeting. All of the women in the group had brought in three quarters of a yard of fabric and drew names for the whole pile. She had won this time after a day that was particularly hard at her work place. It really made her day she said.

When I heard that I said, "I love it when God does that!"

She agreed with me with a simple "yeah".

When I heard her reply I wondered if I had should have said that.

What if she didn't believe in God? Did I offend her?

On the drive home God brought the incident to mind.

As I thought about the short encounter, I realized that maybe I had said the right thing.

I should not be afraid of praising God.

Even though I had said such a simple thing, I shouldn't let my fear of man stop me from praising God.

God didn't promise that Christians will have an easy life of this earth.

Am I willing to pick up my cross and sacrifice all my life for Christ?

I don't want to live this life like the lukewarm Church, Jesus rebukes in Revelation. (Revelation 3:14-22)

I want to be instead hot for God.

"Please Lord, make it so"


Monday, February 13, 2012

A Verse on My Heart

"Weeping may tarry for the night
but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5b


Honestly I don't know why I created this blog....

doesn't that sound awful?

I have another blog.

I haven't been very faithful with that one either.......besides I started it with the motive to devote it just to quilting. It didn't work very well for me. I have so many other things in my life besides my love of quilting....the most important of which is God's amazing show of love in my life.

So today I was posting a letter about Valentine's day on my other blog and I thought, "this blog is not the right place for this letter".

Somehow..I have no idea how..I ended up creating another blog.

I had been thinking about starting another blog but when I tried the name I wanted just didn't fit.

So I gave up and just kept writing on my other blog albeit unfaithfully.

For some reason I opened up blogger and just started creating a blog..I don't know why..I just did.

This time when I tried to figure out a name I decided to open up my Bible.

It fell open at John 15. I skipped over all the places where I had highlighted about Jesus being the vine and we are the branches and I came to the middle of the chapter and my eye fell on this verse, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

So I went with it the first two words and surprisingly it was an open blog! :D God must have had something to do with it. :D

So I published the blog under that name and as I went through the normal process of setting up a blog, picking a template....and so on, I thought "wow..I am really going to fail at this if I am going to write about how I am loving others".....but then God brought to my mind...and I figured it out...this blog isn't for showing how well I love but how well God loves.

I am always going to fail at loving, but God's love never ends. There is no limit to His love.

That is what I hope this blog represents.

Thanks for reading