Saturday, June 29, 2013

Seeking God first isn't always easy

Hey guys. I hope your days are all off to a good start! Today is moving day for me into my new house, and I am beyond excited! It's so cool to know that  I was able to share my searching for a place to live experience with you guys on here and that you were able to see how The Lord worked it out for me in the end. On a different note, I am really enjoying summer time and just being able to lay low and relax before graduate school starts up in the fall.    

I can't help but share with you guys something The Lord has been putting on my heart lately. It has to do with seeking Him over everything else. Sound familiar? Thought so. :).

Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.  
Matthew 6:33  

 I've been practicing my calligraphy skills, and below is a something I drew last night, what do you guys think? I love using colorful markers! 

Wow. What an incredible promise this verse gives us. The first thing I think when I see this verse is how wonderful of a promise from God it entails. The second thing I think of is how sometimes it can be so easy for me to focus on my fears and problems, instead of God. Sometimes it can be easy to let my mind wander off into the unknown, and begin to question where God is leading me in my life. Whenever I find myself beginning to think this way, I have to shake myself out of it and  trust and believe that God is working for my good. As soon as I do this, my mood instantly lightens and I feel back to my normal, happy self. Fearful thoughts are not from God, as I sometimes have to remind myself. 

I just wanted to encourage you guys today that whatever you are going through, nothing is too big for God to handle. Sometimes, seeking God first isn't always the easiest thing when our circumstances are out of line. I like things to be going smoothly and without any slip ups, like every other human being. However I am learning as a Christian it means that sometimes my circumstances will be beyond my control and just plain overwhelming. These are the times that if I am not seeking Gods wisdom and strength through the whole thing, I am doomed  to failure and I would probably give up.  
So guys. Frustrated with how your life is going right now? Seek Him first. Confused? Seek Him first. Annoyed? Seek Him first. Terrified of the unknown? Seek Him first. Overly emotional for no reason and in a weird funk? Seek Him first. God puts us through hard times for a reason, He always has some wonderful wisdom to teach us. There is a light at the end of your tunnel, whether your circumstances are overwhelmingly terrifying or just slightly annoying. I promise. Our Gods a teacher, and He just simply wants to know if we trust Him enough to make it though the test.  
Love always, Jess

Friday, June 28, 2013

A new blog challenge: Summer of Something New

Hey guys!

You may not know this, but this summer I am currently teaming up with one of my favorite bloggers, Annaliese at Southern Bell In Training, to do a new blog challenge! The challenge is called "Summer of Something New," and for this blog challenge Annaliese, ElleJenna,  Michaela and I will be committing to trying one new thing every week for 6 weeks and then sharing with you guys every Friday! I am looking forward to these upcoming Fridays for the next six weeks, woohoo! So friends, here we go! Here is the first official Friday post for this new blog challenge.

For those of you that don't know, this week I was at a camp called Washington Family Ranch. This camp is absolutely beautiful. There is a few huge water slides, a cliff jump, a rope course, and more fun things to do. What many of these fun things have in common is their altitude. Ha, in other words, they are not height friendly. They are made for those campers or leaders who are willing to take a leap of faith and face their fears.
At camp we are each challenged as leaders to "do things for our kids." We want to let our campers know that we are just as scared as they are to participate in certain events at camp. We also want to show our campers that just because we are scared doesn't mean that we are going to give up. Well for me particularly, I was terrified of the cliff jump. Last year at camp, I had even been too terrified to do the cliff jump. I felt like a failure, and that I had really let my kids down. This year, I came to camp with a better attitude. I came to camp knowing that the spirit in me was greater than my fears in this world. I knew that with the God of the universe behind me, I could do anything.

As soon as we got off the bus at camp this year, the camp announcer yelled out for two leader volunteers. Before I could even look around, my girls were already screaming at the camp announcer to "pick me!". The next thing I knew, the camp announcer had chosen me as one of the two leaders to go do the cliff jump in my clothes right then and there. As the camp announcer and I were walking over to the cliff jump together with the other volunteer leader, I couldn't believe that I was actually about to do the jump. I was freaking out on the inside, yet totally calm on the outside. I walked up to the cliff jump in complete peace. However, once I looked off into the water from the top of the jump, I was terrified. With a thought of 'here goes nothing,' the next thing I knew, I was jumping off the cliff into the water. 

It felt amazing. I couldn't believe I had finally done it as I gasped for air after falling into the water. There was no other way to explain why I was so calm as I walked up to do the cliff jump. I was at complete peace. You guys, this is crazy because I am legit TERRIFIED of heights. You hear me?! TERRIFIED. Although I was a bit nervous, the majority of me was totally okay with it, which was crazy. It was totally Jesus.

So thanks God, for giving me the courage to do the things I could never do on my own. Week one of the Summer of Something New blog challenge complete!

ps- as we all know, google reader goes BYE-BYE in just a couple of days. For all of you who still want to read my blog, Click HERE to follow me on blog lovin so you can still read my blog friends :)

xo Jess

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

the best week of my life

hey guys!
Sorry for being so M.I.A. these past few days, I am finally home from camp at Washington Family Ranch. I literally cannot put into words how much of a wonderful time I had at camp this year. I feel so much closer to Jesus, and so much more encouraged by the holy spirit to keep pursuing His spirit that lives in me.

There were a lot of laughs, and even a few tears this year at camp. The gospel was presented in such a powerful way, leaving me stunned. If I would have heard these sermons as a middle schooler, I can't imagine what my reaction would have been. I imagine that I would have came to Christ right then and there, but who knows. God is the only one who knew what I needed to hear or experience in order for me to finally invite Him into my heart.

As for my relationships with my middle school girls and also Julia who I lead with, those grew tremendously as well. I felt by the end of camp this year that each of those girls felt that much more like my second family. I love them all so much, and I am 100% convinced that God put us each together for a specific reason. 

Here are a few pictures from the adventure {There will be many more to come!}

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Lady's Blog Hop #2

Hey guys! I am excited that today I am a host for The Lady's Blog Hop #2! Blog hops are an AWESOME way for both new and experienced bloggers to get out there and build a community of blogger friends! So ladies, please link up! I am looking forward to making some new blog friends today :) Love you all!
Thank you to all who linked up during The Lady's Blog Hop #1.
Welcome to the NEW and improved Bi-Monthly blog hop party
and I am your Co-Host Jessica at Forever Convinced

If you want to meet awesome people and gain followers come and join the party.

I'm the ThirtyThree 80 Lady

(You can follow below. Just click on our names!)
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Are you interested in co-hosting? E-mail your name and blog link to ThirtyThree80(at)gmail(dot)com

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

two things every person needs

Hey guys.
Today I wanted to talk with you about two very important things that we as human beings all need. They are Security and Significance.

As a Christian, these are two things that I believe God alone is responsible to provide for me for. God has given me the ability to just be me, and it is truly is the most freeing feeling that I have ever experienced. My relationship with Jesus allows for me to feel secure in simply who I am. I don't feel the need to impress anyone or work hard to stand out in the crowd. In the past however, I always tried to be someone that I was not. I didn't feel secure in who I was, so I sought out ways to make myself stand out, in all the wrong ways. I wanted others to admire me, and I want to feel proud of my accomplishments. I wanted to feel loved. I was searching for security and significance.

Now, bear with me for two kind of cheesy things that I want you to say out loud, {But I promise it will be worth it!! Please do it, it really helped me :)}

The first thing I want you to say is: "God loves me UNCONDITIONALLY."

Do you believe that? its true. What if you lived every single moment of your day today believing this truth? I know it is something that I need to work on. God's grace is sufficient for us, and He loves us unconditionally.

"But God shows His great love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

The second thing I want you to say out loud is kind of a hard one. This one is REALLY hard for me to believe, and is REALLY something I need to work on. Say this truth out loud:

"God is SO proud of me."

How did it go? This one, man, its hard. I always heard people say this phrase, and I honestly thought it was bizarre. "I've let you down so much in the past God, how could you possibly be proud of me?" God simply responded by telling me that there is no way for me to earn my affection from Him, because He gives it to me automatically. Yes, we always need to do what is right, and we should always want God's best for us, but there is no way to succeed in earning His affection.

"So He got up and went up to His father. 'But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."
Luke 15:20

Remember these truths today, friends. Say them out loud. God LOVES you, and He is SO proud of you. Thanks Dad, I don't know what I'd do without you. Thank you for making me feel secure in your love for me and also proud of all I have accomplished in my life. I love you so much.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

healthy summer pasta dish {I love food}

Hey! I love food in case you didn't know. I love it so much that I had to share with you one of my favorite pasta dishes for summer. This recipe is light, delicious, and super filling. I found it about a year ago via Eating Well and have been hooked since! For all you carb-lovers out there who are wanting to eat healthy without letting go of carbs, this dish is for you! Healthy eating can be fun, and also extremely tasty. The thing I have learned about eating healthy is that it takes much more discipline and commitment to go the extra mile to find the healthier versions of recipes. Trust me though friends, that extra discipline and commitment is surely worth it! Not only will your healthy recipes taste amazing, but you yourself will LOOK and FEEL amazing!

Now, onto the recipe! HERE WE GOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Here's what you need:

-4 ounces of whole wheat pasta shells (or whatever shape you want!)
-4 ounces of hot or mild Italian turkey sausage
-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
-4 cups of arugula or baby spinach
-1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
-1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese you want to add on top of your pasta!)
-2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta 8-10 minutes, or according to package directions. (I used shells for my pasta shapes!)

2) Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon until cooked through, about 4-6 minutes.

3) Once cooked through, stir in garlic, arugula (or baby spinach), and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the greens wilt and the tomatoes begin to break down, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

4) Drain the pasta, and then serve the pasta topped with the arugula (or baby spinach) mixture. Wahla! your done! and it should look something like this...

If any of you guys make it, let me know what you think! I am excited to share with you guys tomorrow some thing God has put on my heart lately. I love you guys! Have a beautiful day blog friends!


Monday, June 17, 2013

It's offiicial- I'm a college grad!

Hey guys! I am an official college graduate! Gosh I can't believe it is official and it has actually happened. My diploma is so pretty, I can't stop staring at it! haha. Graduation day was such a fun day to share with all of my friends, and I am so thankful that I was able to walk with my brother as well. My parents were so excited to watch my brother and I graduate together. It was awesome! ere are some pictures from the big day :)
Here is a picture of my cap I designed for graduation :)

Yep...still can't believe it's over. It is such a surreal feeling.

As we sat and listened to our graduation ceremony with all of our different speakers, we were all pretty much dying in the scorching heat. Thankfully the ceremony went pretty fast, and we were done with our diplomas in about an hour and a half. As I looked around in the crowd at the faces I had become familiar with throughout these last 4 years, I couldn't believe how fast time had flown by for my college experience. If I could any of you guys who are in still in college some advice, it would be to simply enjoy it while it lasts. One minute your a Freshman, and the next your a Senior at your graduation ceremony like me. College was such a blessing to me, and I grew so much during these 4 years.

As I prepare myself for graduate school and getting ready to be a teacher next year, I am thrilled to see where God leads me. God has been so provisional in my life ever since I became a Christian, and I have no doubt that He is going to continue to lead me into some amazing opportunities in the future.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

My next mission is to find a summer job! I leave to be a leader at Young Life camp in a few days, and I am so excited! Once I get home from camp, I move into my new house with my roommates just a few days after that! I am praying A LOT about finding a summer job, one that I would really enjoy and that would bring God the most glory. I really want to work at a coffee shop here in town, so I have really been praying a lot on that one. It is a little stressful not really knowing what exactly God wants me to do this summer, but I trust His plan for my life. I know that good things are ahead, and that I just have to keep being obedient and follow where He leads me.

Love you guyssssss!
<3 jess

Friday, June 14, 2013

5 things for Friday: link up

Today I am linking up with Natasha at five for Friday and sharing 5 things with you guys about my life lately :)

1) Julia and I had so much fun going to our Young Life girl's graduation at their middle school on Tuesday! I can't believe they are on their way to high school! Middle school seems like SO long ago, but I remember my middle school days so clearly! I am so excited for our girls to venture off into high school :)

2) I am graduating college tomorrow! It doesn't feel real as I write this to you guys. Ahhhhh! I can't believe tomorrow I will have my diploma in my hands and I will be officially DONE with my undergraduate degree! I am so thankful for all of the experiences I had throughout college, and how much I was able to learn and grow! God is good. I feel like I have been waiting FOREVER just to get that darn diploma in my hands! ;)

3) Happy almost Fathers day weekend! I am so thankful for my daddy and I love him soooo much! He has always been such a wonderful example to me, and always has helped me in pursuing every single one of my dreams! I seriously don't know what I would do without my dad. My parents are a couple of my best friends! They always have my back. Love you daddy!

(the photo above is over a year ago when I had long hair AND when my hair was brown! I look so different! kinda crazy haha)

4) I painted my nails yesterday a beautiful shade of Essie's plumberry and I am in love! The color goes perfectly with my red graduation dress ;) For some reason it looks pinkish in this picture but it is totally not. It is more of a maroon-ish red.  I can't wait to share with you guys the pictures that I will take tomorrow from graduation (lets be real, knowing me there will be a million hehe)

5) Lately, I am loving all of the adorable quote pictures that I find on Pinterest. I found this one and I am in love! I think that Jesus truly calls each of us to "Bloom" wherever we are in life! Sometimes, that is not the easiest thing to do because our circumstances might be overwhelming, but Jesus gives us a peace that goes beyond our circumstances. What do you guys think?

That's all I have for you guys :) I love you guys! I hope you have a beautiful weekend! I am so excited for all of the exciting things I have coming up in the future.  Doing anything fun? eventful? I hope it is full of joy with friends and others that you love!

xo Jess

Thursday, June 13, 2013

God has an open door for you

Hello blog friends! First off, I bought a couple of new shorts a few days ago that I am so excited about. I love buying new shorts for summer! I love these floral and pink ones that I purchased, what do you think? :)

The past few years, I have spent A LOT of time on this lovely little thing you see below. Meet my laptop. We've been besties throughout this whole college thing. As a communication major, I have probably written over 100 papers. The weird thing is though, that I LOVE writing papers. I absolutely love my major, and I am so thankful to be interning for a public relations company. Jesus has blessed me way too much with everything in my life.

Also, meet my other friend that has gotten me through college. Hehe okay just kidding, but seriously college is kinda fun because most teachers don't care if your on your phone during class. Then again, don't do that too much. Or else you won't learn let alone graduate in 4 years. I just wanted an excuse to share this photo with you because I liked it too much. And also, A Beautiful Mess is the best app ever! (duhhh!! ;))

Today I wanted to talk with you guys about the different doors God opens for us in our lives, and also the ones that He closes on us. The thing is guys, when your walking with God, sometimes He will close a door on you that you really were fond of, even if you are walking obediently with Him. I experienced a lot of closed doors by God these past few months. Amazing new opportunities were placed right in front of me, and at the peak of my excitement, suddenly out of no where these new doors were shut right in my face. Yes you read me correctly, I used the plural version of door. DOORS. Sometimes, God closes multiple doors in front of us, and it's downright hard. I was confused. I didn't understand. God would open a door, and even when everything felt so perfectly right about it,  He would suddenly SHUT the new door right in front of my face. He would shut this new door on me in the midst of my joy and excitement. "What are you doing God?!" I asked Him several times during this experience. In the midst of this chaos, I continued to trust Him. Heck, I had no choice! Nothing really was making sense, but I trusted God that He was up to something.

"Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding."
Isaiah 40:28

As I told my friends what I was going through, most of them said the same thing: "There is no question God's hand is in what your going through Jess! He will answer your prayer Jess. It's clear He's closing one door after another intentionally, because He wants to give you your BEST." I had a hard time believing my friends as they told me this. Truth is, I was starting to get pretty upset with God at that point. I wanted a door to open, and STAY OPEN. I cried to God multiple nights in a row. "Why dad? Why? Tell me please, give me some sort of sign." I prayed on my knees and lifted up my hands to the heavens, because I was beginning to get desperate.

At the last minute, God opened a door. Finally. FINALLY! It was a door that felt right. I could feel God's gentle, soft, voice whisper into my soul as I walked into this new door. "This is the door I had planned for you all along Jessica," My father told me. I was so thankful, and looking back I couldn't believe how instrumental God was during my process of going through every closed door after another. As frustrating as that whole experience was, I developed perseverance, and my faith grew a whole BUNCH. It was a big ginormous test in my faith, and as thankful as I am for that experience, I'm good taking a breather until the next trial. haha. The point is though friends, When God keeps closing door after door on you, don't give up. It only means that He is teaching you to trust you more, because He wants to give you HIS BEST. I know that phrase is overused and sounds cliche, but its dang true so don't listen to anyone who says its not! God isn't holding out on your life. Trust Him, He wants to show you off, He loves you.

"I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close."
Revelation 3:8

Is God closing door after door on any opportunities in your life right now? What awesome new doors is opening for you? Are you beginning to doubt Him and waver in your faith if He is closing doors on you? I'd love for you to share with me what your going through, good or bad. I love to learn about your experiences! :). Don't feel guilty admitting your lack of trust of God if He is closing doors on you, I doubted Him a bunch too. Let me know if I can be praying for you in any way.

I love you guys!
xo Jess