Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ask me anything! :)

Hi there blog friends!
How are you today?!

Well, for me, all I have to say is: Blaahhhhhh

That about sums up how I have been feelin' lately. 
     Jesus has been working on my heart in SO many different ways. I'm not joking. 2 weeks ago, my heart was in a COMPLETELY different place than where it is now. Isn't that crazy? I think it is. Jesus is totally showing me who I really am deep down and who I have been all along. Part of me was scared to allow that person come to life again, because that meant making myself vulnerable. But I've learned that if I'm not making myself vulnerable then I'll never be happy. Jesus calls me to be vulnerable. There's no getting around it and that's a good thing, because being vulnerable requires that I love on people more and I LOVE people!! 
     So today, I'd like to give you all the opportunity to ask me anything! Then I will respond to whatever you ask me in a VLOG later this week! Don't be afraid to get personal, because you all know I am the farthest thing from being awkward!! I am also very open about my past and what I've been thorough. So whether its just a simple question about myself and getting to know me, or a well thought out one question, I'd love for you to ask me it!! I did after all graduate with a degree in communication-AKA I love to communicate with others and be around people AND make new friends! Yay! So friends, here's to you: ASK away!!! You can ask me questions anonymously if you would like as well, it doesn't matter to me! :)

     You can ask me these questions by posting here on this blog post, or through twitter, or through Instagram! If none of you have nothing to ask me, that's cool too. I just thought I'd give you the opportunity to get real up in here and ask me some questions about myself!  

Twitter account: jlmartin_
Instagram account: jlmartin_

I love you all!  
Love always, Jess

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Forgiveness Seems Impossible

Forgiveness used to seem like such a simple concept to me. When I would overhear people say "Forgiveness is hard!" I never understood them. "How could forgiveness be hard?" I thought to myself when I would hear them say that. However at that point in my life, the only circumstances I had experienced involving forgiveness were with my brother asking for me to forgive him for stealing my toy, or pinching me in the arm.

Then the pain came. Somebody hurt me so bad, that I never imagined I would be able to truly forgive them. Or, better yet, I convinced myself that I somehow HAD forgiven them, but on the inside I really hadn't. My thoughts said "yes!" but my heart was saying "NO." My version of forgiveness involved me simply running away from the past and that painful situation, and pretending it never happened. I believed that by holding onto that pain of what that person did to me, then somehow I could mask it all up and pretend that it never actually happened.

THEN I met Jesus. From the start, Jesus started renewing every bit of my life. There was no masking with this guy. Although I was uncomfortable with the way Jesus boldly entered every door of my life, I saw He was working for my good. "Um...alright God, I really don't want to go there, let alone even talk about that situation, but if you insist..." was my typically kind of response to how Jesus would confront and begin to heal many areas of my life and past.

And finally one day, not too long ago, Jesus came to the door of my forgiveness situation, knocking boldly as ever. Jesus was not happy about this situation, not on bit. He said to me: "Jessica, you have certainly not forgiven this person. Your wound is still there. No matter how many times you bury it, it will always resurface unless you give the pain of that experience to me. Now, please let me heal you so you can truly move forward with your life, in joy and peace."

And my response to Jesus when He said this to me was this: "But God! I HAVE forgiven this person. I'm serious. It's behind me, I'm over it, I'm all good."

As I said this to Jesus, all of a sudden I imagined myself sitting there with that person, talking with them over conversation at dinner. Within seconds after sitting down with them, I immediately imagined  myself throwing a diet coke in their face and then chucking the deuces at them while saying

...oops. Maybe I was a kinda-sorta still upset about the whole thing. And a little bit mad at them.

So God, you were right all along. It looks like I really haven't forgiven this person, but now I really am committing to making it happen. I see that it is going to be a process that takes effort and discipline. My emotions will typically go against me in this process, but I must deny them in order to obey you. I want to be set free from my past, and I want to forgive this person.

"Make allowance for each others faults, and forgive anyone who offend you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."
Colossians 3:13

So friends, forgiveness is hard. We may be weak, but our God is strong. Has God called you to forgive someone whom you have no intention of ever forgiving? Remember, if you work with God and rely on His strength instead of yours to help you forgive that person, you will be set free!  Your bitterness, anger, and hurt for that person will be gone. My prayer today is that we each rely on God's ability instead of our own to forgive those who have hurt us in our lives.

Love always, Jess

Saturday, July 27, 2013

VLOG!: How I overcame depression & anxiety with Jesus

Depression is darkness. Depression is not light. Depression is nowhere near the presence of God.

Depression is the result of leaving God out of the equation. Putting Him second. Forgetting how important it is to maintain a relationship with Him for your entire life. When God gets put second, depression has a way of quickly inserting itself into our lives. 

First depression typically begins with anxiety. You know, those horrible anxious thoughts that terrify you and make you want to run into a corner? That's anxiety. I would know, I used to have anxiety, along with depression.  Watch my video and learn how I overcame anxiety and depression with Jesus's help! and of course, please let me know what you think! I love you all!

Love always, Jess 

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Somethin' New: I'm no longer ashamed of my past

Hey guys!

Hey friends! Today marks my FIFTH post for the summer of something new blog challenge. For those of you don't know what this challenge is, it was set up by my wonderful blog friend Annaliese at Southern Belle in Training, and for this challenge Annaliese, ElleJenna,  MichaelaGina and I will be sharing with you guys something new every Friday for 6 weeks! This week, I wanted to share with you guys both how this was the first summer that I decided not to run away from my past anymore. I had the courage to share my struggle in having sex before marriage and before knowing Jesus, and tomorrow I am going to share how I overcame depression and anxiety with Jesus. At the end of this post, I am going to share with you guys some pictures of my lovely new room!

This summer has been new in so many ways. I started volunteering at the humane society, and that has been so much fun. That has always been something I have wanted to but I have never gotten around to doing it. But mostly, this summer has been a huge change because I have had courage to talk about my past, and it is the most freeing feeling. I am no longer ashamed to share my struggle with having sex before marriage, because I see how much hope it gives other Christians who are in the same situation. In fact, I am going to talk a lot more about sex before marriage and how depressed it made me feel. I think its something that is not talked about enough, and that needs to be. Yesterdays post on sex before marriage was officially my most viewed post of all time, wow. Talk about crazy. I am thinking about making a video with my new Canon and sharing my struggle with sex. Also, as I mentioned above, tomorrow I am going to talk about how I overcame depression and anxiety with Jesus, because I know that depression is something that a lot of girls struggle with.

Talk about a "Summer Of Something New!" Friends! Have your summers been full of a lot of new experiences as well? If so, then share with me! I'd love to hear! What do you guys think of me doing videos about topics like sex and depression? Let me know! Now, below are pictures of my new room! Be sure to let me know what you think! :) I absolutely love my new place!

 Need to get around putting a photo in this frame ;)

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

sex before marriage: what I learned from that mistake

Hello. Today I would like to talk to you about a three letter word that starts with a s and ends with an x. Okay just kidding, I'm not that awkward, today I am going to talk with you about sex before marriage and why I think it is wrong. 

First things first, lets make some things clear. I am a Christian, so that is one of the main reasons why I believe sex before marriage is wrong. It is wrong for so many reasons other than that though. Ladies please, don't sit there and believe the lie as you listen to all of those other women out there who talk about sex before marriage like its some kind of adventure. Isn't it crazy how they make it out to be something to be the equivalent of dating? I'm not sure how you do that without breaking your heart. Well, I know that's at least how it was for me before I was a Christian and I had sex. I was miserable. 

Are you a Christian and have kept yourself pure up to this point and plan on doing that until your wedding one day? Great, I think thats awesome, and also something to be admired. But, thats not including all the Christians out there in that question. What about you- Are you a new Christian who has had sex before in the past and not really sure if Jesus will forgive you or not? Or maybe your not a Christian, and you have had sex and you find yourself feeling so..empty? so....hopeless? and your wondering why you feel this way?

I have been there.

I had sex before marriage, in college, before I was a Christian. I didn't know Jesus, and I had sex because a lot of my friends around me were having sex. According to everyone else around me, sex just seemed like the "typically thing to do." Yet I wondered to come I felt so depressed on the inside about sex and everyone else seemed content about it? I was searching for an answer. Little did I know that God saw my lost soul and my hopelessness and was beginning to pursue a relationship with me. 

Why did I feel so empty on the inside unlike anyone else? Why did it seem like I was the only one of my friends who didn't enjoy sex? Why did sex before marriage feel so wrong to me? These are some of the questions that went through my head before I met Jesus.

The thing is, sex is a beautiful, perfect, wonderful, gift from God. God loves sex. Thats why He created it. He created it to be between a man and woman who have made a covenant between one another in marriage forever. Anything outside those lines is dangerous, heartbreaking, and emotionally damaging.

That is why today, I have come up with some lies that many newer Christians typically believe about sex and how Jesus views this sin. I've replaced these lies with truth, so you can know how God really thinks of you.

Lie #1 about sex: Because I have had sex, I will never be "good enough" to be a Christian, so I should probably not even try to know Jesus because he obviously is mad at me. 

The truth: Actually, God isn't mad at you for having sex. Instead He is very upset about it, because He sees how depressed it makes you feel and also how much distance it puts between you and Him. God desperately wants a relationship with you so He can show you how He will be able to satisfy every single one of your desires. With God, you won't need anything else, thats how much satisfaction He brings us. Thankfully God gives us the free gift of grace, which means that none of us have to earn forgiveness from Him. We simply just have to ask for forgiveness, and He gives it to us. This means that none of us ever have to be "good enough" for God. We just have to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity of grace from Him.

Verse to support this truth: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God"
Ephesians 2:8

Lie #2 about sex: I can't start over again since I have had sex already, its too late.

The truth: Actually, you can! Once you accept Jesus into your heart, you are a new creation. If you don't believe that, then just click HERE to read my transformation story! God will transform your life in such a dramatic way, leaving you speechless. You'll be forever grateful and fall in love with Him forever as well. 

Verse to support this truth: "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"

Colossians 3:25
Lie #3 about sex: Because I had sex before marriage, God obviously doesn't love me as much as that girl over there who has kept herself pure.

The truth: That's a HUGE lie! God loves us all the same. All we have to do is respond to His grace with asking for His forgiveness, and He will flourish us equally with His love. It's a crazy thing to think about, but it's totally true! 

Verse to support this truth: "For God does not show favoritism." 
Romans 2:11

Lie #4 about sex: Because I have had sex, I feel that I should condemn myself more than the next person who hasn't. I feel that I will have to earn my way for God's affection and love.

The truth: No way is any of that true! First of all, God tells us that there is no condemnation when we come to Him. THis means, if you are in a relationship with Jesus after asking for forgiveness, then God will not condemn you. If you feel condemnation, thats the enemy. Pray that God would deliver you from it and cover you in His blood. Also, Jesus is only about grace, no works. We don't have to do anything to earn His love, as I mentioned earlier. 

Verse to support this truth: "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." 
Romans 8:1

Lie #5 about sex: Since I have had sex, I am emotionally scarred forever and I will have this deep wound of pain inside me from sex forever as well.

The truth: God wants you to be filled with joy, not pain!  If you pray specifically for God to deliver you from wrong thoughts of sex, then He WILL. He did it with me. Whenever I have a painful thought of the past involving sex, I immediately release it to Jesus and pray that He would forgive me for allowing that thought to enter my mind and also that He would put a barrier around my mind so that no thought can enter it that is not from Him. Its hard because sometimes your un-conscious thoughts will think things out of nowhere, and you must even fight against those too. Don't give up on the fight! The enemy will try to remind you of your past and make you feel weak, but you can't give up. I really suggest reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, it changed my life and helped me get my mind back in the right place with God! I also prayed that God would come into my painful memories of the past, and heal me from them, because thats what He always does. We just have to ask.

Verses to support this truth: "We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ."
2 Corinthians 12:5

"He heals the broken hearted and binds up all their wounds."
Psalm 147:3

Last but not least, I think one of the most important reasons why sex before marriage is wrong is because having sex before marriage is certainly not guarding your heart as God wants us to do. Sex is a very serious bond that leads to a special intimacy between two people. If we have sex with someone we are not married to, then we can only expect to get hurt. I would know, I made that mistake. Thankfully Jesus saw my pain and began to pursue me.

"Guard your heart above all else, because it determines the course of your life."
Proverbs 3:21

What are your guys thoughts on sex before marriage? 
I love you guys!
Love always, Jess

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

giving God my pain

To begin this post: berry picking pictures with Allison from the weekend!

I threw the ball for Marley, laughing to myself as I watched her run after it with such excitement and joy. She's the cutest Labrador ever. 
Then, out out of nowhere, I felt it.
That sinking feeling in my heart. That pain you can't put into words.
A wound from my past that had resurfaced totally out of the blue and un-expectantly from long ago.

I thought this wound was long gone, that somehow, Jesus had "made it disappear." 
But no, somehow, it was still there.
Although from the outside looking in, it may not seem like a big deal it all. After all, its just a situation involving a best friend of the past from high school who out of no where decided to act like I didn't exist one day. 
But, this situation caused me pain. It broke my heart. 
& since I never gave any of this pain to Jesus, it still lies there.

So since that day over the weekend, I have committed to healing this wound in my heart. I'm so tired of running for my past, and wanting to forget about everything that has happened to me. I have realized that is the worst thing I can do. No, Jesus doesn't want me to dwell in the past, but he certainly wants me to grow from it. In order to do that, I must give Him my pain, and choose not to be afraid. 

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor."
Isaiah 61:1-11

Part of me wants to move forward and forget my past, because I don't like thinking about it. I have often wondered why God put me through the things that He did, because I wanted Him to give me a "better story," or a more "cleaned up one." Part of me has never wanted to share my story because I am afraid people will "look down on me" or "feel sorry for me." But today, I've decided that God has called me to share my story, and the more I run from it, the closer He chases me toward it. Theres no getting around it. All I really care about and all that God cares about is that my message gives others hope. That yes, you can experience the darkest pit of depression and anxiety and still be redeemed into a life of joy, hope and peace. And yes, you also can make the mistake of having sex before marriage and be forgiven by Jesus and start all over again. These are two things I have experienced and that I'm sharing with you because I don't want you also to hide your pain of the past from the Lord. I don't want you to be afraid to share your story. Share it, and watch how much hope it brings to the world. 

When I was depressed, I was just plain hopeless. I reached the point of accepting that my life would never again be fulfilling, so it didn't matter what I did anyway with my life. I decided that somehow I would be able to find my answer to fulfillment in other people and things. I was determined to find that fulfillment in people and things. This is why I became involved with drinking in college, sex before marriage, and other things like that. I also had problems with anxiety that were pretty bad as well.

Today? Today I am a different person. I am the opposite of all that above. I am happy, joyful, fulfilled, pure, a new creation...all in Jesus alone. He satisfies me more than anything on this universe. 

"You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
 I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you,
 meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper,
 I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings."
Psalm 63: 5-7

It was only 2 days ago when God brought this pain still lingering in my heart to the front stage. I already feel SO much better, and I can feel something beautiful starting in my relationship with Him that I never thought I would experience. I wish it didn't take me so long to figure out both admitting to Him my pain and also sharing my story is a beautiful thing.

I love you guys!

Click HERE to like Forever Convinced on Facebook and share my page some love, it needs it!

Love always, Jess

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My outfit of the day tips on Allison's blog!

Today I am featured as a guest post on Allison's blog over at a A God Fashioned Life. Please check it out and show me some love! I am sharing my favorite summer style tips for those warm summer nights. I am excited to share with you guys later this week on the amazing things the Lord has revealed to me about my heart. There is some leftover pain from the past that I didn't even know was there. It just goes to show that when we bury any wound from our past or today and pretend to forget about it, it never goes away completely and always resurfaces in the future. Let Jesus heal your wounds, He wants to so you can live your life to the fullest with Him!

I love you guys!
Love Always, Jess

PS- Click HERE to like Forever Convinced on Facebook and show my page some love- It needs it friends! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Guest Post: Chrisly from Truth, Beauty, and Bravery!

Bonjour! Bonsoir! Hello to you. My name is Chrisly. I am a
Worship leader, lover of all things fashion, good counsel and young people. In addition
to this, I am a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my blogsite:

Come on over and pay me a nice visit! I'll meet you there!
I am a junior in college. I am 23 years young, single
and love my family dearly. I am so beyond happy and blessed that I am able to do a guest post 
for the beautiful Jessica. She is amazing. Sending blessings your way Jess!

Today after some prayer I have felt the urge and apparent nudge to talk to you all about Submitting to Submission. I'm hoping that makes sense. If not let's take a look at what I mean. 
There are three core verses in the bible that speak on submission.

1. The God Factor

 James 4:7- Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

2. The Husband Factor
Ephesians 5:22- Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

3. The People Factor

Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Submitting to God is crucial. It serves as a lifeline, the ultimate guide to happiness
success and a fruitful life. All of this entails reading the word, spending personal time in conversation
with Him, living a life of testimony, resisting sin and acknwledging when you do and 
being eager to turn away from it. Someone who does not submit to God or finds it an extreme struggle to do so will not truly be able to conquer or live out the Husband and people factor.

For years I had struggled with Submission and I never realized it. I remember as far as
working in a Doctors office as a receptionist and being annoyed or feeling
defensive whenever someone told me what to do. In my mind I would say things like 
"Don't tell me what to do." or "Don't talk to me that way."

Yeah it was bad until one day I began to pray prayers with a tone of Command as to what I needed 
God to do. I remember praying for something that I was so sure the Lord would give me
and His answer was "No". When I got that answer I knew I didn't like it so I went as far
as continuing to pray on it and then finally letting my carnal flesh lead me to just getting what I needed on my own and then disguising it as a blessing to everyone, when I knew that it was totally against Gods desire for me. That same thing I prayed for, ended up being a strong hold in my life, causing me to take on pride and eventually losing it all out of my negligence and selfishness, but most of all my disobedience. This thing that became a strong hold was that very job. I wanted it so bad sincd I knew the pay was good, however I did not listen and was so unhappy there until I became laid off due to financial constraints within the company. At the end of the day. I didn't have anyone to blame but myself.

I cried and asked God for much of His forgiveness and in doing so, Christ showed me that in order for me to submit to coworkers, professors, family, managers or anything else in my life I would first have to submit to Him and His will. It made perfect sense.

So, you see my dear lovelies, I will only touch on the first core factor of Submission which is to God. The other two I could elaborate on but I won't for now only because I will let you take this moment to examine your submission level to your Savior. We sing songs like "I Give Myself Away" with strings attached, with restriction, fighting and reserve. God wants your will he is in dire need of your submittance. Examine to see why you are struggling in that area. God's grace is sufficient. He loves you and knows what's best for you. I am living proof of that! God Bless you all!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My summer of renewal

"Let me ask you something... if a man prayers for patience, do you think God gives him patience? or does He give him the opportunity to be patient? If a man prayers for courage, does God give him courage? or does He give him opportunities to be courageous?"

I find it interesting and also very amusing that God typically puts me in situations to develop patience where it is in-fact the HARDEST situation in itself to develop patience. He sees my struggle with my renewal process, and He gets me and He is for me and is cheering me on at the finish line. This summer has been unlike any other. Although from the outside looking in it may seem just like a typical summer where I haven't been in or school or anything like that, it has been so much more. I have been forced to look at all of the ugliness that lies with the sin lurking inside of me. I have said things to myself like: "If this was in my life right now, I would be SO much happier" along with: "If this was happening right now for me, things would be so much better." It has been hard for me to accept the reality of my summer, and thankfully God has brought this issue in my life front and center and has given me the grace to to work with getting this sinful behavior out of my mind.

At first I questioned God this summer and why He had placed me in the situation that I am in. I wondered why He hadn't really provided me with a summer job that kept me SUPER busy (instead of just my internship which is more laid back) or why I wasn't surrounded by a large group of people as I had wanted to (Instead of just my roommate Ashley and I for the summer). Don't get me wrong I have had a blast so far this summer with Ashley and I am so thankful that she is here with me, its just that her and I both often talk about how quiet it is during the summer time here.

As I thought more about my circumstances for the summer, I realized what God was doing. There have been issues with the way I think that God has addressed, one by one. It's like He is saying to every negative single thought that comes into my mind: "Woa, that is a thought NOT from me. Rebuke it and replace it with a thought that is from me." I knew that negative thinking was an issue for me, but I didn't think God would have wanted to "waste" time going over and renewing every itsy bitsy wrong thought that came into my mind.  I thought He would just want to ignore the issues with the way I think and instead place great things into my life, making it a piece of cake for me to think positive again. Turns out, God intentionally placed me into this summer of lacking many things I desire so He could direct me to focus on fixing my thoughts and renewing my mind. He wants to renew my mind first and teach me how to experience peace and joy in Him alone before He chooses to add on any additional blessings in my life or not.

This summer He really has also been teaching me the value that lies in friendship. I am a naturally socially person, and in the past I really took for granted the large group of friends that I had. I never appreciated them or thanked God for them, and instead had an prideful attitude about the whole thing and told myself that I had so many friends because I was pretty much the coolest human being on the planet (HA, not kidding!!) As I was falling asleep the other night, I prayed to God: "God, I'm sorry for taking advantage of so many of the wonderful friendships that you blessed me with in the past, forgive me. This summer has been a huge eye opener to what quietness and loneliness feels like. I miss having a large group of friends, and I pray that you would bless me with a large group of Godly friends in the future."

  Every now and then, God definitely gives me glimpses of my future. They are thoughts that fill me with joy and peace. It is in those moments that I remember our God is a God who never breaks His promises, and with following Him we can trust that good things are ahead, despite any opposition that we may face as we continue to move forward.

What has God been teaching you guys this summer? Have you noticed how He has specifically brought an issue in your life to the table for Him to fix or renew? What do you struggle with the most in the renewal process?

I love you guys!

Love always, Jess 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Something New: How blogging Has Changed My Life

To begin this post, here is a random picture of some of my Essie nail polish. I just bought the peach color and I'm obsessed! The peach color is tart deco, and the turquoise color is turquoise and caicos. I love Essie because it stays on forever and all of their colors are each so bright and pretty. 

This photo below is another random photo of some of the different makeup that I use.  Starting from the left is my Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Strawberry Shortcake, my Sephora long-lasting liquid eyeliner in noir black, and my Loreal Voluminous Mascara in carbon black. The eyeliner never fades and stays on all day, the mascara always makes my eyelashes look super long and pretty, and the lipstick is not only is a pretty shade of pink but it also makes my lips feel smooth and it doesn't feel like I'm wearing lip stick at all!

Hey friends! Today marks my FOURTH post for the summer of something new blog challenge. For those of you don't know what this challenge is, it was set up by my wonderful blog friend Annaliese at Southern Belle in Training, and for this challenge Annaliese, ElleJenna,  MichaelaGina and I will be sharing with you guys something new every Friday for 6 weeks! This week, I decided to switch it up from my normal crafts and DIY and share with you how starting a blog took courage and has challenged me beyond my limits. It's been a life-changing experience!

As I was scrolling through the blogging world today and reading many of your wonderful posts, I couldn't help but think to myself where my own blog has brought me. When I say where, I mean a place full of new friendships that I never imagined I would make. So many new friends leading me closer to Jesus and encouraging me to seek Him more and more. So many friends writing about their struggles in their walks with Christ that I could so easily relate with. So many women LIFTING my spirits, and filling me with joy.

I remember the exact moment of when I first decided to make my blog. Before that point, I had been talking with friends about how I was thinking about making a blog, but I didn't really know what to make it about. My first idea was to make a blog about healthy eating. I honestly didn't have enough passion though to make a blog like that, because although I am still very proud of myself for losing 50 pounds and keeping that weight off today, I really was never into the idea of making a blog only about that topic.

It was about 12:30 am on a Saturday night, and  I was scrolling through one of my favorite blogs, Bloom by Nicole. "Thats it!" I said to myself. "I HAVE to make a blog." I loved Nicole's openness in sharing her relationship with Jesus, and she so much reminded me of myself in a lot of ways through that aspect. 

I was so nervous when I started my blog. I didn't know anyone, and I didn't even know what the heck to write about. At first I would kind of flip flop and write about random things, and I was a little nervous to share my faith. I didn't think people would really be able to relate with my posts. I actually didn't even figure out how to add the "follower" button to my blog until a month and a half into making it. That really frustrated me because I had written a few posts up to that point that nobody was really reading. Once I found the follower button, I was happy but annoyed that it had taken me so long to figure out. 

Then amazing things happened. People would write posts that were exactly what I needed to read. God would speak right through them. I started to meet some new blog friends, and what was unique about these friendships was that I could tell that we clicked. No, I haven't met any of them in person (YET), but I just know that if we were able to meet in real life it would be full of laughs and pure happiness.

So friends, if your reading this and you are thinking about starting a blog but you haven't yet, DO IT! Or maybe your new to the blogging scene and you are frustrated or overwhelmed about getting it going: DON'T GIVE UP! I definitely cried a few times when I was trying to figure out how the heck to set up this blog up, it was SO confusing! But... I still did it. I persevered. It has been a true challenge with starting this blog up, but it has been totally worth every ounce of effort. I am challenged every day to write what is really on my heart and what I feel compelled to share with you guys. I still have a long way to go with building my blog, but I am so happy that I have made it this far. Blogging has definitely become a big part of my life, and I have been blessed beyond belief with becoming part of a community that I am unbelievably thankful for.

Here are my blogging besties whom I love dearly and pray for the opportunity to meet in real life one day!

Francesca at Beautiful Things

Katie at Hope Engaged

Annaliese at Southern Belle In Training

Gina at Gina Alyse

Hannah at Wonderfully Sewn

Julie at An Anchor For The Soul

Brittany at Happy Is a Choice

Cassie at Sage

Kiki at In Its Time

 Bailey at Anchored in Love Divine

Abigail at Abigail Jasmine

Kellie at Nothing Less

...and I also happen to have a REAL-LIFE friend who started a blog at the same time I did, her name is Allison and she blogs at a A God Fashioned Life- Love her & her blog!

Thats them! Go look at their pages, I promise you'll love them just as much as I do. But seriously, go look. I love them all. I also recently have met some other wonderful ladies on here that I am looking forward to becoming better friends with as well. I pray very often that somehow someday I would be able to meet each one of these ladies in person one day! I really want to do a "blog meet up" or "blog trip" but I have no idea how to set it up, let alone how that would work with all of our crazy schedules. Oh well, if its in Gods will it will just somehow happen anyway! Until then, keep doing what you do blog besties, I love you all!

Ps- My blog's Facebook page is could use some love from you guys! Click HERE to like Forever Convinced on Facebook!

PPS-  I also love Instagram and I'd love for you to follow my Instagram adventures by clicking HERE!

Love always, Jess

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When thanking God is hard: I complain too much.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

a photo I took on a hike earlier this week...Gods country :)

Lately I feel that this summer is going by slower than ever. I am keeping myself as busy as I can, but some  many days feel just that they draaaaaag along. I think the only reason I feel this way is because I just want it to be Fall already, which sounds crazy because that means school...but honestly I am really excited for the Fall and also to begin graduate school. Yeah, call me a nerd, I'm proud of it! ;). I just can't believe that I will have my own class of students. I am so much looking forward to teaching at my University. Anyway though, the main thing that I don't like about this summer is how flexible my schedule is. It honestly scares me how much more free time I have than usual to do things, because I like being busy.

The hardest part for me this summer has been with just learning to thank God continually in this season of my life. Right now, because of my circumstances, I want to do anything but thank God. It sounds horrible, but it is the honest truth and I'm just a sinner saved by grace. God has done so much for me, yet I am just like those stubborn Israelites who kept complaining to God time after time, even though He was always faithful to them and provided their every need. I find myself coming to God with a complaining heart, asking him "what the heck He's doing" and basically just wanting things to be going differently in my life. Deep down I know this a sin and I should be coming to Him with a thankful heart. My list of complaints to God is pathetic and I'm asking God to forgive me right now. Lord, please help me to come to you continually with a thankful heart, instead of a stubborn one. Forgive me for doubting you in so many ways this summer and being such a complainer. Help me to always be thankful, no matter what is going on around me.

 I wish I could just learn to be present in the moment, but I feel like sometimes I don't know how to do that or maybe I am just really bad at it. My mind tends to race ahead into the future a lot of the time. Maybe God has placed me in this situation for the summer so I'll learn how to focus on Him and be in the moment a lot more. Last weekend was a real struggle for me because I felt like I had to intentionally plan out things to do with others to keep myself busy. I guess I am just not used to that kind of lifestyle. I am used to having an automatic busy schedule right in front of me, and then going from there. I feel the weekend is when the enemy really gets in my head and reminds me that I'm still single and "how much better it would be to have a boyfriend with me right now." I definitely have really been missing and desiring for my future man to be with me this summer during the nights on these summer weekends where I have been alone. I've honestly have become pretty upset about it, and I have cried a few times. (Especially when the biggest spider I have ever seen crawled into my house the other night, I needed male assistance ASAP!) Maybe this weekend will be the perfect time for me to write my future husband a couple of those letters that I was talking to you guys about doing. This is just a phase of life I'm in, and I have to remind myself that good things are ahead.

 So, to end this post, thanks Jesus. Thank you for giving me so much extra time this summer to understand more of the woman God created me to be, and to pursue deeper friendships with others. Thank you for my wonderful family, my beautiful home, the opportunity to go to graduate school, the new friendships I have made this year, and much more.

Are you guys in a situation right now this summer where your really struggling with being patient as well? Are you wishing things to be going differently in your life? Having those lonely single nights? Join me, with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and the entire season of the Bachelorette...Just kidding. But seriously though, I love hearing what you guys have to say on this topic of patience! Its encouraging to read every single comment that I receive from the each of you.

We just gotta keep trusting God that He is ALWAYS good and that wonderful things are ahead! He never breaks His promises, remember that.

Love always, 


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Single Girl talk: My desire for a Godly man

As I begin this post I am already noticing it is a bit of a struggle to write. I'm trying to piece together how I feel bit by bit about this whole being single stage of my life, and its a complicated mess. I don't know how it happened, but somehow not too long ago I got out of the habit of being completely honest on what I write about on my blog. Not that I was lying to the any of you, but instead I was covering more things up in my life. I was making things seem a little too perfect than they really were. I told myself that if a post was a struggle to write, then I shouldn't write it. The enemy wants us to think that our struggles are shameful, when in fact, they are beautiful. When I share my struggles and I am open with others I feel so much better. Because lets be honest, life gets hard, and we all have problems. I'm realizing that it is OKAY and also extremely therapeutic to share what I am struggling with. I just love knowing that are many of you who have either felt as I have or are feeling the same way right now in your lives. I was so encouraged by all of your kind comments on my post yesterday and I truly enjoyed reading every single one of them, thank you so much! I feel so loved and extremely blessed that I have been able to meet such amazing people through blogging. Blogging has become such a big part of my life, and I am so thankful that Jesus has provided this special outlet for me.

 However yesterday I still felt a burden on my heart about being single, and I didn't know what to with it. Was it sinful to feel the way that I did? (Absolutely not, but I found myself thinking that to myself anyway). Is this a huge slap in the face toward my relationship with Jesus to have this desire inside of me? Do other followers of Jesus have this desire inside of them before they actually meet their husband? Isn't this need NOT supposed to be here? Shouldn't I feel 100% complete in God with no desire for anything else but Him in my life before I get married? After all, that is the type of advice for single Christians that I have read and heard so much about in the past.  "You just gotta reach that point where God is enough, then your man will come!" is what people typically say. Or they say: "Your future man will come when you least expect it, when your eyes are primarily focused on the Lord!" and of course the: "Jesus is your husband!" phrase. The thing for though is that none of that advice really ever has helped or let alone made me feel better. Jesus is already enough for me, I love Him with every ounce of my being. I feel Him with me everywhere I go. I have no doubt that where I am in my life is where He wants me to be. However Jesus has placed something in my heart secondary to Him that is undeniable. It is an overwhelming, flaming desire to be married one day to a man who loves the Lord. 

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." 
Psalm 37:4

Aha! It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. So this verse tells me that God knows this desire in my heart is there. In fact, it was given to me by him. I am not a crazy person!! God is aware of this desire, and unless for some reason He decides to take it away, He plans on blessing me with this desire, at the point in which I am ready to receive it.

"So uhhhh God, what the heck am I supposed to do with this desire until you bring it into my life? It could be ten years down the road till I meet my future husband! I hate to sound negative because I know your 100% positive, but are you like trying to make me go crazy over here? I am 10 seconds away from freaking out.."

Then God (just in time!) ever so clearly said to me in his soft, gentle, undeniable voice:

What I want you to do with this desire I gave you Jessica is begin to love your future husband now, as in today. If in the future if I take this desire off of your heart, then so be it. But for now, I have placed it there for a reason. It is not good for man to be alone, and two are better than one. It is a beautiful desire to have, and it is never something that you should be ashamed of. Absolutely NEVER deny this desire. If I remove it from your heart, you will know and it will be clear to you. It is not rocket science. Let this desire grow in your heart and preserve it. Share your struggle in being patient for me to bring it into your life, and seek me above all else as I continue to direct and guide you in your life.

ps- stop over thinking things and just relax. But seriously your mind sometimes girl.  C-h-i-l-l.

Love always, your heavenly father.

okay maybe I imagined God saying that very last sentence about wanting me to "c-h-i-l-l," but everything above that I truly did hear the Lord say to me. The holy spirit spoke through me right then and there, and I felt like I had just received the perfect answer that I needed to hear from God about waiting on my future husband.

So my friends, today I feel so much better knowing that this desire was put on my heart from God and God alone. He is in fact not torturing me, but instead He plans on blessing me with a future husband one day in the future. Unless plans change and I find myself desiring things other than a husband one day, then I can't wait for that beautiful day when I meet my future husband face to face (or maybe we already have?!) Until then, there is some things that I know I need to work on from here. I am clearly not ready to meet my future man, or he would sitting here right next to me. I want to make myself a better woman of God from this point on, and I want to get to know Jesus in the deepest way that I can. I want to reflect on the amazing way my father has created me to be as a woman. I also definitely do not just want to act like my future man is dead until the day we meet, I want to live out my life daily of honoring and thinking of him. I'm excited to learn more about becoming a noble wife as I grow in Christ, and also to move on in life WITH this desire kept snug in my heart, without denying it or looking at it shamefully.

I love you guys! Did you ever find yourselves wondering where your desire for a future husband came from? Did you ever consider it to be "wrong" and that you should ignore it and shove it to the side? How are you preserving and honoring that desire in your heart today?

Love always, Jess

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the struggle in being single

Lately I've been hesitant to share with you guys what exactly is on my heart and what has been bothering me. It is a topic that I am not too fond of talking about, and it is typically something that I like to ignore. I've decided that I need to remember that being vulnerable is a good thing, and it's okay to share with you guys the things that God has laid on my heart. Plus, I know that the enemy would only want me to stay bottled up and emotionless, and I refuse to do that. I am always so blessed when I read your guys blog posts that I am so easily able to relate with, and I appreciate all of your vulnerability so much. So here it goes: Lately I am really having a hard time being single. My emotions are out of control, and I keep going back and fourth from trusting that God will provide me with an amazing future husband to never getting married and not having a large group of godly friends as I so much desire. I prayed to God, "Lord, if it is not in your will for me to get married, then please take this strong desire off of my heart." Ever since I prayed that prayer, it seems that my desire is actually growing, but thats okay. Maybe the Lord just wants me to trust Him and understand that in my grieving of missing my future husband I can cry out to Him and He will sustain me. Maybe just maybe, God wants me to cry so hard and miss my future man so badly that I will begin to understand that on waiting on His perfecting timing for a future husband, I will see that I am actually in a beautiful place in my life. 

Some days are easier than others. Some days I find it to be the simplest thing in the world to trust and believe that my future husband is out there waiting for me and becoming more and more of the Godly man that I always imagined Him to be. But some days, its just plain hard. Some days, I find myself imagining the worst possible ending for my love life. I imagine myself being single forever, and telling my parents that I have decided to purchase 50 cats. {My mom and I actually laughed at that joke together.} The hardest part is comparing my love life to other girls. Many of the other girls in my life are either dating, engaged, or married. As wonderful as that is for them, I can't help but think to myself that I am lacking something. That me, on my own, just isn't enough. Being single isn't right, and I should be either in a relationship or married by now. I know that that is the biggest lie in the universe, but sometimes I just help but feel it to be true. I have decided that the next time I get really upset and I am missing my future husband, I am going to write Him a letter just as Eric and Leslie Ludy suggested in their amazing book that they wrote on waiting on your future spouse. It's going to be hard in that moment, but I am committing to doing it. I know it will make me feel better about waiting for Him. 

Lastly, I must remember the importance of dying to myself, each and every day. I must force myself to throw off every lie and desire weighed on my heart that God has not yet prepared me to act on yet. I must trust that His plan for my life is better than my own, and I must thank Him that He is guiding me in the best direction for my life. It's not an easy journey at all, but it is so much worth it. I pray that today God would help me to die to myself even more and trust His perfect plan for my life.

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

Wherever you are future husband, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss you and that every ounce of my being wishes that you were right here next to me, holding my hand. I love you for eternity. 

Now, onto eating some chocolate and watching the Bachelorette with my girl Des (home town date night tonight holler! GO BROOKS, YOUR A BABE!!!!)

Okay sorry for the really random ending, but thats actually what I am going to do.

PS- Do any of you single ladies find yourself struggling with the single life? What about you taken ladies, I know you guys have some good advice that you could share with me on waiting for my future husband!

I love you guys!

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