Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week one and the paint is melting.

Lousiana Tech is HOT. That's just it. No other way to say it, but let me tell you, that water at rec sure was delicious! We only had two squads for rec because the total camp was only 400, half of which were missions campers. It was a nice way to ease into the swing of things, and it allowed us to figure out what we needed to improve for the weeks to come. Let me say this though, Ed Newton and David Walker brought it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. The size of the camp doesn't matter. When two or more gather in God's name He is present, and God certainly made His presence known. Ed covered the whole book of Galations in a way that I've never heard before. David Walker brought a whole new meaning to "Might to Save", and God changed lives. Rec was hot, "Just Dance" free time option was fun, and the red squad won the spirit stick! :)

Friday, November 16, 2012


So, I haven't been doing the "Thankful" Facebook posts (mostly because I'm lazy). Instead of thinking of something and posting it each day on Facebook, I'm going to make one big thankful post full of mushy thankfulness (and it's all deeply thought about and wildly heartfelt).

Sisters. I called Maegan the other day, all giddy over something great Andrew had done. Maegan shared in my excitement, and she also gave me reasons why my girly enthusiasm was completely necessary. Today, I called Maegan with a realistic viewpoint of the same thing I was waaay too excited about, and she gave me all the reasons why it was better to have this real outlook. I love my sisters for that. Thank you, sisters, for feeding my completely unnecessary excitement or disappointment or...whatever.

Books. Need I say more? I am so thankful that I can open a book and be an Upper-East sider, a princess, a vampire, Mrs. Darcy- whatever I want to be. Books are like vacations, only without packing and airports and luggage and sunburn. And you get to stay in your pajamas.

School. 99% of the time, I am not thankful for school. 99 % of the time, I am cursing school in my mind (not with swear words, of course). Even today, I called Andrew (and my sister) on the brim of hateful tears of my beloved university. But really, I am thankful for school. I am thankful that I can get a higher education right here in my home town. I am thankful that in December I will be that much closer to my dream job. I am thankful that retirement and job security are covered for me from now on. It's a love/ hate relationship, but I really am thankful for school.

Andrew. Handsome. Hardworking. Loves Jesus (And his Mom. And his Dad. And MY mom. And MY dad). Makes me laugh. Laughs with me (or at me?). Bear hugs. Chivalry. Feeds my need for adventure and my DIY spirit (And my large appetite). Lets me pick the movie. Encouraging. Strong. Handsome. Stable. Rational. Kind. Generous. I could keep going...

Winter clothes. I am so stinkin' thankful that in winter it is completely acceptable to cover your arms with a sweater, your legs with pants, and your neck with a scarf. I am so thankful that during these sacred months my tan is not a concern, nor is the flab under my arms or on my thighs. Thank you, winter. Thank you.

Memphis weather. I LOVE Colorado. That is, until I visited during winter. Let's just say my Colorado fever has been cured by the 12 degree winds, and I am ever thankful for 60 degree Novembers and the OCCASIONAL need for a winter coat.

Family. We. Are. Weird. And I am so thankful for that. We are like the Breakfast club (only with parents and little kids and all related). My family always makes me laugh (sometimes at my own expense). We are always there (sometimes toooooo there) for each other. We all share a love for food, old movies, and Jesus. We are a closed group-- it's really hard to get in, but once you're in, there's no turning back, and that has saved me from many a bad boyfriend and mean girls. I am so thankful for my little (not so little) family and what a blessing a strong, close family is.

Chocolate. I'm a girl. Do I even need to write why I'm thankful for chocolate? It's the quintessential best friend. Faithful, loyal, forgiving, agreeing, solving, delightful best friend.

So basically, I could go on. For now though, I'm going to go enjoy all the things I just mentioned being thankful for. You should make a list, too. Nothing bad can come from a little gratitude.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thankful Monday

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom their is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 

It is so easy to get caught up in wanting, wishing, hoping for things, that we forget to be thankful for what we already have. In the midst of wanting some things I can't have right now, God shows me (yet again!) how much I already possess.

I am thankful for
a really great and icy Diet Coke on a tired, hot afternoon
my mother's cooking, after a few weeks of fast food and camp meals
and a big, soft bed that I don't have to share, in my own room, under a solid roof

I am thankful for 
that little moment of quiet under a bridge when driving through a storm
a running car that is dependable, that has great air conditioning
and the plastic that covers the light bulbs, separating me and the two wasps on the other side

I am thankful for
the ability to run, and a safe neighborhood to do so
the place I work, the co-workers I have that are mentors and encouragers in faith and in life
and the fact that I am not really in control of anything

I am thankful for
a big dinner table that we all sit around
the moments when my 10 year old nephew needs my help, reminding me that he isn't growing up as fast as it seems
and really great friendships that time doesn't stand a chance against

I am thankful for
Good, clean drinking water at my disposal
the book section in Goodwill
and the way the Bible is completely relevant in every situation

I am thankful for
Old acquaintances that have become good friends
New people in my life 
And lessons learned from ones that are no longer are a part

I am thankful for
how different people are
Needtobreathe music
and really great love stories that end exactly how I want them to

I am thankful for
Iced coffee when it's too hot for regular
the people I get to talk to on the phone at work each day
and the clouds, which have become a new fascination and reminder of God's unlimited resources

I am thankful for
my college
my education
and that I only have 14 hours left.

I am thankful for 
Sonic Happy Hour
Half price appetizers
and Aldi grocery stores, which seem to understand my budget.

I am thankful for 
the Sun, which brings a new day each morning
sleep, which is the ultimate clean slate,
and those days I get to lie in bed and catch up on my favorite shows.

I am thankful for
the good
the bad
and the beautiful, which seem to all be interlinked. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Faithful in the small things.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
 Philippians 4:19 

There are a lot of things I love about Camp Electric

Of all the concerts, the jam sessions, and awesome instructors, my favorite thing about Camp Electric is that so many students come just for the music.

There’s not a camp out there like CE, so while a majority of our students are from Christian homes and already know of Jesus, a lot of our students don’t care about Jesus- they are just here for the music experience. Isn’t God great?!

What these non-believing students don’t understand is that God has given them the talent they possess. He’s given them a passion for music, and HE has brought them to Camp Electric. They are here for the music, but God has a much, much greater agenda. Here’s what I mean:

Yesterday, one of my awesome chaperones asked me to pray for a girl in her group. The chaperone (whom I’ll call chaperone) said,
            “I have a girl in my group. She doesn’t know Jesus. Her father is an atheist and her mother is an alcoholic, and she is lost, but this morning, in devotion, she asked our group to pray for her. She said she doesn’t know Jesus, but she wants to know him. I wanted to jump up and down, but I prayed with her instead.”

I told her that’s the point of Camp. I told her I’d pray for the girl, for her, for all the students here, and then we did just that. We prayed.

Not long after my chaperone meeting, a girl comes into the office. She was devastated because the strap had broken off her electric guitar. The guitar fell on the ground and broke. It was her Dad’s guitar. He was going to be so mad at her. We tried to calm her down, telling her it was something that could be fixed and at not too high a cost.  She left our office, not in tears, but certainly worried.

* * * *

For our nightly concert last night, TobyMac and the Diverse City band performed. (They are AWESOME, by the way). So in the middle of the concert, everything stops, and the lead guitarist gets on the mic. He says,
             “Today, I was walking to lunch and I hear someone scream my name. It was this girl who had broken her guitar in class that day. She was freaking out, didn’t know what to do. So here’s what we’re going to do…”

He called the girl on stage, the same girl who had been in my office that afternoon, and handed her the guitar he was playing. Just like that. It was a beautiful light blue electric guitar. He gave it to her. He gave this girl his guitar. The look on her face was priceless.

At that point, Chaperone runs over to me.
            “That’s the girl! That’s the girl in my group!”
            “Ah, that is so cool,” I say.“What a lucky girl!”
Chaperone says, “No, Jessica, that’s the girl that wants to know God. That’s the girl that wasn’t sure about him, that wants to know more about him. This afternoon she came to me and told me she had broken her guitar. She asked me what we could do about it. I told her we were going to pray that God would show her His faithfulness and bring her a new guitar. HE DID!!!”

This is the girl who we prayed for earlier that afternoon; the girl with the atheist dad, the alcoholic mom; the girl who wanted to know more about Jesus. She was afraid, unsure, and God proved his faithfulness to her. He showed her that He cares for her, that He loves her. That she belongs to Him. He showed her that even in her doubt, He is sure.

She gained a lot more than a new guitar at camp. God is good.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My thoughts on a broken world.

Please never forget the graciousness of our Lord . Never forget His mercy , and the love He has for His children .

Please never forget that God is called our Father for a reason . He wants us to come to him as the children do for a reason. God wants our honesty, He wants our hopes , our dreams , our deepest desires . He wants to know what we yearn for , what we long to possess , and He wants to be the center of all of those things . Please never forget that God loves you,  but even more than that, God likes you . He wants you to be happy, to be prosperous, to grow strong in Him, bold in the faith, and He wants you to be untouched by this world .

Please never forget that, just like our earthly fathers, God sometimes tells us no .  He sometimes disciplines us , corrects us , and sometimes He even tests our knowledge and our strength .  Sometimes God allows us to go through things because He wants us to be prepared, to be ready, to be courageous .  He wants us to understand the weight of our calling as a Christian ,  he wants us to understand the freedom we have in Him .

Please never forget that God is perfect , and part of His perfection is free will- allowing us to choose whether or not we want to love Him ,  serve Him , be His .  He leaves this choice to us because our God is not forceful .  He will fight for us, but after time and time again of our constant rebellion ,  God will give us over to our desires . This is where evil comes in .  Please never forget that God is perfect, and in his perfection, he allows us to choose for ourselves .  For this reason , man often makes the wrong choice, and bad things happen . For this reason ,  evil sweeps the world -  our own selfishness ,  our own hurt ,  or own pride cause our own destruction .  God does not cause bad things to happen ,  but he allows us to make decisions ,  and unfortunately ,  human are sinful by nature .  Please never forget God is good and perfect and anything not good and perfect is from this world and sin, not from God.

Please never forget that God does not need us .  His plan will prevail, His will is carried out with or without us .  The devil though, he needs us .  Satan’s plans cannot be carried out unless we decide to allow him to use us .  Please remember taking up your cross is a DAILY sacrifice, discipline, a choice NOT to follow the world , NOT to be used by Satan.

Please never forget that God uses ALL things- big or small .  His voice is often quiet, and we do not find things we are not looking for.  Please remember that prayer is the most important and the strongest weapon we have .  Please remember that God hears our prayers ,  our cries . He’s strong enough for us.  He’s waiting for us.

Please never forget that God does not care about your past. He just wants to be your future . Please never doubt that God will take care of you .  

Please never forget that He promised to NEVER leave OR forsake you, and God ALWAYS makes good on his promises. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Today is the day.

Today is the day...
I will drink my whole venti coffee... because I woke up at 8 on a Saturday.
I will open my book and put thought and care into every single word, careful not to miss the small details.
I will go to a wedding and appreciate the sweetness of their moment without wishing it was my moment.

Today is the day...
I will run 3.5 miles instead of just 3.
I will spend time with my friends, not distracted by my cell phone or gossip or worried about tomorrow.
I will do what I want to do... because that's what Saturdays are for.

Today is the day...
I will clean up my car... and my room.
I will find more to do than shop or spend money.
I will invest in someone other than myself.

Today is the day...
I will practice what I preach.
I will pray a little more
I will worry a little less.

Today is the day I will enjoy until tomorrow.

What do you have planned for today?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What I love about the sun

What I love about the sun is its ability to shine. I love the way it shows no mercy in sharing its warmth. I love that the sun shines regardless of the mood I'm in; that I can't hide the light even if I shade my eyes or close them or turn away.

What I love about the sun is how, even when the clouds are out, it's still shining behind them. I love how the sun is always there, even though sometimes we can't see past the darkness. I love that it rises each morning and sets each evening, and you can depend on it.

I love that the sun knows when we've had enough. It knows when to step back; when a day has been too long and too hard. I love that, even though it hurts sometimes, it is always helping me giving me nutrients I need, warmth, a clear vision, the ability to see as far as my eyes will let me.

I love that the world works to the rhythm of the sun. I love how the sun is so magnificent, we can only get so close to it. I love that even from so far away, the sun always feel close; always has a hand on my shoulder.

I love that every time the sun rises, it brings a new day with it. I love that it signifies a fresh, clean slate, and that when the sun is shining, even bad things aren't unbearable.

What I love about the sun is how our Creator crafted it just so- giving it a purpose and a duty. I love that He knew how much we would depend on it.

What I love about about the sun is that even it was created with a calling to reflect the magnificence of our God and it does so faithfully.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What's in a name?

I have to admit, I am not good at titles. I put so much into the actual writing, so much into the words and the structure and the technical and contextual elements, that by the time I get to the title, I'm over it... or late for my next class... or bed time.

I don't like having to name things. Giving something a name makes it seem so... final. It's like, if you name something, that's what it is. Forever. Always. I will always be Jessica because that is what my parents named me. I like my name, but it's just so... permanent.

To give something a title, to use hundreds of words and letters and then end it with three little words that may or may not relate- how can you do that? How can I write an entire piece of work to settle on a three word title? Doesn't that seem a little strange?

People say, "Well what is your work about?" And I give them an answer, but the title can't be "It's about a house that I grew up in that had this really great swing set with monkey bars and a  rope....," so how do you choose? How do you choose a couple measly words to sum up your whole story?

Is it like life? Do you just write and write and write, and pick a word, whether it relates or not? I mean, my parents named me Jessica, but they didn't know whether I'd be a Jessica or Sarah, or Katie.... they just picked what they liked and I am me, and luckily, I like it and it fits me.

Wait, maybe that's how it is. Maybe "Jessica"fits me because that's what I've always been. My dog is a "Tabor" because she's never been called anything else, and this blog is about "Words" because that's what I called it. Is this blog even about words? I am so bad at titles.

My question is, are we defined by our titles? Are confined by them? Are we limited to what people say we are, what they call us? I don't think so... I think we are so much more than a title, just like a story is so much more than it's title, just like there is more to us than our names. Don't let people title you. Don't be defined by what someone else chooses to call you. More than likely, they don't know what you're about anyway.

Fine Line God?

I thought senior year of college would be a time of celebration and easy classes. Wrong! College, senior year, is a time to freakout over deadlines, missing credits, grad school applications, job interviews, GRE tests, blah, blah, blah, the list goes on. If I wrote out a to- do list (for all of you who know I am a compulsive list maker), it would literally take a whole sheet of paper. Even more than that, it seems like every single decision, every move, every answer, question, everything carries so much weight. I feel like, at this point in my life, every decision I make is going to affect my future. In a way, it is very exciting, but mostly, it's extremely overwhelming. So, here is what someone very wise told me:

God's will for our life is not a fine line that we have to stay on. It's not a tight rope, that, if we fall off, that's it- we're done. God's will doesn't work like that! Thank the Lord (literally) because I have awful balance.

In a figurative way, God's will for our life is like a football field, or a basketball court- something with boundaries. We can go anywhere we want within those boundaries and still be in God's will for our life. Isn't that beautiful?

If you are like me- if you feel like every decision you have in front of you is a high-stakes decision. Think again! God didn't set a will for our lives to confine us. He set a will for our lives to show us how free we are in Him. He sets the boundaries, but we are free to move. We're free to seek and find and look and search. We have to pray that those boundaries would be clear to us, and we have to discern between our own boundaries and the ones God has set for us, but He gave us a brain and hands and feet because He wants us to use them- to seek for ourselves His will for us.

So next time that decision lingers in front of you and you are panicked to make the right choice, ask God to help you. Ask Him to show you the boundaries of His will, and He will do just that. If this is our prayer, there should be no fear and anxiousness about the future- only excitement about reaching our full potential in Christ.

So rejoice, God has set forth a plan for us. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..." Your decision will not cause you to fall of the tight rope of God's will. It will force you to move within the boundaries of the freedom He's given us. How amazing is that? Be confident in prayer, and be confident in your decisions.

It doesn't seem so high-stakes when I look at it this way. God is good... and funny. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

He's not real.

Just this second, I was watching a music video for a country song, and found myself wondering, "Why don't I have that kind of relationship?"

Movies, books, songs, tv- they make us long for something that isn't real. Nicholas Sparks makes even the best guys look like jerks. When I read Dear John, I cried for John Tyree. I thought how stupid that girl was for not waiting on him. I said I would have waited for him. If that's the case, I'm going to be waiting a long time.

There are good guys out there, lots of them. I am related to the two greatest men in the world (at least, I think they are the two greatest men in the world!) But even they don't live up to the standards of a "dream boy."

Girls, we can't change a bad boy. We can't make him right and good and honorable. Guys don't walk around and write love songs for us, they don't hold boom boxes outside our windows. They don't remodel houses in our honor and then say "it was never over," when we return to them. They don't sit beside our bed all night just to make sure we sleep okay. They don't do that . That's . Not . Real .

It's like this- we are not "dream girl" material. Well, I'm not anyways. I complain... a lot. I'm irrational and difficult and nothing is ever my fault. If I'm not the girl in one of those songs/ books/ movies, how can I expect him to be the guy in one of those movies? If I'm not perfect size, perfect attitude, perfect girl, why would I expect a guy to be all of those things for me?

Next time you find yourself wondering where your Noah, John, Chuck, Edward, Jacob, the list goes on, is, think about what guy, any guy, you actually know in real life that acts the way those characters do. I'd bet you can't find an answer.

Don't ask what's missing in your relationship. Don't ask where your dream guy is. Really think about the things you do have in a relationship, or think about the things that are actually really important. Ask yourself what's going to matter in 10 years when you're waking up beside him every morning. It'll make you thankful for what you have instead of ungrateful for what you can't seem to find. It'll make you realize the difference in a movie character and a real-life guy. It'll make you realize where your expectations are and where they should be.

Give the guys a chance. Sparkly vampires aren't real. (Neither is Christian Grey. Or Peetah for that matter.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Storms

When it rains, it pours... But there's always sun behind the clouds, no matter how long they stick around.

It rains a lot. Sometimes, we embrace it. We curl up with a good book, or our favorite tv show, throw our arms around that special person, and let the sound of the rain carry us away. 

Sometimes we run from it. We throw a hood over our heads and make a mad dash for refuge. It doesn't even matter what that refuge is- anything that will get us out of the storm.

Sometimes we ignore it. The rain falls, and our day carries on, just like it would if there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We don't really even notice that it started raining, and we don't notice when it stops.

Sometimes it ruins our day. We have to change all of our plans. It makes us mad and bitter, and we blame the rain for everything else that goes wrong.

Sometimes, it makes us sad. The gray sky rubs off on us. We are lonely or depressed. Melancholy  thoughts run through our minds and nothing is quite good enough to pull us out of our gloominess.

Sometimes, it scares us. We aren't sure what's going to happen next. We don't know how long it will last, or if we'll make it out in one piece.

But the thing about the rain, is that the sun always shines again. It's always there, waiting behind the clouds to make its grand entrance. Just when we think we've had enough, just when we're not sure how much more we can take, the sun rescues us with its bright warmth, and saves us from drowning, crying, bitterness, fear; reminding us that the storm is always only temporary. 

There is sun in everyone's life. Whatever you're going through, wherever you are, the rain won't last. It's only a temporary storm in front of your sun. It will shine again. Don't let the rain keep you from dancing in the streets. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You need to read this.

The problem with relationships that are fun while they last, is that they don’t ever last. You can’t just love the best version of someone. You have to love the worst, most annoying, most whiny version of them. That’s the only way you’ll ever deserve the best version. It’s the only way anyone will ever deserve the best version of you.

No matter what twisted lies our world tells, girls still need romance, and guys still need the pursuit.

People are not cell phones. You can’t upgrade when your version gets old or the communication gets slow. The only true love story is still the one written by God, and even if you don’t like the plot, it’s the only way to a happy ending.

Yeah, things get hard and it won’t stay exciting, and yeah, at some point, you’re going to want out, but it’s not a game. It’s real life and there are no timeouts or redos. There is only here and now and mercy and grace and forgiveness. There is only love, like Christ loved us.

There is only hope for tomorrow, no guarantee of it. So don’t say that tomorrow you will make it right, but don’t expect to solve all your problems in one night. Sleep still is the best cure for most illnesses.

We have to give love and show vulnerability to be trustworthy and to receive vulnerability in return. People are so defensive, but relationships are made of teammates, not opponents.

You are not perfect, and when you look in the mirror, you know this. Don’t expect anyone else to be, either. Do not expect of someone what you do not give them. Don’t call the girl you hurt or the guy you left and expect a friendly voice. Exes are not forgotten friends. They are lessons learned, and there is a reason you are not still with them.

Peace must be kept, but it’s okay to fight. It’s healthy to disagree and to speak your own mind, but words have more power than the strongest weapon, so use them with caution and beware of destruction.

Dance slowly and look into one another’s eyes. Hold hands and compromise. Meet in the middle, and don’t want what you do not have, don’t wish to be who you are not. It’s exhausting and there’s no appeal in being anything except yourself. No one wants perfect, but everyone is searching for real. Real is not on a magazine cover and Hollywood does not define standards for self-image or love. Don’t look to last month’s tabloid for your goals and hopes- look to the living Book- the only one that has been tried and tested and withstood any society.

Love fiercely, and do not be afraid to risk it all. With much risk, comes much reward, but remember there is a difference in foolishness and bravery, and even Spiderman needed a little help.
Sometimes, a pipe is just a pipe, said Freud. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Firsts and Lasts

Everyone experiences firsts and lasts. Firsts and lasts come in all sizes, and normally, there is a story- a memory attached to each. Telling the story is not important because we hold the stories in our hearts or our minds, sometimes against our will. What is important is learning from these first times and last times, growing from them, appreciating the experiences- even if it takes a while. Here's a few of mine...

thanks to my Creative Non-Fiction teacher for the idea.

Time I really gave myself to God. (life-changing, literally.)
Time I kissed a boy.
Time I left home for a long period of time.
Time I got a dog.
Real, scarring heartbreak.
Adult purchase I ever made (a car... I jumped right in.)
(and only!) really bad grade in college.

Time I saw my Great-Grandmother.
Summer with Student Life (there were only two but both incomparable with any other).
High school event. (Graduation... all the people I'd grown up with, away from, close to).
Fight before ending an engagement.
Scary movie I watched (still leaving the lamp on!).
Time I rode my mountain bike (or even worse, my road bike. ah!).
Concert I went to.

There's so many more. My life has been defined by firsts and lasts. Some funny, some serious or sad, but all are so important to who I am today. As I made this list, I thought about all the things I went through to experience these firsts and lasts, and what I've taken from each one... There is a story for every thing, and a season for each.. Do not be defined by your first and lasts, but be wiser from experiencing them. All things begin and end. Embrace that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Here's to 2012...

A chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more...and to stop worrying about "what if" and embrace what would be. -New Year's Eve.

Just yesterday I was sitting in class counting the weeks to fall break; then the classes left until Thanksgiving. I bought a great sweater on sale on Black Friday and woke up again on Christmas morning- or at least that's how it feels.

The sad part, or maybe just the true part, is that I don't even remember fall break. I remember thanksgiving day, but not much more of that week either.  Christmas is still fresh on my
mind because I have not yet accepted the reality that it is over already. 

I didn't even have time to make a New Year's resolution, not that I would actually have kept it. I have seriously considered joining the gym and dreamt... Again... About running that marathon. Of course, I'm an excuse maker, so there's that. 

But here's to another year. No resolutions this year, but here's to the possibility. Here's to the Hillary Swank- smile-into- the- air of hope, new beginnings, and remembering the weeks that go by. Here's to walking slower, listening more, and taking in the days that whiz past. I don't think the world will be ending this year, but here's to living 2012 like the Mayans were right.