The Good in Sports

Check out my husband’s non-profit organization– I’m completely thrilled with the ‘faith’ section that was recently added, and since I’ll be helping to head it up, I’m doing some self-promotion here. ūüôā¬† Check out all of the latest articles by clicking here.¬† Complete with devotional-style¬†sports news articles.¬† Share with your husbands, sons, and¬†fellow sports¬†fans! ūüôā¬† Dive into the word and watch it transform your¬†life!¬† Over the past few years, God has been at work on our little family.¬† We have went from being “Sunday Christians” to surrendering it ALL to God, and WOW, we¬†have been SO VERY BLESSED.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. -Matthew 16:24-27   

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. -Isaiah 40:28

Thanks, guys!

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Notes from the Mission Field: The Holy Spirit & Psalm 139

One of the best nights that we had in Nicaragua was the evening of the church celebration.¬† It was the church’s anniversary, and to celebrate, they invited people to gather on a basketball court, and they held a service complete with praise and worship, dancing, messages from local Pastors, Pastor Tommy’s sermon, and my testimony.

Before I spoke, I was able to hold one of the cutest babies in Nicaragua! The Holy Spirit was already preparing my heart with Psalm 139 as I held this sweet boy and considered how wonderful the works of God's hands were. On this night, I wanted the people of Nicaragua to understand that God has a plan and he created them all in order to love them.

The¬†Holy Spirit really prepared me to speak to the Nicaraguan people, and he laid Psalm 139 on my heart.¬† It’s one of my most favorite Psalms, one that I remember memorizing back when I was at my home church in high school.¬† The Holy Spirit specifically wanted me to speak to the young girls.¬† We encountered so many throughout the week, and I really wanted to share my heart with them.¬†

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, You have searched me, 
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,‚ÄĚ
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand‚ÄĒ
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

In a nutshell, this is basically what I spoke to the Nicaraguan people on that night.  (My language was simplified so that my translator could convey my message completely and accurately.):

When I was a pre-teen, I accepted Christ and was Baptized.¬† In my teenage years, I didn’t live for the Lord like I do now.¬† I hung out with the wrong crowds and made bad choices.¬†

In college, I ended up getting engaged to a man that was not God’s choice for me.¬† I was not seeking God and asking Him the important questions in my life.¬† I was choosing who I thought would be best.¬†

My parents, friends, and one particular pastor did not agree with my choice.¬† I had a long meeting with this pastor in his office (very scary), but looking back, it was a great meeting because it raised questions that I did not consider:¬† “Is this God’s plan?”¬†¬†

One of my¬†friends in particular¬†(his name was Joe) spoke up and told me that I was making the “biggest mistake of my life”.¬† He was a Christian guy, and followed God with all of his heart.¬† He knew I was a Christian but… not living according to God’s commands.¬† My friend Joe was convinced that I was going to marry him.¬†

(He was crazy wasn’t he?)¬†

But, as God would have it, according to His plan, I married Joe! 

Things have not always been easy, and Joe and I have both really had to seek the Lord in order for our relationship to be where it is today.¬† (I’m stubborn, he’s hard headed…)

But, here is what I want you all to understand: (especially the young girls out there)…¬†

God created us for worship.  He created us to worship Him. 

He made all of us.  He loves all of us. 

We are unique.  And beautiful. 

His word tells us that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.¬†

Sometimes, I have insecurities and I feel like I’m not good enough, and when I feel like that, I have to remind myself of what it says in Psalm 139….

The Lord created me. 

He knew my name before I was born. 

He knew all of my mistakes before I ever made them. 

And He loves me… and forgives me.¬†

He loves all of us and has a plan for our lives. 

Every detail. 

We just have to TRUST HIM! 

Fuzzy, yes, but here is a photo of me addressing the Nicaraguan people along with Oscar as my translator. The basketball courts and relaxed atmosphere really put me at ease.

 

And………

Things I forgot to mention to the Nicaraguan people¬†but wished I had………………

1.¬† The same pastor that met with me¬†(scared me to death, haha)¬†and helped me to realize God’s plan for my life was the same pastor that performed¬†mine and Joe’s¬†marriage ceremony.¬† Thanks, Pastor Hal!¬† God certainly has a sense of humor, and I love it.¬†

May 22nd, 2005. St. Augustine, Florida. In the company of the best Parents and Family in the world.
The best day of my life.

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Pretty Perfect Picnic

We’ve had the kind of weather lately that just makes you want to wear sundresses, cute hats, and take picnic lunches…. every day.

I love picnics. 

There’s just something romantic about a picnic.

Especially when the guy in your life *plans* said picnic.

(Oooh, lala.)

So, when my husband sent me a text message today that asked me if I’d like to take a picnic for lunch with him, of course I immediately got giddy with excitement.¬† Then I asked him what we would be having…

He had me at ‘Publix Sub’.

He picked me up, and we headed to a nearby shady park and found a nice spot under the big oak trees.

On the menu:¬† Publix subs, potato wedges and rocky road fudge.¬† (I know… he’s a keeper, isn’t he?)

Of course, the food was amazing, but the company was even better.¬† I thank God for the friend that I’ve found in my husband.¬† I am so comfortable and content with him, and I’m just so thankful that he’s the kind of husband that understands the importance of nurturing¬†our relationship.¬† He takes care of me.¬† He understands me.¬†¬†He knows what I’m thinking and (most of the time) what I’m feeling.¬†

I just can’t stop thanking God for all that He has done in my life and in my marriage.¬† He is worthy of ALL the praise, because times haven’t always been easy for us.¬† God made the changes, but we had to trust Him, depend on Him, and FULLY rely on Him, giving Him control of our entire lives.¬† That has meant job changes, trust with finances, juggling one vehicle, but in essence, it’s brought us closer together, and closer to God.

The Lord is my rock, but Joe is a close second.

(And all the women said………………… Amen!)

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Break my heart for what breaks Yours

In the middle of all of my happy, something happened.

Not to me directly or even to our family, but to someone that I hold near and dear to my heart.  Someone that I respect and love.

Although I can’t reveal the details, I can say that I’m very heartbroken for this friend and the situation.

If you know me well enough to know my heart, you know that I’m tenderhearted and sensitive to other’s struggles.¬† I’ve often seen myself as¬†flawed because of this.¬† However, the more I study the Bible, the more I’m trying to look at it as a gift.¬† My heart truly breaks for others.¬† I do not have to force it, or do things out of an obligation, my feelings are true and honest and real.¬† And when I pray aloud and show them, I just have to forget to wonder what others might think of me and focus on what is true and real before me:¬† My unfailing love for Jesus, and my love for others.¬† These two things intertwined often brings about emotion for me – in the form of tears.¬†

Even though it’s often joked about, the shortest verse in the Bible is:¬† Jesus wept.¬† -John 11:35.¬† It says it all in those two very words.¬† He did then and He does now.¬† Because He has compassion and mercy and more love than you can. ever. imagine.¬†

‚ÄúA new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.¬† By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.‚ÄĚ – John 13:35-35

Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
~Hillsong United “Hosanna”

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Following God

I’ve neglected my¬†website since December.¬† Much has happened since then, not all of which I was ready to share as it was unfolding.¬† Sometimes we have to take periods of quiet time in order¬†to listen¬†to God’s direction so that worldy opinions do not interfere.¬† God’s ways are not always our ways.¬†

I went through a rough patch and really decided that I will no longer lean on my own understanding, but rather acknowledge Him in ALL my ways.  And He has certainly carved a perfectly straight path for me.  (Proverbs 3:6)

And, so, God’s plan has landed me in a new job, a new perspective on my career path, more time with my children, and more time to pour my heart out to Him.

And…

Remember that mission trip I said God was leading me to within the next year?

Guess what?

I went.

Here we are feeding about 500 children at a feeding station in Leon, Nicaragua. Pastor Tommy is stirring the stew like a pro, and Katelyn and Caroline are helping serve. It was an amazing trip and I can't wait to share all of the stories with you guys.

And now I’m back.

Yes, Lots of missing details, but I am here now and have SO MUCH to share, so I will be back more regularly, now that things have calmed down.

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT WHAT GOD IS DOING.

AND WHAT HE HAS PLANNED.

What have I learned since December? 

God’s plans are BIGGER and BETTER than ANYTHING we could EVER imagine for ourselves.

More later.

Love in Christ,

Jessica

Precious, precious children to love on in Leon, Nicaragua.

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I need to tell Jesus.

 

Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. -Matthew 3:6

Being a parent certainly has its challenges.¬† My children drive me to insanity and push me to my depths.¬† However, I will never doubt for one second that they are part of God’s plan to make me a better person.¬† I learn from both of them every day.¬†
My three year old daughter taught me a truly valuable lesson this Thanksgiving, on a topic that I never would have imagined that she even understood. 

 
We spent Thanksgiving with Joe’s family in Panama City, Florida.¬† On Saturday, the kids were getting a little stir-crazy and wanted to get out and run around.¬† Joe wanted to watch the football game with Pop, so I took the kids down to the beach.¬†

 
Camden and Ella were beyond thrilled as we made our way down to beach front.¬† We went into one of the nearby shops and bought them both sunglasses, a hat for Camden, and some beach attire.¬† Walking along the beach, they were just in awe at God’s lovely earth.¬†

Ella hadn’t been down to the shore since she was a tiny baby, so this was her first time running in the sand.¬† She ran as fast as her little tiny legs would take her, following her brother up and down the shore.¬†

 
The one rule that I had was: Do not go in the water.¬† It was in the 60’s and 70’s and very breezy and the water was very cold.¬† Not to mention, I really don’t like my children to swim at the beach.¬† It’s just scary.¬†

 
Like any parent, I must have repeated myself 10 times as tiny toes inched closer to the water and then whole feet were dipped in the water. 

 
Do not go in the water.
Do not go in the water.

Do NOT go in the WATER!

 
At one point, when we were about to leave, they were standing in the surf for –just– a minute.¬† They giggled and ran around in it, splashing up to their ankles in complete bliss.¬† Defying me seemed to be fun.

 
Until…

 
A small wave crashed and rushed up to the shore.
“Run, run, run, run, RUUUUNNNN…….”¬† I yelled.¬†

Camden got the message and ran, standing next to me within a half second.  But my poor Ella, my poor, sweet, and tiny Ella tried to run, but the small wave outran her. Although it was just up to her ankles, the wave knocked her completely over, face first in the sand and washed over her. 

 
This would have been funny if it were summer.¬† But, it. was. cold.¬† Ella immediately started crying and I had to carry her wet body back to the car. She was clinging to me so tight.¬† The entire walk back through her cries, she kept saying “I need to tell Jesus”… “I need to tell Jesus that I fell”.¬†

 
I got her cleaned up and changed and we got in the car to find a cozy spot to eat dinner.  By the time we reached the restaurant, Ella had calmed down and was completely happy with her chicken and fries. 

When we reached the house that night, after bath time, Ella and I laid in Nana’s bed.¬† We said her normal prayers together, and just when she sensed we were finished and I was about to say ‘Amen’, she put her hand over my lips and said “Wait”.¬†

 
I paused, wondering what she was going to say. 

 
She said “Mommy, I need to tell Jesus.”

 
“What do you need to tell Him, Ella?”
 
“I fell in the water.” she said softly.

 
“He watches you all the time, honey, He knows you fell in the water.”

“No, I need to tell him I sorry for falling – for not listening.”

I swallowed hard as I wrapped my head around this.   

 
“Okay, go ahead” I said.

 
And very simply, she said, “And Jesus………………………. I’m sorry for falling in the water.¬† Not listening to my mommy.¬† Amen.”

 
She was actually confessing her sin to Jesus. 

I was in complete awe. 

 
I laid next to her and rubbed her back until she fell asleep, and I couldn’t help but think about how taken aback I was at her urgent need to tell Jesus about not listening to me.¬† Thinking back on the situation, after she fell and I was carrying her back to the car, she never once said that she was cold.¬† She never once said that the sand hurt her eyes, she was just repeating over and over that she needed to tell Jesus.¬†

 
She needed to tell Jesus.  There was urgency in her voice.   

 
This situation has made me take a look at my prayer and confession life.¬† I ask forgiveness for some things, but there are times when I need to be asking for forgiveness and my flesh is telling me that it was ‘no big deal’.¬†

 
And I love how once God teaches us something; He likes to bring it up again in a timely manner just to see if we are still paying attention. 

 
This Saturday, Joe and I had to entertain the kids around town for nine hours while new tile was installed in our kitchen.  We went to breakfast, the park, different stores, and mid-way through our journey, my patience was running thin.  We just happened to be at the gas station, and the clerk was being difficult.  Instead of having a good attitude with him, I sassed him.  Before I could even walk out of the store, I was convicted. 

And As I handed Ella her Icee, I couldn’t help but think “I need to tell Jesus.”¬†

There was urgency in my voice and in my spirit.

 
And I did. 

…in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:6

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Hope for Women Fitness Article

View my latest article for Hope for Women Magazine by clicking here. 

I’m so honored to be part of such a great team of women writers!

Enjoy!

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