Friday, August 20, 2010


My friend (and soon-to-be roommate) and I have talked often about the mythical Christian "checklist"...that list of steps and tasks to be completed before one reaches the Holy Grail of self-awareness and near-Godliness. That moment when you are no longer who you were, but the very best you will ever be.

We talk about it because we hate it. We hate it because, quite frankly, it doesn't exist. There is no moment when you are safe from yourself, when you are "cured" and no longer at risk of slipping down the muddy slope you've been struggling to climb. Deep down, I know I just have to say the word to be carried out of that. That faith and perseverance stop the slide. But that isn't how I FEEL.

I started this blog because I wanted to share the new direction I've chosen to point my life. But it would be useless to only write the triumphs. It would be dishonest and a disservice to you and to me to deny the moments where my shoes get muddy and I just want to sit down in the mud and get dirty. No pun intended. Well, not exactly. But the truth is, there are times like this week, when the old me seems to be BANGING on my door. She's asking when I became so boring, why I won't text that guy, why I won't have another drink. She's wondering why an e-mail to my ex would be a big deal. She's reminding me of all the pain of the past, but she paints a pretty picture of all of those experiences. She sees them as these wistful, romantic, slightly tortured love stories. My mind knows that the only truth in the previous sentence is found in "torture". No (true) romance. Certainly no true love.

Yet here I sit, missing it. Missing feeling wanted for something, even if that something left me emptier than before, every time. Missing phone calls, text messages, the drama. Why?

And then I think of footprints. Two sets, His and mine. I know someday, I will look back on today, yesterday, and so many others and see only one set. I know I'm being carried. I know this because as much as I want to, I haven't given in. I haven't texted that guy, had that drink, or sent that e-mail. My heart knows it's worth it. My mind is being a whiny pain in the ass, but that's today. Tomorrow...tomorrow, we'll see.

Makes me think of this:
(Tenth Avenue North, "On and On")

Life is waiting for you
And life I have given to you
Tell me what else can I do
What more have I left to prove?
That I am what you need
Still I will hold on to your heart
Through the chaos and the dark
When your eyes fail to see

So what are you waiting for?

On and on we go
Come love take my hand
On and on we go
As you run away again
On and on we go
Back to where this all began

So come love take my hand

...Okay. I can do that. Muddy shoes and all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Foundations Part 2...Moving!

With all of the other tumultuous happenings, some very exciting news to report from the past few weeks...

I, Jessica, am for the first time since my junior year of college (that's 4 years...oh my) am moving out of my parents' house. It's been a very foreign, but lusted-after concept for me for some time now. A few times I've come exceptionally close, but the timing, the finances, etc, were never right.

I knew I couldn't do it alone. Enter one of my favorite people in the world, randomly texting to see if I was considering moving. To be honest? I wasn't. Mostly because I didn't have anyone to move WITH, a roommate whose lifestyle would support my own, and whose presence would be a blessing. We said we'd start looking for a place. And the first place we looked at, we loved. It all seemed too good to be true. So we prayed. And then prayed some more. And while a few obstacles came up, the doors just opened. And it just seems RIGHT.

So much will have to change for career future, though it looks promising, is not yet guaranteed, so taking this step is in fact a HUGE leap of faith that I will be provided for and taken care of. I'll have to change the way I live in many ways, and learn to budget (a completely foreign concept to me, by the way) and prioritize. I'm sure I'll think differently a few months from now, but I see this as somewhat of an adventure. Maybe it's dating old men, or living with my folks, or something, but I seem to have a very distorted view of where I should be in my life right now. I'm not yet TWENTY-FIVE. If there was ever a time to experience the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, now is it. Before the husband and babies (God willing)...before I have mouths beside my own to feed, now is when I need to learn to live below my (meager) means. Of all the changes in the past few goodbye from one or two people that just can't be a part of me anymore, a new job, etc...This is the one change that catapults me into the realm of "right where I should be" and it's WONDERFUL, and it's SCARY, but it's REAL.

So here goes grown up life. Can't wait.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Foundations...part one.

I have much more to update on, but I'll rewind a bit first.

I can't say the past few weeks have been my healthiest or smartest. After finally making it impossible for my ex to be a part of my life, and feeling SO good about it, I decided, naturally, it was time to directly defy my counselor's advice and do the thing I do worst: date.

After WORSHIP night, of all things, about a month ago, I went to the restaurant next door to my church for drinks with a friend. There I managed to meet a guy. Cute. Really cute. Too cute, truthfully for his (my) own good. We talked. I flirted, because that's WHAT I DO...I gave him my number. Magically, he called! I decided I was strong enough--what kind of damage could one date really do?

And I had a really good time. For the first time ever, I was just myself. No attempts at being anything more or less than I am. No, I didn't get trashed and sleep with him. Yes, I do get 10 bonus points for this. Thing is, he walked me to my car, gave me this awkward kiss goodnight that I didn't expect and that was that. No call, nothing since that night. Ouch. If I had been ready to date...if I'd been secure enough in myself and in my faith that the right man is not mine to choose, my reaction to that rejection might have been much different. Instead, I spent a good week cancelling plans, overeating, underexercising, and generally feeling sorry for myself.

All of those negative thoughts came right back. Why not me? What's wrong with me? Why am I not good enough for this person? Pacing the floor (literally...I did this, I paced) wondering what it is about me that makes me NOT WORTH IT.

How quickly I forget. I momentarily let a stranger shake the foundation I'm trying to build. I let another person determine my value, when God set the bar so much higher for me before I ever drew a breath. My value to Him, YOUR value to Him, is infinite. Truth be told, I'm glad it happened. Despite the temporary setback, that one date and subsequent rejection also confirmed how far I have indeed come. Years, or even months ago, I would have sent the occasional text message, letting myself be strung along, clinging to any crumbs of attention or affection tossed my way. I would have found creative ways to remind Mr. Wonderful that I exist, searching for his validation. This time, after my mild tantrum and bout of hurt feelings, I can honestly say this guy's validation is not the reassurance I need.

The foundation shook, but didn't crumble. In one of the books I'm reading, "Having a Mary Spirit", Joanna Weaver writes of earthquakes that are bound to strike our lives. They will come, but if our foundation is strong and we're willing to bend and sway and move a little, we won't just fall apart. I'm still building that foundation. The tubs of cookie dough and chocolate ice cream I downed one night last week can attest to that. But what a relief, when the aftershocks subside and I am still again, to see that I'm still safe and whole. What more reassurance could I ask for?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Love Songs.

"Just to be with you, I'll do anything..."

I can't tell you how many times I've dreamed/hoped/wished/fantasized/hallucinated that a man would say something like that to me. In years of pursuing inappropriate men with all of my time and energy, hoping they'd deem me worthy of theirs. Waiting for them to make some grand gesture of love, so I would KNOW I was theirs. That I belonged to them.

Those that know me can vouch...this never happened. I was never worth it, never enough. That's what I believed.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a pity party I threw for myself, "celebrating" my ex-boyfriend(s) and how much they didn't love me, going a tad overboard with the wallowing, I absentmindedly twirled the cross around my neck. And then it dawned on me: I've been waiting for someone to do something heroic, something meaningful. HE already HAS. It was the clearest picture of God's love I'd ever had. A few days after this realization, I heard "Love Song" by Third Day. I've heard a lot of worship songs, and love many, but this one instantly brought me, quite literally, to my knees. A snippet:

Just to be with you, I'd do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'd give anything
I would give my life away

I know that you don't understand
the fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sins
And I know that you don't realize
how much that I gave you
But I promise, I would do it all again.

Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away

Unbelievable. A song from God. To me. A LOVE song. And with every word, the lyrics confirmed what I am finally learning to accept. These were the words I've always wanted to hear, more beautifully said than I could ever articulate on my own. And coming from the One who did indeed give everything to be with me, truer than I can fully understand. To be with, the woman so convinced that she wasn't worth the time. I don't even know how to describe that kind of love. I don't know how to express the peace, the overwhelming peace, that comes with knowing that it's mine, forever. Every person I am blessed to know, every sweet moment, is icing on the cake.

It is still a struggle to shake those old feelings, to learn to rest in His love. This knowledge is new, it's growing, but it's REAL. Knowing that someone loves me. Someone finds me worthy. And I belong to Him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Love a Good Wedding!

Today, my wonderful friends James and Avery are saying I do!

I met Avery last November. She was a member of my church growth group...we were reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I was at one of those really heartbroken times in life, feeling my prince would never come. And then Avery shows up and tells the group she's ENGAGED. I tried to be bitter and cynical, but you can't be that way around Avery. She's so immensely positive, and so grateful for the man and life she's been blessed with. She deserves all of that and more, and I am proud to call her my friend. I've never really had "couple friends" (perhaps this has to do with rarely being part of a functional couple myself? Hmmm) but once I met James, that was simply not the case anymore. He's the kind of loving, patient, funny guy we ALL look for...Living proof for Avery and for so many others that you never know what's waiting for you, what God has planned.

And here we are, 8 months later...I can't wait to watch this two people say yes to each other today, and see what their future brings! Love you guys!

Oh, and everyone...Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It should be noted that as I set out on this journey, seeking God (and finding Him) I am leaving behind years of bad habits and altogether damaging behavior. I'm not gonna lie, I had some serious fun. Turns out sometimes, serious fun leads to serious consequences. Who knew?

So many times I've asked God, ever so politely, to wave His magic wand and make it easy for me to leave those ways behind. I've asked nicely if He would please just erase the past and overwhelm me with peace and happiness and rainbows as I skipped along the road to recovery. And when He didn't, I'd generally say, "Well, screw it, might as well go my way."

But my way NEVER WORKS. Awhile back, I found myself ending a relationship for the millionth/final time. Oh, wait, no. I found that really, he was ending the relationship, and I was (almost literally) kicking and screaming, begging for another chance. Another chance for what, exactly, I couldn't tell you. To go back in time a few years? To be swept away from God yet again by another guy who didn't believe? To give up everything my heart has desired since I was a litle girl for a man who didn't really love me? Regardless, I was begging for it. I was wide awake, alone, and a little hungover on that man's bed at 5am. He was snoring on the couch. A text came from a friend/angel, telling me to please, just get up and walk away. I told her I wished I had a hand to hold. She told me she wished she could be there, but GOD was.

And the tears that came then...oh my. Not tears of sadness of anger(though those would come too) but tears of absolute relief. It was as though God had put me right in that apartment, in that moment, to tell me it was just TIME. To let me know He missed me, and if I didn't mind, could He possibly show me what REAL love looks like? And while He's at it, could he show me what HE has planned for my life? Plans to give me "a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

And I've felt Him with me every moment since. Even as I struggle to obey Him, He's there. The hardest part now is recognizing that the changes He is making are not quick fixes. I will be no overnight transformation. And I have to be honest, it gets ROUGH. Tough to meet a cute guy in a bar and not revert back to my old scripts and patterns. Tough to receive texts from my ex and not drop the phone and run directly to his house and try to convince us both that another try is not a bad idea. Tough to miss said ex and sit STILL with that feeling, and a million others that circle in my head. Tough to let it hurt without seeking the band-aids and temporary fixes I've used before.

I blocked him from my phone yesterday. In other words, Hell froze over. I am denying one of the people that meant the most to me for so long the right to even communicate with me, because time alone has still not healed me. This is the first thing I've knowingly done, fully aware that it was going to hurt, going to suck, and going to be impossible for me to handle alone. The first thing I gave directly to God, because there's no way I could ever get through it without Him. And He is with me all the time. I can go to him when I'm faltering, when slideshows of the past few years and what I perceived "might have been" with this person (and others) start playing in my mind. He is there. He's not wiping the memories away, or making it easy, but He's there. And I'm starting to see that though in some places it's more obvious, there is not a corner or crack of my life in which I don't need His help.

And I'm so grateful. If I wasn't so painfully aware that He is carrying me, if I thought I could walk alone, I would not be discovering this love the way I am now. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Brand New.

Welcome to my new blog.

I've kept a (relatively) continuous record of my triumphs and failures, hopefulness and heartbreak over at Twenty-Something Else for the past 2 years.

That blog and its readers have seen some of the darkest moments in my life. Personal and professional failures that brought me to tears so many times. Not dainty, gentle, lady-like tears, but the kind of sobbing you do alone in your car in the dark, gasping and choking with snot, salt, and mascara smeared in equal measure across your face. I won't delve too far into that here, at least not tonight, but it goes without saying that this is a place I don't want to be again, at least not for the same reasons. The sharpest and deepest pain I've felt has without fail been at the hands of another person. It is shocking and sad, to look back on what I've let pass for "love" in my past.

Though I've been a "Christian" since the age of 6, only recently have I begun to realize the depth of God's love for me. And the cheap substitutions of my past have begun to fade, but their sting is sharper than ever as I learn to accept how truly empty those relationships were. Like so many others, I didn't make this discovery or choose to take this journey because it was the practical thing to do. I had to be brought to my knees. I had to be so broken, and so sad, that I had no choice but to turn to HIM. And just as promised, He met me where I was.

And now, He's getting to work. No doubt about it, I am changing. I am literally being torn apart, broken in places I thought were fine just how they were. He is cleansing wounds I didn't know existed. And it hurts. I'm in pain and I'm anxious, but I am hopeful like never before. I am depending for the first time on God, and though I might (okay, WILL) stumble, I'm not alone. And that makes me the happiest I've ever been. Knowing there is better yet to come...that just blows me away.

During worship at church a few weeks ago, they played this song. And I cried. Partially because, well, I'm a crier. But mostly because I do stand amazed at this love I've found. Or more accurately, this love that has found me. He's changing me into a better woman than I ever imagined I could be. My prayer now is that I'll continue to let Him. New woman, new life, and as you can see--new blog. How marvelous. How wonderful!

So here goes. Stay tuned.