Friday, August 30, 2013

{Friday Letters}

Tanya, you have been the best friend I could have ever asked for. There's so much you do for me and I am so thankful. You listen to me rant on and on about all the things going on in my life and you're nothing but encouraging. I have truly never had a friend like you. Thank you for caring so deeply for me and always being you. I love our friendship and that when we get together after being apart for while, you can't shut us up :) Excited to see you next weekend and even more excited to see little Lennon make her appearance in this world. You're going to be such a good mommy! I love you BFFL. 

Teressa, I was eating some really healthy dinner yesterday and it made me think how grateful I am for you. I know it might seem like a small thing, but, you have taught me so much about eating healthy and I really appreciate it. I wish we lived in the same state because I know we would be the best "real life" friends as well as bloggy BFFS. Thank you for always being the friend who knows exactly how I feel in ministry, always encouraging me in my marriage and walk with The Lord. I cannot wait to officially meet and spend the weekend together at the Influence Conference!!

Stephanie, You are one of those friends that God knew I needed. I have been so blessed just by knowing you. Who sends a complete stranger amazing scripture cards, an encouragement note and a beautiful blanket with a scripture I hold very close to my heart? YOU! You do that because you're amazing and loving and have Jesus living in you! I am so grateful for all of the truth you have spoken into my life and that you cared about me when I was really struggling with anxiety. Thank you for being you.
Nathan, hey babe :) I love you. I know these last few months have been really stressful but I know it will all be worth it. I am sorry any unkind words I have spoken to you in the middle of all we have going on right now, please know I love you. It's weird because I used to wonder what it would be like to marry you..and now that I know, it's better than I could have ever imagined. I really do feel like the luckiest girl ever. You do so much for me and I know the love you show me isn't easy to come by. Forever and always PBNFH. 

Old Home, You will be missed. I will always remember you as the very first home my husband and I shared together. The home we remodeled on our own. The home were we shared secrets and dreams of what might come in the years ahead. So happy to have those memories.

New Home, We are so excited for the day we get to move in! We have been waiting almost 2 years for this and are so glad we found you! Everything we could have possibly been wanting & needing in a home, we found have found. Here's to many early mornings & late nights. To swimming until we are crinkly. To laying out in the grass and looking at the stars. To sipping coffee on the front porch. To growing old together.

My Jesus, this week.. has been weird. I am not sure how else to describe it. I have had so many highs and lows and my emotions seem to be all over the place. Yet, YOU, have remained constant. In these times, I feel you near more than ever. You meet me in the midst of these moments as I cry out to you in the night. I know you hear me and you comforted me. I am so thankful for this. Thank you for loving me and being my everything. Please reveal Yourself to others as you have to me, especially in their most difficult times. I love you so much.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I've been reading Diana Stone's blog, Hormonal Imbalances for a while now. She has suffered great loss and yet, she has encouraged me so deeply. She is honest about her relationship and struggle with the Lord and holds nothing back. She is also a writer for She Reads Truth and I cannot begin to tell you how many times she has given me hope through her words. Although I don't know her personally, I am absolutely heartbroken at the news I heard about their sweet baby boy.

Yesterday, Diana and her family were faced with the impossible, when they said goodbye to their 3 week old son Kaden.

Friends, all I am asking today is that as a community, we come together and pray fervently for the deep pain the Stone family must be feeling considering the precious life that was lost yesterday. I don't know the stone family personally but their story is absolutely one of heart ache and loss but also of courage and faith. When they can't be strong anymore, let us cover them in prayer and allow The Lord to be their strength.

I don't understand why this family has had to endure so much pain in this lifetime but I do know God is a God of hope and redemption. Of power and strength. He hears them and He hears us as we seek His face, asking Him to comfort this family with His unfailing peace, and I know He is meeting them right where they are. Please come alongside this family and this community as we pray without ceasing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why we chose the house.

You may remember this post from a little while ago.
There were so many things on our hearts. 
Things we were praying about for so long.
Long before I shared it on my blog.
I hesitated with that post at first because sometimes, some don't understand our hearts.
I was afraid I would be expected to choose one way or the other or that others would scold me for making, what they thought, was the wrong choice. 
But really, only God's opinion matters, so I went ahead and shared our hearts with you.
But boy, did we struggle with this decision friends. 
We spent so much time talking about it and praying over it. 
Our decision is this. 
 We will use some of the funds to allow Nathan to go down to 3 days a week at his current job.
He will be able to take 2, sometimes 3 full days to work on anything his little heart desires for the youth. 
He will have time to actually:
meet up with students during the day and pour into their lives
spend more time studying the Word and preparing his lesson. 
Prepare youth events, camp, and all that mundane stuff.
No, it's not full time. 
But it was his decision and we think it will really help him to accomplish the 
deep desire he has to see lives changed. 
We believe Peoria is where God wants us for a very long time. 
& part of that is fully committing ourselves to this community by buying a home here.
We were ready to be permanently invested as we feel the Lord has called us to be.
We are beyond excited about this next step and can't wait to share all the details with you.
Our offer was officially accepted today on a home literally down the street from where we are renting now.
We hope to host many, many small groups, birthday parties, & youth events.
It has always been a dream of mine to open up our home and share it with others.
However that looks, whether coffee dates, meetings, dinners, I am just so, so thankful it can began soon.

My First Wedding Cake

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a picture of my very first wedding cake a couple weeks ago. 
I am not sure what I was thinking when I volunteered to do this, but I'm so glad I did. 
It took at least 8 hours. Just baking 2 of each layer took 4 hours! 

I think I may have convinced my husband that I clearly need my own bakery or at least a double oven ;)

He was SUCH a trooper.. That guy.. I love him. He spent every minute helping me including but not limited to; cutting the layers so they were perfect, frosting the layers with buttercream, and making sure all the ribbon was the right length. He even managed to snap a few pictures because apparently, he thought I was "really cute."

 I don't have any fancy tools so we had to make-do with what we had in our kitchen. 
But I am so thankful for my Kitchen Aid Mixer! 
I was lucky enough to get some beautiful antique ribbon from a friend and I bought small candy pearls to layer the circles.

I was really happy with the way it turned out and the Bride loved it.. that's all that matters anyways, right? :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oh, babe. {Part 2}

And now for another edition of  Oh, babe.
You can find Part 1 here.

When I wouldn't let him turn the car down a street that said "Don't Turn Here" He replied with
"But Baby boo bear bungle face.

When Katie gave me a cute little owl..
To the owl: "Your name is Latifa."
 Don't worry friends, he names all of the owls I get.. this one just happened to be the first of the female species.

While driving the other day I was scarfing down a delicious chaulupa from good ole Taco Bell. Nathan looks at me then swerves the car while screaming " Chaulpa check"..
I am almost lost my lunch and my patience.

While getting gas on our missions trip with a van full of students, he walks around the side and licks the window. Youth Pastor, much?

While also in the of the students said, Let's play a game, first person to fart wins..
Nathan: Then I already won.

When talking about how many bathroom breaks I had within the last couple of minutes because apparently I can't drink lemonade without almost peeing my pants..
Nathan said, You have a bladder like a platypus.

While discussing my age.. 
Jess: Babe, I am not old. 
Nathan: Says the gray hair you found. 
I was in complete and utter shock of this statement, mouth open and all. (true or not!)

While talking about how all of these things will be going on the blog.
Nathan: How can I pay you to not put those things on you blog?
Jess: You can't. It's happening.
(starring contest going on now)
Nathan: I don't want other people knowing this stuff about me, that was the benefit to you when you married me.
Jess: laughing.
Nathan: Fine, I'm not talking to you anymore.
That lasted all of 2 seconds. He loves me, what can I say.
Love you, PBNFH. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Influence Conference

I have wanted to go this since the first time I saw a friend tweet about it. 
I just never thought it would actually happen. 

Then last night, while talking to my bloggy BFF, Teressa,  about making arrangements to go to a different conference together, (because we would be able to go for less) she says.. 
"My husband just said, why go to that one, when you really want to go to the other one." 
Funny, my husband was telling me the same thing..
And so we bought our tickets and will be on our way in a little over a month! 
Oh and just one of the cool things about that week.. The 28th just so happens to be my Birthday! It really doesn't get any better than that!

Let me first say, I am SO excited to meet Teressa! She has been such an amazing friend to me since starting this little blog. I could go on and on about how much we have in common and how great it has been to have a friend in the same type of ministry as me who always encourages me and gives sound advice. We have always wanted to meet and hang out and have never found the chance before now! 

Secondly, I can't believe we get to meet at the Influence Conference
If it weren't for my husband and Teressa's encouragement I am not sure I would be.
But I feel so, so blessed to be able to go. 
I am SO excited for this. I cannot wait to hear stories, meet the other bloggers who encourage me daily with their words, and learn how to make the most of Jesus on my blog. Because really, that's why I write anyway, for Him, and being better equipped to do so is my heart's desire.
 I already know He is going to do GREAT things there!

If you're going, I would LOVE to connect with you beforehand.. 
Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or email

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Holding nothing back.

As a lot of you know, we are in the process of finding a new home.
That is, as soon as the sale on ours is final.
Fortunately for us, we are making a little bit of money so we are able to put a good amount down.
But lately I've been thinking about our lives and the goals we have.
Hear me when I say, I don't think there is anything wrong with owning a nice home. Heck, I loved my last house, we put a lot of love (and money!) into that home and remodeled just about everything. It didn't have a pool, it wasn't very big, and we had minimal closet space, but we were happy.  
We just couldn't live 50 miles away from our church community.

I told Nathan today there is so much we could do with that money.
So much good.
It could go one of two ways:
We tithe 10% then we use the rest for a down payment 
on a new home. We would be happy with that decision, no doubt.
We would have a place where people were welcome. We would host a lot of birthday parties and get-togethers. Anytime we could, our house would be open to our family, students and friends. It would be a good decision and we would be comfortable with it. We would use it for good and I know having a home is important.
We use it in whatever other way the Lord asks us to. 
This could look so different as there are many things that have been on our hearts and minds. 
We could use it to allow Nathan to quit his job for a year and go into full-time ministry. Fully trusting that after the year was up, the Lord would provide a new way for him to stay in full time ministry.
We could adopt some kids. I'm serious. Like more than one. After going on that Mission trip, my heart just hurts for all those children without loving families.
We could give it away. I don't exactly know how this would look but I know there are many, many people in need.
These too, are good decisions.
 However,  they may be a little more on the uncomfortable side of things. 
Just the thought of them almost brings me to a very high anxiety level. 
Think we've lost our minds, yet?
I just know myself. I know that if I never, ever give God a chance to show me just how faithful He is, I might always be living in a life full of fear. 
Please hear me when I say, I love my life. I love my husband very much
 and I feel so incredibly blessed that we get to do ministry together. 
But I know there is more to this life than making sure I'm happy.
As many fears as I have, one of my biggest is to not live the life God intended me to. 
And that's a "good" fear.
I don't want to live for myself.
I don't want to be pursing things that aren't God's best for me.
I don't want to settle for a life of fear if all I have to do is step out of my comfort zone just once and really, really trust God.
I mean come on, it's not like we have ever been broke
We always have a certain amount in our bank account, an amount that makes me feel "safe."
I have a home security system.
We have 3 cars.
I buy Starbucks wayyyy too much.
I say "I'm broke" when I am uncomfortable with spending more money than I'm used to.
I buy clothes when I want. 
I have a pretty little diamond ring on my finger.
I can't even name all the Apple products we own, it's embarrassing. 
How in any way will any of what I just said cause me to ever have to trust God. 
If I can't trust Him for my needs, how can I possibly trust Him with my deepest fears?
The reason I share so much on my blog, is because every single person reading it, matters to me. 
It would be a dream come true if we could all meet and have one big bloggy friend party. 
I just want you all to know my heart and come alongside us in prayer.
Our minds aren't made up either way.
I really don't know what God will decide to do.
I just feel like we made a decision, because it was just what seemed like the next best thing for our life.
And now Nathan and I are both wondering,
What would it look like to fully surrender to the Lord?
This might mean a house. 
Or a full time ministry opportunity for my husband. 
Or both.
There is definitely room here for adjustments to both scenarios. 
Let's be clear on one thing:
I'm scared. (I know, what else is new?!)
I don't like feeling uncomfortable. 
I have no idea, as an adult, what it means to be broke. 
I am terrified because I experienced it when I was younger and I couldn't protect myself.
I had no means of relying on me and yet, somehow, God always provided. 
Because I am here now.
& I refuse to let the enemy instill fear in my heart about this.
To give into the lie that the Lord won't come through.
Because He has something really amazing for me, for us, I just know it. 
Pray with us, will you?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Whatever you want Lord, I'm all in.

Have you ever been so sure you are doing exactly what God wants you doing but obstacles keep presenting them self every which way?
This is me. 
Right now.
I know, We know that our purpose right now, is to be in ministry at Access Church. 
It took a lot of the Lord convincing my husband of this 2 years ago but it all seems so long ago now.
I remember when our best friends kept asking Nathan,
"When are you going to just move over here and be our youth pastor?"
We would just laugh and make some joke about how much they loved us and couldn't stand to be apart.
But slowly the Lord changed our hearts and we picked up our lives and moved to pursue the calling. 
It's been 2 years now since we made that choice.
Quite arguably, the best two years of our married life.
I woudn't trade this Church for any other. 
If someone said there were better students somewhere else, I would call them a liar.
We love the kids like they are our very own.
We've been through more than I wish we had here but it's all made us even more of a family. 
When we first moved, our only option was to rent the home we owned and move out here. Selling it then, really wasn't an option. 
When 18 months came to an end, along with our leases, we started pursuing the sell of our house.
Within days of our home being on the market, we had an offer. 
A very, very good one at that. 
We moved forward, optimistic and fully convinced this was just another way the Lord was telling us it was time to make this our permanent home.
After some difficulties with our buyers loan, they had to back out.
The house went back on the market for almost 3 weeks until we got our next offer.
15,000 less than asking price but we knew we had to move fast, sure we couldn't come up with two mortgages. 
15 Days into the new sell, and we have run into a whole new set of problems.
Although our house was sold in the 'As Is' Condition, our buyer is now wanting us to make repairs that we cannot afford. 
Our realtor, less than happy with them, assured us we would work all of this out, but it might mean more money and more time.
But I am starting to not be so sure.
Am I sure we should be at Access?
Without a doubt.
Am I sure we are ever going to sell our house?
I'm starting to believe we won't.
I know in these types of situations, we cannot possibly see what the Lord sees. I know that somewhere in this mess, that He has a plan for us. A plan to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future.
But right now, I am pretty discouraged. 
Nathan and have recently started talking about what other things (instead of buying another home) we could do with the money from the sell of our house. 
All things that would glorify God.
Things that might bring the lost to know Jesus. 
Things that would guarantee more people would hear the Gospel.
& then we got this news. 
& I would be lying if I didn't say I am wondering why.
I feel like I am all in. I am all for the Lord doing what He wants and shaking things up a bit. 
I am ready for whatever He has for us and I was so willing to step out in faith with the money HE was providing to do something for His kingdom.
So I'm just stuck here wondering, 
What now, Lord? 
My prayer is that our hearts would be changed forever through this. 
Even in a process, that some may think is small and dumb, is actually a big deal to me.
Because trusting the Lord with this, letting Him really have His way with the sale of the home and our hearts in all of this, could mean a life change for me. 
& that would make all of this worth it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SO What Wednesday

So What Wednesday

SO What If:

-We've missed out on like 5 great houses because ours hasn't sold yet. Apparently coming in with the best offer doesn't mean a whole lot when you haven't sold your other house yet..

-All the days have begun to blur together. We have so much going on I can't seem to tell when one day begins and another ends.

-It made me really happy when I saw 2 more people randomly started following my little blog. If you're reading this, email me! I love, love, love to hear from you!

-I am ready for bed at promptly 9pm most nights. I am getting old.

-We have been re-evaluating our life as of late. Nathan and I have had a lot of heart to hearts about our lives and how we feel the Lord may be asking us to change how we live. Which is a good thing!

-I snuck some chocolate covered almonds into the cart last night and when Nathan asked how they got in there I pretended like I didn't hear him.

-We played color wars with dirty, Kool-aid trashcan water. Welcome to Youth Ministry Folks!
-I have NO idea when we will be moving but I am packing my house every chance I get..
-I haven't been 'Super' wife lately with my meal planning, baking and laundry. With everything else going, I really don't know how to find the time...How do you Moms do it?!  Nathan assures me that he still loves me ;)
-I wrote the above sentence and then baked some cookies late last night. It was the only time I had and I like to bake when I have a lot on my mind. 
Happy Wednesday friends! Thanks got sticking around even if I haven't posted a lot lately! :) 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CSM- Mission Trip 2013

So I'm back!
&& I have sooo much to share!
Although I want to do an extended post on our time in LA, I just wanted to let you know how it went overall.

 We saw a lot of hurting people.
We spoke with a few homeless people and it scared me at first. 
It was more terrifying than I thought because of how they often responded.
I didn't have Nathan around me all of the time, but instead, students who were looking to me for direction and safety. 
It wasn't easy but it was necessary.
We met the CUTEST kids ever. We hung out with them every morning and I cried when we left.
Someone asked where I was and Nathan joked I must be stuffing one of them into my backpack.
He was right, I wanted to take all of them home. 
They were so sweet and enjoyed every single second of attention they were given by us.
One little girl looked exactly like my niece, Bella. She was just a little bit older but her name was Gabbi. (my other niece's name!)
 Very strange.

We served food to the hungry. 
We sang karaoke with some amazing people one night in Skid Row.
We ate things I never wanted to try.
We prayed for the City every chance we got.
We affirmed each other while sitting on the beach watching the sun go down.
We stayed up late talking about all the cool things God had done in such a short time.

The Lord used this trip to stretch us, to stretch me.
Chang me.
Reveal His heart for His people to me.
God did so much and it was so, so good.
Can't wait to share more details... 

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