Monday, February 28, 2011

Matthew 19:14

Some days, I really miss this.

God beholds

Where to begin? There is so much I would like to say, and I do not know if my words will do my heart's feelings justice. 

I just finished reading One Thousand Gifts. It was by far the most life-changing book (other than the Bible) I have read in quite some time. Each chapter challenged and encouraged me in such a beautiful and specific way. What has been such a wonderful treat is the opportunity to watch the book club videos that are posted each week so that I can go back to what I have already read and remember the ways in which the Lord was speaking to my heart as I read.  

In the very first chapter, Ann talks about her name and its meaning. Ann means "full of grace," and she vulnerably admits that she does not always live up to her name. Upon finishing the last chapter a few moments ago, I decided to look up my name. In my room back home in Georgia, I have a picture frame that has my name and its meaning. It says that "Jessica" is Hebrew for wealthy. I did a little more research on (obviously the most reliable source for these inquiries) and found that "Jessica" means "God beholds."

God beholds. Wow. I had always thought that my name meant "wealthy," and I was contented with that. To think of oneself as wealthy is to realize what grand blessings the Lord has given. But to bear a name that means God beholds is pretty special. At least to me. To behold is "to observe, look at, see" (according to So how does that meaning have significance for me in my everyday life?

Well, for one thing, I know that I am never forgotten by God. He made me, chose me, and loves me. He beholds me, which means that I am precious in His sight and He knows me. How wonderfully powerful yet intimate is that? 

Last week, I went to the ladies' meeting after school after hearing that they were having food  so that I could be encouraged by the other women here on the field. The guest speaker for the day was a woman named Faith Arnold, who is mother of another tribal missionary here. She used to work here with her husband and was here to take care of her grandkids as their parents were out of town for a few weeks. That afternoon, she spoke about God's sovereignty. The one thing (among so many other wise nuggets of truth) she said that stuck with me was that Joy is a choice. This truth is what I have been learning as a result of reading One Thousand Gifts and through my Tuesday night Bible study with friends. The Lord always speaks clearly to me through repetition so that I can get His good truth through my thick skull. And what I have been learning is that joy is a choice. You do not just wake up joyful one morning and live in a fantasy world of temporal happiness. Joy is so much better than that, in fact it is delightfully unspeakable! Joy gives you peace and fills your heart in ways that temporal happiness never could. I pray that you find that joy, friends. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
-Romans 15:13

Friday, February 25, 2011

What if there were no rules?

Yesterday, I gave my kids a writing response question that said: "What if there were no rules? What would happen? How do you think things would be different?" And upon reading this response from one of my sweet students, I got tears in my eyes. I am such a softy, y'all. But how could you not be moved by this?

"I there were no rules I would...first lets tak about the things that can happen. There could be alot of sadness. There could be stealing and things that God does not like. Thanks to God and his plan whith Moses, Moses went up the Mountain Of The Lord and God gave him the ten most wonderful ten commandments. I would be sad with no rules. You might somtimes think that your parents are mean for putting rules in the house and everywhere you go. But, they're only trying to protect, you, and doing the best for you. Now think of this, what kind of dad or mom would be if you let your kids do whatever because you didn't obey when you where little. Whithout rules the world would be a disaster. Obey rules."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

so much to tell

Dear blogosphere world, 

My sincerest apologies for leaving you so long. I doubt if you seriously missed me, but nevertheless, here are my reasons for leaving you.
1) I love my life. 
2) I am quite enjoying my life. 
3) Did I mention I love my life?

Things have been a little crazy lately, and I have neglected to let you all know about the wonderfully great things that God is doing in my heart and life. 

So as you may know, I am reading an amazing new book called One Thousand Gifts that I ordered from Amazon a little bit ago. It is wonderful. The subtitle is: "Dare to Live Fully Where You Are," so of course I wanted to see what that was all about. The author was challenged by a friend to see if she could come up with 1,000 things she was grateful for, and she took the challenge by beginning a gratitude journal that all began with a scrap of paper. Once she started doing it, she realized how much she was missing by ignoring the little ways that God loves her and shows His love for her in the smallest and most beautiful ways.

In a word, I love this book. And I love the ways in which it is challenging me to see the little things that I normally just ignore and take for granted. I began my "list" on Valentine's Day. I have to admit that I woke up that morning just ready to get another "Singles Awareness Day" over with and behind me. But this Valentine's Day was different. I was awakened to the simplicity of the beauty around me that I had allowed myself to be blind to for quite some time. I brought my little journal with me to school (the journal that just so happened to be a Valentine's Day gift from my mom) and was meticulously recording things I saw and the Lord brought to my attention. 

#1: beautiful sunrise over the mountains of Chihuahua
#8: Socks making paw prints on my leggings
#28: community of believers here at Binimea
#40: Kari singing over me
#65: Mexican Valentine's Day 
#73: Mexican Coke
#99: Romans 6-8

This heightened awareness of all the "little" ways in which the Lord expresses His love for me each day has made an irrevocable impact on my paradigm. Here in Mexico, Valentine's Day is not just for sappy couples, but instead a celebration of friendship, too. Hence, the name Dia de la Amistad.  After receiving sweet gifts from my kids, sweet emails from friends, and ending the day with a lasagna dinner and roasted marshmallows via bonfire at a friend's house, my heart was full, and I had counted 100 unique gifts from my Lord that day.

As I have continued with my list, I have found that there is indeed nothing magical about making a gratitude list. The "magic" or real life change occurs when I make the conscious decision to choose joy. That choice is not always easy. In fact, it is sometimes the hardest choice to make. But it is the best choice and the one that brings such deep peace. 

It has been a little over a week, and I am now at gift #458...and counting. 

Lovely gifts from my students.

All the kiddies with their Valentine's Day treats.

My friend Moni and I cheesin' at our V-Day bonfire.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God's eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” ~C.S. Lewis

Friday, February 11, 2011

10 rules for living a good life

1.) Take risks.
2.) Don’t seek approval from those you could care less about.
3.) Act now, ask questions later.
4.) Don’t seek approval from those you could care less about.
5.) Chase all of your dreams (even if you end up failing).
6.) Laugh daily.
7.) Own your actions.
8.) It is better to be kind than to be right.
9.) Still your mind and know your path.
10.) Awareness is the key to higher consciousness.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

how deep the Father's love for us

 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 

-Ephesians 3:14-20


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