Friday, December 16, 2011

Grapefruit goodness

I'm currently on a grapefruit kick - and I'm talking a breakfast, lunch, and dinner kick haha. I have a new favorite food at least every month! I figured since I'm eating so much of this tangy goodness, that I might as well see what the health benefits are. 

What I've found is that the power fruit has a high water content which an increased amount of water consumption can help increase metabolism.  It's a rich source of Vitamin C.  Grapefruit is rich in lycopene (the red color pigment) which helps to prevent the occurance of a tumor or cancer.  Grapefruit helps in cases of gallstones, colds, Pneumonia, and fever. The list goes on and on and on.

Needless to say, I'm totally okay with continuing this little grapefruit eating cycle I have going.  After looking at the benefits - how could you not want to grab a grapefruit and a spoon and have a yummy snack?!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Exam week chaos!

Exam week is not just a period where we're tested on what we know and how to apply it - it is also a time of the testing of our faith… do we trust our Lord, do we trust He has a good plan for us? 
These are some bible verses that can be used to encourage us during this stressful week! :) 
  • “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! ~ Philippians 4:13″
  • “Psalms 121:1-2 I look to the hills, where do my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and Earth.”
  • “Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9″
  • The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. ~ Deut 31:8
  • To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His Holy Hill. ~ Psalm 3:8
  • I call on the Lord in my distress and He answers me .  ~ Psalms 120:1
  • “… For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” ~ Jer 29:11
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” ~ Prov 3:5-6

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unshakable confidence

When we feel weak-kneed and lack confidence, we are most open to relying on God. When things are tough that's when I'm most apt to look up for help, but why not seek that same guidance even when things are great? I've been asking myself that the past few days and the Lord has rocked my world in the best ways! The Bible gives us affirmation after affirmation of God's strength in the face of our limited ability.

I can do all things through him who gives me strength [ Philippians 4:13 ]Nothing is impossible without God [ Luke 1:37 ]
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us  [ Romans 8:37 ]Nothing is too hard for the Lord  [ Jeremiah 32:17 ]My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness  [ 2 Corinthians 12:9 ]

Nothing silences the voice of timidity as powerfully as the voice of Scripture. With so many unanswered questions about my future I have been racking my brain trying to figure it all out, which is so silly of me. It took that "ah ha" moment to realize I was relying on MY plans and not HIS plans, and I gave it all over to God. Since then He has been blessing me so much, everything I was worried about or unsure of has been laid out so easily and simply for me within the past few days! Obedience may not always end in an obvious reward, but I strongly believe that God laughs at us sometimes and gives us an obvious reward just to say "look, if you trust in Me this is what happens!" Relying on flesh gets us nowhere, but placing unshakable confidence in God.. trust me, you'll get somewhere!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Lord provides

What. A. Day. That's all I can say as a quick summary.

This past week has been such a roller coaster of emotions for me.  I have had things dug up from my past, I've been told lies, I've been broken of so many things to the point where I thought I was at my spiritual breaking point.  Of course reliance on the Lord comes first, but I also needed support from the people around me but honestly didn't know how to go about it.  I'm a very "to myself" "hard to crack open" type of person so sharing trials isn't easy for me.  I'd much rather just keep it between me and God most of the time.. but that'd be far too easy.  As Galatians 6:2 says, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. I'm not the type to talk to whoever will listen, I can be a bit of an introvert at times, but this past week I've just been spilling my heart to those around me who I know love me and just sharing my burdens and taking on theirs.  With that being said, I've had one encounter to the next where the Lord has revealed to me how awesome my community is and that He always has his hand in every situation that I'm faced with.

My roomies and I had a great conversation last night about struggles, lessons being learned, and just encouraging one another to stick it out and stand firm.  It's so great to have that community right here at home, to always have someone just a door away if I need some truth or encouragement.  It doesn't end there.. Braden and I had one of the most solid, unplanned, encouraging talks tonight and it truly is amazing how the Lord can surprise us and use us to encourage one another.  I ended up being 30 minutes late to my Communications team meeting due to that talk (definitely worth it) but I was kind of iffy on if I should still go.. but I thought to myself "why not" you might as well.  Once I got there, yep you guessed it, the Lord surprised me again by our teams "high-low" game turning into a full life chat about what is going on spiritually in each of our lives.  Our team has gone from being strangers to family in the matter of a few weeks and it is SO encouraging to know that I have so many brothers and sisters in Christ to help point me towards the Lord in all that I do.

 Even though that was a quick summary of today, it has been incredible.  The Lord has been SO evident in all  of my conversations today, and he truly is saying "look Jessi, look at what I have provided, I haven't left your side."  Going from feeling so spiritually lost and alone to having my heart so full in the matter of a day is unbelievable, the Lord's name is written ALL over that.  My encouragement to anyone and everyone who reads this, don't give up, our God is faithful and He always provides!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Light and momentary troubles

Have you ever hit one of those points where you just have to throw you hands in the air and say "okay now what?" I definitely have, especially recently. We're all human and it's so easy to be lead by our flesh rather than our spirit, and I'm so guilty of that at times. When I get to those points where I'm listening to my flesh that's when I face disappointments. As Perry said at church this morning, life is hard. BUT, God is still God and He is still good. The only way to get through any tough time is reliance on the Lord, the only way. Worldly comforts will only be temporary, so why rely on them when we serve a faithful Lord who's comfort is always provided and never disappoints?
"But as for me, I know my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last" (Job 19:25).. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
The biggest lesson I've learned today is that if I want to live a blessed life I cannot give up on the God who has never given up on me. It's as simple as the truth provided in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on not what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." And there you have it, need I say more? The more honest I am with my God who already knows my heart and mind the more He will reveal Himself to me, and give me clarity on how to leave a life that is glorifying to Him. It all comes down to trust, something I've struggled with in the past, but the veil has been removed from my eyes and I know that my Lord will lead me, guide me, and love me no matter what.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Darkness exposing light

No matter what kind of season we're going through, it will always be followed up with something tough, something great, or something to test our faith. We can't predict what's next to come, but what I've found peace in is knowing that the Lord has equipped me for whatever He is going to throw my way. I'm in a season of growth and my faith has been tested a lot with trials and temptations.. I have been living at home in my body, which keeps me away from God at times. In 2 Corinthians 5:2 Paul says that we should prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord, so we should make it our goal to please Him and not ourselves. "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking." I think it's safe to say that what our culture deems as "normal" really isn't right.. but it's so easy to buy into that when it's so socially accepted. Instead, we should fix our attention on God. We will be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around us, always dragging us down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (The Message Romans 12:1-2).

This season that I'm in has had it's fair share of spiritual warfare (that rhymed) but really, Satan has been feeding me lies and I'll just be honest.. I've bought into some.  But guess what, those lies DON'T come from God, they come from Satan, and he is completely powerless. There's so much comfort in knowing that God overpowers Satan and that the Lord only speaks truth to us. My struggles always seem to surface whenever I'm in a season of learning, and it's because I am acting as a direct threat to Satan and he wants to do everything in his power to tear me down. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. I am a NEW creation and what's in my past is in my past - all of my trials have and will continue to turn into triumphs because my Lord is so faithful.  I know that I have been redeemed and I know that the Lord loves me just as I am, I am exactly where He wants me to be.  As Katie said tonight, "every darkness is exposing a light" and that light is God's goodness and His love shining on us and through us.
Now we know that if the earthly tent (talk about high quality living here on earth) we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. ~ 2 Cor. 5:1-5
I'm learning to just be still in that, and be still with the Lord to grow closer to him with each day.  This world is so temporary, everything we do on earth should be glorifying to our Father in heaven - He has a place waiting for us in his home which is SO exciting!  Living in "now" rather than being anxious about the future is a challenge for me. I feel like my life is laid out before me at times, but luckily the Lord breaks me of that and makes sure that I know HIS plans are so much greater than my own. God truly does bring out the best of us, whether it be something simple or complex, it is all for his glory! We serve one faithful God and He is one who will never leave our side, no matter what trials and temptations come our way.

Work those muscles

This is an email I got from my boss at the gym and I thought I'd pass it along!

I got to thinking the other day how the body is so much like life and our Christian walk. Question...How to you get bigger muscles? Working out right?  NO-

From the physical side, what makes the muscle grow is the phase you go through after the workout.

When you break down the actual muscle fiber or a workload is placed on it, or stress it placed upon it. It depends on how much it breaks down, by how much stress is placed on it.
I love working out and sometimes I overdo it a little.
You see, the muscle doesn’t grow, until it is fed and recovers. then over time the continual breakdown and rebuilding of the muscle, makes it grow. And the longer you do this, the stronger you get.
I feel that life is the same way.
The troubles and "stresses" of life have a strange way of helping us find how much courage we really have.

You know when the chips are down and life comes unfair to you, when people are hitting you from all different angles right?

These are the stresses of life that either make you or break you.   Because just like the biceps, if you don’t feed them and recover properly, they will never grow.

The bible says,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4
So just like the physical muscles, we have to feed our spirit with a proper diet of prayer and scripture reading to make it recover properly.  We also have to "rest".  God said, "be still and KNOW that I am God. That is when you will find true rest.

So stress is a good thing physically and spiritually. But dont forget to take rest days in between your stresses. However, too much rest will just make your muscles atrophy (diminish).  So get busy today with your physical and spiritual exercise.  Because if we aren't growing, we are only wasting away!

God vs. stress

Now it's pretty apparent at who would win if it came down to God or stress, so why do we do it?  The past two weeks have been slammed with tests, quizzes, papers, and presentations and I slipped in the oh so natural freak out mode.  When I get stressed I focus only on the point that I'm stressed.. when I should be totally focused on the Lord and having faith that He is faithful!  I always think back to Crazy Love where Francis Chan says:

WORRY implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
STRESS says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace towards others, or our tight grip of control.
It is SO easy to slip into that mindset when it seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day.  It's almost impossible to avoid stress due to our human nature.  But, stress does have a positive side. It can be a reminder that our lives have drifted away from God.  It might be an indicator that we have stopped depending on Him daily for strength.  I think we all know that God IS big enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to take care of what's going on in our lives - so why have doubt?  I've been having to reaffirm that over and over the past few weeks, and I've found peace in knowing that His plan is fargreater than my own, and He has a grip on the situation.. even if I don't. So if you're stressing, overwhelmed, or worrying.. quit that nonsense!  The Lord has you in His hands - as John 14:27 says,  "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid."

No greater love

I've been reading through 1-3 John the past couple of days, and it has been SO encouraging to say the least.  These three short letters lay out what true love of God looks like.   Love's deepest definition is found in the short verse, "God is love."  I don't know about you, but it's pretty difficult for my finite mind to understand something so infinite.  Even if I can't fully grasp the phrase God is love, I know that He is unchanging and sacrificial.  He desires a relationship with everyone, and for everyone to know him.  How crazy is that?!
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.   Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence, whenever our hearts condemn us, for God is GREATER than our hearts, and he knows EVERYTHING. - 1 John 3:16-19
How amazing true love with Jesus is.  Sometimes it's hard to rely on that love because it is intangible and difficult to comprehend, but it is always there and it is unchangeable.  As 1 John 4:16 says, And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in god, and God in him.   Because we know the truth, Jesus Christ himself, we are recipients of God's love.  And because we know Jesus, we are to be givers of God's love.

Give me faith

At our first FCA servant team meeting  we worshiped with two songs, one being Give Me Faith by Elevation.  That song has been ringing in my head the past few days, especially these lyrics:
"I may be weak, but Your spirit's strong in me.  My flesh may fail, but my God you never will"
There's some weighted truth behind that and it's exactly what I needed to hear the past weak.  Even at our weakest moments we have the light of the Lord in our lives to continuously restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us as 1 Peter 5:10 says.  Maybe it's just a girl thing, or a me thing, but adapting to change such as moving away from home is not easy.  I had a tough time the first few days because I felt alone, even though I'm living with the best roommates I could ask for and have friends all over our small college town.  That's when it hit me, I've been totally reliant on my surroundings and circumstances rather than relying on the Lord for my comfort and fulfillment.  The Lord is faithful and lead me right to 1 John 2:15-16
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
I've changed my way of thinking, and I've realized that God was just telling me to rely on HIM and not everything else in the world.  I've had such a peace the past few days because I know that I am never alone, and I never will be.   After nights like last night at the first FCA of the semester I am POSITIVE that the Lord is going to do work all over this campus this year.  Oh my goodness the amphitheater was consumed by the Spirit, I get chills just thinking about it!  I am so pumped and excited to see how God uses this organization and all the members of the student population this year - there are big things coming our way!

Dinner for two

Last week was the end of my summer job / classes and also the end of Braden's first rotation at BMW, so I thought it was only appropriate to celebrate with cupcakes :) .. and dinner to go along with them!  This meal was super easy and required little preparation.  The sweet potatoes were the only high maintenance aspect in my opinion (taking a whopping hour & 20 min to bake)!

Broccoli and Swiss Chicken Roll-Ups
  • Preheat at 350°
  • Cut chicken breasts in half, place 1/2 slice swiss cheese & brocolli florets in center
  • Roll up and secure with toothpick (completely cover cheese)
  • Top with some Parmesan cheese and salt&pepper
  • Bake for 25 min
Baked Asparagus

+ Baked sweet potato = one great filling meal!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
Got the recipe from this awesome blog :)

Top with some yummy Cool Whip icing

Decorate with a nice little slice of orange!

My little cooking extravaganza seems to have been a success by the looks of  that happy face :)

This one's for the girls

As I was reading through Psalms this morning, I came across verse 45:11, "The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord."  I thought to myself.. wow, even on days when we don't feel beautiful He still finds us precious and beautiful.  I think it's safe to say most girls have some sort of struggle when it comes to image, self confidence, or self esteem.  In a world like today's where everyone you see on tv is "perfect," it's easy to think that we are far from that perfection.  We are beautifully and wonderfully made exactly how the Lord wants us to be - after all, we are HIS creation.  Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of that and to think 'I need to work out, I need to eat less, I need to wear more make up, I need to dress differently, etc etc' all of those are lies.  We shouldn't dwell on our imperfections, we should EMBRACE them!  "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14.  Praise Jesus we're not all perfect, then we'd live in quite a boring world haha.

I just felt it in my heart to share that, who knows, maybe someone needed to hear they're BEAUTIFUL this morning! :)

On a side note, Tay and I had a little photoshoot excursion (we're known to do this when we get a little bored) and I must say.. after a little police encounter due to the fact we were on private property.. they turned out really well!  Haha, here are a few of the finished products!

I hope that everyone has a terrific Thursday - it's almost the weekend! :)

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4


Well, it's about time to get this photography ball rolling!  I had the privilege of shooting engagement photos for Jared and AshleyAnne on Monday.  It's always fun to shoot, but even more fun when you have such great people to work with!  They were quite an entertaining couple haha.  Doing this shoot definitely helped me develop more skills geared towards couples, whereas I have mainly shot individual portraits recently.  It was a fun experience and I look forward to doing more couple shoots in the future!

To see more visit
The website is definitely a work in progress, but hey, I'm getting there! :)

"Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:4-5

The humble jumble

This past week has been quite humbling to say the least.  Over the past two years I have been broken of perfectionism, especially in the numbers aspect.  Now don't get me wrong, grades are super important, but if you make one bad grade.. come on it's not the end of the world!  Let me just start by saying summer classes just aren't my thing, and that has been proven time and time again (test after test).  So my goal recently has been to just take it as what it is, try my hardest, and know at the end of the day that I've done my best.  That's what life's about, right?  Instead of always expecting things to turn out perfectly, I've been humbled to be open to taking risks, learning the hard way sometimes, and being able to laugh about it at the end of the day.  As Isaiah 66:2 says, “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts who tremble at my word."
With all of that being said, and on a completely different note, well sorta.. I took a bit of a risk and made a noodleless lasagna for my sweet boyfriend last weekend.  Let's just say I'm not the worlds greatest cook, nor do I have a lot of expertise, but I was quite impressed with how this turned out!

Zuchinni Lasagna

I got the recipe from  this awesome blog :) Trust me, if I could do it, anyone can!
Hope everyone has a fantastic Friday and an awesome weekend!

Nature's voice "goes out into all the earth"

I think I make it apparent that I'm a sucker for beautiful sunsets, that's probably what I take most pictures of on a daily basis. I think it's amazing how we're provided with such a beautiful masterpiece in the sky EVERY single day. I've recently read that nature's voice goes out into all the earth, proclaiming the articulate truth that God is in his heaven and watching over his creation. There's no way that can be denied if you just look at up at the sky each day!  The next time you witness a beautiful sunset, an intense thunderstorm, or anything else of that sort, remember that it's creation is to show that Someone is greater than Mother Nature. These creation's reveal just how majestic our God is - and to worship him whose creativity and power are produced in these acts of nature. One thing I've realized is that I don't really incorporate worship or prayer into the time when I'm appreciating and photographing the natural world.
The natural world is a testimony to God's magnificent creatorship and also should be the object of our diligent stewardship.  However, we must flee from two extremes - either fearing nature's power or worshiping creation and NOT the Creator.
So my challenge to you is to always remember to listen closely to the truths of God's goodness that you may experience through nature, and all things in the natural world for that matter.  Which aspects of nature do you love witnessing, and literally make you stop and stare?  Next time you're watching a beautiful sunset try and make a point to pray or worship in that time!

Thanks for that

One of my awesome coworkers (Sam the man to be exact) posted this earlier today - Definitely something I needed to hear, especially today, so I thought I'd pass it along to anyone else who may also need to hear this truth!
"I don't know who this is for, but someone needed to hear this TODAY! This may not be for you, but you may have a friend that needs to hear this very simple truth. There is somebody going through something that they don't quite understand, or has a guilt of a past that they can't get over. Maybe it's even something such as an addiction to food (cupcakes for me), drugs, etc. I don't know. What I do know is that feeling of uselessness and depression is not you! You are bigger than all of your problems. They have no authority over you, because you are wonderfully made.
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? - Matthew 6:25-26
If your Father in heaven is going to take care of the birds, how much MORE important are you? It's not easy getting over addictions, and the past. Essentially it's a cupcake (enter your turmoil here). If you think God gave it more power than you, then yes it will control you!
Look at Job (the man in the bible) not job (work). He praised God during all his troubles and God blessed him many times over! He wants the same for you. You are created to do great things, and there is a plan for you still!"

What makes Jess a mess?

I'm a girl with many ambitions, passions, and abilities.  Recently I've discovered that I have so many passions that I can hardly keep up with myself!  I have found that writing out my ideas and experiences has helped me to reflect on where I've been and ultimately where I'm going in this journey.  This little blog is a direct effect of that realization.

I might as well give you a little summation of what makes me, well, me :)  I am an upcoming Junior in college, time is absolutely flying I still cannot believe I'm half way done with my college years!  Throughout this past year I have had many life changing experiences.  FCA's AfterDark marks the point in my life where I had a huge wake up call
"The great key to living a life that truly matters, a life that is rich and fulfilling, a life that can weather life's greatest storms and still come out smiling is to get your spiritual roots moving daily into the fertile soil of faith."  - Joe White
I knew I needed to get my spiritual roots moving, so I dedicated my life to Christ right there and then on October 28, 2010.  Since that moment I have lived my life solely to bring Him glory and to pursue His purpose for my life!  I was baptized on May 29, 2011, the weekend of my 20th birthday.  To see how much I have grown in 7 months truly is amazing, and the Lord deserves ALL the glory!

Sometimes I don't have a way with words, so my outlet for expression is photography.  I love capturing the Lord's masterpieces on film, and being able to share them with anyone and everyone!  There's still so much to learn and so much experience I still need to gain, but I hope that with time I can pursue photography as a career.  This blog will serve as a portfolio and an outlet to share the moments I experience, the people I encounter, and the expression of my creativity.

Here's where I get vulnerable with you..  Like most girls, I have struggled with image, and through the Lord's faithfulness I have been able to grown and slowly overcome this challenge.  Throughout this crazy process I have geared that negativity towards a passion of fitness.  Now I'm no "workoutaholic" but I still LOVE getting my heart pumping with a variation of work outs (strength training, pilates, zumba, etc).  Setting new goals gets me so pumped to keep pushing forward and enables me to see just how much my body really can do!  I know that working out is half the battle to maintain a healthy lifestyle - nutrition plays even more of a role!  Through my struggle I made food the enemy, but I have learned that the right foods can do SO much for my mind and body.  I'm striving to consume more organic, natural, and whole foods rather than that yucky processed stuff.  All in all I've accumulated random knowledge from all over and it's definitely a passion to keep on learning.