Plans

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Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Raging and unstoppable, I am a planner. Constantly entertaining ideas of the next hour, next day, next week, next year (you get it).. I love being ready, and I love being organized. I cannot express just how thankful I am to live in a time that has the technology to keep up with my mad planning abilities via apps, reminders, lists, calendars… and to be able to sync them all to my dear husband’s phone.. what a priceless gift!

Whether you’re a planner that can relate or a person who does everything in their power to avoid plans (and people like me), your heart has desires. They’re there, and we don’t have to call them “plans” if that makes you nervous.. but they’re in there.

Plans are fun and exciting.. at least, most start off that way. It might be weekend plans, vacation plans, plans for school, for a relationship, marriage, children, a career, a business, a home, moving, retirement.. the list is endless, as are the details. Without plans, we’d be in a constant state of winging it, finding ourselves following all sorts of paths and winding up in unexpected places.

As lofty and grand as our planning can be, today I’m writing about the unfulfilled ones —  the plans that just haven’t seemed to line up or come along naturally as we’d hoped.

Unwelcome detours, giant roadblocks, or just straight up no-shows.

No matter where we are in our lives, I’ve learned that we’re all waiting on something.. and if we’re honest, some days it just hurts. In this past year alone, I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked with who have encountered painful delays or unforeseen interruptions in their plans. Plans for better health, plans for a restored marriage, plans for that long-awaited spouse, plans to have children.

I’ve also come to understand that there is a special onslaught of insecurities attributed to these vacant plans. They run deep and tamper with the heart.. making one not only feel less than, behind, alone, detached, worthless, or somehow even robbed.. but at times, may believe it. These are all genuine emotions a person wrestles with when life doesn’t seem to measure up to our plans.. but it’s also in these times that our hearts are tested and the true nature of our faith is revealed.

When we are tempted to define our worth based on the follow-through or failing of our plans, we’re going to find ourselves in trouble and always lacking.. because at the end of the day, plans are just that: temporary, ever-changing, and completely undeserving of our hope.

When we don’t understand the why’s, when’s, or how’s, we need to seek a perspective much higher and much wiser than our own.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Christian, despite what the world may tell you, your “lack of’s” or “not yet’s” do not change the Lord’s goodness to and for you. Whether our plans work out the way we’d like them to or not, God’s faithfulness never waivers. His promise for those who love Him is that He is working all things together for our good.. allowing and using these difficult seasons of waiting to graciously invite us to trust and depend on Him above all else.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

When I am asked about my plans and why some haven’t shown up, my simple reply is that they’ll come about “when and if the Good Lord sees fit.”

When days are hard, I find the gift of faith to be the sweetest. I truly believe my no-shows have brought me closer to the Lord than if all my plans would have worked out my way and in my time. Every day, every hour, and sometimes just breath by breath, my dependency rests completely in Him. It is Christ who supplies my strength, gives me grace, and renews my faith so that even through the tears, I can still praise Him with my heavy heart.. clinging to the promises of His Word.. knowing fully that no matter how my plans fail, His grace is sufficient for me and that my joy will only ever be complete in Him.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

My plans may look different than yours, but I pray that we may both long for Christ far more than any kind of plan.. purposefully placing our hope, joy, peace, security, and worth in the changeless, timeless, sovereign Lord who arranges, allows, withholds, builds, reveals, works, and tends all things in His infinite wisdom according to His perfect will.. meticulously and graciously establishing His plans for our lives.

May it be our joy to wait on the Lord.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6

Messy Jessie

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I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116: 1-2

I’ve had all sorts of nicknames over the years: Wess, Wessie, Wessica, Dess, Hess, Hess Hess, Evil Hess Hess (one of my favorites), J Healy, J Dogg, J Money, Jesseeka, Presh.. but Messy Jessie is the OG. It sticks, and it sure fits now more than ever.

I want to write about one million things, but to do that, it’s so important you know where I’m at.. and how I even got here.

This post is hard.

If you have a past, looking back can be so difficult; it’s not something we generally enjoy recalling or sharing. 20/20 hindsight is a beast, and the endless shoulda-coulda-woulda’s can easily drag us into this zombie-like state of regret that can affect so many other areas of our lives if we don’t heal right. It’s maddening, which explains why it’s so natural for us as humans to ignore, bury, and run from our messes.

We live in a world that doesn’t really do messy; it’s just not normal or appealing. It’s not what we find ourselves openly discussing, at least not comfortably. Messy doesn’t look quite as nice as all those fluffy quotes and verses do captioned under Instagram photos. People want to be told how good they look, how awesome they are, and what great things they’re doing. The last thing we want to do is come off weak or imperfect.

I’m going to take a step out here and do just that for the sake of keeping it real in a world that is becoming less and less real by the tweet. Now you all know from my last post that I have this driving force to eliminate all small talk. Nothing here is rigged or embellished. In fact, I cut out a good eight-thousand words so you wouldn’t hate me for baring my soul this early in the game or in one insanely exhaustive blog post.

If you know me, you know my past is a bit rough… the person I was, the poor decisions I made, the bad situations I found myself in, the people I hurt, the people I was hurt by, how depressed and empty I was.

In every way possible, I am a fixer. I pour out all aspects of myself into others, completely investing my time, energy, heart, and anything else I can muster up in order to come beside them in whatever way, shape, or form is necessary to help, protect, and love them. I have this terrible ability to forsake all known reason and sense for the sake of others, especially when they’re hurting. I refer to this as a “savior complex” which doubles as a giant gateway to enabling people to both manhandle and run my life.

I’m also an absorber; I unintentionally and wholeheartedly hijack other people’s problems. If you’ve seen those mobster movies that I do not condone watching at all, I am basically your problem’s hitman. If I can’t fix it, I will take it out back and bury it. I’m not quite sure where this crazy sense of loyalty comes from, but it’s there.. and now you understand how real it is because I’ve just compared it to mobsters. I’d say I carry the weight and feel others’ burdens as if they were my own, but for unknown reasons, I bear them all the more because they do not belong to me. To top off all this madness, I manage to somehow attribute all mishaps and failures met along the way to myself.

Sooo basically.. I’m nuts.

This became especially evident in my high school years. Having made tons of great friends, I cherished and loved them. I’d spend all my waking moments with them, and when we weren’t hanging out, we were spending our time on AIM (ayyyye who remembers AIM?!) talking into wee hours of the night. These people became my everything, and I spent more time with them than my own family.

This desire I had to connect mixed with my crazy problem of enabling was not a good combo; it was a huge highway to drugs and alcohol. My high school years went up in smoke.. literally and a lot of it. If you knew me, you knew I was either high or on my way to getting high. Other drugs always made their rounds, but weed was my thing.

I lived my life based on others, and I found my self-worth in my friendships that eventually led to relationships. I dated some broken dudes. I had a heart to help and fix them; I’d spend all my time proving to them they were worth it, no matter how badly or how many times I was hurt by them. At such a young age, I gave my heart away easily to guys that didn’t deserve it or know what to even do with it. I was, hands-down, the world’s greatest enabler.

After high school and into college, my self-worth plummeted. I was over smoking and the whole party scene, and I wasn’t able to connect with my friends anymore because I was in school or working. Even when I was around, I felt like such an outsider. Behind the scenes, my life was spinning out of control. I didn’t know who I was anymore because my identity and value was solely based in others. Might not sound like a big deal, but I can’t even begin to tell you how lonely and depressed I was.

Naturally, this is where alcohol really came into place. Sure, it was always around, but not like this. I’d drink to drown everything out, and I’d do it alone. Back in the day, we’d all joke and say, “Let’s drink until we can’t feel feelings!” That’s exactly what my nightly intentions were, but it never really worked. No matter how many Heinekens I’d throw back, I’d always come around full circle.. right back to worthlessness.

Now throughout all these years of my chaos (some fights and drinking fines to boot), I had a Mom who spent her days being patient with me and praying for me. She figured out I was up to no good when a few bits of trouble surfaced, but she never knew just how much I got away with under her radar.

My parents got divorced when I was nine, and my mom ran straight to God. Being brought up in the Catholic scene, Mom’s new faith was a bit different from what was familiar to me back then. She put verses all over the walls, hosted Bible studies, and actually talked to me about God. I’d attend church services with her on holidays, and I was happy God was doing His thing in my Mom’s life.. but other than that, I wasn’t really having any of it myself.

Somewhere in my Heineken phase, my mom knew something was off. I wasn’t me; I was distant and lost. Instead of kindly asking if I wanted to go to the midweek church service with her, she said, “Just come.. what do you have to lose?” I remember thinking, “Absolutely nothing.” I was at my bottom. I tried explaining to her that God doesn’t need messed up people like me in His house. She told me straight up that I am exactly the kind of person He wants in His house.

So there I was.. going to church. But not just going to church. I was going to try to find something; I was seeking. That night, I got saved.. and when I say saved, I mean I gave my life to Christ. If my faith in Him was a parachute, I jumped out of the plane that night.

In that moment, I had nothing.. but Christ met me right where I was in all my brokenness and changed my everything. I didn’t have to become something to be accepted. He took me as I was, issues galore, cleaned me up and gave me a new heart.

This is a tiny snapshot of the overall mess that led me to see my need for something much more than good vibes, cute quotes, or self-help books. I needed a real savior; I needed Jesus.

I imagine a great deal of you sitting there in awe and a few of you who are probably just bored since you’ve been through plenty worse. Let me just say, there’s so much more where that came from. Through this whirlwind, I have made one million mistakes, and I have hurt people I cared about and still care about to this day.

Over the years, I have wrestled greatly with shame and guilt. I have felt cornered and crippled, not only by the weight of my own past sin and present struggles.. but by the nerfy, perfectionistic stereotype that Christians are given by the world and sadly, can oftentimes embrace and promote themselves.

I’ve wasted an incredible amount of time wishing so many things were different and longing for someone else’s squeaky clean upbringing, but I’ve learned to praise God with a thankful heart for it all because He’s proved my life to be a testimony of His unfailing grace and mercy for crazy, lost people like me.

I am not here to fool you; I am here to shout from the rooftops that I am not better, smarter, or stronger than you. What I am is a weak, broken, and flawed sinner.. all which point me over and over again to my daily need for the forgiveness, grace, mercy, and strength that can only be found in and given by Jesus Christ way back when I called out to Him that first time and all the way up to this moment.

The heart of this post and greatest point is this: no matter the messes you’ve made, the mess you are, or the mess you’re in right now.. there’s not a mess in all the world that Christ didn’t pay the price for on that cross.

A bit from Luke 18:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

In this parable, Jesus paints a clear picture that He’s not fooled by the exterior display of good works; it’s always a matter of the heart by acknowledging our state before Him.. one of honest brokenness.

If you’re feelin’ this post and are burdened with past or present messes, no matter what they look like, may you know that in this very moment, you are not alone. You are loved, known, and never too far gone to get right before the Lord today.

In Christ, there is freedom and forgiveness.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Take a Walk, Small Talk!

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Since I can remember, I’ve always had something to say.

I’ve been told by my family that I really didn’t talk much in my early years. What’s the point in explaining yourself when you have an older brother to make your requests and do all your bidding? 🙂

Nowadays, I’d be the first to tell you that it’s quite different; I don’t really know how to stop talking. However, it’s not about small talk or fluffy discussions. In fact, I have a very strong disliking for small talk. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. Loved ones that know me know I don’t care to mess about. For reasons beyond my understanding or control, I’ve always had a crazy need to connect with others, bypassing the comfy, little chats and really diving headfirst into the nitty-gritty complexities of what’s really going on in our minds, hearts, and lives.

Let’s agree that communication is important, especially in today’s world where literally everyone (including sweet grandma) has some type of social media presence. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, LinkedIn.. you name it. We live in a time when it can easily feel uncomfortable having a conversation with the person across from you at your local coffee shop or wherever it is you see actual humans. I have found a number of people (myself included) much more inclined and tempted to look up (or more commonly known as “stalk”) a person on Facebook in order to read up on their life rather than reach out and get to know them personally.

Social media has become a legit means of screening others without ever truly needing to connect. We can go through the pros and cons of social media all day (which I have great plans to write about in the future), but what’s really important is that we realize how it’s become a bridge to reaching our world.

Thus, this blog.

Having a platform where I can share my heart.. the thoughts, joys, and concerns that cross it every day with friends, family, acquaintances I haven’t had a chance to get to know, old friends I have lost touch with, or people I haven’t even met yet excites me greatly.

I’m not a scholar, a theologian, an aspiring role model, or an authority figure by any means. Truth is.. I am an incredibly flawed young (am I still young?) woman who falls both completely and miserably short of anything remotely close to implying the idea of perfection, let alone, goodness. I have encountered very dark and difficult circumstances in my short time on this earth, and with that said, only Jesus could have ever loved me, forgiven me, and saved me from myself and the consequences of my sin that awaited me… and He is worth sharing.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”‭ Psalm 16:2

I live for Him now, and praise God everyday for all the work He’s done and will continue to do, despite my failures and shortcomings. I live in awe of the Lord’s perfect, unwavering faithfulness, mercy, and grace that He freely gives and pours out on me time and time again. No matter my past, present, or future circumstances, God is sovereign and rules both over and through them all.

Thus, the blog name. Then writes my soul.

Over the last two years we’ve been attending our local church (Grace Baptist), I’ve grown to cherish the rich hymns we sing every week during service (and throughout the week as I serenade Zak and the cat). Anyone who’s heard a hymn has most likely heard “How Great Thou Art” and the beautifully sung words “then sings my soul”. Well, this soul writes.

I write with love to encourage and strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ, hope to share the good news and love of Christ with this broken and hurting world, and faith that Lord will do what He does best and work it all out for His glory.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalm 115:1