Thirty and Thriving: Life Update

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Hello, my loves! It's May 15th and I've already posted three blog posts this month.....who am I and what has happened to Jessica Amari??! LOL! No, but really, one of my biggest goals this year is to give you guys more content and after an unexpected blogging hiatus due to work craziness, it feels good to be back in my zone and giving you all the things you've been asking for on jessicaamari.com. I had so much planned after celebrating my 1-year bloggervesary in February but life happened(nothing bad, just got really busy), work got a little hectic with renovations and corporate shenanigans and ya girl was exhausted! Off days were dedicated to sleep, much needed mental breaks and catching up on spending time with the fam. I received the sweetest texts and DMs during March and April asking if I was ok and if I was still blogging and my heart was so full knowing you guys care enough to think about me when I'm off the grid. But I'm back, in full swing, ready to grab the rest of 2018 by the horn and buckle in for the ride. What's been going on so far? I'll try to keep it brief, but here's the tea...

Settling into 30:

I'm probably the most annoying person leading up to my birthday. I LOVE that after the world celebrates New Year's, I get to have my own new celebration 22 days later in the form of my birthday. 29 was a great birthday for me because it was the first year of my twenties that I learned to indulge in the overwhelming peace that comes with a personal and unapologetically intentional relationship with God. Six months prior I didn't know if I should be more thankful that through a whole lot of grace I didn't look like the things I put myself through in years past OR just be happy that even though I'd selfishly spent the years before trying to force my will for my life instead of living a life of total surrender that reflected God's will, He's a good father who'd loved me back to life and restored all of my broken pieces by making me a new creation in Him! The excitement leading up to my birthday didn't dissipate after my special day was over. Three and a half months into my thirties, I can honestly say that the happiness, peace, and joy that I felt when I opened my eyes on January 23, 2018, is the same happiness, peace, and joy that I feel every day He grants me another chance to open these brown eyes of mine. It feels so good to be able to rest assured daily that my identity, my purpose, my peace, my happiness and my entire existence is rooted and grounded for once in God and God alone. I literally smile every time I say or write that! There's a difference in being touched by God and being transformed by Him. Through His grace, I was touched by Him so many times that I didn't deserve to be during my twenties. That was the start. Seeing myself be transformed daily, through that same grace, is such a beautiful feeling.  As I grow more in love with who I am through Christ, it becomes easier and easier to celebrate the Jessica that I have always been and the woman that I am evolving to be. This is thirty. I'm thriving and I absolutely love how that feels. For once I truly know what it means to be patient with the process. To honor it. To trust it's timing. To embrace and be at peace with the unknown. To trust God without having selfish motives. To watch Him manifest EVERY great thing He has my name and my name alone on.  To know that even though life is great now, my future is going to be so much more bomb and satisfying. I humbly but very confidently know who I am. I'm not trying to overthink life or anything else for that matter because I'm not trying to impress anyone anymore. At the end of the day, I want people to know that there's such an amazing peace that comes from getting in sync with the will of God for your life. I want to be the best examples of grace over perfection and purpose over popularity that I can be!  I've never met another woman who I'd rather be. My hair is growing, I've gained a lil happy weight. My skin is clear. My focus is even clearer. I'm flourishing and it feels amazing. I'm looking forward to the best and most beautifully graced years of my life in the days, months and years ahead.

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Work/School/Career:

I would have graduated this month with a degree in Dental Hygiene but I heard not to go back to school after winter semester and so I didn't. It was the scariest act of obedience that I've had to face since rededicating my life back to Christ especially going into my thirties with only an associates degree in Business and going into another year at Home Depot after telling people that I wouldn't be there after this month. I celebrated my seventh work anniversary on April 12th, two years more than I had planned. But for once, I'm made peace with where God has me planted. I did really well in my dental program but I think what God was saving me from was entering into another work cycle that was safe and where the money was good but my soul felt empty every day I went to work because I wasn't reaching my fullest potential. I've finally come to grips with the fact that I'm a creative. It's where I am the most at peace, feel the greatest purpose and reach the most people. The dope thing about it is, my five year and ten-year goals are no less important now that I didn't walk across anyone's stage this week. My purpose is no less empowering now that I don't have an extra degree behind my name. What God has me placed on this Earth to do will still get done because I'm finally in alignment with His will, and that is enough for me. Extra degree or not, I'm super excited about my future in wardrobe coordination and event planning. Going through my certification course and seeing my attention to detail improve in the events I've planned over the last few months feels so good because for once, I'm doing something that fuels my creative passion. I know I won't be at Home Depot for much longer but until God tells me to move, I've found peace in where I'm planted. Work has taught me so much this year that I can apply to my event planning company and future businesses, especially in the areas of patience and discipline. If I'm honest, this has actually been the best spring I've had at work in a very long time, I have two great departments and I finally have a manager that keeps me focused on the bigger picture while challenging me to improve and grow a stronger work ethic every day that I clock in. If you know me, you know how much of blessing those things are within themselves. Even on my most hectic day, it feels good to clock out knowing that myself and my teams have kicked butt in every way possible.

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Single? Dating? Mingling? 

If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I thought I would be happily...................single, I would have told you GIRL BYE! I always thought I'd be married and have at least one little human running around that looks like me by now but I'm actually really really thankful that I didn't get married and dodged getting engaged during my twenties. Marriage is a huge responsibility and even though it seemed like everyone was getting engaged and happily married all around me, everything that glitters isn't gold and I know now that it wasn't my time to embark on that life-changing journey. I had ya'll excited for a minute last year after my birthday because I had someone in my life that I thought was promising. By the end of summer I blogged Single But Not Discouraged because we went our separate ways and by September I wrote Conversations With September  where I shared how my brain had finally caught up with the fact that my heart was a little broken and how I had freaked out a little about almost being 30 and feeling behind the wave because I didn't have the husband, the kids, the house, the dream job, and so forth, that I thought I would. Somewhere between drowning in overthinking about plans for my life, I stopped. I just stopped overthinking. I stopped feeling the anxiety and pressure that came with ending a decade with nothing in place that I'd planned to have in place. I stopped worrying. I stopped thinking four months out. I stopped being afraid of the future. I quit being concerned with creating this picture perfect life. My single season has been such a beautiful time of growth and perspective. Every day isn't a walk in a park as I shared in a very transparent Instagram post a few months ago. But every day I get stronger in the woman God is grooming me to be as a wife and mother one day.  I no longer want to be married for the shallow reasons I wanted to be married in years past. I no longer crave a fine husband just so that I can end my celibacy and have all the sex I want throughout the week. I no longer want a relationship that is insta worthy but not God worthy. I'm waiting for Him to introduce me to a man so in love with Him that when we join forces and become one, our future together will be covered by the love, grace, joy, peace, longevity, prosperity and blood of Christ! For whatever reason, I have this crazy faith that my wait will be worth it. I know God won't ever play me because His best for my life is even greater than anything I could ever dream of. For those of you who know how big of a homebody I am, I do get out more (lol). Everyone always tells me that my future husband can never find me if I'm always in my bed. Petty and always ready to clap back Jess always want's to respond, "yea but when he does, he's going to love keeping me there" but I'm trying my hardest not to be Petty LaBelle this year, especially since I know there's a lot of truth in that statement (rolls eyes). I'm getting better though, kinda. I gave someone my number for the first time in FOREVER and so far, he hasn't given me a reason to regret my decision or block his number....that's a start, right? Ha! All jokes aside, he's a good guy, his father raised him with manners, he knows how to hold great conversations that make me think, he makes me laugh, he loves his mom, he's a homebody and foodie like me. We're not dating and I'm not plotting to make Him future hubby but it's nice to have someone that makes you smile when their name pops up on your phone.

I know that was a long read but thanks for staying and reading! I'm working on some things for after vacation and I have my next Shop Your Closet ready to be published later this week. Stay tuned!

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30 Things 30 Years have Taught Me

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It's hard to believe that I've been 30 a whole month already but every day I wake up, I am so overwhelmed with a peace and happiness that is hard to put into words. One thing that isn't hard to express verbally is how thankful I am for the redeeming and restoring unconditional love of my Heavenly Father! My twenties taught me so many life lessons. Some where hard, many were life changing but the one that came with the most peace was finally being humble enough to realize that trying to do life without Christ was not life at all, and actually surrendering every aspect over to him wholeheartedly. What I've learned, and am still learning for that matter is, my relationship and walk with Christ is actually less about getting from God and more about aligning myself with what God has already destined for me to be and do before I was even my mother's womb. Even though I wish it didn't take my stubborn behind until 28 and a half to realize those things, I will never take the redeeming power of grace for granted ever again! 

Since the moment I rededicated my life to Christ summer 2016, I ’ve looked forward to my 30’s with the anticipation that I’d be a lot more grounded in who I am through His grace.  Having gone through a decade of the biggest changes and moments of my life, I’m excited for what feels like is going to be an even better season of life simply because I know so much better now what I want and what’s important to me.  Birthdays always put me in a reflective mood, and in an attempt to remember that I’m wiser now, here are 30 things life has taught me so far, all significant but in no significant order :

1 | I’ve never regretted putting God before things, but I have regretted putting things  before God.

I am nothing without Him. Life became so much easier when I learned to put Him first and trust everything else will work out in His perfect timing. 

2 | Everyone feels nervous and awkward around new people.  Be the person to break the ice.

I'm a natural introvert. Contrary to everyone's beliefs, I'm really shy and get even more shy around new people. But I'm learning more times than none, when I'm in a social setting, most people share that same feeling and appreciate it and you when you spark up genuine interactions. I promise it will get better the more you try.

3 | No one is thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are.

I mean that as in don’t let what you think other people think about you decide what you do.  In a lot of cases, everyone is so caught up in thinking about how others think of them that no one is actually thinking about each other- how you dress, what you buy, what kind of car you drive, how clean your room is, don’t do it for other people.  The good ones don’t care about that stuff and stick by you no matter what.

4 | Gratitude is everything.

In EVERY situation!  

5 | Success ultimately comes from maintaining good habits and routines.

It’s the daily somethings and nothings that get you where you want to go, everything from eating right, sticking to a schedule, exercising, being punctual, picking up after yourself, getting enough sleep, good manners, keeping promises, everything that makes you happy, productive, and enjoyable to be around.

6 | My parents are dope and are my strongest and most reliable accountability partners.

I really should have known this all along, but in recent years I’m understanding more the advice they give and the Godly decisions they've made, and am extremely very grateful for it all! 

7 | Hold out for what you LOVE.

Things that don’t count: you like it a lot, you think it’s pretty good, it’s really cool right now, or everyone else says it’s dope.  No, you must LOVE it so much it makes you fly, that there is zero doubt in your mind it’s soulmate status.  This applies to everything, but I really learned it from the past few years of being a shoe junkie. LOL!!! 

8 | Be nice and expect nothing in return.

This is one of the best recipes for happiness.  Give generously and forget about it after you do it. 

9 | Following your passion isn’t the end all be all.

It’s amazing if you can make your passion your job, but just because your job isn’t your passion doesn’t mean you’re not reaching your full potential, and just because your passion is your job doesn’t mean you’re impervious to bad days and self-doubt.  Most things boil down to our circumstances and priorities, which are so personal and different for everyone.  Don’t let the idea of “following your passion” doubt a life you are already happy with, but also make room to explore that side of you.  And don’t let anyone convince you you’re not living your life if it isn’t dedicated to your passion, because it can be more complex than that.

10 | No matter how wronged I am, I will do everything I can to act right.

Even when I play out in my head punching someone in the face who did something wrong  to me, I end up happier knowing that I could let it go and move on.  You can’t take back hurtful words or actions, so don’t recklessly throw them at people. "Kill them with kindness" is so much more than a quote and it really does bother people when they know they've done you dirty but see you continue to show them the love of christ. Actual, factual! I'm not telling you to forget their actions, but I am telling you to forgive, let go and let God. 

11 | Working out is SO much more than working out.

4 life lessons that exercising has taught me:

1. It’s hard and it sucks a lot sometimes, but it gets easier.  The hardest part is staying consistent, but you will get stronger.

2. When past goals or benchmarks are no longer challenging you, set new ones.

3. You are more capable than you think.

4. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

12 | Be curious, not judgmental.

Pointing fingers and criticizing a situation you don’t know anything about doesn’t help anyone.  Ask questions and prioritize trying to understand before anything else.

13 | You know that saying that goes "things don’t happen to you, you have to happen to things?"  It’s true.
I spent years of my early 20’s pouting about my life, dissatisfied with how things were going but I did nothing about it, so guess what?  Nothing happened and I stayed in the same cycles that kept kicking my behind.  I had this fantasy that someone or something would come and save me, that I’d get lucky and get catapulted on an exciting path, but what took me years to learn is that you have to go and do it yourself.  It takes hard work, time, and some really, really life changing lessons, but once you're in sync with the will of God for your life, believe in the purpose he's called you to and stick with it, you will see progress and get results all the while  learning a lot about yourself! 

14 | Everything you do is practice until it isn’t.

Always always always always ALWAYS do your best, even if you don’t enjoy it. It creates a better work ethic and it's lessons are far more qualifying than any line on your resume because it builds character. 

15 | You can travel if you prioritize it, like anything else.

The process is different for everyone because obviously everyone’s situations and obstacles are different. My financial maturity was non existence during my twenties and I had the debt and credit score to prove it. While my credit score has nothing to do with travel, it sucks to crave traveling and not have the funds to do it. My financial health is so much better, thank God, but this year I'm dedicated to make it even better and save like a maniac. Prayerfully, starting this summer, I'll be able to plan at least one big yearly trip about 6-8 months in advance going forward.  In that time I'll  save, research and get my affairs in order in preparation for my absence during that time.  I wish I had started doing this sooner, because before I’d come up with excuses that I didn't travel because I didn’t have the time or money but now I know that wasn’t true at all. Put in the effort to figure out what works for you because you NEED to give yourself time off, even if it’s a Staycation, which I'll never be too proud to admit are my favorite. 

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16 | Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish yours.

We need to stick together, lift each other up, and be happy for other people’s happiness.  Jealousy is an unhealthy and ugly monster that is never beneficial and none of us need it. 

17 | If you’re not sure what to order at a restaurant, ask the waiter for their favorites and always go with that.

This has never failed me, but I like being adventurous with food.  Be adventurous with food! It really is good for your soul. Never be too proud to ask questions because you never know what you're missing out on or not missing out on by not asking.  

18 | Surround yourself with positive people.

You don’t have to be friends or acquaintances with everyone you meet. Vibes are extremely contagious and equally important. DO NOT give your time and energy to anyone with continual negative vibes. We are all adults and you owe it to yourself to surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Energies are contagious so stay close to those who make you feel happy and supported.

19 | One of the best gifts you can give someone is your undivided attention.

It’s a fail-proof way to make them feel loved and important. Life is too short. Always strive to prioritize this.

20 | Record your life.

Photos, videos, journals, you don’t have to record everything to the point where you’re missing the moment, but have something you can look back on later and smile about. Years from now it’ll be fun to look back on this list or really anything from this blog and see how my life has progressed for the better. 

21 | Don’t hold grudges.

You don’t have to let people back into your life, but you owe it to yourself to forgive them.  Grudges have a way of breeding other rotten feelings that are better to let go of.  This isn’t the same as getting over it.  Some things we may never get over, but the point is to not let it consume you. 

22 | Absolutely nothing is worth the price of your salvation, health or peace of mind.

NEVER EVER sacrifice these things for anything or anyone.  You can’t live without them, literally. 

23 | Please eat your vegetables.

I wish this one was more fun but I feel passionately about it.  I’ve reached a point where I love and crave them.  There’s a moment of passage into adulthood when you accept that there are things you have to do because the benefits far outweigh whatever your individual feelings about them are.  Veggies are one of them. Drinking water, going to the dentist and getting a yearly eye exam and physical are others.  They’re so so so good for you so  pleeeeaase don’t skip them!!

 24 | Everything gets better once you accept whose and who you are.

Many times we get so focused on our own comfort zones or preferences that we don't take the time to examine ourselves to see what God's word has to say about our lives and our current situations. Once we align our lives, prayers and actions with His word, our faith intensifies because we can rest in the fact that God is bigger than everything we face, He's a good and faithful father and ALL, not some, of His promises are YES AND AMEN! 

25 | Invest in yourself... 
In your financial health, spiritual growth, quality hair and skin products, timeless wardrobe staples, visits to plays and art museums, time with your loved ones especially your parents, quality bedsheets, good books, healthy food, relaxation.....anything that makes you a better, healthier and happier you! 

26 | Never hold back a sincere compliment.

It makes both sides of the interaction happy and is always worth it.

27 | Friendships change and that’s ok.

College especially defined friends as the people you talk and hang out with constantly all the time, but things change, geography gets in the way, and life makes it harder to continue making that kind of time for each other.   It used to bum me out, but I needed to look at it differently.  A lot of friendships have been fleeting, but I’ve also had the same handful of people I can reach out to any time and it will feel like nothing has changed between us no matter how long it has been since our last talk or how far we currently live from each other.  That’s nothing to be sad about. Those kinds of bonds should be cherished 

28 | Open up.

You’re not burdening others with your story.  I’ve found they usually want to hear it and even more, to be there for you. On the flip side you never know who you're inspiring. Closed mouths don't make a difference in the lives of others 

29 | Speak up.

I have a small story that made me see the bigger picture on this.  I went to get a manicure once and the woman who sat down to help me  had dried blood on her fingers that seemed like it was from cuts or ripped skin around her cuticles. With tact, I spoke to the owner and I left. I'll be the first to admit that I HATE  confrontation and upsetting others but that day I found my voice and I have never been afraid to speak up for myself when I feel uncomfortable with a situation. Manicure are not cheap honey and I take them as a very serious treat for myself. Like other things, we need to ask for what we want and express our expectations.  It isn’t mean, it’s communication.  It can also mean standing up for others who need our help. God gave us a voice for a reason. Don't be afraid to use it. 

30 | If you have the opportunity to move somewhere new, do it.

Moving to Atlanta was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  It’s not just about a new location, but the growth you can only find from being isolated from your comfort zones, finding footing on foreign ground, and generally experiencing situations that are new and scary.  All these things make you better.

 Xo, 

Jessica  

 

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I Feel You...

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Hey pretty girl,

 Yes you, the one who is still single :

 Don't let social media toy with your emotions. Yes, there are some beautiful love stories shared each day, some of which are genuine, most just for likes and validation. Don't let that cloud your headspace. Don't let that cloud your judgement. Don't let that make you settle. Don't let that make you sin. I’m here to encourage you to keep waiting. And when you think you can’t, just wait one more day. And then the next. And the next. Before you realize it, something great will happen. You’ll stop waiting and you’ll just start being. When you can finally just be, he, your "Mr. Everything I've Ever Dreamed Of" will come. He probably won’t be what or who you expect and he won’t come when you expect him to. I know you’ve heard that a million times, but I pinky promise it’s true. God doesn't do things stupid and he won't ever play you. He knows exactly who you need and who needs you. Relax and just trust his timing for your life.  At 29 it finally hit me that I desperately NEEDED to be alone to learn who I was in Christ and how to deal with myself, flaws and all, before anyone else will be able to love me with the human form of love and grace that God does. So I'm learning how to just be me. When you take the time to step out of the spotlight and invest time into unapologetically growing into the woman God has destined you to be, the man you thought you needed will come out of nowhere when you least expect it. God knows when our hearts are getting a little restless and is ready for someone to finally love us the way everyone deserves to be loved. Only then will he send a man so in love with him to finally pursue you with the right intentions. Only then will things fall together. A good man, the right man, is more than worth the wait. Do not settle for someone or sin just because you are bored or lonely. That guy can’t ever make you the happiest you were made to be. You’ll know when it’s real. It'll be a feeling you’ll never be able to explain because it comes straight from God, who is love. So hang in there. Your time will come.  Trust me, I feel you! 

Xo,  

Jessica  

You Matter to God

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We get pretty protective over things we’ve put our heart and soul into. When things matter to us, we put them above all else, making them the forefront of our lives. This is how God is with each one of us. His love is boundless and the ways He demonstrates His love are powerful. Did you know He writes our names on His palms? Imagine an inscription, on God’s hands, with your name written. There’s something permanent about that. And beautiful, too. Something that says, “You matter to me” and “I love you” and “I’m never going to let you go.” There are plenty of voices in this world that will try to tell you that you aren't good enough, but the voice of God always says that you are loved! 

Because you matter to God, everything in your life matters to Him also. No matter how big or small it may be, God cares about all of the things you do. He wishes to hear about them and wants to be there for you in every aspect of your life. He wants you to know that you are important to Him and that you are loved by Him. It's taken me my whole twenties to realize that no matter what, God loves me, not just as my Lord and Savior, but as my FATHER! My life matters to Him regardless of if I'm single or in a relationship, no matter if I have $2 in the bank or $2000, no matter if I'm walking confidently in my purpose or have days where I'm unsure about what exactly that purpose is. 

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When you're single, people ask about a girlfriend or boyfriend. When you have a fiance, they ask about a wedding. When you get married, they ask when will you have a baby? When you have 1 child, they ask when is the little brother or sister coming? When you have another one they ask, why are you having all these children? When you get divorced, they ask why? If you moved on, they ask why so quickly? On top of all of that pressure, it's so easy to get caught up in all of the craziness of the world. We are all busy with work, school, families, hobbies, and a variety of other things that take up our time. If you are ever feeling lost or insignificant in this world, I challenge you to turn to the word of God. It will remind you that you are neither lost nor insignificant to your loving Heavenly Father or to his son, Jesus Christ.

Do you truly believe that? Do you know that God cares about your thoughts and your worries, your choices, and your actions? That God cares about your life? He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows the dreams and aspirations you have for your life. He believes in you, He wants what’s best for you, and He’s chosen you for greatness because YOU matter to HIM! He will do for you what He did for the woman in Samaria. Right now, in this very moment, He wants to meet you wherever you are at in life and minister His grace to you. You certainly matter to Him. He came to give you life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) You are not just a face in a crowd or a profile He'd scroll by on social media. No, He knows you by name and has a personal love for you. And no matter where you are today, He wants to meet your every need and make your life beautiful!

Xo,

Jessica

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Conversations With September...

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2017 has been a really great year for me. I've celebrated victories, small and large. I've gotten my finances in the best shape they've been at any point in my twenties. Peace has been a priority. Vibes have been positive....

And then came August. I hit a snag. My brain caught up to the fact that my heart was a little broken. Work became extremely overwhelming. Potential job offers kept falling through the cracks. I had my last appointment as a 20 something and it finally hit me that January 23rd would be here before I knew it. I freaked out a little. Ok, I freaked out a lot. I'm still single. I'm frustrated at my job. My finances are so much better but my credit score still isn't perfect and I still have some debt to chip away. I got a little discouraged. I felt a little stuck. My faith took a punch in the gut. I could give you story after story of what I thought would have fallen into to place by now. For me, 30 meant (means) you’re a real adult. It meant (means) you should have your stuff together! Childlike behaviors ought to be put away and it’s time for real responsibilities. Somewhere along the way, I adopted this mindset that 30 was it. And if you don’t have the husband, the kids, the nice house, the job, and so forth, that you’re behind the curve. That you’re missing something. Ironically, I successfully spent the first 7 months of the year literally enjoying life one day at a time. I can't tell you you why August felt different, but it felt like out of nowhere a switch was flipped and all of a sudden my 30th, the year when everything should be in place and I'd finally be a stable adult, had slipped away.

But something happened yesterday. Somewhere between drowning in overthinking about plans for my life, I stopped. I just stopped overthinking. I stopped feeling the anxiety that came with August. I stopped worrying. I stopped thinking four months out. I stopped being afraid of the future. I quit being concerned with creating this picture perfect life, which in actuality was a false reality because NEWSFLASH JESSICA: NOBODY HAS A PERFECT LIFE!!! 

Before last month, I’ve been at peace more than I know how to explain. It's been so overwhelming but at the same time, it's given me so much life, literally. Yesterday, God reminded me of something. My life is in HIS hands. It always has been and always will be. I’m not in control of what’s next. One of my favorite confessions that God gave me says “My life is exactly the way God planned for this moment. Nothing more, nothing less.” In light of this, I can look my the last few months of my 20s square in the face and not flinch. No husband, no kids, mediocre job (okay, good job- just not what I want), still paying off debt. But i'm here. I'm healthy, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I have a roof over my head. My bills get paid on time. I might not be where I imagined I would be, but I’m smack dab in the middle of God’s plans for my life.

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I could totally be cliche and use Jeremiah 29:11 to illustrate my point, but I won’t. Psalm 37:23 says “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”
‭‭This scripture is so powerful because it reminds us that we don’t have to figure it out. I could literally be freaking out about turning 30 and feeling like I am responsible for making something out of my life. But truth is that I’m not responsible. I don’t have to figure it out. The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. All we have to do is chill out and trust Him to direct.  It’s something to know that the God of the universe delights in every detail of our lives.  To know that He delights in the details of our lives gives me peace. To know means to have intimate knowledge of and to be intimately acquainted with who He is. Know His character, know His heart, know how much He loves and cares, know that He has a plan and know that He will work it out. I know that was a lot to read but I just wanted to encourage you to cease striving, stop relying on your own strength and trust in the only one who controls everything. God! Know that HE is God and we are not. We can rest on Him and not have to worry about what’s next! Rest on him for the remainder of this year. 

 

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Single But Not Discouraged

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Two posts ago, in this section, I got a little vulnerable and shared one of my "Dear Future Husband" letters. Everyone in my inner circle knows that marriage is definitely a goal that I haven't and refuse to give up on even though I know that it comes with it's challenges and is a very serious commitment full of unconditional love, sacrifice and tons of grace. During my 21 day fast at the beginning of the year, I gained so much peace and reassurance from God while I sought him on how to prepare myself, in this season, to be the best wife I can be (read more, here). During my time with Him, I came to the realization that even though God honors preparation and the faith that comes with it, the wisest use of time now as I continue to grow in Him is to continue focusing on the greatest hope I already have that will NEVER leave or forsake me: Christ!

While on vacation at the beginning of the month, it was placed on my heart to share a few words of encouragement to women who are waiting on God. I got so many thank yous and good feedback in my DM's but little did I know, I was also writing it for myself. Just a few short days later, I received a phone call from the person I've been preparing my heart to love and although it wasn't anything dramatic, by the time I hung up the phone I was left with two choices, 1)be very disappointed or 2)rest in God's promise that He is enough for me, in every situation. I handled the conversation like I handle every curve ball lately, immediate prayer because I know I won't surrender what I'm facing to God genuinely once I get in my feelings (since I'm being honest) and then I took a nap because I'm a professional sleeper (not really, but kinda) and have learned that rest is VITAL in emotionally vulnerable situations. I'm very proud to tell you guys that I woke up, still happy in Jesus. The old Jessica would have found some sin or bad habit to cuddle with and pet as I tried to fill the void that comes with disappointment but I'm so very thankful for spiritual maturity and the ability to trust that God will never play me and that His "not right now Jessica" comes with a very promising "I have something greater in store for you!".

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I can honestly say that this was the first time I'd EVER surrendered a relationship to God and told Him, "your will and yours alone be done". I prayed for the other person daily, not as my future spouse, but as an individual. I fasted. I was exclusive. I made myself available. I was forcing myself to grow more. All things I've never done before but was happily doing because I wanted to things the right way this time around. When it comes to courting with purpose, it's so easy to get discouraged if things don't end with a ring and a walk down the aisle.  But it shouldn't be that way. I went through an AMAZING series on Courting vs Dating at church a few months ago and it couldn't have come at better time. During our time of dissecting the differences between the two, I came to learn the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God. In the world, we see, we want, we pursue, we take, we date, we force things even if we aren't happy, we leave God completely out of the picture even though we want His blessing...the list goes on. But as followers of Christ his word teaches us to be patient, enduring, respectful, and to wait on God's perfect timing. In this moment, I'm choosing to do just that, wait on God's perfect timing. 

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I've always pictured my relationship, from start to finish, with my future spouse like a diamond. Not only are they are girls best friend, they are rare and formed over time and are extremely valued. Nowadays, you can acquire a synthetic one faster, created in a controlled laboratory setting for about half the price of a real one, and in any way you want it. It looks the same as the one from nature, but when examined closely, there is a difference and also not as valuable. The same goes for a relationship. The ones which have been created over time, taken effort to achieve, built on a foundation of God, trust, communication and faith, and have overcome adversity are the ones which are priceless. During this time of being single, my only goal is to to grow deeper in Christ and enjoy my life in it's current sate. When my time to fall in love and stay in love comes around, both God and my handsome future man of God will both have no doubt that I am genuine, the “real thing," and not an imitation!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

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Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Xo,

Jessica

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Slaying My Blogging Goliaths

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When I first re-launched jessicaamari.com in January, I had spent months researching how to get things started and how to build followers and exposure and such. My website pages are not overflowing with content just yet but the more I blog, especially on this page, the more comfortable I get about share the things I feel God is leading me to share with you all. I still have so much more room to grow but I see success in some respects which makes me excited. I've started to apply certain things things, add my spin to them and get comfortable in them.

Then this month I hit a snag. I had April all mapped out. I had a theme and knew what I wanted to write about each week. But when it came time to sit down and write about potential outfits I wanted to share, I had no inspiration. The weather is finally warmer, bloggers are showing more and more skin and I just felt blah because my hashtag #GraceModestyPurpose goes against society's "warmer weather less clothes mindset". As a modern day modesty ambassador that happens to be a fashion blogger, I feel a lot of pressure (good pressure) to show women that you can still be stylish without being half naked or dressing in revealing outfits. Everyday for a week I sat in front of my computer drawing a creative blank. I prayed about it, but mostly I wallowed in my lack of inspiration. In the middle of me rambling, the voice of God broke in. I love how sometimes He’ll just whisper a thought into my head and it really changes my whole perspective. Sometimes it’s comforting and other times He gets my life ALLLL the way together. This was one of those times that He got my life together. He simply said to me “You’re stuck because you’re thinking about not doing it the way I told you to do it.” 

 

    

 

Light. Bulb. 

My creative juices were bone dry because I'd been second guessing the platform He's given me. I've been so focused on keeping up with the blogging Joneses when it comes to putting out content that will keep my readers coming back that I'd put the simple fact that I am not them and neither is my content. Nothing I've done with my website so far has been bad and even though I want to continue that trend there’s a big difference between what’s good and what’s God. That is the only thing that will keep jessicaamari.com set apart and flourishing in the days, weeks and months ahead. What other people do, how they blog, how they do or do not spend time with God may be good for them, but it’s not for me. It may work just fine for them, but if I’m using someone else’s strategy, it’s not going to work for me because I'd be neglecting God's strategy for ME! 

This reminded me of David. One very familiar Bible story is about when David killed Goliath. If you grew up in church, you know this story, but for those who didn’t, here’s how it went. (This is totally about to be a Jessica paraphrase. To get the true and accurate Biblical account, look at 1 Samuel 17)

David was a shepherd. He wasn’t a warrior like the others, but his job was to tend to the sheep. One day, David’s people were threatened by the Philistines. And the Philistines didn’t play fair. They sent in a giant to fight on their side. A real-life fee-fi-fo-fum giant. Goliath was 9 feet, 9 inches tall. Talk about intimidation tactics. David’s brothers were out to battle when the giant came to challenge the Israelites. So David’s father sent David to the field to take them lunch. He really wanted David to spy on them and make sure they were alive.

David heads to the battlefield and when he gets there, he sees the giant. Goliath was taunting the Israelites and they were all terrified. Shaking in their boots. David looks around at all of these warriors like, “Seriously?!? You guys are going to let this dude intimidate the army of the LORD?”

 

A lot of other stuff happened and was said (Seriously. Read 1 Samuel 17) but I want to skip ahead. David wasn’t afraid so he decided to fight Goliath. When he decided to step in, EVERYONE else had an opinion for him. Some said he was too young. Others said he was just a shepherd. Some people cheered him on.

 

But this is what I want to focus on.

 

Vs 37-38 Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” Then Saul had his own military clothes put on David.He put a bronze helmet on David’s head and had him put on armor.

 

Wait. David wasn’t a warrior. Yet he was wearing armor. It makes sense that if you’re going into battle that you should wear armor. Logically that seems like the right thing to do. To follow the strategies of those who have experience. Of course, David would wear Saul’s armor.

 

But what happened next spoke to my SOUL!!!!

 

Vs 39-40 “I can’t walk in these,” David said to Saul, “I’m not used to them.” SO DAVID TOOK THEM OFF. Instead, he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pouch, in his shepherd’s bag. Then, with his sling in his hand, he approached the Philistine.

 

David chose to use what he knew. He did things the way God had shown him. I believe that the success of David was only because he didn’t do it the way that he thought was right, but he used the God strategy that was given to him. David had spent time with God on the mountain as a shepherd. He had learned how to use the weapons that God had given him during his quiet times with the Lord. And it was because David chose not to go the way of others that when he took a rock and put it in that sling that he was able to knock Goliath upside his head and defeat him.

 

I say all of this to say that I can’t do things the way others do them. They don’t fit me. And I will never be successful if I try to do it any other way. I want to follow God’s prescribed method for me. That’s it. plain and simple. I know that was kinda long but I really want us to be victorious in our God-given talent, purpose and platforms. More than anything, I want us to be confident knowing that even though we choose not to do what the world says is popular, our choices in how we decide to be an inspiration for christ MATTERS! 


What about you? Where are you struggling, trying to do things that may make sense but aren’t God’s best for you? Have you learned how to be comfortable doing things God’s way? I want to hear from you! Comment below! 

XO, 

Jessica  

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Dear Future Husband,

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Looking back, I've finally healed, spiritually and emotionally enough to now be able to laugh at all the things I thought I wanted. I'm pretty sure you'll get more than a couple belly laughs when I tell you some of the stories I have saved in my arsenal and I to be honest, I can't wait to share them with you. I knew coming into 2017 that my life going forward would never be the same. Part of continuing my growth, through grace, has been preparing myself to be not only your wife, but preparing also to be your your prayer warrior, your best friend, your shoulder to lean on, your confidant, your goofball, your travel partner, your lover, your baby mother, and a million other things I can't wait to be for and with you! I always knew that I wanted to be a wife, your wife, one day but somewhere along the way I got lost in transition and forgot how important of a role that was. Somehow, I started wanted us to be all these things that served no purpose for the Kingdom of God and tried to find you prematurely by being this woman that I couldn't even identify with in peace that was defined by society's standard of what being a wife has become. Not to mention I was wayyyyy out of line by trying to find you and not waiting patiently for you to find me. BUT GOD!! I look back now and thank Him for His grace and mercy, both of which preserved the woman of God, YOUR woman of God, for such a time as this. 

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We just wrapped up an amazing series on Dating at church. Every series we've had since I've started attending has been so on point and so critical to becoming who I want to be in Christ. I'm so thankful for a ministry that invest in every aspect of my life, especially the parts that aren't normally discussed in church and if they are, the conversations are so religious that they don't answer real life questions that need answers other than just "pray about it". In the first teaching, Pastor Bowie did a head to head comparison between Dating and Courting. Even though I ran for years from the repsoniblity and maturity that comes with being courted, I hated dating with such a passion that I just didn't do it. The way he broke down how courting with a pursuit of purpose blessed my soul on so many levels that I took four pages of notes so that I could soak all the wisdom that was being pure out in. At the end of the four weeks I walked out of church so full and ready to wait as God orders our steps and writes a love story so beautiful that only He is worthy of getting the glory! I know that our mission, our purpose, and our vision as a couple will be so much more fulfilling than the trivial and materialistic I wnated my marriage to be structured around. Waiting matters, so I promise to wait. Purity matters so I promise to stay pure as I wait so that my calling, intimacy and time spent with Christ won't be compromised before I'm able to enjoy experiencing intimacy with you feels like. There's so much more that I can say because I expect so many good things to come out of our relationship but the thing about being patient is you just have to be patient. I will say that I'm loving the woman God is transforming me into. I love how no matter what my past consists of, my future with you was not destroyed. I love that learning how to love God as my father has taught me how to love myself as the daughter of the King. All of those things are teachimg me how to love you, selflessly and unconditionally and I can't wait to yes to you as we both say yes to our purpose as one!

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I have days where it sucks not waking up next to you or being able to run in the living room and give you a kiss on the forehead just because. But none of those moments of longing are in vain. I've learned how to dig into the word and indulge in the promises God had has for not only me, but for you and our future adorable little humans. "For I know the plans I have for you," He says, and I know that without a shadow of a doubt that those plans are going to be some of the best and fululling times of our lives. 

Until then, I thank God for you! I pray that wherever you are at this very moment, you are surrounded by the grace, favor, and unconditional love of our heavenly father. I pray that you are surrounded by Godly men and women of accountability to help guide you in your journey in with Christ. I pray that you are upholding the word of God as He continues to reveal himself to you in ways unimaginable. I pray that He grants you the patience and accountability to stay faithful to Him until His perfect timing brings us into each other's lives forever. May we both grow a deeper understanding of who God is so that we may honor Him in all that we do. I'm so thankful that our lives, as individuals and as a couple one day is far greater than either of us could have ever imagined. I have so much faith that He is more than enough for us, yesterday, today and our many forevers to come! 

Love Always, Your AMAZING future wife (lol), Jessica Amari _______________ (You fill in the blank)

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Learning to Wait

 

I've had a really refreshing start to my 2017 and am happy to say I've been settling into my 29th year nicely. As I sit back and watch God write the remaining pages of the last chapter of my twenties, I can't help but reflect on the things my early twenties have taught me to make me a stronger woman as I approach thirty. One of the things on my list of self improvement over the past 9 months has been refining my patience by trusting in God's timing alone. One of my biggest character flaws over the past 13 years has been the fact that I don't like to wait. I want things done when Jessica wants them done and over time that turned into me completely ignoring God's timing so that mine could prosper and stepping off the course of my destiny. For as long as I can remember, I always felt like waiting, pretty much in every area of my life, was a waste of my time. Everyone else wasn't waiting until marriage to have sex. Everyone else was graduating from college. Everyone else was falling in love or getting married. Everyone else was having babies. Everyone else was working their dream jobs. Everyone else was traveling to fun places. Everyone else, everyone else, everyone else! I literally wasted sooooooo much time comparing my life to other people's not so green grass that I completely neglected my own. So often, we (emphasis on we) call ourselves to things, they fail, then we want to doubt God because the enemy places seeds of discouragement into our heads. I’ve learned that you can’t blame God for the failures of your own plans. 

After weeks of me shutting away, fasting and prayer,  God said something to me that shook my world. I'm enjoying what it feels likes again for Him to rattle my philosophies and overthinking because most times, it’s just what I need to get back on track. God simply said “I am not bound by time.” Initially, I couldn’t wrap my mind around that because my entire life since starting high school has been consumed by this self made timeline that I never got good at maintaining. Now here I am, almost 30 and I've wasted all this time trying to be a version of Jessica God never intended for me to be in the first place.

  As I questioned God (with the utmost respect!!!) He said to me “Because I’m not bound by time, don’t rush me!” God showed me that I’m always rushing to get to the next thing because I don’t feel like I have enough time to accomplish everything my heart desires. I rushed into college so that I could hurry up and get out on my own. I rushed into relationships to fill voids I created after losing my virginity which only produced heartache and failure and sin. I rushed to get a car after moving to Atlanta so that I "launch" my styling career and life here. All of that rushing produced a whole bunch of nothing. Although I still, by the grace of God alone, have a lot of good years left to wait on the good things God has planned for my future, He had to gently, but sternly, remind me that only He knows my end from my beginning. Nowadays, that simple but promising truth is enough for me. The waiting period hasn't been bad at all. I’m waiting to be married. I'm waiting to have little humans to love with all my heart. I’m waiting to be able to do work a job that I love. I’m waiting to be financially secure. I’m waiting to be able to do everything that God is calling me to do in ministry. I’m waiting for a lot of things but as I'm waiting I've found so much peace in once and for all not letting my anxiousness rush the hand of God. Yes, I'm almost 30. Yes, I'm still not married. Yes, I'm just now going back to school to pursue what I love. Yes, my finances are just now getting in order but I don't have to worry about any of those things anxiously because although I am bound by time, my God, who is also a faithful father that isn't intimidated by time!

"You can make plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail" - Proverbs 19:21 

As you're reading this, I don’t know what you're struggling to wait for. I don’t know what God has promised you or what you’re looking to have or what it is that you need, but I’ll tell you this: Don’t rush God!!!! Don’t rush past His timeline for your life. I can tell you from experience that when you rush, it doesn’t produce great results. When you rush past what God has planned for you and try to make it happen for yourself because “God is taking too long”, you won’t like the results. I guarantee it. Don’t rush. Wait on Him. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:31 that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. That word wait can be translated into the word trust. In your time of waiting, trust that God knows what He’s doing. Trust that He knows when you’re ready to have the things that He has for you. Trust that He knows what it’s going to take to mold you and get you prepared to be able to sustain those things. When God makes a plan, when He gives you a purpose and He calls you, it doesn’t matter how absurd it is, how laughable it seems, or how under-qualified that you may feel, GOD will make it happen. As I step past my sometimes wavering faith and my anxiety to do what God is calling me to do, as I continue to wait, I’m learning that He meets me every single time!! He shows me how although I’m not qualified, HE is! And His qualifications are more than enough. Trust God in a way that strengthens your relationship with Him and that brings you two into a more intimate space. Don’t rush past what He’s doing in your life. God’s not bound by time. Take comfort in that! 

XO,  

Jessica  

"Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. People ruin their lives by their foolishness and then are angry at the Lord." - Proverbs 19:2-3 NLT

 

Valentine's Day : A Day for Preparation......

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I started writing this post with the intent to answer a question I asked God at the start of this year : How can I prepare for marriage while waiting on my future husband? I focused on this question with genuine intent to be productive. After much studying the word and a few prayers in between, God led me to a more mature perspective on what it really means to wait intentionally on Him and His perfect timing of my future with the man He's grooming to be my spouse. (helpful verses include Lam. 3:25, Isaiah 40:3 and Song of Solomon 8:4). I've never been the girl who wallows in self pity on Valentine's Day but even still, the hopeless romantic in my can't help but imagine how spending the rest of my life with a man God is going to allow me to fall in love with many times over. During this year's 21 Day Fast, I journaled prayers for myself and my future husband that included ways to prepare myself for the blessing I'm seeking from God. In seeking Him for clarity during those three weeks I realized that His answers weren't solely applicable to the topic of marriage — they were more so about becoming a better disciple of Him. That's when I was hit wit a huge reality check: Perhaps the best way to prepare for marriage while I’m single is to not focus on marriage, but rather focus on strengthening my relationship with Christ and doing more of the work I am called to do in God’s kingdom in the form of constant praying, serving, and evangelizing.

While I think marriage is a special union that I still pray God will bless me soon, it isn’t the wisest use of time now to prepare for the hope of marriage. Since my fast ended, I've instead been focusing on the greatest hope I already have that will NEVER leave or forsake me: Christ!

Though the intent of this post changed drastically before I even posted it, that doesn’t change the quality of the feedback God revealed to me. Here are the things I feel He's guiding my heart and mind to do as I wait on Him to reveal Himself to my future spouse and I and for any of you who are seeking His face and waiting on His perfect timing, here's what you can do as well:

1)Pray, pray and pray some more: If marriage is something you want in life, pray to God for a righteous man. A godly, righteous man is worth any wait. Pray for God to work in you, to expose qualities in yourself that need improvement, and to mold you into the woman and wife that will be pleasing to Him and your future husband. I’m not sure if anyone is really “ready” for marriage, but we all have certain characteristics that need to be refined and polished by God. After praying to God about marriage, you need to trust. Trust that God heard you and trust that He is in control of your life.  If we lack trust, then we become anxious.  If we are anxious, we are telling God, more or less, “I don’t think You can handle this the right way.” It’s blasphemous, really.

2) Strive for purity: “Make choices to flee from sexually immorality – any act of sexual immorality is a gift you take away from your husband.  Look for a man who treats you (and all other women) with all purity, NEVER pressuring you to be physical (Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Tim 5:1-2 to treat his sisters with all purity). Strive also to guard your heart and emotions until you are married. Be wise on who you trust and who you pour your heart out to.

3)Serve others more consistently: For me, marriage calls for serving people in a certain way and frequency that I am just now at a place to get accustomed to serving.  I wish I had been more selfless and more giving in my early twenties, and spent more time doing things for others.  I wish I would have realized that I won’t only be serving my husband, but others that entered my life once I bound my life to his. In essence, learning how to serve those who are in my life now, especially my parents and siblings, will make my transition into marriage a lot smoother.

4)Spend less time obsessing over marriage: There was a point in my life where I probably idolized marriage. Unfortunately it was all for the wrong reasons. I've wasted entirely too much time thinking about me as a future wife and mother rather than turning that focus on God.  It's so futile and shameful to think about now, but I thank God that His love for me is relentless and His grace is enough to sustain me going forward. 

5)Learned to rise early: I'm a professional napper. That's not always a good thing, especially when it means by the time I should be winding down for bed, I'm wide awake and full of creative energy. One thing that stood out to me while reading Proverbs 31 was the mention of the her rising early. This is something I plan to work more diligently on before marriage because though I wake up early some days, it’s not always because I want to but more so because I have to. Now, the days I rise early are spent talking and listening to God and they produce less stressful and tiring days. Getting that sense of peace and direction before getting into each day is crucial and I pray I never take them for granted.

6)Focus on growing closer to God: Here is a verse that stood out clear as day during my time of fasting and prayer: ‘She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life’ (Proverbs 31:12). Ever since, this sort of become my mantra. Although I hope God is revealing who he's called me to marry, there are so many ways I can do good to him before we know for sure. I can be holy!

In reality, as I continue to wait for my good thing from the Lord, I can be who I’ve always wanted to be. I can be me, using God's grace to get back to who I was created to be when He made me in His image. This is really the best way to prepare to be the wife God desires me to be and the one that I want to be. More than anything, this will help me to be happy whether I’m married or not!  

Xo, Jessica 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee!!

At 8:25 a.m. on a very cold winter morning January 23, 1988, my mother gave birthed to an 8lb 8oz healthy baby girl that she and my father named Jessica. Fast forward to today, and that baby girl is two weeks into officially being one year away from her thirties!!! About six months ago I didn't know if I should be more thankful that through a whole lot of grace I don't look like the things I put myself through in years past OR just be happy that even though I selfishly spent the years before now propping up my own will instead of living a life of surrender that reflected God's will, He's a good father who has loved me back to life and restored all it's broken pieces by making me a new creation in Him. Everyone has a chapter they don't want to read out loud, and honeyyyyy, I'll be the first to admit that I have a few from my twenties that I'm extremely grateful are forgiven and covered by the precious blood of Jesus and are now the testimony I'm able to use to show other's the love and grace God gives us through the power of His salvation! Although most of life for me after high school was a dramatic rollercoaster of facades and unwise decisions and although I joke often about being old, the truth is, I'm really excited about this next season of my life and feel like life for me has just begun. For once in my life, I have learned and am continuing to learn on a daily basis how to live in the protected peace of my heavenly Father. That involves a whole lot of humility, grace and constant engaging I God's presence. There are so many influences and outside noises, a lot of which I wasn't spiritually fortified enough to counterattack in my early twenties, but I've learned that the key to victory in Jesus is standing still, praying without ceasing, listening intently for His instruction and standing assured that through obedience and total surrender to Him all of His promises are still YES and AMEN over my life! 

I'm excited about twenty-nine. I'm excited about for once unashamedly letting all that I am and all that I do be a reflection of the knowledge of the truth that for Christ I live and for Christ I'll die. I'm excited about how He's grooming me and preparing me to be a woman of God that will one day, prayerfully soon, be an amazing wife and loving mother to my my future family. I'm excited about living, for once, knowing who and whose I am, and taking the time to nuture and embrace all the wonderful things that come with living happily in the skin that I am in. I know that as long as I keep my eyes, expectations and hope on Christ and Christ alone this year and each one that follows, He will keep me in perfect peace that is guarded and protected by His grace! I don't have any overly dramatic personal resolutions for my last year being a "twenty something". I simply want to live a life of daily surrender, gain a deeper boldness to be a woman unapologetically in love with Jesus, and to be a blessing to others through love, grace and compassion. God is truly taking me to newer levels. The old me is no longer hindering me from becoming who God has been calling me all this time to be. That within itself, is the greatest birthday gift I could have ever asked for. Fear no longer plays a part in fulfilling my destiny or accomplishing the things I didn't think I was capable of doing. I was born with a strength to move mountains and I trust God knowing that He's not quite done with me yet. He's allowed everything I've gone through, even though mostly self inflicted to create something so much bigger and better that I can ever imagine. All He wanted and requires from me in return is for me to fully trust in His process, seek Him wholeheartedly and trust that through it all, He's got me! Cheer's to a new year of life and the grace from a loving father in Heaven to get me through it!

It's my party, I'll PRAISE if I want to!! Blessings, peace and happiness to you.

Xo, Jessica 

Trusting The Timing of My Life

I've always liked that twenty-three days after the world celebrates a new calendar year, I'm blessed to close the chapter of the year before and indulge in the excitement that comes with birthdays and turning another age. Although I haven't always made the necessary adjustments in years past, especially spiritually, to become a "new me", I'm really excited about what God has in store for me in 2017. For the first time in a long time, I used the weeks leading up to my twenty-ninth birthday to reflect on my growth and accomplishments, spiritually and personally, and doing inventory on the areas of my life, like my finances, that require some adjusting. The clean slate of a new year can be both motivating and intimidating at times. I've never been big on "new year, new me" resolutions because I've never really been good at keeping the momentum I start a new year with to keep me from falling into the same patterns, habits, and lifestyles that I held tight and coodled year in and year out. That's pretty dissapointing but the good news is, there is good news!

Once I finally began to study God's word last summer, with the intent of finding myself in it, I found as a Christain, I don't have to wait until a new year to become the "new me"or even an "improved me. What was the most comforting is that I don't have to tackle these changes on my own. The word has matured me so much spiritually and that has translated to my personal growth as I closed the chapter to 2016 to embrace 2017 and my last year being a "twenty something". As I was pinning quotes on Pinterest a few weeks ago, I ran across one that I've seen many times before but hit home as I counted down the days until my birthday and wait patiently to see how God opens doors to make way for things that I've been praying about in my private time. It said "Relax and trust the timing of your life. You will figure out your career. You will find the right relationship. Your will become the person you always wanted to be. Just don't forget to appreciate who you are now" (Ruben Chavez). I literally smiled, shook my head and said "Okay God, I hear you!" Between trying to figure out whether or not I should go back to school, praying intentionally for my person of interest and God's direction on the next step we should take with our friendship, resolving to get my finances in complete order and striving to live a life of growth through grace that is not just an Instagram hashtag, I've been doing a lot of asking and not enough of standing still and trusting that God is simply that, GOD!

Seeking first the kingdom of God and His rightesouness is such an underated passage of scripture. Each year, we set out in search for new careers, relationships if we're single and life purposes. It never really hit home like it did like after rereading that quote that the benefit of seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness is that you begin to learn that you already have a purpose (to glorify God), a destiny (to abide with God in eternity as an heir with Christ) and a job (to make disciples). Through Christ, we have a new perspective on life because in Him we don't have to worry (yes, I know that's easier read than done) because in Him we find light, love and truth. Knowing His truth sets us free (John 8:31). From there, we begin to operate in God's perfect will for our lives and by being in God's will, we are guaranteed access to all of our dreams, ambitions, and heart desires through prayer and pure intentions. (John 5:14-15)

There is so much transformative power in the pages of God's word! As you prayerfully study and apply it to your life this year, the Holy Spirit will do a work in you that puts your new year resolutions and anxieties to shame. Don't get me wrong, making resolutions is great. My challenge to you this year and every one that follows is that you filter those resolutions through the Lord. It is the only way to enjoy change that is everlasting and accomplish goals that will matter this year and for years to come. My sincere prayer for you is that this is one of the greatest years of your life. If it hasn't been off to such a great start, you have a lot of 2017 left to seek God for direction, peace and joy like you've never experienced before. There is no goal, aspiration or resolution that is more valuable than the knowledge of God through genuine surrender. Knowing His will, voice character, purposes and promises give us the wisdom we need to navigate this life. Here's to a victorious new year, through Christ, and wisdom that spills into our financial, familial, romantic, career and business decisions in the days, weeks and months to come!

Xo, Jess!

Adjusted Crown : My Testimony

 "But He said to me, "My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

"But He said to me, "My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

I originally wrote this post May 2016. I still hadn't gotten my life all the way together but I was trying my best to be a better me. Fast forward to now, a 29 year old new creation in Christ, living on purpose for a higher purpose and no longer a slave to sin, shame a defeat. Although I'm starting fresh with new content in 2017, more than anything in the world, I'm extremely thankful that God completely shook my life upside down four short weeks after I posted this last year and that my life, through Him has not and will never be the same! As I continue to grow in His unfailing grace, I hope that my continuous journey with Him leads you to a life of full surrender and total subjection to the creation in Him He's calling you to be. It's NEVER too late give God your everything, especially your broken or sin stained peices, and watch Him love you back to life like only He can!

Enjoy.....

Adjusted Crown, May 26, 2016

My 20's have been mostly a huge unbearable facade of happiness to cover up all the emptiness that I found myself constantly drowning in. On the outside I was the "good girl" that had her life together but in reality, I could've literally won numerous Oscars for being the leading actress in my own modern day rendition of "The Young and the Restless". Life didn't happen for me how and when I wanted it to so I spent year after year in an never ending revolving door of restlessness, hurt, disappointment, anxiousness, and anxiety. I literally took everything good I dreamed of doing and being in life after high school and single-handedly turned it into a huge mess of confusion that God couldn't use because He was never the center of anything I was trying to produce.

No one knew how empty and full of holes my life was because I didn't dare let them. I wore so many masks, and honey, I wore them well. I found every way possible to put band-aids on all the gaping voids I was so desperately trying to fill. I took trips. I wore nice clothes. I had fun friends. I partied and drank socially. I had a "significant other". I blew money because I had it to blow. I became a stylist. I had good client base. I was working full time and back in school.  Everyone on the outside looking in thought I was on top of the world. What they didn't know was that I was only allowing them to see what I wanted them to see. I didn't want anyone to know the ugly stuff that Jessica did out of character. I didn't want them to know that I was in love with the wrong person. Guy's didn't know that I fornicated with them because it felt good at those moments, but I always felt extremely shame, convicted and far away from God afterwards. My friends didn't know that I took trips and partied with the best of them because it made me feel good in the moment but I would cry myself to sleep at night because I was lonely. People didn't know I drank "socially" to quiet my thoughts of disappointment in who I'd become or to numb the pain of my latest blow up with the guy I was so blindly in love with. Strangers didn't know I got dressed up and went to VIP events that I never really enjoyed because I always felt too naked or out of place. I was simply a pretty girl doing pretty girl things who in essence was just a mess, trying to cover up all her mess with a pretty smile and a fun lifestyle.

I took a screenshot of the quote "God can't bless who you pretend to be" about 8 months ago and never posted it because although it was my reality it was a hard pill that I still wasn't ready to swallow yet. I was still partying. I was still having sex outside of marriage. I was still posting pretty pictures and flexing for the gram. I was still a liar. I still was manipulating my way through a lot of situations. I was still drinking. I was still dressing half naked. I was still a Wednesday night and Sunday morning christian. I was still cussing. I was still looking for love in all the wrong people and places. I was still broken. I was still not praying or reading my bible because I felt too unclean to. I was still not the "Good Girl" I was trying to paint my outside shell to be. I was still running from being the souled out, on fire for Christ, woman of God that he was upsetting my life time and time again to be.

Even though I've made so much progress, I still am growing daily in the things of Christ as I continue to trust and rest on His promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His grace is all I need.  Every day I have to remind myself that even though I'm striving to be a better me, the only way I can win in life is by surrendering all my junk, sincerely, every single day I'm blessed to open these brown eyes of mine. What I failed terribly to realize in my early 20s is that GOD IS ENOUGH. That one truth alone was all I needed to avoid so much of the heartache and disappointment I brought upon myself as I desperately tried to find myself in everything but Him. Because of that, I had absolutely no resistance when the devil would come for me. None. Not even the slightest fight in me to say, "Not today Satan!". He knew once I fell into sin after sin he would be able to make me doubt who I was in Christ. Once I started doubting who I was in Christ sin became easier and easier to justify and I began operating outside of who I was created and called to be. The moment we start operating outside of who we are called to be, we loose the power that God put in us.  Once that power is gone, the enemy wins EVERY TIME!

I'm so overwhelmed with thankfulness that I'm not the same Jessica that I was the past 10 years of my life.  I've learned that our walk with Christ isn't always easy and it sure isn't always glamorous but that is okay because Jesus' wasn't easy and He's the only person we should want to be more and more like each day. I've hit a few character and heart check bumps in the road already this year but God has to weed through some ugly places in our hearts and lives in order for us to cover new ground in Him. God doesn't care where we've been. He does however require for us to LET THE DEAD THINGS OF OUR PAST GO and not look back once He's washed our dirty scarlet sins white as snow!  Is that easy? Nah. Not at all. But it's all about priorities. I literally have pep talks with myself throughout my day to stay focused. I literally have to PRAY throughout my day to keep myself from reacting to certain things and situations the same way I used to. Will temptation come? Yes. But guess what....I'm no longer a slave to sin! My Heavenly Father came for me, in the midst of all my brokenness, guilt, and sin stained chaos to make me once again a NEW creation in HIM! Despite my ugly past, His beautiful grace has redeemed lost time and left me with the best days of my life still ahead of me. So now when you see me smiling, you'll know it's because I've adjusted my crown and from 28 and beyond I'm giving less of me so that there can be more of Him in my life. When you see me lit, I'll be lit for Christ. When you hear me laugh, it's because I'm a woman with purpose, on purpose, because I finally know who and whose I am. When you see me queening, it's because I'm waiting, in modesty and humility, for Him to introduce me to a man so in love with Him, my past and flaws won't matter because our future together will be covered by the love and blood of Christ. When you see me spreading these positive vibes, you'll know I'm simply trying to love others with the same love and grace that Jesus is showing me daily.

Wishing you all a blessed, productive and overcoming week ahead! No matter what you're faced with, stay mindful that GOD IS ENOUGH! He wants you to win and be victorious in Him so give Him everything that's weighing your life down today and watch Him turn your mess into your message. May grace and peace reign supreme!

XO, 

Jessica