My Anxious Heart

Be still my anxious heart.

Words I have been repeating to myself over for the past few weeks. My mind constantly plays things over. Things that have happened, could happen, or may never happen. Regrets and wishes. I worry about things to come. I worry about whether the choices I’m making are the right ones. I worry about so many things, I cannot get all of them onto the page. I think and think and blow things out of proportion. I make my problems seem bigger than they are. I feel so lost and hopeless in the mist of this storm I’m in. And I forget to seek comfort and peace in God.

Lately, I have been fighting with this fear of not knowing. If you know me, you know that I love planning and knowing what is going to happen next. Not knowing what the future has in store scares me so much. More than I can find words to express this feeling.

I graduate in May with my Associates degree from Northern Michigan University (NMU), something I’m proud of and look forward to. But I am not sure what I am doing after. I’m learning to be okay with that. I learning to be okay with knowing that I may not know until fall comes closer. Learning to be patient and continue to serve God in this time of waiting. I am learning to sit patiently waiting for doors to open or close.

The other day I went hiking with some friends. We climbed this mountain named Sugarloaf. As we sat on top of this mountain, we spread out to different parts and spent time with God. I decided to read passages of scripture dealing with anxiety.

I immediately turned to Matthew 6. I read verses 25-34, and I suggest you go read them as well. One verse that stood out to me was verse 34 and it says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Then I turned to James 4. In verse 14 it says, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

Learning to seek God and His guidance. Leaning on Him through everything. Trusting in His plans, knowing He will provide. Focusing on what I know to be true. Not worrying when unknown things arise. I keep learning these things each day, and I hope you do as well.

My friends, I pray that if your heart is anxious, you seek rest in Christ. He is our refuge and strong tower.

Be still my anxious heart.

 

 

In Christ,

Jessica

 

Beauty Standards

I’ve been putting off writing this post for about four months now. My heart is heavy as I write this, but it needs to be said.

I have always struggled with the way I look.

I have always been too critical of myself over anything and everything. We see in magazines how people want us to look, dress, act, and talk. When I was five years old, I had my first experience of people bullying me. I was at dance practice with my classmates. We were practicing gymnastics routines for our performance. When I was a young child, I was on the chubbier side, especially if I compared myself to my classmates. The girls to my left started to whisper and giggle and then verbally accused me of being fat. I never told anyone until I was much older. I took their comments to heart and never forgot them. Their words hurt me very deeply and I remember it like it was yesterday.

As I grew older, things didn’t change much. I realized how much words can hurt others and how much words can build people up. Words can do so much and yet so often we use them to hurt others. Anything anyone said about me that I heard, I took to heart and it hurt me deeply. It still does to this day.

This past June, I bought myself a Fitbit. I have always loved staying in shape and being healthy. I figured why not get a Fitbit that will help me keep track. The first few weeks of having my Fitbit were great. I kept track and was staying motivated. Once July rolled around, that mindset and perspective changed. If I didn’t meet my step goal, or didn’t meet my water goal, or any other goal I had set, I felt as if I had failed and wasn’t in shape. It was like I had this weight snapped to my wrist. It was weighing me down, as well as motivating me to push myself. Each time that I looked at my wrist, my confidence dropped. It wasn’t into about the middle of October before I knew I needed to stop. I wasn’t just trying to stay in shape. I was trying to please my Fitbit. I was trying to conform to the beauty standards that the world has set in place. I was not looking to the truth. I needed that and soon went searching. I looked to the Bible for that truth. (I leave some of the verses at the end of this post.)

I soon realized that if I were to work out to stay in shape that that was fine, but it was not healthy to keep pushing my body to try and achieve an expectation that I had set too high. I would be disappointed when I failed to achieve it.

Now I’m not saying that working out is a bad thing, it is great to try to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. But don’t hurt yourself in doing so.

You see, beauty is a hard thing to talk about. It’s hard living in a world where we all are being looked at under a microscope. We cannot fail otherwise people judge us. If we do not fit into the cookie cutter that is there, we will be shunned. But that shouldn’t matter to us.

Since we are given so many different expectations to try to attain, we tend to forget that we need to take care of our bodies as well. Our bodies are temples and we are to treat them well. We are not to harm them and destroy them. We need to take care of the body that God has given us. God created us the way we are for a specific reason. Often, we try to change the way we look and try to keep up with the new beauty trends. But we weren’t made to try to blend in with these trends. We were made to glorify God. We were made to serve Him and lead others to Him. We need to be living our lives for God, no matter what others say about us.

I pray that no matter what struggle you may be going through, you look to God. My friends what an amazing hope we have.

God Bless,

 

Jessica

 

 

Psalm 139: 13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

 

Proverbs 31: 30
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

 

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

 

 

All verses taken from biblegateway.com, NIV.

 

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10 Resolutions for 2017

This year has been quite the year for me. So many things have changed in my life and so many new opportunities have presented themselves. I have seen God work in my life this year more than ever. I have seen Him open and close doors, and watched and waited for His timing. So many ups and downs were brought to me and it amazes me how much I have changed in this past year. I sit here and look back on what my life was like on this day last year, and I cannot believe how different life is now.

I never make New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I can never keep them. But this year, I am making them and I intend to keep them. I hope and pray that they can influence me to do better and become my new normal.

10 Resolutions for 2017:

10) Drink more water– I am really bad about drinking water, and when I do it isn’t much. I want water to become what I drink daily and not have to rely on soda for energy. I want to eat healthier as well. Junk food can be good, but it’s called junk food for a reason.

9) Exercise daily- I want to exercise daily to get back into shape and be a healthier person. I want to push myself to where I feel good every day because of getting daily exercise.

8) Focus on the good- I want to be able to focus on the good that is happening in my life. I want to look at my life in the middle of a trial, being fully reliant on God and have peace because I know that good will come of it.

7) Failure- I know that I will fail. I want failure to push me to do better and work harder. I will not let failure or mistakes define who I am. I will not let them stop me from moving forward.

6) Find Joy- This ties very closely to focusing on the good, but I want to have joy and happiness every day. I want to find the good in everyday and be able to focus on it.

5) Stress less- If you know me at all, then you know that I am stressed about something 95% of the time. I have found it to be unhealthy and it steals my happiness. I want to worry less and put my full trust in God. I know that He is working things out and worrying about them will not change my current situation.

4) Love others- I want to be a more loving, kind, and caring person than I was last year. I want my love for God and others to pour out of me daily. I want to be quick to forgive and quick to apologize. I want to be more grateful this year.

3) Push Myself- I want to push myself to do better in school these next 16 weeks, as I am hoping to graduate in May. I want to do well in my classes and get better grades. I want to push myself to chase after the crazy dreams God has given to me and pursue them wholeheartedly.

2) Focus- I want to focus on God and depend more on Him. I want to give my fears to Him daily trusting in Him that He will provide. I want to focus on the things He has given to me and the plans He is placing in my life. I want to completely focus on God and live life for Him no matter what everyone else is doing.

1) Humble myself- It is so easy for me to think that I know what is going to happen every step of the way and feel so prideful. I want to humble myself so that the Lord can work through me. I do not want to become prideful and arrogant, but rather a humble servant of the Lord.

 

I hope that the Lord uses all of you in ways you didn’t know. God bless and Happy New Year.

 

Jessica

 

Thankful

Last year for Thanksgiving, I posted things I was thankful for and why. This year, I decided to do something a little different. On Thursday, I took to Facebook to see what you all were thankful for and here are the responses that I got.

Friend 1– “Friends who are my family.”

Friend 2– “The love and support of family and friends. I am thankful to be alive.”

Friend 3– “Thankful for my salvation through Jesus Christ and the many blessings He has given me!”

Friend 4– “My children and grandchildren.”

Friend 5– “For our soldiers who are unable to be with their families on Thanksgiving, because they are overseas fighting for our country.”

Friend 6– “My family!”

Friend 7– “Grandkids.”

Friend 8– “I’m most thankful for the people who’ve truly take the time to get to know me and be the people who’ve mattered most in my life.”

Friend 9– “Deep fried turkey. And my family being home!”

Friend 10– “My family!”

There are so many things that I am thankful for this year. I started counting them on Thursday and was amazed at how many things I have been blessed with. I am so thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for the life God has given me. I am thankful for all the experiences I get to have. I am thankful for all my freedoms and rights I have here in the U.S. I am thankful for the soldiers fighting overseas to protect my freedoms. I am thankful for my Salvation in Jesus. I am thankful for my love for writing. I am thankful for my animals. I am thankful for everything God has blessed me with. I love that we take a day and give thanks for all we have. I pray that we do not let ourselves get distracted by all the deals and bargains Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring to us. We get so caught up in the deals that we forget to be thankful for what we have already been blessed with. My favorite verse around Thanksgiving is Psalm 100:4 (NIV), “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”

 

God Bless,

 

Jessica Cross

 

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2016 Election

This was the first presidential election I voted in. I am so thankful that I have the freedom to vote. I am grateful to all those who have served our country given their lives. Because of them, we have so many freedoms that many other countries do not have. I am so blessed to live in a country where I have freedoms for so many things.

I have held off on posting anything about the 2016 Presidential Election. Back in June I posted about praying for America. I do not like how much division this election has brought to our nation. During the Olympics, we had a break from the election and stood together. But know we aren’t. Why have we let politic divide us? I chose to not tell people who I was voting for and I still chose to not say.

I could sit here and tell you how worried I am for who will win this election. I know that we shouldn’t be worried. God has a plan for all of us. He has a plan for this nation. We might not understand what is happening now but one day we will.  No matter what happens, we can always trust in our Lord. God is always in control. We must seek His glory and do everything for it.

Matthew 10:7(NIV), “As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of Heaven has come near.’”

2 Chronicles 7:14(NIV), “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV), “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

I hope and pray that you join me in praying for America. Pray that God revives this land and heals it. Pray that He guides our leaders and gives them wisdom. Pray that God uses you to reach others and share the Gospel.

In Christ,

Jessica

All I have is Christ

Lately I have been struggling with some serious health problems. Between class and doctor appointments, I have found myself becoming overwhelmed and discouraged. I have an amazing group of friends who have been supporting me through this difficult time, but that doesn’t mean it has gotten any easier. I had to do a lot of tests to see if they could figure out what was wrong. My problems were all internal. I seemed to be fine, but in reality I was hurting. I had hit what felt like a really low point in my life. All I had left was Christ. There was nothing I could do on my own to change my situation. I am reminded of a certain song. There is a part in it that say, “Hallelujah, All I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.” I continued to sing this to myself as I would go about my day. I kept trying to remind myself that all I had was Christ and He is enough.

I have this plaque sitting on my shelf in my dorm room. It says, “He is faithful” and underneath is the reference to a verse, Hebrews 10:23. It says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” I read the plaque every morning before heading to class and I am reminded of God’s love and faithfulness. But it is so easy to forget that throughout the day. When I try to cling to my own strength to get myself through the day I am always let down. I cannot do anything to fulfill the space and void in my life. Only Christ can do that.

I began to spend more and more time in the Bible, seeking out more truths to cling to. I was desperate for Jesus to heal me and fulfill me. I want to share a few verses that helped me when I was feeling so low.

Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God tells us specifically not to fear. He gives us strength and holds us. How amazing is that? God holds us in His hand. I am so comforted by those words.

1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” He cares for me. I have no need to worry. Often times I try to take things into my own hands and it never works the way I plan. I worry about how things will turn out. I still worry that the doctor’s will never figure what was wrong. But I can rest in God, knowing He is my Healer.

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” He has overcome the world, and yet I worry. I have peace in Christ, He is the only place I can find peace.

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  In this passage, we are told not to fear or be discouraged. Why? Because God is with us always, everywhere we go. We have no need to fear, God is in control. We are told to be strong and courageous. Knowing God is with us and is faithful, we can achieve this.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I find so much peace in this verse. God has a plan for me. His plans are always for good. He is my hope. I can rest in Him with confidence that He will work everything out.

Isaiah 55:8-9, “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.” I think that this verse ties in very well with the verse in Jeremiah. God has a plan for us. Even though we cannot see it and may not understand it at this time in our lives, He will work everything out. We must trust in that.

 

Throughout the many things the doctors and I still have to do, I will not fear. I know that in all my confusion and anxiousness that God has a plan. What I am dealing with now plays a part for the bigger picture. He will work everything out. I pray that He gives the doctors wisdom as to what is wrong and that He give me strength to get through each day. I know that everything will work out for good and God will be glorified through it all. There is a song that holds a dear place in my heart, it goes, “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” He suffered many things for me, and I can trust in Him. Christ is all I have and He is all I need,

Walking, Waiting, and Worrying

Walking, waiting, and worrying. Three w words that all play a role in our daily lives. At times, each one can have a bigger influence than the next. Walking with God is not always easy. We have mountains to climb and valleys to walk through. Sometimes we have a straight road for a while. When He opens a door, we go through trusting in Him. He closes that door behind us, and we are standing in a hallway. Sometimes we have to wait a while before the next door opens. When we are waiting for the next step in our lives, we tend to worry. I know this to be true for me. When I am waiting for the next door to open, I tend to worry and doubt. Even though I know I can trust God, I try to rely on myself in these moments. I will never be able to fulfill my needs with the things of this world.  I want to share some verses with you that help me in these times.

Walking:

  • Micah 6:8
  • Colossians 1:10-11
  • Ephesians 2:10
  • 1 John 2:6
  • Hebrews 12:1

Waiting:

  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Psalms 37:34
  • Micah 7:7
  • Isaiah 40:31
  • Lamentations :25

Worrying:

  • Matthew 6:25-27
  • Matthew 6:34
  • Matthew 11:28-30
  • Luke 12:25
  • John 14:27

 

I have found myself turning to these verses often in the past little while. I am at a point in my life right now where I am just waiting on God for the next door to open. It has been hard at times. Knowing that there is something great behind that door and just sitting in the hallway waiting makes it difficult. I remind myself to praise God in the hallway.

When I get down and feel like I’ll be here for a while I remind myself of these truths. God loves me and you. He has great things in store for us. He is mapping a plan for us. God tells us this in Jeremiah 29:11.

Let me leave you with this thought: “Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue.” –Streams in the Desert devotional book.

Stop buying the lies. Live for God.

The way we see ourselves is very different than how God sees us. We critique every little thing about us. We are scared that people will not like us for how we look. We try to blend in with everyone around us. This has become a huge problem and I see it every day. We tend to only look at our outward appearance and do not take into consideration our hearts. We change how we look on the outside just so we will be accepted. We tend to focus so much on what others think of us and we forget to ask God His opinion.

Outward appearance is something that consumes so many people. We love other’s attention and we want to be liked. We want to fit in. Many people go to extremes to fit in or be liked.

I have always cared about what other’s think of me and how they see me. It has made life hard at times. I always wanted to fit in and have always wanted people to like me. I was homeschooled up until 7th grade when my parent’s decided to put me into public school. It was a big shift and I was not prepared for it at all. It changed my perspective on the world. Many times people would make fun of how I dressed and how I looked. They would say that I looked weird with glasses and that I should be wearing makeup. I really did not like that my peers didn’t approve. I did what most middle schoolers would do. I got name brand clothing, cut my long hair, started to wear makeup, and I even got contacts. I changed how I looked and who I was just to fit their image. I had chosen to live my life how the world wanted me too and stopped living for God. It wasn’t until 3 years later that I had realized what had happened. Before my sophomore year of high school I attended a Leadership Development Camp at a local Bible camp that my perspective changed. I realized that I hadn’t been living my life to honor God. I was too focused on what others had to think, I ignored God. I had believed the same lies that so many people fall for. I had been living off of the lies the world had been feeding me. I realized that I was beautiful and that is how God made me.

God looks at the heart. He loves when our hearts are living to serve Him. There are so many verses where God had defined beauty. All of these verses show us that our beauty is to honor God. He created us to glorify Him. Here are a few:

1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Proverbs 31:30a, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.”

Psalm 45:11, “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.”

Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Is my life a reflection of Jesus? Am I living my life in a way that glorifies God? Can people see Jesus in what I say and how I act? Do I love like Christ does?

We should be continually asking ourselves questions like these. The answer to all of these should be a resounding YES! If we are not living our life for God and His glory, we are doing life wrong. We need to be pointing others toward Christ. When we stop believing in the lies we are being fed and focus on Jesus the beauty of the Lord shines through us. He makes us beautiful. I think that we all go back at one point or another and criticize ourselves. I think that we will worry what others think and go back to listening to them. But through all of it we need to remember what we know to be true. We need to rely on God and His word.

We must be living a life that honors God. Our life should reflect Him and people should know us by how we love. God’s opinion is the only opinion that we should focus on. God made us all beautiful. You can see His glory and majesty in all of creation. He cares and loves us. Honor Him with your life. Be who God made you to be, not what others want you to be.

As Kahlil Gibran once said, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”

 

 

 

God Bless,

 

Jessica

 

 

Picture credit:

30+ Adorable Beauty Quotes For Her

 

 

Pray for America

Lately it seems as though America has taken a turn for the worst. Every day something new is happening in our country. Such as the gorilla getting shot, or the child in Florida getting dragged into a lake by an alligator. Or even trans-gender bathrooms and the gay bar shooting. But the one thing that I am going to talk about is our presidential candidates.

From the beginning of the presidential campaign, I think that on some level we all knew that it was going to be Trump and Clinton. I know that both of these people have done some very bad things for our country. Let’s face it, they aren’t perfect and neither are we. Many things that they have done are inexcusable and yet we dismiss it. I am constantly hearing negative things about both candidates and I’m sick of it. Look, you probably won’t move out of the country when one of them wins. It’s not the end of the world. I’m guilty of these things as well, but we really need to consider what is truly at stake.

We live in a crazy messed up world. So what are we going to do about it?

We need to be praying for our leaders. We need to be praying for the people in authority above us. Not only when things go bad, but we need to constantly be in prayer for those leading this country.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

No matter how much we dislike people, or presidential candidates, we should not talk bad about them. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. We need to pray for others. We need to be sharing the Gospel so others know about Jesus. America need Jesus. We need to stand up for our faith. We need not to worry about what others will think of us.

Al Whittinghill once said, “Without the heartbeat of prayer, the body of Christ will resemble a corpse. The church is dying on her feet because she is not living on her knees.”

Philippians 4:6-7 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

No matter what happens, we can always trust our Lord. God is in control. We must do everything for His glory. He will heal and save. I will be praying for America and its leaders. I will be looking for new ways to tell others about Jesus. I pray that you join me in doing so.

“Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit.” – S.D. Gordon

Pray for America. Our country needs saving.

 

God Bless,

Jessica

 

 

 

 

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