I really do miss LA! My friends, my adventures and Mosaic. While I no longer have that constant nagging in my soul telling me to leave the City of Angeles, I also no longer have any sort of life. My days consist of job hunting and playing with my roommate’s dogs. I knew I was going to be up in the air for a while and I also knew that once I officially had a new city, it would take a while to start a new life, but the reality of it is just now hitting me and, for lack of a better word, it sucks. As of right now, the only time I get out of the house is to go for walks, go on a job interview or visit a local church.
I think it is safe to say that Erwin McManus and Hank Fortener have changed my worship DNA. They and the Mosaic team introduced me to a freedom in worship that I never knew before and I am finding that freedom to be important in my next faith community. I currently have 22 churches to visit in the Jacksonville area so here’s hoping one of them will offer the tangibles I am looking for and the intangibles that I require. For me, worship is now a response to Who my Creator is, all of Who He is; His kindness, His mercy, His grace, His power, His unending love – all of Him. I can no longer just stand in a service and robotically sing songs as if they have no meaning. For me, worship is personal and messy and emotional and amazing and inspiring and communicative and heartfelt. Worship is my response to what Jesus is doing in me, for me and through me; and it was my time at Mosaic that taught me this. Mosaic also gave me an idea as to the energy Heaven is going to have when we all come together to worship our Creator. It’s going to be an energy we don’t want to be away from and I promise to try to bring some of that energy with me wherever I go. If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, I encourage you to attend one of Mosaic's services. Whether you are a believer or not, the experience will be worth it.
My friends in LA wrote a story on my heart. They reminded me who I am and how much I matter. For some reason I have always deemed myself as someone’s second or third choice, but my friends in LA told me a different story. I learned that I am someone worth knowing and that I make a difference in people’s lives. I learned what it means to be me, to stand up for myself and that I am someone other people want to be around. I’m funny, spontaneous, adventurous, insightful, caring, intelligent, somewhat crazy and 100% worthy of love. I am still trying to wrap my head around that last one, but my friends in LA are living proof of it and I miss them every day.
LA is also where I learned what it really means to trust Jesus with my life. LA beat me into a corner and left me for dead and in doing so I finally surrendered my everything (alcohol) to Jesus and I got sober. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and it has changed my life forever. Folks, I am living proof that AA works because I was one of those people that could not imagine, a me, without alcohol. I mean when I heard love songs on the radio I thought about my favorite vodka drink or my favorite wine. The tables have definitely turned and when I hear love songs on the radio these days, I now think of Jesus and something He has done or is doing in me, for me or through me. Alcohol is no longer my everything. Jesus has taken its place and I trust Him daily to keep me sober as I navigate life without alcohol and trust Him to bring friends into my life that don’t drink for their own reasons. I trust Him to keep me afloat financially and I trust that He has a plan for my life even though it doesn’t look like it right now. I trust that there is a reason that I drove across the entire country and landed in a small city on the opposite ocean with just a few grand to my name and I trust that everything is somehow going to be okay and that I will be able to one day explain to all of you why I had to leave all that I loved so abruptly. The only thing I know right now is that God is being very quiet. Not exactly what I want from my Creator as I watch job opportunity after job opportunity slip from my grasp. I have heard, however, that one of the keys to success is one’s ability to be comfortable in complete uncertainty so I guess I need to suck it up, enjoy my break from the daily grind and trust that if I am supposed to stay in Jacksonville then I will. I am, after all, in my Father’s hands and He is the pilot; I’m just a passenger on His flight who isn’t entirely sure of her destination.
Lastly, leaving LA has made me acutely aware of how important it is for me to feel important and to be seen as important by people that I do not know. Every time I have an era in my life come to an end, I fall back down the rabbit hole because I have no idea what to do with myself now that I’m not Jessica the athlete or Jessica the HR professional or Jessica the production coordinator or Jessica the show host or Jessica the bloody whatever… every time I loose my title my identity disappears with it. I need to get rid of the notion that I am what I do. I am so much more than a job title, but for some reason, my identity is wrapped up solely in outward success and as a result my light is very dim and my light should never be dependent on the thoughts of other people.
All in all, I had and will continue to have a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles. It taught me a lot about myself and when referring to LA or Mosaic I use “we” so perhaps I’ll be back one day. For now, it appears I have some things to do on the east coast – I just haven’t figured out what they are yet.
I wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. Stay Safe. Stay Classy and don’t be afraid to Let Your Light Shine Bright. I will see you in 2015.
New Year, New Life?
Well, it seems as though 2014 is going to be another year full of change. I say this due to the fact that my current landlord gave me notice the day after returning from Christmas vacation. This has to be the absolute worst time to have to dig up two months worth of rent, but I trust that everything will work out – at least most of me does. I recall that when I first found out – a whole four days ago – I got excited because whenever I have been placed in an almost impossible situation that could be my “end” it is these times that God tends to do some amazing things. In my life, at least, it seems to be His calling card. Impossible situation that should destroy me usually means God is about to do something major and it always involves major change too. So I am trying to stay excited and not dwell on the whole what if I don’t find a place in time scenario.
Apart from that chaos, I am transitioning to a new volunteer position at my local church due to several reasons that will remain with me just in case anyone from the church reads this blog. Oh, all right, I’ll tell you this much: it is similar to my living situation only there was never an actual notice given. All in all, I think it is best because I continually butt horns with someone involved in my old position and I frankly don’t need any additional stress, in fact, that’s the one cup I can say is abundantly overflowing these days.
As far as work goes, I am still employed by the Encoding House and have been promised an end of year bonus (would seriously come in handy if it came this week) and a decent pay increase. Even so, I am still looking for a new position that is closer to my industry career goals and am hopeful that wherever I land house-wise, will be convenient to wherever I land career-wise.
As for 2014, I do have some resolutions:
Set 1 = resolutions that can be measured and accomplished
1) Finish paying off my debt and don’t restack it
2) Set up sole proprietorship
3) Set up social media for said company
4) Make my writing a priority again
Set 2 = resolutions that are easier said than done and measured by others
1) Do my best in all situations regardless of how I feel
2) Keep God first
3) Make the best of things instead of the worst of things
4) Obedience, Obedience, Obedience
Obedience is not a word people are into these days. Nobody wants to be obedient anymore. It is a My world, My life, My Decision, My want, my need, my whatever. We don’t want to even consider the fact that we really aren’t the ones in control or that Someone Else might know better and I am just as bad as all of you.
During one of my focused quiet times where I worship, meditate, read God’s word and plead for Him to talk to me – I asked why He always seems to give immediate answers when it comes my sobriety and my tithing, but stays silent on all IMPORTANT matters. His response was unwelcome and completely silenced me and it was this: I lead; you obey. It’s not your world, It’s MINE. I mean how do you respond to that? You don’t.
God is teaching my Taurus butt to obey because it is His world and He is my Creator and Sustainer and He does know better than you and I ever could, yet you and I constantly try to rewrite the plan and try to explain why it would be better our way. How He puts up with us I will never know, but I am glad He does. Heck, these days He doesn’t even get mad at me. He just touches me on the shoulder and says “Really?” and I just stand there like a two year old who just got caught with her hand in the cookie jar, glancing from jar to parent waiting to see if this is a reprimand situation, a go-to-your-room situation or a get-the-belt situation. I recall reading an interview from Zachary Levi’s earlier days when He was much more apt to speak on his faith. In this interview he mentions asking God why things weren’t moving forward with his acting career. God’s answer, he said, was that God needed to know that He could trust Zac with the blessings He was ready to give him. That he (Zac) had some changes to make in his personal life before such blessings could be bestowed. I believe this to be true for all of us. God is just trying to prepare you and me for the awesomeness He has in store, but before He can bless us, He has to know that He can trust us with His blessings, that we are ready and equipped for proper action and this is where most of us fall short – we get mad when things aren’t going the way we want them to and fail to ready ourselves for the blessings that God has set aside for each of us. How sad indeed. So, to make a long post even longer, I guess you can say that my main goal for 2014 is to make sure God knows that I am finally ready to be readied because the last thing I want to do in Heaven is go through all of the gifts God wanted to give me, but couldn’t.
When Angels Come Close
I have to say that I am both a skeptic and a seeker at heart, but when you have personal life changing experiences with both God and the devil you tend to cease with all the questioning and start listening and can be a wonderful thing. I have decided to keep this particular post short and sweet and in doing so I will not be sharing my first hand experiences with the devil and his minions for it is not he that I wish to bring any sort of glory to anyhow. Instead I will focus on three very powerful experiences I have had with what I believe to be angels or archangels.
The very first visit is engrained in my mind and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I was in very bad sorts and in the process of desperately crying out to God. I was sitting on my bed to be exact and in the middle of pleading for help from both God and His warrior, Saint Michael the Archangel when I suddenly looked up and over to my right. To this day I have no idea why I looked where and when I did, but I feel that something or someone made sure I saw what I saw and that was what I believe to be Saint Michael. There floating right about eye-level next to my chest of drawers was a beautiful golden sphere of light. The center was pure gold and it had rays of gold extending out in every direction. This sphere was only there for a second or two and then it was gone. It took me a minute but I realized that the formerly cold and heavy room I was sitting in was now warm and glowing with an abundance of love. I felt light as a feather and had a smile the size of Texas plastered across my face. I giggled and giggled and giggled in complete and pure delight and the feeling lasted for about three or four days. All I can say is that I was in complete peace. Every care and concern of this world had vanished and I was in a state of pure ecstasy. I cannot put into words what my soul felt for it is simply beyond words, beyond this human experience. It took me a long time, but I eventually came to the conclusion that what I felt that night and for the majority of the rest of that week is only the tiniest smidgeon of what it must be like to be in Heaven. And yes, to this day my mind is still completely and utterly blown by this revelation.
The second visit occurred in the middle of service at the messianic synagogue I was visiting. A family had come in with a woman who was obviously fighting cancer and she sat beside me. I learned that this was the first time in quite a few months that she was strong enough to attend service. Consequently, the rabbi wanted to bring her up front and have the congregation pray for her. I believe, at the time, she had undergone a surgery and was gearing up for a transfusion and chemo with no guarantee of any sort of success. Needless to say, the medical doctors were doing all they could and if God had any further purpose for her on this planet He was going to have to step in as human medicine was about to run out of options. The rabbi called her and her family up and the congregation began praying as the rabbi rebuked the cancer. Afterwards, she returned to her seat, but there was something very different. There was a presence with her that was not with her before. I was absolutely thrilled to bask in this overwhelming presence of peace, as I needed some myself. As the service continued I slowly became aware of the fact that since I am sensitive I may very well be the only person in this synagogue who knows that this lady had gone up to get prayer and had come back to her seat with an angel. A year later, I was still visiting the same synagogue when the rabbi reported that this woman was in remission. It was on this day that I realized I had been privy to a miracle and I never even knew it. I use to get really upset about being a sensitive, but after this experience I am no longer upset about it. I may not always understand nor like some of the things that come along with being sensitive, but being privy to a miracle is pretty much one of the most awesome things anyone can ever be a part of while being on this planet.
The third visit also occurred in a service at the same messianic synagogue. This time the visitation occurred at the closing ceremony of Yom Kippur. During the service I had specifically asked for freedom and that my mind, heart, and third eye would be guarded. As the shofar sounded I felt lightness in my chest. The feeling became bigger and lighter and I felt as if my soul might implode or explode… I wasn’t sure, but the feeling was lovely. I assumed that it was my soul-self recognizing the sound of the shofar and it was not until I got in my car afterwards that I realized I again had a smile the size of Texas plastered on my face. I laughed and giggled uncontrollably all the way home. This time I had been in close proximity of what I assume was an archangel and I hadn’t even been aware of it. I was floored yet again. I have a few guesses about this visitation: (1) Angels came close to watch over the closing ceremony, (2) the sounding of the shofar brought angels into the service or (3) I was freed from a stronghold like I requested during the service. Either way, I know that heavenly visitors joined in the closing ceremony and I think that’s just awesome.
Like I said, short, sweet and to the point. I am still floored over the whole smidgeon of Heaven bit, but God’s been blowing my mind a lot lately and I for one hope His trend continues.