Back to the Start
I’ve been talking a lot about the recent journey I have been on, but I have good reason. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because I find myself back at the start. I returned home five years to the day I left and I am somehow right back at that starting point. My creativity is flowing and my desire to return to LA is stronger than ever! I feel like I have trampled my away around a gigantic circle and now I find myself where I started, completely unsure of what to do next.
I know I had to leave Los Angeles when I did in order to experience more personal growth and receive some much needed healing. I am not saying in any way shape form or fashion that my decision to leave was wrong. It was not. The strange thing, that I am trying to digest and figure out what to do with, is after this five-year journey of growth, healing and transformation… I now find myself right back to where I was at the beginning. Even though I did do the impossible last go around, in terms of moving across the country with a mountain of debt and my sheer will to succeed, I cannot do anything right now. I am more strapped than I ever have been, closer to financial disaster than I ever have been and then there’s the whole car issue… Hercules might make it back to Los Angeles, but he cannot pass inspection and so I have to ask what was all of this for? Why have I been plopped back down at the starting line? And what the hell am I supposed to do about it?
I have been doing a lot of meditating as of late. I’ve shared that I have always had some sight so to speak and I have been working on focusing that sight and one of the ways one maintains a clear channel is to meditate so one can quiet the chatter and hear the Voice that counts.
You know how sometimes you just know something and don’t even know how you know it? I have had that too lately. Along with meditation, I have been doing a lot of praying and sometimes begging for clarity. I have a list of things I am to accomplish for the end of 2017 and most of them don’t make since to me, but they are what came through while listening for that Voice that doesn’t belong to me. That Voice told me that as I move forward, He would move me forward. And I believe that has happened or is happening. As I have stepped out in faith and completed some of these steps, new steps have appeared for the first half of 2018. I will tell you this, the steps I am completing right now are easy; the steps for the first half of 2018 are not. But I am willing.
I guess I say all of this to tell myself that if God is pouring into my life then He must have a reason. As I sit here right now on the brink of financial ruin, wondering if either of my lifelines will come through in time and if I should even do what I am thinking of doing… I am just in one of those moments where I cannot see an inch in front of my face and nothing makes sense. Why go through the spiritual journey just to end up defeated? Why am I creatively coming back to life at a time when I cannot make anything happen much less fund any projects? Why have I been brought back to the starting point? I can’t answer any of these questions. All I can do is complete each task on the list and keep on completing the tasks. It is like I am experiencing that staircase Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about. As I take one step, the next step appears out of nowhere. I have often spoken about how I need to learn to live my life as if I am trekking up a mountain. I never have any problem figuring out where to go when I am exploring… I let the spirit inside (who is mighty curious) guide me. I never wonder if I should take this side trail or if I should duck under that rope and head down the cliff to enjoy an amazing view… I just do it. I have literally hit a wall of rock on some of my explorations and you know what? I scaled those walls. I can say that some of the best trails I have ever been on were the trails we got lost on or encountered something we weren’t prepared for, but we figured it out and we always found a sweet reward in the form of a hidden pool or creek or view. I don’t know why I can’t translate who I am on a trail to who I am in life. Maybe that’s what I am beginning to do right now. Maybe what feels like utter defeat is actually my learning to treat life like one of the many trails I have explored.
I do still need an income though. I have had some amazing opportunities slip through my finger tips because I am way too qualified or the person sitting across from me doesn’t understand why I want to work for their company after what I’ve done and where I’ve been! That last part might be more of the reason…. I can say that I have started looking into avenues that I would have never looked into previously so who knows maybe one of them will work out before the burial begins. I guess I just have to keep reminding myself that if God is pouring into me then He must have a reason.
Putting all of my life havoc aside, November is the month of Thanksgiving! I personally strive to make gratitude a part of my daily life. I wake up thanking God for bringing me back (because He did not have to) and I go to bed each night thanking God for His provision, His direction and His protection on my life and the lives of those I hold dear. I used to struggle with insane amounts of depression and anxiety and I spent a great deal of my life in addiction with thoughts of suicide and actions of self-harm as a regular part of my life. Gratitude and its daily practice is one of the many components that have taken me out of those lower vibrations of living. I cannot even allow myself to feel those thoughts, those feelings, those vibrations… If you don’t have a daily practice… I highly recommend you start one by buying a notebook or journal and taking some time each day to write down anything good in your life. I have learned that no matter how bad my situation is… it can always get worse and I am thankful for all that God is keeping me from that I cannot see or have any consciousness of! Another way to ward off pity parties, self-doubt and all around bad vibes is the careful use of music. I am in love with a song called King of My Heart. I particularly love the extended worship versions from institutions like Bethel Music. I even listened to a 17-minute version the other night while walking because I was in such a bad head space over this financial entrapment I am currently walking through. This version includes a spontaneous line of “You never fall off Your throne.” I needed to hear it; I needed to be reminded of it. There are other songs playing in my head right now, but their messages are not what I need to be hearing. Sometimes you just have to turn certain messages off.
I hope everyone reading this has a lovely Thanksgiving. If you don’t have anyone to share the day with – try inviting people over to your place, look for churches that host holiday gatherings (I know Mosaic in LA used to/might still do this), or try being of service with others by helping out at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter – Just don’t be alone. The vibrations you will get from being alone are not worth it. On the flip side, if you have holiday plans – be on the look out for those who might not have anywhere to go… No they will not tell you, but just try and be a little aware of those around you, be willing to invite people you know don’t have family in town or have recently lost family or don’t have good relationships for this time of the year… Be willing to spread a little cheer.
Coming Back to Life...
November, the month of Giving Thanks, Creating Families and most importantly the month of Jessica getting her groove back!
In case you are not aware – World Adoption Day is November 9th. Hank Fortner, one of my Mosaic pastors started Adopttogether.org, a non-profit focused on helping beat the number one barrier to families looking to adopt – MONEY. There are a lot of families out there that want to adopt, but simply don’t have $10K, $20K, $30K or even $40K sitting around to make the adoption happen. This is where Adopttogether.org comes in and helps secure funding for families wanting to adopt through crowdfunding. World Adoption Day is a day of celebration for both parents and kids who won big when adoption changed their lives. World Adoption Day is also a day of awareness for adoption so please join us on Monday November 9th by posting a selfie with a smiley on your hand to spread awareness or to celebrate your own adoption story or that of a friend.
Halloween marks a year since I left Los Angeles and Thanksgiving marks a year since I have seen my mother and brother. I am excited to be able to spend Thanksgiving weekend with them at the beach this year! We will be catching up while we enjoy the views from our beach-front balcony on Florida’s gulf coast. I am very happy for this opportunity as I want very badly to be able to spend more time with them as well as a host of other people, but my finances are just in the way at the moment.
As I have mentioned previously, I now feel that I came to a much-needed standstill here in Jacksonville. It appears that I needed to slow down and take some time to heal internally, which is what has happened. From Celebrate Recovery to Redeemed Esteem to many other confirmations God has laid in my lap over this past year – it appears I just needed a lot of internal healing and I now feel that I am beginning to come back to life. My focus is returning, my productivity is returning and my overall energy is returning. One could argue that I am beginning to dream again!
I would also like to note that this might have something to do with a recent change in my morning prayer! In addition to praying the lyrics of Hillsong’s “I Surrender”, I have started asking God to help me release my potential each and every day to the point that when I reach the end of this life, that I would not have an ounce of my God-given potential left. It’s a bold prayer that I am not only praying for myself, but also for my mother and brother who are also dreamers with dreams in their hearts. For it has come to my attention that one of my biggest problems is my inability to release my potential. In other words, my inability to take the God-given dreams in my heart, put them on paper and then transform them into reality. I have the paper part down; it’s the whole transforming dreams into reality that seems to have had me stuck for far too long. And it looks like this new prayer might be working!
To kick off November, I will be sharing my first full testimony at the Mandarin area CR on the 6th and am very excited for this opportunity. I didn’t have a 20 minute testimony written upon the invitation, but I recalled a piece of advice I read from Seth MacFarlane that echoes countless other successful people both in entertainment and in ministry – that thought is this – when opportunity knocks, don’t hesitate, just say yes and figure out the how later!
I am also moving forward with a new project that God placed on my heart during Hillsong weekend here in Jax. I am calling it Hillsong weekend because I went to Hillsong Nights on Saturday and went and heard global founder, Brian Houston speak at Celebration on Sunday morning. He spoke on dreams and dreamers and God breathed a new project into my soul that very day. I have been reluctant to start work on it because as with anything God gives you – it is bigger than I am and I don’t feel I can do it all alone, but I am not meant to – I am meant to create it piece by piece with my Creator. It’s not supposed to be my thing, it’s supposed to be Our thing! I have the outline for the steps that need to be taken and am working on step one for the remainder of this year. I am really excited and really terrified, but I think all creators feel this way when embarking on a new project so I guess I am in good company.
I am also ready to get back in gear career-wise. I know I cannot stay at my current employer as the money nor the interest is there so I am back on the hunt for a good opportunity, but this time around I have a confidence in myself, my passion and my abilities that I did not have previously. It definitely changes the opportunities I look at and how I approach them and with any luck I will be in a new and better situation soon! With any luck I will begin to see a little of that restoration from Joel 2:25, the life verse God has given me which reads “… He will restore all the years the locusts ate away…” which I am taking to mean that God plans on restoring all of the things I missed out on while I was caught up in my addiction, depression and self-torture and I for one, can’t wait to see what He is going to do! Er’ I can’t wait to see what We’re going to do!
I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and don’t forget to reach out to any singles, widows or flat broke folks that might be spending the holiday alone unless you invite them to spend it with you!
Just Keep Showing Up!
And when the rain falls down
You know the flowers are gonna bloom
And when the hard times come
You know the teacher's in the room
Excerpt: MICHAEL FRANTI - HAVE A LITTLE FAITH LYRICS
To say this past month has been an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement. I stay very busy between job hunting, my internship and other projects I have on the burner, but my addiction has been making a very convincing play for my life. I find that nights are the worst, which is when I would typically drink. I am also in amazement at how quickly I am returning to the person I was ten years ago. I thought I had evolved, but it turns out I was just drunk all this time. Today happens to be a good day and by that I mean that the monster living somewhere inside me is asleep. I see my addiction as this little green monster that stays locked up in a cell and from time to time he wakes up and throws a temper tantrum, which is when I crave like a crazed maniac. I just have to remember that if I feed the monster, he will get bigger and eventually break out of the cell and destroy my body and my life. But, if I do not feed the monster, his temper tantrum will eventually give way and he will give up and go back to sleep. The key is to not feed him.
I recently read in 2 Corinthians that Paul talks about feeling as though the end is near, feeling as though there is no way out, but that his God continually rescues him. This made me think about my own cravings because when they come, they come strong and hard and I feel as though I will die if I don’t drink. It occurred to me that during these times I need to just talk to God about what I’m feeling and ask Him to handle that monster. I find that sometimes, just talking to God about my cravings and the fear and depression that comes with them can help restore some of my sanity. It also occurred to me that if I am having a craving when I have somewhere to be and feel too overwhelmed to go, I should make the decision to do nothing more than show up and tell God that He will have to handle the rest. Just showing up, after all, is something I can handle regardless of my state of being and I have found that when I am honest with God, He tends to honor my weakness by adding His own touch to the situation whether it be a friendly person, an easy on ramp, a parking spot right in front of the door or a renewed mind and spirit, I find that He shows up when I do. In fact, this entire post is an example of God honoring my weakness in that I honestly chose to sit at the computer even though I didn’t think I had anything to say for this month.
With holiday season nipping at our heels, it turns out this is a great time to post about reliance on God. If you have a roof over your head, food on your table and people that love you then be THANKFUL for the gifts God has given you because these things we refer to as necessities really are nothing more than gifts from our Heavenly Father. If you are lacking in one or all of these departments don’t feel bad or unworthy. Instead, turn yourself over to God all day everyday, surrender to His will and ask for His plans for you. I have no doubt that He will see you through not only this holiday season, but through the rest of your life as well. Let me just put it this way, if He still has a plan for my self-sabotaging and addicted butt, then He has to have a plan for you too so talk to Him daily, get in His word and just keep showing up. Do these things and let him do the leading and you will have peace in knowing you are exactly where you are meant to be in order for His plan to unfold in your life.
Praise be to God who blesses us according to our ability to accept His gifts and administer them appropriately.
Sounds great doesn’t it? But if you look deeper you will realize that wanting something and being ready for something are two very different things. I personally believe that God has a giant storehouse of blessings for each of us. Unfortunately, most of us only receive a minute portion of those blessings due to the simple fact that we are not ready for the majority of what He wants to do in our lives.
A wise Rabbi once said, “God will give you the small things to see if He can trust you with the big things. You’re responsibility with those small things is to show God that you can be trusted with the big gifts He has planned for you.” It’s scary really, to think of the possibility that many of the things we are begging God for are being withheld for our own good since we are not ready for them. What’s even harder to conceptualize is that we should be grateful for this. After all, what good is getting everything we’ve ever wanted if we are not ready and fully equipped to handle it?
I cannot offer a one size fits all way to prepare for God’s blessings, as we are each on our own path with our own obstacles. What I can say is this: every single one of us is fully capable of tuning in to hear God speak to us and I have no doubt that He speaks much more often than most of us realize.
Sometimes it is a small voice in the back of our minds, other times it is a strong gut reaction, or a desire for a specific cause. God has equipped each of us with a certain set of talents, skills and interests and it is usually within these three that we find our purpose, that one thing in life that propels us forward no matter what happens to be going on around us.
If you have not found that one thing that propels you forward, then I urge you to have the courage to explore your talents, skills and interests…even the ones that do not earn you “cool” points. If also urge you to simply ask God to make your purpose known to you. I have no doubt that He will answer you…It may take a while, especially if you are not ready…but never stop seeking…If there is one thing I do know it is that He will answer you, no matter where you are on your journey. It’s funny, so many Christians seem to think that acknowledging that God exists and that Yeshua is His Son is the end of the journey, when in all actuality, it is only the beginning.
This Thanksgiving let’s all choose to be Thankful for both the blessings we have been given and those blessings that God intends to give us somewhere down the road once we are ready for them. Let’s also make a point to start asking God to direct our steps equipping us with what we need in order to accept all He has to offer us. A few prayers I say aloud every day on the way to work are:
The Prayer of Jabez
“Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause any pain!”
May Your will be done in my life and on this planet, completely uncontested, just as it is done in Heaven.
My Father, My King, Have mercy on me, even though I have no worthy deeds, answer me and save me.
I wish each of you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving regardless of where you are on your journey.