The Gift..

As I have been really thinking about our journey so far being entrepreneurs and the journey ahead…I have thought is this really what I should do, is this really what God has for me, will I always face all these struggles, is this worth it? All the questions! And what God has done over the past week is continually confirm that I am exactly in the right spot and the only thing that is keeping me from all he has, is me! I know! I couldn’t believe it either! We can blame circumstances and other people…but the image in the mirror is our biggest hinderance. I can blame satan even but the only way he has any say in my days is if I allow him. Over the past month at church, Chris Hodges and Mark Pettus at Church of the Highlands has been teaching a Joy Series. It has opened my eyes to so much. I think many of us fall into that, wondering if we are where we are meant to be and confuse purpose and struggle. I am right there with you, I will admit that many times I think, “if this is what I am suppose to do then why is there so much struggle?” We begin to feel like the victim. When we feel like the victim, we place blame, and when we place blame, we become negative, when we become negative, we become lazy, and when we become lazy, we quit and give up on our true path. Don’t quit, be a fighter. Haha! Sorry y’all couldn’t resist a Chris Brady moment for those that know what I mean:) Anyways, I have resolved that with our purpose comes responsibility and adversity. People aren’t used to seeing others actually living for a reason to do something great. We are used to hearing people just trying to make it Friday. I feel truly honored to be chosen by God for a higher purpose and that even when things get really hard and confusing, I know he is shaping and molding me into the woman and leader I am meant to be to inspire others that the fight is still in them and that they can find true joy and meaning in life again. God has given me a strategy to keep joy and faith in tough times.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. Philippians 4:6-7
Through one of the pastors,Mark Pettus, when he was facing a tough time God showed him and his wife this verse and also brought a revelation he shared today that has changed so much for me and hope it can do the same for y’all as well.
1) prayer- addressing the situation to God (I sometimes think God already knows, why do I need to tell him. He just wants us to present it to him.)
2) petition- speaking what you want him to do with it.
3) thanksgiving- in advance, in faith, give thanks for His answered prayers and His will being done.

He suggested getting a cork board and putting them in writing.
I encourage you all, when in struggle, thank and praise God that something big is happening and the puzzle is becoming a clearer picture, beautiful and breathtaking! 🙂 be confident and find your joy and never lose sight of it.

With love
Jessica

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The Clock

Looking over the last couple months of our life and the transitions we have had, I realize that I have a love/hate relationship with clocks. Your probably thinking what is she talking about? Let me explain. We chose to move from Huntsville where we lived paycheck to paycheck and always stressed over money which created major friction in not only our marriage but all relationships because I was never able to relax and enjoy life. So we accepted a job offer in Trussville that would relieve the financial struggle. And has it ever!!! I thank God for that relief. The compromise we made was the clock(our time). From what we have learned through Life Leadership and The Cash-flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki about the trade of money vs. time and the lack of balance we can ever attain in the employee quadrant, we realize very up close and personal how very true that is. In a nutshell, there are 4 ways to make money that are moral, ethical, and legal. There are 2 sides, the left side where we trade money vs time and the right where you leverage something bigger than you. (Read his book to understand more) I see from both sides now that before we had a decent amount of time and lacked money, and now we have decent money and lack time. I can say that neither do I prefer. I have thought deeply about which situation I prefer and I don’t think I could choose because both options, we lack essentials to live life to the fullest and sacrifice dreams in both. I can say I am not a fan, which is why we are fighting to get our time and money back by transferring ourself to the right side of the quadrant. As I think and realize how so many fall into this same situation and don’t know there is another way, my heart breaks. I can not imagine our life without the opportunity we have been blessed with through Life Leadership. As young parents of 2 boys, we have learned life changing information with principals and biblical truths of how to be the best parents we can be. Being a young married couple that didn’t have even a good dating relationship and then going to marriage and not knowing how to survive each other, we have learned ways to understand each other and our different personalities, how to fill the needs of the other, how to discuss things without yelling(still working on this one) 😊. We have grown in our faith, which is the strongest foundation to build a life on. We know financial principles that have taught me self control to not buy everything I see because I reason why I need it. Helps me not want to hit Tj when he says no because I know he understands the importance of financial knowledge and application to give us the best life. I realize that without this information, we would be in major debt at even our young ages because otherwise the society teaches buy, buy, buy! Finance! Loans! That’s the norm, as sad as it is. The benefit, opportunity, and freedom the information has given us in more ways than I could ever explain, is priceless. Life would be a dark, negative, hopeless, sad, discouraging, stressful, unhappy experience without the light this information has shone through our lives by only the grace of God to choose us to be apart of it. For that I am extremely thankful and will continue fighting for the clock to not be a hinderance in our lives. Time is precious and was given to us to bless others and make every second count. Not to squander away and sell our time to something or someone that will never benefit us and give us the joy we so desire. We find joy in the things that matter to us, spending time with family and our kids and grand kids and seeing their first smile, their first steps, first words, showing them how to ride their bike, taking them to their first day of school or even having the time to homeschool them. Being there for every recital, football game, graduation, wedding day, etc. It’s in those priceless moments that true happiness and joy are found. To know you are where God put you to cross the finish line strong and confident that you gave your personal best in every moment, every situation, every struggle, and every victory. The time you invest in your kids, the moments you spend looking them in the eyes and encouraging them as they reveal their dreams and goals. Have you ever started doing something that led to something else that kept leading to other things and then you look at the clock and you say to yourself, ” where has the time gone?” Then you begin to think what have I been doing all this time, did I spend it being productive and on the things that matter most to me? We can only fool ourselves for so long that where we are is where we want to be. The way I tell with everything I do whether I am doing the important things is if I find joy in it and want to give it my personal best. I know when I am doing something because I have to or want to, can you? Things like dishes, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, driving(although I used to love it with the excitement of being 16) are not my wants. Spending time with family, having good conversations with my husband and having fun, playing and reading and cuddling with my kids, taking vacations, investing time into those I love and being free to be there when someone needs encouragement and help, donating time and money to missions and church, those are things that give me joy and comfort that my time is spent well. Find the things that bring you joy and it’s a want not a have to. If you have found the path God chose for you and walking it out everyday, praise God and be joyful knowing you found what most never will and some don’t care too, which usually boils down to fear. The clock can be our worst enemy or can be our best friend. I choose to make it my friend and always striving for greatness and receiving my joy through Christ.
Be joyful always, – 1 Thessalonians 5:16

There is an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

This is your time! Go fight for it! It’s your victory awaiting:)

With love
Jessica

The Negative vs Positive

Lately I have been making a mental effort to pay attention to how easy it is for me to go to the negative, and I mean on even the little things: this weather is awful, this line is crazy, the house is a mess, this day has been a disaster, etc. But even worse how quickly I am to agree with other peoples negative comments and statements instead of coming back with an uplifting word, reframing to positive. I have been catching myself and thinking why didn’t I respond better to give them the positive response that could change their whole outlook on the day or week? Because of fear of them thinking I am crazy or weird. The truth is that they may not even realize it, but they are wanting someone to brighten their day. Every person we meet is for a reason, and that reason is unique with each person. Being on purpose to fulfill your duty in each person is more important than we could see in the moment.
Isaiah 35:3 Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble.
It doesn’t cost us anything to shine some light everywhere we go in those around us. And I can guarantee that every person you impact with a positive word will be so thankful and shocked that they actually met a person who would have the courage to not just agree so they can fit in with the crowd. Just saying hello and asking them how they are and actually interested in the answer is rare. Saying “hey how are you?” is like a reflex that isn’t thought about, just like we don’t think about breathing. So let’s be on purpose to be a light to those that have lost sight of it and show them that what’s important is not what happens to us but how we react to what happens to us. 🙂

With Love,
Jessica

True Heart for Others

Today has got me to thinking…what are we really striving after? Do we desire riches more than the lives of those around us that are searching for a purpose, a hope, a reason, and their true destination when this world fades away? If we really sit back and pondered on that thought, would we like the honest answer? I know I don’t like mine thus far…would you even really want to give your honest answer to others? God knows the heart and knows that answer before we even know it and he shows us the answers when we really truly want to know. One saying I have learned through Life Leadership that is so true and important is ” when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I ask myself continually, “am I really hungry to learn?” “Am I wanting to learn to serve others or let others serve me?” Today has opened my eyes to where my heart really has been but will no longer be. This has been a truly humbling moment for me and I am so glad God brought it to me and I challenge you all to allow yourself some time to ask these questions. I have always and will always love people and I am learning to love people where they are, just like others have done for me. God does it for each and every one of us whether we ask or not. Until the day he calls me home, i will make every day count, whether in my kids lives, my husbands, or the stranger in the grocery line. Time is short and not guaranteed. I thank God that I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be surrounded by a community of people that are encouraging, excited, and hopeful for something greater than what we have accepted to be normal in this fallen world. I want to shed light in a dark world and I hope you will always accept your part in doing the same. Just remember that when you are facing opposition, be confident because that is a marker proving you are in the right place doing the right thing. Not one of us was born to live by just making it by but to do something and to achieve greatness. You all have greatness inside of you, don’t let it be burned out because others around you have let theirs fade away. Be the light they are looking for and it will be the best thing you ever do:)

With Love
Jessica

“It Is Well”

When I was a kid, my wonderful mother exposed me to a Christian based production of “The Odyssey Series”. As a child it taught me truth and principals at a level I could absorb. I would listen to them going to bed, doing homework, or when I was bored I would sit in bed and listen. I LOVED them. One of the tapes was about Horatio G. Spafford, writer of the hymn “It Is Well”. The story of how this song came about is moving beyond words. It was in the late 1800s, he was a successful lawyer in Chicago, he had a wife, 4 girls and son(who later died of scarlet fever as a young child). After the Great Chicago Fire and all the devastation, they planned a trip to Europe. The day they were supposed to leave, a business emergency came up and so his family went on and he would meet them there. On their journey across the Atlantic, their ship had a collision with another vessel and sank. His wife Anne survived alone. She sent him a letter after making it to shore saying “saved alone”. On his journey the captain offered to stop the ship over the site his daughters drowned for him to mourn, and at that moment while looking into the ocean where his daughters lay, he wrote the hymn. I encourage you to listen to the song and read the story in more detail at http://m.voices.yahoo.com/horatio-g-spafford-story-behind-hymn-is-1620793.html. This song was sung in worship today which preceded a great sermon. At church today, pastor Chris Hodges of The Church of Highlands did a sermon on the difference between happiness and joy. It was truly a profound realization for me because I have been in search for happiness and I think that is what we all search for instead of joy. The study is on the book of Philippians and Paul writing from prison. Through being apart of Life Leadership, I have already been exposed to the importance of renewing and reframing our mind through different information, mainly God’s word. I love when I am listening to a sermon or reading my bible, I hear or read something that is exactly what Life stands on. It gives comfort that I have the blessing to be apart of something that teaches Biblical principles in a direct and indirect way to reach everyone where they are. Paul was the best example of having true joy no matter what the circumstance. He had been through trial, struggle, excruciating pain from being stoned to being whipped like Jesus before his crucifixion. One point pastor Chris made was “happiness is based on circumstance”
“Joy is based on Christ”. If we are relying on what happens to and around us then happiness will never be acquired because we live in a fallen, sinful world. But if we seek and find true joy through Christ then nothing and no one can take it away because it is rooted in the strength, love, and peace of Christ. The way to acquire joy is to stop asking “why?” And start asking “what?” Paul wasn’t asking God why he was going through all this but what he needed to receive from it and what to do next for His kingdom. He wrote letters to his fellow leaders and Christians and told them he was where he needed to be.
” Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” -Philippians 1:12
God has really been showing me that although we have experienced a loss, Jackie Lewis’ passing is something to be joyful about because this isn’t our home anyway, nothing can mess us up because either we are doing His work here or spending eternity with Him. Jackie and Paul understood that heaven was their true home and destination and this was just their train ride there and they both lived on fire for God and furthering His kingdom. The proof is in their words and actions that we have from Paul in God’s word and from Jackie in many forms that will live on forever. Satan didn’t win in any way through her death because Christ saved her long ago and she lived a life on purpose and has brought many others to Him. One statement pastor Chris spoke that so hit home was that we get much more done off stage than on stage because people are continually watching us. When we are facing struggles, and those watching seeing us overcome them instead of quitting speaks so much louder. Just as the saying goes ” your actions will always speak louder than your words.” Paul exemplified a life of action and joy. I choose to strive for the internal joy and to let my actions speak louder. I will live my life with my eye on the true treasure of going home to God’s kingdom and to only use earthly blessings as a tool to bring others to truth. I challenge you to find joy through Christ.

With love,
Jessica

The Gift of Life

I am dedicating my first blog to
Jackie Lewis. Although I didn’t know her personally, I knew her from afar. She lived so passionately for her family, God, and her friends and business partners. It spoke through her actions and her words. Her life was short but well spent. Gods word tells us we are not guaranteed another day and she lived her life on purpose to make every day count. When I heard of her passing, to say the least I was shocked, hurt, angry, confused and saddened. As time went by I have had time to think and meditate and although still confused, she is in a better, happier place. While we fix our eyes on Gods word and the imagination of Him, she is fixing her eyes on God himself and is in paradise. As I listened to “Write Your Story” by Francesca Battestelli today that song rings true of everything Jackie exemplified and lived. She let God fill her pages of His story for her life. The legacy she made while here on earth and the one that will continue on for centuries through her friendships, CD’s, and influence are priceless and will never be forgotten. She was beautiful in every way. I never met her but my memory would be that she had great taste in fashion:) I loved seeing all the wonderful outfits she put together. Although I never got to introduce myself here on earth we will have the best introduction in heaven. We got to watch her mature as a speaker and leader and it was the biggest privilege and honor. I want to thank God for giving strength and to Bill Lewis for accepting the strength and not giving up on their journey to success, because of your dedication to not quit we got the blessing to experience her warmth, love, gifts, and influence for all the times we had and the CDs to have forever. Her memory will never fade away but will live on in us all. Jackie, you changed so many lives and we will fight on to our freedom to change millions of lives. You will be missed. Can’t wait to join you in heaven for eternity:)

With love,
Jessica