Some Perspective on Significance

My nation of Australia has been ravaged by devastating fires and many parts are now experiencing floods. I (like many people) have given money to help those affected, but I desperately wish I could do more. My contribution feels futile when I see the images on my phone. What is happening to my country breaks my heart and brings me to tears. I can’t do much, but I have done what I can with what I have, unfortunately at times like these it still doesn’t feel like enough.

Yesterday I had a moment in my kitchen, looking around my little house and thinking about my life. I felt so very insignificant in that moment. Not unhappy, just insignificant. I know that we all have those moments; when we want to be more, do more, help more, see more and yet… that may not be on the cards for us. At times like that I often picture an old lady working in the rice fields in a country like China and wonder if she feels the same. I wonder if she would be envious of my life? I’m sure many, many people would be and would give anything for my seemingly insignificant life.

As I wiped down my kitchen bench, I also thought about those who are more fortunate than me and what they must be exposed to in their lives. What experiences and opportunities they might have that I will never come close to? As I packed away the craft paper from the dining table, I felt inconsequential. Although I keep a tight lid on my own social media, I thought about people with millions of followers and imagined what it would be like if someone very famous requested to follow me. How would I react? Would I feel more valuable? Would I believe that I had something to offer that no one else did? What story would I tell myself about my self-worth now that a famous person had noticed me?

AND THEN….

And then I felt God whispered so clearly…

“I created everything and I am following you.
I am watching your stories and your day.
You are significant to me.”

Oh man that made me smile. I hope it made you smile too. It’s a delightful reminder for those of us who feel insignificant at times isn’t it? Even if history doesn’t remember us, there is always One who does and I am quite frankly, in awe.

Sometimes when I see tragedy around me, I feel small. Sometimes when I get a glimpse into a far more glamorous social circle, I feel small. Both at opposite ends of the scale, but similar feelings. Honestly, it’s not even about where I sit on the social or economic ladders that I’m struggling with here, it is clearly about worth and value. It’s about realising that if and when I encounter tragedies or trailblazers, I am still significant. That thing I did, the words I wrote, that call I made, He actually thinks they were wonderful. He is not as impressed by quantity or output as I am, it is who I am (the person of Jess) that so captivates His attention.

All of Matthew 6 is a great read, but I just wanted to put verse 26 here in front of your eyes as a reminder. When I heard God tell me that He’s following me, I instantly thought about this verse:

Matthew 6:26 (NLT) – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

I also like this translation from The Message – Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

You are significant. Perhaps your name will never be recorded in earth’s history books and maybe you will live out your life in the same area you were born, but don’t believe the lie that there is anything wrong with that. God thinks you are significant. God thinks I’m significant. Sometimes, being reminded of that is all we need.

Love Jess

PS – If anyone super famous does want to follow me; I’ll just give you a heads-up now that I’ll probably take a screen capture and send it to all my top WhatsApp contacts.

My plumb line

Zechariah 4 v 9-10

“Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. 10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (NLT)

Honestly, last week was not great. Tim went away to a Community Development conference and I have been running on empty for a few weeks now; a perfect storm for becoming unhinged. Mid-week I came across this scripture on Instagram:

 

This post on Instagram took me on a little journey as I read the whole chapter in context and became captivated by the phrase ‘plumb line’ at the end of verse 10. This term can also be found in Amos and a few other places depending which translation you use. Not being a builder, I immediately searched on Google and did some reading (I found this blog really insightful). If you can’t be bothered looking into it yourself, a plumb line is a tool used to ensure buildings are built straight – think of it as an ancient ‘spirit level’.

A few days later as I hid in my garage away from my kids, I thought about the plumb line. I realised that in this season my kids are using me as their plumb line for life. They look to me to see if things in their own little lives are on track. They look to me to know what is right, what is acceptable and what the boundaries are. They like to push me and there are times when the pushing causes me to feel unstable. They have also been known to frequently grab onto me and give me an almighty shake. My sister and I often encourage one-another to ‘hold’ in the moments when we feel unstable. I am often reminding myself to ‘HOLD’ my centre and not allow the conflicts and uncomfortable moments in life to push me around. However, I am not a perfect parent, so naturally there are times when I end up swinging out of alignment. During these moments, I often feel like a failure and am discouraged that I am not holding my emotions or reactions in check as much as I’d like.

So, back to the garage… as I sat (shamelessly hiding) behind the car trying to get a moment to myself, I sent up more “Help me Jesus” prayers and felt myself coming back to centre. I felt God reassuring me, reminded me that although I’m a plumb line for my kids, He is my plumb line and He is never shaken. If I keep holding onto Him through prayer, worship and reading His words, when I am faced with the bumps and swings of life, I will naturally come back into alignment. I don’t have to fear the shaking; sure, the shaking of life will continue to happen, but it’s not something to fear.

This timely, gentle reminder carries a lot of freedom for me. There are many times when I overthink my reactions, but knowing that swinging doesn’t equal failure means I can continue to endure life’s ‘pushes’ until my head and heart get back into alignment. Instead of looking at the plumb bob swinging out of control and making myself dizzy, I’ll just keep looking up, because that is where my strength comes from.

Let me close with these thoughts – I may be my kids’ plumb line at the moment, but God is mine. He is my plumb line. I want to encourage you if you feel like you are swinging out of control… don’t fear, be still, He is a firm foundation. Keep looking to him and not at the plumb bob; we’ve got this. Big breath, remember the plumb line.

Love Jess xxoo

PS – Yes, I went and bought myself a plumb bob/line from Bunnings while processing this all, because sometimes I like a physical reminder of what God is speaking to me about.

How to worship to a song you hate

Disclaimer: These thoughts are based off my experiences in many churches, conferences and meetings across different denominations, cultures and countries, so everyone relax. I’m not being critical, just having an honest chat.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get to a church event and they are singing my absolute favourite song and I’m right there heart, body and soul. Other times, not so much. Let me be honest, there are some songs that I really dislike. The ones that talk about being unworthy and how terrible we are just really frustrate me. I hate that we, a redeemed people, are still holding onto our old identity and actually singing about it together. Ugh, talk about creating identity confusion.

*Jess takes a deep calming breath*

Sometimes, my worship playlist looks very different at home to what I hear in a church meeting, because I like a certain style. Kind of like if you loved jazz, but went to a country music festival. Neither are better, I just like one over the other, so it’s easier for me to engage with what I like. You feeling me? If you’ve been in church for more than three months, I know you will get it.

How about you? I’m sure you have songs that you dislike too. Maybe you don’t understand the lyrics, find it too repetitive, have sung it a thousand time, find the lyrics aren’t actually biblically sound, you don’t think it suits your church’s own flavour or you hate the musical arrangement and so on. I started singing on worship teams in the kid’s rooms when I was 12-years-old, so I’ve had my fair share of songs I don’t love. I thought (for a bit of transparent fun) that I’d share four things that I choose to remember when I come across a song at a church event that I really dislike or don’t connect with. Here goes 🙂

  1. I realise that everyone has different taste.

Tim and I have had a few laughs over the years when we get to church only to find they have added a new song to the rotation that we had only just expressed our dislike for. It honestly makes me laugh. Although I may not like the song, someone else clearly does, so maybe I need to allow opportunity for others to connect to God and not make it about me. I have to remember that the Creative Team are not responsible for my connection to God, I am. So regardless of the song, style, etc. I need to push through my own preferences and connect.

  1. I try to find something.

Within any song there will be one line or some musical hook that I can connect to. For example, even if I dislike the style of a song, the lyrics might be incredibly powerful, so I’ll focus on that. Maybe there is an awesome bass line that I feel is prophetic, so I will lean into that moment. When I come across a line in a song that I really feel is not based on scripture or actually undercuts the finished work Christ, I’ll just skip over it and put my focus into the next line. For me, I have realised that just because not every part of a song is perfect, doesn’t mean I should write it off… kind of like us. Ouch! Not everything we do is perfect, but our imperfections don’t discount from the parts that shine. I still may never play a song I dislike at home, but if it’s played at church, it’s all good. This one is good for me to remember when I’m getting particularly hung up on a song. I have taught myself to become intentional about finding something I like, particularly if I’m meant to be leading others from the stage.

  1. I remember the writer’s intent and season

It’s good for me to remember that someone wrote this song with a heart to connect to God. They wrote it out of their own personal experiences, out of a desire to express their heart and love towards their God. I also realise that the song writer’s revelation or breakthrough can become mine even if (in this moment) it doesn’t seem relevant to me. There is power in recognising the heart behind a song, especially when the style isn’t my favourite or the theme is different from the season I’m in.

  1. I remember why and who I am trying to connect with

At the end of the day, I’m here to connect to God. I do not have to enjoy or even sing along to connect to Him. One time, I was so put off by the theology behind a song that I didn’t sing it and made up my own lyrics instead, because I still wanted to connect to Him. My heart is for him. Regardless of what the song is, my intent is to let Him know how much I love Him. Full stop. Maybe my outward expression looks different during a song I find difficult to connect with, but my heart-to-heart connection with God should never change and that’s what I focus on. That’s where I always end up.

Man, I know within my own social circle there are many others who find music a very personal way to connect with God and I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you do when you don’t connect with a song?

Speaking of songs, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs at the moment. I would not call this a typical worship song and my preference would be to not sing this in a congregation, but I’m so glad it was written and these guys recorded it. It’s a song from God to us and the bridge has me bawling every time.

Love Jess xoxo

Check out my other popular faith-based pieces:

When Faith and Hope Run out

To the Christian Couple trying to fall pregnant

Behind Close doors – Stories of Domestic Violent in Christian marriages

Into the pit and back again – A story about depression

It’s ok to sleep

We recently went to Darwin to visit Tim’s youngest brother and his wife (YAY). We came into this trip off the back of a number of unusually full weeks and Tim and I were both exhausted and recovering from illness.

Whilst there we had the opportunity to attend their once a month church gathering. We arrived 30 minutes early to take a look around and observe Mark and Christine in their ‘natural environment’. My darling Bella decided to throw a stellar tantrum about 3 minutes after the service officially started, complete with body thrashing, screaming and hitting. It really was rather impressive, so I’ll give her points for that. After removing ourselves from the main hall, I tried all my (patient) mum techniques and finally managed to calm her down. We rejoined the rest of humanity and I placed Tim in charge of both my little cherubs. I tried to engage in worship, but seriously, I had nothing. As I looked around the room at people’s heartfelt ‘worship’ faces, I couldn’t help but be amazed that they had any energy left to stand, let alone sing. I looked up at the lyrics of the song on the big screen and read:

“All the Sons and Daughters,

Wake up from your sleep.”

And man, all honestly, I just wanted to punch someone in the head. Wake up! You’ve got to be kidding me, I’m a working mum with small kids, I’m always awake. Goodness me, how much more am I meant to be giving? I exhaustedly told God that I didn’t want to wake up, I actually just wanted to sleep.

You know what I heard Him say?

He said, “That’s ok Babe. It’s ok to sleep, you’re exhausted.”

Phew.

When I heard Him say that, I felt so much release. He gave me permission to feel tired without guilt. I realised that He does see me in my current season and instead of being disappointed in me, He is cheering me on. I felt so much liberation that I packed up my two tired girls in the van and drove them home to sleep and rest.

It’s funny how I sometimes slip back into performance with God instead of authentic relationship. Sometimes, I still get caught up in comparison, not just with others, but also with my past seasons that I lock myself in a prison of self-criticism.

What I’m continuing to learn in this season is the fine art of balance and acceptance. Acceptance of myself and how I function as a mum, friend, employee, wife, daughter and sister. Sometimes I can’t give what I want and I have much less to offer than I have been able to in past, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. Let me repeat… it doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. If my capacity is less than someone else’s, that doesn’t mean I’m not living a full life. I am not less, I am me.

And so, there may have been other mums in that church hall with screaming kids hanging off their arms, able to sing that song with all their heart and that’s great. I can cheer them on without feeling competitive or bitter and I hope that they can cheer me on, (whilst I sleep) without judgment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a kid-free day, so I’m going to hang out the washing, make myself a second coffee and read my latest lighthearted acquisition “That Hathaway Girl”.

Love Jess xxoo

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When Faith and Hope run out

I have a friend my age that has a chronic illness. I have a friend who is in her late thirties and longs to find a life companion. I know someone who suffers through the heartbreaking disappointments of wanting to fall pregnant. I know others who struggle through the dark complexity of mental health issues. As a “person of faith” aka a Jesus-lover, sometimes I have great faith. Faith so strong that I know in my very soul that something good is going to happen; be it a physical healing, a new job or a mended relationship. Other times, I have hope. Hope in people, hope for a fresh start, or hope that this time I’ll see my prayers answered. And then, and then my dear friends… there are times when my faith and hope have depleted and it’s too painful to even dare to pick them up. I feel faithless and hopeless, with no answers and no end in sight. My heart is downcast.

There are some incredible commentaries on 1 Corinthians 13, but recently I have been thinking about verse 13 in particular:

 Three things will last forever
— faith, hope, and love —
and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

Three things will last forever – it’s an interesting notion, especially when at times it feels like those exact three things have faded from my heart. However, if they do in fact last forever like the verse says, then they must be intricately linked. Therefore, if the greatest one is said to be love, surely it’s something I should take note of and turn to in a personal crisis. Personally, when I spend time receiving love from God, I’m surprised by the way hope finds its way back into my heart. Then, after a little while (and even more love), hope builds and eventually produces embers that ignite into faith.

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Many of you know my journey with pregnancy and some of you don’t. In a nutshell it took 3 and a half years, one miscarriage, many, many blood tests and doctors visits to see our first child into the world. During this journey, some months I would be full of faith. I would believe with all my heart that this time was ‘the month’ so much so that I would go out and buy nappies as a ‘step of faith’. Some months I would have hope, hope that held onto promises in God’s word and prophecies that people had given me. Other months, I had nothing except my knowledge that God loved me and that He was holding me through my pain. I didn’t have faith and I couldn’t find hope, so I would just tell God that I had nothing that month and knew that others around me would have to do it on my behalf.

If you don’t have faith for a personal miracle and can’t find hope that your situation will ever change, let me encourage you to let go of everything else and just let yourself be loved. As Christians often say ‘camp out in love’. This means that you don’t have to force your faith or hope. Just close your eyes and ask Father God to show you His love. Remember, don’t force yourself to feel something you don’t, simply ask to see His heart, then, ask again the next day and the next day and the next day. You’ll never be disappointed focusing on that – camping there. You can always find rest by being loved by the best Father that ever was. I can promise you, that as you get a greater revelation of His indescribable love, hope will inevitably come and eventually, so will faith.

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Allow me to interrupt this nice warm fuzzy moment… couldn’t that be overly simplifying things? What about people in deep depression who can’t feel any love? What about people who don’t see a physically healing and no longer have faith for one? Ok, let’s go deeper…

I’ve have already alluded to it, but let me give you my thoughts about how this can work. When you can’t feel love, experience hope and find faith, in steps what the bible calls “The Bride of Christ” – which basically means other Jesus followers. When I’m authentic with other Jesus-lovers about what’s in my heart, they can help me out when I lack something. No love? Boom, they can pray about the barriers that are keeping me from feeling love. No hope? They can have hope on my behalf that things will be brighter and can encourage me on the journey. And lastly, if I’m lacking faith, I can lean on theirs. Of course it works both ways – even if you don’t have faith, hope and love in your own life and circumstances, it’s surprising how sometimes you find it for someone else.

I see this constantly in my own life, not only with my husband, but also in my relationships with others like my sister; always patient, always kind, not jealous or rude or proud. They love me in all my seasons, inspire hope when things feel hopeless and stir up faith. Deeply trusting and authentic relationships built on unconditional love are a beautiful gift. Plus, these are earthly relationships with limits on the amount of time and energy we can offer each other. This leads me to ponder how much more does God want to give us? We may not see answers to every prayer, but I believe we can always experience love. If I am lacking faith, hope or love, I can allow my life-affirming friends to intercede on my behalf to a willing God. I believe God is a good God, so breakthrough will inevitably come and love will be released.

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God’s love never fails and I know this to be true. How do I know this? Because I have spent a lot of time being loved by Him when my hope and faith had faded. So, I say it again, if all else fails, camp out in love; it really is the greatest.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)

 Love Jess xxoo

A Major Update: Trust without borders

Since January 2014 until now, we have slept in 24 locations and had 14 flights (not including domestic transfers). Our family has travelled through five countries and stayed in 20 different cities/towns. During this time we’ve met many people who have inspired us and seen sights that have amazed us. Our experiences have changed us greatly and it certainly has been an adventure!

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Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Lyrics from Oceans, Hillsong

Well… It’s time to update you all on what’s been going on behind the scenes over the last two months and let you know what’s in store for the Greenwood clan.

Firstly, from us to you, THANKS. Thank to all the people who have prayed for us, followed our journey, given money, sent us emails and FaceBook messages and encouraged us when we needed it. Some of you are from Aus, some the USA, some Brazil and the list is growing. Without you, this journey would have been a lot harder. We honour you for taking time out of your busy lives and in-putting into ours.

Now for the update, we originally planned on spending a year in Thailand in Chiang Mai with a group called Destiny Rescue. However because of some visa complications and changes this is no longer possible at this time, there may be other options in the future. In knowing this we’ve been waiting to see what doors God would open.

So the Greenwoods flew into Thailand uncertain of what we would be doing in two weeks but feeling peaceful without knowing the next step. After a few days in Bangkok (spent mostly in hospital with Influenza A), we headed to Patong, Phuket for a missions conference. The conference was not only inspiring, but also provided us with connections all over Asia.

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A few things have helped us decide what the next step is:

1. Re-reading the ‘about us’ section of our blog and coming back to what we felt God was calling us to do.

2. The realisation that once we fall pregnant again, we’ll need to ‘settle’ somewhere and will probably be unable to move around as much. This is a unique season.

3. Going back over a few prophetic words that emphasise the importance of timing and that there was something we were meant to do for a specific time.

4. Our interest in human trafficking/prostitution and therefore community transformation.

With all this in mind… we have (scarily) decided that perhaps our travels aren’t over yet. We feel that we’re meant to continue to travel to a few more groups around Asia to serve and observe what they are doing. It’s all about following God’s direction for where to go and how long to stay.

The complexities of constant travel are not unfamiliar to us. There are the cultural changes, language barriers, unfamiliar environments and looking into visas and flights which is never easy. However, when we talk about this idea, we’re filled with excitement and peace. We can set our own pace and we know what our family can and can not handle more these days.

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There is an organisation called Doctors without Borders. DWB are doctors who provide medical care to people regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation, because they believe that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries. We believe that God is asking us to trust him without borders. That no matter where He opens doors (regardless of gender, race, religion, creed of political affliction), we trust God and are called to serve people no matter what country they are in. We trust God without limitations, without borders.

So what have you been doing the last few weeks, I hear you ask? Great question. After Phuket we headed up to Chiang Mai with The River team where our friends, Rudy and Lara are based. We’ve been able to see a lot of what they do here, as well as rest, reflect and recover from various illnesses.

What’s next? On Monday we’ll catch a bus for 3 hours and have four days with Destiny Rescue in Chiang Rai before we head over to Vietnam to visit two groups there. After that, we honestly have no idea at this point. One step at a time.

So watch this space, the grand adventure continues. Perhaps we’ll be back in Australia in two months, or not until the end of next year. Only God knows. We will keep you up to date as best as we can. We’re taking a walk on the water with Jesus (Picture below by Dana Jensen) and that is pretty exciting!

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To live IS an awfully big adventure.

Love Tim, Jess & Amy xxoo

A day in the prayer room by Jess

Tim recently blogged about a night on the streets and Vila Mimosa, so I thought I would give you a glimpse into what happens in the prayer room. It won’t be as shocking, but it’s the results of all that the teams are doing on the streets at night.

The prayer room runs on the fifth floor of a six-story building and is open 24 hours during the whole of the World Cup (with plans to continue beyond).  Specific groups or individuals take 2 hour shifts leading worship and prayer, each with their own approach and style. People from different churches regularly come and go, so the intercom at the gate is constantly buzzing to let people up. There are other businesses in the building running during the day and controlling the noise level can be difficult at times. Sometimes the room is full with passionate prayers while other times it is very quite and I secretly wonder if the others have fallen asleep. It is an incredible place to be in.

This particular Thursday I got the to prayer room at 11am and as usual, started telling God how awesome I think He is. I love praising God in a suburb where people praise a lot of other things. I lift up my love to Him. I proclaim that He is Lord and the King of Kings. I read my bible and journal what I’m thinking. Then, I worship Him some more.

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Every Thursday at about 2pm we host a lunch for the women of Vila Mimosa and other red-light areas that the teams have been going to. This week there were about seven women and about nine kids. Needless to say it felt like there were a lot of kids in the small lunch space… all with nothing to do. Although I couldn’t do much, I asked God to use what I had and what I had was a few pieces of paper and some felt pens. I sat on the concrete floor surrounded by beautiful little faces and taught the younger ones how to make paper boxes and pinwheels while their mums had a break. While I played colouring, the other Liberdade team had an opportunity to talk with the women without distraction.

I made friends with (or more accurately was befriended by) an amazing ten-year-old named Erick. He loved being taught how to make the paper boxes and seemed to be everywhere I went. He made me a flower and I’m telling you now, I will keep it for the rest of my life.

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Later, after playing 1-2-3-shoot, Erick and I sat on the floor talking until my Portuguese ran out. I went to get some more paper for us to draw on and grabbed my Brazilian friend Endrew (yes, with an ‘E’) to translate what he could. Erick told me about how his dog had just died, how he could draw a dragon, how he wanted to be a fireman or an astronaut and how he liked coming to the prayer room. He asked me if this place was a church. I said that we weren’t, but that we all loved Jesus. I showed him the prayer wall (I’m not sure what else to call it) and he said he wanted to write something. “What should I write?” he asked. I told him “Write whatever is in your heart”. He wrote Jesus is the best (Jesus e melhor) and you know what, Jesus really is.

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After a while a few more Brazilians started connecting with Erick and my heart was so happy even though I was completely exhausted. Erick left around 6pm and I hope to see him again in the next week and a bit.

What an amazing opportunity to speak into this young boys life! In Vila Mimosa there is a sign that says “This place is dedicated to the demon of alcohol and the black demon”. There are lots of negative things spoken over this kid and his beautiful mum, but not this particular Thursday. Not when he was with me, not in the prayer room.

Imagine if Erick had people around him that believed he was smart and could become a fireman or an astronaut. Imagine if He believed that Jesus is the best for the rest of his life. Imagine if a whole generation of prostitutes’ kids experienced the love of God and had a heavenly perspective of their value. I know that the mums and other women were impacted and continue to be impacted by the relationships they are building, but God is also doing something with the kids as well.

(Journaling with a two-year old in tow)

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If God asked Tim and I to quit our jobs and travel all the way to Brazil just so I could meet Erick and he could meet God… it would be worth it. I believe God is an extravagant God (just look at the stars) and he would ask us to spend a lot of money to reach one 10-year-old boy in the back streets of Rio. How much is one life worth to him? $10,000? $1,000,000? I know it is so much more. Obviously, I believe we are touching more than one life, but seriously, it is about each individual story and heart. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to see all the physical, emotional and spiritual needs, but I just have to stand back and watch which power overcomes. Some may call this fanciful, but I call it faith and hope.

I don’t go on the street outreach at night, because the travel home isn’t safe for me by myself, but I can pray. I can lift God’s name high. I can love a prostitute’s child and I will. The work the teams do at night and the deeper connections that happen during the day are a beautiful example of the church working together. We each have our part to play regardless of our skills, denomination or specific calling.

(The sign in sheets for the prayer room)

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Realistically my time in the prayer room isn’t always easy. Sometimes I’m the only one there. Sometimes the music is so-so or I don’t know the songs or I’m hungry or I’m tired. But I truly do love it. The more time I spend with God, the more I love Him. And the more I love Him, the more I love others. That really is what it’s all about.

Love Jess xxoo

I want a secretly incredible heart by Jess

I recently read a book called Love Does by Bob Goff. While I was a little overwhelmed by Bob’s enormous capacity, a lot of the things he shared resonated within my heart. Here are a few quotes from chapter 24, entitled Lose the Cape:

He [Jesus] healed two guys who were blind, and He gave them one admonition before moving on: “Say nothing to anyone.” In a world driven by self-promotion and spin, Jesus modelled something different for us. Jesus was saying that instead of telling people about what we’re doing all the time, there’s a better way. One that doesn’t require any capes that can get snagged on something – something like ourselves. Maybe Jesus wants us to be secretly incredible instead.

Most of the time, mission statements are just a catchy sentence or two about how noble the task is,
and maybe by implication, how noble we are.

… Don’t take the bait that if we do incredible things Jesus will dig us more. He can’t. He already digs us more.

It’s people like us who can be secretly incredible and get the most done. That’s the way Jesus’ reverse economy works.

Seriously good stuff Bob. Personally, it’s an interesting tension for me, wanting to be secretly awesome, but trying to keep people up-to-date on what we’re doing. Perhaps it all comes down to motive and only God can really tell what is going on in a person’s heart. The idea of self-promotion and spin from Christians is incredibly uncomfortable for me. However, I don’t think Bob is pointing a finger at ‘famous’ Christians either. You can be secretly awesome speaking in front of thousands of people or listening to the troubles of a stranger on the street, just like you can also be secretly prideful speaking in front of thousands of people or listening to the troubles of a stranger.

No matter what I do, I want to be secretly incredible in God’s eyes. I know I already am because of what Jesus did for me, but I want my heart to be secretly incredible as well.

Love Jess xxoo

From Point A to Point B by Jess

Remember, God takes a long time to act quickly.

I think it’s very easy to come into someone’s story mid-way and think it looks effortless, however there is always a big journey from Point A to Point B to C, D and so on.pointatob

Our journey between point A and B, was the point from knowing God was calling us on to something and finally figuring out what it was. We hope that as we post about what happens from here on, that you will be inspired and encouraged to follow the path you feel God is placing before you. However, please keep in mind that there has been about an additional 18 months that has led us to this point. 18 months full of questions and uncertainty. Months full of God changing our hearts and giving us promises and words to hold onto. It was a season of spiritual highs and lows and we have learnt a lot about what God has placed in us. I am glad for the journey between point A and point B, because otherwise I wouldn’t be ready for what’s next, but believe me… it was a daily journey of listening to Daddy God and being open to anything and everything.

So, thanks for joining us. Talk soon.

Love Jess xxoo