I grew up in this small town, Union, IA. I try to tell people what life was like there, but quite frankly when you grow up in Ames or any other bigger town similar......it's hard to imagine a town of 600. And that's INCLUDING all the people in the country.

Case in point. I went home for thanksgiving with My Mom, Stepdad, Sister, and Stepdad's extended family. My sister and I went into town early to see our cousins and hang out before lunch. We turn down the road to my Uncle's house and from 3 blocks away we can see this house that looks like something strange is going on. 2 blocks away you begin to make out that it appears they have some yard blow up Christmas decorations. 1 block away and you realize that SOME doesn't even begin to describe the issue. To put it plainly.....the Griswald's moved to Union and the next National Lampoon's Vacation will be featuring my home town ;) (so if there were really were one being made it should be of these people......)

I immediately roll down the window. Stop and tell my sister to take pictures. I had to take 3 to get ALL the displays included. Who knew elephants had something to do with Christmas.

A little bit further north and you get the view that encompasses the largest quantity...

And the final shot......forget the sleigh this year folks. Santa's headin' your way on a Harley or ATV. Watch out ;) That's right.....a grand total of 39!!!!! I would hate to know their electric bill
One of the most humorous parts of this sight is that our Grandma used to live here. So we have many memories including this house, but never were we so creative!

I left my hometown shortly after lunch was prepared with tupperware containers of everything and headed back to Ames to be at work by noon. One of our regulars came in just after I had got to work. He couldn't believe we were open and was very concerned that I had to eat Thanksgiving dinner alone, in the car. So he promised to return before I got off work. He showed up around 6:30 with a grocery sack full of goodies. Said "we packaged it in containers we don't need back so don't worry about saving them. Happy Thanksgiving" This is what my feast included:

I am so blessed to have people in my life that are so thoughtful!


Wisdom #1 Fantasizing vs. Accepting

I read this awesome book Wisdom Hunter that my boss suggested. Awesome is an understatement. More on the book later. However there was a concept in that book that I'm going to be applying from now and that was writing down the big things I learn along the way.

I was talking with my mom about life a week or so ago and expressing some of my frustrations. She's done a good job of asking questions to get me to develop my own opinion versus accepting hers. Towards the end of the conversation she said, "you know Jess, maybe you've been fantasizing what it should have been, but instead you need to accept what it was." At first my reaction was the typical mental note of 'yeah, yeah, yeah...' But of course she said it to me right before I left her house with an hour drive ahead of me.

What did I think about at least 70% of the way back.... her statement of course!!! And of course I stumbled upon the reality that I was doing that. Not to mention that we live in a world that does that.

I guess it falls into the category of 'keeping up with the Jones' ' But in reality I think it comes down to pride. Pride that if my life were just like so and so it'd be better in this way or that way. I was really doing that with my past and my family upbringing. The truth is that God did it the way He did ON PURPOSE.

So whatever it is you think you need to have or be to be better or do better at whatever.... Look at the tool kit you already have. Chances are the tool is down at the bottom underneath everything. Or quite possibly the tool you thought you needed, wasn't at all necessary for the job.


Grande size it please....

I was talking with one of my awesome friends Jessie Vasquez a week or so ago about God's blessings. She was telling me about how much God had blessed her recently and she was able to recount many of the things she felt blessed by.
We were also discussing the concept of God calling us to be a blessing to others and what that looks like realistically. I find it interesting that I can recount several times that within a few days I've felt continually blessed to the point of wondering "WHAT THE HECK??" Not that I don't enjoy being blessed. I'm pretty sure everyone does. But rather a humbling response as in, I so don't deserve this. And that's where the fork in the road is and I tend very often, to go to wrong direction off this fork.
Let me explain. My immediate reaction is yes, I don't deserve this. But in my sinful nature my next statement or thought is, "well I would really like........." fill in the blank, you know what I mean. So instead of allowing my blessings to over flow, you know that phrase 'my cup over floweth' I just allow my personal blessing cup to grow taller. I didn't realize this or connect the dots until my conversation with Jessie.
We all have someone in our lives that could use a blessing. And it's my belief that God could use us to be a blessing to them. So I challenged Jessie, and myself to the next time we feel the blessings being thrown at us to keep our 'cup size' in check. No grande cups :)



God's timing usually makes me smile when I finally see/understand even a small portion of what is going on......... But occasionally it makes me laugh. And that is exactly what I've done for the past couple of hours.

Working in a coffee shop, seeing many faces, some of which are regulars and some I've never seen before. I love knowing that God uses moments and conversations in their lives far more than I can fathom. Every once in awhile He allows me to see a small part of how He might be using it and it brings me great JOY.

Two weeks ago I worked Saturday night. I was starting to feel tired with 2 hours left in my shift when this couple walked in. Something about them drew me into conversation with them. I'm pretty sure it began with me asking about their tattoos (I love tattoos. And I also know they always have a story...) Long story short, they are christians, she's not from here and doesn't know a bunch of people, and aren't currently attending a church. So I invited them to the Church I'm a part of Cornerstone, gave her my name and number and told her I'd love to take them anytime. She added me to facebook a few days later :) I'm excited to get to know them, they are into art too!

Tonight, also a Saturday......I worked again. I'll spare the details....maybe someday the readers of this blog will get to hear them..... In short it was a God moment that totally made me laugh on the inside for the rest of the night. I could just imagine God smiling and enjoying His humor!

I guess in short....I should be willing to work more Saturday nights....


Fight Like a girl!

Around Father's Day this past June, My dad's sister Kathy found out she had Uteran Cancer. It was very early stage, and they did surgery mid July. This was very hard for my family especially considering my grandparents are yet to have had cancer themselves, but had to watch their daughter have it. She had the BEST attitude about it. Sh
e remade upbeat before and after surgery becoming a great testimony to all of our family. 
Healing took a little longer than expected, but she started chemo just over a month ago. She knew her hair would fall out and decided that she would rather just shave it off than go through watching it coming out. So one night last week I went over and shaved her head. God is teaching me much about strength through her!

just before the fun began...

Cutting the first locks off

After cutting it all short with scissors...

Admiring my handy work :)

The minor detail I left out.....She decided that if she had to lose her hair, she was going to have fun with it. We shaved ISU into her hair, and she left it for the football game! This probably makes her the COOLEST AUNT.

The two of us after the fact. She's beautiful!



Wow. I laugh when I see my last post was 6.21.09. I guess I've been busy....

That last post was three days before one of my friends left for basic training. We've not been friends for a real long time, but I truly valued the 4 months of friendship we had before she left. I learned more about myself and God during that time then I have in awhile. I love when God places people like that in your life and allows it to be so evident.

July 5-11 Was spent in Rosebud, SD with 13 soon to be 9th grade students and 5 other adults. The students were AMAZING! And I truly mean that. They planned out skits and a message every night for kids club, were enthusiastic about serving wherever needed, allowed kids to crawl all over them begging to be played with despite their exhaustion, had a friendly cooking competition, and just enjoyed each others company. I had been wrestling with knowing whether or not God was using me in the lives of others. It was sweet to be on this trip and see God provide a very clear message to me that He is using me.

Thursday the 9th I was working at the community center doing landscaping with 4 men from the reservation. I grew up on the farm so I was really looking forward to hauling dirt and planting some trees ;) Two of these men were Darrell and Terry. Terry is around my age and made it very evident he wasn't a huge fan of the white people. 
I asked them different questions about their lives only to find out that Terry was the only one willing to carry a conversation. Darrell just watched, the other two men worked together on their own thing. Terry finally said "Why are you here?" To which I replied with "To help the people here." Of course his response was "What people? and What do YOU get out of it?" I looked at him smiled and said "The pure joy of helping." and walked off knowing this was going to be a challenging day since he was being stubborn and I wasn't walking down from my bold stance either. 
I could tell they didn't much respect women. Mostly by the way they kept ordering me around, which I tolerated for awhile. Then finally after a couple hours I said, "You know, where I come from, we say PLEASE AND THANK YOU," and went about the task that was asked of me. Later I heard them saying please and thank you (very much to my surprise) and I smiled and said, "Terry, it works pretty good doesn't it?"
I learned a lot talking to Terry that day; about life on the reservation, the poverty level, some of his life story, and the religious aspect of their culture. 
The next day I showed up, which was our last day on the reservation, very much looking forward to talking with Terry again. To my surprise Terry and Darrell didn't show up. Talk about a lesson in tomorrow isn't a promise. Later a woman came outside and said there was a phone call for a Jessie.....I'm thinking "WHAT???" Yes. Darrell called the community center knowing I was working there again. He made mention that I was the only person He remembered the name of. That he was tired of being caught in the lifestyle he was in, but didn't know how to get out and wanted help. The desperation was so evident and it brought me to tears. I asked to pray for him and prayed that God would give him the strength in Him to leave the lifestyle and the people to support him.
At first, I was mad at God for allowing this to happen on the last day we were there! (I know, I know.... it's just the reality of my heart) Then after talking to another leader about it she said, "Jessie it's not about our timing, how sweet that God used you even on the last day!" Then the moment of......... oh yeah I was praying to be shown this just before I came. God didn't have to have him call me or make it known to me that he had been listening the whole day prior. I could choose to be disappointed that I couldn't be there to help this guy get the help he wanted.... or I could choose to see it as a blessing that God allowed me to see Him using me.

Sadly, I don't have pictures of either of these men... But a bunch of the kids there!

The whole crew after doing a free car wash for the community.

Working on a sweet art project to hang in the Community Center.

Before We hung it The top Says "Red, yellow, black, and white.... We are precious in His Sight" We painted all the scrap pieces those colors, and then I had the students come up with things that show that. Hand prints, some bible verses, etc are what they came up with! So cool :)
PJ. If you've ever been to rosebud before, you probably know this kid. I have such a heart for him. May God continue to pour out His love on Him through His church. 
Felician. All I can say is God is going to use him for a great Kingdom work. One of the brightest kids I've ever met and so eager to learn more while ensuring what he has heard is truth. 

My friend Andrea and I have really been exploring the art of Canning and freezing food. I can remember many summer days growing up helping with freezer corn at my grandparents house. We both love the idea of growing produce to provide for the summer months as well as during the Winter. And it will save us money as well as be healthier than canned food from the store! So far we've done somewhere around 50 quarts of green beans (canned and pickled), 48 bags of freezer corn, and 16- 8 oz. jars of freezer jam. GOOD EATS!

Our first project- green beans. Her husband even joined in the efforts and pickled some green beans... I was skeptical at first, but the really are good!

project 2 - Freezing Corn. And yes each of those containers is filled with corn either in queue, cooking, or cooling.

Starting the process of packaging and beginning to freeze the bags.

Andrea and I after our crazy weekend of feezing corn until 3 a.m. Sunday morning and then making freezer jam Sunday after church!

We're soo cool :)

This is a long post. But I think that's the highlights for the most part of my summer.



I'm a hard worker. I enjoy being diligent at my job and getting a lot accomplished in a days work. I'm thankful I have a job that involves some physical labor, which allows me to feel like I 'worked'...........However when it comes to deadlines, I suck.

I'm not sure what is it about deadlines that deter me from being efficient with my time leading up to them. I think some part of me thinks that if I put something off long enough it won't happen or come. The other negative reinforcement is that I've discovered waiting until the last minute, especially with art, I have produced some of my best works.

There are a few deadlines in my life, fast approaching. One of which I felt was so important I even wrote a count down on my calendar to remind me to be purposeful with my time. This last week I was thinking about that countdown I started......and I realized that I could tell a lot about how I viewed God by how I was handling my deadlines.

I feel like on some days God is the last item on the list of importance, which is wrong I know. So often I get into a mindset that "God put these things in my path today so clearly I should give them my full attention." And yes it's possible, rather very likely, that He has put things in my path, however if I don't maintain my relationship with Him, I limit the possibilities of these things. It's my choice.

Waiting until the last minute, I'm seeing, in many ways, limits my view of God. By waiting I end up not expecting something BIG, or trusting in Him through the situation. I truly desire both of these though.

"God help me with my close-mindedness. Help me to see your power and strength when I depend fully on you."


Herb Garden

I love the idea of growing a garden. I love it so much that I've helped my dad plant 9 acres of asparagus and 6 acres of raspberries. CLEARLY not just for our own consumption :) But I love home grown vegetables.....so to my delight while garage selling I found a herb growing kit so that you can have home grown herbs year round! 
The kit came with 2 packages each of parsley, dill, basil and cilantro, and as the box says.....$1.00. Such a deal :)


Lesson #2938465

I've always been a bit feisty. I can't exactly explain why....Maybe it has something to do with the fact that whenever my grandma is asked how she is doing her answer is "fat and sassy, mean and nasty." Ha... it's possible, I guess, however, I think a better explanation is probably that I've seen a lot of situations given up on in my life. Not to discredit any party or give blame, just in general. So because of this, I've learned a great deal about 'Learning to pick your battles' More often than not things don't bother me too much....However occasionally I get stubborn about my developed opinion and I'm not willing to sway on it. And I've learned that sometimes, it is better to keep this opinion to myself. Unfortunately this revelation often comes after I've already shared it.

Recently God provided a chance for me to shine at this, or to fall on my face. It came in the form of a conversation and someone said something that really triggered me. I instantly had at least 5 things to fire back....instead I sat there for a minute slightly shocked by the conversation.

I sat long enough to realize I had a choice. I could fire back....which would probably only begin/extend the issue. OR I could CHOOSE to see it as a blessing. A blessing in disguise for sure...but a blessing no less!!! As I sat there I began to pray for this person and the conversation. It was somewhat frustrating in the moment I wont lie. I even had to call a friend that I knew would speak wisdom and truth to me. It's been three days and I'm still thinking about it. I think the most awestrucking part is that God quite possibly allowed what was said, to be said, just so that I would pray!!


Eagles and Turkeys

So I was talking with a guy in my life who is very much a father figure, and also happens to be an amazing man of God. We were talking about wanting to live for God completely in all areas of life and what that might look like. It was really a cool conversation! Then He spoke these words:

"If you want to soar like and Eagle, you can't pair up with a turkey. (long pause) Because turkeys don't fly."

I told Him whether he knew it or not, He spoke some very wise words to me. So often I think we get in this mind set of 'I'm gonna change and live sold out for God.' YET, at the same time we keep the things in our life that deterred us in the first place.

That's like thinking and hoping a seed of any kind will turn into its mature form without planting it. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!! We can see the absurdity of this idea, yet somehow have a hard time connecting the same truth to our lives.

I'm reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Paul in this scripture shares with us this wisdom that we can't keep the old with the new. It is very hard to know this truth in the midst of situations. But looking back, I can see exactly when I believed and followed these truths and the fruit that came from it!

So here's to soaring like an eagle, finding other eagles to soar with............and leaving the turkeys for Thanksgiving ;)


Mighty to Save

This week was the last 'real' week of TSC. Next week there is still Salt, but it's Anthem! And I love Anthem :) My friends and I started some odd tradition of dressing up like country folk.....which makes it all the more funny. (I think this tradition started because my friend and I randomly bought new cowboy boots on the day of one Anthem and of course wore them to show them off...)

Anyways. Salt Company. 4.23.09 Mark Arant. Romans 16

We began the night singing two of my three favorite songs. Two of the lines from both songs were:
"You've stolen my heart, yes you have"
"I cannot run, your love is chasing me"

And that just got me to thinking about God's constant pursuit of us. He never gives up on us, and I love that. Everyone on this earth will, at some point, fail us. It's inevitable, were human, sinful, and suck at life from time to time. BUT He doesn't!!!

I've really been battling through this concept due to a situation that is very dear to my heart. We chase after so many things in this life because we think we will find our happiness in them. We are such short term thinkers. We need to see results right now, or it couldn't POSSIBLY be beneficial for us. I know that I need to think long term, and I strive to do so....but amidst all the marketing and promoting of 'this will make you happy, you need this, everyone has it' we are encouraged to jump the short term thinking boat. (thanks to my marketing degree I don't buy these slogans as much anymore  ;) ha)

Another part of this problem is, is that when we sin, and sin boldly Satan convinces us that we are far beyond the reach of God and that God couldn't possibly want us back. The lies go deeper into we could never be forgiven for whatever we've done. These statements, which are lies, couldn't be farther from the truth. The God who SAVED you, is ABLE to SAVE you AGAIN. In other words He is willing and able to fight for you and does not desire to let you go. He longs to establish us in our faith. He has called us His. This truth blows me away in awe of who He is and how much he loves you and me. He is mighty to save.

That truth has given me so much assurance for the lost sheep out there, and for those of us who slip into short term thinking. He desires to take us out of our depths, and show us who we can be.

His love is chasing you.


The Lost Sheep

This past week at church we went through Matthew 18:1-14. I've always liked certain verses, but I think it's safe to say that this chunk of scripture is my favorite. Especially v. 10-14 which read: 
"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

Seeing God's heart like this amazes me. He has 99 being obedient, following Him. Yet, he leaves them, to go and find the one that has strayed away. He is not willing that any of these be lost. I think this truth is the key to defeating Satan's lies when we've been tempted into sin and are believing that God has given up on us. SO far from the truth!!

So often we get in a mindset of looking down on the 'lost sheep' and their waywardness. Like verse 10 and 11 say "don't look down on one of these..." God has His angels watching them as well as us, and who are we to question their path or God's timing. 

We are always influencing those around us. The impending question is towards what? It is my prayer that I am influencing those around me towards Him. I, like you, have my lost sheep kind of days. It is because of those kind of days I'm able to see the reward, value, and urgency to allow Him to bring us back to the flock!


Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem. Seize the Day. Use the Moment You're In. Step Out Into the Day. Take Advantage of what You've Been Given.

Every Monday night is art night for Ms. Abby Wiese and myself. It's an awesome outlet to express the talents we've both been given. This past week I invited another friend to come hang out with us. I gave her a canvas and said "get busy." Ha. Little did I know it was going to be the thought at the forefront of my mind for the following week.

Carpe Diem is what she chose to paint. We talked a little bit about it that night, but it was the following days conversations that really got me!

At work on Tuesday, I was talking about Carpe Diem and what that means to each of my co-workers. Obviously, seize the day, was one of their answers, to which I politely said, "and that means what for you?" It was sweet to listen to their answers! It was the conversation for the next two days.

Wednesday night came and the passage was on Philippians 1:27 "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel." Interesting. Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a way worthy of the gospel. Live for someone other than yourself. Use what you've been given to glorify Him who first gave it to you. Despite how others respond, continue to choose to step out. Carpe Diem.

At this point I'm clearly thinking "okay God, I get it. You want me to seize the day. Not let other people's opinions effect my own.....But what situation exactly are you getting at?" a few minutes pass and the "AHA" moment comes. Got it. I'll choose to Seize the Day in all circumstances. Then one of my new favorite songs came to mind. Bebo Norman "Step Out Into the Day" the lyrics are as follows:

You could turn a hundred years and never empty all your fears
They're pouring out like broken words and broken bones
They could fill a thousand pages, be the cry for all the ages
And the song for every soul who stands alone

The ache of life is more than you are able
Hold on love, don't give upDon't close your eyes
The light is breaking through the night

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It's over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it's all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love
It's over now

Time will let the story told grow and grow 'til it unfolds
In a way that even you cannot ignore
You can say the seasons change but never if you just remain
In a place where the freeze is at your door

What you don't know is the signs are right for the turning tide

Hold on love, don't give up
Don't close your eyes
The light is breaking through the night

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It's over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it's all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love

Hold on, hold on
It won't be long
So hold on

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It's over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it's all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love
It's over now.

LOVE IT!! Go out and Seize the Day.