Finding Balance in the Holiday Hustle

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The Holiday Hustle is real! 

As the temperature drops and my to do list grows longer, it’s super easy to get overwhelmed by the business of the season. I mean let’s be real, as soon as that sun goes down my mind shuts off for the day. Anyone else?

And this is all rather inconvenient since my 8-5 duties are done and my wifey duties are still on. Dinner doesn’t cook itself! 

But seriously, in the midst of the hustle and duties and demands, it’s easy to put God in a box. You know, one of those check boxes we make of things to do… If we're not careful, we can box up our relationship with the Almighty God into a teeny tiny box labeled "quiet time." Is it really ever quiet, though? I mean if my life doesn't distract me from reading my bible, my quadrillion thoughts will! Why exactly do we think that time with God needs to be spent in absolute silence? Could it be that a religious mentality has snuck into our perception on how spiritual you must look while spending time with God? 

But that is exactly why the stress and worry seem so overwhelming. We’ve put the Prince of Peace in one of our boxes, instead of inviting him into EVERY box! He wants your mess, He wants your frustrations, and He definitely wants your lists. When we start categorizing our lives while keeping God in only one, then we are literally pushing out the only answer we have to living in all of those categories with peace and joy. 

This season is hectic, I know. I mean, just this week Jeff and I haven't stopped going at all. I haven't even cooked dinner once! Which is huge for me... I honestly don't know how we're getting it all done. It's only through Christ. And in the mornings, when we're driving to work, sleepy-eyed with our coffee in hand, gazing up at Pikes Peak Mountain as we pray over our day, we are literally placing our time in His hands. And you can do that, too. He wants you to do that. He cares and He wants to be invited into your life. Every part of it... even the messy parts :) 

Because God loves diving into our mess, but he doesn't ever keep us there.

He is the master planner, protector, designer of destiny and cleaner-upper of our hearts. And there's good news! The bible gives us a very clear plan to walking in peace no matter what your life looks like right now. 

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
— Isaiah 26:3

Life may be happening, the mall may be crowded, traffic may be ultra terrible and the weather might be abnormally cold, but when we choose to keep our minds focused on Christ - on His goodness, His kindness, His grace and ultimately the gift of His life for ours - then we can actually walk in perfect peace regardless of what’s going on around us.

And what a beautiful time of year to start!

Now is the perfect season to start reflecting on what Christ has done. Don't let this season pass you by without standing in awe of it's true meaning, beauty, power and glory. The miracle that happened in a manger over 2,000 years ago is the reason for our faith, the basis of our lives and the hope we have for our future. It's the story of how a loving God gave everything of Himself to His children that He loved so dearly. It's the redemptive plan in action. It's the beginning of the rest of our lives! 

I want to remember the reason for this season and I hope you will to. We can have peace, joy and love even while the rest of the world is frantic. After all, that's what this world needs to see. They need to experience the peace in you, which will point back to the Prince of Peace that came for them too. 

So let’s write out our lists and check them twice. Then let’s open up our hands and lift our lists up to the One who holds all our time, energy and wisdom. 

Happy hustling!

 
 

Have We Taken Grace for Granted?- Lessons from the High Place

His gaze was fixed on the golden idols piled across his table. There had to have been close to twenty! As he bowed, he knelt down and stretched out across the floor, as low as he could possibly go, getting up to do it again and again. He was chanting under his breath prayers to a god he had never met. It was devoted, it was long, it was heartbreaking.  While our treck up the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal was an amazing adventure full of so many glorious moments, taking in the wonder of some of
 

His gaze was fixed on the golden idols piled across his table. There had to have been close to twenty! As he bowed, he knelt down and stretched out across the floor, as low as he could possibly go, getting up to do it again and again. He was chanting under his breath prayers to a god he had never met. It was devoted, it was long, it was heartbreaking. 

While our treck up the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal was an amazing adventure full of so many glorious moments, taking in the wonder of some of God's biggest creations, it was also very eye opening to see how the gospel really hasn't made it around the world yet. Not even close. These people up here in the mountains were some of the most generous, kind and hospitable people I had ever met in my life. This very man who was now giving his daily prayers, had invited us into his guesthouse because he wanted the honor of serving us breakfast on our last day, but spent half the morning lighting incense, spinning his prayer wheel and offering up a devotion to a dead end god with no ears to hear his cry, no eyes to look into his, no words to offer comfort or wisdom and no heart to feel for his. 

But this wasn't just in the mountains. 

In Kathmandu, one thing I noticed (for it was impossible to miss) was all of the temples at every corner and the constant burning of incense. Most of the people living in Nepal were either Hindu or Buddhist and they would go around giving their prayers and doing their rituals to a bunch of gods made of stone. These people were so devoted, so disciplined and it broke my heart to see their devotion being sacrificed to something so worthless. The praise and devotion that was meant for God, the enemy has perverted to piles of rubble. 

I was mad and wanted to cry at the same time. These false gods could do nothing for them. Whenever disaster struck, they believed it was because they were being punished and prayed even harder. They didn't have a relationship; they were bound to the whims of an ancient teaching that is keeping them captive. 

If anything, it made me so incredibly thankful for what we have in Christ. The gift that our God has given to us is so great that it's sometimes easy to take advantage of it. Our God is close, He is good, He is just, He is forgiving, He is overflowing with kindness, He is our Father, He is love. We have so much to be thankful for. 

And our God isn't just there for us when we need him now. But he WAS there for us 2000 years ago when he came down as a man to set us all free. Our God doesn't just bring good things into our life, but he GAVE us life, and life eternal. We were lost, unable to save ourselves, to offer anything back to him. But because he is so good and so loving, he decided that all of the pain and struggle and humiliation was worth it if he got the chance to spend eternity with you. He is personnel because he made each and every person on purpose and for a purpose. 

We forget that so much of the world has yet to hear about our God, especially in the 10/40 Window- which stretches across north Africa and most of Asia. There are entire people groups, with their own language and customs, that don't have a single Christian represented among them. And the bible makes it clear that every race, language and people will be represented around the throne of grace. 

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
— Revelation 7:9-10

There are still so many people to be reached in this world with the love and grace of God. Instead of looking to Jesus coming back so eagerly, we should be embracing the relationship we have with him now. For it is through having a vibrant, living relationship with our God that this lost and hurting world will begin to know him too. 

After our trip, I found myself starting to feel bad for how little I've appreciated, acknowledged or even been thankful for my faith in God. I want to be known as the girl who is crazy about her Maker, who walks on holy ground and lives a life that inspires hope in others. We were created to be those women. It's who we are! 

Let God know how much you love and admire him. There are so many people out there in the world that are lost and bound to a system that bleeds them out rather than fills them with life eternal. Take advantage of the open relationship that so many people are without. Lean into his love and let him fill you with all joy and peace that passes all understanding. We don't worship a pile of stone but a King that is above all other gods. 

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
— Psalms 95:2-3

Let him write these chapters of your life and I promise you, he will take you places you never dreamed you could go and teach you things that will forever change you. The treck awaits those who are willing to be led by him. 

xxo,
Jess

Our First Dance

Today marks our One Year Anniversary and in honor of that, we wanted to share our First Dance Video with you. :)  We thought a lot about what we wanted to do for our first dance. Would we go the funny route and choreograph moves to sexy back or would we go the slow, romantic sway back and forth through a five minute song route. Oh the choices...  I honestly didn't worry about it too much. But when we heard the song "You and Me" by Lifehouse, we both instantly knew that this was the song for our
It’s you and me and all of the people... and I don’t know why, but I can’t take my eyes off of you.
— Lifehouse, You and Me

Videography by JDJ Creations

Today marks our One Year Anniversary and in honor of that, we wanted to share our First Dance Video with you. :) 

We thought a lot about what we wanted to do for our first dance. Would we go the funny route and choreograph moves to sexy back or would we go the slow, romantic sway back and forth through a five minute song route. Oh the choices... 

I honestly didn't worry about it too much. But when we heard the song "You and Me" by Lifehouse, we both instantly knew that this was the song for our first dance as husband and wife. It was such a perfect blend of Jeff's music and my music and everything about it felt right and felt, well.. us. 

We spent a couple of hours one night pushing aside the coffee table and dancing under the light of our projector as we came up with the moves that would be sweet and romantic but also rated G for, you know, all of the family watching quite closely. We practiced it probably 20 times the day before our rehearsal dinner and then left it all out on the dance floor that day. 

It honestly went perfect, although I'm not sure why everyone was standing up haha. I think I stepped on Jeff's feet a couple of times near the beginning and I give him one of those "you just missed a step" looks about half way through. 

I hope this inspires you, encourages you, makes you reminisce on your own First Dance moments or gives you some ideas for your future First Dance. 

Dance your heart out, 
Jess 

P.S. What was your First Dance song? Or what what would you like it to be? Let me know in the comments below! 


CHECK OUT OUR OTHER VIDEOS!

 
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HIS PROPOSAL

The best stories are the ones you didn't know you were writing. You get so caught up in living in them that one day you look back and say, "That was well written."

OUR WEDDING

A perfect fall wedding nestled in the mountains of Estes Park, Colorado surrounded by golden leaves, friends and family, and true love hanging in the air. 

6 Helpful Tips When You Work with Your Husband

This Thursday is Jeff and I's One Year Anniversary and I thought it would be appropriate to write about our story so far in a way that can possibly help someone else. And the number one thing that God has been teaching us lately is how to work well together.  You see, Jeff and I have been working together (in the same department at work) for almost 3 years now, 8 months as friends, 6 months dating, 6 months engaged, and exactly a year now married and MAN.. have we learned a thing or two.

This Thursday is Jeff and I's One Year Anniversary and I thought it would be appropriate to write about our story so far in a way that can possibly help someone else. And the number one thing that God has been teaching us lately is how to work well together. 

You see, Jeff and I have been working together (in the same department at work) for almost 3 years now, 8 months as friends, 6 months dating, 6 months engaged, and exactly a year now married and MAN.. have we learned a thing or two. 

Working together is NOT easy and as grateful as I am for the opportunity, there are a few things that I have learned basically the hard way that can help with walking that oh-so-delicate line of spouse and co-worker. I promise it does get easier and it began to get easier for us the moment I started to put into action the tips I'm sharing with you below. It's a bit complex and detailed and some people might think I'm overdoing it all. But for those of you who work together, you know that any advice is welcome advice. 

Browse the list and see what fits for you and your man. The most important thing is to never stop talking about what you want your marriage to look like, in and out of the office. 

1. Acknowledge each other as married, but respect each other as co-workers

We tend to let our guards down with our man. But because guys are so task driven, they need us to put our best foot forward at work. This certainly doesn't mean that you can't be there for each other. You are best friends, confidants, the shoulder they lean on.. But make sure that your treating them with at least as much respect as you would another co-worker. It's easy for your other co-workers to get all the best parts of you and your spouse is left to only get the frustrated and worn-out bits. Remember to sometimes tuck your own feelings aside while at work and never be too afraid of showing favoritism that you overcompensate and treat your spouse harshly at work. They are supposed to be your favorite person, and everyone knows it! 

2. Give each other some space and keep conversations at work about work

One of the first marriage books we were ever given was called His Brain Her Brain, and it went into detail about the differences between the male and female brain and how that relates to marriage. One thing that really helped me was the idea that women are natural multitaskers (especially in the brain) while most men need to focus on only one thing at a time. It's the same reason men and focus on their career and soar to new heights and a woman can manage an entire house-hold, the cooking, cleaning, children, schedules, finances, shopping, etc.. and carry on a totally different conversation at the same time. 

So this means at work, I don't discuss what's for dinner, our gym schedule, upcoming trips, or any other sudden burst of inspiration I get without him initiating it first. And then I let him drive the conversation. Don't go visit his office whenever you feel like it. I try sending emails and calling on the phone first just like I would any other co-worker. That way he can focus on his work and not feel like all these details in our lives are simply distractions. 

3. Spend Quality time together and leave work at work

No wife or husband wants to feel like they are just your co-worker outside of work. It's vital to our marriage that we learn to unplug from the duties and demands of the day and truly see the other person as our best friend, husband, lover, safe place and rest. 

When Jeff and I were just dating, we went on a mini trip to Florida to see his parents, while back at work, we were in the middle of a seriously stressful situation. It was taking a toll on both of us, him more than anyone, and we decided that we needed to remove ourselves from that situation for a while, physically and mentally! The issue back at work all ended up better than we could have ever imagined on our own. Now we look back and laugh at how we actually used to worry about that. This tends to be harder for men to mentally unplug from problems. As wives, we should encourage (not nag) them to take off the worry and trust God with the results. 

It's important to leave work at work. If your not really on a date, then give him a break and let him check his emails. Everything being on our phones makes unplugging a pretty difficult thing. But when it's official date-night time, make sure that work doesn't make it a party of 3. 

4. Define and make clear the roles and responsibilities of each

When Jeff and I were sent on a video shoot to Michigan, we shot 9 interviews! (That's 9 interviews with 9 different people!) Oh and we did this in about 3 or so days. That's A LOT of work! When we got back, people would often ask us how we did it. I would say that we determined our roles and then stuck to them. 

This particular story we were working on was Jeff's, so he was the producer and I filled in the rest. I let him give vision and I helped him figure out a way to make it happen. Another thing we decided was that he liked to be able to focus on lighting the interview set and making it look great. So I would talk to the people and keep them busy so he wouldn't have to feel responsible for that too. 

No matter what field you're in, whether it's the every day tasks or a special project, determine what role each of you will fill and then also decided how you can help each other out in different situations. That way, you can get the job done and still like each other while you're doing it :) 

5. Fill in each other's weaknesses and lend to each other your strengths

This is a truth in marriage that should be carried over into the work place. One thing about Jeff is that he can be rather blunt. While this is usually a great asset, when communicating with women it sometimes doesn't get you too far. Sometimes, he'll ask me to communicate something for him if he feels he wasn't able to get his point or heart across. Because I know him and I know his heart, I can properly communicate what it is he wants - similar to how we represent Christ to this earth. 

I on the other hand, am not a very blunt person and have a hard time approaching people when I'm nervous. Jeff pushes me to be more forward and start conversations that I'm too afraid to start on my own. We also do a lot of writing, which can get really tedious. When we're writing articles, we often edit and proof read each other's articles before we submit them. 

It's important to never point out their weaknesses as proof of their inability but instead, always approach it from your willingness to offer yourself and to help the other person when they need it. So instead of saying "You suck at this," you could say "I want you to succeed. Here's what I saw..." 

6. Refuse to see the worst and choose to see the best

It's quite easy to allow all of the little imperfections that you see everyday affect how you see and treat your spouse at work. Just like you should do with your co-workers, CHOOSE to think, speak, and expect the best from your spouse until you have a chance to discuss it in private if something is wrong. I say "choose" because it is a choice. Our emotions may come and tell us things, but we ALWAYS have a choice as to how we will handle every situation with every person that we encounter.. including our spouse. 

This is something that I am definitely still working on myself! 

If Jeff says something to me that sounds harsh, or gives me a look like he's annoyed at me, or seems to ignore me in front of other people, I can CHOOSE to think, speak, and assume his intentions were good until I can ask him about it later. Maybe he was frustrated at a project, maybe he didn't see me, maybe he though that face was sexy... When I do this, 90% of what I thought was an issue is gone before I have a chance to talk to him about it. This will seriously save you SO much stress. 

Some positive thoughts for the road... 

Before we get too overwhelmed with all of the potential bad that can come from working together, it's important to reflect on all of the good that comes from working with your husband. 

You are able to be a team at work, which brings you closer together. 

You are working together towards a common goal and can dream in a deeper way than most. 

You always have someone at work with you who can fill in your weaknesses and be there for you in a way no other co-worker can. They are always for you. 

You have a constant reminder of what your vision is and why you are working so hard to begin with! 

So whether your working in a joint office, or just working on the story of your marriage, I pray that these tips will encourage you, give you insight, and perhaps just a bit more tools in your marriage belt when it comes to working alongside that handsome man of yours. 

Build your life well, 
Jess

Damsels in Distress

How to come back stronger every time!

So… I messed up. And by that, I mean I REALLY messed up. And by that, I mean I messed up so bad, that everyone at our insurance, body shop, and rental car shop were both dumbfounded and humored by it all.

Jeff and I were up in Estes Park getting some last-minute filming done for reenactments that required snow on the ground. We found a quiet little mountain bluff that had a patch of snow just untouched by the sun, so we sprang into action.

I turned the corner on what should have been a normal road, and BAM! The front end of my car went straight down 3 feet and we were stuck in a hole… yes, a hole in the ground! I couldn’t believe it. What was that thing even doing there? Ugh… life.

I had a hard time backing out until Jeff laid down in front of the car and leg pressed it out of the hole like a dang ninja. It was pretty great.

But when I got out to look at the damage, I was horrified. It didn’t even look like my car anymore! The whole front driver corner was crushed with the headlight hanging out by a wire. I couldn’t have been going more than 5mph and this is what happens? I immediately threw my face into my hands and just started crying. I was exhausted, I was crushed, and I was defeated… or at least that’s how it felt at the time.

It’s at times like these that what is truly on the inside manifests on the outside.

When we’re physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, and life decides to throw us one more sucker punch to the gut, we find out what we truly believe and where we truly are in our walk with God.

The famous Proverbs 31 Woman has been a source of comparison and grief for countless Christian women the world over, but I don’t think she was ever meant to be. Instead, I believe she represents the power that resides on the inside of every woman. But it’s up to use to decide to draw on who we are rather than how we feel.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
— Proverbs 31:25 NLT

But what does it even mean to clothe yourself with strength and dignity. I certainly didn’t feel very strong or dignified in that moment. But if we remember that these two traits don’t come from external circumstance, but rather from inside of our spirits, then it becomes a choice as to whether or not we operate in them.

I love the second definition of both strength and dignity... 

Strength:

2. mental power, force, or vigor.

God has given us mental power. We have authority over our mind, thoughts and emotions. When life throws us a curve ball, we can feel defeated and exhausted but we can also choose to control our thoughts and consequently, our emotions will follow. This is what it means to be mentally strong.

Dignity:

2. nobility or elevation of character; worthiness.

She puts on her true nature. As daughters of God, we are to “put on” our true nature every day. We are not mere girls trying to dodge the sucker punches of life. But we are the royal daughters of the King and we are meant to walk, talk, and face hardships with this perspective.

Nothing that happens to me or around me in this world has the power to change either of these two things. They allow me to “laugh without fear of the future.” Our mental strength is a gift from God that we can choose to use and our dignity as his daughters is a gift that can and never will be taken away from us.

God doesn’t cause the bad things to happen in our lives.

We live in a fallen world where evil things happen and people hurt people. And sometimes, there’s dang holes in the ground for no reason at all! God didn’t cause these things, but if we are willing to gain mental strength and rest in the dignity we have as his daughters, then God can use even the most frustrating of situations to sharpen our character to the point where we walk away from every situation stronger and more capable then when we fell in.

When I was crying, I was fearing the future. How are we going to pay for this? Will my husband ever trust me again? Am I always going to screw things up? My trust was in what I could see with my eyes, feel in my emotions and reason with my negative thinking. But when I calmed down and remembered whose I was, I could then pull on the strength that comes from knowing your identity. “I know I’m His beloved daughter in who he is WELL PLEASED with (Matthew 3:17). Even when I mess up, he delights in me (Zephaniah 3:17) and he is going to take care of everything.”

No matter what hard situation you are facing, remind yourself to put on strength and dignity.

Decide what it is you’re going to believe about yourself and your situation and then walk in that confidence. Then walk through it and away from it laughing without a single fear for the future.

You are safe.
You are secure.
You are loved.

Oh! And after I did stop crying, Jeff asked me if I could film him laying next to the mangled car for a reenactment shot. I smiled and said yes. Don't let life keep you down for long. 

xxo,
Jess