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

When You Marry a REALLY Big Dreamer

"I'm sorry," said Lillian Disney to her husband Walt. "You can't call a mouse Mortimer." 
"Why not?" asked Walt. "I used to have a mouse in my old studio in Kansas City, I called him Mortimer." 
"No," said Lillian. "Mortimer Mouse, It's not catchy enough. Change it to Mickey." 

You know the saying, Behind every great man is a great woman and I'm sure Mr. Walt Disney was no exception. Being attracted to a passionate, driven and ambitious guy is a good thing and as godly women, we were created to be drawn to it.  

God created men with an ambitious nature, one that propels them to achieve great things for God's glory and for their families. But I don't think I truly realized until after I got married just how big my husband's dreams were. And what a huge honor it was that he would choose me to be the one beside him. 

I've always considered myself to be a pretty big dreamer but it wasn't until I met Jeff that I began to really push myself in the direction of my dreams, believing that they were achievable and that I was meant to reach them. Even while we were just friends, there was something about him that made me want to think bigger in my life. His very passion instills passion in others. 

But once I became his wife, I suddenly, without realizing it, began to see his dreams as competition for his attention. 

After all, when a man is driven, he becomes laser focused. That's how he got me, right? Those 3 years of pursuing certainly took some passion, focus and drive. But now that he had me, and because I was a new wife and didn't understand much about marriage, I found myself looking to him to fulfill me and would get insecure when I would put myself up next to his dreams.

Jeff wasn't comparing me to them. If anything, he saw me as a part of his dreams. But when we grow to depend on someone's undying attention, and they fail to give you all of it (an impossible and unrealistic expectation) it becomes easy to compare yourself to every other thing in this world that demands any part of his attention. 

I believe that the person you marry becomes uniquely tied into your destiny and purpose on this earth. 

So if the enemy can't stop you from dreaming, then he'll try and get you to see the other's dreams as your competition. After all, you were meant to come alongside each other, support each other and ultimately, be a part of fulfilling the other's dreams. But if I just see myself as a competitor, then I risk making Jeff feel like he has to choose between us. And that's NOT what I want at all! 

I love his huge dreams. I love his creative mind and I love how well we work together. I would have to say that I'm just as excited about fulfilling Jeff's dreams as I am fulfilling my own! In fact, a lot of my dreams in life now have to do with his dreams. I think this is such a huge part of marriage that isn't talked about too often. You're each others' best friend, soul mate, lover, encourager, roommate, partner in life and their fellow dream-chaser. 

Make sure you marry someone who has dreams that you can chase. 

We were all put on this earth for a purpose. Make sure that you link arms with someone that you can be excited to run with, someone who challenges you with the way they think and perceive the world. And make sure that their first passion and drive is for God. That way, you'll never have to worry if his dreams surpass you in his heart. 

You were never meant to be inferior to your husband's dreams, but you were always meant to play an irreplaceable role in them. 

Don't let the enemy scare you into a place of insecurity. You were designed to protect and defend your husband's heart. After all, to get to the man, the enemy will have to take out his woman. Don't let him!  

So here's to the dreamers! Never let insecurity keep you from playing the role you were always meant to fill. The enemy wouldn't try so hard to get you down if he wasn't terrified of what you might empower your husband to do. Because together, dreams become a reality. 

xxo,
Jess

Disney for Valentines + Our First Vlog

As you can clearly see below... I was constantly terrified on the rides while Jeff seemed quite content. 

All in all, it was a magical trip. 

This was my first experience with Hollywood Studios and it quickly became my favorite! From rolling down memory lane in Toy Story to dropping to my death in Tower of Terror; from getting lost in the Beauty and the Beast stage production to saving the universe in Star Wars, there was always something that seemed to draw me in and draw out that crazy, Disney-lovin' girl in me. 

One of the highlights from Hollywood Studios had the be the Sci-Fi Diner. I have always fantasized pulling up in an old car to a drive in movie and splitting a chocolate milkshake with my cool date. It was all I ever dreamed of and more! The food was fantastic and the atmosphere really makes you feel like your out on top of a hill in Cali on a summer night under the stars. 

Jeff and I always check the crowd calendars before we go on a trip and the days leading up to Valentine's Day were pretty low. So if your looking for a good time to go, this would be it! The weather was perfect, the parks were dreamy and the lines were decent (thanks to our fast passes on the Disney App!). I'm already planning our next trip and it's safe to say you'll see another video from us very soon! 

Check out our first vlog below! 

West Palm Getaway

Hot and sticky... just the way we like it! Nothing beats the Florida heat and our thirsty Colorado skin soaked up every ounce of it. Making the getaway to West Palm Beach was one of the best decisions we've made in a long time. We were able to stay with Jeff's family and he took great pleasure in giving me the grand tour of his journey from childhood to adulthood. This swampy land holds so many moments and memories for him; it was so neat to catch a glimpse into his past and learn more of who he is. 

Taking the time to just be together, without the stress, demands, and interruptions of life, was an all-too-important lesson that these two learned rather quickly. Seeing each other completely at rest allowed us to see the other for who they truly are, without the mask of just making it through the day

Whether we were chasing giant palmetto bugs, pigging-out on Publix subs, kissing our salty lips in the ocean, or driving around late at night with the windows down and singing to our hearts' content, not one moment was put to waste. 

Now we're back and with just a little over 4 months till our wedding day, there is certainly a LOT to be rested up for. Until next time Florida; you will be missed. Well.. sort of. I don't miss the bugs! 

ANCIENT BULGARIAN TREASURE

One of the secret treasures of the Black Sea port city of Varna is a garden of ancient Roman baths. Built in 2nd century AD, these babies are the 4th largest Roman Thermae in Europe and the largest in the Balkans. To walk through something that was still standing over 2000 years ago is still beyond me and there was certainly no shortage of tunnels and caves and things to climb on to keep us entertained on our first day in Bulgaria. We even heard a young american couple speaking english, over which we rejoiced at the sound of our mother tongue coming from someone else other than ourselves. It's the little things in life..

The rest of the day was spent wandering aimlessly through the city streets, gift buying, food tasting and trying to pick up as much Bulgarian as our internationally crammed minds could take in. Waking up completely alone in a strange country is a rush I was born for, and learning new languages, meeting new people and getting lost in different cultures is something I will never get tired of.

Well the sun is starting to set and the beach is calling my name. Perhaps I'll learn something new and philosophical, or perhaps I won't. Sometimes the beauty of life is to sit back, take a deep breathe, and simply acknowledge that it's beautiful.