Author: Jessica

Author, Dreamer, Daughter of the King

Stop by my website at jessalyse.com

No more blog.

Sorry.

I’m now turning my full attention to writing fiction. Perhaps the blog will be revived in the future but as of now it has come to an end.

That being said, click here to sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be the first to hear about my new book releases. You won’t get a ton of annoying emails, I promise.

Thanks for following!

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3 Effervescent Types of Love that You can Identify With

Rose - URLDid you know that there are different types of love? You already knew that, because you can feel it when you look into the eyes of your significant other and when you look into the swollen eyes of your pet goldfish. You love them both. But somewhere deep down you know it’s not the same kind of love. So what is the technical reasoning behind these strange and wonderful feelings?

Read More at jessalyse.com

How Learning the Ins and Outs of Writing Ruined Me…and How to Not Let it Ruin You

Once upon a time I had a story to tell. It took me two years to tell that story and I’d never taken so much joy in anything before.

If you’re a writer, you can probably relate.

I was an amateur, I was ignorant in the field of writing fiction. Not in a bad way. More in the high-apple-pie-in-the-sky-hopes kind of way. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

When I finished that book, I sought to further my knowledge of fiction. And that’s when the wild fire began. I spent two years of nothing but research. Researching fiction, writing, grammar, history, and what works for other authors. I learned a lot. I’ll admit it, shamefully…I’ve learned more from teaching myself in the last two years than what high school and college combined had failed to teach me.

I learned plot, characters, storylines, climaxes, backstory, Mary Sue, the oxford comma, theme, structure, antagonists, protagonists, stereotypes, goals, motivations, dialogue, outlining, setting, style, and the ever elusive symbolism. And that’s just skimming the tip top of the aspects of fiction. Of what you need to know to make it in this business…

Of what I failed to carry out for years.

During my research there were many times I attempted to write a novel.

Go to jessalyse.com to read more.

Updates and Changes

You’ve probably already noticed the changes I’ve made here on my blog, and I’m here to tell you that this is just the beginning. I’m making a slight transition from wordpress to my own website on my own domain.

WordPress probably won’t be happy with me.

I’m not leaving altogether, not until I know if this is a good move for me. If having my own domain turns out to be a fluke then you’ll find me back here. However, I’m very much enjoying my new website so far.

So why am I writing to let you guys know?

Because I want you to make the move with me! Without you guys I would be out of business.

So if you would, click on the link below. It will take you to my new blog. Give it a look and let me know what you think. Too difficult to understand? Let me know. Too inconvenient? Let me know. You love it? Let me know. I would love to hear from you guys.

JessAlyse.com

If you like hanging out better over there then subscribe to my RSS feed (shoot me an email or private message if you need help with RSS) and unfollow my blog here at WordPress. If it turns out that my website is a bigger hit than my blog here, then I’ll end up deleting my WordPress blog. 😦

Until then, I’ll continue to keep my WordPress blog updated with my latest posts that will eventually link back to my website.

Hope you guys enjoy!

Weight Loss Hopes and Nightmares

My goal for 2015 is to get down to my ideal weight. That would mean I’d have to lose 25 pounds. I went easy on myself in my planning and had originally aimed to lose around 5 pounds a month. More would be great.

Today was my designated weigh in day (I do it weekly because when I begin to see results I get motivated to workout more and eat healthier.) And I couldn’t believe my eyes when I stepped on the scale.

I’ve gained 3 pounds.

Since last Monday, I’ve gained 3 pounds.

Okay, I’ll admit, I went a little crazy yesterday with the chocolate and the Dr. Peppers I said I’d give up. Can you blame me? The Packers played a very stressful game against the Cowboys and I needed something more decadent than almonds.

I won’t credit my weight gain strictly to food. I’ve been lifting 23.9 pounds a day.

My little black lab puppy named Axel fell from the porch steps on Thursday and fractured the tibia in his back leg. The vet said he’ll be fine but he needs to stay calm and lay around for a few weeks. And since he can’t get up and down the stairs himself to go to the bathroom, I’ve been carrying him about ten times a day and twice a night…oh, and the vet said he weighed in at 23.9 pounds.

Okay, so it’s not a lot of weight lifting, but it’s a dramatic change when you go from lifting a fork to lifting 24 pounds. So we’re going to turn a blind eye to my weight gain and say half of it is muscle.

There is my weight loss–or lack of–nightmare.

My hopes are to stick to my new routine which has actually gotten off to great start. Besides eating healthy and, quite honestly, eating less, I like the workout schedule that I’m on. I want to share it with you guys in hopes that you might join me. Or at the very least, feel inspired.

  • NTC: That would be the Nike Training Club App. It is incredible.Β It’s strictly cardio and yoga. A mixture between a personal coach and an automatic schedule, it creates a 4-week workout based on your preferences and desired result. If you want to lose inches, gain muscle, or get lean, you choose and it automatically creates a schedule for you. There’s an option to turn on a reminder or you can put together your own workout by choosing exercises in their database. Each one provides a video that shows you how to do the exercise. And the best part about it? It’s free. Back in May of 2014, I lost 10 pounds with this routine paired with a daily walk.
    • Monday, Wednesday/Thursday, Saturday (Yoga). I only workout three times a week with workouts alternating between Wednesday and Thursday ever week. Saturday’s are calm and relaxing with a 15-minute bit of Yoga.
  • C25K: Also an app but you can find the system online here. This is theCouch-to-5KΒ  system that encourages and trains you to run a 5K in 8 or 9 weeks even if all you’re used to doing is sitting on the couch. The sessions are only three days a week and thirty minutes a day. Not only is it simple and convenient, but it makes it sound like a piece of cake…Speaking of cake, I’d love some right about now.
    • Tuesday, Wednesday/Thursday, Friday. I don’t like to run on the same days I use NTC so I alternate and run on the days that I don’t use NTC. I’ll do that until I’m fit enough to run a mile without grasping at my sides. Then I’ll workout on the same days I run, which I hope to be in the next few months.
  • Pandora: If you own a cell phone compatible with Pandora and you’re not using Pandora when you work out then I’d like to ask you how you get by. I LOVE using Pandora while I’m working out/running. It’s just like a radio except you get to choose the genre of music you listen to by choosing a song, artist, or style you like. It’s amazing. You need to check it out.
    • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. πŸ˜‰
  • My Fitness Pal: This program can be found online or as an app. It allows you to keep track of what you eat, the amount of calories you take in, and the calories you burn through exercise. It’s like an accountability partner and gives you a broader perspective on what you’re diet looks like on a regular basis. I like to set my daily calorie limit at the recommended 1200 calories for a woman’s intake. (Mens intake is slightly more.) When I’m working out I like to use this daily.

I like to get up early, as early as I can manage without feeling tired halfway through the day. My first priority is my Bible Study. Then I usually try to get my blogging and social media out of the way in about 30 minutes, but sometimes that gets postponed, kind of like today. Then I like to workout or run, whichever I’m scheduled for on that day. Besides losing 25 pounds, my goal is to get so fit that I don’t have a problem running a mile every morning or stopping by the gym.

How about you? Do you have a workout regimen that you’d like to share? I’m always looking for new and fun ways to encourage a fit lifestyle.

Happy New Year!

Did you know that the very first Times Square Ball was dropped on December 31, 1907 and it comes from the instrument ‘Time Ball’ which was created in England in 1829 to help ships keep time at sea. I won’t go into the details of how it works because quite frankly I don’t understand.

However, I do understand that things don’t always go as planned. The start of 2015 is no exception.

I’d spent the last two weeks of December preparing for the new year. I put together routines, schedules, agenda’s, for blogging, writing, exercising, and managing my time. I had it planned out to a ‘T’ and I was more than determined to stick to it.

On the 30th of December, my dad was admitted to the hospital when he started showing symptoms of a spider bite. He spent New Years Eve and New Years Day in there and was able to come home on Friday. It turns out that it wasn’t a poisonous spider bite, but only that he had an allergic reaction to the bite, which is common for ground crab spiders. We praise God for his health which is still strengthening with each day.

That being said, my New Years resolutions really fell through on this one. I was stressed, mentally exhausted, and didn’t get any sleep. We ate more fast food since no one was feeling up to cook, and I drank a Dr. Pepper on more than one occasion because–yes, I’ll admit it–I’m addicted. So my plans didn’t pan out. All that prepping, and things took a different turn, one that I didn’t see coming.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” -Isaiah 55:8

As an average person, I might wonder what plans God has for me by putting my daddy in the hospital and watching him go through so much pain. But as a Christian, I don’t want to ask those questions. I don’t want to argue with God for answers I’m not going to understand. I do know this, though. That during those days when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, I grew closer to God.

I’d made the decision to trust in Him no matter what, I refused to grow bitter towards Him. Because He is my God. I made that decision a long time ago, and nothing is going to change that. My love belongs to Him first and foremost.

Besides the fact that I would have taken away my daddy’s pain if I could, I wouldn’t change what I had to go through personally. I became humbled before my Savior in a way that I’ll cherish every day of 2015. It wasn’t the ideal way to start the year, but it was what was best for me. I discovered a deep, rich longing to grab hold of my Master’s robe and bow before His feet. And on the day I walk into Heaven, I pray I will be able to do that very thing.

I know people roll their eyes when someone mentions their ‘New Years Resolutions.’ You know, the New-Year-New-Me speech that most people lose sight off after a few days, if not a few hours. I’ve never been able to uphold a new years resolution. But this time around, I’m jumping headlong into my plans.

Here’s my list of things to accomplish in 2015.

  • Lose 20 pounds. Cliche, I know. Everybody wants to lose weight. But 2014 showed me exactly what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it. In 2014 I lost 10 pounds, went on a Mission Trip (out of my comfort zone, but definitely on my heart,) and attended my first writer’s conference…by myself, which turned out to be a wonderful experience.

    Either way, my weight-loss plans are to lose at least 5 pounds a month, finishing in April at my ideal weight, 140 pounds. And in May I’ll start workouts that target area’s of my body; arms, legs, back, stomach. I’ve never weighed less than 146 pounds (not since I was a child,) so I’m excited to discover this new me, and 2015 has the privilege of being the first year to see her.

  • Run a mile a day. I’ve always admired those people who could get up at dawn and run a few miles before they head off to work, like it’s nothing at all. So, using the C25K app (from Zen Labs) on my phone I should be able to run a 5K in 8 weeks…I’ll keep you updated.
  • Blog consistently. You guys who have been my faithful companions from the get-go probably know by now that I don’t post often here on my blog. That’s because I don’t always use discipline to sit down and write what’s on my mind. Procrastination-Princess over here has a bad habit of putting things off until it’s too late. I’ve got a dozen different blog-post drafts that are way past their due date.
  • Write consistently. Again, this Princess of Procrastination has a ton of stories and characters running around her head, waiting to leak out, but unless she’s knee-deep into a story it’s tough to be dedicated to a messy, pathetic first draft.
  • Get published. I’m not expecting to get published over night. Nor do I expect to get published in 2015, for that matter. But I do want to get noticed by some agents and editors who can guide me, give me experience, and help hone my craft to perfection.

“If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.” -R.A. Salvatore

I do have a bunch of little carry-over resolutions. You know, resolutions that carry over from year to year because I didn’t do them last year. Like learning how to play the $300 dollar guitar sitting in my room. Learning French from the college textbook on my bookshelf. Or read a hundred books like I said I would on Goodreads.

Until Thursday, my friends, I leave you with a prayer.

Father, I ask that You would watch over the person reading this. I ask that You would draw them close to Your heart during the start of this new year. I know You have plans waiting for my dear friend and I believe in those plans. I trust that You have magnificent things waiting in 2015. Lord, I ask for good health, financial stability, unconditional love, and a place to call home. May Your mercy abound in their life, in all that they do. For grace, peace, and joy, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tell me about your new years resolutions or what your hopes are for 2015. I’d love to hear them. πŸ™‚

Faith, Family, Fiction, and Fitness: How to Balance Life as Writer

I found out the hard way that you must–and I cannot stress that word enough–you must have balance in your life.

No matter the career without balance there’s very little chance for genuine happiness, and even peace.

A few years ago there was a stretch where I got so comfortable with my writing that I didn’t do much of anything else. And I’ll humbly admit that I still experience those days. Sure, we probably all will at times. That’s okay.

But a lack of balance can be unhealthy when it becomes a daily pattern. Here are some ways to help balance your life that I hope can encourage you.

  • Faith. This one comes first on the list of priorities. Like the airplane safety instructions that advises you to put on your oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs, you cannot expect to be a light for Christ if you’re neglecting your spiritual life. You have to make time for your relationship with God before anything else. What is the point of risking your walk for the sake of your career or even your family. If you truly want to have a relationship with Christ, then you have to actively pursue one.

Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you… –James 4:8

  • Need some inspiration? Make it a priority to spend time in the Word as soon as you wake up in the morning, if you don’t already. Set an alarm on your phone to help you to remember to pray throughout a busy day. Download the Bible App and check out the scripture of the day for a fun reminder. Make it a point to take away at least one important lesson from your Bible study each day; don’t just read the Bible, learn it; quality is better than quantity. You could even try Verse Mapping, something I recently took an interest in. If you’re truly concerned about the lack of time you spend with God, then don’t just consider these things. Do them. If you feel a small urge on your heart to crack open your Bible and look up a quick verse, don’t write it off. Just do it. Make an effort, because without the effort you won’t get results.
  • Family. In my opinion, most people would agree, family falls on the list right below faith. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am without my family by my side. We aren’t perfect, but God perfectly chose each one of us to make a family that serves and delights in Him. It’s not hard for me to spend time with my family since I love them so deeply. I very much look for any opportunity to spend time with them, whether that means watching a movie with them or taking a Sunday drive through our hometown (but not during football season.) Family is very important to most people and usually isn’t a hard priority to balance.
  • Do you find yourself struggling to make time for family? If you keep a schedule, actually make time in your day to spend with your family. Whether it be one family member or the whole clan, pencil them in. Don’t devalue your loved ones by pushing aside your time with them for something that you think is more important. If something else comes up, don’t let it be your family that has to miss out on spending time with you. Because believe me when I say nothing on earth is more important than family. Make a date with your spouse. Go bowling with your kids. Cook dinner for your parents. And watch a movie with your siblings. Whoever you call family, whatever it is you’re interested in, just do it. If you’re on the lazy side and don’t keep a schedule (like me) then make an effort to show your family you love them. Steal their chores πŸ˜‰ Give them a hug. Share a smile. When you get that incredibly annoying urge to argue, try something crazy for once and don’t argue. Just stay silent, even if you have to bite your lip. Take a moment to listen to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with it. And more than anything else, make sure you actually say the words “I love you.”
  • Fiction. Okay, I know not everybody writes for a living, but that’s what I do (actually it’s not a living yet, I don’t technically make a paycheck, but I’m not giving up.) Whether you’re a writer, a doctor, a teacher, a student, a cashier, a bank teller, or a fast food cook, you have to balance work just as well as every other priority in your life. Sometimes this isn’t a hard one if you work a nine-to-five. For some of us–especially those of us who work in their pajamas, hehe–it may be a little bit more difficult. I have three waves of advice for different careers, so here goes.
  • Writers: For the professional procrastinators (like me) you may need to start a schedule to keep up with your work; keep a calendar, set your alarm, write in a notebook what you have planned: your daily routine, your meetings, your achievements. Even more than that, write down your goals and with all the self-discipline you can gather, work towards those goals. For the professional non-procrastinators, you probably don’t have a hard time getting to work, and you might not even have a hard time leaving work, but even if you do, be sure in the process of balancing your life you don’t overdo it. Keep God first, family second, and work at the #3. It doesn’t mean you have to slack off or miss out on your goals. It doesn’t even mean that you can’t have the occasional late night/early morning writing/plotting/reading/editing streak that makes you want to sleep-in and overdose on coffee, but don’t let that become your career. Remember to make time for God (keep a Bible nearby to your writing area) and time for your family (take your laptop, book, or notebook to your family room and at the very least work in the same room. It may be distracting or frustrating, but before you do nothing at all, at least sit in the same room with them.)
  • Nine-to-Five’ers: For any other career–and I carefully lump these together–take time to enjoy what you do. First of all, if you’re not in a job you love, I strongly encourage following your dreams and passions with equal amounts of prayer. If you don’t love your job but you also don’t have a choice, ask for the Lord’s blessing or ask Him to help you see the blessing every day. Buy a pack of sticky notes and write one good thing about your job or life every single day and stick them where you can see them. Pessimists might find this hard to do. Optimists are probably staring wide-eyed at the computer screen right now with a stack of sticky notes in one hand and a pen in the other. If you love your job, love it in doses. Keep in mind that this is a guide as to how to keep things in balance. So in reaching each topic, I award nine-to-five’ers with this: love your job, but don’t love it too much. In other words follow closely to keeping God first and family second. Schedule your work and stick to that schedule, even if it means turning off your cell phone when you leave work and come home. Make a time slot for everything and keep everything in its time slot.
  • Stay-at-Home-Moms/Dads: This is very much the category in which I’d like to be placed. Unfortunately, I’m only listed under writer. But I do know stay-at-home-parents well. This can be a full-time job no different from a nine-to-five’er. In reality this is a 24/7-365 job–with sleepless nights and unpaid overtime. Tough. But like any other job, your time parenting also needs balancing. This might surprise people, but when you put parenting into this perspective, you might see stunning results. Moms and dads, don’t forget to spend time with God. Make that difficult effort to wake up an hour before the kids to spend time in the Word alone. Or if you’re up with that baby, keep your Bible near your rocking chair or crib. If you have older kids, spend time teaching God’s Word to them. Do Bible studies or hands-on lessons that are helpful to the visual learners. Making time for your kids probably isn’t a hard one for the stay-at-home-parent; but making time for your spouse may be a different story. I can’t for the life of me remember who said it (so if you’re reading this then thank you so much for saying it,) but a woman once said that she made it a point to save her energy throughout the day so that she can spend time with her husband. When I read that, my eyes were opened to a whole new version of what a marriage looked like. She went on to say that she would put off the small things throughout the day that could wait or that weren’t that important in order to spend real time with her husband instead of saying she was tired or had a headache. So take this advice parents; make time for your spouse. Don’t get yourself bogged down. If you’re tired, take a nap when the kids go down for a nap. Finding time for your spouse should be no different from finding time to go to the grocery store. Plan a date night and make sure you actually go out on a date (movies, dinner, a walk, or just a board game at home snuggled on the couch.) Don’t forget to be selfless when it comes to your spouse; make an effort to do what he likes to do and make an effort to try the things that she likes. It may not be the most pleasant, but you’d be surprised by how the other person begins to show a selfless, giving attitude when you do it first. Also, and this is for married eyes only, mind you: make sure that you save some “special alone time” for you and your husband or wife. This is even a Biblical matter, so take it to heart. (1 Corinthians 7:5)
  • Fitness. Last, but certainly not least. This one is probably going to be ignored a lot of the time. I can say for a fact that I’ve been ignoring this point for the past six months or so. I was on a roll in my getting-fit-spree and had lost ten pounds when I sprained my ankle and confined myself to the couch for 8+ weeks. I mean, honestly, I didn’t need to be on the couch, but I had a terribly hard time getting back into my exercising groove. And here on the week of Thanksgiving, I’m still having a hard time eating healthy. (Although I do have plans for December.) But, needless to say, fitness is definitely one of those things that needs to be folded into the mixture of things that needs balancing when it comes to life.
  • So here are my tips for fitness: Set a goal. Do you want to lose major pounds? A few pounds? Get in shape so you’re not out of breath after taking the stairs? Get into a certain pant size? Whatever the goal may be, write it down and make it realistic (meaning don’t be hard on yourself by saying I want to loose 600 pounds when you only need to lose 10. I would even recommend not putting a deadline on your goals because when you get closer to that deadline and see slow results then you’ll get tempted to give up. Don’t do that to yourself.) Eat healthy. That should probably be the first thing you want to do. It’s not always easy skipping over that piece of chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream, but it goes hand-in-hand with getting fit. Get outside. Even if your main exercise equipment is located indoors, hit the trails sometimes, even if it’s just walking outside to get your mail. Move. Get out of your desk chair and walk from one end of the house to the other. Push yourself. Just do it and don’t let yourself think twice about it. Personally, when I think too long about stuff then I tend to over analyze things and that usually leads to justifying bad choices. Get into a good exercise program. The Nike Training Center (NTC) App is free on the android (not sure about the iPhone and whatnot) but it’s a great exercise program with a virtual coach and timer, not to mention videos that instruct you how to do the moves. I use used this one, it’s good if you want to get in shape and loose pounds but I’ll warn you that it’s brutal. If you really want to sweat then get this one and you’ll see results within the month. For something less brutal you could try jogging, walking, or swimming. Whatever your fitness fave is, get into it. Make a goal and work towards that goal, even if it takes a lot of time. Starting now is better than missing out on it later.

So there you go. Jessica’s Guide to Balancing your Life. I never promised to give you the secret to easy living, but I hope something I’ve said can encourage and inspire you to help keep balance in your life. But like I did say at the beginning, balancing your life gives you a good chance at genuine happiness and peace.

Because when your life isn’t in order then you find it hard to sleep at night. And when you find it hard to sleep at night then you accidentally put potato flakes in your coffee maker. And when you accidentally put potato flakes in your coffee maker then you accidentally drink potato flakes with your sugar-water. Don’t drink potato flakes with your sugar-water. Get your life in balance today. πŸ˜‰

Student Driver Fail #2

No, I’m not saying I failed my student drivers test. Although I should have. I was an EXTREMELY nervous driver when I first started out. So much so that I didn’t get my license until I was seventeen.

To me, driving was like playing Russian Roulette and I really didn’t want to lose. So during my first six months after getting my license, until I was comfortable (MAKE NOTE, I no longer drive like this, it’s been many years and I’ve done a ton of driving since then) I would drive well below the speed limit, obeyed the rules to a T, and refused to pass a single car, no matter how slow they drove. I did whatever it took to feel safe behind the wheel, because the last thing I needed was a mental breakdown in the middle of the highway.

Well, I was bound to mess up eventually, and when I did, I did it royally.

It had to be a Sunday morning, in a busy parking lot that not only belongs to our massive church but also doubles as the grocery store parking lot next door. Cars everywhere.

I moved in for a parking spot, and–with my heart pounding and palms sweating–I did the stupidest thing my mind could possibly think of. I followed the car in front of me and parked immediately beside them.

Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if the parking spot wasn’t in a corner. Listen closely.

Imagine a ninety degree angle created by railroad ties, this was the outline of the corner of the parking lot. The other car parked going straight toward (what we’ll call) side A. Naturally, people would leave a couple empty spots along side B, so that side A cars can back out. If you’re picturing this correctly, you’ll see a corner that shouldn’t be parked in because no car can fit and no car can get out.

Guess who got in that corner?

Yours truly. Somehow I had managed to swing my tiny Ford Taurus into a spot so tight that I wouldn’t be able to open neither my driver nor passenger doors but a few inches (keep in mind that I have two passengers in the car with me.) And neither could the poor, young boy in the car beside me get out.

I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he saw me pull in there. It was a mixture between shock and “is this real life?”

Don’t ask me how, but–only when I realized I’d made one of the dumbest choices of my life–with the help of my dad who had driven another vehicle with the other half of my family, I was able to maneuver myself out of there without a single hint of public damage. I chose a more reasonable parking space, wiped the sweat pouring down my face, and went on about my day as if nothing had ever happened.

Don’t worry. It was humiliating, but I survived.

So the next time you do something that is even remotely embarrassing, don’t think twice about it. Shake it off. Don’t let it get to you. We all mess up. Even the most “together” person that you can possibly think of has had a paralyzing moment of insanity that still haunts them to this day. We’re human. It’s part of the job requirement. πŸ™‚

Don’t be surprised when I say this isn’t the end of my student driver fails. There will be more to come. πŸ˜‰

Student Driver Fail #1

I’d only had my license for a short time and I was already a nervous driver long before I’d ever slid behind the wheel.

It was my first grown-up adventure, for which I would be taking my mom’s SUV, two friends, my sister and a bag of chips to a church service out in the woods. The chips will come into play a little later.

We would have taken the church bus with the rest of our friends except there wasn’t enough room and I volunteered to drive–against better judgement.

It was nighttime, which didn’t help my raging nerves. The church was almost an hour away in a back woods town that I’d hardly visited, let alone ever driven through. And while I fortunately had the van to follow, unfortunately they didn’t stick to the speed limit. And unfortunately, I did.

Striving to see the brake lights out ahead of me and which road they’re about to turn on, I suddenly hear a voice from above. Over the dull drum of the radio and the girl-talk in the backseat, I heard a voice. It said very clearly “Pull off the road.”

I glance to my rear-view mirror to be blinded by a red flashing light that can only be described as paralyzing. I can’t explain what I was thinking–I’ve had a lot of those moments in my life–but I jerked moms SUV into the right lane without even checking for traffic.

I’m so grateful there wasn’t a car beside me. That would have been more than I could handle.

Either way, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t the police who wanted me to pull off the road. It was an ambulance and all they wanted was for me to get out of their way. And they yelled at me! I didn’t even know ambulances could do that. I think they call it a Public Address System. Or maybe it should have been called a Jessica Address System. Seems it was made especially for me.

You would think the worst was over with.

Think again.

My friends and sister had themselves a good laugh–I should say a hysterical laugh–while I’m on the verge of tears and ready to abort mission and turn back now.

I didn’t. I kept going, caught up to the van, and turned down the road that should lead straight to the church. There were a ton of hills and curves that threatened to separate me from my leader should we get too far apart. But I persevered.

That is, until the SUV started acting funny. She gave out a little bit. Coasted a dozen feet. And then picked up and went on again. She repeated the routine until we noticed the brake lights ahead of us were going somewhere that we weren’t.

The gas pedal refused to work. The SUV was still going forward, but it wasn’t because I was making her. I knew we were done-for right there. She was making this awful screaming noise and I don’t quite remember if the headlights went out or not. It seems to me like everything was darker than usual when I think back on it.

One way or another, I was able to pull into a strangers driveway. And kaput! She wouldn’t move from that spot.

I’m scared to death. My passengers are having the time of their lives while I’m just trying to stay conscious. The church van is long gone, and I have no clue where I am or what’s wrong with my vehicle. Scratch that…my moms vehicle.

We get on our phones, call my parents, contact the church van that is halfway to Florida by now, and prepare ourselves to sit and wait. It wasn’t but a few minutes later that I decided to give the SUV another try. I turned her over, she started up. I hit the gas, she went forward.

Eureka!

I went further down the driveway to turn around. I thank my Father in Heaven that I didn’t back out into the highway because she cut out again, refused to go forward, and there would have been no possible way on earth we would have gotten her out of the road without help–and there were hills.

So there we are. Three giggling teenage girls and one basket case. And one bag of chips, don’t forget. We’re sitting in some strangers yard. IN THEIR YARD. Because that was the only place I could turn around. We’re parked on someone’s green lawn.

My friend decides to open a bag of chips. The big bag. She rips the top apart and chips go flying everywhere. All over the floor and all over the seats. I want to give up on life, but she figures the best thing to do is dump them out onto someones lawn.

It probably wasn’t a big deal, but at this point I was so uptight that I screeched at her not to dump them in somebody’s yard! It’s funny now that I think back on it.

This has been many minutes in the making, now. The church van has finally returned for us after dropping off the rest of the kids. Three adults are finally on scene, but I still feel responsible for the entire situation. We get out of the car and they start to question what’s happened, looking under the hood, and coming up with no ideas to get ourselves out of this predicament. However, my parents are on their way. It’ll just take some more time.

One of the youth leaders looks down through the moon-lit night and asks what’s on the ground. “Chips,” we tell him. “It’s chips.”

Another set of headlights pulls into the driveway. My parents?

No. That would be the homeowners. And they’re probably wondering why our church is having a party on their lawn.

I could go on to tell you I had a wonderful night with my friends at church and returned home without a hint of tension. But I’d be lying.

No. I was upset. My parents were upset because, after all, this is their children’s first outing and the family vehicle decides to keel over out of the blue. No prior troubles until this day. My friends still thought it was funny and my sister was trying to tell me to loosen up. But I couldn’t.

I needed some time to mature first. Some time to realize that life doesn’t have to be perfect. Things are going to happen. Things are going to go wrong. I’m going to be humiliated. But I can’t let that hold me back. I can’t let the results of my circumstances dictate my degree of happiness–or joy for that matter.

I won’t blame myself for being scared and uptight. I was young. I was learning.

But I will push forward and I will choose to not let myself get bound down my the effect of uncontrollable situations. I will learn to laugh. I will be happy.

And the next time my friends and I get stuck in a strangers yard with nothing but a cell phone and a bag of chips, maybe, just maybe, I won’t stop her from dumping those chips in the yard. πŸ˜‰

Being Still

Things have slowed down a lot in the past week. A lot.

I’m not a very patient person. Sure, I have patience with just about anybody. I don’t mind counting the days until Christmas or my birthday or beloved Valentines day. I don’t mind waiting for my husband, and marriage, and a family.

But there are some cases when I can get antsy. Like now.

Nanowrimo is over for me. Like I said before, if I can’t get it right to begin with, then I usually give up. I did great on the first two days but I kind of got sidetracked with a past novel, and of course with my daily routine and prior engagements, I really didn’t have time to write 50k words in one month. It’s no excuse, I realize. But there it is. I’m still writing, but just not for Nanowrimo.

Either way, in the past week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. And praying to go along with that thinking. And I know that there’s a lot more praying in my very near future.

I get this way sometimes. It’s one of those chapters in my life where I feel God putting on the brakes. Things get slow for me. Terribly slow. Like almost snails-pace slow. My mind starts to ask questions…you know. Who am I? Where am I going? What is God doing in my life right now? I usually know the answers, and even if I don’t, then that’s where I do my praying.

I know that God is taking me somewhere right now, right here in my waiting. I get antsy when I can’t get to that special place on my time. Those are ugly words paired together. ‘My time’ usually doesn’t mean anything. Because, after all, ‘my time’ isn’t His time.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. –Isaiah 55:8-9

I love those verses. They’re like music to my ears. To me, this passage goes hand-in-hand with the one in Jeremiah.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. –Jeremiah 29:11

I’m the kind of person who has to have a purpose. In everything that I do. I have to be doing it with a purpose. I can’t just lug myself to some random place and do something just to do it. Which is why I’ve never handled a nine to five job very well. I like purpose. Even if that means volunteering my services somewhere, I want to be getting something done.

So you’ll understand when I say I get antsy when the Lord mentions the word ‘wait.’

Not that I don’t take delight in waiting. I do. Very much so. It’s like a mini vacation. But it goes back to this; waiting is like being quiet and being still–at least in my spiritual life–and when I’m quiet and still, I don’t see progress and I don’t see purpose.

But…

We have to keep in mind, that just because we’re in the waiting doesn’t mean God isn’t at work.

Be still, and know that I am God. –Psalms 46:10

There’s going to be plenty of time for the storms and the trials. There’s going to come a time that I’ll need to call out to God in total faith and desperation. But right now is not that time.

Right now is the time for me to sit back. To listen. To admire Him in the reign of His glory and grace. To observe Him and learn from Him. Like a student in the middle of class, I need not ask questions, I need only to watch and attend to His words. I’ll cherish these simple moments and hold tight to them during the fiery tribulations.

These moments where I can just love Him for who He is. Where I can praise Him and worship Him in the abundance of His truth.

He’s moving me. I can feel it. Physically and spiritually. He’s at work.

It’s like being on an elevator.

You step inside and the doors close. The only sign that you’re moving is the gentle jolt that your heart does when you move in any one solid direction. It’s quiet. It’s calm. There’s no outside world staring you in the face (usually.) It’s just you in the moving box. And the only evidence that you’ve moved is when the doors open wide and you’re suddenly in an unfamiliar place.

That’s where I am right now. I’m just in a moving box, dangling over nothing but air, and no idea what floor I’m going to arrive at. But I’m in His hands and I have the utmost faith in His plan. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I want what He has to give me, no matter how small or how grand it is. If He wants to bring me to a strange and scary place, then I’ll go. And if He wants me to wait quietly right where I’m at, then I’ll do that too.

I’m at His mercy. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

For Thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him. –Psalms 28:18-30