Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Real or Fake?

Im so done with having to show a fake smile. If im not happy, i frown or show my usual jo face. But, when im happy and joyful, I do smile. I just don't like people who look me dead in the eye and say smile Jo when i dont feel like it. It has made me mad to even hear others tell me to smile. I have no idea why either. I'm just being open and honest. I know I have been going through stuff for a long long long time and have finally just got fed up with it. 
God is still working on me. 
He says He is here to stay so we are gonna work on this together. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Focal point

I used to struggle with this so much growing up. I would be so mad when we wouldnt sing the contemporary songs that i particularly liked and felt that God and or the Holy Spirit was there in the midst of. You know, the songs that we sing at camps/events. The ones you raised your hands up and just gave everything up to God and you sang with everything you had within you because thats what you craved at that moment, maybe even cried at times. Well, I have been there and yes it's very humbling to worship with thousands and thousands of believers. But its very crucial that you not miss this like i did for so long. You can worship God anywhere. You can sing to God anywhere. You have that freedom. If you truely have asked Christ to come and change you and ask for forgiveness, then you will want to do these things. You just want Him. Don't miss out on those times at even your local church or any place of worship when you can sing the songs that were picked to sing that day. Worship in that very moment that you have been given. Listen to the lyrics while you sing. Sometimes I just listen to others around me sing. I try to embrace each moment. If He is your Savior, then worship Him. Raise your hands. Fall at His feet. Whatever you feel like you need to do in that moment. Don't let those moments pass by without acknowledging your Savior who is more than worthy to be praised. 

Its not about the songs. Its not about the words. Its about The Christ who came down from heaven and paid our sin debt price that He freely gave up His life for all to be able to be set free.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Me To The Core

God has been talking to me and I have also been listening. But, when words dont speak up music can and has been. Ive been a music person all my life. My mom would always tell me that I kicked her as I came out but I'm not proficient on the foot pedal bass drum yet. As a child, i would always have these melodies in my head and I would make up lyrics to them about anything. I never wrote any of them down but, everything just flowed and made since to me. That was the real Jo.  Then going into my preteens I lose contact with that innocence and I go into my awkward stage. I join my church youth choir and sing there but it feels so different from my songs that i had in my head and heart before. When i get to go to youth for the first time, it seems fun but its not alive. We go to this same camp site every summer and have church camp. Somehow, our youth pastor finds these people from california that do praise and worship stuff. I can not forget them. After that particular summer, for me, i can feel a change take place within the youth group. They get a praise team started and from then on it starts to become more alive. But still this is way before my real rededication to God.
I feel like now Im getting back to who i am as a child.  I always have music going.  I am always singing something. I've always got my ipod on me or when im home, some kind of music in the background playing. My youth choir and praise team played a big part in my life. I didnt realize it at the time but looking back on it now, that it really was a tiny spark into helping me find my inner singing voice again. 
I acknowledge right now that Jesus is my song. He has been and will be forevermore who my praise is for.  This is the real Jo. I feel that if I dont sing or play my guitar for God, that Im just wasting away. I certainly dont feel good when i stop either. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A lot of learnin

Sometimes i have to wonder. Does God like seeing us miserable if thats where He wants us to be? Then my first thought would be, No! God wants us to be happy where He puts us.  What are your thoughts? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pine Ridge 2015

So its been a few days since we have been back home from pine ridge. I don't know where to start or even begin to tell you what God did and is still doing with me.  (When i sat down on my bed to write this one night right after we came back, my head and heart felt like they were both exploding like atom bombs. I could not think straight.) Most of you don't know that when Tara signed up to go last year that, Lindsey Elza and I also signed up as well. There was a waiting list and since Tara's cousin was a person in charge of that area she bumped our names up to the first spot. God had other plans for Lindsey and I because only Tara got to go. As Tara was speaking on what God did with her group last year, God was speaking to me and telling me I needed to go. I think it was either that night that i signed up or at least that week. I was excited that time i told Tara i would go as i am writing this post. I just wanted so bad to share Jesus with those around me through working or just communicating with them. I didn't expect much to be given back. To be perfectly honest, i didn't think anything would be given back, but so much more was than i could have ever hoped for or dreamed. I had been dealing with work problems for a long while and had been praying about it all ever since it all started. I had been having some stress and anger issues arise from time to time so I really didn't want to take any of that with me on the trip. Nothing seemed to changed as i prayed all of those nights until the morning we left. We prayed right before getting on the (swagon) aka the Taravan. All those feelings just seemed to dissolve and i knew God was working on me. He knew what He was doing. The whole week i had peace. I was smiling everyday and i loved just being there. Those that know me know that I don't smile a lot, like really smile. I was so excited to get to meet john and Nadine (the ones Seen here)
again after seeing them earlier this year in a trip to Ohio to hear their testimonies and have a quick Q&A. If you were to ask me my most memorable moment that whole week it would be the time i got to spend with Nadine in the kitchen helping her cook the Indian tacos. We just chatted about where i worked and what i did. I helped her cut the lettuce, shred the cheese and cut the onion. Amazingly she made a remark that i cut all the onion without crying. I couldn't remember some of the things she had mentioned in Ohio in her personal testimony. So when she started to tell us again that night after our delicious tacos,  I just was floored. Her faith really stood out to me in all that she had been through. I really hope one day our church can hear them speak. She really is a blessed Lakota woman. Our team really didn't get to see a whole lot about the Lakota's. I'm hoping next year we shall see more of who they are as a tribe. We usually had worship every night. Thursday night rolls around and on this night we have a special group time. I don't want to give anything away here about the speciality of the night but at some point i just start bawling. I run out of the room and just fall over on the stairs. The only thing on my mind is how blessed I am and to have the people in my life that I do. I don't deserve any of it. In that moment I just cry out to God and tell Him how very thankful I am. I just don't deserve the life I have been given. I don't know if  I said those things because of what I've seen over the past couple of days or if that's just what i needed to tell God in that exact moment. If it took going to pine ridge and ministering to the drunks of white clay, helping john and Nadine fix their house, hearing from john two bulls or just getting to worship out there with my team members, it was all worth it. Everyone, everywhere needs to hear that they are loved and hear the gospel. Drunk or not. So if the Lord is knocking on the door of your heart telling you to be a witness anywhere you go, i pray that you obey. You are missing out on a huge blessing if not. The Lord said GO. So for Your Glory Lord, send me, I'll go. 

Thanks to my church for being mission minded. Thanks for my team leader to stand up and lead us to Pine Ridge. But most of all, thanks to God for telling us to go. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life stresses

i recently found A t-shirt at walmart that said: today has been cancelled, go back to bed. If only that could happen in real life. There has been so much stress and anxiety in my life lately due to my workplace. I can usually hold myself up pretty good but with the changes that has happend in a month and a half; lets just say its been a nightmare (but only in my mind).  Trying to rebuild a resturant from a pretty bad shape takes time and a whole lot of effort from both workers (crew) and management. The ones that want to leave and find something else, they just need to leave. (Myself included)  

Ive prayed everyday. Everyday i ask God to put me in a workplace where He wants me. Ive asked God to open up other doors at other workplaces that might spark a fire for a lifelong career. Nothing specific right now. I cant even think of anything i would even be remotely interested in still. But at the same time i dont think all this extra crazy stuff is helping me. Im not focused. Im too stressed sometimes to not even be able to think or concentrate on anything good. My heart is no longer beating at sns. I just dont want to settle. I feel like im in a hole and im never gonna get out. But, i feel like God is keeping me at sns for some reason. Since all of this shake up has happend, a coworker of mine knew that i went to church and just asked me out of the blue if she could come with me.  I mean if He wants me there to speak the gospel and share truth with them thats one thing but if its something else im just ready to go. Im so emotionally involved with sns. I dont want to see it fail but i dont want to feel like im under heavy chains either.  At this point i dont know what i need to do. I feel like im beating a dead carcass. 
I know I just need to put all my trust in Jesus and not worry about it. He is more than enough. He is my provider. He can give, but, He can also take away. I do trust Him. But, i keep going back to the cross and picking uo that burden i dont need to be carrying around with me. 

Thanks for listening to my stress rant. 
 Love Jo

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why I believe in Jesus (church edition)

So I'll start out by saying, I was born in Lexington, Ky. I was right in the heart of Wildcat country. I was blessed to live in a christian home. I was dragged to church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for Awanas. Every Sunday night felt like nails on a chalk board. I just didn't like going then. I had this  giant book of bible puzzles and activities to work on during the services, to which i would work on mostly on Sunday nights. One Sunday night in particular, I overheard my Pastor ask, do you know Jesus? Do you want Him to come into your heart? I had heard this many, many times but, something felt different that night. I knew I wanted to go to heaven because of my oldest brother, Daniel was there. So that night, without telling my parents, I go up and tell the pastor that i wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. I remember praying with him as he led me in the sinners prayer. I got baptized that next weekend.

 So fast forward a couple of years. I am a teen and in the 6th grade. I love going to my youth group mostly due to one thing, the worship music. My brother is in the praise band so it is really nice to see him use his gifts and talents for God. One specific Wednesday I remember was when our house got broke into, my youth pastor called me up and prayed for our family. It meant so much to me at the time. I felt that Lexington was home for me. Then my dad tells me that we are moving to London. I was not at all wanting to leave. I began to get real moody. I call my best friend and tell her I am having to moving. I wouldn't be able to go to the mall on the weekends anymore. But God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing. I would start a new school. I would see and hear new things that I have never heard of before. I remember coming to Corinth Baptist Church and meeting Mrs. Marlene Webb. She has a special place in my heart. She helped bring me out of my shell. She encouraged me to go to the youth group. At first, it seemed fun and exciting. I liked going to Rick Gage camp and doing all the fun activities we did. But as time went on, I felt like an outcast. I didn't seem to fit in with the group as a whole. But then something happen. We started a youth praise team band. I was really excited about this. I had picked up my moms old acoustic guitar before moving to London and started to learn a few chords. I liked coming to youth group just for that one thing. But as time went by nobody would show up. I got a mad. Amongst other things as well, I just decided not to come to youth group for a long while. I had been talking with this girl, Christis. At first she seems very odd. I had never been around her personality before. She was just different.  But it was good to see her in youth group.

 Then I graduate high school on May 19th 2005. South Laurel High School basketball state champs.  The weekend of my graduation  was supposed to be awesome. Sunday morning after Sunday school my mom and I go down to my nannies house in Georgia and to stay for a full week. This is when I feel my life would slowly start to go down hill. Monday morning,  I wake up at my nannies house to hear that my dad had called my mom. She came in to my room and told me that i needed to get up and get packed to go back home. I asked her why and she said because he had just been to the doctors and had been told he had cancer. Knowing that my brother Daniel had died from Liver Cancer when he was only just 10 months old, it kinda scared me a little bit to hear that dad had cancer too.  I can already see some tension with mom. But God knew what He was doing. He has had his hand on us the entire time. I did not even get to swim in the pool.

 We get back home and I go into a depression. I stop going to church.  I really want to find that happiness again. Then another night came and I find myself on the computer really, really late. I see an ad for something and click on it. I didn't think twice and before I can comprehend what I am doing, I am looking at things i should not be looking at.  Night after night I am up looking at it. It satisfies an emptiness in me for those brief moments, so I thought.  After a while, I feel i am staring down a dark road. I start asking God to forgive me, but the addiction is relentless. I ask a close friend of mine to help me. They tell me every time I even think about looking at it I would have to call them.  I know that I don't want to call them in the middle of the night so I try to stop cold turkey. I start coming back to church.
 After going back to church for a while, my friend Christis finds me and asks me if I had heard anything about an event called Passion. I was like, what is that? She told me that it was a movement for college students to gather and worship Jesus. I told her I never heard it or anything like it.  She asked me if I knew of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Louie Giglio? I said yeah just Chris.  She told me that Louie was the main pastor guy and asked me if I wanted to go to the Passion event at the beginning of that next year. I really didn't want to go so I told her I would pray about it.  She would see me at church from time to time and keep asking me if I wanted to go. We would have to get tickets very soon before the price went up. So I told her yeah, I'll go. Why did I just tell her yes?  I really just wanted to get her off my back. I didn't want go at all.  But I go with her anyway to the event and come back feeling different.  Passion for me was about being real. It was the spark I needed in my life. It helped me put some dirt back into the big hole I dug for myself. Louie, the main speaker, used an analogy in his sermon that first night.  He said,  When you strike a match on the box, it is only lit for a moment and then it goes out. But then you have to ask yourself this question, what did that flame do?  He goes on and says: If your life was lived in that little flame, what would it have accomplished? Then if Jesus had entered that flame, what would it have done then? We will have trouble in our life, guaranteed. But when it comes we need to keep our eyes on the cross. When all things turn to the end in the worst way, only God can bring good back in it! Suffering and hardship can not snuff out our mission!

 I come back from the event and try to do things the right way. I stop listening to the music i had been listening to and try to keep everything positive. Christis and I start to become very close. I am still looking for this happiness and joy but still really have not found it yet. I start really praying to God to forgive me for unconfessed sin in my life. Then the devil starts to tell me lies. He tells me that the bible is just another book and that I should not read it. He also tells me that I am worthless. I start to believe him. I thought that it was God talking. I have so much fear and anxiety. I become very discouraged. But it seems the only one I have to listen to me is christis, who is always encouraging me. Thank you Christis.  I don't know how many talks I have with another special friend, but from what we really dig into, I start to see that I really don't trust anyone but myself. I had trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior.  A Savior to get me to heaven and that was it. So when i realized that I needed to trust Christ not just as my sin saving Savior but as my everyday Savior, I went to my room and told Him about everything I was holding on to. Everything that was weighing me down, for Him to just take it. I told him that I trusted His judgement and He completely took it all. From that moment on, I felt like i could breathe. I had carried that guilt and selfishness around with me for several years and now it was completely gone. I was 100% real with myself and real with God.  Jesus now meant something to me. He does not condemn me. He came to give me a new life in Him. He loves me for me. He waited patiently all of those years for that moment when I was on my bed handing everything over to Him.   My whole life started to change. I want to pick up the bible and read. I want to go to church now and participate. I never want to go back where I was. If He waited that long for me, how much longer do you think He will wait for you?

 In closing, I would just like to say:
1. Nothing is too big for God to handle.  Never think that you can work things out on your own. Just give it to God and let Him deal with it. That's what He wants to do.
2. Stay in church. If something stirs up within the church walls, pray about it and give it to God. DO NOT quit going to church. That will not solve anything, it just makes it worse.
3. Trust Jesus. Plain and simple. He has been proven worthy and wants to take our faults and fears away.

Thank you for listening and may God bless us all. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

I just want to be real....

I don't want to be a fake. I don't want to even have an inkling of fakeness. I want to be true to who I need to be in Christ.  I want to be real. I want to His light to shine through me.  I don't want to die and at my funeral or viewing people come up to my casket and say: man, jo was a fake. She talked all about how there is a God and how He loves us but never showed people who He was.

I have been thinking about this for a while....

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The only one I trust.

Here lately I've just been listening to what has been going on around me. Not so much the news but, just music and other peoples conversations in general. I've been busy with work since i have had to work a lot through these holidays that have come and gone. It seems that I've not had a moment to just sit and breathe. (insert short but brief breath) I have been thinking about what God has brought me through this year and how i have seen my life change. The things i used to think about, i just don't really think about them anymore. I'm not really trying to brag here but, I have been really trying to focus more on Jesus. I will try and be clear as i can when i say this. If you trust somebody with your life (Jesus) and you tell them everyday then the other minute things will take a back seat. You will want to do anything to please that person and be obedient to what they want you to do. For me, I have a much better day when i start out by just saying to God: I trust you God. I trust your judgement. You see the bigger picture to everything and I don't. You have my best interest at heart and you know me better than I know myself.