jessiehancock

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Breadcrumbs

Following a path of breadcrumbs.

Some of you may be fortunate enough to speak multiple languages, and if you do, you’re probably familiar with the fact that some words lose their value and depth in translation. I’m just now discovering how much more can be gained from scripture when we look at the root of certain words and delve into their original meaning. There is a Hebrew word, tsadiyq, it means “to stay on course, to remain on the path”. Takbulah refers to direction and guidance from God. Before we progress any further though, let me back up and properly introduce you to this story.

You know that feeling you get when you see something that catches your eye, but for one reason or another, it’s just not the right timing? Maybe you don’t want to read about that topic right now, it hits too close to home. Perhaps it’s like cleaning out your garage; a project that you put off until you can stand it no longer and then you wonder why you kept putting it off because once complete, it gives you a sense of satisfaction. For others, it could be a challenge to do something new or different than anything you’ve ever tried before. In my case it was a book.

It sat on the shelf and whispered my name, but I said no. The next time, it said “Jessie, how about now?” Nope, not today. This cycle repeated many times, until one day I was in one of my favorite places, the tall columns of books neatly organized by numbers and letters, aka, the library. It caught my eye and said “how about today?” With a deep breath, I exhaled and said maybe, then lifted it to examine whether this was the right book for right now. Within moments, I knew it was. Excitement gripped me as I saw within a few pages that this book, “Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst, contained exactly what I need right now.

This morning, a new chapter shone bright as I recognized the unmistakable feeling of a good breadcrumb. God and I have this thing with breadcrumbs, he leaves them for me in odd places and when I stumble across them, I am wrapped in the sweetest understanding and proof that I’m right where he wants me to be and I’ve encountered one of his signposts.

Sometimes it’s a book, a person, a quote-it differs in form but never in absolute truth and perfection that can only bear his unique signature. It’s like a warm ray of sun that heats your face on a chilly day and gives reassurance that you are going the right way. Yes, breadcrumbs are our language and I’m always on the lookout for them. They are the best kind of present. They say, “good job, you are just right, everything is going as it should, and by the way, I love you more than you’ll ever know. Breadcrumbs are my thing. Do you have your own version of them? Keep your eyes open and pay attention to the little signs that are going to show up for you on your halak, or walk. They always show up.

Turn Your Vision

I learned to be a cynic at a young age and it worsened in my teenage years. In part, it afforded me the appearance of wisdom, when in all actuality, I was just a young, frustrated person who still needed to choose a worldview for herself. Part of me knew I was a downer, stuck in a rut, but there was no clear way out. Do you feel drawn to the people with joy, yet you can’t seem to keep it in your own heart for very long? Our culture will try to persuade you that it has a solution. So many people will tell you what to think, how to act, what to wear but it’s just noise. You’re the only one who can turn the knob to adjust what you’re seeing.

Stop and ask yourself this question: who do you want to be and what does that look like? It’s a timeless question that applies to all ages. The young girl, the teen, the woman. You are constantly growing and reflecting what is inside. Do you like who you are? Are you uplifting to others and do your words come from a place of love? Keep turning the knob of choices until you find the one that speaks to your soul. There you will find what we all crave.

Joy is not a well-kept secret that only the lucky few are privy to. It’s an inside-out sort of thing like the song by Diana Ross that I used to run around singing when I was little. I’m probably dating myself on that one, but oh well! Your joy is something you consciously plug into when you start your day on point.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 if you want to see where you’re going, you need light to find your way and a guide to get you there. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘this is the way’.” Isiah 30:21

What does your morning look like? What does the ideal version of you look like in terms of quality, character, and in your relationships with others? How can you build fellowship with God into that sliver of time before the world comes calling?

Once Upon A Time

 

Once upon a time…little girls everywhere dreamed of what they would be someday and the amazing lives they would have; full of strong friendships, a sense of self-worth, skills that they used to make a difference, and happiness from living an incredible life. Wait a second-I didn’t say they were sleeping in the backseat of a car with one thin blanket, stomach rumbling from hunger, and wiping tears of frustration and sadness. That’s not the one we all imagined. We want the one that makes us feel good. Ok, here’s how you get it.

What if I told you that by reaching out to the girls just like that one in the car, that we could help and inspire them to become women who would live the first story? It’s obvious that our society has a considerable way to go to level the playing field for women, as seen by the #metoo movement and recent political events.

As the little girl from that scenario in the car, I know personally what it takes to overcome a tough set of circumstances and now it’s my mission to empower girls and women that need inspiration, encouragement, and a little guidance to find their way to a more purposeful life.

As a mom of two girls, I pay close attention to: what they read, watch, listen to, and how much time they spend on media. A healthy life doesn’t just happen without boundaries and good practices. As a former high school counselor, I observed, interacted with, and guided countless teens through the peaks and valleys of adolescence. I also comforted parents and guardians who wanted to learn the best way to love and raise their children. The tools you need to build your story are readily available and I have a few resources that you should check out.

If you want to see a positive change in your life, take a look at the lyrics in the music you’re listening to.

What does it tell you about yourself?

How does it make you feel?

What are your books or magazines doing to nourish your sense of worth?

Are they feeding you and building you up or trying to mold you into something that doesn’t feel right?

What movies do you love and why do they speak to your heart and mind?

Do you look at your phone when you’re with other people?

What is that saying to them about their value to you?

Right now, do three things that will make a difference in your life.

  1. Go to https://www.proverbs31.org/ and sign-up for the daily email. It’s so encouraging!
  2. Bake or buy something for a friend and surprise them with it.
  3. Make a list of things you want in your life and then start breaking it down into steps. What are the obstacles? How can you get around them? Who can you reach out to for help?

I promise that a life worth telling stories about it possible when you take a good look at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go. Now ask God to lead you and be prepared for amazing things to happen. Tell me about the first step you are going to take today, I want to hear from my warriors in training out there!

Creating a Better World

 

What do we want our kids to appreciate in life? Is it the value of a dollar? The importance of community? So many good choices, but two things stand out to me—to recognize their blessings and to always give back to others. It’s easy to tell them to be good people, that we want them to put their faith into action, yet more important is how can we regularly practice this with them. My husband and I love traveling with our daughters to discover new places and yet, we usually plan a trip where the agenda will entertain and satisfy our own needs.

Instead, what if we made it a priority to include philanthropy in each trip that we take? This feels like something we could get behind. I started researching family volunteering and travel and found a plethora of websites offering travel destinations with a purpose. It all sounds very exciting, yet overwhelming! Now what? Perhaps the search needs to be more specific?

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.” —Bob Goff

Then I came across this article, The Reality Of Voluntourism And The Conversations We’re Not Having, by Natalie Jesionka, which gave me a starting point. Her message is educational and thought-provoking. It reminds us to carefully investigate what we want to do and ask ourselves, how are we able to truly serve others in a way that helps them most effectively, instead of just scratching an itch for our own altruism? What if we could creatively combine our efforts with others taking action to build a better world for everyone?

A few names come to mind when I think of charitable nonprofits that offer travel options. We tremendously respect the way Love Does works to fight for human rights and providing education to children in conflict zones around the world. Bob Goff is the founder and his message “Only action becomes love.” is inspiring and his organization, Love Does, is making a tangible difference in the world.

Jesus Film Project is another group that I’m excited about. They spread the gospel to people worldwide by showing the Jesus Film in the heart languages of many nations.

How do you connect with one of these organizations? Start at their website and then narrow it down by country, by the type of activity, or the duration of the stay. The budget also plays a part in the equation. Regardless of the circumstances, there is something for everyone and it’s just a matter of doing some research and replacing our original idea of what travel is about with a new definition, one that is even bigger and better on an eternal scale.

What excites us the most is that we can do something to contribute to other people’s well-being while we’re nurturing ourselves, and amazingly, the giving will bring its own rewards. If our girls grow up doing this, it will become engraved in their hearts and they will become more compassionate people, not just well-traveled. This means the world to my husband and me!

Have you done a volunteer vacation? I’d love to hear about your experiences and get recommendations so we can start planning our next adventure.

 

The Wish That Got Away

 

Like dandelion seeds that float away on a breeze, sometimes the things you wish for don’t always come true. That hasn’t stopped me from playing the “What If?” game. If I had a sister, she would make me laugh so hard I’d snort coffee out of my nose because she’d be the smart kind of funny that requires people to take notice and respect her for the full package that she is.  She’d be a few years ahead of me, wiser, and capable of leading me without being bossy.

Growing up, I never gave it much thought that I was an only child, it just was. The older I become, the more I began to long for this imaginary sister to share my peaks and valleys with. I’ll bet there’s something we all wish for that seems like it would fill in the missing pieces. An exciting new job, a doting husband, a baby to rock in our arms; just a few of the things many of us hope for. Maybe they arrive at a different time than we expect or perhaps they don’t make an appearance at all? How do we manage the disappointment of unfulfilled wishes?

The compass is one of my new favorite things. It can be turned in any direction, but always reverts back to the north and leads us the right way. Sometimes we go off in a direction that we’re sure is the path for us, only to find that we flew past a street sign that warned us we’re going the wrong way! For me, having faith is like keeping a beautifully weathered and precious compass in my pocket that will get me out of any jam. By correcting our course, we find that the things we long for may come in a different timetable or they might not be in our future at all, but the peace to accept and move beyond that realization is available.

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God…” Psalm 73:16

A huge part of me wishes for the older sister that will encourage me on the days where I feel like I’m the only mom trying to navigate while blindfolded and hopping on one leg with a hand tied behind my back. She’ll tell me that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and that it’s more important to stay calm in the moment and find the tiniest speck of beauty from it instead of lamenting what it should be. I’m telling you, this girl’s amazing! In actuality, there is no guidebook for us so we have to write our own and accept that no one else’s directory would work anyway because we are made so uniquely different on purpose-that’s part of the plan!

For now, my sister is alive in my imagination. If I can hear that loving tone, see the big genuine smile, and feel the warmth she emanates, then maybe she does exist somehow. Perhaps she is an ideal I can emulate just like I’ve done all my life to shape myself into who I’ve wanted to become. On earth, I’m an only child. In Heaven, I’ve got the biggest, rowdiest family you’ve ever seen and I belong right in the middle of it. Knowing this makes it alright to pursue the best life I can while I’m here, instead of getting a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out). What does your wish look like? Mine’s a leader who walks beside me.