The Darkest Valley

The Darkest Valley

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” // Psalm 23:4

Hi Everyone!

I don’t think it goes without saying how we are truly in one of the most, if not the most, difficult season our country and our world has faced in a very, very long time. I’ve been just like the rest of you these past few weeks: Glued to the news and social media feeds, left shocked and heartbroken by the things going on around us. People have lost their jobs. Small business owners have lost their dreams. Many of lost access to health insurance, and many have lost access to their own health.

COVID-19 has gone through quite the transition, at least here in America. We all kind of went from joking about it with memes, to finding the toilet paper aisles empty, to now staying inside and hearing the death toll could reach up to 240 million people in America alone. As I’ve sat and thought the past few days, so many possibilities have crossed my mind. We truly don’t know what the next few days, weeks, or months bring. We are truly in uncharted territory. And as much as I’d love to comfort us all by saying God knew this was coming and that He is in control (because both of those things are true), I think God is giving us a little more substance to anchor our souls in today–because you know as much as I do, we need an anchor for our soul now more than ever.

Today is Palm Sunday and marks the start of Holy Week. Easter is my favorite holiday, even over Christmas. The emotions of Good Friday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday are days I look forward to all year. I can’t help but notice the timing of the Easter season this year, and how it collides directly with what could possibly be the worst week America has seen thus far in the amount of lives that will be lost, and the amount of cases that will be reported. It seems so interesting to me that one week in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago started off just like many of our weeks did before this whole thing happened: celebratory, joyous, excited for the future. But every day that Jerusalem moved closer to Passover, the more tense the air got, the more fuel that was added to the fire against Jesus, and finally it all accumulated in the darkest day of humankind: the day Jesus died.

The last month has felt somewhat like an elongated Holy Week. Most of us started off March pretty great. Then it got darker. And darker. And darker.

At the time I’m writing this, we have lost more than 8,000 lives in America due to the Coronavirus. And by the end of this week–by the time we are observing Good Friday–we could–and probably will–lose thousands more.

Isn’t it something that the week we will be observing the One death that paid our sins once and for all will be happening simultaneously along the world’s worst pandemic in nearly 100 years? Every day that we get closer to remembering Jesus’ death, we will be watching people die all around us. And how many people will we lose that very Friday as we reflect on Jesus’ death?

All this to say this: We are in the darkest valley right now. I’ve read Psalm 23 over and over and over again since this year started, and today I read verses 4-6 in a little bit of a different light, and I wanted to share that with you. The verses are as follows, bolded words are mine:

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

We will walk through dark valleys–that’s guaranteed, and everyone in the Bible did. David did, and as he details this in the above verses, there are some things we can take away from it. As we walk through the darkest valley right now, here’s what God is doing, and here’s what we can hold on to:

  • I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: In the darkest valley, God is with us. His Presence and His protection comfort us. In the darkest valley.
  • You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: In the darkest valley, when we are surrounded by enemies, job loss, uncertainty, fear, and even death, God provides for us. He prepares a table right in the middle of the darkest valley. He gives us what we need, and He gives it to us abundantly. Right in the middle of the darkest valley.
  • Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever: In the middle of the darkest valley, God’s goodness and love is right here with us. It’s following us. It’s comforting us. It is with us. Right here in the darkest valley. And right here in the darkest valley, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Right here in the darkest valley, we need not fear. Lean into these verses. Lean into God’s promises. Dig into God’s word. There is hope available. There is peace available. There is life available.

What happened on the worst day in history didn’t stay that way. Jesus died, but He didn’t stay dead. Sunday did come. Resurrection did come. Eternal life did come. We may be in the darkest valley now, but this won’t last forever. Because bad days never have the final say. Death never has the final says. Valleys never have the final say.

Resurrection has the final say. God has the final say. So let’s hang on. Sunday is coming.

But for those who might not make it to Easter Sunday this year, can we pray for them? The reality is so many people are questioning their own mortality in these times, and there’s never been a more opportune time to tell others about the hope and the life that Jesus freely offers to anyone who calls on His name (Romans 10:9-10). Pray for your friends and family. For healthcare workers, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. For those who’s eternities are hanging in the balance as they await the next week. God is still doing miracles. And we need salvation to flood this country. That will be my prayer this week: That the blood poured out on Calvary’s tree 2,000 years ago would flood America anew this Holy Week and Easter season. It’s not too late for anyone. Let’s do all we can to bring this message to those who need it, before it does become too late.

Thank you for being here during these trying times. If you ever need someone to talk to or pray for you, please feel free to reach out. Comments below are always welcome, as are DM’s on my socials (@stephjayewriter). Remember, we are all in this together, and I’m loving and praying for you all. Please stay home, stay safe, and be wise.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie ❤

The Classroom of Pain

The Classroom of Pain

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” // James 1:2-4

Happy Sunday! (+ Thanksgiving Week!)

Last week we talked about seasons of hurt, and how God is not only present in our hurt, but can relate to our situation. This week, let’s talk about reasons God sometimes allows seasons of pain and hurt, and maybe we can get a good perspective change on how to handle and go through life’s trials.

  1. God uses trials to make us more like Him. This is by far the number one reason God often sends trials. We see from our opening verse that we should count it joy when we face trials. I don’t know about you, but when I encounter a trial, joy is not the first thing I think of. But let’s dig deeper. The reason why we should count it joy when we find ourselves in the midst of a trial is because we can recognize that God is doing something within the trial to make us more like Him. Trials often teach us and exposes a weakness that maybe we weren’t aware of before. Once we become children of God through accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God doesn’t leave us where He found us. The end goal of this life is to become more like Him. More like Him in things like character, conduct, and speech (1 Corinthians 1:11, Philippians 1:6, 1 John 2:6). If you ask most Christians about a time in their life that God used to change them, more than not, they will tell you of a time when they endured a hardship, and not only saw God through it, but became more like Him because of it. Count it joy, friends. God is always up to something greater and of eternal value in trials. Our job is to allow Him to do that within us.
  2. God uses trials to change our course. Sometimes we get a little … what’s the word … self-dependent in this life. We starting thinking we’re capable enough to make our own decisions, choose our own path, walk our own way. Take this from me, friends, this is not a good path. We were designed to listen to God, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit within us, and to obey God in this life. We know that obedience brings blessing, peace, and closeness with our Lord. It also produces maximum effectiveness in our life and our ministry. When we get too self-dependent or wander a tad too far, God will use trials to get our attention, to get our hearts and minds to turn back to Him. He doesn’t do this because He’s cruel or demanding, but because He knows your best life will always be one that is lead by Him and in His way (Psalm 18:30, Proverbs 3:5-6). Trials remind us that we are never in control to begin with. Count it joy, friends, because God’s way is best, and I’m so thankful He’s stops me from wandering too far. There’s no better place than to be than in His will.
  3. God uses trials to test us. Back to our opening verses. James also tells us that trials test our faith, and in turn give us perseverance, which then mature us so we don’t lack anything. It’s trials that are defining moments in our lives — they show us if what we believe about our God is real enough, deep enough, and pure enough. A lot of times people follow God to avoid hardship. Or they just want to follow Him for what He has to offer (see Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Hardship will expose these motivations. On the contrary, they will also expose if our hearts are genuine, and if we will choose to praise God even when trials come. Trials test what we know about God, but if we seek Him with our whole heart, they will strengthen what we know about Him, and in turn increase our faith and trust in Him even more. This is one of the most beautiful things about trials. Our intimacy with the Lord grows, and He teaches us new things about Himself that affirm our faith even more. This then produces in us a testimony we can use to tell others about our faith and what God has done for and in us. 1 Peter 1:6-7 tells us it like this, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Count it all joy, friends. God is who He says He is, and He often shows that powerfully in the midst of trials.

Know this — if you’re going through a trial today, God is not mad at you. He has not forgotten you, He has not forsaken you. He knows the pain, He’s there to comfort you in it, but He’s also looking to accomplish something of eternal value in you through this season. And that is worth it.

Take a moment today to reflect on seasons of hardship and hurt in your life. How have you seen God work in those seasons? If you’re going through one right now, ask God to show you what He wants to, and ask Him to open your heart for all He wants to do in you through this season.

Until Next Time ❤

Stephanie Jaye

@stephjayewriter

Colton Jumped the Fence. Jesus took the Cross.

Colton Jumped the Fence. Jesus took the Cross.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” // Romans 5:8

If you pay any attention to reality TV or any entertainment news, you’ve probably heard the now infamous phrase, “Colton jumped the fence.” All the hype surrounded the two-part finale of The Bachelor this past week. If for some reason you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s where one person is cast as the lead and goes on a quest for love with about thirty potential mates, and as the show goes on, the lead eliminates their potential suitors until there are only two left. The lead then chooses one person to spend the rest of their life with. So this season its lead was 26 year old Colton Underwood, but it ended quite different than most seasons of The Bachelor. Two weeks before the show was set to end, the girl Colton wanted to be with, Cassie Randolph, broke up with him. And this left him upset – to up it mildly. After Cassie left the show, Colton was so upset by this that he ran away from the production set and jumped an eight foot high fence to do it.

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However, he didn’t do this because he was mad. He did this because his love for Cassie was so deep that he couldn’t imagine going on without her. After he jumped the fence and ran away, the production crew eventually found him and convinced him to come back to the show. At this time, Colton still had two potential girls he could choose to propose to. Two girls who were in love with him. But he wanted Cassie. And because he loved Cassie so much, he broke up with the two remaining girls, risking the loss of every relationship left, to try and pursue Cassie again, in hopes she’d reconsider.

At the end of it all, Colton did convince Cassie to give it another shot, and the two are now together and in love (yay for happy endings!). Now, why bring all this up and how does it relate to anything in our own life?

There’s something in all of us that love love. We all love it when someone goes after the person they love with all their heart. We all want someone to “jump a fence” for us. We all want to be pursued without reservation.

There’s something in all of us that love love. We all love it when someone goes after the person they love with all their heart. We all want someone to “jump a fence” for us. We all want to be pursued without reservation. That’s why we love the movie scenes when the guy chases down a plane leaving with the girl he loves on it. The romance novel that detail the boy who does anything to get the girl. And while most see these circumstances as unrealistic for our every day life, I don’t believe so. In fact, I think God wired us this way.

I think God wired us this way because God knew He would send Jesus to woo us, to pursue us in this exact same way.

I think God wired us this way because God knew He would send Jesus to woo us, to pursue us in this exact same way. Jesus left everything to pursue our hearts (Luke 15:1-7). He left the comforts of heaven, He came to this dirty and dusty earth, He became a servant and ultimately endured the most grueling death known to mankind (Philippians 2:5-8, John 3:16). Why?

Because He loves you.

Because He wants you.

Ladies! You have a man who has left it all to pursue your heart. There is a man who jumped every fence in His way to get to you. To woo you. To have you. This is the greatest romance of all time! And yet it’s so often that we settle for thinking we’re not deserving of that kind of love in this life because we don’t get it from some guy who doesn’t pursue us like that. But no matter what a guy has or has not done for you – Jesus has done this for you! And nothing can change that (Romans 8:39, John 10:28-30).

So today, remember that you have a God who loves you more than you can imagine. He’s waiting for you every second of every day. Even if you’ve walked away like Cassie did to Colton, even if you’ve wanted nothing to do with Him, even if you’ve messed up. We’ve all done this stuff. But Jesus died for us anyways. And He’d do it all over again for you right now if He had to.

So, look up and see that you have been pursued with God’s whole heart, without abandon. And don’t settle for anyone in life that treats you less than this. Wait for the person pursues you like Jesus would. Who fights for you like Jesus does. Who loves you like Jesus.

When we wait for His best and bask in His love right now, some day we might just change the world. ❤

Oh! And guys … “jumping a fence” is now the new standard. So get practicing 😛

(Just kidding. Maybe.)

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

God’s Love Casts Out Fear

God’s Love Casts Out Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” // 1 John 4:18

Happy Sunday! This week we’re continuing our series on God’s love in celebration of February, Valentine’s Day, love. You know, all that good stuff.

Something that is crippling in our day and age is fear. Fear, anxiety, depression … all the things. I’ve struggled with this myself, but I’ve learned a lot through it. And one of the things I’ve learned is that if we truly believe God, if we truly take Him at His word, there is nothing to fear.

Now, before I continue, I understand that there are serious conditions that make this subject rather complicated. Please know that this post is not insensitive to that, and this is certainly not medical advice. However, I believe (as an anxiety sufferer myself) that there is nothing more powerful, more healing, and more freeing than believing and standing in the power of God’s promises.

We’re told in 1 John 4:18 that “perfect love drives out fear”. When I read this, I wondered why, if this were true, fear was still penetrating my heart. But when I read on, the verse tells us why. “Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

When we fear, it’s usually because we aren’t trusting God for who He says He is in some aspect. Here’s a list of reasons, based in who God is, we have no reason to fear:

  1. God is who He says He is. God has given us promise after promise that He is with us, He is for us, and that if we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are sealed for eternity. We are no longer under wrath but under grace (Heb. 13:5, Rom. 8:31, 6:14).
  2. There’s nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. God doesn’t love us based on what we do, He loves us based on who He is. Because of this, there’s nowhere we can go, and nothing we can do that will make Him stop loving us (Jer. 31:3, Matt. 28:20).
  3. He’s promised to be with us. Because God is over all, through all, and in all, there’s nowhere we can be that He is not (Ps. 139:7-10). Plus, if we know Jesus as our Savior, He’s given us His Holy Spirit that lives in us, and we can never be separated from Him (John 10:28, Rom. 8:38-39).
  4. He already knows every day of our life before we do. Psalm 139:16 tells us, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be”. Nothing is a surprise to Him. Nothing takes Him off guard. We can run to Him, secure in His love, because He is unshaken by our storms.
  5. The Bible tells us we haven’t been given a spirit of fear, but of love, power and self-discipline. Literally, as new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), fear isn’t apart of our DNA. It’s not who we are, and we don’t have to bow to it anymore (2 Tim. 1:7).
  6. There’s resurrection power in us. Romans 8:11 tells us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. Think about that. That same Spirit that raised the King of Kings from the grave is in us. Think about how powerful that Spirit is. If that Spirit can–and did–raise Jesus from the dead, He is certainly powerful enough to break the spirit of fear in us and set our feet on the path of trusting in God, His love, and lead us in the path of freedom and peace (John 8:36, Luke 1:37, Isa. 26:3).
  7. Because He loves us. This is what 1 John 4:18 talks about. We don’t have to fear God … we don’t have to fear anything! God loves you. You are His child. He sees you as you are and wants you anyways. He knows that you’ve messed up. He knows you’ll mess up before you even do. But that doesn’t change the fact that He loves you. That He sent His Son for you. He is your father, and you are His child. Where there used to be fear, God now offers mercy, grace, and His unending love for you, His child. There is no place for fear in that.

Love is the opposite of fear. And because of Jesus, there is never a reason to fear. Fear is everything opposite of what the Scriptures tell us, everything opposite of who God is, the way He loves. This week, mediate on some of these promises. What is causing you fear in your own life? Is it because you’re not trusting God in some area? What promise of Scripture can you apply to that. Even when you don’t think you can go another moment under the weight of fear, remember His promises and proclaim them. This is where your freedom … and His love … is found.

Because of God’s love, we don’t have to fear. And if we believe that and live like it’s true, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! The topic of fear is HUGE, and so I’ve decided to dedicate the whole month of March to this topic. Stay tune for that series in just a couple weeks and let’s experience freedom together!

God’s Love Pursues Us

God’s Love Pursues Us

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” // Ephesians 2:4-5

Happy Sunday everyone! And Happy SUPERBOWL Sunday! Honestly, Superbowl Sunday is one of my favorites days of the year. I’m a huge NFL fan, and no matter who is playing in the Superbowl, it’s always so fun to pick a team, root for them, and experience the excitement all day long.

But before the Big game tonight, we’re going to be starting a new series on God’s love for the month of February. Obviously, Valentine’s Day is coming up in a couple weeks, and most people associate this holiday that celebrates love with the second month of the year. So, for that, we’re going to be diving into four aspects of how God’s love affects our life.

Have you ever thought about this: When we were lost in sin, in the darkest of places, when we ran so far we thought we could never be rescued … it was then that Jesus stepped into our lives to save us. God pursued us in the moment of our greatest need, our most vulnerable weakness. When we couldn’t do anything for ourselves. When we were embarrassed to even show our face. That’s when we were pursued by God. Ephesians 2:5 tells us that it was when we were dead in our transgressions (our sins) that Jesus died for us.

Not only did Jesus die for us in our most helpless and ugly state, but that’s when God pursued our hearts. Most of us think that God wants the cleaned up church version of ourselves. That in order to be pursued, we need to look our best, act our best, and put our best foot forward. But this isn’t how God pursues us. In His love, He pursues us gently by calling our name. He pursues us recklessly by giving up His own Son to have us (John 3:16). In fact, God pursued us before we were even born (Eph. 1:4-5, Jer. 1:5). He made a way for us to know Him and receive His love before we even knew we needed such an amazing thing.

This week, take a couple moments to let this idea wash over you. You are loved unconditionally by the God who made the stars and the mountains. By the One who made the oceans and the galaxies. You are handcrafted by the King of Kings, loved more than you could ever fathom. And pursued with a love so pure that humanity will never truly know the height and depth of God’s love for us (Eph. 3:17-19). But know this week, that this God loves you. He is for you. And He’s pursuing you, even right now in this moment.

When we let His love penetrate our hearts and His pursuit grab a hold of our lives, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

Set Apart to Stand Out

Set Apart to Stand Out

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” // Philippians 2:14-16

I was reading a devotional book the other day when I came across a quote that really struck me. This is what it said:

“There is no point to a life in Christ if we lose the one thing that makes us different from the world. God wants you to display a life that shows how wonderful salvation is.”

Janelle Anthony Breckell

This made me stop and think for a moment. In today’s culture, it’s so easy to blend in. We think by “blending in” that we’ll somehow win others to Christ. They’ll think Christianity is “cool” because we do what they do. But if we think about it, what message is that portraying to the outside world? It sounds to me like that’s saying, “If you decided to follow Jesus, that’s cool. You can even keep doing what you’re doing right now.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s fine that Christians laugh, have fun, and do cool things. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when we as Christians try to blend in instead of being set apart.

Can we meet the world where they are by having fun, doing “cool” things, without actually being apart of them? I think the answer is yes.

The thing of it is, that’s a hard yes. It’s hard to get close to culture without getting sucked into it. It’s hard to stand our ground against temptation and the lure of the world, especially when we’re trying to engage it. But as Christians, it’s imperative that we go and meet the culture where they’re at without getting sucked into exactly what they’re doing.

The Bible talks about us walking a different path in life. Ephesians 4:1 tells us, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” This is a strong exhortation from the Apostle Paul. He’s pleading with the church at Ephesus to live a life worthy of the calling they’ve received. When we came to know Jesus as our Savior, our old self was done away with. We were given a new name. A new identity. We were brought into a new family (2 Cor 5:17, Galatians 4:3-7).

You probably have some resemblance to your family, your loves ones. Maybe you have your mom’s hair, or your dad’s eyes. But what about to your Heavenly Father? Is your heart reflecting His? When people see you, are they seeing your resemblance to Him? Are you standing out, shining bright in this dark generation? Are others questioning why your life is soaked with joy and your peace unshakable?

This is the kind of life we are called to as followers of Jesus. If we look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, and live like everyone else, how is anyone supposed to see Jesus in us? How are people supposed to experience the life changing power of Jesus if they’re not seeing it in us?

In short, what is the purpose of following Jesus if we’re doing life the same way as the person who’s not?

In short, what is the purpose of following Jesus if we’re doing life the same way as the person who’s not?

I’m convicted to hide God’s word in my heart, to invite Him in every day, and by the power of His Holy Spirit to live a life that’s different, one that’s shining on the brightest and darkest of days. It’s not an easy life by any means. But Jesus didn’t call us to an easy life … He Himself didn’t live an easy life. He served when He could’ve been served. He gave when He could’ve received. He sacrificed His life when He could’ve just stayed in heaven, seated on His throne, and worshiped day and night for all eternity. But instead, He came to rescue us. To rescue us out of our life of sin and darkness, that we may have an eternity filled with Him. That’s why our life should look different. That’s why we want people to know Jesus. Because He’s not only changed our life, but the course of human history!

As you wade into this week, pray about where God might want your light to shine a little brighter this week. Maybe at school? Maybe at work? Maybe to your unsaved family members? How can you be salt and light and bring the hope and power of Jesus to other’s this week?

When we recognize we’re set apart by God to stand out for Him, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.!! This week’s blog was inspired by the devotional Whatever Is Lovely by BroadStreet Publishing Group LLC & 100 Things God Loves About You: Simple Reminders For When You Need Them Most by Zondervan. Please check these wonderful books out!

The Worship of Christmas

The Worship of Christmas

“Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” // Matthew 2:2

Christmas Day. It’s almost here. All the decorations, parties, and gift-wrapping leads up to this one day. December 25th. But 2,000 years ago, this holy day was something so much more. The day when the long-awaited promise of a Savior of God’s people came. The day the baby was born in a lowly manger. The day that would begin the most beautiful, radiacal, redemption plan known to mankind.

This baby in a manger was born for you and me. He was born in a world full of darkness, choas, and sin. This baby was born so that we may have peace and life for all eternity.

This baby was born so He could one day die for all of humanity. To take our sin, take our pain, take our wrath so we could have forgiveness and be set free. This is no ordinary baby. This is no ordinary day. This is Jesus. Born as a child. The One who always was, always is, and always will be. The day our redemption … our hope … came to life.

This Jesus is worthy of every single ounce of our worship. He left His throne, the comforts of heaven that surrounded Him from eternity past to eternity present. He chose to be born to redeem His people, to provide a way for life. This Jesus was born to die for us. This Jesus was born to be raised from the dead. This Jesus was born so that we may have everlasting life.

This Christmas, let the holiness of His birth wash over you. That majesety would become a baby and turn a manger into holy ground. That the King of Kings would humble Himself into the verunablity of a baby. To be raised by human parents, to go to the cross to pay a pentaly no one else in human history could have. A penalty He willing paid.

On this holy night of Jesus’ birth, peace had dawned. Grace became a reality. Hope became a promise fulfilled. A baby was born to die. A baby worthy of all our worship.

This Christmas, let’s worship Jesus. The baby in the manger, the Savior on the cross, the King seated on His throne, the One who is coming back for His church. This Christmas, and always, He is worthy. ❤

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones. May the peace, joy, and hope of the season fill you all week long.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie Jacqueline 💜

@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! Check out these Christmas songs that’ll stir your heart in worship this Christmas.

The Joy of Christmas

The Joy of Christmas

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.'” // Luke 2:9-11

Hey guys! Happy Sunday!

The Christmas season is so busy, isn’t it? Shopping, baking, traffic … the list could go on and on! And sometimes in the busyness of the Christmas season, we lose arguably one the biggest reasons we celebrate Christmas: The JOY that comes from the Reason for the Christmas season.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus Christ, they told the shepherds not to be afraid, that they were bringing them “good news that will cause great joy for all the people”. 

When I read Luke 2:9-11 last year, something really stuck out to me. When the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus Christ, they told the shepherds not to be afraid, that they were bringing them “good news that will cause great joy for all the people”. In today’s day and age, joy is a rarity. It’s similar to the peace that we talked about a couple weeks ago. Something that seems so elusive in our culture in 2018. But when Jesus was born, the angels said His coming would bring great joy to all the people.

The birth of Jesus isn’t something to just study, or even to just believe. The birth of Jesus is something to be celebrated, something that should overwhelm us with joy. We were lost in our sin, dead and on a road to eternal separation from God in hell. But because Jesus was born, everything has changed. Because Jesus was born to save us, we can now have forgiveness for our sins and eternal life in Christ (John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10, Ephesians 2:8-9). Because of Jesus’ birth, we can now have reconciliation with God our Father, the exact relationship we were born to have (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Colossians 1:16). We can now have a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We can now have a peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We can now have the Maker of Heaven and Earth living inside us, securing us for the day Jesus returns (Ephesians 1:13). And we can now have access to all of God’s amazing and precious promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). And this is all because Jesus came as a baby, born to be our Savior.

Jesus Himself told us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus came so that our life could one day be all it was meant to be. Because we live in a fallen world, that’ll never happen in this life. But we do have the promise and hope that it’ll happen in the life to come (Revelation 21:5). Because of Jesus’ birth, we have every reason to be joyful. We were dead and now we’re alive (Luke 15:24). We were once slaves and now we’re children of God (Galatians 4:3-7). We were headed for hell and now we’re headed for an eternity more unimaginable than anything in this world (John 14:1-6).

So this Christmas, don’t let the presents, traffic, and people drain your joy. Let your joy come from the best present of all … Jesus Christ.

So this Christmas, don’t let the presents, traffic, and people drain your joy. Let your joy come from the best present of all … Jesus Christ.

And I believe if we let our joy come from spending time in His word and prayer, letting His joy brim over and spill out into our lives and others, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! As I mentioned in last week’s post, I went to a Christmas concert featuring Jason Gray, Stars Go Dim, and Jilian Linklater (And it was amazing, BTW. All the artists were so great at what they did and just great people in general). Check out a couple of their songs below that’ll be sure to bring some JOY into your Christmas season. Also, I’ve left a couple pictures I took from the concert below for you to see.

P.P.S.!! I put out a special mid-week blog last week (on Tues. Dec 11th). Please check that out if you haven’t read it. It contains a big part of my testimony. See you next week!




Why December 11th is so Important To Me

Why December 11th is so Important To Me

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” // Psalm 139:14-16

Hey all! Thanks for joining me for a special mid-week blog. I wanted to take a minute to share with you guys why today (December 11th) is so significant in my life. Because this day was the day that changed my life.

It was December 11th, 2009. A Friday to be exact. And I went to school, ready for the weekend just like any other eighth grade student, wearing the only pair of skinny jeans I owned. It was lunchtime, and while the rest of the students were finishing up eating and playing outside at recess, a couple of classmates and I decided to forfeit our recess and work on an English project we had due on Monday. My best friend at the time and I went to her locker to get the supplies we needed for the project, and while she dug around in her locker for what we needed, I bent over to pick up a pair of scissors from the ground. Little did I know, that move would change my life forever.

As I bent down to pick up the scissors, I fell to the ground. I looked at my knee, and my kneecap was sitting on the side of my knee. [Sorry, a little graphic, I know]. Out of my automatic reflexes, I shoved it back in place. (Which … disclaimer here … if you ever find yourself in a position where you dislocate something, never try to put it back in the correct place. Get medical attention immediately.)

So there I was. 13 years old, screaming … and I mean screaming … on the hard tile of my middle school hallway. The injury was so intense that I had skipped cry altogether, though there were a few tears shed. The intensity called for screaming. My best friend realized to some degree what had happened and ran down the empty hallway to get the school nurse. I’d never seen her run … let alone that fast … in all my life. 

Fast forward a little bit. I went to the doctor and found out that I had in fact dislocated my kneecap.

 The reason for this was because of my anatomy (which is another story all in itself). But because of how I was born, my kneecap wasn’t sitting in the groove of the knee like it’s supposed to, but rather it sat on top of the knee, making it vulnerable to dislocation.

Following the injury, I wore a brace for a while, and ultimately March of the following year (three months later) I had a small surgery on it attempts to stabilize it so my kneecap wouldn’t dislocate again. However, that surgery was effective for a little less than a year. My kneecap never dislocated again, but I started to feel it getting ready to. This time, the next surgery was scheduled for the following February (Feb. 2011 by this point). And this was no small surgery like the first one. This one was a whole knee reconstruction. (I won’t go into all those details, but if you really want to know, feel free to ask.) The recovery on this surgery was a bear. And I mean a bear. I couldn’t get out of bed on my own for about a good month. I was in a full leg brace for about six months, and physical therapy lasted eight months. Even then, I had only recovered 75% of my original strength back in that leg.

 I couldn’t get out of bed on my own for about a good month. I was in a full leg brace for about six months, and physical therapy lasted eight months. Even then, I had only recovered 75% of my original strength back in that leg.

Now, I know this all sounds dramatic and painful and crazy. And it was. But it was out of this season that I came to know Christ. I had grown up in a Christian home all my life, but it wasn’t until my kneecap popped out that I found an intimate relationship with Him. That I gave Him my whole heart and never looked back.  

I had grown up in a Christian home all my life, but it wasn’t until my kneecap popped out that I found an intimate relationship with Him. That I gave Him my whole heart and never looked back.  

It’s amazing to me that when I was created in the secret place God knew He wanted to me know Him. And the best way for me to know Him at the young, tender age of 13 would be to position my kneecap so perfectly that at that moment … lost in a season of  sin and darkness as a young teenager … that it would dislocate, leaving me on a long road to recovery and many, many days of quiet and peace with Him. The  verses above really couldn’t be more perfect for this blog post. God knitted my joints and ligaments and bones together so perfectly so that I may know Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. If my kneecap never would’ve dislocated, I don’t know where I’d be today. It probably wouldn’t be sitting here blogging about Him once a week, or writing a book centered around His amazing love and pursuit of us, or spending quiet time in His word every day.

So often in hardship and trial, we become so upset on what is or isn’t happening that we miss why God is allowing it.

God gets His children’s attention in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it’s dramatic, sometimes it’s subtle. But when He tries to get your attention, don’t turn bitter. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss the call to go away with your Creator, the One who loves you enough to pursue you. Don’t miss the best invitation of your life. Don’t miss the love He wants to show you. So often in hardship and trial, we become so upset on what is or isn’t happening that we miss why God is allowing it. Take a moment and reflect on what’s going on in your life. Is there something going on where God is trying to get your attention? What might He be saying to you today? Don’t be afraid to lean in and listen, because His heart for you is only love. And it’s never too late to look to God and lean into Him, no matter where you’re at in life.

So, that’s it. That’s why December 11th means so much to me, and I could not be more grateful for it. Because it was on that day, my world changed. And because of that very day, I know with God’s grace, day by day, someday we might just all change the world. ❤

Until Next Time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

P.S.! This song was so, so special to me when I was going through recovery. Please take a listen.

The Promise of Christmas

The Promise of Christmas

“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.'” // Luke 1:35-37

Hey all! We’re almost halfway through the month of December and we’re already knee deep into the Christmas season. I’ve noticed the lines at the stores are getting longer, Christmas parades are underway, and before you know it, it’ll be Christmas Day.

Today, I want to continue our series on Christmas. I want to talk about the promise of Christmas. Out of the many things I love about Christmas, this is toward the top of my list. When we talk about Christmas, we’re talking about Jesus being born as a baby in a manger to save the world from their sin. The thing about the baby in the manger is that … this is no ordinary baby born on a whim one night. Instead, this is a miracle child … born of a virgin … in a town his parents didn’t even live in. Everything surrounding the birth of Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies given about Him. And God didn’t overlook one detail in this miracle story. Here are just a few:

  1. Jesus was to be born of the line of David. Jesus’ earthly father (though not conceived by him) was from the line of David. (2 Samuel 7:12-13, Matthew 1:1, Luke 1:32-33)
  2. Jesus was to be born of a virgin. Mary was a virgin, therefore Jesus was conceived without sin and by the Holy Spirit. (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:31-25)
  3. Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. While Joseph and Mary actually lived in Nazareth, they ended up having to travel to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem due to a census being called … just in time for them to arrive in Bethlehem where Mary would give birth to Jesus, just as the prophecy foretold. (Micah 5:2, Luke 2:1-7)

The night Jesus was born, every promise God made … He kept.

What all this means is this: God made promise after promise after promise to His people. A promise that’d He would send a Savior to save His people. And He told them the signs to look for, how He was going to fulfill this promise. And the night Jesus was born, every promise God made … He kept.

A couple weeks ago we talked about how there was a 400 year silent period from God before Jesus came onto the scene. There were 400 years without a prophecy, without a word from God. It might’ve been tempting to think God forgot about His promise of a Savior. But He didn’t. In fact, the whole time He was setting the scene so at the right time Jesus would be born and the world would have a Savior at the best possible time.

What Christmas tells us today is that God doesn’t forget. That not only does He make promises, but that He keeps them. This is great news for us today! Not only did He promise to provide a Savior, He did. Not only did He promise to save us, but through this Savior, He made a way for us to do just that. And it’s through this same Savior that we have many, many more promises that are alive and well today. The promise that God is with us (Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 1:23) is alive and well today. The promise of peace in abundance is ours today (Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27). The promise that God is quick to forgive when we repent is ours today (1 John 1:9). The promise that He will reward our faithfulness is alive and well today (Galatians 6:7-9). The promise that He’ll provide for us is ours today (Matthew 6:25-34). The promise that one day Jesus will come back is our hope today (Revelation 1:7).

Take heart today, friends. God sees you, just like He saw His people over 400 years of silence. God is not slow in keeping His promises, even though that’s what it may look like (2 Peter 3:9). It just means that He’s setting the stage for the most amazing thing ever. Be it a baby born in Bethlehem or the very thing He knows you need. If you have a need, God has a promise for you this Christmas. He gave and delivered the best promise that very first Christmas. And because of that, we know that every single promise He’s made to us in His word will be kept, too.

The promise of Christmas means that not only do we have a Promise Maker, but we have a Promise Keeper.

The promise of Christmas means that not only do we have a Promise Maker, but we have a Promise Keeper. And because of that, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until next time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! I’m going to a Christmas concert tonight with some great Christians artists (maybe I’ll post some pictures in a couple days if you guys are interested). What fun things are you doing or have done this year to celebrate the season? Tweet me or leave a comment below letting me know!

P.P.S.!! I will be a posting a special mid-week post on TUESDAY (Dec. 11). Make sure you check back for that or sign up for email notifications here on my site to get that delivered right to your inbox so you don’t miss it! Also, keep an eye on my Twitter for the announcement it’s posted also!