Janessa speaks to us about radical dependence on Christ, the beautiful symbolism behind each season, filtering New Age practices out of Christianity, and the importance of rest in a Christian’s life.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—” (Mark 6:8) and Mark 10:17-27. These themes of dependence on Christ and radical living have really been impacting me, lately.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: God has been pulling me out of my comfort zone, time and time again. He’s been calling me to a higher road, one where few walk, but where He promises that I will never be alone. He has been calling me to a radical faith. To let go of everything that I possibly can– physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally– to gain more of Him. He’s promising a depth of relationship with Him that I can’t even begin to imagine, if only I will let Him consume me. If I will give Him my dreams and plans and heartaches, He will give me the greatest gift that He has already given, but in greater measures. He will give me Himself. He will be my everything. He will be my life.
“If I will give Him my dreams and plans and heartaches, He will give me the greatest gift that He has already given, but in greater measures. He will give me Himself.”
Profession: Full-time caretaker for my 92-year-old grandmother– writer, creator, artist and dreamer.
A one sentence bio of yourself: She’s just an ordinary girl captivated by an extraordinary God.
When did you first encounter God? I met the Lord, repented of my sins, and trusted on Him at a very young age (about 5 or 6). Since then, my spiritual journey has been just that– a journey. I am falling in love with my Savior more and more each day, and I pray I am looking, talking, thinking, and acting more like Him, too. (After all, that is what happens when you spend a lot of time with someone!) I wrote a bit more of my testimony here and here.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Recently, after many, many books and sermons and Bible studies (all of which can be good in moderation), I heard God whispering for silence. I began spending more time in nature communing with Him and spent even more time in prayer, worship, and the Word. After limiting my outside resources, I’ve come back with fresh eyes and ears and have really grown from listening to the “old-school” preachers, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, and A.W. Tozer. We so desperately need more men of prayer like them leading our churches these days! This sermon most impacted me this week: How to Cultivate the Holy Spirit’s Companionship.
Just read/currently reading: I’m one of those people who starts way too many books, but most recently I’ve been loving Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. I’m telling you, this girl gets me. It’s a book all about finding intimacy with Christ amidst the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Definitely one of my top ten book recommendations.
Top three essentials: Essential oils (haha I spy a pun), long hikes with Jesus, and lots of coffee. No, green tea. No, coffee.
How did God speak to you recently? He has been constantly and faithfully reminded me to simply trust Him. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane but intricate parts of living and think that we have some sort of control over our lives. But honestly, all we’ve got is the day He’s given us, to serve Him one moment at a time. He’s the One filling our lungs with His breath every minute of the day, and we have to somehow come to terms with our total dependency on Him. What are we worrying for? He’s got this.
“He’s the One filling our lungs with His breath every minute of the day, and we have to somehow come to terms with our total dependency on Him.”
Hobby: Hmm… I have so many! I love being creative and I love nature, so any way I can meld the two is so uplifting to me. Whether it be collecting wildflowers, watercoloring under sunny blue skies, or wading barefoot through the creek, I feel the closest to the Lord when I’m surrounded by His creation. That must be why I have so many houseplants!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Start your day with prayer and worship; begin talking to the Lord immediately when you wake up. Don’t ignore Him, He wants to hear your voice. Talk to Him about everything. Done? Ok. Whoa, hold it! Don’t start scrolling through Instagram just yet. Get yourself in the right frame of mind and feed your Spirit, too, by listening to some praise and worship tunes. Sing your heart out and dance around the kitchen while you’re making breakfast. The Lord delights to hear our praises!
Journal the Word – Along with your daily Bible reading, journal summaries of the passages you’ve read and your thought and prayers to the Lord. Don’t forget to be still for a few minutes before Him to hear what He’s speaking into your life. Then write those things down as well. (Always match these impressions with Scripture to keep you on the right path.)
Get outside – I’m a homebody. Plus, my grandma deals with severe anxiety (many times just from me leaving the room, let alone the house). Her back deck has been invaluable to me. On days when I just can’t leave, I’ll step out there for a few moments and just listen. So often, God uses these respites of stillness to soothe my weary soul. If I have time to go for a longer walk around the back pasture or in the local park, I’m learning to take those chances! Especially on days when the enemy is just really oppressing me, getting out of the house can be a major work of God. Never underestimate the power of the sun/Son.
Favorite person in scripture? The Holy Spirit. I love watching Jesus work His earthly ministry and mulling over all the things He taught and said, but when His Holy Spirit is on the scene–wow! I love that essence of God that is portrayed through Him. (If I had to pick someone who wasn’t God, it would probably be Jeremiah. Something about him just really resonates with me. His passion. His compassion. The depths of his sorrow for the lost and the complacent. I feel like we would be close friends.)
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want to be the fragrance of Christ to them. I want them to feel love like they’ve never experienced and be drawn to the Gospel through my presence. When someone looks at me, I want there to be such a pull for them to find out more about Christ–I want that pull to be so strong that they forget about me and get lost in the pursuit of Him.
Favorite season? I love different bits of them all… I love the symbolism between the seasons and how God weaves His heart into everything He has created. I love how the sun shines down on us, giving us life in the summer; how autumn encompassess letting go of all that is old and dying in our lives; how the winter trees prepare their roots for spring by hardening them and nurturing the spark of life that is deep inside; and I love the freshness that comes with spring, reminding us that He does indeed “make all things new”.
“I love the symbolism between the seasons and how God weaves His heart into everything He has created”
Favorite holiday? The last few days of December. I know it’s not exactly a holiday per se, but it is to me. It’s become a tradition to curl up with a steaming mug, flickering candles and a backdrop of soft music, to just sit and quietly reflect over the year. I pray, do some soul searching, and ask God to give me a verse for the coming season of my life. This year, He gave me Zechariah 4:10 : “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” This concept has been very instrumental in how I’ve been making decisions and spending my time this year.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: I no longer live near my family, so we don’t do this often any more, but it’s something I’ve been reminiscing on quite a lot lately. When I was younger, Sundays were my favorite day if the week (they still are!). When I think of Sundays, all I feel is peace and calm. We had this tradition of coming home after church (after eating lunch out or sometimes together at home), and it was kind of an unspoken rule that we would all take naps for an hour or two in the afternoon. All the lights would go off, with only natural light coming in through the windows and maybe a breeze from outside fluttering the curtains if the weather was nice. Sometimes, I would play quietly in my room while my parents were sleeping, but when I got older, I began to appreciate having a set moment during the week to rest. I remember often times waking up to praise and worship music or my Dad reading the Bible aloud. My childhood was sweet, and it’s now when my life is full of responsibilities that I truly appreciate the nurturing that I’ve had.
“Sometimes, I would play quietly in my room while my parents were sleeping, but when I got older, I began to appreciate having a set moment during the week to rest.”
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Honestly, I truly believe that I will be so overwhelmed with the joy and adoration of finally seeing my King that I will have nothing left to say except maybe, “Oh Lord, thank you. I’m finally home.”
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The detrimental and rapid rise of New Age practices in Christianity and the church. It shocks me that the Devil has taken so much ground so quickly by believers who forgot to be Bereans.
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.? I have to help my grandmother get ready for the day, but I’m (usually) a morning person, so if all goes well, I complete my own routine too. Though I’m not Catholic, I was invited to write about it over here on Maddy’s blog.
What is on your nightstand? Ehm… I don’t have a nightstand, I have a really long work table. It holds all my creative materials plus my laptop, several houseplants, candles, essential oil burners, a himalayan salt lamp, and a record player.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity– being so obsessed with and dedicated to Jesus Christ and to pursuing His heart for humanity that the world (and probably everyone else) thinks you’ve lost your mind— because you have. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
For more Janessa:
Until next time, keep witnessing!