Value.

Have you ever noticed how when you’re closer to God, you literally see the world thru a different lens? It’s one of those things you forget both when haven’t been close to God in a while and when you’ve been faithful for a while. You’re only aware of the lenses in that twilight space.

I am in that twilight space and it’s kind of astounding me.

One of my favorite tv shows is called Community. It’s this quirky tv show that’s occasionally self aware and is constantly talking about other movies and tv shows. It also takes place at a community college that somehow gives out four year degrees… Don’t question it! It’s perfect for someone like me who enjoys consuming media. However, it’s not the cleanest show. In fact, it can be offensive and irreverent, though, always in a clever way.

I started rewatching it this week because it felt like a good ending to college.

In the first scene of the show, main character Jeff is having a conversation with Abed. It ends like this:
Jeff: “Now I see your value, Abed.”
Abed (as Jeff walks out of hearing distance):That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

And it hit me. At our core, that’s what we’re all looking for. We look for it in every interaction and every relationship. We’re secretly, subconsciously waiting for someone, anyone, everyone to say: I see your value. You have value and I have noticed it.

But the thing is others aren’t here to give us value. If they were, we’d be in a sad state. Think about it. You’re more concerned with others affirming you than you are about affirming others. With a few exceptions, everyone else is doing the same thing. We get so wrapped up in our heads that we quit worrying about others.

As a christian, you should seek to find your value affirmed in Jesus, the one who said I value you, you so much I am going to subject myself to torment so that you can avoid it.

Your value is in Christ and nothing else. You are valuable because he loves you and saved you and gives you value.

Your value doesn’t rely on your talents or how smart or how pretty or how strong you are. Your value doesn’t lie in your ability to make friends or your relationship status. Those things are good but they do not give you value. And when we choose to find value in these things, we cheapen Christ’s sacrifice and give away some of our real value.

You have value. It is given to you by Christ. Acknowledge it. Revel in it.

And while I don’t think we should find value from others, maybe we should start acknowledging the value we see in others.

Tell her she is clever. Tell him he is passionate. Point out the good things you see in people. People are often blind to their own strengths and weaknesses, be their mirror. See value in people. See value in everyone.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Delight yourself in The Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Recently, my grandfather texted me saying that prayed that God would give me the desires of my heart. First, I’d like to point out that getting a message saying you’re precious and that someone is praying that God gives you the desires of your heart is one of the best ways to start your day.

Initially it put a smile on my face. And I am I very thankful to have someone who prays that prayer for me. But then the message changed from an encouragement to a mirror. What are my desires anyway? Are they the ones God wants me to have? Hmmm, I don’t desire inherently bad things like ultimate power or taking over the world. But let’s be honest, I wouldn’t mind some shallow things. Like a wardrobe containing everything I’ve lusted over on Modcloth. Or to be graduating college debt free. Or to be in shape without working out. Although id settle for being in shape because I love working out and being outdoorsy.

Of course, not all my desires are shallow. I want to use words to show love and change the world or at a few people. I want to be healthy. I want to get a fabulous job where I can help make the world a better place. I want to marry a man who will romance me like my dad does my mom and Jesus does the church and who helps me show the gospel to a lost and hurting world. I want to have children who love history and knowledge and reading. I want to live in a place with arts.

But ultimately, I want my desires to be God’s desires for me. Because that’s what Psalm 37:4 is about. When you are delighting in The Lord, your desires will be his desires. So for now, my ultimate desire is to delight in The Lord more. I know I’m not where I need to be.

C. S. Lewis once said, “I pray because I need God. The need flows out of me, waking and sleeping. Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

I’ve been praying a lot this past week about the future and my vision of what I want it to be. I committed to praying about this issue everyday for a week. At first my prayer was, “God I really want this.” Then my prayers changed to: “I really want this but I understand if it’s not your will. But I really want this.” Then the prayed changed to: “God, right now I want this. But I don’t want you to give it to me because I keep asking. I want your best for me. I want this to be the best but I understand it might not be. And that’s ok because I want your will in this.”

My prayers don’t need to change God. They needed to change me. My heart needed to be calibrated back to God’s best. Maybe after a few more dad of praying, I’ll be ok with saying completely “Thy will be done Lord.” When I delight in The Lord, my desires change to his and during the process while I still have my selfish desires, I begin to become aware that they aren’t God’s best for me. Psalm 37:4 is so much more than God giving you want you want. It’s about reading on to Psalm 37:5: “commit your way to The Lord and do good; trust in him and he will do this.”

I am so thankful for a God who will give me what I want when I begin to want the best for me. Just like your parents wouldn’t let you play with matches as a kid, God won’t give you things you want that will burn you (uselessly). I am so thankful for grandparents who are prayer warriors committed to my future and inspiring me to examine my inner self… Never a fun thing.

I hope you read this and begin to let the self examination slowly begin. Stand in front of the mirror and honestly examine yourself. Be brave enough to admit the truth if you aren’t delighting in The Lord and his best for you. Then go out and do something about it.

The life of a sick person

Me with a hive (*technically angioedema). 06-16-14

Me with a hive (*technically angioedema). 06-16-14

2014-06-26 22.16.28

A hive on my other eye 2 days later

 From June 2005 until August 2014, I have suffered from chronic urticaria and angioedema. For all you non-medical people reading this, chronic is considered anything that lasts more than six months, urticaria is hives and angioedema is a hive in the tissue of the first layer of the skin-like the lips.

After nine years of dealing with hives on any and every part of my body, I had given up all hope of ever getting better. When I say I had given up, I am not being overdramatic. I am not trying to give my writing more of a punch. In terms of hope, I literally had none. No faith in doctors or medicine or anything. I honestly believed I would struggle with one day waking up with my eyes like they are in the pictures above or with my foot being so swollen I couldn’t put on shoes to walk to class to take a test. I honestly believed for the rest of my life I would deal with randomly being unable to do simple stuff like write or hold a fork with my dominate hand because my hand was swollen to five times its normal size. Once again, nothing I am saying is for dramatic effect; these are all real examples. Fall semester last year I missed a geography quiz because my foot was so swollen I couldn’t put on shoes to walk across campus and no one was around to drive me. Countless times, I have struggled to eat with my left hand because I was unable to bend the enormously swollen fingers on my right hand. One time, I had to get my dad to cut my chicken for me. At the time I was 18 years old. I ask for no pity- only understanding.

On top of this, I was told by people close to me that if I prayed enough and if I trusted enough, God would heal me. So of course, when he didn’t what those same messages conveyed to me was that I didn’t believe enough, I didn’t pray enough. I fully believe God works miracles. I also believe that sometimes God works through doctors. Let me tell you something: there is absolutely no shame in not being healed through a miracle. God does not fit in the palm of your hand. God does not fit in your box and he is not limited by you. While I encourage anyone with health problems to pray consistently and fervently, I want you to know this: if God doesn’t heal you, it is not necessarily a reflection of your faith.

In Matthew 16:33, Jesus said in this world you WILL have trouble but take heart for I have overcome the world. He did. You can. Suffering is a part of this life. Sometimes you get better. Sometimes you don’t. Never let anyone tell you that’s indicative of your faith in Jesus Christ.

After nine years, I have been hive free for 82 days. 83 days ago I literally couldn’t remember the last time I hadn’t had at least one hive on my body because it had been literal years.

In the middle of August, I began to get Xolair injections. Xolair is this wonderful new drug that combats chronic hives for people who don’t know what causes it and nothing else works for- I was a perfect candidate. I vividly remember the day my mom called to tell me the doctors wanted me to try it. I cried in the parking lot. I sat there and bawled because I had hope and it overwhelmed me. In The Hunger Games , President Snow explains that the reasons for The Hunger Games is because the only thing stronger than hope is fear. I don’t think I have ever felt an emotion more strongly and wholly than the hope I felt in that moment. I fully believe that Jesus gave me this. Just because it came from Christ through doctors doesn’t make it any less sweet for me. If anything it makes it more so. I know what it is like to struggle with looking like something from a freak show on a weekly basis. I’ve gotten countless second glances and innumerable, “Oh my goodness, what is wrong with you?” I struggled to be ok with it. I don’t know that I ever became content with it. Resignation doesn’t equal contentment. But I can tell you one thing for sure. I am far more grateful now than I would have had I been healed seven years ago or even three years ago. And since God has chosen to heal me through modern medicine I have been blessed by more people. I have doctors and nurses who care about me on a personal level. They want to know how I’m doing in school. They want me to succeed on every level.

I am writing this for 10th grade little Jackie being told hives could last who knows how long: 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years and never believing it would actually be longer than 6 years. I am writing to every person who is in the middle of a seemingly endless tunnel. I am writing this to the person who goes to doctors and get 13 tests that all come back negative but is still living with a broken body.

My love, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep fighting. Get out of bed and tell the world and the pain and the shame to go to hell. I use strong words because I have strong feelings and I refuse to sugarcoat it- even for naive little Jackie. She deserves the truth. It will suck. It will hurt mentally and physically. At one point in your life you’ll take 11 pills a day and feel shameful but it’s okay. Make it to October 23, 2014. Sit in the doctors office and laugh as Jeanette Arnold and Richard DeShazo casually talk about weaning you off your medicine- something you thought would be a lifelong crutch. Fight til you get to August 17, 2014 and your hives are literally nothing more than a bad dream. Become the girl who can feel UGLY and still take a selfie smiling to document the a painful hive. You get to be her one day. And I’m proud of her.

I’ve given you Jesus’s words now here’s something from Taylor Swift because TSwift knows angst AND how to be classy.

Hold on, baby, you’re losing it// The water’s high, you’re jumping into it// And letting go… and no one knows// That you cry, but you don’t tell anyone// That you might not be the golden one// And you’re tied together with a smile// But you’re coming undone.

People mock her but she knows her stuff. I just want you to know that there is hope. It will not come when you want it to. It may not come til heaven. But one day, everything will be fine and you will know the full value of a working body. You’ll want to cry sweet tears of relief when you can do normal things without consequences. Until then, I’m here to chat with. I understand, at least to some extent, what your going through. Talk to me. Tell me what makes you cry and jaded. Get it out if you need to. I’m without judgment: jackiegiles93@gmail.com
Or do it your own. Cry. Journal. Blog about it to let someone else know they aren’t alone. Let it teach you grace and patience.
I wanna hear your story.
Love, Jackie

P.S. Please share if you know anyone else who needs to grace and encouragement!

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect

 

This is why examining struggles are important

This is why examining struggles are important

Reading through my old blog posts, my heart began to hurt. My pride was hurt. My self identity was embarrassed.

“Here is Jackie Giles!” shouted my blog. ” She struggles with being content in Christ’s love, living in the present and dealing with loneliness.”

At first, I wanted to start over- get a clean break. Blog about my successes. Like when I got an “A” in a class I struggled in or when something good happened and I was genuinely thrilled which is something I don’t get often and show even less often or that one time I had a spark of creativity and put pictures in the shape of a heart on my wall and it looked GOOD.

But then I remembered why I blog. I remembered what I am called to do.

I do not generally write for the masses. I do not write to present myself in the best possible light. I am egotistical and conceited enough in my current state (and isn’t that what Instagram is for anyway?).

I am called to write about my weakness for in that, Christ’s perfect strength is made known.

So yes, I have struggles. And yes, many are the same struggles that I think I have overcome. But if I could get over something that easy, it wouldn’t be a struggle. It wouldn’t be called “dying to self.”

So yes, I have struggles. And I am unashamed.

My name is Jackie Giles. I do not have a 4.0 GPA. I am a little overweight. Sometimes, my inner voice cusses. I am judgmental. I am discontent with my wonderful life. I sin. I neglect my savior. I have asthma, chronic hives, mastocytic colitis, migraines, and probably a connective tissue disorder.

But that’s not all I am.

I am intelligent. I am witty and funny. I am strong. When a problem comes my way, I deal with it. I am, at times, wise. I have a great memory for people’s names and random facts. I have wonderful friends and family. I am truthful about my faults and I am dealing with my issues openly. And in our modern society that encourages perfectly posed snap shots of life, choosing to reveal your weakness is incredibly brave.

Maybe I will start talking about successes more, but one thing is for sure. The minute I start hiding my faults on here is the minute I quit being true to myself and my purpose.

I challenge you to live openly.IMG_3979.JPG

A Letter to My Graduating Friends

 

Let me preface this by saying that I am a sentimental fool.

Graduations are one of those bittersweet moments in life. On the one hand, finishing a chapter in your life is super exciting! You’ve made it through to the next phase which is, let’s face it, pretty awesome. But then you reflect on all those exciting changes coming in your life and realize that life has handed you a double edged sword.

You aren’t simply starting a new chapter. You are simultaneously saying goodbye to the last chapter and all the places and people that made it special. It’s an experience comparable to staring at the ocean: both beautiful and terrifying in its sheer power.

I am not graduating and moving on for at least another year but some of my very dear friends are and this is dedicated to them.

As you enter the new stage of your life here are some quotes I have for you:

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Mother Teresa.

In the theme of sappiness, thank you for the time I spent with you. I am indeed better and happier.

“Whatever you are, be a good.” Abraham Lincoln

Please, be the best elementary teacher, physician’s assistant, pr person, nurse, doctor, whatever that is out there. Shine and show your passion in the way that made me love you.

“People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” Leonardo Divinci

This one is self explanatory but don’t limit yourself. Reach for the stars, the moon, or the top of the Empire State Building. Just reach and try.

Last, “Never hold onto anything tighter than you’re holding onto God.”

I hope you learned from me that there is a quote for everything and hats are always a good choice! I love you and will miss you! Congrats on graduating!

 

Of Bitterness in Uncertainty OR My Everyday Struggles

Recently, I wrote about how my life in the past couple years hasn’t gone according to plan. And of course life decided to imitate art and go against my plan. Again.

Around a year ago, I said in a Bible study with some close friends that recently God had been teaching me to be ok with not knowing the future and having the answers to everything. Wonder what I would have said if I had realized I’d still be working on that same issue now. I’m done with everything in all my classes from the spring semester. Basically, it’s summer for me. But ask me what I’m doing this summer and you will get a response along the lines of, “I’m not sure yet. I might…

And you know what? I hate it. I want to be able to say, “I’m doing this awesome thing this summer. I’m working at this super great internship next year [said internship will guarantee me a fabulous job when I graduate] and I’ll be moving to x when I graduate.”

Y’all, I am struggling with uncertainty SO bad. And the repercussions have left me bitter and constantly worried.I have gotten so jealous of people who have (or appear to have) their lives together. I am bitter towards people who everything seems to be working out for effortlessly. I don’t want to be this person. I want to say, “I have learned to be content in all circumstances.” I haven’t mastered that quite yet, but I am learning. Regardless, I know that God is God in times of certainty and uncertainty.

So here I am. Midnight on May 11.

Boasting in my weaknesses and trying to remember that his grace is sufficient for me.

Ernest Hemingway said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” That’s what I’ve tried to do with this blog, with the exception of bragging on people I love.

Right now I am hurting and I wrote hard and clear about it *wink wink, so if you cared enough to read all the way to the end, can you do me a favor? Send a prayer for me- not for me to experience certainty but for me to be ok with uncertainty. for me to be surrounded by a cloud of God’s love.

Leah the Loved: Women of Faith

Women of Faith: Leah the Loved

The story of Leah is a beautiful, overlooked tale in the Bible. She was unwanted and unattractive.

Her husband, Jacob, loved her sister Rachel, his other wife, but not Leah. By her husband, her sister and even society in general, Leah was hated and God noticed. Because of this, he gave Leah the ability to have children and left Rachel barren.

While we don’t get much info on Leah or her life, the little bit we do see is very telling. Leah’s firstborn is named Reuben. To Leah, Reuben was hope. Finally, now Jacob would love her too. He would have to since she gave him a son, Leah thought. Except he didn’t. Then again with Simeon and Levi, Leah saw them as hope that Jacob would notice her although she does lower expectations. With Reuben, she used named him after the word “love” but when Levi comes along, Leah is only hoping for “attachment.” Still, no love comes from her husband.

At this point, I’m imagining Leah hits rock bottom and realizes that if Jacob won’t love her for having three sons, she will never be able to earn his love. Leah will always be second best to her sister Rachel. Somewhere between being rejected once again by Jacob and having her fourth son, Leah comes to a life changing revelation. It reminds me of when Job says, “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Leah bases the name for her 4th son, Judah, on her attitude change because now she was simply going to praise the LORD.

Leah is unloved and forgotten by her husband but not by the LORD. He wooed her and comforted her. After Leah reaches contentment, she ceases having children. To me, this says that Leah was truly content with the LORD and no longer worried about pleasing Jacob.

You are loved by God. He is enough. He is all you need. Sometimes he uses methods that we mere mortals don’t understand. However, everything in the universe and everything that happens to you- that is God proclaiming his love for you. He is telling you that you are good enough. His love is enough. You don’t need anything else. Nothing else will satisfy you.
So, do you know which of Jacob’s 12 sons were in the line of Jesus? It was Judah. Leah’s son named for her praise of God. Seriously? The literature nerd in me is going crazy. Can you get more perfectly cute than that?

Leah does have more sons later on and I don’t know if she stayed content in the LORD all her life. But that’s not really the point of Leah’s story. Growing up, I remember thinking Rachel has it so much better and if I had to be one, I’d wanna be Rach. But I don’t wanna be Rachel anymore. She’s portrayed as somewhat petty. She worships her family’s household gods and steals from and then subsequently lies to her father. Leah’s not perfect. But that’s kind of the point. She’s real. She has problems and she grows and understands life better. Leah is unattractive but she is wooed by the creator of the universe.

I am Leah not Rachel. I am fighting to be loved and noticed and appreciated. All the while, I forget the most important truth of all: Jesus died to save me from eternal damnation and to give me life abundant. The entire Bible and the short story of Leah can be summarized the exact same way: The creator of the universe loves you more deeply than you can imagine and he wants you to know that. He wants you to love him back and realize that the meaning of life is to seek and find contentment in him.

I hope we all realize that though we feel unloved like Leah, we are loved; truly, madly, deeply (I wanna stand with you on a mountain).

Also, please excuse the Savage Garden reference. It’s 2014 for goodness sake!

Read about Anna, another woman of faith who inspired me too!

If you like it, please click share! I’d love to hear what you thought about this!