carried + loved collective


Spiritually Closing Avenues

FaithJessica ScheksComment

In the past few months, possibly even a year, I've become increasingly convicted about what I watch and listen to. There were certain shows I had become addicted to that were slightly crude, however I justified watching it because it was funny or the main actor seemed to be like a good person off the screen. Or secular music I listened to that I told myself was okay because it was catchy and the lyrics weren't that bad. But I found myself feeling more and more guilty. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.I had already decided to stay away from R-rated movies, which I think is a pretty common preference among Christians for obvious reasons. But I was feeling the need to purge the things I let enter into my mind even further. I find it really hard to promise myself that I'm going to stop watching a show or listening to a catchy song. So I realized that I had to promise God. In case you were wondering, the show I am specifically referring to is "New Girl" with Zooey Deschanel. The show is hilarious. But there is a lot of sexual content as well as the use of profane language. This show was like my guilty pleasure, but the more I watched, the guiltier I felt.

And based on past experiences in my life, when I'm feeling guilty it's really the Lord working on my heart and convicting me in areas of my life that I need to change in order to glorify Him.

It was a sacrifice to give up that show. But the thought that finally convicted me enough to tell God that I was done with the show was that those ideas and words wouldn't be in my mind if I weren't letting them enter in. Have you ever found yourself repeating a curse word in your mind? Or thinking a thought that you wished had never entered your mind? That's where I found myself. (Side note: New Girl was not the only show I gave up, it was just my favorite, the one I watched the most, and consequently the hardest to give up.) I absolutely hate when words I would never say, or thoughts I hate thinking seem to be on repeat on my mind because I heard it somewhere else. And I realized I was doing it to myself. I was letting it happen.

I personally believe that having these thoughts and words circulating in my mind is just as bad as saying them out loud in God's eyes. The Bible says that if you murder someone in your heart, it's just as bad as murdering them in real life. And if a man is considered to have committed adultery just by looking at a woman and lusting after her, then I'd say thinking a word in my mind is just as bad as saying it out loud.

I have to close the avenues that the devil can use to enter into my life.
I found myself praying and asking God to purify my heart. But how can He do that if I am letting impure thoughts, images, and words enter into my mind? He can't. That part is up to me. So I took a leap of faith, knowing that God would bless me for making that sacrifice, and gave up all R-rated movies, crude or inappropriate shows, secular music, books, et cetera. I am trying to close the avenues, or the paths, that the devil uses to try to get into my life and distract me.
Here is a statement recently made in our Sunday School class at church that I thought was worth sharing: 
You can't help it if a bird flies over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.
At first I was like, "huh?" But then it was explained to me. When bad thoughts enter your mind, you can't help it unfortunately. Sometimes they just pop up, offending your own self that you would even have such a thought. But you do have the power to decide whether you are going to feed and nurture that thought, or if you're going to shoo it away. I think that allowing media of any kind that contains thoughts I wouldn't want to think of myself, is feeding and nurturing those thoughts. I'm inviting them to come build a home in my mind. And if I let those things make their home in my mind and heart, there's less room for God and His Son to have a place because they are being overcrowded. And competing with God is a very scary thing.Choosing not to watch or listen to certain shows, movies, or music is like telling those thoughts that this road is closed; they can't travel down this avenue.
I heard a statement several years ago that has stayed in the back of my mind ever since. It has sort of become my "WWJD" statement in my own life. In a youth class at our church in Louisville, KY, a man said that everything you do should have something to do with eternity. If it doesn't, it's not worth it. That statement alone has guided so many decisions in my life the past couple of years. One little sentence has convicted me on multiple occasions. I ask myself all of the time, does this benefit me? Does this glorify God? Does this please Jesus? Does this have anything to do with eternity?
There are so many things that I find myself getting caught up in, whether it's a TV show, a game on my phone, or browsing Facebook and Instagram for way too long, and then that thought enters my mind.What does this have to do with eternity? I rarely have to answer the question, because if I have to ask the question in the first place that's not a good sign. And once I do, if the answer is nothing to do with eternity, I have that sinking feeling of guilt which answers the question for me. And the sad thing is that sometimes I ignore that feeling and just give into whatever the guilty pleasure is. But when I don't give in, and I stop what I'm doing and open up my Bible, or begin to pray, or pop in a church DVD, or listen to a recording of a Bible study, I NEVER regret it!

My [Modest] Story

FaithJessica Scheks5 Comments

The first thing you need to know is that I married my high school sweetheart on March 22, 2014. We met back in sixth grade {and we both had a crush on each other} but we didn't begin dating until the very end of our sophomore year. formal

And this is where the real story begins.

When I was younger, my family went to a Presbyterian church. My parents became “burnt out” after several years of attending and being asked to do more and more and feeling like they were getting nothing in return spiritually. So we stopped going and never went to another church consistently after that. Around the age of 14 or 15 I started to develop a desire to have a home church; somewhere where I felt comfortable, got to know the people, and could deepen my relationship with God and His Son. Not to mention I would feel embarrassed anytime my friends from school would talk about church when I would have to explain that my family didn't attend a church. But I was pretty young and the rest of my family did not have that desire so what could I really do?But long story short, as soon as my now husband, Michael, and I began talking he told me how important his church was to him and that I had to visit before we actually started dating. I felt like I had hit the jackpot! Michael never cursed, had no desire to drink alcohol or "party," and was just a nice guy - hard to find in high school sophomores. So I started attending church with him and quickly learned that while his church {which is now my church} states that they are nondenominational, they lean very closely towards Pentecostal. And every single woman wore skirts {to church, not all have the conviction in their lives to wear them everyday}.At first I hated it, I’d grown up wearing pants and I couldn't imagine wearing skirts full time, let alone to every church event. But as you could guess, the Holy Spirit began working in my life and gradually I became okay with the fact that we had to wear skirts to church. Then I kind of started to like wearing skirts to church. And finally, I felt like I could see myself wearing skirts as a lifestyle. But I was a senior in high school at this point and the thought of starting to wear skirts was way too intimidating to me – my friends would've thought I was crazy! So I didn't But then it came time for college. I moved into a dorm at a nearby university and I was starting to feel more and more guilty about not wearing skirts. {Side note: When you’re feeling guilty it’s often the Holy Spirit convicting you}. But none of the girls in my youth group, besides maybe one or two, wore skirts all the time. So I kept quiet.Then one day, my friend mentioned to me that she was starting to feel like she should wear skirts and I felt like a big boulder had been lifted off of my shoulders. Another friend heard us excitedly talking and asked us what we were discussing, so we told her. And with a big sigh of relief, she explained how she had been feeling the exact same way. But that wasn't the end, we didn't just throw every pair of pants away that we owned never looking back.Deciding to wear skirts everyday is a very hard, life changing decision, and I wish I could say it happened over night. But it was a struggle for all of us. For about a month we wrestled with it, not exactly sure if it was what we were being called to do, coming up with ridiculously lame excuses to justify ourselves, questioning God, and complaining. We prayed about it, too, of course. But I secretly hoped the answer would be what I wanted, not the Lord’s will. After praying for about a month, we heard the testimony of a girl from our sister church in Des Moines, Iowa. She described how she felt like she was at a spiritual plateau several years earlier, and knew that she needed to make some lifestyle changes starting with the way she dressed. She felt very convicted about it. I was convicted, but I either didn't realize I was or didn't care to admit that I was. And she said this simple statement,

If you don’t have a conviction, pray for one.

Especially if you know it’s something you should be doing, pray for a conviction! That statement, for some reason, settled it for me. I realized that it didn't matter what I wanted, or if wearing skirts everyday made me feel slightly uncomfortable. Because it’s not about what I want, it’s about what God wants!

Several other things that really helped to sway me came from my cousin-in-law, Abby, who grew up in an Apostolic church and has always worn skirts. As my friends and I were complaining that it’s unfair that girls are the ones who have to be uncomfortable and wear skirts, yet guys get to wear pants, she said that she found it to be a “privilege.” We get to wear skirts. I had never viewed it that way, but she went on to explain that as women, we have the privilege to shine our light just through our outward appearance. Men don’t have that privilege quite as often. So slowly, I began to feel honored that God had called me to change my lifestyle to ultimately glorify Him.

It’s been almost four years since I decided to wear skirts, and now I can’t imagine my life any other way. I have truly been blessed for following the calling the Lord put in my life! However that does NOT mean I think any differently towards women who do not dress the way I do. I have many friends who wear pants or shorts, and I’m not here to judge (remember, I’ve worn pants the majority of my life). So yes, my lifestyle may be different from yours. But that is what I love about blogging. I get to know women who have passions for different things, and understand why their passions exist. My hope for this blog is to share my passions and inspire you to do the same.