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Simplifying and Glorifying

FaithJessica Scheks2 Comments

"Anything you are unwilling to let go of [in life] becomes an idol."

This quote by Lisa Vischer {Wife of Phil Vischer who is one of the creators of Veggie Tales} really resonated with me when I heard her interviewed on Moody Radio last week. Like many Christians I've made the goal of reading my Bible through for the year 2015. But I'm reading the Bible prayerfully this year. I'm not going in any order -- just making sure I read at least four chapters a day. And so far I've seen some themes in my reading that I think God is using to show me ways I need to change in order to glorify Him more and more. You can tell God is trying to get a hold of you when you've just had too many experiences to consider it a coincidence. And through all of this, I think God has given me a couple of "themes" for 2015:

C  O  N  T  E  N  T  M  E  N  T

It's something I never gave too much thought. I knew that I shouldn't be blowing my whole paycheck at Target and that I should be thankful for what I had as opposed to bitter for what I didn't have yet still wanted. But this year the Lord keeps placing experiences across my path and daily scriptures and blog posts to read about being content//not being materialistic//being a minimalist//not spending unnecessary money//etc. I am really coming to realize how unimportant it is to buy things.

I have always been a shopper, which is surprising because my mom is definitely not and never has been-- so where did I get it from? But lately {and thankfully} I get that naggy feeling of guilt when I buy things that are not truly needed. I'm pretty sure that naggy feeling of guilt is conviction. As I've done my daily Bible reading so far this year, I've come across so many verses about being content and not wanting more. Perhaps it's because contentment is a big topic of the Bible anyways so it's mentioned quite frequently? But nonetheless, it's really sticking out to me this year and impacting me and the way I want to live.

Along with contentment I need to mention another word. It's like a sister word to contentment. And that word is:

S  I  M  P  L  I  C  I  T  Y

I have had a growing desire this year to really simplify my life. To get rid of clutter, purge out my closet, to keep things tidy, and to eliminate distractions. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I just really want to be intentional in every aspect of my life. And this hasn't been the easiest journey so far. It's hard for a lifelong hoarder of things to get rid of all of her things. But here is what I've done so far:

  • Michael and I did the Daniel Fast at the beginning of January to pray for family in desperate need of prayer and to start off on a clean slate for the year.
  • "Cleaned" out my closet - I'll have to go through it again because I came up with a lot of excuses for items that I probably should have donated.
  • My Gold Card anniversary at Starbucks sort of snuck up on me this year - since we were fasting for most of January I was unable to get Starbucks. I needed 20 stars in less than 15 days.. I tried at first. But I realized it wasn't going to happen and I'm okay. I feel like this is God telling me that this "award" is pointless in eternity and unnecessary on this earth.
  • I've kept our apartment much cleaner than I have in the past.
  • I deleted my Facebook app from my phone because I was spending way too much time on it. WAY too much time. And I've loved it - I feel like my mind feels less cluttered because there's so much less clutter from other people's lives filling up my brain.
  • I rearranged the apps on my phone -- My home page is now blank. The second page only has necessary apps {i.e. alarm, calendar, weather, settings, etc} along with my Bible and music apps {which I only use for spiritual music}. The next page has utility apps and other things I occasionally use, and the last page is where you will find my social media apps (Gmail, Instagram, Pinterest, FB Messenger, Buzzfeed, and Timehop) and my games. I purposely made them less accessible. I've found that when my Instagram app isn't glaring at me, vying for my attention as soon as I unlock my phone, I tend to use it less.
  • I have tried to wake up early to spend time with God. I am terrible at this. I love my sleep and I feel so cozy when I wake up that this has by far been the biggest struggle I've had while trying to simplify my life.
  • I've tried to limit my intake of media in general, including TV. Especially TV that doesn't glorify the Lord. I feel like this helps to simplify my mind. My mind is not a trash can, therefore I'm not filling it with trash.

And there have been many scriptures that have convicted me as well, here are just some of them:

  • Job 1:21 "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
  • Psalm 49:17 "For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him."
  • Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
  • Psalm 62:10 "...if riches increase, set not your heart upon them."
  • Psalm 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."
  • Ecclesiastes 3:6 "A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;"
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity."
  • Ecclesiastes 5:15 "As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand."
  • Daniel 1:8, 15 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself...And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
  • Daniel 6:27 "He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
  • Ephesians 5:16 "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
  • Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
  • Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;"
  • 1 Timothy 2: 9-10 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But {which becometh women professing godliness} with good works."
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-8 "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
  • 2 Timothy 2:16 "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
  • 2 Peter 2:7-9 "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of the temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:"

That's a lot of scriptures for one blog post - but the overarching theme from them all is that God always provides! You don't need to worry about anything if you have food and clothes. And to keep your mind pure, which means staying away from impure things.

Going back to the quote from the beginning of my post, it really made me think about what I hold near and dear in my life and if I'd be able to get rid of them if I felt led by the Lord. Some of those things include Starbucks, Target and Marshall's shopping trips, Panera Bread, Parenthood, my iPhone, cute clothes, makeup, and the list could go on and on. I don't think these things are bad, and definitely do not consider them to be a sin -- but I had never thought about the things I loved before in this way. They would all become a sin if I chose them over the Lord because I would be unwilling to give them up even though He asked me to. And it makes it even more clear to me that nothing on this earth matters except for the people. I have to be willing to give up any of these things for the Lord, and even if I had to, it would seem like a couple seconds of my life once I got to eternity. It would no longer seem like a burden or even something worth thinking about once I'm standing in front of my Lord on the other side <3

It's only the beginning of February, I have eleven months to go. But I am really trying to "redeem the time" and to be intentional about every part of my day so that I can make the most of it.

The Modesty Struggle

FaithJessica ScheksComment

MODESTY

I saw this quote on Pinterest today and it really resonated with me. It made me think back to the times where I struggled with dressing modestly and how frustrated I would become when all I wanted to do was slip on a pair of my old jeans on a freezing Ohio winter day.

I only gave into the "desires of my flesh" twice. We were at my grandma's for Christmas in 2010, so only several months since I had decided to always wear skirts or dresses, and there was a lot of family cramped into a tiny house. I was getting a little overheated in my knee-length jean skirt and for some reason I had it in my head that I would really cool off if I changed into the pair of jeans I had brought with me. So I changed. I can't remember how changing affected my temperature, but I remember feeling like a fake. And I just felt depleted; sort of like how you feel when you vow to yourself that you're not going to commit a certain sin in your life, but then you find yourself giving in. And afterwards you have none of the pleasure you thought that decision would bring you.

That feeling I had after changing into jeans at my grandma's was enough to give me motivation to resolve to never do that again. But sometime within the next year or so, I found myself in another situation. I lived in co-ed dorms (but we each had a private bathroom, so it wasn't as sketchy as it sounds) and I had the mindset that the dormitory building was like my house, so wearing  sweatpants around was acceptable. But this time I had to run to the little market directly behind my dorm to get a snack. It was late - I'd already showered and changed into comfy clothes and I fought with myself over whether or not I should go down in sweatpants.

Even though I felt like I shouldn't, I told myself that I'd be really fast, so it didn't matter. So down I went- when I reached the ground floor I went to turn the corner and was stopped with the vision of who I thought was my friend Christa walking by in a floor length jean skirt. She had a green coat on (just like Christa) and brown hair that was cut (just like Christa and rules out many Pentecostal women who do not cut their hair). It was past 9:00 and I was so startled to see her that at first I jumped back behind a wall because I felt ashamed. But then I thought to myself, "It's Christa! She won't care..." So I started walking again and called out her name. She didn't turn around so then I grew very curious of who this skirt wearing person was. I really had to quicken my pace to catch up with her but she walked out the doors before I could. When I walked out I didn't see her anywhere (and you can only turn left or right). Then I felt really convicted.

I am definitely not saying that I saw an angel, or had a vision from the Lord. Maybe I did... I guess I won't know that for awhile. But whoever it was, angelic or not, was enough to convict me for good. Now I know that the desire to dress immodestly at times is not worth how I will feel afterwards. Generally my desire stems from laziness; I just want to wear sweatpants or jeans. But occasionally when I see a girl in real life or on Pinterest with leggings on, the cutest tunic-y top I've ever seen, super cute booties, an infinity scarf, and an adorable vest... I become a little jealous because I know that the outfit could not be pulled off with a knee-length (or longer) skirt.

So this quote captures my feelings to a T! And I'm here to tell you that dressing modestly is sometimes a struggle for me, just like any sin or temptation I have to deal with is. It was not a "one and done" type of decision for me when I decided to dress more modestly. For awhile it was a pretty constant struggle. When I first decided that I was going to wear skirts I felt sick - it was a scary choice to make. And I made the choice publicly so it felt like there was no turning back...was it something I'd regret in a couple years? Could I really see myself for the rest of my life wearing skirts?

To clarify, I am definitely NOT saying that if you are a woman and wear pants that you are sinning. Dressing modestly requires very personal decisions and interpretations that is only between you and God. It is a decision that I think should only be made based on inspiration you find from the Lord. It shouldn't be something that you do to please others, and it should be a personal belief that you hold in your heart. But it isn't something you should ignore altogether, either. I think it is something you should take to the Lord and ask Him what He wants from you. Ask the Lord to guide you and to show you what pleases Him. Even if you have a certain pair of pants or a shirt that you sometimes question yourself when you wear it, ask God.

>> A word of advice, though, I have found that if you are already questioning it, you've kind of answered the question for yourself. And sometimes you have to give something up and say to yourself, "This struggle/question I have just isn't worth it when it comes to eternity." And leave it at that.

So with my "disclaimer" that you just read, I would now like to say something that some may find to be a bit controversial. But I'm going to say it anyways. And really, this is only for those who have already made a decision in their life to dress more modestly than they have in the past.

Choosing to dress modestly is just like choosing to wait to be intimate in marriage, or choosing not to gossip. It's not a one time decision, but one that you have to make over and over again. Especially towards the beginning of your modest journey. If you feel the Lord telling you in your life to dress modestly that's a pretty serious thing. If you vowed to the Lord that you would dress modestly for Him, that's a pretty serious thing. I have felt that calling on my life, I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say it's a "commandment" in my walk with God, but I'm also not going to say that it isn't. I feel very convicted to dress modestly - and to not do what the Lord is telling me to do sounds like sin to me.

>>If you have genuinely sought the Lord about dressing modestly and you have found that you still feel like it's okay for you to wear pants then I think you've done your job (but revisit the subject from time to time - don't dismiss it for life).

It is only sin if you feel or even know that you should be dressing more modestly and don't.

Sometimes modesty has to start on the outside, which means that your thoughts aren't always modest - You hunger for a comfortable pair of jeans or for some comfy yoga pants on a lazy day. But I can tell you from experience, that eventually your thoughts begin to change. You begin to realize how good it feels to dress modestly and please the Lord. And as your thoughts change, that means your heart is changing and your thoughts and mind are being clothed in modesty as well.

If modesty started purely on the inside for you, then you should be praising the Lord. If you just had a desire to give up dressing worldly and were happy to do it, then you should be praising the Lord! Because for me (and for my friends) it was not that easy. It was kind of like we had one foot standing in the world, and one foot standing in the Kingdom; we wanted to please God and we had an inkling that dressing modestly was what we should do... but it was hard to give up. And you kind of have to go cold turkey - you can't wear "worldly patches" to help you wean off immodest articles of clothing, you just have to give it up. It's a sacrifice. You are giving your temple to the Lord to use for His glory, and you should be giving it cheerfully, not begrudgingly!

This October it will be FIVE years of dressing modestly for me! As you have read, it wasn't always easy or fun. Sometimes it was a decision - just like deciding you aren't going to share that really juicy piece of gossip you overheard with your best friend. It can be a hard decision at times, but I have found again and again that there is not one article of clothing on this earth that could possibly come close to compensating for how modesty feels.

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!

An Introduction

Jessica ScheksComment

So if you hadn't figured it out yet, my name is Jessica Scheks. I am in my 20′s and I recently married Michael Scheks, my high school sweetheart. This past June was our six YEAR anniversary!

hats

I attend Green Gospel Assembly Church, we say that we are the church that is different. I am in the band (I play the saxophone) and the regular choir and (I am definitely an alto), and I help out with other things as well such as cleaning, working in the church office, and participating in Vacation Bible School. I started attending GAC when I was 16 with my wonderful husband who was born into the church.

One of the main things from my church that crosses over into my everyday life is the way I dress. I am not forced to, but I am convicted, and therefore choose to dress modestly (ever since October 8, 2010). By that I mean always wearing skirts that at least come to the knee, nothing that is too tight or revealing, but yet still shows my femininity in a way that gives glory to the Lord. And let me tell you, it hasn’t always been easy. Modest fashion bloggers have been such an inspiration to me, especially when I was first trying to dress modestly on an everyday basis, whether they post their OOTDs, or write in depth posts on why they choose to dress modestly. This is one of the reasons I was inspired to start a blog.

Aside from my church, I am technically a college student. I am very close to obtaining my degree in Special Education. All I have to do is write a lengthy research paper and the diploma is mine. It sounds easy, but my mind believes otherwise. So in the meantime, I work in a lovely office! It truly is a blessing, the people are great, it's for the Methodist church so I can talk about Jesus, and my hours are 11:30 - 4:30 Monday through Thursday. Can't complain!

Yes, my lifestyle may be different from yours. But that is what I love about blogging! I get to know other 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.

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.