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Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a 17-year-old young woman named Jessica Joy. She’s an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter and Christian recording artist. Jessica just recorded and released her first CD, Nothing Wasted. She’ll be performing her CD release concert on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Covenant Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. The concert is FREE, so come one, come all! If my intuition is right, Jessica is going to have a long career in the Christian music industry. Come witness this treasure of a young woman live out her life’s calling right in front of your eyes. Because years from now? You might have to pay big bucks to see her in concert.

I’ve had the incredible privilege of connecting with Jessica on several occasions. I met with Jessica and her mom in January 2014 to chat about Jessica’s call to music and ministry. Then, I had the great honor of joining Jessica in the recording studio in March. We met again last month for extended conversation about the events that led her to record and release an album.

This is the first of three blog posts I’ll be writing about Jessica. Today, we’re going to look back and dig deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. On September 22nd, I’m going to share my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And on September 29th, I’m going to share insights and photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. I hope you’ll catch all three posts. I guarantee it’ll be a joy to meet Jessica Joy.

Without further ado, let’s move right along!


When I sat down to talk with Jessica in January 2014, I’d prepared a whole series of questions for her…

“Do you ever doubt your gift?”

“What obstacles have gotten in the way of you recording this CD? How have those obstacles helped you grow?”

“This feels big, unknown, all about faith. How does it feel to know it’s in God’s hands? Do you ever just want to plan it out or change course to something more predictable?”

This is just a sampling of the questions I had for Jessica. But even this sampling makes me realize that perhaps my questions were more about my fears than Jessica’s. Hmmm…maybe this 38 year old has something to learn from a 17 year old?

I should’ve just started with these and left it at that…

“Tell me more about how God’s prompted you in the quiet to follow your dreams.”

“Do you believe this is God’s call on your life?”

It was then, when I put away all the fears and what ifs, that Jessica was able to lay out for me, very clearly, God’s call on her life to become a Christian singer and songwriter.


Jessica grew up in a household that was filled with music. Both of her parents are licensed ministers of music, so she heard her parents tell lots of stories about their music ministry. Jessica had a whole host of opportunities to perform and lead worship from a young age. In fact, she knew early on that her future was going to be in music and ministry. When Jessica was eight years old, she wrote an entry in her journal titled “Goals for my Music.” The third goal? “Record my original album by the time I am 17.” It was around this time that Jessica also began writing songs in her journal.


From then on, there was a “continual calling” on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. Jessica explained all the “little signs along the way” that were an affirmation of the calling. As each event unfolded, Jessica knew. God was calling. This is what she was meant to do with her life.


When Jessica was approximately 12 years old, she wanted to learn how to play the guitar. She kept telling her parents she wanted to play guitar, but her parents had been insisting for years that she learn piano first. So she learned some basic piano and chords, and then found an old guitar in the basement and taught herself enough so she could start putting chords to the songs she was writing. It was then that Jessica’s parents realized how serious she was about guitar. They got her a guitar for Christmas and signed her up for guitar lessons, which very quickly morphed into songwriting lessons as well.



In May of 2012, Jessica suddenly got very sick. That summer, she often used a wheelchair to get around because of all the pain and fatigue. After a year of many doctor visits and extensive tests, she was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.

Jessica continues to battle this illness, so she’s had to learn how to manage her chronic Lyme. It has impacted her physical strength and support for singing and performing. She has pain in her hands, which makes it harder to play guitar. And pain in her feet, which makes it hard to stand for lengths of time or walk long distances. But as Jessica reminds us, God wastes nothing. Many of the songs she’s written have come from her battle with chronic Lyme disease. If you listen closely to some of her songs, you can, in fact, hear her pain and all the ways God’s helped her overcome it.


The week Jessica began treatment for chronic Lyme disease, she received a prophetic word from a friend’s mom. She prophesied many things God was speaking over Jessica Joy’s life, including this: “Worship is your weapon…I am giving you the ability and authority to prophetically sing over people – the enemy will release his grip on those I call you to sing over…I have given you an open door to usher in My Kingdom to the Nations.” She also wrote “You are chosen, anointed for such a time as this. I will waste nothing in your life.” This was before Jessica wrote the song “You Waste Nothing,” before she knew she’d record her first CD and it would be titled “Nothing Wasted.” God was speaking blessing into Jessica Joy’s life long before she knew what was to come.

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Jessica wrote her song, Beauty for Ashes, and recorded it as her first single in the summer of 2012. She was 15 years old. Remember, when Jessica was eight years old and wrote the journal entry titled “Goals for My Music,” her second goal was “Professionally record a single by the time I am 15.” On a whim, she decided to enter Beauty for Ashes in the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival Music and Songwriting Competition, an annual national conference for professionals in the film, writing and music industry. She submitted the song in the last five days entries were accepted.


Jessica traveled to Tennessee to attend a youth convention with her church youth group in July 2012. She was experiencing a lot of pain due to her chronic Lyme disease, which at that time was still undiagnosed. Jessica had spent a lot of time in the wheelchair that summer, and the convention was no exception. In fact, Jessica says her “worst time managing [the chronic Lyme disease] emotionally” was during that Tennessee trip. Every night during the convention, she’d sing herself to sleep with one of her original songs, “Do You Hear Me?” Her singing was a way to cry out to God. “Do you hear me? Do you see my aching heart? Can you feel the pain that’s tearing me apart? This trial feels so long. Oh where have you gone? Do you hear me?” Then, by the grace of God, while Jessica was still in Tennessee, she got word from her mom that her song, Beauty For Ashes, had gotten her in to the Gideon Festival’s Top 10 for songwriting and performing! This was yet another confirmation of the call on Jessica’s life to use her gifts of singing and songwriting.


When Jessica got home from Tennessee, the clock was ticking. The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival was in just two weeks! Jessica didn’t have the funds to make the big trip to North Carolina, so her friends started a secret Facebook page to help raise support for her to make the trip. Funds were raised for Jessica’s travels. Someone even donated their frequent flyer miles so Jessica could book a flight at no cost.

At Gideon, she was still suffering and in her wheelchair the whole time. But she decided and felt assured that whether she won or not, she was going because God clearly had someone there who needed to hear her song. It turns out, there were several people who were greatly ministered to by “Beauty for Ashes.” Fears and pain aside, Jessica played her heart out. She won 1st place in the songwriting category and 3rd place in the artist performance category.



In the summer of 2013, Jessica’s guitar and songwriting teacher, Andre Rodriguez, suggested she should consider recording an EP. An Extended Play (EP) is a professional recording that includes more than a single, but doesn’t contain enough songs to be considered a full studio album. It’s usually comprised of five or six songs. So Jessica began putting together a portfolio of songs she could record for an EP. Keep in mind, Jessica was still 16 years old at this point. What were you doing when you were 16? Is this girl special or what?


Jessica knew that if she was ever going to record an EP, she’d need to raise funds. Because she was an unknown in the music industry and didn’t have a label or agent, it’d be up to her to fund the project. So in September 2013, she drafted a letter to family, close friends, and people who knew her well at church. In the letter, Jessica stated her goal to record the EP album, which made her feel particularly vulnerable since her dreams were now public. The first week, there was no response. Then, she received her first check in the mail. It was $600! Within a week or two, support was, according to Jessica, “insane.” It was then that she knew. She wanted to press forward and try to fund a full album. But God would need even more supporters to step forward for that dream to be accomplished.


With the EP funded, and a full album now a possibility, Jessica launched a Kickstarter Campaign in November 2013. Her goal? To raise an extra $5,000.00 to completely cover the costs of recording a full album. This was an all or nothing proposition. She’d meet her Kickstarter goal within the 30-day timeframe and receive the funds, or she wouldn’t meet the goal and wouldn’t receive any funds at all. So Jessica shared her Kickstarter page with hundreds, and asked family, friends and church members to spread the word. The Lord spoke. He continued to open doors for Jessica Joy. By the end of the 30-day time frame, her Kickstarter account was fully funded, thanks to the generous financial donations of her supporters. She exceeded her goal by over $1,000.00!

Jessica was well on her way to making another dream become reality. Her calling had been confirmed, yet again. And this time, in a big, big way. A full album, her first professionally recorded album, was now fully funded.



While Jessica was raising funds, God was putting together an incredible team of studio musicians. Her producer is from Nashville, and is guitarist for Christian artist, Natalie Grant. The rest of her band all tour professionally with renowned artists such as Owl City, Jeff Deyo, Jeremy Messersmith and Natalie Grant.

Everything was in place. Jessica was ready to record.

In February 2014, Jessica and her mother stepped foot into the recording studio for the first time.

She was just days from her 17th birthday.

She’d written this nine years prior…“Record my original album by the time I am 17.”

A friend’s mom had prophesied this a year and a half prior…“I will waste nothing in your life. You will bring down strongholds by your heart for worshipping me.”

Jessica’s album would be called Nothing Wasted.

Among the 11 original songs on the album? One of my favorites, You Waste Nothing.

God wasted nothing. Nothing. Jessica Joy’s journey was ordained from the beginning. And the journey’s just begun.

Will you join me next Monday, September 22, as I write about my day with Jessica in studio? It was one of the most amazing, incredible and inspiring days I’ve ever experienced. I’m so excited to share a bit of it with all of you. You’re invited, right here, to witness dreams come to life. God’s call on one young woman’s life has become reality, is becoming reality. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at  She’d also love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 

Jessica Joy_Screen Display




That last night in Haiti, I sat on the edge of a bed in a Port-au-Prince hotel room facing my roommate, Georgeann. I’d just met this woman one week prior, but I’d learned enough of her to know she was authentic and completely trustworthy. So in that moment, both of us bare-footed and ready for bed, with all the noise and clamor of Port-au-Prince in the background, I shared the secret of my heart.

There are things I’ve experienced here in Haiti that I’ve never come close to experiencing back home.

Yep. These are the things that have been weighing on my heart. These are the things that have been pressing on my soul since I returned from Haiti, nearly two months ago now. These are the things that call to me, speak to me, dare me to find the soonest opportunity to return to that beautiful country. These are the things I long for when I know in my heart I’m missing Haiti.

How was it possible for me to develop such a deep and rich love for a country I visited only one week?

How is it possible that an adoptive mom’s story really is true, that she’s never heard of anyone going to Haiti just once?

And the question I’ve asked myself time and time again since I returned – why would God have brought me to a place I loved so much, a place that sat so perfectly with my soul, only to take me away again?

It takes me a second to realize the obvious – my family and friends are here in the United States. Of course I desire, of course God desires for me to return to my country, to live, love, nurture and serve those He’s placed in my path. Here.

My life is here.

My life. is here.

My life is beautiful, blessed and rich beyond measure.

But my heart still speaks. That deepest place calls out, longs to linger in the beautiful match Haiti was for my soul.

Perhaps you understand if you’ve been to Haiti.

So I believe. God will have me return.

I believe God is already preparing a way.

I believe He knows exactly where I’ll go next, exactly where He’ll have me next.

And I’ll be open, beyond ready when it’s time to go. Because I know, He will call.

It’ll be specific. And it’ll be with people and for purposes far greater than myself.

Because I simply can’t afford what Haiti needs. Nor can I afford what Haiti has to offer.

So I lend myself as an offering, before He calls. I’m willing to go, it’s my desire, no doubt.

But in the quiet God tames me. He says wait. Hold up. I’m working. Wait. Not yet. Let My plan unfold. I will show you the way.

So I wait.


Very patiently.

I ponder and pray over every clue, wondering if this is what He’d have me do.

And I ponder all the reasons I dared to utter that sentence in the Port-au-Prince hotel room…

There are things I’ve experienced here in Haiti that I’ve never come close to experiencing back home.

I keep these things close, tucked away in the recesses of my heart. For God bestowed on me these most precious gifts, and I’ll treasure them as such until He calls me to return to that beautiful, soul-stirring place called Haiti.

That beautiful place where mamas aren’t afraid to tell truths about the depths of their pain, and they aren’t afraid to share the source of their joy either.


That beautiful place where girls showed me what it looks like to have a servant heart. That beautiful place where I learned what it really means to receive.



That beautiful place where kids from extreme poverty say “I love my life.”


That beautiful place where dreamers dream and believe ALL things are possible, with God, through Christ – even when ALL signs suggest otherwise.


That beautiful place where words mean something. Yes, that beautiful place where words are powerful, limitless, LIFE GIVING.



That beautiful place where simplicity wins, integrity shines, and dignity is always of the utmost importance.


That beautiful place where creativity is fostered, not forced.


DSCN6180That beautiful place where leaders rise among sleeping giants. That beautiful place where great leaders of a country literally stand before you. And you can feel it, this rising up of of a nation as they fulfill their call.


That beautiful place where hearts just like yours affirm, make you feel known, completely understood, tell you you’re beautiful, we love you just the way you are.


That beautiful, beautiful place where humble hearts reign. And you’ve never experienced humility like that ever, ever before. And you finally know, THAT’S what true humility looks like. Yes, that’s a beautiful place.


That beautiful place where joy is unspeakable. And pain is never, ever far away.


DSCN6250That beautiful place where faith crosses every border.


That beautiful place where human souls sing, triumph, keep pressing forward…even if, even though…



That beautiful place where eyes can’t help but notice the poverty, the destitution, the lack of everything, everywhere. That beautiful place where I couldn’t help but notice the wealth, the riches, the abundance in everyone, everywhere.



Yes. Those are the things about Haiti that I can’t quite replicate here, back at home. Those are the things that have been hard to explain. Those are the things that have lingered in my heart. Those are the things that call me, beckon me to return.

Is it possible for a heart to be 100% engaged in one place and 100% engaged in another? So be it. Let it be mine.

If, for any reason, these words have spoken to the deepest part of you, whether you’ve been to Haiti or not, please let me know via comment, Facebook message, or email. Whatever God has in store for me and Haiti, I’m most certainly going to need travel partners. I’m believing He might have one or more of you join me in the future. Who’s it going to be?

Some food for thought this Friday afternoon.

Blessings on your journey, wherever it may lead you.


**If you’d like to read about my journey to Haiti in February 2014, click on this link and read to the bottom where you’ll find links to every post I wrote about Haiti. It’s an honor to invite anyone and everyone into this life changing story.



My sister sent the text at 5:06 p.m. I read it just as I was pulling in the driveway from work.

“The ambulance is getting dad from the golf course.”

Dad had a heart attack on the golf course. He’d just finished the 4th hole and wanted to finish a 5th, but things had been going downhill fast, so he knew he had to get back to the clubhouse as quickly as possible. He made his way back to safety and the owner of the golf course called the ambulance immediately.

Dad was transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital, and then transferred to a bigger hospital where he’d receive more specialized cardiac care.

My husband and I kept the news to ourselves for a while, but then decided to tell the kids, “Grandpa’s in the hospital.” We gently reminded them that grandpa’s lungs have been sick for a while, noted the oxygen tanks they might’ve seen around grandma and grandpa’s house, and indicated special concern because grandpa had a heart attack tonight.

After some debate and a couple phone calls from mom, we decided the situation didn’t require urgent action on my part. I’d wait until morning to travel and visit dad in the hospital.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring our toddler with me to the hospital. Annother great unknown in this realm of parenting. I debated all the way up until leaving the house. Should I send her to daycare for the day? Or should I bring her with me?

I’m glad I decided to bring Maisie with me.

She was a light from the start.

When we arrived at the hospital and began down the long hallway to grandma who’d been waiting at the cardiac unit, Maisie ran all the way to grandma. She ran what was probably a block, with arms open wide until she landed safely in grandma’s loving embrace.

She was a light from the start.

When we were brought to the consultation room and told by a doctor dad had not one, but TWO arteries in his heart that were 90% blocked, and would need stents placed immediately, Maisie was there. She found a sticker and put it just about everywhere – on the door, on the table, on a landline phone, on my hand, and even on my nose. She brought joy and laughter where there would’ve been none.

She was a light from the start.


After we waited an hour and a half for the stents to be placed, after the cardiologist came in to give us the thumbs up that the procedure was successful, we proceeded to dad’s room on the cardiac unit. When Maisie saw grandpa for the first time, she greeted him without fear “Hi grandpa!” And when grandpa was parched and in desperate need of water or just about anything to quench his thirst, Maisie got a cup of ice chips just like grandpa. With help, she fed grandpa not one, but two ice chips from her cup. Best yet? It was all her idea.

She was a light from the start.



After a cafeteria lunch, we headed back up to dad’s room. Maisie reached out for grandma’s hand. “Hold hand,” she said. So grandma and Maisie held hands, all the way to the elevator that brought us back to floor 2.

She was a light from the start.


After the cardiac technician got dad resettled, flat on his back for another hour or two, I decided it was time to go. Maisie was getting louder. She was getting tired, and she’d missed her regular nap. But she was still up for a great big hug good-bye for grandpa. She leaned in to give him a kiss, and then that great big hug, with her arms wide open the same way she’d opened them wide for grandma down that long hallway five hours prior.

She was a light, even to the end.

I left content, knowing my decision to bring our two-year-old was right. She was light in a place filled with dark and heavy burdens. The innocence and love that radiated from her tiny toddler body was felt and appreciated by all.

For grandpa, for grandma, and others unnamed – may your burdens be lifted, may your steps be lighter, may your hearts feel a bit brighter – because of her tiny, bright light.



When you’ve been deceived, it’s crucial you find your way back to truth.

So I sat in bed with nothing but my laptop, my Bible and a pen, ready to receive revelation about this I’m too much, not enough business.

Little did I know, revelation was about to kick in because of the words on that pen.

20 months ago, I stood in line at the Women of Faith conference in Iowa, waiting to meet Ann Voskamp, my favorite blogger. They counted us off; there was time for 35 of us to meet Ann. I was 31st in line. There were only two or three people in front of me when the security guard told us it was time to shut down the line. The conference was about to resume. Those of us remaining in line wouldn’t be able to meet Ann.

I didn’t get the opportunity to greet Ann that day, but I learned something important from her, something really important. She showed me a bit of Jesus. Before she left, she looked at each one of us in line, cupped her hands in gratitude, and graciously and lovingly waved good-bye. She noticed we were there. She hadn’t forgotten us, even in the hurry, even when she was being pulled in another direction. I saw her heart, and I saw His heart for me.

After Ann left, the woman who accompanied her gave us a pen. While I could’ve chosen to view that pen as a consolation prize and thrown it in the junk drawer, I’ve treasured it for 20 months. Printed on it, One Thousand Gifts and the verse Ephesians 5:20.

It wasn’t until this Good Friday that I sat on my bed, with my laptop, Bible AND pen in hand, and read Ephesians 5:20.

As I read more of Ephesians 5, it dawned on me. This is the book, this is the chapter I’ve been living this Holy Week. This is the battle I’ve been fighting. This is the truth I’ve been trying to believe, live.

On Monday, in the first post of this series, Too Much, I stated the following…

“If we bring these lies into the light, we’ll expose them for what they are – flat out lies, false beliefs we’ve held about ourselves for way too long, for no good reason. And truth is? We’ve got to release these lies. Or the enemy will keep us right where he wants us. Flat on the ground, no good for anything, and certainly not up to fulfilling the awesome plans God has in store for us.”

And on Good Friday, there with my Bible and pen in hand, I read this…

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth, and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:8-17

The fruitless deeds of darkness…I’m too much, not enough. I exposed and explored those lies all week. It felt good to let it all out, and my decision to do so was intentional, purposeful. Because I’m desperate for you to know you’re not alone, desperate to rid myself of the lies and live in the light.

But putting all those lies out there with no response, no resolution, no hope, no promise, have left me, for the most part, feeling shameful, empty, purposeless. I’m pretty sure that’s right where the enemy wants each and every one of us – stuck in the den of lies.

So it’s time to live in the truth of Ephesians. It’s time to wake up, rise from the dead, live wise, make the most of every opportunity, and understand the Lord’s will. Because I want to live in the light, not in the darkness.

I proceeded to review truths that came to mind throughout Holy Week…

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Romans 3:23-24

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  2 Corinthians 12:9

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.  Romans 6:5

Perhaps it’s true. We aren’t enough, we are too much – if we live without Him.

Perhaps it’s grace I haven’t understood. What is this grace anyway?

Perhaps in all these feelings of inadequacy, I need to believe, more fully, the truths about grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10

Grace. It’s key to the freedom, peace and joy we’re all seeking.

And faith? It’s about our believing – in Him. It’s about us trusting – He has us in the palm of His hand – even when this great big world seems like it’s falling apart.

So how do we live as children of light?

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12: 21

And we must not forget to put on the armor of God. Because this believing everything about us is too much, not enough? It’s proof we’re in battle. The enemy’s plotting and scheming, struggling to find his way in to our souls, into our everyday lives.

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:13-17

And remember, before Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit on the cross, He uttered these last words…

“It is finished.”  John 19:30

So live in the truth.

It. is. finished.

He paid the price for me. He paid the price for you. It’s His gift, for us.

So live, knowing it’s not your good works that save you, but faith. 

Live, knowing it’s not about your performance. It’s about your growing understanding of grace, God’s free and unmerited favor.

Live, knowing you’re ENOUGH, with Him.

Wake up sleeper, rise from the dead.

You’re ENOUGH, with Him.


*This is the final post in a 4-part Holy Week series titled “I’m Too Much, Not Enough.” If you missed the first three posts, check them out at the following links…

Part 1: Too Much

Part 2: The Real-Life Implications of this Too Much, Not Enough Business

Part 3: When It’s Good Friday and You Just Know You’re Not Enough


The Place


*This is the final post from a month-long series about my journey to Haiti. Click here to read all the posts in the series.

*Music courtesy of Ft. Alex Boye, Africanized Symphonic Cover of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain

  1. Terri Siebert says:

    I really enjoyed this.

  2. Tiffany Femling says:

    Eyes are an expression to the soul!

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