Guest Contributor – Anna Filly

I am pretty darn excited about our guest poster today. She is one of the most infectiously joyful souls I have ever been blessed to meet. Her smile is downright contagious and she has a beautiful knack for sowing encouragement wherever she goes. I asked Anna to share something from her heart this Valentine’s Day and what she delivered is so chock full of wisdom and insight that I could hardly wait for this post to go live. So without further ado, here’s Anna!

Photo Credit | Moriah Elisabeth Photography

Photo Credit | Moriah Elisabeth Photography

This blog is absolutely stunning – isn’t it?  I just love how I’ve been able to watch it come together over these last few months.  The colors, the patterns, the vibes– it’s so joyful!  Which got me to thinking about the name Stephanie chose for her business: The Joy Parade.  How fun is that?!  

There’s so much truth it and true joy is welcomed with gates of praise.

One of my favorite stories happens to be tucked between the pages in one of the oldest books of history this world has to offer.   It’s a tale that tells of adventure, glory and triumph.

Let me set the scene for you.

Three armies are about to go to war- It’s two against one.  Our team- the underdog of it all- is the smallest army let by a man named Jehosophat.

Yep.  

His name is Jehosophat.

(Kinda like geez-hes-so -fat)

Anyways.

Back to the battlefield.

Jehoshaphat is about to lead his small army into battle and he’s slightly shaken.  The odds are against him and he knows it.  But he also knows that the Lord God has called him to fight this battle.  So, knowing that, he does something totally crazy by human standards, something that no commander of any army would ever dare to do.

He calls for his praise and worship band and tells them to lead the army to battle.  That’s right.  These men are unarmed.  Some hold instruments instead of weapons, others hold nothing in their hands at all.

He positions the musicians in front, and instructs them to lead the army in praise:

“…Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,

   for his love endures forever.”

“ -2 Chronicles 20:21

e38e0dd32c5be26728ab072ca0b3c074The army begins to make it’s way into battle.  Being lead -quite literally- by the music.  Then, when they arrive to the place that overlooked where the battle was planned to begin, what they saw left them speechless.  

The other two armies had turned on themselves and all that was left were the bodies of their enemies- not a single enemy soldier had survived.  

Immediately Jehoshaphat led his army to collect the plunder that had been left behind.  So much was left that it took three days to collect!  The army returned to their town of Jerusalem continuing in songs of praise, abounding in joy and completely overwhelmed by the Lord’s provision.

The reason that story is one of my favorites is because regardless of if Jehoshaphat had won or lost the battle he did something incredible:  he lead his fight with songs of                                                                                                        praise, proclaiming and glorifying none but God.  

He didn’t wonder or worry, or spend hours trying to figure out how he could win– he knew all of that was pointless.  In the end it wasn’t about winning or losing.  It was about trusting what God had called him to do.   Only God could give him the victory, and if God chose to, Jehoshaphat would lead his people to battle in praise, and if God chose to not give Jehoshaphat victory, he would still lead his people to battle in praise.

So much of our joy depends on knowing who God is.  Joy only fades when we lose sight of his sovereignty.  I mean it.  Life isn’t about us, its about proclaiming how good God is in spite of us.  We are imperfect creatures stained by sin, and yet we burden ourselves with the idea that our lives have to be a certain way in order for us to be happy.

If you believe that you’re right.  annaquote

Happiness requires only one set of circumstance to exist.  But joy -oh joy- joy requires no specific circumstance because it isn’t based on circumstance.  Joy is based on something that never changes- and that’s God himself.  Joy takes the pressure of us feeling like we have to “have it all together” or “know all the right answers”.  Joy isn’t based on those things, it comes from knowing that we are protected and covered by the arms of Jesus Christ, and he filled our imperfections, he drowns our worries, and he covers our anxieties with his perfect grace and love.  Our lives don’t depend on us- they depend on him.  Sweet friend, I want to live a life abounding in joy.  I want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that who I am and what I do far exceeds me.   I want to have peace in all circumstances and know my savior.  

Joy, is welcomed with gates of praise.  So, if you want that to, start today, but praising Jesus for who he says he is– not how you feel– because then, joy will abound in your circumstance because you know whose you are.

xo
AnnaFilly

** If you would like to read the story of Jehosophat for yourself– and you should– check it out here : https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+chronicles+20&version=NIV

Guest Contributor: Christene Logesky

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Grace. Oh, this word grace. I always thought I knew what it meant. Grace is the whole message of Jesus and the price He paid! How could I not know what grace means? I look back to one year ago and I see the shift. It was like the Lord grabbed my hand and said, “I want to take you on a journey. This journey may be painful and it may be uncomfortable, but I want to reveal what grace REALLY is.” Sometimes I think if God would actually tell us what He is going to do, we would just run! I think He knew I would run in this case. I would have said, “Never. Not for me. I can’t. I won’t.”

AndrewChrissy_Port_0141Last year Andrew and I took a huge leap of faith and decided to take a trip to California to train together for our business. We knew this would be crucial for our future and the investment would be more than worth it. It also meant we would have to leave our one year old daughter for an entire week. That alone was a huge leap for me! Our finances were short every month and Andrew had just received news of a pay cut. Though everything seemed to be screaming “no” to us, we knew that this was something we just had to do. We had peace that God would provide and He did (that is for another story though)! While attending the conference, I learned about another conference in Georgia. I also found out the PRICE and immediately thought “absolutely not!” We just took this HUGE leap of faith to get to California and now I am thinking about going to another conference? I remember saying to Andrew, “Earth to reality! Yes we are in California right now, but life is not always paradise. We can’t afford it!” I also remember telling myself, “You don’t even like women! Why would you go to a women’s conference?” Women gatherings have always made me feel uncomfortable and I have never been able to relate to them. I have always been the girl who had a million guy friends and enjoyed football over fashion and beauty. So why would I want to attend this conference?

The day we get home we find out my car was broken down and needed several hundred dollars of repairs. We received Andrew’s first check with the pay cut and life came crashing back down as we walked back in the door from our trip to paradise. My husband persisted that I enroll for the conference. He kept saying, “You should go!” Usually he is the one that is saying, “Heck no sister. We have no money!” This time, faith was rising in him and he believed deeply. So I put Emlyn down for a nap and after his persistence I agreed to go look at the website and figure out the bottom dollar. I remember plopping down on my chair and slamming the mouse down. I was mad. I was angry that I had to feel guilty. How could I spend money on a conference when we needed to fix our car? We need to put food on the table! What will our life look like with a pay cut now? I felt so selfish! And lastly I thought maybe this is my way out of it. Maybe I shouldn’t go because I wont have fun anyways! After all, this is a women’s conference! I remember thinking, “I am awful. Get it together! You need to get over this and go! Lack of money is one thing to worry about but get over being uncomfortable!” My computer started to load and all of the emails started popping up one by one. The last email came up on my screen and paused. It was like time had stopped. I felt like that little notification window was up for 2 minutes straight. My mouth dropped! Why was the founder of the conference messaging me? How did she get my e-mail? I just heard about this conference a few days ago! I hurry to open the email and my eyes immediately swelled with tears! Someone had paid my way to the conference! That’s right. Here I am arguing with God and He says, “No, you should go!”

Walk Through November Headshots-Walk Through November Headshots-0087Fast forward to September and I am in absolute awe! I am at this conference for free, soaking up the Georgia sun and sipping on sweet tea. At this point I realize have traveled to California and Georgia all in the same year and it was all by God’s grace! While I am there, I hear a message from Mary Marantz about the lies we believe about ourselves. I wrote down my lies. The same lies I have told myself since my eighth grade teacher blurted them out to me: “I am dumb, I will be rejected, and no one will listen.” For the first time in my life I started to tell myself the truth. I started to tell myself what GOD said about me instead of that quiet, but nagging voice. It wasn’t but a few months later that I was riding in the car to capture a wedding and I told Andrew, “I think I love to write. Like, I actually would like to start a blog.” I don’t know where it came from. It shocked me even when I said it! I said to Andrew “WHO AM I?” and laughed it off. What shocked me more was his response. “You should do it!” Ok, again I am always an idea machine and he usually gives me the crazy eye roll with a “Here we go again!” and instead I get a, “You should do it!” I started to process this thought more and I realized that because I believed lies about myself……then my mind could never travel farther than these lies. If I thought for a minute about writing anything, my mind would quickly travel to, “You are too dumb! This is not for you!” and then move on. When I focused on the truth, the mental road blocks in the way of my dreams came crashing down. I realized that previously I had always thought my brokenness was my only reality. I thought those roadblocks were as far as I would ever travel. I thought I was living in grace before. I always thought I don’t have to like women or work with women. I don’t have to ever write. I just will stick with this right here and skip the rejection. Can you believe I thought that was grace in my life?

The Lord quickly showed me that instead of muttering my frustrations to Him about women, I needed to realize that the reason they rub me the wrong way is because I know there is grace for their brokenness. I have always had the attitude towards women like, “Suck it up! It is not that big of a deal! Why do you complain so much?” This made me think that I was just not cohesive with other women. Instead, in this moment, I realized that what I was so frustrated with was a lack of understanding His grace in their lives. I KNOW that they don’t HAVE to walk in the lies they believe. I know that they CAN be brave! HE quickly revealed to me: “Chrissy, I want you to write. I want you to make a place that will reveal to women MY grace. I want you to get over yourself and realize that I have revealed something to you FOR MY GLORY and not for you to get angry about. I want you to create a place that will show them WHO I say they really are just like I am doing with you now.” That night we drove home and as I looked up at the stars in awe of this revelation, it came to me  -“Gracefully You.” I cried as I looked at the beauty of the sky. How is it that the God who just poured grace on me like a giant waterfall was already calling me to walk out His grace? That night was the first time in my life I believed I was more because of grace.

As I look back over this last year, I realize He had taken me all over the country on a journey. One year ago I was clueless to grace! I didn’t know that grace would set me free from never feeling “enough.” I didn’t realize that my disconnection with women actually stemmed from my own brokenness. I didn’t realize that the things that rub me the wrong way are actually the things that God has given me the grace to do. Not only that, but they are the things He has made me to do! The Gracefully You Project was birthed out of His grace. It is the easiest thing I have ever done because I have allowed grace to FILL me. I no longer apply grace like a Band-Aid but instead I let it be the very thing that overflows from within me.

I encourage you to rest in the fact that Jesus loves you right where you are! He listens to your muttering and complaints…. and He sheds grace. Don’t let the lies you believe hold you back any more. Are you struggling to find purpose in your life? Ask yourself: “What are the lies I believe about myself?” Don’t stop there; find out what God says instead. Find out the truth – that is His grace in your life. He knows who you really are and His grace loves you WHERE you are. More importantly, His grace is so good that it promises not to leave you the way you are. It overflows in you and silences your deepest inner critic. You are worth it. Your dreams are worth it. Go remove those roadblocks and travel further than you ever have because of grace.

Gracefully Yours,

Chrissy Logesky

Christene Logesky is one-half of Andrew and Chrissy Photography. Her and her husband Andrew are full-time youth pastors in Greensburg, PA as well. She is also a mommy, blogger, and public speaker. Her newest venture is The Gracefully You Project. She plans to reach and empower women by sharing women’s stories of honest struggles with “BUT there was grace” moments. She hopes to create a community full of grace for women to come be themselves and to be equipped with bravery to fight for what they were made to do!