Monday, September 5, 2011

Joy vs Happiness

yes. there is a difference. joy and happiness should not be confused.
and its my time to admit it- i confuse them all the time. i say the phrase "joy and happiness are different things" BUT if i were honest, i don't even know how to compart mentalize them myself.
so, bear with me, i write this excerpt to once and for all understand the difference of the two.

-HAPPINESS is different things to different people. it could be winning the high school championship soccer game for one person. or your wedding day for another person. tangible moments or places make us happy. think of the question- "what place makes you the happiest?" not the people, but the places (ie. camping up at Lake Almanor, traveling through Europe?)
...and then another question- "what are those ingredients that help you to be a happy person? (ie. the fact that I have food and drink on the daily, that I have a comfy full size bed, or a hot tub at my house?) "happy" is derived from the Latin base, "hap". "hap" means hap-hazard. i did not know that that.

-JOY comes from the Greek word, "makarious". you can be joyful and unhappy at the same time. JOY has to do with that smile of God living in your heart. JOY is the assurance that God is with you and in you in ALL circumstances. It is knowing that God has a plan, a purpose and a prayer for you, even when circumstances are unhappy. SO the net result is that you can be joyful during unhappy circumstances.

my purpose of writing about joy vs happiness is for the purpose of processing what hinders me from experiencing pure joy?
Oswald Chambers writes "the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, '...the cares of this world...choke the world, and it becomes unfruitful' (Mark 4:19).
we must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. we are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. today we have far too many interests and desires..."

Have I allowed Christ to introduce His JOY to me? Or have I allowed my circumstancial happiness fulfill that concept? If happiness is all I know, then man....I must be missing out on something big.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


words. language. what an interesting concept. that someone out there created something called an alphabet... full of things called letters.... which in turn gives us the opportunity to build words and form sentences... and that these words are all for the sake of expressing ourselves... sharing something... a statement... a feeling.

but even somedays... words cannot suffice.

today it hit me that i was leaving my job. today, my little bully of an 8 year old client, cried for me. he felt sadness as I shared the news that I, his TBS Coach, was closing his case. a massive wave of raw emotion hit him as he quietly let tears slide down his face onto his mother's shoulder. he had no words. he looked at me with tear streaked cheeks saying "Am I never going to see you again?"

i had no words. all that could come out of my closed up throat was "maybe someday". i smiled weakly at him in awe that this little rough and tough boy, who almost angrily punched me in the face, who would yell at me day in day out, "i dont care about you! i dont want you to come back!" was now genuinely making my heart ache with love for him. genuinely reminding me how much it sucks to say goodbye.

I mourn these moments, and I am grateful for these moments. For God revealing Himself through transition, through challenge, through pain, through anything we allow Him into.

Working at TBS- with the broken yet willing families of San Diego- has left me in awe...and with no words.

I will miss working for Mental Health Systems TBS Program. I will miss my goofy, crazy, fun loving coworkers who let me eat their leftovers. I will miss receiving therapy sessions from my boss (seriously tho. who gets that lucky) . I will miss all the love.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

a little ART SHOW with a lot of LOVE


My name is Jessica. People call me Jessie. I think it’s because it’s easier to say. Or maybe it’s because I played on countless soccer teams with several Jessicas, so Jessie simply sufficed. And simply stuck. But that is all beside the point.

The point is that my name is Jessica. And I am never 100% content. So if I am not content, I am discontent. If I am discontent, than I am yearning, I am aching, I am searching for more. My soul is thirsting.

But for what?

The plethora of color on canvas, of amateur artwork that is vulnerably exposed before your very eyes today, poses this question. The question “what is my soul desperately seeking?”

I paint with a passion to see beyond this tangible world… beyond cultures that poison our expectations of one another… beyond extreme materialism that addicts our youth to a standard of living… beyond seeking self worth in a profession, quality of education, or social status (ok, let’s just sum that up as seeking self worth from a broken world.)

I paint moments in time where I experience raw rushes of emotion. Emotions full of pain and healing. Emotions that encourage the organic process of brokenness, the dire need to surrender. But most truly, I paint moments where I experience Divine grace, where I receive Holy truth, and where beautiful selfless love is poured upon me. These moments are when my soul quenches its thirst.

I don’t think we will ever be 100% content in this world. I believe we can feel genuine peace. But we will always seek something beyond what our measly minds can mentally grasp here on this earth. “If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world”- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

I pray my artwork can encourage this concept. The concept that there is more to life than this world can ever offer, that eternal life is beyond us. That there is a God, a Source of life who craves to know and love us.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Here. Now.

"When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful-just the everyday activities of life-do I hear God's assurance even in these?"
-oswald chambers

Why is it hard to hear God's assurance in everyday activities? Because we are adrenaline junky humans who need highs and lows, who need drama, who need stress, who need extremes to feel as if we are really alive. But I am alive! Right now! As I sit here, typing on my ordinary laptop, having my ordinary cup of coffee on my ordinary couch in my ordinary home in San Diego, as I'm about to get into my ordinary car to drive to an ordinary day at work. It's just so boringly typical.
But And this is where my life is. Here. Now. So what am I gonna do about it? Go through the motions thinking, "Okay God, I wanna be a vessel for You. I want you to use me in every way. I want to know you more. But not today. Because today is not anything special. I'm not feeling the rush to go strike up a little convo with the person on the bus, or to call my Mom and tell her I love her, or to just go into work full of joy despite how mean my coworkers are. Or to just make time to know you, to glorify you."
This is our life. right now. And as I type on my normal computer, on this normal morning, I still want to see God's sovereignty, God's beauty, and God grace as I get in my car and head off to a day of normal work.
Now don't get me wrong, if you know me, I am most definitely an individual who promotes beautiful moments, moments that express passion, and moments of spontaneous creativity. Living life full of crazy beautiful experiences that just make your heart wanna burst because it is overwhelmed with emotion!!
But should we limit God to these moments?

"We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing-that He is preparing and equipping us for some extra ordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now at this very moment. If we have God's assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life." -oswald chambers

Mr. Chambers has inspired me this morning to be bold with all you people who read these things called blogs, to stop waiting for God to do some exceptional thing. He is here, now, waiting for us to have assurance in Him. Even as I fail daily with this concept of constant assurance in Him, I know God is smiling down, excited for me as I keep going and keep desiring to be closer to Him. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We are never good enough. Deal with it

Jezebel was dormant for a while. but she is back.

This past year, as I've wandered into the real world, as I've transformed into a working woman, blessings from my Jesus have been genuinely shoved down my throat. But here is the thing-I know God has chucked blessings straight at my face before and I was numb to them. I didn't see them. I chose not to. I chose not to because I thought I had to reach a certain point in my life, a peak, or mountaintop of holiness if you will, where I could receive anything from God.
My point is that these blessings are completely unrelated to my abilities, my worldly accomplishments, my performance. Nothing I, ME, Jessica Miriam Pleis, have done. nothing.
Why do we always try to be good enough? Good enough for our job, good enough for our loved ones, good enough for our friends and family, good enough for GOD? Hellooooooo....NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!
But does that mean we wallow in our self pity for the rest of our lives without any passion or purpose? Of course not. We seek hope. We seek hope in a God who is sovereign, who is worthy of praise, who gave us the greatest gift that is NOT OF THIS WORLD.

Oswald Chambers says it pretty darn well:
"The fact that I am trying to be right with God is actually a sign that I am rebelling against the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I cannot make myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. Am I humble enough to accept it? I must leave myself completely alone in His hands, and then I can begin to pour my life out in the priestly work of intercession. "

It is time that we start to recognize how prideful we are. We are so prideful that we continue to prove ourselves, we continue to be attempt perfection, we continue to think we can live without sin. Sin is a fact of life, it is not just a shortcoming, and we must deal with it daily. We can only overcome sin with The Spirit immersing through our soul.

So stop trying to do it yourself. You will fail. I do daily. Accept your failures so you can accept God's Grace.

Check it. Powerful sermon.