March 29, 2011

Introducing the Birdcage: A New Era of Art

The Birdcage is my latest obsession, figuratively speaking. As it relates to faith, the birdcage may seem like an obvious metaphor. But the birdcage itself, when you look at it, has something so beautiful about it. As well as a sense of imprisonment. The sin that God has saved me from and the healing He is doing now, that is my birdcage. The process is beautiful, although the sin was not. My story is beautiful, even though I didn't think so when I was still inside the cage. It's amazing to see how God uses our little stories to bring His Story together.

With that said, I told you I'd be uploading some artwork from this year. Here's the final product from my Design II class. We were to create a 3D object out of one 28x40 sheet of bristol (cardstock) paper; no glue, no cutting away from it. Here the final product:

For another project, titled Inside the Box, we were to build a white box with a 1.5-inch depth and imply at least 1 foot of space within it. Here's what I did:

Then, my real passion is creating things on my own.

However, I don't have as much time as I'd like to do things on my own. But I'll be working more on that these next few months.

Until we meet again!
Jess ♥

March 21, 2011

Not My Hair

That's what I was saying as I looked in the mirror, 10 years of my hair being the same length. Chopped. Off.

Ever since I was little, my mother had been relaxing my hair. I had beautiful shoulder-length hair for years. And that's where it stayed. I didn't get it trimmed much, it just didn't grow.

In college, I learned how bad relaxing chemicals can be for a Black woman's hair. It's crazy to think that I'd been robbing my hair of full health all these years. Relaxer chemicals straighten my fro into long, "white" hair. I'm not trying to offend anyone but it's the truth. For decades, Black women have been told that afros were a sight for sore eyes, when in truth, God made us this way. He gave us high-wearing, grease-sucking, afros and what do we do with them? We straighten them to look like a Caucasian woman. I don't think it's right, not anymore. I used to wonder "God, why can't my hair stay straight like I want?" When I should've been asking what I should REALLY be doing with my hair. I found out just yesterday that the more we chemically-straighten or apply heat to our 4A or 4B-type hair, the weaker it gets. Until it breaks off.

All these years, I thought I had weak hair that shed and was supposed to stay this length.

So I decided to cut it. I cut out the hair that was still straightened (permanently) and kept my new growth. I haven't told my parents and I'm not sure what they'll say. But I know that in time, my hair will grow again. I want to take better care of it, God willing.

Until we meet again!
Jess ♥

March 20, 2011

Head for the Hills 2011

My last Spring Break in undergrad college. Even though I have been on two spring break trips with Campus House, I wasn't sure what to expect from this one.

First off, the roadtrip worried me. I decided to drive this year and knew that I needed some energetic friends to accompany me and keep me awake for 7-8 hours. But I never anticipated how awesome my car would be. God truly blessed me with the best car. My sister Jasmine, an awesome girl named Julia and a sweet girl named Rita accompanied me to Pigeon Forge, TN on Saturday March 13th. We blasted Lecrae and had a dance party the whole way there (minus a nap or two for the passengers).

I was also worried about what bedroom we'd get (I worried over a whole lot of dumb things). I knew God had our back. Jasmine & I wanted to share a bed and snuggle the whole week, but we also hoped to have some awesome girls to share a room with.

The mountains were so beautiful, it was hard for me to be distracted about what room I'd get while being so surrounded by God's creation. We took so many pics!! After getting lost a few times on the road, we caught up with some of our caravan and made it there on time! In fact, we got there right before 6:30 and the goal was 7. We walked through the beautiful cabin and found an empty room in the corner with a giant king and a bunkbed. Jasmine and I dropped our things and went to explore the rest of the cabin. We played some pingpong and joined the others outside who were waiting for more cars to arrive. Eventually, two more sisters joined us, Liz & Lauren, both sweethearts. [By the 2nd day Jazmyn & Michelle, 2 of our closest friends, made their way to our room to stay! Sleepover!!]

I was so excited about the week and I knew that it would so amazing. All I had to do was wait for it all to unfold.

A week on Spring Break with Campus House consists of good food, awesome God-filled conversations, morning devotionals, evening worship and late-night hangouts. Every day was a new adventure, with people that knew me well and people I'd never met. I have been on Spring Break with Campus House 3 times now and I've never experienced community like this.

My fellow brothers & sisters were so open to share their struggles and their stories with everyone, no walls or strings attached. My community group of 7 random people (only 2 of which I knew before) were so open from the beginning, that we each shared our full testimony, one night at a time. One person at a time. It was so amazing to see how God was moving in people's lives, and knowing that you're not alone in your struggle.

No matter what your sin is, beit hypocrisy, sexual sin, or whatever, we are all beautiful in God's eyes. We are all loved by Him, and it tears Him up to know what we're going through. But if we surrender it to Him, and go running to Him for comfort, we will find the freedom that all of humanity craves.

Let me just say that my sin is just as dirty and horrible as yours or your neighbor's but God loves us regardless. He has the freedom from sin that we all need. It's so amazing to see that.

[ Someday soon I hope to give my testimony here on my blog. Just a sidenote! ^_^ ]

One thing that made Spring Break truly awesome for me was that my sister Jasmine asked me to baptize her Wednesday night. It was so beautiful and she shares this new-born birthday with 6 other amazing people.

But on a less serious note, Spring Break was full of some awesome adventure as well. My hilarious Sisters-in-Christ and I have started a step that we're practicing. [for those of you that don't know anything about stepping, check out the trailer for the movie Stomp the Yard. Normally it's a greek thing and I'm the only greek! But we just like to dance! ]

Also, having awesome dance parties in the parking lot in front of your cabin in the Smoky Mountains is great.........until you kill your car battery. Yep, we did that. It was so old that when I got back to Purdue I had to buy a new one. [Praise God for getting us back safely!!]

We also explored a place called MagiQuest, a high-time adventure palace full of magic and wands [it was the corniest thing ever but pretty hilarious]. Here's a link to the corniest trailer you'll ever see: prepare to be amazed...or not.

In my opinion, the only thing worth paying for at this goofy thing was the mirror maze, which had a room of mirrors and lights in the middle (where we proceeded to have a dance party). The amount of dance parties on this trip makes me smile every time I think about it (and makes me want to have another!!)

This was truly an amazing trip. I feel so blessed that God allowed me to go, and to spend time with such beautiful people. :) I can already feel the long-lasting relationships that God has blessed us with through another Campus House Spring Break trip!

Until we meet again!
Jess ♥

March 8, 2011

Volunteer Volunteer Coordinator

It began with a phone call...

I had applied to be a Volunteer Coordinator at the Lafayette Transitional Housing Center. It's a place for the homeless to go to get resources to get back on their feet, including a clothing donation room, food pantry, computers, phone & mail service, showers & day sleeping rooms. The job of volunteer coordinator consisted of becoming the new contact for free-will volunteers at LTHC (as opposed to community service volunteers, which is court-ordered).

I received a phone call, which turned into an interview, which became a job! :D Praise God!! I didn't know what to expect of this job, but on the interview I told them that I would help them recreate their volunteer system and anything else they needed me to do. That was so crazy to me, but I do believe that God wanted me to have this job. What I wanted was to work in non-profit AND a paycheck!

Little did I know that God had other plans for me. The last week of winter break consisted of many phone calls, some to Purdue's financial aid office for both work-study funds and to verify my parent's tuition loan. God's plan came into view when the tuition loan went through before the work-study funds did. Inadvertently, because I had tuition fully paid for, I was no longer eligible for work-study. So my position as Volunteer Coordinator immediately became Volunteer Volunteer Coordinator (as my boss would put it with a laugh).

At first, I was a little bummed (no paycheck) but I haven't volunteered to do anything in years. I'd been putting it off for so long that God had me volunteer unknowingly.

It's definitely a learning experience. Here I have been using my time as if it were my own! Ha! It definitely should belong to God so now I'm giving back.

My first day was the hardest but silently beautiful at the same time.

A man came in, said he was hurting and needed to get some food from the pantry. My supervisor told him that the pantry was closed for the day but would let him in this time. Since I'm learning what each volunteer position is about, my supervisor asked me to help him. I helped him shop for food for his family, as well as bagged his groceries. It broke my heart the whole time and I just wanted to help so much more. I understand now how it feels to volunteer and want to give your everything to one person, again and again. Because it happened again. And it would happen again. I wanted every person that walked in there to know that they're loved, by a God who knows their struggles, even if they don't understand the struggle. I wanted to give the little money I have to help.

God reveals Himself in so many people in so many ways. I'm blessed to have this volunteer job and I can't wait to share with you as I learn new things along the way.

Until we meet again!
Jess ♥