Life + Health Update

☆ Special thanks to Tobi for sponsoring this post! ☆

Hey y’all! It’s taken me a long time to feel ready to write this. I’ve known in my heart that I want to share what I’ve been walking through, but I’ve been unsure about what to say and how to say it. Whether you attend Gateway Church and have been wondering where the girl on the piano is or you follow me online and haven’t seen me posting as often, this is for you. :) For those who have personally reached out, I can’t tell you how much it means to me! Anyway, there’s no way to possibly express how personal this post is! But, I’m choosing vulnerability because...

1) I believe that telling my God story is one of the most powerful things I can do in response to my circumstances, whether they’re hardships or wins. I’d rather share how God has already miraculously healed me, but I haven’t arrived at that destination yet! I’m sharing where I am in the journey because this pit stop is part of my story—it’s part of the bigger picture that only God can see.

Sharing the hardships makes the triumphs even more glorious. If I’m vulnerable enough to include other people in the journey, then we can celebrate together when I’m on the other side of this mountain! I’m a private person, but I want to be open with you guys and I don’t feel this season should be an exception.

2) I believe the real estate I’m claiming on the internet (blog and social media platforms) is meant to go so much deeper than the surface layer. Life’s challenges look different than a posed Starbucks cup and fresh manicure…I don’t even drink coffee and I’m cutting back on manis to save money! I don’t want this space to only be a highlight reel. Life’s not picture perfect. It’s me writing in my pajamas with a tension headache…pretty sure that wouldn’t get a lot of “likes,” but that’s real life!

Being a successful “influencer” does require excellence…high quality images, aesthetically pleasing vibes, styled shoots, negotiating with brands and the list goes on...I’m not knocking any of that. I’m a lover of all things artistic, creative and entrepreneurial. But it seems we can tend to undershare on social media by pretending everything’s fine or overshare by venting, but I’m committed to always try to walk the balance, being open and honest.

3) I believe in prayer. God’s teaching me so much about prayer right now, so I’ll likely write more about it soon, but the bottom line is...prayer changes things. I need prayer and I want to pray for you too! DM me on Instagram with prayer requests. You can count on my prayers.

4) I believe at least one person reading this is walking through a health challenge and needs to know they’re not alone! Be encouraged. If I’m writing this for one person, it’s most totally worth it.

Now that I’ve prefaced this with some values and context, let’s back up…(keep scrolling…)

☆ SHOP THE LOOK

Floral Romper ($39! Romper pro tip: size up if you're tall! I'm 5'7" and ordered a large because it looked pretty short on the model) | Star Earrings ($7) | Necklace | Sandals (similar) | Sunglasses (similar) | Handbag (under $65 on sale!)


I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit with a go-getter nature. Since my lemonade stand days as a kid, it feels like I’ve been working ever since—from collecting quarters for straight A’s to making jewelry, taking photos, selling art, playing music, etc. I’ve always valued creativity, responsibility and plain old hard work.

I began taking piano lessons at the age of 5. When I was 14, I started playing piano and music directing at Gateway. For those who aren’t familiar, music directing at Gateway means everything from preparing the worship band’s rehearsal and performance materials to running sound check to musically directing the team through live worship experiences under the leadership of the worship pastor. I talk into a secret mic during church services that only the audio, video, broadcast, lyric, lighting and worship teams can hear…it’s like air traffic control for worship leading! I help navigate changes on the fly and keep things running smoothly, hopefully taking weight off the worship pastor so they can fully focus on leading. All of that while playing piano! Anyway, I began homeschooling around the time my family came to Gateway, which offered flexibility to be more involved with church and creative endeavors. My role at Gateway grew into a full-time position and I’ve served there ever since.

Over the past few years, there were several red flag moments when I felt I needed to slow down, but continued to stay the course. A combination of symptoms intensified and by the fall of 2017, my doctor ordered me to stop everything! He said I needed to “rest, restore and recreate.”

Through lots of testing by doctors and specialists over the following months, we learned I’m having challenges with thyroid imbalances, adrenal fatigue, TMJ and a combination of other things.

Almost everything about my life has changed in the past 6 months! I have wiped my life’s slate clean, including resigning from my role at Gateway. I’m discovering a lot about how to take better care of myself…body, soul and spirit. I’m learning more about healthy eating, non-toxic products, better sleeping habits, how to wait on God (when I thought I was already waiting?), how to feel deeply, be a better friend…the list goes on.

The health challenges have caused me to slow down in a way I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Similarly, I likely would’ve never considered stepping away from my role at Gateway, so I know God’s hand is at work. Though God didn’t cause these circumstances, He’s using them to lead and direct my path. And I believe what appears to be a setback in the natural is actually Him pulling me back to launch me forward. Wow, what an exciting thought!

So now what? I’m on a no pressure basis in every area of my life. I’m encouraged by some better days lately but am taking it one day at a time and focusing on my health and recovery…listening to my body…and trying my best to hear God’s voice. King David’s lyric “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (from Psalm 23) has taken on a whole new meaning! I am choosing joy every day in response to these circumstances. After all, God’s joy is my strength and I could use more of that in this season (Nehemiah 8:10). Every day, multiple times a day, I’m also reminding Him of the promises He’s declared over my life. I know He’s faithful to keep His word.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re truly committed! Thanks for walking with me on this journey! And please pray for me when you think about it.

Hope you enjoy the outfit details too. And special thanks to Tobi for sponsoring this post. They sent me a few other items including this low back swing dress and this off the shoulder dress. They have super duper amazing sales 24/7, so definitely check them out!

All the best,

Jessica

 

Jessica Sheppard