Just Ask Jess no.1

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Off-the-shoulder velvet burnout dress: similar here | Sandals: c/o Mari A. (similar here)| Handbag: c/o myWalit (similar here) | Earrings: c/o Baublebar (on sale under $25!)

[if you see a spinning wheel, refresh your page]

I’ve asked my Instagram fam to send me some questions for a little Q&A and I received an overwhelming response! So, I think it'll be fun to make a little series out of this! Who knows where this will go. Hope you enjoy seeing what everyone asked and reading my answers too!

What I love so so SO much about this is the variety of questions I receive! Marketing and branding experts say how important it is to “find your niche” as a blogger, but I’ve always gone rogue when it comes to that. My interests and creative endeavors are so diverse that I could never choose blogging about one over another. Sure, each season may lend itself to one over another, but my blog is where they all come together as one expression…my life.

The questions you guys have already sent include a bit of everything! Fashion and style, faith and relationship with God, piano and musicianship, and photo taking and Instagram editing tricks. I post what I like and obviously hope you like it too, but I don’t overthink whether you do or not. #sorrynotsorry

But there’s something special about receiving questions on the very topics my life revolves around that really encourages my little blogger heart. Sweet confirmation that I am in fact building an audience that’s engaged with my content, which is what every blogger dreams of. Your questions definitely help me know what content you like the most, so please keep it coming! I’m at a place in blogging where I’m really looking for that…what do I talk about that’s most valuable to you? Anyway, that’s just a bit of rambling about why I’m so excited about this Q&A series! Now let’s pretend we’ve sat down for a nice little chitchat! In 3-2-1…

Q: Favorite photo editing apps…

A: VSCO and Enlight!

Q: What filters do you use to edit your Instagram photos?

I don’t know if you've noticed, but the beginning of July began a new chapter in my Instagram aesthetic...I needed a change! (Ok, how basic is this conversation right now?) Here are the exact filters I use! I’M TELLING ALL. It’s a process, so don’t judge me.



(sometimes I’ll add a touch of C8 or C9 too)

Enlight – Image->Adjust->AD1

Enlight – Image->Adjust->Halycon

I’ll play with the brightness, contrast and/or clarity, depending on what each photo needs, but that’s the secret recipe!

And for my DSLR photos, I edit with Lightroom on my laptop.

Q: How long did you take piano lessons?

A: I started classical piano lessons (Suzuki method) when I was 5 years old, which was apparently my idea…turned on me when I realized practicing was involved! :) That method is a combination of both sight-reading and ear training. I went to one private lesson and one group lesson per week and practiced every day before school. Oh the struggle!

I took lessons for almost 10 years and around that time worked on learning chords and improvising (which was like learning a whole new instrument—not having the notes to play in front of me). Around that same time, I joined the youth band at Gateway Church and the rest is history! I’ve been playing there for 12 years now and love it with all of my heart. The Lord met my diligence with His faithfulness…so grateful for that.

I wanted to give up over and over again, but once my parents could see a natural ability, they wouldn’t let me quit. Now I practically owe them my salary. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Q: How old were you when you became a believer?

A: My dad has been in the Christian music ministry for over 40 years, and I started traveling with my parents when I was 6 weeks old. He was writing songs to God before contemporary worship music existed, which is mind boggling to me! I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 5 years old in my kindergarten class…yep. :)

I never really experienced a rebellious phase or season in my life when I ever turned away from God. I'm so far from perfect and my life hasn't always been easy, but my heart has always been to do the right thing. My "testimony" is really more of God's protection and grace...to steer me clear of going the wrong way, and really guiding me to being at the right place at the right time.

Q: What’s your journey with Christ been like? I was raised in the Christian church but had lots of questions about the whole thing. I just recently moved churches and feel like my relationship is growing with Him. Any advice in growing with that?

A: Wow, what a topic. This makes me so excited! I mean the fact that you're asking is proof that you are growing closer to Christ (whether it feels like it or not). Disclaimer before I start rambling…this is not “7 Ways to Grow in Your Relationship With God.” NOPE. I’m not answering this as a blogger, I’m just responding as a girl who loves Jesus and will speak openly, honestly and plainly about my personal experience with Him...so here goes!

Even if you have your dream job, there are going to be things about your job that you won't like. The same is true with your church family. Regardless of how wonderful the church is, it won't be a perfect place because it's full of imperfect people.

And many times, the enemy uses discouraging or hurtful church circumstances to turn us away from community, which isolates us. Isolation is never safe, so it's important to press through and find your people...stay with the pack. ;) You'll know in your gut when a church feels like home!

Find people who can really encourage your walk with God. Find friends you can admire for their relationship with Him. Find podcasts and resources online to help too. (I'd be happy to forward you some messages that are really reading my mail right now!)

My parents have even decided that, over any other deciding factors, where we live should be based on finding our church home. My dad has encouraged me as an adult not to move for job opportunities unless I first know where I'm going to be planted in a church community. Being at our current church has completely changed the course of my entire life, so I can personally see the impact of being in a healthy vibrant church.

My journey with Christ has really just been a slow and steady, daily effort. The fact that you're developing a relationship with a person you can't see sounds kinda crazy, but it's the most wild adventure anyone could ever sign up for.

When I wake up in the mornings, I ask God to be in charge of my day. I invite His presence to fill my life...acknowledge Him throughout my day...talk to Him about everything. Even in writing this, I'm asking Him to lead and direct me with what I should say. I express my thoughts and feelings to Him. (He knows what we're thinking already.) After all, He knows more about me than I know about myself...He created me.

Honesty is key, just like any other friendship. He likes our honesty with Him, even if it's messy, ugly, broken and emotional. The longer you live with Him, the more you build up a history with Him. Just like any relationship...you're building trust. And when trust is combined with things we can't see, it's called faith. Every single part of the Christian life takes faith.

So I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the plan for today…and I do my best not to worry about tomorrow. I have my moments, but God has always been faithful to me and I confidently stand on the fact that He’ll continue to be so. Looking back on those moments when He's been faithful is why I can confidently believe (with faith) that He'll continue to be...that's the history He's built with me.

All I can do in the unknowns of life is be faithful with what’s in my hands…today. And that's me building history with Him. The Bible talks about being faithful with little so we can be trusted with a lot (Luke 16:10). So the trust you're building in your relationship is a two-way street.

Growth really can't be measured on a day-to-day basis. It's seen more clearly when you look back several years and say, "Wow. Look at the history we've built."

Unfortunately many times history and growth are built through hard times, bad days, disappointments, heartache, brokenness and pain. Experiencing life in a fallen world build character, maturity, strength, endurance...and a deeper level of trust in the wisdom, goodness and grace of an unseen God. The hard seasons are the ones I can always point back to as the times when I've grown the most.

In terms of hearing God speak, that's been challenging for me. I want an audible voice, a sign from heaven or clear "writing on the wall"...but it doesn't usually happen like that. It's different for everyone, but sometimes He speaks through the "knowing" in your gut. Sometimes He speaks through giving a sense of peace in a situation. He mainly speaks through reading the Bible.

Sometimes He speaks through our circumstances or people around us. Sometimes He speaks through our own desires...we may think it's just our own thoughts, but it's actually Him dreaming through us when we've committed our thoughts to Him. Sometimes we feel prompted to do something and it's actually Him leading us to do that.

Sometimes He speaks through having a dream while you're sleeping. Sometimes a topic will keep popping up, or the same phrase, or the same idea...and that'll serve as confirmation that He's speaking to me...it almost becomes an inside joke between Him and me.

The bottom line is He that is always speaking...we just have to learn to hear what He's saying. The Bible says if we draw close to God, He'll draw near to us (James 4:8). It's that two-way street again.

It's so cool, because if you'll take a step toward Him, He'll take 10 toward you. He's so gracious to meet us where we are. And if your faith ever feels low or you're not quite sure about the whole thing, the Bible says when we're faithless, He STILL remains faithful -- because He cannot deny Himself. Wow, that's a fierce level of faithfulness I can't comprehend with my mind. He literally cannot NOT be faithful, because it's who He is.

I don't really know where you are or what's going on in your world, but I believe that even in your searching and questions, God's going to reveal Himself to you in ways you haven't experienced before. And He's cool with your questions, by the way...He wants you to ask. Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." You'll find what you're looking for.

Q: What lens do you use to take your pictures?

A: Most of my blog photos are taken with a 28mm 2.8 lens, but my favorite for shooting portraits is a 50mm 1.4.

Q: Any fun (and comfortable) sandal recommendations for a mom on the go? I basically live in my Birks right now and need some new options!

A: Giving you my top comfy sandal picks below, along with a list of my favorite brands for shoes that won’t break your feet…and hopefully not the bank either. Obviously everyone’s feet are different, but a few of these brands are legit.

When it comes to shoes, I’m getting progressively less tolerant of uncomfortable shoes with every passing year of my life. LOL! Unfortunately, sometimes you get what you pay for. Comfort shoes are expensive, but my favorites are all under $150, and most under $100. I found a few of my favorite brands on SUPER SALE, so I’m excited about the options! Click on the pics and see what suits your fancy. Happy shopping!

1.     Eileen Fisher (the BEST!)

2.     Gentle Souls

3.     Michael Kors

4.     Sam Edelman

5.     Melissa

6.     Matisse

7.     Dolce Vita

8.     Rebecca Minkoff

9.     MIA

10.  Steve Madden

Q: Favorite video editing apps…

A: I constantly get DMs about how I edit my Instagram stories. I use an app called Glitche for the psychedelic colorful madness (seen below—you can do the same effect to a photo). The filter is called “CHNNLS” and you can change the color variety using the “Mode 1,” “Mode 2,” “Mode 3,” “Mode 4” options.

Another recent favorite is VidLab. It has so many more video filter options than Instagram! Options…we like options.

Leave me a comment if you have a question and I’ll get to work! :)

Love y’all,