5 minutes with Jess ...
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in beautiful Port Adelaide with my husband Marty, and our 4 month old baby, Gideon. I’m currently on maternity leave, but I’m otherwise employed as a high-school teacher, teaching a range of history, English, business and psychology. I’m very slowly chipping away at a Graduate Diploma of Divinity. We love our church family, Enfield Baptist Church, where we’ve been attending since we married eight years ago. Having grown up in great Anglican churches, I’ve appreciated learning and growing from the core gospel commonalities and the cultural differences in expression between the Anglican and Baptist traditions. I’ve been involved in kids, music, small group and preaching ministries at church.
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
Different passages have had special significance at different times of life. I do often come back to Ephesians 3:14-19, where Paul prays for the believers he is writing to. I just love how packed full it is of truths about God’s character and promises, and how you can really get a sense of the depth of Paul’s emotions as he’s praying– a ‘classic Paul’ run-on sentence! It gives me a glimpse of the life that we can have through Christ, empowered through his Spirit, and drawing ever deeper on his incredible love. It’s incomprehensible – which is great! It spurs me to lift my eyes forever higher and gives me hope and perspective.
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Any fixing of eyes comes by the grace of his Spirit in me! Being committed to a church community plays a really significant role for me. As different seasons in life roll in and out, our church family is a constant - a worthy priority. I’ve been especially grateful for this lately as our little baby is so beautifully loved by our ‘village’! I’ve been really blessed by small groups in particular and love them so much I currently go to three (over-committer, alert 😉) – one with similarly aged friends, one with some amazing young women in our church which I help co-lead, and now a Mum’s Bible study. I’ve also found the discipline of studying the Bible through college to be a deep source of growth and fire-stirring in my heart. Having deadlines helps me to prioritise it – and what a pay off! I also tend to pray out loud in the car or at home (it helps to keep me on track!) and have been finding working through the Examen prayer helpful recently too.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
Always dig deeper into Scripture and prayer to deepen your relationship with Jesus – there is always more to discover about him and what he wants to do in your life. Soak yourself in Scripture.
Take responsibility for your faith – feed it and it will grow, neglect it and you miss out on so much. Don’t just know about God from others but grow to know him yourself.
In an age where ‘commitment’ is a bit of a foreign concept, embrace it! Commit to not only Jesus but his church – it’s a beautiful means of his grace, even if like any family it can be messy at times. Work at being outward focussed in your attitude – serving is great for so many reasons including fostering a sense of belonging.
Invest in and value relationships with Christians your own age, younger and older than you, especially women – everyone wins. If you ever have the opportunity to be mentored, grab it with both hands.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
I love that our church loves Jesus and is always striving to get to know him better through Scripture and dig deeper into the outworking of his salvation and restoration in our lives through the Spirit. From our church (but now a separate entity) has grown LifeWell ministries, which is amazing in providing care for the whole person, including counselling, massage and various courses. A sneaky second thing I love about my church is how well it engages with and loves the local community – there is always something going on.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
I’ve learned that my plans for my life, while they may be perfectly good, will always be less good than his plans for my life. I’ve learned that he helps me to let go of what I feel entitled to, which helps me to see just how much he has given me with more gratitude. I’ve learned that I can trust him, I am safe in him, that his love for his children and his goodness are inexhaustible and detailed in their outworking. I’ve learned that he has built us to be believers in community. I’ve learned that I need to approach God with ‘open hands’ daily, over and over again, and that I’ll find what I need in him alone.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about our relationships with God being the best and most important thing in our life. I’m passionate about all people being loved and embraced in community, especially church communities, as a reflection of Jesus and the radical way he dignified the invisible and the sidelined. I’m passionate about the rights of the vulnerable in society, including women and people with disabilities. I’m passionate about the importance of diversity in our communities and getting better at listening to voices different to my own. I’m passionate about learning and growing.
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
I enjoy being a homebody, exercise, being outdoors, listening to podcasts and music, reading/audiobooks, creative projects, working my way through TV series with my husband (currently Friday Night Lights), hanging out with friends and family, travel, looking through old photos, and of course delighting in our new tiny human. And, let’s be honest, I enjoy a bit of Facebook and Instagram – though I’m working on what boundaries on time are helpful for me to not be enslaved to social media!