Jessica Turner, Author of the book “Just Breathe”
What in your opinion is the secret to a happy life?
I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, that contentment in Jesus is the secret to a happy life. We live in a world where people are continually hungering and striving for many different things in their quest to find true contentment, satisfaction and meaning. But when one comes to realize that there is a big difference between being driven and pressured to perform and achieve, and being led and guided by God through the desires in your heart, it opens up a world of possibilities. What gives you pleasure, this is your treasure. Whatever your treasure; here lies your heart. Wherever your heart is; will be your first love! Psalm 37:4 – Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire. In my book, which is done in a daily journal/devotional format, on Day 8 I share about the contentment of being, not doing. You see we are human ‘Beings’, not human ‘Doings’, so in discovering that our true identity is knowing that we are Love children of a Love God, draws a deep response from us to simply BE the beautiful people that we already are, rather than a reaction to try and become who we misguidedly think God, ourselves, and others will be happy with. There is a timelessness of being in Jesus, and knowing that we are deeply loved and accepted just as we are by Father God, that will bring forth the fruit that we are wanting in our lives, that has everything to do with growth, rather than effort.
What inspired you to write a book?
This book actually started about 6 years ago when I felt the need to just get down on paper all the crazy thoughts and feelings I had that were so internalized that I couldn’t even articulate them out loud for myself, let alone others. You see, as a result of a head-on car accident in 1999, I sustained a severe head injury, which affected my cognitive functions, disrupting my intellectual capabilities, moods, ability to process thoughts, coping skills, which precipitated a struggle with depression. The Lord gave me the promise that He would restore my soul, and He did this through enabling me to begin a daily journal, which later became a journal of my experiences, discoveries, and revelations and journey with Jesus into healing and wholeness. I began sharing these things with my close friends and family, who encouraged me to write this book, as they firmly believed that it would inspire, encourage and motivate others in their own walk with God. God confirmed this to me as well, and the rest, as they is history. Which is actually His-Story (Father’s) story in my life.
Name two personal life achievements that you are most proud of?
I would have to say that all the various aspects involved in putting this book together and marketing it, are the things that I am most proud of. Deciding to illustrate this book with drawings and paintings done by children, and then finding out that if I want to publish it on Amazon in Kindle form I would have to reformat the graphics into jpeg images and then insert the texts in the form of songs and poems I wrote, blueprints and thoughts for each day, and a final summary at the end of each day, was for me a great achievement. Being able to build my own website is the second achievement that I gave me a great sense of achievement.
Which 3 books have been most inspirational or life changing for you?
That is very easy for me because these authors both impacted my life in such a deep and meaningful way, and also influenced my writing as well. I even acknowledge 2 of them in my book. My first mention is of Mr. William Paul Young, Canadian author, best known for his novel The Shack. I have read that book about 4 times and continue to receive so much out of it. I make mention in the book that it was William who I first heard about fractals from, which happens to be Day 31 in the book – Fractals – The Garden Of The Soul. God bless him for his obedience in sharing that life transforming novel because it has been revolutionary in its impact on others. Then I must pay tribute to my friend and mentor John Lynch, Pastor for 27 years at Open Door Fellowship; vital staff member of the Truefaced Ministry team and co-writer of The Cure and Truefaced the book; Author of “On My Worst Day”; and co-founder and playwright for Sharkey Productions, a theatre troupe focused on Gospel-anchored theatre productions. Who in spite of his busy schedule, still found the time on Facebook, among thousands of followers, to single me out and make me feel special. By watching the way he interacts with others in such a beautiful open, authentic and vulnerable way gave me the courage and determination to do the same in my book. In my eyes, John wears Jesus well. I have dedicated Day 11 to him – “Wooing my new nature to come out and play”, which is a phrase he often quotes, which has come to mean a lot to me. And the third book that has had a profound impact on my life is “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore” by Wayne Jacobsen. In there he debunks all the myths that have been propagated about what the church of Jesus, His Bride really is. It is a story of love, redemption and truth that will transform your heart and mind, and keep you coming back for more.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your life?
To not take myself so seriously. On Day 4 – Being Happy Just Because I Can, I talk about being grateful to the Holy Spirit for showing me the funny side of things. I was talking to the Lord about how hard it is at times living with dystonia, which is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms in my neck and shoulder and back muscles, that causes my head to tilt to one side. I made a decision a long time ago that I simply refuse to let it dictate to me what I can and cannot do! I asked the Lord to give me a different perspective on it, which turned out to be the best thing I could do, because I ended up laughing at His response, and I have never forgotten it since, which was “Kiddo, while we are working through this one, just look at it in the light that you now have a sideways view of life and people that can open up all kinds of possibilities!”
Life has become such an adventure for me in Jesus, being my Big Brother, and the Holy Spirit as the one who ensures my joy. My prayer is that as we go out into each day, that the Holy Spirit would help us to focus on the fact that we don’t need anything to make us happy, because it is simply His presence in our hearts that ensures our joy.
Are you optimistic about the future of South Africa? Why?
Now this is a loaded question, if ever there was one J Loaded being the operative word, as in “shedding” and all those politically correct words that for me kinda mean that some people messed up, but nobody wants to take responsibility for anything. Reminds me of a joke I once heard, “Adam blamed Eve as the woman God gave him; and Eve blamed the serpent; and he didn’t have a leg to stand on J”. I believe we need to ask ourselves are we going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. I do not believe that there is any one person or group, or organization that is able to make a difference in our country. I believe it needs to be a collective effort in each and every community across our land, where people, and more than likely young people, come together and help each other to discover and find the most unique expression for their God-given gifts and talents and abilities, and pray for those who can bring in the resources, not to build organizations, but to build people, that will come alongside the young people to facilitate community projects that will generate revenue, where they are taught how to be entrepreneurs, rather than just be given handouts. I have been a part of, and experienced firsthand, how a group of young people have made a huge difference in their family, their school, and their community, and have lots of beautiful stories and testimonies to share. There is a beautiful African word ‘Ubuntu’ that says, “We are who we are, because of all we are to each other”. And none of this will ever be possible without Jesus, because it is “Jesus IN us, the hope of Glory”. And in Christ we are one, connected by the Spirit of Love.
If you knew for a fact the next project you set out to achieve would be a sure success, what would you set out to achieve?
Young people always have, and always will be in my heart and my passion. I firmly believe that they are the ones that we need to leave a legacy for, for future generations. If I could set out on a project that I know is sure to succeed, it would be to have a Youth Center where young people could come and stay for a period of time, where my husband Malcolm and I could be a Mom and a Dad, to love and encourage and believe in them. To help them to discover their God-given gifts, talents and abilities, and have the resources to implement each and every young person’s dreams, and longings and desires. And then to send them on their way, ready to face the world and conqueror, knowing that their heavenly Father loves and believes in them passionately; that Jesus is able to do exceedingly more than they can ask, think, or imagine by the power of His love within them; and that the Holy Spirit is the shaper of their condition, environment and destiny.
Name 2 of the most daring things you have ever attempted?
I have often been accused of being a rebel with a cause, which I consider a compliment. I have never tried to fit into any mold that people have set for me, and have, for the most part, swum against the tide of what is needed to fit in with the so-called “in crowd”. One instance that I remember, that I believe set the course for the rest of my life, was when I was part of a group of leaders at the church we went to, where I was brought into a disciplinary hearing with some of the Pastors because I chose to sit with the young people, rather than separate myself from them to sit with the leaders. I was accused of creating an “us and them” situation, where the leaders felt that I wasn’t making any effort to preserve the “appearance” of unity. I pointed out to them though, that as James 3:18 says, true unity is about developing a healthy, robust community that walks with God and enjoys the fruit of its labors, by doing the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. And for me, that went for the leaders and young people alike. I shared many wonderful incidences with them where this was truly the case, and how maintaining an aloofness and distance was counter-productive to everything that the Lord was doing among us. The Lord brought about a much needed restoration between us, that produced much good fruit in the future.
The second thing that comes to mind is when my first husband and I decided we wanted to travel, and decided to go to the USA for a 3 month holiday, and ended up staying for 3½ years. We didn’t have a lot of money going there, but decided that we would see if we could sell African art curios and stone carvings and jewelry and beadwork, as a means to generate some income. It went very well, and when the time came that we should return home, and we had a very strong leading from the Lord to stay, He gave us the courage to make the decision to stay, which opened up wonderful doors in ministry and the provision was always there, no matter what situation we found ourselves in.
If you could broadcast a one paragraph message to 100 million people, what would that message be?
My message would be the one that our Abba Father gave to me, which is …. “I am your Father and I love you even as I love my Son Jesus, for in Jesus my love for you is revealed. He is the exact representation of my Being, and He came to demonstrate to you that I am for you, not against you, and to tell you that I am not counting your sins. Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. His death was the ultimate expression of my
love for you. I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. If you receive the gift of my Son Jesus, you receive me, and nothing will separate you from my love again.
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. I have always been and will always be Father. I am waiting for you. Love, Your Dad, Almighty God”.
How can my readers get in touch with you?
On my personal Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jessica.turner.167.
On my Facebook Book Launch page, where I am going to continue blogging with everyone https://www.facebook.com/4U.just.breathe.
On Twitter at https://twitter.com/Jessica98614084.
On Google + at https://plus.google.com/u/0/109496845905410569280/posts.
On my Website at http://jlsturner.wix.com/just-breathe
And by email at firstname.lastname@example.org