Dec 282012
 

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” -Isaiah 30:21

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Dec 212012
 

“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’.” – Luke 2:10-11

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Dec 182012
 

Our team at Standing on Peace would like to wish you all – our readers, supporters, family and friends – a most blessed Christmas.

As a team, we have decided to take a break from our regular posting on this blog for the holidays.  We will return to our daily schedule on Monday, January 7th, 2013.

We all are looking to slow down and breathe in what Christ truly did for us on Christmas morning so long ago.  He sent us a Savior, a Redeemer, a Hope.

As each of us have young families, we cherish being fully present during this season.  We hope you will do the same with your loved ones too.

We are also praying for the Lord to fill our spirits with His words and wisdom, to share even more meaningful and touching content in 2013.

As I’ve been trying to grasp the meaning of this season… The Lord keeps bringing to mind a few verses from Ephesians.  This Christmas, I want to grasp Christ’s deep, deep love for you and me – that He would send Jesus to save us.  I am praying this prayer for myself… and for all of you.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
Ephesians 3:16-20

 

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Dec 142012
 

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

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Dec 132012
 

There is a God who turns darkness into light. Over and over and over again. This is the best news there ever was.

A few days ago I was running in the dark at 6 am. I was cold and a little lonely at first. I trudged quietly up the hill, through a particularly dark and shadowy portion of our street.

Aaron and I had a conflict while I was away last weekend. He had also spent much of the weekend slaving away with Michael on a science project that took 3 tries and proved extremely frustrating. When I came home he was angry, exasperated, and DONE. I knew I couldn’t control it or fix it, though I desperately wanted to. I trudged quietly in the dark.

At the top of the hill I turned on John Michael Talbot pandora. Simple, serene lyrics. Piano and guitar. I relaxed a little and felt a hint of warmth wash over me. God, you are here. I forget, but you are always with me. You are at work in your subtle, mysterious, and often indiscernible pattern. I can’t control it, and at least half the time I can’t make sense of it, but you are quietly, steadily at work nonetheless.

We had houseguests who had gotten a babysitter for their kids. After a brief, tense conversation resolving some of the issues we had over the weekend, we decided half-heartedly to go on a date ourselves. And then somehow, before I knew it, we were sitting at the Dundee Bistro completely bonding—having a witty, intimate, very fun time together. I don’t know when we’ve had a better date than we did in that one hour.

As I made my way around a side-street loop I suddenly started noticing lights everywhere. I realized I was getting a private, hushed, pre-dawn tour of Christmas lights. I was glad the sun wasn’t up because there was something so holy about the smattering of sparkle in what had been total darkness.

Later that evening, Aaron and I ended up yelling and swearing at each other because of the confusing instructions for the remainder of the science project, because of our tired and still tender souls, because of our failure to understand each other. I don’t know when we’ve had a more distasteful fight than we did in those 10 minutes.

As I started back out to the main road, piano music to the hymn, “How Great Thou Art” came into my ears. My grandparents’ favorite hymn. Immediately I sensed my grandmothers (now part of the “cloud of

witnesses”) surrounding me.[1]

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I sensed their knowing intimately the struggles of holding a family together, the private interior terrain of life as a wife and mother.

“Hold to the light!” they said. “For that is what we are now—beings of Light—and that is what you and your husband and your kids are too, though you don’t always realize it.

“The rest is all just trappings—

Bodies, schedules, logistics…

Boisterous social evenings and lonely afternoons at the sink…

Chaotic dinners with children and confusing altercations with spouses…

Third grade back talking and fifth grade sulking and 3 year old whining…

All the little decisions that make up your days and years…

“None of it matters as much

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as the Light inside. It is simply the stuff through which you bearers of Light are moving. Let it grow smaller on your screen and see the glow in the dark…

“Tend the light–in each other, in your lives!! Blow on it carefully, faithfully when it’s faltering. Fan it into flames when it’s flickering. Warm yourself by it when it’s flourishing. Tend the light…”

This advent, I keep experiencing how mysteriously things can turn from dark to light and back again. We cannot always get to the place of light as fast as we want. We can’t make it happen, can’t control it, can’t force it, can’t rush it. Sometimes we have to run in the dark until we stumble upon a holy flicker here or there. Sometimes we have to wait, and relax into faith, until the light re-emerges like the peek of sun over the horizon.

When is it hardest for you to let go, to trust the work of God, to tend the emerging Light?


[1] Hebrews 12:1

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Dec 122012
 

Last week I shared some of the common signs of depression. A condition that many suffer from.

This week I want to offer hope and some tips you can use to help ease the symptoms of depression.

Depression is a heavy burden to carry, although the burden can be eased by making some of the below changes.

11 Tips to ease depression

  • Have your vitamin D levels checked: Vitamin D is critical to our bodies. Low vitamin D levels often affect our moods and energy levels. The further North you live, the less sunlight you get and the more likely you are to be vitamin D deficient. With a simple blood test I had my vitamin D level checked and I came in with a 13, the lowest we should be is 30!  Your body best absorbs vitamin D in liquid form. I take 5000 ICUs daily and have noticed a huge change in my mood and energy level.
  • Rest: We all know it, rest is important! But we frequently do not get enough rest. Try to get 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is needed for our brains to regenerate.
  • Eat Healthy: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and limit sugar and carbohydrate intake. Too much sugar and refined carbohydrates can increase your chances of a “crash”. Try to stick to complex carbohydrates which takes more time for your body to process and helps improve your serotonin levels.
  • Vitamin B complex: Take a vitamin B complex daily that includes vitamin B-12. B vitamins help improve your energy level and your mood.  I have been taking vitamin B for over a year now and I have noticed a significant change in my mood and energy level. I no longer suffer from the mid afternoon lull. A sublingual is the best form of vitamin B.
  • Exercise: Exercise is very important for our bodies. Even though exercise may be the last thing on your mind, it does amazing things for your body.  It increases  mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and endorphins, reduces stress, relieves muscle tension and helps us sleep better.
  • Read Proverbs or Psalms: Reading a Proverb or Psalm a day helps keep the doctor away. 🙂 Focusing our mind on our Creator and on positive things helps improve our mood.
  • Relationships: Having close, meaningful relationships are essential to our well-being. Research suggests that having relationships decreases our chance of experiencing depression.
  • Challenge negative thinking:Negative thoughts impact the way we feel. Depression puts a negative twist on everything. Working to change negative thoughts to more balanced positive thoughts can help ease depression.
  • Keep stress in check: Hormones produce stress in our bodies and this stress acts like a poison to our produces in our bodies.  Prolonged stress can make our bodies sick. Look at your to-do list as objectively as possible (or ask a friend) and see what you can take off the list. Make the time for stress reducing exercises such as this 10 Seconds to Peace sensory exercise.
  • Do something you enjoy: You can not force yourself to have fun, but you can choose to do something you once enjoyed. By choosing to do something you enjoy, you are reminding yourself of who you used to be. You may not notice an immediate change in your mood, but over time you should start to feel an increase in your energy.  Your mood will also be lifted. You never know, you might even have a little fun.
  • Know when to seek help: If your signs of depression are over powering and you are finding it difficult to function in daily living, seek professional help. This can be a difficult step to admit that you need help. Know this.  There is no shame in seeking counsel. There are many caring professionals that can come along side you and walk with you on the road to recovery. Psychology Today provides an online directory of counseling professionals. You can search by zip code to find someone near you.

If you are experiencing depression, I challenge you to take a step towards recovery.

What is one step you can take today?

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Dec 112012
 

I wish I could tell you my “open palm” prayer revelation was my secret to staying in a place of peace.  I would be a hypocrite if I told you so.

I had a second epiphany about myself this week: patience is not a virtue of mine.  Not by a LONG shot.

If I’m cold, I want to be warm.  NOW.  So, I respond by immediately turning the car thermostat up to 82 degrees.  If I’m hungry, I want my food to be cooked.  NOW.  So, I respond by turning the burner on high, even at the risk of completely torching whatever it is I am cooking.  If I’m tired, I want to be asleep.  NOW.  So, I respond by (sometimes) skipping out on my responsibilities, in order to get into bed.  (To get myself back to functioning again, I must go to bed at 8:30pm. Yes, you may have guessed I am a morning person.)

I can remember countless times of waiting in my life.  I didn’t do any of them well.

Waiting… to be engaged to my husband.  To be healed from my eating disorder.  To be done with college.  To be done being pregnant.

Waiting… for my babies to sleep through the night.  For my husband’s traveling job to include less traveling.  For the pain from losing my brother to go away.

Today is no different.  I am waiting for answers and healing for my health.  Our family is waiting for answers in regard to my husband’s job and direction.  All answers that could literally mean huge changes for me and my family.

And I’m doing it again.

Flailing.  Praying open-palm prayers.  Jaw-clenching.  Praying.  Emotional eating.  Praying some more.  White knuckle-gripping my fists for control.  Praying and opening my hands even more.

I’m finding it isn’t about remaining in a constant state of pure peace.  I’m human. But it’s about what I do when the anxieties start to over-sweep me.  Do I open my palms and continue to give it back to Him?  Even if it means over and over again?

My husband and I were talking about this struggle for me to wait.  He reminded me of something very powerful, yet so simple.

Our ability to wait on the Lord is one of the truest forms of showing our trust in Him.

I long to do this better.  To wait and trust.  In peace.

I am going to continue my open palm prayers and handing my worries over to God.  Every. Single. Time. They arise.  And I’m going to meditate on His Word.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”  Psalm 130:5-6

Are you in a place of waiting too?

Waiting for healing?  For direction?  For answers?  For relationship?

Do not be discouraged.  We can learn and grow through the waiting.  Even if it’s not what we want to do.  And we can remind ourselves and each other of Isaiah 30:18,

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice,
Blessed are all who wait for him!”

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Dec 102012
 

In order for us to live lives of freedom, peace, and wholeness, we must have restoration from our past trials.  Restoration Defined:  ” The act of bringing back into use, bringing back to a former state of health.  Restitution of something taken away or lost.”

I got up at 5:50am to go on a run on the treadmill.  I realized I was sick.  I quickly ran to the bathroom to puke.  Great start to the day.  The Stomach flu took my husband and I both down.  On the same morning.  We begrudgingly took turns as to who could go take a nap and who was somewhat supervising the girls.

Mom and Dad graciously took our girls for the evening so my husband and I could just lay on the couch.  And not move.  My energy was gone.  My appetite was gone.  My health had been taken from me and I was utterly useless to the world.  All I thought about was myself.  And how miserable I was.

Doing life without dealing with a past trial/holding onto anger and bitterness from it, is like going through life with the flu.  We are unable to function at our peak, since we have had energy and joy taken away from us.

Our decisions are self focused rather than God and others focused.  We are unhealthy in mind, body, and spirit and our “sickness” is contagious to others.

Whether we like it or not, our unresolved trials creep into our present relationships and influence our decisions.  If we have never dealt with a past hurt, we are still living in bondage from it.

I know this step towards restoration of a past trial is not an easy one.  It wasn’t for me.

Through the years I struggled with infertility, I had days of trust and distrust in God.  But I came to a crossroads.  Either I could hold onto my anger, and do things my way/without God, or give my trial and pain to God and let Him take control of my life.  I chose the latter.

I clinged to my heavenly Father for comfort and strength.  I trusted in His unfailing love.  I held onto His promises in His Word.  That He had a hope and a future for me.  That He would use my trial for good.

And I can testify today that He is faithful.  He is the restorer of my soul.

When we surrender ourselves and our trial to God, He restore us.  He brings us back from sickness, to a place of health. He says we no longer have to hide away our brokeness.  He gives life again to all that we once lost-our self worth, our trust in/love for Him, our trust in/love for others, our ability to minister to others.

And we can testify that God is love.  God is good.  And nothing is impossible with God.

Take Him up on what He is offering you today.  Restoration.  No strings attached.  Only allowing our God, the Restorer, to bring you back to a life of health and healing.  Break the chains.  Live with peace and joy in Him.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:10  And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Chrsit, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

 

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Dec 072012
 

“A true friend share freely, advises wisely, assists willingly, encourages quickly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.” – Adapted from William Penn (The Word Out Woman)

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Dec 062012
 

Winter is officially here: our cellar has flooded, as it does every year.

We wade through the water, set up our little pumps, attach garden hoses and string them out through the garage and down the hill towards the creek.

Advent is here as well; and we are officially waiting now.

Waiting often means wading.

Making our way through the water that rises up over our ankles, the overflow of what hasn’t yet found an adequate outlet. Maybe we’re waiting and wading through unresolved issues….or unfinished tasks…for me it’s both.

Ancient peoples gave in to the darkness of winter and the diminishing hours for productive work by stopping their work altogether and taking the wheels off their wagons. They brought them inside and decorated them with greens—the first wreaths.

In our house we sit around the advent wreath at night, lighting one candle the first week, then two, until eventually all four are lit just before Christmas. We say a prayer about the “sacrificed wheel” that the wreath represents, and ask God to help us slow down our hectic pace.

A few nights ago we sat in the dark around the advent wreath for the first time this year. Maisy’s little body was soft and tender on my lap as we whispered prayers, sang our songs of waiting, and moved the journeying nativity figures. Immersed in the magic, her heart full of anticipation, she solemnly played her part in the ritual, oblivious to the large smear of chocolate on her upper lip from hot cocoa.

As I fiddle with the air pressure in the outdated tank on our well, or wade through the water in the basement, I like to pretend I’m living the dream of the protagonist in the book Under the Tuscan Sun ( or the movie “Bella Tuscany”).

In that story and maybe in mine, the house was so charming, so romantic, so soulful that the flaws and broken parts weren’t such a nuisance…they were even a little endearing.

This Advent, this Christmas, this lifetime—I want the perspective of the woman in Under

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the Tuscan Sun

. I want to see my life, my family, my own soul the way she saw her house. It’s inevitable that there will be glaring issues, unfulfilled expectations, things that just don’t work right.

But I want to slow down enough that I can be attentive to the big picture, to the romance of my life, my family, my own soul. I want to be so attuned to that cosmic, poignant reality that I’m not fazed or discouraged by the water around my ankles or the chocolate on my face. I am journeying along with those nativity figures. And I want to be so attentive to the soulful, sacred quality of my life that the flaws and broken parts become endearing–part of the wonder of the story I’m in.

What helps you be attentive to the moment, and the wonder in it?

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