Mar 292013
 

“True peace is not looking to others to make us complete.  True peace is looking to God for our self worth.”

-John Amstutz

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 222013
 

“The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.”
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 212013
 

I’ve been talking with the boys about Harry Potter, Frodo, and Luke Skywalker. No one in my house can get enough of these books and movies.

We love these stories because their story is our story.

These characters get to be part of the

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adventure and excitement of the battle between good and evil. They have meaningful training where they gain skills and overcome their fears and grow. They have a sense of calling and destiny. They have older, wiser mentors who challenge and inspire them. They have a lively, gritty band of friends with whom they journey. And they have magic, or the force—a power greater than themselves that they are learning how to carry.

Their path requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but look at how much is in it for them!

Honestly, mothering is tiring me out these days. The constant laying down of what I’d like to do in order to serve little people is wearing on me.

I was challenged today to remember my children’s current heroes, and the adventure and transformation that await them as they wade into the battle and do their part. Their wounds and sacrifices and losses are nothing compared to the rich rewards of being part of something so meaningful, of growing into the people they were meant to be.

In college my mentors introduced me to the “doctor analogy” as a way to think about life with God. It has shaped my spirituality for 20 years.

Some folks think about life with God as an employee/employer relationship—God has things he wants us to do, and we do those things for him, and then we receive rewards or blessings in return. We serve God or do things for God.

But in the doctor analogy, God is the doctor and we are the patients. We don’t do anything for the doctor; rather, he is working on our behalf. He tells us what to do in the same way a doctor would give a patient a prescription. When we follow his commands, it benefits us, not the doctor. The reward is intrinsic as we grow healthy. And our trust in the doctor and his care and regimen grows stronger. We recommend him to everyone we know without hesitation.

It may not feel as magical as Harry Potter, but there is life and health and growth for me as I follow Jesus and lay down my life for my kids. It is indeed a great adventure in which love is triumphing, even in spite of me sometimes. Thank God there are greater Powers at work here than just me.

And even if I don’t count what is wrought in my kids’ lives by my sacrifices, the doctor’s prescriptions are growing me into the one I was made to be.

We cannot out-give God. Psalm 23 literally says he chases after us all the days of our lives to do good to us, to show us mercy.

God help us mothers see you chasing us around our houses and through our little towns with armfuls of mercy to fling upon us. Help us turn to you and receive your prescriptions, knowing they are great gifts to us.

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Mar 202013
 

I shared in my post last week about how limiting my Facebook usage for Lent led to discovering all the distractions in my life.  God has also shown me the impact the distractions are having on my family and my ability to live the life I long for.

Just as I challenged you to spend a few minutes to write a list of your commitments (distractions) in life, I challenged myself as well.

This is where the hard work really begins.

Now that I am aware of the distractions in my life, what am I to do with this new insight?

I have a choice to make. I can continue trudging forward, holding tightly to my distractions, or I can be open to God’s leading and learn to loosen my grip.  I deeply desire to loosen my grip but to do so means letting go of things I hold dear.  It means letting go of control and trust.

Distractions are not always negative. Many of my distractions are worthwhile, fun and nurturing, which is why cutting them out of my life feels difficult.  However, the right choice is being obedient to what the Lord is calling me to do.  I know from past experience when I have listened and acted in obedience, I have been blessed by the outcome.  Even if it was tough to obey.

I have my list before me and I am prayerfully considering each distraction and asking myself the following questions:

1) How much time does it use?

2) Is this God’s will for this season of my life? Or is it my own?

3) Does it involve sharing Christ with others?

4) What is the impact it is having on my family? My state of mind?

5) If I let it go, what would that look like?

I am not suggesting that all commitments are distractions or that we should “flake” on all our responsibilities.  I am simply encouraging us to reflect on the commitments we have, listen to God’s leading and create space to be.

The wonderful gift of creating space in our lives is a deep inner sense of peace and calm.  This is something my soul longs for. Does yours?

 

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Mar 192013
 

Have you ever stood in your kitchen, staring into your pantry as if it were an empty abyss?  You rack your brain and look in your cookbook, but still… nothing.  Zilch.  No inspiration.  You are sick of cooking the same old thing.

Even with my food and nutrition background, I have found myself in this state more than once.  As I would think through the different food groups to incorporate in our family meal, I found myself tired of the same whole-grain choices: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, etc.

Trying to pull myself out of one of these cooking “slumps”, I stumbled across a recipe.  It was a quinoa salad recipe and I had never cooked quinoa for my family before.  I vaguely remembered learning about quinoa previously in college.  When I went through my dietetics program, I was introduced to a vast array of foods in our cooking courses.  Foods from all over the world.  One of the things introduced to me for the first time was a seed from the Andes in South America called quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).

I decided to try the salad recipe and now it has become a staple in our family.  My first encounter with quinoa was an assignment, my second encounter began a love-affair.

I consider quinoa a powerhouse grain.  It has more to offer nutritionally than most other grains.  (In reality, quinoa is a seed rather than a grain, but acts and incorporates into meals like a grain.)

This single seed has given my cooking a boost for several reasons.

The Beneficial Breakdown:

  • It is higher in protein (7g per serving) than other grains.
  • It is considered a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids – which help promote the development, growth and healing processes in the body.
  • Quinoa cooks faster than other grains
  • It is a good source of fiber (3g per serving), magnesium, iron, folate and phosphorous.
  • It can be versatile, being able to be used in place of rice, pasta or other grains and is great as a hot cereal or as a salad or side dish.

Quinoa has a light nutty flavor with a texture similar to that of couscous and takes on the any flavored meal like rice.

Quinoa is now readily available at most grocery stores. So next time you’re trying to think of a side dish or a grain option for your meal… check out quinoa and see why it’s prepared regularly in my kitchen.

You won’t regret trying the Quinoa Salad with Peaches recipe I stumbled upon in Cooking Light.

Since we’ve made this recipe a number of times, I’ve had fun playing around with the ingredients.  The peach slices make it divine and since they’re not in season year round, you could either use frozen peaches or play around with incorporating your favorite fruit.

IMG_4033

In the above picture, I didn’t have any green onions on hand.  So instead of heading to the store for one ingredient, I decided to throw in another green food that we love and ups the nutrition of the salad: edamame.

IMG_3885

In this picture, I decided to make the recipe more of an entree than a salad and added a Southwest twist.  I incorporated sliced organic turkey sausage, black beans and diced avocado.  The result was heavenly and filling.

Quinoa Salad with Peaches

(makes 4 servings)

***To cook the quinoa:

Bring 1 and 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Fluff and cool quinoa slightly.

***For the salad stir in:

1/4 cup minced red pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onions

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 & 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 & 1/2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 sliced ripe peach

Chill salad, serve and enjoy!

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Mar 182013
 

I HAVE COME TO LOVE, APPRECIATE, BUT ALWAYS BE READY FOR THE CRAZY RIDE THAT IS OUR WILLIS FAMILY GATHERINGS.  (If you have toddlers in your extended family, you may relate with some of our situation below.)

Our family gatherings consist of:

  • Surround sound cries from children due to scraped/bumped body parts
  • The aroma of poopy diapers and fishy crackers
  • Laughter from all when the older cousins play “hide behind the big chair”, wrestle/dog pile, imagination space trip, or “Roll the pool balls”
  • Random vocal debuts of, “The Wheels on the Bus”, “ABC’s”, or “Jesus Loves Me”
  • Peas, cheese and spilled drinks on the floor
  • Multiple rounds of Pass the Pickle or Candyland
  • Babies/toddler’s who cry for 40 min before exhaustion kicks in and the nap happens
  • Disjointed, but somehow life giving adult conversations
  • Many reminders to take turns with the popular toys, say the “magic words”, try to go on the big girl/boy potty
  • Discipline
  • Grammy and Grandad’s ever present smiles and service to the crew
  • Distractions of lamps tipping over and other mysterious noises from the upstairs which need some investigating
  • 50 tries for smiles at the camera.  From all the children.  At the same time.
  • Worn parents who are out of wipes, patience and ideas

Last Saturday we celebrated Easter which included all of the above- a day of 6 toddlers, 148 eggs, and a lesson in sharing.

The Willis egg hunt began-My sister in law and I watched with smiles as our kids exploded with excitement.  As each child found an egg, they would follow the same drill, hold it up high, and say, “Look, I found one!” to whomever was within ear shot.

We as parents were on guard.  Ready to be the “fairness enforcers”.  Ready to shout out to our own children, “Now, you need to share with the little ones”; “Please give your egg to your cousin because they don’t have as much as you.”  “Could you help your cousin find some eggs?”

We were ready for the worst, but didn’t need to be.  I watched as my daughter yelled to her baby cousin to come take one of her eggs she had found.  At a concurrent moment, my nephew led the other baby cousin to an egg.

I witnessed my daughter quickly and happily give multiple eggs to her sister.  Then my niece helped her brother in the same way.

My sister in law and I looked at each other in awe of what was happening around us.  Because 99 out of 100 days, we would have to remind our kids to share.  Instead of us giving them a lesson, they taught us.

Unforced and joyful giving from the least of these.  (And I, being the crier I am, shed a tear.  Or two.)

The lesson I learned from the egg sharing moment:

  • Be aware of people who don’t have as many “eggs” as I do and be quick to do something about it.
  • Give first.  Without someone telling me to do so.
  • Don’t compare my “eggs” with others’ “eggs”.  Be content and thankful with what I have.
  • Hold my “eggs” loosely and be ready to give them up at any time.  Because everything I have is from God and to be used for God.
  • When I give, do it with a smile and good attitude.

Acts 2:45 “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

2 Cor 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Do you hold tightly to your rights and your stuff or are you quick to give when a need presents itself?  And when you give, is it with a happy heart or begrudgingly?

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 152013
 

Here are 2 quotes that have been plastered somewhere in my house for the last 8 years at least…

They have accompanied me on my very up and down journey toward living more slowly and being more present. I have had to start again over and over…these words have helped me refocus over the years.

“God really has only one expectation of us: to love. But since we find this (in our lack of hope, trust, and patience) too difficult to accept, we try to break down this call and replace it with our own human-fashioned ones. So, the expectation to love is erased from our hearts, and the expectation to do, achieve, gain acceptance, control, be secure, or look good are put into our heads instead. There they remain as lies to preoccupy, confuse, and trouble us. There the purpose they serve is to help us avoid facing the

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challenge of the real, the deep, the ultimate, the first and final question of life. However, despite this “advantage” or secondary gain, they still leave us lost until eventually we are willing in humility to embrace the only God-given question we must answer: “How can I love?”

~Living Simply in an Anxious World by Robert Wise

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desires to be useful, to do something significant; or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes,

and hugs that you do not simply like them, but you truly love them.”

~ Henri

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Full

 Mom
Mar 142013
 

I have been trying

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to lose 5 pounds for quite a few months now.

It is requiring that I redefine what “full” feels like.

This week in the atrium (Montessori-based space for kids to connect with God), we looked at the parable of the Good Shepherd. I sat with a bright 5-year-old girl as we meditated on the scripture and moved the little wooden sheep and shepherd around the sheepfold.

I reflected

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that the shepherd gives the sheep everything they need, and he even lays down his life for the sheep. He gives them himself.

But what do you mean? How does he do that? How does he give the sheep himself?” she asked.

“Hmmm…that’s a good question,” I responded. “That’s something you can think about while you are working on your own with these materials. Maybe you could ask God to teach you while you are working.”

“But how will He teach me? How will I know when I have the answer?” she said.

My kind of kid.

Recently my own

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daughter Maisy has been expressing that she feels lonely, especially when it’s time for sleep. Among other things, I usually remind her that God is with her.

“But I want a real person who talks,” she says.

Don’t we all.

How do we know God is with us?

In the Good Shepherd reflection this week with that little 5-year-old girl, we spent some time learning about the word “abundantly,” since that is the kind of life Jesus says he has come to give us.

I told her abundant means more than you need. I asked her to imagine a cup so full of water that it is spilling over. That’s abundant.

How does God give himself to us? How do we experience abundant life?

Maybe it requires that we redefine what “full” feels like.

Maybe full is not the food coma that comes from a hi-carb binge on finishing the day’s to dos, connecting with our spouse in just the way we need, or seeing our kids developing all the qualities we’d hoped for. (That’s a satisfying meal in my book!)

Maybe full is a lighter, more elusive but still satisfying sense that we heard the Shepherd’s voice today. And that, amidst the chaos of our minds and lives, in some small way we responded.

Maybe it’s the more empty-feeling edge of full faith, when we are looking not at what is seen but banking on what is unseen.

Maybe full is when the container we hold out to God turns out to be a different size and shape entirely from what He is offering this day, so that when he gives it, it runs up over the sides and down our arms.

The God who

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made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps grope for him and find him… [1]

May it be so…for these little girls, for all our little ones, and for ourselves.

 

 

 


[1] Acts 17:26-27

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Mar 132013
 

The Bible study I attend is walking through the study, “A Clearing Season“, by Sarah Parsons.  She encourages you to spend time in your personal wilderness to discover what might need changing for the season of Lent.  What you might let go or start to participate in.  Sarah does a wonderful job of reminding you that Lent is not a time for self-deprivation, but rather a time of reflection.

In honor of Lent I decided I would limit my Facebook time.  Knowing myself well, I knew I would cave in if I decided to quit completely, so I decided to limit my “attendance”, as I called it. Through this process, God opened my eyes!  Not only to how much time I was wasting on the computer when there was a pause in the day but to other distractions in my life.

I found this “extra” time I had was spent with my family or used to do something productive. This in itself is a great break through, however the Lord took me deeper and continues to do so.

Through this process all the distractions in my life have become clear. It is almost as if a big flashing sign has been turned on!

What do I mean by distractions?

My distractions consist of computer time, commitments outside the home, hobbies, groups I am a part of, things I want to do and things I need to do.

None of the above listed items are inherently bad.  It is that I have too many of them.  By having too many, I am distracting myself and robing myself of the opportunity to live the life I long for.

I have a dream of what I want my life to look like.  Most importantly, I have a dream of what I want my home environment to be for my girls.  As a perfectionist, I have learned to hold this dream loosely, however I do not want to lose my vision completely because of all my distractions.

My dream involves time. Time to be present. Time to be creative. Time to be home. Time to be together.

With too many distractions, time almost becomes extinct.

I encourage you to take 10 to 15 minutes to sit.

Allow your mind to wonder. Breath deeply. And take note of what distractions, worries, stresses come to mind.

Make a physical list.

What distractions have you unearthed?

 

 

 

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