Apr 302013
 

Amidst all the waiting and change our family has been experiencing recently, I have been completely intoxicated with Leeana Tankersley’s book Found Art.  Her writing has been the perfect companion during such a tumultuous time.

Leeana’s book begins by quoting a handful of verses from Ecclesiastes and maintains an undercurrent of resting upon these very verses throughout her story.  I have been meditating on these verses myself, especially when I’m tempted to think things are out of control or that they’ll never end.

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens;

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build up,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embracing and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil?  I have see the burden God has laid on the human race.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  Ecc. 3:1-11

These verses remind me that the waiting and change I face today is a part of life.  There are many different seasons in life.  Many of them include a period of waiting.  To change, to heal, to grow, to move on, to rest.

As I explained in my post last week, I’ve come to realize these waiting stretches can tend to bring out the worst in me.  The anxious me.  The insecure me.  The angry or bitter me.

One thing I cannot escape through the waiting is the not-so-subtle reminder that I am not in control.  I don’t always get to call the shots or make up the timeline.  But God IS in control.  He holds my times in His hands and it is not a mystery to Him.  I find peace in this, when I let it sink into my heart.

Along with recognizing and resting in the fact I am not in control, I’ve also come to realize I can choose to not let these times be wasted. Will I allow myself to be moldable, teachable, changable during these stretching times?  The easier thing would be to give into the pull to become numb, closed off, or stuck.  But taking the harder, intentional path means being willing to take part in the story God is orchestrating in my life.

“He is making everything beautiful in its time.  While we wait, we must breathe and heal and grieve and become.  We don’t see the beauty immediately, but as we look back, we find the art in and through it all.” – Leeana Tankersley, Found Art.

I love these words.  God is in the swirling emotions that accompany waiting.  He is longing for us to open our hearts to Him.  To see the beauty in what He is doing in us.

Where does waiting find you today?  Are you open to seeing the beauty God is creating in you?

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Apr 292013
 

I HAD A LOWER BACK INJURY FOR THE PAST COUPLE WEEKS.  IT DEFINITELY PUT A CRAMP IN MY RUNNING STYLE.  When I started having intense pain, everyone said I must stop the regular routine of being a “do-er” for it to heal.

It was only after the injury I realized how much improper bending and lifting filled my day.  How my street running could be taking a toll on my body.  How bath time, cleaning up time, park time, grocery shopping time all strongly rely upon using my back.

I had to humble myself to ask for help.  Over and over again.  To lift a tiny basket of laundry.  To put my girls in the swing.  To bring in the groceries.  To take out the garbage.  To carry a bag up the stairs.

I hated saying multiple no’s to lifting up my girls for a snuggle.  I wouldn’t dare say it aloud.  But I was thinking it:  I am not getting old!

It was a challenge to know when to start running again.   I was desperate to have it back in my schedule, because running “fills me up” to be a better mom, wife and joy filled woman.  My back wasn’t hurting for a day.  I thought I was ready for the run.

I didn’t want to tell my husband of my plans to begin running again because I could see the future.  He would say it was too soon.  Unfortunately he put two and two together when he saw me.  In my running gear.

My Husband:  You aren’t planning on going running today are you?

Me:  Oh.  Well.  Yea I was.

My Husband:  You know you could injure your back permanently or make it much worse if you don’t take time to let it heal completely.

Me: Uh huh.

My Husband:  You can do what you want, but I don’t think it is wise for you to go for a run.

Me:  Uh huh.  (Looking down.  Sad face.)

I was frustrated with my husband.  I was tired of living with this hurt.  Someone was to blame.

As time passed, I calmed down from my disappointment and recognized it wasn’t that my husband was enjoying depriving me of something I loved.  My injury was not his fault.  And his saying “no” was actually a reflection of his immense love and care for me.

Just like my husband was looking out for my best interest, so our God is looking out for our good.  But just like I didn’t like to hear “no” from my husband, I don’t like to hear “no” from God either.

Me:  Why aren’t you taking away this struggle Lord?  You know the desires of my heart, why am I still unsatisfied?  Why can’t things go back to normal?  My patience is all used up.
God:  Remember my unfailing love for you.  Remember I am here beside you to comfort and help you.  It pains me to see you hurt.  I know it is difficult when I answer “no”.  When you don’t understand why this is happening.  When you can’t see the future.  Trust me.  My plan for you is good.  Nothing in your life will be wasted.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jer 29:11

Are you a friend that tells another friend if they are doing something that is detrimental to their overall health?  Are you willing to hear a “no” from the Lord and trust He has your best interest at heart?

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Apr 262013
 

“Beauty is not  a luxury in life but a necessity.  Beauty – certainly found in the eye of the beholder – possesses great power to heal.  Healing is the process of becoming whole where we once had gaping gashes or slivery fractures, or anything in between.” – Leeana Tankersley, Found Art

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Apr 252013
 

In this photo from garden above, there are three plants. It’s hard to see at this stage but I can tell you that two are weeds and one is a beautiful flower. If you leave the weeds, you will still get the flower. But if you try to pull out the weeds, the root systems are so close that you will most likely take the beautiful flower as well.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.

When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”- Matthew 13:24-30

See it?

For me, mothering often feels like a field riddled with weeds. I try to tame my easy irritation and impatience, my strong will, my please-go-away self-centeredness, but just when I think I’m having a good day, something pops (usually around 4:30pm after school pick-up) and I lose my footing. In that moment, I feel hopeless.

In my heart, I know that there are beautiful flowers mixed in – my quirky sense of humor that brings laughter to me and my children, my affectionate nature, the way that I can see each of my children for who they are and not as I expect them to be. But these flowers seem scattered and smothered by the weeds.

And yet….The Gardener looks at the field of my mothering and knows the beauty won’t be lost even if the field looks overrun. He knows that the chaos of the weeds is just the enemy’s trick. It looks messy but the plants will survive and be gathered in. God is patient. He doesn’t take any chances when it comes to disturbing the good growth within us. Our fruitfulness and beauty are worth the wait – especially when it comes to our children.

Trust the harvest and weeding to The Gardner. Ignore the mess.

What are the weeds and wheat in your mothering? How can you focus on and be patient for the good growth even in the midst of the weeds?

 

  Heather Fosth is her husband’s best friend, a mother of two dynamic, wildly different children(ages 10 and 6) and a sometime spiritual director. If given the choice, she would always be in her garden.

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Apr 242013
 

Two weeks ago I shared how I have been trapped by perfectionism ever since I was a young child. Up until a few years ago I was convinced that perfection did exist and could be attained, if only I tried hard enough.

It was not until walking through the Beth Moore Bible study “Breaking Free” did I realize the strong hold fear and perfectionism had on my life.

I entered into the Bible study with the mind set of “I don’t have a strong hold. I don’t suffer from an addiction.” Boy was I wrong! Much to my surprise, I discovered my strong hold was fear. Fear is a close friend of perfectionism.

My tendency towards perfection has not disappeared, but instead of being controlled by it, I am learning to have better control of it.

The Lord is gracious and teaches me, if I am open to it.

Here is what I have learned:

1) Perfection does not exist. This one took me a long time to grasp. It does exist in a Pottery Barn catalog, but not in reality.

2) I am not perfect nor will I ever be. The only human who was ever perfect is Christ.

3) It is ok to be good enough. This one is still hard for me to accept. God loves me despite my faults and His opinion is the only one that matters. If I endeavor to give each day my all, that is good enough.

4) Striving for perfection as a mother, wife or in my home robs me of joy. Learning to hold my expectations loosely allows me the freedom to enjoy life more fully. Life is about relationship with others and experiencing Christ’s joy. It is not about the perfect birthday party or having the best dressed child.

5) Daily living only allows for some things to be accomplished and that is ok. This is something I am currently working on. Setting my mind to spend an hour accomplishing a task and being ok when I have to stop. Believe it or not perfectionists are often procrastinators because we think the time has to be perfect and the project has to be done perfectly. Unless that can happen, why start?

6) Stop waiting for the “moment of arrival” when life will be perfect. Life will never be perfect. Each day and every moment is a time for learning. The “moment of arrival” will occur only when I am with my Savior.

I still have much more to learn but am already feeling some freedom from perfectionism. And to be honest, it feels good!

Do you feel captive by perfectionism? What is one step you can take today to start your journey to freedom? 

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Apr 232013
 

I’ve never done the waiting thing well.  When I think back to any major life changes, I’m afraid to say the waiting period right before, deeply affected me.  And the affect was usually an ugly one at that.

To wait: to remain stationary in readiness or expectation.

This is where I find myself today.

A few major changes have been brewing in our household for some time now.  We are moving out of state (back down to California), my husband is taking on a new role at work and we are expecting our third baby this fall.  Even though my husband and I feel at peace with our decision to make such a major move, it doesn’t come without a certain amount of pain, anxiety and grief.

We’ve been juggling my husband’s travel schedule, preparing our home to sell and then having our house on the market. We are arranging the details of getting possessions down South, I am fighting morning sickness, all the while trying to cram in quality family and friend time.  We’ve said good-bye to our regular routines: Bible study, girl’s night, preschool, play dates, gymnastics, etc.

And now, due to several circumstances, our move date has been pushed back.  For the third time.  Bringing about a serious denial of the impending change.

For this reason, I have found myself in a constant tension.  Trying to brace myself for the ground to shift beneath my feet.  But it hasn’t yet.  Not really.

This period of completely stopping our routines was a wonderful luxury at first.  Then ever so slowly my expectation, anxiety and attitude began wearing down.  Giving into negativity and a “woe is me” mentality.

Maybe it is because I’m pregnant, or maybe it is because of my past experiences, this waiting time reminds me all too much of the pregnancy process.  I spent the week leading up to each of my children’s arrivals encompassing the very definitions of impatience, moodiness and negativity.  It was bad.  I didn’t even want to be around me.

Our waiting to move has worn me down in a very similar way.

Our good-byes have gone on and on, emulating nothing like ripping off the bandaid quickly.  Living in our home, as it’s staged and ready for viewing appointments at any time, has acted as a constant reminder that our home will very soon not be ours.  Pain and grief.

I know what lies on the other side of change.  We’ve done this move before.  It is uncomfortable.  Induces growing pains.  And truthfully, brings out all of my insecurities of fear, perfectionism and shame.  Fears of being alone, not having community and making mistakes.  Thinking I need to do the actual move and emotional process perfectly.  Thinking I will not be the wife my husband needs, or the mother my kids need.

There is much to grow into and much to be processed in the coming months.  Thankfully, I have not stayed in this place of worry and repulsing negativity.  This has come through being reminded over and over again: I am not in control, He is.  He is the one who holds our times.  I share all of this, because waiting is a part of life.  And waiting is hard.  Because waiting stretches us.

When did you last experience a stretching time of waiting?

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Apr 222013
 

I TWEAKED MY LOWER BACK. DROVE 3 HOURS WITH THE GIRLS IN THE CAR. FORGOT MULTIPLE ITEMS FOR THE TRIP.  CHILDCARE PLANS CHANGED.  I BROKE DOWN ON THE HIGHWAY DUE TO A FAULTY BRAND NEW TIRE.  I WAS LATE.  I WAS DONE BEFORE THE WEEKEND OF MINISTRY EVEN BEGAN.

By God’s grace I arrived at the women’s retreat in one piece.  But, I did not come in full strength.  I felt unprepared and mentally exhausted.  Not to mention, extremely angry and frustrated with my circumstances. I was ready to give up.

The verse,  Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.  (Zec. 4:6),  filled my mind as I walked through the cabin doors.

I asked the women on Friday night, “What obstacles stood in the way of you being able to come to retreat?”  Every woman I spoke with told me of at least one major difficulty she had encountered on her way to or as she signed up for the retreat.

Through the Lord’s strength, all of us sister’s overcame the enemies obstacles.  Through His Spirit, women were drawn to Jesus.  I give Him FULL credit and glory for our sweet time of salvation, healing, growth, and renewal.

God’s presence changes me.  And being with my sisters changes me.  Everytime.  Over the weekend, I had my: perspective altered.  Burdens and worries lifted.  Joy and hope restored.  Mind renewed.  Purpose confirmed.  I had the opportunity to pray, listen, worship, cry, and laugh with new and old friends.

But I didn’t take care of one key component: myself .  In my excitement to serve and fear to miss opportunities to show Christ’s love, I burned out.  I broke down in tears before leading worship Saturday night due to extreme exhaustion.

James Bryan Smith in, “The Good and Beautiful Community” teaches, “We need to have balance when it comes to the issue of serving others and taking care of ourselves.  I have many Christian friends who are so focused on serving others that they neglect their own needs, and sometimes the needs of their families.  We need to be aware of the condition of our own souls and bodies, and to take care of that first, without feeling any guilt about it.”

And so I learned something about myself. It is in everyone’s best interest if I take time out to replenish, to fill my cup.  And I can do this without stress or guilt because I am not the Savior, Jesus is.  And I take my orders of who, when, and where to show His love. 

Even Jesus took time away from His mission to make sure His needs were taken care of.

Jillian’s 5 ingredient recipe for her own personal sanity and wholeness:

       Ingredient                               Amount

  1. Sleep                                   Atleast one 4 hour block of sleep each night. (With a newborn)
  2. Prayer and the Word      Continual prayer and a daily alone time in the Word.
  3. Time with family             Weekly quality time with my husband, close friends, and girls.
  4. Exercise                              Go for a run a couple times a week.  I have more energy, and less stress.
  5. Use of spiritual gifts        Daily, weekly, monthly obedience to the Spirit’s voice in serving others.

After He (Jesus) had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  Mt 14:23

What is your 5 ingredient recipe for sanity and wholeness? 

What specifically will you do this week in order to be at balance with God, yourself and others?

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Apr 192013
 

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul”.  Psalm 143:8

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Apr 182013
 

Momma: “Georgia Mae, what would you like to say to Jesus tonight?

Georgia Mae: “I want to know where He is. I can’t find Him.”

Momma: “Because you can’t see Him, right?”

Georgia Mae: “Yes. I can’t see Him. Where is He?”

Momma: “Well, after Jesus came back to life, He lived with His friends for awhile and then God took His body up into Heaven. But then, Jesus came back to us as the Holy Spirit. We can’t see Him as the Holy Spirit because He is like the wind when it blows in the trees. We know it’s there but we can’t see it.”

Georgia Mae: “Okay, but where IS He? Where does He LIVE?”

Momma: “Now that He is with us as the Holy Spirit, He can live inside you and me.”

Georgia Mae: “Where inside me?”

Momma: “Where do you think He lives?”

Georgia Mae: “I think there is a little tiny baby Jesus living in my womb and when He’s ready, He’ll come out! (Pats her belly and then says with a sing-song voice) Hello, baby Jesus, I love you.”

On their birthday, I tell my children their birth story. We talk about where I was, what was happening, how I felt. They have a good sense of what a womb is: A place that gives life. A place of deep connection. A place of safety and nurturing. A place that when you are ready, you emerge out of with celebration and joy (and real pain – I don’t sugar coat it.)

When I see marriages crumbling around me, when I feel so tired of petty politics, when I feel the heaviness of just getting through the day, I ask Georgia Mae’s question: “But where IS He? I can’t find Him.” Like her, I expect Him to be somewhere outside, doing something “out there.”

But in the Christian worldview, God only lives “in here.” God’s dwelling place is no longer a building or that gold box from Raiders of the Lost Ark; it is you…and me…and when you get all of us together, we “rise to become a holy temple in the Lord…[who] are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)

Jesus is no longer out there. He is in here. Do we nurture that life? Is it a place of interdependence, of safety, of deep connection for Him and for us? Is it a place that when He is ready to emerge, we let Him come out when and how He wants to and we welcome Him with joy and celebration? (and at least submit to the attendant pain?)

Whether we became a mother by birth or adoption, welcoming a child into the world is a wonderfully unpredictable event. We don’t have any idea when He will show up or who we can become when we welcome Him.

May we pray as Georgia Mae does: “Hello baby Jesus, I love you. Please come out whenever You feel like it.”

How do you experience your inner life with God? How does your inner life with God prepare you for welcoming Him into your mothering and the world around you?

  Heather Fosth is her husband’s best friend, a mother of two dynamic, wildly different children(ages 10 and 6) and a sometime spiritual director. If given the choice, she would always be in her garden.

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Apr 172013
 

Today was suppose to be my follow up post about perfectionism but it just did not seem appropriate (I will share more about perfectionism next week).

In light of the recent tragic events in Boston and a friend of ours loosing all he owns in a house fire over the weekend, my heart has been heavy. These types of events have a way of shaking and waking me up to the world around me. When I hear of tragedy, it seems to highlight the blessings in my life and causes me to hold tightly to those I love.

This afternoon as I was praying and reflecting on the loss of those deeply affected by tragedy, I couldn’t help but wonder how do we continue to stand on peace in the midst of pain? In the midst of loss? How do we feel safe? How do we comfort our children?

Here are a few things that came to mind:

1) God is peace:  “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27

2) Breathe: When chaos strikes, I can feel as though all is lost. The simple act of pausing and taking a deep breath does me a world of good.

3) Pray: First and foremost in the midst of pain and tragedy I try to press into the Lord. He IS my strength and refuge. Each and every time I have prayed for the “peace that surpasses all understanding” the Lord has always followed through.

4) Comfort those around me: I can take time to stop and notice those around me. Give a hug to someone that needs it. Be encouraging to those in need of encouragement. By caring for others, I am blessed and comforted in the process.

5) Allow myself to be comforted: If I am hurting, I can tell someone I trust. I can allow friends and family to care for me. I do not have to have it all together 100% of the time.

6) Spend time with my children: Since I have children I was thinking through when tragedy affects them.  If they have experienced (or heard) about a tragedy, I could spend extra time with them playing, reading, cuddling. It will reassure them that they are safe and loved.

7) Share with my children: Again, if my children are aware of a tragedy (they hear about them easier than we think), I can talk with them about it. I can share with them how I am feeling and acknowledge their feelings. I need to be sure to keep all information given age-appropriate.

8) Don’t watch the news: I can be informed but resist the temptation to continually watch the news or view photographs online. Even as adults those images can last a lifetime in our minds and often do more damage than good. To this day I can instantly recall the images of 911.

9) Look for the helpers: Tragedy is painful and heartbreaking however in the midst of all tragedy, the wonderful gift of humanity can be found. If I look hard enough I will see it. Those selfless people that step into a dangerous situation to help another or those willing to give to those who have suffered loss. It is a reminder that there is still good in our world.

10) God has a plan: I know how cheesy this can sound! But it is truth. Just as I love my children deeply and look out for their best interest, God does the same for me. I may not see it now or understand it but I can believe that He loves me and wants what is best for me.

How do you find peace during times of suffering?  

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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