May 312013
 

I wish we had a few more women like the woman of Samaria, willing to confess what the Lord Jesus Christ had done for their souls.

-D. L. Moody

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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May 302013
 

The dictionary definition of encouragement says…

1. To give support, confidence, or hope….

“But those [mothers] who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~Isaiah 40:31

“So do not fear, [you mothers] for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we [mothers] may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”~Hebrews 4:16

“For I know the plans I have for you [and your children],” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you [and your children] hope and a future. ~Jeremiah 29:11

Hope that is seen is no hope at all. [What

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mother] hopes for what [she] already [has]? But if we [mothers] hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”~Romans 8:24-25

 

2. To persuade to continue in something….

“I know your deeds, your love and faith [in mothering], your service and perseverance [with your children], and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” ~Revelation 2:19

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance [in mothering] that comes from Christ.” ~2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

3. To stimulate the development of an activity or belief…

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us [mothers], who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us

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all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us [mothers] all things?” ~Romans 8:31-32

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no

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eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those [mothers] who wait for him. ~Isaiah 64:4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us [mothers] in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those [children] in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Press on, tired mothers! Know that even when no one else does, God sees.

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May 292013
 

As I was thinking and praying about what to write this week, I had a strong desire to write about something positive and uplifting.

Many of my posts have dealt with some hard stuff but today I want to focus on hope.

There are many books that have left a lasting impression on me but two of the most significant are The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Both of these books literally changed my life. They helped me change my thinking and how I see the world.

The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith walks you through the journey of discovering who God truly is by looking to the person who knows Him best, Jesus Christ.

Smith suggests that we all have ideas (narratives) about who we think God is and how He works in our

imgreslives. However, many of our ideas about God are incorrect even though we may not be aware they are faulty.

For example, I held a belief that I would never be good enough for God. That He held high expectations for me and I would never live up to His expectations.

Smith helped this false truth come to light. He helped me to understand God’s unconditional love.

One of the most amazing things about Smith’s book is that at the end of each chapter he shares a “soul training” exercise. An activity or concept to work through to help you develop true narratives.

For the first time, as I read a book I experienced the hope of actually adopting the new information to my life. So often books share wonderful ideas but leave you hanging as to how to make lasting change.

The second special book is Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It opened my eyes to all the blessing around me.

For years I had been wandering around wondering where my joy was. I felt lost and guilty that as a Christian I was not more joyous. I had met joyous Christians and read about joy in Scripture, but I was at a loss for truly experiencing a lasting joy.

When I started reading Voskamp’s book I felt like I was reading my own journal! Her words, her feelings, fears, where just like mine. For the first time I did not feel alone.

In her amazingly poetic voice, Voskamp shares how thanksgiving comes before the blessing. That is, to experience joy we must give thanks and recognize all the blessings around us. Even give thanks for the tough seasons in life, for the little things and the not so fun things like dirty dishes and laundry.

Voskamp points to many places in Scripture where the key to being joyful in all circumstances is to give thanks. Naturally I would like to think I am a person that is thankful but I was blown away to see Scriptures that I had read several times, jump off the page. I had missed it. To be joyous is to be thankful.

I followed Voskamp’s leading and started a blessing journal, writing down each thing I was thankful for. Not only did it help shift my focus but it also encouraged me to take time throughout the day to notice. The birds, flowers, the little things that often go unseen.

Am I forever in a happy go lucky mood?  No!  Even though I wish I was. That it is not me. I am however, better equipped to experience joy. I give thanks more often and I pay closer attention to the little things.

What books have impacted your life?

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May 282013
 

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C. S. Lewis

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself pouring over a few books.  Some are new to me and some old.  The three I’ve found myself pondering and encouraged by most are Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, Leeana Tankersley’s Found Art and Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines.  In each book I find myself saying, “oh good… I’m not the only one.” or tear up because their words are straight out of my heart.

As I recently found a moment to reflect on their stories, I found all these authors to have something in common.  They are the deepest and truest definition of an individual being real.

Through their writing, they share their beautiful lives with reckless abandon.  Not merely the interesting facts, but they go deeper still.  They share the truth so many of us would be too scared to tell.

All of these women have experienced times of being both far from and near to God, seeking clarity to the rawest of questions, feeling desperately alone and broken, finding God in the most unique and captivating places.

All of these women have proven themselves courageous in facing their fears and weaknesses, while defining their faith.

Among all women, these are a few of the beautiful ones.

As I went walking this morning by myself, in glorious silence, I found myself longing for more of these kinds of women in my life.  I understand, of course, not all of us will ever find the desire or ability to share our lives on this kind of level.

But this is what I crave.

I crave relationships where pretending is a forgotten way of survival.  Where we could air out our flaws, knowing judgement would not be the first response.  Where we could see how God is redeeming and making our hearts beautiful because we are honest with each other about what needs transformation.  Where we could feel less isolated and alone in facing our doubts and questions because our hearts are intertwined by bravery.

This is the beauty in choosing realness.  And it’s knee-knocking scary in the same breath.

“True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves.  We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that.  We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect.  We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us.  We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are, they’ll leave.  But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us.  Friendship is about risk.  Love is about risk.  If we can control it and manage it and manufacture it, then it’s something else, but if it’s really love, really friendship, it’s a little scary around the edges.”  – Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, (p. 50)

To me, choosing this kind of realness in relationships is like choosing to enjoy a vase of fresh peonies on my table versus a painting of peonies hanging on my wall.  I can breath in the beautiful aroma.  I can experience God’s unique creation first-hand.  I don’t have to imagine what the experience would be like.  I get to have the real thing.

Are you desiring these kinds of relationships too?  Can you be the first to be brave and share something real with a friend you trust?

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May 272013
 

THIS WEEK HAS BEEN MY GIRLS’ (LUCY IS 4 YEARS AND SADIE IS 2 YEARS) FIRST GO AT SWIMMING LESSONS.  LORD HELP US ALL!

I had forgotten the hard work and bravery learning to swim demands. I also didn’t anticipate the clenching-the-chair terror that comes from being a mother watching your child learn to swim.

Yesterday at the swim lesson, with a little song of “Ring Around the Rosie”, Sadie put her head all the way under the water!  And she came up with all smiles.

I let a deep breath in.  And then slowly out.

Next, it was Lucy’s turn.  Her face was shear terror, knowing what would be asked of her.  She stepped as close to the wall as she could without getting out of the pool.

The teacher’s arms reached out to her.  She shook her head and said, “I don’t want to do that!” about 10 times.

The teacher tried numerous tactics: comforting words, children’s songs, and various games.  All failed.  The last resort was used.  The force job.  The teacher grabbed Lucy’s kicking and crying body and put her under.

I’m pretty sure I scraped some of the plastic off my chair from anxiety.

But then the miracle happened.  When Lucy came up out of the water, she had the biggest smile on her face.  She had done it.  She had braved the unknown. She had conquered her fear. And there was pure joy in it.

Over the past couple years I have felt like my girls.  Like I am learning to swim for the first time.

I have been saying yes to God’s work and it has involved much new territory: running, writing, starting this blog, speaking, and leading women’s retreat worship.

All new.  All hard work.  All about learning.  All about conquering fears.  And in response to the Spirit’s voice I said as Lucy said, “I don’t want to do that!”  I went “under water” kicking and screaming.

But through this, I have found more joy and purpose than I have ever known before.  I wouldn’t live life any other way.

The Lord has brought me strength and comfort in each of these scary steps of faith with the scripture, “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” Zec. 4:6

You see, we serve a God who is constantly at work and is always doing something new.

I wonder what new things He is doing in your life?  New relationships, new ministry, new habit of reading His Word daily or talking with Him in prayer daily.

Isa 43:18-19 says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

The question is, are we taking regular time alone with God in order to listen to Him?  Can He get our attention amidst our busyness?

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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May 242013
 

The first part of my challenge was to create a Life Mission Statement. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post you can read it HERE.

The intention of writing a Life Mission Statement was to help us focus and center ourselves on what we dream for our lives.

All to often in my own experience, I find myself wanting one thing in life but I make  choices that take my life in a different direction.

Writing out my own Life Mission Statement brought me clarity to what is really important in my life and what I want to make a priority.

The next step of the challenge is to learn to evaluate our life choices in light of our Life Mission Statements.

What does that look like?

Keeping your Life Mission Statement in mind, are you making choices to support your mission statement? Or are you making conflicting choices?

For example, here is my Life Mission Statement:

To pursue Christ with my whole heart, mind and soul.

To love and support Jeremy (my husband), so he can be all God has created him to be.

To play with my girls. To be their encourager. To help them learn and grow into women that love Christ.

To create space in my life to allow for creativity and to cultivate an intentional home.

To live a life that inspires others to live as children of God.

What I need to ask myself: am I making choices with my time that allows me to pursue Christ with my whole heart, mind and soul? Am I making choices to allow for play with my girls and time to be creative? Or am I getting distracted by the wrong choices, i.e. too many commitments, outside responsibilities, playing on the computer, etc.

Unfortunately, the answer is yes to the last question. I am getting distracted and making the wrong choices.

With this challenge it is not my intention to guilt myself or you because we have made wrong choices, but to shed light on our choices.

If we deeply want something for our lives than we must train ourselves to make choices consistent with our desires. Otherwise we run the risk of running too fast in the wrong direction and becoming unsatisfied.

My suggestion is to run each decision you are faced with through the Lord’s filter and through the filter of your Life’s Mission Statement. From there make choices that follow the Lord’s leading and that support your Life Mission’s Statement.

This is something I am just learning to do myself. It comes from the place of too many years, doing too many things and feeling disappointed that I do not have the time to do what is most important to me or what the Lord has laid on my heart.

Will you join me?

It is my hope that we will discover a greater Joy.

 

 

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May 242013
 

To submit to anyone less than Christ is difficult in a marriage. Yet it is Christ who commands women to be submissive to their sinful, fallible husbands. In this sense Christ is the silent partner of the marriage. It is hard for a wife to submit when she disagrees with her husband. But when she knows her submission is an act of obedience to Christ and honors Christ, it is much less difficult.

-R. C. Sproul

Jillian

Jillian

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May 232013
 

I think the Dog Whisperer is really onto something.

Last year our family got a kick out of watching this show on Netflix. The narrator’s tone alternates between puzzled and judgmental as he describes the current family’s difficulty with their dog. They show the dog acting up, the owners struggling, and then Cesar Millan driving up in his green jeep.

The narrator quickly takes on an “everything’s gonna be okay now” tone as they show Cesar striding confidently up to the owner’s front door.

He sits down with the owners and they alternate between expressing tender attachment and tired frustration with their pet. They don’t understand what’s wrong with their dog! They’ve tried all kinds of things but this is just how this dog behaves, no matter what they do.

Cesar patiently listens and asks some questions, very diplomatically.

For the viewer it slowly becomes clear that the problem is not the dog.

With the perfect combination of tact and directness, Cesar begins instructing the owners about what is actually going on for the dog, and how their behavior is creating more tension and less responsiveness in the dog. He has various tips for them, like regular walks and such, but ultimately it comes down to one thing.

Calm, assertive energy.

Much of the dog’s (mis)behavior is a response to the energy of its owner.

There are all kinds of things I’ve tried as a parent; some have been very effective, others not so much. But as I head into my second decade as a mom, I’m starting to think that all my various words and behaviors are far less important

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The dog owner may be saying the

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Sometimes when Michael and I are in the heat of it, and I’m talking in my very calm controlled voice, he says, “I hate it when you talk to me like that! I’d rather you yell at

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me.”

He hates it because even though I’m using the right words, and exercising self-control, he can tell that there is exasperation, condescension, and anger beneath the surface. And beneath that is a need to control and get my way. And beneath that is fear, anxiety, and sometimes confusion or helplessness.

The trouble is, changing our words or behavior is a lot easier than changing our energy. This requires really paying attention to what is going on for us as we parent, and choosing to face the reality of our internal world with honesty and humility.

I believe it also takes spending time in the presence of the One whose energy is all love instead of fear, overcoming instead of despairing, all redemption instead of regret.

I was reading an article about Dallas Willard, an author and professor who passed away recently. Someone described him as being “soaked in the presence of Christ.”

My heart leapt and I thought, “That’s how I want to be described!” I want to radiate the kind of joy, groundedness, and deep peaceful confidence that comes from contact with the Divine. I have a long way to go!

How can we foster, live in, and exude this kind of energy as moms?

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May 222013
 

Last week I shared five of the ten most common cognitive distortions and how they influence the way we feel.

The remaining common cognitive distortions are:

6. Emotional Reasoning: Assuming negative emotions reflect reality. For example, “I feel stupid therefore I am stupid”.

7. Catastrophizing: Exaggerating the importance of things, such as mistakes or difficult situations. For example, missing one day of work due to illness then believing the boss will hate you and fire you as a result.

8. Personalization: Believing to be the cause of a negative external event. For example, a child brings home a poor report card, the child’s mother concludes that she must be a bad mother. 

9. Should Statements: A common way of thinking in negative self-talk. I should have… or I shouldn’t have… Shaming oneself into performing. For example, “I should have cleaned the house today or I shouldn’t have eaten that, now I’ll gain weight”.

10. Labeling and Mislabeling: Extreme over-generalization. Instead of acknowledging an error or poor choice in yourself or another, negatively labeling self or the other. For example, loosing a baseball game and concluding that you were born a looser.

Although these cognitive distortions are often automatic thinking, one can change them.

Just as in my posts about negative self-talk, it takes time and hard work, but if you continually work at it you can learn to recognize your thoughts.

If you suspect that you have a cognitive distortion or two, here are 6 steps that will help identify and at least slow them down:

1. Recognize and isolate the thought: Extreme words like “never, can’t, always” or strong negative words like “stupid, hate, idiot”  are good clues of a cognitive distortion.

2. Write it down: Writing the words or phrase down on paper brings it to light and will help you identify it the next time it happens.

3. Ask yourself: Is this thought reasonable or unreasonable? If you heard a friend say it out loud, how would you respond?

4. What kind of cognitive distortion is it?: It is important to label the cognitive distortion so you are better able to recognize it in the future.

5. Write down a more reasonable thought: Writing down a more reasonable thought will aid you in thinking more positively the next time you are faced with a similar situation.

It is important to know that we all have cognitive distortions at one time or another and that even if you become more aware of them, they are not going to go away completely. However, learning to identify them and shift your thinking will help you have a more positive outlook.

 

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May 212013
 

When I signed up for a church ministry, I never anticipated it would bring me one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.

“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” – Peter F. Drucker

We had been attending our church for about two years after I graduated from college.  Due to college commitments I had never gotten involved in a church ministry, but now I had time.  News in our church bulletin regarding the eating disorder ministry caught my eye.

Since I was fresh out of working through my own eating disorder and had a massive heart for anyone who suffered from the same agony,  I knew this was the ministry for me.

I had no idea what I would encounter when I arrived for my first week.

My involvement began with attendance to weekly support meetings.  I was simply a background presence as all the participants came to grow, be heard, and be encouraged.

The ministry was hurting for leaders.  It seemed as though there were many more people suffering from eating disorders than those able to help.  In a hurry, I was leading half of the weekly meetings and asked to take on mentoring girls one-on-one.

I had never felt so inadequate, weak and more like a hypocrite in my life.  I wasn’t actively living in my eating disorder, but I felt far from whole and truly healthy.

Before leading each meeting, before doing each one-on-one, my knees would shake so badly I was sure others could hear them rattling.  I would sweat with fear as I arrived.  And I learned to never hold my notes in my hand, but kept them resting on my lap, so as not to let anyone see how badly my hands were shaking.

It was stretching to say the least.

As time went by, God continued to give me new and meaningful things to share with the group and my girls.  But I was also awe struck by something different than expected.  I could never be entirely sure how the participants were changing – the deep within their hearts kind of change.  But I knew God and the girls were changing me.

I didn’t feel whole or worthy when I began the ministry.  Getting involved was risky, required vulnerability and created accountability for all of us.  But God was faithful to reveal to me how He had already healed me and where I still needed growth.

The group meetings kept me in tune with what healthy looked like.  But my one-on-ones held me accountable to be honest, inspired me to be whole, and kept God in every step along my continued healing path.  I set out to help others, but in turn, they helped me.

My mom used to always say to me, “to take your eyes off yourself, focus on how you can help others”.

Serving in the eating disorder ministry and mentoring girls one-on-one was one of the most beautiful, stretching and life-giving experiences I’ve ever been honored to be a part of.  For me, it gave new life and meaning to Mark 10:45.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Have you ever set out to serve others and found it profoundly changed you?  If you are finding yourself too self-focused these days, how can you look to serve others around you?

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