Sep 222014
 

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:4-5

There are times when I am focused on the task at hand and times when my mind is swayed by everything else around me.  It was a time when the latter was evident-the word “concentration” was far from my reality.

I was running on my regular nature path.  But for the life of me I could not stay on it.  Let me explain.

I saw a florescent wad of cloth off a couple feet to my left.  I was strangely drawn to it.  Who knows, maybe I had left it on a previous run?  I followed my curiosity to the field beside me. I found it was a boy’s shirt.  Truly not life changing.  Or even slightly exciting.  And most definitely didn’t belong to my girl power kiddo’s.

I was able to move on from this sighting fairly immediately.  I was about to get back on the path when something else mysterious caught the corner of my eye.  It was a deer.  Now this was a little more exciting-an untamed animal in the wild.  And I was mesmerized.  By its calm, staring demeanor.  And if this wasn’t enough of a little piece of heaven, another deer came to join.  And then another followed right behind!   I stood only three feet away from three deer and breathed in and out slowly with eyes fixed on the group.

After the deer party ran into the woods, I headed back to the path to run.  But surprisingly there were multiple other distractions that took me off the path.  Once for roadkill (curiosity getting truly getting the best of me this time), and a sprinkler (happened to turn on with the perfect timing so I received two showers instead of my typical one for the day).

In all of my inability to stay focused on the running route at hand, there was one thing which kept bringing me back to the path for which I had come in the first place.  One thing that helped me refocus on running.  One thing that was so beautiful, there was nothing I could do but respond with action.

The Brilliant Sun.  Rising to mark the new day.  Lighting up the entire sky with brightness.  And when my mind and feet had wandered off the path, this sun beckoned me to look up.  It was as if it was almost daring me to stare into the light because no other shirt, deer, or distracting circumstance below held a candle.  And strangely looking into the light jolted me out of my Curious George moments and reminded me of what I was here to do.  Run.  on.  the.  path.

It is the same way with the light of Jesus.  God shines His light on our path-behind.  before.  in the very present.  And it beckons us to follow.  Anytime we fix our eyes on Jesus, the light of the world, our current “off the path” distractions cannot compete.  Any “off the path” things such as sin, worry, dark places of depression, family crisis, financial issues, trials, busyness, lies, doubts, or insecurities to be seen clearly for what they are.  Satan’s plan to kill, steal, destroy and distract us from God’s plan and love for us.

Turning to focus on the light of the Son gets us out of our mundane, anxiety driven, sin bound, weary minded, restless, fruitless selves and reminds us of our identity, love and calling in Jesus (just like focusing on the sun reminded me of the run on the path I was meant to do).  The light of Jesus reminds us that He will use our difficult circumstances and weak areas for the good of His Kingdom.  That His Word gives specific guidance to our now.  And that no darkness can overcome it.  No matter whether you are currently on the God’s path for you, just stepped off the path, have been too busy to recognize if you are or aren’t on the path, have never been on the path, can’t remotely even know where to begin to get back on the path, our God see’s.  And holds out loving arms of grace to each of us.

So let’s look to the Son/”Sun” today and be welcomed onto His path of light and life.

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Sep 152014
 

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

I missed out.  On running the 22 miler.  I should have gone this last weekend.  But didn’t.  And I am now 2 weeks prior to the race, which means going on shorter runs.  I chalk it up to a lack of motivation on an activity full weekend.  Tiredness.  Laziness.  Knowing the soreness that would be up ahead.  And a lack of diligence to call a friend to run with.  All of these excuses contributed.  But bottom line.  The opportunity came.  And went.  And I am sitting in the aftermath of the “wish I would have” regrets.

My husband had some friends over to play cards this weekend.  Usually on these nights I partake in some much needed “Netflix” time.  And this was exactly my plan.  First-get into some “comfies” on.  This consists of my 10 year old American Eagle sweatpants (what I would love to wear 24/7 if it would be acceptable), and an oversized t shirt (which isn’t quite to the holes in the pits stage in which my husband draws the line).  Check.  Second-put the girls to bed.  (Not as easy as the first order of business, but after answering the 20 questions, reading the additional story, singing one more round of “Oh How I Love Jesus”, and walking away saying, “No more talking now, it’s time for bed.” all seemed good to go.)  Check.  Third, get the Kix cereal late night snack and I Pad to take up to my private bedroom getaway.  Check.

As I was pouring my cereal a particular friend was on the brain.  I thought I could visit her tonight.

But the excuses started in, “She probably has plans already.”  “Well, I am sure my husband wouldn’t want me to leave the girls in case they got up and needed tending to.”  “It is getting too late and we wouldn’t get to talk much.”  “I really need some alone time.”  “I don’t feel like going.”  “It wasn’t what I had planned on doing.”  “My energy and motivation to have a long conversation is gone.”

In spite of the rationalizations of why not to call her, my friend’s name would not leave the forefront of my thoughts.  (I have typically found this to be the Holy Spirit’s way of prompting me to action.)  I asked my husband if I could go and he said, “Yes”.  So that was that.  There was nothing stopping me from making the call to see if my friend was up for a spontaneous visit.  Other than my own selfishness.  Lack of motivation.  Tiredness.  Laziness.  Knowing the upcoming talk would be an energy output.

And so I chose “Netflix Night” over obedience to the Spirit.  I didn’t go visit my friend.  I missed out.  Because the opportunity came.  And went.  And I get to sit in the aftermath of the “wish I would have” regrets.

Two missed opportunities.  In one weekend.  (No gold stars for me.)  Two times when my own stuff got in the way of “going the distance”.  For my race training.  For God’s Kingdom.

Somehow the excuses won out.  Obedience, discipline, commitment, the Spirit’s prompting took a back seat.  And the result was a lack of action.  Now I find myself swimming in a pool of  “could have, should have, would have’s”.  And I am finding it difficult to stop.

I ran into my “go to marathon guru friend” at the local Mexican takeout restaurant the next day.  I told her I missed the 22 miler.  She said most training plans only go up to 18 miles.  (Which I had done the weekend prior.)  I was extatic.  I wasn’t a total failure.  I would still be able to compete and complete the upcoming marathon race.

I felt a wave of grace.  A wave of unconditional love from my heavenly Father.

Later the same day someone shared with me that the friend I had felt compelled to go over and visit was in fact going through a rough patch.  Experiencing some serious health issues which I was unaware of.  My heart sank.  No wonder I had felt the Spirit’s prompting to head over for a visit.

Failure and condemnation were heavy.  I texted my friend to let her know I had thought about stopping by and that we needed to catch up soon.  But the moment was gone.  It wasn’t the same.

I confessed I was wrong for not acting on the Spirit’s leading and asked forgiveness from God.

I felt a wave of grace.  A wave of unconditional love from my heavenly Father.

I must find a lesson to be learned from my two mess up’s.  I must redeem what seems to be lost.

1.  I am thankful we serve a God who continues to want to use us in spite of our past failures, disobedience, and selfishness.  2.  I am thankful missed out opportunities are not a reason to quit.  3.  Continuing to swim in the pool of “could have, should have, would have’s” is not helpful or healthy for anyone.  We must learn to let go and let God take them.  4.  I am thankful we are not defined by our failures, but by the God who made us.  Our identity is in Christ!  5.  I am thankful His mercies are new every morning.  And we must accept grace for ourselves and be ready to extend it to others as well.  6.  We should be even more motivated to say “yes” to the Spirit.  No matter the circumstance or mood we are in.  And “go the distance” when the next mile marker Kingdom opportunity comes our way.

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Sep 082014
 

“And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:12-14

I began the run.  In the dark.  And I continued the run.  In the dark.  For an hour.  And this was not just slightly dark outside.  Dusk.  Or dark, but street lights all around.  No.  Not joking.  Pitch. Black.  And then here’s me.   With no other light than the dim glow from my phone. 

Alone.  Surrounded by darkness.  Unprepared.  Scary.  Dangerous.  All come to mind to describe the beginning of this run.

As I ran around my regular nature loop, continually turning my phone back on for the little light, I couldn’t think about the fact that I was alone.  My feet kept moving.  I couldn’t think about the slow, hesitant pace I was going due to fear of falling.  My feet kept moving.  I couldn’t think about the what seemed to be neverending darkness all around me.  My feet kept moving.

All I focused on.  Thought about.  With all my might.  Was my little light.  Keeping that light shining.  Keeping that light right in front of me.  All would be well if my little light didn’t go out.

It was the little light that kept my feet moving forward.  Helped me see the stick, rock and bump in the road.  Ushered me into the new day.  And in spite of the  surrounding front, behind, left and right sides of pitch darkness, it pierced through.

After I got back from my run, my family got ready and headed off to church.  I always am anxious to hear about what my girls learned about in their Sunday School time.  Can you guess what it was about?  And yes, I am sure you have an idea.  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” was written on a glow stick bracelet as they walked out.

At this moment I had an overwhelming sense of God’s presence.  A thankfulness for the little light He had given me to run just hours earlier with.  A thankfulness for the little light I have inside of me, Jesus.  A thankfulness for His rescuing me from the dominion of darkness.

And my thankfulness turned to motivation.  To let my little light shine as I run the path He has set before me for today.  Others and myself have said, “There is no way the tiny, cell phone glow would make a difference in total darkness“, just like myself and others  say, “What difference will one smile make to the stranger?  What difference will giving away one clothing item to someone in need make?  What difference will loving an unkind person make?  What difference will saying I’m sorry make?  What difference will showing mercy when you were so wronged make?”  Well, it makes ALL the difference.

My little light showed how and where my feet should move along the path.  It also paved the way for anyone behind me.  So when we step out with our little lights of Jesus in this dark world, we end up seeing clearly the direction He has for us.  We stay on His narrow path.  We overcome Satan through Jesus’ Name.  We pull others out of darkness and into the Light.  Through our small selfless acts of love, generosity, compassion, and mercy, we bring the Kingdom of Light to this dark world.

So I have come to recognize Little Lights Do.  Make.  A. Difference.  You and I make a difference.  When we submit to God’s Word and be obedient to it.  When we say “Yes” to allowing Jesus, the Light of the World, guide our lives.  So will you join me today and act upon the Spirit’s leading, proclaiming, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Sep 022014
 

“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 throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.”  Ecclesiastes 3:3-5

Surreal.  Surprised.  Sad.  Is the state of my soul today.  It is my first.  Time I have gone down this road.  Realization this “new” is crashing down on me whether I like it or not.  Born baby girl going off to big girl Kindergarten.  And I am undone.”

“Firsts” have a way of beckoning us to the days of yesterday.  I remember all my baby girl’s “firsts”:

Seeing her tiny self for the first time and having a one track mind.  And actually yelling my one track mind to the nurses, husband, and mother, “She has dimples!”.

Cheering on her belly laying, giraffe chewing self to take a risk and roll.  Over.

Ever so carefully sliding my fingers out of her tiny ones and being filled with an immediate ecstatic body rush as her right foot takes a step.  Then her left.  Then her right again.  All on her own.

(And I am absolutely fighting back, no, streaming down tears as I write this-Kind of like when I watch ANY episode of “Little House on the Prairie” or truthfully any commercial involving a family playing together-I know, don’t judge me.  I have what I like to call, the “Gift of Tears”.)

No longer having her reliant on me for every meal (On the other hand, still reliant on me for every meal.  Just a change in presentation.)  Watching each hilarious expression for peas.  Pears.  Prunes.  The mess was every minute worth the entertainment of my bald, Bumbo sitting baby.

What I thought would be weeks of potty training turned out to be.  Well-weeks of potty training.  But oh how it made the joy so much sweeter when somewhere in the midst of my maxed patience for washing wet underwear, the rainbow stickers motivated her enough to care.  And using the toilet on a regular basis became our “new normal”.

Laughing at her silly love for words.  Said in different forms.  Combined with others to equal complete nonsense.  Which in turn equaled nonstop fun for the whole fam.

Realizing I had an “Art girl” when the only thing to stop her from crying every time I would leave her at Bible study was to mention they had Smelly Markers.  And remembering the humbling conversation when I said to a group of moms, “And yea, isn’t it so frustrating when you have to try and wipe off crayon from your walls?”  And the response from the 10 present was a blank stare of confusion.

Experiencing my heart beating outside of my chest.  As she went down a hill.  On a balance bike.  Going past the “speed limit”.  But she survived.  Learned.  And relied upon balancing rather than her feet for stability.

I could continue on about her petite feet, too long of a toothless grin, birthday themes of rainbows and love for gardens and smelling flowers, but then I would never be present in the moments of today.  It is helpful to remember all of my Lucy’s “firsts” because they were moments of intimacy, growth, and opportunities to overcome challenges.  At that time they were “new”.  Scary.  Unknown.  Change.  I wasn’t sure how I would ever thrive or feel comfortable.  But I was sure I so needed my heavenly Father.  I looked to Him for comfort, direction and wisdom.  And He didn’t let me down.  Not.  One.  Time.  And He won’t let me down.  Right.  Now.  Either.

Mourning an end to the day of “the known” is necessary to bring us into the sunrise of the new day.  But we cannot stay here. We must recognize one day is done and another is beginning right before our eyes.

Remembering too long turns into regretting the now.  Wishing it were then.  Sad it isn’t then.  Listening to Satan’s lies that “this new will never be as good as it was back then.”  And becoming discontent and depressed becomes the reality of life with this “first”.

As I venture into my current season of “firsts”-maneuvering as a Kindergarten mother, upcoming speaking opportunities at women’s retreats, and upping my mileage in training for this marathon, I plan to rely on my God.  Trusting His faithfulness and love to see me through today.  And I have complete confidence that whatever “first” we are currently wading through, He is right beside us.  With each.  First.  Step.

So may we embrace the “firsts” coming our way in this season.  And may today be a day of gratefulness.  For all the gifts and blessings from the Lord.  For every “bursting with love heart memories.”

Let us walk confidently and expectantly for the good that God has in store for us and our loved ones.  For today is a day to “Rejoice in the day the Lord has made” (Ps 118:24).

And this is my prayer:

Oh Father, would you go with my girl today.  Stay real close.  Hold her tightly when unkind words are said.  Give her laughter with other children.  Provide her with a good friend.  Help her to learn when is the time to sit quietly and listen and when is the time to let loose.  Give her opportunities to show your love and compassion and help to others.  Help her be a blessing in that classroom.  Allow for space to grow in the giftings you have given her.  May she remember you will help her when she is anxious, afraid, or hurt.  May she experience Your love and faithfulness in every difficult and fun activity.  May this day mark the beginning of a pattern.  Of doing life with You.  May you uphold her, surround her, love on her today.  As I have come to know you ever so gently do, when we step into a “first”.  Thank you.  For the work you have done in the past and the work you will continue to do.  In her.  And in me.

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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