Jun 232015
 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

Yes.  It’s here again.  Summer.  In our house this translates as many things, but I would say the word “transition” is the theme of it all.  Our transitions have included out of the early morning school routines and into the sleep in’s.  Out of my husband’s regular full day schedule of teaching courses and into him being home more with the family.  Out of the small group/bible studies/Awana programs, dance lessons (in other words the “regularly scheduled activities) and into the somewhat haphazardly changing schedule of swimming lessons, camps, family BBQ invites, park day trips, free lunch program, gardening upkeep, garage sales, and kiddie pool time in the backyard.

Last week was the start of swimming lessons.  We have done quite a bit of our “own lessons” in the pool, so I was somewhat hesitant as to which would be the best level to place my girls in.  But I went with my best guess.  (And was able to finagale them into the same time/lesson which was actually probably the main priority/ happy element of it all for me.)

The girls seemed to be fitting in with their group even though they were the only ones upholding girl power.  I was a happy, contented Mom as I watched their lessons for 2 main reasons:  #1- they seemed to be trying some new techniques which stretched their current abilities.  #2-Their teacher was organized and gifted-therefore my hard earned money was being put to good use.

I caught their teacher’s eye after the last lesson and said, “Thanks for all your hard work!”  He replied with an answer I wasn’t expecting, “It’s sure great when you have brave ones to work with!”

I had a mental chewing on the word “brave” for my entire drive home.  I thought about the prayer I had been praying for the girls as they entered these lessons, “Lord, help them to be brave.”  And next the 2 questions I always ask them after each swimming lesson, “Did you do something new?  and Did you obey your teacher?”  The 2 questions I asked them were absolutely correlated with the character trait of bravery.  The words from the song, “You make me wanna be brave” surfaced on the brain-“The way it always was, is no longer good enough.  You make me wanna be brave.”  Bravery is the mark of a good swimming student and it is also the mark of a good follower of Jesus.

Living a life of faith in Jesus requires us to be brave.  Much of the time.  I want to be living an ever growing, maturing relationship with Jesus.  And if I find myself at a standstill in my walk with God, doing things on autopilot as I always have been, “holding on to the pool’s edge without venturing into uncharted waters”, I may need to ask myself the 2 questions I asked my girls after swimming each day:  “Have I done something new lately (being stretched for the Kingdom, acting in my weakness)?”  “Am I obeying my teacher (God)?”  If the answer is “no” to either of these questions, I may want to have a heart to heart with my heavenly Father.

If obedience to my “teacher” is first and foremost, then the bravery piece will come into play as we step into the new with our walk with God.  Someone once asked me what was, in my opinion an easy answer of “Yes”- “If you knew without a doubt God was asking you to do something, would you do it?”  But this isn’t the reality most of the time for us as we live by faith, responding to the Spirit.  We don’t have absolute assurity.  We have what we believe to be a still small voice/idea that comes into our mind in which we believe to be from God, not from us.  We have a word in scripture which jumps out of the page to us in the morning and then later in the day a friend echos this same message of direction/wisdom for us.  We have a moment with a stranger in which our heart beats fast and we feel impressed to go talk with them.  All what seem to be the Spirit telling us to go-do-respond-AND then we.  have.  a.  choice.  To be brave.  Even when we are not SURE.  Even when we may look silly.  Even when we don’t have a clue what we are doing.

So I am challenged this summer to grow in my maturity/bravery as a “swimming student” with God, my instructor.  And my hope is that He will be thinking the same thing as my girls’ instructor said, “It’s sure great when you have brave ones to work with.”

Oh Lord help me be brave.  Like you.  For you.  With you.

(By the way, the Love it Up series is off for the summer/I am planning to have the rest available when the book comes out.  :))

 

 

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jun 162014
 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8

I went on a run at my parents house earlier this week and I was asking God where He would have me put my time and energy this summer. “Run a marathon” came to mind.

This had to be God’s idea because there is no way I have the gifting, motivation, or need to run a marathon.  My dreamed up plans up to this point for the summer had consisted of sleeping in, going to a pool with the girls as much as possible, hit the community free lunches at the park, and have some good eats while watching Netflix in my comfy black arm chair.  I guess you could summarize my plans for the summer in one word “lazy”.

God’s word “marathon” and my word “lazy” were not seeming to gell nicely.  This is how life with the Lord seems to go.  He has a completely opposite idea of how I should spend my time.  (But I have to give Him credit, His “out there” ideas haven’t disappointed me once yet.)

My ongoing chat with God went something like this: “Sure, Lord, I have done all the race lengths before it, but my half marathon was a year ago and it was quite the booty woopin.  It is true though that running with You is a joy, but I am not sure I can do it or have the time to put into training for that length of a race!  (Also it cuts back on my eating bon bons on the couch time.)”

I pondered this marathon thing some more as I finished the run and came into my parent’s house.  I went into the kitchen and my Dad strolled in and plopped a magazine down in front of me. “Thought you might want to read this,” he said.  I picked it up and the headline read,

“Winner of the Boston Marathon gives tips for exercise and health”. Hmmmm. Coincidance? I think not.

My husband was in support of it. I bought a book and read up on the training schedule and I had enough time to train this summer. I emailed a marathon running friend about what would be the best one to do and asked if she thought I could do it, she said “The Portland Marathon is a great first one to do (so close to home!) And yes you could do it.” Check. Check. Check. All was a go.  (“Okay God, you win.”)

I realize I go through a similar cycle with the Lord every time He asks me to step out in faith. I get scared. I get a little uneasy about doing something I have never done before. I give Him the reasons this was not in my plan and why I am not qualified/equipped/smart enough/talented enough to do what He is asking of me. I ask Him to confirm and confirm again.

And every time He gently confirms through others, His Word, an inner peace, and/or other “coincidances” that this is THE way for me.

He quiets my heart and says, “It will be okay. Do not be afraid. I will help you. I will be with you and lead you.”

And I realize “Yes” is the only real option. I think back to the “Yes’s in the past and they have brought me more life, joy, peace and purpose than I could have ever known.  So I say “yes” to training to run a marathon this summer.  Expectant for how God will do a work in me.  Saying “yes” to Jesus is the only way to live.  It is living real life.

What “first” is the Lord calling you into this season?  Join me in training for a race this summer, or stepping out in a way that you believe God is directing you.  Be brave.  Be a faithful daughter.  Be ready.  Because good is up ahead!

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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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?

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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