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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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?

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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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?

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Apr 022013
 

I forget things all too quickly.  Sometimes it’s easy for me to focus on my current struggles, challenges and pains.  And focusing on them can make my struggles feel big and untamed.

Struggling with body image, food, self-acceptance and shame has been a part of my story for over 13 years now.  When I get stuck in thinking I am the sum total of my old struggles, habits and choices… defeat, doubt and hopelessness are allowed to take up residency in my spirit.

But I am so thankful my story does not end with a constant, unchanging struggle.  And neither does yours.

This past weekend we celebrated Easter.  As I went to church with my family, I was expecting to hear about Jesus’ death and resurrection and how He gave us life.  But I was struck with something different from our Pastor’s sermon.  I was reminded how powerful the story of Jesus really is.  His life, death and resurrection IS the power of the gospel.  And it is through His power, we are changed.

Instead of sitting and stewing in our past or our old habits, it’s good to simply remember.  To remember who we were before we let Jesus in and see how His power has transformed us.

I am no longer my past.  I am no longer defined by my greatest fears of who I used to be.  I am no longer stuck in my mistakes or my weaknesses.  I am free from shame.  I am not sentenced to emptiness, hopelessness or wondering.  I am accepted.  I am transformed.  I am made new.

My shackles are gone.  My fears have been won.  My life has beauty.

I have hope, grace and redemption through the power of Jesus’ story.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 1 Corinthians 5:17

There is a song I just can’t get enough of as of late.  It’s called New Man by a group called All Things New.  I loved it before I heard Sunday’s sermon, and love it even more now.  God is giving me some powerful reminders that I have been made new through Him.  Maybe you need this reminder today too.

“God, You have made me new
You’ve restored my heart and
Turned these ashes into life
Oh God, You have pulled me through
And everything I was is gone
And washed away for good
I’m a new man in You.”

Are you defining yourself by your past or allowing it to keep you shackled?  Think back to who you used to be… how has Jesus’ story changed you?

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 052013
 

Revelation and thanksgiving.  This is what I’m sitting in and pondering today.

There are times when I look at myself in the mirror and realize I’ve been flailing and struggling.  To have faith.  To trust there is meaning in both the whirling and the stagnant moments in life. To believe God could love little ‘ol me who feels like a mess sometimes.

In this small realization, in this small self-revelation, “Be still and know that I am God“, comes to mind.

Just.  Be.  Still.

Flailing, struggling, wondering and mustering up belief is me doing the work.  But in reality, God does not require my help, knowledge, effort or anything else.  He does not owe me justifications or proof in showing me the whole picture.  It is in this state of mind I remember:

He is God.  He made me.  And I am His.

Sometimes I just need to stop.  Stop and remember what He has done for me.  What He has done in me.  Thank you God.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s new book, “Help, Thanks, Wow” and I’ve been reading and re-reading the thanks portion of it.

“When we go from rashy and clenched to grateful, we sometimes get to note the experience of grace, in knowing that we could not have gotten ourselves from where we were stuck, in hate or self-righteousness or self-loathing (which are the same thing), to freedom.  The movement of grace in our lives toward freedom is the mystery.  So we simply say “Thanks.”  Something had to open, something had to give, and I don’t have a clue how to get things to do that.  But they did, or grace did.  Thank you.”  – Anne Lamott, “Help, Thanks, Wow”

Many times I find myself too busy and distracted to be still.  To remember God’s enormous miracles He has done in my life.  To recall His grace overflowing to make the dried up places in my heart beautiful.  He has changed me, strengthened me and made me new.  Thank you God.

Stopping the whirling has become just as important as the words “thank you” because it invites revelation.  Having my heart open to watchwait for, and then listen to His revelations in my life.  To where He wants to stretch and change me, when He wants me to slow down and rest and how He wants me to view Him… and myself.  And it has been through these moments of revelation, that transformation has come.

Which again begs a thank you God.

“Revelation is not for the faint at heart… Details are being revealed, and they will take you out of yourself, which is heaven, and you will have a story to tell, which is salvation that again and again saves us…  So I say “Thanks,” – Anne Lamott, “Help, Thanks, Wow”

So even when I look into the mirror and have a revelation moment that I’ve been wound up, flailing, trying to do things on my own, I say a big Thank you God.  You are God.  You made me.  And I am Yours.

In what can you be saying “Thank you God” about?  What revelations in your life can you thank Him for?
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100
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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 082013
 

In years past, January 1st often found me committing to a resolution which would be impossible to carry out.  Most of these resolutions represented unrest with my weight, body image or perfectionism.  None of my resolutions fell into the “attainable, realistic” category.  All of them left me feeling discouraged, not good enough and like a failure.

Perhaps it’s age and time that takes us to a place where change has deeper meaning…

Perhaps it’s the burden of past heartaches and turmoil giving way to enlightenment…

I no longer set out to accomplish resolutions or goals that take on the check-list mentality.  I don’t set out to count calories, weigh myself daily, or workout a certain number of times per week.  Although these actions can be powerful, even helpful, in executing a healthy life-style for many… these do not get to the heart of change for me.

I’ve come to realize my battles with body image, with food and even with my purpose in this life always indicate deeper roots.  My weight, appearance, career path, successes… I’m learning have more to do with giving control over to God, my spiritual identity in Christ and my ability to extend grace and kindness to myself – over and over again if need be.

God has turned my definition of change upside down.  It’s no longer about the superficial worries of my past.  It’s about my heart being willing to reflect His.

I have a fire burning within me, longing for deeper, authentic change in my heart.  I want to go into the scary, sometimes dark places that ache inside.  The caverns hidden away because of my shame.  The parts making me human.

Why?

Because it has been in facing my fears, in bravely going to the scariest places in my soul, where I have seen God prove the most real.  The most un-plastic.  The most loving.

My old check-list resolutions used to keep me stuck.  Used to keep me defeated.  My old check-list resolutions have always lacked two things:

  • Starting Over.  Check-list resolutions and goals leave no room for grace, starting over, or being kind to yourself.  No matter what we set out to do, we will never accomplish perfection because we are human.  We can begin to breathe and find ourselves a little less stuck when we can extend to ourselves a chance to start over.  A writer whom I love, Leeana Tankersley, recently wrote on this very topic – the power of allowing yourself new beginnings.  I also love Lamentations 3:22-23 for this very reason, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
  • Anything.  Check-list resolutions keep our hands grasped on to control rather than keeping an open palm stance before the Lord.  I recently wrote a bit about keeping open palms before the Lord.  If change is about our hearts reflecting Christ’s, then we must be willing to keep open palms and lean into saying “I’ll do anything Lord”.  A dear friend of mine recently recommended that I read Anything by Jennie Allen.  Little did I know this book is exactly what the Lord has been stirring in the hearts of my husband and I.  Saying, “anything Lord” is what I want my heart to be practicing.

My 2013 is about throwing out the superficial, the defeat, the feeling of stuck.  Instead, I want 2013 to reflect extending God’s grace to myself in the starting over and to reflect keeping my heart and my palms open to His anything.

What do your 2013 desires look like?  Does it include extending grace to yourself?  Or keeping an open heart before the Lord?

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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