Jul 072015
 

 

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31

“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 hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.   As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

I was driving back from a “new beginnings” venture.  It was a park meet and greet follow up after our first preview service of the church plant.  Anytime a change, whether good or challenging, is on the horizon or befalls us unexpectedly, I begin to go more into my head than my heart.  So my drive home was just that-a lot of head brainstorming-with me, myself and I-what should can we expect our role to be in the church?  How can we get the marketing just right so people will come check it out?  Are we doing enough?  (Maybe you can recall or currently find yourself in a place of change and can relate with the brain crazy taking over.)  My heart was beating fast.  And if I am being honest, my curiosity was quickly moving to frustration and anger.  Because I didn’t.  Know.  What.  Was.  Next.  I wasn’t.  In.  Control.  And I seemed to be swimming upstream in search of peace.

My tunnel vision was called to a sudden stop as an unexpected brilliance of colors filled the left side of the sky.  This sunset was bright, bold, beautiful, it was lacking in nothing less than spectacular.  It was difficult to keep my eyes looking forward on the road when God’s firework show was happening in a different direction.  I happily welcomed the distraction from my current agitated heart state and under my breath I commented to the Creator, “Show off!”  (And He is the One who actually has the right to do it, I quickly recognized.)

My gaze had to quickly switch back to the road (go figure).  But even though this was a familiar route, I couldn’t help but recognize how many road signs I kept passing.  All were dictating to me what I could expect up ahead.  10 miles to Salem, strawberry U-pick in 2 miles, horse riding lessons next right, 20 mile an hour turn, and so on.

I realized 2 deep truths about my personality/flesh tendencies as I gazed out the window:

1-I want detailed, quick, step 1,2,3 “signs” (like I saw along the road) from God to make minor and major life decisions.  And if I don’t see the “signs” in my timing I easily get agitated and upset. I place too high a value in knowing the destination.

2-Unfulfilled expectations, circumstances which throw a kink in “my plan/ways”, also cause a little “fight or flight” feelings to arouse in me:  Causing me to say, “I am so consumed, angry and distracted in my mind and heart with this trial, pain, decision I am ineffective for the Kingdom” or” Well, I will just quit this work/friendship/ministry”.

I asked God some heart felt questions in this soul searching episode:

Lord, why are your road signs somewhat criptic?  Why are your road signs seemingly spaced real far apart?  Why do my emotions overwhelm so quickly when unfulfilled expectations arouse?  Why is waiting needed? 

Immediately, as if in perfect timing to my questions, the “show off sunset” creeped around enough for me to catch one last breathtaking glimpse.  And I heard my God respond to my heart and mind with this truth, “You always know the sun is going to set, but you do not know how it will set.”  Would it be a primarily pink sky with whispy clouds intermixed?  Would it have purple and red and orange with no clouds in the sky?  I can’t anticipate or expect how the sunset will look on any given night, but I do not even doubt for a minute that the sun will just keep hanging out at the top of the sky.  And so I wait.  And watch.  For the unforseen beauty to unfold before my eyes.  Always good.  But always unknown as to the specific color scheme until it arrives.

Maybe you have caught the spiritual analogy our Father was speaking loud and clear to me through this sunset.  It was a revelation to me.  The faithfulness, goodness, and love of God is like the undeniable truth that the sun is going to set each night.  We never have to doubt our God’s character and His living and active Word, the Bible.  In other words we can bank our trust in our Gods ever unfolding plan for us just like we can bank our trust in the fact that the sun will set tonight.  But a life of faith in Jesus means we do not know the how of our road ahead, just as we do not know the how of the color scheme/cloud pattern of the sunset tonight.  It means we bank on Jesus-THE way, THE truth, and THE life and we rest in His control.  His way.  And His unexpected orchestration.

Maybe you are in a time of unfulfilled expectations.  Wondering what God is doing, or if He is doing anything.  Angry with the circumstances/people around you. Questioning, still waiting where the road “signs” of the next are.  Of the how’s of our now and future-my prayer is that your strength would increase, not decrease as you wait on God. That your hope and trust in God’s good plan for you would increase, not decrease.  That your peace and joy in Jesus would increase and anger, frustration with the circumstances/people would decrease.

And may we wait.  In expectation.  For how God will unfold His great plan for us.  With a “show off sunset”.

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 132013
 

Have you ever looked forward to something? Maybe you planned a birthday party in which you had great ideas. You spent time day dreaming. You planned the details. And sadly, the party did not go according to plan. Were you disappointed and not able to enjoy the activities?

I’ve experienced that kind of disappointment.

Or have you are looked forward to a particular stage of life?  Perhaps marriage or having children. You daydreamed about the wedding day and how perfect it would be. And naturally your marriage would be just as perfect.

You visualize your perfect future well-behaved children.

But reality hits and you realize marriage is hard work. Having children can be a challenge. Perhaps your life isn’t turning out how you expected.

This happened to me.

Coming from a home with a single mom, I had no real life example of what married life should look like. Without even realizing it, I had created an idealized idea of marriage.

I did the same with parenting. I fantasized about going to a coffee shop with my sweet baby who would quietly rest while I read a book and sipped a latte (HA!). My child would obey and never be like “that” noisy child in the grocery store (HA!).

Fast forward and I am 25 years with a colicky, strong-willed baby. I am in a marriage heading down a bumpy road.

Life had not lived up to my expectations. Plain and simple, I was not happy. Life was a lot harder than I had planned.

I feel blessed to say that my marriage is now stronger because of the bumpy road. My strong-willed baby girl has turned into a beautiful, smart, (still 🙂 strong-willed) 11 year-old.

I learned a great deal from the above experiences and how expectations have an impact on life.

Expectations greatly influence:

  • our perceptions
  • our feelings and emotions
  • our state of mind

Sometimes without even realizing it, we set high expectations for an event, another person or a particular stage of life. Often reality does not live up to our expectations.  If our expectations are not met, disappointment, frustration, sadness, and/or anger can ensue.

The bummer is we miss out on what could have been a blessing.

Our expectations can rob us of joy, if we allow them to. If the party doesn’t go as planned, if a friend disappoints us, or if our life stages are different than anticipated.

Having expectations is not inherently bad. However, it is important to learn to be flexible and not allow them to control our feelings and emotions.

Learning to keep your expectations in check:

1) When you find yourself frustrated or disappointed, ask yourself, “What were my expectations in this situation, relationship or life stage?”

2) Learn to be flexible. Go ahead with the daydreaming about life but be willing to accept change. If something changes or goes wrong, go with it and enjoy the moment.

3) Be fair to yourself and others. Do not set your expectations so high that no one (including you) can live up to them.

How have your expectations been influencing your peace of mind? 

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Sep 272012
 

Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

~Henri J.M. Nouwen

I am both relieved and reviled by this quote.

Generations of over-achievers have gone before me on both sides of my family. We don’t do things poorly. We push through until we get it right. Where we are weak, we work harder.

So I chafe hard against the idea that in the area that counts the most, that of love and relationships, I will not reach my standards for myself; I will not meet my own expectations.

And yet these standards and expectations exhaust me!

I am a limited, aging, needy, distracted human being.

This fact is a daily disappointment to me. But because it is the unavoidable truth, what a relief that it’s not perfection but forgiveness that is the “great work.”

Much of my time is spent running around cleaning up after people—their dishes, socks, crumbs, spills, careless words, and impulsive actions. The other day I stopped in my tracks, dirty socks in hand, as it hit me that this is how God spends much of his time as well.

“You restore the wasted years, you build the broken walls, your love replaces fear, your mercy makes us whole. Adopted, healed, and lifted…” (Aaron Keyes, I Am Not the

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). Tears sprang as I heard this song and was overcome by the sweetness of a God who runs around cleaning up my messes, fixing and repairing what I have broken. He is not above janitorial work.

Sometimes when I’m in the darkness of disappointment over a painful parenting moment or missed opportunity, a little light comes on. It dawns on me that the sting of regret doesn’t have to be the end of the story. The

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episode is still unfolding, the “great work” is yet ahead.

I pray under my breath for an opportunity to go back and ask forgiveness or give it, talk about it or listen. I pray for a chance to be present in the way I would have like to have been the first time around. I am amazed and humbled by how many times I get this chance.

Leonard Cohen sings, “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Do you have a story of a time when you loved poorly, and then saw

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the light and love of God come in a fresh way for you or your kids?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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