Sep 052017
 

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit John 15:5a

Saw a random tomato plant on my run this morning.  And, “What makes a tomato plant random?”, you may be contemplating to yourself.  Well then, my friends, thanks for thinking this one through a little when you could be doing something else way more productive, and I will try not to let you inquiring, throwing me a bone, minds down in my upcoming answer.  And here it is in one word folks, “location”.

Let me dive a little deeper (mainly because I struggle NOT to go here) by giving you a little history about me and pretty much my most dreaded, hand shakes when I even write it, word, horticulture.  Now, those of you who know me well (or actually have just seen me anywhere casually outdoors), understand my talent to know exactly what any living green would not want, and then do just that.  So, truly, even discussing how or why or when of a tomato plant is well beyond me, but “here I am nonethless” (the phrase I also say more than not as I follow Jesus).  So now that you understand my qualifications to enter into this conversation, I am sure your self-confidence will only be strengthened as you read on.

Back to the random location of this tomato plant.  I would expect a typical tomato plant to be located amidst other tended-to veggies in a backyard  (Oh, how I dream of the veggies that could have thrived with most anyone else in my backyard boxed beds my father-in-law built for me). Or perhaps next to 100’s of other look alike tomato plants where a farmer raises a massive harvest for the community to enjoy. But no, this tomato plant was in an environment where it was “not like the others”.  Outnumbered big time.  Amidst wild flowers, weeds, and in a cement island in the middle of the street (no like minded veggie peeps insight).

But it was not these aspects which made me do a double take on my run.  No, it was in fact the reality that this tomato plant was THRIVING.  The color of its red beauties and abundant vines of green being presented to all who came near was magnificent.   It was bearing fruit and blooming where it was planted.  And the random location afterthought only made it more beautifully strong to me as I considered the obstacles it must have had to overcome to thrive in such a challenging environment.

If you will go with me, lets take this rising veggie to a deeper, spiritual place (and once again, I have to go here people!  Sorry!)  I wonder if you currently feel you are in a random/out of your comfort zone location right now-in a neighborhood, job, church, school, family, city in which you feel like our tomato plant friend, “out of place”.   Maybe you are feeling alone without some good friends to confide in, or feeling unequipped to handle the children God has placed in your care, or are in a school where everyone else seems to have turned down Harvard to be here, or can’t seem to do “the right thing” to save your life in your job, or are having difficulty loving your family, or are out of your comfort zone as you step out in a faith centered ministry.  Well, if this is you, let me give you a word from our loving Father today, “Hope is on the horizon”.  You are where you are for a purpose, His purpose.  Your past or present failures do not define who you are, your circumstances do not dictate your attitude and your looking to relationships to expose your spiritual giftings will only lead to discouragement.  Bloom where you are planted my friend.  Thrive in this unexpected place God has planted you in.  And find hope todayas we fix our eyes on Jesus- gaining His perspective through His living Word, thanking Him for some of the “overlooked blessings” we currently have, and stepping in faith filled courage by His Spirit to love Him and love others.

So when you see some excellently thriving veggies in this season, remember, it is not random where God has you working, living, ministering in this season.  Root and ground yourself in the love of Jesus, for you, today.  And in His purpose for you:  to THRIVE where your planted.  And do not loose heart as you maneuver this challenging environment in your own, unique sort of way.  God made you beautiful to thrive-because Kingdom fruit happens when we are connect to the Vine Jesus.  Here is my prayer for you, my sister:

I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love… Eph 3:16-18

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 012017
 

So, I set out with a strategic plan, that’s right people.  My spontaneous, right brained self was in a giving mood-it was time for the dormant logical, mathematical left brain (in which my husband uses every minute of the day) to have a turn in the driver’s seat.  Although this activity felt strange, I pushed through.  And I did have to verbally process it with someone or I am pretty sure my brain would explode.  And I digress.  All this to say, I came up with a Lenten season plan-No sugar or carbs (oh the joys of fasting-or as I call it, Getting rid of the thing which, if someone asked you to not incorporate this in your day or week, you get a little eye twitch because it doesn’t feel real fun or even possible.)  Ouch.  Since pretty much most of what I eat involves one of these (not really, but you get the point).

But in all seriousness, fasting is a spiritual discipline which only benefits us as it draws us closer to looking more like Jesus-submitting to the Father’s will and way and not our own in our day to day (and this ultimately is true life and freedom). I want to eat healthier, I want to “go to” my God for direction and comfort in the day and not have a looming donut dancing in my mind’s thoughts.

And now we get to today.  Today, some celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season.  6 weeks of preparation/a season of grief in remembering Christ’s death on the cross in anticipation of the end-the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter.  I have to admit, having not grown up in a church which partook in the Lenten season, or held an Ash Wednesday service for that matter, I was not quite sure what this day entailed.  So, I got pulled out all the spiritual stops and googled it (sorry to the Lenten scholars out there who are cringing and finding some flaws in my below summary) and here’s what I found:

The distinctive activity of Ash Wednesday services is the “imposition of ashes.” Ashes in the shape of a cross are placed on people’s foreheads as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness.  The primary purpose of Ash Wednesday entails the biblical roots involving creation, sin, mortality, death, grace, and salvation.  It is also centered around the scriptures, “weep with those who weep” and  “confess your sins to one another.”

Pastor Mark D. Roberts says:

What I value most about Ash Wednesday is the chance for us all to openly acknowledge our frailty and sinfulness. In a world that often expects us to be perfect, Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to freely confess our imperfections. We can let down our pretenses and be truly honest with each other about who we are.  

So, in light of Pastor Roberts words, I confess to you my imperfections, on this Ash Wednesday: Because in spite of all my left brained efforts of carefully strategizing my no sugar/carbs fasting plan beginning today, I am drinking a Pumpkin Spice latte as I write this post.

You got it, a sugary sugar drink with extra sugar is what I ordered this morning at my favorite local coffee shop.  What a way to kick off the Lenten season as I forgot and failed right from day. 1.  Wow.  Pretty sure this 6 weeks is going.  to.  be.  long.  But I tell you this because our God is not up in heaven shaking His finger at me at this moment, because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, He is extending grace, grace and more grace mixed with some of His crazy love.

And so I encourage you to join me for the next 6 weeks and prayerfully consider something you could “let go of” in order to focus more on what God has for you in this season/year.  And if you aren’t perfect or you forget or you fail or fall to temptation, will you remember my  “failure from day 1”?  You are not alone and His promises of “His grace is sufficient for you” and “His mercies are new every morning” and “His love never fails” are for you, as they are for me today.  

And no matter whether you choose to incorporate a strategized fasting plan or not this Lenten season, will you promise me one thing?  Bask in the grace of our loving Father God and listen to this song by Hawk Nelson and “live like you’re loved” today-  Because we have life in His death.  No shame, no guilt, we are only more than enough as we walk in the freedom and love and identity as a child of God.  

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 072017
 

I was humbled this morning.  And it’s not the blatant humbling process I undergo on a regular basis when literally fall on my face and must somehow regain composure with a laugh to let others know the ER run is not needed this time.  You see, my klutziness is a given.  My defensiveness and inability to “let IT go for the sake of relationship” seems to “trip me up” and my deep, inner self-righteous self is left out there for all to see.  And it is in this “pride fall” I lay today, causing me to wish there were golf mulligans (or do over’s) in real life.

Of course we were at the happiest place on earth, oh I just realized you might be thinking of something different, to clarify we were at McDonalds play place.  I recognize my Mom points just went down the tube, but when the only other option on this rainy, no school day is cabin fever, there is no shame here to claim, “I’m lovin’ it”.

I walked in with my girl crew-one on the hip, and the school aged ones sporting an eclectic ensemble from Fancy Nancy Easter dresses to soccer socks with stars and patterns galore.  My look was somewhere in the middle of these and so we were representing fashion at its finest people!

As the older girls ran to check out the tubes, the little one and I were on our way up to order my “lovin’ it” coffee.  A haphazard looking man (finally someone on my same page) greeted us quickly with a, “If you could let me order first that would be great because I am late for a dentist appointment and I am only going to order an Egg McMuffin.”  (I thought in my mind in response, “I am sure he thinks at the looks of our girl crew that we are going to buy out the place with happy meals, but little does he know the reality of my “one coffee please” order.  He thinks he knows me and is judging me, but he has no idea.  My mental defensives was on a roll in these couple seconds.)

I wish I didn’t have to use the “hind sight is 20/20” phrase so often.  I wish the Spirit would speak with a little louder voice to overwhelm my flesh nature instincts.  Ah but my pride.  Gets.  In.  The.  Way. 

And so my response was the jaded, “I guess you can go, but all I was going to get was a coffee,” and my tone and walking away nonverbal language only lovingly complimented my words.  Gotta love how I am the poster child for this verse in this moment-“let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col 4:6.  J   Even as the words left my mouth I thought about the THINK analogy I use with my girls to check to make sure their conversation is, “True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind”.  Talk about a Mom of the Year award for hypocrisy at its finest.

I have to say I felt bad but it was too late to do anything about it.  But what happened next made me feel like the scumb of the earth.  As I went to pay for my “1 coffee” order, the gal at the register said, “Oh, actually it’s free.  The guy before you said he would pay for your “1 coffee”.  Ouch.  I was just killed with kindness-when what I really deserved was a consequence for my pride filled, defensive driven, grace lacking attitude and actions.

I could barely drink the coffee.  I once again had been “tripped up” and humbled by my inability to respond out of the Holy Spirit’s fruit of “self-control, patience, kindness, gentleness”-I mean, just pick one and we would have been good to go.

But in our times when we trip up, mess up and fall is when we most need to look at the kind filled, grace filled face of Jesus.  And understand “His grace is sufficient”.  And He still desires to use us for His good purposes, in spite of our “falls”.  So I picked my “shot to the ego” self up and went to the place I know I can always find Truth.  Grace.  And hope.  God’s Word.  Because at this pivotal point when I fail, shame is right there to suck me in.  And take me down, down.  But just like when sin and failure hit Adam and Eve in the garden and their response was to hide from God in shame, so this is where we still go today when we sin and fail.  But we must fight this desire to hide in shame and look up to the opposite of shame, which is glory.  Jesus came and died so we no longer have to live in shame, so why are we still “shaming it up when we should be glorying it up”!

When you are thinking shame, instead think, my God has given me glory!  We are forgiven.  Given grace in all the weakness.  And sent out to continue on in glory, and giving glory to His Name!

And in that very moment we are running away to hide, God grabs our hand to stop the motion, and grabs us with two hands on our face, looks at us in the eyes, and says, my beautiful daughter,

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.  Isaiah 60:1

And it is sitting in this true purpose and hope, with this book in my lap, that my heart, mind and spirit finds rest.

I wonder if a past “failure” or possible future “failure” is on your mind today.  Will you bring it to Jesus, the grace giver, and receive His “always coming” grace?  Will you sit with the “grace filled book”/the Bible today to enrich your heart, mind and spirit?

How can you extend grace and forgiveness, like Jesus extends to us, to someone around you who is more than “on the naughty list” in your book?

Talk with the Lord about someone you can “kill with kindness” this week as we contemplate on the kindness our Savior extended to us on the cross and continues to extend to us when we mess up?

 

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Nov 142016
 

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life.  Ezekiel 7:4-5

My 11 month old daughter is too much.  In a scary, oh what do we have in store for the future with this red head sort of way.  But also in a laugh my head off, can’t get enough of the “Elaine style” dance moves and sporadic scrunch up the nose, in and out quick breathing.  And if you thought I was giving her a bad break and stereotyping her for her hair color, think again.  When the Bible Study nursery workers say they tell any new volunteers, “Just to warn you, if you hold THIS one, you have to be able to take a punch”, you know there is some fire in those little veins.

This morning my 2 older daughter’s turned on some dance music.  Of course it was 0 minutes to spare before the “Mama school bus” was a leavin, but this didn’t seem to effect them in the least.  Immediately, baby #3 girl is rockin it.  (And by “it” I mean she is trying to walk, but falling looks inevitable) But the music compelled her to give the regular “6 steps and fall” a go. again. and again.  And though I admired her perseverance to “rock it”, it had to be somewhat defeating as the other sister’s “walked it AND rocked it” all around her.

Then, as if her current “rocking” wasn’t challenge enough, she added in her latest trick to the show.  The constant clap.  I am pretty sure this was equivalent to our pat the head, rub the stomach, while hula hooping sort of exercise.  And let me tell you.  This effort was astounding.  Not because of the outcome (no new walking skill was achieved).  But because of her ability to smile and love every minute of her time.  Falls and all.  I wish you could have seen the clap, clap, clap, walk, walk, fall pattern which brought not only her so much joy, but me so much love for her in that moment.  She was loving living.  And I was loving watching her-love life.

I took the older’s to school, but came right back and put on some “Jesus music”, as I like to call it.  I wanted to see more.  More “rockin the love” from my baby girl.  And I got my wish-and then some.

The first song which came on I had never heard before, but put into words my heart in this moment.  The chorus resonated deep, “Live like you’re loved”.  I began to wonder if I, like my little girl, walked, clapped, smiled and loved every minute of being alive.  I wondered if I lived like I should-With love for life.  With abandon.  With freedom.  With carefree, non anxious thoughts.  With the ability to get back up when I “fall” through failures and troubles and trials.  With gratefulness for this very breath I breathe.  With anticipation for the “next” God is calling me into.  And with courage to say “yes” to it.  All because I.  Am.  Loved.  And I.  Am.  A.  Child.  Of.  God.  And so.  are.  you.

If your life feels boring, one question-how’s that workin for ya?  If you feel insecure and inadequate, one question-how’s that workin for ya?  If you are mastered by/numbed by or comforted by addictions of food, drinks, clothes, media-one question, how’s that workin for ya?  If other’s opinions and strengths determine your worth-one question, how’s that workin for ya?  If you are going through the motions in your day-one question, how’s that workin for ya?  I asked myself these questions and came to one conclusion.  I was made to live. loved.  To live.  differently.  And this is what’s gonna work for me.  Living like I am loved is THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE.

I want to live with the roots of my Father’s love spreading down deep so I can thrive as a fruit bearing tree for His Kingdom.  As we lean more and more into our true identity and name as the “Loved One” by Jesus, “seeking first His kingdom”, then we are in for it-in a good, way good sort of way.  As we “arise shine, for our light has come” we bring hope to this hopeless, troublesome, pain filled, dark world.  And we begin to see ourselves more like Jesus see’s us- a unique creation, created by The Creator, with a creative purpose to fulfill here and now.  And this is something to clap and smile about (just as my youngest daughter did), as we are walkin and “rockin” with Jesus, as His loved child, today.

In what ways could you live differently because of this 1 truth that you’re identity is a loved, child of God?

What about God’s love for you brings a smile to your face?  How can you thank God today?

What area of your life needs God to breathe life into it?

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Apr 122016
 

Well, those unfulfilled expectations snuck up and bit me in the booty.  Again.  And here’s some more transparency for you.  It was a morning of self pity.  And I couldn’t seem to shake it.  It was a morning of the nasty word “defeat”.  And it resonated all too well.   It was a morning of where my word for the month “hope” was no where in sight.  And I needed.  to.  hear.  good.  words.  from.  God.

After tries and tries of marketing my book in various ways I recognized I hadn’t talked with God about how He would desire for me to “get the book out there”.  I felt a nudge from the Spirit a couple months ago to go about marketing in quite a strange, seemingly not productive way.  When I asked the Lord what He would have me do with this stack of books that had been sitting for a year in my closet, I heard the phrase “One book at a time”.  Hmmm….and after making sure the Lord knew how non grand scale of reach this would have, I obeyed.  And I have been relying on Him.  Each week.  Asking Him, “Who this week, Lord?”  And He has been faithful every week to bring a name to mind.  And the Lord has been asking me to cook up His recipe; excluding my own “logic ingredients” and including many cups of “courage, humble, listen and obey ingredients”.  And I have been absolutely amazed at how He is strengthening my faith and allowing me to “taste and see that the Lord is good” with these mini miracle cakes which come out of the oven each week.

So why am I in a state of self pity when from the paragraph above it would seem all is well?  And I am glad you asked because I will tell you.  One of the names I believed I was to send a book to was a famous female Christian author and speaker who I have followed and adored for years.  Even though I peed my pants a little when I felt this nudge of the Spirit, I pushed through the fear.  I wrote a lengthy letter to her and sent off the book.  (This was even more of an accomplishment if you know me because you have never and probably will never receive anything from me if it is getting there by the post office.)  There was hope, though, in sending this off.  I thought to myself, “Yes, this is going to be the “one book at a time” person who will read my book, love it, respond to my letter to ask if I would come speak with her at her next venture.  Good thinkin Lord!”

And so I got a letter in the mail today.  With the return address of the above author’s ministry name listed.  I literally held my breath as I opened it.  But as soon as my breath was held, it was let out quickly with a breath of defeat. It was written by her “correspondence team”.  A form letter.  Lifeless words filled my heart as my eyes took it all in.  And the “D words” settled down deep.  Devastated.  Defeated.  Done.

I cried a little.  Then looked to my God to support me in my self pity state.  He was good to me.  My devotional for the day talked about how self pity is not walking in trust in God.  And if we feel self pity the thing to combat it is to give Jesus praise and thanks because we can’t have self pity at the same time as when we are thanking God.  So I decided to do this.  (Although it was more than hard.)  And then I flipped the scriptures and said, “Lord, I need a word from you to give me hope and comfort.”  And praise.  God.  Wouldn’t you know He was so good to have me flip open to the very scripture He gave me to send and write to the author I had just been so disappointed by.  It was as if He was saying, “You heard me right, you are on the right track, be patient, I still have plans for you.”  And then He went one step further-the Spirit highlighted the words “learned to acclaim you” in the scripture.  I looked up the word “acclaim” in the dictionary and it means “to praise”.      He said to my heart, “You are blessed today because you are learning to praise Me even when it’s hard-you just did that.  The scripture doesn’t say “blessed are those who acclaim” but “blessed are those who LEARN to acclaim”.   I am teaching you how to praise Me.”

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence  Psalm 89:15

God continued to speak love into me as He as I flipped open to this verse:

Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us Hebrews 12:1

And if that wasn’t enough goodness of God to fill me with encouragement and hope, I put on a new work out DVD and had to smile as the instructor said, “Let’s punch out defeat this morning!  Don’t quit.  Finish the race strong!!”

So whatever you find yourself disappointed by, discouraged by, defeated by this morning, get off of the self pity train and jump on the thank and praise God train.  Let’s finish the race strong because we KNOW His timing is perfect and His plans are BIG.  Continue on in patience and perseverance the race with Jesus my friends and we WONT be disappointed in the end!

What can you thank and praise God for today as you “learn to acclaim/praise” Him?

What unanswered decision, defeat, disappointment, or unfulfilled expectation do you need to trust Jesus and fix your eyes on Him as you “run with patience”?

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Sep 212015
 

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103:11-12

Just as Jesus’ mother Mary had moments in which she “cherished these things in her heart” with her child, so will I cherish the following moments with my children of failures followed by grace-followed by joy.

Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s first day of Kindergarten.  After multiple weeks of asking every day (usually multiple times a day), “How many more days till school starts Mom?”, the morning was finally here.  She was up much earlier than the normal “slow to rise” schedule we adopted over the summer.  After putting one of her favorite dresses on, she gave a shy smile and quick ballet turn when her Daddy commented, “You look beautiful, honey”.  Her confidence was evident.  My confidence was lacking.  Mainly due to the continual checking and re checking my “Mother’s first day of school to do’s” was on the up and up.  I resigned myself to the fact it was not.  But that by God’s grace hopefully “the ball that would drop” would not cause too much counseling for my girls in the future.

The morning came and went with the #1 Ball dropped when I didn’t have the ability to take a picture with my camera phone (due to it being maxed full of images).  (“Nice planning Mom”, I said to myself.) But my Superman husband came to the rescue thankfully with his camera phone.  #2 Ball dropped later in the week as my daughter commented that everyone brought something to share except her and one other boy.  (“Well, that is fabulous organization and recall, Mom!”  Was my inner commentary.)  And lastly, the #3 Ball dropped due to my oldest daughter having to be quaranteened to the “peanut table” at lunch because I had failed to recognize the granola was a filled with “peanut power”.  (“Oh the shame, oh the exclusion only I have caused my daughter!”  Was the thought on repeat in my mind.)

But oh, some sweet relief when I had the opportunity for a “Joyfilled -present-mother-moment” (you know the few and far between one’s where by God’s grace you are not multitasking and you allow yourself guilt free to just be. with. your. child. and. enjoy). My youngest daughter had a, “First day of school tea”, in which,  I had tea and she had pink lemonade.  I put in cream and a sugar cube.  So did she.  (Not likely additions to lemonade, in my opinion, but she drank it down with no hesitation.)  Then amazingly asked for seconds.

Next, she put a cookie on her plate.  Then put one on mine.  She ate her cookie.  Then proceeded to eat mine.  It wasn’t what we did during the tea that was anything extraordinary.  But It was the grace and joy I was bathed in during that very moment.  A perfect moment in which none of my past “mother mess ups” were on my brain, my God’s brain, or my daughter’s brain.  I thank God for these type of moments. To soak in the simplicity of everyday eye to eye conversation.  Enjoy cup of hot tea.  And be free from guilt and shame.

I am thankful my daughter’s don’t seem to remember my mother mess up’s like I feel they should.  (We may have a different story when the teen years hit us, but I am living it up now!)  They don’t recall to my mind all my “dropped balls” of their first week of school.  And they don’t bring up my last year’s or last week’s sin of relentless, unkind fire ball words spewing towards their unsuspecting selves as my patience is nowhere to be found.  Now that’s a true gift, my friends.

And it’s a gift our heavenly Father doesn’t remember our past sin either.  And He graciously gives us joy moments in spite of our failures.  So I guess it’s only fitting that I should also return the favor bestowed on me by my girl’s and God.  How about the time one of my friends gossiped about me behind my back?  Or “that thing” my husband can’t seem to get right even after 14 years of marriage?  Or when I got left out of the girls night for no apparent reason?  Well, it’s my turn to do some “covering up” with a “big blanket” any of the past sins of others.  Because I know this “big blanket” “uncovered” in my heart and mind only leads to bitterness, an inability for God to work in my life, and a lack of true freedom/peace.

Today I am making the choice to not.  be.  offended.  Let. It.  Go.  Forgive.  Let.  God.  Handle.  Their.  Sin.  And “cover up” in love.

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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May 132013
 

IT HAD BEEN YEARS SINCE I DROVE DOWN HWY 99 TO MY HIGH SCHOOL STOMPING GROUNDS.  I was on my way to pick up a forever friend for a girls weekend.  It had been too long since we had the opportunity to deeply connect.  Kids, activities, ministry, and distance have a way of causing years to pass quickly.

The scenery around me ministered to my soul.  I turned the dial down on Chris Tomlin’s song, “How Great is our God”, and began to sing my own.  A new song.

I thanked God for the green, green trees.  I thanked Him for the blessing of forever friendships.  High School lockers, choir concerts, mentor coaches, cheerleading competitions, and science fairs.

I sat with memories of the past.  But not all the memories were positive.

Failure to be in the “cool crowd”.  Failure to make the team.  Failure to step out and love the least of these.  Failure to see myself as beautifully created by God.  Failure to see the hurt inflicted by my sarcastic words and gossiping.   Failure to stop abusive relationships.

As I wallowed in this regretful place, I noticed the turn to my high school.  There were so many new houses, trees, flowers and signs.  I almost missed the high school because I didn’t recognize the new surroundings.

But not all of the terrain had changed.  I smiled as I drove by the massive cement building which held my indoor softball practices.  Where I tried over and over to get that drop ball pitch.  With mounting feelings of anxiousness, knowing the first game was tomorrow.

Then I sensed God whisper to me, “I make ALL things new.  Not just some, but ALL.”

God doesn’t make some things new and leave some old, like my high school stomping grounds.

He has taken my past failures and sin.  He has torn down ALL these “old buildings”, and has replaced them with “new buildings”.  Which are built on the firm foundation of Christ.  New buildings spring up all over as Christ lives in me.  “New buildings” are the fruits of the Spirit in my life.

A Father’s letter to His daughter:

I am a God who is all about new.  I am doing a new work in you and in the world around you.  You are new in your mind, heart, attitude, and actions. 

You may have a tendency to be drawn to respond out of what was successful or beneficial in the past.  To rely on human tradition and expertise. 

Throw out expectations of how things have been and how they should be.  Get rid of what you know and rely solely on Me to guide and equip you.  Be ready to act out of your weak area’s.  Humble yourself and respond in obedience. 

You WILL see fruit when you are connected to me.  I WILL be glorified in my ability to move the Kingdom in ways you find peculiar.  

Get ready to learn.  I am a unique God and My ways are unique. 

Trust me.  As I  fulfill the purpose I have for you.  Trust me.  As I build a new Kingdom.  Trust me.  In new ways. 

Now walk, my daughter, in courage and strength.  As we embark on a new journey together.

 You make ALL things new.

Rev 21:5a “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make ALL things new'”. (Bold added)

2 Cor 5:17 “He is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!”

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 182013
 

I MARRIED SOMEONE WHO IS THE DEFINITION OF ACHIEVER. UNFORTUNATELY.  When my husband took a strengths/personality profile, the words to describe him were:  achievement, competition, leadership, strategic.  All this to say, if I want to beat my husband at ANY game, I have to pray for divine intervention.

We were enjoying a weekend at the lake with my family.  (My husband and I were dating at the time.)  Nature.  Reading.  Snuggling by the fire.  A perfect setting.  That is, until the games.

Connect Four was our undoing as a couple.  I was determined to win.  He won the first 3 games, but he couldn’t win 4, 5, 6, skip to 10 in a row, could he?  Oh, but he could.  And he did.  (At this point I was in desperate need of a hug, which I wrote on in the first post of this heart encouragement series.)

My attitude was fairly stellar after the initial game.  I even kept my cool after the 3rd game.  I began to feel slightly antsy during the 5th game.  But after game 10, 6 Diet Cokes, and no pride to speak of, I was finished.  I couldn’t allow myself to fail one more time.

My husband and I haven’t played Connect Four to this day.  Eleven years of marriage later and the mere mention of  Connect Four causes my body to twitch with anxiety.  The only word that fills my mind is failure.

To fail:  To fall short of.  To be lacking.  To lose strength or vigor, become weak.  To stop functioning or operation.

Failure.  Hope lost.  Failure.  Self worth in questionFailure.  Mourning of loss.   Failure.  The reason I have lived life avoiding any risk.  Failure.  More about what others will think of me versus what God is asking of me.  Failure.  Being terrified to try again.  Failure.  Satan’s prime opportunity to steal my hope, purpose, and joy.

Jesus is my best friend, even when I label myself as a failure.  His plan and promises for me don’t change, even when the college ministry I helped start is shut down.  His extravagant grace doesn’t change, even when I respond in anger to my children and husband.  His lasting hope doesn’t change, even when I am crushed due to infertility.  His unconditional love for me doesn’t change, even when I look to sugar and caffeine for comfort instead of to Him.

My failures don’t change how Jesus sees me.  Jesus isn’t shaken by my past, present, or future failures.  I shouldn’t be either.  The song, “The Stand“, says, “He (Jesus) stood before my failures.  And carried the cross for my shame.”

Every man or woman who did something great in scripture, failed.  If they would have allowed their failures to cripple them, they never would have accomplished miraculous things for the Kingdom.

Instead of hiding from or being defeated by failure, Jesus says:

You are going to be ok, learn from it, and draw into Me.

I will use your failures to minister to others.

I don’t remember your shame, I don’t keep record of your failures. 

I will never leave you or turn away from you when you fail. 

Your failures do not define you. 

Take risks for My Kingdom in spite of the odds of success. 

Trust me and you will be equipped and strengthened to do what it is I am calling you to do.

Choose today to live life to the fullest.  Through His Spirit.  Failing, but learning from it.  Risking it all for the sake of His Kingdom.  Laying aside fears to stand in faith, love and hope.

1Peter 2:6b “…and the one who trusts in Him, will never be put to shame.”

Have you ever experienced failure that crippled you to try again?  What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?  

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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