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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Apr 292016
 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:3-8

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:18

 I am letting you in on the “real” from my week.  And I can tell you the “Best Christian Mother” awards have been given out elsewhere. Maybe it’s because on Monday my ability to hang in there for any amount of time with my daughter for the earth day bird feeder project was nonexistent.  Maybe it’s because on Tuesday my motivation to fold laundry was left back in my more “trying to be Martha” days.  It could be because on Wednesday the dinner was leftover leftover’s.  But it also might be the fact that on Thursday I spilt the coffee grounds all over the floor-twice-once in the morning, once in the evening. 

But Friday’s realization hit me harder than all the others.  I have SO felt my heavenly Father pressing me into talking to Him more in this season-I felt led to start prayer groups, have been praying with excitement, faith, and regularity regarding specific needs/people for our church, am taking time to stop the conversation with a friend who is stressed or needs guidance and pray for them then and there (no matter if it’s in the grocery store or at school) and have made efforts to include Jesus in my random thoughts and tasks, asking Him to “work out with me, cook with me, and clean with me”.  So I guess this is why the “condemnation/guilt” train of the enemy stayed longer than usual at the station of my mind and heart this week when I made this Friday’s “lack of parenting” realization.  My Friday doozy downer, whether I was too tired, lazy or whatever excuse could be used, was I had not been praying with my girls.  This “Power of a Praying Mom” hadn’t been intentional and disciplined to teach and rolemodel prayer (other than meal times) with her little’s.  So I thanked the Lord for the unexpected garage treasure Friday find of a flip and write notebook of nighttime prayers for children.  And I thanked Him for His grace as I knew tonight was the night to take on a new intentional habit of nighttime prayers with those He had entrusted to me.

I started my showing the flip and write book to my middle daughter.  And she took to it quickly.  She chose a prayer and we read it together.  Then she got to write her own prayer to Jesus (and you would have thought it was this five year olds birthday when I showed her it had a dry erase marker and eraser.)

We have been doing the flip and write prayer for a couple days now and I had another realization.  I came in thinking I had to teach my daughter’s how to pray and they ended up teaching me.  Below are the some of the prayers they wrote to God:

Day 1-You are good to me.

Day2-I love you.

Day 3-I want to be baptized in water.

Day 4-Help me not forget my (earth day) project.

Day 5-Thanks for giving me a break today (to play instead of doing the typical homework routine).

Oh the simplicity.  Oh how short.  Oh the faith.  Oh how “real”.  Oh the humility.  Oh how grateful.  Of these from the heart, whatever’s on the mind prayers.  And I know our heavenly Father is smiling.  When we follow a child like faith prayer model.

  • So whenever we receive good news this week may we shoot up a “you are good to me” prayer in the moment.
  • At random laundry folding moments or right when our feet hit the floor in the morning may we say “I love you” to Jesus.
  • May we make time to “be still and know that He is God”, inviting Him to wash us with His living water!
  • May we fix our eyes on Him saying “Help me”, when fear, anxiety and trouble begin to fill our minds and circumstances.
  • And may we continue to say “thank you Jesus” for specifics of the blessings in our lives.

In what circumstance do you need to take on some childlike faith and trust God instead of being overwhelmed and frustrated at the mess around you?

In what specific times of the day can you incorporate some 2 second prayers to God to include Him in your everyday tasks?

Are you growing in the knowledge, grace and love for God and if not, why not?

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Oct 122015
 

But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the LORD.Isaiah 26:10

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  1 John 3:16

As I went on my “Jesus talk time” walk this morning, a structure literally stopped me from taking another step.  Not only was it in my way, but it brought tears to my eyes as to what it represented.  It was not intended to create this type of response in another person, but I was given a God perspective/word picture in that very moment.  And it caused me to remember Jesus.  Understand gifts of grace differently.  Look with rekindled urgency and compassion upon the unbeliever.  And walk with a spirit of gratitude today.

The structure blocking my path was a large bookshelf/cabinet.  It was put out on the sidewalk for anyone to see.  It was being offered to ANYONE who would take it.  Because no amount of work or money was required to purchase this piece.  And how did I know this?  Because the sign said FREE.

I immediately took a picture of it with my phone and sent it to my husband.  We were in need of some new storage cabinets for our living room and I thought, “What a find!”  Sure it was old.  used.  And needed a paint job in the worst way, but FREE was hard to beat!  My husband’s response to this offer was, “No thanks”.   Short and sweet.  No thinking about it.  For whatever reason, we were not on the same page.  I would take the FREE, deal of the century (in my mind) which was being offered, but it was not of want to him.  I walked away feeling a little sad.

Now I told you at the beginning that tears filled my eyes as I approached this structure.  You may be wondering why.  Well, I can tell you it wasn’t the beauty of the structure.  Nor was it the fact my husband and I had been looking for a living room storage piece and this could have been the one.  Nor was it the pregnancy hormones which fire at any random circumstance.  It was how the cardboard sign lie perpendicular to the tall/straight structure.  It looked like a cross.  The cross Jesus died on for me.  And absolutely spot on that the cost for the “cross” was FREE.

I began to contemplate how so many friends, family, co workers, and neighbors we come into contact with daily have said, for whatever reason, “No thanks” (as my husband did for the storage piece) to the FREE cross of Jesus.

A note about FREE:  There’s something about this word, “FREE”, which isn’t appealing or even risky to people.  When we hear an object is FREE, we conclude it must be broken.  Shouldn’t be wanted.  Old.  Not valuable.  Maybe this is why people cannot understand God’s gift of salvation to be good when it is FREE.

Another note about FREE:  Just as I received some FREE maternity clothes from my sister in law the other day, I have an innate need to pay her back for it.  I thought about any clothes I had she could use.  I rummaged through old baby extra’s, asking if she needed anything for her new baby.  Sure enough she could use my Bumbo!  So I happily gave it to her.  It felt as if my debt for the maternity clothes had been paid.

And still another:  Maybe this need to “return the favor” when FREE is given to us explains why I continue to try to pay back Jesus’s free gift of salvation (through His death for me on the cross/paying my debt) through my acts of service for Him, obedience to His Word, or discipline to His Spirit.  It is difficult and even beyond my comprehension to grasp I can do nothing to repay this FREE Jesus gift.  But this is the beauty and wonder of the cross.

So may we accept the FREE gift of salvation, unconditional love, extravagant grace, abundant life, eternal life, payment for ALL our sin, and unspeakable hope and joy of our God today.  And may this truth propel us to to tell others of this FREE gift. Even if they have said, “No thanks”, in the past.  Even if we think they will say, “No thanks” now.  Let’s put the cross out their with our FREE “sign” on it just as my neighbor did with their storage piece.   And may His peace rest on us today as we live in constant reminder and thank Him today for His FREE cross.

 

 

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 012013
 

HAVE YOU EVER VISITED A NEW CHURCH AND CAN’T SEEM TO BLEND IN?  You feel completely clueless as to what is and isn’t acceptable.  You are hesitant and awkward as you sing, greet the person next to you, and heaven forbid it is Communion Sunday.  It feels as though everyone is staring.  At you.  Constantly.

This has been my reality on multiple occasions.  Every time it is the same story.  I have now just come to grips with my inability to “fake it”.

We were attending my nephew’s baby dedication.  We had never visited their church before.  (You may sense the foreshadowing.)  And yes.  Luckily.  It was Communion Sunday.

I meticulously watched how to “do communion”.

IT WAS A FOUR STEP PROCESS:

  1. Go up front and take a piece of bread from server #1
  2. Dip the bread into the cup of juice from server #2
  3. Quickly eat the soaked bread (so as not to get drips on the church attire)
  4. Calmly and quietly go back to your seat

Straight forward, no sweat.  “I could do this Communion process in my sleep,” I thought to myself.  Waiting in line for my turn something caught my eye up ahead.  I noticed a tragedy.

Someone sunk their bread in the cup.  Alert the elders!  The whole scene brought a sick smile to my face.  In fact I even leaned over to my husband to clue him in.

Yes.  I judged. “How could the person have been so clumsy?  It’s not rocket science to dip a piece of bread into the cup.”

It was my turn.  And would you believe it?  I sunk my bread too.  Classic example of pride coming before a fall.  I hung my head in shame.

Why do I judge others so quickly?  My first response should be grace and mercy.  It’s what Jesus did and does for me.  “Mercy always triumphs judgement”.

It’s possible my new mission should be to start a support group for us “all thumbs communion dippers”.  Come on, I know you’re out there!  We would practice, practice, practice and then…who are the expert dippers now?  They say your greatest area of ministry is the place where your biggest life lessons have been, right?

This embaressing moment actually helped me see my legalistic, self-righteous mindset at times.  How often do I look down on someone for what they did or didn’t do “right”?

Even if I don’t say anything, I think it.  I am thankful for moments like these that humble me.  Lately it seems these teachable moments are not so few and far between.  They are every day.

Lord give me humility.  Forgive me of my self righteous attitude.  Help me see others as better than myself.  Give me grace and charity for my brothers and sister’s in Christ who think, act, or worship differently than I do.

Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Is there a specific brother or sister in Christ you look down upon?  Are you willing to humble yourself, forgive, and make peace if necessary?

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 252013
 

Have you ever been unable to stop yourself from ruining a moment you knew should be absolutely joyful?  I have.  I almost ruined an entire day in Paris.

Not long ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to be in Paris.  We were without kids so we were enjoying calling the shots of our schedule.  One particular morning we had planned on getting up and going for a run together.

But, when the alarm went off, I could barely peel my eyes open, let alone move my body.  My husband asked if I would like to join him, I mumbled something about sleeping and I was left in beautiful silence for about an hour more.

It was beautiful.

Until I regained consciousness and realized I hadn’t gone running.  Instantly, a sweep of guilt, even anger, took over.

How could I be so lazy?  To actually miss running… in Paris nonetheless?  My hubby clearly was not lazy.  Why couldn’t I be like him?  Now he’ll be able to eat one more croissant than me!

I was literally disgusted with myself.

I quickly got ready and headed down to breakfast with my husband.  My grumpy mood hung over our table like a soggy blanket.  It was depressing, uncomfortable, unenjoyable and made you want to be just about anywhere else.

I let my idealism and perfectionism completely steal my joy.  In a moment when I wish I could have let all expectations go, I was comparing myself.  Stepping into that old trap of counting calories when I didn’t need to be.  I was labeling myself as a failure when that was the furthest from the truth.

I didn’t account for the fact that a parent desperately needs sleep when the kids aren’t around.  Or the fact we were jet-lagged.  I didn’t allow myself any allotment of grace.

I was rooting my identity in exterior standards, rather than who God says I am:

I am loved, adopted, chosen, accepted, redeemed.  (from Ephesians 1:3-14)

Thankfully my husband and I can talk about these deeper things without too much pain.  I’m thankful to have someone else in my life who can help me see truth.  Sometimes we need someone else to help us wake up.  To splash the cold water of truth in our face.

Recognition is always the first step to healing, right?  We need to start recognizing when our ideals or the world’s perfectionism is calling the shots.  When someone or something other than God dictates how we see ourselves.

Is your identity in your being perfect or is it in who Christ says you are?

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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?

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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?

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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