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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May 292013
 

As I was thinking and praying about what to write this week, I had a strong desire to write about something positive and uplifting.

Many of my posts have dealt with some hard stuff but today I want to focus on hope.

There are many books that have left a lasting impression on me but two of the most significant are The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Both of these books literally changed my life. They helped me change my thinking and how I see the world.

The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith walks you through the journey of discovering who God truly is by looking to the person who knows Him best, Jesus Christ.

Smith suggests that we all have ideas (narratives) about who we think God is and how He works in our

imgreslives. However, many of our ideas about God are incorrect even though we may not be aware they are faulty.

For example, I held a belief that I would never be good enough for God. That He held high expectations for me and I would never live up to His expectations.

Smith helped this false truth come to light. He helped me to understand God’s unconditional love.

One of the most amazing things about Smith’s book is that at the end of each chapter he shares a “soul training” exercise. An activity or concept to work through to help you develop true narratives.

For the first time, as I read a book I experienced the hope of actually adopting the new information to my life. So often books share wonderful ideas but leave you hanging as to how to make lasting change.

The second special book is Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It opened my eyes to all the blessing around me.

For years I had been wandering around wondering where my joy was. I felt lost and guilty that as a Christian I was not more joyous. I had met joyous Christians and read about joy in Scripture, but I was at a loss for truly experiencing a lasting joy.

When I started reading Voskamp’s book I felt like I was reading my own journal! Her words, her feelings, fears, where just like mine. For the first time I did not feel alone.

In her amazingly poetic voice, Voskamp shares how thanksgiving comes before the blessing. That is, to experience joy we must give thanks and recognize all the blessings around us. Even give thanks for the tough seasons in life, for the little things and the not so fun things like dirty dishes and laundry.

Voskamp points to many places in Scripture where the key to being joyful in all circumstances is to give thanks. Naturally I would like to think I am a person that is thankful but I was blown away to see Scriptures that I had read several times, jump off the page. I had missed it. To be joyous is to be thankful.

I followed Voskamp’s leading and started a blessing journal, writing down each thing I was thankful for. Not only did it help shift my focus but it also encouraged me to take time throughout the day to notice. The birds, flowers, the little things that often go unseen.

Am I forever in a happy go lucky mood?  No!  Even though I wish I was. That it is not me. I am however, better equipped to experience joy. I give thanks more often and I pay closer attention to the little things.

What books have impacted your life?

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May 272013
 

THIS WEEK HAS BEEN MY GIRLS’ (LUCY IS 4 YEARS AND SADIE IS 2 YEARS) FIRST GO AT SWIMMING LESSONS.  LORD HELP US ALL!

I had forgotten the hard work and bravery learning to swim demands. I also didn’t anticipate the clenching-the-chair terror that comes from being a mother watching your child learn to swim.

Yesterday at the swim lesson, with a little song of “Ring Around the Rosie”, Sadie put her head all the way under the water!  And she came up with all smiles.

I let a deep breath in.  And then slowly out.

Next, it was Lucy’s turn.  Her face was shear terror, knowing what would be asked of her.  She stepped as close to the wall as she could without getting out of the pool.

The teacher’s arms reached out to her.  She shook her head and said, “I don’t want to do that!” about 10 times.

The teacher tried numerous tactics: comforting words, children’s songs, and various games.  All failed.  The last resort was used.  The force job.  The teacher grabbed Lucy’s kicking and crying body and put her under.

I’m pretty sure I scraped some of the plastic off my chair from anxiety.

But then the miracle happened.  When Lucy came up out of the water, she had the biggest smile on her face.  She had done it.  She had braved the unknown. She had conquered her fear. And there was pure joy in it.

Over the past couple years I have felt like my girls.  Like I am learning to swim for the first time.

I have been saying yes to God’s work and it has involved much new territory: running, writing, starting this blog, speaking, and leading women’s retreat worship.

All new.  All hard work.  All about learning.  All about conquering fears.  And in response to the Spirit’s voice I said as Lucy said, “I don’t want to do that!”  I went “under water” kicking and screaming.

But through this, I have found more joy and purpose than I have ever known before.  I wouldn’t live life any other way.

The Lord has brought me strength and comfort in each of these scary steps of faith with the scripture, “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” Zec. 4:6

You see, we serve a God who is constantly at work and is always doing something new.

I wonder what new things He is doing in your life?  New relationships, new ministry, new habit of reading His Word daily or talking with Him in prayer daily.

Isa 43:18-19 says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

The question is, are we taking regular time alone with God in order to listen to Him?  Can He get our attention amidst our busyness?

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 052013
 

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

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

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

Just.  Be.  Still.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which again begs a thank you God.

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

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

In what can you be saying “Thank you God” about?  What revelations in your life can you thank Him for?
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100
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Nov 082012
 

It was after I bought the purple skinny jeans.

I started noticing purple everywhere. It wasn’t just Maisy’s favorite color anymore; purple had taken on a life of its own.

There was Maisy in her purple outfits, entreating me to join her in her delight with being a girl. But there was more—for Maisy, all of life involves this kind of delight. Her only priority is play. She is fully present to each new moment, utterly free and spontaneous, immersed in simple joy.

Perhaps there is no gift more precious than the gift of spontaneity, the ability of certain [people] and animals to act straight and fresh and self-forgettingly out of the living center of who they are.” (Frederick Buechner)

For Maisy, purple was on the inside too…and she was drawing it out of me…out from under the grown up layers of preoccupation, plans, and perfectionism.

And then there was my therapist in his sometimes purple sweater, listening me along the precipice of my own depths. We peered over the edge, and there was purple…shimmering under layers of anxiety and worn out coping mechanisms.

Purple became a poignant symbol for me of the place inside where blue and red come together, where a well of deep feeling and deep power sloshes and gurgles. The reservoir of our truest energy.

I began to wonder, what would it look like to live all of life from these rich depths, with passion splashing?

It scared me some, because it’s wild and unpredictable down there. And somehow along the way I’ve gotten the message that it can’t be trusted.

The refining of what’s inside us is a necessary part of maturing into

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adulthood and growing in our spiritual journey. Unfortunately, this process can leave many of us pretty disconnected from our purple.

It’s easy to live from a more surface place where responsibility, expectations, and tired striving prevail. Sometimes we’re more comfortable there anyway because our deep feelings can be too tender and our own power scares us.

As mothers overwhelmed with duties and the needs of others, how can we afford to make room for what’s deep inside us?

Yet how can we afford not to? To live otherwise is like trying to drive with the engine turned off.

All the heart, strength, and instincts we really need for life and mothering are in the purple well. So is the lovely energy of our own inner three year old—the straight and fresh vulnerability and trust, the self-forgetting confidence and joy. How desperately we need that!

“You must become like little children…” (Matthew 18:3)

No doubt, accessing

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and living from this place inside will be messy and painful at times. But all the best of who we are is in there. And I believe this is the very place in us where the love and strength of God reside as well.

What is in your purple well? What feelings and longings? What impulses and gifts?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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