May 052015
 

 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

My grandmother always quoted my grandfather in an old golf saying, “Never up, never in” she would yell to the scared sole ready to make a difficult putt into the final hole.  As somewhat frustrating as this scenario was at the time, I cannot help but think how these words ring truth to my now.  Character traits of fear, hesitancy, and timidness are not found in Jesus, neither should they be found in us, His followers.

To “swing” our clubs to win the hole parallels how we should live our lives faithfully in whatever season we find ourselves in.  If we seem to find ourselves on the OUTS of normal routines, we live IN to this season of gratitude for God’s provision and the gifts of receiving love.  We are called to live life with Jesus, to be faithful to what He is calling us IN to in the now, and to do it all in the grace, power and strength of His given Holy Spirit.

I know I am called to a new IN with Jesus, but right now all I feel is on the OUTS.  Of pretty much everything I was IN before.  The news of this pregnancy was most definitely God ordained.  (And it seems whenever I mention something in my life to be “God ordained”, it usually involved “not being ordained” by little ol’ me.)

And if I am honest with myself I am having to be vulnerable in my mourning the loss of all my INs from before.  Today I sit in the reality how I am OUT:  Of my previous calling as Worship Pastor at my church.  Of all leadership/life giving commitments.  Of every activity in general.  Of commission to be giving/serving in any capacity to my girls, friends, family and neighbors.  Of schedule with the Love it up-Putting on 15 love attributes in 2015 blog writing.  Of the carpool.  Of my regular Bible reading.  Of control in my bodily functions so much so there is a slim chance I will finish a conversation without having had to go puke at some point.  Of the luxury to plan what tasks will be accomplished in a given day or week.

I am out. Of. my. mind.  in. overwhelming. weakness.

And friends.  This is where I live.  Today.  But I am compelled to write.  Because I believe when we are called OUT of a particular season we are called IN to a new season.  (Another way to look at it, a friend said the other day, “When we are called FROM something, we are called TO something else.”)  And this is where my hope is found.

That even though I feel on the OUTS, I am IN the midst of God’s loving hands.  He put IN me the new life of a growing baby.  It is IN this growing of this baby that I am put IN a state of reliance on God and others.  I believe the Lord nudged my heart to lean IN because this would be a season of receiving.  Refreshment from the kind texts of close friends.  Meals from the body of Christ to keep my family nourished and cared for.  Daily help from a servant hearted mother.

This is what I believe my Father spoke to me in ministering to my heart, but I also believe this is for each of you as well:

Your worth is not determined by your season in life.  Your worth is not determined by your productivity in the day.  Your worth is not determined by the numbers of friends or opinions of friends.  Your worth is IN My Son, Jesus.  Alone.  You are fully loved.  Beautifully and wonderfully made.  And permanently secured in My grace filled arms.     May you stand firmly IN My truth and love today, My precious daughter.

What season/calling/activity do you find yourself OUT of? (something you have found yourself doing in the past but for whatever reason are not currently doing.)

What season do you find yourself IN today?

Will you ask the Lord if you are “swinging your club” to being faithful IN this season? 

Are you looking to anything other than Jesus to find your true worth?  If so, will you lay this down before Him and allow Him to fill you with affirmation and wholeness in His loving arms?

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
Apr 162013
 

This past weekend, I was more thankful than normal for our family get together.  It’s a blessing when all of us can physically be together on such an important anniversary.

It’s been eight years since we lost our brother, since my parents lost their oldest son, since so many lost their friend.  Eight years.  Yet I am amazed how loss is a continual process of learning, growth and healing.

Counter to what I thought eight years ago, when it comes to loss, there’s never really this “arrival” to a permanent place of acceptance and peace.  Every year something slightly different strikes you sad, brings you hope, comes to memory.  It’s fluid, raw, heartbreaking and beautiful, all in the same breath.  Yet the one constant we rest upon is the promise and hope we have in Jesus.  We will see my brother again.

My learning, growth and healing continue to show up in new ways.  And it happens when I am least expecting it.  But I’m forever grateful for how my brother’s loss has changed me, shaped me and continues to impact me deeply.  The things which have impacted me may look vastly different from your own experience with loss.  I want to share a few pieces of my healing process.

  • I Don’t Have to Explain or Understand Everything.  My brother’s life story is a complicated one.  One that resembles a Prodigal Son story from the Bible (Luke 15:11-32).  There were a lot of painful and hard to accept moments in his life.  Many that left us wondering and questioning.  My brother’s story had a beautiful redemption in that he came back to his faith in Jesus before he passed.  Through the years, I’ve come to rest in this fact: it’s ok to not be able to explain it all.  I can trust what I know and understand: my brother had a beautiful heart and he is with Jesus.
  • My Process is My Own.  How we respond to loss in our life is as unique as we are.  There is no “one” way or even “right” way.  Some may want privacy, but I found I wanted an army of friends to rally around me.  Some may deal with the emotions of loss quickly, but I have processed these emotions slowly over time.  I’ve seen a vast array of responses even within our own little family.  Between us, we’ve done it all: lit candles, shared memories around a fire or table, written letters to him, looked through pictures together, sat at his graveside and talked to him, cooked his favorite meals.  I came to realize, whatever the process of remembering and healing looks like: It’s ok. It’s my own.
  • It Will Come.  At various points since our loss, I’ve experienced moments of enormous pressure and guilt over not being able to adequately remember and share my brother’s life and legacy.  My husband and kids will never know him.  And I long to be able to do my brother justice in how I relate and share who he was.  After crying many frustrated, hot tears over this and praying about it, I received peace.  Jesus simply reminded me it will come.  The memories of my brother, qualities of his heart and impact he had on me will come out over time. I don’t have to force it all at once, I don’t have to be the most eloquent and I don’t have to carry the burden of passing on his legacy perfectly.  Our love and experiences together were real, as is our loss. The story and impact of his life will come out in time.
  • Loss Makes People Uncomfortable.  This was one of the biggest surprises to me through our experience.  Of course, so many responded beautifully to our family.  But many people stayed away or did not fully acknowledge our loss.  Some gave unwanted opinions or advice.  It taught me alot about grace in this simple fact.  It’s wasn’t because they didn’t care.  They simply did not know what to do.  I’m not entirely sure I know what to do either.  But eight years ago I learned a couple gems: it’s important to show up, listen and be willing to sit in the loss with others, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

This year, I learned that my mom has clung to a verse through the years.  A verse I’ve not known well and it’s beautiful.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his godly ones.” Psalm 116:15

Have you experienced loss in your life?  How have you changed or what have you learned through it?

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
Feb 252013
 

TEARS ARE INEVITABLE (SOMETIMES).  LAST WEEK, I BROKE DOWN CRYING IN THE MIDDLE OF BIBLE STUDY ANNOUNCEMENTS. Not a shining moment for me.  This would be the second close friend moving away this month.

I had been trying to stay strong from the moment I heard my first friend was leaving.  I didn’t want to appear weak and vulnerable.  But when I heard this second announcement, my unexpressed emotions were loosened and the floodgates opened.

Have you ever been barely keeping it together and then something or someone pushes you to the point of tears flowing like a river?  That was me.  Crying uncontrollably.

My tears were tears of sadness. Loss.  Unfulfilled expectations.  All the while, being surrounded by many women whom I just met for the first time.  Talk about showing weakness.  Talk about revealing my lack of self-sufficiency.

Why do I feel as though someone just kicked me in the gut?  I have other friends.  I will still be able to talk with these friends. 

I know moving is God’s best for them.  I am excited for their new adventure. 

Why do I have to be left behind?  Why am I being so selfish as to make this all about me?  Why can’t I hold it together? 

I didn’t understand this new position I was in.

I understood the challenges of moving away from close friends and community.  I had cried myself to sleep many nights as my husband and I moved from Oregon to Texas, Texas to Spokane, and finally, Spokane to our current home in Newberg.

I now recognize there is pain whether you are the one moving away or the one left behind.   God is teaching me truth as I struggle with my friends leaving.

When friends leave us or we leave our friends:

  • There are deep emotions to be expressed.  It doesn’t help anyone to act like the feelings don’t exist.  After I cried I felt much better!
  • Experiencing sadness and feelings of loss means you were doing exactly what you should have been doing. Living in community.  Investing and serving others.  Showing the love of Jesus by loving others as you would love yourself.
  • God see’s our pain and will provide opportunities for new community.  Another friend who I hadn’t see in awhile is going to the Bible study I recently started.  She comforted me with an empathetic hug and listening ear in my moment of, “tears flowing like a river”.
  • We become aware of our dependence on God and others to help us run our race of life well.  I am reading the book called, “A Clearing Season”, by Sarah Parsons, which is a praise to God for His perfect timing.  Sarah says as American’s we don’t like to admit dependence on anyone or anything because that would make us weak.  In contrast, divine strength is “made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).  It is only in expressing our vulnerable, natural human limitations (showing our weaknesses to one another), that we exercise courage and tap into God’s power.  We are weak by nature, but made strong by our ability to connect authentically, ask for help when needed, and unmask the reality of our self sufficiency.  We are strong when we depend on God and on the body of Christ. 

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Prov 18:24

Do you have difficulty depending on God and others?  Will you allow our God and the body of Christ to provide for your needs?  Will you decide today to prioritize living in authentic community?

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share