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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 Mom
Oct 252012
 

For years I have felt compelled to pray the strange prayer that my sons would be prodigals instead of elder brothers.

Rather than knowing only their own pride, performance and striving after perfection, I want them to know deeply their need for God, and the thrill of mercy flooding all their inadequate places.

But seeing those inadequate places is hard to bear.

One of my life mentors has a strong, extroverted personality and isn’t afraid to be blunt and sometimes confrontational. This can be an incredibly valuable quality, yet his wife and I joke that when Mark sins, he sins boldly!

The same is true for my oldest son Michael, who I’m beginning to understand in some new ways this year. When Michael sins, he sins boldly. When he’s struggling, his inadequacies are out there for everyone to see. He can’t hide his fire, and when it comes out in an unrefined way, it makes me cringe. It’s hot and uncomfortable.

Yet these are the moments when my prayer is being answered. Because until inadequacies are truly exposed, there can be no deep experience of God’s mercy.

I think of myself as a pretty authentic person, but it’s easier to let my weaknesses be seen after I’ve processed and cleaned them up. Then when I share about them, I come off as self-aware and mature.

I don’t want my deepest inadequacies to be seen live, the ones that would really make you cringe. Like the day after Michael got home from a week of overnight camp when I yelled at him, “Why are you so hard to live with?”

“Then the Lord said to her, ‘You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish but inside you are filthy.’” (Luke 11:39)

As hard as it is for me to see (and know others are seeing) Michael’s emotional outbursts and 10-year-old bravado, it’s dawning on me that he is a model for me of transparency. His fire burns away any false, superficial exterior so that what is on the inside

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can be seen on the outside.

With Michael what you see is what you get. It’s real, it’s live, it’s in the moment—not shared later with wise overtones.

As we keep refining, I keep reminding myself that my kids’ reckless prodigal moments (and mine!) are an opportunity for an experience of mercy—every time. And I would much prefer this to

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a life of seeming maturity on our outsides while judgment, resentment, and pride are building on our insides.

For it is not prideful striving or covering up that will get us a clean cup in the end. It is being seen at our worst by a Father who hikes up his robes and comes running in response. It is mercy flooding our filthy places.

How do you help your kids experience mercy when they are at their worst?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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