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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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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Apr 062015
 
 “Honor phrases” are currently on the brain:  “I really should honor my needs and take a vacation.”  “Wow, his medal of honor shows he is well deserving of affirmation.”  “I sure hope I get on the honor role for school.”  To be honored in front of others seems to be valued in our society.  On the flip side, I can think of more times than I would like to admit that I have personally been dishonoured in front of others.  To dishonor, demean, disrespect, make fun of others is par for the course in our society.  Other’s applaud the creativity of “rips” made toward someone, a put down sarcastic joke, or a “come back” zinger in an argument.  To be seen as confident, smart, cool and capable, just make fun of someone.  And I wish I could say I was above this kind of communication.  But not only have I been the “butt” of someone’s joke, I have teared down others (with unkind words) in an effort to build myself up.

Our #6 1 Corinthians 13 “Love it up” attribute this week is:  “LOVE DOES NOT DISHONOR”.

Webster’s defines the word, “Dishonor”, for us:
  • bring shame or disgrace on.
  • fail to observe or respect                                                                                                    Friends, here are some like minded words for “dishonor”, to further expand our mission this week (In other words these are the DO NOT do’s for this week):.
c

disgraceshamediscredit, bring into disrepute, humiliatedegrade,debaselowercheapen, drag down, drag through the mud, blacken the name of, give a bad name to; 

And to follow up with some words opposite to dishonouring (which is what we want to be-in other words DO these this week!):
admirationappreciationestimationregardawefearreverence;famegloryrenownrepute, esteem, honor, respect

Of all the like minded words of “dishonor”, the words, “shame, humiliate, lower”, were highlighted in my spirit.  Questions which beg for difficult answers are, “How do I respond when I feel shamed or humiliated by someone?  Do I continue the downward spiral and continue the “zing fest” in my defensiveness, shame and hurt?”  “Is there anyone it has become normal to put down in front of others, even if it is ‘all in the name of fun’?”  “How can I be an advocate of change in an environment that is full of dishonoring one another?”  “Am I willing to be wronged, cheated, demeaned, in an effort to win others for Christ?”  (1 Corinthians 6:7)

Of all the opposites to “dishonor”, the word “respect” jumped out to me.  I remember in my first year of marriage reading (okay you caught me-skimming) the book, “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  And I recall the countless nights wrestling with this respect concept in marriage.  Wrestling with the notion that this respect thing was of more value to my man than loving him.  It was good for me to recall this book in the now because I so often fail to affirm him in the day to day.  I desire to not only respect my husband in heart and words and to respect others in the same way.

As we embark on this “Week of Honor”, may we go against the cultural norms and reclaim every school, house, church building, grocery store, work place we find ourselves in as places of “honoring one another above ourselves.”  May we build up when others choose to tear down.  May every person we come into contact with this week expect only goodness and kindness and encouragement to come from our mouths.  May we actually role model to our kids what we tell them to do, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

Oh Lord, help us to first honor You above all else.  Teach us to then honor, build up, respect, and appreciate those we rub shoulders with today.  And the next day.  And the next day.  Show us this week how we can come to the rescue for those we see demeaned and put down by someone.  Give us opportunities to enter into a new day and season of honoring spaces wherever our feet take us.  And may we walk in the light of your glorious grace as we walk and work out our faith in a way that brings honor to Your Name alone.

A Quotes/Verses to say NO to the dishonoring spirit this week:

 

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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