Mar 172017
 

I’ve been thinking.  A. lot.  Which is somewhat detrimental to my overall efficiency throughout the day, but sometimes it’s good to mix things up a bit, right?  But seriously, read the below with caution because I warn you-my below journey caused me to do some serious soul searching, heart changing, life risking stuff and will offer you to do the same.  But the beauty is, if you are willing.  With a little spice of courage given from our good God.  The end result is a true, never turn back, rockin it with joy, purpose and freedom kind of life.  So buckle up and get ready for the ride my friend if you so choose.

Now, has your mind ever been a little slow to catch up with what your heart (nudge from God) is telling you to do?  And then the result is absolutely nothing.  Changes.  In.  Your.  Life.  For.  The.  Better?  And you wonder why?  Where I end up is hanging out too much of the time is in a state of mental denial and rationalization, equaling a paralyzed state.  My paralyzed state is my control or comfort state though and to change feels as though I were cutting off an appendage of my body.  Graphic?  Yes.  But sorry, you’re getting the real and raw rather than the sugar coating today my friends.  Here is where the “cutting off of the appendage for Jesus” happened for me this week:

This concept of claiming my identity as a “servant” of Jesus has been my “thing” during these weeks leading up to Easter.  It has been an eye opening season of recognizing, by God’s grace, some food, drink, activities which I regularly cling to for comfort.  And let’s be honest, I have known this for awhile but like I said up above, the mind was a little slow to catch up with the heart.

No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other,or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”  Mt 6:24-25

The Matthew Henry Commentary gives this insight, Serving Jesus looks like this:  “It is something the soul will have, which it looks upon as the best thing; in which it has pleasure and confidence above other things. Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen which are eternal, and to place our happiness in them.  God requires the whole heart, and will not share it with the world.”

The words “devoted” and “despised” stood out to me in this verse.  And I thought about my “unwind rituals” in the evening after a long kid and chore filled day.  I felt the Spirit gently bring this question to my mind, “What food, drink or activity would cause you to DESPISE the someone or something forcing you to give it up?”  Immediately with this one question, I was able to determine which “desires of the flesh” had become my master instead of Jesus.  Ouch.

Do not love the world or anything in the world.If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15

So guess what?  I am finishing off the rest of the weeks before Easter with some “dying”.  To.  Masters.  Other than Jesus.  Am I a little scared?  “Yes.”  But am I confident by the power of His Spirit I can do this in His strength and in “cutting off this appendage” I am only being strengthened and equipped to step into the “next” plans He has for me?  Knowing the Kingdom rewards are real and best when we trust and obey Jesus?  “Yes.” I can take Him at His true Word every time, “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:19  And “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Mt 6:333

  • So I challenge you, my friend, with the “cutting off the appendage” question-“What food, drink or activity would cause you to DESPISE the someone or something forcing you to give it up?”  And whatever comes to mind, are you willing to give it up with me and trust God to bring you His all surpassing joy from being obedient as you make ONLY Jesus your Master you are DEVOTED to?
  • What needs to be repented of/confessed/layed down in your life in order for you to die to the flesh in order to embrace the true, abundant life in Jesus?
  • What area of your mental thoughts needs to come “in sync” with your heart/Spirit’s leading so in unity you can bring glory to the Name of Jesus?
  • How can I be praying for you?  Email me at jillianmwillis@gmail.com

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jul 272016
 

“Your reality is like good medicine” were the words of a song which I woke up to on repeat in my mind.  And then the song turned into a thoughts about a challenging “reality” moment I encountered with my daughter a couple Sunday’s back.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were stil ltrying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10 

I was having somewhere between a teaching and all out frustration moment as I went over the “do’s and don’ts” church etiquette with my 7 year old daughter.  Do-“stand when everyone stands during the worship songs.”  Don’t-“Drink your tea during worship time.”  Do-“Sing the words to the songs.”  Don’t-“Talk to your friend.”  Don’t-“Go to the bathroom.”  Do-“Close your eyes during the prayer.”

Check. Did my good Christian motherly duties.  At the time, basking in what felt to be some amazing “training up my daughter in God’s Ways”, I held my head a little higher than before.  Our family row was looking.  Good.  (Oh and nothing could be wrong with this, “I’m too good for my britches”, scene.)  We were doing all the right things, at the right time, in the right way.

At this point, by the grace of God I was able to step off my pedistle and look down for one moment.  And I smiled.  Differently.  Deeper.  Better.  Truer.   Than before.  Because my smile this time wasn’t based on how other’s would see us.  Or how my daughter was responding positively to forced “do’s and don’ts”.  It was based on what I witnessed as I watched my 7 year old daughter respond with spontaneous/made up motions to the worship song we were singing.

I sang “Jesus paid it all”- her arms elongated out so wide her face was stretching right along with them.  I sang, “All to Him I owe”-her hands moved crazily all around in a circular form.  I sang, “Sin had left a crimson stain”-her clinched fists on her heart and face in despair.  And finally, “He washed me white as snow”-her clenched fists opened fiercely and broke open.  Freedom.  In.  Jesus.

This was an act of authenticity and freedom in my daughter and her relationship with God.  She was doing her own thing.  She was responding to Him.  Not because of what anyone told her to do.  Not because of what would “look good” to those around.  Simply because she was being herself.  With her loving Father.  And loving every.  minute.  of.  it.

5 questions to test your authenticity in your relationship with God and others

  1.  What are my motives in making decisions?  What is your process you go through when saying “yes” to a particular commitment, activity, decision?  Does it involve weighing in how other’s will respond to you or think of you if you say “no”?  Does it involve what you will get out of it selfishly or what you might get in return if you do it?  If so, you are not being true to yourself, them, or your God.  Respond with “yes” only in obedience to your Master God, who is the only one you are serving.
  2. Do my actions match my words?  We want to not only speak truth in love to others, but show it as well.  Are you the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting friend or just a nice voice over the phone?
  3. When was the last time you “made a fool of yourself” for Jesus?  Following our God is risky and when we step out in faith/out of our comfort zone we don’t always respond in a typical, earthly standard sort of way.  If we are never “looking strange or making strange decisions” in the eyes of the world, we are probably living more by sight than by faith.
  4. What does your time with God look like?  If it is a “going through the motions” based on “checking off” the list of devotion, bible reading, prayer based on self imposed or other’s imposed rules and standards, it may be time to mix things up a little.  Maybe it’s time to be spontaneous with God and “bust out some motions to the worship songs” or go on a coffee date or walk in nature or spend time with Him doing what you love to do with a friend.  Take time this week to get out of the “box” and do something new with Jesus.
  5. What am I afraid to approach God about?  If you can answer this genuinely, then you are at a great place.  Because the cool thing is He already knows about this and wants to love you/help you through it.  He always in “gentle, gracious and humble”.

“Reality is like good medicine” my friends (in which I always seem to find out the hard way of pride coming before a fall.)  But if we allow our loving God to search and test our hearts and motives and come to a place of repentance for our yucky stuff, then we will live in that sweet spot.  We live in the reality of our song from above, “Sin had left a crimson stain”-meaning we all are sinners, but we have hope because… “He washed us white as snow” through His death on the cross.  The Holy Spirit gives us the balming medicine to “lead us into all truth” about how we can have “more of Him and less of me”.  Don’t resist this reality and good medicine He offers!  The more we lean into the reality of who we are and why we NEED Jesus, the more freedom, peace and joy we will experience.  The more abundant life and purpose filled living we will walk in.  May your day today be one in which you run to the arms of your loving.  heavenly.  Father.  And may you run with grace to Truly. be. yourself.

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 142014
 

Visions of family BBQ’s for summer danced in my head.  I had been gifted a patio table and chairs for my birthday/Mother’s day.  I was giddy.  We set it up (who am I kidding, my husband assembled and put it up) on our postage stamp slab of cement and it literally took up the whole thing.  But I am okay with that.

The only reality which kept me from living in summer bliss was our eye sore backyard.  No, I am not one of those women who live for, love, and find therapy in doing yard work.  I absolutely wish I had this gift.  Unfortunately most of my passion goes out the window when what I invest in dies immediately.

So I have come to detest even the thought of working in the yard.  But I have come to grips with the fact that I must get it done.  Our backyard weeds (more like large bushes/trees) had reached an all time crazy.  Today was the day.  To cut them out.  Cut them out so only what was supposed to be would remain.

I had my weeding gloves, large shovel, small shovel, bottle of water, grubby clothes, the girls in their “quiet times” and a willing spirit.  I was ready for the daunting ahead of me.  I decided to start in the middle and work my way to the right side.  As much as I cannot stand working and not finishing a project I recognized my non super woman status.  Finishing half today would be more than an accomplishment.

As I weeded my little heart out, christian music blasting, sun shining, dirt flowing, I heard a rustling inside.  At my house, when you hear a rustling it definitely involves the girls.  I couldn’t stop my productivity jive I had goin so I yelled loudly, “Girls, what are you doing?”  (Some of the scariest words I say on a regular basis.)  Silence.  (The scariest response I could have gotten.)

Of course the good mother thing to do would be to go in at this point.  But seriously, If I could only push through, cut through a foot more of weeds I would be done!  And being done trumps all.  (I recognize I have a disorder and I am working through this “inability to stop”/embrace interruptions with the Lord.)

So I finished my final patch of pain and hardwork.  And it felt good.  Real good.  I had found absolute freedom and joy in cutting out the ugly.

Next order of business was to check on the girls.  All seemed well inside.  No colored furniture.  Check.  Couch forts passed safety codes.  Check.  No food or drinks spilled all over the living room.  Check.  No candy to be seen.  Check.  My girls smiled at me as if to say, “But you are missing something Mom.”  It is a smile I have come to know well.

As I looked at these sweet, seemingly innocent toddlers I was struck out of the corner of my eye by what looked like doll hair on the kitchen floor.  I picked it up.  With a little combination of common sense, mother’s intuition, and God’s grace I asked, “Is this from a dolls head or your head?”  My oldest looked down, then up, then down again and replied, “Our hair.”

I kept my cool, so God was gracious to me again, and said, “Do you think cutting out your sister’s hair is an ok thing to do?”  Both responded with a quiet “No”.  We proceeded with the repenting for wrong process and time outs.

As I thought through this day of “cutting out weeds” mixed with “cutting out hair” I recognized an interesting distinction.  I didn’t want to cut out weeds, yet it was the right, necessary choice in order to have enjoyment of our yard.  My girls on the other hand, wanted to cut out each others’ hair, and yet it a wrong choice which only ended poorly.

Spiritually speaking, I believe I can be like my girls at times.  I want to “cut out” many things in my life like waking up early to be with the Lord and read His Word when I am tired.  Or playing dolls with my girls.  Or helping my parents clean their garage.  Or exercising.  But just as “cutting out” the hair ended poorly for the girls, so cutting out what God is calling me to in service, obedience and love for Him will end poorly.

God at times asks us to “cut out” the weeds in our life of addictions, and disobedience to His Voice and Word in order for us to experience a beautiful “yard”.  A life of enjoyment and freedom is found in cutting out the areas of sin in our life.  Let’s trust God today with our “weeds” and even though we don’t want to, allow His gentle Spirit to prune and weed us to be more like His Son.  And it will be good.  Real good.

What keeps you from doing yardwork?  What keeps you from cutting out sin in your life?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.'”  John 15:1-5 (NIV)

 

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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May 062013
 

“It really is too bad that some women get so moody and mean for one week each month.  Thank the Lord I don’t have that problem”, were my thoughts up until recently. Then my pride fell over my head like a ton of bricks.

It was that time again.  My ears heard my ugliness clearly.  My blatantly critical, angry, and short replies.  Unfortunately, my daughters had to succumb to my morning madness.

Lucy repeatedly asked for fruit snacks, my replies being,  “Why do you keep asking that?  I said no!”  Sadie tugged on me to come see her pillow rocket ship, “Don’t pull on me.  IN A MINUTE!”  Impatience at its finest.

My husband got a wonderful greeting as I yelled upstairs, “Do you think I could get some help?  I can’t do it all!”  When he didn’t come immediately I added, “Did you hear me?  What exactly are you doing?”

As I returned to browsing Facebook updates, I felt remorse for my unkind words.  But I was like an angry volcano.  The lava bubbling within me was ready to erupt on the next poor soul who dared approach me.

What could I do?  Everything within me screamed to get out of the house!  Burn off some steam.  So I did.

I was supposed to meet a friend for a play date, but instead said,  I will be late.  Due to my inability to function.  Trust me.  You don’t want to be around me right now.

I carouled the girls into the stroller, buckled them up and was off to my regular routine.  But as soon as I stepped out, a fierce wind pushed against me and my stroller.

It was a battle to even go walking speed.  The wind pushed.  I fell back.  I leaned my body forward and kept moving.  I covered small amounts of ground at a time, but eventually finished.

I didn’t break any time records.  But I didn’t give up.  And I am better because of it.

If I we were on a covert mission to be discrete, I could say to you, “I had difficulty “Pushing My Stroller” last week”, and we could smile understanding it was that time again.

Sometimes it’s easier to not try.  To allow the emotions to overtake me.  Or continue to excuse my behavior because I am a slave to my hormones.

The fierce “wind” of anger, is not impossible to overcome.  But I have to fight it.  Consistently.

Only with the Spirit’s help can I practice self-control, speaking kindly and respsonding patiently.  But I am not perfect.  The “wind” pushes me back and I yell at my husband and kids.

I want to push against the “wind” of anger.  I know with the help of the Spirit I can be victorious.  Not necessarily perfect.  But willing to say “I’m sorry” when the “wind” pushes me backwards.  Willing to be in the Word and offer up regular prayer for help to fight these feelings.  Prioritizing exercise to burn off some steam.

Not giving up, but giving in to responding differently.  To a new way of living.  “Pushing My Stroller” is an area of weakness that draws me to the One who gives miraculous strength.

“In your anger do not sin.” Ps 4:4

Have you had a difficult week of “Pushing Your Stroller?”  Will you ask for God’s help to fight the “wind” of anger in order to practice self control, patience and kindness? 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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