Monday, September 26, 2011

The love of peanut butter can be deadly...

hahaha! Okay, so this is funny. Yesterday, the Mighty Man and I were having lunch with two friends from church and they were telling us about their recent encounter with a rat in their home. This wasn't just any rat, though. It was white with a black face, which led them to believe that it was an escaped pet from a neighbor. Regardless, his color and cuteness couldn't save him, as our friends were forced to put an end to "Charlie's" (the name they gave him) fun by sending him to rodent heaven. :) RIP, Charlie.

The funniest part of the story, though, was when our buddy, whom I will affectionately call Q-T not only because she's a cutie, but because she also is one of the amazing managers of a Quik Trip (Side note. I LOVE that she's part of the most outstanding convenience store chain in the world! All those $.59 summer fountain drinks? Oh, hallelujah! Way to go, lady!! Keep up the great work!)--Okay...What was I saying before I got sidetracked by my love of Quik Trip? Oh, yeah. The funny part of the story.

Anyway, so she was telling us how they'd caught Charlie, which had been by using a trap laced with peanut butter. "It just goes to prove that the love of peanut butter can be deadly," she joked. haha! We all laughed about it, but inside I was, like, REALLY laughing because I was thinking about my recent encounter with this, my favorite nut butter. :)

So, I'd been trying to put on a little weight recently, and I wanted to do it healthfully. I wasn't willing to just eat a bunch of junk food that would turn into fat on my body and clog my arteries. I wanted to do it by eating something that would benefit me physically while giving me the most calories for the fewest bites.

Enter peanut butter. It was a cinch! I just started eating a tablespoon of peanut butter like a pill every night before I went to bed. And, wouldn't you know it, as expected, the scale started to move in the forward direction.

However. . .

It didn't turn into the kind of weight I'd actually wanted. I'm all for a little body fat, but I'd been hoping for muscle instead. Um, memo to me...Protein builds muscle, not fat. haha! Duh!

When I'd been plotting my attack on my BMI, I had just kind of gone with an easy fix instead of really evaluating the goal. Well, it worked in one sense, but not in another. I did gain weight, but it was squishy. haha! Far from being the solid muscle mass on my legs and arms that I was going for.

Anyway, so I decided that my peanut butter pill was not the solution anymore. I'd need to get those extra calories from lean protein sources instead. But what was funny was that in that short amount of time, I had subconsciously developed a love for my peanut butter pill. When it came time to quit, it was hard! I really missed it, and I went to bed with my lower lip sticking out like a little girl pouting that I wouldn't have the taste of ground peanuts in my mouth as I drifted off to sleep. (Don't worry, I'd brushed my teeth beforehand.)

Truly, the love of peanut butter can be "deadly." haha! :)

Isn't it funny how we get attached to things in life like that? And it happens with anything, really. Anything that we look to for fulfillment outside of Jesus Christ can be sources of unhealthy attachments and can, in a sense, be deadly. Not that my peanut butter pill was going to kill me, but it illustrated the point overall.

While the peanut butter was a good thing in helping me put on weight, it wasn't a long-term solution. When it came time to give it up, I needed to be able to release it. But I'd become so attached to it that it wasn't as easy as I thought, and I had an emotional reaction. If I'd kept proper perspecive on it all along, I wouldn't have felt anything but, "Okay, cool--whatev," emotions about it. Small scale analogy of a big-picture truth.

Every good thing in life is given to us by God, and we are to steward them. The Bible says that everything belongs to God, and we are pretty much just renting. When we begin to hold onto these gifts and cling to them as our own, we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle. Eventually, God will call us to give them up, and we will have a really hard time letting go after becoming so attached to them.

I'm sure that's happened to all of us because it happens with EVERYTHING. God gives us relationships, jobs, hobbies, skills, etc., that we can enjoy and use here on earth. But, because everything outside of Him is temporary, we have to give them up at some point. People die and/or leave (sorry if that's blunt). Jobs come and go. Our bodies grow older, forcing us to give up hobbies or abilities. It's all temporary--everything! Everything except the Lord, whom we will eventually join in eternity. And, unless we want to be devastated when we are called to release these gifts, we have to understand that they weren't ours to begin with. They were/are God's.

The best illustration I've heard about this came from Pastor Brett Fuller, who is the pastor of a church in D.C. He talked about how we needed to hold everything with an open hand instead of a closed fist so that when God needed to remove it, He didn't have to break any of our fingers in the process. Don't you love that? It's so true.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of making God break my fingers when He needs to remove something from my life. And, after my little peanut butter parable, I'm praying that He'll help me to maintain proper perspective when it comes to the good gifts He's given me. May I be willing to hold them all with an open hand and allow Him to give and take as He sees fit! Even if it is something as small as peanut butter. :)

Maybe if Charlie had kept this perspective, he'd be with us today. :) I'm sure Q-T is quite happy that he didn't. haha! :)

Ciao, friends! Hope you have a great week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

No Fences!

This weekend I attended my first revival! :) I totally didn't realize that people still did revivals, but I tell you what...I'm so glad I went! First, because the preacher was my Mighty Man. :) And second, because the word he shared was unquestionably what I needed to hear. God just shot an arrow straight to my heart through my man's words.

MM shared about the topic of holiness from Romans 6, and as part of his illustration, he told the story of a dog he used to own named Keira. (MM, did I spell that right?) Now, Keira was a German Shepherd, and was apparently one of the smartest dogs in the history of the planet. MM said that he had a fenced-in back yard and that she'd get out all the time, prance around the neighborhood, and be back in the yard by the time he got home at the end of the day. haha! What a stinker! :)

In order to combat this problem, MM set up an electric fence around the base of his yard knowing that Keira would get a little shock when she tried to escape. Well, get a shock she did! Apparently is scared her so bad that she hid under his house for three days without coming out for even food or water. The girl got bit bad! (FYI: If you have never been shocked by an electric fence, know that it is AWFUL! I got bitten many times when we had them for our horses. It doesn't hurt, per se. It is just the most awful, awful, frightening sensation I've ever had.)

After MM rescued her from her hiding place under the house, Keira clearly wasn't the same dog. Still smart, active and a great pet, but she'd been scarred for life by the shock of the electric fence. No longer would she even go near the spot where she'd experienced the pain. MM said she'd even cry when she got close to it.

Seeing that he no longer needed the fence, MM took it down. But do you think Keira started testing the waters of escape again? Nope. She was done. She continued to avoid the perimeter at all cost.

What a great illustration of how we sometimes behave as Christians! I TOTALLY identify with Keira. There have been areas of sin in my life that have stung me so badly that, even though the Lord has removed them, I still won't walk in the freedom that is now mine.

When I placed my faith in Christ and asked Him to be the Lord of my life, sin lost all power over me. By accepting His death and resurrection, I was liberated into complete freedom from sin and given the ability to walk in confidence and joy without sin holding me back.

Romans 6 says that we "died" to sin with Christ and were raised to life again with Him. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He defeated sin. Completely. Destroyed its power. By placing our faith in Him, we get to be part of that victory. Through Him, we are freed from the slavery of sin!

Have you ever felt "enslaved" to a sin? Like you had to do it? Like it was your master? Addicts feel this way a lot. If you've never been addicted to something, you probably don't know what that's about, but it is a bugger of a problem! I've never battled drugs, alcohol or many of the common addictions, but I do know what this is like. I know just how powerful our minds can be when telling us that we HAVE to do something--that we have no power not to.

But, friends, that is the beauty of the gospel!! Jesus eliminated that for us! We truly are dead to sin! Like, literally! :) When we place our faith in Christ, we literally get to be part of the results of His death and resurrection! :) That means that any sin that formerly held us captive completely loses its power over us. WE ARE FREE!! :) :) All we have to do is believe it and walk in it! He gives us the power to do so! :) (1 Corinthians 10:13--NO temptation has authority over us because of God's power and faithfulness!)

So, what does this mean? It means that if we have Christ, we can walk in freedom knowing that there is no chance we'll be stung by any electric fences of sin. They're not there! He removed them when He died and rose again! We don't have to be afraid like poor Keira was. We can live the full, abundant life He intended us to live!

I'll be honest. I behave like Keira in several areas of my life. I desperately don't want to be stung again by areas of sin that have crippled me in the past. And the enemy wants nothing more than for me to believe that they are still issues for me. But through Christ they are not! I have been set free! Do I still have to be careful how I live? Of course! I have a responsibility to walk in His ways. But the beauty is that He will empower me to do that. I don't have to do it on my own anymore. Sin had power over me when I walked on my own, and I did have to be afraid. But because Christ set me free from the power of sin, I don't have to be afraid anymore!

Ladies and gentlemen, freedom is here!!! If you have placed your faith in Christ, then this is for you! You are FREE from the power of sin! Anything you've struggled with in the past can be eliminated from your life. You may still be tempted, but you no longer have to obey sin. It is NOT your master. Jesus is! His grace and truth is your new way of life!! :)

Yes, we will still struggle. Yes, we will still face temptation. But we don't have to give in anymore! Jesus is so much more powerful than that! And we can live without the fear of giving into the sins of the past. (1 John 4:4)

Mighty Man, thank you for ministering to me this weekend. I have NO doubt that He used you to speak words of truth and life into so many others, as well. I am so thankful for you--a man who knows and believes the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ!! :)

Final thought...If you have yet to experience this freedom in Christ and want it for yourself...If you feel enslaved to anything you don't desire to do...If you want peace and joy and a full, abundant life...If you want a deep, intimate relationship with the Savior and Creator--the author of love itself, you can have it!! It is as simple as receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior and asking Him to become the Lord of your life. If you have questions, I will direct you to FCA's website for this kind of thing. Go to (If you're a sports fan, you're in for a treat! It will totally speak your language.)

Love you all! Walk in the freedom that Christ gives you! And if you want to read all about this for yourself, PLEASE read Romans 6.

Hugs, hugs!
- Jill

Monday, September 12, 2011

Running vs. Walking

I just have to say that this past week has been amazing running-wise. Lower temperatures usually equal faster times, and they certainly have for me. Last week, me and my running buddy (I need a good nickname for her...) clocked a SUPER fast 15-miler, and there had been almost nothing different than what we'd done the previous week other than the temperature, which was 20 degrees lower. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you aren't fighting heat and humidity! Praise God for fall! :)

I tell you what...One of the most amazing feelings in the world is teaming up with God to embrace and maximize the physical strength He provides, and that can happen in so many different forms. For me, it's distance running. I love being able to run at a relatively fast pace for miles and miles. :) When you team up with God on those long runs and pray through it with Him, you learn so much about His power and how true it is that it's made perfect in our weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9.)

As part of my morning times with the Lord, I've started going through a new devotion book for runners. Last week, it posed an interesting question about the difference between walking and running when used in spiritual terms. Great question! I've thought a lot about that this week and have come to an opinion (no surprise there, haha!).

At first, it seemed like the obvious answer was that it was always better to "run." To run hard and fast in the faith like Paul said in the Message version of 1 Timothy 6. To run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12). To run in the path of God's commands (Psalm 119). To run/flee from evil (2 Timothy 2).

But the most interesting thing started to happen when I thought about always running. I got exhausted just sitting there! haha! I could feel my pulse start to race a little bit. Run, run, run! Run everywhere! Run from this! Run from that! Run to God! Go, go, go! And, I had to literally tell myself, "Whoa." haha!

So, I stopped (literally, I stopped running circles in my head.), and I started thinking about just walking. How nice it is just to walk sometimes and not be in a hurry. How I love to take walks on Sunday afternoons when it's my off-day from running. How I love to take walks in the mornings after a long run whenever I can. How I love just walking anywhere with my Mighty Man while he's holding my hand and we're just talking. Truly, walking is remarkable in many different ways.

Walking implies peace and tranquility in a way that running doesn't. Yes, running can be very peaceful and tranquil, but that's not generally the core purpose. To me, running is a way to engage with God and allow Him to strengthen me through a challenge. I know that it's an activity that will require a great amount of energy for a short period of time. (Short, relatively speaking.) Everything about the activity requires boldness, courage and strength, even getting ready to run. That's often the toughest part mentally, actually. Running is simply an all-around energetic activity.

When it comes to walking, though, there's a different mentality. Now, obviously I'm not talking about walking for exercise. I'm talking about walking in the "stroll" sense of the word.

When you go for a walk, it's about rest. It doesn't require much mental energy to slip into a pair of flip flops and go out for a stroll. It's all about peace and rest. No times to beat, no cares about proper hydration, no mileage to mark. Just chillin and enjoying the activity, either with someone physically or with God by yourself.

Ah, I love walking. :)

Ah, I love running. :)

So, I came to the conclusion that they are both dynamic aspects of our faith. There's a time for both and God uses each in very different ways. There are times when we need to run--to run to God, to run from evil, to run a race of activity. There is time for that, and God will use it to show His strength in us as He provides the energy and power to persevere.

Then, there are times to walk--to walk slowly with Him and enjoy His presence in a restful mentality. To walk with others through whatever trial they are experiencing. To walk out a long-term journey. To simply walk for joy in the company of the Lord, enjoying the world He has given us. I believe He uses those times to refresh us and to remind us of His peace.

It's funny how in our driven society we automatically jump to the conclusion that faster is always better. But I'm so glad that the devotion book posed that question. It gave me another reminder that there is a time for fast and a time for slow. There is a time for powerful strength and a time for restful refreshment. We just need to seek the Lord and find His balance between the two. Too much or too little of either won't be ideal, but when we stay in "step" with the Spirit, we can trust that He'll lead us to walk or run at the proper time and with the proper pace. :)

Hugs to you all!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hidden Treasures

If I were a cat like my little (okay, fat) Fanny I would be stretched out on the floor purring with contentment. What an incredible morning! :)

Of course it's Labor Day, so I am not at work today, which means I got to sleep in. And because the temperatures have dropped so much, I could do so without worrying about beating the heat for the run.

I went out at about 9:00 this morning, and it was like stepping into runner's Heaven. Gorgeous!! Not a cloud in the crystal clear blue sky. Sun shining. Birds singing. Cool breeze blowing. And 60 degrees!! In early September!! You have GOT to be kidding! hahaha! :) It was the most wonderful experience. :) I went a nice 8.5 and kept a killer pace, which was highly encouraging since the last two runs had been so disappointingly slow. This reassured me that my speed wasn't defunct. :) And that's always nice. :)

So, I have to blog about the amazing weekend. I tell you what, if you are ever feeling discouraged about life, hold a book-signing and invite all the people who influenced you in the past. That will make you feel just about as encouraged and loved as you can possibly get. And, make sure that your Mighty Man comes along with you to put the most wonderful icing on the cake of the experience. (MM, having you there was unreal. Thank you for making the trip!)

Saturday, my friend Jerry at The Well in McPherson, KS--which is home to some of the finest coffee you can possibly taste--set up an amazing book-signing event for me. It was so first-class! :) He and Jenni (the store manager) had a great display set out, plenty of books, and a great set-up to where people could sit and mingle and hang out. It was fantastic!

Right away, I knew it was going to be a blast when the first person through the doors (after my family) was my 5th grade teacher. I LOVE THAT WOMAN!! :) :) She's such a ball of energy, and truly was one of my favorite teachers of all time. :) (btw...SU, you don't look a day over the age at which you taught me. How the heck do you do it? Kind of thinking it's the hair. You look amazing!)

After that, the day just unfolded like a dream. People like that from my past kept coming in and hugging me and telling me how proud they were of me. And, because my spiritual gift is encouragement, I had a BLAST encouraging them back and telling them how much they'd made a difference in my life. That was probably the highlight for me. How often do I get to tell my high school business teacher (who taught me how to type) that she was one of the most positive influences on me during very formative years? (B, that's so true.) How often do I get to hug my FCA Huddle Coach that he was one of the first men to truly model Christ to me? (SL, that's so true.) How often do I get to see the young woman I babysat and her fabulous mother and tell them how much I loved the summers I spent with them? (IO and KM, that's so true.) And to everyone else who came out, especially folks like Cameron and Kim who shocked the pants off of me by being there, thank you so much!! I want to thank each of you individually, but I'll probably use Facebook to do that. Just know that you were SO loved and appreciated. And you truly made Saturday one of the most special days of my life.

And, to my Mighy Man...Words, hugs, gifts--I don't think there's anything I can say or do to tell you how much it meant to have you there. You are my good thing. :) :)

You know what else rocked about that day? My family. . . My Momsy, my Jamus, my second mom, the Commander in Chief and First Lady. They were my crew. First ones there. Ready to support their girl. Family is so key, you know? I can't thank God enough for the arms in which He placed me. All of them. :) :) I love you guys so stinkin' much!

Where was Papa Bear, you ask? Well, he was manning the grill! haha! Exactly smack dab in the middle of his element. :) Being a servant to the family in a very different way. Which leads me into my next blessing of the weekend...

Every Labor Day weekend, we have a massive family reunion for my PPB's family. This year, instead of everyone invading a local restaurant, PPB decided to grill a TON of pork and beef brisket for everyone so that we could all just eat together and hang out at the hotel. And it was so much fun! :) What a great change of pace. It allowed us to eat some AMAZING food (PPB, you rocked it!) and just relax around tables in our own big room, mingling as we could and enjoying the company of each other.

You know, I don't know what it was about this year's reunion, but I had the best time I'd ever had there. I think I'm starting to learn the true meaning of family, and this group TOTALLY gets it.

My family dynamics were a little different growing up. There was a lot of divorce and remarriage that made for some very interesting separations. I didn't exactly learn that family was made to stick together or that it was supposed to be a blessing. I, quite honestly, learned that family was an obstacle to be hurdled and that most holidays were to be dreaded. (Now, not always. If my family is reading this, know that I'm not saying I hate you. I'm just saying what I think we all feel sometimes.)

When Momsy and PPB got married, I really wasn't excited about having another family that would require additional time on Christmas and Easter. I was already stretched pretty thin. So, I think I tried my best to keep them at arm's length. But you know what's weird? That's changing. I'm regretting that I'm 31 when I'm learning this, but I'm starting to understand that family can be full of love and joy. It's a little bit awesome. :)

Part of this is definitely God's timing with the number of different situations going on in my life. First, my Might Man comes from a solid family who really does love each other. I think since I've started dating him, I've started to open my eyes to see my own family as blessings as a result. Does that make sense? MM's view of his family and their view of him (and now me) has opened my eyes to consider that the people in my family might just be blessings, as well.

If that doesn't make sense, it's because I'm still processing it. That's what blogging is about, right? Writing it all out and making sense of life. (Unless you have a food blog like that Julie & Julia woman. Then it's for sharing inticing photos and recipes and make us all wish we were brave enough to cook duck.) :)

Anyway, so the PPB family reunion turned out to be a truly wonderful afternoon. For the first time, I actually made an effort to talk to the people in my family. And you know what I discovered? They're awesome!! :) :) I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations, the jokes (the guy cousins are ornery!!), the hugs...the LOVE. :) So, to the family, I want to say thank you. Thank you for teaching me that family is a good thing. I do love you all!

And MM...Thank YOU for being a part of the day. I know it was a whirlwind, but it meant more than I can say that you were there. :)

Today's blog is nothing but praise to the Lord for what He's teaching me. I'll be completely honest. Last week at work was TOUGH. I didn't know if I had the strength for the book-signing and the reunion, but as always, God knew so much better than I did what I needed. He knew that the events would be the blessings I needed in order to rebound and be refreshed. Thank You, Father.

So, because my of my encouragement gift, I will leave you with some, um, encouragement. :) If you are feeling blue or discouraged, just trust God and keep going forward. He has your steps ordered and knows how to bless you if you just say yes to Him. And truly, the bigger lesson I want to share is this: If you have ever viewed your family as anything but good gifts from God (which I am 100% sure that we all have at some point), I want to ask you to consider looking at the good things they bring to your life. Yes, of course, there are actual negative situations in family that are not positive, but search for the hidden gems that are certainly there waiting to be discovered and treasured. Family is God's gift to us. It's full of indespensible relationships, and it's our joy to discover the beauty of each one. :)

Thanks for the time today, all! :) Sending you big hugs. :)
- Jill

P.S. If you missed the book signing and live near my folks, I would be happy to sign one for you next time I'm home! Just order a copy online at (Sharing the Victory: Being Your Best for God) or pick one up at The Well. Let my Momsy know, and we'll hook you up with a signature! It would SO be my pleasure to write some encouragement in the inside cover. :)