Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanks Thanks Thanks!

I can't believe it! I never win anything! But I totally just got a call from a local spa saying that I'd won their giveaway for a free one-hour massage. Hallelujah!! Praise God! haha! He must know that I need stress management. :) Um, yes. Scripture does tell us that He knows what we need before we ask. I'm super blessed by that. :)

What a great week it's been! Thanksgiving was awesome. I got to see my wonderful family and be with my Mighty Man the whole time. And, of course, turkey leftovers are my favorite. My tummy just growled thinking about them. . . sitting there in my freezer. . . waiting to be devoured with dallops of mustard. . . Oh, joy. :) :)

Can you tell that phone call just made my day? I'm in such a great mood!

So many good things have happened lately, too. I had the blessing of a great phone interview with Les Norman of 810 Sports Radio and host of "Breakin' the Norm" this morning. (Thanks, Les!!) It was awesome! It's always a blessing to talk to guys who are out in the world, but who have a faith in Christ. He's got a tough spot as a Christian in secular sports radio. But I have no doubt that God is using him to make a difference there. If you ever get a chance to tune it, do it!

What's funny is that this whole idea of thankfulness has been recurring in my life and in my times with the Lord lately. It's like He's trying to tell me something. haha! :)

I don't know about you all, but I have a tendency to dwell on negatives a little too much. If I have a great day but one little thing sours it, I will ruminate on that one thing instead of seeing the bigger, greater picture. It's a bad habit, and a total hindrance to my ability to walk in the joy of the Lord.

One of our FCA staff girls out in Maine wrote a great devotion this week about that. She talked about the ability we have to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS even if for no other reason than that we are continually covered by His grace.

Shouldn't that be enough for us? It most definitely is, we just don't choose to see it that way. We (and by "we" I mean "I") tend to expect every day to be completley problem-free, and when that doesn't happen, we dwell on the little things that go wrong. All the while, God is blessing our socks off with His love, grace, mercy, power, forgiveness, and so much more! Daily blessings like total redemption from sin, unconditional love by the Creator of the Universe, constant care and protection from evil. . . What on earth do I have to complain about? Ever!

It isn't just Thanksgiving. It isn't just Christmas. This is a life lesson. I want to rejoice in the Lord. He asks us to do that continually, and I fully believe that when we really understand who He is and what He's done/is doing for us moment by moment, we will walk in that attitude of gratefulness. Lord, forgive me for focusing on what I view as "bad" in my life and for not trusting You and thanking You as I should. Help me to see life from Your point of view and through the lens of salvation in Christ.

If we really want to get into theology there really is no "bad" or "good" at all. It just is. Romans 8:28 says that in ALL things God is working for our good, so that means even what we think of as negative is actually something that can and should be positive according to His ultimate plan. Kind of mind-blowing, isn't it? Now, that's something to rejoice about. Even the most devastating of news can be sent to the Lord in praise if we truly trust Him. Not saying we can't be sad when things hurt or cause us anger/frustration/pain, but we don't have to dwell in it as the end of the world. We can trust Him with it to care for us and redeem it for His glory.

Okay, I'm a little nervous that He's going to test my mettle in this message. haha! Lord, have mercy! :) haha! Oh, well. You gotta practice what you preach, right? Faith in action. Walk the walk. All the cliches you can handle!

Anyway, I hope this has encouraged you a little today. No matter what you're going through, there is always a reason to be thankful when we trust in the Lord. His love, His grace, His salvation, His eternal home for us in Heaven (if we've trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior and engaged in a relationship with Him). All things that nothing here on earth can touch. No matter how "bad" the day gets.

Hugs to you all!
- Jill

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Motivation from the Mighty Man

I am so fantastically proud of my Mighty Man today! :) In an act of unbelievable strength and courage, he ran his first half marathon without walking a single step. It was a goal he'd had since the beginning of the year, and he completed it today on one of the most dispicable courses in the area and in the November cold. Way to go, Mighty Man. I'm so proud of such a strong warrior.

I can hear the "gag me's" now. haha! Don't care! I love him!! And not just because he ran today (my sport of choice), but because he did something he said he would do even though it was hard. That takes discipline and integrity.

It reminds me of another story he has from his childhood. He recalls jumping from a tall tree limp into a pond because he promised a girl he would. (Of course he was trying to impress her. He's quite the charmer.) :) But, he almost didn't. He was pretty confident on the ground, but when he got up to the limb itself and realized how high it was, he climbed right back down.

Eventually, he dad got wind of this, though, and instructed his son to be a man of his word. He had to make good on his promise. And so he did.

I'm sure the little Mighty Man was terrified, but his word was important. And I'm so thankful to his dad for teaching him that important lesson. It goes straight back to Scripture and the many times that God instructs us to keep our words. Over and over He tells us and others in the Bible to keep our vows and to, like the Mighty Man preached a week ago, let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no." That's in Matthew from the Sermon on the Mount.

But it's a sad reality that our world isn't very familiar with the concept of following through. We see it all the time. People just give up when things get hard. Especially in relationships, right? We've gotten so used to relationships breaking apart that we have started to believe that they're disposable.

My Momsy and I had this conversation a while ago. We have a similar fear of people abandoning us when emotions get flared. It's what we've seen. It's what we learned. People walk away when there's a fight.

And we are NOT the only ones who have this issue. Because it's true! This is how many relationships end up today. People just choose to leave instead of sticking together and working through tough patches.

But this is where we, as Christians, have a chance to show the world something different. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we CAN stick with a relationship no matter how hard it gets. It's the supernatural love and grace that He gives us. When we choose to accept it and give it to others, we can fight, argue, weep and wail and not have to worry about whether or not the relationship will end. If both parties are committed, through the Lord, to seeing it through, there's no abandoning. Even if it is absolutely horrible for days, weeks, months, whatever. There's a shared supernatural ability to stick with it until it's resolved.

Why? Because we understand the grace and love that we ourselves have been given through Christ and that we are shared holders of that same love and grace. Jesus died for us even though we were/are guilty, sin-stained and broken. But He loved us so much that He paid the price for us so that we could be forgiven, saved and free. And when we receive Him as our Lord, we become recipients of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to love like He did. Forgive like He did. And in that power, no relationship is doomed.

Today, I'm thanking God for the perseverance of my Mighty Man and for the hard-earned sweaty salt he earned that covered his face. It was tough, but he did it. He stayed with something that was challenging and made good on his commitment. And Jesus did the same thing. He stayed with it until He had been crucified and risen again so that God's Word could be fulfilled and His children restored.

Thank You, Jesus. May we all follow Your example of perseverance and commitment. May we learn to ditch the concept of abandonment and to walk forward in the freedom of Your love and be willing to share that with others. No matter how hard it gets.

Oh! And, yes, I did run too. haha! It was not one of my PRs. I will NOT mince words. I hate this course. But it wasn't bad at all. It was a great long run with 2,300 of my fellow runners who all experienced the same thing. And, lo and behold! I did get 2nd in my age group. I guess we all felt it a little today. :)

Enjoy your Sunday!
- Jill

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Extent of Belief

Is it bad that a small part of me wants to skip my own book signing to go meet Martha Stewart? Haha! She's speaking tonight at Unity Temple, which is about 500 feet from Barnes & Noble, where I'll be signing copies of the book from 7-9 p.m. (subtle hint to come on out!). And, I'm like, "It's Martha Stewart!!! Let the hallelujah chorus begin!" haha! I don't get star-struck, but, um, I just might around her.

It's been an interesting week, I won't lie. I've been in a battle mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically. Just one of those weeks. And a lot of it has to do with how much I really trust the Lord. I'm finding that just because Jesus says something in His Word, doesn't mean I believe it.

I believe He's the Son of God. I believe He died on the cross and rose again. I believe He is the Savior of all who believe and trust in Him. I believe His death paid the price for our sins.


When He says that we don't need to worry about things? I don't buy it. When He says that God will provide all the money we need and that we don't need to waste time worrying about it? I don't take that literally. I still would, 9 times out of 10, choose to take a safe money route instead of following Him.

For almost a year, now, I believe God has been telling me to step out in faith on a few things. But I just won't do it. There are a lot of contributing factors, but one of them is the "need" for money. Of course I don't want to be foolish, but I don't believe what God is asking me to do is all that foolish, it's just risky to me. And how much am I willing to believe Him when He says that He will take care of me so much more than the lillies of the field and the birds of the air? (Matthew 6)

I won't belabor this very much, but it's on my heart to share with you all the passage from Matthew 6 and ask you to evaluate what YOU believe. Does your belief stop at a certain point when it comes to Jesus? Do you stop at who He is and dismiss His teachings just because they are difficult or counter-cultural?

If we believe that He's the Son of God, then I believe we should be free to take Him completely at His Word. If we're willing to believe that He was/is the Messiah, then I think we could be okay believing what He instructed. Doesn't that make sense? Why would we believe the hard truth of His divinity and then throw out His message? That makes no sense.

So, here's the passage (Matthew 6:25-34):

“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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

What are you worrying about today? It's time that we stop worrying and start seeking God. Trusting Him. Believing Him. I'm going to believe Him today. Tough teachings and all.

Love to you all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our First Calling

Hallelujah!! I can't thank the kind folks at Millstone Coffee Co. for their Holliday Peppermint coffee. Um...Let's talk about taste buds rejoicing. Especially after battling the wind and cold on the run this morning. I got pistol-whipped by a hard NNW wind this morning--so much so that I could literally barely make it up the hills--so I gave myself the gift of opening my new bag of java, which I'd gotten with a coupon, of course. $2.00 off just made it taste even better!

I had a great Bible study last night. I got to visit the precept study that a group from my former church is doing on 1 Peter. It was awesome! I just love those folks. And the lady who leads it might be one of the most passionate women of God I've ever met. She teaches with authority! And I just love that. It reminds me of God's power and fires up my heart to love and be loved by Him.

It's interesting what message God shared with me through the study last night. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my "calling" lately and examining it with a magnifying glass. What did God put me here to do? Am I doing it? How can I fulfill my purpose here? Questions we all ask ourselves periodically.

Anyway, last night was awesome. God spoke straight into that question through my girl--since I'm into funny blog nicknames, I'll call her C-Lo. She actually shared in her message that if we were wrestling with those questions, we could rest. If we were always wondering where God would place us and where we should go and what we should do, we needed to relax and understand that our first and primary calling is to know Him and let Him conform us to the image of Christ.

Wow. GREAT reminder.

It's part of life that we all question what we're here to do. If we're where we're supposed to be, doing what we were created to do. But I personally don't believe that matters as much as we think it does.

Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that God has specific plans for each of us, but I think those will happen naturally if we are faithful to latch on to our primary role of knowing Him and becoming like Christ.

Matthew 6:33 is one of my favorite verses. It's one of those verses that pretty much sums it all up. I'll paraphrase, but it says that we are to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to us, as well. He's talking about our basic needs in regards to what we will be given, but I believe it applies to life in general in a great way.

Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and He'll take care of the rest. I needed that reminder last night. It's not so much about "doing" for God as it is about knowing Him--being in relationship with Him and allowing Him to conform us into the image of His Son. That's why we're here on this planet: to bring Him to earth. How we do that is by allowing Christ to live through us--to love others and to let them know that He loves them. To live in that loving relationship with Him ourselves. Man, it's so simple when we really look at it from God's perspective. Just seek Him and let Him take care of you.

Today, I'm reflecting on that. How am I allowing God to change me into the image of Christ? Am I more like Christ today than I was yesterday? What exactly does it look like to be like Jesus? Do I know enough about Him to walk and live like Him? Great questions that we all should ask ourselves. Moreso that where we should be going or what we should be doing. Those are okay to ask, but they're not the first ones we should be posing. They should fall in line after we have examined our hearts and allowed God to reveal His will for us in living and loving like His Son.

Love and hugs to you all. :) Be encouraged knowing that God loves you more than you can ever know.