Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Good Lesson from a Cold

Hi, everyone! Happy December 28th to you, and a big Happy Anniversary to two of my best friends in the world: EE and JE. Love you guys!! :)

The Christmas this year was absolutely amazing. I got to spend my first holiday with the Mighty Man's family, and we had such a blast. For a girl who is used to Christmas-hopping to about four different places every 12/25, it was a big dose of amazing to stay in one place with one family and just hang out for a day. That was incredible! (Memo to my family: I love you guys, and this doesn't take away from the crazy amazingness of our typical Christmas routine.) The biggest blessing, though, was actually realizing that the Lord has surrounded me with such a godly family on both sides. MM's family is just filled with the love of Christ from top to bottom, and my family is building a godly heritage that has been up and down depending on generations. I'm so proud of them, especially my Momsy, PPB and sis/bro-in-law. It takes work to break chains and barriers and to respond when the Holy Spirit calls you to faith. And they have answered. I loev it, and I'm super thankful for what my Father is doing. Thank You, Lord.

Today is a little challenging. Okay, the last two days have been super challenging. I'm sick. And it's no fun at all. It's been a while since I've been too sick to run, and this is the first time in a very long time that I will take my second consecutive day off from the daily discipline of pounding the pavement. It's hard!!! My mind is so used to it that when I am sidelined, it takes a big amount of mental energy to realize that IT'S OKAY not to run once in a while. (Runners out there, you will most likely understand this.)

But, the good thing is that when times like this come up, I get to re-examine why I do love to run. Isn't it true that when something you take for granted is taken away, you realize what it means to you?

For me, running is a wonderful outlet for so many reasons. One, it challenges me. Running isn't easy, so it's a great way to challenge myself and build mental/inner strength. Two, it's a great way to maintain health and fitness. (Duh.) Three, it's a WONDERFUL way to get away from all distractions and to enjoy solitude. And this leads me to four: It's a fantastic time to communicate with the Lord. He meets me in so many ways out on the road. I've blogged about it many times in the past, but I often forget just how many different ways this can be an experience of worship. It gives me a chance to pray and to listen. If I put on music, it gives me a chance to praise. If I listen to a sermon, it provides time for teaching. And, regardless, it gives me the chance to use the physical gifts and abilities that He has given me. Endurance isn't something everyone is passionate about, so I know it's a gift from Him that I enjoy it so much and can take to it so naturally.

So, today, as I sit here guzzling down my umpteenth cup of hot tea, I want to celebrate the art of running and thank my Father for such a good gift. May I hold it loosely and always allow it to be His, and may He restore it in His time. (It's just a cold, so I don't doubt it will be soon. It just feels like it when I am in the midst of it. haha!)

You know, I want to encourage you all with a little spiritual spin on this and broaden it up to life in general. God gives us all gifts, and when we experience them daily, we can really begin to take them for granted--even to dislike them at times. When I'm tired or lazy, I totally don't like running. I fully admit it. But that's because I'm focusing on the difficult parts of it instead of the good things that provide it's base. I focus on the fact that it's hard work and that I'd rather stay in a warm, cozy bed, when I could focus on the awesome fact that I have two legs that can carry me for miles and an opportunity to spend some quality time with my Lord. Super cool.

This really applies to relationships in life. Maintaining relationships is hard work. Many relationships are constant, and when we are in them continually, we can stop seeing them as blessings, taking them completely for granted. Why did we start this relationship to begin with? Wouldn't it be easier just to not participate in it? Can't I just take a break from it altogether? Can't I just leave?

When these times come, we need to refocus. We can choose to recenter on the good aspects of these dynamics instead of the challenges. When can realize that there are so many wonderful things about these relationships and see that the challenges are more than worth it. Then, when we do this, our perspective will shift and we'll get a renewed passion to love and serve these others with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today, let's all celebrate the gifts that we are taking for granted. Running, working, serving, relating, whatever! Let's examine the good gifts we've been given and reflect on why they are GOOD. That way, when the challenges come up against them, we'll realize that they are truly worth every amount of effort.

Love and hugs to you all! And Happy New Year!
- Jill

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weighing in on Tebow Time

I can't not blog about this. It's burning a hole in my heart. After yesterday, I can't not say something.


I'm totally serious. haha! I've been a Christian sports journalist for almost 10 years now, and I've seen so many great stories in that time. God is certainly manifesting Himself through Tim right now and leading a LOT of people to ask questions about faith. And the character of Tim himself is proving to be one of great division and opinion as well.

But let me assure you all. This is all good. Romans 8:28 says that in all things God is working for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. From all we can tell, Tim Tebow is a child of God. It would be seriously difficult for someone who isn't sold on his faith to make such a stand in the face of tremendous opposition. Obviously, I don't know his heart, but I can observe just like the rest of you.

All I want to do is give him a big hug and tell him to keep it up. That God is with him. That he can do it. That he's not alone. That the body of Christ is standing with him. That we're in his corner.

He's taking a beating right now, I assure you. Yes, things are good on the field as the Broncos keep winning, but there is tremendous pressure mounting. I'm personally praying that the Lord protects him from the pressure. From what he says in the media, he certainly seems to "get it," that it's not about performance. That God loves him regardless of fumbles, touchdowns and pass completions. I pray that takes root in his heart like never before.

I read an article on Relevant Magazine's website this morning, and it made a great point. This isn't just about Tim Tebow, but about the body of Christ together. While Tim is the one who is setting the example, we are the ones who are going to be answering the questions of those who observe him and start asking. Are we ready for those conversations? When Tim thanks Christ in the post-game interviews, are we prepared to talk with our buddies who are sick of hearing it? Are we prepared to talk to others who question the point of sports and faith in general? We need to be. Because regardless of what happens on the field, we are in this together. Tim's setting the example and doing his part to raise awareness. We have to be willing to do our part to follow up with those around us.

1 Peter 3:15 says that we always need to be prepared to answer questions about our faith. I'm going to copy it below as an encouragement to all of us today to get ready. I don't care what you think about Tim Tebow. (Personally, I love the kid and am finding myself cheering for the Broncos more than the Chiefs on the weekends.) But I do care about what you say when others ask you questions about why he's saying what he does.

Let's remember that we're in this together. Pray for Tim and prepare your minds. Seek the Lord and get ready to talk about what's going on. But, as Peter this with gentleness and respect.

Love and hugs, y'all! Verse is below!
- Jill

1 Peter 3:15-16
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Truth and Cliche

Hey, y'all! (I say in my best Paula Deen voice.) Merry Christmas!! Don't you just love this time of year? It's funny. Every year I start missing Christmas even before it's here--especially the music. haha! I could listen to Christmas music all year and never get tired of it. Sometimes I set my Pandora station to Bing Crosby in July and just enjoy it. :)

Another great thing about Christmas? Jesus. Sad that it's gotten to the point of saying that He's just "another" aspect of Christmas. Isn't He Christmas itself? Not if you ask the media. The point of Christmas to our world stops with family, fireplaces and more cookie recipes than you can shake a stick at. (To a habitual baker, though, that's definitely a perk.) :)

I read a devotion today about familiar Scripture verses and how we tend to dismiss them. Ones like John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Proverbs 3:5-6, etc. We hear them so much that they become cliche. But the whole reason they're so familiar is because they are powerful and true!! John 3:16 says that God sent His Son to bring anyone who believes in Him eternal life. Wow! That's true and powerful!

Philippians 4:13 says that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. WOW! What a promise! We are empowered by the Savior of the world to do whatever He sets before us. No excuse of "I can't" in His economy. That's awesome!!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says that we are to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding. If we look to Him in all things, He will make our paths straight. LOVE it! What kind of peace that can bring if we take the time to let that sink in!

It's so funny how we dismiss cliches. Why? More often than not, they're cliche for a reason: because there is truth in them! You know what? The grass does always seem greener on the other side of the fence. You really can't make a horse drink even if you lead him to water. And, to my knowledge, there is no such thing as a tree that grows money.

Cliches have gotten a bad rap. Especially when they are snippits of the Word of God. Those, most certainly, have no place being skimmed, skipped or allowed to become stale. Even if we've read them a thousand times and heard them even more, they are still part of the LIVING and ACTIVE Bible. One that, according to 2 Timothy 3:16, is entirely God-breathed and useful. Every word.

Yes, it's Christmas again. And, yes, you might hear the Christmas story again whether you read it or just hear it from Linus as you watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Either way, don't let it go in one ear and out the other (haha! True cliche!!). Let it sink in and serve the purpose that it was indended to serve. Let it remind you that you have a God who loves you enough to become flesh, and live to die for you. Wow. Now, that's true and powerful.

Big hugs!
- Jill