Monday, February 20, 2012

The REAL Highest and Greatest End

I don't know what it is about dried flowers, but I can't make myself get rid of them. haha! :) Ever since the Mighty Man and I got engaged, I have been dreading the moment when I would have to dispose of my beautiful roses. So, I just decided that I'm not gonna. I cleaned out the vase, placed half of the dried petals in an old jar and then kept seven of the dried roses/stems and put them in a smaller bottle along with the baby's breath sprigs. It looks awesome! :) Thanks for the lovely flowers, Mighty Man. You are my knight in shining armor, and you rescue me daily. :)

Cool news this week! The picked me up as a stringer to cover Christianity in the Kansas City area! Yay!! I'm enjoying writing so far, and it's been an awesome outlet for me to cover topics outside of my comfort zone (i.e. sports). Though, if you check out my site, you'll see that two of my three articles deal with sports. haha! But it's just to get me started. I fully want to talk about so many other things going on in the area and what God is doing here. It's going to be great!

The first article, if you haven't read it already, was about the Mighty Man's church youth outreach. It is an AMAZING ministry, and one that shouldn't happen outside of the power of God. Seriously. They don't have much money, yet they are able to reach about 200 inner-city youth every Wednesday evening by running buses all over KCK and bringing kids in to a local community center to hear God's truth. It's awesome! I'm so thankful for the pastors and volunteers.

I've been communicating a lot about our church lately, so I'm hoping you're not tired of hearing about it. But I guess that's part of what God is doing in my heart lately. He's inspiring me through what He's doing in this teeny tiny little church at 4473 Adams. And it's making me realize how lopsided my view of impact has been for so many years.

I've worked in a global ministry for almost 10 years, and I think on some level, I've adopted the mindset that the only way to make a difference is to "go big or go home," but that's so not true. God has a purpose for FCA on a global scale, but it doesn't in any way lessen the power of what He's doing in small churches like Rosedale. The impact on those kids on Wednesday nights is every bit as meaningful as the impact of a colossal sports ministry that has to operate on the big scale. It's just a different situation. Not greater, not lesser. It's just different.

It's kind of changing my heart, too. I've always thought that I had to be part of something global and work toward the highest and greatest possible end. But what if the highest and greatest possible end looks small by the world's standards? What if the highest and greatest possible end is a one-on-one relationship with a girl at Rosedale who needs a hug? What if the highest and greatest possible end is putting $5 in the pouch at church as it passes by, even if it's not in my "big" weekly tithe? What if the highest and greatest possible end is being led around a crowded gym floor at a community center by a tiny 5-year-old girl who just wants to play for a while? I'm getting it now. The highest and greatest possible end can't be measured by human standards. It must be measured by God's.

So, today I'm celebrating the work of God at every level. Yes, my "work" at a worldwide ministry is awesome, but so is the new adventure at Rosedale Church, which is most certainly making a big difference in the community. Praise God for whatever He's doing wherever He's doing it. In His eyes, it's all Kingdom-sized. :)

Love you all!
- Jill

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Always a Writer

I must blog. I am sitting here on a Sunday evening doing Sunday evening things, and, in an effort to familiarize myself with pop culture, I turned on the Grammy Awards for background noise.


Is it just me?

No slight against Chris Brown here. The man is wildly talented! He can dance like few people on the planet. I bet the Lord smiles on him when he pop and locks (is that still a relevant term?) on beat. But I wonder if He isn't a little brokenhearted watching him prostitute his talents for the affection of the world. Sorry if that's a little rough, but it's kind of how I feel.

A former roommate of mine used to refer to Michael Jackson as one of the greatest intended worship leaders of all time. Interesting philosophy, isn't it? Unbelievable gifts given to those who would so tragically fail to realize that they'd been blessed in order to use those gifts for His glory.

This is a tough concept because it could easily be taken as if everyone should be in vocational ministry. SO not true. The point is simply that it's a capital miss if people don't recognize their talents as opportunities to both bless and be blessed.

Obviously no one knows a person's salvation, so I'm not going to point out anyone in an example to the contrary and single out a Christian in a "secular" industry--especially in pop culture. You hear things, but only God knows the heart. Even now I feel a little judgmental calling out Chris Brown and Michael Jackson. Who knows what their hearts beat when it comes to Christ? I can't know that.

Anyway...So, the Grammys. Interesting show. I wonder what Dave Grohl really means when he screams "I never wanna die!" into his microphone. I wonder what's going on in his heart? In his soul? I wonder if he's satisfied with life. I wonder if he knows that the Lord created his very fingers, which so fantastically slam the strings of his blue guitar. (FYI: I don't follow the music scene much, so if Grohl has publically stated anything about faith, I obviously won't know about it. If I seem naive, it's because I am! haha! This is one reason I'm "studying" the Grammys.)

Do I have a point? Yes.

Back to my opening line. I have to blog.

I'm getting ready to go through a variety of major life transitions, and I'm having to filter through what about me stays the same and what changes. What passes with the seasons, and what is locked in? One thing: my relationship with Christ. Steadfast. He will NEVER leave my heart. I am sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1, somewhere).

But what else? What about me will be there for the long-haul?

One thing is writing. I've realized that by now. No matter where I go, what I do, what roles I play, I fully believe that God has placed this gift/talent/passion in my life and that it will last as long as I have a functioning brain. And I hope it does! I LOVE it!

When something happens to me--good, bad, big, small, funny, sad, whatever--the first thing I want to do is write about it. It's how I express myself. It's how I process information. It's how I communicate best with others. It's one of the main ways I pray. The written word comes so much more naturally to me than the spoken or even the thought. Don't know why. It just does.

The older I get, the more I learn about how much of a blessing this is. The more I understand it, the more I can use it for good. Yes, I can use it to grow spiritually. Yes, I can use it to help others see Jesus more clearly (at least I hope so!!). Yes, I can use it to encourage others. And that's what I want to do! I believe it's one of the reasons I was created! And you know what? I believe that nothing can steal that from me because I believe it's God-protected. Whether I'm in my little one-bedroom apartment, the future home of me and the Mighty Man--whether I'm in my office at FCA or behind the counter of a coffee shop--whether I'm rich or poor--I will always be a writer. Well, let me rephrase, because I hate it when people label themselves as anything other than a child of God. I will always be a daughter of the Most High God who loves to express things with written words.

So, what's your thing? Maybe it's more than one thing. What are the things that God has given you that will be with you forever? Whatever that is, how are you stewarding that gift? Do you know that you were given that ability/passion as a way of drawing closer to Jesus by using it? Are you aware that you can use that gift in some way to bless others and draw them closer to Christ as well? Man, I hope so. There's nothing like using those gifts knowing that the Holy Spirit is in it with you.

Well, friends! If you're watching the Grammys, maybe you can explain to me why the aforementioned Dave Grohl has something pink and strappy around his wrist. haha! OH! The Beach Boys are back!!!!!! Okay, I gotta go. This WILL be worth watching. I hope. :)

Go forth and use your gifts for good!! BIG hugs, all!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mrs. Mighty Man

We're ENGAGED!!! :) :) :)

Hi, everyone! It's official! If you haven't heard the news or read it on Facebook, the Mighty Man asked me to marry him last Friday. :) And I said yes, of course. How any girl could turn down the proposal of such a wonderful, godly man is beyond me. But I'm praising God that this one chose me. :) Thank you, Mighty Man, for picking me to be your princess. :) I'm thankful beyond measure.

It's so funny. I have been telling folks that I can see why the wedding industry is so lucrative. There are SO many material things to get lost in! Good grief! The day after the engagement, I went to the bookstore just to find an inexpensive wedding planner/notebook/checklist, and there were so many to choose from! And for every topic! "Getting married in less than four months? We have you covered!" "Wedding on a budget? Get this planner!" (Which is weird, because that was one of the most expensive.) "Destination wedding? Pick me!" And, of course, each one says the same thing, just with different-colored paper. haha! Oh, well. That's half the fun of being a bride, I guess.

But with all the chaos, I quickly realized that it's going to take a major effort to remain focused on Christ as the point of this wedding. At the end of the day, the Mighty Man and I want this to be a way of bringing praise to Jesus. Our marriage is His design and His purpose, so we want that to be the focus. But wow. Invitations, flowers, colors, dresses...those can all get more attention than they deserve. And easily.

That's one reason why I'm so thankful for the MM. He's so laid back! I don't know how he does it. haha! Nothing phases him. And I so need that. I'm pretty high-strung most of the time and like to have an agenda and to-do list for all occasions. He is so good at helping me see the bigger picture of God's hand at work and His timing. MM has the gift of being the best tranquilizer. They should really bottle him and sell him. :) He'd put Xanax out of business! :)

There's really no spiritual lesson for the day other than my prayer request. And, I guess, a reminder to all of us not to let second-place things take first. It might be a wedding, a job, a sport, a vacation, a ministry even--whatever it is, don't let it rule your life. That's God's role and no one else's. Lay down whatever you're fixated on and allow Him to be the Lord over it. Search the Bible for passages that help you remember this, too. There are tons of them! In fact, I'll leave you with one:

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Hugs to you all! :) Have a great day!
- Jill (The Future Mrs. Mighty Man)