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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Musical Monday: I’m Moving On

This is a beautiful song sung by Rascal Flatts, called “I’m Moving On”

This song just hits home in so many ways.  It’s about accepting that the past happened, dealing with it and moving forward.  So many, too many, people get stuck and get paralyzed it seems.

The line that really got me was, “They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it, they’ll never allow me to change.”  There were people in my life I had to distance myself from and some I even had to say goodbye to because they just kept trying to pull me back to where I didn’t want to be anymore.  They weren’t necessarily bad people, but I found myself struggling to hang on to the positive changes I’d made.  So I had to let them go.

A few of those people eventually came back into my life, but most didn’t.  I call those “friend shifts.”  When either you or they change and you just don’t have anything in common anymore.  It’s okay to let people go.  It’s okay to move on.  It’s a part of the growth process.

Happy Monday.

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I need a break

I am counting down to my upcoming vacation. I am sooo excited. I haven’t had a real vacation in quite some time, and I need it desperately right now.

There’s something about taking a break from life and unplugging now and again, it recharges and rejuvenates. For me it can be a spontaneous road trip to anywhere I can get lost in the beauty of the earth God created, a completely planned trip and itinerary or anything in between. No matter what I adore traveling. I love to explore new places. I enjoy sitting and watching the waves hit the beach at Lake Michigan. I enjoy walking around art museums and seeing the different architecture in historical towns. I enjoy taking a camera and capturing little details that other people may not bother to look for. Those things make me happy.

I’m sure I’m not alone. I would imagine everyone likes to go on vacation and just get away from everything for a bit. Get away from the stresses and pressures of work and family life. Get away from the general day to day grind. But what about those times when you need a break and you don’t have the vacation time or money or your situation will not allow you to have that break you need? What do you do then?

Personally I like to talk nice long walks, like 4-5 miles. It helps. When I’m really overwhelmed (when I don’t want to think) I will read or watch movies. I like to go live in someone else’s world for a few hours before coming back to deal with real life.

Jesus never took a vacation, had hobbies or anything like that. But what He did do was maintain a good balance with His time. 1. Ministry: Jesus talked to people, poured into people, prayed with and for people, healed them and etc. 2. Growing and teaching disciples: But He also took time to teach and grow His 12 disciples. 3. Friendships: He spent bonding and chilling out time with 3 of the 12 disciples. 4. Alone time and God time: Jesus went off alone to pray & spend time with Father God often. That is how He was able to do what He did. He was continually rejuvenated and refreshed by seeking God. Check out Matthew 14:13-23 to see Jesus’ priorities.

Matthew 14:13-14, Jesus heard that John the Baptist was killed and planned to take some time alone. But he was unable because the situation. So He took care of the immediate situation first, “As soon as Jesus heard the news, He left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where He was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

After taking care of the immediate situation, Jesus took the time He needed as soon as He was able. Matthew 22:23 says, “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.”

This wasn’t a onetime thing, in Luke 5:16, it says Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. In His biggest trial, knowing He’d be crucified, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and seek the Father. Jesus knew that no matter what was going on, taking some alone time to pray and just enjoy God’s presence was essential.

When you have to deal with things you’d rather hide from or you need a break and a rest, seek God first. Here’s what I mean….

If you are a new parent with a tiny screaming baby, pray while you are giving them a bottle in the middle of the night. Praise Him for your baby’s healthy lungs and that you have a healthy child.

If you have a stressful situation at work, take a few minutes and go into the bathroom and pray. Or go for a walk around the building and pray. It’s amazing what even 10 minutes in the midst of a situation can do.

If you are at the hospital with a loved one, take a minute and go to the chapel or to sit on a bench outside and remind yourself that sickness isn’t from God, it is one of the curses from the enemy, along with lack, poverty and death. Speak life to the situation. Speak His word. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. Every single one.

If you are under attack from people, read Psalms out loud. Give the situation to God and remind yourself that the battle is His, and the victory is yours.

These are just some little things you can do to seek God no matter where you are or what’s going on. God is always with you. He’s everywhere so it is physically impossible for Him to leave you. The word tells us that He never leaves us or forsakes us.  All you need to do is acknowledge His presence (even just speak His name) and He turns His attention to you.

I’ve found that these seemingly small things keep me focused on God and prevent my attitude from spiraling downward. It helps me get from day to day in the rough patches and deal with the people in my world that aren’t exactly pleasant.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Thessalonians 5:16-18

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Happy Wednesday!

If You Want Me To

In January 2010, God released me. I was at my church I’d been at since 2003. It was my home and my 2nd family. I loved it there. sigh. Anyway. We were in praise and worship and singing Jesus Lead Me On by Planetshakers. I was dancing and singing and just enjoying God’s presence…and BAM He released me. I felt different. It was one of those moments like Jesus after His baptism. I felt the fresh anointing. I felt refreshed. The peace was AMAZING! I was ready to take on the world!!!

Now had I listened fully, I would have understood He was releasing me from my church to send me to a different church. But I didn’t. I heard released and took that to mean I get to go where I want. And I wanted to go to England! So I tried everything in my power to get to England. Feel free to laugh. It’s funny. Now. It’s funny now.

What followed then wasn’t funny. I lost my job. Couldn’t afford my house. And finally at age 35, I had to live with my mom. For almost a year. I had to turn my car in to the bank, I couldn’t afford it. I felt like I’d lost everything.

Then in that broken place God started dealing with some of the darkest and most broken places of my heart and soul. The things that were so deep, I didn’t know they were there. It was painful. I would journal and then burn the pages in my sister’s woodstove so no one could read it. It was that dark. But slowly I came out of it. I’m grateful to my Mom and family for providing a safe place for me to fall apart. I’m grateful that God never left me. I’m grateful that that junk is gone. I’m grateful that when God heals, it’s so completely that it changes you forever. I’m grateful that when God restores, He gives you back what you lost plus some. I’m grateful that even when I don’t fully listen, God still moves on my behalf.

There’s way more to this story about God’s provision and things He spoke to me along the way. But this is a blog, not a book.

Anyway…after a year at my Mom’s, my old company called me. I got a job. My friend’s parents (who were like my 2nd parents) let me stay with them until I could get a place. I went back to my church. I got a new car. I got my house back. It’s like it was before I lost everything. But something was off. My church hadn’t changed, but I had. It wasn’t home anymore. But I loved the people and I didn’t want to leave. I loved the word and the worship. I didn’t want to leave. But it got to the point where I’d sit in service and leave exactly the way I came in only annoyed. I wasn’t moved by the vision of the house anymore and I couldn’t understand it. So I asked God.

This was His response, “Jill, I released you from here in 2010, why are you still here?”

Then it all clicked. Ohhhhh! That’s what you meant. You released me from my church. He made it clear where I needed to be and confirmed it. I’ve been there ever since.

What’s my point? I actually have 2.

One. What is going on, may not actually be what’s going on. Sometimes what looks like a season of loss is actually a season of gain because God’s changing you and changing your thinking. Embrace it, even if it hurts and it sucks and it takes away all your independence and pride. I promise you it’s worth it.

Two. When God speaks, listen. Write it down. Ask Him to clarify and confirm. He will. Also whatever God speaks will ALWAYS line up with the Bible. Always! If you don’t fully listen you could end up like me who is still trying to explain to people why I am not in England…three years later.

God always has bigger plans for us that we have for ourselves. To illustrate, here’s a video of Ginny Owens, a very talented singer/songwriter about her journey to being a recording artist. She really wanted to be a High School choir director, but God had different plans for her. It also includes her song “If you want me to.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLgkt3OCMCc

Happy Monday!

Jill Smash

I generally have a sunny outlook and think positively.  But there are days that are hard to remain sunny side up.  The worst days for me are when I’m watching someone I love go through something and I know there’s zero I can do to help.  Whether it be emotional, physical, spiritual, medical and every other kind of ‘al’.  I feel powerless.  And I hate that feeling.

Logically I understand there are times when people have to walk it out.  They have to face and deal with things to grow.  But I have this protective mechanism inside of me that when activated makes me feel like the Incredible Hulk.  I want to smash everything in their way.  Smash anyone that has hurt or is hurting them.  Jill Smash.

I have to fight not to mother hen people.  (My siblings will attest to this).  I want to guard and protect.  It takes actual effort for me to let someone deal with their own consequences.  I always want to cushion and coddle.  But I know that I can’t.  I know that hurts people and stunts their growth.  I know that my job is to pray and encourage.  Then trust God to help them and protect them.  I have to tell you…that’s a weak link in my chain.  I trust God completely with my life, but I find it REALLY hard to trust Him with the people I love.  Like suddenly God becomes powerless in dealing with them, but not me.  I have no idea why or how I developed this wrong thinking, but I did.  It’s a serious problem for me lately.

The thing I’m trying to keep in mind is that Jesus never coddled a single person.  EVER.  He did His part and trusted God with the rest.  He always loved people.  But He told them the truth too.  He was balanced and was able to challenge and encourage people at the same time.  That’s what I want to be able to do.

Now I just have to figure out how exactly to do that.  Looks like I’ll be reading the Gospels this weekend.  Happy Friday.

Delight and Rejoice in Truth

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” I Corinthians 13:6

Delight here refers to someone who is euphoric or overjoyed.  Evil refers to an injustice or something that is bad.  Rejoice is the same word as delight.  It’s about being pumped for your life about seeing the truth prevail.

This verse is a serious heart check:  What’s your reaction to something bad happening to someone you don’t like or someone who has hurt you?  How about when something good happens to that person? 

We’ve all been hurt.  But doing a happy dance when someone else’s world gets rocked or their ship is sinking is unacceptable.  It is also not okay to be stomping your feet and screaming about how unfair it all is when someone else’s life is sailing smooth. 

Love says we are to encourage those who are down and pray for them.  Love says we are to rejoice when others are blessed.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”  Matthew 5:44-46

Waiting and Rejoicing

Listen Your watchmen lift their voices; together they shout for joy! When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” Isaiah 52:8

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Waiting for something from the Lord is not like waiting for a doctor appointment or even for the weekend to get here.

Isaiah 52 says that the watchmen were shouting for joy while they were waiting and watching.  That’s how we should be waiting.

“But Jill, it’s been  a month.  A week.  A year.  A decade.”  I hear you, believe me!  But think about this:  Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac.  Caleb and Joshua waited 40 years in the desert to enter the Promised Land.  I received a promise from God 10 years ago.  I’m still waiting too.

We can choose to cross our arms and pout OR we can do what the Word says and rejoice while we wait!  Hope is a confident and joyful expectation of good.  Are you expecting good?  What are you speaking?  Choose to speak the Word over your situation.  Pray scripture over your situation and believe God.

Then use your faith and start praising and thanking Him for the victory BEFORE you actually see it.  Seeing it happen is actually the reward of your active faith.  See Hebrews 11:6.

Look I know it’s hard to speak joyfully over a lingering sickness.  I know it’s hard to believe when the circumstances look bleak.  I have my days where I want to throw in the towel on situations.  But those moments are the very ones that Hebrews 11:6 and Isaiah 52:8 are referring to.  In those moments, choose to thank Him.  Choose to praise Him.  And choose to believe.

What’s the alternative?  Complaining and murmuring?  Waste of time; see Numbers 11:1 and Exodus chapters 16-17.  Giving up?  Then what?  You want to wait all that time just to quit and die in the desert?  Waste of time; see Numbers 14:34, 32:13, Deuteronomy 2:7, 8:2-4 and Joshua 5:6.  You want to do it your own way?  Waste of time; see I Samuel 13.

Consider this:  The only difference between the generation who died in the desert and Caleb is that Caleb believed God.

Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.” Joshua 14:6-12

You’re going to wait no matter what.  God’s timing is God’s timing.  He is always on time, never early and never late.  He has very specific reasons why He does things when He does.  Maybe you’re not ready for what you’ve asked for.  Maybe there are things in your heart that need to be worked out.  Maybe He’s using your situation to teach others and allowing you to have an amazing testimony.  He’s a good God, so why not choose to rejoice while you wait?  Happy Friday!

(Scripture from the NKJV today)

Iron Sharpens Iron

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose].  Proverbs 27:17 AMP

Today I’m just grateful for those friends who’ve challenged me go grow, called me out in love when I needed it and have been there for me when things were hard.

I love you.

That’s all today.