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Yearly Archives: 2015
It’s supposed to be the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and yet all I am hearing is:
“I’m so stressed out.”
“I cannot wait until this season is over.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to afford Christmas this year.”
“I meant to only have a glass of wine, but then x, y & z happened, so I just drank the whole bottle.”
“I need a drink or a xanex or both.”
“I’m freaking out. I don’t have enough time to get everything done.”
Probably sounds familiar to you, right? You hear it at work, in the stores, and from family and friends.
I’ll be honest, hearing this breaks my heart and pisses me off. I’m angry because anxiety/stress is basically fear. And I loathe and detest fear!!! And it breaks my heart because this season should be about the joy of the greatest gift anyone has ever given, Jesus.
Jesus came to give us peace & rest. He came to set people free and heal their bodies and broken hearts. A celebration of His birth should not drive you to wino-hood or prescription meds!
Here’s what the Word says about anxiety:
1. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB
Don’t let stress win! Change your perspective! Give God the things your stressing about & focus your energies on the things your thankful for!!
2. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT
Give your anxious thoughts to God and THEN His peace comes & guards your heart & mind.
3. “And now, dear brothers & sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
A mind fixed on lack of money or creating perfect holiday will find stress. And stress is fear! Fear is a bully! And bullying is unacceptable!
You do not HAVE to spend a fortune on presents and decor! You don’t HAVE to cook a 7 course meal! If that stuff is stressing you out, scale back! I don’t care if it’s been done that way since forever! It’s not worth it.
Jesus came to give life and life abundant! He came to free you. He came to heal you. He loves you! He doesn’t want you to be full of anxiety!
You have the right to say no. No day, meal or gift is worth the loss of your health or sanity!
Point to ponder while you wander… Ask yourself what is important to you. What do you enjoy about the holidays? Now focus on those lovely and excellent things.
Point #2…Fix your mind & focus your energy on loving your family and friends well this year instead of big expensive gifts and perfect dinners.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
On the way to work this morning I listened to “I Heard the Bells in Christmas Day,” and this just jumped out at me:
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth He sleep. The wrong shall fail the right prevail, With peace on earth goodwill to men.”
After a night of little sleep, with a busy day ahead of me I needed that reminder! God is alive, alert, and knows exactly what’s going on in your life. And He cares about you and what’s happening. He will strengthen you if you ask Him too. He’s good like that!
“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.” Psalm 121:1-3 MSG
Something to ponder while you wander…God does not sleep! God is not dead! He will strengthen you whenever and wherever you need it!
You are loved!!!!
“I call you My dove. My cherishing love is upon you. You will never be able to say, “I am unloved,” for My love is set upon you. My Son was wounded so that you will be Mine. Though others ignore and resist you, you have moved My heart.” -Abba
Taken from The Passion Translation’s I Hear His Whisper Devotional by Brian Simmons and is based on Song of Songs.
Sometimes on social media I hear from someone I had forgotten about. This past week it was an ex from wayyyyyyy baaaaaack in High School. I haven’t spoken to him or thought about him in probably a decade or more…probably more.
But the second I saw his name it was like BAM POW KA-BLAM.
I’m suddenly 17.
I see him pull up to take me out for our last date before he leaves for the military.
He looks somber & his eyes are red.
He takes my tiny hands in his big muscular ones…then slowly slides his class ring off my finger. The ring I’d meticulously wrapped with fuzzy yarn so it would fit.
All he said was, “I’m sorry.”
Then he left.
I remember everything about that moment except how long I stood in the entry way of my house in shock before my mom discovered me there.
I remember hearing Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting For You” when I opened the door. That song still makes me cry, but until today I couldn’t remember why.
I remember I hyperventilated from crying so hard that night.
I remember realizing that I really loved him, and wondered if he ever really loved me.
I had all but forgotten about that guy…so it amazes me how vivid and tangible that single memory of him remains.
One of the most beautiful moments of my life was also one of my most heart wrenching.
My sister and I went to the assisted living center where our Boppie (Grandpa) had been living. We knew he only had hours left but being there in that moment made my heart ache and my eyes fill.
When my sister left the room, I asked him if I could pray with him and he nodded. I prayed that he would be at peace and know that He made a difference in our lives. And truly understand our lives were better because he was in them. I prayed he would know how much we loved him.
When I opened my eyes I saw tears streaming down his face. I didn’t realize then what a gift it was. I didn’t know my voice telling him I loved him and his life mattered were the last things he would ever hear on this side of heaven.
But I know now.
I know now that those few moments with him were a precious gift. The value of that time with Boppie was made really clear to me when my sister called to tell me our Dad had died.
I had been trying to get a hold of him for over a week. But I wasn’t worried about it because I was going up there and would see him that next weekend. But that next weekend was 3 days too late.
Thankfully the last time I talked to him I did tell him I loved him. But I wish I would have told him why I loved him and that he mattered.
So in honor of my Daddy I’m going to tell you why I loved him.
I loved him because he had compassion for people. I understand the compassion of Jesus better because I saw it displayed in my Dad.
I loved him because he took me ice fishing.
I loved him because he never judged me when I did something. Laugh at me, yes absolutely, never judgment. 😄
I loved him because he grilled year round. I can still see standing out in the snow; wearing cut off shorts, a t-shirt, winter boots & a flannel shirt. No one can grill a perfect steak like my Dad.
I loved him because he was always proud of me, even when my life was not going well.
I loved him because he could build and fix stuff, and finish pretty much every crossword.
I loved him because he was Grampie Vampire to his grand kids. They were his favorite people.
I loved him because he was all in when telling a tall tale; even to the point of dumping Raisinettes on the ground and eating them to convince my cousin deer poop tasted like chocolate covered raisins. But only if it was fresh.
I loved him because he accepted me as his own when I was a toddler. And even after he and my mom divorced, he still claimed me as his own. He never once referred to me as his step-daughter. Step didn’t exist with him or with his Dad (AKA Boppie who technically was Dad’s step-father).
And I will love him forever simply because he is my Daddy and I am his daughter.
I’m gonna stop here because I’m crying now and I also want to make a suggestion. Please tell your people you love them AND tell them why you love them. They may not realize how special and important they truly are.
Point to ponder while you wander… “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life.” Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT
“Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles.” 2:7-8 NLT
God wants His love reach all human beings. Whether you’re responsible for intercession, wrangling toddlers, teaching, writing, impacting the business world, this nation or another nation; what you do matters!
Paul loved his people. He wanted to minister to them, but he was called to the Gentiles. So that’s who he focused on. And we are the fruit of his obedience.
No matter where your area of responsibility is…your obedience matters too.
Point to ponder while you wander…the same God who enabled and empowered Peter and Paul will enable and empower you in your area of responsibility.
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 3 John 1:2 NLT
Declaring that you are both healthy and strong today!
“Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners,Yet He gives His grace [His undeserved favor] to the humble [those who give up self-importance].” Proverbs 3:34 AMP
Being humble doesn’t mean you view yourself as worthless, it means you recognize your need for God and other people. You understand you don’t have all the answers, and aren’t embarrassed to ask for help.
This is a struggle for me because I would prefer to just do things myself. I get it done faster, and it is done the way I want it done. And I hate asking for help because I don’t like bugging people (Excuse alert! The people who don’t want to help or can’t will say no.) and I don’t like looking weak. (Oh there it is! There’s pride rearing its ugly head.)
Right now I am in the process of moving. While I can pack all my stuff and sort it easier by myself, I physically cannot move all of my stuff alone. Reality says, “Jill, you cannot physically lift that couch.”
I think this physical truth is true in our emotional areas too. We are capable of handling some of our own stuff alone or just us and God. But there are times we need people who are rational when our emotions get the best of us. They can help us sort and deal with things that are too heavy to move alone.
Same applies when were out of our depth spiritually. When we are transitioning or going to a higher level, we need someone who is more mature to walk with us, pray with us, and encourage us to keep going.
And let’s face it we all need accountability. I know I do. I’m grateful for my support team. I could not have handled all the day-in and day-out stuff without them.
Point to ponder while you wander…being humble doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you are teachable, and know when you need to ask for help.
“God blesses those who are humble,for they will inherit the whole earth.” Matthew 5:5 NLT
Today I am thankful that God is a God of restoration.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
Normally I’d dissect this verse and display all the treasure found in those 4 amazical things our God of all Grace will do for us. But today I’m focusing my gratitude on restoration. Today, for me, restoration looks like this…
For those of you who don’t know the story, here is my tale of woe: About 4 years ago, my Canon Rebel jumped out of my camera bag, rolled down the stairs, and crashed spectacularly at the bottom. I took it to get it repaired, and the guy told me that the good news is the lens is undamaged. The bad news is that mechanism inside the camera that actually captures the image is broken. It would be cheaper to buy a new camera. Yeah. Worst news ever for a photographer.
To say that I was devastated doesn’t begin to cover it. I had just paid that camera off, and a photographer without a camera is like a person missing an appendage. Sound tragic? It should! It was a tragedy to me! I grieved that loss deeply.
Don’t tell me it’s just a camera. Just a possession, a thing…I know that. But many of my dreams include photography, so no camera…no dreams coming true.
Fast forward 4 years to my women’s group having a discussion about dreams. I have a lot of dreams, BIG ONES. But I felt like I needed to talk about photography, the dream I felt had been shelved. I had forgotten how much photography meant to me, until I started telling them about my passion project with God. The one that stirs my heart and moves me to tears. The one that requires a whole lot of money and other people to pull off. The one that I don’t tell people about. Then this beautiful, amazing, generous friend looks at me and says, “I have a camera for you.”
And I cried.
I am still moved by the gravity and meaning of those 6 words. The extravagant seed she sowed into my dreams. It’s at times like this that I’m also grateful God is a rewarder. I cannot wait to see what she reaps for sowing into my dreams.
Something to ponder while you wander…God is the one who restores, but He usually chooses to work through people. Are you willing to let Him work through you? Are you willing to believe in and encourage others. Are you open to investing in others with your time, talent, and finances. You may be the one to change their life.
God believes people are worth investing in, shouldn’t we?
I love Chris Rice. I love his sense of humor. I love his lyrics that seem fun and random but are actually worship.
Today’s song is….Smell the Color 9
It’s for all those people who have asked me why I can hear God’s voice and they can’t. I don’t know why. But I do know that God is always speaking and seeking a relationship with you. I know He loves you as much as He loves me.
I have no magic formula for you, but I know He is as close as the air you breathe, so He’s not hard to find. I know is that God repeatedly says in His Word that when we seek Him we will find Him. I know He says to ask and you will receive. I know He loves you more than you can possibly fathom.
In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (ESV)
Even if you don’t hear Him speaking in your heart or audibly in your ears, He still speaks to you through His Word. It is available every second of every day. Studying His Word and following what it says is the best way to hear His voice.
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12
His Word is THE guide. If someone ever tells you something that goes against the Word of God, listen to the Word, even if they are a pastor or a prophet. If you have a thought or hear a voice speaking to you, run it through the wisdom found in the 66 books of the library we call the Bible.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
When I study the Word I ask God to show me something I’ve never seen before. And He does. Most of the revelation I’ve received comes this way.
Something to ponder while you wander…God wants you to know Him and He wants to share His wisdom with you. The entire Bible is about how much God loves people and Him pursuing a relationship with mankind.
PS With that in mind…remember God’s big enough for all your big questions and your true feelings. No matter what they are. On that topic…here’s a bonus Chris song…Big Enough