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Musical Monday: Pieces

There’s a line in “Pieces” by Amanda Cook that gets me every time. Every time I hear…

“It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed. Your love is proud to be seen with me.”

My mind is filled with an image of me at my worst. Then Jesus in white extends His hand to me to help me up. I’m muddy, scraped up, and bloody…but Jesus holds His arm to me, and escorts me through the crowd. He puffs His chest out like I’m the most gorgeous gal in town, and escorts me like a gentleman. Proud.

Not pride in a bad way. But in a way that says, “I know this woman. I love this woman. And I don’t give a damn what you think of her, because to me she’s worth everything. Even my life.”

Then my heart melts into a gooey blob…and I get teary. Leaving me all a fluttery and reminded that I am loved.

So thank you Amanda Cook for this amazing reminder of His love for me.

The link to lyric video is above…or you can read the powerful words here…

U

nreserved, unrestrained
Your love is wild, Your love is wild for me
It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed
Your love is proud to be seen with me

You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

Uncontrolled, un-contained
Your love is a fire burning bright for me
It’s not just a spark, it’s not just a flame
Your love is a light, that all the world will see

You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us
You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

Your love’s not fractured
It’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious, it’s not the restless kind

Your love’s not passive
It’s never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises, it keeps its word
It honors what’s sacred, cause its vows are good
Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish, Your love is pure

Point to ponder while you wander…You are loved. Right now. Right where you are. Period.

Love is a Verb:  Acts of Service

Last week I told you a long and rambling story of how love languages came to the forefront of my ever cluttered mind. In that vein, I’m doing a blog series on the 5 love languages as described by Dr. Gary Chapman.

I remember reading his book and thinking that it wasn’t a 100% accurate theory, but I was inspired by thought behind it and the good doctor’s intent. It encouraged me to pay even closer attention to those I love and try to love them in a way that made them feel loved. Many times we love people how we want to be loved. We do things for other people that we want done for ourselves. Thinking they want and need what we want and need. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.

I always appreciate it when people offer to help me or are willing to do things for me. I have been on my own for a long time, and am used to doing things for myself consistently. Therefore, I’m not always great at accepting help. I have to put serious effort into allowing others to help me. It is important because this may be their way of showing me they care, and if I continually reject their offers of assistance, they may feel rejected or unloved.

I believe love is a verb. An action. Not an emotion. I believe love is a choice. A decision to be kind and patient, even when we are angry. To deliberately, and purposefully put your selfishness on a shelf and focus on someone else’s need.

There are many kinds of love. A parent’s love for a child. A sibling’s love for another sibling. A friend’s love for a friend. A general concern for other humans in the world. Passionate love of those in a coupledom. The English word for love just isn’t sufficient to describe all the ways we can feel and show love.

Keeping the many kinds of love in your mind, think about acts of service as a language in each of those kinds of love. How we can choose to love each of those in our spheres by choosing to serve them?

Dr. Chapman defines those who give and receive love as an act of service as: “For these people, actions speak louder than words.”

So if a person in your sphere is speaks in the “acts of service” language, how can you show them love?

For general human kind…holding a door, paying for coffee or a meal for the person in line behind you, allowing a mother with a stroller to enter the elevator before you, cleaning the snow off the car for your roommate or neighbor, offering to babysit for a sibling or a neighbor so they can run errands or have a break…and the like. Showing up on time when you say you will, as actions speak louder than words.

For spouses…taking the trash out without being asked, cooking dinner or cleaning up after dinner, and sharing in other household tasks. Being willing to do the things they would normally do, but are too busy to do that day.

For parents towards teens…modeling serving behavior by teaching them how to give of themselves inside and outside of the family, driving to their games, meets, concerts, and other activities without compliant, and attending the events they participate in even if you have zero interest in said event. Many of the things you do for your teens are acts of service.

For kids towards your parents…offering to do household chores without being asked, and actually doing them, or doing any other similar type task without attitude. Being willing to obey rules, I would think, also falls under acts of service too.

For parents towards small kiddos… This is rather evident because you need to serve the small ones otherwise they would not live to be a year old. Diaper changes and feedings, and pretty much every single thing you need to do for them. But as they grow they will want to “help” you. Part of it may be quality time, wanting to be with you, but it also may be them wanting to do things for you to show you that they love you. Allow them to show you they love you with an act of service, and always remember to thank them.

Funny story…When I was small, maybe 5 years old, I wanted to help NaNa in her garden. So she put me in a section that needed to be weeded and told me what to do. So I “helped” her by pulling up every single plant in the vicinity. I was very thorough and pulled up the vegetable plants too. NaNa realized what I was doing, and said “Ah! No. Stop!” I was really upset because I wanted to help her. She smiled at me and said, “I have a new job for you Jill-o Maguillo.” And she put me in the potato plants and showed me how to kill potato bugs by cutting them in half with my fingernails. Then she went back and replanted all the veggie plants I had dug up.

This pic was taken around the time the story took place, spring 1980. This is NaNa, me, and my little sister, Bettie-Jo.

I remember this experience and how NaNa handled it vividly. After we were done and washing up, she thanked me for helping her and for all my hard work. Despite the time she lost weeding her 1 full acre garden, because she had to replant a section due to my thoroughness in plant pulling. So even though I made a mistake, I didn’t feel like I failed. I felt like I helped NaNa, and she appreciated my help.

I know a few people who have serious servant hearts, and are always looking for ways to help other people. Sometimes they get burned out or feel like people take advantage of their generosity. So please say thank you, and acknowledge their actions.

There obviously needs to be some boundaries in all relationships, so if this is your language, don’t allow people to run over you and take advantage. Healthy relationships have give and take.

Be on the look out to do something nice for those in your sphere. Not for a reward, but just to show them they matter to you. Pay attention to people who do things for you, and remember to say thank you and that you appreciate it. Try to reciprocate by helping them in an area that they may need assistance. If someone finds joy in serving you, dollars to donuts, they’d feel loved if you did something for them as well.

Point to ponder while you wander… Jesus said that He came to serve, not to be served. We should all be willing to serve others. He also said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’ friends.” John 15:13 NLT

Not Pointing Fingers

​”God knew from the beginning who would put their trust in Him. So He chose them to be like His Son. Christ was first & all those who belong to God are His siblings.” Romans 8:29. 

God is not pointing His finger at you, saying, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” He’s pointing at Jesus & saying, “Because of your brother you can be all I created you to be.”
I had s great conversation with a friend last night about comparing ourselves to others. And immediately I start thinking, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Point to ponder while you wander…No one can take what God has for you. No one can be you, and you cannot be anyone else. No matter how hard we try. So why not let go of comparison & envy, and just be your best you and I’ll be my best me.

Jesus is not a wussy

​Tonight I had a conversation with an intelligent and kind man who wanted to talk about theology, religion, and the rules.  I think he was genuinely curious…and not bad mouthing God. 

But I am simply the wrong person for that kind of intellectual based conversation. Not my strong suit. Because it is such a heart thing for me…that I cannot always explain so someone’s head can understand. I hope that in the coversation that I represented my Jesus well. But I’m not sure I did.

I just love Jesus. And Jesus loves me. He’s my guy. He saved my life when I didn’t believe I was worth anything…including life. I thought I was a mistake who wasn’t even eligible for the promises of God. But now…I know He knew I was worth dying for…so He gave His life. So I live for Him. 

Do I screw up? Yep. Daily. But He still loves me. He still roots for me. He still thinks I’m worth it. And He feels the same way about you. 

Religion sucks. Because it puts you in a box to be like everyone else. 

Jesus doesn’t fit in a box. He walks on water and calms storms. He touches lepers and heals them. He teaches women and calls them to change the world. He loves first. He flips over tables when people cheat or rob in the name of God. He is not a passive wussy. But He is love. He gives peace that passes all understanding. He loves first. Yes, I said this twice because it is worth repeating.
He loves you no matter who you are or are not, and no matter what you have done.

He is the love of my life. My heart. And generally that is such a private and personal relationship that I don’t talk much about it. 

But today I felt like I needed to. So I did. The end.

Point to ponder while you wander…Jesus is not a wussy. He’s a life giver who flips tables, loves the unlovely, and believes in those the world thinks are beeath them.

The Bride

We are both the bride of Christ, and a heir, a son with an inheritance.

As a girl, I get the bride part.  But it’s weird to think of myself as a son.  I’m sure that for guys it’s probably the same in reverse.  Then I learned something…God is bigger and His Kingdom greater.  And there are things that don’t translate into this world completely.  He explains His Kingdom Truths piece by piece in ways that make sense to us in our experiences in this world.  Jesus’s parables are examples of this.

Being a bride is not about being a girl.  It’s about the beauty and intimacy of the marriage itself.  The relationship.  We, in our humanness, often translate intimacy as sex and leave it there.  That’s probably why close to half of marriages end in divorce.

In a marriage relationship, sex is an important, necessary and beautiful part of intimacy.  It is the one time when you are connected to your spouse body, soul, and spirit.  That’s truly beautiful.  But if people aren’t opening themselves up and sharing the deep parts of themselves and really connecting they’re missing out on truly becoming one with their spouse.

As a single person who has never been married, I’m relying upon what God has taught me about marriage from His Word and from watching the marriages of those around me.  The good, the bad, and the truly terrifyingly ugly that inspire me to remain single.  I’ve seen it all.  And through it Jesus has shown me why intimacy with Him matters.

And I’ll be honest I suck at vulnerability.  I have pretty much loathed it most of my life. It’s a battle that fear has typically won against me.  I am not a fan of revealing my heart to people.  I was very sensitive as a kid, and I was told to toughen up and suck it up.  But in sucking it up and rolling on, I just walled up the fragile parts of myself and never allowed anyone to get anywhere near my heart of hearts.  Not even Jesus.

Just hearing the word vulnerable or intimacy caused me to shut down.  But I had a break down of sorts, and as a last resort I opened up the outer layers of myself to Jesus, most of which were areas of brokenness.  When I did, I quickly learned that He is kind.  He is gentle.  And that He truly loves me.  As He healed the outer layers, I opened up more and more to Him. I’m tearing up just thinking about it right now.  My relationship with Jesus is personal and I keep that part of my life in my heart of hearts.  It’s not something I share easily with people.

So even though I love Jesus completely, I struggle talking about Him and how good He is simply because it opens up my most vulnerable place.  Jesus saved my life in every way.  He is my everything.  But when you tell people this kind of thing…they roll their eyes or say, “Oh amen.”  And it feels cheapened. Then I get angry.  So I just don’t tell people about Jesus.

Believe me, I am aware that this is the opposite of the great commission and goes against everything I should be doing as a believer.  But I choose to just live my life out of that relationship and the love that He’s given me.  I treat people better than I ever have.  I have a greater capacity to love people, even the people I vehemently dislike.  I am more peaceful.  I have a greater joy.  My countenance has lightened.  My perspective skews towards seeing people as Jesus sees me.

I tried to love people before…and I’ll be honest…I wasn’t very good at it.  I still have days where it’s hard to be kind and patient. But I find that I’m not as judgmental or critical of myself or others as I have been.  It happened gradually, just by being with Jesus.  I didn’t try to change.  I didn’t do a self-help book or force myself to be kind.  It was a side effect 0f intimacy with Jesus.

The more time I spend with Him, and in His Word, the kinder I become.  The more I want to put my arms around the world and just hug them until they understand their worth and value.  I cry a lot.  I am super sensitive, even more so than I was as a child.  Yet, I feel safe.  I feel protected and guarded.  I’m not afraid of being me anymore.  The Jill that God designed is sensitive.  She was designed that way because she is an intercessor.  And she needs to be passionate about seeing healing in the brokenness around her.  I was created on purpose for a purpose.  Praying continually for people, even people I’ll never meet, is a part of that.  This understanding came from intimacy with Jesus.  By being His bride.

Intimacy is defined as close familiarity, closeness and also private and personal, confidential.  It is characterized by an atmosphere conducive to privacy and comfort.  And it relates to and is indicative of one’s deepest nature.

It’s that picture of a bride and groom coming together in marriage.  The hope in it.  The joy in it.  The openness.  The joining together.  The partnership.

One of the things that helped me to understand what it looked like to be the bride of Christ was reading Song of Songs in the Passion Translation.  I highly recommend it, because in this version you can truly see the divine romance between yourself and Jesus.  The way He loves us is just so thick and deep and genuine.  Reading Song of Songs the first time took me about a month because I could only go a verse or 2 at a time.  It completely wrecked me (in a good way).

One of the first interchanges between the Shulamite (me) and the Shepherd-King (Jesus) is Chapter 1, Verse 5:

The Shulamite:  “I know I am so unworthy–so in need.”

The Shepherd-King:  “Yet you are so lovely!”

The Shulamite:  “I feel as dark and dry as the desert tents of the wandering nomads.”

The Shepherd-King:  “Yet you are so lovely–like the fine linen tapestry hanging in the Holy Place.”

This verse cut me.  I physically felt it like a scalpel cutting away my negative image of myself and replace it with, “I am lovely.” For months every time I’d have a “I’m so fat” or a “I am ugly” thought, I’d hear Jesus say, “You are so lovely.”

I will never be the same again.  Ever.  I can’t go back to before or undo what His love has done to me.

Point to ponder while you wander…This is what being the Bride of Christ looks like in my life.  What does it look like in your life?  I’d love to hear what Jesus has shown you about being the Bride.  Feel free to comment or to message me privately.  Same goes if you need prayer.

 

Okay..so I’m in NY

I’ve been having conversations lately about living vs existing with Jesus, my roommate, and several others. I need to fully LIVE this life and I haven’t been. 

John 10:10 is really on my heart…Jesus came to give us life…abundant life. But we need to choose to receive that gift and really life every day as an adventure.  I was beginning to just sit in a rut of work and Netflix. (11. Seasons of Criminal Minds, Stranger Things,  and the like) And that is NOT who I am. Not even a little bit. So this trip I am on is me returning to me.

What trip? On Thursday I decided to go to a women’s conference in NYC. I flew out on Friday. And now I am in NYC for the weekend. Yesterday I started exploring a little bit and I started to feel alive again for the first time in a while.

Maybe my rut came from me being in grief. Maybe from fear. Maybe from the weariness of waiting. I don’t know. But I stopped exploring and being spontaneous. I love exploring my Michigan and her cities.And I just stopped. 

I just sorta checked out.

So if you’re in a rut too, get out and explore today. LIVE! Do something spontaneous. 

YES!  Jesus died to reconcile and reconnect you to God. 

YES! Jesus died to take your sin and shame and for your healing, body, soul, and spirit. 

YES! Jesus died so you could be free from the weight of sin and death. 

BUT He also was RESURRECTED so you can LIVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE! And He sent Holy Spirit to EMPOWER you to be bold and courageous.  

So dooooooo it! Get out there. Go after what makes you feel alive. 

Point to ponder while you wander…your time on Earth is short…even at Moses’s 120 years…in comparison to eternity. So take some time and ask yourself what makes you feel alive? What really wakes up your soul and makes your spirit do flips in your belly?

Then partner with Jesus and go doooooo it!

You may not be living your dream life right this second…but that doesn’t mean you can’t fully live right where you are! 

PS Want to change? Change your perspective my friends…because true change begins with a changed mindset. You we were given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. Use it. Declare it. Tell fear to go back from whence it came! 😉

Eat it!

Christians, for the most part, want to impact the world for Jesus. We are well intentioned folks who genuinely want to help others. Unfortunately some end up hurting more than helping.

Why? Because we are hearers of the Word but NOT doers!

But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively & continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:22 AMP 

I’ve known Jesus since I was 7, but officially received him at 16. 

And promptly went about telling everyone they needed Jesus too. Did they? Absolutely! Was what I was saying true? You betcha!

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I had never learned to apply my carefully memorized verses to my own life. I never internalized the Word.

I spewed the Word at people like a fire hose expecting that to clean them up and inspire them to come to church with me.

But that isn’t what happened. I got eye rolls and people closing up and shutting me out. I even stopped being invited to parties with one group of friends.

I had the exact opposite effect as I intended. I came across as judgmental. Bossy. Mean. Pushy. I was a hypocrite. I expected other people to submit to verses I hadn’t applied to my own life, and in some cases hadn’t even read.

Within one year of my salvation I was so frustrated that I rebelled fully and completely. I told God His rules were crap and I was going to life my way.

Why was I frustrated? 1. I focused on the rules and trying to be a perfect person. And it was exhausting. 2. Not one person was changed for the better, despite my preaching at them.

Jesus never asked me to do that. That was all me. Jesus just wanted to love me and heal me. But I was not open to anyone mucking around in my personal business. Besides Jesus has bigger things to worry about than me, right?

It took 8 years for me to come back to Jesus. Then 3 more years for me to begin to open up and actually let Jesus in. 

And another few years after that to see that Father God wanted a relationship with me, and that He really loved me. He was for me and not against me.

So now about 25 years after I was “saved” I finally get it. I have a real relationship with Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit. And I understand the way to help others, obtain wisdom, and change the world is to internalize the Word in my own life. Let it heal me and change me. Let The Word shift my perspective until I see like Jesus sees, and to love the way Jesus loves.

Point to ponder while you wander…the Word is powerful. It doesn’t return void but accomplishes what the Father sends it forth to do. So don’t just skim it and forget it! Internalize it! Apply it! Live it! That’s what the prophets mean when they talk about eating the Word.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

An Attitude Adjuster

​I’m having a rough time with one particular condescending co-worker. After a meeting with him I need to walk for a minute and readjust my attitude. Then I read this… sigh. How do I work that magic of my best self coming out in the face of being condescended to?

Proof I need Jesus more every day.

Matthew 5:43-47 The Message Version

 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”

Love is always the right answer. I know that. Be kind. Don’t puff myself up. Be patient. Remembering that in the moment and choosing to act on it…that’s maturity in Christ.

Right now my emotional stability is continually fluctuating. And my intellectual pride really detests being talked down to like I am an idiot. I am not am idiot. I may not understand something. I may not know something. But I am always willing to learn.

But these are just excuses and rationalizations. 

I should not behave like a toddler. 

The Fruit of the Spirit should be kicking in…Self-control and Love. 

But I need to choose to respond in love. Just like I need to choose joy in the face of trials like condescending co-workers. Just like I need to choose to maintain peace in the face of stress.

Jesus is always there to call on. Holy Spirit is always there with His Fruit of the Spirit. Abba is always there loving me (and you) and believing in me (and you).

So I need this reminder every Monday: Choose love today, Jill.

Point to ponder while you wander…is verse 48: “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Light of the World 

​”As long as I am in the world,  I am the light of the world.” John 9:5 

When Jesus took His place at the right hand of God, you took His place as the light of the world. 

Point to ponder while you wander…. Shine on light of the world!

This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

New Strength

We were created to be in partnership with Jesus, so when we try to be Lone Rangers we get drained, stressed, weary, and depressed. But…

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

I’ve been really struggling the past few months. I have been asking Jesus about it recently but because I feel so overwhelmingly sad I haven’t been able to hear Him clearly. I know He’s speaking but I can’t hear what He is speaking. This morning I went on Bible Gateway to look something up and Isaiah 40:31 was the verse of the day.

I heard very clearly that I’ve become weary because I’m trying to get through this without Him. And I can’t. Not if I ever want to heal completely.

I’ve been trying to survive on the fumes of my own strength, when He’s got a new fresh supply of strength for me that will allow me to thrive even in grief.

I don’t know how people can get through loss and hard times without Jesus. I am eternally grateful for the new strength He provides when my own runs out.

Point to ponder while you wander…“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 NLT