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You Think Too Small

I’ve honestly lost count of the number of times that God has told me that I think too small.

I’d love to tell you that every time He said that it grew my faith and inspired me to speak some words that would amaze all around…

“Show me how to think bigger!”  “Teach me to see like You, to think like You!”  “I want all You have for me!  Bring it on!”  “I’m ready to cliff dive, Jesssuuuuuus!  Let’s dooo it!”

But I’m honest.

So a handful of times the above have happened (except the cliff diving….heights and jumping from said heights are not my jam).  Sometimes I feel brave and let words like that escape my mouth.

But usually it was more along the lines of  “You made me this way, and I like small.”  “Let’s just go with my plan this time, Abba.  We’ll try your way next time.”  “Uh…have you met me?”  “Jesus, let’s just stay here all cuddly.  You’re my guy.  All I need.  Can I just stay right here with YOUUUUU, FOREVERRRRRRR?”

There are times when I’ve rolled my eyes in response to the “too small” comment.

Other times I’ll remind Him of His Word, “Um…point of order God…doesn’t Zechariah 4:10 say “not to despise small beginnings.”

“What is the context, Jillian?”

FYI…the context God showed me is that in verse 6 the Lord told Zerubbabel that it wasn’t by force nor by strength, but by Holy Spirit that Zerubbabel would accomplish what the Lord declared he would do.  So when you get to verse 10…which actually says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (NLT)

Essentially this is God’s way of saying, “Hey Jill. I’ve sent Holy Spirit ahead of you to prepare the way.  I’m even more excited about this project than you!  So what are you waiting on?  Let’s get project started!!”

God loves it when I quote scripture to Him.  It gives Him the opportunity to reveal things to me that blow my mind wide open, and pop my little eyes so wide that I resemble a cartoon character.  Makes His day.

There are also the times that I put my hand up before He has a chance to say anything, and say “Yes, I know.  I think too small.”  Surrender fast.  Like ripping the band-aid off.

Rarer of my responses, is the Jill’s got her sassy pants on, and she’s ready to go toe to toe.  Then I’ll talk a big game about my screenwriting Oscars (That’s Oscars, plural.  And I have a speech if you want to hear it.)  People binge watching television series that came from my own imagination.  Funny shows that both inspire and move people.  My own photo studio.  Multiple galleries with my work.  Shelves of books with my name on the spine (Me and Jesus are productive partners, you know.)  A stack of tear-stained letters from people I’ve never met telling me the words Jesus and I wrote helped them heal, grow, and step out into their own wild unknown.  Book awards.  Dreamy husband who sings to me.  Stacks of money that I get to give away, funding other people’s dreams and visions from God.  A passport so full of stamps they had to give me more pages.

When I pull this kind of Jill-ness, I can see Him smiling at me.  The you’re so cute smile you give a small toddler when they think they have mastered the universe by putting on their own clothes. Their clothes that don’t match.

Then…

just as I’m about to finish…

I feel it….

rising up in the core of my inner most being…

Ephesians 3:20

Here’s the TPT: “Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energizes you.”

Why am I sharing this?  Well, because it’s true, first and foremost.

But also because I do think too small.  I find myself looking for scraps and thinking I can make this work.  And there are seasons in our lives when all we have are scraps and we do need to just be grateful for the scraps.  I’ve had those seasons.  I’ve lost a house to foreclosure.  I’ve had cars repossessed.  Been under employed and unemployed for far too long.  Had 2 operations in one calendar year.  I lost 3 of the most important people in my life in 5 months, and too many other family members within that same year.  I’ve been betrayed.  I’ve been gutted by loss, and swam in self-pity.  I had a string of sprains and a broken foot.  Then the same week I FINALLY got off crutches, I fell off a ladder in front of 100+ coworkers, including a 2-Star General thank you very much, and cracked my wrist.  Not every day is gonna be a bowl full of cherries, kids.  It’s life.

The difference between believers and everyone else is that we’ve got Jesus.  We’re not in it alone.  We have hope.

Don’t think a pruning season is the end of your growth.  Don’t think a season of loss is now your new permanent life.  God is a great, big, mah-vel-ous God!  And the Dude is straight up funny.  He is joy personified.

For those who don’t believe me, who say show me in the Word…read Psalm 16:11 NKJV “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

You can also reference Nehemiah 8:10 NLT “And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!

And we can add to that Proverbs 17:22 TPT, “A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.

God is all about the joy.

He does mourn with us.  He is close to the brokenhearted, and does rescue those whose spirits are broken.  He does heal the brokenhearted and bind their wounds, so that they can move forward.  And embrace life again!  Not just life though..Abundant life!

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”  John 10:10 AMP

Lest you think I’ve begun to rabbit trail, Why am I sharing this?  1.  Because it’s true.  2.  Because I do think too small.  3.  Ah…yeah, no judging.  You do too!

We need to be reminded, you and I, that God is the Great Creator.  His imagination is endless.  His love unending.  He always wants to spend time with us.  He’s never too busy.  And in His generosity, the more time you spend with Him, the more revelation He shares you.  He never runs out of anything.  Ever.  He’s the God who multiplies.

But here’s the part where the rubber meets the road…Are you willing to trust Him?  Do you believe that He is? AND that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him?  Do you believe He is pumped to partner with YOU in YOUR dream?

Do I believe that He enjoys partnering with me from the first line of random, through the not so awesome editing phase, all the way to the published book?  Yes I do.  But I haven’t always.

I’ve quit and told Him I was done, more than once.  I have given the Christian auto responses more often than not, when people asked me questions I didn’t want to answer, or I couldn’t answer because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what I was doing!  But in my own private time, I wrestled and fought to understand.  I’ve cried.  I’ve told God off.  I’ve lamented in the way of Jeremiah and David.  And you know what, I came out on the other side, knowing more about myself and about the God I serve.  I love Him in a way I never could before.  So that’s how I know He’s hilarious.  And sometimes infuriating.  But always in it with me.

Point to ponder while you wander….I ain’t the sweet, pliable, easy type kid, who just says, “Yes, Lord.”  I’m the one with the hard head, that goes around the mountain more than once.  I’m the one whose mouth just gets her into trouble repeatedly.  I’m the one who thinks too small.

And yet, He enjoys my company.  He appreciates when I tell Him first, before anyone else.  He sees me.  He knows me.  And He loves me.

And that is why He continually tells me I think too small.

Clutter Piles and God’s Glory

I’m feeling random today.  Prepare yourself.

I guess it’s because I spent a day and a half cleaning my room.  This means that my body was occupied but my mind was left to wander all over the place. My wandering mind can find shenanigans too easily.

And yes, I actually spent a full day and a half cleaning my bedroom.  A full day and a half!  You see, when I get upset or have a lot of change I start piling things around my bed.  I don’t even realize I’m doing it until one day I walk into my room and I can no longer see the floor.  I call it “nesting.”  I’m literally building a protective nest around my bed.  It’s one of those unconscious things I do when I can’t deal with all the things.

And I’ll be honest…I’m struggling to deal with all the things.

Even though all the things are good.

  1.  New place to live.  Inexpensive.  Great Roommates.  I have the biggest room, mostly because I have the most stuff.  Most of the stuff is books and art supplies, and a 5 foot stuffed alligator that a really dreamy friend won for me in England during a study abroad.  Good times bringing that home on the airplane.
  2. New job.  First full time job in over a year.  Pays well.  Benefits.  Good coworkers, including a dreamy one who is the just the sweetest.  Interesting work, most days.  I learn every day, because it’s completely different than anything I’ve ever done.  And I get to organize things in spreadsheets! (Don’t mock me I like organizing things, and I like spreadsheets.)
  3. New car.  2 years old but new to me with low miles.  It’s the color of Yoda and gets like 35 miles to the gallon.  I LOVE IT!
  4. New church.  Well not exactly new, I’ve been there for conferences and to visit friends, but now it’s my church.  The people are fabulous and the word is good.  But for some reason I cannot settle in there.  I don’t know why.  It’s been a battle.  God confirmed that it’s my church.  I have peace about it.  And yet I don’t want to go.  So weird.

Do you see anything bad in this list?  No.  Me either.  And yet I’m struggling to get into any sort of routine in this newness.  And I’ve been lacking in the joy area lately.  No joy=No strength.  I’ve been trying to figure it out, and  I realized two things:

1.  I’m struggling because after the past few years of reoccurring unemployment, having my car repossessed, having my house auctioned, and my credit sliding into the 500’s, I simply do not know how to not struggle.  I keep waiting for my job to go away or some other trauma or drama to occur.

God used these crappy years to show me His faithfulness and provision.  He used this to show me that I don’t have to be afraid.  In feast or famine He’s there.  He never leaves.  He didn’t cause my issues, but he used them to teach me and turn things around for my good.

Despite learning all of this and coming out of it with a new perspective, I cannot settle into my new life.  I think that’s part of the other reason my room was a disaster, I wasn’t unpacking or getting comfortable here because I was waiting for it to turn ugly with my roommates, or to be kicked out or something.

I’m not a low expectations kind of gal.  I’m a dreamer with a big imagination.  If I don’t keep tabs on my thought life…I can be caught rehearsing my best original screenplay Oscar speech.  Seriously.

I’m so frustrated with myself about the expectation of calamity and drama.  I know that we receive what we expect and believe.  If I expend all my energy being afraid and worrying, I’m actually agreeing with the Enemy’s plan for my life.  His plan is to steal from me, to kill my dreams and bring sickness my way, and to destroy my joy and peace.

But Jesus came to give me life and an abundant life at that!  (John 10:10)

So what is my deal?  Why am I building a security nest?  Why am I sad?

Am I not believing God?  Do I doubt Him?  Am I ungrateful?

No.  No.  And no.  I believe God will do all He said He would do.  He just does it in His perfect timing (Which is not my timing, clearly.)  I’m so thankful for my job and home and car and everything else that I’ve been blessed with.  God is good to me!

So again what is my deal?  Or as David puts it, “Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  I will put my hope in God!  I will praise Him again-my Savior and my God.”  Psalm 42:11

This is where my second realization comes into play:

2. My new life isn’t what I expected.

Aw crap.  There’s that expectation word again.

I had a similar breakdown when I turned 25.  My life isn’t what I expected and I’m not where I expected to be at 40, and I’m sad about it.  Some of that has to do with me feeling like I’m failing and like I’ve missed opportunities. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time dealing with my issues that I’ve not been doing anything beneficial for the kingdom.  I feel like a failure.  I feel worthless.

I know that these are lies.  I know that I am valued by God.  I know that I cannot fail unless I quit.  I know that preparation time is not wasted time.  But I’m still struggling with it.

Some of it has to do with God’s timing.  I feel like expired milk.  I feel like Mary and Martha telling Jesus that if He’d have gotten there sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died.  Except that I’m saying, “Well Jesus, If you’d only given me what you promised in my 20’s then I wouldn’t have to be starting over again at 40.”

But I know Jesus is good.  I know He doesn’t withhold good gifts.  So why all the waiting?

But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”  So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.  Finally, he said to his disciples,“Let’s go back to Judea.”John 11:4-6 NLT

The first point of this passage is that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  And I know that Jesus loves me just as much.  The second point of this passage is that when the situation looks absolutely hopeless from a human point of view, when there’s nothing more that can be done, that’s when miracles happen.  That’s when God shows up and displays His glory for the world to see.

Points to ponder while you wander… You are loved.  It’s never too late.  The bigger the problem the greater display of God’s glory.

PS  If you’re so inclined, read Lazarus’s story in John chapter 4.  It’s an amazing story!

 

Musical Monday-Dream for You

Today’s encouraging Musical Monday song is Dream for You by Casting Crowns.

Your plans for the future might be good but God’s are bigger and better.  Trust me on this.  For the past year, God has been taking my little itty bity dreams and plans and showing me His version for me.  Let me tell you, even with my stellar imagination, God’s creative powers are vastly superior to mine!

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.”  I Corinthians 2:9 MSG

This scripture has been proven again and again in my life this year as I seek to partner with Him in all He has for me.  Knowing that God believes that I am capable of achieving these dreams in partnership with Him, has not only bolstered my confidence and made me want to take risks, it’s allowed me to let go of the things that have been holding me back.

One by one I’ve been laying waste to every single back up plan I’ve ever had and moving forward in what God has for me.  Is it scary?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I’ve never been happier or more excited in my life.

PS:  I know the details what God’s doing in my life have been vague.  Sorry, but that is on purpose.  I have a policy that I don’t share what’s going on in my life with everyone until I have victory in it.  I do share it with people who are prayer partnering with me.  Specific people the Lord has put in my life for this purpose.

With social media and such it’s easy to put every single bad day, bad mood and negative thing in your life out for the world to comment on.  I do not do this.  I will not do this.  Like David, I take my emotions and situations and vent them to the Lord and a grand total of 2 other people.  Two people who I trust to not let me get away with wallowing.  Two people who intercede for me like I intercede for them.  The information that goes out to everyone else is filtered.  It has to be.

My goal in this blog and in everything else I do is to encourage people.  Most of you know exactly what you’ve done wrong and your issues.  You don’t need me for that. What you do need is someone to remind you who God says you are, and that you are deeply loved.  It is not too late to start making good choices.  God is for you not against you.  Just like God has big plans and dreams for me, He has them for you too.  Yours will be vastly different from mine because we are two completely different people with different gifts and talents.  I want to see you be the best you that you can be!!!

And I promise you this, when victory comes in the situations and circumstances I am facing.  You and everyone else will hear what the Lord has done for me.  Until then it is encouragement all day every day!