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Love is a Verb: Quality Time

Between all the “have tos” in life is this precious substance called time.
Time is finite. Only 24 hours per day. 7 days per week. 52 weeks per year.

Time is not guaranteed. You do not know how many of these 24 hour days you’ll have.

So each of those days has so much value.

Yet we groan every Monday and beg for Friday to roll around. I’m just as guilty, believe me. I love the freedom of my weekends. Sleeping in. Alone time. Bliss.

Being introverted…I NEED alone time. And trust me when I say all y’all around me should cheer that I take alone time. I’m nicer as a result. 😉

But quality time with my people is priceless and delicious, and I need that too. I feel loved and show love by giving people my time. I do my very best to have one on one time with each of my nieces and nephews. To pour into them. To listen to them. To find out who they are and see where I can support, encourage, or dream with them. I find out how to pray for them. And let’s face it…they are a blast those kids. Seriously fun. I love them. More than they can possibly imagine.

Quality time doesn’t have to be long periods of time. But you do need to be engaged with the other person. Focused on them. Not the tv. Not your phone. Not social media. But actively listening and talking with the other person.

Quality time can be as simple as taking a walk with a friend. I miss the Walkie Talkies I used to have with my friend Kate (I moved so we are several states away now), and the deep meandering discussions I had with my friend Rachel on our walks together. Quality time can be going to breakfast the same time every week for decades, like my Papa did with his big brother, Bob. Quality time can also be a weekend away or a road trip.

But here’s the tough part about quality time, we simply do not have enough time in the day to give quality time to every single person we know. It is physically impossible. So with limited resource of time and the 2 commandments of Jesus (loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves), how can we best invest our quality time?

Well…the best example of time management was a man who only lived for 33 years on this earth. His name is Jesus. Jesus loved with all that He had. He knew how to be a servant. He spoke words of life. He gave the ultimate gift. His touch healed every single person that He touched. Literally every single one. And He understood how to balance His time.

He rested, and invested in Himself with alone time. He spent time with the Father. These two things are essential if you want to have anything to give to anyone else. Quality time with yourself + Quality time with Father God = A Filled Up You. Therefore, a better you at work, school, or where you “have to” go every day. If Jesus couldn’t love the World without alone time and God time, neither can you.

A filled up Jesus was then capable of pouring the love He received from the Father out into the world. Jesus loved everyone He encountered. But it was the love He first received from the Father.

But despite this, Jesus did not invest quality time in every single person He encountered. And neither can you. No matter how much time you spend receiving from God.

Jesus invested His time into 12. Out of the whole world, 12.

But the majority of his quality time was reserved for 3 people. 3.

Remember that when you’re scheduling out your time. Who are the people in your circle who are the top priority? A friend in crisis? Your kids? Your spouse? Your inner circle of friends? A person who you’re mentoring? Who ever those chosen few may be, don’t forget to carve out some of your precious time for them. Quality time=love.

Point to ponder while you wander…Papa God is all about quality time with us. He asks us to seek Him, then promises that He’ll show up every time. And He’ll fill you with His love. He’ll reveal who He is, and give us help with our day. What He did for Jesus, He’ll do for you.

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Reading vs Skim Reading

I love to read. When I am into a truly good story, I get mildly obsessed and can generally put down a 300 pager in a day.

But when I read that way, I’m skim reading. Meaning that I am reading it fast enough to get the main things, but I’m not picking up the detailed descriptions or the subtle nuances. That is also why if a book is good I’ll read it more than once. So I’ll see all the fabulous things hidden in plain sight by the author.

This is completely different than how I read The Word or a book about The Word. I can read one verse and ponder in it for several days. Or look up other verses on the same topic and spend several hours reading and rereading these verses until I understand what Jesus is showing me that day.

For example…it took me nearly 2 years to read “Captivating” by Stasi & John Eldredge. That book gutted me. I’d read a paragraph, or a sentence even, and I’d have to go to Jesus with what it brought up in me and let Him help me with it. Once I was healed, I’d go back to that book. This happened repeatedly for nearly 2 years.

One of the best and hardest to read books ever.

With The Word, from a single verse on one day I can get a general overview meaning that inspires me that day, and come back another day and get a deeper meaning from the same verse. A revelation that changes my whole perspective. It’s what I love about The Bible. It’s living and double edged.

I’m currently reading Good or God? by John Bevere. God has revealed some things to me over the years about the Garden of Eden that are being confirmed by this book, and I’m only in chapter 2! So I’m reading it slowly. Pondering. Chewing on it. Going into The Word from the verses mentioned and chewing on that.

What made me write this post today is something that I wish more pastors and teachers would remind people….

…verify what you hear for yourself!

How many people leave church after a sermon and just accept what they’ve been taught without going into The Word for themselves? Without taking it before God and asking Him to reveal how this can be applied to their life and situation.

I’m not judging….believe me…I’ve done it too. It’s easy when you sit under an excellent teacher to just take what they’ve spent hours and years to learn and move on with our day. But how effective is that in growing and maturing you?

Be honest. It isn’t. Not for you or me.

Think back to something you’ve learned in school. Like a foreign language or subject you didn’t care about. I took 2 economics classes as a part of my major, International Relations. I can tell you that economics is about supply and demand and that Adam Smith is the founder of modern economics. That is all I remember from 6 months of study.

So it’s not effective to just listen and not verify or study it for yourself. It only stays for maybe a day or a week at the most. If, we don’t apply what we’ve heard, the excellent teaching we received is wasted.

The person speaking is also human. They may have taken what The Word said and twisted it to support what they want it to say, rather than what it actually says. One of my favorite pastors, Duane Vanderklok, used to remind us every so often that he is just a man, and that we should be checking up on him, by reading The Word ourselves.

I’d like to believe when this happens it wasn’t intentionally done, but there are people in the world with selfish intentions or even dark motivations. We’ve all seen news stories about people who have been fooled by someone claiming to be good.

So it is always best to verify for yourself.

It’s like gossip or “fake news” on the internet. People read it and share it before verifying it’s true. One of my big pet peeves!!

Just because someone said it doesn’t mean it’s true. So if your skim reading your way through life, and never verifying what you’re hearing is true, then you’re probably believing at least one big fat lie. So take some time to verify for yourself.

Point to ponder while you wander… “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 NKJV

Think BEFORE You Speak

How many needless offenses, problems & fights would we save ourselves if we truly listened, instead of determining our response while the other person is still talking? Then we ask genuinely, “This is what I am hearing, is that what you meant?” Then we take a minute to respond in love!

“Understand this my dear brothers and sisters; You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, & slow to get angry.” James 1:19

If we choose to live this way, we will have less open mouth insert foot and better relationships.

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!