Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!


"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5

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Sunday, December 11, 2011


I read three things this afternoon during my Sabbath Rest and those three things READ ME:

1) Gary Thomas' "Sacred Parenting" - Sacrifice: How Raising Children Teaches Us to Sacrifice - pgs. 178-188
~ "While we find it easy to "open up" a spiritual gift, it's not so easy to lay one down on God's behalf."
~ "Christianity was birthed in sacrifice and calls us to many acts of sacrifice."..."On the back of Christ's sacrifice"
~ "How do kids get nurtured with the active love, available counsel, and prayerful presence they so desperately need?  On the backs of their mothers' sacrifices, that's how."
~ "Sometimes responsibility, loyalty, and maturity call us to willingly lay down our dreams for the sake of those we love - and in the hope that hose who come after us can accomplish even more than we could."
~ "However 'important' we may think we are, we should expect that God can do even more important things through our children.  It is our duty to give them our full attention and our best effort, hoping that they can build on this to become influential Christians themselves..." (not becoming so busy with their "own ministries")
~ Matthew 14

A Post To Come to explain how reading this chapter read me...

2) John Eldredge's "Walking with God" - 'Learning How to Listen', 'Whole and Holy', 'Making Room for Joy' -  pgs. 25 - 41
~ Since being introduced to "God Guides", I have entered the adventure of *Listening to God*.  Not as immediately, regularly, or well as I would like, but a desire fulfilled more in the last year than ever before...and I call that Spiritual Growth.  To read Eldredge's explanation of how he "Learned to Listen" resonates with me.  I am encouraged to know I am not alone in Learning to be a Listener and that he's teaching others too!
~ Whole and Holy - Holiness is a calling I am so conscious to strive for and again I sometimes feel alone is my intensity of that striving.  Wholeness/healing is also a drumbeat in my heart (connected to "Post To Come" above).  And Eldredge articulates it in a way that I say, "YES!"  "You can't find the holiness you want without deep wholeness.  And you can't find the wholeness you want without deep holiness."  Holiness of Christ --> Healing -->  Wholeness --> Holiness
~ Eldredge heard from God on "Making Room for Joy" and this brought tears to my eyes - again, I am not alone in my struggle to experience the Christian Joy... that Joy that is just supposed to overflow from me because I Know Christ!?!?

3) Ann Voskamp's website "A Holy Experience"
One post on how she feels like she's "just not getting it all right".  Again, brought tears to my eyes...this is a woman I do not know personally, but I have been ministered to deeply through her website writings.  I admire her walk with God, being a decade or so down the road from me.  I want to learn from her, because what she writes about resonates with what I want to grow in.  And then to read that she feels inadequate "just like me."  I am not alone - in my striving for holiness and God's sweet reminders to rely humbly on Him!  In Ann Voskamp's own words, "Praise not Perfection; Grace not Grindstone."  And what perfect timing as I am flailing in getting life back to "normal" after three weeks of upheaval due to my mother-in-law's illness and death, return home from a funeral, and decide on, buy, wrap, and mail Christmas presents!  And then to read her next post...and cry more...this too is my heart's cry for a radical Christmas.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 61 - Surrender "Getting it all right" NOW - For a list of the "Daily Lesson" titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 58

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - Keep Surrendering

It's been 25 days since I last posted and boy has it been a whirlwind and wow have God and I had quite the conversations!

November 2nd my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer for the third time in 10 years.  Nov. 9th she got news that it was inoperable and she was too weak for chemo so she had the option of choosing radiation and/or feeding tube (as the tumor was in her esophagus and causing swallowing trouble).   Nov. 11th  she opted against the radiation and against the feeding tube.   Nov. 14-20th DH flew out to NC to spend some time with his mom and help his dad.  He returned to NC Nov. 24-27th  for the weekend of Thanksgiving instead of joining me and the kids in Ohio.  DMIL passed away the evening of Nov. 28th.  DH and I flew out Dec. 1st for the funeral on the 3rd and returned home 9pm on the 4th.  

When I knew DH was going to be gone for the week before Thanksgiving and I was planning on being in Ohio with my parents the week of Thanksgiving anyway, I ended up going to Ohio a week earlier.   That way I could be closer to NC if I needed to get to the funeral and the kids were already with my parents.  As it turned out Mom, the kids, and I were in a hotel halfway back from Ohio when DH called the evening of the 28th with the news.  My mom ended up staying 5 extra days to be with the kids so I could accompany DH to the funeral and fully focus on what needed to be done there (What an awesome Mom she is!)  

So 2 weeks traveling and three weeks of upheaval and I have had a peace - I have truly sensed the prayers of the saints "holding up my arms in battle" for although overwhelmed at times, I have not been too stressed, anxious, or irritable that is not my "natural" response so I credit that to the working of the Holy Spirit in response to the prayers of His people.  Thank you to anyone reading this who may be responsible for the evidence of God's hand "on earth as it is in heaven"!

And as my Dear Friend pointed out, it seems as though in the LORD's faithfulness He was preparing me for "such a time as this" by having me in this Fast of Surrender.  For many of the aspects of my selfishness that I have been conscious to surrender in the last several weeks have pricked my heart again, guiding me to walk by the grace of godliness and not give in to the temptation of "fleshy feeling."

It is my desire to post some of these details in the days to come, so stay tuned...but with adjusting to "normal life" and it being in the midst of the Christmas season, I have no guesstimate on when or how often that blog-processing might be!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 33

Saturday, November 12, 2011 - Surrender Trying to Make Things Happen

This is a special weekend.  I so want it to go smoothly and as I had envisioned.  But then that puts more pressure on it and sets me up for disappointment.

Surrender: To Me

Surrender: Making Things Happen

Let ME Make Things Happen, according to My Will.

Sunday, November 13, 2011 - It was a lovely weekend for all!:)  Everyone was glad they came.  You are faithful, Father.  Thank you.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 31

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - Surrender THE LOAD

I was feeling SO HEAVY this morning.  I was feeling the weight of the news we received last night: My mother in law's lung cancer is back for the 3rd time.  She's almost 72, it's stage three, it's inoperable, she's too weak for chemo, they meet with the doctor today to determine if her body can take any more radiation, the tumor is in her esophagus which inhibits eating.  She's lost 12 pounds in the last week; she is leaning toward not getting a feeding tube.  The number 6 months was husband will most likely be losing his mother in the next year; and if she opts for no feeding tube, it'll be less than a month.  When do we go out (they live 1/2 a country away), how long do we stay, how do we explain this to DS3?  Will there be any reconciliation in DH's heart regarding his relationship with his mom?  HEAVY.

HEAVY: Prior to this news, I invited an 18 gal who on Tuesday just had her second baby in 12 months (they are 50 weeks apart) to stay with us for a week or so to get adjusted to two babies.  I'm waiting to hear back from her, but I'm guessing she's not going to take me up on our offer for help.  WEIGHTY.  Will she be here next week?  How will it affect things?  Will it be what I hope it is?  What if she says, "no" how do I keep reaching out to her.  LORD, how do I love her and minister to her as You would, not with band-aids - meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs?  HEAVY.

Surrender THE LOAD.

"Carry each other's burdens and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2

"Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."  Matt. 11:28

Ah, so am I supposed to help carry other's burdens and then hand them over to You, Christ?  Not carry the weight of the load myself.

Win - Win - Win Situation: The other person is not as burdened, I have fulfilled the law of Christ (and am not burdened b/c I have given it to Christ Himself), and Christ is not burdened for He is fulfilling His purpose in carrying our burdens (the burden of our sin, the burden of the effects of The Fall in our lives)!

Oh, but so hard to Surrender THE LOAD.  Teach me, O LORD to surrender for Your Glory!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 30

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - Surrender Perfectionism

Amongst the growing List of "Things to Do," I regularly have in the back of my mind "Post a new lesson."  And with that comes the thought that "I'm behind."  I have missed a day here and a couple of days there and so looking back on my 40 days, I will not have a record for each day.

And then the "still, small Voice:" Surrender Perfectionism.


Yes, having something recorded for EVERY day of my Fast would fall under the Idol of Perfectionism.

And thus the lesson the Holy Spirit brought to mind - God's desire for our striving of "Perfect" is in Character and Command - Faithful Obedience to the Commands of God and striving for the Character of Holiness, that we might be Holy as He is Holy (Lev. 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16).

Having a "perfect" record of this Fast is neither an issue of my holiness, nor a command from the LORD.

Hmmm...this is a helpful distinction for me.  When I feel that itching for something to be "perfect," I can ask: Is this an issue of my Character of Holiness, a Command of God, or just a personal preference that I'm turning into a idol of worship (expending more energy and attention to that what God would have of me)?

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 29

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - Surrender The Judge (A Lesson in Grace)

Justice.  I value it.  As I should, for God does.  BUT, "...Mercy triumphs over judgment."  (James 2:13)

I want my judgment to be from God's perspective - to determine justice as God determines justice.  HOWEVER, I think that in my striving for God's perspective, I'm trying to align it with what I see as God's "Ideal" portrayed in Scripture.  That is good, EXCEPT, I think I play the Judge in determining the justice of a situation and that's NOT MY role.  And as God is The Judge, HE looks at things through the lens of The Fallen World, whereas I am striving (in my judgement of justice vs. mercy) to make the world look like Eden.

The illustration that came to mind was a pair of glasses:  it's as if one lens is Justice and one lens is Mercy.  God looks through both and judges situations accordingly.

I tend to close one eye on the Mercy lens in order to uphold Justice to make the world look a little more like Eden.

BUT, we now live in the Fallen World and therefore God NEEDS to and does look at it more through the lens of Mercy.  I think if I wanted to see more with God's "Post Fall" perspective, I will need to close the other eye and look through His lens of Mercy more often.

To surrender me being the judge of justice, means I get to be more like Jesus and live as a Giver of Grace.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 28

Monday, November 7, 2011 - Mouth

"...I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress." (Psalms 17:3, ESV).

I was reviewing memory verses this morning and this one struck me.  As I am reminded of that which I am convicted to surrender, it often seems to come back to my words - too harsh, too quick, too disrespectful, too impatient.  My need to seek forgiveness is often correlated to the sins of my mouth.  What a claim: to purpose that my mouth will not transgress!

To me, that seems like it would take a lot of focus and energy.

The last verse of this Psalm (v. 15) says: "As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness."

Oh, how the focus and energy to have a mouth that does not transgress is all worth it as it refines us to the likeness of Christ in which our satisfaction lies!

And to think "...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks...I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak..." (Matthew 12:34b, 36)

Oh, LORD, may I allow You to purify my heart, that my words may be righteous.  Teach me to surrender my self-consumedness with my words - striving for my perspective to be shared, my point to be made, my words to be heard...

"in your presence there is fullness of joy"  (Ps. 16:11)

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart by pleasing in your sight, O LORD..." (Ps. 19:14)

"and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Eph. 4:22-24)

"are being transformed into into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:18)

Oh, to be like have a mouth that does not please the LORD and be a blessing those around me with words like honey instead of vinegar!

"Us word girls just wanted to tuck some words into your heart today, because we’re really thinking that The Word in our words might really change our worlds… Isn’t that exciting?"  ~ Ann Voskamp

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 24

Thursday, November 3, 2011 - Even the Customer Service Lady

I called our insurance company yesterday and customer service representative, Melissa (name changed to protect the "innocent":)) answered in her "end of the day at the end of the week, not liking my job very much" voice.  I do try not be the person to make the customer service person's day unpleasant, so I started the conversation off quite friendly (even though I already feel like I've gotten a bit of a runaround from them):

J: Hi, I'm following up on a claim that was mail at the end of last week.

M: Well, where did it get mailed to?

J: Investigations department in Kentucky.

M:  Well, I don't have record of it in the system yet.  It could take 7 - 10 business days for us to get it in the mail.

J: I don't think it would take that long to get it in the mail.

M: If it was mailed in it went to a central location then got scanned in, then sent to the investigations department [which is interesting b/c I thought that's why I was given the investigations department address specifically to expedite the process, but that's fine], so it may take 7 - 10 business days to process and get into our system.  [It had only been 5 - I wasn't expecting it to be processed yet, but I wanted to follow up and make sure it was received, but I understand they might not be able to track that if it hadn't gotten scanned into the system yet].

J:  OK, I understand it might take 7 - 10 business days to process, I was thinking you were saying it would take that long just for you guys to receive it in the mail.

M: Oh, well it could, I have people send me things and I say, "Oh, I didn't get that" and sometimes it can take a month.

J [In a sarcastically friendly, a.k.a. snotty tone]: Ma'am.  You don't need to go defending your insurance company.  I know that happens under rare circumstances, but usually it takes 2-3 days to receive mail these days.

M: I'm just saying it could take 7 - 10 business days to process.

J: Alright then, I'll check back in 7 - 10 business days.  Thank you.

GUILTY CONSCIENCE...Can't keep sweeping the wood floor without being pierced with guilt.  Even though I didn't yell at the customer service lady, my sarcastic snotty tone was just as disrespectful.  It was rude, unnecessary, and unbeneficial to argue with her about the postal service delivery timing.  It was unbeneficial arguing...I need to not justify my sin...and I need to confess...and ask forgiveness...All these lessons of surrender rolled together with the Customer Service Lady!!!  (whom I will most likely never speak to again, but whom I still sinned against:( )

Stop what you're doing, Jill, and reconcile.

But, God, can I just finish sweeping this area?

That's saying what you want to do is more important that making things right with Melissa, who bears my image (James 3:9, 10 ) and you wronged with your words.

Sigh...stop in the middle of something (which is hard for me!)...dial, ring, push prompts, and I get disconnected! [Do they have caller ID!?!]...sweep a little again...

J: May I please be connected to Melissa.
S: Sure, If she isn't available would you like her voicemail or be directed back to me?
J: Voicemail, please.
M's voicemail...
J: Melissa, this is Jill.  We just spoke about the claim I mailed in and I wanted to call back and apologize.  I really do try not to be the one to add to the misery of a customer service person's day and I realize that even though I didn't yell at you my sarcastic tone was just as disrespectful.  It was rude, unnecessary, and unbeneficial for me to argue with you about the postal system's delivery time.  I just wanted to call back and apologize and hope you have more of a blessing sort of day.  Thanks.

Phew...that was humbling.  But I hope that the humility itself demonstrated Christ and His power in His people's lives to confess sin and seek reconciliation!  Our God is a God of reconciliation!  On the one hand I'm glad I got Melissa's voicemail because it was easier to just rattle off my apology.  On the other hand I'm very curious what her response is.  Maybe God will show me in Heaven one day...for now I get to walk in the blessing of obedience - no matter how awkward or how much or little I "feel" the blessing!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Otherwise our Hearts are all Other Colors

DH was singing  "Before There Was Time" to DS3 tonight.  He was talking through with him the words of the song.  When they got to the line that said, "You purchased me back from the dead, "  DH was explaining what it meant to purchase something.

Daddy: So, it was very expensive for God to purchase us back.  It cost Jesus' blood.
Son: Jesus' blood makes our hearts clean.
Daddy: Yes, it does.
Son: It makes them white.
Daddy: You're right.
Son: Otherwise, our hearts are all other colors.

Thank you, Sunday School and Children's Church!  He's learning something somewhere!!! (for these were not things we had specifically talked about at home yet).

If only he knew how right he was - my heart is usually swimming with some shade of ugly brown.  Ah, but God looks at me and sees me through His Son's blood scarred body and He sees WHITE, pure beautiful WHITE.  How unworthy we are - Come, LORD Jesus! - so we can live fully in the beauty of WHITE!

For other Little Learner Lessons, Click Here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 22

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - To be Angry is to Murder

I was at the Teen Parents meeting tonight and I left feeling -

I don't know how I was feeling...all I know is that the questions were about: have you ever done anything you're ashamed of or regret, have you ever done anything that could make another person stop caring for you, have you ever turned your back on someone who loved you, has someone else ever done something bad that hurt you deeply, what is unconditional love - has anyone ever shown this kind of love to you, do you know how to love another person unconditionally?  Deep questions based on the intense movie "Blood Diamond" (for Plugged In Online's review click here).

And I had something to say for most of the questions...but I didn't.

To me, my answers seemed so weak compared to what these girls have experienced.  But my shame and pain are still very real to me.  And I came home thinking - not judgmentally about their sins, nor less guilty about my own - how their sin is as ugly as mine and mine is as offensive to our holy God as theirs.  Thank you, God, for another opportunity to level the playing field of sin in my perspective.  "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (James 2:10)

More practice in surrendering my justification for sin...

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender, in one place, Click Here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 21

Monday, October 31, 2011 - How is a Christian to respond to Halloween?

This post isn't specifically related to my personal journey of surrendering, but it was a significant process of the week and does involve surrendering in a sense...

Since having children my DH and I have wrestled with the "holiday" of Halloween.  There is something in each of us that is sensitive to the fact that the roots of Halloween are Satanical and we obviously don't want any part of that.

The first Halloween we were married we had friends who attend a PCA church (with deep roots in the Reformation movement started by Martina Luther.)  The husband was not in favor of Halloween, while the wife did not share his leaning, so they each had a party - both celebrating their Oct. 31st holiday - The husband had a Reformation Day Party, celebrating the Reformation Day of October 31, 1517 and the wife had a Halloween party - same address, same time...husband was dressed as Martin Luther himself!  It was a social time for mostly their Christian friends, with food, pictures, and laughter.  What a creative way to be set apart in the way they, as Christians, celebrated October 31!  We attended the party for the following 6 years.

This year with Halloween being on a Monday and having two young kids and non-fabulous costumes (we've done a cute theme each year in the past), we opted to skip out on the Halloween/Reformation Day party.

For some reason (nostalgia/cultural pressure) we still wanted to "celebrate".  Our son is now old enough to observe and understand the way the world works, so how do we introduce him to Halloween?  Is it necessary as Christians to do it differently than the world?  What does it look like to be called to be set apart?  Does this apply to something like Halloween?  And of most importance, how should we respond to this stirring (presumably by the Holy Spirit) in our consciences?  

Do we just partake as not to make anyone feel awkward or give Christians the name of "prude"?  Do we reject Halloween altogether or just celebrate Reformation Day?  Do we join in but just not promote the ghost and goblin aspect of the holiday?

I am convicted that because of the directly Satanic ties to Halloween, it should look different the way, I, as a Christian, partakes in Halloween.  I should be set apart in a way that the world is "surprised when you do not join them," even if they malign us (1 Peter 4:4).  But for our family, I'm not sure if having no part of Halloween is the best call either.

And then there is the variable of: The Candy.  Since our family strives to eat real food and not processed chemicals, a three pound bucket of individually wrapped high fructose corn syrup toxins does not align with our philosophy of treating one's body as the Temple of God.

So, we have a two fold challenge with October 31st: the Halloween heritage AND how it has evolved into a candy feast.

So, this year we "surrendered" traditional Halloween in a sense, and this was our last minute best attempt at honoring the holiness of Christ and be set apart as one who bears His name:

We took 8 food items from the pantry that our kids consider treats: raisins, go go applesauce, gum, cups of diced peaches, 100% juice fruit snacks, juice box, & fruit leather and pre-delivered them to our 8 surrounding neighbors.  Daddy then took our firefighter and "butterfly princess" (what her brother called the "Fairy" costume:)) to collect their treats.  They were delighted and returned to examine their loot.  They were then just as excited to help Mommy pass out Dollar Tree Party Favors to the Trick or Treaters.  I wasn't sure what kind of response we'd get from not having candy, but we had several positive responses and no overt negative ones!  Next year I'll have to get some better ones for the older kids, but they weren't rude about it and I apologized at the end of the night that it was kind of picked over. (But that's what they get for being middle schoolers and trick or treating til 8:30pm!:))

I like the creativity of the dressing up and I like the relationship building opportunity with the neighbors and I like the set apartness in the candy aspect.  Is it "right"?  I don't know.  Will people equate our being different with us honoring the holiness of Christ?  I don't know.  But for now, we believe it honors God by being in the world but not of the world in the way we respond to the evil and candy corruption of October 31st.

1 Peter - Old Testament Quotations

As I studied 1 Peter, a structure of the Old Testament quotations stuck out to me.  I am not educated in Greek and Hebrew enough to know if there is any significant merit to my observation.  If per chance there was a scholar educated in this topic who happens across this blog, I would be interested in your humble and gentle (Matt. 11:29) critique.
My observation is that in each of the four chapters of the body of the letter (chapters 1 through 4, omitting chapter 5 as a final farewell) Peter uses a direct Old Testament quotation.  It then seems that after each one there is one sentence and then the text moves on to a new thought.  It seems to me that the sentence following each OT quotation is a summary of not only the quotation, but possibly pointing out His main theme of the chapter, then echoed in the “summary statement” after the quotation in chapter 4. 
Our Sunday school class’s outline structure, Grudem’s break down and my ESV bible has chapters 1, 2, & 4 with a sentence after the quotations and then starts a new paragraph or chapter.  However, in chapter 3 it seems the common break down is before verse 13.  Verse 13 seems to be used as the start of a new thought.  Now I am not claiming to divine authority on this matter, but if the other three chapters have this one sentence afterward that seems to highlight the theme of those quotations or even the whole preceding chapter, when one chapter differs, it makes me ask, “Why?” and “Maybe it shouldn’t break there before the verse?” 
So, this is my best attempt at unpacking my thoughts in written form, whereas verbal explanation might be more concise or “smooth.”  The words used in the OT quotations are highlighted in yellow and then the corresponding words of the “summary sentence” are then highlighted in green with my explanation following in red.

 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

One theme of chapter one is Peter establishing the imperishable word of God as the foundation to build one’s hope and life on.  So he uses an OT quotation to emphasize that and summarizes the quotation and chapter with that theme.

 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,” [fn1]
8 and
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

The quotation of verse 6 seems to be summarized by highlighting the honor (no shame) being the one who believes the chosen cornerstone (who is the WORD (cf. 1:25) of God, Jesus).

The quotation of verse 7, in contrast, describes the one who rejects the cornerstone as the one who disobeys the word.  Thus, this disobeyer will not be honored and by inference “be put to shame” and therefore the one who believes the word should obey the word. (cf. James 2:19).

So, thus far Peter has established and highlighted – believe and obey the imperishable Word of God, Jesus!

 10 For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good

It seems this question may be bringing up the idea that suffering causes harm – what harm will you really suffer if God’s eyes are on you and His ears open to your prayers and His face being against those evil doers who are trying to cause you harm you with suffering? 
“Now” seems to be an acceptable follow-up word to this paragraph and not necessarily a word that starts a new thought.  One may argue that verse 14 starts with “but” and therefore would be a conjunction with verse 13 rather than starting a new thought.  However, the new paragraphs succeeding the quotations of chapter 1, 2, & 4 start with the words “so”, “but”, and “so” respectively, so verse 14 starting the new thought with “but” after the OT quotation and potential summary statement would even mirror the other transitions.
So as a summary thus far we would have something like: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God to do good, for none can harm you as you suffer

18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” [fn3]
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

“Righteous” reiterates “doing good/right” (which is portrayed in the context especially of suffering) and “saved” underscores “salvation”.  And thus the summary statement that summarizes the summary statements essentially says: Believe and obey (entrust; cf. Ch. 2:6-8 – believe, not reject/disobey) God’s will (His imperishable Word, Jesus; cf. Ch. 1:24,25) to do good in the midst of your suffering unto salvation (cf. Ch. 3:10-13; 4:18,19 - “saved”, “souls”).

And to tie it with the previous summary statement we were building: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God to do good, for none can harm you as you suffer unto salvation.

And with one side note (because detail oriented people can rarely be briefJ) to include the phrase “God’s will”: Believe and obey the imperishable Word of God: (which is God’s will, which is to be like Jesus, the Word of God who did good while suffering unjustly) do good, for none can harm you as you suffer unto salvation.

Unpacked and repacked for your summary pleasure.  I still like my original overview based on the “calls” of 1 Peter ("Be holy while you suffer and bless with the hope of eternal glory!"), but they complement each other, so I’ll “proclaim” them both!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

God Guides

God Guides is a little booklet I received from a dear friend who used to be my staff director when I was a college campus minister.  It is the stories of an Indian missionary about examples of God Guiding through times of Listening Prayer.

Let Go
Stay in Step 

40 Days of Surrender - Day 20

Saturday, October 29, 2011 - Forgiveness

I had two chances yesterday to humble myself and ask for forgiveness.  Both to people close to me, both people I can tend to speak sharply to.  And that AGAIN was my sin in which I was needing to ask forgiveness for again.  In both instances 21 days ago I would justified the sin of my harsh words in my mind and then not addressed it with the person and keep going as if I hadn't just spoken degradingly to a human being who is bearing the very image of My Creator God. (James 3:7-12)

But The Fast held me accountable, I surrendered my temptation to justify my sin, humbled my pride of "being right" and sought reconciliation in the relational withdrawal through asking forgiveness.  And the one instance was a special challenge because I "corrected" a friend in front of my son, so I had to make sure I asked forgiveness in front of my son also.  Hard, but freeing and peaceful.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

"I am so Thankful!"

So, I have been practicing Ann Voskamp's "Verbal Thanksgiving."

I want to grow in Godly Joy and recognize that a root of Joy is Thanksgiving.  Thus, "I am so thankful..." rolls off my tongue with much more ease than it used to.  (Thankfully:))

This afternoon, my DS3 comes in having unwrapped the bandage protecting him from scratching his itchy, raw eczema.  I say, "Oh, it's getting better." (as there wasn't even a scab left, just the healing pinkish scars!)

And HE says, "Yea, I am so thankful!" (with the same inflection I use:))  From the mouth of babes...

They are listening...they are little learners...what are they learning from me, LORD...what are they learning of YOU!?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 19

Friday, October 28, 2011 - I should have been armed YESTERDAY!

Yesterday has been the most trying day so far regarding things not going "my way".  From my almost four year old pooping his pants (for I think the second time ever since he was potty trained a year ago) to him scratching his eczema til it bled (both within 15 minutes of us needing to leave the house) to miscommunications, to fighting the temptation to "argue", to having trouble finding a babysitter, to getting a half hour phone call from a distraught new mom as I'm about to go to bed, all the way to leaning over to kiss my son good night as he decides to sit up and bops me in the mouth giving me a fat lip!  That was the straw that broke this camel's back as I was crying from the hurt and crying because I just couldn't handle one more thing not go "right!"

Interestingly enough Tuesday I thought "be prepared for a spiritual attack today, Jill" because Monday night we had had a Teen Mom over for dinner from the ministry we're involved in.  I expected the enemy to not be happy with our sharing Christ's love with her and so I was conscious to think that challenges on Tuesday might be the result of a spiritual attack.  However, I wasn't thinking about that on Thursday as my personal kingdom of toothpicks played dominoes (even though I had watched her son Wednesday morning when she went to court).

And the enemy sure does know how to "get me" -- it's in the "subtle agenda things".

So, this morning during journal processing time, God helped me get "re-armed" through Ephesians 6:10-18:

Belt of Truth --> secured knowing God is in control, desires good and sanctification, Christ is coming to make all things right.

Breastplate of Righteousness --> protected before God in righteousness of Christ -- my weaknesses, failures, and sins in these times are covered.

Shoes -->  I walk in peace because of the gospel in which I believe - though sinful and broken, God's grace reached down and rescued me and continues to deliver me.

Shield of Faith -->  My faith is in what is unseen - the powerful, trustworthy arm of God at work and not shaken by the fiery darts of the evil one

Helmet of Salvation --> Over all is the hope that one days Christ WILL come back and take me into His dwelling place where all things go "right" and as they "should be" all the time for all eternity!  (These are temporary struggles)

Sword of the Spirit -->  Fight back the enemy with God's word...hmmm...wish these had been on the forefront of my mind yesterday:
          I have been created in Christ Jesus to accomplish the good works God prepared in advance for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10) (Satan cannot thwart that.)
          Jesus invites me to come to Him weary and burdened to take his light and easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-10)
          Love is patient... (1 Cor. 13:4)  (I am not justified in getting impatient with my son for not staying in step with "My Agenda" when he hasn't done anything wrong!  So not worth tempting me there, Satan.  Thank you, God, for bringing that to my attention at the time so I wasn't ultimately consumed by "My Agenda" and experienced your grace by ASKING forgiveness of my son.

Pray in the Spirit --> Thank you, LORD, that I was conscious to do this, though maybe not very well.  I haven't thought of "prayer" as one of the specific weapons mentioned in the "Spiritual Armor" list, but rather as a "add on"..."and do this" sort of thing.  But as I read it this morning, it seemed like it could be a "type of sword"?  I wonder if the Greek grammar supports that type of reading?

Keep Alert --> Again, interesting because I would have been alert for this type of attack Tuesday.  And when you are expecting it, you can be better prepared.  So, of course, the Enemy chose the day I wasn't alert and had more of an agenda.

Perseverance -->  Keep enduring on this Fast For Surrender, Jill; even though you've hit a two week slump.  Thank you, LORD, for fanning the flame through Ephesians 6.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 18

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - Jumbled emotions

It's a train...the illustration, it's a train -- FAITH is the Engine, FACT is the Car, FEELING is the Caboose. structured order on the train - Train Wreck.

I was FEELING...and the feelings were fighting for some position other than caboose - stress, anxiety, heaviness, emotions I am not even able to put labels on.  And FAITH was not absent - I could articulate: "LORD, I know this isn't significant, it will all work out...I don't like the weight...Father, I want to hear what you have to say to me, but I am too tired and stressed it seems to even quiet my heart to listen."

And then it came, the still small voice...Surrender...surrender that which is weighing you down.

And I did.

And that is obedience.  And that builds FAITH.  And that puts the FAITH Engine in its rightful position...God, the Engineer of FAITH, the Engineer of the TRAIN of life.

May I continue to Learn to let FAITH in God be the Driver in "my" life.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 17

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - Hesitancy, Talk with God

This isn't necessarily a "surrender" lesson, but it's what was on my heart this morning.  Yesterday, I posted about the Teen Parents ministry our family is getting involved in.  It's interesting I even use the term "is getting" because we committed to it at the beginning of the summer and have gone almost every week to serve in one form or another since then.  Even as the ministry and girls and guys and kids are heavy on my heart, I still feel a disconnect.  So, I asked God,

"Can you shed light on my hesitancy?"
"Is it from myself or from You?"

"Keep your eyes and heart open, stay in step with Me."

I have failed in the past by trying to be "The Rescuer" (trying to meet needs only Christ can) and have been burned by not having healthy boundaries in my own heart/mind/life.  I want to be a healthy influence in their lives and not be an enabler, nor be used, nor be burned out.  I want to walk in wisdom, but I'm hesitant because I don't know what I'm getting myself into, I feel ill-equipped, and I don't know how much ministering in this avenue is going to take from me - time, emotions, money and I don't know how much it should.  I don't have a grasp on the balance between boundaries and sacrifice.

"Keep your eyes and heart open, stay in step with Me."

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 16

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - Surrender Self-Sufficiency

Since I was little I have strove for independence, which has developed into self-sufficiency.  I have been convicted by it a number of times since trusting Christ, but it is certainly deeply rooted.  During my study of 1 Peter 4 this morning, I was struck by verse 11. Verse 10 says, " As each has received a gift, use it to serve on another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:" followed by verse 11, "whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God, whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."  "Whoever serves, as on who serves by the strength that God supplies"...Theologically, I know in my head that "apart from Christ I can do nothing" (John 15:5), but in practice I tend to serve out of "my skills and abilities."

The LORD has brought me to an interesting place in my "serving" this year.  Our family has committed, at least this school year, to serve a ministry to teen parents.  I've known about the ministry for the 7 years of its existence and always "had a heart for it," knowing these were needing girls (and guys) and little kids.  After studying James our small group was convicted to reach out to the poor, the widow, the orphan more and chose this ministry.  God demonstrates his heart throughout scripture for the helpless and the hopeless through His special concern for the moneyless (poor) , the homeless (sojourner), the husbandless (widow or unwed mother), the fatherless (orphan), and the childless (barren).  These teen parents (and their children) often fall in the first four of those five "helpless and hopeless" categories.

Our family has taken a extra step of involvement and I have started to get to know the girls in more of a mentorship capacity.  And this is what I have learned: I am ill-equipped!  And that is such a GOOD place for me to be as it forces me to "serve by the strength (and wisdom) God supplies"!  These girls come from backgrounds of generational poverty and family/personal brokenness and issues that I cannot related to nor have I dealt with in my meager Christian leadership training.  Normally when I feel inadequate, I would tend to feel useless and defeated.  However, although those temptations have surfaced, I have been able to respond to them with a humility and trust in God to work in and through me.  So, ministering to these teen parents (in their life issues more than in their parenting skills) is a specific way I am learning the beauty of surrendering self-sufficiency and there is certainly splash-over lessons in all areas of my life!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 15

Monday, October 24, 2011 - Lifelong Surrender

As I was thinking about my last 14 days of my 40 day surrender, it dawned on me that it hasn't been as HARD as I expected.  It has been hard in the humbling sense but that in itself has been freeing and peaceful.  I realized that although I would say I've had more victory than failure (thank you, Jesus!) the end of the 40 days is not going to be the end of my struggle of surrendering mySELF, Pride, Control, Anger, etc. And I knew that, but it sunk in a little more as I do like "arriving at the destination" and "accomplishing/completing the task".  But I can look at this 40 days of surrender as a powerful catalyst into a beautiful, freeing, peaceful Lifetime of Surrender!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 14

Sunday, October 23, 2011 - Not everyday has a significant lesson

As the day came to a close nothing stirred my heart as a significant lesson.  But even within that there were a couple of lessons.

1)  It's OK that not every day do I receive noteworthy words from the LORD, but then again, yes I do.   I guess, it's a matter of how much I am impacted by them.  I am amazed (and I probably shouldn't be) that every day for two weeks straight I have sensed lessons from the LORD specifically regarding "surrender."  He must desire me to learn about that and my heart must be in the right place of learning in this season!

2) I didn't journal with the LORD this morning.  I find that often in those times of exchanging words and when I have stilled my heart (or am striving for a stilled heart) before Him, is when I sense that still small voice  (Psalms 46:10, Isaiah 30:21, 1 Kings 19:11,12).  It's OK that I didn't journal with the LORD today, but it's also a good reminder of the value of this discipline in hearing from our Father.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

40 Days of Surrender - Day 13

Saturday, October 22, 2011 - Surrender Ease, Comfort

This morning - email that Mother in Law may have lung cancer for the third laws' dear Christian neighbor in her late 70's lying weak & bed-ridden with bone cancer...the timing of my morning not going as I thought it would...none following the "smooth" plan we plan for ourselves...all suffering to (very) varying degrees. All calls to surrender our striving for ease and comfort.  We don't need to go and look for suffering; living in the Post Eden World is enough to live with suffering (whatever varying degree it might be that life is not matching up to your "smooth" plan.)  Does anyone plan out their course to be intentionally difficult?

My study of 1 Peter is continually reminding me that we are exiles in this Post Eden World and we shouldn't feel comfortable.  Maybe when we feel comfortable we should ask "What's wrong?" instead of when we face suffering.

For the first 5 years of my marriage, it would rock my world when my DH would (unintentionally) do things that made my life "not easy."  My perspective was that having a husband would make my life more comfortable, rather than adding difficulty to it.  Grace would be slow because his action (or lackthereof) was an assault on my striving for ease and comfort.  In this last year, the LORD has been refining that perspective and I am starting to learn how to surrender the striving for ease and comfort.  This morning I was reminded that life is not so much about "smoothness" but about SUFFERING WELL, and that involves surrendering ease and comfort and ABOUNDing IN THANKSGIVING.

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 12

Friday, October 21, 2011 - Depression

After my break down yesterday morning and the proceeding conversation with God, it still took a bit for my heavy cloud to lift.  But my heart was certainly sensitive to what God was doing and saying in my heart and life.

I was walking in to teach swim lessons, knowing that I had to be professional and friendly, though inside I was overwhelmed, heavy, sad (though not as much as earlier that morning!)  And God showed me how my tendency is to hold on to my "depression" instead of being quick to 'let it go,' 'lay it at His feet.'  I think that in my self-sufficient, independent (prideful), good ol' American "pull yourself up by your boot straps" kind of spirit, just surrendering something like depression to God seems like a "cop out."  I "should" deal with it.  And where that idea came from, I'd like to know because it's certainly not biblical nor anything I remember being specifically taught.

And then I realized that my way of "dealing with it" is to wait until something happens to lift my depression.  (Getting enough things done on "The List" that I don't feel so overwhelmed, something good happening, someone giving me a compliment, getting good time with a friend, etc.)  And that mindset is communicating that I am waiting for a circumstance to make me "feel" better instead of trusting the LORD to care for me and putting my hope in His promises - comfort, provision, grace, peace, joy, eternal glory, and the list goes on.  I need to learn to have the mindset of Christ (Phil. 2:5).  The bible teaches that our hope and joy are rooted in the character and works of God, not based on our feelings!  May I surrender that depression quickly!

For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

40 Days of Surrender - Day 11

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - Conversation with God

Heavy.  Tears.

Guilt.  Speeding Ticket.  Pressure from Mom that we’re being too extreme in dealing with R.G.’s eczema.  Mom’s been taking care of the kids a lot, I’ve been gone.  Guilt.

But none of that was sin.

Heavy. Tears flowing.

Burdened.  Overwhelmed.  “Take my yoke upon you …my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest,” says Jesus.   “Let it go,” says Cindy (a friend who doesn’t even walk with the LORD!)

I can’t.  Why can’t I let go, LORD? 

I feel a responsibility to “deal with it.”  I brought it upon myself, so I must “deal with it.” 

I know you don’t think like that, God – You don’t hold me to that responsibility.  I just feel like I have to “figure it out.”

Figure what out? 

The “why” it happened, why I got overwhelmed?  “How” to fix it and “how” to avoid it in the future.

But you know you get overwhelmed, Jill, by filling your schedule with too much.

But I feel like if I dwell on it, I can understand it better.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Sigh…try to crack my neck – I’ve had this stubborn kink for days, I tried in vain to undo it myself, when’s the next time I can go to the chiropractor?  I want to put myself in the hands of him who is skilled to unkink me.  Hmmm…I want to put myself in the Hands of Him who is able to carry my burden, who delights to lighten my load. 

You can “Let Go” of the overwhelmedness,  Jill, if you can surrender your pride…surrender your need to understand all the details, surrender your drive to “be responsible” on your own strength for your own shortcomings…

Wow, God, I am not OK with You taking my shortcomings for me.  Isn’t that what you did on the cross with my sin!?!  Why then do I think that I’m burdening you too much to take my feeling of being overwhelmed and worn out!?!

Mercies anew every morning. (Lamentations 3)  It’s a new day, walk in it with Joy, Dear Daughter.  I want you to walk – light and joyful – that reflects Me.

Lord, I want to surrender this heaviness, this worn out, depressed, overwhelmedness.

I know I can trust You to take it, will I let you?

For Your glory, not just my comfort, For Your glory, LORD, for Your glory…

That’s it!  I feel like if I just let it go for my comfort, I’m cheating somehow, taking the easy, shortcut road…but if my motive is to walk in step with The Spirit, that frees me to let go for Him to be glorified through my surrender!


For a list of all the daily lesson titles in the 40 Days of Surrender in one place, Click Here.