Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something of Value

Ever had that sick feeling in your gut that you've lost something of great value to you? That happened recently in the Tracey house. Somehow a ticket to a Carolina Panthers game in Charlotte went missing. The ticket was for a game Jeremy had been planning to attend with some friends for a guys' weekend and we couldn't figure out how it disappeared. After that first moment of panic stricken awareness...oh no, it's not HERE...we dove into a search and rescue mission. We combed through piles of bills and other important papers that had been set aside as "go through later". We searched through drawers and cabinets that no one had opened in months because we were determined to leave no stone unturned in our quest to find the evasive ticket. Nothing. Bummer. Serious bummer! But, it was expensive reality. Thankfully we were able to take care of the problem but were more than a little frustrated that our search was so unsuccessful. What can you do, right? Well, except for keep better track of your stuff. However, one good thing that came out of this was a reminder for me of how valuable I am to God. I'm so valuable to Him that if I were to get lost, He would turn His house upside down, inside out, and every which way in order to find ME. And, He'd never give up and say, well, I'll just have to make a new Jill. Nope, He'd never stop searching - just like Jesus' story of the woman who lost her coin and wouldn't rest until she found it or the shepherd who left the 99 to find the one sheep that had strayed. Isn't that the coolest thing? I know we all KNOW this - we've read the passages - probably dozens of times. But, isn't it cool when God can use a frustrating situation as a little reminder...a little aha moment. So, THIS is what it feels like to search and search for something that means so much! OK, OK, the lost Panther's ticket is nothing in comparison to a human being's eternal soul...but it's a little taste anyway!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deny Myself?

So this morning I was driving past a church with a big sign out front that said, "Deny thyself, take up your cross, and follow me" ~ Jesus. And, it made me think a bit. First of all, I wondered how many people driving by this sign have no idea what it means? Is it making a difference in anyone's life? I'm not so sure. But, then, I had to stop being the cynical me I tend to be about things like this and ask myself if I really know what it means. I know the context: In the 8th Chapter of Mark in the New Testament Jesus has just finished describing to His followers all the pain and suffering He's going to endure on behalf of all mankind. Then Peter says, (my paraphrase) "Come on Jesus...You don't have to go through all that! You're scaring everybody!" And Jesus says something like "You don't know anything about God's plan. He's going to offer Hope and Eternal Life but it's going to come at an unbelievable cost to Me. And, watch out, there's a big cost coming for you, too, if you want to follow in My footsteps!"

But, I still kind of struggle with applying these words to my life. DENY MYSELF?! Who really denies themselves these days...especially in this country? I love America but, come on, we have so much. Even while I was conducting my 40 Day Vegan experiment, I never went hungry. There are so many options available that you could be completely satisfied at all times even without partaking of meat or dairy products. Basically, we're bombarded by abundance!

So, why deny? Jesus of course goes on to explain that if we pursue our selfish desires and all that the world offers, we'll eventually lose our souls in the process. But, I also think it's about practicing. We practice denying ourselves so that we can follow Him! Follow Him as He offers eternal life in heaven. Follow Him as He puts others first. As He hands over EVERYTHING for the sake of the very people who had turned against Him. Follow Him as He serves. So, practicing the denial of myself...of my desires and earthly needs...will get me in the habit of being willing to put others ahead of myself...just like Him.

Now the questions remains...HOW do I deny myself. I think you know where this is headed. What do I struggle with? I wish it were a taste for fine fashion, interior design, or even too much exercise. But, no, my passion, my indulgence, is FOOD! So, this is day ONE of a 10-day denial. I'm going to eat only fruits and vegetables - kind of what's called a "Daniel Fast" except that in the Bible Daniel only ate vegetables. I feel the need to truly deny, to go without, to learn to lean on Jesus a whole lot more than I do now. And, hopefully, in the process I'll learn to more easily put my own desires aside and really serve others in His love and on His behalf.

Wanna join me? All the cool kids are doing it. ;) Please let me know if you'll take this challenge with me and how it affects your daily walk with our God!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jaime or Lindsay?

You know how those little aha moments come to you at really weird times? Well, today it was right as I was saying AMEN during our staff prayer time. At that moment I realized that something had been lurking in the back of my brain that I didn't even have concsciousness of until that very moment. So, as soon as I closed the prayer it popped out of my mouth...Jaime Jamgochain (the Christian music artist and worship leader) is Lindsay Davis's (91.5 WCIC's awesome and super cute promotions director) Facebook twin! It just came to me. Aha! Here...see for yourself...

Lindsay Davis

Jaime Jamgochain

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The 40 Day journey comes to an end!

So my 40 Day Vegan experiment came to an end on Sunday and I thought surely I had overcome any desire for meat and dairy products. Surely I would continue my quest for all things healthy. Surely my taste buds had turned toward more sophisticated fare. And then we went to The Spotted Cow in Peoria yesterday. Of course, Monday's special is my favorite, the chicken cheese quesadilla and tortilla chips. So, I ordered that without even thinking. In my defense, I did share it with Alyssa. But, then...well, I'd already had meat AND dairy, so why not have some ice cream too? And, while we're at it, put that toffee coffee and mocha me crazy in a waffle cone. YES!

Apparently I need to reign things in before they get way too out of hand. But, I have to say, that WAS a pretty good meal. I'm just not sure if I should be disappointed in myself.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Everything Changes

It seems like one thought has come to my mind over and over this summer...Everything Changes. NOTHING stays the same. And...NOTHING seems to turn out the way you expected it would. I guess it all started when I realized that my good friend, Tara, was close to the end of her life at just 35 years old and before she'd had the chance to raise her two beautiful kiddos. I remember thinking I never expected there would be a time when Tara would no longer be here on earth with the rest of us. Well, at least not until we were all starting to face our final days as old men and women who had reared their families and sent them on their way. This feeling about how everything changes persists now, many weeks after Tara's death and for varied reasons. Sitting in a hotel room with a good friend who has seen her world change from one where she was a stay at home, home schooling Mother to one where she's been kicked out of her husband's life and replaced by another woman. A world where she's struggling to keep her head above water. To pay the bills, spend time with her sons, and just SURVIVE. As she poured out her heart I couldn't help thinking how so many times things turn out so opposite from what you'd ever imagined. We never thought HE would do something like that. People are people, though. Feelings fade and hearts harden and you can be left heartbroken and alone. But, the lack of the constant and stable doesn't just pertain to tough situations. The always-changing aspect of this world of ours reaches also to the good. There are happy changes, too. Watching my daughter grow and try things she never has before. Just yesterday as we went out to play she spotted a small white butterfly flitting around and took off like a shot after it. She probably chased that butterfly for twenty minutes. Except for the times when she told Mommy to chase him because she was "going to take a rest". I thought of Mary in the Bible who pondered everything in her heart. It felt like that's what I was doing as I thought back to the days when I would have had to point out that butterfly to her. Or the days I would have had to carry her over to the grass only to have her recoil at the thought of her feet touching it. Boy, things have DEFINITELY changed there. And, come on, even that little butterfly wasn't always a butterfly! So, with the good and the bad constantly evolving, expanding, decreasing, or simply fading away...there can sometimes be a feeling of despair or at least lack of control that leaves me feeling kind of "flitty" like that butterfly - going here and there with seemingly no real direction or anchor. Guess it's a good thing I know Who to cling to, huh? 'Cause it sure seems like there aren't a lot of things in the world that stay the way they are. And, sometimes, even knowing Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and being thankful that He will never change...I would still like for the people I love to stay married, for my friends to be here, for my daughter to always want to cuddle with me in the mornings, and for my favorite restaurants to stay open.