That time I showered with a stink bug

Shower time is one of my favorite times of the day.  I literally get all my great ideas while taking a shower.
I wish I could invent an implant for my brain to record every thought I had while I’m in there.
Or maybe a waterproof notepad.
That’d work too…
Once I was settling in for about 7 minutes of hopefully uninterrupted time where I could gather my thoughts.
I turned around to grab the shampoo when something brown and moving caught my eye.
A stink bug.
stink bug
Those things are so pointless.
Other than to stink…and to make my girls scream bloody murder, I’ve yet to see a purpose for them.
I kept my eye on this little guy.  He’s on a suicide mission really. He thinks he’s going to horn in on MY shower time and live to tell his stinky friends about it?
Ah ah ah!  I don’t think so!
So I adjusted the shower head to see if I could drown him.
All that did was flip the jerk over on his back.
I squatted down watching to see what he was going to do next.
He was working hard.  Man was he flailing!  I had to give him an A for effort.  I was impressed at his resiliency, really.
Then I smelled the tell tale sign that he was feeling threatened.
I can’t even put my finger on what their stench is.
It’s awful.
And certainly NOT the aroma I was hoping for when I started my shower, that’s for sure.
At any rate, just when I was about to assassinate my new little non-friend, God spoke to me.
You’re using a stink bug God?  Really?
Just listen, Jill.  Will ya?
Annoyed, I let out a sigh.  “Okay…go.”
As soon as you turned on an outside threat and came against this stink bug he went into defensive mode.  A little like you do.
He thrashed, and kicked, and turned up his stink because he felt threatened.  You do the same thing. 

He’s wasting so much energy.  You do the same thing.
His situation is out of his control.  This stink bug is going to die at the hand of his threat.  Don’t do the same thing.
All I was really hoping for was a super hot shower with my new Vanilla Bean body wash.
But as usual, God is right.
I waste so much time and energy on situations that are out of my control.
I can’t help that some schmuck pulled out in front of me, nearly killing our entire family so he can be 2 seconds earlier than he was.
But I CAN control my response.  Because full out road raging on his sorry butt isn’t going to undo this decision or make him reconsider him ever doing it again.
I can’t control that Max sprung a project on me the morning it was due when he’s known about it for 6 weeks.
But I CAN control my response.  Because me going 0-psycho isn’t going to make the project appear.

As I was talking with Jason one afternoon while taking our lunch time walk together, we were talking about what we had been reading in our Bible time.  I told him I was reminded of something a visiting minister prayed over me the week before he and I were to be married.  It was Christmas, finals, and wedding week and I was a little frazzled.  While at this church service, I stood before the minister and he put his hands on my face only to withdraw them seconds later.  With my eyes closed, I heard him let out a huge breath and a “whew, girl.”  I opened my eyes to see him with a, “Really?  You’re a mess…” look on his face.  He said, “Before I go ANY further.  God told me to tell you two words.
“Be still.  I heard it as clear as I’ve ever heard a word from the Lord.  I don’t know what you have going on in your life right now, but He wants you to do nothing more.  Just Be Still.”
Oh boy.
Mail.  Checked.
I don’t know what you have going on in your life.
Broken relationships.
No relationships.
Take advice from a chronic mover and busy bee.
From someone who may have to get it tattooed on her body so she’ll remember it.
Every.  Stinking.  Day.
Oh, and a stink bug.
His thrashing and struggle was his demise.
Don’t let it be yours too.
Just take a step back, take a deep breath, and rest in the fact that all God wants you to do is to Be Still and know that HE is God.
He’s got whatever it is you don’t.


Christmas…aaannd that’s a wrap

Family is hard.
Vacationing with family.  Oi vey.
As my dad would say, “I need a pill…”

It’s really not a vacation until you’re eating Cool Ranch Doritos at 9 am.  Or until you have listened to Napoleon Dynamite play on the DVD player for the 7th time.
Or one minute you’re high on love for these people you do life with and the next breath everyone hates each other.

One year mom and I took an 8 year old Max, a 4 year old Reagan and a 4 month old Phoebe to Isle of Palms. Jason was gone to youth camp so mom thought, “why not?!”
On our way home, I was absolutely spent. The vacation was beautiful and restful at times. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments of bliss. But for the most part I was stressed. The boys were wired 440 and were all over the place, the beach was packed, all the while I was trying to keep sand off my nipple so I could breastfeed Phoebe.
A woman saw I was struggling and empathetically said, “You have a beautiful family. I know this is hard, but please appreciate them.”  As my eyes started filling up with tears she pointed to her three grown boys and said, “You’ll survive and soon, you’ll be here.”
I should’ve held more tightly to her words because I would need them on the way home.  We had driven 75 minutes and covered about a mile on the West Virginia Turnpike.  We finally got going when everyone in the van needed something.
I pulled off to the shoulder.
Cars, semis, motorcycles were flying passed me, rocking the van we were in and blowing my hair all over my face.
Max had to pee; run to the passenger side to help him.
Reagan unbuckles his seat belt; run to the driver side to help him.
Phoebe dropped her bottle; run back to the passenger side to help her.
Reagan unbuckles his seatbelt again; run back to the driver side to help him.
On my way back to the passenger side to help Phoebe with her blanket, I tapped on the passenger side window where my mom was sitting and  I motioned for her to roll down her window.  I looked her square in the face and in an eerily exhausted voice, I said, “Mom, I love you.  I love my babies.  But I’m going to step out onto the Turnpike in front of the next coal truck.  Please tell Jason I love him too and take care of my babies.”
Mom had seen this coming.
She looked back at me and said, “Jillian.  Get your ass in the car right now.”
Sometimes you just need that person in your life who keeps you grounded.
Because, well, here we are…

We are still coming down from our high of our Disney cruise.  And quite frankly, I’m still waiting on Ronald and Art, our dinner hosts, to show up and feed me.
Jason ate like he was on death row.
We dressed up like pirates.
The girls swooned over princesses.
We stayed up late.
Reagan danced like he was on Club MTV.
Max conquered fears.
The whole thing feels like a dream.
I’m convinced that there will be a section of Heaven that is a Disney cruise.

You all.
I can’t even.
I literally cried when the ship set sail.
I don’t know if it was the fact that we were on a huge boat, or the amazing energy from the Sail Away party they were having, or me knowing all the incredibly hard work Jason put in to make this trip possible.
Maybe it was all three.
I was overwhelmed.
And so, I cried.

Each morning I snuck out before everyone woke up and did some Bible study and reading time.
Wanna see my spot?
It was here I got an amazing realization.
When we pulled up to the cruise terminal, we saw the majestic Disney cruise liner.  To me, the feat of engineering that it takes to make something that huge to float…it is just beyond me.  But each morning as I looked over the railing as the boat  cut through the ocean waters I realized how incredibly small we are.  In my perspective, this little slice of ocean is so enormous.  But when you put it in comparison with the Earth?  Our ship was just a tiny blip on the screen of humanity.
And God has it ALL in the palm of His hand.
He had our ship, and my house back home, and my sick uncle in Alabama, and a friend’s daughter in Alaska, and a friend’s family in Uganda, and persecuted Christians in the Middle East…
He has it all.
Through every season.
Through every struggle.
In the moments when we are euphoric with love for our family and in  the next when we are convinced we are ALL going to end up on the 5 o’clock news…
In our smallness, He is big.
In our weakness, He is strong.
The good news is we don’t need a passport, or a Disney Key to the World, or any other qualifications to access His love.

I stand in awe of His love for me. 
His beauty, His wonder, His majesty.
What could I have done to deserve such grace?
Offer my hands and my heart to the King of Kings.20151224_100306


The Gospel According to Fitbit

As Christmas approaches I have had my eye on a new Fitbit.  My $100 investment in myself almost three Christmases ago has proven to be money well spent.  And being the tech geek that I am, I am wanting to upgrade to a Fitbit Surge.
Sounds SO cool.

Say it with me…”SUUUUURGE.”
I love it.
I need one.
I faithfully wore my tracker every single day.
I lovingly charged the battery and tracked each and every step.
As I started losing weight, people started asking me, “What are you doing?!”  I would quickly tell them about the power of the Fitbit.  “Oh, it’s so easy!  It tracks your sleep, your steps, your calories burned, you just have to wear it and it does all the work for you!  It’s SO cool!  Yeah, it’s just $100!  THE best $100 I’ve EVER spent on myself.  I love it!”

Over the course of the year more and more people in my life started buying a Fitbit.  Each day I would get a new notification of “So and so wants to be your friend!”  “Help such and such get more fit!”  Looking over my friends list now, there are over 20 people who got a Fitbit because of my testimonial.  And like throwing a rock into a lake, those people tell the power of the Fitbit to the people in their life and they too get a Fitbit.  The ripple just keeps going.

Once upon a time Jason and I ran a skate shop.  One evening he came home and said an old classmate of ours had died of a drug overdose.
I was so saddened to hear about this unfortunate passing of a schoolmate.  But Jason seemed extra troubled and I asked him what was wrong.  He said, “I just talked to him the other day when I saw him outside of the skate shop window.  I didn’t even tell him about Jesus.”

In a book study I’m leading at church I came across the scripture in Ephesians 6:19 that every time we open our mouth, we need to speak the gospel.

Whoa.  Wait.  What?
Every.  Single. Time.

Not just when you come from a powerful church service.
Or when you are in a good mood.
Or when you are surrounded by your church friends.

I’m guilty. 
Sadly I can’t remember the last time I witnessed to someone by blatantly saying, “Do you know Jesus?  Can I show you how to know Him?”

2015 has been a less than stellar year for me.
Disappointment has been a constant companion as I continue to measure my worth with a number on a scale.
I still wear my Fitbit and strive for the vibration of a 10,000 step goal met but as old habits creep in, I don’t talk about it as much.

You think you learn a lesson only to be reminded by the One who created you that nothing can be done outside of His power.

Could it be that my daily struggle, my thorn in my side, could be so I can rely on Christ and not my Fitbit?
To rely on power that comes from Him?  And not myself?
How different would my life be if the ripples I made wasn’t for a piece of technology but instead for the Kingdom?  It saddens me to think of all my missed opportunities.

I highly doubt that when I get to Heaven God will announce with enthusiasm, “Enter in thou good and faithful servant!  You impacted hundreds of lives with your testimony of the Fitbit!  You accumulated over 2 million steps each year and those steps were made with conviction and dedication to weight loss!  Enter into your great reward!  Your treadmill of righteousness!”

Does that mean walking trackers are a bad thing?
Does it mean that they can become a god thing?

Just like everything else that we put above Christ.
Our job.
Our children.
Our children’s sports.
Our looks.

It ALL can be elevated to god status and can become the idol we serve.
All while serving God we can become so consumed with it that we ending up serving it.

Believe me, I’m preaching to the choir.
And it’s hard.
But I don’t want to let God down on the most important job He’s given me.
I can not let others down by not sharing what I know about the absolute freedom that is found ONLY in Christ.
More than carrying around extra weight…
Denying someone knowledge about eternity is an unbearable burden to carry.