Decision Fatigue, and Other Wiley Rascals

I know it’s not just me. The devil would have me think it is just me, that I am the crazy one, the unstable one. Or worse, the dreaded curse of most women, I am “the over sensitive one.” Yeah, I’m gonna just slide the bullshit card right across the table to all of those lies. I DO know that what is happening for all of us, in different degrees, is the onslaught of “all the things.” Your things may not look like mine, but they hurt the same, they confound the same, they take your breath away all the same as mine.

I told my friend who reached out this morning that I was drowning in decision fatigue. I was spent from deciding so many things at the same time, and, handling the emotional fallout of those decisions.

Welcome to Leadership 101, right?
Cry me a river, right?
Listen, this isn’t a pity party invitation, this is a shout out from the Front Line.

Why, oh why, is the assault against our rest, our peace, our very efforts to do good?

Let me bottom line this — so we will quit.

Quit trying to do good.
Quit trying to find our footing for peace.
Quit trying to solve problems so we can finally rest.
Quit listening for His whisper and kisses.
Quit believing what He has said.
Quit letting faith rise in dead of night.
Quit God.

So now what?

S-T-O-P

Say what you need to say.
For me, sometimes getting it all out is the cure. To clear the air of my mind and heart. Go write it all down. Go speak it out while you are driving, yelling out loud while driving is also acceptable. Pray it out. Cuss it out. Cry it out. But get it out. Why? Because the mere release of your words is an act of faith that Someone is listening. And He cares. He is not bothered by your pretty speech as much as He is moved by your hurting heart.

Truth silences the mind assault.
At 1 a.m. this morning I knew I needed to hear Truth. Tired and half asleep, I opened up the Verse of the Day on my phone. I felt like that was cheating, but God spoke loud and clear anyway. “When you are joined with me and I with you, intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.”

Intimate and organic.
Ah yes. Relationship is always first. Not to-do lists.
Abundant harvests are His doing, not my endless efforts.

“But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.” (John 15: 5-8, The Message)

Make myself at home with Him.
His words at home in me.
Listened to and acted upon. 

The devil is a freaking liar.
Trying to tell me I am alone. Trying to tell me no one cares. Trying to tell me that it’s all on me.

Open your hands in surrender and be filled
Also at 1 a.m., after I read that scripture, I sat in the dark and opened my hands to the Lord again.

Again. How many times have I surrendered my needs, dreams, desires? How many times have I confessed my attachment to my rights and preferences? How many times have I asked Him to remind me one more time about who I am?

Again—He held me until peace came.
Again—He sang the song that just sits in my spirit these days,
“Jireh, you are enough.
More than enough.
I’m already loved
I’m already chosen
I know who I am
I know what You’ve spoken.”

Nothing and no one in this world can create peace like the Prince of Peace.

Praise him before, during, and after the assault. 
There are two scenes from The Chosen series that make me cry every time. One is the scene where Jesus meets Nathaniel. He has just told Nathaniel that He saw him “when he was sitting under the fig tree.” You can visibly see that Nathaniel is shaken and wrestling. He keeps looking to Phillip and Jesus says, “Don’t look at him, look at me.” Nathaniel peers into the face of Jesus. Intently. And then his expression of confusion turns to recognition of the One. Jesus laughs and says, “Ah, there it is.”

FAITH. You can see the Faith rise up in Nathaniel and peace was quick to follow. But EVEN more is Jesus’ delight in Nathaniel’s faith.

Have you ever considered it?? That your faith would cause Jesus, the Most High God, to smile?
Oh my soul. Yes, Lord. I delight to bring you joy.

The second scene is just as chilling. It is where the begrudging, and unbelieving, father of Ramah is giving Jesus the intense older man to younger man “this-is-nonsense” talking to. The father challenges Jesus that what he was asking of his follower was extreme. To which Jesus replied, “It is true. I ask a lot of those who follow Me. But I ask little of those who do not.”

Gasp.  All for Jesus. How do we hold on to all He has said? How do we stay in step with all He is doing among us?  Praise. Before, during, and after. Letting our spirit recite the same songs that Holy Spirit is singing over us.  You’ve heard it before, worship is our greatest weapon.

Listen this isn’t a one and done routine. We STOP over and over. This morning at 7 a.m., only mildly more awake, the Lord said, “You need to go sit by the water until you see clearly again.”

He is so worth it. Actually, so is my peace.

 

A Deep Sorrow and Postponed Fundraiser

Dear Friends of Greater Things,
My beautiful mother had a stroke two weeks ago, and we have moved her home into hospice care. We are faithfully tending to her as we pray her into her true and final heavenly home. You can imagine my family’s deep heartbreak and all-consuming focus.
Because of this tragedy, the Greater Things team decided to postpone the Bonfire Fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, October 25.
Honestly, I am grateful for my team’s tender care.
I was trying “muscle through” for the sake of the ministry. They wisely reminded me that part of the culture of Greater Things is to walk together in authentic community. There is nothing to prove or need to perform.  This has given freedom for my heart and attention to be with my mother in her last days and not on vision casting.
Those dreams, visions, and celebrations will happen in the near future, so stay tuned. But for the next coming days, pray for my family, and for all the families around us, who have suffered profound loss.
Please do pray for Greater Things. Thank God with us for all He has done in 2020, and will do in 2021. Of course we welcome you to partner with us even without a fun night together. You can do that at greater-things.org
Let me leave you with a profound insight from this recent journey with my mother.
Use your words. Bless people close to you. Tell them thank you. Tell them you love them. Forgive them. Apologize. Share that thing that make them a delight to be around. Honor, defend, prophesy, and lavish. Use your words.
The stroke took my mother’s words. Her silence is deafening. I am so thankful for every I Love You and every Thank You we have spoken in recent years.  I miss the sound of her voice. So I want to use mine while I can.
I encourage you to do the same.
Held by His grace,
Jana
Those who look to the Lord are radiant.
Their faces are never covered in shame.
Psalm 34:5

Resurrecting Motherhood: 1. Value

Resurrecting Motherhood. Just the words strung together send a tingle down my spine. And yet it is the rumbling that began in my spirit three years ago? Frankly, I just haven’t had the courage to do anything to release it. And now, in the quarantined days of April 2020, I see the time is here and the I also see the very big Why.

So in the strength God gives, let’s begin a journey of Resurrecting Motherhood.

Today’s topic is Value.

What do you value?

Ask any woman or mom that question and we would rattle off various answers. But most of those answers would revolve around people.

We are relational at our core. It’s in our spiritual DNA. Think of how women nurture, work behind the scenes, coach and counsel in countless conversations, spark connection, make things hum and whistle.

Hmmm. . .this sounds like Holy Spirit, but we will come back to that.

Women are wired for relationship. So then. Ahem. Here we are today and our kids/ husbands/homes are DRIVING US FREAKING CRAZY. lol But seriously.

I really don’t think it is Too Much time together.

I think it is Too Little connection being finally revealed.

Did I mention that this journey might be a bit difficult? Just stay with me. God is taking us somewhere.

And our first bite of truth is about Value.

Lately, I’ve heard mom’s say honest and powerful truths:

I don’t know who I am now. My identity has been stripped.

I see my family doesn’t really like each other very much.

In my own house, and heart, I have been confronted with we don’t really know each other. 

All of these, and so many more, have been flushed up by the shelter-at-home orders. God has a funny way of working, doesn’t He?

And just now, in the moment, the Spirit whispers, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Have you read Matthew 6 lately. I just read it again. The Lord’s Prayer. The teaching on fasting. The teaching on giving. The teaching on serving God and mammon. Uhmm it’s loaded.

But I want to pay attention to this verse today:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

God is telling us where His idea of value is. Heaven. Heaven’s ways. What does heaven value, treasure? People. Not bank accounts. Not houses. Not stuff. People.

When your kids say “Mom” for the billioneth time, when they spill it AGAIN, when you just need a moment to be alone, when you need a hug or a cry or a scream. . . you don’t need a sappy tidbit. You need a divine truth. Lean back into His Divine Presence.

He treasures YOU! He will show you how to treasure your kids.

And today, I want you to see the verse right before this passage:
“your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

He sees. He knows. He will provide you with what you need, moment by moment, if you will value what He values. He values relationship. He highly values connection. He has entrusted you with TODAY with your children and family. Keep your eye on Him today breathing in this prayer,

“Spirit, my ever-present Parent, you understand what is means to be with your kids 24/7. In the same way that You love me non-stop, without running away, or crushing me, strengthen me to love my kids. Give me the desire to be connected to them the way You desire to be connected to me. Thank You for seeing and rewarding my effort. Amen.”

Remembering the Why

Merry Christmas from Our Greater Things House to Your House
Friends! Just want to take a deep breath and review all the Lord has done and is doing. We prayed at New Wine Church yesterday, “Lord please don’t let us have Christmas and miss You!” He is so worthy of our praise and adoration.
 
Through His power and your generosity, Greater Things has discipled multiple groups, with new groups springing off of these original gatherings. The GT house has been used for ministry to inner city teens, prayer meetings, worship nights, New Wine Church, men’s group, Kingdom Moms, The Unveiling Women’s Event, and our still unnamed Wednesday Women’s group. Wink.
 
We had our largest Beach Retreat to date and I can truly say it was ground breaking.
 
In addition, God has opened up a whole new territory for us as Chuck has gone on two mission trips this year to the Middle East. God told me while Chuck was gone that he would never be the same. “Part of his heart lives there now,” the Lord said. So we are planning and learning how to love on those from different countries there and also here.
 
And 2020? I don’t know if you ask the Lord for a word every year, but it is a practice I began years ago under the teaching from John Dee. The how-to is ask God for a word or phrase that He wants to deposit, teach or reveal to you in the coming year. It has been incredible to see Him move in this way and how we spur one another on in the process. Let me just say for this coming year my word is a doozy. I will have to unpack it for you as I get more clarity.
 
Speaking of clarity, a couple of REALLLLY fun things for 2020:
1) Three books in the writing and refining process.
Whaaat? I know, that was my reaction to God’s instruction too.
It has been remarkable to see Him breathe on the dreams that I have hidden for too long.
 
2) Another new thing is Listen and See Podcast Not sure why this thrills my soul, but please listen in.
We are talking about topics that matter with some of my favorite people.
 
3) This is SUPER early announcement, but Kingdom Access School is starting in August. Please stay tuned for more about this!
 
Where Credit is Due
I want to give a shout out to Caroline Ervin, Sarah Mason, Hailey Keene. These women have been incredible to serve and put strength into the workings of Greater Things. Also a shout out to Jessica Counts, Laura Jones, and Beth Hungerford for the unseen ways they serve the many activities. I want to give thanks to the GT Prayer Team for their incredible intercession. And finally, a shout out to Chad Brooks, Peter Simeone, and Joanna Simeone for beautifying and keeping GT grounds. This goes without saying, but I must shine the light on Chuck Spicka for rocking it as my co-heir. I love doing this with you with Him.
 
There are so many others who love, give, support my crazy, and benefit Greater Things. Thank you.
 
You know, maybe you could take a moment to just reach out to the people who help you be you. We really can’t say “thank you” enough. God is so gracious to connect us and help us link arms so that we might advance His Kingdom together.
 
Okay. My last thought.
 
This Christmas season, God has ever so kindly asked about my offering to Him. I know we are consumed with gift-giving to others. However, the wise men brought gifts of honor to the King.
 
The Lord has been breaking it down like this. He is offering me the presence of His Son, fresh and new every year, and what is my response? Will I leave my duties like the shepherds to go and see? Will I treasure what’s right in front of me like Mary and ponder all that God is? Will I bring my costly gifts like the wise men and lay them at His feet because I recognize that I all I need and long for is found in Him?
 
God gave me this beautiful phrase yesterday: Jesus gets personal when Jesus gets personal. Ask Him and respond to Him. I truly believe these acts of devotion are life-changing.
 
I bless you with a rich, full of glory Christmas.
With deep love,
Jana
 
P.S. Just in case you haven’t heard, our giving can now be done online at greater-things.org Thank you. Our ministry is 100% donor funded so we appreciate doing this part together too.

When Restlessness Produces New Fruit

On a regular basis I like to shake things up. No. It’s better said that I have to shake it up. If things get too static for too long I get a little crazy. Ask my mom. And my husband. Well, and my co-workers. My restlessness has prompted many a furniture rearrangement, get out of dodge adventures, and half-baked ministry projects.  What I love about this process is the daring, new experiments that are launched. Full disclosure, some of them crash and burn. Some of them fly high for a season. Some of them resemble oak trees that just continue to grow deep in roots and broad in reach.

Another truth to disclose, I never know what result they will be until they have left my hand. The artist’s plight, I guess.  But the Lord reminded me about a verse the other day. “The good tree produces good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) I read this again and let out a deep, long sigh. Ah. There it is. Pressure is off.

It doesn’t say that every single branch will produce a perfect blossom that will produce a perfect fruit. Rather it says the good tree will produce good fruit. Overall, in an ongoing way, the natural behavior  of a good and healthy tree is it sprouts, blossoms and yields fruit from different branches at different times. It is the tree’s lifetime destiny. And the outcome of the fruit is not necessarily the point either. Some of that fruit falls to the ground and rots. Some feeds squirrels and us. Some fruit is replanted in far away places as the birds carry it away. But the tree, the good tree, firmly planted, just keeps producing fruit.

Before you ask… in God, we are good trees. One thing I have learned the hard way is God is Less interested in my 100% perfect outcomes and More interested in my 100% surrender. My “yes!” answer to Him really, really matters. It really impacts His heart. Your “yes” has the same affect. So today, just give Him a fresh “yes” and let Him pour His good, good love through you.

Here are a couple of the outpourings He and I have been playing with. Feel free to partake of new fruit!

A new podcast called Listen and See  and A Greater Things Christmas Eve 

He is worth it. He is with us.

It was the best of seasons and the worst of seasons. Sounds dramatic I know, but it really does ring true. This is the season of thanksgiving. There is just so much to be thankful for. Big and small.  My friend Joanna Simeone has been asking for answered prayers and miracles and we just keep sending in testimony after testimony.  It’s Beautiful.

AND.

And, it feels like all hell is breaking loose.  Hmmmm. Just as I write those words, breaking loose, the Spirit reminds me of the passage I have been returning to this week. “No weapon formed against you will prevail,” from Isaiah 54.  What if  the more we give thanks in all circumstances, the more hell is losing its grip on us? The more hell is breaking loose from our lives?

I told my friend I am in the perfect storm, every area being shaken up, pressed down, crushed. And yet, the song of Lord keeps bringing me peace.

• He brought me an actual song,  “Another in the Fire.” It is a war cry anthem for sure.  “I can see the Light in the darkness, and the darkness bows to Him.”

• He gave me a vision in the shower of the word Confidence. Like a teacher diagramming a sentence the Lord re-wrote the word like this:

Con (meaning with, or together) + Fide (faith) + Ence (noun turned to action or result)

Confidence means With Faith.

He has said over and over again He Himself is our confidence.  We can  “with Faith” Him in the moment by moment.

• And then there is the tension of the not yet, the holding your breath, the punched in the gut I can’t breath moments where we must decide our path. This is what He continues to breath into my spirit: I am worth it. I am with you.

I told my friend Kate I am convinced that all of life, and I mean ALL of life, is God’s invitation to us to have More of Him.

So today I bless you, and myself, to have full Confidence (With Faith) in Him and to rest, breathe, believe He will be good and God to you in every circumstance. And to know that He is worth it. He is with us.

Oh Yes! This shell is what sparked the conversation. See that little shell inside? That’s me and you. Hidden within His Broken Body. Amen.

“Abortion is HealthCare” Billboard is Missing One Small Detail

Empower women. That is the mantra. But when you kill one woman to empower another, that’s not true healthcare. I call that entitlement at best and delusional at worst. It is a distorted elitism of “I deserve to live and you don’t.”  Listen, this isn’t my first rodeo around abortion rights. It used to be “it’s not a fetus.” Scientific evidence shut that down decades ago. Yet instead of awakening our feminine hearts, we have devolved into madness. Today the notion of “my right” to healthcare and happiness and control means that I can kill my own child even past birth.

In what universe do we separate abortion from any other hate crime?  We cry out for racial, gender, and religious freedom. We harangue every sign of offensive action or speech toward perceived targeted groups. Yet we turn a deaf ear and deadly weapon on the unborn. We destroy the most unprotected among us and celebrate their deaths as women’s advancement. Animals have more advocates and compassion.

I am not offended by abortion. I am outraged. And yes, I am post-abortive. And yes, I KNOW what it means to trapped by an unwanted pregnancy. And yes, I support women in crisis pregnancies.

And I also know that murder never solved any problem anywhere.

I want to lovingly, boldly lay down this gauntlet for my on-the-fencer abortion rights friends. These are the women and men who are “personally against abortion but believe women should have healthcare.” You have been misled if you think the argument is about safe clinics. It’s never been about that. It never will be.

It’s about the life and death of a human being and who has the “right” to live.

I know Jesus died for us all. I know He loves us all even in this painful controversy we find ourselves in. And, I know this to be His truth. Jesus spent His whole beautiful Being bringing people to  Life. Not ending it. He plants life. He  resurrects life. He defends life.

As women, as men, we must raise up our voices, votes and prayers.  Almost 30 years ago it was said, “if today we can kill our kids in the womb, one day we will be able to kill them outside the womb.” We are chillingly closer to that statement every day.

God have mercy on us.  Please, LORD, resurrect our maternal instinct to protect the young.

Photo by Katherine Brown.
(One of my most favorite pieces of all time. Oh that He would heal us all.)

When the Student is Ready…

the Master will appear.  It’s an old proverb that rings true every time.  What we see as devastation, I am convinced the Lord sees as a teaching opportunity.  The question is, are we willing to learn, to be taught, to change according to the revelation given.

As we continue to reflect on the goodness of the Lord in and through the 18 days, and the 10 years of freedom that followed, we see His hand of mercy and impeccable timing. We began the marital separation with simple instructions: work on your own junk.  I worked on my own heart. Chuck worked on his. The counselor (God bless his brave soul) told us to not think about the fate of the marriage until we had stabilized our own hearts. Selah.

Author and pastor, Danny Silk challenged the way we humans emotionally blow up our relationships with mates, kids, family and then immediately try to fix the problem and get back to normal. Silk said it is impossible to get “back to normal” when there is blood all over the walls from the last explosion. Instead he advised, just work on cleaning up the mess. Take the time needed to restore some measure of connection and THEN work on what caused the blow up in the first place.

In our situation, 18 years of dysfunction and mess, carelessness and resentment, and now so broken that we are separated, the outcome of the marriage was not the most important thing. Tending to our own hearts before the Lord was the most pressing.

And I couldn’t shake the suffocating panic.

If you know me, you know that I am a go-getter, risk-taker, charge the hill. But now I had been punched in the gut. I literally woke up in the middle of the night with dry heaves. I was so scared. Everything of importance in my life seemed to be teetering on the brink of an abyss, ready to fall at any moment.

What would happen to my house, my notion of family, the girls’ schooling, my own ministry, the relationships I had? In my conversations, either awake or dreaming, I would roll questions over and over, “how can I be safe now?” “What do I need to do to be safe?” “I don’t know how to go forward and feel safe.”

I cried out to the Lord, whose voice I knew very well, but this was unchartered territory.

” I am safe,”  He kept whispering.

“I know you are but I’m don’t FEEL safe. I don’t know what Chuck is going to do. I don’t know what is going to happen,” I said dismissing His truth.

“You are with me, I am safe,” He said.

This went on for three days and nights until his message came through loud and clear.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
Proverbs 29:25

The Master had spoken. And as the student, I had to learn this lesson.  I had to digest this word and let it go down into the innermost parts of my soul. It had to change me. And believe me, I was desperately ready for change. Are you there yet? Look at this verse broken down.

Fear of man:
Fear of others’ opinions, fear of looking good or stupid, fear of my team, my friends, my family’s approval or disapproval, fear of the church’s reactions, fear of bodily or emotional harm, fear of financial or social ruin

A snare:
A deadly bear claw hidden along the paths of life that once clamped there is no escape except by mutilation of caught limb or death

(How many of lose our lives over fear of other’s reactions)

Trust in the Lord:
Surrendering body, soul, and spirit to the One greater than me, leaning on, depending on, staking my whole life on His care

Kept safe:
Held in the loving, protecting arms of the God, the Savior, the  Lover who would never look away, never leave, never NOT defend me.

I am, was and would always be safe in His arms. End of story.

No matter the outcomes, the marriage, the children, the finances, the social implications, I was safe in Him. The rest of the 18 Days were radically changed by this revelation. I had a Truth greater than my feelings.

Ten years later, I see this deposit radically altered my future.

The Master is teaching us all the time.  Are we ready to learn?

The graphic somewhere seen on social media. Smile.

(janaspicka.com for previous blogs on the 18 Days)

 

The Pain Under Porn

One of the biggest lessons Chuck and I learned through our journey is to work on the right issue. I spent so much time trying to control Chuck and protect myself that I missed the deeper wound. Chuck spent so much time trying to look good and protect his quick fix, he missed the greater need.

Porn, like any form of coping, is not the issue. It is a symptom, but it’s not the cause. I often say it is the flower but it is not the root. We spend a lot of time treating symptoms: porn, food, anger, drugs, alcohol, shopping, social media, gaming, etc.

Yet all of these (and there are more) are attempts to manage a deeper pain and wounding. There is no sobriety or breakthrough without healing the root issue. Pain has to be processed. It can’t be ignored, or buried, it just comes back up until it is dug up.

But God.

I would never claim to be a certified counselor for marriage, addiction or otherwise.  My story of God and His counsel and presence is my only certification. I can’t heal your marriage, husband or heart. But I know the One who can.

Thank you for your kind comments to my recent blog. God is worthy to be praised. It was my Ebenezer, to declare that He met us in devastation 10 years ago and worked a miracle. I want to always remember His wonder-working power yesterday, today and forever.

And. I know that wasn’t the story for many of you. Some of you are still in miserable marriages with addicts. Some of you bear the scars of divorce.

I. Get. It.

I would like to offer a hard won perspective: All this living is an invitation to experience God’s presence in the middle of it.

Human frailty right next to Divine Hope.

My whole marriage journey taught me this. The lies and betrayal and brokenness, over time, became less about me and Chuck and more about me and Jesus. He was with me. He was changing me. He was fighting for me. And guess what? He was doing the same for Chuck.

One deeply profound truth that John Dee taught me was, “Ask for truth to be revealed.” Sounds almost too simple.  I would stand in my house and worship and ask God to reveal all things hidden, for truth to be revealed in my heart and Chuck’s.  God loves to answer that prayer but brace yourself for the fallout. He loves to break off every chain only to reveal every beautiful thing He has put inside of us.

I am now “fully persuaded” that God is good and He is good to me and for me. I know life and its excruciating pain is changed by His presence.  I don’t blame Him for heartache, I go to Him with my heartache.  Do you?

I don’t love and trust Him because of my outcome, I love and trust Him because of His presence and comfort in the middle of it. The Passion Translation has the beautiful expression, God’s wrap-around-presence.  He is With Us.

If the child goes astray, the loved one dies, the betrayal continues, the bankruptcy is final, we look for Him until we find Him.

God has an answer for everything we live through.  Heck, He is the answer.  Amen.