Feb 19, 2018


Sometimes I just have to sit down and get it out. Like now.

As I look out this window of mine, I see heavy clouds. Looming.

The scene is a perfect description of how my heart has been feeling lately. Heavy,

I had a conversation today with my oldest child recently.

He said this, "Mom, it is so hard to be a Christian in this day and age. Almost impossible."

My heart sank to the floor. I wasn't sure where he was going.

Then, he said, "I mean, I believe every word of the Bible and I believe in Jesus. I am not questioning my faith. But, it seems that everyone else thinks Christians are wrong, or dumb. or judgmental. It is just hard because you sometimes feel like you are the only one standing for Christ."

This conversation led to a long talk. A long, and hard talk about faith.

I wasn't really prepared, or at least didn't feel prepared.

However, I prayed throughout the conversation that Jesus would speak through me. Not my words, but His words.

After this conversation, I felt a conviction. A strong one.

I need to be living out faith in front of my children every moment of the day. I have this great opportunity to walk the walk and not just talk the spiritual talk.

Reading my bible every day is not enough. I must apply what I read.

There is a generation behind us, nipping at our heels. They need Truth. Real, sink your teeth into, TRUTH. 

Our kids need women and men in their lives that live out what they preach. Not just talk.

I read a while back that the things we teach our kids are "caught" not taught.

Wow. Let that sink in.

What will my kids catch?

These kids need us to be on our knees praying over them. The enemy will stop at nothing to saturate them with lies. [John 8:44]

In my laundry room I have a CD player. I have the Bible on CD that plays on repeat 24/7. In fact, I hear it now.

I don't do that so that I can look like a super Christian...

I play that CD because I know the enemy will use every means possible to speak lies to my kids.

Because the word of God is "living and active and sharper than a double edge sword", I want it circulating throughout my house. [Hebrews 4:12]

Our kids will not know Truth unless they hear it.

"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17. 

The enemy is out to divide. To divide families. Children. Churches.

When our loyalties are to things other than Jesus and His Word, we become divided.

We fall for the lies of great sounding people and great sounding messages.

For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things. 2 Timothy 4:3

Our only devotion should be to Jesus Christ. An undivided devotion to Jesus. 

In our hearts. In our words. In our actions. 

Our primary devotion should not be to a preacher. A teacher. Or anyone other than Jesus. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

We must make sure that our kids are being surrounded by believers who will speak truth. Not just pretty sounding words. Building their confidence is not the same as building their faith. 

Taking our children to church is so important. Surrounding them with bible teaching and other believers is important. 

However, in my opinion, one of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them the gospel of Jesus day in and day out. The other 6 days of the week. 

Not through perfection, Jesus has that covered. But by a mind and heart set on Christ. 

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

We will make many mistakes! Oh, so many. But the words and the power of Jesus and His Word are so much bigger than our mistakes! 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us Ephesians 3:20

So, back to my child that said being a Christian is hard. 

He is right. 

But, thank goodness. Jesus did all the work. He died so that we could LIVE. 

All we have to do is believe. [John 3:16]

He will do the rest. 

Friend, the road will be narrow. Oh so narrow at times. You will wonder, "am I the only one on this road?'

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

But, you are not alone. 

Jesus is with you. Every step of the way.

on my knees,


Feb 14, 2018

Hey, you....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go Here

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Isaiah 43:4

Hey, you. Yes, you.

So, today is Valentine's Day.

Maybe you love this day, maybe you hate it. Either way, the calendar says it is February 14th.

I have bad memories of all of the girls with boyfriends  in middle school getting flowers and candy and balloons delivered to the front office from their [ahem] loves.  [eye roll]

I never got a delivery.

Really, I am not bitter.

Well, maybe just a teeny weeny bit.

Looking back over my life, I realized something a few years back.

My entire life, I have had the greatest Love of my life by my side. At all times.

He was with me when I was knitted together in my mother's womb. [Psalm 193:13]

He was with me when God inserted the DNA make-up in these cells of mine. [Psalm 119:73]

He was with me when my heart started to beat inside my mother's womb.

He was with me when my little fingers and toes began to form. [Isaiah 44:24]

He was in the hospital room with me when I was born on that unseasonably warm January day in Decatur. GA.

He was with me when I cried in my crib at night. [Psalm 116:1]

He was with me when I took my first steps.

He was with me when I fell hard on the pavement after holding a rope to the back of my sister's bike as I roller skated. [dumb] [Psalm 91:15]

He was with me when I got my first black eye and 14 stitches. [Psalm 50:15]

He was with me when I got my second black eye and 7 stitches. [SAME eye]

He was with me when I went on my first date.

He was with me when my heart was first broken by a boy. [Psalm 34:18]

He was with me when I met the cutest boy I had ever laid eyes on.

He was with me when I walked down that blue carpeted Baptist Church aisle and said "I do" to that cute boy. [1 Chronicles 17:2]

He was with me when we had our first child....a dark haired baby boy.

He was with me when I had my first panic attack on 9/11/2001.[Jeremiah 1:8]

He was with me when I had countless more after that day.

He was with me when I thought surely I was going crazy and I would be put in a straight jacket due to fear and panic. [Isaiah 41:10]

He was with me when my baby girl was born with the most beautiful head of blonde hair.

He was with me when I tucked those babies in at night and cried outside of their door imagining the day they would be grown and gone. [Psalm 56:8]

He was with me when I fought on my knees in prayer over their lives day after day when the enemy would fill their little hearts with lies about who they are. [Psalm 91:14-15]

He was with me when I finally opened my bible in 2012 and started to read His Story...the Bible. [Philippians 4:9]

He was with me when my son drove off to school by himself for the first time after he turned 16. [John 14:27]

He was with me when I melted on the floor into a heap watching his tail lights leave--without me in the car with him. [Zephaniah 3:17]

He was with me yesterday when I felt the same old familiar fear creeping into my heart....and trying its best to suffocate me. [Philippians 4:16]

I don't know your story...

But, He does.

He has never left you. [Matthew 8:20]

And, He never will.

You can run all you want...

He still won't leave.

You can get mad at him and throw ugly words of bitterness at Him...

He still won't leave.

You can deny Him again and again because of your pain and your hurts...

He still won't leave.

No one on this Earth knows you like Jesus.

No one on this Earth loves you like Jesus.

He is a Gentleman.

He won't force Himself into your heart....what kind of love would that be anyway?

He will wait for you.

He will come as soon as you call.

There is no pretending with Him.

He knows you upside down and inside out.

He knows your thoughts before they form.

He knows your words before you utter a sound.

If you are looking for true Love...

Look no more.

Jesus is His Name.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Feb 9, 2018


Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.

Early this morning, too early for humans to be awake, I came across the scripture above. I sat there and read it again and again.

My weary eyes filled with hot tears.

I know what David speaks of when he wrote this Psalm. I know the wait. I know the cries.

I also know the feeling of being lifted up out of a dark pit, out of pure slime and mud.

I know the feeling of being placed back on firm soil. So firm, that although my feet were still shaking, the ground would not give way.

I know the new song He puts in our mouths.

Oh, David. Your words washed over me like a healing balm this morning.

This reminder....that He will lift us up and out of that dark pit.

He will rescue us.

He will hear us.

Overwhelmed with gratitude of His faithfulness this morning, I thanked Him over and over for this verse. For the reminder that firm ground is coming. A new song is awaiting for me to sing.

The picture image of this verse saturates my mind. I see someone being lifted out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Is there darkness around you?

Do you feel alone?

I think one of the loneliest places to be at times is motherhood.

So often, I feel like I have to carry a burden on my shoulders. I have to bear the load alone. Whether it being an issue with one of my children, or a regret, or just the overwhelming feeling that I am getting it all wrong.

Even if my husband  bears the burden as well, I tend to take it right back on my much smaller shoulders and carry it like a large heavy medal that nobody wants to win.

The enemy whispers in my ears, "keep this struggle hidden. you will be judged, condemned, mocked if you share the burden with others. you cannot trust anyone to understand or help. just keep carrying this burden and deal with it."

Last year my daughter was struggling. She finally, after weeks of trying to manage the situation herself, came to be and spilled out her heart.

I could not believe she had not come to me earlier.

But, sadly I knew why....because I do the same at times.

I keep a struggle hidden. Hidden in the darkness of my mind and heart. Where shadows lurk and reason goes out the window.

An hour after my daughter spilled out her heart, she came to me and said, "I feel lighter. I am so glad I talked this out with you."

You see, the enemy wants us to bury our burdens, and carry them alone. He wants to isolate us from others and torment us into a place of hidden misery. A place of shame and blame. He is a liar.

He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

However, when we bring our burden to the light....healing begins.

When we share our story with another and ask for prayer, the burden suddenly is divided in half. We have someone else to pray for us, to encourage us, to love us.

Don't believe the lie of isolation the enemy wants you to believe.

Jesus was never isolated. He surrounded Himself with men to help Him, to go with Him, to teach with Him, to heal with Him.

He could have done it all alone. Every bit of it.

But, He chose not to.

He chose to use people to be with. To talk to. To pray with. To share with. To grieve with. To laugh with.

We were meant for community. We were meant to bear each other's burdens.

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

Motherhood doesn't have to be lonely and isolated.

We need other people. We need another's ears to hear us, we need another's hands to help us at times., we need another prayer on our behalf.

Whether you are married, single, divorced, widowed....surround yourself with women you trust. Women that you know will pray for you, encourage you, and not throw stones at you.

Pray for God to bring these women into your life.

And...be that kind of friend to someone. Be willing to stop, listen, and pray with someone.

God is always ready to deliver us, but we must be willing to ask for help.

God uses people. He just does. All throughout the bible...God uses people to fulfill His plan.

Lighten your load today. Reach out. Share your heart. Take the first step to healing.

Your new song is waiting.

lightening my load,


Feb 7, 2018

Word to the Momma's...

Nehemiah 6:3 "I am doing a great work and cannot come down."

My son will be a senior next year. I know. I cannot believe it either.

When you begin to see the end of the road so to speak, you tend to view days differently. Not as endless mounds of mothering, teaching, cleaning, cooking, disciplining, training....like it was in the beginning of your mothering years...

But, of the stuff that really matters. Like, have I left them with something to sink their teeth into as adults?

You question if you have done enough, or are doing enough.

You look at young mothers with little babies and think, "Did I cherish those moments?"

The enemy can really, really, really whisper words of regret and condemnation if we are not careful.

As I was folding my son's laundry this afternoon, I thought...should I let him do this today? Maybe I should just leave a big pile on his bed for him to put up when he gets home.

However, I heard a whisper in my heart, "you get to do this, Jill."

I am all about responsibility. 100 percent.

But, I also want my children to be on the receiving end of grace. Of service. Of devotion.

I want to model this for them. Live it out for them.

As a little girl my only dream was to be a wife and a mother. I get to live out daily this dream.

I get to be their momma.

I get to be Lem's wife.

It is my greatest honor.

And, my greatest work.

Life can pull and tug at my heart to drag me away from this work. Surely the world desires my talents. My gifts. It needs them.

Isn't that what we often believe as mothers?

We feel this tug to do more. To be more. To strive more. To be noticed more. To be applauded. To be recognized.

It is attractive to us.

But, it's a distraction from our greatest work.

Our families.

There is no greater work to be done then that of raising our children and being our husband's helper. We were made for this.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:20-24
I have bought the lie many times that the world needs me. It needs my writing. My teaching. My whatever....
Surely, I can do all of these things and be available for my family as well.
Something will suffer.
More than likely it will be our families.
The season of parenting kids under our roofs is very short...trust me on this one.
I desire with all of my heart to pour every ounce of love, devotion, joy, teaching, discipling...into these children of mine.
I cannot guarantee a good outcome, but I will choose to trust God with His plans for them.
As mothers, we dig the ditches, God fills them.
But, we must dig the ditch.
We have to be careful not to dig ditches that are not in our soil in this season. We must dig the ditches we are standing in and on at this moment with our families.
God will use our efforts, our tireless days, our long nights....
He will produce fruit in some how and in some way.
But, we must stay in the garden. Even a small step away and we risk the enemy swooping in.
As mothers, we must be diligent. Devoted. Determined.
We get to do this...
folding more laundry,

Feb 2, 2018

Me too.....

SHINE reading plan: Go here.
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One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

I had this grand idea of posting more in 2018. Well, it is February 2nd, and I have one post (well, now two) under my belt. Yay me.

To be honest, I just haven't felt like writing. At all.

I have a lot to say, but really just haven't felt like saying it.

It takes effort, time, and coherent thoughts (well, sometimes)  to string a post together.

Every day I will sit and look at my computer screen and then just turn it off. Blank.

No motivation. None.

So, here I am today. The sun is out and so am I. Stepping out here in the blogger world praying to add a little sunshine to someone's life.

I told my friends recently, I feel like I am in a spiritual slump. Nothing major, just a little slump.

I don't feel disconnected from the Lord, I just feel like He has been quieter than normal.

Yesterday, I was out for a walk, lamenting to the Lord, and I requested this:  Lord, please reveal yourself to me. Right now. I believe you are here. In fact, I know you are here, but I miss Your Voice. I miss You."

Five seconds after breathing out that prayer, a big blue bird swoops down in front of me. I gasped.

Okay, You are here, Lord.

Tears streaming down my face, I whisper to Him that I have missed Him.

He hasn't gone anywhere, but the quietness is deafening at times.

In my earlier walk with the Lord, I would hear Him all the time. I would see Him in everything. My spiritual eyes were always on.

But, lately, I just do not feel that same fire.

Can you relate?

Then, I remember the story of Elijah. Remember him?

Let me remind you..

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13

God reminded me in that moment that I am always looking for Him in the big things. In the miraculous. In the giant, take your breath away moments...

When, all along, He is there in the mundane moments, the small moments. the gentle breeze...

We can't get used to the mountain top experiences with Jesus because the valleys are coming too. The valleys are where our steadfast faith kicks in.

The valleys are where He carries us yet we don't know He is even near.

The valleys are where the seeds are planted deep and dark underneath the soil of our faith to be sprouted when the season is ripe.

These seasons can be hard. Cold. Dark,

Yet, we have this Hope...

Morning follows the night.

The sun rise will always come...but we have to stay faithful in the sunsets.

If you are in a valley...

Stay faithful.

Stay in His Word.

Stay prayerful.

Stay connected with other believers.

Stay hopeful.

Stay steadfast.

Or you will miss the gentle whisper of His Voice....

Elijah may have missed His Voice if he had not been expecting and listening.

Oh, Friend.

I wish we were face to face so that I could hear your story. Know you more. And hold your precious hand as you walk through this valley....

I would shake my head in agreement...me too.

You are not alone.

God is with you even when you don't feel Him.

He is faithful and true.

Lean into Him in the valley.

He is closer than you know.

leaning in,


Jan 1, 2018

It's Time....

SHINE Reading Plan: Go Here

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews  4:12

Good morning. Welcome to a new year. And a new you.

What's new, you ask?

This is your year.

Your year to finally start reading God's Word.



Inhaling it like you inhale your morning coffee, or hot tea.

Exhaling it back out, blanketing it over a cold and weary world.

The world needs you to be fueled up on God's Word. Desperately.

Unless we heed the call of His Word, we are no different than this world. We start to blend in when we don't consistently stay in alignment and in agreement with the Words of our Father in Heaven.

We become stale. Our fruit no longer is ripe.

All the church sitting in the world won't change a stale heart.

Only fresh bread each day from the oven of God's Word will sustain us. Strengthen us. Bring us to life.

There was a time...6 years ago.  I made a decision to read God's Word. Every single day.

I knew it would not be easy. I knew I needed major accountability.

I emailed a few friends. They agreed to read with me.

That email began this blog.

God breathed His Words every morning into my heart and used my fingertips to write.

He was waiting for me to say yes. My whole life.

Waiting for me to trust Him and get to know Him.

Waiting for me to finally be all in. Not just tiptoe in and out from time to time.

Accountability was key.

Knowing that other friends were reading with me, kept me in the Word.

However, after time, I began to crave His Word. Every morning.

I would roll out of bed and before my eyes were even open, my Bible was open.

The Lord meets me every morning, still.

But, I have to show up.

How about you?

Will you show up this year?

Will you daily meet with Jesus and let Him breathe His Words into your heart?

Your family needs you to meet with Him.

Your work needs you to meet with Him.

Strangers you run into day to day need you to meet with Him.

They all need what you will pour back out onto them.

Words of Life. Words of Hope. Words of Love.

Reading God's Word is the only way for this to be possible.

Y'all, we can't fake our way into being His Disciples. We can't just dress up real pretty and play the part.

It's a heart change.

Then, it becomes a mouth change. And a hands change. And a feet change.

We begin to go the Way of Him and not the ways of the world.

People will notice. People will want the peace they see. People will want the joy they see. People will want the radiant glow that comes from time spent with the Lord.

'Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5

Friends, don't let another year go by not being in God's Word.

Reading devotionals and blogs are not the same as time spent on your own in His Word.  Encouraging facebook and instagram posts are also not the same. These things are helpful in our walk, but they are not what our soul truly craves. Devotionals spur us on and encourages us...

God's Word breathes life into us. It feeds the deep hunger of our soul.

"Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

Make a decision today to go deeper.

To drink the living water from the Well of God's Word.

You will never be thirsty again.

drinking up,


*If you need a place to start, go to our SHINE Reading plan at the top of the page. Print out the reading plan schedule and tuck it into your Bible. It's a good way to keep you on track.

Dec 28, 2017

Let it go...

Luke 23:24, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing"

Can I be just real straight up vulnerable with you? [shocking, right]

I came across my prayer journal from a year ago this very day. From time to time, I go back to remember. To see what was on my heart. To see the path of God's faithfulness.

As I flipped back to December of 2016, I stopped on one of the entries. I read it slowly.

I want to share it with you because it may encourage you. It may release some pent up stuff happening in that heart of yours. Sometimes we don't know we are in bondage until we begin to pour our hearts out to the Lord. Suddenly, He releases some long held hurts and injuries.

Here's the entry from December  2016:

Father, I forgive those who have hurt me. I release all of the hurt, rejection, anger, bitterness....all of it. When people reject me, they are really rejecting You. 

Forgive me for not forgiving. Open my heart. Slice it right open. I release all of the rejection, hurt, anger, bitterness--I lay it at Your feet and ask that You heal my heart because it belongs to You. 

My spirit abides in You. 

Father, from this moment on, I walk in forgiveness. I walk in Grace. I walk in Humility. I walk in LOVE. I walk in Joy. I walk in Hope. 

My heart is encased in Yours. It will not be penetrated by hurt and hurt will NOT change me. I am full of JOY. And Hope. And Laughter. And Love. 

I will not be afraid to express love, encouragement, kindness--because of fear of rejection. I will not self-protect anymore. God has my heart encased in His. 

Father, thank you for speaking Your words into me. Thank You for setting me free. 

I am a new creation. Created in the image of God. To live a life of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, GRACE, JOY, MERCY. 

I forgive _____. I forgive_______. I forgive_______. I forgive ________. I forgive ________. I forgive_______. 

I forgive friends who have hurt me. 

I release these loved ones to You. I ask that You bless them in a Mighty way. Pour Your Love over them-fill them with your Joy. Bless their families and give them Joy and Abundance. Fill their hearts with YOU, Lord! Let good things happen to them. Surround them with Peace. 

Lord, forgive me for holding these feelings in my heart. Lord, forgive them. For they know not what they do. 

Forgive me for letting feelings and thoughts eat at me and consume me.  

If I am rejected, I consider it an honor to walk the same road that Jesus walked. Through pain, Jesus loved and gave His life. 

Lord, I want to love like Jesus. Without holding back. 

Thank you for releasing me from these chains of unforgiveness. I am set free today. 

I hold nothing against anyone. What can man do to me? 

If God is for me, who can be against me? Romans 8:31

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13

Lead me, Father. Guide me down the path of Love, Holiness, Sanctification and Mercy. I choose You. Above all else. 

In Jesus Name, amen. 

As I read this entry, I was amazed at how the Lord had done exactly as I had asked. I was released. I had a fresh heart. I had fresh eyes to see these people as Jesus saw them.

I didn't even realize I had been holding so much inside until I released it to God.

Start this new year fresh. With a clean and pure heart. Leaving all of the baggage of unforgiveness behind.

We cannot live for Jesus if we live in bitterness and hold grudges.  It is just not possible.



Dec 18, 2017

Do you need a miracle?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Last night, I sat in the floor of my shower for over an hour. The scalding hot water poured over my flesh. I buried my head in my knees as the water trickled down my body.

I needed a cleaning. Not from outside dirt, but from inside dirt.

My mouth had spoken words that were not grateful or holy. My thoughts had been filled with anxiety, worry and fear.

The day was spent shopping with my husband. Beginning with a beautiful church service, then off to our favorite town to shop.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt anxiety writhe my whole being. As we shopped for kids and family, I could feel the mounting pressure. I wanted to run. Far away.

I just felt the overwhelming pull of fear that what we were getting wasn't enough. It would not put a smile on the faces we were purchasing for. It was meager, or so it seemed.

My mouth even uttered the most horrible words perhaps my lips have ever formed..."I hate Christmas."

I know. I know.

What was wrong with me??

My husband turned to me and said, "What??? You love Christmas more than anyone I know."

I shrugged my shoulders holding back tears.

This is the part that I didn't like about Christmas. The pressure that I put on myself. To measure up. To do more than I knew we had. To spend more than I knew we could afford.

This is the part that I teach my kids about. Shaking my finger in their faces about the "true meaning of Christmas".

Yet, here I was...

Full of bitter gall...

Full of anxious thoughts...

Full of the pressure to give a gift that would knock the Christmas socks off of a loved one...

The exact opposite of the true meaning of Christmas.

As I sat in my shower, washing off the crud of my thoughts, and my words....

Hot tears steamed down my face.

The pull of the world was fierce.

The pull of the enemy was fiercer.

Whispers of the enemy's lies were ringing in my ears.

Your gifts will never be enough.

You will never be enough.

I began to do war with those thoughts the most powerful way I knew how...

Reciting God's Word. Over and over.

This time is was Psalm 23.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need.

Then, I turned it into these words...

The Lord is my Shepherd, the kids have all that they need.

The Lord is my Shepherd, my husband has all that he needs.

The Lord is my Shepherd, my loved ones have all that they need.

Because, somehow, I had bought into the lie that we needed more.

That I needed to give more than I had.

That they needed to receive more than I could offer.

And the thoughts of disappointed faces as loved ones opened gift that were in my "budget", made me cringe in fear and anxiety.

Was this really what I believed Christmas was about?

Do I teach my children one thing, yet act out the exact opposite of my teaching?

Do I believe that the three wise men's gift to the Son of God had the ability to ruin the whole blessed nativity?

Good grief.

I know better than to believe these lies.

Christmas is not about the gifts.

But, the Gift.

The Gift to us.

To my heart and to yours.

The present of being Present with us on Earth. The Son of God....in all of His Glory.

This past weekend we traveled out of state to see family. One of our dear family members has cancer spots. In so many places.

He received the best news he could possibly receive this week.

The treatment is working. The cells are shrinking. A miracle.

I asked him how he was "doing". I asked him how it felt to have to wait, and wait, and wait....before receiving life-giving or life-taking answers.

He looked me straight in the eyes, his hair short and shorn from treatment, and spoke these words..

"I live in the present, Jill. I don't look back and I don't think about tomorrow. I live in the fullness of today. The present is my miracle."

I felt the air being released from my pent up, stress filled, anxiety ridden heart.

His words popped the hardened bubble of  discontent that was encasing my heart.

The room blurred for a minute. I could just hear his words, almost in slow motion.

Not really his words, but God's words to me.

The present is my miracle.

I had spent so much time worrying about tomorrow and the outcome of my Christmas gifts to others...the money stretching....the time crunching....

That I had missed the present miracle of today.

The miracle of being present.

Not thinking racing thoughts about how little time, how little money....

But, how much.

How much miracle I had.

In each moment. Full of family. Full of laughter. Full of love. Full of life.

The present is my miracle.

Lives lived looking back, or looking forward will miss the miracle.

Lives lived in the present, and in the Presence of Jesus....will be wrapped in the miracle.

Capture your thoughts today. Reign them in. Look around you. Beside you. In front of you. Lock eyes. Lock hands. Lock hearts.

Embrace the miracle of the present.

Embrace the Present--Jesus.

Tomorrow will hold new miracles. But, only if you find the ones today.

The Lord is our Shepherd, we have all that we need.