Apr 28, 2016

Fear not....

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to receive SHINE by email: Go here.
Say hello: shinegirlsshine@gmail.com

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

This is not the post I wanted to write. All day long I had planned on writing comforting scriptures for those impacted by the loss of the four college students at University of Georgia. Then, I realized, we were all impacted.

I did not know the precious girls, or their families, but I know what it is like to be a mother.

The faces of the mother's of those girls I have envisioned countless times today as I prayed for them.

Mothers can relate to each other in a way that transcends culture, language, religion, or time.

The heart of a mother for her children is something that cannot be contained by mere words in a blog post.

The moment I laid eyes on my first born, I felt it. It was something that I had never experienced before. Something in my heart and soul came alive. A new part of my heart burst forth, and wide open.

A different kind of love than that of the love I have for my husband. A protective kind of love, I suppose.

We spend our whole lives trying to protect them, guard them, cover them.

Even as they grow into adults, our instinct is to protect them even from afar.

That's why the story of Abraham baffles us so much. Abraham sacrificed his son in order to obey God. This story captures our hearts and our attention, and God knew it would. We cannot wrap our brains around this kind of sacrifice. It's too much to fathom.

God knew it would take the sacrifice of His Only Son, Jesus, for us to realize the breadth and depth of His love for us.

So, when we hear stories of the loss of children, we are impacted in a gut-wrenching kind of way. We feel it from our head to our toes and every inch in between.

Then, fear can strike our hearts as soon as the devastation of the news wears off.

Fear can destroy us if we are not careful. It can smother every ounce of faith and joy that we once held if we let it.

Fear can turn a sane momma into a splattering mess if we don't rebuke it in the name of the Lord.

Fear can and will drain us from our energy and purpose each day.

Fear can destroy relationships because it saps the peace right out of us.

Fear keeps us up at night begging us to imagine the worst.

Fear taunts us and haunts us until we cave into it and surrender to it's prowess.

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Fear is a thief.

It will steal our hearts and minds and hold them captive if we don't take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

If there was such a thing as a Masters Degree or PHD in Fear, I would sadly be educated enough to teach the class.

Fear is something I know much about and hope to never enter the ring with again.

It will rear it's ugly head in from time to time, but I have my weapon ready now--the Word of God.

I don't mess with fear anymore. I don't dig into things, look up or google things that can trip me up, meditate on worst case scenario situations, or talk extensively to others about a particular fear. The more fear is magnified, the more it will control us.

God teaches us to take each day as it comes. "Give us this day, our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

If we live our lives worrying about tomorrow, we miss the blessings of today.

So, if you are in a place of fear, breathe in the words of Jesus....

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Take heart, precious friend.

Jesus has overcome the world.


and so have we,


jill











Apr 25, 2016

Jesus, Publix, and the man-child....

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to receive SHINE by email: Go here.
Say hello: shinegirlsshine@gmail.com

The story I am about to share happened two and a half years ago. I shared it with a class I was teaching at the time, but have never written about it until now. In some strange way, I wanted to keep it inside of my soul. It was such a personal and life-altering moment that I didn't want to taint it by setting it free from my heart and mind.

However, today, God reminded me of this story. I needed to hear it again. I needed to remember the lesson it taught me. I hope it will encourage you as well.

It was late Fall of 2013. I had decided to stop writing. I was tired. And burned-out. And kind of done with bible studies altogether to be honest.

I was teaching a SHINE Girls class at the time at my beloved church. I loved my time with those ladies, I loved them dearly. However, I was burned out. In every possible way.

At that time, I was writing almost every day and then leaving my house every Wednesday night to lead the bible study class. Of course, this was in between sports, kids, husband, and all the other stuff I had jammed into my agenda.

My cup had literally runneth over.

One afternoon during this burned out season of my life, I headed to the grocery store. It was a rare moment of alone time so I decided to drive and extra 10 miles to the Publix in the next town.

The drive to Publix was full of prayers, tears, and more tears. I talked to God the whole entire way to Publix. I poured my heart out to Him. I was frustrated. My writing had come to a halt, my desire to lead bible studies had diminished, my "purpose" seemed to have vanished.

The question I cried over and over to God that day was, "What is my purpose, Lord? Why have you taken the desire to write and teach away from me? Have I done something wrong? Did I write, teach, or say something not in line with Your Word? Help me to understand!"

God did not respond. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

I finally pulled into Publix looking like a hot mess. Mascara running down my face. Puffy eyes and a snotty nose. Perfect.

Still having a conversation in my heart with God, I mindlessly grabbed a buggy. When I pulled it out of the stack, I backed right into a big black man.

He was standing right in the middle of the buggy corridor holding a small black comb. People were passing by him and staring. He was mumbling something that I couldn't quite make out.

As I tried to scoot pass him, he said clear as a bell, "W-w-w-w-would you brush my hair?"

I looked behind me.

Shoot.

Nobody was there.

He was talking to me.

I finally got a glimpse of his face.

He looked like a child in the face. The sweetest face you have ever seen sitting atop a massive 6'3 build.

He looked like a man-child.

Without even thinking, I took the comb out of his shaking hands.

He bent down so I could reach his fresh-shaven head.

I combed. And combed. And combed.

Each stroke of the comb he smiled.

I was lost in the moment with this man-child. Combing a perfect stranger's big, black, almost-bald head.

A few minutes passed and a lady came and gently took the comb from my hands.

"Thank you, ma'am. He loves to have his hair combed. He is a special boy with special needs."

I immediately thanked her for giving me the privilege to comb her son's hair.

Seconds later I walked off with my buggy and almost melted right then and there on that Publix floor.

I had just had an encounter with Jesus.

I could feel it all the way to my toes. His Presence was right there in the buggy corridor. Right there in those big brown man-child eyes whose head of hair I had just combed.

Jesus was showing me my purpose. Just as I had asked Him.

It's not about writing a good blog post, or teaching a good bible lesson, or memorizing a scripture a week. NO.

He showed me that my purpose was to love His people. To not just know the words of Christ, but to be the hands and feet of Christ.

To notice those in my very path. Even in the buggy corridor at Publix.

To see what's around me instead of having my head down in my phone, or just wrapped up in my own stinkin' pity party.  

To have my spiritual eyes on at all times waiting for opportunities to comb a head of hair, or speak to a total stranger, or smile at the person next to me.

My purpose had diminished because I had forgotten that it cannot be found in myself. But in Him. In loving others. In serving others.

To be ready and willing at all times to wash the feet, or comb the hair of another.

I was so busy trying to pump myself up with Jesus, that I missed the main thing: Being poured out. For Jesus. For a hurting world. For the man-child who simply wanted his hair combed.

There is a story in the book of Mark that wrecks me when I read it. I want to be like this woman. I don't want to hold it in, store it up, and be bloated with religion...I want to give it all away for Christ's sake. Setting aside my agenda, my pride, my purpose...in order to live for His Purpose.

Be changed by the "Poor Widow's" story:

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

She gave all she had.

She walked away with nothing, but left with everything.

When I get confused on what my purpose is, I remember this day. The day that Jesus stopped me in my tracks to comb a man-child's head.

Are you confused about your purpose? Look around you. Opportunities abound. Open your eyes, and see. Then give it away. Like the poor widow. Holding nothing back.


finding purpose,



jill

Apr 13, 2016

Unmet Desires....


"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires." Psalm 37:4

For many, too many, years, I took this verse to mean: When God grants me the desires of my heart, I will delight in Him.

Even if I didn't express it out loud, I viewed my taking delight in Him only after I had received my current "desire".

If we really think about this, haven't we all had conditions on our love and delight in God?

We say all the right things at bible study, we can quote scriptures off the top of our heads...

But, do we really take delight in the Lord?  Is He really our One True Desire?

I love how King David, my favorite man in all the world, states His desire for God. Read what he says to God and let it take your precious breath away.

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
 
One thing David wants. One thing David seeks. The Lord.
 
This scripture is one I have taped to anything it will stick to. I desperately want God to be my one true desire.
 
However, when my hopes and dreams don't pan out the way I feel they should, that desire for Him can disappear. Oh, I can fake it with the best of them. I can smile my way through church and worship and small group. I can post flowery scriptures on Instagram declaring my love for God and His Word.
 
But, the Lord knows my heart. He knows the wall I have created because of the unmet desire.
 
Isn't it funny how we think we can punish God by pulling our heart away from Him for not granting us these desires? When all along, we are the one suffering from not delighting in Him. He surely is grieving over our messed up thinking. If we only knew how much He loved us and delighted in us. If only we knew that the answer to our sorrow and our hurt was found in Him. Not the unmet desire.
 
Oh, y'all. This is so personal to me. I can write about this because I know this so well. It has just been very recently that God has shed light on my heart regarding this very thing.
 
I have wrestled with Him. I have argued with Him. I have told Him how I could not believe Him or trust Him if He did not give me this desire. I have believed the lie that He has forgotten about me. Or worse yet, not seen me at all.
 
When all the while, the desire my soul was created to long for, was right there all along. In Him.
 
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:1
 
Our hearts can lead us astray in desires. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things..."
 
We cannot be lead by our hearts but by our God. By the Holy Spirit Who dwells inside of us breathing God's desires into our souls.
 
Any desire, let me repeat, any desire, that overshadows our love for God will never work out for our good. Ever.
 
We can pray for better marriages, for our husbands to pray more, to have better children, to have more money, to have more discipline in our eating, to have babies, to get married, to have a boyfriend, to meet the man of our dreams, to get that job we want so badly....
 
However, when we make bargains with God to attain these things, we suffocate our desire for God. Those desires, even good ones, become idols.
 
“You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  Exodus 20:3-4
 
Our hearts grow cold when our demands are not met. We act like rebellious children when we don't see the fruit of our desires.
 
He is the fruit. He IS our One True desire.
 
Can we wrap our brains around the fact that we have ALL WE WILL EVER NEED. HE IS ENOUGH. END OF STORY.
 
I don't put that in all caps to yell, but to remind myself. To remind my own heart of what is at stake when I think something besides Him will make me happy. It just will not. It is a lie that the enemy loves to help us to believe. A big, fat, stinking, ugly LIE.
 
In Matthew 22:34-40, the Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up by asking Him what the greatest commandment was. They thought He would give them an answer that they could dispute and prove that He did not know what He was talking about. Oh, they were so wrong.

34  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Any answer besides this one could have become an idol to us. We will never ever be led astray in our desires if we Love God and desire Him above anything else. And then right below that one, loving others as we love ourselves. Whew. Talk about piercing straight through the bloody walls that encase our beating hearts.

Jesus didn't "desire" to be hung on a cross and tortured. He desired to delight in God by doing the Will of God.

THIS, is where we find the missing piece to the gigantic hole in our hearts we have been trying to fill up with all the wrong stuff. When we die to our man-made desires and make HIM our One True Desire above anything or anyone else, we suddenly have all we ever need.

Don't be mistaken, God wants all of it and more for us. He loves us more than we can even begin to comprehend. But, He wants our hearts above it all. Completely, and utterly devoted to Him.

After all, we are and always have been His desire. We were created by Him, and for Him.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11


desiring Him alone,


jill
 

Apr 12, 2016

Where are you, God?

Have you ever felt distant from God? I have.

My "faith" knows that it it's not possible, God is always with me. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

My flesh, however, felt distant. My flesh wanted so see God, feel God, hear from Him audibly.

When I was in this place of distance, it was dark and lonely. And weird.

The things that used to come so easy with my faith, suddenly became strange. And awkward.

It's like I had forgotten how to ride a bike and I desperately want to get back on.

 Looking back on that time, I see why. We had a lot going on with our family. Changes, and more changes.

My daily normal got turned upside down.

It took me awhile to get right side up again.

My quiet time in the early morning hours felt rushed and hurried. I was going through the motions. In a big way.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and your mind kept wandering? You were trying to go through the correct conversational motions and "uhh-hmms", but your mind just would not stay on the conversation?

Yeah, that is how I felt with my time with the Lord. My eyes were reading the words in the bible, my lips were saying prayers, but I was not all there.

Have you been there? Our hearts can be in another place. A place of worry. A place of doubt. A place of fear. A place of lost hope. A place of grief. A place of anger. A place of bitterness.

In that distant time I was experiencing, I wasn't trusting in His Provisions. I wasn't really seeking His word, I was just going through the motions.

As I talked to God about this through prayer, He gave me a vivid picture image in my head.

I imagined myself showing up to a dinner party. All dressed up, food spread all over the enormous table. I pictured myself sitting down and not eating. Just staring at the food. I had showed up, but I had not partaken in the food that was spread out for me to get filled and enjoy. I left the dinner party hungry.

Exactly what was happening with my time with the Lord. I was showing up, but not feeding off His Word. I was leaving empty. By choice.

I had read the words on the page from my bible, but had not ingested them.

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

I was starving my spirit. God was there, spread out right before me, but I refused to partake because of my preoccupation with other things.

He had not left me, I had left Him.

Oh, friend. are you in a place of distance from the Lord? Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Read His word. Pray. Ask for forgiveness of sin. Sin separates us from God. (Isaiah 59:2)

Here are a few verses to jumpstart your faith again...say them, pray them, write them down.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. Psalm 119:10

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. Psalm 139:1-3

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

These are just a few, but there are so many more.

I am praying over you, desperately wanting you to feel His Presence and His Peace.


He is right there,


jill









Can you help me?

Hello, precious SHINE sisters.

I need to ask a favor of you. :)

For a while now, I have had a stirring in my heart to write a devotional. However, I need your help. In this devotional, I want to insert posts from previous SHINE pages. This is where you come in. Would you mind emailing me and letting me know one or two of your favorite posts?

Your input is so important to me! I am so grateful for your devotion to this blog. Each of you have spurred me on and kept me writing when I wanted to throw in the towel. Thank you.

If you would like to help me in this endeavor, please email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com. Please include the title of the post and/or the link to the post.

You are so precious and dear to my heart and I want to include you in the making of this devotional.

Thank you, sweet sisters.


All my heart,


jill



Apr 4, 2016

The prayer that never gets answered...

Want to receive SHINE posts in your inbox? Go here.

This post has been on my heart since January. It has taken it a while to get from my heart to my fingertips.

I will get straight to it.

God has put a burning desire in my heart. I say it is from God because I have asked [okay, begged]Him to take it away, and He hasn't. Not yet, anyway.

The desire has been burning for a few years now. I have seen flickers of fruition from this desire, but nothing even close to the fulfillment.

On a cold January day, as I was praying on the floor of the house we were renting at the time, I had a moment with God.

You know, the kind of moment where you strip it all down. You take away the fancy words and reverent behavior. You stand there bare naked [well, not literally] before God, scars and all, and you tell Him exactly how much you do not understand His ways.

Okay, God.  I am STILL here. And this desire is STILL here. What are You doing, Lord? What are You doing? I just do not get this. Why can't You just take it away? It will be so much easier. I can move one if you take it away. I want to move on!

God has not provided a single solitary piece of evidence that He will fulfill this desire. Zilch.

But, the desire is still strong.

On that cold day, when I finished lecturing the Lord on why I did not understand, I flipped open my bible. Not really because I wanted to, more so out of sheer annoyance and frustration.

The pages fell open to a passage of scripture that I had seen twice in the weeks before this moment.

King David desired with all of his heart to build God a temple. He begs the Lord to let Him honor Him in this way. David even goes to Nathan the Prophet to get his thoughts. Nathan wholeheartedly agrees with this splendid idea.

However, that night, the Lord spoke to Nathan about David's request. God told Nathan that He would not allow David to build Him a temple. Instead of David building the temple, God wanted David's offspring to build the temple.

2 Samuel 7:

The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:
12
 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Did you catch the very first sentence of that verse? The Lord tells David that instead of David building a house for Him, He would build a house for David!

The house that God is talking about is David's family line! The House of David through his lineage and legacy. [remember, Jesus is in the lineage of David!]

Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba, would be the one chosen to build God's temple. Not David.

God allowed David to live long enough to see the start of the temple being established. How cool is that?

God loved David. So much. Yet, God had other plans with the building of the temple.

Even though David's intentions were good with desiring to build the temple, God still denied this request.

This story makes me catch my breath. For several reasons.

First, could it be that the desire that David had to build the temple was placed on his heart so that David would be the one to pray earnestly about it? Could it be that without David's heartfelt and fervent prayers regarding the temple, Solomon may have never been chosen to be the one to build it?

Could it be that the prayers of parents over their children are more powerful and effective than we could ever imagine?

Could it be that some of the desires of our hearts could be placed there for us to pray over our children?

Could it be that those desires may never go away because our prayers are shaking Heaven for the fulfillment of a faithful lineage and legacy?

Oh, y'all. I cannot put into words how much HOPE this passage of scripture puts in my heart. As mothers, we want our children to have a MILLION times more than we have. We desire their lives to be rich with blessings and God's favor. We desire their well-being and their joy over our own.

There is nothing on Earth I desire more than for my children to be vessels of God. To be used to do great things for God's Kingdom. To know their sacred inheritance as co-heirs of Christ.

My Hope is restored when I can know and believe that the desires of my heart will be one day fulfilled in a way so much sweeter than I could have imagined. My Hope is renewed and strengthened by standing on the absolute Truth that God hears my prayers and is actively producing fruit from these desires even though I cannot see fruit yet.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
 
If you have a burning desire, don't stop praying.
 
Does it align with scripture?
 
Does it glorify the Lord?
 
If so, keep praying.
 
The fulfilment may not be for you, but for your offspring. And their offspring. And on down the line.
 
Is there anything more exciting than to know that God has trusted you with the honor to pray fervently over this? He knows our hearts the best. He knows the magnitude of a mother's heart and the depth of the love for her children.
 
As I type this, my daughter is asleep right next to me. My son is just in the other room.
 
With renewed Hope, I see their faces. I picture the prayers I have prayed over these burning desires I have had. I picture the fulfillment of these prayers and desires into their own precious lives. Into their own precious families one day. If it is to be the Lord's will.
 
I will keep praying.
 
 
He is building my house,
 
 
jill
 
 

Mar 25, 2016

Seeing Jesus at The Dump....

I had no plans to write this story today. None. However, sometimes the words in your soul are palpitating against your skin and they must come out to breathe the cool air of release.

Words hold such power. If we truly could see the healing or damage they do, we would probably never utter another solitary word without deep consideration.

I pray these words bring healing to those hurting, grieving, and broken.

On February 6th of this year, Lem and I went furniture shopping at a place in Atlanta called The Dump. Sounds lovely, right?

It's a HUGE place. Furniture everywhere. I mean, everywhere.

A little overwhelming for this small town girl to be honest.

We were walking around for a few minutes when I noticed a sweet family sitting on some sectional couches. I had to do a double-take because they looked so familiar. Without trying to look stalky, I looked each face over intently. I could not place how I knew them. Something though, was beckoning me to keep watching them.

Really, I am not this strange usually. I promise.

As Lem and I kept looking over all of the furniture, I kept glancing over my shoulder at this family. What was it about them that was drawing my eyes to them? Why was I so fascinated with these people?

Lem dragged me by the arm and pulled me off into another direction. He's kinda used to my weirdness.

About 30 minutes later, I saw the mother of that family on a sectional by herself. It was the same one my husband and I were looking at. I went and sat next to her.

Who am I, and why am I acting so crazy? I don't usually go and sit next to a perfect stranger as they are testing out a couch. I promise.

We quickly started chatting, and chatting, and chatting. I was so drawn to talk to her, to listen to her, and to know about her precious family.

Honestly, I don't remember much about the entirety of our conversation, but I vividly remember the end of it.

As we got off of the couch and said goodbye to each other, I casually asked her how old her children were.

She told me their names and ages, and ended with, "And we have a 17 year old that passed away in December."

I thought maybe I misunderstood her for a moment. But, the look on her beautiful face told me otherwise.

She went on to tell me small details about what had happened to her son.

It was a tragedy. A crime. A murder.

With tears spilling down my face, I grabbed her and wrapped my helpless arms around her.

How in the world had she been able to casually talk to me on that couch? How as she able to get out of bed that day, or any day for that matter? How in the world could she look that peaceful and beautiful in the midst of such horror?

Immediately, I pulled back from her and looked at her face again.

"You are a believer, aren't you," I asked her.

I knew what her answer would be before I asked her.

"Yes, I am."

She went on to tell me how God had been so gracious to her and how her church family, family members and friends had been a life-line for her and her family. She said they could not make it through without them.

I just sat there slack-jawed. Taking in the sight of this providential moment.

After saying our final goodbyes and assuring her I would pray for her family, Lem and I got to the car and I cried my eyes out.

I had left a piece of my heart right there near that leather sectional we were sitting on.

I had just witnessed the Peace and Love of Christ like never before.  It was all over my new friend's face. In her mannerisms. In her voice. In her stillness.

I had just seen Jesus.

God had drawn my eyes to her from the moment we walked in and would not let me leave without talking to her. He knew I needed to know her story, and He knew what it would do to my soul.

As a mother, when we hear of these kinds of tragedies, our blood runs cold. We stop breathing for a moment and picture ourselves in their shoes.

Empathy sets in and we cannot shake it without drenching it with prayer.

She has been on my heart heavy ever since.

As I picture the scene in my mind of Jesus on the cross, I see my friend's teenage son. I see the injustice. I see the horror. I see the inhumane tragedy of a life cut too short.

As I picture Jesus's mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross, I picture my friend's face.

She has walked in Mary's shoes. She is walking in Mary's shoes.

Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute.

My friend has had to walk through her own child being taken by the hands of evil.

Yet, she is able to have Peace. To have Comfort. To have Assurance...

This is not the end.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

And, just like Mary, she will see her boy again. It will be sweet and it will be eternal. And, in the meantime, the impact of her life and the story of her son will draw many to the Cross. Even at a place called the Dump.

Isn't God just like that.

Making a place called The Dump, a place of Holy Ground.


Sunday is coming,


jill











Mar 22, 2016

You're gonna miss this....

Last night I had a moment as I was tucking my daughter into her bed.

We had said our prayers, and I just sat there on the bed next to her as she drifted off to sleep. I looked around her soft pastel-colored room and took it all in. The things she had out on her little desk. The note she had left to herself on the mirror of her vanity with a dry erase marker. The clothes she had neatly laid out to wear the next day.

These small little things that made up the life of my baby girl.

The details in her life that often I miss because I am too busy preparing for the next moment.

As I sat there on her bed, I wondered how many times I would go back to this moment when she is grown and is out of our nest. How many times would I want to turn back the time and go back to this exact season of life.

I already know that I will miss this. In a weird way, I already do.

If I am not careful, I can focus on that part of it way too much though. I can cry myself into a heaping mess if I let my emotions go haywire. For my husband's sake and my sanity, I try not to ponder too much on this anymore. Really, I have to stay sane-for a little longer anyway.

As I was lying on her bed taking in the beauty of life, and all of God's blessings, I was reminded of something I saw on my morning walk.

My neighbor was home. I saw his car in the driveway. I wondered what he was doing. Did he have plans that day? Was he watching Fox news and wondering what in the world is happening in our world? Bombs exploding, people suffering, chaos ensuing. Or maybe he was still asleep. Or maybe jut eating breakfast.

My neighbor is elderly. And he is a widower.

He was on my heart because of a passage of James that had struck me like lightning strikes a hot Summer sky.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

This scripture has been popping up all over the place and I have been asking the Lord what He wants me to do about it.

God and I have had many long talks about the orphan part, but never about the widow part.

There's a lot of concern over orphans these days, as there should be. Too many orphans. Period.

However, I don't hear much talk about taking care of widows.

It's not something I hear about on the news, or in conversations around the dinner table.

Yet, James tells us that caring for widows is important to God. Not just important, but "pure" and "faultless".

As I walked by my neighbor's house, I heard a whisper in my soul, "He is important to Me, Jill."

I could have dropped to my knees right then and there and sobbed my blubbering eyes out. But, I didn't. I'm working on my sanity, remember?

The thought occurred to me that he had probably been tucking his kids into bed--and in his mind it probably seemed just like yesterday. 

Did he miss this?

Did he miss the noise of a full house?

Was he lonely?

Was he happy?

I needed to know.

Because if God allows me to live a long life, I will be in his shoes.

Hopefully my husband will be with me, but life will still be different. With no beckoning schedule, no demanding alarm clock, no other mouths to feed besides our own....

Will we be okay?

Or will we long for the years that have slipped away.

Will we pray that someone will stop by and see us to fill up the long gaps of time in our days?

All of these things were spinning in my mind as I lie still in my daughter's bed.

My thoughts circled around something my daughter said as we finished our prayers. I have not stopped thinking about it.

"Mommy, thank you for doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after we eat every night. I know you are tired, but you do it anyway."

I told her that I loved to serve my family, and that I also consider it as serving Jesus Christ. It helps my attitude to change. A ton.

Maybe this is what she will remember when she is gone from this room and from the safety of our nest. Maybe it won't be the big things, the big toys, the big vacations...

But the ordinary things.

Like, doing her dishes.

It is quite possible that in that moment she had unlocked a treasure of wisdom in both of our hearts.

Something that maybe only an elderly person, and widower may know.

It is the small, mundane and ordinary that we may miss the most. So, cherish them. Be thankful for them. And do them often.

Lord, how can I cherish these days. Not letting the ticking of the clock distract me from where I am and who I am with. Not letting  the demands and allure of my IPhone take my eyes away from the eyes that have souls and not batteries. Help me to see these moments that are ordinary. That really, are extraordinary.

Keep my eyes wide open to orphans and widows in my very midst. Help me to not be self-focused, but other's focused, Lord.

embracing the ordinary,


jill

Mar 21, 2016

Be quiet....

It's been a bit since I have written. Sure feels good to sit down at my kitchen table, sunlight pouring in and splattering the hardwood floor. Sunshine makes everything look lovely.

Even this computer screen. Somehow it casts an angelic glow on the sterile, dusty, white screen, beckoning for words to be typed.

I hear you, computer screen. Sometimes we just need a little warmth to make us come alive again.

The last few months, I have been a little tormented of spirit. Nothing major. Just annoying, And confusing. Did I mention annoying?

Some things have come to a head regarding my prayer life. Meaning, a few  prayers have not been answered.

I've spent a lot of time talking to God about this. Pouring my heart out to him and not really getting the reply I desire. Crickets.

I'm tired of praying the same prayer. TIRED.

So, during these months I have been seeking Him fervently. Okay, really I was trying to twist God's arm and make Him answer my prayers.

I have quoted scripture to Him in my prayers. Believing every word. Really, believing and standing on the promises they held for my prayers.

Crickets. Still.

However, during these months, a revelation of sorts has finally fallen on my not-so-willing-to-listen heart. Something God has been trying to reveal to me all along, but I just would not shut-up long enough to hear Him.

He wants me to have a quiet heart.

When He first revealed this to me through scriptures and through books I was reading, I had it all wrong regarding what this meant.

I thought a quiet heart meant that I was supposed to drop everything and just seek Him until my prayer was answered.

I thought a quiet heart meant that I should be less talkative and lessen my relations to people. This is hard for a sanguine, relational gal.

I thought a quiet heart meant to spend every waking hour praying the prayer that was on my heart and believing He would answer perfectly in line with the script I had prepared.

A quiet heart is none of these things.

A quiet heart is content.

A quiet heart does not make demands to God, or anyone for that matter.

A quiet heart wakes up each day with a thankful heart not dependent on circumstances, but only on His Grace.

A quiet heart expects nothing, but receives everything because it all comes from God.

A quiet heart desires God more than it desires what God can give.

Clearly, my heart had not been quiet.

"Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength." Isaiah 30:15

My heart was not at rest, nor at peace.

Which, still takes me by surprise due to the amount of  time I had spent with Him.

Or had I been with Him? Perhaps, I had been just with my thoughts and my desires. Overlooking His will, His thoughts, His desires for me.

My time with Him consisted of a lot of me talking, and talking, and rationalizing why this prayer needed to be answered. I had not done much listening.

Had I trusted that each day was filtered through His hands and that He is "before all things, and in Him all things hold together?" Colossians 1:17

I did believe those things. However, I didn't trust in those things.

Surely, if I pray more, and more, and more, He will answer. These were my thoughts.

A heart of strife, not a heart of peace.

Please don't mistake this for giving up asking for something through prayer. This is not what I am saying. I am saying that in my case, I had somewhere along the way made this prayer an idol and it was interfering with my peace and the quietness of my heart. Contentment had vanished.

I came across a quote in one of my books by Elisabeth Elliot...it says, "The secret is Christ in me, not a different set of circumstances."

Somewhere along the way,  my contentment was tied into this desire that I prayed for, longed for, and grieved for.

My heart had forgotten that the Lord provides the daily bread, at His discretion, for His Glory. Not mine.

 The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. Job 1:21

All along, through all these long days of longer than long prayers and striving....

He just wanted me to be content.

A quiet heart.

Content with what He gives.

Because, He knows it is what I really need.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 16:5


finding my quiet,


jill