Dec 3, 2018

What rules your heart?

Hi, there. I have about 7.25 minutes to write. So, here goes.

I love Christmas, I really do.

However, why is that I get this knot in my stomach every time I look at my calendar. Dates upon dates. Minutes upon minutes.

Sweating pools of liquid as I type.

Today, I was in the grocery store ordering my deli meat. The sweet lady asked me how I wanted my meat sliced....I froze.

My mind went blank...

What?

Ummm, I don't know. I don't know anything because my heart and my mind are cluttered with thoughts.

She finally suggested "sandwich slices"?

I quickly nodded like a moron. Yes, yes, that's what I want. Thank you for being my brain today, precious lady that cuts my deli meat.

My morning fell apart in a matter of minutes today. I will not go into detail, but let's just say that one of my children will be grounded until they are in their mid-forties.

This scripture has been pounding my heart all day, "Let the Peace of Christ rule your heart..." Colossians 3:15

Breathe those words in slowly....

One more time.

Now, think about this....

What is ruling your heart?

Certainly God knew we would struggle with other "things" ruling our hearts, which is why He tells us to "let" the Peace of Christ rule in out hearts.

So many things have been ruling my heart lately.

None of which have been Christ.

Like....

Worry.
Fear.
Anxiety.
Money.
Grief.
Stress.
Busy schedules.
Growing children.

Can you relate?

Take a deep breath.

Stop what you are doing, and ask Jesus to rule in that heart of yours.

It works.

Trust me, I have been asking Him all day long.

I find myself with so many tasks, so many to-do's, so many gifts to purchase, so many everything....

Do you?

But, what if we asked Jesus to be the ruler above all of those things.

What if we leaned into Him even as our calendars fills.

And let Him be the ruler of our hearts. 

We can have things to do. And gifts to buy. And jobs to work. And bills to pay. And kids to raise [and ground] And husbands to tend to...

And still let the Peace of Christ rule in our hearts.

What do you say?


letting Christ be the final rule,


jill











Nov 30, 2018

When you need to be still....

The following post is a re-post from December 2016. I needed to revisit these words. These thoughts. My prayer is that we take these words to heart. To live in stillness and calm. Especially right this very moment. 

As I sit here staring at this blank computer screen, I haphazardly look over to my left. Our Christmas tree is standing there. Still. Warm. Inviting.

It's hard to look away. My eyes just want to engage in the beauty of this tree. No ornaments are even hung yet. But, it doesn't matter. She is glowing with colorful lights. Inviting anyone to come and sit next to her warmth. [yes, I do believe our tree is a "she".]

There is nothing really special about this tree. Average height, average breadth. Yet, it is hard to look away. She's just quite a breathtaking sight.

This verse quickly comes to mind, "Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Yes, still.

There's that word again.

Still .

Rhymes with Jill. You would think I would remember. It also rhymes with my last name, Hill. A double reminder. Still. Jill. Hill.

[God really does have a sense of humor]

Yet, so often, stillness escapes me.

When worries pile on, my mind is not still.

When sickness is looming over a loved one, my heart refuses to be still.

When finances get crunchy, and anxiety rises, I forget about being still.

When my to-do list seems to never get done, frantic overcomes any sense of stillness.

When my children get on my ever last nerve for the 108th time in one day, my actions are anything but still.

Why is it so hard to be still?

Stillness takes surrender.

A heart surrendered to its proper authority.

Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer John 1:13-15

In this season of hustle and bustle, I want to be still. Really, I do.

I want to soak in the joy of Christmas.

I want to linger longer.

I want to live in this moment with my family and my children.

I want to be like our Christmas tree. Warm. Inviting. Still.

Yet, so often get I can caught up in the wrong things. Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Busy.

I need a reset. How about you?

Instead of doing the usual crazy we are so used to, let's be still.

I hear you laughing.

It's Christmas, how are we to be still??

Stillness begins in the heart.

When our hearts are still and at peace, our bodies will soon follow.

A heart at peace gives life to the body. Proverbs 14:30

When I had my first baby, I would go and sit at Lem's grandmother's house for hours with my newborn swaddle.

Something about her house made everything better. It was still.

Lem's grandmother was never rushed. I never felt like I was a burden to her. I always felt welcome.

She was still.

I think the elderly get it.

They see the other side of this life in a whole new way.

Time is a precious thing to the elderly. They know how short life really is.

What if we slowed time down a bit this season.

What if we created a space for us to be still and be with Jesus. Not because we want to "squeeze" our quiet time in, but because we want to be still with Jesus.

Jesus stills our hearts. He pours peace into our worn-down souls.

Do you know what would happen to my beautiful tree if I didn't water her daily? She would die.

Her green branches would turn brown, and slowly she would wilt.

The same happens to our souls when we don't take the time to be nourished with God's word.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

Let's be still.

And, just like our Christmas trees, let's invite a weary world to soak up some peace, warmth, and stillness.


being still,

jill hill ;)

Oct 23, 2018

When you need to rest......

I don't like this feeling. You know the one.

The feeling that I just cannot get it all done. My to-do list is growing. And growing. And growing.

What happened to the simple days? I thought that as my children got older, my days would be simpler. Quieter.

Ha.

No, really....HAHAAAAHAAAAAA. (wicked witch laugh)

Yep. That's how it feels. Like, it is all a big joke.

Like, really? God chose me to be a mom and to do ALL the things?

Or so it feels this way.

Some days.

Most days.

I began teaching yoga faith at a local church in my town. The theme for us this month is rest.

I chose this theme because I thought it was a theme that most could relate to.

LITTLE did I know how desperately I would be the one that needed it MOST.

REST.

What the heck...sounds so simple. Doesn't it?

I mean, I get 8 hours of sleep most nights. I am resting, right?

No.

Sleep is not always the same as rest.

God commands us to rest. It is the 4th commandment. FOURTH!

Even God rested after creating the WHOLE wide world.

So, why is it so foreign to us?

Why do we feel as if we stop thinking, stop moving, stop working, stop planning, stop worrying, stop fretting....

That the whole entire world will collapse.

At least that is how I feel at times.

There is always something to do.

Always.

But, here is the thing...

What does God want us to do?

Surely, He has a plan for us. Not just a lifetime plan, friend, but a day to day plan.

I have always been a little obsessed with my planners. You know, the pretty, lined, organized planner thing? Yea. I kinda love those.

What if....

Every day, we asked God how to fill those pretty pages up.

I found some scripture in Exodus that should encourage us in this.

Moses was sick and tired of leading the Israelites. They were awful. And impatient. And sinful. And complaining...and.....I could go on for days.

Moses was over it. With a capital O.

Moses basically asked God (in modern day lingo), "What are you going to do about this? Who are you going to send to help me, God??"

This is God's response. Grab your chair and hold on.


"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" Exodus 33:14

Oh hey now.

Read that one more time.

Do you feel like somebody just breathed fresh air right through those lungs of yours? Me too.

Now, listen to what Moses says afterwards.

"If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from this place." Exodus 33:15

Do you see why Moses was such a big deal back in the OT days?

Y'all! He basically said this, "I ain't going nowhere without You, God. Not even budging."

What if we said this every morning?

God, what do you want me to do? Because, listen, I am not moving without word from You. I need to know Your Presence will go with me.

I know what you are thinking.

How long do we have to sit and wait for Him to respond?

As long as it takes.

Yes.

You heard me.

We are so used to jumping up at every blinking cell phone light and every single phone beep.

What if we stopped.

Rested a while.

Until He tells us to go.

And where to go.

What if we were so desperate for His Presence to be with us that we did not budge until we heard from Him?
'
Moses knew the consequences of moving without God. He knew the torment of a life trying to be the one in charge. And it did not work.

He knew he needed God.

Every. Step. Of. The. Way.

And, friend, so do we.

Maybe God is not speaking because we are not resting in His Presence long enough to hear Him.

Talk to Him.

Listen to Him.

Rest in Him.


As I type, I am sitting at the library. I had to come here. I just had to.

It is quiet here. Peaceful.

My home is quiet, but it is constantly calling me to clean, or wash, or fold, or iron...who am I kidding, I do not iron, people.

So, in order to write, or think, or pray....I have to go to a quiet place. Like, the library.

Jesus often went to solitary and quiet places.

Maybe we should as well.

Turn off the phone. The news. The dryer.  The washer.

And rest a while.

Just you and Him.

God led Moses to the Promise Land.

He wants to do the same for you.


"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31


you can find me at the library,


jill


Sep 12, 2018

Hey you....

Hey you.

I know how you feel. I know the questions. I know the doubts.

I have been there. So many times.

You wonder if it will ever work out. You wonder if doing the "right" thing will actually pay off.

You wonder if this is just all for nothing. You wonder if this is some kind of cruel joke...this Christian walk.

I get it.

Oh, do I get it.

I have journals and journals of these thoughts. These doubts. These questions.

Why is being good so hard?

Why does it seem like those that choose wrong paths actually come out better sometimes?

Why does it seem like you will always be the one at the wishing well instead of the dance?

What good is it to pray and fast, and believe, and repeat that sequence only to have nothing happen. Zilch. Nada.

Why does it seem like everyone gets what they want so easily, while you sit with hands held out grasping air?

Your story is not over.

Let me say that again, your story is not over.

When these thoughts run rampant through my mind, I have to go back.....and remember.

I have to grab my Bible and read about Noah, and David, and Ruth, and Esther, and Abraham, and Moses, and Paul, and Peter, and....

Jesus.

No one escapes suffering. No one escapes loss. No one escapes heartbreak. No one escapes pain.

Yet...

Few find the fruit of those things.

They give up too easily.

They walk away from God.

They walk away from church.

They walk away from good.

Because....it's just not working.

Oh, but what if Joseph would have walked away? What if he would have burned with hatred for his brothers and spent his life trying to find revenge?

What if Noah would have given into the peer pressure and the nay sayers and not built the Ark?

What if David would have given up his pursuit to rise above King Saul's hatred and jealousy and take matters into his own hands?

What if Ruth had turned from God and her mother in law out of her deep grief and loss of her husband and not stayed with Naomi?

What if Moses had not gone to Egypt and approached Pharaoh?

What if Jesus would have turned back around from that walk to the Cross?

NONE of these people wanted to do these things. None of these people felt equipped to do what God was asking.

NONE of them could have ever imagined what the outcome of their obedience would be. Not one.

But....

What if they had given up.

What if they thought it was just too hard.

What if they turned their back and hearts from God.

Your story is still well under way.

Do. Not. Lose. Hope.

Do. Not. Lose. Faith.

Do. Not. Stop. Doing. The. Right. Thing.

Your time will come.

When you least expect it.

You will see the fruit.

You will experience the bounty.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9


not giving up, 


jill

Aug 31, 2018

Dear Annie Ruth.....

Dear Annie Ruth,

I remember the first time I saw you. You were buying a coffee at the local coffee shop. I was right behind you. It was a Friday morning.

I was meeting up with my prayer girls. We meet there every Friday to talk, read God's Word, and pray.

You had the biggest smile on your face as you were talking with the lady at the register. You turned around and just gave me the biggest welcoming warm smile.

I knew immediately that you were a Jesus girl. I could see it a mile away. Your face was literally shining. Psalm 34:5 came to my mind, "Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed."

We began chatting. Somehow or another I invited you to come to our little prayer group table.

Our group has not been the same since.

You shared your story. Addiction, divorce, fornication, homelessness.....decades of it.

You told us that you fell to your knees on a concrete ground and asked God to heal you.

And, He did.

Annie, I wasn't sure what to think of you at first. You were so bold. And loud. And you talked so much.  We never could get a word in. You talked and talked and talked.

For a while, I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do to ask you to join our group. You made us all feel uncomfortable.

Your words pierced us.

They still do.

You prayed loud and made us stand up and hold hands to pray, because you said, "God always stands up for us."

You challenged me, Annie.

You opened my eyes to something that I did not even know I needed.

Your words resonate with me. They are not your words, they are God's Words.

They literally slice me.

I began to see something about you. Something I saw all along, but I could not quite understand at first.

You remind me of Jesus.

Jesus made everyone uncomfortable. Jesus spoke Truth. Not just pretty words.

He revealed the inner workings of the Pharisees hearts....He called them "white washed tombs."

Oh, Annie. How could you know that we needed you?

You tell us that we are your only friends. You tell us that everyone else says that you talk too much.

Well, it's true. You do.

But, Annie, we need your words. We need your stories. The world needs your words. The world needs your stories.

You speak Jesus.

You speak what you have read, and lived, and what you believe with all of your heart.

You have challenged my faith in ways that I never knew I was weak.

I have begun to write down the things that you say.

Like, "Parents pray for their kids to be doctors, lawyers, business men and women. Instead, what we need to be praying is for our kids to be like Jesus!"

Or, when you said that when people tell you that you talk too much about Jesus you tell them, "Well, what else is there to talk about?"

Or, when your friend asked you why you went to church every day and night and that it was just too much. You replied back to her, "I need all of it. And then some."

You are like Jesus, Annie Ruth. More like Him than anyone I have ever met.

When your friend surprised you with a new grill, you began saving and collecting money and food to have a hot dog cookout for all of the neighborhood children.

You love all people. You take every dime of what God has given you and you give it right back out to a hurting world.

You remind me of the poor widow in the bible that gave, "all she had to Jesus."

Your example put a mirror to my heart and I did not like what I saw.

Thank you for coming to our table.

Thank you for not being afraid to be exactly who you are.

Thank you for showing me that even with an 8th grade education, you can be a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. And you can make a difference.

You are making a difference, Annie Ruth.

I hope Jesus will show you one day in Heaven the impact that you have made on so many of us.

I will never be the same.


keep talking, Annie,


jill







Aug 16, 2018

When life is a mess....

I have been meaning to write for a while. 

But, I haven't.

It is hard for me to find the time to sit still these days. Or maybe, I just don't like stillness.

My mind is always racing of a million and one things that need to be done. Or started. Or finished.

Never. Ending.

Our kitchen is undergoing a renovation. What began as a small, two week job....

Has turned into a not so small job.

We have been without a kitchen for several weeks now.

Hey, don't get me wrong, it has been nice not sweating over a stove. But, whew, the chaos of the dust, the mess, the constant in and out of workers....

Is getting a little old.

However, I  am trying to keep my eyes on the finished product. The end result.

It will be worth it.

One day.

Parenting is a lot like this kitchen renovation. The excitement of a whole new adventure begins when you are pregnant. You dream about what it will be like....to be a mommy.

You plan and you pray....

But, parenting gets messy. Oh so messy. Beginning at day one.

Your sleep never will be the same. Ever.

When you have a newborn, you get no sleep.

When you have a teenager, you still get no sleep.

Many a night, I will go to my kids' bedrooms just to look at them. To make sure they are still there, and breathing.

The worry and fear do not get easier,

No matter the age of your child.

The days are messy. Chaotic. Unplanned events.

Just like this kitchen renovation. Like, when some workers stepped through, yes through, our ceiling. Three times.

The job lingers on..

Just like parenting.

Days can be so long. So hard. So confusing.

I feel like an utter screw up as a momma most days.

I pray and I pray.

But, I still have no idea what the outcome of all of these days will be.

I pray that these long, hard, prayer filled days produce a harvest of fruit.

I pray that the ugly messy days will somehow become beautiful.

I pray that God will never allow me to be lazy or unintentional as a momma....even when my children roll their eyes and seem to close their ears to my voice.

It's so easy to want to throw your tired hands up and say, "I GIVE UP. Does it EVEN matter? Lord, can you EVEN hear me?"

Sometimes when I get home to this mess of a kitchen and all of the workers and think, "What in tarnation? I thought we were renovating....not destroying!"

Then, a few days later, I will see some progress. I think to myself, Ohhhhh, so that's what's going on there.

It's hard to tell when you are in the thick of it, day by day.

But, when you step back and take a breath....

You begin to see.

God is building something that human eyes cannot see.

God is chiseling some hard places on my heart  and my childrens' hearts.  It can be painful at times.

Sometimes I want to throw that chisel to China and never lay eyes on it again.

Oh, but without the chisel we are not changed.

Lord, help us to remember this.

Help us to not give up on this parenting thing. Help us to not lose ourselves in something else because we just cannot take another day of being intentional in this motherhood thing.

Lord, help us to not be lulled away by distractions of the enemy but to stay dead set on this job of ours. This calling. This entrusting.

Help us to not give up on the hard days....or on the not so hard days. Help us to not get bored, but to stay plugged in. To stay alert. To stay all in.

Help us to keep the end in sight.

Help us to persevere.

Help us to lean into You and not into a life of escape.

Our children need us to stay intentional.

They need us  to not give up.

They need us to show grace....especially to ourselves.

Mistakes are going to be made. And many.

The outcome of all of this will be worth every ounce of these hard days.

When we finally meet Jesus face to face....It will be worth these days to hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Well done is not perfect...

Well done is done well....

With intention.

Regardless of how God chooses for this story to end....it's our part to show up and do what we can.

Our children may stray....

And when they do, we stay the course, We never stop praying. Until we draw our last breath, we are entrusted with this calling. This purpose.

Hang in there, momma.

There will be fruit from your tired hands.

He is faithful.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Jul 10, 2018

Unplugged.....

Last week we went on vacation.

It was so nice being unplugged. Like, really, unplugged.

We had zero in internet or even phone connection. Well, we could have paid a gazillion dollars to have phone service, but we declined.

I was worried about not being able to be in contact with my kids. We were on a huge cruise ship and we had four different rooms among our family members.

Without phones, how would we communicate??

We survived.

In fact, we thrived.

For 7 days we figured out ways to communicate with each other. It was nice. Real nice.

Mornings we would meet at a designated place and time for breakfast. Same for lunch and dinner.

After a few days without phone service, I could feel the anxiety release, and I didn't even miss my phone. (shocking, I know)

Even though my children probably will not admit it, I think they kind of liked being unplugged as well.

Without my phone, I had more time to think. To pray. To laugh. To enjoy the moments with my family.

I had almost forgotten what freedom there was without being connected at all times of the day.

It feels good to be out of the loop. It feels refreshing to not be able to be found. At least for a little bit.

Of course, as soon as we touched land my phone was up and going again. I mean, I had to post pictures on my Instagram account. Duh. (eye roll)

Just as quickly as my anxiety had released from being unplugged, it returned when I plugged back in.

Emails. Texts. Catching up on what I missed on Instagram. (double eye roll)

The world was still spinning. Everyone was still breathing and beating to the drums of their days.

Nothing had changed.

But something inside of me changed.

A longing for quiet of the soul.

A longing for the peace and distraction-free life without the constant buzzing of my phone.

I thought of all the reasons I wanted to ditch my phone all together.

Visions of flip phones raced through my head.

Then, I thought of all of the things I would miss on social media. The pictures, the posts. Being in the know. Not missing out.

Double minded. That's how I felt.

I wanted peace, but I also wanted to be included. Noticed. Liked.

But, is Instagram really the answer to that longing?

No.

For me, it is an excuse.

An excuse to escape. To brag on my children. To display the "good and pretty" of my life.

I felt this ickiness rising in my chest. This feeling that it was too late. I was too plugged in. I could never not be. I mean, I have a SHINE Girls instagram for Heaven's sake. Who would I be able to encourage without posting every day on social media? (eye roll for days)

Again, icky.

As I pray, "Lord, what is the answer? Do you want me to be unplugged?"

I hear and see this verse everywhere as I pray, "Be still."

Not the answer I want to hear.

I want a yes or a no to my question.

Isn't it just like God to just give us a scripture??

This is where that hearing His still small Voice comes in.  Sometimes things are not black and white with God.

Sometimes it just boils down to the state of the heart.

How's my heart doing?

Is it clouded by the distractions of the world?

Is it searching for contentment and fulfillment in places that it will never be found?

So, that's where I am today.

I want that stillness in my soul.

I desperately want to hear God when He speaks so tenderly into my soul. The still, small Voice of His leading.

But, I cannot hear it when my heart beats for something other than Him.

This morning I read about the woman that poured a very expensive jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus.

The disciples were bewildered and disgusted that she had wasted such an expensive thing to wash someone's feet.

Jesus was honored and praised the woman for giving all she had to Him, instead of the world.

This resonates with me.

The distractions of this world will lure us and convince us that what we have to give is wasted if we serve and honor Jesus in ways that don"t make sense to the world.

This woman could have made much money off of her possession. Yet, out of her love and gratefulness she gave all she had to Jesus. Every last drop.

What are we giving to the world instead of saving to present to Jesus as a love offering?

He can do so much more with our offerings than we ever could.

Sometimes serving Jesus doesn't make any sense. Just ask the disciples. They were often dumbfounded by what Jesus asked of them. They didn't understand His ways.

We don't either at times.

But, if we quiet our hearts, read His Word, and earnestly seek Him.....

He will lead us.

Sometimes we must unplug to do this.

Maybe even just for a season...

**a little update after writing this post: I reached for my phone to check  it.....and  it went DEAD. Dead as a door nail. Hmm....**


quieting my world,


jill



Jun 25, 2018

Do Not Open, yet......

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
Matthew 6:21


There's an envelope in my bedroom. It's tucked away in a safe place.

I haven't shown it to anyone except my son.

The envelope is filled with his senior picture proofs.

Normally, I would show them to all the world, smiling from ear to proud-momma ear.

This time is different.

I am not ready to show them to anyone yet. I am still treasuring them in my momma heart.

Eventually, I will show them to people. In my time.

I remember a scripture in the bible about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think of it so often.

It reads: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19


Jesus had just been born. The Shepherds had come to visit. They were worshiping and praising the baby King Jesus. Mary looked around and must have felt the most overwhelming love swell in her heart. 

A love that escapes words. 

A love that can only be understood in the deepest depth of your soul. 

A love that only God Himself can understand. 

Mary treasured and Mary pondered. 

With the world of social media, treasuring and pondering is a rare commodity. 

We don't have time to do either. We instantly express whatever emotion we feel at the moment and blast it out for all the world to see. 

But, there is something precious about treasuring and pondering.

There is something holy about a love so deep and a feeling so strong that we have no desire to share it yet with the world. 

A sacred love. 

Mary surely felt this. She alone was the mother of this baby King. She alone was the woman that would get to raise this child and watch him grow into an adult. 

Sometimes, words are not meant to be spoken. 

Sometimes, words are meant to be treasured and pondered. 

Between God and between us. 

Just the two of us. 

There are moments in my marriage that I feel this sacred love. Moments that I bury deep into my heart to store. Hidden treasure. 

There are moments with my children that I feel this sacred love. When I don't log on to instagram to document it. When I just sit and treasure up the moment. Hoping that for one second the world will stand still, and this memory will stay buried in the treasure chest of my heart. 

There are other times. 

Like, when we do something that no one else sees. Serving someone that cannot return the service. Helping someone that will never give us the credit for the sacrifice. 

These times are sacred and holy. 

These stories are often just to be known between us and God. 

Sometimes we can even treasure grief. 

We can feel so much pain over the loss of someone or something that the pain can only be understood by God. Our words fail us. But God sees. He hears when nothing is spoken. 

We treasure not the grief, but the memories. We remember. We ponder. We bury more treasure into our heart chest. 

So, I will keep those senior proofs in that envelope for a little while longer. 

I want to continue to treasure and ponder.

Until the time is right.


holding those pictures close for now, 


jill