Jul 30, 2015

Word to ya Momma.....

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Every word of God is tried and purified; He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him. Proverbs 30: 5

My kids go back to school Monday.

On one hand, I am thrilled to be on a schedule again. Try as I may, Summer is just a hard time to stick to a schedule. The days are long. The kids get restless. Hence, schedules sometimes go out the window. With a big fat thud.

On the other hand, my heart feels that old familiar pang of sadness. I miss my kids when they are at school. The house gets really quiet. Too darn quiet for my taste. Don't get me wrong, my days stay full with a big old grungy load of never ending laundry, grocery shopping, errands, preparation for supper,  and morning bible studies. Oh, but I miss the craziness that kids bring to a home.

I know that sounds nuts. Missing crazy sounds crazy, right?

But, I do.

As I ponder the change of schedule next week, I just cling tightly to Jesus. I hear Him whisper, "I never change, Jill."

Jesus knows I don't like change. He knows how my heart could bust wide open when I see another inch grown on the basement wall where we measure our children.

Jesus knows how it's a daily struggle to let them go and let them fly. It does not come natural.

As much as I love my children, I know that God loves them more. I cling to this Truth.

He created them, He knit them together in my womb [psalm 139:13]. He knows every hair on their precious little head. [Luke 12:7]

As much as I want to keep them in this make-believe bubble, He made them for a heavenly purpose. A purpose far greater than I can even imagine. [Ephesians 3:20]

My job is to raise them in Truth. Raise them in Love. Raise them in Discipline and Training. [Proverbs 22:6]

Lord, help me to remember my purpose here. Help me point them to you. In a world that points them to anything but you, help me to shine the light of Truth into their precious beating hearts.

My children belong to the Lord.

Several years ago, I began praying words of Truth over my people. Words are powerful, for the good or for the bad. I want to pray goodness and truth over them all the days of their lives.

So, as I pray for them, I write down words straight from God's Word and cover them over my children.

It looks a little something like this:



It's helped me pray when I don't know what to pray or how to pray. I always want God's will for them, so I pray His Words over them. Simple, yet powerful words.

Side note--it  also helps me to let go a little more, and trust the One who created them.

[One more side note--it also helps when I am fed up to the top of my bleached blonde head. I open my little prayer book and recite these words--through gritted teeth.  It helps, people. It really does.]



you should try it,


jill








Jul 22, 2015

A letter to the wives....

A few weeks ago, I woke up praying for my husband. I think it may have even been audible. I quickly got up, made my coffee, and went to my favorite spot on our couch.

Bible in one hand, coffee in the other, I began to pray over Lem fervently. Clearly the Lord had laid him on my heart so heavily for a reason.

A few hours later, Lem texted me a picture of he and I and told me how much he loved me. Just for the record--this is rare. Not that he was texting me or saying that he loved me--but in such a romantic and out of the blue way. That part was rare. ;)

It made my day. It made my week.

I may never know why the Lord prompted me to pray so fervently for Lem that morning, but He sure made it clear I was to pray.

If I am honest, I will admit that Lem in the past has been on the back burner of my attention. A lot of my attention went to my kids, my friends, my bible studies---anything but him. Those things are all very good things, but the order was all messed up.

My heart needed a re-set.

One day I decided to do some biblical research on marriage and see what God said about it. I was heavily enlightened.

Nothing, except God, is to come before my marriage to Lem.

I am my husband's helper: "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18)

This is a serious calling for wives. We were created to "help" our men. The world has convinced us that other things and people need our help and attention more. This is false. Don't fall for the lie of the enemy.

If we are more available for our work, our friends, and our church than we are for our husband's, we need to change our priorities. Our husband's should get the absolute best of us, not what's left of us.

My words and my actions should be gentle and kind towards my husband: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Does the world get a kinder you than your husband does? Do you find it easier to forgive a friend than to forgive your man? Are the words that come out of your mouth sweeter to others than your man? We must work on this.

My husband and I are one: For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

Okay, here's where the rubber meets the road for many. I am not good at beating around the bush, so I will just be straight forward. Newsflash: Your husband's family is also your family. His mother? Your mother too. His father? Your father too.  His quirky siblings? Your family too.

Now, I know that there are some crazy messed up inlaws out there. I get it. However, speak kindly about them to your man. Don't insult his mother, his father, his crazy aunt. He may not seem like it bothers him, but rest assured it does. Our words have powerful influence over our men. Remember the story of Adam and Eve? Adam was easily convinced and persuaded by Eve. You know the rest of the story.

How about if we encouraged grace, love, and forgiveness in these crazy family situations? How about if we stayed quiet instead of chiming in with hateful words when it comes to family dysfunctions? [Please don't throw rocks at me] I know this is a sticky subject. Not one married person is immune from crazy family members. But, if we remember that our goal is peace and unity, it will help us to choose our words more carefully.

One more thought on this one...maybe, just maybe, God has put you in this family for a reason. Maybe your example of love and grace will change the course of history and strongholds in this family. I hope and pray that our Christian faith is not a turn-off because of our lack of love and grace for our husband's family. They are watching us. How will we react? How will we respond? Or will we ignore them and hope the go away. This is a huge calling girls. LOVE your husband's family. They are now YOUR family. The end.

I must be a peacemaker instead of a pot-stirrer: Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.(Proverbs 10:12)

Some days our men will come home stressed out. I mean like a ticking time bomb. On these days, Lem goes straight to the television. I let him diffuse as long as it takes. I have learned the hard way. ;)

Things happen at work with our men. Stress is inevitable. When our husband's have an issue with a co-worker, or someone outside of the home--what if we promoted love and peace in the situation? What if we listened quietly without chiming in with disparaging remarks? Again, our words have a lot of influence over our husband's. What if we make our words full of love and forgiveness? Instead of offering our solutions to their problems, let's listen and pray. Hatred stirs up strife. Love covers ALL sin. Don't we want our fellas to have some peace?

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day" Proverbs 27:15

Lord, help us to not be a drippy and quarrelsome wife.

I am praying over our marriages. Marriage is a gift from God that should be taken very seriously. We are walking on holy ground. Our marriages are sacred, therefor we should treat it as such.

Beginning with our men.


working on my dripping,


jill










Jul 20, 2015

Can I wash your feet?

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:14-15

It's been a long day. I'm tired.

Nothing really crazy has happened today, just a lot of running around and a lot of "stuff".

Did I mention I am tired?

Many times today I lost my cool with my kids. Not always verbally, some of the times, in my head. Several times I had a snarky response in my head when my child asked me for the eighteenth time the same question. I had enough control not to say what I was thinking. But, I didn't have enough control to not think what I was thinking. Following me here?

Okay good.

As I cleaned up the last of the dishes, I had a terrible attitude. I just wanted to sit down, paint my toenails and bury myself in my new Real Simple magazine.

Well, that didn't happen.

So, here I am. Typing away. My release. My way of unwinding after a long day at the "office".

Something did happen though that caught my attention. It almost made me burst into a puddle of tears. [I said "almost". I can maintain some control of my tears. Well, kind of. Well, not really]

As I sat down to eat my dinner, I grabbed my bible to glean something. Anything. This momma was dreary. I needed a God-pick-me-up. Know what I mean? I needed a word. From Him. My Father.

The boys were eating in the den watching golf. And the girl was at a friend's house. So, there I sat. By myself at the bar in my kitchen. Dreary and just wanting a little refreshment.

I opened straight to the story of Jesus washing His Disciples feet.

I read the passage. I read it again.

Jesus was doing the dirty work. The work that nobody wanted to do.

Jesus was ministering to His friends, even knowing He was about to die for them.

Who does that?

Well, Jesus does.

I thought of my bad attitude. I thought of my discontment that day. I thought of my grumbling heart.

Then, I thought of Jesus.

Bent down on the floor, washing the feet of His friends. Even washing the feet of Judas, the friend who would betray Him. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, and He washed his smelly feet anyway.

Who does this?

Well, Jesus does.

My attitude changed in an instant.

What was I so sulky about?

Jesus knew the hour was coming for His death on the Cross, and yet He served. He washed feet. He loved the horribly unlovable.

I could barely swallow my meal thinking of these events. Humbling to say the least.

My flesh gets weary from serving. My flesh gets weary from loving those that are not loveable. I don't like this feeling. I just want to feel comfortable and not deal with people some days. Can I just be real and say that?

How many times do I have to turn the other cheek, Lord? How many times do I have to tape my mouth shut when I am dying to strike back with anger and pride?

 How many times do I have to do the exact opposite of what my flesh is begging me to do? How many, Lord?

Yet, as I read that story one more time....I realized something.

He washed my feet that same day. He served me that same day. He died on the cross for me, that same day.

What He did for them, He did for me.

For the record-- now I am officially squalling my eyes out. [yay]

Sometimes, I just need a reminder. A reminder of His love for me. When the world around me seems foreign, distant, and cold...

He reminds me of His Love. His never-ending Grace.

Gosh, He blows me away. Who in the world loves like that and gives grace like that?

Well, Jesus does.

Lord, give me a heart like Yours to Love like YOU!

Lord, give me a heart like Yours to Serve like YOU!

This is my desire. More than anything else in this big ol' world.


looking for feet to wash,


jill




Jul 13, 2015

When you need a little "push".....

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"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him" I John 5:14-15

Several weeks ago, I was having a dilemma.

I had a lot to pray about. So much was on my mind that I didn't even know where to begin with my praying.

Frustration set in. I would start to pray and then jump and skip around trying to fit it all in. I know it sounds silly, but it's the truth. Maybe you can relate.

My heart desires to live in a state of prayer, but my flesh sometimes interrupts that desire.

Sometimes my flesh gets tired. I feel tired and I don't "feel" like praying, especially if I am frustrated. Doubts can start to creep in. Such as, "Is God really listening? Is my prayer even being heard?'

Yes, these thoughts occur. I bet you may can relate.

My spirit knows this is false information. I have seen the fruit of prayer. Over and over and over. Yet, I still can doubt some days.

When doubt comes, I have learned to "push through in prayer". I know I have said this to you before, but I cannot stress enough how important this is.

PUSH through....

When you are tired....

When you are weary...

When you are doubtful...

When you are not feeling it....

When you are not seeing results...

When you are OVER IT....

Push through in prayer.

Last week, as I was in one of my "not feeling it" moods, I sought the Lord.

I asked Him to help me to be more intentional with my praying. I asked Him to guide me each day so that I wasn't overwhelmed with all the needs that I desired to lift up to Him.

This is what I came up with after praying. It has helped tremendously to keep me focused in my prayer time each day.

A weekly Prayer Guide:

Monday: Pray for your parents, extended family,  friends and their families, community, schools, teachers.

Tuesday: Pray for your city, state, nation, and world leaders. Pray for godly men and women in leadership.

Wednesday: Pray for your church, your pastor, your church staff, church teachers, and leaders, your church congregation.

Thursday: Give thanks all day today! Thank Him for everything you do, and everything you see! This is a powerful thing!

Friday: [my fun Friday prayer!] Pray for your spouse. Cover Him from head to toe. If you are not married, pray for the marriages around you. Pray for purity, holiness, and unity in marriages.

Saturday: Pray for your children. Their protection. Their friendships, relationships, marriages. Pray for spouses/future spouses, grandchildren/future grandchildren. If you do not have children, pray for the children around you. Nieces, nephews, friends' children.

Sunday: Praise Him in prayer all day long. Lift His Name up and just praise Him. Praise Him for all that He is doing in your life and the lives of others.

[A little side note: I still pray for my family every day. I just now have a guide to help me incorporate other prayer needs into my week.]

This prayer guide is not meant to be a "legalistic" way to pray. It is just a guide to help us to be intentional. God shapes and molds our prayers because He is the One who prompts us to pray.

If we really are to "pray without ceasing", we must be intentional. We must have a plan of action or we will just not pray.

The cool thing is, once we start flexing our prayer muscle, it will become strong and automatic. The more we pray, the more we will desire to pray.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26

We will see the fruit of prayer and we will be so encouraged to KEEP ON PRAYING.

As Christians, as followers of Christ, we have a responsibility. If we truly want to see God's will being done "on Earth as in Heaven", we must ask for it. Through prayer. Jesus is our model. He prayed unceasingly, and His life was the fruit of His prayers.

As we study God's Word together, and combine His Word with prayer, something AMAZING happens! His Will is accomplished based on HIS Promises in HIS Word!

We can stand on those Promises, friends. I challenge you to stand on them!

"His Word will never return void". Isaiah 55:11

Let's start today, shall we?


pushing through in prayer,


jill

Jul 10, 2015

Check Yes or No.....

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A few weeks ago, I had to make an important decision. Basically, it was a yes or no decision. I didn't want to make it. So, I kept putting it off and putting it off until it came right down to the wire.

For weeks, and even months, I had been praying about this decision. Even after much prayer, I was still not getting a clear answer from the Lord.

Nothing was clear.

However, clear or not, I had to give an answer regarding this decision.

Ugh.

Here is the real deal: I didn't want to say yes. At all. I found a thousand excuses why NOT to say yes.

Saying yes would mean a big commitment. Saying yes would mean stretching me beyond my comfort zone. Saying yes would mean saying yes with a big fat bad attitude about it.

My answer came yesterday.

I was running around the track with my son, Joseph. We were about halfway finished.

I was drenched with sweat, and ready for this run to be DONE.

It was hard. Much too hard to be doing at 10:30 in the morning, sun blazing down.

While I was making a turn around one of the bends on that track, I remembered a story from the Bible. It was from Matthew 26.

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying. He would be crucified on the cross that very same day, and He knew it.

He had a choice. He could run away. He could say "no" to what was ahead. He could have easily said, "You know what, I have done much for the Kingdom. I want to just chill for a while."

As I re-read this scripture, I noticed that God didn't come down and say to Jesus "This is what you should do."

No. Jesus made the choice after much prayer in that garden. Jesus was so close to God in prayer that the choice became clear.

Jesus knew that the harder choice would lead to the greater outcome.

Jesus knew what had to be done, although His flesh was screaming in pain.

As I pondered this story of Jesus, I knew my answer.

Just like running is torture to me, the outcome is good in the end. I feel refreshed. I feel accomplished. My body is secreting toxins, and I know I will be healthier because of it.

I knew that by saying "yes" to this decision, it would stretch me. It would take me out of my comfort zone and put me in a vulnerable situation.

Being out of our comfort zone, and feeling unequipped is exactly the place He wants us.

We lean on God in these times.

We are desperate for God in these situations, because our flesh is incapable.

"His Power is made perfect in our weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

As soon as I made up my mind that the answer would be "yes", a rush of peace washed over me.

After all  of these months, praying, and praying, and praying.

The answer was just a simple, "yes".

If I am honest, I am not "thrilled" about this "yes".

But, is life about just always being "thrilled?" No.

He will stretch me. He will grow me. That will be the "thrilling" part.

I am learning that what makes my flesh happy, is not always best for me.

It's what makes my flesh cringe, that is usually the best choice.

Are you facing a hard decision today?

I encourage you to pray. I encourage you to seek His Word.

Go for the harder choice.

God will do great things through you when you say no to the comfortable and yes to the uncomfortable.

Wait and see.


just say yes,


jill





Jun 30, 2015

Wanna know a secret?

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For the last week or so, I have been digging deep into the New Testament. Don't worry, I am still knee deep in the book of 1Chronicles from our SHINE Reading Plan. [Yawn]. Oops, did I just say that out loud? Just kidding. I love it. Really, I do. [okay, you got me. It's not my favorite chapter]

My soul has been craving the words of Jesus. I need to know what He would do when faced with certain situations. I need His Words. I need His Wisdom desperately.

Sometimes, my mind gets cloudy and I get confused. "What is right, Lord? I don't know how to feel about this. What would you do? What would you say? What would you not say? Help."

So, me and my soul go to the New Testament and read. And study. And pray. And read. And pray some more.

Do you want to know a little secret? Okay, lean in closer.

When I am in a situation where I am unsure. Uncertain what to say. What to do. What to think.

This is what I do...

I immediately stop. Ask God for a Word. Something. Anything. Throw me something, Father! Please don't leave your girl hanging.

He never fails to answer, friends. EVER. This is how He answers...

In scripture from His Word. Every single time.

For example, recently I was struggling with a decision. Big time.

When I [finally] stopped my mind from thinking about it and turned my heart over to God to pray about it, I received an answer immediately.

He said this: "I am not the Author of confusion, but of Peace."

Bam. Straight from 1 Corinthians 14:33.

I knew as soon as I heard those words in my spirit what the answer was to my dilemma. One option gave me peace, the other was more messy. Too many variables and unknowns.

He is so faithful to answer, we just have to ask Him.

I believe He longs to speak to us. To lead us. To guide us. To show us the way.

We must get to know Him and His Words if we want Him to speak, friends. We must make getting to know Him our first priority above anything else.

How do we do this with all of the demands of life tugging at us?

Be still. Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Read His Word. “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Pray. Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Make this your habit. Your daily routine.

Friends, it will change your life. It will change your family's life.

Devotionals, worship songs, good sermons, inspirational quotes......those are all wonderful tools in our faith toolbox. However, we won't get the fulfillment that our souls truly crave unless we go to the Bread of Life and eat from His Word.

Girlfriend, there is NOTHING on Earth like spending time with your Heavenly Father. Nothing. And everything else in life will seem sweeter after time spent with Him.

stopping, reading, and praying,


jill


Jun 11, 2015

Help me with my crazy.....

I had a moment yesterday with my kids. One of those moments that you wish you could take back and re-do.

My daughter had said one too many words to me that day. And when I say "one too many", I really mean "a million too many". It was only 10:00 am.

She is going through a phase. Without giving you too much info, I will just say, we are all exhausted with it. I have tried everything. Prayed every prayer I know to pray.

So, as I am getting dressed, and looking forward to my friend and her kids coming to visit yesterday, she started in with the "one too many words" thing.

I silently tell Jesus to help me.

My daughter persists.

I silently tell Jesus, "Never mind, I got this."

I turned around and told my beautiful blue-eyed princess to "shut-up!"

The house felt like it shook off its foundation.

Yes, I am THAT mom.

I may have said it two or three times. Don't choke on your latte.

My thirteen year old son was in the room and he gave me that , "Mom, you went a little too far look."

If you have a child over the age of 12, you know that look. The look that says, "My mom is a little on the crazy side."

When your kids are little you can be crazy and your kids don't really notice, they are just too little to really get it.

But, when they hit the tween years, you suddenly become embarrassed when your "crazy" comes out. They are like little adults now, and they can sum up your crazy in a heart beat. Shoot.

When my son gave me that, "Mom, you went a little too far look", I went over the edge again.

Shoot me now.

I told both of the kids to leave the room, I needed to find my sanity.

My teenager gave me the, "you are SO weird", look.

That's always a fun look.

They walked out of the room and I fell to my knees.

I don't even know what I prayed.

Suddenly, I remembered the verse I had prayed over my daughter the night before.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:15-4-15

Okay, God....

I KNOW it is your will for me to have peace.

I KNOW it is your will for me to have a sound mind.

I KNOW it is your will for my daughter to have a sound mind.

I KNOW it is your will for me to let my mouth spill out love and not hateful words.

I KNOW it is your will for peace to surround my home.

So, with this said, I am expecting and believing for You to mend this situation. Quickly.

I got up off the floor, my friend came over, and my day went well.

Later that day, I pulled my daughter to the side and reminded her of God's Promise to us that if we ask anything according to His Will, that He will give it to us.

She nodded and agreed.

Oh friends, we are all in this together. Me, you, our kids, our husbands....we are in  THIS thing called life. And it can be HARD as heck.

Especially as your kids get older and they see the "crazy" we try to hide from the world. It's hard to hide crazy within our four walls.

Do you need to be reminded of His Promise that He will give you what you ask for according to His will?

Peace of mind?

Healing and restoration?

Forgiveness?

Grace and mercy?

Joy?

It is all there for the taking. We just have to "open our mouths wide for Him to fill us." Psalm 81:10

He cannot fill us, unless we open our mouths to receive His goodness.

My mouth is gaping open, Lord. Fill it right up.




working on my crazy,


jill






Jun 10, 2015

When your heart needs Peace....

 





The kids and I were driving home from Athens yesterday afternoon, and suddenly the sky fell. Rain so heavy that I could barely see an inch in front of me. Although, what I could see was a HUGE semi truck behind me so close he could have kissed my bumper.

My hands gripped the wheel. I started praying.

The car was quiet, and suddenly I remembered that my nephew who was with us is terrified of storms. I looked back and I could see the panic on his face.

My daughter saw it too. She suddenly said, "Mom, we need to pray Psalm 23. Right now."

Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

We had memorized this Psalm earlier this year, so it was still fresh on our hearts.

Presley led the prayer, and we all said it with her.

Peace and calm filled the car. I glanced back at my nephew and his face was much more relaxed and at peace.

I have shared with my children the story of Todd Beamer from Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. As the terrorists were taking over the plane, he made a phone call from the plane to the emergency operator. He and the operator recited the Lord's Prayer together and Psalm 23.

What an amazing testimony of his faith. He knew what would bring him peace. Todd Beamer, eventually went down with that plane. He was credited for being a hero. Todd Beamer knew where his strength and peace came from. In Christ alone.

One of my favorite parts Psalm 23 is this line:

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul"

He doesn't just ask us to lie down, He makes us lie down.

He doesn't just tell us where the quiet waters are, He leads us.

He doesn't tell us that He may restore our soul, He will restore our soul.

I do not know one person on Earth who doesn't need a soul restoration.

No matter what you are facing today, you need this Peace. You need this Assurance.

He is with you.

I challenge you to memorize this scripture this week. Put it as a screen saver on your phone. Tape it to your coffee maker.

Before a job interview, recite this prayer.
Before a doctor's appointment, recite this prayer.
Before a heavy conversation, recite this prayer.
Before a major decision, recite this prayer.
Before you walk out the door today, recite this prayer.

We must get in the habit of calling on God's promises if we are to live lives of Peace. Peace can only come from the Prince of Peace Himself. [Isaiah 9:6]

As I was reading in Matthew yesterday, I came across this verse and it gripped my heart.

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

Did you hear that? We should live by every word from the mouth of God.

We must know His Word in order to live by them though.

Little by little, day by day. Seek Him in His Word.

Don't let it overwhelm you. Start small. Actually, there is no small in God's Word. It is all important. Every last letter in the Word of God is important!

Make it a priority this Summer. First thing in the morning, or sometime during your day. Go away with Him to a quiet place. Let Him lead you beside the still waters so that He can restore your soul.

Try this for a week, and see how it goes.

You will be amazed, my friend.


being led to quiet waters,


jill