Apr 30, 2015

Hit the floor.....

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Late Tuesday night my oldest child, Joseph, left on a field trip to Disney. Yes, DISNEY. I don't remember having those kinds of trips when I was his age. Do you??

It's a little hard letting my children go for a few days. It's never been an easy thing for me.

Fear has been a big part of those reasons. Yes, I love my kids.  However, fear is what made my heart tremble when they would be out of my sight. I felt like as long as they were with me, they would be fine. Control issues, I know.

Early in my parenting years, fear haunted me day in and day out. I could not eat some days. I could not sleep. Fear tormented my mind. Every possible worse scenario I could imagine, is what my mind stayed focused on. It was terrible.

My husband thought I was going crazy. In fact, I probably was. The enemy was whispering lies into my ears and I was listening to them and believing them.

There were many days when I would drop my kids off at school and go home and cry. All day long.

Fear was my enemy.

One day, a wise friend told me to pray scripture over them each day. She told me that not only would it help me, but it would help them.

I thought it was a little crazy at first, because I wasn't really believing what I was praying. It felt kind of not natural. My mind and my flesh were very opposed to praying like this. If I was praying, who was going to worry for me?? Crazy, I know.

Soon after, I began to hang scripture all around my house. At the coffee pot, in my bathroom, in the kids rooms...all over the house. Lem thought I had officially lost my mind. When, in fact, I was beginning to get my mind back from the enemy.

Those horrible thoughts were now being pounded with Truth. Day in. Day out.

Those fearful thoughts had no choice but to leave. They could not dwell where Truth was beginning to dwell. They didn't even stand a chance.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Praying scripture over my children changed my life. Dramatically. It brought peace to  heart racked with fear. It brought joy to a heart in despair.

My old prayers sounded something like this, "God bless my children. Keep them safe, please!!!"

God taught me through His Word to change my prayers to this: "Keep my children from all harm. Watch over their life, watch over their coming and going. Both now and forevermore." Psalm 121:7-8

When we pray God's word back to Him something amazing happens. His Will opens up. The Heavens open up at the sound of His Word being spoken back to Him! You can even feel it in your spirit as you pray! When His Words become our words, POWER comes!

If you are new at this, or if you have been doing this all along, I want to share some of my favorite scripture prayers with you. You will adapt to your favorites along the way, but this will get you started.

"Lord lead my children away from temptation, and deliver them from the evil one." Matthew 6:13

"Put a hedge of protection around my children and everything they have" Job 1:10

"Remind my children that they belong to you and not the world" John 17:15

"Lord, cause my children to love their enemies, to do good to those who hate them, to bless those who curse them, to pray for those that mistreat them. Help them do to others as they would have done to them." Luke 6:27-31

"I pray that my children's identity will be firmly rooted and established in Christ's love, and that they may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and how long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge...that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

"Let my children know that they belong to you" Romans 14:7-9

"Let the light of your face shine upon my children. Fill their heart with joy, and let them lie down and sleep in peace." Psalm 4:6-8 [a really good nighttime prayer]

"Show my children that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that your works are wonderful. Teach them that they are precious in your sight, and that you love them." Psalm 139:14, Isaiah 43:4

"Like Timothy, may my children be an example to believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity" 1 Timothy 4:12

"Please let my children have the ability to rise above the traps of people pleasing so they can be kept safe by trusting You, Lord" Proverbs 29:25

"May my children think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, may he think about these things" Philippians 4:8


The best way we can win the battle for the hearts of our children is on our knees. So, let's start praying now. Shall we?


on my knees,


jill

Apr 28, 2015

Hurry up and wait.....

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Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Joshua 1:7

My family and I just returned from Spring Break at the beach. It was heavenly.

However, returning home to a to-do list a mile long, and laundry two miles long, my heavenly mind-set was quickly forgotten.

I woke up Monday morning later than usual, which always makes for a not-so-happy-Jill.

Even after my coffee, I wasn't quite feeling the spring in my step. It was totally void of spring. My spring had sprung out.

Fortunately, I made it to my little Monday morning prayer group and my attitude shifted substantially. Until, it was time to go to the grocery store. Ugh.

As I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store, going over my list, and balancing my check book to see how much I could spend, I received a text. It was from my daughter's teacher.

This is all it said: "Today, I had the students finish this sentence, "My mom always_______."
Presley's sentence said, "My mom always.....loves me."

Right there in the midst of my chaotic morning, I felt the gentle gift of God's grace and Presence.

He knew I needed those words. Perfect timing.

I looked at the clock. My daughter would be eating lunch in  10 minutes. I didn't really have time to go and eat with her at school. My day was jam packed already. Too much to do. Way too much.

In my pondering, I envisioned her sweet face if I were to show up and surprise her at lunch.

I went to the Lord in prayer immediately. It went something like this:

Lord, you know all I have to do today. Help me decide what to do. I want to see my girl and bring joy to her day. However, I don't want to make my day more stressful by putting off my duties. Lead me in the way I should go in this moment. Preferably let me know within the next 5 minutes! Thank you, and amen.

I left the grocery store and had lunch with my girl. The choice was clear in that moment. My stuff would just have to wait. It would be there all week.

Sometimes, we get ourselves so wrapped up in our "schedule", that we miss God's plan. We miss the moments that take us to the next step He has for us. We have a time line. We have a vision. We have a mission. We certainly don't have time to stop and ask Him for directions.

That's where we mess up.

When we can put it all down, sit with Him, and ask Him which way to go.....we end up on the path our souls really long for. His path. His way. His plan.

Often I have found myself doing things that "make sense". Things that seem to be "logical". Things that seem to be "perfect" for me. Things that others seem to be doing that "work".

A few miles down that road, I often find out that it wasn't really for me after all. I had never sought God and asked His way. Or His plan. I wasn't "still" enough to hear Him. Many times I  have asked Him as I was already running full spring to the destination I had picked. But, I never stopped, halted, and waited for His Answer.

When I find myself running through my day, annoyed at long lines, long-winded people, slow drivers, and slow service....

I need to stop. Talk to God. Listen for Him. Wait for Him.

Maybe He has put these things in my path because the path I am on is not the right one.

I love how Joshua listened to God. He watched Moses do it, and now he was doing the same thing. He learned from the best.

Joshua would not take a step without knowing His directions from the Lord. Joshua was successful because He waited to hear from God. Every single time.

When the world is shouting, "Go! Now is your time! This makes perfect sense! Just do it!"

Be careful.

We shouldn't have to be talked into something. Our spirit should already know what to do if we are listening for God's voice.

So, how can we know when to go and when to wait?

  • Seek the Lord in prayer.
  • Seek the Lord in His Word.
  • Seek one or two godly mentors.
  • Ask God to remove any part of your will, and only give you His will and His desires.
  • Ask for several forms of affirmation that this is His will for you.
  • Wait. And wait some more.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. New Living Translation Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Psalm 27:4

Maybe the wait is hard. Yes, it is hard. But going against His plan is much harder on us.




learning from Joshua,


jill



Apr 17, 2015

Oops, I did it again....

Oops. I did it again.

Pride.

I let it win. Again.

A few weeks ago, I allowed pride to get in the way of a relationship. I knew pride was coming. I could see it a mile and half away. However, I didn't care. I was willing to have one second of a "good" feeling with pride, instead of having to lower myself in humility. 
 
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Pride never works in our favor. It beckons to protect us, to justify us, and to soothe our hurt feelings.

Oh, isn't that just like the enemy to tell us lies to lead us into sinful behavior? He makes it seem "reasonable". He makes it seem "right". He makes it seem like he has our best interest at heart.

Liar.

Satan did the same thing to Jesus. He tempted him in the desert. He waited for Jesus to be weak, hungry, and thirsty. Then, he pounced on Jesus.

Jesus didn't budge though. He stood strong and replaced Satan's temptations with Truth.

The enemy entices us with pride when we are weak as well. When we have been overlooked, hurt, forgotten, rejected, or taken advantage of.

Pride speaks to our deepest desires. To be known. To be noticed. To be right. To be worthy. To be admired.

Which is exactly why it is at the root of almost every bad decision we make.

If you are breathing, you have had a struggle with pride.

Pride isn't always what you think though....

Pride disguises itself in insecurity. I used to say, "there is NO way I could struggle with pride, I am way too insecure".

Wrong.

Insecurity is looking "inside" for our security. Insecurity is self-focused and self-aware to a fault.

We also mistake self-deprecation for humility. Another lie.

Self-deprecation is a focus on self. Self is the opposite of humility.

When we self-deprecate, we are begging for people to tell us otherwise.

The more others reassure us, the more reassurance we crave. Y'all know this is true!

We become needy for approval. So, we take on an "I am not worthy" approach, and we get the attention we are craving.

Humility is the opposite of self.

Our culture has a humility drought. It's a rare treasure in this world we live in.

Humility doesn't self-promote. Humility doesn't self-protect. Humility doesn't hide in insecurity.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Remember the story of King Saul? He had a pride problem. It became his ultimate downfall. He could not stand the fact that David was so loved and adored. It literally drove him to his death.

He was blinded by jealousy. Which, at the root of it, was his pride.

King Saul started off with God's favor. He eventually lost it due to his pride.

Why is it that we can see pride a MILE away in others, but we are the last to see it in ourselves?

As women, we can feel it swell up inside of us. When we are not included in an activity with our friends. When someone is chosen over us for a job or position. When our children make us look like HORRIBLE parents in a restaurant or grocery store. When our husband's don't notice our adorable outfit or that the floors are so clean you could eat off of them. When someone pulls out in front of us, or gets called to an "open lane" in the grocery store when you have been standing there for 20 minutes! How dare they!!

Pride swells up. We react. By anger, sadness, jealousy, bitterness, pulling away....

We think those things will soothe our hurt. IT DOESN"T.

God hates pride. Because it damages us. It takes us down roads that God did not plan for us to go down.

Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:14

What would happen if we could stop pride as soon as we feel it welling up inside of us?

What if we stop and say, "No way! Pride, you will not win! I will not let you take over this time. I will choose to be humble. To turn the other cheek. To show grace. To show love. To give the benefit of the doubt until I draw my last breath."

Y'all, we have to daily, yes daily, ask God to show us any areas of pride in our lives. Pride likes to hide in dark places of our heart. Ask God to call it out into the light! Get that junk out of there!

"Lord, remove any and all pride from my life." Let this be the first prayer that leaves our lips each day.

I think about Jesus every time I think about humility. I see His face. He was the Son of God, and there was not an ounce of pride in Him. He washed feet. He served others. He took time for others. He prayed for others. Even in His death, He prayed that God would forgive them for what they were doing to Him.

The Lord has shown me four things to do when I feel pride coming.

  • Repent immediately.
  • Serve someone immediately.
  • Sing another's praises immediately.
  • Pray God's goodness and blessings over someone else [especially the one who has hurt me]immediately.

Y'all, if we want to be lifted up, we must get down low. Really low.

Pride is our enemy.

Humility is our best friend.


cleaning out pride,


jill


Apr 14, 2015

Fearless....

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I hate fear. It has been the enemy in my life for a very long time.

However, there are a few things I have learned about fear. I want to share with you because I know I am not the only one who has struggled with this enemy.

Fear grows each time we pour water on in. What does pouring water on it mean? It means when we continually think about the certain fear over and over. And even worse, when we keep talking about it to others over and over.

So, the more we water fear, the more it grows.

Instead of watering fear, we must starve fear to death. We must stop talking about it. We must take those fearful thoughts and uproot them.

How do we uproot fear? With Truth.

God's Word brings Truth.

Whatever your fear, find a verse in God's Word that obliterates it with Truth.

For example:

Fear: I am scared.

Truth: "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

Fear: I am confused and lack peace.  I don't know how things will turn out.

Truth: I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Fear: I am afraid of what others will say if I speak up or step out.

Truth: "But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid..." 1 Peter 3:14

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25

Fear: I am scared of something bad happening to me or someone I love.

Truth: They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. Psalm 112:7

Fear: I am worried that my past mistakes will haunt me forever.

Truth: Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth" Isaiah 54:4

For every fear, there is an equal and opposite truth.

This is why we must go to His Word.

We cannot defeat fear without Him. Fear will overtake us and leave us in chains if we choose to sit and just wish it away. It will not go away without God's Power.

We can pray until we are blue in the face. Praying is wonderful. However, we must combine our prayers with the Truth of His Word. That's where the rubber meets the road. Prayer is the gun, His Word is the bullet. You need both of them to kill the enemy.

If you struggle with fear, of any kind, there is healing. And peace. And freedom.

Take God at His Word.

Fear will strangle the life out of you. Trust me, I know. I have been there.

I thank God for the freedom He offers us. We just have to open our bibles to receive it.




loading my gun,



jill




Apr 10, 2015

When words just aren't enough...

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Often, I ask the Lord to speak to me as I sleep. "Whisper to me things You want me to know, Lord. Remind me of the things You have taught me."

Several night ago, I fell asleep with these very words on my lips.

The next morning when I awoke, I heard the scripture over and over in my heart, "Walk by faith, not by sight, Jill."

Little did I know how I would cling to these words in the days to come.

Sight tells me that things change.
Sight tells me that no matter how hard I want to hang on to something, time eventually takes it away. Sight tells me that heartbreak is real. And painful.


Faith tells me it will be okay.
Faith tells me that Joy is coming.
Faith tells me that His Ways are higher than my ways.
Faith tells me that He goes before me and behind me.
Faith tells me that He will never ever leave me or forsake me.
Faith tells me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

As I was praying to the Lord yesterday, I prayed for the fruits of the spirit to clothe me. I need the fruits, Lord. I need them now. Wash me in the fruits of Your Spirit.

I repeated them to the Lord, "clothe me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control."

As soon as the words spilled out of my mouth, I fell back on the word "faithfulness".

Give me faithfulness in abundance, Lord. Yes. That's what I need the most. Flood me with faithfulness.

Sometimes the valleys we walk through are so personal and intimate that only the Lord gets it. Only our Father in Heaven understands the depths of the pain. Words cannot convey properly the ache of our spirits. The groans of a heart in desperate need of faith.

So, we go to the One Who knows. The One who understands. The One who gets it.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words Romans 8:26

Really, I don't know how to end this post.

So, I will just let God's Word end it for me...

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

"God is watching over His Word to perform it." Jeremiah 1:12

"He will perfect that which concerns you" Psalm 138:8

Apr 3, 2015

Nailin' it....

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When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.  And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” Matthew 26:20-21

Yesterday, as I read about Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples, I found myself in awe. Once again.

Jesus knew He was about to suffer. A painful death.

He also knew that His friend Judas would betray Him into the hands of the enemy.

Yet, Jesus served him. He washed the feet of his friends. Yes, their feet! He made sure they knew that discipleship meant nothing without love and serving one another.

Jesus also knew that Peter, one of His closest friends, would deny Him three times the next day. THREE times, y'all!

How could Jesus serve, love, and minister to these friends that would eventually turn their back on Him when Jesus needed them most?

That's the part that baffles me. My flesh doesn't understand how He could love and humble Himself to that extent knowing what was to come.

I desperately want to love like Jesus. Yet, my flesh fails me many days. My pride wells up and I feel that familiar wall forming when I have been hurt by someone's words or actions. The last thing I want to do is go and minister to them. And to even imagine washing their feet---are kidding me??

But, Jesus is our example, friends.

When our flesh wants to take over, we must walk by the Spirit. We must remember Jesus and how He loved, served, and forgave. Jesus forgave without any reason to forgive. He didn't wait for people to apologize, He forgave immediately. Without hesitation.

Yes, it is radical. Yes, it is not of this world.

Which is exactly why we must follow His example.

We are supposed to stand out and go against the grain of the world.

This kind of love is foreign to the world. They see it as weakness.

Oh, quite the contrary.

It takes the utmost strength and Power of God to walk in love, forgiveness and servanthood. Our flesh is not capable, but by the power of The Holy Spirit we are.

Paul tells us in Galatians, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

My need to forgive someone is what eventually drew me to God's Word. I was stuck in unforgiveness. I was angry and bitter towards this person. My faith was stagnant because of my flesh and my stubborn pride.

When the Lord opened my eyes to the woeful condition of my heart, I was broken with sadness. Yet, He did not just want me to forgive this person. He wanted me to show them love as well. Yep, He sure did.

It took every bit of my dependence on Him for me to do this. And I mean EVERY bit. My flesh screamed in agony the whole time.

Oh, but the blessings that flowed after I [finally!] walked in forgiveness.

Now, if I even suspect a hint of yuck going on in my heart, I immediately take it to the Lord. I never want to go back to that dark place of unforgiveness. It's not good for me or anyone else.

Back to Jesus.

As He hung on the cross, with people spewing insults all over Him, He whispers to His Father,  "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:24

What if we prayed the same prayer to our Father in Heaven today. What if we asked Him to forgive those that have hurt us, used us, broken our hearts, broken our trust....

Let's nail that junk to the Cross today. Let it go. Let it die.

Now, watch Jesus restore your heart like never before.

Be amazed at what He will do when you decide to let it go.

And, don't be surprised if He asks you to show some love to them. He may or may not ask you to reach out. Just be listening for His direction.

I'm praying for you. I'm praying for me. I'm praying for all of us. What a day to do this--Good Friday.


nailing it to the Cross,


jill





Apr 1, 2015

Push through....

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There are some days that are just indescribable. A longing for something else. A soul craving.

Many times I have told the Lord, "I just don't belong here. My soul craves for Home."

Y'all know what I mean?

I was having one of those days recently. I even texted my people and [hesitantly] asked them for prayer. Not even sure of what I was asking them to pray about, I just told them to just please pray for me.

That same afternoon, I turned on the radio in my car. This song by Laura Story was playing:

I've been living like an orphan
Trying to belong here
But it's just not my home
I've been holding on so tightly
To all the things that I think
That satisfy my soul
But I'm letting go

So be my Father, my mighty Warrior
Be my King
‘Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered
Lord, I need You now to be
Be my God so I can just be me


Can you relate?

Have you ever felt different? Or that you didn't belong?

I think that's the point.

"You do not belong to this world" John 15:18

Our souls were made for Heaven, and our flesh remains here on Earth until that sweet day.

As I think about Jesus this week, the week before His death and resurrection, I know He must have had similar feelings.

In  His anguish He prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42

He knew what was ahead. He knew the good that was coming. Yet, He had to endure the pain here on Earth until it came. He knew every detail of his crucifixion that was coming. Can you even imagine?

We are spared that kind of knowing. We don't have the kind of insight Jesus had. Thank goodness.

However, we do have the same Hope that He had. Yes, we do have Hope.

Hope pushes us through those days when we feel like we don't belong. Or that we just cannot see or feel the good.

Jesus pushed through the week before His death. He pushed through the pain, the hurt, the grief, the suffering.

His Hope carried Him to the cross. His Hope carried him as He was crucified.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

Hope arose from the dead three days later.

Hope was fulfilled.

We have this Hope. Every single day of our lives.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

When you find yourself lacking hope, push through. Push through some more. Hope is always there to carry you through.

Everything will be well in the end.

He promises us this.


pushing through,


jill