Dec 12, 2016

Less of me, more of Jesus.....

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to SHINE: Go here.


"My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long" Psalm 71:8

I find this time of year brings more stress than rest for me.

Each year I declare to God and anyone who will listen "This year is going to be different! I am not getting caught up in the Christmas frenzy."

Then, by December 1st, I feel like I have been run over by an 18 wheeler with a Christmas wreath dangling from the front.

Whew.

Inevitably, God hits my heart with a thud to shake me loose from the Christmas crazy merry-go-round.

This year, He used the words of a dear friend.

She told me that the little girl she mentors dreads this time of year. The little girl told my friend that each year the kids come back from Christmas break showing off their new clothes, shoes, and toys.

Meanwhile, she comes back to school with the same old clothes and shoes.

Heaviness struck my heart.

How often we get caught up with our lists, our errands, our parties, our outfits...

While a weary world suffers.

Our busyness distracts us. We get lost in the flurry of "stuff", while so many around us are suffering.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Christmas parties, and shopping, and all the extra that comes with the Christmas season. However, it is easy to get lost in that. Blind to the suffering. The lonely. The hungry. The poor.

There is something we can do.

We can lift up praises to the Lord. [Psalm 7:17] We can let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart be pleasing to the Lord. [Psalm 19:14]

Why would we lift up praises?

Because it puts our hearts in tune with God's. It sets our hearts in proper order and enables our eyes to be opened to what He sees.

He sees all.

When we praise Him and worship Him, it rids our hearts of greed and selfishness. It cleanses out our spirit and washes it clean with His Glory.

Wanting to do the "right thing" doesn't give our soul a cleanse, it just strokes our egos. Only God can truly clean up our hearts and align them with His.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

When He purifies our hearts, we become blind to "self". We release any idol that has been placed before Him and we are set free to move about with His eyes and with His heart.

Suddenly, we aren't so bothered by the person that cut in front of us in line. Or the person at the register who is slower than molasses. Or the party we didn't get invited to. Or the family member we will see at Christmas that always rubs us like sandpaper.

Our flesh gets starved and our spirits get fed when we praise God.

Are you in need of some cleansing too? Let's jump right on into scripture, shall we?

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. Titus 3:1-2

 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful to him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4

Therefore I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises to your name. 2 Samuel 22:50

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

And, like a good Father, He will lead you. Be prepared to follow.

He will open your eyes to the needs around you, and He will equip you to help in a very unique way.


paying attention,


jill


Dec 5, 2016

Be still, Jill...

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 ;)










Dec 4, 2016

Do you remember?

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to SHINE: Go here.

Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

I remember it like it was yesterday. A precious lady sat in my living room and whispered these words to me: "You are experiencing the mountain top with God right now. Enjoy it, soak it up as much as you can. There will be a day when you will be in the valley. When you are, look back on this time and remember how faithful God is."

She spoke those words to me four 1/2 years ago. Little did I know the wisdom she was sharing with my younger heart.

Friends, if you are a Christian, you have probably had some amazing mountain top experiences with God at some point or another. There is nothing like it. Everything seems like it's rimmed with gold and silver. Life seems incredibly full of wonder and joy.

Then, some time passes. Life happens. People hurt us. People leave us. The weight comes back. Our bodies age. Children leave. Finances change. Old strongholds come back with a vengeance.

Oh, hello there valley.

Let me tell you a secret treasure that I discovered in the valley....

God is still as close as ever.
 
He never left.
 
Nothing about Him has changed. NOTHING.

We tend to think we are alone. Or He has forgotten us.

Oh, but just the contrary. He is ever so close.

Without the valley, we would not be able to cling tightly to the hem of His cloak. The valley makes us desperate for Him. As our souls were created to long for Him, they long. We pant for a taste of the Living Water of His Word. Living day by breathless day dependent on a glimpse of His goodness.

The mountain top is good but we don't cling to Him like we do in the valley. We soar on the mountain top. But, in the valley we hold on tight to His word and His truth and we never let it leave our sight.

These times grow us by leaps and bounds. They equip our hearts for a desire for Him, and not what He can give us. They chisel out anything that gets in the way of a heart devoted to Him and Him alone.

We can choose to rest as the chiseling takes place, or we can fight it and pull away from Him in the valley.

This reminds me of when my daughter had a loose tooth. That bloody tooth was dangling from her little slobbery mouth. I told her that one little pull and the tooth would be out and her new beautiful permanent tooth would come in. She resisted stubbornly, and would run when we tried to pull her tooth. Little did she know that the one second of pain would lead to being free from that silly looking tooth.

We do the same at times. We pull away from Him when things are not going well. We resist the pain and try to escape to the nearest exit. We question His faithfulness. And even doubt His love for us.

If we could only remember His faithfulness in these times.

The Israelites in the Old Testament constantly forgot God's faithfulness. They complained. They turned their back on God. They constantly questioned His existence.

If they would only have remembered what God had already done for them. How He had rescued them from slavery and oppression. How He had parted the waters for them to go through to escape the enemy.

So many miracles. Yet, no recollection.

God was constantly telling them to remember.

Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:12

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2

We are so prone to forget, sweet friends. So prone to dwell on our circumstances instead of His faithfulness.

Perhaps our valleys would be much sweeter if we remembered.

Maybe this is why Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8 "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

How quickly we forget God, yet He never ever forgets us.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me." Isaiah 49:15-16

Maybe your valley has been a long and excruciating one. Maybe it's just too much to try to remember God's faithfulness after being so long in the valley.

Oh, friend. I urge you to remember. Recall. Look back on His faithfulness.

That same faithful God is still being faithful. He has not stopped being faithful.

I do believe He takes us through the valley to draw us closer. It is something we cannot wrap our brains around until we get to our home in Heaven. But, we can rest in that valley and recall His great and many miracles. The times when we were soaring on the mountain with Him.

These recollections refuel us and direct our hearts back on the path of believing and trusting in His plan.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

There is a promised land coming. He gives us His Word.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16


remembering,


jill






Nov 29, 2016

The B word....

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to SHINE: Go here.


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

There is a dirty little word that I have tried so very hard to take out of my vocabulary. It used to live in my mouth and be repeated at least a few times a day.

The word starts with a B.

Okay, I won't say it, but I will write it...

Busy.

Eek. It's even ugly on a computer screen.

This word makes me cringe because it makes me think of a total lack of peace. A familiar place I used to live.

I once heard a saying that resonated within my heart...

"If the devil can't make you bad, he will make you busy."

Gulp.

When we are busy, we cease being able to stop and notice the present circumstance we are in .

When we are busy, we are short with people. All people. The ones under our roof, and the ones out in the world just aching for a little word of encouragement.

Busyness fills our minds and leaves no room for God to implant ideas, thoughts, gestures, and words to reach out to someone in an unplanned way.

We used to talk to people, not text.

We used to hang out with people at our kitchen tables, not group face time them or message them via google chat.

We used to have a handful of people that we did life with, now we do life with the whole entire world on the internet.

All of these things make for very busy, very scattered, very spread super thin lives.

Busyness is nothing new. Remember the story of Mary and Martha?

Martha was in the kitchen busily preparing, planning, and freaking out a bit about all that had to be done.

Mary, her sister, sat at the feet of Jesus. Mary knew the importance of being present. She knew that it was okay to be still and sit with the people around her.

Mary understood the importance of the opportunity to be with Jesus. She soaked Him up, she hung on every word...she wasn't about to miss a moment with Him.

We have the same opportunity every single moment of our lives. We can be with Jesus and sit at His feet at any time. Yet, we somehow have too much going on. Life beckons, and we must answer.

Or, do we?

I heard a well-known preacher say recently that people ask him constantly how he has so much peace and lack of urgency in his life, despite the many demands laid upon him daily. He replied, "you are just as busy as me. I just to say no a lot more often."

This preacher knows how to prioritize and escape a busy, yet fruitless life. He sits at the feet of Jesus, and takes his orders from Him. He listens to the voice of God over the voice of the world.

God has a portion for us. A specific assignment each and every day.

We can choose to accept this portion, or we can make our own schedule.

I want to be on God's schedule, not my own. Don't you?

There will always be "something" for us to volunteer for. Something for us to "do". A party for us to attend.

Can I tell you something that has helped me tremendously over the past few years?

I ask myself these questions before adding something else to my plate:

How will this affect my husband, his needs, and his schedule?

How will this affect my children, their needs, and their schedule?

What other assignment that the Lord has given me at this time will I have to sacrifice in order to add this to my plate?

Does this align with what God has called me to do in this season of my life?

Am I going to say yes because I want to please people and not let them down?

Do I want to do this because it is self-promoting?

Am I saying yes because my pride will not let me say no?

This has definitely helped me to pause and think hard about the decision that I need to make. It allows me time to pray and to talk with my husband before jumping in head first...like I have done so many times before.

Listen, I understand that some things are not that big of a deal and that you may not have to ask yourself these questions every single time...

But, I have learned that these little decisions add up and cause a lot of stressors in my day if I am not careful. They may not seem like a big deal, but at the end of the day they can wear a girl down!

We must be cautious with over-commitment. Or as some call it, FOMO. Fear-of-missing-out.

Did you just raise your hand? Been there, friend.

I can guarantee you that it is not the end of the world if we have to miss a function. People will not talk about you {well, your real friends won't}, and life will go on.

There will always be another party. There will always be another opportunity to volunteer. There will always be another women's retreat. You can count on that.

It does not make us cool to be busy. It just makes us tired. And worn out. And unable to function well with our people.

Take a deep breath.

Blow it out slow.

One more time.

Now, go to the Lord and talk to Him about your schedule. Ask Him to lead you today. Ask Him to help you focus on people and not a to-do list.

Simple prayers from scripture you can pray are:

 My times are in Your hands- Psalm 31:15

Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom-Psalm 90:12

Teach me your way, oh Lord; lead me on a straight path- Psalm 27:11

When we spend more time with Jesus, we actually are able to function better. We exude more peace and are able to refresh others so much more.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

The world will pull at you and scream at you to jump in because you are missing out.

Turn your face to the opposite side and see Jesus peacefully desiring a moment with you.

He gives peace. The world brings chaos.

Fill up with His peace, and go spread it over the chaos.

Shine your light and let others know it's okay to give up busy. They just may need an example lived out in front of them. Let that be you.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2


out with the b,

jill




Nov 27, 2016

The Secret...

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to SHINE: Go here.





12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Can I tell you a story?  Will you grab your coffee, your hot tea, or just a cozy blanket and sit with me for a minute?

I love stories, don't you? I remember being very little and would love to listen to anyone telling a story. The way their words would slow down and speed up. The way they paused before continuing on to the suspenseful part...

I still love a good story teller.

God speaks to us through stories. Just read His Word and you will see. He knew we could relate through words. We communicate this way because we are relational.

The story begins last year about this very time.

My family and I packed up our home and we moved into a rental house right in downtown Madison, Georgia.

As we packed, I could hardly contain my excitement. We had prayed about this move and God had aligned all of it so seamlessly.

I wasn't prepared for the huge lump in my throat when I walked out the door of that house we had raised our babies in for the last 10 years. My heart wasn't ready to say goodbye to their little rooms that once held cribs.

But, I managed to close the door behind me and let it go. Just barely.

My excitement soon returned as I thought about our new house and the renovations we were doing. It was fun getting to pick out paint colors and appliances.

However, I wasn't prepared for the reality of what was to come.

We would spend our Christmas season and the next two months in a very unfamiliar rental house. No memories attached. No cozy feel.

It hit me like a thud.

Joy escaped me.

It seemed so dark and dreary. I had a hard time finding the energy to get out of bed.

[side note: You can read exactly where I was at that time in this post [12/19] I wrote last year.  If I ever need to reflect on a certain season of my life, I go back to a SHINE post written during that time.Writing really is therapy, people.]

Decorating for Christmas in this unfamiliar house was so very weird. Nothing was joyful for me during this time. It was like I was in a big pile of quicksand slowly losing the life we once had.

All, well most anyway, of our stuff was packed up in a storage building. I could not find anything.

My life felt so out of control. So different.

During this season, I didn't speak to God a whole lot. I felt like He was distant and I was not in the mood for rejoicing or being thankful. My life felt like it had turned over and all of it was spilled out into a dark and cold storage building.

God soon sent an angel that rescued me that Christmas. Her name I will not share. We live in a small town. [a very small town]

As I was drearily waiting in line at the grocery story, this lady walked up to me and we started chatting. I had known her for a while, but had not seen her in a long time. We talked and talked and talked.

She shared with me some hardships that she and her family were facing. Big, big, big heavy hardships.

I told her I would pray for her and that I hoped she and her family would be okay for Christmas.

When I finally got to my car I broke down crying. Sobbing my eyeballs out.

I had a major heart to heart with God. I spilled it all out right there in the Ingles parking lot.

Suddenly, life in the little rental house with hardly any furniture or familiar items seemed not so bad.

In fact, it seemed downright joyful compared to what my friend was facing.

I asked God to forgive me for my crappy attitude the last few weeks, and I begged Him to bless this friend and her family in a HUGE way.

The next few days, I could not stop thinking and praying for her. I wanted to help her so badly but I had no idea how to help.

We didn't have much to spare, especially at Christmas.

On December 7th, I sent out an email to some dear friends about helping this family. The main thing I needed help with was prayer. I knew that God would provide their needs, but I needed an army of prayer warriors to pray on their behalf.

Soon after the email was sent, I was bombarded with people wanting to help. It was like the gray clouds immediately parted and I could see the light of day again.

A couple of days after I sent the email, I was contacted by a man that I did not even know. He said he and his wife wanted to help this family with all of their needs. ALL of them. I almost dropped the phone.

What?? But, you don't even know me, or her, or this family...and you want to help? How do you even know this is legit??

This man asked for a list of the things they needed and for bills that needed to be paid.

He and several other dear friends filled EVERY need and MUCH MORE.

These people will never know how God was able to use this lady's need to fill a big hole in my own heart. How could God kill two birds with one stone like that? Isn't He amazing?

Needless to say, my faith was restored.

My discontent was quickly turned into a big ol' heap of JOY.

The friend that I saw at the grocery story is doing so very well. Her family is thriving. They are in a much better place and she gives all the glory to God.

Friends...

God knew that I didn't need a house filled with Christmas cheer. Or familiar traditions and surroundings.

God knew I needed perspective. He knew I needed my thankfulness restored in a big way.

Do you remember the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man? Jesus told this man, "your sins are forgiven."

The religious leaders thought Jesus was out of His mind to say such a thing. Who on earth had the power to forgive sins, but God?

Little did they know that Jesus did. He was, in fact, the Son of God.

Here is Jesus' reply in Mark 2:1-12:

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Friends, God always knows  the things we so desperately need the most. He knows us inside-out and outside-in.

When we are tempted to think that He has abandoned us, or forgotten us....

Look for Him. Look for His people.

What you think you need...is probably not what you really need.

God often shows us the real truth of our soul hunger in ways that we never could have seen through our human eyes.

He shows us through His eyes...through His people.

And just like the paralytic man...

We are healed.

When our eyes are on Jesus and not on our circumstances, things become crystal clear.

Life suddenly is focused.

Look for Him today as you go about your business. Ask Him to meet you and to put His people in your path.

We absolutely cannot be miserable when we take our eyes off of self, and give thanks despite our circumstances.

Colossians 3:15-17:
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
 


This weekend, my daughter and I begin to unpack our Christmas decorations. A flood of memories washed over me. These decorations had the perfect spot at our old house. Where would I put this stuff now? My joy was slowly fading.

Then, I immediately thanked the Lord for what His Hands have provided. I listed everything I could think of to be thankful for, and like cool water being poured over my spirit, I felt the joy rush in.

1 Thessalonians 5:18:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


That is the secret to our healing.


giving thanks,


jill












 


























Nov 16, 2016

Real Simple...

SHINE Bible Reading Plan: Go here.
Subscribe to SHINE: Go here.
 
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me...'
Isaiah 55:1-3

My mother-in-law gets me a subscription to a magazine called "Real Simple" every year. I love it.

However, I have noticed that I don't have as much time to read it anymore. I used to know exactly when it would come, and I could not wait to hole myself up in my room [or bathroom, or anywhere I could escape] and read it.

My life has become not real simple.

Too many irons in the fire. Too much activity. Not enough simple.

As I pondered the thought of simplifying things in my life, my mind went to the way things used to be.

I used to scrapbook my children's lives. Who has time for that anymore?

I used to devour cookbooks and write down the recipes on a note card if I found a recipe I loved. Now, the internet will find me the best and quickest recipe and will even create my shopping list!

I used to sit down and write cards to people. This is one of my favorite things to do. However, I don't even seem to have time to do this anymore.

I used to call my friends and have the best talks as I sat in the long car pool lines. Now, I scroll through social media or text a line or two to a few friends.

My life has become abbreviated.

You would think this would mean, "simplified". But, it's not.

I have a feeling you can relate. I have had this conversation with many friends. We all seem to long for simple. Yet, cannot seem to find it.

So, what's the deal? Is simple out of reach anymore?

Or, are we just so used to living in clutter, and chaos, and fast-paced living that we have forgotten what simple looks like.

As I read the New Testament and the life of Jesus, I am constantly reminded of what simple looks like. Jesus had one purpose. He wasn't too fussy, or extravagant or require a whole lot of "stuff".

In fact, He was quite the opposite. He made it His ambition to live a live of fullness without fluff.

His life was not loud and boisterous and in your face...

His life was quiet, meek, humble, and hidden.

Often, He escaped from the crowds. He longed to be with His Father in prayer.

Jesus wasn't trying to fit in with the "right people", or keep up with the latest trends.

Jesus lived His life to heal others. To minister to the lost, broken, destitute, and rejected.

Jesus had one simple goal: Others.

Life can get simple real quick when we make serving others and seeking God above all else our priority.

The other "things" that clutter us up fall by the wayside.

We won't get hung up on trying to impress the world, or please people.

Simple living requires a simple focus.

This verse right here says it all.

"make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands..." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

What if our ambition was to lead a simple, quiet life? What if we minded our own business and tended to our own flock?

Things would look a lot different, wouldn't they?

We spend so much time trying to be noticed...

We spend so much time trying to fix things and fix people...

We spend so much time making sure our voices are heard, our faces are seen, and that we are not forgotten....

Then, we end up miserable.

We end up with a gaping hole of anxiety and restlessness.

A simple life requires a life devoted to the service of One.

When He is our only Master, our work each day is much lighter.

Simple living is not out of date.

It is available, we just have to get rid of the excess keeping it from our reach.

 Simple living is freedom.

Freedom from the bondage of people, time, and accumulating stuff.

What's cluttering up your life and keeping you from simple living?

Pray and ask God to help you get to the simple place.

It's a place where you won't find a whole crowd of folks. You can spread out here and have plenty of room.

Stretch out your legs and enjoy. Finally.


reading my magazine,


jill



















Nov 8, 2016

Guilty...

Not too long ago, I did something dreadful.

My daughter saw this horrible display of dreadfulness, and I had a very hard time being able to shake the guilt from my heart.

Basically I had a hormone melt down in front of her and it wasn't pretty. [insert red face]

All was well in her little world after the "episode", or it seemed to be, but I was in the stuck zone.

I was stuck in my guilt. Paralyzed with self-disgust.

Ever been there?

It is a hard place to be.

The enemy wants to shame you and tell you that you are worthless. He wants to throw stones at you and laugh in your tear filled face.

On the other hand, Jesus beckons us to come to Him. He reminds us that there is nothing too big to stain us from His blood-washed love over us.

I wanted to believe Jesus. I wanted to surrender to His Peace and His forgiveness.

However, the enemy was relentless. I kept picturing my daughter remembering that dreadful day and sitting on a psychologist's couch when she is 30 recounting her mother's hormone haywire day[s].

Ugh. The guilt.

Then, I remembered a book that I am reading with a few friends...The title is "Grace not perfection."

Hmm.

Grace.

I needed some grace in a major way.

God had already forgiven me. My daughter had forgiven me. I hope the neighbors didn't hear and if they did I hope the forgive me too. [eek]

The struggle was with forgiving myself.

Not sure about you, but I find it much easier to forgive someone else than to forgive myself.

Why is it so hard?

Why do we extend grace so freely to others and withhold it from ourselves?

I kept going back to King David.

He messed up so many times. So. many. times.

Yet, David always moved on.

He believed God loved him and he believed God forgave him.

So, perhaps, our struggle is with believing what God tells us.

When He tells us our sins are forgiven, He means it.

Let me repeat that one more time...When He tells us our sins are forgiven, He means it.

Yes, there will be consequences, but forgiveness is ours for the taking.

The enemy would love to bury us in guilt. From head to toe.

We cannot be of any use when we live in guilt.

We suffocate under the weight of guilt.

How can we extend a hand to help others if it is buried 10 feet under in guilt?

So, as I wallowed in guilt, I decided to fall to my knees. Repent. And thank God for forgiving me.

I got up, wiped the guilt dust off of my pants, and moved on.

It felt like a 100 lb weight had been lifted off of  my shoulders.

No wonder Jesus tells us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I realize I have been using this scripture a lot. But, I just cannot help myself. It nourishes my weary soul.

Perhaps this is why I can relate so very much to this woman in scripture that anointed Jesus' feet with perfume. I can taste her desperation. I can smell her eager desire to just touch the feet of Jesus. I get it. I know how it feels to just want to throw yourself down headlong at the feet of Jesus.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:36-50

Friend, read that last line.

The greater need for our forgiveness, the greater opportunity for us to show love.

Wow.

If we don't recognize our need for His redeeming Love, we will never be able to pour out what He so graciously pours into us through His redemption.

Are you struggling with forgiving yourself?

You will never be healed hanging onto that guilt. It will suffocate you. It will hold you down and keep you from your God-Promised Destiny.

Will you go to the feet of Jesus? Will you throw yourself down and wash His feet with your tears?

Feel the sweet release of His Love, His Peace, His Grace wash right back over you.

Then, get up, and move on.

You've got big things to do for His Kingdom.


unstuck,


jill







Nov 3, 2016

Before you fall....

A few weeks ago I found myself face first in a deep dark pit of fear.

I have been in that same pit before, but this time I thought that I knew better. I thought I was victorious over fear. I thought fear could not hold me captive again.

How very wrong I was.

It started by a very small thought. Then, I expressed this thought to a couple of people. Then, I turned this thought over in my head day and night, night and day.

Then, I started googling this thought. As you all know, google is a terrible place to look for something out of fear and desperation. Anyone been there? Ever had a sick child and googled their symptoms? Yep, full blown anxiety attack.

When we are in a place of captivity, we turn inward. We secretly think things and act on impulses that are completely irrational and against our faith nature.

We rely on flesh.

The last place we often turn is to the Word of God.

We think to ourselves, "I don't need scripture, I need an answer."

We look for peace and assurance in all the wrong places.

I imagine God is looking down thinking, "Daughter, you know you won't find the answer there. Come to me. Come to me, weary girl."

Often when we find ourselves in captivity, we are blind and deaf to the Lord. Sin separates us form Him. [Isaiah 59:2]

I remember thinking in this deep well of fear that I could not even remember what peace felt like. It felt so far away. I even blamed God for letting me get this far into the well of fear.

My own choices led me there. I chose to not take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. [2 Corinthians 10:5]

I chose to go my own way.

I chose to listen to the world and the lure of google to give me an answer for my worries.

God didn't push me away, I pushed away with the help of an enemy who roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [1 Peter 5:8]

Here's the thing..

I know better.

I have been down this road more times than I want to remember.

I knew not to take the dark paths that lead to fear.

But, my flesh desired more. More answers. More information.

Remember what finally got Eve to bite the piece of fruit in the garden? It was her desire for more. She wanted to know more. She wanted to have full knowledge.

I wanted the same thing.

The world will never, ever, fulfill us. The world and its answers will only make us crazy, fearful, and empty.

We must turn to God when we find ourselves on the brink of any kind of captivity.

This is why the enemy loves when we fall into dark wells of captivity:

  • We turn inward.
  • We cease praying.
  • We cease reading God's Word.
  • We turn away from friends and family in our shame.
  • We do desperate things in order to fill the sin craving.
  • We cease being able to use our gifts to minister to others.
  • We cease to serve others because we are self-consumed.
Oh, friends, if I could look you right in the face and tell you something right now it would be to stop looking to the world for saving. The world will NOT save us. The enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy us.

Only God can save us. Only God can wash us over with peace. Only God is our refuge and our strong tower. [Psalm 61:3]

The world will suck us in and it will feel like we are stuck on the spin cycle of a washing machine.

If you find yourself in this place. Stop. Immediately.

Go straight to the Father and repent of your sins.

Ask Him to give you the strength to stay away from things that will lead you straight back into the black well of captivity. You know the things that tempt you. You know them well and so does your enemy.

I can tell you with all honesty and truth that God will help you. He will rescue you. But, you must be willing to turn away. You must use the strength He gives you to walk back to Him and His Truth and Peace.

His Life Line is always there. Always. You just have to reach for it.

Coming out of the fog of fear, I look back and cannot believe how I fell again. I know better.

However, our enemy is relentless and he doesn't miss an opportunity to tempt us. Often when we are weak, stressed, vulnerable....is when he strikes.

Be alert! Be on guard! [1 Peter 5:8]

Clothe yourselves daily with scripture. Do not give the enemy an opportunity to trip you up. Put your armor on before the attack comes.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10

Don't ever be fooled enough to think that you are so far along in your faith that you cannot be tempted right back to that place of captivity.

Paul tells us to not boast in ourselves, but to boast in Christ alone.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31

We must be intentional about waking up every morning and inhaling God's Word just as much as we like to inhale our coffee. We must be intentional about praying as much as we like to browse social media. And, we MUST be alert to the things around us that the enemy is using to trip us up. We must open our spiritual eyes and keep them open every single day.

The enemy is not just out to destroy us...he is out to destroy our husbands, our children, our families. Make no mistake about that. You are not spared. Be ready to take your stand against his schemes.

The good news is, we will always be victorious with God on our side. We cannot lose.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

armor up,


jill





Oct 19, 2016

Jesus, take the wheel.....

If you have a kid that is 15 years of age or older and you taught them how to drive, I bow down on my face before you.

How come NO ONE told us how difficult it is to teach a teenager how to drive? Hmm? Not a single solitary person.

We [parents] with kids this age need a big huge gold trophy when it's all said and done. Actually, a one way ticket to Hawaii will work just fine too.

Now, you folks with littles, I will be THAT friend to you. Now you KNOW. Get ready. Go ahead and prepare your heart, your mind, your medicine cabinet.[just kidding. kind of]

As my daughter and I sat in the backseat of the car [hubby was in front] while my 15 year old  took his first drive on the express way, I learned a few things about life. [and that organic deodorant DOES NOT WORK on days like these. Thank you very much.]

The first  thing I learned was that NEVER will I be in the car when it is a driver's first time on the express way. NEVER EVER EVER AGAIN.

My nerves are shot. My wrinkles had babies. And, my heart is still out of rhythm.

In my son's fifteen year old defense, he did fine.

However, it is NOT fine, and anything but FINE, while it's happening.

Apparently, I have some control issues. Quite a few. [Janet Jackson, I feel ya, sister!]

Here is what else I learned:

It does not help to try to grab the wheel from the backseat. I may need to repeat this again so it sticks.

Brakes are not in the backseat even though your feet keep trying to push them.

It is best to not yell things from the backseat and just shut up and let your husband do the teaching.

In fact, it is best in times like these to just be quiet and pray your head off.

Did I mention that it is quite impossible to grab the wheel from the backseat? Ok.

The irony is that our family memory verse for the week is this:

 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28

I hate when I have to live a memory verse out right in front of my kids. HUMILIATING.[insert an eye roll here]

 I was anything but silent, and anything but discerning.

So, here is the point of this post...

It is better to be quiet. It is better to be still. It is better to pray.

This applies to pretty much all of life.

It applies to my relationship with my husband. My kids. My family. My friends.

We can get ourselves so bent out of shape when we try to control something that we have zero business trying to control. In fact, it can make us downright crazy. [points to self]

There are some scriptures to help us in this. Let's look at them...

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

I say this one a lot. Almost every time I go into a social situation, a bible study, or anything where my mouth can get drippy, I say this verse.

 I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save. Isaiah 49:25

I say this one when I feel I have got to shout to the rooftops when I have been wronged. I have to remind myself to be still and let God fight for me.

"A man's wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook and offense." Proverbs 19:11

Yep. Yep. and Yep. [still working on this one]

"But, I trust in you, O LORD, I say, "You are my God. My times are in Your hands.." Psalm 31:14-15

I had to say this a lot in that backseat watching my baby drive that big ol' car. With 18 wheelers at every angle. Good grief.

Friend, is there an area in your life that you need to trust Him more?  Are you trying to control an outcome that you were never meant to control?

Yeah, I get it.

But, all the white-knuckling in the world cannot do you any good. [and you will have sweat stains the size of Lake Michigan under your arm pits.]

Letting go and trusting our Father is the only way we can have peace. And, a much better outcome.


peace from the backseat,

jill


Oct 11, 2016

Will it really be okay?

Lately, the heaviness of the world feels like it is sitting on my chest. I feel the panic rise some days, and I have to go back to what I know. God's Word.

When this feeling comes up through my chest cavity and into my throat feeling like I will most likely suffocate, I recite God's Word. Over and over.

Immediately the panic is gone.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. Hebrews 4:12

A few nights ago, I escaped to our back porch. The sky was pitch black except for the sliver of a bright and shining moon. I gasped when I saw the moon. So bright. So captivating. So affirming.

God is light, there is no darkness in Him at all. 1 John 1:5

As I stared at the moon and heard the words of 1 John repeating in my head over and over, my heart was washed over in peace.

Everything is going to be okay.

Everything is going to be okay.

Everything is going to be okay.

I felt the same way I did when my mother would tuck me in at night when I was a scared and frightened little girl. She would always say, "It's okay baby. Everything is just fine."

The warmth of her words washed over me.

Just as the warms of God's Words washes over me.

I cannot be fearful when I am saying His Words.

I cannot be scared when His Word is being spoken, whispered into the depths of my spirit.

I cannot worry what tomorrow will bring when I know that He has tomorrow in His hands.

Do I think He doesn't know what I need? What my family needs? What our nation needs? What our world needs?

 ...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

It feels good to ask Him though.

It feels good to say, "Lord, is it going to be alright? Do you see our need? Do you see the state of our world? It will be okay, right?"

Just as a child asks her mother, we ask the Lord.

It affirms our faith.

It shows our dependence on Him when we can just stop dead in our tracks and say, "Lord, it will be okay, right?"

We need to talk to Him. We need to tell Him how we are feeling. We need to shed the thousand pound weight of worry on our hearts. We need to unload it on Him. He can handle it. But, we cannot.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30

The truth is, I have no idea what will happen. No idea.

But, God does.

My job is to be still, and know that He is God. And pray.

Worrying, fretting, and incessantly talking about the fears we have, is not being still. It is in fact, quite the opposite.

We are to have a deep knowing of God's Hand in all things.

Our times are in His hands. Psalm 31:15

I am reminded of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. As she sat at the cross where her perfect Son was being crucified, tortured, laughed at, mocked, spat upon...

She was still. Quiet. Prayerful.

She could have wailed, pitched a fit, made a scene, plead His case....

Yet, she sat still.

Mary had a knowing.

A knowing that could of only come from her faith in Jesus.

She knew it would all be okay.

Surely, it didn't look okay in the moment...

Yet, she knew.

She trusted God enough to know that this was not the end.

Her faith kept her still, quiet, and prayerful.

Mary was able to see the fruit of her faith just a few short days later, when she would see Jesus in His Glorious arisen state.  But, she also had to see the absolute worst of scenarios right up until then.

Our children are watching us. Our neighbors are watching us. The world is watching us.

What will we do?

Will we panic? Will be feverishly try to figure out the outcome? Will we lose sleep, worry incessantly, and drive ourselves to a mad state of mind?

Or, will we be still. Quiet. Prayerful.

Knowing, that all things work together for our good. [Romans 8:28]


choosing stillness,


jill

Sep 20, 2016

Dazed and Confused....

Life is not always clear.

We don't always have the answers at any given moment. We can spend hours in the Word of God, in prayer, and seeking counsel, yet still be very confused.

Recently, I found myself in this place. Nothing seemed to be clear. Nothing.

I sought the Lord in His Word. I sought Him in prayer. I sought counsel over this particular confusion.

Crickets.

During this time of confusion, I just went to what I knew...God is Good. God is Faithful.

I wrote those words over and over in my prayer journal as I searched for words to pray.

God is good. God is faithful. God is good. God is faithful. God is good. God is faithful.

There are times in our lives where we have to cling to what we know because nothing else seems clear. Nothing else makes sense.

Every single time I get into this place of not knowing which direction to take, what to do next...

I think of Moses.

God led Moses through the desert for FORTY years. FORTY.

Can you imagine??

I get frustrated after forty MINUTES of not knowing the solution to a problem. Moses had to wait FORTY years to see what God had promised.

In these times of confusion, we must stay obedient. We must just do the next thing.

So often our faith is walking in pure fog and just trusting that God is leading you even though the visibility is ZERO.

This shows our utter dependency on Him. Let me repeat mainly for myself....This shows our utter dependency on Him.

He is molding us. He is taking His chisel and refining our character, our spirit, and our likeness to Him. When we feel absolutely directionless, I believe He is doing some serious fine tuning of our hearts.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Deuteronomy 8:2

Be still. He often tells us. Be still.

It's hard to chisel something that's moving.

We must stop. Be still. Obey in whatever comes next.

Each step will lead us to Him. Just like He led Moses and the Israelites through the dark. Through the valleys. Through the wilderness. He will lead us.

Confusion is not from Him. Confusion comes when we try to figure out in our earthly little minds the perfect will of God and we get frustrated. We can never understand what He is doing. But, we can trust Him. He is good. He is faithful.

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

We can still have peace without knowing all the answers. We can still have peace without clarity. It is not clarity that we need, it is trust.

Are you in a season of confusion? I have been there. Still visit a lot.

Stop looking for clarity, and look for Him. When you find Him, you will find Peace.

His Peace will sustain you.

It helps to just write it down, or say it out loud to the Lord over and over.....

I trust You.
You are Good.
You are Faithful.


peace over clarity,


jill





Sep 14, 2016

Trust Me....

When I sit down to type to you, it feels like I am sitting down with a precious friend over coffee ready to share our hearts. I hope you feel the same way.

I am the type of girl who loves to share a good thing when I discover it. I probably go on and on a little too much. However, if I find the perfect shade of nude lipcolor, or the most amazing dry shampoo, I must not keep it a secret. My friends MUST know.

So, today I share with you something I have discovered through prayer. I am not sure when it began, I guess it has been a gradual thing. However, I cannot let another minute go by without sharing this piece of information with you in hopes that it will encourage you and spur you on in your faith.

For years I have prayed very specific, very desperate prayers over the lives of people in my life. I will be straight up real with you and tell you that my husband is one of them.

I have begged, bargained and pleaded with God to move his heart on some issues. I have talked endlessly and tirelessly to friends about these prayers and just how tired I was of praying them.

My prayer journal is FILLED, and I mean FILLED, with his name written all over it.

However, over the last few months I have been heavily focused on just saying these words to the Lord in a desperate time, "Thy will be done, Lord."

Is sounds easy, right?

However, I have noticed that the less I blabber and beg and pour out the same words over and over, the more peace that fills my heart over these requests.

Something has changed.

God may be doing some change in my husband, but mostly He is changing me. My heart.

The bible says in Proverbs 10:19,  Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

The bible also says in Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I was talking way too much, and my words and my prayers became anxious. Asking for prayer and pleading desperately with the Lord on a daily basis was another form of worry. I was masking my worry with prayer.

With each friend I shared with, it was not really a call for them to pray, but a call to share my anxious heart and a sign that my worry was exceedingly greater than my faith.

When I was able to pray, "Thy will be done in Lem's life, Lord," it freed me of this worry. This anxiety that consumed my heart was finally set free.

My prayers were really just a reflection of me trying to maintain control and convince God that I knew what Lem needed.

I am pretty sure that the Lord knows what Lem needs much more than I do. My desires for Lem are often selfish. If I am completely honest, my desires for Lem to change reflect a gaping insecurity in my heart.

Do I not trust that the God of the Universe will take care of him? Do I really think that all of my frantic worry over this and that will change or speed up the process of God's will? Uh, no.

Our times are in God's hands. Psalm 31:15

That is worth repeating, say it with me.."Our times are in God's hands."

I used to get so bent out of shape when I did not see an answer to prayer. It would shake my faith terribly.

Now, I see that all along, my faith was based on the wrong foundation. My faith was based on an outcome and not on the One Who holds the whole Earth in His Hands.

What if I never see that certain prayer answered? Does it mean that He doesn't hear me, or He doesn't love me?

No.

It means that...
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

I don't know what He is doing. But, I know that He is good. Oh, so good.

He has proven this time and time again.

My children don't understand why I will not give in to certain things that they desire. They beg, plead, and justify why they should receive what they are asking for.

But, as their parents, Lem and I know what is best for them at that moment.

Or, it could be that we desire a better thing for them, and they just need to wait until the time is right.

God never settles for less than the best for us. So, when we pray, and leave our petitions with Him, let's trust Him with it. Let's not lose our faith, worry incessantly, and talk profusely about this gaping need.

Does He not know what we need?


26 Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:27


28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30


Thy will be done,


jill









Sep 8, 2016

The Waiting Room....

It was a normal day. Hot, muggy, and I had no time to stop and get my oil changed. But, it was time. We were leaving to go out of town for the weekend and the hubs told me that no matter what I did that day, I HAD to get the oil changed in the car. [insert me rolling my eyes]

Well, since I had to sit for 30 minutes, I decided to bring thank you cards to write, and my prayer journal to jot in. Why not. I had nothing else to do in this tiny waiting room wasting 30 minutes of my day.

I gave the mechanic the keys to my car, made my way to the waiting area and plopped down. I reached down to pull my thank you notes out of my bag. As I was fumbling around for a pen, I glanced up and saw a lady sitting across from me.

Oh shoot. I need to be friendly. I need to at least smile. Please Lord, don't make me talk to her. I just wanna be invisible for a few minutes and do my thing. Please. Please. Please.

I was hoping she was engrossed in her phone. Please, let her be browsing social media or something so that I don't have to do small talk. I hate small talk. I like deep talk, or no talk at all. And today, I preferred the latter.

Our eyes met. I smiled at her. She smiled back. We said hello.

Immediately, the mechanic came back to ask me a question. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

I answered him, then he and I discussed some mutual friends we had and the local church that he was a member of.

He left to go back and work on my car, and this lady and I were left. Just the two of us. It could not have been quieter. Ugh.

I glanced a quick look at her again.

She smiled.

I smiled back and reached for my bag of goodies, and something in my heart told me to "be still."

I have a healthy fear of the Lord, not because I am super holy,  because I have disobeyed Him one too many times. I know it always works out better in the end if I will just LISTEN and OBEY. [remind me of this often, ok?]

I put my bag back down on the floor.

The conversation started.

We talked, and talked, and talked some more.

Without divulging too much of our conversation, I will just say that by the end of our conversation, I was sitting beside her, holding her hand and praying over her. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of how much Jesus loved this lady. How much Jesus had done to prepare the tiniest of details for the two of us to be in the same room together at that very time. And, for her to be unlucky enough to sit across from a crazy praying-out-loud-in-public kinda woman.

I had asked the Lord that morning to lead and direct my steps. I was hoping for a peaceful, not-very-eventful-day. He did just the opposite.

He put me in an uncomfortable place. With a stranger.

I had a choice. I could ignore the Holy Spirit's nudge to put down my phone, and my thank you notes, or I could obey and let Him do the rest.

The irony of all of this is that I needed to meet her. I needed to hear what she had to say. I was the one that was a wreck inside. My faith was wavering and I was in desperate need of Jesus to show me that He saw me, and that He could hear me. I was in desperate need of a faith filling.

Have you ever been mad at your husband, or a sibling, or a parent...and you decide to go and vent to someone? But,  as soon as they affirm you and agree with you, you get defensive over the person you are venting about. Suddenly, you take their side and end up defending the very person you were complaining about. What in the world?

This is kind of what happened here. As soon as I was met with someone who needed some serious Jesus filling, I was suddenly jumping at the opportunity to share my Savior with her.

Just days before, I had been in a serious faith funk. Doubting Thomas had NOTHING on me.

So many times I look for Him to write me a message in the sky. Or, to send me a scripture that just appears in front of me... just anything! I need to know He sees me and that He hears me. I am suddenly reminded of the Pharisees who demanded a sign from Jesus. Like, being the Son of God just wasn't enough. [I am like the Pharisees at times.]

Yet, so often He reveals Himself in the smallest, tiniest of details. The details hat I could easily overlook if I don't choose to have my spiritual eyes on.

And, it is always through His people. Always.

The man-child at Publix.

The lady at the Dump.

The lady at the homeless shelter.

The lady in the waiting room of an auto repair shop.

I just noticed something here. Notice the common thread of these stories. A special needs man-child, a place called The Dump, a Homeless Shelter, and a dusty auto repair shop.

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  1 Corinthians 1:27

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:36-40

Can I just say for the record that I had no idea how this post would go. I just felt a huge nudge so sit and tell the story of the lady I met while getting my oil changed. Friends, with the Lord,  we just have to take the first step of obedience. He will provide the next step for us. Every single time.

Our obedience expresses our complete trust in HIM. This is what He wants from us. Not dependent on Him "proving Himself to us" before we decide to believe Him and trust Him.

Look for Him to reveal Himself to you in the small things. In the lowly things, places, and people.

We will never find Him rubbing elbows with the elite. He is found sitting on the floor with His children, and washing their feet.

He told Peter, "Feed my sheep"

We are His sheep.

We need feeding.

All of us.

Look around you today. Ask God where you can help feed His sheep today. In turn, you will be fed.

Greater than you could ever imagine.

"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


looking for sheep,


jill














Sep 7, 2016

Goodbye Buford....

A good name is better than precious ointment,
 and the day of death than the day of birth.
Ecclesiastes 7:1

Lem and I just attended the funeral today of an incredible man. I didn't know this man very well, but I knew him well enough to absolutely adore him.

I found myself crying my eyes out as Amazing Grace began the funeral. I pictured his precious self sitting at the Throne of Jesus, healed from his Parkinson's disease. I pictured his shaky hands, free from shaking and firmly lifted high in praises to the King.

Death is a mysterious thing. It is scary. It is permanent--on Earth, not in Heaven. It awakens the souls of those left behind

Death ironically reminds us of how to live.

Buford taught me a lot about how to live in the short years that I knew him.

Buford always remembered my name. ALWAYS. This never failed to take me by surprise. I didn't see him very often, and surely he knew a whole lot of people. Yet, he always spoke to me, looked me in the eye, and said my name.

He made me feel important. Like I had something to say worth listening to. I pause as I think about this, because I don't think I even knew much about him, but he seemed to know a lot about me and our family. He was interested in people.

I want to be like Buford. I want to remember names. I want to make others feel important. I want others to feel better and more loved after being in my presence, just as we all felt in Buford's.

Buford was a gentleman. Polite. Kind. Thoughtful.

Though I am not a man, it makes me wonder, "am I a gentle woman?" Do I possess the qualities of grace and humility that Buford did?

A lot to ponder. A lot to strive for. Buford left some big shoes to fill. Huge.

We don't often think about death until we sit at a funeral. Listening to the preacher talked about the beloved that has left us.

I wonder if we thought about our legacy more intentionally if it would change us and the people around us. Surely, it must

Buford was intentional. Nothing comes natural from the flesh. It is a mind made up to be intentional about how we treat others, and how we make others feel.

Nobody really cares how cute our hair or our outfits look, or how big our houses are, or what kind of car we drive....what people really care about is being heard. Being listened to. Being loved. Being noticed.

Buford made me feel all of those things.

I want to be like Buford.

Buford's grandson took the stage to speak for the family. It was obvious that Buford had poured his whole life and love into this now grown-man. The fruit was evident on that stage.

What kind of legacy will you leave behind?

What will be the lasting impression that you leave here on Earth?

Money dwindles.

Beauty fades.

How we make people feel will go on living in the hearts of those we poured into. This will be the seed that will be sown for eternity on our behalf.

Are we too busy to live?

Are we too busy to notice others?

Are we too busy to take the time to know someone's name?

Are we too wrapped up in our own problems to listen to another's?

What would we want our children and our grandchildren to say about us one day?

Thank you, sweet Buford. Your love, humility, and gentleness will live on in the hearts of so many. Especially mine.

You are still teaching us.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said,
 people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
 Maya Angelou


goodbye for now Buford,


jill