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